Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Apr 02, 2015 9:31 AM
Religion news in brief

Arkansas governor urges changes to religious objection bill

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is calling for changes to a religious objection measure facing a backlash from businesses and gay rights groups, saying it wasn't intended to allow discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Lawmakers passed and sent the governor a bill prohibiting state and local government from infringing on someone's religious beliefs without a compelling interest. Hutchinson said he wants the Legislature to either recall the bill or pass a follow-up measure to make the proposal more closely mirror a 1993 federal religious freedom law.

Conservatives who had been pushing for the measure are questioning the need for any changes. The lawmakers who introduced the legislation say they're open to discussions, but aren't saying they would support any changes.

Legislators would have to act quickly. The governor has five days to take action on the bill before it becomes law without his signature.


Indiana Catholic bishop: No one should face discrimination

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's five Catholic bishops are reacting to the state's religious objections law with a statement saying no Hoosiers should face discrimination, whether it's over their sexual orientation or for living their religious beliefs.

Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin and Bishops Timothy Doherty of Lafayette, Donald Hying of Gary, Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Charles Thompson of Evansville released a joint statement Wednesday supporting "efforts to uphold the God-given dignity of all the people of this state while safeguarding the rights of people of all faiths to practice their religion without undue burden from the government."

They say every person should be treated with dignity and respect and that the rights of one person should never be used to deny the rights of another.

Indiana has approximately 750,000 Catholics.


Crystal Cathedral megachurch founder Robert Schuller ailing

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A daughter of the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, the Southern California televangelist who founded the world-famous Crystal Cathedral, says her father is ailing and could be in his final days.

Carol Schuller Milner said Wednesday that her 88-year-old father had been enjoying life despite suffering from terminal esophageal cancer, but his health began declining earlier this year. She says he grew weaker last week and is surrounded by family and listening to hymns while receiving care at a nursing facility.

Schuller started preaching in 1955 at a drive-in theater and in 1970 began a TV ministry called the "Hour of Power." In 1980, he built a glass cathedral to house his booming ministry. After a disastrous leadership handoff to his son led to a decline in membership, the church filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and the cathedral was sold to the Catholic diocese.

Schuller resigned from the board in 2012. His grandson, the Rev. Bobby Schuller, now hosts the "Hour of Power."


Wiccan will give invocation to Iowa House of Representatives

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A member of the Wiccan faith will give the opening prayer next week in the Iowa House of Representatives, a break from tradition that has raised eyebrows in the state Capitol.

Democratic state Rep. Liz Bennett says she invited Deborah Maynard, a Wiccan from her district, to address lawmakers on April 9. The Wiccan religion is shaped by pagan beliefs and practices.

The "pastor of the day" is asked to keep his or her remarks free of political statements and to be sensitive to people of different faiths.

Chuck Hurley, vice president of Christian group The Family Leader, said he has heard concerns from some legislators and staff members. Hurley said Bennett had the right to invite anyone she liked, but lawmakers and staffers had the option to not attend.


Colorado lawmaker gets some support after abortion comment

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado lawmaker under fire for an abortion comment is getting some support from a fellow Republican who disagrees with the GOP's response.

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt has apologized for remarks he made after a Colorado woman was accused of cutting an unborn child from her mother's belly. Klingenschmitt had said the attack was God's curse on the country for tolerating abortion.

A former Navy chaplain, Klingenschmitt made the comments on a personal weekly video he records called "Pray In Jesus' Name." After the comments made headlines, Klingenschmitt was denounced by fellow Republicans and removed from a post on the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee.

On Tuesday, state Rep. Justin Everett said Klingenschmitt shouldn't be removed from a legislative position because of something he said on his own time.

Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton said he doesn't agree with Klingenschmitt's comment, but the punishment means lawmakers are having speech rights curtailed.