Earthquake Damages National Cathedral; No Prayer before Football Games; Circumcision Ban;...


Stones fall from Washington National Cathedral in quake

WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington National Cathedral is closed to

visitors after the East Coast earthquake damaged three of the four

pinnacles atop the main tower and left cracks in the church's


The pinnacles are the spires on the cathedral's towers and are

the highest point in the city. The tops of the pinnacles fell off,

littering the church grounds with stones and rubble, but no one was


Cracks also appeared in flying buttresses in the oldest part of

the Washington landmark. But a statement issued by the cathedral

said buttresses supporting the main tower appeared to be sound.

The statement said there are cracks on upper floors inside the

church, but no damage to stained glass windows was reported.

The cathedral has historically been the site of funerals and

memorials for presidents and statesmen.



Ky. school district stops football game prayer

PINEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A public school district in southeastern

Kentucky has stopped preceding its high school football games with

a public prayer.

There was no prayer uttered at the home opener for Bell County

High School on Friday night after the school system received a

complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation this month.

Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said her group

complained on behalf of a local family.

Schools Superintendent George Thompson said the practice of

having a local pastor offer prayer over loudspeakers was halted

because previous court rulings suggested the county would lose a

court battle, according to WYMT-TV in Hazard.

Court rulings have held that school-sponsored prayer violates

the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S.



Vt. inn denies discriminating against NY lesbians

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Catholic owners of a Vermont inn that

refused to host a same-sex wedding reception say they have no

policy to discriminate against gay couples.

In a court filing Tuesday, a lawyer for Wildflower Inn owners

Jim and Mary O'Reilly say they were never told about the lesbian

couple's request to hold their wedding reception and that the inn's

meeting and events director wasn't authorized to reject requests

from same-sex couples.

When the New York couple filed suit last month, the O'Reillys

said they don't deny "rooms or dining or employment to gays or

lesbians," but added they could not host an event celebrating a

same-sex marriage because it's against their Catholic faith.

They now say applying Vermont's Fair Housing and Public

Accommodations Act would violate their right to free speech and

freedom of association by forcing them to hold "expressive



Vera Farmiga makes her directing debut with `Higher Ground'

WASHINGTON (AP) - Actress and first-time director Vera Farmiga

 says she's "a thoughtful seeker and a searcher"

with a strong belief in God and prayer.

Her soon-to-be-released film "Higher Ground" is the story of a

Christian woman from her salvation as a girl to marriage and

pregnancy as a teenager to her adult faith and doubts in a

conservative church.

Without being either preachy or mocking, the film depicts

episodes like her outdoor baptism and her struggle to speak in

tongues. It's as if she's constantly trying to talk herself into

believing, even though she outwardly appears so fervent.

Farmiga was nominated for an Oscar for her role as George

Clooney's love interest in "Up In The Air."

"Higher Ground" is rated R for some language and sexual




Calif. bill seeks statewide rules on circumcision

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California lawmakers are considering a

measure that would block local jurisdictions from banning male


The issue drew national attention when thousands of signatures

were collected to put a measure on the November ballot in San

Francisco to outlaw the circumcision of most male children.

Jewish and Muslim San Francisco residents, doctors who perform

circumcisions, the Anti-Defamation League and a local chapter of

the Jewish Community Relations Council sued in June to block the

ballot measure. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi

on July 28 ordered it struck from the ballot, ruling that

California law allows only the state, not cities, to regulate

medical procedures.

Giorgi also said it violated religious rights guaranteed in the

U.S. Constitution.

Supporters of the legislation say it's needed because Giorgi's

ruling could be overturned on appeal.


Indonesian mayor seeks to ban church construction

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - A mayor in Indonesia is trying to ban

Christian churches on streets with Islamic names in an effort to

block construction of a new parish.

The Taman Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church was supposed to

open in the city of Bogor in 2008, but residents protested,

claiming its permit was illegal.

A church spokesman says the Taman Yasmin worshippers have been

holding weekly services in front of their sealed off building for

nearly three years.

Indonesia's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the church in

December, but Mayor Diani Budiarto refused to comply. Instead, he

wants to make it illegal to open churches on streets with Islamic


Christians in Indonesia say it can take years to get permits to

build new churches.


Ultraconservatives summoned to Vatican meeting

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Top officials of a Switzerland-based

ultraconservative Catholic group have been summoned to the Vatican.

The Society of St. Pius X has angered the Vatican with actions

ranging from ordinations considered illegitimate to a Society

bishop's denial of the magnitude of the Holocaust.

Vatican officials said Tuesday that a meeting was set for Sept.


The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre  founded the

society in 1969 to protest Vatican reforms, including letting Mass

be celebrated in local languages instead of Latin.

Lefebvre and four other bishops, including the prelate who later

minimized the Holocaust, were excommunicated in 1988. Pope Benedict

XVI lifted the excommunications in 2009 as he tried to bring the

society back into the fold.


Salvadoran accused in Jesuit deaths held in Boston

BOSTON (AP) - A former Salvadoran military official accused of

playing a role in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests has been

arrested in Massachusetts.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Boston says

Inocente Orlando Montano appeared in U.S. District Court for a bail

hearing Tuesday. She says Montano will be held overnight while

arrangements are made for electronic monitoring. She said he would

likely be released Wednesday.

Montano's attorney says he had been living under his own name in

Massachusetts for about 10 years.

Montano faces a charge in the U.S. of making false statements on

an immigration document.

Nine ex-soldiers and officials recently turned themselves over

to an El Salvador court after being indicted in connection with the

priests' killings. Montano has been indicted but denied



Electrolux Muslim workers file EEOC complaint

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - For the second straight year, the

Electrolux plant in St. Cloud, Minn., is the target of complaints

the freezer maker is not accommodating Muslim employees during the

Ramadan fast.

About a dozen employees have filed the latest claim with the

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Electrolux changed its break schedule for all employees this

year after a Muslim employee filed an EEOC complaint in 2010

alleging Electrolux threatened Muslim workers with termination if

they broke their fast on the production floor.

But Taneeza Islam, civil rights director for the Minnesota

chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says workers

still don't have enough time to break their fast and complete their


Electrolux spokesman Tony Evans told the St. Cloud Times that

the company is confident that the current schedule "reasonably and

effectively accommodates the needs of its employees."


(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


AP-NY-08-24-11 0333EDT


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