Graham: Obama should offer food aid to North Korea's new leader
BOONE, N.C. (AP) - The Rev. Franklin Graham, whose ministry has
operated in North Korea for 15 years, says the death of Kim Jong Il
offers the U.S. a possible breakthrough in relations with the
Graham has visited North Korea a number of times, most recently
in May, and his Samaritan's Purse relief organization has built
hospital facilities and provided food and agricultural assistance.
He says President Barack Obama should offer desperately-needed
food aid to Kim Jong Un, the young son and designated successor of
Kim Jong Il. Graham says doing so could ease tensions and the harsh
persecution of North Korean Christians.
The son of evangelist Billy Graham says Samaritan's Purse has
expressed its condolences to North Korean officials and may send a
small delegation to Kim Jong Il's funeral.
UN denounces NKorea rights violations
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The U.N. General Assembly has
overwhelmingly approved a resolution denouncing widespread human
rights violations in North Korea ranging from public executions to
severe restrictions on freedom of religion, expression and
The General Assembly vote was scheduled before the announcement
late Sunday that North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il had died.
The 193-member world body urged North Korea "to immediately put
an end to the systematic, widespread and grave violations."
North Korea rejected the resolution, insisting there have been
no such rights violations in the reclusive communist nation.
The resolution was approved Monday by a vote of 123-16, with 51
Graham says he advocates for Christians in North Korea
BOONE, N.C. (AP) - The Rev. Franklin Graham says he advocates
for North Korean Christians when he visits the communist country.
Human rights groups say tens of thousands of Christians are
imprisoned, tortured and killed in North Korean concentration
It's unclear if that will change now that Kim Jong Il has died
and been succeeded by his son, Kim Jong Un.
Graham, whose Samaritan's Purse ministry provides food and
medical assistance in North Korea, says he has told officials there
that Christians are honest citizens and productive workers who
could make their country prosperous, like China.
Graham says they asked him how God could bless an atheistic
nation, and he responded that God would do it to show them He's
Graham's mother, the late Ruth Bell Graham, was the daughter of
missionary parents. She attended high school in North Korea in the
1930s, before the communist takeover.
China party official warns members over religion
BEIJING (AP) - A Chinese Communist Party official says growing
religious practice among members is threatening the party's unity
Zhu Weiqun reinforced the demand that party members not believe
in religion or engage in religious practice. He said religious
practice is a growing trend, especially in areas inhabited by
ethnic minorities, and must not be tolerated.
His remarks come amid a spike in tensions between Beijing and
the Vatican and crackdowns on independent churches, Buddhist
monasteries and religious practice among Turkic Uighur Muslims in
While China's Communist Party no longer actively works to
eradicate religion as it did under Mao Zedong, it remains deeply
suspicious of religious practice and strictly controls when and
where it can take place.
Study: Christian population shifts from Europe
NEW YORK (AP) - A new analysis shows how much the Christian
population has declined in Europe, while growing dramatically in
Africa and elsewhere.
The study by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion &
Public Life finds that Europe is now home to about a quarter of the
world's Christians, compared to two-thirds a century ago.
About one-quarter of the Christian population is now found in
sub-Saharan Africa. More than a third is in the Americas.
Overall, Christians remain the largest religious group in the
world, with nearly 2.2 billion people. Muslims are the
second-largest group, with about 1.5 billion adherents.
The smallest concentration of Christians is found in the region
where the faith began, the Mideast and North Africa, where
Christians are only about 4 percent of the population.
Gay couple sue Hawaii B&B, claim discrimination
HONOLULU (AP) - Two women are suing a Hawaii bed and breakfast,
saying they were denied a room because they're lesbians.
The lawsuit claims Aloha Bed & Breakfast discriminated against
Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford.
Cervelli says that when she called the business in 2007 to book
a room and said they would only need one bed, the owner asked if
they were lesbians. The lawsuit says that when Cervelli responded
truthfully, the owner said she was uncomfortable having lesbians in
her house because of her religious views.
According to the lawsuit, the bed and breakfast's owner told the
Hawaii Civil Rights Commission that homosexuality is "detestable"
and "defiles our land." The commission then issued a notice of
"reasonable cause to believe that unlawful discriminatory
practices have been committed" and notified the couple of their
right to sue.
Court rules in Ga. case on student's view of gays
ATLANTA (AP) - A federal court has upheld a ruling that Augusta
State University in Georgia was within its rights to require a
graduate school counseling student to keep her biblical views on
gays to herself.
A three-judge panel ruled that the university was following
protocol when it put Jennifer Keeton on a remediation plan and
threatened to expel her after she repeatedly said she would have
difficulty working with gay clients.
The university argued that it would risk its accreditation if it
didn't hold Keeton to a code of ethics. Keeton filed suit, claiming
the institution was punishing her for her Christian views.
The Alliance Defense Fund, which brought the suit, declined
comment on the ruling.
ALABAMA IMMIGRATION LAW
Church leaders urge gov. to repeal immigration law
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Several leaders of the Roman Catholic,
United Methodist and Episcopal churches in Alabama have sent a
letter to the governor, saying they're praying that he'll support
repeal of Alabama's immigration law.
Short of repeal, they said they pray that the governor will work
for revisions to what they called "an unjust and unfair law."
The six religious leaders who wrote the letter had previously
sued in federal court to try to overturn the law.
On Saturday, hundreds who oppose the law rallied at the Capitol
and Governor's Mansion in Montgomery.
The governor's press secretary said Monday that Bentley is
working on changes to ensure that the law is "fair and just,
promotes economic growth, preserves jobs for those in Alabama
legally, and can be enforced effectively and without prejudice."
REVEREND CUT OFF
Reverend cut off by Panhandle city council
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - A Florida minister says he shouldn't have
been abruptly cut off by Pensacola's city council president and
surrounded by police while talking about his free speech rights.
Video shows the Reverend Nathan Monk of St. Benedict Orthodox
Church telling council president Sam Hall he would not leave the
podium because he had more time remaining.
Monk says the Thursday night incident stemmed from a Dec. 12
meeting when some audience members were ousted during debate about
the city's efforts to curtail panhandling and sleeping in public
The Pensacola News Journal reported that two other council
members left the council meeting because they were offended by
Hall's treatment of Monk.
Polygamous family launches challenge of Utah law
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Reality TV stars Kody Brown and his four
wives say they just want to be left alone.
As authorities investigate them for bigamy, the TLC "Sister
Wives" family is asking a federal judge to overturn part of Utah's
bigamy law because it bans them from living together and
criminalizes sexual relationships between unmarried consenting
Their lawyer says Brown and his wives are asking for the right
to structure their family "according to their faith and their
If their lawsuit is successful, it could help decriminalize a
way of life for tens of thousands of self-described Mormon
The Browns are members of the Apostolic United Brethren and
practice polygamy as part of their religious beliefs.
The family - Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn, plus 17
children - fled Utah for the Las Vegas suburbs in January after
authorities launched a bigamy investigation. No charges have been
Pope OKs 7 new saints, including Hawaii's Marianne
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has approved seven new
saints for the Catholic Church, including Hawaii's Mother Marianne
and a 17th-century Native American, Caterina Tekakwitha.
Benedict signed decrees Tuesday approving miracles attributed to
the intercession of the seven, clearing the last hurdle before
their canonizations. Benedict also signed decrees that 65 Catholics
died as martyrs during Spain's civil war and will be beatified, one
step shy of possible sainthood.
Marianne cared for leprosy patients on Hawaii's Molokai
peninsula in the late 1880s, soon after the death of Father Damien,
who was canonized in 2009. Tekakwitha, who lived from 1656-1680 in
the U.S. and Canada, became the first Native American to be
beatified in 1980.
Hungary's top court strikes down new religion law
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) - Hungary's Constitutional Court has
struck down the country's restrictive new church law as well as
parts of its disputed media law and the criminal code.
The Constitutional Court findings published Monday were a
response to Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, which, backed
by a two-thirds majority in Parliament, has been pushing through
legislation at a chaotic pace.
The church law, which would have gone into effect Jan. 1, only
included 14 Christian churches and Jewish congregations, forcing
all others to seek recognition from two-thirds of Hungary's
The court also rejected aspects of the media law, including
rules on content regulation and confidential sources.
2 Muslim men kicked off flight sue airlines
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Two Muslim men who were kicked off an
airplane in May are suing Delta Air Lines Inc. and a regional
carrier that operated the flight from Memphis to Charlotte, N.C.
The suit was filed Monday in federal court against Delta and
Atlantic Southeast Airlines. It said the men - Masudur Rahman and
Mohamed Zaghloul - went through several security checks. It claims
the pilot wanted them off the plane because he thought their
presence would make other passengers uncomfortable.
The men are described in the suit as having beards and
"traditional Arabic clothing." It seeks compensation for losses
and injuries as well as punitive damages.
The men were traveling to attend a conference on how to deal
with anti-Muslim discrimination.
Maldives president condemns Islamic protest
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - The president of Maldives, an island
chain in the Indian Ocean, has condemned a protest planned by an
Islamic party against what it calls anti-Islamic activities in the
A government statement Monday quoted President Mohamed Nasheed
as saying that the real goal of the protest is the introduction of
Islamic penalties such as stoning, amputations and executions.
Nasheed defended working women and said Maldives should continue
to practice a moderate form of Islam that allows recreation, sports
Several organizations that campaign for strict Islamic rules
including the Adaalath or Justice Party are calling for the protest
The country of 300,000 people forbids practice of religions
other than Sunni Islam.
New president calls for Tunisia's Jews to return
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) - Tunisia's newly elected president has
called for the Arab country's Jewish population to return, in
statements carried by the state news agency.
During a meeting with the country's Grand Rabbi Haim Bittan,
President Moncef Marzouki said Tunisia's Jews are full citizens and
those that had left were welcome to return. His comments come
almost two weeks after Israeli deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom
called on the country's remaining Jews to emigrate to Israel.
Tunisia presently has a Jewish population of 1,500, but in the
1960s there were 100,000. Most left following the 1967 war between
Israel and Arab countries, and Socialist economic policies adopted
by the government in the late 1960s also drove many Jewish business
owners out of the country.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)