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Don't Cut Aid to Poor Say Religious Clergy; Underground Church in China; Dan Peek Dies; LDS Church Fires

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DEBT SHOWDOWN-CLERGY

Religious leaders urge Congress not to cut aid to poor

WASHINGTON (AP) - About a dozen religious leaders at a prayer

rally on Capitol Hill have urged Congress not to cut programs that

help the poor.

The clerics quoted scriptures in support of what they called a

"compassionate federal budget."

Sister Simone Campbell said it would be a sin for lawmakers to

reduce aid to the needy, but acknowledged that it might take a

miracle to resolve the current debt impasse.

The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said

the nation's children should be protected both from poverty and

from "a legacy of rising debt."

Other religious leaders have warned that deficit spending

amounts to theft from future generations.

Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and

Democracy, says Christian compassion isn't necessarily measured by

the "size and scope of the federal welfare state."

 

OBIT-PEEK

Dan Peek, founding member of band America, dies

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Dan Peek, a founding member of the popular

1970s band America who had a subsequent career in Contemporary

Christian music, has died at the age of 60.

Peek's wife, Catherine, found him dead Sunday in bed at his home

in Farmington, Mo., according to his father. The cause of death was

not known, and an autopsy was planned.

In a 2006 CBN interview, Peek said he had a Christian upbringing

but turned his back on it and abused drugs after the band achieved

success with songs like "A Horse With No Name" and "Ventura

Highway."

Peek told CBN that he became miserable, turned to God in prayer

and quit the band in 1977.

His first solo album in 1979, "All Things Are Possible,"

reached No. 1 on the Contemporary Christian Music chart and was

nominated for a Grammy Award.

Peek and his wife had no children. His funeral will be Monday at

Farmington's Presbyterian Church.

 

CHINA-UNDERGROUND CHURCH

Underground church pastor sent to China labor camp

BEIJING (AP) - The China Aid Association says an underground

Protestant leader has been sentenced to two years in a labor camp

as China cracks down on unapproved churches.

The U.S.-based monitoring group says Pastor Shi Enhao was

sentenced over the weekend for organizing illegal religious

gatherings. He had been detained June 21.

Labor camp sentences are handed out without trial and can be

extended beyond the usual two-year term.

China Aid says the 55-year-old Shi's church also was ordered to

cease meeting, and its car, cash donations, musical instruments and

even choir robes were seized by police.

The expansion and growing influence of unofficial churches has

unsettled China's rulers, who are always suspicious of any

independent social group that could challenge Communist authority.

RECRUITERS SHOT

Shooter in Ark. soldier killing sentenced to life

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Muslim convert charged with shooting

two U.S. soldiers outside a recruiting station in Arkansas has been

spared the death penalty after his victims' families prayed

together and then agreed to a plea deal.

A judge on Monday sentenced Abdulhakim Muhammad to life in

prison without parole for killing Army Pvt. William Andrew Long.

Six relatives and the soldier Muhammad wounded agreed to accept

the plea deal rather than face the prospect of lengthy appeals and

the possibility that Muhammad could go free if the trial continued.

Muhammad has said the shooting was justified because American

troops were killing his fellow Muslims in the Middle East.

LDS CHURCH FIRES

Man gets probation in Mormon arson cases

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah man is getting probation after

police say he crawled through the windows of two South Salt Lake

Mormon church buildings last fall and set fire to furnishings.

Judge Judith Atherton ordered 27-year-old Patrick Adam Ehat to

spend three years on probation, complete mental health counseling

and pay restitution. Ehat pleaded guilty to arson charges last

week.

Authorities say Ehat spread a liquid fuel on the sacrament

table, podium, organ and piano in one building, and ignited a couch

in the other.

Ehat reportedly told police he felt the Mormon church lied to

him.

The Deseret News reports that Ehat's childhood friends say he

served on a church mission in Brazil.

CATHOLIC ADOPTIONS-GAY

S. Ill. Catholics want to join foster care suit

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Catholic Social Services of Southern

Illinois is asking to join a lawsuit against the state over foster

placements to gay couples.

The organization is affiliated with the Belleville diocese.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ended

its foster-care and adoption services with Catholic Charities July

1 because the group won't send kids to live with gay couples.

Catholic Charities sued on behalf of dioceses in Springfield,

Peoria and Joliet. The lawsuit says the state's civil unions law

does not require it to place children with unmarried couples.

Sangamon County Judge John Schmidt has ruled that the

foster-care contracts must stay in place until an August hearing.

VATICAN ENVOY ILL

Vatican envoy to US hospitalized in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) - Catholic church officials say the Vatican's

envoy to the United States has been readmitted to Johns Hopkins

Hospital with complications after recent lung surgery.

The U.S. Conference of Bishops and Apostolic Nunciature said the

Rev. Pietro Sambi has been placed on assisted ventilation after

suffering complications from "delicate" lung surgery early this

month.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh said Sambi was readmitted to the Baltimore

hospital, but declined to comment on his condition.

Sambi, one of Pope Benedict's first major appointees, has served

as the papal representative to the U.S. since 2006.

DALLAS-SEX CLUB

Judge closes club that claimed to be religious

DALLAS (AP) - A judge has closed a Dallas establishment run by a

man who calls it a religious mission, but has allegedly been found

by Dallas police to be a sex club.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Dallas city attorney's office

said it had obtained a temporary restraining order against Glenn

Hudson to close his establishment, The Playground.

In its court petition, the city said Dallas police vice officers

had determined in an undercover operation that the business was a

"swingers' club" operating in a space that had a certificate of

occupancy for a church, mosque or synagogue.

The Associated Press could find no working telephone number for

Hudson. However, the city statement says Hudson called his business

a religious "outreach mission."

A court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 3.

 

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

 

AP-NY-07-27-11 0330EDT

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