Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Nov 09, 2011 4:13 PM
Religion news in brief

Detroit clergy plan march, prayer rally outside stadium hosting controversial Christian event

DETROIT (AP) _ A coalition of Detroit clergy and community activists planned to march to a downtown football stadium and hold a prayer rally while thousands gather inside for a 24-hour Christian event known as TheCall.

The Friday gathering inside Ford Field espouses anti-Muslim, anti-homosexual and anti-abortion beliefs and is designed to separate people of various faiths, the Rev. Charles Williams II said.

Organizers have said Detroit is a "microcosm of our national crisis" that includes economic and racial struggles, as well as "the rising tide of the Islamic movement."

Detroit area Muslim leaders have said they fear some attendees might provoke or disrupt Friday prayers at local mosques.

"We certainly don't believe that the Muslim community is what cast a dark shadow over the city of Detroit in terms of economics," said Williams, pastor of Historic King Solomon Church in Detroit.

"Our prayer will be a prayer where we will be calling on God to help us solve the foreclosure crisis; to help us solve the job crisis; to help us solve the education crisis. This is the prayer we should be calling on, not a message of hate against those who are United States residents."

The Associated Press left a message Wednesday seeking comment from Lou Engle, co-founder of TheCall assemblies.


Georgia voters in many communities overwhelmingly approve Sunday alcohol sales

ATLANTA (AP) _ Sunday alcohol sales are coming to dozens of Georgia cities and several counties as voters overwhelmingly approved the change on Tuesday.

Cities including Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, Valdosta, Dunwoody, Gainesville and East Point voted to approve Sunday alcohol package sales between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. at grocery and liquor stores. Only a handful of cities rejected the measure, including Palmetto, Varnell and Garden City.

Most of Georgia's 159 counties did not take up the issue on this year's ballot, which did not feature many contests in an off-year election.

Georgia was one of three remaining states _ including Indiana and Connecticut _ that did not allow Sunday alcohol sales, and the last Southern holdout.

Earlier this year, the Georgia Legislature passed a law allowing local governments to let voters weigh in on the issue. The measure had stalled for years at the Capitol as lawmakers faced resistance from religious groups and the threat of a veto from former teetotaler Gov. Sonny Perdue.

This year, Gov. Nathan Deal signaled his support for legislation that would allow local control of the issue, shifting the discussion from morality to individual liberty.


Indian court sentences 31 Hindus to life in prison for killing dozens of Muslims 9 years ago

AHMABADAD, India (AP) _ A court sentenced 31 Hindus to life imprisonment Wednesday for killing dozens of Muslims by setting a building on fire during one of India's worst rounds of communal violence nine years ago.

Judge S.C. Srivastava acquitted 41 other Hindus of murder charges for lack of evidence.

Relations between Hindus and Muslims have been largely peaceful since the bloody partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan on independence from Britain in 1947. But mistrust runs deep and there are sporadic bouts of violence.

The worst recent violence erupted in 2002 in Gujarat state. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed by Hindu mobs after a train fire killed 60 Hindus returning from a pilgrimage. Muslims were blamed for the fire.

Rioters set a building on fire in a village in Mehsana district, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Ahmadabad, the main city in Gujarat state. Thirty-three Muslims, including 20 women, who had taken shelter there were burned alive.

Muslims account for about 14 percent of India's population of 1.1 billion but lag far behind the Hindu majority in most social indicators, from literacy to household income.


NY attorney general to launch initiative against religious discrimination at work

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced an enforcement initiative to protect the religious rights of increasingly diverse New Yorkers while they're at work and elsewhere.

The attorney general's office is targeting faith-based discrimination with outreach, inviting reports of potential violations, issuing guidance on workplace measures like flexible scheduling and dress codes, and threatening civil rights lawsuits for violations.

"In the past 20 years, New York state has become much more pluralistic. We have more diversity in religious practices," Schneiderman said at an Anti-Defamation League luncheon Wednesday in New York City. "The growth of our Hassidic and other Jewish communities, of the number of observant Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, has been staggering, and frankly, we need to adjust things in the office of the New York State Attorney General to deal with this new, more pluralistic reality."

The office has assigned legal staff and begun issuing publications outlining worker rights under state and federal laws. They require employers to accommodate religious practices such as observance of holy days, unless that creates an "undue hardship" on the employer, and try to accommodate religious dress and prayer during the workday.