Religion news in brief
Sanders rallies support from faith leaders
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders says he’s “no biblical scholar,” but he agrees with the verse that says, “Without vision, the people will perish.”
The Democratic presidential hopeful shared his vision with African-American faith leaders at a prayer breakfast Tuesday in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sanders said income inequality is a moral issue that Americans and those who hope to lead them “must talk about.”
The Vermont senator was introduced by South Carolina state Rep. Joe Neal, who also is a pastor. Neal said Sanders’ populist message, that “we’re all in this together,” is “the cornerstone of nearly every religion.”
Singer Shirley Murdock, who performed several gospel songs, applauded Sanders as a man “who has a dream.”
Scalia to lie in repose Friday, funeral service Saturday
WASHINGTON (AP) — The body of Justice Antonin Scalia will lie in repose Friday at the Supreme Court, followed by a funeral Saturday at the nation’s largest Catholic church.
Current and retired justices are expected to line the marble steps as the casket is carried through the Supreme Court’s main entrance. A private ceremony will take place at the court at 9:30 a.m.
Court officials say Scalia’s casket will then be on public view in the court’s Great Hall from 10:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. EDT on Friday.
The funeral mass Saturday will take place at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. It will be open to family and friends.
The details came Tuesday after Scalia’s courtroom chair was draped in black to mark his death, a Supreme Court tradition that dates to the 19th century.
Scalia died unexpectedly on Saturday at age 79. He joined the court in 1986 and was its longest-serving justice. He was found dead in his room at a remote Texas ranch.
Palestinians renovate church at Jesus’ birthplace
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — After two years of painstaking work, experts have completed the initial phase of a delicate restoration project at the Church of the Nativity, giving a much-needed face-lift to one of Christianity’s holiest sites.
The project, partially funded by the Palestinians and conducted by a team of Palestinian and international experts, is the biggest restoration at the iconic church in some 600 years. The removal of centuries of dust has left Crusader-era mosaics sparkling in sunlight filtering through brand new windows. Structural repairs on the fragile rooftop and windows have been completed and art treasures have been returned to their delicate elegance.
The Church of the Nativity, located in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, was built in the 4th century over the grotto where the Virgin Mary is said to have given birth to Jesus.
Although the Palestinians are overwhelmingly Muslim, they consider the church a national treasure and one of their most visited tourist sites.
3 Ohio churches spray-painted with anti-Christian graffiti
WELLSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Officials say police are investigating after vandals spray-painted upside down crosses and other anti-Christian graffiti at three Ohio churches.
Tom Brophey, a member of the now closed Immaculate Conception Church in the village of Wellsville says he’s putting a tarp over a Virgin Mary statue. The statue’s face is covered in black paint and has an upside down cross painted on its body.
Wellsville is located northwest of Pittsburgh near the Pennsylvania state line.
Upside down crosses also cover a Wellsville United Methodist church sign. A Covenant Presbyterian church door had the word “Satan” painted on it. Remnants of the marks remain visible.
Mayor Nancy Murray told WTOV-TV stores that sell spray-paint are being asked to contact police.
Measure would declare June 17 as ‘Mother Emanuel 9 Day’
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A resolution declaring June 17 as Mother Emanuel Nine Day to honor the victims gunned down in a Charleston, South Carolina, church last summer is advancing in the state Senate.
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the resolution Tuesday. It also encourages South Carolinians to reflect on race relations on the one-year anniversary of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal, one of the nation’s oldest black churches. The House approved the resolution three weeks ago.
Police say Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white man charged with the killings, wanted to start a race war. The resolution states the community instead “responded by an outpouring of love and unity.”
The victims included Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor.
Roof’s trial on state charges starts in July. The state is seeking the death penalty.
TobyMac, Battistelli win Grammy awards
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Christian artists TobyMac, Francesca Battistelli and Kirk Franklin have received the music industry’s highest honors.
TobyMac’s “This Is Not A Test” won the Grammy award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album, while Battistelli won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance for her song “Holy Spirit.” Kirk Franklin received the Grammy award for Best Gospel Performance for his song “Wanna Be Happy?”
“Covered: Alive In Asia” by Israel & New Breed won the Grammy for Best Gospel Album.
The Grammy for Best Roots Gospel Album was awarded to The Fairfield Four’s “Still Rockin’ My Soul.”
In his acceptance speech, TobyMac said, “We’re all making records that we want to use to move people and turn their eyes to God.”