FaithWorld

Appeals court upholds New York City ban on worship services in schools

(The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, 10 July 2012/Bjoertvedt )

New York City’s ban on religious worship services inside school buildings after hours was ruled constitutional on Thursday by a federal appeals court.

In a 2-1 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the New York City Board of Education’s regulation, created so the city would not be perceived as endorsing religious activity in a public forum, “was consistent with its constitutional duties.”

The rule prohibits school buildings from being used for religious worship services or as houses of worship, but the city allows groups to use schools for non-religious activities.

The appeals court’s decision marks the latest chapter in a two-decade legal battle between the city’s Board of Education and religious groups over the regulation.

It reversed a June 2012 decision from U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, who permanently enjoined the city from enforcing the ban. Preska had held that allowing the worship services did not suggest that the school would be endorsing religion.

Man and myth collide as Indian Hindu nationalist Modi eyes final ascent to power

(Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi addresses his supporters during a rally ahead of the general election in Itanagar in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

Narendra Modi spent his childhood in a modest three-room dwelling made of mud and brick nestled in a narrow, crowded lane in the western Indian town of Vadnagar.

The tea stall his father ran with the help of his sons is just as it was then, a small shed of patched blue-grey tin on the platform of the ramshackle railway station nearby.

Pussy Riot protesters cleared of religious hatred charge in Russia

(Russian punk band Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina (L) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (2nd L) along with a masked member speak to journalists during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, in Adler February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov)

Two women from Russia’s Pussy Riot protest group who were jailed for a song deriding President Vladimir Putin were cleared in a Moscow court on Friday of inciting religious hatred.

But the court knocked only one month off their two-year sentences, upholding a charge of hooliganism.

Belgian Trappist monks overwhelmed by their “world’s best beer” tag

(Two glasses of Trappist Westvleteren beer are seen at the brewery in Westvleteren February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

Having a beer rated as the world’s best and selling out in minutes should be a brewer’s dream, but for the Trappists who brew Westvleteren ale at a monastery in western Belgium it seems more of a burden.

Monks at the Sint Sixtus abbey have been selling to locals since 1878, limiting production so that brewing never took over monastic life or earned more than the community needed.

Queen Elizabeth gives Pope Francis eggs, whisky, beer at Vatican meeting

(Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (C) and Prince Philip (L) present gifts to Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Queen Elizabeth met Pope Francis for the first time on Thursday and gave a bemused pontiff culinary delights from the royal estates, including a dozen eggs and a bottle of whisky.

“I’ve also brought something from all our estates, which is for you personally,” said the queen, wearing a lavender dress and a purple hat, as she handed Francis a wicker basket full of food at the end of a 17-minute private meeting in the Vatican.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory apologizes for lavish living, may sell mansion

(Archbishop Wilton Gregory  in Washington, January 6, 2004. REUTERS/Larry Downing)

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta has apologized for building a $2.2 million mansion to use as his home, a move that made him the object of derision and complaint, and said he may sell it.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory said he took his “eye off the ball” after the archdiocese received a $15 million donation from the estate of Joseph Mitchell, a nephew “Gone With The Wind” author, Margaret Mitchell.

Apocalyptic prophecies drive both sides to Syrian battle for end of time

(Free Syrian Army fighters walk with their weapons in Azaz village, north of Aleppo March 30, 2014. REUTERS/Hosam Katan)

Conflict in Syria kills hundreds of thousands of people and spreads unrest across the Middle East. Iranian forces battle anti-Shi’ite fighters in Damascus, and the region braces for an ultimate showdown.

If the scenario sounds familiar to an anxious world watching Syria’s devastating civil war, it resonates even more with Sunni and Shi’ite fighters on the frontlines – who believe it was all foretold in 7th Century prophecies.

Far-right Jobbik party baits Jews in Hungarian election campaign

(Members of the media crowd outside a former synagogue, where far-right Jobbik party gathers for a town hall meeting, in Esztergom February 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo)

To launch its campaign for Hungary’s parliamentary election, the far-right Jobbik party, accused by critics of anti-Semitism, chose as its venue a former synagogue with a plaque on the wall commemorating 500 local Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The reaction was unsurprising: opponents turned up outside the synagogue in the city of Esztergom to protest at Jobbik’s presence, they heckled party leader Gabor Vona as he arrived, and the confrontation was broadcast on the evening news.

‘Noah’ rains down on ‘Divergent’ and ‘Muppets’ to win U.S. movie box office

(Actors Russell Crowe (L) and Hugh Jackman arrive for the UK premiere of “Noah” in Leicester Square in London, March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

“Noah”, starring Russell Crowe as the biblical figure who built an ark to save his family and specimens of every animal from the great flood, collected $44 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales to lead the weekend box office.

It sailed past last weekend’s winner, “Divergent”, based on the novel by Veronica Roth about a dystopian world divided into factions. “Divergent” collected $26.5 million and a total of $95 million since its March 21 release.

Tibetan Communist who urged reconciliation with Dalai Lama dies

(Phuntso Wangye, former Tibetan Communist leader, poses for a picture at his home in Beijing, in this undated image made available on March 31, 2014. REUTERS/New Century Press, Hong Kong)

Phuntso Wangye, a veteran Tibetan Communist leader who became an outspoken critic of Beijing’s hardline policies towards the Himalayan region, died on Sunday, his son said. He was 91.

“He left this morning,” Phuntso’s son, Phunkham, told Reuters by telephone. “Before his death, he was a Communist Party member. After his death, we have invited lamas to pray (for his soul) according to traditional Tibetan culture.”