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Apr 9, 12:07 PM EDT

Religion news in brief

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Mass. Catholics hold vigil in endangered churches
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Pope assumes responsibility for priest sex abuse

Pope meets ex-sex slaves, denounces trafficking

Pope blesses cross made from migrant boats

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Malaysia, Indonesia ban biblical epic `Noah'

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysia and Indonesia have banned the biblical epic "Noah," joining other Muslim nations that forbid the Hollywood movie for its visual depiction of a man Islam considers a prophet.

Film censors in both countries said Monday that the portrayal of the ark-builder by Russell Crowe was against Islamic law. Depictions of prophets are shunned in Islam to avoid worship of a person rather than God.

Malay Muslims make up about 60 percent of Malaysia's 30 million people, and Christians about 9 percent.

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, the head of the national censorship board said the plot of "Noah" contradicts both the Quran and the Bible.

Indonesia's most influential Islamic body welcomed the move, saying films that could corrupt religious teachings should be outlawed.

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Craig James joins Family Research Council

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former college football broadcaster Craig James has joined the conservative Family Research Council, where he says he'll fight the kind of "religious bigotry" he blames for his firing by Fox Sports after expressing opposition to gay marriage.

James, who will serve as an assistant to council President Tony Perkins, was a longtime color commentator for ESPN. He quit to run for the U.S. Senate two years ago in Texas, where he grew up and starred at SMU. James finished fourth in the Republican primary.

During a campaign debate, James said he opposed gay marriage and that gay people would one day "have to answer to the Lord for their actions."

Fox Sports let him go, saying he was a "polarizing figure" who had "abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda." James has filed a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission accusing Fox of violating his religious freedom.

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Pastor who attempted to burn Qurans takes plea

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) - A Florida pastor who was arrested this past Sept. 11 while attempting to burn 2,998 Qurans at a Polk County park has accepted a plea agreement that will prohibit him from returning to the county for six months.

As part of Tuesday's plea deal, prosecutors have agreed to drop a felony charge of unlawful conveyance of fuel against Terry Jones.

On Sept. 11, Jones and members of his congregation in the Dove World Outreach Ministries in Manatee County entered the Mulberry area to burn Qurans in memory of those who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Lakeland Ledger reports that Jones was in a truck pulling a cooker laden with kerosene-soaked Qurans when he was arrested.

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Chicago Cardinal George staying home for treatment

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Cardinal Francis George will not travel to Rome for the canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II later this month because of the resumption of chemotherapy to treat his cancer.

The 77-year-old spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago's more than 2 million Roman Catholics was released from the hospital on March 21 after being treated for dehydration and flu-like symptoms.

Treatment of the cancer near his right kidney was interrupted by the infection. George survived bladder cancer eight years ago, but the cancer returned in 2012.

According to the archdiocese, George intends to maintain his scheduled participation in the Holy Week services and Easter Sunday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral.

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Churches continue to fight Hawaii schools lawsuit

HONOLULU (AP) - Attorneys representing churches being sued over renting Hawaii public school buildings for services say there's nothing new in an amended lawsuit.

A judge previously dismissed a lawsuit claiming the churches owe more than $5.6 million in rental fees, saying it didn't contain the required level of detail for a case alleging fraud. Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State founder Mitchell Kahle and public advocate Holly Huber later filed an amended suit.

Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom filed another motion to dismiss, reiterating its previous argument that the state Department of Education knew how the facilities were being used. ADF attorney Erik Stanley said Monday the amended suit doesn't include new information.

A hearing is scheduled for May 27.

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