Faith in brief

More overseas Anglican conservatives


More conservative Anglican leaders from overseas are building up a presence in the United States to counter the liberal-leaning U.S. Episcopal Church on its home turf.

The Anglican Church of Uganda plans to appoint a former Episcopal priest as an assistant bishop to oversee its American congregations. The Rev. John Guernsey of Virginia will be consecrated Sept. 2 in Uganda, according to the Most. Rev. Henry Orombi, head of the Ugandan province. The date of his installation in the United States has not been released.

Separately, the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi of the Anglican Church of Kenya plans an Aug. 30 consecration of Canon Bill Atwood to oversee breakaway U.S. parishes that have affiliated with the Kenyan church.

And last May, Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola installed Bishop Martyn Minns, a former Episcopal priest, to lead the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a group of breakaway U.S. parishes aligned with the Nigerian church.

Episcopal leaders have protested the moves, saying the incursions violate a long-standing Anglican tradition that leaders manage parishes only in their own provinces. The 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the U.S.

But theological conservatives say desperate measures are needed because of the liberal drift of the Episcopal Church, including the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The 77 million-member Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. The number of Episcopal parishes that have left to align with an overseas leader is in dispute. Conservatives say the number is in the hundreds, while Episcopal leaders say the figure is closer to 45.

Union members can opt out of dues


A Roman Catholic teacher whose religious beliefs conflict with the political positions of her labor union cannot be forced to pay dues, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost's ruling broadens the category of employees who may opt out of unions because of religious beliefs beyond Seventh-day Adventists and Mennonites.

In his ruling last week, Frost struck down the Ohio law that held only members of religions that "historically held conscientious objections" to union membership could opt out. The judge said anyone with demonstrated religious beliefs should be exempt from paying dues to unions whose positions they find objectionable.

The law discriminated among religions by recognizing the Seventh-day Adventist and Mennonite objections to joining unions while denying the same right to others, the judge said.

The teacher, Carol Katter, refused to pay dues to the National Education Association, claiming she opposes abortion rights and that view is conflict with the union's position on the issue. She sued the State Employment Relations Board after the panel ruled against her claim for a religious exemption.

The National Right to Work Foundation, which opposes mandatory union membership, funded Katter's legal fight.

"I was not going to give — cent to those causes," said Katter, who teaches at St. Marys in western Ohio.

Mormon church hit 13 million members


Worldwide membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has reached 13 million, the church says.

The LDS church, based in Salt Lake City, continues to have more members outside of the United States than within it, the church said.

The church also announced another milestone &

more than — million members have served as missionaries since 1830. About 53,000 LDS missionaries presently serve, the church said.

Much of the church's growth comes from aggressive outreach by young missionaries, who typically serve two-year terms that they fund mostly by themselves.

"They face rejection and sometimes verbal abuse. But they soldier on," said M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a church governing group. "They serve, they help others and they go the extra mile to lift and bless people in all walks of life and in all human conditions."

Torah aboard carrier Harry S. Truman


A Torah rescued from Lithuania has a home on the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman.

The carrier is one of the few Navy vessels to have its own Torah. Few ships are large enough to need one, said Sam Werbel, an organizer of a dedication ceremony attended by a crowd of 500, including some Holocaust survivors.

"This is not a ceremony alone," said Mark E. Talisman, founder and president of the Project Judaica Foundation. "It's about humanity or a lack thereof. It's about all of us understanding the dignity of human life."

Several Jewish service members celebrated the event, taking photos with the heavy 26-inch high scroll bearing the words of the Hebrew Bible.

About 5 percent or less of Lithuania's Jewish population survived the Holocaust. No religious artifacts, other than this Torah, are thought to remain of that country's Jewish population, organizers said.

"I'm very proud of our servicemen who are serving, and I'm very proud that they saw fit to have a Torah on board the ship," said Julius Marcus of Portsmouth, who attended with his wife, Jeanne.

On May 14, 1948, President Truman gave diplomatic recognition to Israel. Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, thanked Truman with a Torah that now belongs to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. That Torah was on loan to the carrier and displayed next to the Torah that was dedicated.

"" The Associated Press

British girl banned from wearing chastity ring takes case to Britain's high court


A teenage girl banned from wearing a chastity ring in class has taken her case to Britain's High Court, arguing that her school had violated her religious freedom.

Lydia Playfoot, 16, a pupil at the Millais School in Horsham, about 40 miles south of London, wears a ring as a sign of her commitment to abstinence from sex until marriage. The school said the ring fell outside its uniform policy, which makes exceptions for Muslims wearing head scarves and Sikhs wearing steel bracelets.

The chastity rings do not form an integral part of the Christian faith, Headmaster Leon Nettley said. That violated Playfoot's freedom of religion, her lawyer Paul Diamond argued before the court.

"Secular authorities and institutions cannot be arbiters of religious faith," he said.

In a written submission to the hearing, Playfoot said her school did not afford equal rights to Christians as it did to other faiths.

"At my school, Muslims are allowed to wear headscarves and other faiths can wear bangles and other types of jewelry and it feels like Christians are being discriminated against," she said.

Nettley denied the charge. The ring "is not a Christian symbol, and is not required to be worn by any branch within Christianity," he said in his own written statement.

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