Religion news in brief

Southern Baptists re-elect president who challenged them

PHOENIX (AP) — The president of the Southern Baptist Convention has been re-elected after lamenting that members of his denomination had left their "first love: of Jesus Christ."

The Rev. Bryant Wright told the nation's Southern Baptists at their annual meeting in Phoenix that if they really loved the Lord, they would share that fervent faith with non-Christians.

Wright said there are 3,800 "people groups" in the world without any Christian church or missionary presence, and he called for 3,800 Baptist congregations to each adopt one to pray for and somehow reach with the gospel. Wright said that when every people group is reached, Jesus will return.

Later Tuesday, Wright was overwhelmingly elected to a second one-year term as president.


Baptist leader predicts repeal of Roe v. Wade

PHOENIX (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention's public policy chief says opposition to abortion is growing because Americans who oppose abortion tend to have more children.

The Rev. Richard Land told Southern Baptists at their annual meeting in Phoenix that in the 38 years since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, those children have been growing up to become voters.

He predicted that that demographic trend will lead to Roe v. Wade being reversed within a few decades.

Land also called for reversal of President Barack Obama's health care reform law, insisting that its implementation will be a "catastrophe" for all Americans.


NY close to legalizing gay marriage

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's Roman Catholic archbishop says legalizing gay marriage is akin to a communist country redefining human rights that come from God.

In his blog, Archbishop Timothy Dolan has urged New York's state senators to resist what he called a "stampede" of lobbying for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's gay marriage bill.

But hundreds of other New York clergy have declared their support for gay marriage.

The measure doesn't include religious exemptions sought by Republicans who want churches, religious groups and individuals opposed to gay marriage exempted from performing or hosting gay marriages.

By Tuesday, the bill appeared to be one vote short of the majority needed for passage in the Senate.

The Rev. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx is the only Democratic senator opposed to the bill.


House hearing to probe terror recruitment in U.S. prisons

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Congressman Peter King holds a second round of hearings today on the threat of radicalization in the Muslim-American community.

King, who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, plans to call several law enforcement experts to testify about recent terrorist recruitment of inmates in U.S. prisons.

At a news conference Tuesday on Long Island, a Muslim convert who works as a jail chaplain and an activist nun objected that the hearing would foster negative stereotypes of Muslims.

Similar protests were raised against King's first hearing on Muslim-American radicalization in March.

But King insists he won't back down because, in his words, "Al-Qaida is attempting to recruit in our country, and it is a reality we cannot afford to hide from."


NH church gets $100,000 gift

HAMPSTEAD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire church has received a $100,000 donation from another church.

The Hampstead Congregational Church on Sunday officially accepted the gift from the Haverhill, Mass., Congregational Church, which closed its doors in 2008.

Linda Mills, a former parishioner at the Massachusetts church, told The Eagle-Tribune that the goal was always to benefit other United Church of Christ congregations. She went to the Hampstead church on several occasions and always came away impressed, especially with their Christian education program.

The Rev. Ed Koonz of the Hampstead church was overwhelmed by the gift, but how the money will be used has not yet been determined.

The defunct congregation also donated to two other churches.


Church of England leader warns of new Darfur

LONDON (AP) — The leader of the Church of England has warned of another Darfur (dar-FOOR') after civilians were bombed in the border region between north and south Sudan.

Tensions in border regions such as Abyei and South Kordofan state are threatening to unravel a 2005 peace deal that ended two decades of war in Sudan in which more than 2 million people died.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is calling on the British government to play "an important part" in ensuring humanitarian access and safety for those caught up in the bloodshed.

Williams said that in addition to a great humanitarian challenge, "the risk of another Darfur situation, with civilian populations at the mercy of government-supported terror, is a real one."


La. Senate panel kills 10 Commandments display

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A bid to display the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Louisiana Capitol was rejected by senators who said the threat of a lawsuit was too high and the costs of such litigation would be too expensive.

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 5-2 against advancing the House-backed proposal, after senators noted similar monuments have drawn legal challenges around the country and mired states and municipalities in arguments about separation of church and state.

The proposal was offered by Shreveport Rep. Patrick Williams, a Democrat who said he wanted to promote the historical value of the Ten Commandments and wasn't attempting to wade into a controversial dispute over religion in government.

The measure would have required the governor's commissioner of administration to arrange for the monument, which could be up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide and would be placed somewhere among the historic buildings, azalea bushes and oak trees at the capitol complex.

The bill stipulated that private entities would cover the monument's cost — but included no provision for who would cover a lawsuit's costs.

"It's going to walk us right into litigation," said Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Livonia, a lawyer.