Bunk on a battleship during pope's Philadelphia visit
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Visitors looking for a place to stay during Pope Francis' trip to Philadelphia have an unusual option.
The Battleship New Jersey is offering 400 bunks for $75 per person for a night between Sept. 22 and Sept. 26. Those are the same bunks where sailors slept.
The price includes breakfast and dinner. Guests also will get a tour of the museum and a ride in a flight simulator. But there are no showers available.
The ship is docked in Camden, across the river from Philadelphia and less than a mile from the Ben Franklin Bridge. The bridge will be closed to traffic, but open to pedestrians and bicyclists during the pope's visit.
The battleship was launched on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Islamic State in Syria releases 22 Christians held since February
BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants have reportedly released 22 Christians they've been holding captive.
Human rights groups say the 22 were part of more than 220 Assyrian Christians captured when the Islamic State group overran several farming communities in northeastern Syria in February. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said tribal leaders mediated and paid money for their release.
The Assyrian Human Rights Network said 14 of those released were women. The network says the freed hostages were taken to the Virgin Mary Church in the city of Hassakeh. It also posted photos on its Facebook page, showing mostly elderly men and women, some in tears, being greeted by a priest.
The Assyrian Federation of Sweden, which has followed the case, said Tuesday's release brings the total number of freed Assyrians to 45.
Last week, Islamic State militants abducted about 60 Christians from the central Syrian town of Qaryatain, hours after it was captured by the group. Nearly half of them were later released but the fate of the rest remains unknown.
Israeli rabbis create independent Jewish conversion court
JERUSALEM (AP) — Some Israeli rabbis have created an independent Jewish conversion court, defying the Orthodox establishment's monopoly on religious affairs.
While the conversions will not be officially recognized, the move signals growing impatience in some sectors with the Orthodox rabbinate's tight grip on aspects of daily life and a political leadership that has not liberalized access to conversion and other religious services. The Orthodox controls conversions, marriage and burials.
The new court, established by a dozen liberal rabbis, began offering conversions on Monday, with six children starting the process.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli group that helped establish the court says the rabbis hope that if large numbers of people go through with the conversions the state will have no choice but to recognize them.
Board: Ohio judges can't choose marriage type they perform
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judicial board has ruled that judges who perform weddings can't refuse same-sex couples based on personal, moral or religious beliefs.
The board also says judges who stop performing all marriages to avoid marrying same-sex couples may be considered biased and could therefore be disqualified from any case where sexual orientation is an issue.
The Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Professional Conduct issued the ruling Monday after a Toledo judge who refused to perform a same-sex wedding asked the board to clarify his duties. Municipal Judge C. Allen McConnell said he didn't marry a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs after the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in all 50 states in June.
McConnell said Monday he would abide by the board's opinion and would marry a same-sex couple if requested.
Haley worships at Emanuel AME, site of Charleston shootings
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has again worshipped with the congregation of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston where nine parishioners were killed during a Bible study in June.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that the governor attended Sunday services with her husband and their two children.
It was a low-key visit and the governor did not address the congregation. But Bishop Richard Franklin Norris welcomed the Haley family and told the congregation he appreciated the visit and said he had never seen a governor so quickly and gracefully provide leadership.
The Haley family left the church immediately after the two-hour service. The governor had earlier attended the funerals for all nine of the Emanuel victims.