N.Y. church choosing new minister




NEW YORK &

The Riverside Church in Manhattan, a bastion of liberal social justice causes, is a step closer to filling its vacant pulpit, one of the nation's most prominent.




A search committee has unanimously selected the Rev. Brad R. Braxton, 39, a Rhodes scholar and son of a Baptist pastor who led a congregation of his own in Baltimore. Braxton most recently has been an associate professor at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville.




Like Forbes, Braxton is African-American. Forbes, the church's first black senior minister, was criticized by some church members who felt he didn't do enough to continue its advocacy for social justice positions and others who felt his preaching style alienated some white church members.




Bishops endorse Calif. gay marriage ban




SAN FRANCISCO &

California's Roman Catholic bishops are urging parishioners to support a fall ballot measure that seeks to overturn the court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state. The California Catholic Conference issued a statement strongly encouraging parishioners "to provide both the financial support and the volunteer efforts needed for the passage of Proposition 8."




In the statement, the bishops say their position is based partly on the presumption that while all people deserve to be treated with dignity, being raised by a married mother and father is "the ideal for the well being of children."




Muslim teenager files complaint




TULSA, Okla. &

A Muslim civil rights group has filed a federal complaint on behalf of a Muslim teenager who alleges she was denied a job at Abercrombie Fitch because she wears a hijab, or head scarf. The complaint, filed at the Oklahoma City office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claims that a district manager for the clothing store at Woodland Hills Mall told the girl in late June that the head covering, worn by observant Muslim women, didn't fit the chain's image.




"Employers have a clear legal duty to accommodate the religious practices of their workers," said Razi Hashmi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma, which helped the girl file the complaint. "To deny someone employment because of apparent religious bias goes against long-standing American traditions of tolerance and inclusion."




Hashmi declined to name the girl, but said she is younger than 18. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer. A manager at the Tulsa store referred all questions to the corporate office, which didn't return calls. The EEOC received 2,541 complaints of religious discrimination in fiscal year 2006.




Christian Exodus leader steps down




ANDERSON, S.C. &

A group that aspires to create an independent Christian nation has lost its executive director but will continue its efforts from its base in South Carolina.




Cory Burnell has stepped down as leader of Christian Exodus, a group that was supposed to move members to South Carolina to influence elections and possibly secede from the United States. Burnell said he chose South Carolina because of its location, economic prospects, Christian influence and conservative voting history. Burnell, a financial planner, had planned to move to Anderson, in the state's northwest corner. But he said a job offer with a local company was withdrawn after his affiliation with the group was discovered. Burnell cited the pressures of self-employment and family as factors that have kept him from being an effective leader &

although he will remain as the group's board chairman.




While the broad focus of the organization remains to create an independent Christian nation, the more direct focus of the group would be to help members move toward self-sufficiency, said Keith Humphrey, the group's new executive director.




"" The Associated Press




Church gas subsidy means long lines at pumps




MORRISTOWN, N.J. &

Motorists in Morristown got some religion along with their regular.




Congregants at the Liquid Church of Morristown were at the pumps of an Exxon station, where the church was subsidizing gas sales Sunday.




Instead of the full price of $4.15, about 300 people got their fuel for 99 cents.




For the congregation, it was a chance to do a good deed &

and maybe a little recruiting.




Church members handed out water and doughnuts to the people who waited in line as long as three hours for the discounted fuel.