Religion news in brief

AP News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2015 12:32 PM
Religion news in brief

Cardinal Dolan says Cardinal Egan was 'a gift' to church

NEW YORK (AP) — Cardinal Timothy Dolan says the life of his predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan, was "a gift" to the church.

Dolan addressed a packed St. Patrick's Cathedral at the beginning of Egan's funeral Mass. He said a Latin phrase summarized Cardinal Egan's Life: "Delexit Ecclesiam -- He loved the church."

The ceremony got off to a noisy start with drummers and bagpipers from New York City's police and fire departments accompanying a funeral procession along the streets of midtown Manhattan.

In the packed cathedral, amid construction scaffolding, solemn church music took over. Several hundred Catholic clergy walked slowly down the center aisle toward Egan's draped casket at the foot of the altar. They joined nearly 2,500 mourners packing the venerable cathedral.

Egan led the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for almost a decade. He died March 5 after a heart attack.

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Judge dismisses suit over Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a privately funded Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of Oklahoma's state Capitol.

The lawsuit filed by the group American Atheists and two of its members alleged that the monument violated the First Amendment's prohibition of government sanctioning a specific religion, as well as other constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled that the group lacked legal standing to file the lawsuit.

Cauthron's decision was hailed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose office defended the monument. He said, "The historical relevance of the Ten Commandments and the role it played in the founding of our nation cannot be disputed."

Since the monument's placement on the Capitol grounds, other groups have asked to erect their own monuments, including a satanic group, a Hindu activist, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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Maine state senator apologizes for Facebook post about Obama

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine state senator has apologized for a Facebook post that suggests that President Barack Obama's family members are part of the Islamic State group.

Republican Sen. Michael Willette shared a photo of Obama that pretended to use the president's words, saying of the Islamic State group, "I'll deal with them at the family reunion."

Willette apologized and called it an "error in judgment." He said in a statement that he "fell into the trap" of posting something before thinking about it.

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said the offensive post reflects poorly on the Maine Republican Party. He says it perpetuates a "false racial, religious and ethnic slur." Since Obama first ran for president in 2008 detractors have falsely claimed he's a Muslim.

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Advocacy group defending chaplain facing discipline for faith views in private counseling sessions

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A Christian legal advocacy group is defending a Navy chaplain it says faces punishment for expressing faith-based views during private counseling sessions with sailors.

The Liberty Institute says Chaplain Wes Modder (MAH'-dur), an ordained Assemblies of God minister, has received decorations and was called "the best of the best" by the commander now seeking to administer discipline. Modder is based at South Carolina's U.S. Navy Joint Base Charleston Goose Creek.

Liberty Institute attorney Mike Berry says the range of punishment Modder faces could be career ending. Modder is eligible for a 20-year retirement in September.

According to Berry, the Navy has requested that Modder be barred from promotion, fired from his job as chaplain, and brought before a military Board of Inquiry, where he could be forced out of the Navy.

Berry says a "handful" of complaints were filed in connection with private, confidential counseling sessions. Berry says Modder was careful to point out at the beginning of each session that his views were those of an Assembly of God minister.

Berry says to treat a hero like this "at this point in his career is outrageous."

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House panel considers bill allowing Christmas in classroom

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — School Christmas celebrations could be legally protected under a proposal that Indiana lawmakers are considering, but some question whether the measure would be enough to fend off legal threats.

The Legislature's House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee discussed the measure that would legally allow schools to display Nativity scenes or other Yuletide decorations, as long as another religious or secular holiday is recognized.

It would also permit history lessons about winter holidays and traditional holiday greetings, including "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Hanukkah."

The Indiana Senate voted 48-2 in February to advance the proposal, which also would allow religious displays on municipal properties, as long as other religions are recognized.

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