Obama, Romney attend Sunday worship services with families
WOLFEBORO, N.H. (AP) — President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have attended Sunday worship services with their families before the campaign's final 11 weeks and the approaching party nominating conventions.
Obama, his wife and their two daughters attended services at St. John's Episcopal Church, across the street from the White House.
The pastor there lamented the recent shootings at a Colorado movie theater and at the Family Research Council in Washington, and urged worshippers not to feed on the hatred and violence of the world, but on Jesus Christ and his message.
Romney attended the Mormon church near his summer home in Wolfeboro, N.H., with his wife, Ann, and six of their grandchildren. The children's parents, Tagg and Jennifer Romney, also attended. One grandson, Johnny, spent much of the service seated on his grandmother's lap — and a briefer time on his grandfather's lap — quietly paging through children's picture books.
The Wolfeboro congregation, accustomed to seeing the Romneys there in summer months, paid no special attention to the family.
166-v-31-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor)--President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have attended Sunday worship services with their families before the campaign's final 11 weeks and the approaching party nominating conventions. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (19 Aug 2012)
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RELIGIOUS RIGHTS REPORT
Report cites growing hostility to religion in U.S.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Two conservative Christian groups are warning of growing hostility to religious expression in the United States.
A report by Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council lists hundreds of instances in recent years, including lawsuits filed by atheist groups and administrative actions by government officials.
Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford says Democrats as well as Republicans will be urged to make protection of Americans' religious rights a part of their party platforms this election year. He predicts that if the parties fail to do so, voters will "make them pay."
At issue are applications of the First Amendment's clauses banning establishment of religion while protecting its free exercise.
Shackelford says growing hostility toward religious expression can lead to violence like last week's shooting at the Washington headquarters of the Family Research Council that left an unarmed guard wounded.
241-a-11-(Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, in AP interview)-"kept in private"-Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, says a new report details increased efforts to stifle religious expression in the U.S. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *241 (08/19/12)>> 00:11 "kept in private"
244-a-10-(Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, in AP interview)-"make them pay"-Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, says protecting Americans' religious rights should be part of this year's political platforms. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *244 (08/19/12)>> 00:10 "make them pay"
245-a-14-(Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, in AP interview)-"actual physical attacks"-Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, says growing hostility to religious expression can lead to violence. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *245 (08/19/12)>> 00:14 "actual physical attacks"
242-a-15-(Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, in AP interview)-"including, quote, G-O-D"-Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, says Americans of all ages face efforts to limit religious expression. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *242 (08/19/12)>> 00:15 "including, quote, G-O-D"
243-a-10-(Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, in AP interview)-"came into existence"-Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, says Democrats as well as Republicans should pledge to protect religious liberty. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *243 (08/19/12)>> 00:10 "came into existence"
246-a-12-(Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, in AP interview)-"that we're seeing"-Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, says Americans should be alarmed at efforts to restrict religious expression. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *246 (08/19/12)>> 00:12 "that we're seeing"
Atheist groups protest prayers at Pa. meetings
GREENCASTLE, Pa. (AP) — Two atheist groups are challenging a Pennsylvania school board's practice of saying prayers before beginning meetings.
WHTM-TV reports that the push in Franklin County comes from Pennsylvania Non-Believers and American Atheists Inc.
Shortly after the Greencastle-Antrim School Board opened a meeting with the Lord's Prayer on Thursday, two people spoke against the practice. Carl Silverman of PA Non-Believers called it "a clear constitutional violation" and threatened legal action. He said he has gotten complaints from district residents who were too afraid to come forward.
Superintendent Greg Hoover said he had been attending board meetings for a quarter of a century and the meetings had always started with the Lord's Prayer. He said "No one's ever said a word." Board members declined comment.
Court won't hear challenge to God reference
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to a ruling that allows a reference to "Almighty God" in the state homeland security law.
The Courier-Journal reports that justices issued an order last week saying they would not review the case, which was brought by residents represented by the group American Atheists. The order means a ruling by the Kentucky Court of Appeals upholding the reference stands.
The plaintiffs had claimed in a 2008 suit that the law was a violation of constitutional bans on state-sponsored religion.
Edwin Kagin, the legal director for American Atheists, said his clients will consider whether to drop the case or appeal it to the federal level.
Hundreds pray for boys lost in Merced River
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of people at an Anaheim, Calif., church have prayed for the family of a 10-year-old boy who drowned after being swept away by the Merced River and whose 6-year-old brother remains missing.
The Orange County Register reports that about 400 churchgoers attended a service Saturday at Calvary Chapel remembering Andres Adams and his brother, Jacob, who was missing but presumed dead.
The two boys were swept away Wednesday in a rough stretch of the Merced River during a side trip to Yosemite Valley. The boys and their mother were on a church retreat when a hike to see Vernal Fall turned to tragedy. The mother suffered injuries trying to save them.
The mother, an adult son and the two boys had stepped into the water below the Vernal Fall Footbridge to cool off on a day when temperatures were in the 90s. Somehow the boys ended up in white water about 15 feet from the banks and were carried away.
Andres Adams died soon after he was pulled from the water, about 150 yards from where he was caught in the currents.
Ohio pastor thinks fire tied to support of gays
SOUTH BLOOMINGVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The pastor of an Ohio church destroyed by an arsonist thinks the fire is related to the congregation's support for gays and lesbians.
Investigators have ruled that the fire discovered early Friday was intentionally set.
The Rev. Scott Davis of South Bloomingville Christian Church says they've received threats in the past. He says he thinks the church was a target of a hate crime because it welcomes gay, lesbian and transgender worshippers.
Davis bought the church near Hocking Hills State Park two years ago and opened it for services in 2011.
He's vowing to rebuild.
END OF RAMADAN
Muslims begin celebrating Eid, the end of Ramadan
UNDATED (AP) — Muslims around have started celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of Ramadan.
The Muslim holy month is devoted to dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayers, good deeds and abstinence from worldly pleasures. In many places, Eid is celebrated for up to three days and is a public holiday.
Quinn addresses Muslims, signs law to aid students
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is calling for respect and tolerance of religious differences as Muslims mark the end of their holy month of Ramadan.
Quinn spoke at a Muslim prayer service in Bridgeview on Sunday. He said he honors Muslims' commitment to their faith and will "vigorously protect" the right of Illinois' more than 400,000 Muslims to practice it.
He renounced recent incidences of violence and intimidation based on religion.
The governor also signed a new law to protect college students who miss a class or exam because they're observing a religious holiday. It takes effect Jan. 1.
Assad appears in public, thousands demonstrate against Syrian government
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad has made his first public appearance since last month's bombing that killed four of his top security officials.
Assad was seen on state TV praying at a mosque near the presidential palace, marking the start of a Muslim holiday.
Residents of Damascus say security forces surrounded several central mosques in the capital, possibly to confuse people about where Assad would attend the traditional holiday prayers.
Elsewhere in Syria, thousands staged anti-government protests in mosques and cemeteries after prayers marking the three-day holiday. Amateur video posted on the Internet shows a large group of worshippers in Damascus chanting that "Assad is the enemy of God."
111-c-15-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)-"blast last month"-AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo reports Syria's president has made his first public appearance in weeks. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *111 (08/19/12)>> 00:15 "blast last month"
110-v-30-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)--Syria's president has made a rare public appearance. More from AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo. (19 Aug 2012)
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112-c-12-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)-"enemy of God"-AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo reports Syria's president has appeared in public for the first time in weeks. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *112 (08/19/12)>> 00:12 "enemy of God"
075-r-08-(Sound of gunfire during street battles, between rebels and government forces)--Sound of gunfire during street battles between rebels and government forces. (19 Aug 2012)
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Pope says Orthodox-Catholic meeting raises hope
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) — Pope Benedict has hailed as an important step a meeting in Poland between the leaders of Russia's Orthodox church and Poland's Catholic hierarchy.
Poland and Russia have feuded for centuries, and their ties are marked by distrust.
Benedict praised the goodwill efforts by Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Jozef Michalik who met in a ceremony in Warsaw on Friday. The pope, speaking to Polish pilgrims at his summer residence near Rome on Sunday, says both sides declared their desire to work together to spread Christian values.
The Russian Orthodox Church has accused the Vatican of poaching converts in Russia. Those tensions prevented Pope John Paul II from visiting Russia.
Madonna sued in Russia for supporting gays
MOSCOW (AP) — Some Russian activists have sued Madonna for millions of dollars, claiming they were offended by her support for gay rights during a recent concert in St. Petersburg.
Anti-gay sentiment is strong in Russia. In St. Petersburg, a law passed in February makes it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors, and the author of that law has pointed to the presence of children as young as 12 at Madonna's concert on Aug. 9.
The complaint includes a video taken at the concert showing Madonna stomping on an Orthodox cross and asking fans to raise their hands to show the pink armbands in support of gays and lesbians.
Madonna also has angered conservative Russians with her support for members of a punk band sentenced to two years in prison for a protest inside Moscow's main cathedral against Vladimir Putin and his cozy relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church.
130-c-16-(Lynn Berry, AP correspondent)-"it was held"-AP correspondent Lynn Berry reports the singer Madonna has been sued in Russia for promoting gay rights at one of her concerts. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *130 (08/19/12)>> 00:16 "it was held"
131-c-16-(Lynn Berry, AP correspondent)-"at Madonna's concert"-AP correspondent Lynn Berry reports homosexuality and the promotion of gay rights are not accepted in some parts of Russia. (19 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *131 (08/19/12)>> 00:16 "at Madonna's concert"
Bomber kills 7 Russian policemen at funeral
ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) — Officials in southern Russia say a suicide bomber blew himself up as policemen gathered Sunday for the funeral of a slain colleague, killing at least seven of the policemen and badly wounding 12 other people.
The funeral was held at the home of an officer who had been shot dead the night before by militants in Ingushetia, one of the predominantly Muslim republics in Russia's restive North Caucasus region.
In the nearby republic of Dagestan, police say two masked gunmen burst into a Shiite mosque during Saturday evening prayers and opened fire, wounding eight people.
Shiites are a minority in Dagestan and throughout the North Caucasus, where an Islamic insurgency has raged for years.
The latest attacks took place as Muslims in Russia and around the world prepared for the feast that celebrates the end of their holy month of Ramadan.