Oct 7, 1:04 PM EDT

Religion news in brief

AP Photo
AP Photo/Wade Payne

Mass. Catholics hold vigil in endangered churches
Convent shuts after helping generations 'overcome'
Inside a Voodoo Gede ceremony
Religion News
Parents charged with fatally beating son in New York church

Man claims he lost job at Catholic home because he's gay

Vatican seeks to quell talk of letter to pope on family

Portugal begins granting citizenship to Sephardic Jews

Church gives pizza driver $1,000 tip from collection plate

Pope's sex abuse commission taking advice on the road

Vatican homeless shelter opens steps from St. Peter's

Protesters gather to hold anti-Islam rally at Phoenix mosque

Judge OKs Muslim film ads rejected by New York subway agency

Fire strikes 92-year-old church on Chicago's South Side

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County wants God's mercy after gay marriage ruling

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Officials in a Tennessee county have adjourned without taking action on a resolution asking for God's mercy as it complies with the Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The proposed resolution said Blount (blunt) County is being forced to issue and recognize marriage licenses for same-sex couples, and it asked God to spare the county from the wrath poured out on the biblical cities Sodom and Gomorrah.

Wednesday's sudden adjournment shocked the 150 citizens who packed into the meeting room. Some of the attendees expressed their disbelief by shouting "Cowards!" and "You've got to be kidding me!"

Blount County Commissioner Karen Miller, who proposed the resolution, Miller said she "most likely" would try to reintroduce the measure.


Pope aims to assure conservatives marriage doctrine safe

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis has sought to assure conservatives that Catholic doctrine on marriage isn't up for discussion as a three-week meeting of bishops begins hashing out how the church should welcome gays, divorced people and Catholics in "irregular" unions.

Francis took the floor after the meeting's first day was marked by a speech from the synod manager, Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, in which he closed the door on any movement on whether Catholics remarried outside the church could receive Communion.

Francis said the issue wasn't the only one on the table and church doctrine isn't up for debate. But in recounting Francis' closed-door speech, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, noted that the synod is discussing a papally approved working text, where the Communion question for civilly remarried Catholics is still open.

An assistant to Lombardi, the Rev. Thomas Rosica (roh-SEE'-kah), said several bishops raised the need for a new "language of mercy" in speaking about homosexuals and ministering to unwed couples.


Priest pleads not guilty to endangering 8-year-old boy with musket

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey priest accused of pointing a functioning musket at an 8-year-old boy in a church rectory as part of a football rivalry has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment and aggravated assault charges.

The Rev. Kevin Carter entered his plea Tuesday during a brief hearing in Hackensack.

The charges stem from a Sept. 13 incident at St. Margaret of Cortona Roman Catholic Church in Little Ferry.

Carter, an avid New York Giants fan, claims it was joke that was misinterpreted. He and the boy, who roots for the Dallas Cowboys, were talking about football shortly before the incident occurred. The NFL teams were scheduled to play that night.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli has said he doesn't consider pointing a gun at someone to be a joke.


Reparative therapy criticized by Southern Baptist theologian

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A leading Southern Baptist theologian is speaking out against psychological counseling aimed at turning young gays straight, saying homosexuality cannot be turned off like a switch.

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Monday that conversion or reparative therapy can't bring about redemptive change.

Mohler is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He spoke to reporters at the start of a conference entitled "Homosexuality: Compassion, Care and Counsel for Struggling People."

Mohler is unwavering in the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. He believes homosexuals can change by accepting biblical teachings. But Mohler said Christians have sinned against gays by "reducing a massive human struggle to simplistic explanations."

Gay rights advocates denounced the conference. Their protest included a prayer for love, inclusion and respect.


Colorado college sued for denying Bible-themed donor plaque

DENVER (AP) - A graduate of a Colorado university who wanted to cite the names of Bible verses on a donor nameplate in a football locker room has sued his alma mater for rejecting the request.

Michael Lucas wanted the plaque recognizing his $2,500 donation to be inscribed with "Colossians 3:23" and "Micah 5:9," but not with the words in those verses. The Colorado School of Mines said even the inclusion of the verse names would violate separation of church and state, according a lawsuit filed in Denver federal court last week.

Lucas argues that it constitutes private speech protected by the First Amendment. The university said it is disappointed that the former football player sued and disagreed with his claim that it restricted his free-speech rights.

For his donation, Lucas was getting one of 130 personalized plaques in the locker room of the school's new athletic facility. Quotations approved for other donor nameplates included, "Give 'Em Hell!" and "Take your whiskey clear," according to the lawsuit.


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