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Confederate Flags Left Near Rev. Martin Luther King's Church
ATLANTA - Atlanta police are trying to identify two white males who were caught on a surveillance camera laying Confederate battle flags on the ground near the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s church.
        It was the latest provocative act involving the controversial symbol since nine black church members were gunned down during Bible study in South Carolina, and it happened in the heart of an area devoted to the slain civil rights leader, near his birthplace, his crypt and a center devoted to preserving his legacy.
        The Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, called placing the flags on church grounds a "terroristic threat."
        Warnock said black clergy from around the country were gathered at Ebenezer yesterday to discuss the role of black churches in social justice. He said the placing of the flags only strengthens their resolve.
 
 
Slain Senator's Widow Sets Up Foundation to Honor His Causes
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Family and friends of a South Carolina state senator slain at the black church he pastored in Charleston say they've set up a foundation in his honor.
        The Honorable Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation was launched yesterday, on what would have been Pinckney's 42nd birthday. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for all South Carolina citizens by backing religious, educational and charitable causes Pinckney supported, according to the foundation's website.
        Pinckney's widow, Jennifer, is chairing the foundation. In a news release, she said that she is "answering God's call to continue my husband's work."
        Pinckney was among nine people killed June 17 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The suspect, Dylann Roof, is due in court Friday on dozens of federal charges, including some that could carry the death penalty.


Man Stabs Several People at Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade
JERUSALEM - Israeli police say participants in Jerusalem's annual gay pride were left shrieking in pain after an anti-gay extremist lunged into the march's leaders and stabbed six people.
        Police said the attacker, Yishai Schlissel, was arrested at the scene of yesterday's attack. Schlissel had been released from prison just three weeks ago after serving a sentence for stabbing several people at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem ten years ago.
        Eli Bin of Israel's emergency service said six young people were wounded in the attack, two of them seriously.
        Condemnations of the attack poured in from the heads of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials.
        A majority of Jerusalem's residents are observant Jews, Muslims or Christians, conservative communities whose members mostly oppose homosexuality. Previous parades in the holy city have drawn opposition.

 
Indiana Convention's CEO Calls for Broader LGBT Protections
INDIANAPOLIS - The CEO of a massive gamers' convention that threatened to leave Indiana earlier this year over a divisive religious objections law said yesterday that organizers are "shopping the show" to other cities and could relocate if lawmakers don't expand protections for gays and lesbians.
        Cities across the U.S. have courted convention organizers since Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the initial bill in March, provoking national uproar from critics who believed it would sanction discrimination against gay people. The backlash prompted lawmakers to make changes forbidding discrimination, but they stopped short of extending civil rights protections to the LGBT community, as some cities - including Indianapolis- have done.
        Adrian Swartout, the CEO of Gen Con, told The Associated Press yesterday on the convention's opening day that a competitive offer from a state that grants gays and lesbians that status could be a "catalyst" pushing the event to relocate when its contract expires in 2020.
 
 
District, Teacher Settle Religious Discrimination Suit
DENVER - A southern Colorado school district accused of promoting evangelical Christian ideals has reached a settlement with a teacher who filed a lawsuit claiming religious discrimination.
        Robert Basevitz, who is Jewish, filed suit in May saying that the Fremont RE-2 School District endorsed religion by allowing a church to operate in Florence High School for Sunday services, morning prayer and Bible study and serve pizza in a classroom.
        The Denver Post reports that as part of the settlement the district agreed to implement a districtwide ban on prayers at school-sponsored events, to no longer allow the Cowboy Church at Crossroads to use the district facilities and to enforce a policy requiring student-led religious groups to be employee-free.
        Bazevitz's attorney, Paul Maxon, says neither party admitted wrongdoing in the settlement.
 
 
Pope's Upcoming Visit Inspires Anxiety in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA - Pregnant women are calling up Philadelphia's mayor, concerned they won't be able to get to the delivery room
        With official information scant just eight weeks before Pope Francis makes Philadelphia the centerpiece of his U.S. trip, rumors are swirling about massive security fencing and miles of street closures.
        The lack of clear information is breeding confusion and consternation in the City of Brotherly Love and contempt for the people who run it - particularly around the downtown parkway where Francis is expected to attend an outdoor concert and celebrate Mass before more than 1 million people.
        City officials are blaming the Secret Service, which has declared Francis' Sept. 26-27 visit a National Special Security Event. The agency said it won't release road closure and security checkpoint information until about three weeks before he lands.
 
 
Perry Dials Back Christian Appeal in Iowa, Cites Job Record
CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry isn't speaking as much about his Christian faith as he did during his campaign four years ago.
        While Republican rivals Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz are pushing hard to mobilize Iowa's conservative evangelical vote, Perry prefers to trumpet his 14 years of executive experience as governor of Texas. In a field with few military veterans, he also speaks about his five years in the Air Force.
        Perry says his faith is as important as ever. He just doesn't need to talk about it as much while campaigning.
        Perry was active in both the Methodist and Baptist churches growing up, but since 2011 he has attended a nondenominational evangelical megachurch in Austin. Last year, he was baptized anew by a pastor from that church in the same rural creek where Texas icon Sam Houston was baptized.
 
 
'Thelma Lou' Transforms from 'Mayberry' Local to Legend
MOUNT AIRY, N.C. - The actress who played Thelma Lou on the Andy Griffith show now lives in the town that inspired the fictional Mayberry.
        Betty Lynn, who is now 88, signs autographs every week from her wheelchair in Mount Airy, North Carolina.
        The actress who played Deputy Barney Fife's girlfriend moved to Mount Airy eight years ago. Lynn says, "I think God's blessed me. I really do. He brought me to a sweet town, wonderful people and just said, 'Now, that's for you Betty.'"
        Lynn appeared in just 25 episodes of the Andy Griffith show, but her character has had an outsized impact on the fan base. Tourists wait, sometimes for hours, to lean in for a hug and, if they're lucky, a kiss. Lynn says, "I think it's a miraculous kind of thing. And I hope Andy realized how many lives he touched in doing this show."
        Lynn is one of fans' last living connections to the show. Griffith died in 2012 and Don Knotts, who played Barney Fife, passed in 2006.
 
 
Judge Says Disputed Sale of Convent Appears to be Invalid
LOS ANGELES - A California judge says he believes the sale of a hilltop convent to a businesswoman who wants to turn it into a hotel is invalid.
        Los Angeles' archbishop wants to sell the property to pop singer Katy Perry. But the sale is opposed by the order of nuns that owns the convent.
        Perry has agreed to pay $14.5 million for the convent and an adjoining house of prayer used by priests. She met with the nuns in May to try to convince them she would be a good owner of their beloved convent. The sisters were not impressed.
        Superior Court Judge James Chalfant questioned the nuns' sale of the convent to businesswoman Dana Hollister but did not order Hollister to vacate. Chalfant will consider whether to allow Perry or Hollister to pay rent on the property while it is tied up by lawsuits.
        Another hearing was set for Sept. 15.
 
 
Judge Won't Extend Deadline for Minnesota Archdiocese Claims
MINNEAPOLIS - A federal bankruptcy judge has declined to extend next week's deadline for victims of clergy sex abuse to file claims against the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
        Victims' attorneys challenged the Aug. 3 deadline, asking the court to extend it to next May.
        But the Star Tribute reports that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel reaffirmed his April decision, designed to expedite the archdiocese's reorganization plan. He said abuse victims had received ample notice about the deadline.
        Attorneys for the archdiocese were against extending the deadline, saying that it would complicate its reorganization and lead to more in professional fees.

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