Obama administration opposes adding FDR prayer to war memorial

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is opposing

legislation that would add President Franklin Roosevelt's D-Day

prayer to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

At a House hearing Thursday, Robert Abbey, director of the

Bureau of Land Management, said a plaque or inscription of the

prayer that Roosevelt read on a radio broadcast to the nation on

June 6, 1944, would "dilute" the memorial's central message.

As U.S. and allied troops launched the invasion that led to the

defeat of Nazi Germany, FDR asked the nation to join him in prayer.

He then asked God to give the allied troops courage and faith,

saying, "With thy blessing we shall prevail over the unholy forces

of our enemy."

A World War II veteran, 87-year-old George "Poppy" Fowler,

told a House committee that the prayer should be added to the

memorial. He said, "This prayer came at a perilous time, yet it

was answered in victory at a dear cost of lives."

The legislation calls for the plaque or inscription to be paid

for with private donations.


Catholics debate primacy of conscience over church teachings

WASHINGTON (AP) - Is it more important for Catholics to follow

their consciences, or church teachings?

Many Catholic politicians feel free to ignore church teachings

on abortion, gay marriage and other issues.

At a congressional hearing this week, Jon O'Brien, president of

Catholics for Choice, testified that most American Catholic women

ignore the church's ban on birth control, and are right to do so

because they believe it's right even if the Vatican says it's


O'Brien, whose group also promotes abortion rights, said obeying

church teachings instead of one's conscience would be a mortal sin.

But Congressman Tim Murphy angrily rejected that view. The

Pennsylvania Republican said, "It is not our duty as Catholics to

tell God what He should do." Instead, he said, "It is up to us to

shape our conscience to conform with the teachings He's given us."

Murphy said that when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the

Ten Commandments, he didn't say "What do you think, folks?"


Quinn: It's `Christian' to give award at event

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has defended

his decision to present an award at an abortion-rights function as

"a proper, Christian thing to do" despite withering criticism

from the state's Catholic bishops.

Quinn will recognize Jennie Goodman Nov. 17 at the pro-choice

Personal PAC's annual luncheon.

Goodman was raped and is active in speaking out for other

victims. Goodman also appeared in a campaign ad last fall

criticizing Quinn's opponent for wanting to outlaw abortions with

no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

Quinn is a Catholic Democrat. In Chicago on Thursday he brushed

off the criticism, saying he's following his conscience.

The bishops slammed Quinn for aligning himself with a group they

said supports "the legal right to kill children in their mothers'



Gay rights groups decry Mass. Catholic devil essay

BOSTON (AP) - Gay rights groups say they're pleased the oldest

Roman Catholic newspaper in the United States has retracted an

opinion column suggesting the devil may be responsible for gay


The column in the Boston archdiocese's The Pilot newspaper was

titled "Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction." It

was written by an adviser at the U.S. Conference of Catholic

Bishops. It said "scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction

most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a

spiritual explanation that indicts the devil."

The 182-year-old newspaper withdrew the online column Wednesday

and posted the author's apology.

The gay Catholics group DignityUSA says the column was

outrageous and inflicted "tremendous damage on the souls" of gay



Polish monk on threatened flight thanks God, pilot

WARSAW, Poland (AP) - A Roman Catholic friar aboard the Boeing

plane that made an emergency landing in Poland says he gripped a

tiny lock of hair of the recently beatified Pope John Paul II as he

prayed for the passengers' survival - but credits the pilot as much

as God in averting a disaster.

Father Piotr Chyla told The Associated press that he made the

sign of the cross and whispered final absolution for all the 231

people on board while the pilot guided the plane to the ground

without wheels after its landing gear failed to deploy.

Chyla says he credits God, as well as the planes' captain and

crew, for the safe landing that some in Poland have hailed as


Passengers have described the landing as so smooth they thought

it was normal - at least until they saw smoke, flames and sparks

rising from the plane. Emergency workers doused the plane and

nobody was hurt.


Prayer gathering in Detroit has Muslims on guard

DETROIT (AP) - A 24-hour prayer gathering expected to draw

thousands of Christians to a Detroit sports stadium has some

leaders of the area's large Muslim population concerned about their


The event described as a "solemn assembly" and known as

TheCall comes to Detroit's Ford Field Nov. 11. Organizers say

Detroit is a "microcosm of our national crisis" that includes

economic and racial struggles, as well as "the rising tide of the

Islamic movement."

Backers of the decade-old organization believe demons have taken

hold of specific geographic areas and urge public engagement.

Muslim leaders fear some attendees might provoke or disrupt

Friday prayers at local mosques. The Council on American-Islamic

Relations' Michigan chapter is urging local mosques and Islamic

schools to step up security.


ACLU criticizes Lakeview district graduation

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union has

sent a letter to the Lakeview Community Schools in Columbus, Neb.,

saying the high school graduation ceremonies violate students'

First Amendment religious rights.

The ACLU of Nebraska says it doesn't matter that Lakeview's

ceremonies are conducted by an outside group. The ACLU says its

review of district materials shows the ceremonies, which include

prayers, carry an overwhelming message that they are endorsed by

the district.

The ACLU says courts have ruled that schools may not exploit

events to promote religion or permit outsiders to do so.

Superintendent Russ Freeman says parents run the graduation

ceremonies and he thinks the district has done nothing wrong.


Convict got mixed up in satanic cult, teacher says

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A man who taught Sunday school to a

Connecticut man facing a possible death sentence for a deadly home

invasion has told a jury that the defendant got mixed up with a

satanic cult as a teenager.

Armen Abrahamian testified Thursday is the sentencing phase of

Joshua Komisarjevsky's (koh-mih-sar-JEV'-skeez) trial.

Komisarjevsky faces life in prison or the death penalty for

killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters in their home in


Abrahamian says that around 1995, one of Komisarjevsky's mentors

rescued him from a home where a satanic ritual was taking place.

Abrahamian described Komisarjevsky as a troubled teen who wanted to

run away.

The defense says his religious family was opposed to

psychological counseling and medications, so they turned to prayers

and pastoral mentoring instead.


Muslim pilgrims gather in Saudi Arabia for hajj

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Saudi authorities say nearly 2.5

million Muslims have gathered in Mecca for the annual hajj

pilgrimage, seeking forgiveness for their sins and meditating on

their faith.

This year's hajj, which starts Saturday, takes place amid

protests in the Arab world that have toppled autocrats in Tunisia,

Egypt and Libya.

The pilgrimage, which all able-bodied Muslims are required to

make once in their lives, is packed with symbolism and ritual aimed

at cleansing the soul of sin and winning absolution.

It culminates when the pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat where

Mohammed is said to have given his last sermon 14 centuries ago.

During the ritual Muslims believe God will grant whatever prayers

they make. Pilgrims then cast pebbles at three pillars that

represent Satan.


Nun dies in 11th self-immolation among Tibetans

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese state media say a Buddhist nun has died

after setting herself on fire in the 11th case of self-immolation

among Tibetans in western China in recent months.

The official Xinhua News Agency says it was unclear why the

woman, about 35 years old, killed herself Thursday along a road in

Sichuan province. But the 10 others who have set themselves on fire

since March were seen as having acted in protest to Chinese

restrictions on the Tibetan religion and culture.

Xinhua says the local government is investigating the latest

case. Phone calls to local authorities rang unanswered Thursday



Scientology appeals French fraud conviction

PARIS (AP) - The appeal for the Church of Scientology's

conviction on fraud has opened in a Paris court.

In 2009, a court convicted the church's French branch, its

bookstore and six of its leaders of organized fraud. The group was

accused of pressuring members into paying large sums for

questionable remedies and using "commercial harassment" against


The group and bookstore were fined $830,000. Four leaders were

given suspended sentences of between 10 months and two years. Two

others were also fined.

Defense lawyers for the church maintain that the conviction

curtails freedom of religion and association.

France does not consider Scientology a religion.


Gay arts festival faces condemnation in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Gay rights activists in

Muslim-majority Malaysia are facing mounting pressure to scrap

their annual "Sexual Independence" arts festival.

The festival has been held in Malaysia's capital since 2008, but

growing awareness of the event has led to criticism by politicians

and religious leaders.

Activities planned for next week's festival themed "Queer

Without Fear" include singing performances, talks on sexuality and

a makeup workshop by a Malaysian drag queen.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Thursday

called the event inappropriate and "a waste of time."

Malaysian media censorship rules forbid movies and songs that

promote acceptance of gays.


Malaysia to ban Obedient Wives Club's sex book

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysian authorities say they

plan to ban a book about sex published by a group of Muslim women

who call themselves the Obedient Wives Club and advocate

subservience to husbands.

The Malay-language book titled "Islamic Sex" is not available

at stores but is believed to have been read by hundreds of members

of the club.

Despite its provocative title, the book is mainly about the club

founder's experiences and opinions on marriage. It contains no

explicit photographs but has several passages on how couples should

physically and spiritually handle sex.

A Home Ministry official said Thursday that the government

recommended banning the book because it could cause confusion among

Malaysia's Muslim majority about acceptable religious teachings.

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

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