Update on the latest religion news


Obama: Easter story helps him in troubled times

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the Easter story of Jesus Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection has helped him get through the tough moments of an embattled presidency.

The president got "Amens" from religious leaders at Wednesday's White House Easter Prayer Breakfast as he recounted Jesus saying, "In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world."

Attendees included Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith (leeth) Anderson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, evangelist Louie Giglio (GIHG'-lee-oh) and Christian artist Sara Groves, who sang "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."

This is the third year Obama has hosted an Easter prayer breakfast. Obama joked that it would provide "a little calm before the storm" when the White House opens its gates to thousands of children for the annual Easter Egg Roll next Monday.

291-a-12-(President Barack Obama, speaking at White House Easter Prayer Breakfast)-"He is risen"-President Obama says Easter is a time to remember Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. (4 Apr 2012)

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293-a-05-(President Barack Obama, speaking at White House Easter Prayer Breakfast)-"vote for me"-President Obama says he and first lady Michelle Obama appreciate when people say they're praying for them. (4 Apr 2012)

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290-a-04-(President Barack Obama, speaking at White House Easter Prayer Breakfast)-"of the resurrection"-President Obama says Easter -- when Christians celebrate Jesus Christ rising from the dead -- is a time of great joy. (4 Apr 2012)

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292-a-21-(President Barack Obama, speaking at White House Easter Prayer Breakfast)-"overcome the world (laughter fades)"-President Obama says God offers comfort to the afflicted. ((note length of cut)) (4 Apr 2012)

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Hatch: Obama might attack Romney on Mormon faith

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is warning supporters that Mitt Romney's Mormon faith could be attacked by Democrats during the presidential campaign.

Hatch told state Republican delegates that President Barack Obama's campaign could make Romney's religious beliefs an issue. The senator's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, said Wednesday that the topic came up during a campaign event Tuesday in northern Utah.

More than 60 percent of Utah residents are Mormons, and Romney is extremely popular in the state.

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, dismisses the suggestion that the party would attack a candidate's religion.

Wasserman Schultz told MSNBC that Obama, whose citizenship has been challenged and Christian faith doubted by opponents, wouldn't stoop to that level of criticism.


Pope donates huge chocolate Easter egg

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict has been given an enormous Easter egg at the Vatican.

The pontiff was presented Wednesday with a 550-pound, 7-foot tall chocolate Easter egg by Italian chocolatier Tosca, which specializes in oversized cocoa confections.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said Benedict plans to donate the egg, which features the papal coat of arms, to a juvenile detention center in Rome.

In Italy, children traditionally receive a big chocolate egg with a prize inside on Easter Sunday.


Condo group says Jewish woman can keep mezuzah

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) — A condominium association that ordered a Jewish woman to remove a religious symbol from her doorway has apologized for what it calls a misunderstanding and says the symbol can stay.

The California Condominium Association of Stratford, Conn., ordered Barbara Cadranel to remove the mezuzah last week and warned that she faced a $50 penalty for each day it remained because the condo board hadn't approved it. A mezuzah is a decorative box containing a religious scroll that a Jewish family attaches to its front doorpost.

The association's lawyer, Kurt Ahlberg, said board members didn't know what a mezuzah was. He said Cadranel won't be fined.

Cadranel and Jewish groups had said they were outraged by the association's order, especially since her neighbors had crosses and Easter decorations on their doors.


Gay high school student sues Ohio district over 'Jesus' T-shirt

CINCINNATI (AP) — A gay student whose Ohio school prohibited him from wearing a T-shirt bearing the message "Jesus Is Not A Homophobe" says his right to freedom of expression is being violated.

The mother of 16-year-old junior Maverick Couch filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf against the Wayne Local School District and its Waynesville High School principal. The lawsuit claims Couch has been threatened by school officials with suspension if he wears the shirt. Officials at the public school told him the shirt is "sexual in nature" and inappropriate.

Couch said he wants to wear the shirt at school on April 20 to show support for the Day of Silence, an annual event held nationally for students to draw attention to bullying and harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.


7 killed in sect violence in north Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Police and witnesses say suspected members of a radical Islamist sect have opened fire on a crowded market in northeast Nigeria, killing at least seven people.

The shooting happened in Maiduguri — the spiritual home of the sect known as Boko Haram.

The attack appeared to target Christian traders who work in Maiduguri's central market. Witnesses said soldiers who stood guard nearby fired wildly in the air to disperse civilians, but were unable to stop the escaping gunmen.

While the Nigerian military sought to downplay the attack, it showed Boko Haram's ability to strike at will.

The sect has demanded the introduction of strict Islamic law across the country, even in Christian areas.


Rare Bible now housed at Stevenson University

BALTIMORE (AP) — A first edition of the King James Bible is going on display with other rare Bibles at Stevenson University in Maryland.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the 1611 King James Bible and the other books are on loan from the Maryland Bible Society. The public will be able to view them April 12 at the Stevenson library.

The society will still own the Bibles under a long-term agreement with the university, signed last week.

The Bible Society decided that it lacked the space to show off its collection of antique editions. About 175 first-editions of the King James version are known to exist worldwide, and they can sell for six figures.

Also in the collection are an 1807 Bible from Edinburgh, translated into Gaelic, and a 1788 Bible from Nuremberg.


Accuser calls priest 'sexual predator' at trial

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 30-year-old former Marine has testified in a landmark clergy abuse case that he was a good child with a bright future until he was molested by a priest he described as a "sexual predator."

The man described a life of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide attempts and a criminal history including robbery and fraud that defined his life after what he testified was a sexual assault by the Rev. James Brennan.

Brennan is charged with raping the man when he was a 14-year-old boy in 1996. The man, who was discharged from the Marines because of mental health issues, wept as he testified about being molested at Brennan's apartment in West Chester.

Brennan is on trial with Monsignor William Lynn, the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. charged with endangering children for allegedly keeping predator priests in parish work. Both have pleaded not guilty.

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