Kentucky gov removes names of clerks from marriage licenses
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has ordered the state to prepare new marriage licenses that do not include the names of county clerks in an attempt to protect the religious beliefs of Kim Davis and other local elected officials.
In a news release Tuesday, the state's new Republican governor said he has issued an executive order directing the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives to issue the revised marriage license forms to all county clerks.
Davis, the Rowan County clerk, spent five days in jail for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses because she said doing so would violate her Christian beliefs.
Attorney Laura Landenwich, who represents same-sex couples suing Davis, says Bevin may have exceeded his legal authority. She says Kentucky statutes "require that the clerk's name appear on the license itself."
Bevin said he issued the executive order to "ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored."
Abbott gets mock nativity scene removed from Texas Capitol
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has succeeded in getting a holiday display featuring some American Founding Fathers and the Bill of Rights in a manger removed from the state Capitol.
The "winter solstice" display was created by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which promotes the separation of church and state. It showed Benjamin Franklin, the Statue of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington peering down at the Bill of Rights, and was approved for display by the State Preservation Board.
Christmas trees and other holiday decorations are displayed at the Capitol. But the manger scene was removed Tuesday after Abbott called it a "juvenile parody" whose figures represented a "replacement for Jesus Christ."
Abbott recently urged the city of Orange, Texas, to keep a traditional city hall nativity scene despite opponents' threats of legal challenges.
US Muslim leaders organize in response to bias, harassment
WASHINGTON (AP) — American Muslim leaders are planning voter registration drives and open-house days at mosques to fight a rise in anti-Muslim harassment.
U.S. Muslim leaders also pledged to counter recruitment efforts by extremists such as the Islamic State group.
The plans were announced Monday in Washington, one day after an emergency summit on anti-Muslim bias drew about 100 leaders from across the country.
Among the participants were the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Organizers say they'll work with civil rights and interfaith groups to try to defeat politicians with bigoted views.
The recent backlash against Muslims follows Islamic extremist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, and remarks by Donald Trump and other presidential candidates.
Flu-stricken pope issues 'catalog of virtues' to Curia
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has urged Vatican bureaucrats to show more honesty, humility and sobriety, issuing a Christmas-time "catalog of virtues" for his collaborators to follow after excoriating them last year for a host of sins.
Francis joked Monday during his annual Christmas greeting that after last year's public diagnosis of the "15 ailments of the Curia," he should have offered "Curial antibiotics" to treat them this year.
In a way he did, issuing a list of virtues that should guide their work, including honesty, sobriety, respect and humility.
The 79-year-old Francis delivered his remarks sitting down, telling the sober-faced cardinals and bishops gathered that he had been suffering from the flu for the past several days. The pope said, "I don't feel very strong."
Jesus' birth re-enacted for tourists in Nazareth
NAZARETH, Israel (AP) — The birth of Jesus Christ has been celebrated in the Israeli city of Nazareth with a reenactment of the Christmas story.
The Bible says Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in what is now the West Bank. But Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel, is where the Bible says Jesus grew up and where the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to the son of God.
Tuesday's reenactment was held in Nazareth Village, a tourist site in the city that's meant to give visitors a feel for what life would have been like in biblical times.
Actors dressed as Joseph and Mary, Roman soldiers, shepherds and the innkeeper took visitors on a trip through time to tell the Christmas story.