Religion news in brief

AP News
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Posted: Apr 14, 2016 1:16 PM
Religion news in brief

Franklin Graham: Christians should deepen political work

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Evangelist Franklin Graham has brought his state capitol prayer rally tour to Mississippi, where lawmakers passed a bill that would let churches and some private businesses deny services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Graham said Wednesday that he wasn't in Jackson to endorse or oppose any particular legislation, but made it clear to reporters after the 40-minute rally that he supports legislation to allow Christians to live out their faith, and in his view that includes disapproval of same-sex marriages.

The son of Billy Graham is telling people who attend the rallies that Christians need to get more involved in politics and bring biblical principles to public office. He says Christians must push back against secularism, which he describes as the "enemy."

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26 states urge appeals court to uphold Md. cross ruling

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than half of the states have filed a legal brief supporting the constitutionality of a Maryland war memorial in the shape of a cross.

The monument honoring 49 men who died in World War One stands in a state-owned highway median in Bladensburg, Maryland, just outside Washington. An atheist group claimed in a 2014 lawsuit that the so-called "Bladensburg Cross" amounts to unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.

A federal judge disagreed, but the American Humanist Association appealed his ruling.

In their friend-of-the-court brief, 26 states say if the appeals court upholds the judge's ruling it would set an important precedent protecting other memorials, including those at Arlington National Cemetery. A hearing date has not been set.

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Sanders defends decision to speak at Vatican amid NY contest

NEW YORK (AP) — Bernie Sanders says he would regret refusing an invitation to attend a Vatican conference this week, even though it takes place just days before the critical New York presidential primary.

Sanders has a 10-minute speaking slot Friday at the conference organized by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which serves a role at the Holy See similar to a think-tank. Dozens of speakers will commemorate the 25th anniversary of "Centesimus Annus," a teaching document by Pope John Paul II on the economy and social justice.

Sanders says he wouldn't be leaving the campaign trail if it wasn't what he called "an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime."

The chancellor for the pontifical academy, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, has said he invited Sanders because the Democratic senator from Vermont was the only U.S. presidential candidate who showed deep interest in the teachings of Pope Francis. The pope is not expected to attend the conference.

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With migrant mission to Greece, pope cements Orthodox ties

VATICAN CITY (AP) — When Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, visit migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos this weekend, they'll be doing more than sending a political message about the need to welcome refugees.

Christianity's two most important leaders, still officially divided by a thousand-year schism, will be speaking with an increasingly unified voice that has gone beyond the realm of religion to confronting pressing issues such as climate change and humanitarian crises around the globe.

The visit, which comes on the heels of Francis' historic meeting with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is evidence of an increasingly important Catholic-Orthodox partnership that has been strengthened by shared concern for Christians being exterminated by Islamic extremists in the lands of Jesus' birth.

Francis has called these indiscriminate attacks on Christians — Catholic, Orthodox and others — an "ecumenism of blood."

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French premier favors Muslim headscarf ban at universities

PARIS (AP) — France's prime minister says he'd favor a ban on Muslim headscarves in universities, prompting criticism from within his own government.

In an interview with the daily newspaper Liberation, Prime Minister Manuel Valls (vahlts) said France should "protect" French Muslims from extremist ideology. He said the headscarf, when worn for political reasons, oppresses women and is not "an object of fashion or consumption like any other."

Citing secular traditions, France banned the face-covering Muslim veil and forbids headscarves and other religious symbols in schools and public buildings. Asked whether to outlaw headscarves in universities, Valls is quoted as saying "it should be done, but there are constitutional rules that make this ban difficult."

France's education minister and the junior minister for higher education said they are opposed to a ban.

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Mexican experts find early burial in 1st colonial cathedral

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Archaeologists have found a massive stone slab covering what appears to be the tomb of one of the first Catholic priests in Mexico following the 1521 Spanish conquest, a grave sunk into the floor of what appears to be an Aztec temple.

The discovery suggests the extent to which the Spanish re-used the temples of the Aztec capital in the first years after capturing it. The huge slab was uncovered in recent days at the site of the now-disappeared first cathedral of Mexico City, built in 1524 a few yards from the current cathedral that replaced it in the 1620s.

The slab was sunk into the same level of the stucco floor of what appears to be an Aztec temple. The cathedral was simply built over the temple and apparently used the same floor. The Spaniards apparently gave the floor only a thin coat of lime white-wash before using it for their church.

The name of priest Miguel de Palomares was found carved on the slab. Archaeologists hope to find his remains when they lift the stone slab in the coming weeks.

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