NY Cardinal defends invite for Obama to annual charity dinner for politicos
NEW YORK (AP) — Cardinal Timothy Dolan is standing by his decision to invite President Barack Obama to a prominent annual charity dinner even though the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York is suing the administration.
Dolan said he has received "stacks of mail protesting" Obama's inclusion in the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner on Oct. 18. Smith was the first Roman Catholic nominee for president. It's customary for presidents and candidates to attend the event in an election year.
Dolan said some critics have told him "the invitation is a scandal." He noted that a few of those protesting also objected to the participation of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but the cardinal didn't say why.
Dolan said the event is meant for people of faith to gather "in an evening of friendship, civility and patriotism to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate."
"It's better to invite than to ignore, more effective to talk together than to yell from a distance, more productive to open a door than to shut one," Dolan wrote Tuesday on his blog. "Our recent popes have been examples of this principle, receiving dozens of leaders with whom on some points they have serious disagreements."
The Archdiocese of New York is among more than 40 Catholic organizations, charities and schools that are suing over Obama's mandate that most employers, except houses of worship, provide health insurance that covers birth control.
Among past speakers at the dinner have been John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. In 2008, Obama and Republican presidential nominee John McCain attended. The speeches are mostly self-deprecating and lighthearted, and the donations go to needy children.
Catholic church in Nepal says it has received threats from Hindu group that bombed it in 2009
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A Roman Catholic church in Nepal says it has received threatening phone calls from a person claiming to belong to an underground Hindu group that bombed the church three years ago.
Robin Giri of Assumption Church in the southern suburbs of Katmandu said Tuesday that the caller last week threatened to bomb the church if they did not give the group money. The caller didn't specify the amount and said he would call back later.
Three people were killed when the church was bombed in May 2009 during prayers. It was the first such attack on a church in Nepal, where most of the population is Hindu and Christians are a small minority.
The Nepal Defense Army claimed responsibility for the attack. It wants Nepal to be declared a Hindu state.
Springfield nondiscrimination ordinance draws religious leaders, protesters
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A proposal to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity drew an overflow crowd to a Springfield city council meeting, with testimony nearly evenly divided between opponents and supporters of the ordinance.
After hearing testimony for three hours from more than 60 people, the city council ended debate and will take it up again in two weeks, when council members might vote on the issue, The Springfield News-Leader reported.
Opponents and supporters cited their religious beliefs and the potential impact on businesses for their views on the ordinance.
"This ordinance is about protecting against unlawful discrimination," said Andrew McIntyre, a gay man.
But Keith Bales, a youth pastor at Cherry Street Baptist Church, asked "Do we need to infringe on the rights of a major segment of our community in order to make this change?"
Speakers Lela Panagides and Michael Stout both said the ordinance would help Springfield businesses attract and retain talent by encouraging diversity.
But former councilman Nick Ibarra said government should not force business owners to violate their spiritual beliefs. If the ordinance is passed, he said, "What exactly is it the government cannot violate when it comes to our personal rights and beliefs?"
Utah's 14th Mormon temple to be dedicated in September, now open for tours
BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (AP) — Utah's 14th Mormon temple will be dedicated next month in Brigham City.
The site is across the street from the historic tabernacle in downtown Brigham City. The official dedication is scheduled for Sept. 23.
Starting this Saturday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is allowing the public to tour the facility, through Sept. 15, except on Sundays when the temple will be closed to those outside the church.
The 36,000 square-foot temple is the 139th worldwide and is intended to serve northern Utah and southern Idaho, home to about 40,000 Latter-day Saints.
Religious group and Natrona Co. officials find solution to keep sweat lodge fires burning
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A fire ban in Natrona County will not stop a weekly Native American spiritual ceremony.
Participants in the ceremony and county officials worked out a solution that allows fire to be a part of the services by stationing a county-owned fire truck beside the sweat lodge where the ceremony is held each Sunday.
The sweat lodge is located at Steve Weber's home near Edness K. Wilkins State Park east of Casper.
Firefighters responded to a report of smoke at Weber's property recently and found a group participating in the American Indian spiritual ceremony.
Weber says fire is a necessary part of the religious ceremony and he's thankful that a quick solution was found.