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Public Schools and Church; Church Attacks in Kenya; Ministry to Help Gays

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CHURCH SCHOOL SPACE
    
Judge gives NYC churches continuing access to public schools
    
NEW YORK (AP) - A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction that allows religious congregations in New York City to continue holding Sunday worship services in public schools.
    
Pastor Mark Gregory of Cross Way Church and Christian Center in the Bronx says his congregation burst into applause when he announced the news at Sunday's service.
    
City lawyers had argued that worship services in public schools amounted to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.
    
But federal Judge Loretta Preska ruled Friday that it's the city's worship ban that was unconstitutional because it violated the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion. She also ruled the city violated the establishment clause by trying to define "worship."
    
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jordan Lorence, who represented the churches, said the permanent injunction allows them to continue meeting "in empty school buildings on weekends on the same terms as other groups."
    

    
KENYA-CHURCH ATTACKS
    
Kenya police: church attacks kill 15, wound 40
    
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Officials in Kenya say gunmen killed two policemen guarding a church, snatched their rifles and then opened fire on worshippers, killing 15 people and wounding 40.
    
A police commander says two gunmen entered the African Inland Church in the city of Garissa on Sunday morning while two others waited outside. He says when the congregation fled the building, they ran straight into another hail of bullets from gunmen outside, and at least one grenade was detonated in the attack. The gunmen then fled.
    
Police were guarding the church because of the increasingly dangerous security situation near the border with Somalia and because Somalia's Islamist militants have made Christian churches a common target.
    
Officials say another grenade attack in Garissa, this one against the Roman Catholic cathedral, left three people hospitalized Sunday.
    
In Washington, the White House issued a statement condemning the church attacks.
    

UNESCO-NATIVITY CHURCH
    
Palestinians: UN heritage nod is political victory
    
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) - Palestinians have persuaded the U.N. cultural agency to list the Church of the Nativity - the place where Christians believe Jesus was born - as an endangered World Heritage site despite misgivings by churches in charge of the basilica.
    
The Palestinians hailed the nod by UNESCO as a step forward in their quest for global recognition of an independent Palestine.
    
The centuries-old basilica is located in a part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank where the Palestinians have self-rule. UNESCO's decision was seen by them as validation of their rights to the territory.
    
Israel and the U.S. opposed the emergency bid. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The world needs to remember that the Church of the Nativity that is so sacred to Christianity was desecrated in the past by Palestinian terrorists."
    
Christian denominations also were opposed, fearing UNESCO meddling in affairs of the church.
    
Sound: 3:06 aed
    
EXODUS-GAYS
    
Ministry seeks to help gays live biblically
    
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The president of the Christian ministry Exodus International says he's found that the opposite of homosexuality isn't heterosexuality, but "the pursuit of holiness."
    
Alan Chambers admits that while he's now married to a woman, he still sometimes is attracted to men. But he says that's no different than Christians who continue to struggle with other temptations. In his words, "We all struggle with something."
    
Critics of Exodus International, which wrapped up its annual conference in Minnesota's Twin Cities over the weekend, sometimes scoff that it encourages conflicted homosexuals to "pray away the gay."
    
But Chambers told KTIS radio that while the ministry does maintain that sex should only be between a husband and wife, "The point isn't really going from gay to straight; the point for us is a transformed heart, a renewed relationship with Christ."
    

    
ISRAEL-WARTIME POPE
    
Israel memorial softens view of WWII pope
    
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's national Holocaust memorial has toned down its account of Pope Pius XII's conduct toward the massacre of Jews during World War II, following a long diplomatic dispute with the Vatican.
    
Critics have long contended that Pius, who was pope from 1939 to 1958, could have done more to stop the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were killed. Before his election as pope, he also served as the Vatican's No. 2 and before that as the papal envoy to Germany.
    
Given his deep involvement in the Vatican's diplomatic affairs with the Nazis, what Pius did or didn't do during the war has become the single most divisive issue in Vatican-Jewish relations.
    
A wall panel at the Yad Vashem memorial installed on Sunday still lists occasions when the wartime pontiff did not protest the slaughter of Europe's Jews. But it also offers the views of defenders who say the church's "neutrality" helped to save lives.
    
GERMANY-CIRCUMCISION
    
German minister moves to calm circumcision fears
    
BERLIN (AP) - Germany's foreign minister is offering assurance that Germany protects religious traditions after a court ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent.
    
Last week, a state court in Cologne ruled that the child's right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents' rights. The ruling was strongly criticized by the head of Germany's Central Council of Jews. Muslim leaders also expressed concern.
    
In a statement Sunday, Germany's foreign minister said his country protects the free exercise of religion, including "religious traditions."
    
Circumcision of newborn Jews has been practiced for thousands of years. Muslims also circumcise young boys, while many other parents request it on health grounds.
    
PRIEST ABUSE-TRIAL
    
Pa. monsignor seeks prison release, plans appeal
    
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Lawyers for an imprisoned Roman Catholic official will push this week to have him released on house arrest to await sentencing in Philadelphia in August.
    
Lawyers for Monsignor William Lynn plan to argue at a bail hearing Thursday that he has a good chance of having his conviction thrown out on appeal.
    
Lynn has been in prison since he was convicted June 22 of felony child endangerment.
    
The 61-year-old priest faces up to seven years in prison.
    
Defense lawyers say the endangerment law shouldn't apply to Lynn because he never "supervised" any individual children.
    
Lynn oversaw clergy abuse complaints at the Philadelphia archdiocese from 1992 to 2004.
    
He is the first U.S. church official ever charged for his handling of abuse claims.
    
MALI
    
Mali Islamists to continue destroying UNESCO sites
    
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) - A spokesman for an Islamist group says they plan to keep destroying historic UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mali's historic city of Timbuktu before implementing strict Shariah law.
    
A group spokesman said Sunday that Islamists will continue the destruction they started Saturday.
    
Mali's government said in a statement that it condemns the destruction of the centuries-old Muslim saints' tombs. It says the destruction is akin to "war crimes" that will be prosecuted at a national and international level.
    
Timbuktu was a center of Islamic learning as far back as the 12th century.
    
Islamist fighters have declared they now control the northern half of Mali after driving out an ethnic Tuareg separatist group. The rebel groups took advantage of a power vacuum created by a March coup in the capital to seize ground in the north.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

7/2/2012 2:31:52 AM (GMT -5:00)

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