Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Nov 20, 2013 11:41 AM
Religion news in brief

Detained Boise pastor granted visit from family

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The wife of an Idaho pastor who is being detained in a brutal prison in Iran says he has been allowed a visit from his Iranian father.

Naghmeh Abedini says Monday's visit marked the first time Saeed Abedini was able to see family members since his transfer to Rajai Shahr prison more than two weeks ago. The 33-year-old Christian pastor has been in Iranian custody since September 2012 and is serving an eight-year sentence for undermining state security, a charge the family denies.

Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law & Justice, says the family visit is a positive sign that prayer and international pressure on Iran are helping keep Abedini alive.

But Naghmeh Abedini says she fears for her husband's life in a prison that's rife with inmate violence and hopes that a demand for his release will be part of U.S. negotiations to curb Iran's nuclear program.


Delaware jury awards $2.4M in clergy abuse case

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A federal jury in Delaware has awarded $2.4 million to a New Jersey man who claimed he was abused as a boy more than 30 years ago by a cleric who worked in the Archdiocese of New York.

Forty-four-year-old Brian Elliott said he was repeatedly molested by Brother Damian Galligan in several states, including while passing through Delaware during a trip to Virginia in 1981.

Galligan is 86 and lives in a Missouri retirement facility. He initially denied the allegations but later decided not to fight the lawsuit, saying he was in poor health and didn't have the strength to do so.

Jurors heard testimony Monday from Elliott and from Peter Marghella, another alleged victim of Galligan who recently became director of the New York State Office of Emergency Management.


Pa. pastor suspended 30 days for son's gay wedding

SPRING CITY, Pa. (AP) — A United Methodist minister from southeastern Pennsylvania who was convicted under church law of officiating at his son's same-sex wedding in Massachusetts has been sentenced to a short suspension.

The same jury of pastors that convicted Rev. Frank Schaefer on Monday of breaking his vows suspended him from his ministerial duties for 30 days Tuesday. His credentials will be revoked if he violates church rules during that time.

Schaefer told jurors he is unrepentant for the 2007 marriage and refused to promise he wouldn't perform more gay unions. He says he has been called by God to be an advocate for the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people.

The case has rekindled debate within the United Methodist Church over its policies on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.


Ohio court upholds firing in school Bible case

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's highest court says a school district was legally justified in firing a science teacher who refused orders to remove classroom displays of religious materials.

With three justices dissenting, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Mount Vernon district had grounds to fire John Freshwater for insubordination for keeping religious books and a poster of a president praying.

The court says the district infringed on Freshwater's First Amendment rights by ordering the removal of his personal Bible but found he was insubordinate for keeping other items.

The court didn't address whether Freshwater unconstitutionally taught students his Christian beliefs about evolution and homosexuality.


Santorum not ruling out presidential run in 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is spending time right now making Christian movies, but he's not ruling out another presidential run in 2016.

The former Pennsylvania senator said Monday he needs to consider the effect that another campaign would have on his wife and seven children, and also the financial burden.

But he said "sure" when asked if he is still open to another run. He said he will see where he is a year from now.

For now, Santorum is in the movie business. In June, he was named CEO of EchoLight Studios, a Dallas-based film production company promoting family Christian films. He is currently in New York showing one of those films, "The Christmas Candle."