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Religion news in brief

  • Article by: The Associated Press
  • Associated Press
  • September 4, 2013 - 10:10 AM

Australian prime minister defends gay marriage

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended his support for gay marriage at a pre-election forum.

Rudd, a Roman Catholic who regularly attends church, has promised that a bill to create gay marriage in Australia would be voted on in Parliament within 100 days if his center-left Labor Party wins the national election on Saturday.

Rudd was questioned about his stance at a nationally broadcast forum in his hometown of Brisbane Monday by New Hope Church Pastor Matt Prater. Prater quoted from the Bible a definition of marriage as a man leaving his father and mother to be united to his wife.

Rudd replied that times change and the Bible also says slaves should be obedient to their masters. He said the fundamental principle of the New Testament is universal love.

Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott, a former Roman Catholic seminarian, remains staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage.

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Mayor says Jerusalem can't be split

JERUSALEM (AP) — Jerusalem's mayor presides over a city divided between Arab and Jew, religious and secular, rich and poor, and claimed as a capital by both Israelis and Palestinians.

But Nir Barkat, who is running for reelection, says Jerusalem is thriving. And with peace negotiators discussing its potential future partition, Barkat insists Jerusalem must remain united. Drawing on the city's ancient history, Barkat says Jerusalem has always been at its best when it allowed all who came to worship to feel a sense of belonging.

The city's 800,000 residents are split almost evenly among secular and modern Orthodox residents, ultra-Orthodox Jews and Muslim Palestinians. The Arab population lives almost entirely in east Jerusalem, the sector captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians as their capital. East Jerusalem also is home to key Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites.

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Vatican finalizes removal of 2 NJ priests

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Vatican has defrocked two former New Jersey priests.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark announced the changes in its online newspaper last month.

One of the removed clerics, Richard Mieliwocki was accused of sexual misconduct involving minors in 1994. He was removed from ministry and put into treatment that he didn't complete. He left the priesthood and became a social worker.

Mieliwocki pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing two teenagers and was sentenced to probation.

Horacio Daniel Medina Medina was removed from ministry in 2004 after being charged with sexual misconduct involving a minor. He pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse in 2007.

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Proposed non-discrimination ordinance stirs religious opposition

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Some San Antonio pastors are hoping to defeat a proposed ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The measure to be voted on Thursday would deny city contracts to businesses that don't agree to comply with the policy.

A section has been removed that would have barred people from serving on boards and commissions if they had previously "demonstrated a bias, by word or deed." Such bias would only be banned now while commission or board members are "acting in their official capacity."

Councilman Diego Bernal insists that his proposed ordinance "absolutely doesn't" infringe on First Amendment rights.

But the Rev. Gerald Ripley of San Antonio's Abundant Life Church says he and other pastors are speaking out against a measure they view as an attack on religious liberty and freedom of speech.

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Head of Southern Baptist school marks 20 years

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Albert Mohler was just 33 years old when he took over as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 1993.

Since then, Mohler has restored the Southern Baptist Convention's flagship school to more conservative beliefs even though it was at the cost of getting rid of some faculty.

He marked his 20 years at the seminary in a recent convocation starting this new academic year. Mohler expressed satisfaction with the results of the transformation on campus. The enrollment, budget and endowment program have all grown.

But Mohler acknowledged that the denomination and seminary are now outside the cultural mainstream on many issues, perhaps most notably on gay rights. While not addressing any one issue directly, Mohler called on students to stand for what they know is right.

He warned that the Bible teaches, "To fail to say something, or to be silent in a time of trouble, is sin."

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