Religion briefs

Healing to be discussed today

Western Nevadans are invited to learn about the "The Secret of Healing" at a worship service at 10 a.m. today, Carson City Community Center, Roop and William streets. The session is sponsored by Eckankar, Religion of the Light and Sound of God.

During this one-hour free session, a skilled facilitator will give a brief talk, followed by readings, a small-group discussion and a short contemplation.

For more information, call Clay Brant at 775-358-9013.

Visit Eckankar's national web site at; the Nevada site is

Israel encourages Virgin Mary pilgrimages

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel is inviting tourists to retrace the footsteps of the Virgin Mary, officials said Tuesday, in the latest campaign to bring Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land.

A new itinerary developed by the Tourism Ministry helps tour operators plan pilgrimages to sites where the mother of Jesus Christ lived and traveled. They include her birthplace near Nazareth in northern Israel, as well as Mary's Spring and the Tomb of the Virgin near Jerusalem.

The Virgin Mary itinerary includes holy sites in the West Bank as well, including Bethlehem. Tourism officials said they work closely with the Palestinian on tourism matters, though not specifically this itinerary.

In 2010, 69 percent of Israel's almost 3.5 million tourists were Christians - mostly Catholics.

Now Israel is encouraging return visits by those who have already made their first pilgrimage.

Jews, Muslims plan interfaith events to celebrate MLK weekend

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - It's being billed as an effort to promote interfaith understanding in New Orleans during the weekend of the Martin Luther King holiday.

Jewish and Islamic congregations from two places of worship in the city will jointly host community events, including distribution of meals and canned goods to the needy on Jan. 15.

On Monday, Jan. 17, congregants from both faiths are scheduled to march from the steps of New Orleans City Hall to a memorial on the city's Claiborne Avenue that features a bust of King, according to a news release from City Council member Arnie Fielkow.

It's the fourth year in a row for the joint efforts.

Participants are members of Touro Synagogue and the Masjid Ur Raheem.

Hawaii Senate may end religious invocations

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii Senate leaders are recommending that the chamber end religious invocations before floor sessions.

The change is meant to respect each individual's religious beliefs, Senate President Shan Tsutsui, D-Wailuku-Kahului, said in Wednesday's editions of The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

"We respect everybody's different levels of faith and the different religions that they support," Tsutsui said. "We're not making any type of statement, but rather we're respecting each individual's religious beliefs."

The new policy is part of a proposed Senate rules package that will be considered before this year's legislative session begins Jan. 19.

The move away from religious invocations came after a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii that the invocations often included "decidedly Christian prayers - with reference to Jesus Christ."

The Senate formed a three-member committee last year to look into the invocation practice, which recommended allowing invocations as long as they are nonsectarian in nature, avoid references to particular political questions and sidestep mention of deities or central figures of particular religions.

But many senators felt it was better to do away with the invocations than to ask clergy to water down their messages or to avoid mentioning, for example, Jesus Christ or Mohammed in their prayers.

Orthodox bishop condemned for anti-Muslim comment

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The Greek government condemned anti-Islamic comments by a senior Orthodox Church official following protests from the country's Muslim community.

Government spokesman George Petalotis said the remarks by Serapheim, bishop of Piraeus, "foment racial and religious hatred."

Commenting on the New Year's suicide bombing of a Christian congregation in Alexandria, Egypt, the bishop described Islam as "a catastrophic worship" that's incompatible with Greece's constitution. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has accused foreign groups of being behind the church attack, which killed 21 people and sparked a wave of angry protests by Christians in the country.

Serapheim urged the government to scrap the planned construction of a mosque in Athens for the city's growing Muslim population.

High Court rejects case of city's land-use dispute with church

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Boulder County's request that it review a land-use dispute with a church.

County officials said Monday that the court has decided against weighing in on the matter.

The county was appealing a federal court decision backing plans by the Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot to nearly double the size of its 128,000-square-foot campus. The church challenged the county's denial of the plans, citing the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The law protects churches from discriminatory land-use laws.

Boulder County has said it treated the church's application the same way it treated others and that it was denied because it would violate land-use codes.


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