Religion news in brief

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Posted: Dec 31, 2014 1:23 PM
Religion news in brief

Spiritual leader of African Hebrew Israelites dies

JERUSALEM (AP) — The spiritual leader of the African Hebrew Israelites, a polygamous vegan group that believes some black Americans descended from a Jewish tribe, has died aged 75.

Ben Ammi Ben Israel died Saturday, the group announced on Sunday. He was born Ben Carter in Chicago in 1939.

He maintained that some black Americans descend from the tribe of Judah, who migrated to Africa after the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in A.D. 70.

In 1966, he had a vision that the angel Gabriel told him to "return to the holy land by way in which we came," a spokeswoman for the group said. He led a few hundred followers to Liberia, the West African republic settled by freed slaves in the 19th century. In 1969 they moved to Israel.

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Indiana diocese wants ex-teacher's jury award cut

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana Roman Catholic diocese wants to reduce a jury's nearly $2 million award to a former teacher fired by church officials for trying to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization.

A motion filed Monday by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend seeks to cut Emily Herx's federal jury award to about $300,000, arguing that such damages are partly capped by the size of the diocese's workforce.

The Journal Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1AhQ7jW ) diocese attorneys argue state law caps pain-and-suffering damages at $300,000 for employers with more than 500 employees and states that the diocese has more than 870 teachers alone.

Herx's attorneys filed a motion Monday seeking more than $560,000 in damages.

A jury awarded Herx $1.9 million on Dec. 19 after finding that diocese officials discriminated against her.

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'In God We Trust' signs now hang in Kentucky Capitol

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers will debate legislation in committees next year beneath "In God We Trust" signs.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports (http://bit.ly/1zmLtwP) state officials hung the new signs in 11 committee rooms in the Capitol and Capitol Annex, where legislators have offices and meeting rooms. Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said the signs were paid for with private donations, not taxpayer dollars.

The ACLU of Kentucky and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are not happy about the signs, but say there is little chance a judge would order them removed.

Legislators approved the signs earlier this year by passing an amendment sponsored by Republican state Sen. Albert Robinson of London. Similar signs already hang in the state House and Senate chambers.

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Extremists kill 2 Muslim clerics in Uganda

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A police official says an extremist group is responsible for killing two Uganda Muslim clerics days apart.

Ugandan police chief Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura said Tuesday the clerics had refused to cooperate with the Allied Democratic Forces, a Uganda extremist group based in Congo.

The clerics were separately shot dead by armed men who used motorbikes to run away after killing the victims.

Sheikh Abdu Kadir Muwaya, head of the Shia Muslim Community in Uganda, was killed on Dec. 23 at his home in Mayuge, about 74 miles east of Kampala. Sheikh Mustafa Bahiiga, a Muslim scholar and the head of Tablig Muslim sect in Kampala district was assassinated Sunday night in the outskirts of Kampala.

In 2012, five clerics were assassinated and police also linked these killings to ADF.

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Egypt court bans festival honoring Moroccan rabbi

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court has banned an annual festival in honor of Moroccan rabbi that was regularly attended by hundreds of Jewish pilgrims, mainly from Israel and Morocco.

After the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, Egypt began allowing organized trips to the tomb of Yaakov Abu Hatzira in the Nile Delta north of Cairo. The Culture Ministry declared the site an Egyptian monument.

The Administrative Court of Alexandria on Monday banned the visits and stripped the ministry's designation. It acted on a complaint filed by local residents who objected to the mingling of men and women and the consumption of alcohol at the festival.