Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Oct 03, 2012 4:25 PM
Religion news in brief

Police ban gay pride march in Serbia that Christian Orthodox church opposed

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia's police banned a Gay Pride march in Belgrade, citing security concerns but also complying with a request from Serbia's Christian Orthodox church.

Police said they were banning the march planned for Saturday because they feared a repeat of the violence in 2010, when right-wing groups attacked a Gay Pride event in Belgrade. That triggered day-long clashes with the police which left more than 100 people injured.

Last year's gay pride march also was banned by authorities.

The current ban was announced after Patriarch Irinej, the head of Serbia's Christian Orthodox church, urged the government to prevent Saturday's march. In a statement, he said such a "parade of shame" would cast a "moral shadow" on Serbia — a conservative Balkan country whose gay population has faced threats and harassment.

Allowing a Gay Pride march this year had been regarded by some as a test of Serbia's pledge to respect human rights as it seeks European Union membership.

Secretary-General Thorbjoern Jagland of the Council of Europe, the continent's main human rights body, said he was "surprised and disappointed" that the pride event has been banned again.

"Citizens should be able to exercise their rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression," he said. "Serbia should be in a position to safeguard such an event, which is commonplace in modern democracies."

Amnesty International said the ban puts Serbia in breach of its own laws.


Ky. authorities arrest man, charge him with copper theft while helping Tenn. church

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) — Authorities in eastern Kentucky say a man who was helping a Tennessee church renovate a building also helped himself in a copper theft scam.

Middlesboro Police arrested 41-year-old David Todd Giles.

Edwin Robertson of the Pump Springs Baptist Church in Claiborne County, Tenn., told WYMT-TVin Hazard Giles was a really good con man.

Robertson said Giles helped rewire an old school building where the church is putting a free medical clinic.

Police said Giles stole a tax exemption form from the church and would pick up copper wire at a Middlesboro electrical supply house, charge it to the church and then sell the wire as scrap at a recycling business.

He's held in the Bell County Jail, which had no record of an attorney for him.


Opponents file lawsuit to block California law that bans conversion therapy for gay teens

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Christian legal group has filed a lawsuit to overturn a first-of-its-kind California law that prohibits licensed mental health professionals from practicing therapies aimed at making gay and lesbian teenagers straight.

The Pacific Justice Institute challenged the law signed Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The lawsuit was filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The institute filed the suit on behalf of a psychiatrist and a marriage and family therapist who is also a church pastor in San Diego. It also names as a plaintiff Aaron Bitzer, a man who says he has benefited from the "reparative" therapy.

The lawsuit claims the law, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, violates First Amendment and equal protection rights.


Court to hear oral arguments in Fort Hood rampage suspect's appeal of forced beard shaving

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A military appeals court will hear oral arguments next week before deciding if an Army psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shooting can be forcibly shaved before his murder trial.

The U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals says it also will consider whether the trial judge exceeded his authority and should be removed from Maj. Nidal Hasan's case.

Hasan says he grew a beard because his Muslim faith requires it, despite the Army's beard ban.

He appealed the judge's order that he be forcibly shaved. His attorneys say that would violate his religious rights.

The appeals court at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, will hear from prosecutors and defense attorneys Oct. 11.

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Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted in the 2009 shootings that killed 13 people at the Texas post.


2 Christian children in detention in southern Egypt for allegedly urinating on the Quran

CAIRO (AP) — Two Coptic Christian boys have been put in juvenile detention after locals accused them of urinating on pages of the Islamic holy book, an Islamic cleric and prosecutors said Wednesday, in the latest in a series of legal cases in Egypt against alleged contempt of religion.

Accusations of insulting Islam have increased in Egypt — particularly against Christians — since last month's fury over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. Such cases occurred in the past, but the flurry to prosecute in recent weeks has raised concerns over freedom of speech and over the power of ultraconservative Islamists in the country.

The new case is a rare instance of minors being accused. The boys, ages 9 and 10, were detained Tuesday in a southern town, to be held for 15 days while prosecutors investigate the accusations.


Philippines, Muslim guerrillas say they're close to forging preliminary peace accord

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government and Muslim rebels have resumed talks on resolving final differences in a preliminary peace accord they hope to conclude soon, in what is expected to be a major breakthrough toward ending a decades-long rebellion.

Government negotiators met with representatives of the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday to attempt to seal what they call a "framework agreement" on major issues, including the extent of power, revenues and territory to be granted to a Muslim-administered region.

It would be the most significant progress in years of negotiations on ending a rebellion that has left more than 120,000 people dead and held back development in the southern Philippines.

Western governments have long worried that rebel strongholds could become breeding grounds for al-Qaida-affiliated extremists.