Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Sep 21, 2011 11:47 AM
Religion news in brief

Ky. lawmaker trying to find compromise in debate over safety sign required on Amish buggies

PADUCAH, Ky. _ A western Kentucky lawmaker is trying to find a compromise in the debate over a law that requires slow-moving vehicles to display a reflective triangle, a requirement that Amish men say infringes on their religious beliefs.

Republican Sen. Ken Winters of Murray has asked legislative staff to look at laws in other states in an effort to find some common ground.

The debate stems from a state law that requires slow-moving vehicles to display an emblem of a fluorescent yellow-orange triangle with a reflective border that is dark red. It affects Amish communities all over the state that use horses and buggies for travel instead of motorized vehicles.

Some Amish sects think the color violates their religious beliefs and several Amish men in western Kentucky have been ordered to jail for refusing to obey the law.

Winters hopes lawmakers can come up with an alternative that will satisfy the Amish community and also keep travelers safe.

"We had to worry about public safety, that's what the issue is here," he said. "But is there an appropriate way _ and 138 (lawmakers) will make the decision _ is there an appropriate way to allow alternative markings to substitute for the red triangle?"

Winters said he expects the issue to be discussed during the next legislative session, which begins meeting in January.


Missouri school board decides to return banned books to library, but with strong restrictions

REPUBLIC, Mo. (AP) _ Two months after removing two books from its curriculum and school library, a southwest Missouri school board has voted to allow them back into the library _ but with strong restrictions on who will be allowed to check them out.

The Republic school board voted in July to remove Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" and Sarah Ockler's "Twenty Boy Summer" from the school after a man who does not have children there said the books taught values contrary to the Bible. That decision triggered heated debate in Republic and prompted Monday's decision to revise the school's book policy.

Under the revised policy approved before a packed meeting room, the board agreed to allow challenged books to be kept in a secure section of the school library. Only parents who want their children to read the book will be allowed to check it out.

"It does keep the books there in the library, and if parents want their kids to read the book, by all means come and check it out," said Superintendent Vern Minor. "It still puts the decision in parents' hands."

A year ago, Republic resident Wes Scroggins complained about the appropriateness of those two books as well as "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson. On July 25, following Minor's recommendation, the board kept "Speak" and removed the other two books.

Members of the group Reclaiming Missouri For Christ attended the board meeting. President Mark Riser said he supports making the books available with parental permission.


Presbyterians consider dumping investments in US firms over Palestinian-Israeli conflict

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) said the denomination should dump investments in three American companies it believes profit from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The divestment recommendation against Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard must be approved by the church's legislative General Assembly in 2012 to become policy.

A report from the denomination's Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment says Caterpillar produces bulldozers and Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions produce technology used to bolster the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and Jewish settlements on them.

Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan said the bulldozers are provided to Israel through the U.S. government-run Foreign Military Sales program.

"These products are being provided to Israel as part of a broader U.S. government policy," he said.

Motorola and Hewlett-Packard declined comment.

The committee said the companies have rebuffed seven years of efforts to persuade them to cut back on supplying activities that it said violated international law.

"Sadly, our engagement with these companies has resulted in no significant progress, and we don't think it likely that it will do so in the future. We did what we could, but it didn't work," said the Rev. Brian Ellison, a Kansas City, Mo., pastor who heads the investment committee.

Matt Goldberg, community relations director of the Jewish Community of Louisville, said the church's recommendation does not "advance the cause of peace in the region."

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"Israel's military actions are always defensive and preventive in nature" in response to "constant terrorist threat," Goldberg said.


Pope approves early retirement for ailing Indianapolis archbishop; no replacement named

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ The pope has approved early retirement for Roman Catholic Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis, who had a stroke six months ago.

Pope Benedict XVI granted the ailing 73-year-old archbishop retirement, but no replacement was immediately named Wednesday.

Bishops must submit their resignation to the pope at age 75, but the pope can decide whether to keep them on or whether to let them step down earlier.

Buechlein was appointed in 1992 to lead the archdiocese of some 225,000 Catholics in 39 counties across central and southern Indiana. The native of Jasper in southern Indiana underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments for Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008 and had a non-cancerous tumor removed from his abdomen last year.

A statement posted to the archdiocese's website said Buechlein plans to return to southern Indiana and live at St. Meinrad Archabbey, where he became a Benedictine monk nearly 50 years ago.

Bishop Christopher Coyne, who became the archdiocese's auxiliary bishop in March, will administer the archdiocese until Benedict appoints a new archbishop.


Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal declines to get involved in Micanopy church dispute

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A Florida appeals court wants no part of a dispute over control of a Florida church.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee has affirmed an Alachua County trial judge's ruling that it's a religious rather than legal matter.

Several former members sued the First Baptist Church of Micanopy, a Florida corporation.

They argued another faction ousted them from the church in violation of its bylaws and articles of incorporation.

Courts can and have ruled on church disputes involving property.

The appeals court panel, though, wrote Monday that church membership and control are essentially religious issues.

They said those are matters are protected from government interference by the First Amendment, which guarantees the freedom of religion.