TERROR

Religion news in brief

  • Former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran looks down while meeting with attendees after a rally to support him following his termination at the state Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Atlanta. Mayor Kasim Reed says Cochran's termination was based on his judgment and not anti-gay statements in his self-published religious book. Reed suspended then fired Cochran after learning of his self-published book in which he described homosexuality as a perversion. Reed said in a statement Tuesday that an investigative report shows Cochran didn't have clearance to publish the book he gave to several subordinates at work. Cochran has said he did get approval from city officials to publish the book. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

    Former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran looks down while meeting with attendees after a rally to support him following his termination at the state Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in Atlanta. Mayor Kasim Reed says Cochran's termination was based on his judgment and not anti-gay statements in his self-published religious book. Reed suspended then fired Cochran after learning of his self-published book in which he described homosexuality as a perversion. Reed said in a statement Tuesday that an investigative report shows Cochran didn't have clearance to publish the book he gave to several subordinates at work. Cochran has said he did get approval from city officials to publish the book. (AP Photo/David Goldman)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis, wearing a flower garland, waves to faithful as he arrives to Our Lady of Madhu shrine, in Madhu,  Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Pope Francis traveled to the jungles of war-torn northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday to show solidarity with the victims of the country's 25-year civil war and urge forgiveness and reconciliation "for all the evil which this land has known." (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)

    Pope Francis, wearing a flower garland, waves to faithful as he arrives to Our Lady of Madhu shrine, in Madhu, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Pope Francis traveled to the jungles of war-torn northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday to show solidarity with the victims of the country's 25-year civil war and urge forgiveness and reconciliation "for all the evil which this land has known." (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dr. Rick Sacra talks about going back into the Ebola hot zone as his wife Debbie listens, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, in Worcester, Mass. Sacra, who beat Ebola plans to return to Liberia, where he contracted the deadly virus, in order to help overworked colleagues in the missionary hospital where he has worked for years. (AP Photo/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Chris Christo)

    Dr. Rick Sacra talks about going back into the Ebola hot zone as his wife Debbie listens, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, in Worcester, Mass. Sacra, who beat Ebola plans to return to Liberia, where he contracted the deadly virus, in order to help overworked colleagues in the missionary hospital where he has worked for years. (AP Photo/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Chris Christo)  (The Associated Press)

Supporters of fired Atlanta fire chief rally in state Capitol

ATLANTA (AP) — Supporters of fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran packed Georgia's Capitol Rotunda to protest what they consider unjust persecution he has suffered for expressing his religious beliefs.

Mayor Kasim Reed (kah-SEEM') suspended and then fired Cochran after learning he had self-published a book that described homosexuality as a perversion.

At Tuesday's rally, Cochran said his termination sent a message to Bible-believing Christians that "you'd better keep your mouth shut or you'll be fired."

Cochran said he was given approval to publish his book by the city's ethics officer, but Mayor Reed has said the officer never granted the approval. Reed said Cochran was fired for poor judgment, not for his faith, and for leaving the city vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits.

Cochran told supporters he didn't discriminate against anyone.

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Dexter King: Ownership of Bible, peace prize is only issue

ATLANTA (AP) — One of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s sons has declined to say whether his father's 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and traveling Bible would be sold if an Atlanta judge rules they belong to the civil rights icon's estate.

Dexter Scott King spoke to reporters after a hearing in a legal dispute that has pitted King's two sons against his daughter.

King's estate includes Martin Luther King III and Bernice King. The two brothers voted last year to ask a judge to order their sister to surrender the Bible and Nobel Peace Prize so it can be sold to a private buyer.

Bernice said in February that her brothers' plan to sell two of their father's most cherished items was unthinkable.

Dexter said Tuesday that the goal of the lawsuit is to transfer the items to the estate's possession, and that their fate would be decided later.

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Pope backs search for wartime truth in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Pope Francis has repeated his calls for reconciliation and justice to Sri Lanka.

As he did upon arrival, Francis reiterated at a Mass on Wednesday that the Indian Ocean island nation can't fully heal from a quarter-century of brutal civil war without pursuing the truth about abuses that were committed.

At the rally, Francis canonized Sri Lanka's first saint. The Rev. Joseph Vaz was a 17th century Indian missionary who revived the faith in Sri Lanka during a time of anti-Catholic persecution by Dutch colonists, who were Protestant Calvinists

Some 70 percent of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, another 13 percent are Hindu and some 10 percent are Muslim. Catholics make up less than 7 percent of the population.

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Pakistan cleric offers prayers for Charlie Hebdo attackers

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A hard-line cleric in northwest Pakistan has led a memorial service for the two brothers who attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, praising their assault.

Pir Mohammad Chishti, who runs a religious seminary in the city of Peshawar (peh-SHAH'-wahr), led the prayers Tuesday. About 40 people attended, with some carrying banners condemning the magazine. They chanted praise for Said Kouachi (sah-EED' koo-AH'-shee) and Cherif Kouachi (sheh-REEF' koo-AH'-shee), who massacred 12 people in the newspaper attack last week and were later killed by police.

Charlie Hebdo often lampooned religions, including Islam by drawing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Such depictions are considered blasphemous by many Muslims.

Chishti told reporters at the prayer ceremony that anyone who commits blasphemy should be killed.

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Massachusetts doctor who beat Ebola heading back to Liberia

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The Massachusetts doctor who beat Ebola says he'll return this Thursday to Liberia, where he contracted the deadly virus.

Dr. Rick Sacra (SAY'-krah) says he'll spend several weeks helping overworked colleagues in the missionary hospital where he worked for years, and then return to the U.S. next month.

The 52-year-old Sacra expects to mostly treat patients with malaria and health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes at ELWA, a hospital in the Liberian capital of Monrovia that is run by Serving In Mission, a North Carolina-based Christian organization.

Sacra says he won't be working directly with Ebola patients but might be asked to help from time to time, since doctors say he's now immune.

Sacra told reporters, "Thank God I'm through it." But he said he has no interest in testing his immunity and promised to follow all the necessary Ebola safety protocols.