Religion news in brief

Religion news in brief

Arkansas pastor is new Southern Baptist president

BALTIMORE (AP) — An Arkansas megachurch pastor is the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Rev. Ronnie Floyd received 52 percent of votes Tuesday from delegates to the annual meeting of the nation's largest Protestant denomination. Floyd beat out the Rev. Dennis Kim, the Korean-American pastor of a bilingual Maryland church, who received 41 percent of the vote.

Floyd has been the pastor at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas for 27 years. About 8,500 people worship each week at one of the church's several locations.

He was nominated by the powerful head of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Rev. Albert Mohler.

Mohler told the crowd of 5,000 meeting in Baltimore that Floyd is person who can lead the denomination at a time of "horrifying moral rebellion" in the nation.

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Southern Baptists oppose gender reassignment

BALTIMORE (AP) — Delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting have passed a resolution declaring that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by self-perception.

The resolution approved Tuesday states that the denomination opposes hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery and other efforts to "alter one's bodily identity."

According to the resolution, "God's design was the creation of two distinct and complementary sexes, male and female."

The resolution expresses opposition to government efforts to "validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy."

The resolution also condemns the bullying and abuse of transgender people and expresses love and compassion for "those whose sexual self-understanding is shaped by a distressing conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity."

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Pope cancels 2nd day of audiences for illness

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has canceled a second day of private audiences and his morning Mass because of a minor illness.

A Vatican spokesman said the unspecified illness was mild and that Francis would preside over his general audience Wednesday.

Francis has had a whirlwind few weeks, travelling to the Mideast and hosting the Israeli and Palestinian presidents for a Vatican prayer summit Sunday. By Monday, he came down with a bug, and took Tuesday off to rest.

Some Vatican officials have privately expressed concern at the frenetic pace of the 77-year-old pope, who only has one full lung.

While past popes took summers off and escaped Rome's heat for the cooler climes of Castel Gandolfo, Francis has chosen to stay in Rome and work.

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Prayers, precautions in W Africa amid Ebola threat

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — One African preacher advocates fasting and prayer to spare people from a virus that usually leads to a horrible death. Some people pray that the Ebola outbreaks, which are hitting three countries in West Africa, stay away from their home areas. Others seem unruffled and say it will blow over.

But more than a month after Guinea President Alpha Conde told reporters the Ebola outbreak that originated in his country was under control, the death toll continues to climb in his country as well as in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

At least 231 people have died since the outbreak of the fearsome disease, which causes bleeding internally and externally and for which there is no known cure. Guinea has recorded just over 200 deaths, along with about a dozen each in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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Inspectors criticize schools over Islamist 'plot'

LONDON (AP) — The British government has announced that schools will be required to teach "British values" after inspectors found school board members with hard-line Muslim views had intimidated teachers and imposed religiously motivated restrictions at several institutions.

Inspectors were called in after an anonymous letter alleged a plot called "Operation Trojan Horse" by Muslim fundamentalists to infiltrate schools in Birmingham. Authorities believe the letter was a hoax, but the alleged plot triggered inquiries and inflamed tensions in Britain's second-largest city, which has a large Muslim population.

The Office for Standards in Education says five of 21 schools it inspected had failed to protect students from extremism.

One school attempted to ban mixed-sex swimming lessons; at another, music lessons were dropped because they were considered un-Islamic; and at a third, board members vetted the script for a nativity play and told staff they could not use a doll to represent the baby Jesus.