Religion news in brief
Trump touts his religious bona fides
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is touting his religious background.
In a question and answer session in Iowa, Trump said, "I love the Bible. I'm a Protestant. I'm a Presbyterian. I went to Sunday school."
Trump said his Sunday school lessons were at a Presbyterian church in Queens.
Later, he attended New York's Marble Collegiate Church, where his pastor was the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, author of "The Power of Positive Thinking." Trump says Peale's sermons were so good that "you hated to leave church."
In his presidential campaign, Trump declared that he's winning support from evangelical Christians. Trump said they're "incredible people who are really smart, and they want to see our country thrive."
Cruz enlists pastors to defund Planned Parenthood
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is urging the nation's pastors to mobilize their congregations in a push to defund Planned Parenthood.
In an email sent to 100,000 evangelical pastors over the weekend, Cruz cites what he calls "Planned Parenthood's barbaric practices of harvesting the body parts of innocent babies and selling them to the highest bidder."
Planned Parenthood says many women donate their aborted fetuses and that the money it collects from biomedical researchers only covers costs.
In his email and an online video, Cruz asks the pastors to join a Tuesday afternoon conference call about a defunding fight he plans to lead in the coming weeks. He says pastors will be asked to preach a sermon on abortion this coming Sunday and lead their congregations in a "day of prayer and fasting" on Sept. 9.
The Texas senator is one of several candidates seeking support from evangelical Christians, who comprise a large proportion of voters in early primary states.
AP Interview: US eyes migration, poverty as pope trip themes
ROME (AP) - The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican says he expects Pope Francis will call on the U.S. to rediscover its fundamental values, including its long history of welcoming foreigners, when he visits next month and becomes the first pope to address Congress.
In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Ambassador Kenneth Hackett said he expects migration, income inequality, family issues, the environment and the international persecution of Christians to be raised by Francis during his Sept. 22-27 visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
Hackett said: "I'm not worried about the tense moments, really. In my two years here I've come to realize that Pope Francis will say and do what he wants. And that, people find refreshing even if they disagree with him."
Ahead of pope's visit to US, some friction over LGBT issues
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The World Meeting of Families, the central religious event of Pope Francis' first visit to the United States, is intended to convey a message of love and joy as it seeks to promote church teaching on marriage. Yet four weeks away from its opening in Philadelphia, friction is mounting as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Roman Catholics lobby for a broader role in the event and organizers move to limit them.
The tensions surrounding the gathering will pose a real-world test of the pope's approach that emphasizes compassion and a welcoming attitude while upholding Catholic doctrine that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
The only speakers specifically addressing LGBT issues at the Sept. 22-27 conference are a celibate gay man and his mother. Gays and lesbians can attend the meeting as individuals, but groups supporting gay marriage were denied exhibit space and other official options for presenting their views.
Stolen tabernacle returned after it was taken from church
OAKLEY, Calif. (AP) - Parishioners at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Oakley, California, were lamenting a great loss when one or more thieves made off with the church's tabernacle, the sacred receptacle used to carry the Blessed Sacrament.
The brass box with gold plating contained several items, including a bowl filled with consecrated Communion hosts.
The Contra Costa Times reports that while the tabernacle is worth around $9,000, the Rev. Ken Sales, the church's parochial administrator, said the spiritual significance of the loss was much greater.
The stolen property was missing for Wednesday's Mass, but parishioners were left with a message of hope when it was returned undamaged on Friday.
Sales said he now believes that the tabernacle was stolen so Jesus could spend a day with the thief or thieves and touch their heart.