Religious appeal part of Huckabee's second White House bid
HOPE, Ark. (AP) — Former Gov. Mike Huckabee has launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination with an unabashed appeal for evangelical support.
In his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, Huckabee said America has lost its way morally on issues like abortion and gay marriage and is "now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity."
The Southern Baptist minister turned politician portrayed himself as an economic populist and foreign affairs hawk with deeply conservative views on social issues.
As the Supreme Court weighs whether states must allow gay marriage, Huckabee said the justices "cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature's God."
He preached a more muscular response to the rise of Islamic State militants, saying, "we will deal with jihadis just as we would deal with deadly snakes." As for Iran's nuclear ambitions, Huckabee said, "Ayatollahs will know that hell will freeze over before they get a nuclear weapon."
Judge: Rowan leaders must stop Christian prayers at meetings
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that North Carolina's Rowan County commissioners must stop opening their meetings with prayers that almost always referred to Christianity.
U.S. District Judge James Beaty Jr. ruled Monday that the way the commissioners opened meetings with prayers violated separation of church and state. Rowan County commissioners themselves delivered prayers before their meetings.
Judge Beaty said the commissioners stood, almost always bowed their heads and asked audience members to also stand and join them in prayers that normally included references to Jesus, the Savior, and other tenets of the Christian faith.
Beaty said that distinguished the case from a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding prayers before public meetings as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion.
Cartoon contest organizer known for anti-Islamic statements
NEW YORK (AP) — The Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that exploded in violence over the weekend in suburban Dallas was organized by Pamela Geller, a 56-year-old New Yorker who has warned for years that Islam threatens to destroy the U.S.
The contest was offering $10,000 for the best depiction of Muhammad. In an interview with The Associated Press last month as the contest was being organized, Geller called it an attempt to stand up for free speech and said: "We will not bow to violent intimidation."
Geller has been involved in numerous lawsuits in recent years, many of them related to her efforts to place ads in public transit systems. New York City's transit authority recently banned all political advertising after a judge upheld Geller's right to run bus ads about Islam that said, "Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah."
In 2012, the transit authority was forced to run Geller ads that read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." She paid for similar ads in San Francisco, Detroit and Washington.
Islamists in Pakistan celebrate cartoon gunmen
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — About 50 Islamists have held a special service in Pakistan to honor the two men who were killed in Texas after they opened fire at a cartoon contest featuring images of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
The cleric Mohammad Chishti led the service for Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi at a public park in northwest Pakistan.
Chishti told journalists that the two men were martyrs and that he organized the service to pay tribute to them.
Entire Bible being read aloud on US Capitol steps
WASHINGTON (AP) — On the west steps of the U.S. Capitol this week, the entire Bible is being read aloud, non-stop, from Genesis to Revelation.
The 26th annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon began Sunday evening and will continue around the clock until noon on Thursday, the National Day of Prayer.
The event's director, the Rev. Michael Hall, says it takes about 90 hours to read through the Bible aloud. Volunteer readers step up to the podium and take turns, sometimes under umbrellas in pouring rain.
The readers have no microphone or speakers to amplify their message, so tourists often give the readers a curious look and pass by. But Hall says foreign visitors sometimes express surprise that Americans can read the Scriptures aloud at their seat of government.