Obama thanks Catholics who supported health care law
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has thanked Catholics who helped convince Congress to pass his health care law.
In a speech to the Catholic Health Association on Tuesday, Obama said "without your moral force, we would not have succeeded."
The president was speaking to a friendly audience. The Catholic Health Association split with the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops to support the Obama administration in shaping a disputed compromise over the law's birth control coverage.
Many Catholic institutions are fighting the contraceptive coverage mandate, and polls show the law remains unpopular with the public. But Obama maintained that even those who already had health insurance "may not know that they've got a better deal now than they did, but they do."
The president said he and Catholics have "a shared belief that every human being made in the image of God deserves to live in dignity."
Gay pride ceremony features LGBT military officers, chaplain
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Air Force chaplain says coming out as a lesbian hasn't impeded her ministry to troops.
Col. Karis Graham took part in a panel Tuesday at the Pentagon's celebration of LGBT Pride Month, where Defense Secretary Ash Carter was the keynote speaker.
Graham and other military officers, including Army Brig. Gen. Randy Taylor, introduced their same-sex spouses and described how difficult it had been for them to serve in the military before the lifting of the Don't Ask-Don't Tell policy.
Graham said that once she could be open about being married to another woman without fear of being discharged, she was able to minister more effectively to other married troops, and has also been accepted by her fellow chaplains.
Aretha Franklin sings at service for dad, brother in Detroit
DETROIT (AP) — A memorial service planned by Aretha Franklin for her late father and brother has drawn hundreds of people to a Detroit church where they were ministers.
The Detroit News reports the Sunday service featuring gospel music and a free soul food buffet packed New Bethel Baptist Church. Several people shared their memories of Franklin's father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, and her brother, the Rev. Cecil Franklin.
Her father, who died in 1984, was also a civil rights activist, and her brother, who died in 1989, managed her career.
Nearly two hours into the service in her hometown, the soul singer appeared on stage to perform the gospel tune "The Old Ship of Zion." Some in the audience cried.
The newspaper reports Franklin's father would have turned 100 this year.
King's first church planning statue to honor leader
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — In the basement of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, a photo of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hangs in the office where he worked from 1954 to 1960.
The picture shows King, wearing a black pulpit robe, shaking hands with parishioners as they leave the church on a bright Sunday morning, the Capitol in the background. Years later, the same image is the blueprint for a statue of King the church is raising money for to put in front of the Dexter King Memorial Legacy Center.
The church was King's first full-time pastorate, and it propelled him to national prominence as a leader of the Montgomery bus boycott against racial segregation.
On June 2, the Montgomery City Council unanimously passed a resolution approving the church's campaign to raise a statue of King. The resolution did not grant any funds to the project, but Dexter Avenue Pastor Cromwell Handy said he requested it to show that the city was in favor of it.
Emmett man gets 85 years to life for arson
GEM COUNTY, Idaho (AP) — A man convicted of burning down two churches has been sentenced to 85 years in prison.
The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Bradley Thomasson was sentenced Monday. A jury convicted him in March of the April 2013 arson of the Community Bible Church and First Baptist Church of Emmett.
Both churches were significantly damaged by water, smoke and heat. Damage costs totaled more than $2 million. No one was injured in the incidents.
Thomasson had spent 22 years in the state prison system for the 1989 murders of his adoptive parents in their Lewiston home in northern Idaho. He was released on parole in January 2012.