PRAYER VIGIL HELD FOR AMISH SCHOOL SHOOTING VICTIMS, FAMILIES
LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) _ Christian singer Michael W. Smith has
joined local pastors at a prayer vigil for the victims and families
of Monday's Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania.
After leading an overflow crowd in hymns at a Lancaster church,
Smith stood before the congregation and said, ``We're not safe
anymore, are we?''
He and members of the clergy prayed that God would heal the
wounded, comfort those grieving for the five girls who were killed
and protect schools from further attacks.
Several ministers also prayed for the wife and children of the
Smith sang ``This Is Your Time,'' a song he wrote about one of
the victims of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings.
GUNMAN'S WIFE WAS IN PRAYER GROUP AS HE ATTACKED AMISH SCHOOL
QUARRYVILLE, Pa. (AP) _ While Charles Carl Roberts invaded an
Amish school where he killed five girls and wounded five others
before killing himself, his wife was attending a meeting of a
prayer group she led that prayed for the Pennsylvania community's
The Reverend Kristine Hileman says the ``Moms In Touch'' prayer
group met at her church in Quarryville Monday morning, and met
again Tuesday without Roberts' widow so they could pray for her.
Hileman says, ``We love her deeply. We love her children. We'd
love for her to stay in the community.'' The minister adds, ``We
will do anything that we can to make her life better.''
But Hileman says, ``The face of evil is alive and well on planet
Earth, and we saw it here.''
AMISH GIRLS' FUNERALS TO BE HELD THURSDAY AND FRIDAY
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ Funerals for four of the Amish girls shot
to death by an outsider at their Pennsylvania school are to be held
Thursday, with the last one on Friday.
The Amish do not have church buildings, but Christian faith
pervades their culture. Their funerals, conducted entirely in
German, focus on praising God rather than the deceased.
There's no singing at Amish funerals, but the ministers read
Bible passages, hymns and prayers.
After being carried in a horse-drawn carriage to the cemetery,
the coffin is lowered into a rough wooden box in a hand-dug grave.
A bishop then reads a hymn as dirt is shoveled over it.
Religious scholar Donald Kraybill says grieving women will then
dress in black for months.
CHURCH-PRODUCED FILM WAS WEEKEND'S 12TH-HIGHEST GROSSING MOVIE
ALBANY, Ga. (AP) _ An inspirational movie produced by a Baptist
church in Georgia with an amateur cast and crew has already earned
its first (m) million dollars at the box office.
``Facing the Giants'' opened at 441 theaters across the country
this past Friday and went on to become the weekend's 12th-highest
Written and produced by pastors at Albany's Sherwood Baptist
Church, ``Facing the Giants'' focuses on a chronically losing high
school football team and the personal problems of its coach. The
coach turns to God to resolve his problems and persuades the team
to become winners by doing the same.
Associate Pastor Stephen Kendrick says the movie's performance
was impressive, but even more thrilling were reports that it
strengthened people's faith -- a major reason for making the movie.
SOME NEVADA CLERGY SUPPORT LEGALIZING MARIJUANA
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Some Nevada clergy support legalizing the sale
or possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults while
stiffening penalties for sales to youths and driving under the
At least 33 members of the clergy have endorsed Question Seven
on the November election ballot, which could make Nevada the first
state to let people 21 and older legally possess small amounts of
marijuana and buy it at government regulated and state-taxed pot
The clergy say that would cut down on minors' access to
marijuana, reduce gang-related violence and generate money for
state treatment programs instead of making drug dealers rich.
CHRISTIAN GROUP SUES UNIVERSITY FOR DENYING RECOGNITION
MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ The University of Wisconsin-Superior is
being sued in federal court for refusing to recognize a Christian
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship President Alec Hill says the
group's campus chapter was denied recognition because it allows
only Christians to serve as officers.
Hill says that requirement is essential to his group's identity
and mission. To require otherwise, he says, would be like making a
Vegan club let meat-eaters be officers.
Hill adds that the university's policy conflicts with a recent
federal appeals court ruling that forced Southern Illinois
University to reinstate the Christian Legal Society despite its
requirement that members pledge to adhere to Christian beliefs.
EVANGELIST FILES FREE SPEECH LAWSUIT AGAINST UNIVERSITY
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) _ A fiery Pentecostal evangelist who preaches
at campuses nationwide is suing Murray State University for denying
him speaking privileges at the Kentucky school's student center.
James Gilles (GIL'-us), who goes by ``Brother Jim,'' says he was
allowed to speak around the M-S-U campus, including at the student
center, several times in the past without incident, but two years
ago was told that he couldn't do so again unless he was sponsored
by a campus organization.
The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Gilles in the
lawsuit, says ``Christians seeking to express their faith in public
should not be treated as second-class citizens.''
A Murray State spokeswoman said the school wouldn't discuss
A-C-L-U: SETTLEMENT REACHED IN SCHOOL PRAYER DISPUTE
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The American Civil Liberties Union says it
has reached a settlement with Southeastern Louisiana University and
the Tangipahoa (tan-jih-pah-HOH'-uh) Parish School Board over a
lawsuit filed by a student teacher.
Cynthia Thompson's lawsuit claimed that she was punished for
speaking out against classroom devotionals. Thompson said she saw
fourth-graders exposed to constant prayer and proselytizing.
When she complained, Thompson said Southeastern Louisiana
University forced her out of the student teaching program, denied
her a university degree and a chance at a teaching certificate.
The A-C-L-U says that under the settlement, the university will
remove the failing grade she received for the student teaching
course and permit her to enroll again so she can graduate.
OFFICIALS URGED TO BAN HARRY POTTER BOOKS FROM SCHOOL LIBRARIES
ATLANTA (AP) _ A suburban Atlanta mother has pleaded with a
hearing officer for the state Board of Education to remove Harry
Potter books from school libraries.
Laura Mallory calls the popular fiction series an attempt to
indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion. She says teachers
don't assign other religious books like the Bible as student
Referring to the rash of deadly assaults at schools, Mallory
said books that promote evil -- as she claims the Potter ones do --
help foster the kind of culture where school shootings happen.
But Victoria Sweeny, an attorney representing the Gwinnett
(gwin-ET') County Board of Education, responded that if schools
were to remove all books containing reference to witches, they
would have to ban mainstays like ``Macbeth'' and ``Cinderella'' as
The hearing officer will make a recommendation to the state
board, which will decide the case at its meeting in December.
EX-CONGRESSMAN SAYS HE WAS MOLESTED AS A YOUTH BY CLERGY
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Disgraced former Congressman Mark
Foley has announced through his lawyer that he was molested by a
member of the clergy when he was a young adolescent.
Attorney David Roth says Foley was molested between ages 13 and
15 by a clergyman. He declined to identify the clergyman or the
church, but Foley is Roman Catholic.
Roth also acknowledged for the first time that the former
congressman is gay, but insisted that Foley never had any
inappropriate sexual contact with a minor.
Foley represented his Florida district for 12 years until he
abruptly resigned last week after being accused of sending lurid
Internet messages to teenage boys who served as pages on Capitol
Hill. The F-B-I and Florida law enforcement officials are
investigating whether he violated any laws.
GERMAN OPERA URGED TO REVIVE OPERA THAT COULD OFFEND MUSLIMS
BERLIN (AP) _ Pressure is growing on the German Opera in Berlin
to rescind its cancellation of a production that depicted the
beheading of Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha.
Opera director Kirsten Harms defended her decision to cancel
production of the Mozart opera over fears that Muslims could react
violently to the scene.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned against ``self
censorship out of fear.'' While some might find the opera
offensive, she said, ``It is not forbidden in Germany to feel
Berlin's top security official also calls the cancellation a
mistake, and Germany's top Lutheran bishop has added his voice to
those calling for the opera to be re-staged.