Many Catholic Dioceses Suing President Obama; NAACP Backs Gay Marriage; Anti-Obama Pastor;...


Notre Dame, dioceses sue over Obama mandate

NEW YORK (AP) - Dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses, schools and

other institutions are suing the Obama administration over a

mandate that most employers provide coverage for contraceptives,

abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations.

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik says President Barack Obama's

mandate violates the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

The original exemption for religious groups allowed houses of

worship to opt-out, but kept the mandate in place for religious

schools and charities.

Obama offered to shift the cost of the requirement from those

institutions to their insurers, but the bishops say that would

still force them to provide coverage that violates their beliefs.

Among those suing are the Archdioceses of New York, Washington

and Pittsburgh and the University of Notre Dame, where President

Obama pledged to respect religious freedom in a 2009 commencement







NAACP chief: Marriage equality is a civil right

BALTIMORE (AP) - Leaders of the NAACP don't expect their new

resolution supporting gay marriage to alienate black churches.

A Pew poll last month found that only 39 percent of blacks favor

gay marriage, with much of the opposition coming from churches.

But NAACP President Benjamin Jealous says a variety of clergy

have assured him that differences over gay marriage won't divide

the black community, and he says some who say otherwise are just

trying to "make a name for themselves by stirring up


Jealous insists gay marriage is "one of the key civil rights

issues of our day." So he says the NAACP will oppose all efforts

to define marriage as only the union of a man and a woman.





Watchdog group goes after anti-Obama pastor in Ky.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An outside group says an eastern Kentucky

pastor violated federal law when he urged his congregation to vote

President Barack Obama out of office in November.

Pastor Ronnie Spriggs of Hager Hill Freewill Baptist Church said

during a May 13 sermon that he wants Obama voted out because of his

support for gay marriage.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State say Spriggs'

comments violate federal law for tax-exempt churches. The group

gets many complaints about this kind of advocacy and expects more

as the presidential election heats up.

Executive Director Barry Lynn says Spriggs "clearly doesn't

care what the law says."

A video of the sermon was streamed on the Johnson County

church's website.



Indy woman charged with murder in pastor's death

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - An Indianapolis woman has been charged with

murder in the shooting of a young pastor at his church.

The Indianapolis Star reports that court documents containing

the murder charge against 46-year-old Lori Ann Barcroft did not

provide any information on a possible motive.

She is accused of killing 29-year-old Jaman Iseminger, the

pastor at Bethel Community Church in Southport, about 10 miles

south of Indianapolis. Iseminger was fatally shot Saturday morning.

Southport Police Chief Randy Ellison said Saturday that Barcroft

confessed to the murder. Her confession was not included in the

court documents Monday. She is scheduled to be in court Tuesday.



Egypt court gives 12 Christians life sentences

CAIRO (AP) - An Egyptian court has sentenced 12 Christians to

life in prison and acquitted eight Muslims in a case that is likely

to stoke religious tensions in the country's south.

The Christians were found guilty of sowing public strife and

shooting dead two Muslims in April of last year in Minya province

after a scuffle with Muslim protesters.

The eight Muslims on trial in the same case had been charged

with possession of illegal weapons and burning down dozens of

Christian-owned homes and stores after the shooting.

Egyptian rights researcher Ishak Ibrahim called the verdict

"faulty and unfair."

The State Security Court, whose rulings cannot be appealed,

handed down its sentence on Monday. The ruling military council is

the only entity with the power to request a retrial.



NJ Muslims, officials to discuss NYPD surveillance

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Muslim leaders who attended a

March meeting with the state's attorney general say they've been

invited back to Trenton this week for a follow-up discussion.

It will focus on the state's response to revelations that the

New York Police Department conducted secret surveillance of Muslims

in New Jersey. NYPD officials have defended the surveillance in

Newark as lawful.

Muslim leaders and others critical of the NYPD's activities hope

New Jersey's attorney general will announce a formal investigation

at Thursday's meeting, although several privately expressed doubt

that would be the result.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker

spoke out against the program at the time.



Ultra-Orthodox hold large NYC meeting on Net risks

NEW YORK (AP) - Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men

have attended a rally at the New York Mets' stadium on the dangers

of the Internet and how to use modern technology in a religiously

responsible way.

Women were not permitted to attend Sunday's meeting at Citi

Field. However, it was broadcast live to audiences of women in

schools and event halls in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. The event

garnered so much interest that organizers rented the nearby Arthur

Ashe Stadium for the overflow crowd.

A spokesman for the event's organizers says they're concerned

about Internet pornography. He says they also worry that the lure

of social media can limit human interaction, reading and study.

A group calling for more support for child sexual abuse victims

inside the close-knit community held a counter-protest outside the




Israeli PM urges `just' replacement of draft law

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has

urged lawmakers to find a "just" replacement for a draft law that

exempted tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory

military service.

The Israeli leader has appeared before a parliamentary committee

that is trying to craft a compromise law palatable to both secular

and religious political parties.

Secular Jews have said the current arrangement places an unfair

burden on them. The ultra-Orthodox, who skip army service to engage

in full-time religious study, say they are serving the state by

serving God.

Netanyahu told the panel's first meeting on Monday that a more

equitable sharing of the country's defense burden must be

implemented gradually, and without pitting any one sector against

the other.



Georgia, Azerbaijan restore full monastery access

GARDABANI, Georgia (AP) - Pilgrims to one of former Soviet

Georgia's most renowned monasteries, part of which lies in

Azerbaijan, are again able to visit the entire complex after an

agreement between the countries' border police.

Early this month, Azerbaijan began blocking pilgrims from

visiting the approximately 2 percent of the David Gareja monastery

complex inside its borders. The monastery, dating from the 6th

century, is one of the Georgian Orthodox Church's most sacred


Azerbaijan's move sparked distress in Georgia; hundreds of

protesters marched in the capital Sunday. Hours later, after the

two countries' presidents discussed the dispute on the sidelines of

the NATO summit, the countries' border police reached an agreement

on allowing pilgrims from Georgia to enter the Azerbaijani section.

Thousands of pilgrims streamed to the monastery on Monday in an

action that had been organized before the dispute was resolved.



(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


AP-NY-05-22-12 0332EDT


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