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Religion news in brief
Obamas host White House celebration of gospel music
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have welcomed top recording artists to the White House for a celebration of gospel music.
Aretha Franklin, Lyle Lovett, Shirley Caesar, Emmylou Harris and Darlene Love were among the artists participating in Tuesday night's concert, which the president said would "bring some church to the White House."
Obama said gospel music was born out of slavery and became the music of the black church. He said it "has an unmatched power to strike the deepest chord in all of us, touching people of all faiths and no faith."
The event was the latest in the "In Performance at the White House" series that is broadcast by PBS television stations nationwide.
It will be broadcast nationwide by PBS on June 26.
Tennessee House bogs down over making Bible official book
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A small-town Republican's proposal to make the Bible the official book of Tennessee is being opposed by leaders of his own party, including Gov. Bill Haslam, with the House delaying a scheduled vote on the measure.
A sometimes raucous floor debate Tuesday followed a legal opinion by state Attorney General Herbert Slatery saying the bill would violate separation of church and state provisions in the state and federal constitutions.
The legislation's sponsor, freshman Rep. Jerry Sexton, disputed Slatery's opinion. Sexton insisted that his bill would memorialize the Bible's role in Tennessee's history and would not establish any religion.
The House is expected to take up the measure again when it meets in its next floor session on Wednesday.
UN chief to open Vatican climate change conference
NEW YORK (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will open a key Vatican meeting this month on Pope Francis' highly anticipated teaching document on climate change.
The U.N. chief will join American economist Jeffrey Sachs and the pope's top representative on the environment, Cardinal Peter Turkson, at the April 28 event. Turkson helped write the first draft of the pope's upcoming encyclical on global warming and the environment.
Organizers say this month's "Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity" event will highlight the moral dimensions of environmental protection ahead of the encyclical's release this summer. Organizers say they aim to build a global religious movement to battle climate change.
The conference was announced on the websites for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Vatican's "End Slavery" initiative.
Police: Texas woman helped starve boy to rid him of `demon'
DALLAS (AP) - Authorities say a woman who operated a church in her Dallas-area home helped starve a 2-year-old boy to rid him of a "demon," then held a ceremony to try to revive him.
Balch Springs police said Tuesday that Araceli Meza (ar-uh-SEL'-ee MAY'-suh) encouraged the boy's parents to feed him only water for 25 days, then tried to "resurrect" him during a ceremony. Investigators believe the boy died but that his parents returned home to Mexico for the burial.
Lt. Mark Maret (MAYR'-et) says the 49-year-old Meza was charged Monday with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury by omission. She's being held on $100,000 bond and has no listed attorney.
Police say they received a tip about a March 22 ceremony at the home to revive the American-born child.
Lawmaker looks to spur Indiana gay rights protections debate
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A Democratic lawmaker is looking to force Republicans to vote on whether to extend protections for gays, lesbians and others under Indiana's non-discrimination laws less than two weeks after the backlash over the religious objections law.
The proposal calls for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the non-discrimination sections of numerous state laws, including the Indiana civil rights law covering education, employment and housing.
Democratic Rep. Ed DeLaney of Indianapolis says his proposal would get Indiana past the uproar over whether the religious objections law could have allowed discrimination.
The Indiana House faces a Tuesday deadline to act on two bills that DeLaney wants non-discrimination language added to.
Republican legislative leaders say not enough time is left in the legislative session to tackle such a policy change.