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Mar 25, 6:25 PM EDT

Religion news in brief


Multimedia
Mass. Catholics hold vigil in endangered churches
Convent shuts after helping generations 'overcome'
Inside a Voodoo Gede ceremony
Religion News
A look at widely criticized Indiana law on religious freedom

UConn's Ollie won't travel to Final Four because of new law

Wal-Mart urges Arkansas governor to veto religion bill

Arkansas gives final approval to religious-freedom bill

Religious freedom laws not used against gays in the past

Vatican hopes to avoid financial scandal during Jubilee year

Indiana governor wants changes to religious-objections law

Indianapolis Star calls for law protecting gays, lesbians

Vatican defends naming of bishop that caused Chilean outcry

High court rejects church appeal over use of public school

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Personal afterlife accounts removed from Baptist bookstores

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention has stopped selling popular accounts of the afterlife like "Heaven is for Real" and "90 Minutes in Heaven" at its national chain of Lifeway Christian Bookstores.

Last summer, Southern Baptists at their annual convention warned that such books and films can lead people astray with "personal testimonies that cannot be corroborated" and sometimes conflict with Scripture.

They overwhelmingly passed a resolution declaring "the sufficiency of biblical revelation over subjective experiential" accounts of heaven and hell.

Lifeway spokesman Marty King says that resolution was taken into consideration and Lifeway stopped ordering personal afterlife accounts last summer. Now, he says, "the remaining heaven visitation items have been removed from our stores and website and will not be replenished."

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Jewish leader: US-Israel tensions provoke anti-Semitism

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Jewish leader says recent tensions between the U.S. and Israel have contributed to a rise in global anti-Semitism.

Friction between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has grown over policy differences about the creation of a Palestinian state and the U.S.-led international nuclear talks with Iran.

The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, told a congressional committee Tuesday that when people around the world see "even the best friend of Israel is having problems with them," it provokes negative attitudes toward Jews.

Lauder said Jews in Europe are increasingly the targets of radical Islamic terrorism like the recent deadly attacks in Paris and Copenhagen.

He warned that unless the U.S. acts decisively to defeat Islamic terrorists in the Middle East and Africa, "the flame of radical Islam could stretch across all of Europe as well."

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Ala. bill would let adoption agencies turn away gay couples

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama would allow adoption agencies - including those with state contracts - to refuse to place children with same-sex couples on religious grounds, under a bill introduced in the Alabama Legislature.

Republican state Sen. Gerald Allen introduced the bill last week specifying that groups could refuse to participate in adoptions and foster care placements that violate their religious beliefs. The bill would also prohibit the state from refusing to license, or contract with, the groups that deny services to people on religious grounds.

Allen said he brought the bill to protect the faith-based groups, including children's homes affiliated with Baptist and Catholic churches, in case the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide this June.

Opponents said the bill would provide legal cover for discrimination against a diverse array of families seeking to adopt.

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Texas same sex marriage foes call for `Biblical marriage'

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - About 250 people have rallied at the Texas Capitol in support of what they call "Biblical marriage" - the union of a man and a woman - at an event headlined by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Moore defended his instruction to Alabama's state probate judges to deny marriage licenses to gay couples despite a federal ruling that Alabama's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. He said state courts have equal authority, and "no court has authority to redefine what God proposed in Genesis."

Moore also said Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves from gay marriage cases because they officiated at gay weddings.

The Coalition of African American Pastors also called for the justices' recusals at a rally held earlier Monday at the Texas Capitol.

Meanwhile, about 50 gay rights activists gathered at a church near the Capitol for lunch and an ice cream social before lobbying lawmakers to support gay marriage.

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Ex-Bob Jones president apologizes for 1980 anti-gay remarks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The former president of Bob Jones University has apologized for saying 35 years ago that homosexuals should be stoned, calling his comments reckless and inflammatory.

Bob Jones III, then president of the conservative Christian school in Greenville, South Carolina, was at the White House with other ministers in 1980 to oppose extending Civil Rights Act protections to homosexuals.

There, Jones told The Associated Press that it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring swift justice by stoning homosexuals and immediately killing murderers.

In a statement Saturday, Jones said he takes personal ownership for the "reckless statement" and "inflammatory rhetoric." He said they don't reflect his beliefs or preaching.

A group that supports gays at Bob Jones University had petitioned for the apology. The group's leader says he is stunned by Jones' apology and accepts it.

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