Prayer Day Lawsuit; Vatican Ambassador to US Dies; Religious Leader Passes away; Polygamist...

      Judge tosses attempt to bar Texas gov. from prayer rally

      HOUSTON (AP) - A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that
sought to stop Texas Gov. Rick Perry from promoting or
participating in an Aug. 6 day of prayer and fasting.
      Judge Gray Miller ruled that the atheist and agnostic group that
filed the suit, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, did not have
standing to sue.
      The group had argued that Perry's involvement in the Houston
event, called The Response, would violate the Constitution.
      Gov. Perry defended the event, comparing it to presidential
support for the National Day of Prayer. Perry said his prayer was
that the courts would find that a governor still has First
Amendment rights.

      Bachmann says she'd pray daily as president

      WASHINGTON (AP) - Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says that if
she's elected president, she'll pray every day for God's guidance.
      The Minnesota Republican told members of the National Press
Club, "I want you to know that I will be praying for every one of
you, too -- every day."
      Asked what part of politics she found hardest to reconcile with
her faith, Bachmann said she didn't find that to be a problem.
      She said, quote: "I'm a Christian and I'm proud of my faith and
I'm extremely grateful to God."

      11 clergy arrested for prayer protest in Capitol

      WASHINGTON (AP) - Some clergy have been arrested for staging a
prayer protest in the U.S. Capitol.
      With the House and Senate focused on debt-limit legislation at
opposite ends of the Capitol, 11 religious leaders praying against
budget cuts that would hurt the poor were arrested Thursday in the
Rotunda midway between the two chambers.
      Those arrested included a Jewish rabbi and leaders of the United
Methodist Church, Church of the Brethren, the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ.
      The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance,
told protesters outside the Capitol that his colleagues had grown
frustrated with the debt impasse and felt they weren't being heard.
      Gaddy said, "It is time for people of faith and good will to
speak up, and it is time for some politicians in Washington to grow


      US couple dies in apparent suicide pact

      LAS VEGAS (AP) - Police have identified a couple who died in an
apparent suicide pact outside the same Florida church where they
married 40 years ago.
      A pastor found 60-year-old Bruce Wright and his 57-year-old
wife, Patricia Wright, Sunday morning behind Friendship United
Methodist Church in Charlotte County. A shotgun and rifle were
      Police say the husband was dead on the scene and his wife died
of her injuries Tuesday at a hospital.
      The couple's nephew, Daniel Johnson, told the Las Vegas
Review-Journal that the Wrights, who lived in Las Vegas, had no
children and rarely kept contact with family members.
      He says the family doesn't understand why the couple committed

      Vatican's US envoy dies following lung surgery

      VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican says its ambassador to the
United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, has died in Baltimore after
suffering complications following recent lung surgery.
      The 73-year-old Sambi died Wednesday in Johns Hopkins Hospital
where he had been placed on assisted ventilation. He had undergone
surgery two weeks ago.
      The Italian prelate had served as papal representative in
Washington since 2006, and was one of Pope Benedict's first major
appointees. Sambi helped bring about a meeting between Benedict and
clerical sex abuse victims during the pope's U.S. visit three years

      SCLC president Creecy dies; apparent heart attack

      ATLANTA (AP) - The Southern Christian Leadership Conference says
its president, the Rev. Howard Creecy Jr., has died seven months
after taking office.
      The civil rights group says the 57-year-old Creecy died of an
apparent heart attack in Atlanta early Thursday. Creecy, pastor of
The Olivet Church in Fayette County, Ga., was elected SCLC
president in January after the position was declined by Bernice
King, daughter of the organization's co-founder, the Rev. Martin
Luther King Jr.
      His church's website says Creecy was a third generation
preacher. Before joining his father at Olivet in 2002, Creecy
served as senior pastor of Saint Peter Missionary Baptist Church in
Atlanta for 26 years.

      Judge says polygamist leader can represent himself

      SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - Polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs
is representing himself at his sexual assault trial after
dismissing his latest legal team just before his trial was to
      Judge Barbara Walther allowed Jeffs to represent himself but
refused his request to delay the trial. Instead, she had the jury
sworn in, Jeffs arraigned and decided opening arguments would be
heard after a lunch recess. Prosecutors had complained Jeffs'
frequent switching of attorneys was a delay tactic.
      The 55-year-old Jeffs is accused of sexually assaulting two
girls. The charges stem from a 2008 raid on a remote Texas compound
that belonged to his sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints. The 10,000-member church believes
polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

      Muslims prepare to begin holy month of fasting

      WASHINGTON (AP) - The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when
Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, starts Monday and will
continue through the long hot days of August this year.
      The Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle, so Ramadan creeps
up 11 days every year.
      In August, the daylight hours can last up to 16 hours.
      Sayyid Sayeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North
America, says the Ramadan fast is "one of the pillars of Islam,"
and is meant to increase sensitivity to sufferings of the poor.
      During Ramadan, Muslims typically eat a meal before dawn and
break their fast at sunset. The fast-breaking meal is seen by many
Muslims as an opportunity to gather with family and friends.


      Army: Muslim soldier admits to Fort Hood attack plan

      KILLEEN, Texas (AP) - The Army says an AWOL soldier who had
weapons stashed in a motel room near Fort Hood has admitted
planning an attack on the Texas post, where 13 people died in 2009
in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation.
      Pfc. Naser Abdo, who was granted conscientious objector status
this year after he said his Muslim beliefs prevented him from
fighting, was arrested Wednesday.
      The Army says police were alerted by the owners of the same gun
store where the 2009 Fort Hood shootings suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan
bought a pistol used in the attack.
      The 21-year-old Abdo has been absent without leave since the
July 4 weekend.


      Judge orders circumcision ban off SF ballot

      SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A judge has struck a measure from San
Francisco's November ballot that called for a ban on most
circumcisions of male children
      Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi ruled that the proposed law
violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom and
a California law that makes regulating medical procedures a
function of the state, not cities.
      Giorgi's ruling confirmed a tentative decision she issued a day
earlier and came after she heard arguments from proponents of the
ban, which would have made San Francisco the first U.S. city to
hold a public vote on whether to outlaw the circumcision of minors.

      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)
AP-NY-07-29-11 0337EDT


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