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RELIGIOUS BROADCASTERS-SOCIAL MEDIA

Religious broadcasters protest exclusion from social media

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Religious broadcasters are sounding the alarm over exclusion of parts of their message from the Internet.

National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright told members at their convention in Nashville, Tenn., that the defense of traditional marriage and morality is now banned as hate speech on some social media platforms.

He gave examples, including the removal of apps for the Manhattan Declaration and Exodus International from the iTunes store.

Wright said, "The hecklers in our culture are beginning to dictate the terms of debate and what speech is permitted on social media."

Wright acknowledged that Apple, Google, Facebook and other Internet gatekeepers are private companies, so their speech policies don't amount to government censorship. But he called for an open forum on the Web that allows for expression of biblical viewpoints.

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202-a-12-(Frank Wright, president of National Religious Broadcasters, at NRB convention)-"be hate speech"-National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright says biblical viewpoints on marriage and morals are now banned by some social media. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *202 (02/20/12)>> 00:12 "be hate speech"

204-a-09-(Frank Wright, president of National Religious Broadcasters, at NRB convention)-"message at all"-National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright says there's cause for alarm. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *204 (02/20/12)>> 00:09 "message at all"

201-w-32-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright)--Religious broadcasters are sounding the alarm over exclusion of parts of their message from the Internet. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *201 (02/20/12)>> 00:32

205-a-08-(Craig Parshall, vice president of National Religious Broadcasters, at news conference)-"offensive or hateful"-National Religious Broadcasters Vice President Craig Parshall says NRB analyzed the speech policies of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *205 (02/20/12)>> 00:08 "offensive or hateful"

203-a-09-(Frank Wright, president of National Religious Broadcasters, at NRB convention)-"platforms and not"-National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright says protesters succeeded in getting apps defending traditional marriage and morals removed from the iTunes store. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *203 (02/20/12)>> 00:09 "platforms and not"

SOUTHERN BAPTISTS-NAME

Southern Baptist panel recommends add-on to name

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A panel for the Southern Baptist Convention has recommended that its leadership approve a new, add-on description for the denomination — "Great Commission Baptists" — but has stopped short of calling for a complete, legal name change.

Officials described the new term as a way to give an official, sanctioned identity to affiliated churches and believers who don't want to use the term "Southern."

The Rev. Bryant Wright, president of the nation's largest Protestant denomination, has said he is concerned that the "Southern" name is too regional and hinders the evangelistic faith's effort to expand beyond the South.

The panel rejected a complete name change, citing the legal costs and difficulties. They also noted the positive associations many hold with the Southern Baptist name, such as with its well-regarded disaster relief organization.

While the 16 million member denomination continues to plant new churches in the U.S. and around the world, it has seen a decline in baptisms, church attendance and membership in recent years.

BIRTH CONTROL POLITICS

Evangelicals want reversal of birth control rule

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Thousands of pastors and evangelical leaders are joining Roman Catholics who oppose President Barack Obama's contraceptive coverage mandate.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins says more than 2,500 evangelicals have signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to reverse the requirement that church-affiliated groups carry insurance providing free birth control, including morning-after pills and sterilization.

The letter rejects Obama's compromise shifting the cost from church-affiliated groups to their insurers. Perkins says that while most Protestants do not oppose contraception, they object to what they view as a violation of religious liberty.

He was joined by two prominent black Christians, Star Parker and Bishop Harry Jackson, and by the Reverend Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Land vowed to challenge the mandate both in court and in Congress.

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180-a-09-(Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council, at news conference)-"the United States"-Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, says the contraceptive coverage mandate is more than a Catholic issue. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *180 (02/20/12)>> 00:09 "the United States"

178-w-31-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council)--Thousands of evangelicals are joining Roman Catholics who oppose President Barack Obama's contraceptive coverage mandate. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *178 (02/20/12)>> 00:31

182-a-13-(The Reverend Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, at news conference)-"of health care"-The Reverend Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says the birth control mandate reveals the dangers of government health care. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *182 (02/20/12)>> 00:13 "of health care"

181-a-07-(Bishop Harry Jackson, presiding bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, at news conference)-"millions of Americans"-Bishop Harry Jackson, presiding bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, says the birth control mandate is a wake-up call to people of faith. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *181 (02/20/12)>> 00:07 "millions of Americans"

179-a-10-(Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council, at news conference)-"violates religious freedom"-Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, says evangelicals are standing with Catholics opposed to President Obama's contraceptive coverage mandate. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *179 (02/20/12)>> 00:10 "violates religious freedom"

RELIGION-DISCRIMINATION

Kan. House panel backs religious freedom bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas House committee has endorsed legislation that backers say would protect religious freedom but opponents believe would allow discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Monday's adoption by the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote sends the bill to the full House.

Republican committee chairman Lance Kinzer says the bill puts into law the language of Kansas court decisions for determining when government policies place too heavy a burden on practicing religion.

It also allows people to sue state and local government agencies if they feel their religious freedoms have been abridged.

Critics, including the Kansas Equality Coalition, claim the bill would be used to discriminate against individuals based on sexual orientation.

LATINO MORMONS-ROMNEY

Latino Mormons speaking out against Romney

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is not being warmly received by at least one group of Mormons. That's the fast-growing group of Latino Mormons.

Many of them are expressing concerns about Romney's tough stances against illegal immigration.

As Romney continues to seek the Republican presidential nomination while rarely discussing his faith, a growing number of vocal Hispanic Mormons say they intend to use Mormon teachings as a reason to convince others not to vote for him.

They have held meetings on immigration, protested outside Romney events and have even traveled across state lines to help defeat other Mormon politicians with similar immigration stances.

Latino Mormons point to immigration stories in the Book of Mormon and the church's stated opposition to policies targeting immigrants.

PEOPLE-ROB SCHNEIDER

Comic actor is a Zen Buddhist

NEW YORK (AP) — Comic actor Rob Schneider says he's a Zen Buddhist.

The star of the CBS sitcom "Rob" says that means just going with the flow and not taking anything too seriously.

Schneider says Zen Buddhism allows him to "breathe out" stress, because it teaches him that there's no ultimate meaning — that "there's no place to be," and "nothing that needs to be done."

Schneider says life "doesn't mean anything," so people should just do whatever makes them happy.

Sound:

254-a-19-(Rob Schneider, comic actor, in AP interview)-"there's just movement"-Comic actor Rob Schneider explains his faith. ((note length of cut)) (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *254 (02/20/12)>> 00:19 "there's just movement"

255-a-15-(Rob Schneider, comic actor, in AP interview)-"it as seriously"-Comic actor Rob Schneider says Zen Buddhism helps him relieve stress. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *255 (02/20/12)>> 00:15 "it as seriously"

256-a-15-(Rob Schneider, comic actor, in AP interview)-"joyful for you"-Comic actor Rob Schneider says Zen Buddhism helps him not to take things seriously. (20 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *256 (02/20/12)>> 00:15 "joyful for you"

ISRAEL-CHURCH VANDALIZED

Israeli police: Vandals desecrate Jerusalem church

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police say vandals have sprayed anti-Christian graffiti at a Baptist church in Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Monday that the vandals desecrated the church and slashed tires on three cars nearby.

Rosenfeld says that words "price tag" were also scrawled on the church property. It's a reference to a practice of Jewish extremists who lash out against the Israeli government for actions against settlers.

Such attacks usually target West Bank mosques but have recently spread to a mosque in Israel, an Israeli military base, dovish activists and Christian sites. Earlier in February, vandals attacked a Greek Orthodox monastery and a school for Jewish and Arab students in Jerusalem.

Rosenfeld says the police are searching for suspects.

NIGERIA-VIOLENCE

Explosions, gunfire strike Nigerian city

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Authorities and witnesses in northeast Nigeria report that at least two civilians are dead after fighting erupted between soldiers and members of a radical Islamist sect.

The fighting began Monday in the city of Maiduguri, with at least three major explosions heard in a popular market in the city. A military spokesman said the army killed eight suspected members of the radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram.

Boko Haram is waging an increasingly violent campaign against Nigeria's weak central government in its quest to impose strict Islamic law, free its detained members and avenge Muslim deaths in the nation.

The attacks, including those specifically targeting Christians, have widened distrust between Nigerian Christians and Muslims.

On Sunday, a bomb planted by an abandoned car exploded outside a church in the middle of a worship service near Nigeria's capital, wounding five people.

TURKEY-MINORITY RIGHTS

Turkey urged to allow greater religious freedom

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians says Turkey's new constitution should grant more religious freedom to the country's minority groups.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met Monday with members of a parliamentary subcommittee seeking an all-party consensus for a new constitution, which will replace the one ratified in 1982 while the country was under military rule.

Predominantly Muslim Turkey has small Christian and Jewish communities.

Bartholomew told reporters he favors a constitution that promotes equal rights and religious freedoms, including the reopening of a Greek Orthodox seminary that trained generations of patriarchs.

Bartholomew, who is based in Istanbul, is the spiritual leader of hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians worldwide.

CYPRUS-CRUMBLING MONASTERY

Historic monastery in Cyprus near collapse

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The leader of Cyprus' Orthodox Church says a historic monastery where an apostle of Jesus Christ is thought to have performed miracles is close to caving in and needs immediate repairs.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II has urged Greek Cypriot pilgrims not to travel to the Saint Andrew monastery in the island's breakaway Turkish sector for fear it could collapse.

He said if Turkish Cypriot authorities don't act fast, he'll dispatch restoration crews to prop up the monastery's crumbling central archway, possibly stoking tensions on the divided island.

Turkish Cypriot officials say they're keen to protect the island's cultural heritage and a restoration program is already under way.

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