IRAN'S EX-PRESIDENT MAKES RELIGIOUS APPEAL FOR PEACE
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Speaking at Washington National Cathedral,
former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami (HAH'-tah-mee) has issued
a religious appeal for peace and reconciliation.
The black-turbaned cleric didn't talk about tensions over Iran's
nuclear program, but did say people of faith should ``rescue life
from the claws of warmongers and violence-seekers.''
Episcopal Bishop John Chane defended the invitation that was
extended to Khatami, who critics say presided over Iran while
religious persecution and other human rights abuses worsened.
About 200 protesters chanted ``Shame on you'' from across the
street before Khatami spoke.
But Chane said Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God
and ``need each other now more than any other time in the history
of the world.''
SENATOR SAYS PERSECUTION WORSENED UNDER IRAN'S EX-LEADER
CAPITOL HILL (AP) _ Senator Sam Brownback says Iran's former
president should be asked why religious persecution and other human
rights violations got worse during his eight years in office.
The Kansas Republican spoke on the Senate floor as Mohammed
Khatami (HAH'-tah-mee) prepared to speak at Washington National
Cathedral on the need for interfaith efforts to promote peace.
Brownback noted that as president in 2000, Khatami told
Iranians, ``If we abide by the Quran, all of us should mobilize to
Brownback said Iran's current leaders are determined to drive
the United States out of the Middle East, destroy Israel and
establish an Islamic dictatorship.
CHRISTIANS STILL ON DEATH ROW IN INDONESIA
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Fabianus Tibo prays each night that he
won't be dragged from his cell before dawn and shoved in front of a
firing squad. But the convicted Christian militant, on death row
with two others for an attack that killed at least 70 Muslims,
realizes time may be running out.
Thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets to demand the
Christians be killed, with some of the protesters threatening holy
war if the slayings are not avenged.
The three Christians insist that their 2001 trial was a sham.
Indonesia's government insists the executions will take place
despite pleas for pardons and the granting of one last-minute delay
JUDGE ORDERS SCHOOL TO END BIBLE HANDOUT TO STUDENTS
ST. LOUIS (AP) _ A federal judge says a public school in
Annapolis, Missouri, must end a Bible giveaway program for
fifth-graders until she issues a final order.
Judge Catherine Perry's preliminary injunction says South Iron
Elementary School wrongly allowed the Bible handouts solely to
promote Christianity to students.
Many other schools also have stopped distribution of the
pocket-sized Gideon Bibles, often in response to lawsuits filed by
the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Gideons International distribute (m) millions of Bibles each
year in hotels, prisons, hospitals and schools.
APPEALS COURT HEARS APPEAL IN INDIANA HOUSE PRAYER CASE
CHICAGO (AP) _ A three-judge federal panel has been asked to
overturn a judge's ban on prayers in the Indiana House of
Representatives that mention Jesus Christ or use terms such as
Judge David Hamilton ruled last year that such prayers, even
when delivered by guest ministers, amount to an unconstitutional
state endorsement of Christianity.
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma says the federal appeals court
recognizes that the ruling, if it's allowed to stand, could affect
prayers before Congress and other legislative bodies.
The U-S Justice Department joined Bosma in seeking a reversal of
Hamilton's decision, noting that Congress has always opened its
sessions with prayers that frequently include ``references to
particular religious deities.''
BISHOP OFFERS PRAYER AND WELCOME AT IMMIGRATION RALLY
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Roman Catholic bishop has welcomed and
prayed for thousands of people at a rally outside the U-S Capitol
for a comprehensive immigration bill.
Bishop Francisco Gonzales, the auxiliary bishop of Washington,
told the predominantly Hispanic crowd that ``we are challenged by
Jesus to welcome the stranger.''
He prayed in Spanish and English that Congress would enact a
just immigration reform law.
House Republicans are crafting new bills to crack down on
illegal immigrants while closing the door for now on broader
legislation that would give them legal status.
YUSUF ISLAM, FORMERLY CAT STEVENS, TO RELEASE POP ALBUM
NEW YORK (AP) _ The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens will
release his first pop album in 28 years this fall. The album,
titled ``An Other Cup,'' is set for release in November.
Cat Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam after converting to
Islam in the late 1970s.
In a statement, the 58-year-old singer-songwriter says, ``I feel
right about making music and singing about life in this fragile
world again.'' He adds, ``It is important for me to be able to help
bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to
CONSERVATIVE JEWISH LEADER PREDICTS BAN ON GAY RABBIS WILL END
NEW YORK (AP) _ A leader of the Conservative branch of Judaism
is traveling the United States to prepare synagogues for a
potentially divisive change: allowing the ordination of openly gay
Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United
Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, says a committee of scholars who
interpret Jewish law will likely loosen the current prohibition
when they vote in December. But he expects the scholars to also let
synagogues that believe Jewish law condemns same-sex relationships
hire only heterosexual rabbis.
In recent years, many Conservative Jews have joined the more
liberal Reform stream, which has surpassed the Conservative branch
as the largest in America. The Reform movement ordains gays.
For Conservative Jews seeking more rigorous observance, the
Orthodox branch has become a popular choice. The Orthodox strictly
adhere to Jewish law, prohibiting women and gays from becoming
ZOROASTRIAN DEATH RITES QUESTIONED
MUMBAI, India (AP) _ In Mumbai, India -- formerly known as
Bombay -- Zoroastrians for centuries have wrapped their dead in
white muslin and left them at a leafy funeral ground to be devoured
by vultures. Only then, according to tenets of the ancient
religion, can the soul be freed.
But with just a handful of vultures remaining in the city, and
with solar panels that speed up decomposition working poorly during
monsoon rains, some Zoroastrians are demanding a change.
When a mourning woman learned that her mother's corpse would
take at least a year to decompose, she slipped into the grounds --
a place few Zoroastrians are allowed to enter -- and took video
footage and photographs of rotting corpses and body parts.
Those pictures have sparked a furor over the ancient rituals.
Some Zoroastrians want to be allowed to pray over their dead at the
funeral grounds and then cremate bodies elsewhere.
EX-MAYOR TO APPEAL CONVICTION FOR RAIDING CHURCH CHARITY
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ Both sides are appealing in the case of
former Lynchburg, Virginia, Mayor Carl Hutcherson Junior, who was
convicted in May of raiding his church's charity and stealing from
disabled Social Security recipients.
Hutcherson's attorneys filed notice that his conviction on
charges of fraud, lying to federal officials and obstructing
justice will be appealed to the Fourth U-S Circuit Court of
Appeals, but said Hutcherson accepts the sentence imposed by
federal Judge James Turk.
Turk sentenced Hutcherson to three years probation and six
months of house arrest, plus fines and restitution. Turk also
ordered Hutcherson to continue receiving treatment for depression
and alcohol abuse through a program administered by the Reverend
Jerry Falwell's church.
Federal prosecutors said they'd appeal because they believe the
sentence is too lenient.
LAWSUIT CLAIMS DIOCESE CONCEALED PRIEST'S PAST MOLESTATION
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) _ A ten (m) million dollar sex abuse
lawsuit has been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of
The 29-year-old plaintiff alleges that former Nashville priest
Ed McKeown began sexually abusing him at age eleven in 1988, a year
before McKeown was forced out of the priesthood.
The lawsuit claims ``that the diocese had previously received
other allegations that Father McKeown sexually abused minors.''
McKeown is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for
raping and molesting another man.