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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 11:04 am

Religion news in brief

By The Associated Press

Religious broadcaster: God will punish US for dividing Jerusalem

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has told his TV audience that God will punish the United States if the U.S. forces Israel to share control of Jerusalem with the Palestinians.

His warning Monday on CBN's "The 700 Club" came as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators prepared to meet in Washington for their first direct talks in years.

The U.S. has never recognized Israel's designation of Jerusalem as its capital, insisting the city's status should be negotiated. The U.S. also has not recognized Israel's annexation of eastern Jerusalem, which contains sites holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

But Robertson declared - on what he called "the authority of the Scripture" - that if the U.S. "forces Israel to divide Jerusalem, God Himself will come down against this nation, and what will happen will be very painful to every one of us as American citizens."

Christian and Jewish Zionists believe the return of Jews to establish modern Israel was a fulfillment of biblical prophecies.


Prosecutors: Woman had soda can with green paint

WASHINGTON (AP) - Prosecutors say a tourist charged with defacing the Washington National Cathedral was carrying a soda can of green paint when she was arrested.

A woman identified by police as Jiamei Tian appeared in D.C. Superior court Tuesday alongside a Chinese translator. Prosecutors say the 58-year-old woman arrived in Washington a few days ago on an expired visa. She was arrested Monday at the cathedral.

The cathedral's defacing followed similar acts, including at the Lincoln Memorial, where paint was discovered Friday morning.

Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg says the woman "deserves our prayers, not our scorn." But he adds that the vandalism adds to the financial needs of the cathedral nearly two years after an earthquake caused $20 million in damage.

According to court documents, the woman is also suspected of vandalizing a statue of Martin Luther in downtown Washington, which was also hit with green paint.


Rick Warren returns to pulpit after son's suicide

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Nearly four months after his son's suicide, popular pastor Rick Warren has returned to the pulpit at the Southern California megachurch he founded.

Warren took the stage at services last weekend at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., with wife, Kay Warren. They were greeted with standing ovations by their congregation.

It was the first time Warren had taken the Saddleback pulpit since his 27-year-old son Matthew shot and killed himself April 5.

In the sermon, first in a series called "How To Get Through What You're Going Through," Rick Warren said he had the perfect role model for his struggles. He said, "God knows what it's like to lose a son."

Warren said he and his wife, who have worked to remove the stigma from AIDS, would now seek to do the same for mental illness, which their son struggled with all his life.


Group asks Cullman schools to stop prayer caravan

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) - A Wisconsin-based group has sent a complaint to Alabama's Cullman County Schools over a prayer caravan set for early August, claiming the district is forcing religion on students.

The Cullman Times reported that the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Superintendent Billy Coleman this week asking that he cancel the Aug. 10 event, which involves a short prayer at each school campus before the school year starts.

The atheist group calls the event a violation of separation of church and state and claims the school system is breaking the law by endorsing a religious event.

Coleman told the newspaper the event will continue as planned, calling it unsponsored and voluntary.

Coleman, a Christian pastor before being elected superintendent, began the event shortly after he took office three years ago.


Hymn writers won't change lyric for Presbyterians

BREVARD, N.C. (AP) - The popular hymn "In Christ Alone" won't appear in the new hymnal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) because hymn writers Keith Getty and Stuart Townend refused to change the lyrics.

Mary Louise Bringle, who chairs the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Songs, writes in "The Christian Century" that some committee members objected to the line that says, "On that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied."

She says they asked Getty and Townend if the lyric could be changed to say "the love of God was magnified."

The hymn writers wouldn't allow it. Getty has said they wrote "In Christ Alone" to tell "the whole gospel."

Bringle writes that most committee members didn't want the new Presbyterian hymnal to suggest that Jesus' death on the cross was an atoning sacrifice that was needed "to assuage God's anger" over sin.