Religion news in brief
CBS orders miniseries based on `The Dovekeepers'
NEW YORK (AP) - The makers of "The Bible" TV miniseries are preparing a religious historical drama for CBS.
The network announced that it will air a four-hour miniseries based on the historical novel "The Dovekeepers," sometime in 2015.
Actress Roma Downey and her husband, veteran television producer Mark Burnett, will make it. The couple scored a major hit with their miniseries "The Bible" on the History channel earlier this year. The novel is about four women who work to save 900 Jews being attacked by Romans in a fortress in Masada.
Alice Hoffman's novel "The Dovekeepers" was published in 2011, and was called "an amazing story of heroism and hope" by Downey.
Billy Graham weaker since 95th birthday party
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A spokesman for the Rev. Billy Graham says the evangelist has been weaker since his 95th birthday celebration last month but his vital signs are good.
Spokesman Mark DeMoss said Tuesday that Graham is at home in Montreat, N.C., and does not appear to be in any imminent danger. The Rev. Franklin Graham has said he would appreciate prayers for his father.
Billy Graham celebrated his birthday in nearby Asheville on Nov. 7 surrounded by hundreds of friends and guests. Two weeks after the party, Graham was hospitalized for two days for observation and lung tests. He had been hospitalized in October for pulmonary testing.
Graham uses a wheelchair and has been hospitalized for several health-related issues over the past few years.
Va. pastor: US custody case had no Vt. Connection
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Virginia pastor convicted in federal court in Vermont of helping a woman and her child flee the country rather than share custody with her former lesbian partner says the case should be dismissed because it had no connection to Vermont.
Kenneth Miller makes the argument in papers filed with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
Prosecutors counter that trying the case in Vermont was appropriate because the crime didn't begin until Lisa Miller and her daughter left the country in 2009 and are believed to be in Nicaragua.
Kenneth Miller, a Mennonite pastor, was convicted in 2012 of aiding in international parental kidnapping. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison, but the sentence was delayed pending appeal. The Millers are not related.
Oral arguments in the appeal are set for Jan. 27 in New York.
Irish Catholic watchdog issues child abuse report
LONDON (AP) - The Irish Catholic Church's watchdog says that only 12 of the hundreds of staff members accused of child abuse in the Christian Brothers order since the mid-1970s have been convicted.
The report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church looked into how the Christian Brothers, a Catholic order set up to run schools, handled abuse allegations. It said although abuse claims were made against 325 of the order's officials since 1975, only a dozen were convicted of crimes.
The Christian Brothers, who ran boys schools across Ireland for two centuries, have been plagued by the abuse scandal in recent years.
Ireland's Cardinal Sean Brady said Tuesday that he's "truly sorry" and that his thoughts are with abuse victims. Brady has been widely criticized for being implicated in covering up the abuse of children.
Texas touts law protecting Christmas in schools
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas is making sure everyone remembers that wishing someone "Merry Christmas" is now protected by law in its public schools - and conservatives are hoping similar measures will gain momentum across America.
Garnering national attention when it was approved by the Texas Legislature this past summer, the bipartisan law removes legal risks from exchanging holiday greetings in classrooms. It also protects symbols such as Christmas trees, menorahs or nativity scenes, as long as more than one religion is represented and a secular symbol such as a snowman is displayed.
The law's sponsor, Houston Republican Dwayne Bohac (BOH'-hak), said the law is meant to codify the religious freedoms of the First Amendment and keep "censorship of Christmas out of public schools."
One of its co-sponsors, Laredo Democrat Richard Raymond, said "Christmas and Hanukkah obviously do have religious implications for so many" but they're "just part of America."