Religion

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A Christian advocacy group is arguing that a federal judge should not dismiss their lawsuit against a northern Idaho city, challenging that the city's anti-discrimination ordinance violates the wedding chapel owners' religious rights.

Attorneys on both sides of the issue presented their arguments in U.S. District Court on Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush is expected to issue a decision in the next few weeks.

The Alliance Defending Freedom contends that the Coeur d'Alene ordinance compels Hitching Post owners Don and Lynn Knapp to perform same-sex marriages.

NNU Facebook page

This week's resignation of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) President David Alexander has largely been blamed on backlash for firing a particular professor. When tenured theology professor Thomas Oord was fired, administrators said it was part of a budgetary shift at the private, religious university in Nampa. Another faculty member and four staff members were also laid off.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Said Ahmed-Zaid is an engineering professor at Boise State University. He's lived in Boise for 18 years, and is also a spokesperson for the city's Islamic Center. He's held that position since 9/11, representing his minority religion's members in a majority Christian state.

Some of Idaho's conservative Republicans have raised concerns this year about local Muslim populations and the potential influence of Sharia law in the state.

Those fears prompted local GOP events and a special lawmaker luncheon, while culminating in the decision by some lawmakers to kill a child support enforcement bill. That threatened the state's ability to enforce more than 150,000 child support payments.

Historians say this isn't the first time Idaho's government has focused concern on a specific religious group.

Mormon church, temple square, salt lake city
Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

New figures from the Mormon church show that a record increase in missionaries didn't lead to an equally dramatic spike in converts.

Statistics released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints show there were nearly 300,000 converts last year. The figure marked a 9 percent increase from two years ago, even though the number of missionaries increased by 44 percent.

Mormon church spokesman Eric Hawkins said a number of factors may contribute to fewer baptisms per missionary, including a world that is increasingly secular.

Idaho Legislature

Three lawmakers refused to attend the Idaho Senate's daily invocation after objecting to the offering of a Hindu prayer.

Rajan Zed, guest chaplain, gave a lengthy prayer in both English and Sanskrit on Tuesday that focused on selflessness and peace. Senators from both sides of the aisle shook his hand and thanked him for coming.

However three lawmakers, all Republican, only came back onto the floor once the prayer was over: Sens. Steve Vick, Sheryl Nuxoll and Lori Den Hartog.

This post was updated Feb. 25

A Kootenai County Republican Central Committee resolution that would declare Idaho a Christian state was rejected Tuesday night.

The Spokesman-Review reports at least two-thirds of members supported a move not to vote on the resolution, tabling the idea.

The original post was created Feb. 24

Courtesy of WashingtonInstitute.org

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France that claimed 17 lives sent shock waves around the world and heightened concerns about growing tensions between Islamic extremists and the West.

Aaron Zelin, is an expert on global jihadist groups, and he researches global terrorist organizations such as ISIS, how they operate and how they are changing. 

Diocese of Boise

A new leader has been named for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise.

Bishop Peter F. Christensen will be installed as the eighth Bishop of Boise at a Dec. 17 Mass in St John Cathedral.

He replaces Bishop Michael P. Driscoll, who submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Francis on Aug. 8 when he turned 75.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise in a statement Tuesday said Pope Frances announced earlier in the day that he had accepted Driscoll's resignation and named Christensen to replace him.

Christensen has been at the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin.

A group in the Boise area is in the midst of fundraising for a new attraction in the Northwest. It'll be called the Northwest Science Museum.

A divided county council in Pierce County, Washington Tuesday voted to display the motto "In God We Trust" in its chambers. That makes it the first jurisdiction in the Northwest to become part of a national campaign to feature the motto.

Diego Andres / Flickr Creative Commons

The Mormon church is expanding a program that gives missionaries iPad minis and broadens their proselytizing to social media.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a news release this week that a test program that began last fall with 6,500 missionaries serving in the United States and Japan went well. That has prompted the church to expand the initiative.

Church leaders expect to have the specially configured mobile devices in the hands of more than 32,000 missionaries by early 2015. Most missionaries will cover the cost of the $400 device.

The founder of a Mormon women's group pushing for gender equality says the church is trying to excommunicate her.

Kate Kelly says she was shocked and dismayed when she received a letter this week from her bishop in Virginia informing her of a disciplinary hearing June 22. Two months ago Kelly led hundreds in a demonstration to shed light on gender inequality in the religion, defying church orders to stay off Temple Square.

Mormon church, temple square, salt lake city
Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

A Mormon women's group pushing for gender equality is shifting from public demonstrations to small discussion groups.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Ordain Women is aiming to find new supporters among the 15 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The group has created six discussion topics that highlight gender disparity in the faith.

The group formed last year to advocate for women's inclusion in higher-level positions, including the lay clergy.

For John Thavis, the timing couldn’t have been better. His book, “The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church,” was released in February 2013, just as Pope Benedict XVI announced he would be the first pope in 600 years to resign.

It was a stroke of luck that put his book – the culmination of nearly 30 years as a journalist covering the Vatican – in exactly the right place at the right time.

A little-known display of the 10 Commandments in north Idaho has attracted the attention of a couple of national legal organizations.

A conservative advocacy group says it will represent the city of Sandpoint for free in a potential lawsuit over a Ten Commandments monument in a public park.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that Hiram Sasser of the Plano, Texas-based Liberty Institute made the offer at a public hearing concerning the monument on Wednesday.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A new Gallup survey shows six in 10 Utah residents identify as Mormon.

That's more than double the proportion in any other state. Idaho ranks second with 24 percent of its residents belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The survey is based on phone interviews with 500 adults in each state done in 2013.

Past Gallup surveys show the percentage of Utah residents who call themselves Mormon has held steady around 60 percent for the past six years.

Christian Scientists who treat their sick children with faith healing, instead of medical care, have special protection under Washington law. But that could soon change.

catholic church, religion
Emilie Ritter Saunders

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena filed for bankruptcy protection Friday as part of a proposed $15 million settlement with victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

Diocese spokesman Dan Bartleson says the diocese does not expect to have to liquidate any of its assets or close any programs because of the filing.

The settlement details are being worked out, but the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Montana would be responsible for approving and supervising the disbursement of $15 million to compensate the 362 victims identified in two lawsuits.

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