Baptist leader faults parents for juvenile delinquency
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans pastor who's expected to
become the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention
says parents are the key to stopping rampant juvenile delinquency,
but the church can help.
The Rev. Fred Luter is unopposed as Southern Baptists prepare to
elect a new president when they meet in New Orleans June 19 and 20.
Luter says many of today's young people "have no regard for the
law, no regard for life and no respect."
The answer, he says, must start with parents raising their
children "in the fear and admonition of the Lord" instead of
letting them run wild in the streets committing crimes.
Luter says it's up to the church to come alongside parents and
give them the tools they need to bring up their children.
Reward offered for info on LA youth pastor killing
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A $50,000 reward has been offered to help
find the gunman who killed a 23-year-old youth pastor Monday night
in a suburb of Los Angeles.
Police say Oscar Duncan, a youth pastor at Greater Zion Church
in Compton, was standing in front of his mother's home with his
girlfriend after returning from a Bible study when a car pulled up
and some people inside made remarks to Duncan.
Police say when Duncan walked over to the car to see who was
inside, he was shot in the head.
Lt. John Radtke says the attackers may have had gang ties
although Duncan did not.
1981 DOUBLE KILLING
Man pleads guilty to 1981 killing of Iowa couple
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - One month after he stunned police by
confessing to the brutal 1981 killing of an elderly couple in Iowa,
a repentant Jack Pursel has pleaded guilty to two counts of
first-degree murder and has been sentenced to life in prison.
Pursel told the court in Waterloo, Iowa, that he's a born-again
Christian seeking forgiveness and mercy by taking responsibility
for the couple's torture and execution-style shooting deaths.
Two of the victims' grandchildren who addressed the court
declined to offer forgiveness. One of them said she wished Iowa had
the death penalty while the other said Pursel will end up "in the
fire pits of hell."
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RALLIES
Organizers plan protests against birth control mandate Friday at
CHICAGO (AP) - Organizers of today's second Stand Up for
Religious Freedom Rally predict tens of thousands of Americans will
gather in 160 cities at noon local time to protest the Obama
administration's contraceptive coverage mandate.
The rally's national co-director, Eric Scheidler, says the first
rally in March drew more than 60,000 people in 145 cities.
Scheidler says that reflects widespread opposition to a
requirement that employers provide insurance that covers birth
control and sterilizations regardless of their religious or moral
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops have led much of the
opposition, but Scheidler says today's rallies also will feature
Protestants, Jews and Muslims who consider the mandate a violation
of their religious freedom.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - An organization whose members endorse
military chaplains says a commitment ceremony for two women should
not have been held last month at Fort Polk in Louisiana, a state
that does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.
Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for
Religious Liberty, says the Fort Polk chaplain may have acted in
accordance with his church teachings, but should have considered
state law and legislation that has passed the U.S. House.
Congressman Todd Akin's bill prohibits military installations
from being used for "a marriage or marriage-like ceremony
involving anything other than the union of one man with one
woman." The Senate has not approved the legislation.
Fort Polk spokesman Scott Stearns said everyone at the base
chapel understood that the women's ceremony was not a marriage.
Denmark approves gay weddings in church
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Denmark's Parliament has approved a
law allowing same-sex couples to get married in formal church
weddings instead of the short blessing ceremonies that the state's
Lutheran Church currently offers.
Lawmakers voted 85-24 on Thursday to change Denmark's marriage
The law takes effect June 15 and will put Denmark on par with
countries such as Iceland and Sweden that allow full wedding
ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.
In 1989, Denmark became the first country to allow the
registration of gay partnerships. Since 1997 gay couples in Denmark
have been able to marry in special blessing ceremonies at the end
of regular church services.
Crystal Cathedral to move congregation
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (AP) - The congregation of the Crystal
Cathedral will relocate to a Roman Catholic church next summer.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange purchased the Crystal
Cathedral and its grounds for $57.7 million in bankruptcy
The agreement provided for the Crystal Cathedral congregation to
lease nearby St. Callistus Catholic Church in Garden Grove, Calif.,
with free rent through December 2013. The congregation plans to
move next June.
The diocese will announce a new name for the Crystal Cathedral
on Saturday and outline plans to transform it into a Catholic
The glass-paned church was founded by "Hour of Power"
televangelist Robert Schuller. It was sold to pay off more than $40
million in debt.
NATIVITY SCENE DISPUTE
Judge backs Warren mayor in flap with atheists
WARREN, Mich. (AP) - A judge says a Detroit suburb did not
violate the law when it barred atheists from displaying an
anti-religion sign next to a Nativity scene at city hall.
Federal Judge Lawrence Zatkoff says the mayor of Warren, Mich.,
had authority to bar the poster last Christmas because he felt it
was antagonistic and would cause hostility. The judge says
officials were not excluding a religious group or a non-religious
The judge last week noted that Mayor Jim Fouts would have
prohibited a sign attacking Santa Claus.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis.,
wanted to post a sign that said religion is a "myth and
superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
Faith-healing couple takes plea in son's death
OKANOGAN, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state couple has agreed to
accept a plea deal that spares them jail time but holds them
responsible for their teenage son's death after they failed to call
A jury acquitted JaLea and Greg Swezey of Carlton of
second-degree murder charges for failing to call a doctor or
ambulance before their son Zachery died of a ruptured appendix in
2009. However, they still faced manslaughter charges.
JaLea Swezey pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal
mistreatment and received a suspended sentence. Greg Swezey was
charged with second-degree criminal mistreatment and his case was
continued for two years.
The Swezeys are members of the Church of the First Born, which
believes in faith healing.
Under the deal, they agreed to contact Child Protective Services
if a child under their care is ill or injured.
No verdict this week in Philly priest-abuse case
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - There will be no verdict this week for two
Roman Catholic priests on trial for allegedly molesting a teen or
covering up abuse complaints at the Philadelphia archdiocese.
The jury ended a fifth day of deliberations Thursday and won't
return until Monday.
Monsignor William Lynn is the first U.S. church official charged
for his handling of abuse complaints. He's charged with conspiracy
and child endangerment.
The Rev. James Brennan is charged with sexually assaulting a
14-year-old boy in 1999, and with endangering children.
Five women and seven men, some with Catholic ties, are serving
on the jury. The trial has been underway since late March.
TEXAS INMATE-VAMPIRE LAWSUIT
Texas inmate loses civil rights `vampire' suit
HOUSTON (AP) - A federal appeals court has rejected as frivolous
a civil rights lawsuit from a Texas prisoner who argued he was
being barred from practicing religious beliefs related to vampires.
Inmate Courtney Royal two years ago sued about a dozen Texas
prison administrators and officials at the Hughes Unit where he's
serving a life sentence for numerous offenses, including aggravated
assault, robbery and escape.
Royal's nine-page single-space typewritten lawsuit, rejected
Thursday by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals, said he wanted to practice "West African spiritualism and
18th Century Catholicism" marked by prayer to Africans
reincarnated by blood. He argued it was no different from
"unproven" Christian beliefs.
In the filing, Royal described himself as "Vampsh Black Sheep
League of Doom Gardamun Family Circle Master Vampire High Priest."
Chinese police raid religious school; 12 kids hurt
BEIJING (AP) - State media report that staff at a religious
school in heavily Muslim western China set off explosives to fend
off a police raid and that 12 children were burned. An overseas
rights group, however, blamed tear gas used by paramilitary forces
for the injuries.
The Tianshan news portal for the Xinjiang (shihn-jahng) region
said 12 children were hospitalized after the raid, but didn't say
how badly they were hurt. Three police and two of the three staff
at the school in Hotan city also were injured, it said.
But a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur (WEE'-gur)
Congress said the school was teaching the Quran and that
paramilitary officers used tear gas on the children.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)