NEW YORK — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has struck down a requirement that unmarried clergy remain celibate, removing a key barrier for gays and lesbians who want to be ordained.
Presbyterians endorsed the new policy last year at their general assembly, but needed ratification from the majority of its 173 presbyteries, or regional districts. The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area in Minneapolis provided the deciding vote Tuesday night. The new policy takes effect July 10.
The change will allow regional bodies to decide who should be ordained, and some are expected to continue to reject gay and lesbian candidates.
About 100 of the 11,000 PCUSA churches have already broken away in anticipation of the vote, but other conservative congregations have decided to remain in the 2.1 million-member denomination for now.
Lawsuit threatened over imams’ removal from commercial flights
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An attorney says some Muslim religious leaders wearing Arab garb were humiliated when they were removed from commercial flights in New York and Memphis, Tenn., last week.
Mo Idlibi, an attorney for the imams, said he was considering a lawsuit against American Airlines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines.
The imams were headed to a conference in Charlotte, N.C., when they were asked to leave the planes. They had already passed through security at the airports before being stopped by airline personnel.
Federal regulation allows an airline to refuse to transport an individual that it considers unsafe. The plane’s captain has ultimate authority. But the decision cannot be made solely on the basis of a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, ethnicity or sex.
Muslim asks court to permanently block Islamic law ban
OKLAHOMA CITY — A Muslim man alleges that a proposed amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution that would prohibit state courts from considering international or Islamic Law when deciding cases stigmatizes his religion and infringes on the religious rights of Muslims.
But the state’s attorneys say Muneer Awad, who heads the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, has failed to show how the proposed amendment adversely affects his Muslim faith.
Awad says the measure, if enacted, would invalidate his will, which is based in part on Islamic law.
Awad sought an injunction last year against the amendment, which was approved by 70 percent of voters in November. A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction, which the state has appealed.
Awad is asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the injunction.
Vatican-appointed panel warns of climate change
ROME — A Vatican-appointed panel of scientists says the Earth is getting warmer, glaciers are melting and urgent measures are required to stem the damage.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosted a conference last month on the causes and consequences of retreating mountain glaciers. Its final report was posted on the Vatican website Tuesday.
The scientists call for urgent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and reductions in methane and other pollutants that warm the air, and for closer observation of mountain glaciers.
The report says, “If we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us.”
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the document was important but merely reflects the conclusions of the independent scientists involved.
India praises scrapping of Hindu goddess-themed swimsuit line
CANBERRA, Australia — An Indian minister on Thursday welcomed the scrapping of an Australian swimwear line that included women’s bikinis decorated with the image of a Hindu goddess.
Designer Lisa Blue outraged many Hindus by parading models in a range of bikinis and one-piece swimwear carrying the image of Lakshmi — the goddess of beauty, wealth and good fortune — during Australian Fashion Week in Sydney last week.
Hindu-majority India conveyed its “deep concern” to the Australian ambassador in New Delhi this week, its Department of External Affairs said in a statement. Indian media reported angry mobs burning Australian flags in northern Punjab state in protest.
Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said the issue was raised in discussions with his Australian counterpart Craig Emerson in Parliament House on Thursday.
Lisa Blue has apologized for any offense caused. The company said in a weekend statement that production of the swimwear had been halted and none of the offending swimsuits would be sold.