Religion News for the week of Oct. 5, 2012:
Judge: Cheerleaders can use bible banners, for now
HOUSTON (AP) - A judge says cheerleaders can continue to use run-through banners emblazoned with Bible verses at a Texas high school's football games for at least two more weeks.
State District Judge Steve Thomas said Thursday at the end of a day of testimony that he needs more time to issue a final ruling. He extended a temporary order granted last month to allow the banners. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18.
Kountze High School cheerleaders have used run-throughs at football games with scripture verses, such as ``I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.''
An attorney advised the district to ban the run-through banners as possibly violating U.S. Supreme Court rulings barring prayer in schools.
The Liberty Institute sued, arguing the ban violates the cheerleaders' free-speech rights.
Archbishop warns Supreme Court to respect ancient foundations
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Roman Catholic archbishop has warned Chief Justice John Roberts and his fellow justices not to confuse what's popular with what's best for society.
On the eve of a Supreme Court term that could take up gay marriage, six of the nine justices attended the annual Red Mass to pray for judges at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington.
In the homily, Archbishop Timothy Broglio warned that not everything contemporary is good, and that society needs its ancient foundations. Otherwise, he said, ``We run the risk of sinking into the mire of one popular sound bite after another.''
Broglio said true faith extends beyond the walls of church and ``must guide believers' words and decisions.''
"Chicken Soup for the Soul" Announces Billy Graham Tribute Edition
(Metro News Service) -- "Chicken Soup for the Soul" announces it has been authorized to create a special hardcover anthology documenting the life and legacy of Billy Graham.
The book will be titled "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me," is scheduled for release on February 26th of next year. The compilation will contain 101 personal stories from leaders in government, business, sports, entertainment, and religion of how Billy Graham impacted their lives.
Pope's butler pleads innocent to theft charge
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict's onetime butler says he's innocent of a charge of aggravated theft of the pope's private correspondence, but admits that he photocopied the papers and regrets betraying the trust of the pontiff he loves like a father.
Paolo Gabriele took the stand Tuesday in a Vatican courtroom to defend himself against accusations of his role in one of the most damaging scandals of Benedict's pontificate. Prosecutors say Gabriele stole the pope's letters and documents alleging power struggles and corruption inside the Vatican and leaked them to a journalist in an unprecedented papal security breach.
Gabriele faces four years in prison if he's found guilty, but most Vatican watchers expect he'll receive a papal pardon if he's convicted.
Prosecutors have said Gabriele confessed to leaking copies of the documents to an Italian journalist because he wanted to expose ``evil and corruption'' in the church. They quoted him as saying he felt inspired by the Holy Spirit ``to bring the church back on the right track.''
JESUS Film Group Release New App
(Metro News Service) -- The JESUS Film Project has released a free app called “JESUS Film Media.”
The app can be downloaded to either an Android or iOS device to access the complete library of The JESUS Film Project of some 66-thousand video clips. Erick Schenkel is executive director of the organization and says in a release, quote, "Film provides a way to casually engage in conversation about spiritual topics. We hope the app will spark spiritual conversations and connect more people with the life-changing message of Jesus.”
Research Shows Majority Of Pastors Disapprove Of Pulpit Endorsements
(Metro News Service) -- LifeWay Research surveyed pastors about endorsing candidates for public office from the pulpit. The survey found that nearly 90 percent of pastors believe they should not make such endorsements. The survey also revealed 44 percent of pastors endorse candidates on a personal basis, but outside of their church role.
Chicago Megachurch Pastor Leads March Against Violence
(Metro News Service) -- Chicago megachurch pastor, Bishop Larry Trotter, presided over an antiviolence rally over the weekend. The "Chicago Tribune" says the Sweet Holy Spirit Church pastor has presided over the funerals of four young victims of violence since February. Trotter told those in attendance, quote, "The message is 'Stop the violence,' but the spiritual message is that we're praying for the violence to cease." Those in attendance marched for over an hour stopping periodically to pray for an end to the violence.
New Website Brings Christian EBooks To Readers
(Metro News Service) -- The launching of a new website will help bring favorites of Christian literature to fans seeking them for their eReaders. Christian eBooks Today offers many best sellers from award-winning writers. Karen Baney is owner and CEO of the website and says in a statement that her vision for the website is to provide an online environment where it is safe for readers free from explicit content or racy covers. For more information login to www.ChristianEBooksToday.com.
Bible publisher sues to block birth control mandate
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Christian publisher of Bibles and religious books is the latest business to file a federal lawsuit to block the health care law's contraceptive coverage mandate.
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit Monday on behalf of Tyndale House Publishers, which says providing pills that can induce abortion would violate its religious principles.
ADF senior counsel Matt Bowman says, ``Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish.''
He says it's ``ridiculous and arbitrary'' for government regulators to decide that Tyndale isn't religious enough to be eligible for a religious exemption to the mandate.
Fed. Contraception mandate suit dismissed in Mo.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal judge in St. Louis has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the birth control mandate in the federal health care law, one of nearly three dozen similar lawsuits filed across the country.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Frank O'Brien and his company claimed the requirement that workplace health plans cover birth control infringes on his Catholic faith. A statue of Jesus sits in the main lobby of O'Brien Industrial Holdings, and its statement of values includes references to the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.
The suit said the contraception mandate forces the company to violate its religious principles or face ``ruinous fines.''
O'Brien's attorney, Frank Manion of the American Center for Law and Justice, has appealed Judge Carole Jackson's ruling.
Presidential election likely to decide whether birth control mandate survives
WASHINGTON (AP) - The chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice predicts that religious challenges to the health care law will reach the Supreme Court in about two years unless Mitt Romney is elected president and repeals the contraceptive coverage mandate.
Jay Sekulow notes that if President Barack Obama is re-elected and also is able to change the makeup of the court, the mandate is more likely to remain in force.
Sekulow was part of a Heritage Foundation panel that also included the Rev. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Land observed that the Supreme Court can decide what's legal, but not what's right or wrong. He also accused the Obama administration of trying to shrink religious liberty to a private freedom of worship that believers can't live out publicly.
But law professor Marci Hamilton said employers who oppose the birth control mandate are trying to impose their faith on employees.
Campaign For Catholic Voters Intense
(Metro News Service) -- The fight for the Catholic vote among political campaigns is intense.
U.S. News and World Report says the presidential candidate who carried the Catholic vote has won most every election since the end of World War II.
Deal Hudson is president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network and an expert on Catholic outreach and claims a group calling itself Catholics for Obama has been making “push poll” telephone calls supporting Obama’s re-election bid. One of the questions asked is, "How can you support a 'Mormon' who does not believe in Jesus Christ?"
Einstein’s “God Letter” Set For Auction
(Metro News Service) -- Albert Einstein’s handwritten letter known as his “God Letter” will be sold this month on eBay.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports the opening bid has been set at $3-million. Einstein wrote, "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”
Chick-fil-A chief: `We support Biblical families'
ATLANTA (AP) - Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy has voiced his support for ``Biblical families'' in one of his first interviews since his earlier comments caused controversy regarding gay marriage.
Cathy told Atlanta's WXIA-TV that families are important to ``all of us that are concerned about being able to hang on to the heritage that we have.'' He added, ``We support Biblical families who have always been a part of that.''
Cathy made the comments over the weekend at an event at his family's Georgia ranch.
Cathy set off a furor this summer, when he reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage. Long lines formed outside Chick-fil-A restaurants on an ``appreciation day'' and opponents countered with ``kiss-ins'' by same-sex couples.
His father, S. Truett Cathy, started the Atlanta-based company in 1967.
Poll Finds More Presbyterians Supporting Same-Sex Marriage
(Undated) -- Presbyterian Research Services recently conducted a poll studying the level of support for the denomination's redefining of marriage.
The Christian Post says the number of members and pastors of the Presbyterian Church USA supporting the changes is growing. In 2005, 23 percent supported the change and in 2012, the number grew to 34 percent.
Dr. Paul E. Detterman is executive director for the conservative Presbyterians for Renewal and believes the higher percentage of support for same-sex marriage could be traced to the number of conservative Presbyterians leaving the denomination.
Religion in the News is sponsored by Carmody-Flynn Williamsburg Funeral Home. It airs each Sunday morning during the Steve Fast Show from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on WJBC 1230 AM, 93.7 FM and here on WJBC.com.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.