Religion news in brief

Religion news in brief

Pope to bishops: Stop ordering faithful around, fight graft

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is giving marching orders to his bishops, telling them to strongly denounce corruption and to act more like pastors than "pilots" ordering the faithful around.

Francis had strong words for members of the Italian bishops' conference, which opened its annual meeting at the Vatican on Monday. Francis, who is also the bishop of Rome, urged bishops to be more like Christ in showing humility, compassion, mercy and wisdom.

He also complained that the Catholic Church often organizes conferences where "the same voices" are heard over and over, an apparent reference to the practice of hosting only like-minded speakers.

Francis said such a practice "drugs the community, homogenizing choices, opinions and people." He urged bishops to instead go "where the Holy Spirit asks them to go."

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Senate adds religious freedom to trade bill objectives

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted unanimously to require U.S. negotiators to take religious freedom into account in any country taking part in trade talks.

The amendment sponsored by Sen. Jim Lankford was added Monday to objectives outlined in major trade legislation sought by President Barack Obama. The Oklahoma Republican said the United States should "lead with our values and not sell out for a dollar the people who have been in bondage as a prisoner of conscience for years."

The trade bill sets parameters under which the administration could negotiate trade deals that Congress could then approve or reject, but not change. Obama is seeking the "fast-track" authority to complete a Trans-Pacific trade deal with 11 other countries along the Pacific rim.

Lankford's office says if the trade bill becomes law, it would be the first time that religious freedom considerations are a requisite for trade talks with other countries.

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Belfast baker guilty of discrimination over 'gay cake' snub

DUBLIN (AP) — A Christian-owned bakery in Northern Ireland has been found guilty of discrimination for refusing to make a cake bearing the slogan "Support Gay Marriage."

Belfast Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled that the bakery's cancellation of the order was "direct discrimination for which there can be no justification." She said the bakery was a business, not a religious organization, and therefore had no legal basis to reject an order based on a customer's sexual orientation or beliefs.

The judge ordered the family-run Ashers Bakery to pay Lee the equivalent of $775 and legal costs, which have run into the tens of thousands.

Ashers Bakery initially accepted Lee's order but called him two days later to cancel it, citing the bakery owners' Christian beliefs. Lee had wanted the cake to depict "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie alongside the pro-gay marriage slogan.

The bakery owners' son, Daniel McArthur, said their family would refuse to make the cake if asked again.

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Lawmakers pass child-support bill nixed by Shariah concern

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Legislature has approved federally mandated child support rules, undoing a rejection that had jeopardized U.S. involvement in an international treaty and threatened to collapse the state's payment system.

The bill was sent to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who said he'd sign it into law.

Idaho residents testified for several hours before a joint panel considering the measure in a special legislative session Monday.

Supporters characterized the bill as a simple rules update. But opponents called it an unconstitutional overreach by federal authorities that could subject U.S. courts to rulings made elsewhere under Islamic law.

Much of the debate Monday focused on about $46 million in federal funds and payment processing systems tied to the legislation. Idaho would have lost access to both if the rejection had stood.

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Members of tornado-destroyed Delmont church save cornerstone

DELMONT, S.D. (AP) — Members of a South Dakota church that was destroyed by a tornado this month have removed the century-old building's cornerstone, which they hope to incorporate in a new church building.

The Zion Lutheran Church was among 84 structures in and around Delmont that were damaged or destroyed by the May 10 tornado that also injured nine people. The Lutheran church's congregants scheduled a short Monday morning service to officially decommission the building, and then burn the wreckage.

But Jim Kaufman told KELO-TV that he's storing the cornerstone at his farm, for use in the future to remember the old church.

On Sunday, Zion Lutheran members attended services at Emmaus Lutheran Church in nearby Tripp. The two congregations share a pastor. Delmont resident Nola Redd told The Daily Republic newspaper that the service was "one step on the long road to recovery."

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