Religion News in Brief

AP News
Posted: Jun 08, 2011 4:20 PM
Religion News in Brief

Catholic group sues state over gay adoptions issue

CHICAGO (AP) _ A Roman Catholic group that licenses foster and adoptive parents has sued the state of Illinois over a new law that would require the nonprofit to place children with gay or unmarried couples.

Catholic Charities said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday that it is exempt from provisions of a state law that lets gay and straight couples form civil unions that give them many of the same rights as traditional marriage.

The organization says placing children with unmarried, cohabitating couples violates the Catholic faith. Catholic Charities wants to be allowed to refer unmarried or gay couples to other agencies, as it's done for years.

Gay rights advocates contend that Catholic Charities should follow the law because taxpayer money pays for its adoption and foster care services.

In response to the new law, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Rockford ended its publicly funded foster care and adoptive services. The Illinois Dioceses of Peoria and Joliet have temporarily suspended issuing new licenses for foster care and adoptive parents. The Archdiocese of Chicago ended its foster and adoption services in 2007 when it lost insurance coverage.


From harems to terrorism: Dearborn museum website aims to explore, overcome Arab stereotypes

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) _ The Arab American National Museum launched an online exhibit Tuesday that aims to explore and overcome Arab stereotypes that have pervaded popular culture for more than a century.

The exhibit, "Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes," includes commentary as well as paintings, books, films and music showing Arab culture as exotic, uncivilized and threatening.

"We're hoping people will leave the site with a vivid sense of this discrepancy between who Arab Americans are in their diversity and the actual limited, restricting stereotypes," said Evelyn Alsultany, the exhibit's curator and an assistant professor at University of Michigan who teaches about representations of Arabs and Muslims.

A large percentage of Arab Americans are Christian, but the U.S. community also includes many Muslims. Alsultany said the exhibit examines simple misperceptions, such as assuming all Arabs in the Mideast ride camels or live in tents in the desert, along with stereotypes that can lead to hate crimes or influence U.S. foreign policy.

The website offers video interviews of Alsultany and other Arab-Americans, as well as examples of the community's contributions to U.S. culture and society. The exhibit also explores stereotypes of other groups, such as Jews, African-Americans and Native Americans.

"One of the things we all agreed on, we didn't want to give impression that this is unique to Arabs," Alsultany said.


Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes:


New leader named for group representing US men's Catholic religious orders

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) _ The association for men's Roman Catholic religious orders in the United States has named a new executive director.

The Rev. John A. Pavlik, a Capuchin friar, has been appointed the new leader of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the group announced Tuesday. Pavlik succeeds the Rev. Paul Lininger, who is stepping down after six years on the job.

Pavlik has spent years in leadership positions with the Province of St. Augstine, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., which spans five states, two overseas missions and the District of Columbia. He has also served as president of the North American and Pacific Capuchin Conference and has led formation programs for priests.

Pavlik starts the new position in August.

The Conference of Major Superiors of Men provides support for leaders of religious orders in the United States and works on religious and justice issues with church and other groups. The U.S. is home to nearly 13,000 religious order priests, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.


ACLU to Lafayette Parish sheriff: Let jailed Muslim women wear scarf for religious freedom

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office to change a policy that bars Muslim women arrestees from wearing the religious head-covering called a hijab.

Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said a woman arrested for traffic violations last year asked to wear her hijab in public and when men were present, but was the sheriff's office said no.

"Louisiana law and the U.S. Constitution require governments to accommodate religious beliefs unless there is a compelling interest, which simply does not exist in this case," Esman said.

The ACLU has asked Sheriff Michael Neustrom to make the change within 14 days. The sheriff's spokesman, Lt. Craig Stansbury, said the agency just received the letter and did not have an immediate comment.


Defense Department honors Yankton church for supporting pastor's chaplaincy in Afghanistan

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) _ A Yankton church has been named one of 15 winners nationwide for the 2011 Department of Defense Freedom Award.

St. John's Lutheran Church is believed to be the first church to win the award, which is given to employers for support of employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.

Church members were honored for backing their pastor's chaplaincy in Afghanistan.

The award was started in 1996 and has been given to 145 employers.

The Rev. Dave Gunderson nominated his congregation after returning last month from a year of service with the South Dakota National Guard in the Kabul area.