Religion news in brief

Bishops who filed lawsuit against Alabama immigration law feel vindicated

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Episcopal, Roman Catholic and United Methodist bishops who filed a federal lawsuit two years ago trying to stop enforcement of Alabama’s immigration law say they feel vindicated.

“Our concern was primarily the infringement on the obligation of the church to take care of people regardless of their status,” said retired Episcopal Bishop Henry N. Parsley, who still lives in Birmingham. “I feel like our concerns have been upheld by the court process.”

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Alabama’s appeal of a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had blocked key sections of the law that the bishops had opposed. The bishops opposed a section of the law that outlawed “transporting unlawfully present aliens” or “harboring” them, along with a section that outlawed having a contract with illegal immigrants.

The bishops said that ministries to immigrants would be harmed by those provisions and that church employees and volunteers could have been subjected to prosecution.

The lawsuit by the coalition of bishops was dismissed by U.S. Judge Sharon Blackburn.

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Ohio bishop: Gay teacher’s firing about church teachings on marriage, not sexual orientation

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Roman Catholic bishop in central Ohio says the firing of a gay teacher at a Columbus Catholic school was based not on her sexual orientation but on the need to maintain the institution’s marriage values.

Bishop Frederick Campbell told The Columbus Dispatch that Carla Hale was fired in March because she violated the church’s moral teaching through what he described as a “quasi-spousal relationship” with a woman. He said an extramarital affair by a heterosexual couple would go against the same teaching.

Hale said she was fired from Bishop Watterson High School after her mother’s published obituary included the name of Hale’s partner, and someone complained. The physical education teacher is fighting to get her job back through a grievance with a teachers union and a complaint to the city.

The bishop told the newspaper that diocesan officials “don’t necessarily go looking for things like that,” but Hale’s decision to name her partner in her mother’s obituary made the relationship public and initiated the termination process.

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Jewish groups ask Boulder to reject a request to make West Bank town of Nablus a sister city

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Some Jewish organizations and residents are calling on Boulder to reject a proposal to make the West Bank town of Nablus the city’s eighth sister city.

Opponents say Nablus would be an inappropriate sister-city partner because of alleged human rights violations under the Palestinian Authority, including reports of honor killings of women and an alleged lack of respect for press freedom.

“That should be disqualifying. Those activities are so far removed from the values of Boulder, which is one of the criteria for a sister-city community that it should not even be considered,” said Bill Cohen, who opposes the proposed pact.

Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Scott Levin said a group promoting the sister-city relationship has political motivations, and the city should not take sides in a complex, ongoing international dispute.

The city council is expected to hear a presentation on the requests later this year.

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New sex ed book translated to Hebrew for Israel’s Orthodox Jewish community

JERUSALEM (AP) — A how-to book translated into Hebrew aims to teach Israel’s Orthodox Jews about sex, targeting an audience typically mum on the steamy subject.

The book, “The Newlywed’s Guide to Physical Intimacy,” was published in English more than a year ago in the U.S. The Hebrew version is set to come out this month, meant for Israel’s Orthodox Jews, who make up about a quarter of the country’s population. It appears be the first of its kind.

Under Orthodox Judaism, intercourse is permissible only after marriage and public displays of sexuality are taboo. Many Orthodox Jews do not even touch members of the opposite sex except their spouses and children. But sex is not considered shameful, and procreation is seen as a “mitzvah,” or commandment from God. For this reason, large families are commonplace in Orthodox communities. Yet for many young newlyweds, romance and intimacy are mysteries.

The book’s co-author, David S. Ribner, said it is meant to offer useful information to couples both before their wedding night, an emotional time when they are expected to consummate their marriage, and during their relationship leading up to that, when they might face a slew of unfamiliar challenges.

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Activists in W. African nation of Gambia call for release of imam held 5 months

BANJUL, Gambia (AP) — Activists in Gambia are calling on the government to release an imam who has been jailed for five months.

Imam Baba Leigh has been missing since December and is believed to have been detained by Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency.

Media reports have linked his alleged arrest with comments he made in September 2012 describing the execution of nine death row inmates as “un-Islamic.”

Hamat Bah of the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP) called on the Gambian government to release the Muslim cleric late Tuesday, describing his detention unconstitutional.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has ruled the country since he came to power in a coup in 1994.

Human rights groups have accused the government of Gambia of carrying out arbitrary arrests, summary executions and torture in recent years.

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