SUPREME COURT-CHURCH EMPLOYEES
Court: Judges cannot get involved in church dispute
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says a church school cannot
be sued over an employee's discrimination complaint.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had sued a Lutheran
church and school in Michigan on behalf of Cheryl Perich, who
taught secular and religious classes and led chapel services.
She took disability leave in 2004 but tried to return to work.
When the school said it had hired a substitute for the year, Perich
threatened to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act. She
was then fired and removed from ministry.
In the unanimous ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts said
allowing such lawsuits would violate "a religious group's right to
shape its own faith and mission through its appointments."
Episcopal church wins control of Va. Churches
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - A judge has ruled that the Episcopal Church
should be restored as the owner of several historic churches in
Virginia, years after the denomination was essentially evicted by
local congregations dismayed with the denomination's liberal
Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows reversed a
ruling he made in 2008 allowing the conservative congregations to
keep their buildings and other church property. The Virginia
Supreme Court overturned that ruling and ordered a new trial.
At issue is ownership of seven Virginia churches, including two
historic congregations that trace their roots to George Washington:
Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church, for which the city of
Falls Church is named.
The congregations voted to leave the Episcopal Church in 2006
following the denomination's consecration of an openly gay bishop
and other theological disputes.
The conservative congregations are considering an appeal.
Christian singer works to end human trafficking
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Christian singer Sara Groves considers
human trafficking the greatest evil in the world today.
Wednesday was Human Trafficking Awareness Day, highlighting the
global problem of children and young adults kidnapped or tricked
into becoming slaves and prostitutes.
Groves told KTIS radio that while missionaries have sometimes
bought slaves to free them, a group called International Justice
Mission has a more comprehensive strategy - working to change laws,
mount rescues and help freed captives recover.
After hearing the testimony of a girl who had been forced into
prostitution, Groves says she offered her own abilities to God to
help bring human trafficking to an end. Her advocacy includes songs
and public appearances.
Groves says human trafficking is a crime more lucrative than
selling drugs, since the slave is sold repeatedly, but the U.S. and
other nations spend far less money in the fight against
Perry's father apologizes for remarks about Jews
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A suburban Cleveland church where the
father of pop star Katy Perry delivered a sermon that drew
accusations of anti-Semitism has released an apology in which he
says he regrets his "hurtful and ugly language."
Pastor Paul Endrei of the Church on the Rise in
Westlake said Wednesday that Perry's father, the Rev. Keith Hudson,
meant to compliment Jewish people when he said having money is what
it takes to make Jews jealous. Endrei says Hudson was blessing
businesspeople Jan. 5 when he "just went too far."
In the apology released this week, Hudson says he is not an
Perry's agent told The Associated Press the singer does not
comment on her personal life.
Mormons see mainstream acceptance ahead for church
UNDATED (AP) - Nearly half of Mormon Americans in a new poll say
they face significant discrimination in the United States, and
nearly two-thirds said other Americans don't consider Mormonism
part of the mainstream.
But more than 60 percent of Mormons surveyed by the Pew Research
Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life believe Americans are
moving toward acceptance of their faith and more than half believe
the country is ready to accept a Mormon as president.
The survey was published as two Mormons - Mitt Romney and John
Huntsman - seek the Republican presidential nomination.
About 77 percent of Mormons in the survey identify with or lean
toward the Republican Party, and most hold strong conservative
views. Three-quarters support a smaller government that provides
The same percentage say having an abortion is morally wrong, and
two-thirds believe homosexuality should be discouraged.
Ohio Amish say not guilty in beard-cutting attacks
CLEVELAND (AP) - Twelve members of a breakaway Amish group in
Ohio have pleaded not guilty to beard- and hair-cutting attacks on
fellow Amish in a feud over church discipline.
The seven original defendants and five more who were added in an
indictment last month entered the not guilty pleas to federal
charges Wednesday in a Cleveland courtroom.
Judge Dan Aaron Polster refused a defense appeal to release the
suspected ringleader and his son on bond.
A feud over church discipline allegedly led to five attacks in
which the beards of men and hair of women were cut, which is
considered deeply offensive in Amish culture.
The seven-count indictment includes charges of conspiracy,
assault and evidence tampering in what prosecutors say were hate
crimes motivated by religious differences.
AMISH BUGGY FIGHT
Ky. Amish men say they won't budge on buggy fight
MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) - A group of conservative Amish men in
western Kentucky have become scofflaws in their protest against a
state law requiring orange safety triangles on their horse-drawn
Nine members of the Swartzentruber order in rural Graves County
have refused to pay fines for not using the triangles, and eight of
them have spent time in jail.
The men believe that the orange triangle is garish and violates
their faith's orders to live simple, plain lives. They prefer using
gray reflective tape and lanterns to make their buggies visible to
Kentucky officials say the orange triangles are still the best
way to make sure buggies are visible for the safety of everyone on
Prosecutor: NJ synagogue residence firebombed
RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey law enforcement officials
suspect that more than one person may be involved in what's being
classified as a hate crime after a synagogue where nine people were
living was firebombed.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli says several Molotov
cocktails and other incendiary devices were thrown early Wednesday
at a Rutherford home housing a synagogue on the first floor and the
rabbi's residence on the second.
The rabbi, his wife, five children and the rabbi's parents were
sleeping. Police say one device ignited in the rabbi's bedroom, and
he suffered minor burns putting it out.
The prosecutor asks all northern New Jersey residents and
religious institutions to be on alert. This is the fourth incident
at a Jewish center or synagogue in recent weeks.
Fed court orders RI school to remove prayer mural
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A federal judge has ordered the
immediate removal of a prayer mural displayed in the auditorium of
a Rhode Island public high school.
Student Jessica Ahlquist, who's an atheist, had sued Cranston
city and Cranston High School West officials. She demanded they
remove the banner, saying it promoted a religion and was offensive
City officials claimed the mural is a historical artifact from
the school's early days and serves no religious purpose.
A senior U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday in the
atheist student's favor.
Czech govt OKs landmark religious compensation law
PRAGUE (AP) - More than 22 years after the fall of Communism,
the Czech government has agreed to pay billions of dollars in
compensation for church property seized by the former totalitarian
Under the plan, the country's 17 churches, including Roman
Catholic and Protestant, would get 56 percent of their former
property now held by the state. They would also get $2.9 billion in
financial compensation paid to them over the next 30 years, and the
state will gradually stop covering their expenses over the next 17
Wednesday's decision still needs the approval of Parliament, but
the governing coalition has a comfortable majority.
Culture Minister Alena Hanakova, whose ministry drafted the
bill, called the decision "historic" and the Catholic Czech
Bishops' Conference welcomed the move. The Catholic Church will
receive the biggest share of the restitution money.
US raises outreach to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. has held its highest contacts to date
with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The State Department says its No. 2 official, William Burns, met
with several political groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, in
the Egyptian capital on Wednesday.
Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says it was a chance to
reinforce U.S. expectations that Egypt's parties support human
rights, women's rights and religious tolerance.
The U.S. largely shunned the Muslim Brotherhood movement when
U.S.-allied dictator Hosni Mubarak was in power.
The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt's best organized party and was
the biggest winner of parliamentary elections. Burns didn't meet
with Egypt's more radical Salafists.
Sect leader challenges Nigeria president in video
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - A new online video shows the leader of a
radical Islamist sect challenging the president of Nigeria amid a
nationwide strike in Africa's most populous nation.
Imam Abubakar Shekau of the sect known as Boko Haram criticizes
President Goodluck Jonathan and the leader of an umbrella Christian
group who called on worshippers to defend themselves from the sect.
Shekau says the sect would kill anyone who challenges the group.
Shekau, wearing a camouflage bulletproof vest, sits between two
Kalashnikov rifles in the video posted Tuesday to the Internet.
Boko Haram is responsible for at least 510 killings last year
and at least 63 so far this year. It is waging an increasingly
bloody sectarian fight against Nigeria's weak central government.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)