Sunday, July 31, 2011

Millions of Muslims Celebrate Ramadan on Aug. 1; No Food, Drink for Adults between Dawn and Dusk

The Islam Online website reports today (July 31, 2011) that millions of Muslims worldwide will celebrate the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Monday, August 1.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims -- except for the sick and those traveling -- abstain from food, drink, smoking, and sex between dawn and sunset.

Muslims dedicate their time during holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint, and good deeds.

Many men perform i tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

People Invited to Adopt Pages of Dead Sea Scrolls; Include Oldest Known Biblical Texts in the World

The Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority is inviting people to adopt pages of the Dead Sea Scrolls, according to the Christian Today website.

It is hoping to raise funds towards their conservation and a major project to digitalize the ancient texts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cave in Qumran on the West Bank in 1947, and include the oldest known surviving biblical texts in the world.

People will be able to adopt a page for 1,200 pounds and have a dedication plaque with their name on it displayed when the text is exhibited.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

COMMENTARY: Barack Obama Can Be Described as "The Prodigal President"

The top Southern Baptist policy official this month criticized President Barack Obama for living like a "playboy."

Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, leveled the attack against Obama during a broadcast of his radio program, "Richard Land Live."

Land used the playboy epithet to describe Obama because, he said, Obama's White House is more expensive than that of any other president. Moreover, Land said that Obama's wife's White House staff has been increased tenfold, meaning she has ten times as many people working for her than any other first lady in history.

While I would not call President Obama a playboy -- the term has too much of a sexual connotation for describing him -- I would call him "the prodigal president," because of his extravagant waste of taxpayers' money.

This extravagant use of taxpayers' money dates back to Obama's first months as president, when he gave away billions of taxpayers' dollars in an effort to stimulate the economy. Needless to say, the American economy has become worse -- not better -- since Obama has been president.

Although he had promised during his presidential campaign to create two or three million jobs -- in order to counter the recession -- the fact is that more people are unemployed in the United States today than when Obama became president.

Many Americans believe that his extravagant spending of taxpayer dollars -- Obama has already spent more money than any other president in American history -- will result in an unfortunate life for our children and grandchildren, because they will have to pay trillions of dollars in taxes to balance a huge national debt.

The fact is that President Obama now needs to "come home" to the American taxpayer, by reversing his prodigal spending to a spending that is lean and thrifty.

Just as the Prodigal Son came back to his father after he had recklessly spent all the money his father had given him, "the Prodigal President" needs to recognize that his reckless spending of federal dollars borders on being sinful, and he must now spend taxpayers' money more prudently, responsibly, and sparingly.

Judge Trashes Lawsuit on Perry's Prayer Event; FFRF Claimed Tex. Governor's Rally Was Unconst.

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (July 30, 2011) that a federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit challenging Texas Gov. Rick Perry's participation in a national prayer rally set for August 6.

The lawsuit -- filed by Kay Staley and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) -- claimed the governor's call for prayer and his participation in the prayer rally violated the First Amendment.

On July 28, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller dismissed the case, saying neither Staley nor the atheist organization had standing in the case.

The national prayer rally -- called The Response -- is set to begin August 6 at 10 a.m. central time at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

N.J. Catholic Priest Gets Five-Year Jail Sentence; Stole $300 a Week from His Parish for 20 Years

The Christian Post website reports today (July 30, 2011) that a 65-year-old Catholic priest -- recovering from alcoholism and suicidal tendencies -- was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison by a New Jersey court for stealing $300 a week from the parish for 20 years.

The Rev. Joseph Davis -- former pastor of St. Therese Roman Catholic Church in Succasunna, N.J. -- admitted to pocketing $300 a week from collections taken at services.

"Every Sunday when the collection was taken, he took his share," Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Peter Foy said.

Davis pleaded guilty in May in state Superior Court, Morristown to stealing $200,000 from the parish over a 20-year period, "although authorities believe the theft is larger," the Morristown Daily reported.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Record Number of Germans Quit Catholic Church; Fifty Percent Leave Due to Sex Abuse Scandal

The Catholic Culture website reports today (July 29, 2011) that the number of German Catholics dropping their registration in the Catholic Church jumped by almost 50 percent in 2010.

Analysts tie the increase to the emergence of the sex-abuse scandal in Europe.

Official figures showed 181,000 people (up from 124,000) leaving the Church last year. German citizens who are enrolled in a church pay a portion of their taxes to that church, so the parish membership figures also have obvious implications for church finances.

Catholics now number 24.6 million in Germany, accounting for just over 30 percent of the German population.

Vatican Blasts Enda Kenny for Attacking Church; Says He Tried to Take Focus Off Irish Euro Crisis

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (July 29, 2011) that Vatican officials have accused Enda Kenny -- Ireland's prime minister -- of diverting attention away from the Irish euro crisis by attacking the Roman Catholic Church over its covering up of sex abuse by priests.

Giuseppe Leanza -- the Vatican's envoy to Ireland -- was posted to Prague, the Czech Republic today, just a few days after he was recalled to Rome amid a row between the Vatican and the Irish government over the sexual abuse of children by priests.

A report into the Irish diocese of Cloyne earlier this month criticized how the church handled hundreds of cases of sexual abuse of children by priests going back over decades.

The findings shocked Ireland -- a deeply Catholic country -- and prompted Mr. Kenny to launch an unprecedented attack on "dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, and narcissism" at the Vatican.

U.S. Catholics Mourn Death of Archbishop Sambi; Had Served as Apostolic Nuncio to U.S. Since 2005

The Eurasia Review website reports today (July 29, 2011) that Catholics across America are grieving the loss of Vatican representative to the U.S. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on July 27, as a result of lung complications.

"He had a ready smile, was approachable, and was good with people from every walk of life," Monsignor Walter Rossi, head of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. said.

Archbishop Sambi, 73, was appointed by Pope Benedict in 2005 as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

His funeral will be at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 6th -- the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord -- at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

S. Baptist Official: Obama Is Living Like a Playboy; Obama Spends More Money Than Any Other Pres.

The Ethics Daily website reports today (July 28, 2011) that the top Southern Baptist policy official has criticized President Obama for "living like a playboy."

Richard Land -- the head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission -- leveled the attack against Obama during the July 16 broadcast of his radio program "Richard Land Live!"

"His White House is more expensive than any other White House," Land said about Obama. "His wife's White House staff has been increased tenfold. She has tenfold more people working for her than any other first lady in history. And all these czars that he's appointed, the White House administrative budget is higher than it's been under any other president."

"He ought to live like a country that's got a debt crisis instead of living like a playboy," Land added.

AWOL Soldier's Plan to Attack Fort Hood Foiled; Store Clerk Warned Police of Ammo He Purchased

An AWOL (absent without official leave) soldier -- caught with weapons and a bomb inside a backpack -- admitted planning what would have been Fort Hood's second terrorist attack in less than two years, the Associated Press website reports today (July 28, 2011).

He might have succeeded at carrying it out, if a gun-store clerk -- who became suspicious due to the huge amount of ammunition he had purchased -- had not alerted police, Killeen (Texas) Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said.

The 21-year-old suspect, PFC Naser Abdo, a Muslim, was arrested yesterday at a motel about three miles from Fort Hood's main entrance.

He went AWOL from Fort Campbell, Kentucky during the July 4 weekend.

Atheist Group Wants 9/11 Museum Cross Gone; Says It Violates Church-State Separation Laws

An atheist group has filed a lawsuit to remove the iconic World Trade Center Cross from New York's National September 11th Memorial and Museum, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (July 28, 2011).

Members of American Atheists say the cross is an unconstitutional "mingling of church and state," and if it's included in the museum, other beliefs should be displayed as well.

"As a public accommodation, the memorial must allow us (and all other religious philosophies) to include our own display of equal size inside the museum, or not include the cross," American Atheists president Dave Silverman said in a statement.

"Equality is an all-or-nothing deal," he added.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

COMMENTARY: Terrorism in Norway Is A Lesson for All Nations

The car bomb attack and mass shooting in Norway by an anti-Islam "crusader" that killed 76 innocent people on July 22, 2011, was a traumatic chain of events not only for Norwegians, but for all the nations of the world.

The head of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit -- himself a Norwegian Lutheran pastor -- expressed his sorrow over both attacks, and called on churches worldwide to pray for Norway.

Anders Behring Brevik, 32, has been arrested by police in connection with both attacks. He admitted to being responsible for the killings -- and even believed they were justified -- because he considered himself to be a "part of a crusade to fight a tide of Islam." As a very disturbed man, Brevik wanted his horrific actions to inspire copycat killings around the world.

Apparently unprepared and never even dreaming such violence would occur in Norway -- a terror-free and peaceful nation since the end of World War II in 1945 -- it took the police 90 minutes to reach the gunman, who by then had killed 68 people.

Police had to make the 25-mile journey from Oslo to Utoya Island -- where the shootings on youth campers occurred -- by car, because they have no helicopter. Police also had to be rescued by a civilian boat, because their boat broke down, as it tried to navigate a one-minute hop to the island.

Although many people have criticized Norway's police as being lackadaisical because it took them over 90 minutes to reach the island where Brevik was killing people, the fact is that the police lacked the proper equipment -- including a helicopter and a reliable boat -- to reach the island sooner.

The police certainly gave this tragic incident their best effort. Unfortunately, most Norwegians had become too complacent that such terrorist incidents would not occur in Norway.

Indeed, there is an important lesson to be learned from this tragic scenario, and not just for Norway, but for all countries of the world.

This lesson is that all nations must keep in mind that a horrific act of terror can occur on their land at any moment. Consequently, all nations must be prepared 24/7 -- both with sufficient manpower and equipment -- to prevent or at least minimize the effect of such a cowardly attack.

ZOA Accuses Rutgers U. of Hostility toward Jews; Files Anti-Semitic Complaint with US Office of Ed.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (July 27, 2011) that the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has filed a complaint against Rutgers University, alleging that the school in New Jersey fostered a hostile environment toward Jewish students.

The complaint requests that the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights investigates Rutgers for violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

ZOA's President, Morton Klein, and Susan Tuchman -- the director of ZOA's Center for Law and Justice -- in a statement said the complaint was filed "only after numerous serious efforts were made to get the university to respond to a long pattern of anti-Semitic hostility on campus, and the administration refused to do so."

The brief names a number of examples -- including one in which Jewish students allegedly were charged admission to a free event -- as well as citing an alleged anti-Israel bias in the university's Middle East studies program.

Rutgers denied the allegations in a statement, calling them "factually inaccurate and significantly distorted."

EU Official Rips Eur. Leaders for Their Silence; Says Silence on Xenophobia Led to Norway Terror

The Norway Globe website reports today (July 27, 2011) that the European Union (EU) security chief Cecilia Malmstroem has blasted European leaders for remaining silent on the xenophobia sweeping the continent which lurks behind the horrendous attacks in Norway.

"Sadly, there are too few leaders today who stand up for diversity and for the importance of having open, democratic, and tolerant societies where everybody is welcome," Malmstroem -- the European Commissioner for Home Affairs -- said.

Referring to a 1,500-page proclamation written by the suspect in last Friday's carnage in Oslo, Anders Behring Breivik, Malmstroem said: "The manifesto is the product of a very disturbed man, but unfortunately we recognize some of these sentiments in Europe today."

She also praised Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's call to his compatriots to stand up for an open society, "and not be frightened into silence."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vatican Envoy to US Is Hospitalized in Baltimore; Fr. Pietro Sambi Placed on Assisted Ventilation

The Associated Press website reports today (July 26, 2011) that the Vatican's envoy to the United States has been readmitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD with complications after recent lung surgery.

The U.S. Conference of Bishops and Apostolic Nunciature announced that Most Rev. Pietro Sambi has been placed on assisted ventilation.

It says he is suffering complications after undergoing delicate lung surgery two weeks ago.

Sambi is one of Pope Benedict XVI's first major appointments. He has served as the papal representative to the U.S. since 2006.

Patriarch Kirill Goes to Kiev (Russia's Old Capital); Will Celebrate Adoption of Christianity in Russia

The Religious Information Service of Ukraine website reports that Patriarch Kirril of Moscow and All Russia arrived in Kiev, Ukraine today (July 26, 2011) to mark the adoption of Christianity in Kievan Russia on July 28.

On July 27, Patriarch Kirill will conduct a festive service at Volodymyr -- where a monument of Prince Volodymyr stands -- and then chair a meeting of the Holy Synod.

On July 28 -- the day that marks the adoption of Christianity in Russia and commemorates Saint Prince Vladimir -- Patriarch Kirill will lead a divine service at the Cathedral Square of the Monastery of the Caves.

Kiev -- the capital of modern Ukraine -- was the capital of medieval Russia, whose leader Prince Volodymyr adopted Christianity as its official religion in 988. Kiev was replaced by Moscow as the capital of Russia in the 13th century.

Muslim Imam Is Denied Bail in Fla. Terror Case; Accused of Sending $50,000 to Pakistani Taliban

The Salon website reports today (July 26, 2011) that a federal judge in Miami, Florida has rejected bail for a young Muslim cleric accused of providing financial support to the Pakistani Taliban terrorist group.

U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan cited a potential threat and flight risk in denying release on bail today for 24-year-old Izhar Khan.

Khan -- along with his brother and father -- is charged with providing material support to terrorists.

Prosecutors say the men funneled at least $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban. They face up to 15 years on each of four charges.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vatican Recalls Irish Envoy After Cloyne Report; Report Said Sex Abuse by Priests Was Covered Up

The Vatican has recalled its special envoy in Ireland after a damning report on the Catholic Church's handling of child abuse by priests, the BBC website reports today (July 25, 2011).

Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza has been called back to Rome to discuss the impact of the recent Cloyne Report.

It showed how allegations of sex abuse by priests in Cork, Ireland had been covered up.

The report led to angry condemnation of the Vatican by Prime Minister Enda Kenny in the Irish Parliament. In a blistering attack, Kenny accused the church of putting its own reputation ahead of child rape victims.

Two 13-Year-Olds Fight Over a Girl in Denmark; One Boy Takes Knife, Stabs Other Boy to Death

The Copenhagen Post website reports today (July 25, 2011) that a teenage argument over a girl ended fatally last week, when one 13-year-old boy pulled out a knife and stabbed another 13-year-old boy to death in the Danish town of Sonderborg.

The former friends were surrounded by a group of teenage witnesses when the fatal stabbing occurred on the evening of July 20. They were fighting over a girl whom they both had dated and liked.

"They apparently arranged over the Internet -- on Facebook or something similar -- to meet on the field and fight it out, because they were angry with each other," deputy assistant commissioner Hans Roost of the Southern Jutland Police told the news media.

A group of 12- and 13-year-olds -- including the girl they were fighting over -- were gathered around to watch when the fight turned deadly.

Greek Govt. to Finance Muslim Mosque in Athens; Bldg. in Former Naval Base to Become a Mosque

The Europe News website reports today (July 25, 2011) that the Greek government will finance reconstruction of building structures into mosques for the Muslim community in Athens.

Estimated to cost around 15 million euros, the existing plans for the first mosque will serve 500 faithful Muslims.

The building on the former Naval Base in Botanikos -- once it is renovated -- is slated to become an Islamic mosque.

The Steering Committee of the mosque consists of five Greek government officials and two Muslims from recognized associations in Athens.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Many Coptic Christian Women Abused in Egypt; Human Rights Org.: 800 Kidnaped, Raped in 2 Yrs.

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (July 24, 2011) that the U.S. Helsinki Commission gathered in Washington, D.C. on July 22 to discuss the increase in violence against Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt -- specifically young women.

Jean Maher -- president of the France-based Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization -- said that some 800 Coptic Christian women have been kidnaped, raped, and forced to convert to Islam since 2009.

He said one of the greatest contributors to the abductions is the inactivity toward them of the Egyptian police.

Maher added that most families of victims are already reluctant to come forward, because taking away a woman's virginity also strips the family of its honor.

Norway Mourns Victims of Anti-Islam "Crusader;" Oslo Cathedral Is Mourning Center for 93 Killed

The Ekklesia website reports today (July 24, 2011) that Oslo Cathedral has become a significant center of mourning and reflection, following the horror of a car bomb attack and mass shooting in Norway that killed 93 people on July 22.

The Dean of the Cathedral -- which is in the Evangelical Lutheran tradition -- said that people of no fixed faith, Muslims, and those of other beliefs, as well as Christians, have been coming into the building to take in the terrible events in quietness and to offer prayers.

Anders Behring -- who has been arrested by Oslo police for the killings -- said he was "part of a crusade to fight a tide of Islam."

The violence -- Norway's worst since World War II -- has profoundly shocked the usually peaceful nation of 4.8 million people.

Lesbian Couple Marry at Midnight at Niagara Falls; First Gay Couple in NY to Marry Under New Law

The Washington Post website reports today (July 24, 2011) that lesbians Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were legally married -- the very first moment they could be -- during a midnight ceremony at Niagara Falls that ushered in same-sex marriage in the empire state.

With a rainbow-lit Niagara Falls as a backdrop early today, Lambert, 54, and Rudd, 53, were among the first gay couples to tie the knot with the blessing of New York state, which last month became the sixth -- and largest -- state to sanction gay marriage.

The Buffalo women -- who are grandmothers with 12 grandchildren between them -- have been together for more than a decade, and had long been fighting for the right to marry.

Buffalo Mayor Paul Dyster performed the ceremony, which was attended by some of the state lawmakers, whose vote last month made it possible.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

COMMENTARY: Defunding Planned Parenthood of Taxpayer Dollars Is Correct

Texas governor Rick Perry this week signed a measure that defunds Planned Parenthood in the Lone Star state, thus depriving the abortion organization of taxpayer funds.

Texas has now joined four other states -- Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, and North Caroline -- in depriving Planned Parenthood of funding in its state budget.

The defunding of Planned Parenthood in Texas provides taxpayers with a well-deserved break, as their hard-earned tax dollars will no longer be used to pay for abortions. In fact, it would behoove all 50 states to pass a similar law.

The fact that President Barack Obama is using American taxpayers' money to fund abortions and birth control programs in many foreign countries is wrong -- both spiritually and economically. Perhaps, if he deleted this ridiculous economic aid from the federal budget -- which he really should -- Obama could avoid calling for his unpopular plan to increase federal taxes.

In addition to being denied funding by taxpayers for economic reasons, abortions -- more importantly -- should be denied funding for religious reasons.

Whether we want to accept it or not, the fact is that abortion is the murder of a human fetus. Consequently, abortion is a very serious violation of Christian doctrine.

The worst decision the U.S. Supreme Court made in its entire history was its 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision in which the high court allowed abortions to occur in America. By ruling in favor of abortion, the Supreme Court, in effect, ruled it is all right to murder an unborn child.

This decision has been a terrible tragedy for America -- especially for its morality as well as its jurisprudence -- because it conveys the message that Americans lack the respect for human life that they should have, as a predominantly Christian society.

Indeed, it would not surprise me one iota, if the Supreme Court reversed its position on the Roe vs. Wade decision, with a ruling in another abortion-related case it could well hear in the near future.

Three Hikers Feared Dead in Waterfall Tragedy; Swept Down Waterfall at Yosemite National Park

The Christian Post website reports today (July 23, 2011) that three Christian hikers are feared dead, after they were swept over a waterfall by the strong currents this week, as they posed for a photograph in Yosemite National Park, California.

The three victims were taking photos at the picturesque site about 25 feet from the edge of the waterfall when they were pulled over by the surging waters and down the 317-foot Vernall Fall.

The three missing people are Hormiz David, 22, Ninos Yacoub, 27, and Ramina Badal, 21.

The victims allegedly ignored warnings by onlookers who had told them of the dangers and insisted they come back. Signs in several languages warn people not to cross a barricade at the site of the waterfall.

WCC Head Rips Norway Bomb Attack, Shootings; Calls on Churches Worldwide to Pray for Norway

The Christian Today website reports that the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, has spoken of his shock at the violent attacks that left scores dead in Norway yesterday (July 22, 2011).

Seven people were killed in a bomb attack on the government building in Oslo, the capital of Norway, before a gunman opened fire at a youth camp on the tiny island of Utoeya, killing at least 84 more people.

Anders Behring Breivik -- a 32-year-old man believed to be a Christian fundamentalist -- has been arrested by police in connection with both attacks.

WCC head Dr. Tveit -- a Norwegian Lutheran pastor who left Oslo yesterday shortly before the bomb attack -- expressed his sorrow over both attacks, and called on churches worldwide to pray for Norway.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Texas Defunds Planned Parenthood, Abortions; Joins IN, KS, NJ, and NC in Ending Its Funding

The Life Site News website reports today (July 22, 2011) that Texas governor Rick Perry -- who is a 2012 Republican presidential contender -- has signed a measure defunding Planned Parenthood in the Lone Star state, thus making it the largest state to deprive the abortion organization of taxpayer funds.

Perry on July 20 signed SB 7, which excludes abortion providers and their affiliates from the Medicaid Women's Health Program, and also places Planned Parenthood at the bottom of the list of eligible recipients of family planning funds.

SB 7 also prevents hospital districts from using local tax funding for abortions.

Perry's signature places Texas among several other states -- including Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, and North Carolina -- that have deprived Planned Parenthood of funding in its state budget this year.

Egypt's Christrians Work to Stop Islamic Takeover; Protest in Streets Again to Prevent an Islamic State

The Christian Broadcast Network reports today (July 22, 2011) that protestors in Egypt are in the streets again calling for change, because they fear the revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak is in danger of being taken over by radical Islamists.

"It's good news to go to the streets again to protest their revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood and the military council have hijacked the revolution," said Magdy Khalil, a spokesman for Coptic Solidarity.

Khalil and other Egyptians believe the ruling military council has made a political deal with the Islamist radicals, moving Egypt toward an Islamic state.

He said the Muslim Brotherhood is ignoring high-level corruption in exchange for power and control.

Patriarch: Officials Must Act for Common Good; Urges Russians Put Holy Father Quotes in Offices

The Interfax-Religion website reports today (July 22, 2011) that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia urged state officials this week to hang quotations from holy fathers in their offices.

"If we want to become like the Savior, we should be acting in everything for the common good, and not merely seeking our own," the Patriarch said.

According to him, this phrase "acting in everything for the common good, and not merely seeking our own," should be stamped in golden letters in each room, in each office, in each place where people think over the country's and nation's welfare.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

AP Exclusive: Panetta to OK End of Mil. Gay Ban; Says Ending Ban Won't Affect Military Readiness

Pentagon Chief Leon Panetta has decided to end the ban on gays serving openly in the armed services and certify that repealing the 17-year-old prohibition will not hurt the military's ability to fight, the Associated Press website reports exclusively today (July 21, 2011).

Panetta's decision -- which was expected -- comes two weeks after the chiefs of the military services told him that ending the ban would not affect military readiness.

But the move also drew vehement opposition from some in Congress and initial reluctance from military leaders, who worried that it could cause a backlash and erode troop cohesion on the battlefield.

Defense officials said the announcement will be made tomorrow afternoon.

Dalai Lama: "Everyone Wants a Happy World;" Speaks on Overcoming Religious Intolerance

The Voice of America website reports today (July 21, 2011) that the Dalai Lama -- the 76-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader -- wrapped up a two-week visit to the United States by speaking on July 18 to a packed crowd in Chicago about overcoming religious intolerance.

His visit to Chicago -- which was sponsored by the Theosophical Society in America -- included a panel discussion with several U.S. religious leaders.

As he took the stage -- next to Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders -- the Dalai Lama focused not on their differences, but on the common ground their faiths share, even with non-believers.

Speaking before thousands of people at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago's Millenium Park, the Dalai Lama said, "Everyone wants a happy world. Nobody wants trouble. Nobody wants violence. And everybody wants a more peaceful, happy society."

Abercrombie & Fitch Must Pay Woman $20,000; Store Refused to Hire Her for Wearing Head Scarf

A Tulsa, Oklahoma jury has decided that the Abercrombie and Fitch clothing chain will have to pay a Muslim woman for refusing to hire her, because she wears a head scarf for religious reasons.

After a three-year fight, Samantha Elauf, 20, has been awarded $20,000 in a discrimination lawsuit, the Euro News website reports today (July 21, 2011).

Abercrombie and Fitch refused to hire her in 2008 because managers say her head scarf violated the company's "look policy."

Elauf says she wanted to sue, not just for herself, but for all Muslim girls.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

COMMENTARY: Cain Must Focus on His Own Candidacy in His Bid for President

Republican presidential primary candidate Herman Cain this week said that Republican front-runner Mitt Romney cannot win the party's presidential nomination next year, because of his religion.

Cain believes that Romney's Mormon religion is an obstacle too big to overcome the South, which he claims is the most solid Republican region in the nation. In fact, Cain said that many traditionalist Christians in the South do not even consider the Mormon church to be a branch of Christianity.

These are quite powerful assertions by Cain -- assertions that he never should have made regarding Romney's political potential as well as his religion. The fact is that Cain crossed the line by debasing Romney's chances of winning the Republican Party's nomination for President, in addition to insulting Romney's Mormon religion.

If he is serious about being nominated for President by the Republican Party, it would behoove Cain to concentrate on his own candidacy -- instead of belittling other candidates or their religion -- in order to convey to the American people how he would make our great nation even greater if he were elected President.

Lesbians Sue Vermont Inn for Rejecting Reception; Innkeepers: "We Do Not Host Gay Receptions"

The Christian Post website reports today (July 20, 2011) that a resort in Lyndonville, Vermont is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for refusing to serve a lesbian couple.

The Wildflower Inn promotes itself as the perfect vacation getaway -- where even family dogs are welcomed -- but Katherine Baker and Ming-Lien Linsley are suing the inn with the help of the ACLU for rejecting their same-sex marriage ceremony.

The two women attempted to book their wedding reception at the inn but were turned down via email. The email stated that Mary and Jim O'Reilly -- the innkeepers -- "do not host gay receptions" because of their "personal feelings."

Baker said, "When the Wildflower Inn told us last fall they don't host gay receptions, we were obviously saddened and shocked. It was frustrating to be treated like lesser than the rest of society."

NJ Rabbi, Wife Charged with Kidnapping Fugitive; Victim Fled from Israel to Avoid Divorcing Wife

The Jewish Week website reports today (July 20, 2011) that federal authorities filed charges of kidnapping against a New Jersey rabbi and his wife for allegedly detaining and threatening to kill a defiant husband.

Rabbi David Wax, 49, and Judy Wax, 47, appeared in federal court in Trenton, NJ yesterday, and were released on $500,000 bond each.

The couple are alleged to have lured Yisrael Briskman to their Lakewood, NJ home last October with the possibility of assisting Wax -- a noted scholar -- on his next book.

Briskman allegedly fled Israel in 2008, because he was wanted for not granting his wife a court-ordered divorce, thus leaving her unable to remarry.

When he arrived at the Waxs' home, two men allegedly bound Briskman and beat him, threatening to bury him alive in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains if he did not grant his wife a divorce. Wax also allegedly threatened to kill Briskman's father if he did not pay Briskman's ex-wife $100,000.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Judge Orders Commandments Off Courthouse; ACLU Sued to Remove Rel. Monument in Florida

The Worldwide Religious News website reports today (July 19, 2011) that a federal court ruling has given Dixie County, Florida 30 days from July 15 to remove a granite monument of the Ten Commandments from atop the steps of the county courthouse in Cross City, where it has sat since 2006.

The ruling -- by U.S. Senior District Judge Maurice Paul -- came after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sued to have the monument removed, saying it violates the separation of church and state.

"We hope that Dixie County officials will find a permanent place for it at a church or other house of worship, which is the appropriate place for religious monuments," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

Cain: Romney's Religion Blocks GOP Nomination; Many Don't View Mormon Church a Christian Sect

The Washington Times website reports today (July 19, 2011) that Republican presidential primary candidate Herman Cain says front-runner Mitt Romney cannot win the party's White House nomination next year, because of his religion.

Cain said that Romney's Mormon religion is an obstacle too big to overcome in the most solidly Republican region in the country -- the South.

"If you don't win South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, you can't win the nomination. And you can't win the presidency," Cain said.

The South is heavily populated with traditionalist Christians, many of whom consider the Mormon church not to be a Christian sect.

Syrian Forces Kill 10 During a Funeral Procession; Mother of Man Being Buried Believed Killed Today

Syrian security forces opened fire at a funeral procession today (July 19, 2011), killing at least 10 people in a city that has been besieged for several days by some of the most serious violence yet in Syria's four-month-old uprising, according to the Associated Press website.

Today's killings bring the death toll in the city of Homs to about 50 people in the past three days.

A mother of one of the men being buried was believed to be among the victims in today's killings.

Human rights groups say more than 1,600 people -- most of them unarmed civilians -- have been killed in Syria during the past four months by President Bashar Assad's crackdown on a largely peaceful protest movement.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cleveland Church Holds Mock Trial of C. Anthony; Ends in "Hung Jury" as 8 Vote Guilty, 4 Not Guilty

A mock trial of Casey Anthony's court case -- held as part of a Cleveland church's Sunday worship service -- ended in a hung jury yesterday (July 17, 2011), according to the Christian Post website.

Twelve church members who attended in Touch With Christ Christian Center in Cleveland, Ohio were chosen as "jurors." The "judge" was Associate Pastor Una Keenon, who is a retired municipal court judge in the community of East Cleveland.

"Would it be better for Casey Anthony to go to death row and be killed for killing her child when she didn't? ... 'No, it is not fair,'" Keenon told the mock-jurors and congregation.

Eight of the jurors said "guilty," and four said "not guilty," and this resulted in a "hung jury."

CUA Being Sued for Reinstating Same-Sex Dorms; Lawyer: Same-Sex Dorms Violate Human Rights

The Fox News website reports today (July 18, 2011) that Catholic University of America (CUA) President John Garvey is being sued for requiring all CUA dormitories to be single-sex.

Starting this fall, CUA -- which had some coed dorms last academic year -- will reinstate an old policy of all gender-segregated dorms.

Garvey has stressed the need to return to Catholic values, saying the change would work to reduce binge drinking and promiscuous sex.

John Banzhaf -- the lawyer who is suing CUA -- maintains that Garvey's decision was not motivated by Catholic values, but was purely for secular reasons. He also claims the switch back to only same-sex dorms violates students' human rights.

Russian Communists Unveil Stalin Bust in Penza; Many Russians Consider Stalin as Military Genius

The Moscow Times website reports today (July 18, 2011) that Communists in the central Russian city of Penza have unveiled a monument of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

About 60 people -- many of them World War II veterans -- gathered July 15 on the grounds of the local office of the Communist Party for the unveiling of the bust.

Stalin is still widely regarded among Russian veterans as a military genius who won the war against the Nazis. The Russian military was able to defeat the Nazi forces that invaded Russia during World War II, although this victory resulted in the loss of some 20 million Russian troops.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have joined human rights activists in condemning Stalin for his purges. But it is the local authorities -- not the Kremlin -- that have the right to decide whether to allow a monument of Stalin on their soil.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Life-Size Noah's Ark Replica Opens in Hong Kong; Screens Show Films on How Original Ark Was Built

One of the most famous Bible stories is Noah's Ark. Now, people can visit a life-size replica of the ark in Hong Kong, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (July 17, 2011).

Outside of the ark, a garden features nearly 70 pairs of life-size replicas of animals. Inside, the ark contains exhibits with rare animals like a nautilus, a toucan, and exotic fish.

Screens show animated films that demonstrate how the original ark could have been constructed and how it might have been ventilated.

The exhibits also teach that the story of a major flood is nearly universal throughout the world's ancient cultures.

Troops, Vets March in San Diego Gay Pride Parade; All Branches of Service Take Part in Unique Event

The Associated Press website reports that about 200 active-duty troops and veterans wearing T-shirts advertising their branch of service marched yesterday (July 16, 2011) in San Diego's gay pride parade with American flags and rainbow banners, marking what is believed to be the first time a military contingent has participated in such an event in the U.S.

Many of the active-duty troops said they were moved to come out because it is time to end the military's ban on openly gay troops.

The march comes one day after a federal appeals court reinstated the "don't ask, don't tell" policy -- but with a caveat that prevents the government from investigating or penalizing anyone who is openly gay.

Every branch of the service -- including the Coast Guard -- was represented in the parade.

COMMENTARY: Bachmann's Religion Is No One's Business But Her Own

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota -- the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. president, according to recent polls -- ended her membership in a Lutheran Church last month, just six days before her formal announcement that she is a candidate for U.S. president.

The timing of her leaving has resulted in much media speculation that Bachmann left the Lutheran Church because it is quite critical of Catholicism. This speculation conveys that Bachmann did not want to give Americans the impression that she is anti-Catholic.

Whether that is the reason Bachmann left the Lutheran Church is not certain. What is certain, however, is that her reason for leaving the Lutheran Church is nobody's business but her own.

In other words, the religious affiliation a person prefers is that person's personal and private right. It is not the right of the news media to question a person's religion or reason for leaving a religion.

True, the Lutheran denomination -- by its own admission -- states, "We identify the anti-Christ as the papacy. This is an historical judgment based on Scripture." That being the case, the news media has jumped to the conclusion that Bachmann left the Lutheran Church, so as not to give the impression that she is anti-Catholic.

Once again, I cannot overemphasize the fact that a person's religion is a personal and private matter to which a person is entitled, not a matter for the news media to scrutinize and to question.

In the final analysis, the news media has a responsibility to refrain from asking a person -- including a candidate running for public office -- his or her religious affiliation, or reasons for choosing or leaving it, since this kind of questioning not only violates a person's privacy, but is also a flagrant violation of professional journalistic and broadcasting ethics.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Abp. of Canterbury Rips Anglican Church's Synod; Bishops Slyly Mocked Bishop of Dover's New Role

The Telegraph (British) website reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said this week that the Anglican Church's General Synod had "embarrassed" itself by an alleged whispering campaign against the appointment of the Bishop of Dover to a senior internal position.

It represents the latest clash between the Archbishop -- the spiritual head of the more than 80 million worldwide Anglican communion -- and Synod members. Last year, Dr. Williams suffered a major defeat to the Synod over plans that allowed women to be ordained as bishops.

The latest row centered on the appointment of a new chair of the Anglican Church's business committee, who will help set the agendas for future assembly meetings, which usually take place twice a year.

Church authorities proposed that the Bishop of Dover, the Rt. Rev. Trevor Willmott, should be appointed to the post. But the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt. Rev. Pete Broadbent -- who was suspended last year for criticizing the Royal Wedding on Facebook -- argued that Bishop Willmott should not hold that post.

Bachmann Left Her Lutheran Church Last Month; May Have Done So Fearing Loss of Catholic Votes

The Ethics Daily website reports today (July 16, 2011) that the Lutheran denomination that presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann quit in June -- just six days before she formally announced she is a candidate for U.S. president -- sought to explain its belief that the papacy is the anti-Christ, after reports questioned whether Bachmann is anti-Catholic.

The denomination says on its website: "We identify the anti-Christ as the papacy. This is an historical judgment based on Scripture."

On July 14, Lutheran Synod spokesman Joel Hochmuth said, "As a confessional Lutheran church, we hold to the teachings of Martin Luther who himself maintained the papacy, and in turn the pope, has set himself up in place of Christ, and so is the anti-Christ."

Hochmuth added, "We love and respect Catholic Christians... Yet we pray that they would come to see the errors of their church's official doctrine that the pope is infallible and that no one can be saved outside of the Roman Catholic Church."

Martin Luther was a 16th century Catholic priest in Germany who vehemently protested the Catholic policy of selling indulgences; that is, Catholics would pay the Church, so that the Church would lessen the amount of time a loved one would spend in purgatory, thus speeding up the loved one's entry to Heaven. Luther's protests spread like wildfire in much of Western Europe, and resulted in the establishment of Protestantism and the Reformation in 1517.

Pres. Obama Invites Dalai Lama to White House; Obama Will Call for Preserving Tibetan Culture

President Barack Obama has invited the Dalai Lama to visit the White House today (July 16, 2011), making time for the Tibetan spiritual leader who is in Washington, D.C. for an 11-day Buddhist ritual, according to the Huffington Post website.

The president last met with the Nobel Peace laureate in February 2010, infuriating Chinese officials. China accuses the Dalai Lama of pushing for Tibet to become an independent nation.

Employing a low-key approach -- so as not to upset China too much -- the meeting will be held in the White House Map Room, not the Oval Office, which is reserved for visiting heads of state. Moreover, the White House is keeping the meeting closed to the news media, as it did last year.

A White House official said Obama will urge the representatives of the Dalai Lama to be allowed to engage with Chinese authorities, and will call for the preservation of Tibetan culture.

Friday, July 15, 2011

D.C. School System Fires 413 Ineffective Teachers; System Lavishly Rewards Highly Effective Teachers

The Washington Times website reports that the D.C. public school system laid off 413 teachers today (July 15, 2011) for failing to meet expectations in its teacher-evaluation system, or falling short of other requirements.

Chancellor Kaye Henderson said most of the teachers were fired based on the results of the IMPACT evaluation system. The IMPACT system -- introduced two years ago -- uses five observations and student achievement ratings to place teachers into four categories: Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective, or Ineffective.

Teachers who rate in the top category are eligible for bonuses, while those in the bottom two face separation from the school system.

Henderson said that 230 teachers were rated highly effective, thus making them eligible for a salary increase of up to $20,000, in addition to a bonus of up to $25,000. She emphasized that "the teaching job has changed dramatically," because technology and the life skills needed to be successful have altered learning requirements.

New Calif. Law Requires Gay History Be Taught; Included in Public Schools' Social Studies Curric.

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (July 15, 2011) that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a landmark bill adding lessons about gay history to social studies classes in California's public schools.

Brown, a Democrat, signed the bill July 14, making California the first state in the nation to require public schools to include the contributions of gays and lesbians in the social studies curriculum.

The bill has drawn criticism from some churches and conservative groups that argue such instruction would expose students to a subject that some parents find objectionable.

Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco -- the author of the bill -- said that teaching gay history in public schools will teach students to be more accepting of gays and lesbians.

Law Banning Burqa in Belgium Is Effective July 23; France Is Only Other European Country to Ban It

The Eurasia Review website reports today (July 15, 2011) that a law banning the burqa -- the veil that covers a woman's face except for the eyes -- will go into effect in Belgium on July 23.

Failure to comply with the law is punishable by up to seven days of imprisonment and a fine of 137,50 euro.

According to estimates, about 270 women in Belgium wear the burqa. Belgium is the second European country -- it was preceded by France -- to ban the burqa.

The new law is intended to promote women's rights, and prevent a split between the Islamic community and the rest of Belgian society.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Israel Opens Jesus Baptism Site on Jordan River; Christian Leaders Attend Site Opening on July 12

The Christian Today website reports that Israel opened a new baptism site this week on the Jordan River, where it is traditionally believed Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

The site lies close to an Israeli military post in the Jordan Valley and had to be cleared of landmines left over from years of hostility between Israel and Jordan.

The Israeli site cost $2.3 million to renovate, with a large part of the money having to be spent on clearing mines from the area.

Christian leaders and Israeli minister for regional development, Silvan Shalom, were present at the July 12, 2011 ceremony to formally open the site.

Pope Shenouda Blasts Mubarak's Church Policy; Says New Govt. Now Allows Church Construction

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (July 14, 2011) that Pope Shenouda III -- the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church -- this week slammed former President Hosni Mubarak's regime for the way it handled sectarian issues.

Shenouda's remarks came during a meeting on July 11 with European members of parliament and diplomats.

Shenouda told his guests that the condition of Egypt's Copts has improved, following the January unrest that toppled Mubarak.

The pope said that for 30 years -- while Mubarak was president -- the Egyptian church struggled futilely to get the former regime to issue a unified law for constructing places of worship, while the current Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has already approved this law.

FFRF Files Lawsuit on Texas Gov.'s Prayer Event; Says Governor's Day of Prayer Violates U.S. Const.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) -- a watchdog group of atheists and agnostics -- has filed a lawsuit to stop Texas Gov. Rick Perry from holding a day of prayer event in Houston, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (July 14, 2011).

In a video promoting the August 6, 2011 event -- dubbed "The Response" -- Perry called on Americans to "make plans to be part of something even bigger than Texas."

But the FFRF said the governor's call for a day of prayer violates the constitutional ban on the government establishing a religion.

Gov. Perry has invited the U.S. president, the nation's governors, and Texas lawmakers to attend the Houston prayer meeting. So far, more than 6,000 people have registered for the event.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

COMMENTARY: From Catholic Fame to Catholic Shame

It was less than a year ago when I was using my satellite TV remote to check out the programs on the various TV channels, as I was hoping to find a good movie.

One channel that attracted my attention, however, was a Catholic TV channel in which Fr. John Corapi was preaching. I do not remember the subject of his preaching, but I do remember that I found his words to be so mesmerizing that I could not change the channel for at least a half hour.

I thought to myself, this is the most inspiring Catholic priest I have ever heard. He reminded me of Rev. Billy Graham's inspirational preaching several years ago. I also thought, was Fr. Corapi going to become as popular as Billy Graham someday?

I later learned that Fr. Corapi was indeed watched by millions of people worldwide, who had also been attracted to his exceptional -- and almost effortless -- ability to present an inspiring message.

Unfortunately, Fr. Corapi's fame ended abruptly last March when he was placed on administrative leave, as a result of a former female employee's accusation that he had sexually abused her.

Last week, Fr. Corapi announced he will not obey an order from his superior in the Society of Our Lady of Holy Trinity (SOLT) to leave his private Montana compound and live with other members of the community.

Apparently angered by Fr. Corapi's decision to disobey SOLT's order, Fr. Gerard Sheehan -- SOLT's regional priest servant -- shamed Fr. Corapi by saying that he is "not fit for ministry."

Fr. Sheehan also revealed that an investigation of Fr. Corapi's affairs found a pattern of misconduct, including sexual relations and cohabitation with a woman, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and a lifestyle that was "a serious violation of his promise of poverty."

Although I do not approve of the lifestyle that Fr. Corapi may have lived, I do believe that Fr. Sheehan's publicly airing of Fr. Corapi's "dirty laundry" has significantly disgraced and damaged the Catholic Church. Indeed, Fr. Sheehan should have known better.

After all, the primary objective of the Christian Church is to instill love in its people, not hatred.

FYROM to Erect Huge Statue of Philip of Macedon; To Be in Skopje and Taller Than Alexander Statue

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) -- which enraged its neighbor Greece last month when it erected an equestrian statue of Alexander the Great in its capital of Skopje -- now plans to erect an even taller statue of Alexander's father, Philip, the Balkan Insight website reports today (July 13, 2011).

Macedonia's capital will have a new 28-meter bronze statue of Philip of Macedon standing amid a luxurious complex of four fountains.

This statue -- which will be erected next year -- will be even taller than the nearby statue of Alexander, which at 24 meters, already towers over the center of Skopje.

Since FYROM became an independent nation in 1991 -- as a result of the breakup of Yugoslavia -- Greece has objected to its use of Macedonia in its name, because there is an adjacent province in northern Greece called Macedonia. Many Greeks believe that FYROM -- by erecting these statues -- is trying to promote the impression that Alexander and Philip were of Slavic heritage instead of Hellenic heritage as is indicated by history.

Greece has retaliated against FYROM for failing to change its name by blocking its admission into NATO, as well as the European Union.

New York Clerk Resigns Due to Gay Marriage Law; Asserts She Cannot Sign "Something Against God"

The Christian Post website reports today (July 13, 2011) that New York town clerk Laura Fotusky has resigned from her position, saying that she cannot sign a document supporting same-sex marriage, due to personal religious convictions.

Fotusky stated that she will step down on July 21 -- three days prior to when the first gay marriage licenses will be distributed in New York State.

In her resignation letter -- which was distributed to the media by a conservative Christian non-profit group called the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom -- Fotusky expresses her discomfort in indulging in a practice that she feels the Bible vehemently objects.

Fotusky writes: "The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures. Since I love and follow Him, I cannot put my signature on something that is against God."

New Dress Code Is Implemented for Dutch Police; Bans Wearing Religious Symbols Such as Crosses

A new dress code for police in the Netherlands -- which bans religious symbols such as crosses and headscarves -- went into effect today (July 13, 2011), according to the Dutch News website.

The dress code is designed to ensure "lifestyle neutrality," meaning police are there for all citizens, so obvious religious affiliations are not desirable.

Large tattoos and unusual piercings are no longer acceptable. Police officers with large tattoos will have to cover them up.

Originally, the new dress code was to have been enshrined in law, but the police union -- determined to provide for some flexibility in the rules -- objected, and this resulted in the establishment of a code of conduct instead.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Catholic School Returns Check to NY Lawmaker; Gifts from Same-Sex Marriage Backers Rejected

The Huffington Post website reports today (July 12, 2011) that a New York lawmaker -- who recently voted in favor of same-sex marriage for the empire state -- found himself at odds with the Roman Catholic Church after a parish school refused a $50 donation from him.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, a Democrat, sent a $50 check to honor a student at Our Lady of Mount Camel School in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, only to have it returned uncashed.

The rejected check was attached to a letter from Monsignor Joseph Calise -- the church's priest -- who said Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio "requested that all gifts received from politicians supporting same-sex marriage legislation be refused."

South Sudan Church Leaders Vow to Secure Peace; Abp.: We Are Willing to Play Our Part in S. Sudan

Church leaders in South Sudan -- which was proclaimed an independent nation on July 9, 2011 -- expressed their readiness to help secure peace, stability, growth, and development in their new country, according to the Ekklesia website.

"We stand willing to play our part in sharing the burden of responsibility which rests on the shoulders of the government of South Sudan," Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church of Sudan said in a pastoral letter on Independence Day.

On July 9, General Salva Kir Mayardit was sworn in as the first president of South Sudan.

"I want to offer public amnesty to all those who took arms against the people of South Sudan. Let them lay down these arms and help us in building this new nation," Kir said in a speech broadcast live in East Africa.

Fire Badly Damages NYC Orthodox Synagogue; Roof Collapses, Top Floors Damaged Last Night

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (July 12, 2011) that a fire -- which began last night at about 8:30 p.m. -- has badly damaged Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, one of New York City's most prominent synagogues.

The fire caused the massive synagogue's roof to collapse and severely damaged the building's top floors.

The fire was brought under control one hour after it began. Its cause has not yet been determined.

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun is an Orthodox synagogue and one of the city's most prominent Jewish congregations. It is led by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein -- a major figure in American Modern Orthodoxy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Two-Thirds in US Think Anthony Killed Daughter; Twice as Many Women as Men Convinced She Did

Nearly two-thirds of Americans -- or 64 percent of those asked in a recent poll -- believe Casey Anthony definitely or probably murdered her daughter, the Christian Post website reports today (July 11, 2011).

According to the poll of 1,010 adults, women are much more likely than men to believe the murder charges against Anthony, and to be upset by the not-guilty verdict.

Women were more than twice as likely as men -- 28 percent vs. 11 percent -- to think Anthony definitely murdered 2-year-old Caylee.

Twenty-seven percent of women said they were angry about the verdict, compared with 9 percent of men.

Study: Abortion Adds to Risk of Premature Birth; 44 Percent More Likely to Give Birth Prematurely

The Spero Forum website reports today (July 11, 2011) that a new study -- conducted in Great Britain -- has found women who had abortions were 33 percent more likely to have had a premature birth in their second pregnancy, compared to women who had never had an abortion.

Prof. Siladitya Bhattacharya, a gynecologist, and a team made their conclusions after comparing the second pregnancies of 170,000 women who had previously had an abortion, to 458,000 undergoing their first pregnancies.

They found those who had experienced abortions were 33 percent more likely to subsequently deliver pre-term than those who had never had an abortion.

They were also 44 percent more likely to give birth prematurely -- before 34 weeks.

Israel Passes West Bank Settlement Boycott Law; To Punish Israelis Boycotting W. Bank Settlements

The BBC website reports today (July 11, 2011) that the Israeli parliament has passed a controversial law that will punish any Israeli individual or organization boycotting West Bank settlements.

Rights groups say the legislation stifles freedom of speech and compromises Israeli democracy.

It follows several Israeli calls to boycott institutions or individuals linked to Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

The settlements are deemed illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cardinal Retracts His Position on Women Priests; Now Agrees RC Church Can Never Ordain Women

The Catholic Culture website reports today (July 10, 2011) that the Portuguese cardinal -- who made headlines recently by saying that there is no major obstacle to the ordination of women -- has reversed his public stand, acknowledging that the Roman Catholic Church can never ordain women.

Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo of Lisbon said that after making his earlier statement in answer to a reporter's question, he realized that he spoke prematurely.

He emphasized that he had not intended to suggest a dissent from papal teaching.

Pope John Paul II -- in his 1994 apostolic letter "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" -- said that the Church cannot ordain women.

Anthony Verdict Reflects Bible on Death Penalty; Bible Sets High Bar for Conviction, Death Sentence

The Continental News website reports today (July 10, 2011) that -- amid the anger and outrage resulting from the Casey Anthony verdict -- it is important to keep in mind that the Bible sets a very high bar for convicting any person for the crime of murder, and sentencing them to death.

Several jurors -- who sat on the Anthony case -- maintain the government failed to prove its case "beyond a reasonable doubt."

This standard reflects the Bible's value of seeking justice for the victim, while avoiding a rush to judgment against the accused.

In the Book of Numbers, Moses sets forth the principle that "Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness." (Numbers 35:30)

Buddhism in US Grows Due to Influx of Asians; Buddhist Teachings Now Adapting to US Culture

The Voice of America website reports today (July 10, 2011) that American Buddhism -- which is growing because of the influx of Asian immigrants -- is now adapting to Western ways.

Boys aged 5 to 14 have their heads shaved as they start a five-day retreat. This provides them with an introduction to Buddhist teaching, and offers a brief taste of the life of a monk.

Kusala Bhikshu -- an American-born priest at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles -- said Buddhism has a history of more than 100 years in the United States.

Bhikshu added, "And it now has dug its roots into the soil of America, so there are people born in America who are becoming ordained as Buddhist monks or nuns, and bringing Buddhist teachings to everyday Americans."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

COMMENTARY: Church of England in Desperate Need of Membership Path

A new British report -- released this week -- warns that the Church of England faces being eliminated as a significant national force, unless a serious campaign is undertaken to recruit more believers.

The report shows that the number of adult churchgoers has fallen by half in the last 40 years, while the number of children regularly worshiping in public declined by a whopping 80 percent.

Although some Church of England officials have taken the matter rather lightly -- claiming that the decline is simply due to the nature of modern society -- we believe that this is the wrong attitude to take, if this trend is going to be stabilized and even reversed. A more positive and aggressive attitude is essential to counter this decline, and increase the number of churchgoers.

The fact is that an effective modus operandi by Church of England clergy must be implemented -- and the sooner the better -- in order to attract church members. One way clergy may attract church members is by conducting weekly Christian seminars or dialogues, thus instilling in prospective churchgoers the depth of spiritual inspiration they are capable of acquiring from the Body of Christ.

Test Score Fiasco Puts Atlanta Schools in Shame; 178 Teachers, Principals Changed Answers, Fired

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (July 9, 2011) that 178 teachers and principals working in 44 Atlanta Public Schools -- who changed answers on students' standardized tests in order to receive higher salaries and bonuses -- have all been terminated, and could face felony charges for falsifying public documents.

The offenses include teachers changing incorrect test answers -- sometimes during weekends at "erasure parties" -- and teachers pointing out the correct answers to students during test times.

"This is one of the greatest tragedies to affect this city in modern history," Atlanta City Councilor Michael Julian Bond said.

"Testing and results and targets being reached became more important than actual learning on the part of children," Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said.

New Poll: Democrats More Likely to Doubt Bible; Republicans, Conservatives Tend to Believe Bible

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (July 9, 2011) that results of a new Gallup poll -- just released yesterday -- show that liberals and Democrats are more likely than conservatives, moderates, Republicans, and independents to believe the Bible is nothing more than a book of fables and legends made up by man.

Since George Washington was inaugurated in 1789, American presidents have traditionally placed their left hand on the Bible when they take the oath of office and swear to defend the Constitution of the United States.

A combined 93 percent of Republicans said the Bible was either the literal word of God or the inspired word of God.

A combined 73 percent of Democrats -- as well as a combined 73 percent of independents -- said the Bible was either the literal word of God or the inspired word of God.

South Sudan Becomes the World's Newest Nation; Follows 2 Decades of Civil War, 2 Million Deaths

The Islam Online website reports that thousands of South Sudanese danced in the streets today (July 9, 2011) to mark the birth of South Sudan -- the world's newest country -- climaxing a 2005 peace agreement that ended two decades of a civil war in Sudan that claimed the lives of over two million people.

Jubilant South Sudanese --in the capital of Juba -- waved flags and danced in the lights of car headlights after midnight, chanting "SPLM o-yei, South Sudan o-yei, freedom o-yei."

SPLM -- the Sudan People's Liberation Movement -- led the rebels who fought the north until 2005 and now dominates the southern government.

Men and women coming out of late night church services shook hands and wished each other a "Happy Birthday." More than 50 percent of South Sudan's population is Christian, while to the north, Sudan's population is about 85 percent Muslim.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fr. Corapi Defies Order to Return to Community; Claims It Would Put Him "Under a Rock" to Die

The Catholic Culture website reports today (July 8, 2011) that Father John Corapi has announced he will not obey the order from his superior in the Society of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity (SOLT) to leave his private Montana compound and live with other members of the community.

In a statement released July 5, Father Gerard Sheehan -- SOLT's regional priest servant -- had announced that the popular preacher and television personality is not "fit for ministry." Father Sheehan also revealed that an investigation of Corapi's affairs found a pattern of misconduct (including sexual relations and cohabitation with a woman), abuse of drugs and alcohol, and embrace of a luxurious lifestyle that was "a serious violation of his promise of poverty."

Father Corapi responded, "If I were to commit to the suggestion of the Society, then I would essentially crawl under a rock and wait to die."

Father Corapi was placed on administrative leave and had all his priestly duties removed last March, after a former female employee accused him of having sexually abused her.

Report: Church of England Could Be Wiped Out; No. of Churchgoers Fell by Half in Past 40 Years

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (July 8, 2011) that a new report warns the Church of England faces being wiped out as a significant national force, without an "urgent" campaign to recruit more believers.

In the last 40 years, the number of adult churchgoers has fallen by half, while the number of children regularly worshiping in public declined by 80 percent, the study says.

The report -- called Mission Action Planning in the Church of England -- states that the "sharp" fall in churchgoing since 1970 poses a significant threat.

Church of England officials argue that the decline partly reflects the nature of modern society, in which many kinds of membership organizations have lost supporters.

EU Court Trashes Challenge to Swiss Minaret Ban; Rules People Filing Lawsuits Were Not Victims

The Washington Post website reports that the European Court of Human Rights today (July 8, 2011) dismissed a challenge by Muslim groups to Switzerland's minaret building ban.

A panel of seven judges with the Strasbourg, France-based court ruled that the people filing the lawsuits could not claim to be victims.

Swiss voters approved a constitutional ban on minarets in 2009 that barred any more construction of the iconic mosque towers.

Switzerland's four standing minarets -- which were not affected by the ban -- do not traditionally broadcast the call to prayer outside their own buildings.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fort Hood Shooter May Face the Death Penalty; Maj. Nidal Hasan Court-Martial Will Begin Soon

The Global Post website reports today (July 7, 2011) that the U.S. military has approved a possible death penalty in the future military trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan -- the American Muslim accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009.

Hasan -- a former Army psychiatrist -- will stand trial by court-martial within the next few months.

On July 6, Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell -- the Fort Hood commander -- formally announced that the charges against Hasan will be tried as capital offenses.

Bloomberg to Officiate Gay Wedding of Two Aides; Mayor to Preside at Ceremony on 1st Legal Day

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will officiate at the wedding of two city officials on July 24 -- the day gay marriage becomes legal in the empire state -- NBC New York reports today (July 7, 2011).

Bloomberg will unite his chief policy adviser (John Feinblatt) and the city's consumer affairs commissioner (Jonathan Mintz) in a ceremony at Gracie Mansion -- the mayor's official residence.

The city clerk's office -- which is usually closed on Sundays -- will be open for the big day on July 24.

Bloomberg's decision contrasts with that of Rudi Giuliani -- former New York mayor -- who has rebuffed requests from gay friends to preside over their nuptials in the city.

Exclusive: Norway Anti-Semitic Report a Shocker; Anti-Semitism Is Alive and Flourishing in Norway

In an exclusive report, the Europe News website states today (July 7, 2011) that anti-Semitism in Norway has increased significantly during the past few years.

A study published last month by the Oslo municipality on racism and anti-Semitism among students in the 8th through 10th grades in the city's schools came as a shock.

The study found that 33 percent of the Jewish students regularly experience bullying at school. This indicates that at least two or three incidents of verbal or physical abuse target these Jewish students per month.

Moreover, the study found it would be difficult to blame anti-Semitism exclusively on Muslim children, as it became evident that native Norwegians are heavily involved.

The findings also indicate that Norway may now be considered the most anti-Semitic country in Western Europe.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

COMMENTARY: Atheist Chaplains Are Not Justified in U.S. Military

This week, David Silverman -- president of American Atheists -- said that American military troops need atheist chaplains that they can turn to for counseling and moral support.

The U.S. military maintains Christian chaplains, but not atheist chaplains.

Somehow, it appears to be a paradox that atheists -- who do not believe in God -- are seeking to have atheist chaplains counsel them.

Are atheists afraid that a Christian chaplain might try to counsel them into converting to Christianity? Or, do they feel that a Christian chaplain's counseling would be too morally-driven, as opposed to atheistic ideas which tend to have very few moral standards?

The title "atheist chaplain" itself sounds out of place in the U.S. military, just as a church with an atheist title sounds unnatural. For example, can you picture a church by the name of First Congregational Atheist Church? Of course not!

The U.S. military has not had atheist chaplains in its ranks, since it was established over 200 years ago.

The fact is that military personnel need to have religious chaplains to instill in them national and spiritual awareness, in order to provide them with the support and confidence they may need to accomplish their mission.

Religious chaplains can also instill such awareness on troops who are atheists.

Indeed, there is no need for atheist chaplains in the U.S. military.

Court Orders Gay Military Service Ban Lifted--Fast; Pentagon Agrees to Enforce Court Order Quickly

A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled today (July 6, 2011) that the Obama administration must stop enforcing the ban that prevents gay men and women from serving openly in the U.S. military, according to the Reuters website.

Last year, a California district court judge found that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy violated the U.S. Constitution, and issued an injunction. But the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals put that injunction on hold, as the Department of Justice appealed that ruling.

In the order today, the 9th Circuit Court noted that the process of repealing DADT is now "well underway."

The government "can no longer satisfy the demanding standard" to keep the injunction on hold, the court ruled.

Patriarch: UOC-KP No Tool of Foreign Influence; ROC Desire to Rule UOC-KP "Sin of Ambition"

The Religious Information Service of Ukraine website reports today (July 6, 2011) that Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church--Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP) stated this week that his church does not want to be a "tool of foreign influence."

According to Patriarch Filaret, the UOC--KP wants "to live in peace and harmony with the Russian Church," because the church is one, and there is not one God for Russia and another one for Ukraine.

However, Patriarch Filaret stresses that the UOC--KP and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) are divided only because of the sin of ambition, the desire of Moscow to rule over Ukraine, to the detriment of the Church of Christ."

Patriarch Filaret believes the struggle between the UOC--KP and the UOC--MP (Ukrainian Orthodox Church--Moscow Patriarchate) is no longer as overt as it used to be. "There is not global confrontation...This is a very good sign."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dalai Lama Arrives in Washington, DC Today; Will Guide Buddhists in 10-Day Prayer Ritual

The Voice of America News website reports today (July 5, 2011) that the Dalai Lama -- Tibet's exiled spiritual leader -- arrived in Washington, D.C. on July 5 to celebrate his birthday and guide followers of Tibetan Buddhism in a 10-day prayer and meditation ritual.

The Dalai Lama's visit -- which is likely to upset China -- is his first to the nation's capital since he stepped down as the political leader of the Tibetan government in exile earlier this year.

Wherever he goes, the Dalai Lama -- who turns 76 on July 6, 2011 -- is greeted with song and smiling well-wishers, and criticized by Beijing, which accuses him of trying to separate Tibet from China.

Since Chinese forces marched into Tibet more than half a century ago -- and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet in 1959 -- the struggle to retain control of Tibet by Red China has continued.

Atheists Want Atheist Chaplains for US Military; Claim Troops Need Them for Counseling, Support

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (July 5, 2011) that David Silverman -- president of American Atheists -- says the U.S. military needs atheist chaplains that atheist troops can turn to for counseling and moral support.

Silverman -- who was raised Jewish -- said he decided at an early age that God did not exist.

Atheist groups have been pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the ranks of the chaplaincy in recent years.

Atheists hope to be recognized officially by the military, which would mean they could raise money and meet on military bases, distribute literature, and advertise their events.

India Health Minister:Homosexuality Is a Disease; Says It Is Unnatural, Comes from Other Countries

India's health minister has sparked a furious row over comments in which he described homosexuality as "a disease." the BBC website reports today (July 5, 2011).

Ghulam Nabi Azad told a conference on HIV/Aids that gay sex was "unnatural."

Gay sex was decriminalized in India in a landmark judgment in 2009, but anti-homosexual discrimination remains widespread.

Azad told the meeting in Delhi on July 4 that homosexuality "is a disease which has come from other countries."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Woman Charged with Assault for Kissing Preacher; Occurred at NC Gay Pride Event Preacher Opposed

The Huffington Post website reports today (July 4, 2011) that a Bible-waving preacher -- protesting at a gay pride event in North Carolina -- was kissed on his cheek by a 74-year-old female gay rights supporter who is now charged with simple assault.

Joan Parker admits she kissed the preacher on the cheek at the event -- proclaimed by the Salisbury mayor as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Day.

The preacher, James Edward Belcher, of Taylorsville, said, "If I hadn't turned my head, I'd have gotten it right on my mouth."

Belcher, 49, is the minister at New Light Baptist Church No.2 in Millers Creek, NC.

Three Muslims Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison; Convicted of Planting Bombs at Bronx Temple

The Forward website reports today (July 4, 2011) that three men -- who plotted to blow up a synagogue in New York City -- were sentenced to 25 years in prison last week.

The men -- all Muslim converts -- were arrested in May 2009, after being caught in an FBI sting operation.

They were convicted in October 2010 of planting bombs at the Riverside Jewish Center and the Riverside Temple -- both in the Bronx -- and planning to shoot down U.S. military aircraft using surface-to-air missiles.

The bombs and missiles provided by an FBI informant were disabled.

Pope: The Church Is Not a Social Organization; Emphasizes the Church Is "the Community of God"

Pope Benedict XVI told a group of pilgrims from southern Italy -- who visited the Vatican on July 2, 2011 -- that "the Church is not a social or philanthropic organization. She is the community of God."

According to the Catholic Culture website, the Pope welcomed the pilgrims from the Diocese of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti, led by their Bishop Mario Paciello.

The Church is "a mystery of love at the service of humanity, with a view to its sanctification," the Pope said.

He cautioned that any planning on the mission of the Church must start with that recognition.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mennonite Pastor Does Not Sing National Anthem; Recognizes One Christian Nation: The Church

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (July 3, 2011) that Mennonite pastor Mark Schloneger has drawn national attention, after CNN posted his blog discussing why he does not sing the national anthem.

In his article -- titled "My Faith: Why I Don't Sing the Star-Spangled Banner" -- Schloneger says he desires the "church to be the church" and strictly separated from the state.

"Most Mennonite churches do not have flags inside them, and many Mennonites are uncomfortable with the ritual embedded in the singing of the national anthem," he wrote.

He added, "That's because we recognize only one Christian nation, the church, the holy nation that is bound together by a living faith in Jesus rather than by man-made, blood-soaked borders."

Heritage Group Tries to Weaken Serbian Culture; Wanted to Call Monasteries "Kosovo Monuments"

"Attempt that four Serbian monasteries of culture -- monasteries Pecka Patrijargija, Decani, Gracanica, and Bogorodica Ljeviska -- are renamed as 'Kosovo monuments' is the most flagrant violation of the international law and is a shameful attempt to support those who want to erase every trace of Serbian presence in Kosovo over centuries," Sladjana Prica, Serbian Deputy Minister for Multicultural Issues, told Blic website.

At the 35th annual session of the Committee for the World Heritage in Paris last week, Prica -- as representative of the Republic of Serbia -- had just one minute to persuade the participants that such a proposal was "unacceptable and shameful."

"The proposal was made by the Committee Secretariat because of huge pressure made on it. Among the countries leading in making that pressure were France, Switzerland, Sweden, and Australia," Prica said.

Prior Sava Decanski -- also from Serbia -- told Blic that taking away Serbian identity from its spiritual and historical monuments in Kosovo would mean "amputation of our historical remembering."

Kosovo seceded as a province in Serbia and declared itself an independent nation three years ago. Serbia -- a nation whose religion is primarily Eastern Orthodox Christian -- has several beautiful monasteries and churches in Kosovo, whose primary religion is Islam.

China Ordains Bishop Without Vatican Approval; China's State-Run Catholic Church Gets Militant

The Ethics Daily website reports today (July 3, 2011) that China's state-run Catholic Church on June 29 ordained a bishop without approval of Pope Benedict XVI -- just three days after police arrested the pope's choice for a bishop of another Chinese diocese.

The Rev. Paul Lei Shiyin was ordained as bishop of Leshan. The seven bishops who ordained Lei included the president of the state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA).

For more than 50 years, China's 12 million to 15 million Catholics have been divided between the CPCA and an "underground" church of Catholics loyal to the pope. There have been several confrontations between the CPCA -- which has become more militant -- and the Vatican in recent months.

On June 26, police in Handan arrested the Rev. Joseph Sun Jigen, whose Vatican-approved ordination as coadjutor (designated successor) bishop of the diocese had been scheduled for June 29.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

COMMENTARY: N.Y. Governor, Legislators Renounce Teachings of Christ

Last week's decision by the state legislature and the governor of New York to allow gay marriages to occur in the Empire State has been a shocking phenomenon for Christians -- and especially for Christian clergy.

In fact, Nicholas DiMarzio -- the Catholic bishop for the diocese of Brooklyn -- became so infuriated by the decision that he asked all Catholic schools in his diocese to reject any honors bestowed on them by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers who voted for the bill.

Moreover, Bishop DiMarzio asked all pastors and school principals not to allow any pro-gay marriage lawmakers or Gov. Cuomo to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.

New York Gov. Cuomo -- who considers himself to be a Catholic -- had vigorously fought for passage of the Marriage Equality Act, which he signed the same evening it was passed by the legislature.

Despite the fact that Christianity considers gay marriages and civil unions to be immoral and contrary to Christian doctrine, New York's governor and legislators, who supported the new law, ignored that doctrine and placed their own selfish interests ahead of God's Law.

Indeed, they should be ashamed of themselves, because they have arrogantly renounced the teachings of Christ.

Orthodox Church Opposes Same-Sex Marriage; SCOBA: Orthodox Church Will Not Bless Them

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (July 2, 2011) that the Greek Orthodox Church of America has reiterated its opposition to same-sex marriage.

According to an announcement -- published this week by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) -- the Christian Orthodox teaching regarding marriage and sexuality, is firmly based on the Holy Scripture that marriage consists in the conjugal union of a man and a woman, and that the original marriage is blessed by God as a minister of the Church.

The SCOBA announcement emphasizes that the Orthodox Church cannot and will not bless people of the same sex.

Last week, New York became the sixth -- and largest -- American state to allow same-sex marriage.

Pope Blames Commodity Markets for World Hunger; Says Profit Greed Causes Millions to Die

The Life in Italy website reports today (July 2, 2011) that Pope Benedict XVI blamed selfish economic interests for world hunger yesterday at a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) gathering at the Vatican.

The Pope told those present: "How can we ignore the fact that food has become an object of speculation, or is connected to movements in the financial market that, lacking in clear rules and moral principles, seems anchored on the sole objective of profit?"

He went on to call for greater regulation of food commodity markets.

The overall cost of food was 37 percent higher in May 2011 than the previous year, according to the FAO Food Price index.

"Millions of children are condemned to death due to malnutrition," the Pope said.

NY Post Exclusive: Hotel Maid Was Also a Hooker; Maid's Many Lies Likely to Prevent the Trial of DSK

In an exclusive report today (July 2, 2011), the New York Post website states that Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser of rape was not just a girl working in a hotel -- she was also a hooker.

The Sofitel housekeeper -- who claims that the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) head sexually assaulted her in his room -- was doing double duty as a prostitute, collecting cash on the side from male guests, the Post reports.

Allegations that she worked as a hotel hooker may explain why Strauss-Khan insists their encounter was consensual.

In addition to detecting a multitude of lies by the housekeeper -- including having been gang-raped in her native Guinea -- prosecutors said that 28 hours after the alleged sexual assault, the woman talked to her boyfriend who is in a jail in Arizona. A recording of their phone conversation indicates that she told him, "Don't worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I'm doing."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Old Fresco of St. Paul Found in Roman Catacomb; Scholars Say Fresco Is About 1,400 Years Old

The All Voices website reports today (July 1, 2011) that an ancient Roman fresco of St. Paul -- which scholars say is some 1,400 years old -- has been discovered in the ancient Roman catacomb.

It was found during a restoration at the Catacombs of San Gennaro (Saint Januarius) in the southern Italian port city of Naples in Campania, by experts from the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Art.

The announcement was made this week on the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul -- a traditional holiday in Italy.

As a Roman Jew who was born in Tarsus in modern-day Turkey, St. Paul started out persecuting Christians, but later became one of the greatest influences in the Christian Church, after seeing a shining light on the road to Damascus.

Russian Pro-Lifers to Launch Women's Clinics; Will Offer Pre-Natal Care, Exclude Abortions

The Ecumenical News International website reports today (July 1, 2011) that a Russian pro-life organization is about to launch a network of clinics offering pre- and post-natal care, while excluding procedures such as abortion and in-vitro fertilization that "contradict the teachings of the Russian Orthodox, Catholic, and traditional Protestant churches," said Alexey Komov, the project manager.

The Life-Family Medical Centers Network will be run on a franchise basis under the auspices of "Za Zhizn" ("For Life"), an anti-abortion organization led by two Russian Orthodox priests.

Its formation was announced in Moscow on June 30 at the end of a two-day summit held by Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF).

The clinics will cooperate with American organizations -- such as Heartbeat International -- which also runs pro-life medical centers.

Catholic Bishop in NY Rips Senators, Gov. Cuomo; Bars Legislators, Governor from School Functions

In response to passage of a same-sex marriage law last week in the state of New York, Nicholas DiMarzio -- the Catholic bishop for the diocese of Brooklyn -- has asked all Catholic schools to reject any honors bestowed on them by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and lawmakers who voted for the bill, the Cybercast News Service website reports today (July 1, 2011).

Bishop DiMarzio has also asked all pastors and school principals to not invite any of the pro-gay marriage lawmakers "to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration."

The Marriage Equality Act -- which was vigorously promoted by Cuomo -- passed in the New York Senate (33-29) on June 24. Cuomo, who is Catholic, signed the legislation into law that night.

Catholic teaching says that homosexual marriages and civil unions are immoral, contrary to the natural order, and cannot be condoned.