Religious Broadcasters Host Heated Debate; Iraq War's Spiritual Implications - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

AP Religion Roundup - February 20, 2006

Religious Broadcasters Host Heated Debate; Iraq War's Spiritual Implications

RELIGIOUS BROADCASTERS HOST HEATED DEBATE

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ The National Religious Broadcasters
convention, which attracted more than six-thousand people, has
wrapped up with an awards banquet and a heated public policy
debate.

Two of the nation's top Christian lawyers, Jay Sekulow
(SEK'-yoo-loh) and Mat Staver, clashed with atheist Michael Newdow
and Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and
State.

Sekulow argued that public expressions of faith, like the words
``under God'' in the Pledge of Allegiance, are constitutional and a
part of America's heritage.

Newdow responded that slavery is part of America's heritage too,
but we don't celebrate that.

Lynn said religions shouldn't receive taxpayer support or try to
turn their morals into laws.

Staver argued that there's a difference between acknowledgment
and establishment of religion.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT LAUNCHES PROGRAM TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says
the Justice Department is launching a new program to protect
Americans from religious discrimination.

Gonzales told Southern Baptist leaders that the First Freedom
Project will hold educational seminars about religious
discrimination throughout the country in coming months.

The attorney general also announced plans to create a Religious
Freedom Task Force to review religious discrimination cases and
policies.

Earlier this month, the Southern Baptist Convention gave
President Bush an award for advocating religious freedom.

SUPREME COURT WON'T REVIEW PUBLIC SCHOOL NATIVITY POLICY

SUPREME COURT (AP) _ The U-S Supreme Court has decided not to
review a New York City policy that bans public school displays of
Nativity scenes but allows Santa Claus, reindeers, Christmas trees
and symbols of Jewish and Islamic holidays.

The nation's highest court chose not to re-examine an appeals
court decision against the claim filed by Andrea Skoros, a Roman
Catholic mother of two sons who attended public schools. She first
filed the case in 2002 in Brooklyn federal court.

Skoros had claimed that the city's policy promoted and endorsed
the religions of Judaism and Islam and conveyed a message of
disapproval toward Christianity.

CHRIS TOMLIN, JARS OF CLAY, LEAD DOVE AWARD NOMINEES

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) _ Christian singer Chris Tomlin, the
Dove Awards' 2006 artist of the year, has been nominated for nine
Doves this year, including another nod for artist of the year.

Tomlin received the most nominations, followed by Jars of Clay
with six. The Crabb Family and newcomers Aaron Shust (shoost) and
the group Leeland had five each.

Tomlin says he just tries ``to write songs that give people a
voice to worship God.''

This year's Dove Awards will be held April 27th at the Grand Ole
Opry House in Nashville. The show will be televised in national
syndication in May.

On the Net: www.doveawards.com

EVANGELICAL LEADER SAYS CHRISTIANS SEE WAR'S SPIRITUAL DIMENSION

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ An evangelical leader says conservative
Christians support President Bush's war on terror more than other
Americans because they understand the conflict's spiritual
dimension.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, says
evangelicals see it as a war between good and evil, because they
have a ``Biblical world view.''

Perkins says Christians and radical Muslims operate from
different sacred texts. In his words, ``One says love, which is our
text; the other says kill, which is their text.''

Perkins says defeating radical Islam will require a strong
military, diplomacy, and Christian humanitarian and missionary
work.

EVANGELIST D. JAMES KENNEDY STILL HOSPITALIZED

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ The evangelist who was to have been last
night's keynote speaker at the National Religious Broadcasters
convention, the Reverend D. James Kennedy, remains hospitalized
nearly two months after suffering a nearly fatal heart attack.

The 76-year-old founder of Coral Ridge Ministries is
communicative, eating and continuing to strengthen, according to
Coral Ridge Executive Vice President Brian Fisher.

Kennedy had a pacemaker-debrillator implanted a week after the
December 28th heart attack at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Fisher says Kennedy's recovery is taking longer than hoped, but
the evangelist's prognosis is good as he continues rehabilitation
in hopes of going home and returning to work.

EPISCOPAL LEADER ASKS FOR PATIENCE AFTER ANGLICAN DEMANDS TO END SUPPORT FOR GAYS

NEW YORK (AP) _ Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts
Schori (SHOHR'-ee) is asking church members to be patient after
fellow Anglican leaders demanded the U-S denomination step back
from its support for gays or risk losing its full membership in the
world Anglican Communion.

Schori says Anglican leaders have asked all sides in the fight
over the Bible and homosexuality to ``forbear for a season'' in
hopes of forging a compromise.

At the end of a summit Monday in Tanzania (tan-zuh-NEE'-uh),
which Jefferts Schori attended, Anglican leaders demanded that the
Episcopal Church unequivocally bar official prayers for gay couples
and the consecration of more gay bishops by September 30th or risk
its status in the communion.

Anglican leaders also suggested creating a special vicar for
Episcopalians who reject the authority of Jefferts Schori, who
supports gay relationships.

LESBIANS ARRESTED AT FOCUS ON THE FAMILY HEADQUARTERS

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ Two lesbian activists have been
arrested after refusing to leave the lobby at the Focus on the
Family complex in Colorado Springs until they could speak to
founder James Dobson.

Dotti Berry and Robynne Stapp, a lesbian couple from Blaine,
Washington, were arrested Monday afternoon on suspicion of
trespassing, according to their group, Soulforce.

In a statement issued by Soulforce, the women said they were
protesting Focus' teaching that homosexuals can become
heterosexual.

Soulforce officials said Berry and Stapp are the first
participants in a campaign called ``Focus on the Facts.''

FOUR MISSIONARIES KIDNAPPED IN NIGERIA

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Four Mormon missionaries are being held
hostage in Nigeria's southern oil region, an area plagued by recent
unrest.

Church spokesman Mark Tuttle says the four men are Nigerians
between the ages of 19 and 21.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the abduction occurred
Saturday.

Tuttle says the Mormon church is not commenting on the
kidnappers' demands but is working with local officials to secure
the missionaries' release.

FORMER MISSIONARY BIDS FOR JOB AS RELIEF PITCHER

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) _ Matt Lindstrom might be the
hardest-throwing Swedish-speaking former Mormon missionary in
baseball.

It's a large leap from Stockholm to the big leagues, but
Lindstrom has a shot at becoming the Florida Marlins' closer this
season.

A fastball clocked last fall at 102 miles-per-hour makes the
rookie right-hander a strong candidate, and his missionary
background may help, too. Idaho native Lindstrom spent two years in
Sweden, where he went door to door trying to spread the Mormon
faith, in Swedish, with decidedly mixed results. He was once
chastised by a 350-pound bus driver who said Mormons try to steal
money.

In comparison, nursing a lead in the ninth inning might seem
stress-free.

CLERGY TO PARTICIPATE IN VATICAN SOCCER TOURNAMENT

ROME (AP) _ Italian soccer has not been a pious spectacle of
late, with riots and scandals marring a game that is practically a
religion in Italy.

Sports officials now hope clergymen from 50 nations can bring
faith to soccer as they take to the field for the first time in a
tournament for priests and seminarians kicking off Saturday.

Catholic institutes have entered 16 teams in the Clericus Cup,
fielding 311 athletes from countries including the United States,
Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Rwanda.

The Clericus Cup will run through June, with most games being
played at a Vatican soccer field in Rome.

NEW CHURCH BUILDING TO INCLUDE ENVIRONMENTAL FEATURES

LIVE OAK, Calif. (AP) _ A California congregation's new church
building will incorporate what the pastor calls ``our values of
sustainability and good resource management.''

The new Live Oak United Methodist Church in Santa Cruz will get
power from solar panels disguised as roof tiles and there will be
skylights to save on electric lighting.

The church parking lot will be paved with an asphalt concrete
that absorbs water, draining it into the ground below. Some of the
stained-glass windows from the old church will be reused and the
furnaces will be higher efficiency.

Construction could begin this summer, with completion in a year.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

APNP-02-21-07 0312CST

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