Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Nov 11, 2015 1:52 PM
Religion news in brief

Oregon judge goes before disciplinary commission

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A judicial disciplinary commission is hearing accusations against an Oregon judge who refused to perform same-sex marriages.

The two-week hearing that started Monday will determine whether Marion County Judge Vance Day should face sanctions.

The Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability says Day committed several ethics violations. They include screening marriage applicants to exclude same-sex couples, hanging a portrait of Adolf Hitler in the courthouse, asking lawyers for money and allowing a convicted felon to handle a gun.

Day has denied that he violated judicial ethics rules, and says the rules are unconstitutional. He says he's being targeted because of his Christian beliefs.

Day is a former chairman of the Oregon Republican Party.


Bevin to alter marriage licenses

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin has vowed to protect a county clerk's religious objections to same-sex marriage.

Bevin spoke publicly about his plans Friday after winning the Kentucky governor's election with more than 52 percent of the vote. He will take office next month.

One lingering issue is Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who is locked in a legal battle over issuing same-sex marriage licenses. State law requires county clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally qualified couples. That now includes same-sex couples. But Davis believes it would be a sin for her to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. After she refused to do so, a federal judge threw her in jail for five days in September. She now wants to be able to keep her name off of marriage licenses.

Davis has sued current Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear for not accommodating her beliefs. Beshear has said he lacks the authority to remove the names of the county clerks from marriage licenses, arguing only the state legislature can do that. But Bevin disagrees and says he will do it by executive order as soon as he takes office.


Multiple fatalities in church van crash near Washington

HYATTSVILLE, Md. (AP) — The pastor of 16 people in a church van involved in a fiery crash says they were headed to a Sunday evening service in suburban Washington.

Jose Santos Jimenez, the pastor of Iglesia Ministerio de Dios Unido, says an elderly couple and a 6-year-old girl who were riding in the van were killed and another passenger, who was in the late stages of pregnancy, lost her baby. Police said the driver of a pickup truck that veered across the center line into the path of the van was also killed.

Santos was leading a service at his church in the Maryland suburbs when he got a phone call about the crash, and he rushed to the hospital. He spent most of Sunday night and all of Monday visiting and praying with the injured members of his small congregation, which has members from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Panama.

Santos identified the couple who died as Santiago Merche and his wife, Elba Merche, both in their 70s. He said they were natives of El Salvador. Speaking through a Spanish-language translator, he described the 6-year-old who died as a "good girl" who "prayed for other kids" and "danced for the Lord."


Judge approves Milwaukee archdiocese bankruptcy plan

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A federal bankruptcy judge in Milwaukee has approved a reorganization plan for the city's Roman Catholic archdiocese that calls for $21 million to be paid to clergy abuse victims.

The plan approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan Kelley on Monday splits most of that money among 355 people. Another class of 104 victims will get about $2,000 each.

Several victims testified that they wished the settlement amounts had been larger, and some said they wanted to see deeper investigation of abuse claims.

Shortly before the deal was approved, Archbishop Jerome Listecki addressed the court and repeated his apology to victims as well as his hope that "we have turned the corner in the history of the archdiocese." At several points as he spoke, however, a packed gallery of victims and advocates coughed, groaned and even quietly booed.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011 to address its sex abuse lawsuit liabilities, and is among a dozen nationally to do so in the past decade.


History museum opens exhibit on Billy Graham

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History chronicles the life of the Rev. Billy Graham, who turned 97 on Saturday.

The exhibit, "North Carolina's Favorite Son: Billy Graham and His Remarkable Journey of Faith," opened on Friday in Raleigh and will continue until July 10, 2016.

The 5,000-square-foot exhibit explores his life as well as a ministry that has spanned seven decades. It includes personal memorabilia, interactive displays, and multimedia that help bring Graham's story to life.

The exhibit also provides glimpses into Graham's family life, his leadership and influence in the Cold War and in the battle against segregation.

Also included in the exhibit is a look at each of Graham's 12 crusades in North Carolina and other appearances in the U.S. and overseas.