Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: May 15, 2015 10:09 AM
Religion news in brief

Chinese cross removal protested outside China embassy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some Christian activists have demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy in Washington to protest the forced removal of crosses from hundreds of churches in China.

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, carried a large wooden cross while he and a few followers used a bullhorn to shout their appeal for religious freedom in China. They broadcast their protest on Twitter.

Officials in China's Zhejiang (ZHUH'-zhee-ahng) province have toppled crosses from more than 400 churches since early 2014, sometimes resulting in violent clashes with congregation members. They have said the crosses violate building codes, but critics say the growth of Christian groups has made the ruling Communist Party nervous.

Mahoney says Chinese officials emerged from the embassy to photograph the protesters, but didn't speak with them.


Judge to protesters: End 11-year vigil inside closed church

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts judge has ordered parishioners of the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church to end their 11-year protest vigil and vacate the now-closed Roman Catholic church.

Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Edward Leibensperger ruled Thursday that the parishioners are "unlawfully and intentionally" trespassing at the church building in Scituate. He said they will be barred from entering the church effective May 29.

The Archdiocese of Boston, which had sued to evict the group, urged protesters to end the vigil and respect the judge's ruling.

But the Friends of St. Frances, the group that has been occupying the former church day and night since 2004, say they're not going anywhere. They intend to ask the state court to stay the ruling pending an appeal.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church was among dozens closed in a 2004 restructuring to address the Boston Archdiocese's debt. But a group of parishioners has been holding a nonstop vigil inside the church ever since.


Man accused in Jewish site shootings fires his attorneys

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Missouri man charged with killing three people at two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City will defend himself in his death penalty case.

In allowing 74-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller to fire his defense team, Judge Kelly Ryan said the attorneys could still help with him procedural aspects of the case.

Miller is accused of fatally shooting William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas, on April 13, 2014. Minutes later, prosecutors say Miller killed Terri LaMano, 53, at a nearby Jewish retirement home where she was visiting her mother.

Miller has also told media outlets that he planned to kill Jews and didn't know none of the victims was Jewish.

Miller told The Associated Press last month that he plans to plead guilty to capital murder but he wants to use his sentencing hearing to voice his anti-Semitic beliefs.


Nun seeks more aid for Iraqi Christians

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iraqi nun is urging Congress to send more aid to Christians displaced by the Islamic State group.

Sister Diana Momeka (moh-MEH'-kah), told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that religious minorities have received virtually no government help since fleeing to Iraq's Kurdish region last August.

She said more than 120,000 of the displaced are living in containers and decrepit buildings without jobs or adequate assistance.

Momeka said she and other Christians don't want to leave Iraq, but would return to their homes in Mosul and the Nineveh plain when Islamic State militants are driven out.


Church reaches out to lost souls on Skid Row with karaoke

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Every Wednesday, a church on Skid Row in Los Angeles hosts a "Karaoke Night."

A couple of hundred battered souls typically gather for a night of amateur song and dance at the Central City Community Church of the Nazarene.

For Pastor Tony Stallworth, Wednesday's Karaoke Night was a natural for a minister who loves to sing and was once a homeless drug addict. Stallworth says these are the kind of people Jesus "hung out with in the Bible."

For his guests, the music locks out the ugliness outside, where a misdirected look can launch a knife fight, where the streets reek of urine, and where some 1,700 people lay their heads on dirty sidewalks every night to sleep.

Some of the singers, of course, are awful: They croak off key, lose the beat, stumble over the lyrics. But others leave the audience shaking its collective head, wondering why they're not in a recording studio.