Prayer in North Carolina; Ramadan in the White House; National Guard Post Chapel; Prison Inmate...


County to appeal prayer case to US Supreme Court

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina county wants to make

its case to the U.S. Supreme Court that public meetings should be

allowed to open with prayers referring to Jesus Christ.

A federal appeals court ruled last month in favor of two Forsyth

County residents who sued after a 2007 commissioners meeting opened

with a prayer in the name of Jesus.

One of the appeals court judges pointed out that most of the

invocations given before meetings referred to "Jesus," "Jesus

Christ," "Christ" or "Savior."

Commission vice chair Debra Conrad said that reflects the

county's religious makeup and should be permissible because clergy

of all faiths are welcome to lead prayers.

The commissioners voted Monday to appeal the court's ban on

prayers that mention specific deities as long as outside

foundations continue to pay legal fees.



NFL's Abdullah brothers invited to White House for Ramadan

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona Cardinals safety Hamza Abdullah

and his brother, Husain, safety for the Minnesota Vikings, have

been invited to a White House dinner tonight with President Barack


The two will attend this evening's Iftar Dinner celebrating the

Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Arizona's Abdullah says he was stunned and initially thought the

invitation was a fake.

He called it a "humbling experience" and looked forward to

shaking the president's hand. He called Obama "a stand-up guy"

who is "for equality, regardless of ethnicity, religious

background or class."

Abdullah will be in Oakland in time for Arizona's preseason

opener Thursday night against the Raiders.


Okla. gov. seeks public support for base chapel

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has asked the

public to help raise about $500,000 to build a chapel at the Camp

Gruber Army National Guard training post.

The post hasn't had a site for religious gatherings since it was

reactivated in 1977.

Flanked by officials with the Oklahoma Army National Guard and

several vendors who have donated materials and labor for the

chapel's construction, Fallin said a nonprofit group has been set

up to seek public donations and support.

A groundbreaking for the interfaith chapel is tentatively set

for Sept. 7. The goal is to have construction of the facility

completed by spring 2012, when about 3,200 soldiers with the

Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade return from

Afghanistan and Kuwait.


Music minister charged with shocking pastor

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - A minister of music has been charged with

using a Taser to shock the pastor of an Alabama church during a

fight over pay.

The Mobile County Sheriff's Office says the fight happened

Sunday at New Welcome Baptist Church.

Authorities say Pastor Daryl Riley handed the minister of music,

Simone Moore, his final check and said he would no longer be

needed. Moore disagreed over the pay and shocked the pastor during

an ensuring argument. He was charged with second-degree assault.

Several other church members were involved in the brawl.

Officials say Deacon Harvey Hunt stabbed the music minister's

mother, Agolia Moore. Hunt was charged with third-degree assault.


Md. gov, archbishop at odds over same-sex marriage

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is

Roman Catholic, has released private letters showing he rejected

the spiritual guidance of his archbishop.

In a letter last month, Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien urged

O'Malley not to sponsor same-sex marriage legislation because it

"deeply conflicts" with the governor's Catholic faith.

O'Malley responded that he has a public obligation to change

laws he considers unjust.

The governor announced on July 22 that he will make legalizing

same-sex marriage a top priority by sponsoring a bill in Maryland's

2012 legislative session.


Ex-NJ Gov. McGreevey now mentors women inmates

KEARNY, N.J. (AP) - Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey has a

ministry mentoring women inmates seven years after announcing that

he was gay and resigning over an affair with a male staffer.

McGreevey is the spiritual counselor to 40 women incarcerated at

the Hudson County Correctional Center, one of New Jersey's largest

jails. The women are part of a pilot program addressing problems

that keep them returning to jail.

The 54-year-old former governor came to jailhouse ministry after

enrolling in an Episcopal seminary in 2007, three years after he

abruptly resigned as governor.

He hopes to be an ordained priest someday, but that ambition has

been delayed by the church because of his public resignation and

bitter divorce.

McGreevey now lives with his male partner and their four dogs.




Inmate loses quest to have `Satanic Bible'

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A federal judge says an Illinois

prison inmate doesn't have a right to "The Satanic Bible" behind


After a one-day trial Monday in East St. Louis, U.S. Magistrate

Judge Donald Wilkerson cited security concerns in rejecting Kevin

Halfmann's claims that he needs the book to practice his religion.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that witnesses testified

that "The Satanic Bible" hasn't been allowed in Illinois prisons

since at least 1990 because of its potential to incite hatred and


The 36-year-old Halfmann is a former Catholic serving time for

predatory criminal sexual assault.


Polygamist leader gets life in prison for assault

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) - Polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs

has been sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting a

12-year-old girl he took as a bride.

The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter

Day Saints also received a 20-year sentence for the sexual assault

of a 15-year-old girl.

He stood quietly Tuesday as the decision of the Texas jury was

read. He received the maximum sentence on both counts. They are to

be served consecutively.

The 55-year-old Jeffs contended that he was being persecuted for

his religious beliefs.

His church teaches that polygamy brings exaltation in heaven,

and has more than 10,000 followers who consider Jeffs to be God's

spokesman on Earth.




No shame for religious killings in Indonesian town

CIKEUSIK, Indonesia (AP) - Residents of an Indonesian town are

celebrating the release from prison of a teenager who smashed in

the skull of an Ahmadiyah Muslim.

Dani bin Misra and other suspects received relatively light

sentences for the ferocious attack that left three Ahmadiyah

Muslims dead in February.

Other Ahmadiyah Muslims, who many mainstream Muslims view as

heretics, fled the town after the attack.

Residents called Dani a hero and said their village had to be


Their reaction is part of a wider wave of intolerance against

religious minorities that is tarnishing Indonesia's image as a

place where Islam and liberalism can coexist.


Philippines shuts art show that offended Christians

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Officials at the state-run Cultural

Center of the Philippines have shut down an art exhibit that

critics said mocked and desecrated Christian symbols.

The decision by the center's board of directors came a day after

former first lady and art patron Imelda Marcos joined politicians

and Roman Catholic church leaders in denouncing the exhibit.

The board said it made the decision because of "an increasing

number of threats to persons and property," including the artists

and the cultural center staff.

President Benigno Aquino II described the art exhibit as

offensive to the 85 percent of Filipinos who are Christian like



(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


AP-NY-08-10-11 0331EDT


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