Religion news in brief

Religion news in brief

Southern Baptist head vows never to perform same-sex unions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The president of the nation's largest Protestant denomination is exhorting members to stand united against same-sex marriage and vows that he will never officiate at a same-sex union.

Pastor Ronnie Floyd was speaking to delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. But he says his message is also for the U.S. Supreme Court — which is expected to rule soon on whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry — and for all of America.

Floyd says God defined marriage in the Bible as a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman. Floyd said some churches "may be bowing down to the deception of the inclusiveness of same-sex marriage," but he vowed that Southern Baptists "will not bow down."

The Southern Baptist Convention's public policy arm last week released a legal guide for churches that seeks to protect them from discrimination lawsuits by providing templates for things like membership policies, facility use polices and employment criteria.

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US archbishop quits after archdiocese charged with cover-up

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The embattled archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and his deputy have resigned after years of pressure, an indication that Pope Francis is making good on his promise that no one is above the law when it comes to covering up for clergy who sexually abuse children.

Archbishop John Nienstedt (NYN'-steht) and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche (pih-SHAY') stepped down after Minnesota prosecutors charged their archdiocese with having failed to protect children from unspeakable harm by a pedophile priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.

Separately, the Vatican indicted Jozef Wesolowski, its own former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, on charges of sexually abusing minors in the Caribbean country and possessing child pornography. He will be the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to stand trial for a sex crime.

The developments came days after Francis approved the creation of a new tribunal inside the Vatican to hear cases of bishops accused of failing to protect minors.

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Jeb Bush vows to protect religious rights

MIAMI (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has launched his Republican presidential campaign with a pledge to defend the conscience rights of religious charities.

Bush cited the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns fighting the Obama administration over the health care law's birth control mandate. He said the nuns need a president who understands that they "need no federal instruction in doing the right thing."

Bush said Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has made it clear that she thinks religious beliefs should be changed if they conflict with the liberal agenda.

He faulted President Barack Obama for bringing up the Crusades at this year's National Prayer Breakfast. Bush said, "Americans don't need lectures on the Middle Ages when we're dealing abroad with modern horrors committed by fanatics."

Jeb Bush's son, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, said faith is what gives his father's life purpose.

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Amish mourn trooper who comforted them after school massacre

NICKEL MINES, Pa. (AP) — Members of the Amish community are mourning the death of a Pennsylvania state trooper who comforted and befriended survivors of a 2006 schoolhouse shooting rampage.

Trooper Jonathan Smith died at home Friday of pancreatic cancer. He was 47.

Smith was one of the first troopers to force his way into a barricaded one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines where a milk truck driver fatally shot five girls and wounded five others before killing himself.

The trooper helped carry the wounded girls outside. He also went on to befriend the survivors and the victims' families.

A member of the Amish community told the LNP newspaper that they took comfort in knowing Smith was looking after them. Fisher says the trooper "helped ease the pain."

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Christian author and missionary dies at 88

GLOUCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Christian author and missionary Elisabeth Elliott has died at the age of 88, according to a statement on her website.

Her husband, Lars Gren, says Elliot died Monday morning. Gren says, "We rejoice for Elisabeth that she is home with her Lord."

WORLD magazine reports that Elliot had suffered from dementia for about a decade, and died at the couple's home in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Elliot's first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in 1956 while he and several other missionaries were trying to make contact with a remote tribe in Ecuador. She later became a missionary to the same tribe that killed her husband, converting many of them to Christianity, and remained with them for two years.

After returning to the United States, Elliot authored more than 20 Christian books and became a popular speaker.

Some of the Gateway to Joy programs she recorded between 1988 and 2001 can still be heard on the Bible Broadcasting Network. She began almost every program by saying, "'You are loved with an everlasting love,' - that's what the Bible says - 'and underneath are the everlasting arms.' This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot."

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