DAY OF PRAYER
Annual Day of Prayer to be observed nationwide
WASHINGTON (AP) - Four words that were added to the Pledge of
Allegiance during the height of the Cold War - "one nation under
God" - are the theme of today's 61st annual National Day of
Congress established the day of prayer in 1952 and in 1988
declared that it would be held every year on the first Thursday in
Shirley Dobson, who chairs the National Day of Prayer Task
Force, says this year's theme echoes a Bible verse from Psalms:
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."
She's attending an observance today on Capitol Hill in
Washington with her husband, Dr. James Dobson, and the Rev. David
It's one of tens of thousands of prayer gatherings that are
scheduled today, and have been endorsed by President Barack Obama
and governors across the nation.
TEXAS PRAYER BREAKFAST
Perry says God forgives people for `oops moments'
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Failed Republican presidential candidate
Rick Perry says God forgives people for their "oops moments" even
if the American electorate does not.
The Texas governor spoke Wednesday at a National Day of Prayer
breakfast in Austin.
Perry famously muttered "oops" during a presidential debate
when he couldn't remember the third federal department he'd
promised to eliminate if elected. It became one of the campaign's
Perry told hundreds of faithful packed into a hotel ballroom
that "every one of us has `oops moments' every day."
"America may not forgive you for it," Perry said, drawing
laughter and applause. "But God will."
The governor, who opposes abortion, said he prays that President
Barack Obama will "understand God's will to protect innocent life.
" Perry said, "I pray that God pierces his heart."
GAY MARRIAGE-BILLY GRAHAM
Evangelist Billy Graham backs marriage amendment
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Rev. Billy Graham is urging North
Carolina voters to support a proposed amendment to the state
constitution banning gay marriage.
In comments issued Wednesday from his home in Montreat, Graham
said he believes the home and marriage are the foundation of
society and must be protected.
The 93-year-old Graham said the Bible is clear that God's
definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. He urged
voters to cast ballots for the amendment next Tuesday.
His complete statement is contained in a full-page ad slated to
appear in 14 North Carolina newspapers throughout the weekend.
Graham's son, the Rev. Franklin Graham recorded a message last
month in support of the amendment. Franklin Graham's sister, Anne
Graham Lotz, has also said she supports the amendment.
Haslam vetoes college discrimination policy bill
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he'll
veto a measure that would require Vanderbilt University to exempt
student religious groups from its nondiscrimination policy.
Christian student leaders say their groups shouldn't be forced
to admit members, and possibly leaders, who do not share their
The state House and Senate passed the measure, which said "a
religious student organization may determine that the
organization's religious mission requires that only persons
professing the faith of the group ... qualify to serve as members
Haslam, a Republican, said he disagrees with Vanderbilt's policy
but believes it's "inappropriate for government to mandate the
policies of a private institution." The veto is Haslam's first
since he took office in 2010.
Ariz. lawmakers vote to protect workers from losing state
licenses for denying services
PHOENIX (AP) - A bill that would keep Arizona professionals from
losing a work license because of religious beliefs is heading for
the governor's desk.
The Arizona House approved legislation Tuesday that bans state
licensing boards from removing a license because a worker denied
service on religious grounds. Supporters said it was inspired by a
Michigan case in which a student counselor was disciplined for
refusing to work with a gay client. The 41-17 final vote came a day
after the Senate passed the proposal.
The bill states religious protection would not apply in cases of
criminal or sexual misconduct.
Supporters cited incidents in other states where people's jobs
were threatened as the need for the legislation. Critics have said
the bill was too broad and could allow unprofessional conduct to go
Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed similar legislation last year, saying it
could protect conduct that harms the public.
AG: RI memorial with cross `transcends religion'
WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island attorney general said
Wednesay the war monument topped with a cross on city property in
Woonsocket "transcends religion" and should not be removed
because of a complaint from an atheist group.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said in a statement that the
Freedom From Religion Foundation is diminishing the significance of
the cross as a tribute to soldiers who died in World Wars I and II.
The Wisconsin-based foundation has called for the monument's
removal, saying it violates separation of church and state.
An estimated 1,500 people - many of them veterans - turned out
Wednesday in Woonsocket to defend the memorial. Mayor Leo Fontaine
says the cross is there not as a religious symbol but a tribute to
Kilmartin says the foundation is taking a "myopic view" and
that it's "time to fight zealotry."
Philly priests meet amid suspensions, trial
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Hundreds of Roman Catholic priests have left
a meeting with the Philadelphia archbishop, but it's not clear if
they learned the fate of 23 suspended colleagues.
The region's 1.5 million Catholics are waiting to learn about
parish priests investigated after a second grand jury report into
child sexual abuse within the archdiocese.
A spokeswoman for Archbishop Charles Chaput says a
news conference is planned for Friday. A gag order in the ongoing
criminal trial has prevented the archdiocese this year from
commenting on many sex-abuse allegations.
But Chaput has said he hoped to resolve the fate of the
suspended priests this spring.
The priests were suspended after a February 2011 grand jury
report alleged that accused predators were still active in
Philadelphia, despite a zero-tolerance policy among U.S. bishops.
Methodists reject divestment in firms that trade with Israel
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - United Methodists at their quadrennial
meeting have rejected a motion to divest from three companies that
critics say profit from Israel's occupation of Palestinian
The motion to end investments in Caterpillar, Motorola and
Hewlett-Packard was voted down Wednesday by delegates to the
denomination's General Conference in Tampa, Fla.
Advocates for Methodist divestment said the companies' products
are used to oppress Palestinians, some of whom are fellow
But opponents called the measure one-sided against Israel. Some
argued that God gave the Holy Land to the Jewish people, and that
divestment would undercut that biblical mandate.
Christian leader warns restraint ending in Nigeria
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) - A top Christian leader in Nigeria has
warned that worshippers may abandon their restraint if violence by
a radical Islamist sect continues unchecked in the country.
The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, told
journalists Wednesday in Abuja he was making a "final call" for
the government to stop violence and attacks attributed to the sect
known as Boko Haram.
He said: "The church leadership has hitherto put great
restraint on the restive and aggrieved millions of Nigeria, but can
no longer guarantee such cooperation if this trend of terror is not
Boko Haram has killed more than 480 people this year alone in
its widening sectarian battle with Nigeria's weak central
government. The dead include both Christians and Muslims.
Islamists ban booze, uncovered women in N. Mali
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) - In one town in northern Mali a man has been
whipped for drinking alcohol. In another, pictures of unveiled
women have been torn down. In a third, traditional music is no
longer heard in the streets.
While government soldiers were fighting each other this week for
control of the capital in Mali's southwest corner, Islamist
fighters were asserting control over the northern half of the
The Islamists, some of whom are foreigners, are imposing strict
religious law, setting up a possible showdown with Tuareg
nationalist rebels who say they want a secular state and who seized
northern Mali in March alongside the Islamists. The two groups were
once allies but might soon be turning their guns on each other.
Residents of the three biggest towns in the north say the
Islamist fighters seem to be elbowing the Tuareg nationalists
Dutch burqa ban plan headed for the garbage can
AMSTERDAM (AP) - The Dutch government's plans to ban the wearing
of burqas and forbid citizens of the Netherlands from holding dual
nationality are unlikely to proceed, according to the minister
charged with carrying them out.
Both ideas were part of the platform of anti-Islam politician
Geert Wilders, who precipitated the collapse of the
all-conservative minority Cabinet last week by saying his party
would no longer help it reach a majority in Parliament.
In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant published
Wednesday, Interior Minister Liesbeth Spies of the Christian
Democrat party said "Parliament wants to throw the dual
nationality (ban) in the trash can, and if the same happens with
the burqa ban I won't shed a tear."
A spokesman for her office confirmed the remarks.
Irish cardinal won't quit over abuse cover-up row
DUBLIN (AP) - The leader of Ireland's 4 million Catholics says
he won't resign although a BBC documentary accused him of helping
to cover up 1970s child abuse committed by a pedophile priest who
went on to assault scores of other children.
Cardinal Sean Brady said the documentary exaggerated his role in
his 1975 interviews of two teenage boys abused by priest Brendan
Smyth. Brady said he gave his report as instructed to his bishop,
who in turn had responsibility to tell Smyth's religious order
leaders. He said they, not he, had the power to act and failed to
Brady's statement did not address why nobody in the church
thought to call the police. Nor did it mention that he, as the
canon lawyer in the two interviews, required both boys to sign
oaths of secrecy promising not to tell anyone outside the church of
the abuse they had suffered. He previously has argued that the
oaths were designed to protect the rights of the children, not the
reputation of the church.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)