ABORTION OPPONENTS LAMENT SPIRITUAL STATE OF THE UNION
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Speakers at the March for Life in Washington
say the spiritual state of the union is grim because of abortion.
Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey said it will
take prayer, fasting and hard work to end what he called
``America's dark night of child slaughter.''
The Reverend Luke Robinson, who pastors an African Methodist
Episcopal church in Maryland, said abortion has produced a
``genocide'' in the black community and wondered whether
African-American churches have been ``bought out and silenced by a
(b) billion dollar industry.''
But the president of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan
Washington called the marchers ``small-minded single-issue mean
people'' who should ``put their silly outdated notions down.''
BUSH TELLS ABORTION OPPONENTS HIS PRAYER AND PLEDGE
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush has told thousands of abortion
foes at the annual March for Life that he prays for the day when
every child is welcomed into life and is protected by law.
In a brief telephone call, the president also signaled his
unchanged opposition to a key goal of the Democrats who now control
Congress: broadening embryonic stem-cell research.
Bush said, ``We must pursue medical advances in the name of
life, not at the expense of it.''
Last year, Bush vetoed a bill that its advocates said could lead
to disease cures from embryonic stem cells, but abortion opponents
say such research destroys innocent human life.
ABORTION OPPONENTS TELL CASEY THEY'LL PRAY FOR HIM
CAPITOL HILL (AP) _ Abortion opponents have told Democratic
Senator Bob Casey that they'll be praying for him -- and watching
how he votes.
Hundreds of Pennsylvanians on Capitol Hill for the annual March
for Life met with Casey, who defeated Republican Rick Sanctorum --
one of the Senate's most ardent opponents of abortion.
Casey said he's opposed to abortion based upon biology rather
than his Roman Catholic faith.
The freshman senator drew widespread groans when he explained
his support for the morning-after pill. Casey said he believes
that's contraception, not abortion.
CATHOLICS URGED TO OPPOSE STATE FUNDING FOR EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ North Carolina's Roman Catholics are
being urged by their bishops to oppose any state legislation that
would fund research on embryonic stem cells.
Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis (JOO'-gus) and Raleigh Bishop
Michael Burbidge have told priests to educate their parishioners
about the church's opposition to research that destroys human
Supporters of embryonic stem cell research contend it could
produce treatments or cures for dozens of diseases, and that the
embryos used would otherwise be discarded from fertility clinics.
But in an interview, Jugis said, ``These embryos are our
brothers and sisters.'' The Charlotte bishop notes everyone was
``once in the embryonic stage.''
BAPTIST SEMINARY DISMISSED FEMALE PROFESSOR WHO TAUGHT MEN
DALLAS (AP) _ A Southern Baptist seminary has dismissed a female
professor because the denomination doesn't allow female pastors and
she was teaching future pastors.
Sheri Klouda (KLOW'-duh) received her doctorate from
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was hired to teach
Hebrew in 2002. But Klouda says she was later told that her
contract would not be renewed because she's a woman. She's now a
professor at Taylor University in Indiana.
Van McClain, chairman of the Southwestern trustees, says the
school is taking the ``biblical position'' and calls Klouda's
hiring a ``momentary lax of the parameters'' of the seminary.
But the Reverend Wade Burleson, a Southern Baptist pastor and
blogger, says a professor is not a pastor and it was immoral for
the seminary to hire Klouda and then remove her because of her
BELLEVUE BAPTIST FIRES LONGTIME MINISTER FOR ALLEGED ABUSE
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis,
Tennessee, has fired a minister who was suspended over sexual abuse
Paul Williams was terminated after 34 years as a minister at the
huge church that was once led by the Reverend Adrian Rogers, a
Southern Baptist leader who died in 2005.
Williams was on paid leave pending an investigation of what the
church called a ``moral failure'' 17 years ago. Some church members
said the claims involved abuse of a child.
David Coombs, the administrative pastor who headed the church's
investigation, said there was no evidence of any subsequent
Bellevue's senior pastor, the Reverend Steve Gaines, has been
under fire from some for not acting promptly when he learned about
the matter last June.
TOP SAUDI CLERIC CALLS SHIITES INFIDELS WHO SHOULD BE EXPELLED
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ In Saudi Arabia, a top Sunni cleric has
declared that Shiite Muslims are heretics who should be expelled
from Sunni lands.
Abdullah bin Jabrain, a key member of the Saudi clerical
establishment, joins other leaders of the kingdom's Wahhabi school
of Sunni Islam who reject Shiites as infidels. In a statement
posted on Islamic Web sites, bin Jabrain condemns Shiites as ``the
most vicious enemy of Muslims.''
Last month, another top Saudi cleric said Shiites are worse than
Jews or Christians.
Thousands of Iraqis have been killed this year in sectarian
bloodshed between the majority Shiites and the Sunni Arab minority,
who lost their dominance after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni but has a significant Shiite
ISRAEL SAYS JEWISH CONVERT CONSPIRED WITH HIS MUSLIM MILITANT BROTHER
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Asaf Ben-David, an Israeli Jew, is facing
charges of conspiring to carry out a terror attack with a wanted
Palestinian militant -- his brother.
Ben-David, a 38-year-old father of four, was born in the West
Bank as a Palestinian Muslim.
In the early 1990s, he found work in Israel, where he converted
to Judaism, changed his name, lived as an Orthodox Jew, married an
Israeli woman and raised a family.
For years, Ben-David had little contact with his Palestinian
relatives. Then last month, the Israeli army killed his brother, an
Islamic Jihad militant, in a West Bank gun battle. Last week,
Ben-David was indicted on charges of helping his brother plan a
deadly attack against Israelis.
Ben-David's lawyer says his client has denied any involvement in
CHINA WELCOMES VATICAN ATTEMPTS TO MEND TIES
BEIJING (AP) _ A leader of China's state-backed Catholic church
has welcomed a newly-announced Vatican initiative to repair
ruptured relations with Beijing and says a promised letter from
Pope Benedict to Chinese Roman Catholics could be helpful.
China's official Catholic church refuses to recognize the
Vatican's authority, while many clergy and ordinary Catholics
remain loyal to the pope and have been persecuted for it.
But in a telephone interview, the state Catholic church's vice
chairman expressed hope that ``the pope's letter will show his love
of China's churches'' and ``improve Chinese-Vatican ties.''
Catholic tradition invests the pope with the authority to name
bishops, but China and its state-backed church claim that right and
ordained three bishops in 2006 without Vatican approval.
FRENCH PRIEST AND HOMELESS ADVOCATE DIES AT 94
PARIS (AP) _ Abbe Pierre, a French priest renowned for devoting
his life to helping the homeless, using prayer and provocation to
tackle misery, has died at the age of 94.
The founder of the international Emmaus (eh-MAY'-us) Community
for the poor, Abbe Pierre served as France's conscience since the
1950s when he persuaded parliament to pass a law forbidding
landlords to expel tenants during winter months.
A former monk, Resistance fighter and parliamentarian, Abbe
Pierre long remained spry and determined despite the infirmities of
old age. Last year, he spoke to parliament from his wheelchair,
urging lawmakers not to reform a law on low-income housing.
French President Jacques Chirac said in a statement, ``We have
lost a great figure, a conscience, an incarnation of goodness.''