Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Dec 14, 2011 11:37 AM
Religion news in brief

Appeals court: Calif. church can fire teacher living with boyfriend and their child

SANTA ANA, Calif. _ A Southern California church can fire an unmarried preschool teacher living with her boyfriend and their child, an appeals court has ruled.

Sara Henry filed a wrongful termination lawsuit after she was fired in May 2009 for living arrangements contrary to the religious beliefs of Tustin's Red Hill Lutheran Church and its school.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana last week upheld a lower court ruling in favor of church.

The appeals court said that Henry was fired because she lived with her boyfriend in a sexual relationship while unmarried, a violation of church belief. The court noted she wasn't terminated because she had a baby out of wedlock. Red Hill Lutheran says on its website that it is a member of conservative-leaning Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, which was formed by several congregations that left the more liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over theological differences.


Hard-line Indonesian province says punk rockers affront to Muslim values, shave off their mohawks

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) _ Police in Indonesia's most conservative province raided a punk-rock concert and detained 65 fans, buzzing off their spiky mohawks and stripping away body piercings because of the perceived threat to Islamic values.

Dog-collar necklaces and chains also were taken from the youths before they were thrown in pools of water for "spiritual" cleansing, local police chief Iskandar Hasan said Wednesday.

After replacing their "disgusting" clothes, he handed each a toothbrush and barked "use it."

The crackdown marked the latest effort by authorities to promote strict moral values in Aceh, the only province in this secular but predominantly Muslim nation of 240 million to have imposed Islamic laws.

Here, adultery is punishable by stoning to death. Gays have been thrown in jail or lashed in public with rattan canes. Women are forced to wear headscarves and told not to wear tight pants.

Though pierced and tattooed teens have complained for months about harassment, the roundup at a concert last Saturday attended by more than 100 people was by far the biggest and most dramatic bust yet.

Hasan said 59 young men and five women were loaded into vans and brought to a police detention. They will spend 10 days getting rehabilitation, training in military-style discipline and religious classes, including Quran recitation, he said. Afterward, they'll be sent home.

"We're not torturing anyone," the police chief said. "We're not violating human rights. We're just trying to put them back on the right moral path."


Group sues Whiteville over crosses on water tower, city hall property and public sidewalks

WHITEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A national nonprofit for atheists and agnostics is suing the town of Whiteville over its placement of crosses on city property.

A federal lawsuit filed on Friday by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation claims the displays are an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity by the government of this small town about 50 miles east of Memphis.

According to court records, the group first wrote to Mayor James Bellar last December on behalf of a Whiteville resident who objected to a cross that had been placed atop the local water tower several years previously.

When the mayor did not respond, a second letter was sent in March and a third in May. In September the group wrote again, this time threatening to sue unless the cross was removed within 30 days.

Instead, the town removed one arm of the cross as a sort of protest. It also placed two crosses in front of city hall. A third cross appeared on the public sidewalk in front of Bellar's business.

Bellar said Tuesday that he had not yet been served with a copy of the suit but that the town plans to answer it.

The complaint, filed in Jackson, seeks a court declaration that crosses placed on public property violate the First Amendment. The suit also asks for an injunction requiring all crosses to be removed from property owned by the town of Whiteville and banning any future placement of crosses on town property.

Hold The Damn Vote Already
Derek Hunter


Vietnam sentences 2 Buddhist activists to prison

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ Vietnam sentenced two Buddhist activists to prison Tuesday for distributing anti-government leaflets and CDs, a relative and state media said.

Nguyen Van Lia and Tran Hoai An were sentenced on charges of "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state," state media reported Tuesday.

Lia received five years and An received three years on the same charges, state media reported.

Lia, 71, denied the charges in the half-day trial, said his daughter, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lua, who followed the trial via loud speakers outside the courtroom.

An and Lia are members of the Hoa Hao Buddhist group. They were arrested in April after authorities found 15 books, 64 CDs and DVDs and 36 documents accusing the government of violating human rights and suppressing religious freedom, the official Vietnam News Agency reported Tuesday.

New York-based Human Rights Watch demanded Lia's immediate release and called the sentence "outrageous and unacceptable."


Emmer accuses Hamline of reneging on teaching deal over opposition to gay marriage

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Former gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer is accusing Hamline University of backing out on an agreement for him to teach at its business school.

The Republican alleges that faculty members objected to his political views, including his opposition to same-sex marriage. He questions whether Hamline truly recognizes political or religious freedom.

Hamline counters that the discussions to have Emmer teach there never evolved beyond the proposal stage. University spokeswoman JacQui Getty says the two sides never reached a final agreement.

Emmer wants the school to acknowledge that it failed to honor its agreement with him. Getty says the school has no plans to do so.

Emmer conceded the governor's race to Democrat Mark Dayton last year just as a recount was wrapping up.