Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard said he will continue to hold weekly prayer meetings at his home, three years after he was ousted from the church he founded amid a scandal involving a male prostitute and drug use.
Haggard said that he was heartened by the 150 people who attended last week's first prayer and that he wants to continue the gatherings at his home every Thursday.
Haggard resigned from New Life Church in 2006 after a man revealed that the pastor paid him for sex for more than three years. At the time, the church had 14,000 followers.
Haggard told Denver television station KUSA he still has homosexual thoughts.
"Once in a while I have a thought. But I never have a temptation," Haggard said. He also said that the love of supporters and family is making him feel "healthy."
Haggard has said it's not his intention to build a new church, although he's not ruling out that possibility.
Haggard was one of the nation's best known evangelicals when the scandal broke. The cash-for-sex allegations also prompted Haggard to resign as head of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the pastor confessed to "sexual immorality."
Students sue Tenn. county, claim schools promoted Christianity
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of students has accused Cheatham County schools of promoting Christianity and violating the U.S. Constitution.
The complaint states the schools showed a pattern of endorsing religion that included the distribution of Gideon's Bibles in class, a teacher who has a cross on a classroom wall and sectarian prayers at school events.
"They let Bible promoters present their particular versions of the Bible during class time where there is compulsory attendance," said George Barrett, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. "It discourages honest citizens who have differing views from those of the dominant religion from participating in the public schools."
Tricia Herzfeld, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, which filed the suit along with Barrett's law firm, said attorneys worked with the school district for six months to try to reach an agreement before suing.
Herzfeld said the district made some changes, such as removing Bible verses from a Sycamore High School Web site, but refused to address an ongoing pattern of First Amendment violations.
The suit, which seeks an injunction to stop the religious activities, was filed in Nashville on behalf of two current students and two former students.
Judge: TSA violated rights of Rastafarian
BOSTON (AP) _ The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission contends the rights of a Rastafarian baggage screener at Boston's Logan International Airport were violated when he was threatened with firing unless he kept his hair short.
The American Civil Liberties Union said that Josue Brissot was assured when he was hired by the Transportation Security Administration in 2002 that his long dreadlocks were not a problem.
But by 2005 he was being told his hair was against agency policy and he would be fired unless he cut it. Brissot keeps his hair long for religious reasons.
The ACLU says Brissot's treatment violated federal law prohibiting employment discrimination based on religion.
TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis declined comment, saying the case is still pending in litigation.
Minn. minister takes over as head of National Council of Churches
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The longtime leader of the Minnesota Council of Churches is taking over as the president of the National Council of Churches.
The Rev. Peg Chemberlin was official installed during a service at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis. She is a native of Waconia, Minn., a minister in the Moravian Church of America, and has led the Minnesota council for the last 14 years.
The National Council of Churches promotes ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. It represents a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and historic African-American churches that together make up 45 million churchgoers in more than 100,000 local congregations.
Chemberlin's term as national president is two years. Earlier this year, Chemberlin was appointed to President Barack Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Chemberlin serves on a council task force focused on economic recovery and fighting poverty.
Bible publisher selling handwritten version in online auction
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ A copy of the Bible written by hand, one verse at a time, by more than 31,000 people throughout the United States is on the auction block.
Christian book publisher Zondervan said Thursday it's selling the book on eBay and donating the proceeds to Biblica, a group that translates, produces and distributes Bibles.
The leather-bound three-volume handwritten Bible has 2,200 pages.
It's one of two original handwritten Bibles that Grand Rapids-based Zondervan created during a nine-month motor home tour of 40 states to mark the 30th anniversary of its modern-language New International Version Bible.
Members of the public wrote the verses into the books during the tour, which ended in June. A published version will be sold in stores beginning Dec. 1.