AP Religion Roundup - Immigration Activist Hides in Church to Avoid Deportation - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

August 17, 2006

AP Religion Roundup - Immigration Activist Hides in Church to Avoid Deportation

IMMIGRATION ACTIVIST HOLES UP IN CHURCH TO AVOID DEPORTATION

CHICAGO (AP) _ A Methodist immigration activist has holed up in
a Chicago church with her son, seeking sanctuary instead of turning
herself in for deportation to Mexico.

Immigration officials say there's nothing stopping them from
removing Elvira Arellano (el-VEER'-uh ahr-ay-AH'-noh) from
Adalberto (ah-dahl-BAYR'-toh) United Methodist Church and sending
her back to Mexico. But they won't say how and when they plan to
end the standoff.

Arellano was deported once in 1997. Arrested again in 2002, she
was convicted of working under a false Social Security number and
was ordered to report for deportation on Tuesday. Instead, she
moved into the church with her seven-year-old son, who is a U-S
citizen.

Her pastor says church leaders prayed about Arellano's situation
and have offered her sanctuary.

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY TO MOBILIZE CHRISTIANS FOR NOVEMBER ELECTIONS

DENVER (AP) _ The political arm of Focus on the Family will work
to get out the Christian vote in this November's elections.

Senior vice president Tom Minnery says voter registration drives
and political rallies will be held in states with close Senate
races, because Senate control will determine whether conservative
justices can be confirmed to federal courts.

The Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of
Church and State charges that the Focus activities are
thinly-veiled efforts to elect Republicans and warns churches that
participate could lose their tax-exempt status.

But Minnery insists that the Focus events will be
issue-oriented, non-partisan and fully legal.

PRAYER GROUP SUPPORTING G-O-P GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A Tennessee prayer group is offering
Republican gubernatorial nominee Jim Bryson spiritual support in
his campaign.

The ``Bryson Prayer Force'' is inviting others to join its 80
members in praying regularly for Bryson, his family and campaign
staff.

An e-mail sent by the group suggests that recipients ``pray for
an open heaven over Jim and his team in each Tennessee county they
visit, that the gates of each county would open to him and his
team, and that the Lord's divine favor will be granted to him
everywhere he goes.''

A spokesman for Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen's campaign says
the incumbent Democrat has no equivalent support group, adding that
it's a form of campaigning he hasn't seen before.

IN FUNDRAISER, PRIEST SIGNS UP FOR DEMOLITION DERBY

BARTON, Vt. (AP) _ The Reverend Daniel Rupp does a bang-up job
raising money for his church.

This Sunday, the 39-year-old priest will drive in a demolition
derby to raise money for a trip to Rome by teachers at Conversion
of St. Paul Catholic Church in Barton, Vermont.

It remains to be seen whether he'll turn the other bumper.

The event, a noisy-but-beloved fixture at the local county fair,
features jalopies ramming into one another on a section of the
fairground's half-mile dirt track.

The county fair's president says Father Rupp had ``better have
some angels watching over him.''

One of the priest's sponsors is a local funeral home, which Rupp
jokes has ``the most to gain.''

His car's number will be 28:14, reflecting the verse in the
Bible's book of Acts where Paul arrives in Rome. Rupp thought it
apt, since he's hoping to get the group from St. Paul's to Rome.

 CHURCH COUNCIL GIVES DONATIONS TO MINERS' FAMILIES

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ The West Virginia Council of Churches
has handed out checks to the families of the Sago Mine crew at a
picnic at the governor's mansion.

The Council of Churches collected more than 600-thousand dollars
from more than two-thousand donors for victims of both the Sago and
Alma Number One Mine disasters in January.

The council did not say how much money each of the Sago families
received Wednesday, but the gifts were the second from the fund.

A relative of one of the Sago miners said the first checks were
for nine-thousand dollars each.

The new checks were issued to the executor of each man's estate.
The money is intended to be used for educational investment, but
can also be used for things like health care.

Twelve men died in the Sago mine, while survivor Randal McCloy
Junior was severely injured.

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS REMOVAL OF BIBLE FROM COURTHOUSE MONUMENT

HOUSTON (AP) _ A three-judge federal panel has voted two-to-one
to uphold a ruling that forced the removal of a Bible from a
monument in front of Houston's Harris County courthouse.

The monument originally was erected in 1956 to honor a donor to
homeless programs. The Bible became part of the lighted display in
1995, when the monument was refurbished.

The majority said that the monument was secular in purpose when
it was erected, but that its character changed when it was
refurbished.

The dissenting justice accused his judicial colleagues of
exhibiting ``an appalling hostility to any hint of religion in
public spaces.''

Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford says the decision is likely
to be appealed.

CLERGY TREAT ABORTION, GAY MARRIAGE AS UNSETTLED ISSUES

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ Clergy and lay church leaders who don't
oppose abortion and gay marriage have held a closed-door meeting in
Rapid City, South Dakota.

The pastor of the United Church of Christ which hosted the
seminar said he's angry that so many Christians demand orthodoxy on
what he believes should be non-essential and debatable issues.

Tuesday's seminar, which was closed to the media and public,
attracted about 30 clergy and lay leaders from 15 churches, and
featured speakers from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive
Choice and the Network for Spiritual Progressives.

The Reverend Marc Stewart of Rapid City says invitations were
sent to ``mainline'' churches where the issue of abortion is
unsettled, open or divisive.

GAY LUTHERAN PASTOR COULD BE DEFROCKED

ATLANTA (AP) _ A gay pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America could be defrocked after revealing that he's in a
long-term relationship with another man.

The Reverend Bradley Schmeling of St. John's Lutheran Church in
Atlanta had revealed he was gay when he became pastor six years
ago, but he was single at the time.

The denomination only bans sexually-active gays and lesbians
from becoming ministers.

Schmeling said he had promised Bishop Ronald Warren that he
would come forward if he entered into a relationship, which he did
after spending two years with his boyfriend.

Warren asked the pastor to resign, which he refused to do, so
the bishop has asked a disciplinary committee to decide whether
they should revoke Schmeling's clergy credentials.

EX-DIOCESE FINANCE CHIEF CHARGED WITH DIVERTING CHURCH FUNDS

CLEVELAND (AP) _ The former financial chief of Ohio's largest
Roman Catholic diocese has been charged with scheming to divert
750-thousand dollars in church funds to himself and a friend.

Joseph H. Smith is charged with 23 counts, including making
false personal income tax returns, money laundering, mail fraud and
conspiracy.

Also charged is Smith's friend, who once worked under him at the
Diocese of Cleveland.

Lawyers for both men have proclaimed their clients' innocence.

The federal indictment alleges that Smith diverted money
collected from members of the diocese's 233 parishes from 1997
until he resigned in 2004.

SCHOLARS CALL FOR UPDATE TO MUSLIM HOLIDAY TRADITION

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Muslim practice of following a strict lunar
calendar, requiring a naked-eye sighting of the new moon to start a
holiday the next morning, has divided the Muslim community on its
most sacred days.

Now a scholarly panel that advises American Muslims is trying to
end the confusion.

The Fiqh (fek) Council of North America says it will no longer
rely on moon sightings to determine the start of holidays and will
instead use astronomical calculations. The panel has released an
Islamic calendar that runs through 2011.

The schedule problem is more than a minor inconvenience. School
calendars and vacation time from work, for instance, depend on
knowing dates in advance.

Muhammad taught that the holiday marking the end of Ramadan
comes the morning after a nighttime sighting of the new moon.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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