Day of Prayer; Texas Prayer Breakfast; Rev. Billy Graham Supports Gay Marriage Ban; Priests...


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.





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

signature moments.

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."



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

or leaders."

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

the veterans.

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

halted immediately."

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

African country.

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

do so.

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.)


AP-NY-05-03-12 0333EDT


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment