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Aug 28, 11:02 AM EDT

Religion news in brief

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Mass. Catholics hold vigil in endangered churches
Convent shuts after helping generations 'overcome'
Inside a Voodoo Gede ceremony
Religion News
Members of Jewish sect leave Guatemala village after disputes with residents

Wyoming sheriff says pastor who had reported assault by burglar intentionally shot himself

Pope removes key Benedict XVI protege in sign of different liturgical priorities

Pope to honor dead from both sides of WWI during visit to northern Italy where 'nonno' fought

Religion news in brief

After Vatican removes immunity, Dominican court opens abuse case against ex-diplomat

Archive of pre-Holocaust images of European Jews made available to the public, researchers

Jewish center reopens 6 years after Mumbai terror attacks; Asia's rabbis attend

Vatican says ex-ambassador has no immunity and could be tried for sex abuse by Dominican court

Pope's Iraq envoy says minorities hit by Islamic State must be defended now and later

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Mom makes Islamic appeal for life of her journalist son

MIAMI (AP) - The mother of an American journalist held hostage and threatened with death makes an Islamic appeal for his life in a video addressed to his captors.

In the video aired on the Al-Arabiya television network, Shirley Sotloff says she has "learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others." She said her son, 31-year-old Steven Sotloff, "travelled to the Middle East to cover the suffering of Muslims" and should not be punished for U.S. government actions.

Steven Sotloff was last seen in August 2013 in Syria. He was threatened with death by Islamic State militants on a video unless the U.S. stopped air strikes on the group. The same video showed the beheading of fellow American journalist James Foley.

Shirley Sotloff asks the militants' leader to spare her son's life "and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammad, who protected `People of the Book.'"

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Jerusalem police search for missing US student

LAKEWOOD, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey political leaders and a rabbi are calling for the safe return of a U.S. religious student who disappeared in Israel.

Republican Congressman Chris Smith joined a news conference Tuesday in Lakewood, where Aharon Sofer (AH'-run SOH'-fur) grew up. Smith says U.S. and Israeli officials are "leaving no stone unturned" as they try to find the 23-year-old rabbinical student.

Sofer has been missing since Friday when he went hiking with a friend in the Jerusalem Forest. Israeli police say they have interviewed the friend and are pursuing all avenues in the investigation, including the possibility that Sofer may have been attacked by Palestinian militants.

Sofer's parents have flown to Israel, where their son is an ultra-Orthodox student at a Jewish religious school. A family friend, New Jersey Rabbi Yisroel (yees-ROH'-ul) Serebrowski, says they're in anguish, wondering if he's being tortured or held captive.

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President Carter, Gov. Snyder to speak in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) - Former President Jimmy Carter and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will speak at an Islamic conference in Detroit this week.

Snyder is scheduled to speak at the opening ceremonies Friday. The nation's 39th president is expected to talk during a Saturday luncheon about his latest book titled "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power."

The 89-year-old Carter is set to visit Michigan again on Sept. 22 as part of Grand Rapids Community College's Diversity Lecture Series.

MLive.com reports that Snyder previously addressed Muslims during the Michigan Muslim Community Council's Unity Banquet in Livonia last year. He criticized what he said was a "dumb" system that draws smart Islamic students to Michigan universities but then tells them "to get out" when they graduate.

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Utah approves winery license in polygamous town

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah's liquor commission has approved a winemaking license for a new winery in the town of Hildale, home to a polygamous religious group.

The Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission approved the license for Vintage Reserve Estates on Tuesday. Abe Kader with the state liquor department says the owners plan to sell wine through state liquor stores and apply for another license to sell the wine on their Hildale property.

The twin Utah-Arizona border towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, are home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The sect is a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, which does not practice polygamy.

Members of the FLDS generally drink alcohol, while members of the mainstream Mormon church do not.

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Bloomfield will appeal ruling on city's monument

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (AP) - A federal court that ruled against a Ten Commandments monument in Bloomfield, New Mexico, has agreed to put its decision on hold until an appeals court hears the case.

A Ten Commandments monument is displayed on the lawn in front of Bloomfield's City Hall.

On Aug. 7, a U.S. District judge in Albuquerque ruled the monument has the "principal effect of endorsing religion" in violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys notified the court Friday that Bloomfield will be appealing the case to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Two Bloomfield residents who said they are offended by the monument filed suit through their American Civil Liberties Union attorneys in 2012 in an attempt to have the monument uprooted.

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