US Catholic bishops: Abortion, marriage key election issues
BALTIMORE — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is issuing an election-year guide stressing a moral imperative to evaluate candidates according to their positions on marriage and abortion.
The bishops overwhelmingly voted for the guide called "Faithful Citizenship" at their national assembly Tuesday in Baltimore.
The guide addresses a broad range of issues, including protecting immigrants and the environment, fighting racism and poverty, and opposing the death penalty. However, the bishops said they consider opposition to gay marriage and abortion paramount in this presidential election season and beyond.
They said voting for a candidate specifically because the politician favors a "grave evil" such as abortion rights amounts to "formal cooperation" with that evil by the voter.
About one-quarter of U.S. voters are Catholic, but they don't vote as a bloc.
Kasich calls for agency promoting 'Judeo-Christian' values
WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate John Kasich says he'd set up an agency with a "mandate" to promote what he calls "Judeo-Christian values" overseas to counter Islamist propaganda.
The Ohio governor says he would create the new agency to promote the values of human rights, democracy and the freedoms of speech, religion and association. Kasich says the information would be distributed in the Middle East, China, Iran and Russia, to compete with the propaganda and misinformation purveyed by Islamic militants.
He made the comments Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, as part of a speech on national security. Kasich says the U.S. is "failing to advance our values in the battle of ideas" in the face of advances by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Salt Lake City voters elect gay mayor
SALT LAKE CITY — Jackie Biskupski says her election as the first openly gay mayor of Salt Lake City is historic but she wants to focus her efforts on voters and city workers.
Biskupski briefly acknowledged the milestone after her victory was announced Tuesday but said she wants to be a force of change for many people in the city.
Biskupski plans to meet soon with leaders of the Utah-based Mormon church to discuss a host of issues, including a new policy that bans baptisms for children of gay parents until the kids turn 18 and disavow same-sex relationships.
Biskupski has said she hopes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reconsiders the policy.
She says her upcoming meeting with faith leaders is important because the church is a major employer and presence in the city.
NYC man gets 4 years in prison for divorce coercion
TRENTON, New Jersey — A New York City man who used threats of violence to coerce a Jewish man to give his wife a religious divorce has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Moshe Goldstein, 32, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty last year to crossing state lines to commit extortion. He also admitted that he restrained, assaulted and injured a man in Brooklyn in an attempt to extort a divorce in 2011.
Goldstein was arrested with his brother, his father and six other men in October 2013 in an undercover sting in which an FBI agent contacted two Orthodox rabbis seeking a divorce, known as a "get." Jewish law mandates that the get be presented by a husband to a wife to make a divorce official.
Rabbi Mendel Epstein was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and acquitted of attempted kidnapping, and Rabbi Martin Wolmark pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion. Both will be sentenced next month. Five other men who pleaded guilty will be sentenced this week.
Prosecutors said the team used brutal methods and tools, including handcuffs and electric cattle prods, to torture the men into granting gets.
Controversial Jesus portrait gets colorful company
JACKSON, Kentucky — Faced with a complaint over a hand-drawn portrait of Jesus that has hung on a county courthouse wall for decades, a Kentucky judge executive has gotten other artists to fill the wall with original art depicting everyone from Snow White to MSNBC television host Rachel Maddow.
Breathitt County Judge-Executive John Lester Smith tells the Lexington Herald-Leader that he solicited other images in order to reinforce that there is no religious intent behind keeping the picture of Jesus.
The 1981 portrait by artist Connie Combs shows a man kneeling before Jesus. The caption reads, "In your place what would Jesus do."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter asking Smith to remove the drawing of Jesus, calling it an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.
Smith has not responded to the foundation. Instead, he has turned the wall into a small art gallery.