What to Serve a Guest Who's Fasting? Hospitality
WASHINGTON - What do you serve a man who isn't eating? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi got warm water and an empty plate as guest of honor at a White House dinner and a State Department luncheon.
It may seem odd to honor a man who is observing a religious fast with official meals. At the State Department luncheon, Vice President Joe Biden joked that it's what Catholics call "an occasion for sin." But diplomatic officials say it's perfectly appropriate, so long as the visiting leader is pleased to sit and sip water while others dine.
The prime minister of India observes an annual fast dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga, consuming only water or lemon-water for nine days.
Modi says he's been doing that more than 35 years.
NFL Says Abdullah Should Not Have Been Penalized
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The NFL says Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he dropped to his knees in prayer after an interception.
Abdullah is a devout Muslim who took a year off from football to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The flag thrown in Kansas City's 41-14 victory over New England left many wondering how his prayerful celebration was different from players like former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow dropping to one knee in Christian prayer.
NFL rules prohibit players from celebrating while on the ground, but a league spokesman said Tuesday that officials should not flag a player who goes to the ground as part of a religious expression, so there should have been no penalty on the play.
Muslim Convert Could Face Death Penalty in Workplace Beheading
NORMAN, Okla. - The man accused of beheading a co-worker at an Oklahoma food processing plant last week could face the death penalty. Alton Nolen was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the attack, which also wounded a second woman.
The FBI is investigating, given Nolen's interest in beheadings and his recent conversion to Islam.
Prosecutor Greg Mashburn says the company's human resources department had suspended Nolen earlier Thursday after a co-worker complained that she'd had an altercation with Nolen about his alleged dislike of white people. The prosecutor says Nolen grabbed a knife at home and "returned to get revenge."
Mashburn says Nolen attacked Colleen Hufford from behind, severing her head, and then repeatedly stabbed Traci Johnson, the woman who had filed the complaint that led to his suspension. Mashburn says Nolen's attack on Johnson ended when he was shot and wounded by a company official.
Wife of Islamic State Hostage Asks for His Release
LONDON - The wife of a British aid worker held hostage in Syria by the Islamic State group has made a televised plea asking his captors to free him.
Alan Henning, a 47-year-old former taxi driver, was kidnapped in December after crossing from Turkey into Syria in an aid convoy.
Barbara Henning says in her statement that her husband "was volunteering with his Muslim friends to help the people of Syria." She adds, "Muslims across the globe continue to question the Islamic State over Alan's fate."
In recent weeks, the militants have released online videos showing the beheading of two American journalists and a British aid worker, and threatened to kill Henning next.
Barbara Henning has previously released messages through Britain's Foreign Office appealing for the militants to get in touch with her family.
Christian Group Wants NC Marriage Limit Preserved
RALEIGH, N.C. - Christian conservatives say they aren't giving up on guarding North Carolina's gay marriage ban despite a sweeping judicial trend to strike down similar laws in other states and Attorney General Roy Cooper's unwillingness to defend it.
A group called Return America held a rally Tuesday behind the Legislative Building in Raleigh to say they'll keep fighting to preserve what they call the Bible's views on marriage.
The State Capitol Police chief estimated the crowd at 2,200 as groups arrived from churches and Christian schools across the state.
Speakers blamed activist judges for overturning marriage prohibitions that were approved by voters. North Carolina's constitutional amendment was approved in 2012.
The Rev. Mark Harris of First Baptist Church in Charlotte said Cooper should resign as attorney general if he won't defend the state's marriage amendment. Cooper has said his office won't defend it because a similar Virginia ban has been struck down by an appeals court.
Evangelist Pepper-Sprayed on Montana State Campus
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Police say they're searching for the man who attacked a Christian evangelist with pepper spray on the campus of Montana State University.
Evangelist Shawn Holes, who calls himself Shawn the Baptist, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that he had been preaching for about 10 minutes on Tuesday when a young man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt approached him carrying a large can.
Holes says he was able to duck, but the spray still hit his head, neck and the side of his face. The suspect ran away.
MSU Police Chief Robert Putzke said officers would like to talk with a second person who also was sprayed.
Holes has been on the campus before and says the students have always been kind to him.
Man Accused of Stabbing 3 at Church Gets 5 Years
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A 25-year-old man who authorities say stabbed three people at a Catholic church in New Mexico has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Lawrence Capener pleaded no contest Monday to charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon stemming from the April 2013 attack.
A criminal complaint says Capener stabbed a choir leader at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church in Albuquerque at the end of a Sunday Mass. Authorities say Capener vaulted over pews and lashed out at Adam Alvarez and then stabbed church flutist Gerald Madrid five times in the back.
Capener later told police that he believed Alvarez was a Mason and that he thought Alvarez was involved in a conspiracy.
Masons are a fraternal group involved in charity and other community activities.
2016 Trial Set for Man Accused of Killing Priest
PHOENIX - An August 2016 trial date has been set for a homeless ex-convict charged with beating a Catholic priest with a metal rod and fatally shooting another clergyman during a burglary at a Phoenix church.
Gary Michael Moran has pleaded not guilty to charges that he badly beat the Rev. Joseph Terra and fatally shot the Rev. Kenneth Walker in the June 11 attack at the Mother of Mercy Mission. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Moran.
Moran was arrested four days after the attack. Authorities say Moran acknowledged his involvement in the crime.
He was sentenced to more than four years in prison after pleading guilty in 2001 to misconduct involving weapons. He also was convicted in two 1989 burglaries.
Survivors of Lampedusa Shipwreck to Meet Pope
VATICAN CITY - Survivors of the Lampedusa shipwreck that killed 368 migrants, mostly Eritreans, last year will visit the island and meet with Pope Francis to mark the tragedy's anniversary.
Organizer Tareke Brhane says about 50 survivors, mostly living in northern Europe, will travel to Lampedusa for the Thursday event as they press for an international day of memorial for the thousands who perish at sea each year trying to reach Europe.
The Italian bishops' conference TV2000 reported that survivors will also meet privately with Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.
The U.N. refugee agency says roughly 3,600 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea in the year since the Lampedusa shipwreck. Most migrants risking their lives are refugees from war and persecution, mostly from Eritrea and Syria.
2 Women Sue Jehovah's Witnesses Congregation
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Two adult sisters are suing a Jehovah's Witness congregation in Vermont, saying they were sexually abused by a minister when they were minor children and the church did nothing to protect them.
Miranda and Annessa Lewis say they were abused in the 1990s at age 5 and 4.
The sisters have sued the Bellows Falls congregation of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the then-ministerial servant Norton True, as well the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York. They say their mother reported the allegations to the congregation but no action was taken against True.
The congregation and the Watchtower Bible and Track Society of New York did not return messages seeking comment and True could not be reached.
South Jersey Rabbi's SUV Fire Under Investigation
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Officials in Atlantic City are investigating a fire in a southern New Jersey rabbi's sport utility vehicle.
The vehicle was engulfed in flames outside the Rodef Sholom Synagogue on Thursday, the start of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana. The fire destroyed Rabbi David Kushner's SUV and thousands of dollars in medical equipment inside.
Synagogue leaders told WMGM-TV that neither the rabbi nor the congregation received any threats before the fire.
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