Religion news in brief

By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 14 2011 6:16 p.m. MST

In 2010, 69 percent of Israel's almost 3.5 million tourists were Christians — mostly Catholics. Now, Israel is encouraging return visits by those who have already made their first pilgrimage.

March to build interfaith bonds

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — It's being billed as an effort to promote interfaith understanding in New Orleans during the weekend of the Martin Luther King holiday.

Jewish and Islamic congregations from two places of worship in the city will jointly host community events, including distribution of meals and canned goods to the needy on Jan. 15.

On Monday, congregants from both faiths are scheduled to march from the steps of New Orleans City Hall to a memorial on the city's Claiborne Avenue that features a bust of King, according to a news release from City Council member Arnie Fielkow.

It's the fourth year in a row for the joint efforts.

Participants are members of Touro Synagogue and the Masjid Ur Raheem.

High court rejects church case

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) —The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Boulder County's request that it review a land-use dispute with a church.

County officials said Monday that the court has decided against weighing in on the matter.

The county was appealing a federal court decision backing plans by the Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot to nearly double the size of its 128,000-square-foot campus. The church challenged the county's denial of the plans, citing the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The law protects churches from discriminatory land-use laws.

Boulder County has said it treated the church's application the same way it treated others and that it was denied because it would violate land-use codes.

N.Y. Catholic schools to close

NEW YORK (AP) — The Archdiocese of New York says 27 Catholic schools that had received heavy subsidies due to declining enrollment will close at the end of the current academic year.

The archdiocese on its website Tuesday said the closures of 26 elementary schools and one high school will affect roughly 3,700 students.

The schools include three in Manhattan, six in the Bronx and four on Staten Island. Nine schools are in Westchester and Putnam counties, and the others are in Orange and Ulster counties.

Last fall, the archdiocese put out a list of 32 "at-risk" schools. Four of those targeted were saved and the decision on one was postponed.

The closings will save the archdiocese approximately $10 million. The archdiocese says it will continue to spend about $13 million to support Catholic schools.