Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Jan 30, 2013 11:07 AM

Murdoch apologizes for 'offensive' cartoon of Netanyahu using blood-red mortar to build wall

LONDON (AP) — Media baron Rupert Murdoch has apologized for a Sunday Times cartoon depicting Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall using blood-red mortar, an image Jewish leaders said was reminiscent of anti-Semitic propaganda.

The political cartoon, which was published on Holocaust Memorial Day, shows Netanyahu wielding a long, sharp trowel and depicts agonized Palestinians bricked into the wall's structure. It was meant as a comment on recent elections in which Netanyahu's ticket narrowly won the most seats in the Israeli parliament.

"Will cementing the peace continue?" the caption read, a reference both to the stalled peace process and Israel's separation barrier, a complex of fences and concrete walls which Israel portrays as a defense against suicide bombers but which Palestinians say is a land grab under the guise of security.

Jewish community leaders were particularly disturbed by parallels they saw between the red-tinged drawing and historical anti-Semitic propaganda — in particular the theme of "blood libel," the twisted but persistent myth that Jews secretly use human blood in their religious rituals.

Their anger was heightened by the fact that the cartoon was published on a day meant to commemorate the communities destroyed by the Nazis and their allies in the mid-20th century.


Ind. church begins auction of James Taylor sheet music for 'Fire and Rain'

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana church is auctioning off sheet music that songwriter James Taylor donated to the church for its effort to restore a pipe organ.

A charity auction website started taking bids Monday on the autographed sheet music of Taylor's song "Fire and Rain" he donated to St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., reports the Jeffersonville church's original 1894 pipe organ was destroyed by the Great Flood of 1937. A 1981 fire destroyed its replacement, along with the church's parish hall and damaged its sanctuary.

The Victorian-style church will use money it raises from auctioning off the sheet music and other fundraising efforts to restore a pipe organ donated to the church. That organ's installation would finish a church restoration launched three years ago.


Arkansas Senate approves bill allowing concealed guns/">handguns in churches; measure heads to House

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Senate has approved a proposal to allow concealed handguns in churches and other houses of worship.

By a 28-4 vote, the Senate on Monday approved a proposal that would leave it up to churches and other religious institutions to decide whether to allow concealed weapons. Churches are currently among the places where concealed handguns are prohibited by state law.

Past efforts to allow guns in churches have failed in the state Legislature under a majority-Democrat Legislature. The measure how heads to the House.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe has indicated he'll likely sign the measure into law if it reaches his desk. Beebe has said he's comfortable with the legislation leaving the decision on concealed weapons up to individual churches.


Austria's Roman Catholic cardinal: Activists are exploiting asylum seekers camped in church

VIENNA (AP) — Austria's top Roman Catholic clergyman is accusing political activists of exploiting the plight of asylum-seekers who have occupied a church for over a month to press demands for better treatment.

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn says the activists are "seeking a change of the (asylum) system at any price" even if they jeopardize the asylum-seekers' health.

About a dozen young men, mostly from Pakistan, are pressing for better living quarters, temporary work permits and other demands while waiting for a decision on their applications to remain in Austria. Their supporters say several of them broke of a weeks-long hunger strike just recently.

Schoenborn's comments were reported Monday by the Kathpress news agency. Like the cardinal, some politicians also have accused activists of encouraging a continuation of the protest for their own aims.


First Hindu congresswoman elected vice chair of Democratic National Committee

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been elected vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

The committee voted unanimously Tuesday to elect Gabbard, who represents Hawaii's 2nd congressional district.

Gabbard is one of the first female combat veterans elected to Congress. She is also the first Hindu and the first American Samoan to sit in Congress.

Gabbard will serve as vice chair for the next four years.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz praised Gabbard's dedication to public service, saying she exemplifies the party's values.

Gabbard was elected to a two-year term in Congress in November, representing suburban Honolulu and Hawaii's neighbor islands to Oahu. She won the seat in a landslide.

The 31-year-old congresswoman previously served in the Hawaii Legislature and the Honolulu City Council.


SC Episcopalians staying with national church elect provisional bishop, use new name

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Members of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina are moving forward with a provisional bishop and name after the Diocese of South Carolina left last year.

Nineteen parishes and six worship groups in South Carolina remain with The Episcopal Church. On Saturday, they met at Grace Church in Charleston to install the Right Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenburg as the new bishop.

He's a retired bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee. He pleaded for tolerance and understanding during a difficult period.

At the convention, images of the seal were obscured and the name "the Diocese of South Carolina" was replaced with "The Episcopal Church in South Carolina." That's because a state judge has ruled that only the diocese that left can use the name Diocese of South Carolina.