Chicago allows protests during religious services
CHICAGO (AP) _ Chicago has stopped enforcing an ordinance that banned protests during religious services after the city's Law Department declared it unconstitutional.
The ordinance prohibited protests within 150 feet of a place of worship while services were being conducted and 30 minutes before and afterward.
After a protest last year outside their headquarters, the Church of Scientology of Illinois posted a sign announcing that services were being held every day from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Police asked the protesters to leave, but attorney Alex Hageli refused. He fought the citation he received, and the Law Department agreed to drop it after declaring the ordinance unconstitutional.
Department spokeswoman Jenny Hoyle tells the Chicago Sun-Times that the ordinance made an exception for labor picketers, which isn't allowed.
"What was unconstitutional was that one type of picketing was being treated differently than another," Hoyle said. "If unions can do it, why can't anyone else? Police officers will no longer be ticketing under that section of the code of the disorderly conduct ordinance."
A message left with the Church of Scientology early Tuesday wasn't immediately returned.
Church of England gives priests guidance about preventing sham marriages
LONDON (AP) _ The Church of England has given priests guidance on ways to prevent sham marriages staged in hope of beating immigration rules.
One Church of England priest, Rev. Alex Brown, was sentenced to four years in jail last year for presiding at 360 marriages in five years between eastern European women who were in the country legally and African men who had exhausted all other ways of remaining in Britain.
Church officials recommended that any couple that includes someone from outside the European Economic Area should be subject to a "common license." That requires the couple to swear affidavits, give proof of identity and address, and attend marriage preparation classes.
Priests were assured they would not be disciplined for refusing to conduct a suspicious wedding.
The Church of England conducts around a quarter of all marriages in England.
Virginia AG: Armed worship OK unless clergy bans it
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia's attorney general says people may carry guns into worship services for personal protection, but houses of worship _ not the state _ have the right to keep weapons out.
In a legal opinion, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wrote that self-defense is at the heart of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.
But he added that the Second Amendment was intended only to restrain the government, not private parties, so "churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious entities can, like any other owner of property, restrict or ban the carrying of weapons onto their private property."
The ruling was praised by Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, who also is an elder at The Harvester Presbyterian Church in Springfield.
Pratt said, "Most of the mass murders in our country have occurred in gun-free zones."
Dutch national archive releases information about arrests of 9,000 Jewish WWII victims
AMSTERDAM (AP) _ The Dutch national archive says it has gathered information about the arrests and deportations of some 9,000 Dutch Jews who died in Nazi concentration camps in World War II.
The project was carried out by journalist Ad van Liempt and team of investigators at the archive who were allowed access to the dossiers of 250 collaborators who have since died.
The dossiers centered around the "Henneicke Column," which tracked down Jews with police help, often paying money for tips.
Records of convicted World War II collaborators are sealed under Dutch privacy laws. Results of the project are only available to victims' families.
An estimated 110,000 Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, including teenage diarist Anne Frank. Around 30,000 survived.
MLK's 1960s Atlanta church sanctuary restored
ATLANTA (AP) _ Visitors will again be able to see the pulpit and sit in the sanctuary where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.
Two of his children, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, will join Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Friday in celebrating the reopening of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church's Heritage Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall. It closed in 2007 for a major project to restore them to their 1960s appearance.
The church, managed by the National Park Service, is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
King was born not far from Ebenezer and is entombed across the street. He co-pastored there with his father from 1960 until he was killed in 1968.
Calif. gov attends opening of largest US Sikh temple
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ America's largest Sikh temple has opened following a $20 million expansion.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed attended Sunday's open house of the Sikh Gurdwara-San Jose, along with clergy from other faiths. Thousands of Sikhs travelled from around Northern California for the grand opening.
The expansion includes a new prayer hall, classrooms for more than 600 children to attend religious school and apartments for temple priests and visitors.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that Brown praised the community's success.
The governor also vowed to seek justice for two Sikh men who were shot -- one of them fatally -- in a Sacramento suburb last month. Police are investigating the case as a possible hate crime.