Update on the latest in religion news:


Associated Press

Posted on February 17, 2010 at 11:04 AM


Creation Museum founder: U.S. should take Genesis literally

PETERSBURG, Ky. (AP) — The founder of the Creation Museum says American Christians are losing the culture war because many of them now believe what he calls the "pagan religion" of evolution.

In what he characterized as a "State of the Union" speech from his museum in Kentucky, Ken Ham rebuked churches and Christian scholars who don't believe in a young Earth and creation in six days.

Ham argued that the opening chapters of Genesis are Christianity's foundation, so attempts to reconcile the Bible's teaching with evolution undermine faith in Jesus' divinity and resurrection.

Ham called for "a new Reformation to call the church back to the authority of the word of God."


<<CUT …315 (02/16/10)>> 00:14 "word of God (second reference)"

Ken Ham

Ken Ham says too many American Christians don't believe the Bible's account of creation.

<<CUT …316 (02/16/10)>> 00:09 "being openly mocked"

Ken Ham

Ken Ham says Christians who doubt the truth of the Bible are losing the culture war.

<<CUT …317 (02/16/10)>> 00:06 "of the Bible"

Ken Ham

Ken Ham says disbelieving the Bible's opening chapters undermines the whole Christian faith.

<<CUT …318 (02/16/10)>> 00:06 "this new Reformation"

Ken Ham

Ken Ham says American churches that don't take the Bible literally should repent.


167 Iowa faith leaders back gay marriage

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 160 faith leaders in Iowa have voiced their support for same-sex marriage and are criticizing opponents who cite the Bible in raising objections.

Members of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa held a Statehouse news conference Tuesday to present a letter they sent to all 150 legislators outlining their position.

It says many faith traditions affirm that "where there is love, the sacred is in our midst." It goes on to say, "This belief is the same for couples comprised of a man and a woman, two women or two men."

Speakers said they wanted to counter arguments by people who rely on the Bible to back up their views.

The Iowa Supreme Court last spring struck down a state law banning gay marriage. The Legislature has been pushed to begin the lengthy process of putting a constitutional amendment before voters that would overturn that ruling. But most Democrats, who dominate both chambers, have declined to act.


Teacher suspended over classroom religious conflict

APEX, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina middle-school teacher has been suspended after declaring on her Facebook page that she was subjected to a "hate crime" by Christian students.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that eighth-grade science teacher Melissa Hussain was suspended with pay while investigators review her case.

Wake County schools spokesman Greg Thomas says parents objected to comments on Hussain's social-networking site about her conflict with Christian students.

Hussain wrote that she would punish students who anonymously left a Bible on her desk. Parents say a student earlier put a postcard of Jesus on Hussain's desk that she threw in the trash.

Hussain's Facebook page does not mention her religious affiliation.


British bishops urge 'carbon fast' for Lent

LONDON (AP) — Several prominent Anglican British bishops are urging Christians to keep their carbon consumption in check during Lent, which starts on this Ash Wednesday.

The 40-day period of penitence before Easter typically sees observant Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox Christians give up meat, alcohol or chocolates.

This initiative aims to convince those observing Lent to try a day without an iPod or mobile phone to reduce their use of electricity, and thus trim the amount of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere.

London Bishop Richard Chartres says the poorest people in developing countries are the hardest hit by man-made climate change. He says the "Carbon Fast" is "an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God in a practical way."


Irish bishops to show penance for abuse scandals

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The head of Ireland's Catholic bishops says the church's season of Lent, which starts today, is "the time of penance, and we must begin with ourselves."

Cardinal Sean Brady and his colleagues completed two days of talks at the Vatican with Pope Benedict Tuesday on decades of sexual abuse of children by Irish clergy that was covered up by the church.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi says Benedict "observed that the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God."

But Lombardi said resignations of Irish bishops were not discussed.

Irish abuse victim Colm O'Gorman dismissed the pope's response as "scandalous," and said the Vatican had "failed to meet even the lowest of expectations of what might come out of this."


<<CUT …164 (02/16/10)>> 00:09 "which offends God"

Father Federico Lombardi

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi says Pope Benedict has condemned the decades of clergy sex abuse.

<<CUT …221 (02/16/10)>> 00:04 "begin with ourselves"

Cardinal Sean Brady

Cardinal Sean Brady says he and his fellow Irish bishops must do penance for the country's clergy sex abuse scandals.

<<CUT …222 (02/16/10)>> 00:05 "through our humiliation"

Cardinal Sean Brady

Cardinal Sean Brady says the clergy sex abuse scandals have undermined the faith of Irish Catholics.

<<CUT …223 (02/16/10)>> 00:04 "out of this"

Colm O'Gorman

Colm O'Gorman says the Irish bishops' meeting with the pope was disappointing.

<<CUT …224 (02/16/10)>> 00:10 "it's beyond ridiculous"

Colm O'Gorman

Colm O'Gorman says Pope Benedict's reaction to the Irish scandals was inadequate.


Bishop cuts ties to hospital over birth control

BEND, Ore. (AP) — The Catholic Church is ending its relationship with St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Ore., over a surgical birth-control technique.

Bishop Robert Vasa says the church can no longer sponsor the hospital because it continues to offer tubal ligation, which leaves women unable to get pregnant.

The bishop says that operation goes against the teachings of the church.

He says Mass will no longer be celebrated in the hospital chapel, and everything owned by the church will be removed. The name of the hospital remains St. Charles Bend.

The hospital was founded in 1918 by the Sisters of St. Joseph and is now run by Cascade Healthcare Community.

Cascade's president said the hospital would continue to look to church directives for guidance.


Obama, Dalai Lama meeting probably won't be public

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says he doesn't know if President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama will make a televised appearance after their meeting at the White House.

But the Tibetan Buddhist leader's chief envoy says he doesn't expect them to appear together.

Beijing has strongly objected to Thursday's meeting, so a joint appearance could further complicate U.S. efforts to secure Chinese help on North Korean and Iranian nuclear standoffs and other issues.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of pushing for Tibetan independence -- something he denies.

Charles Freeman, a China specialist at a Washington think tank, says most Americans view the Dalai Lama as a religious leader. Gibbs has referred to the Tibetan Buddhist monk as "His Holiness."

Freeman suggests that China may be testing Obama, who he calls "very young and inexperienced."


<<CUT …319 (02/16/10)>> 00:08 "the United States"

Charles Freeman

Charles Freeman says most Americans view the Dalai Lama as the leader of Tibetan Buddhism rather than a political figure.

<<CUT …320 (02/16/10)>> 00:16 "where they can't"

Charles Freeman

Charles Freeman says China's objections to the Dalai Lama may be aimed at testing President Barack Obama.

<<CUT …321 (02/16/10)>> 00:13 "believe is legitimate"

Charles Freeman

Charles Freeman says the Dalai Lama has met with every U.S. president for 20 years.


Vatican putting wartime archives on Internet

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican plans to make some of its World War II archives available on the Internet soon to calm the controversy over Pope Pius XII's actions during the Holocaust.

The Vatican's newspaper announced the plan, saying it will "render service to the historic truth," and officials said Tuesday the material will be accessible soon.

However a panel of Jewish and Catholic scholars who examined the 11 volumes of material a decade ago concluded that more information was required to decide whether Pius did everything he could to head off the Nazis' efforts to exterminate European Jews.

Some Jews and others contend Pius should have done more, and are angered by Pope Benedict's recent decision to move Pius closer to sainthood.