Religion news in brief

Published: Saturday, Jan. 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

This Sept. 6, 2011 file photo shows protestors during a news conference organized by immigrant advocates at the Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M., who want New Mexico to keep a law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.  (Russell Contreras, File, Associated Press) This Sept. 6, 2011 file photo shows protestors during a news conference organized by immigrant advocates at the Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M., who want New Mexico to keep a law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. (Russell Contreras, File, Associated Press)

Bishops, immigrant advocates decry N.M. driver's license repeal effort

SANTA FE, N.M. — Hundreds of immigrant advocates protested New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's push to repeal a state law that allows illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses.

The advocates, including religious groups and student activists, marched around the Capitol Tuesday in what has become a regular scene since Martinez took office last year.

New Mexico is one of three states — including Washington and Utah — where illegal immigrants can get driver's licenses because no proof of citizenship is required.

Martinez, the nation's first Latina governor, is pressing state lawmakers to repeal New Mexico's law over fraud concerns. During her State of the State speech last week, she cited polls that showed a majority of state residents supporting scrapping the law.

However, advocates and their allies, especially the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, say another poll found most state residents want to keep the law after hearing Roman Catholic leaders explain their stand on moral grounds. Other religious groups have joined the bishops' campaign.

Advocates and some law enforcement leaders also argue the law has helped track motorists in the state and made driving safer because it forces illegal immigrants to purchase insurance and gives state officials their personal data.

— Associated Press

New LDS temple in N. KANSAS CITYWill open for tours in April

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new LDS temple in Kansas City is scheduled to briefly open to the public in April and will begin serving regional church members the following month.

The 32,000-square-foot temple in Clay County will be dedicated May 6. Before that, local Mormon leaders plan to offer nonmembers a rare chance to tour the structure in April. After the dedication, only members in good standing will be allowed inside the temple, which will serve about 30,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"We would like everyone in the greater Kansas City area to take the opportunity to see what the inside of a Mormon temple looks like," said Jeremiah Morgan, president of the Liberty LDS Stake. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The temple is not where members hold Sunday worship services. Instead, it is where specific ordinances take place.

The new temple represents an important event in the western Missouri history of the LDS Church. Mormon prophet Joseph Smith Jr. was incarcerated in nearby Liberty in the winter of 1838-39.

Today the LDS Church, based in Salt Lake City, maintains a visitor center on the Liberty site where Smith was detained. It includes a partial reconstruction of the basement jail cell shared by Smith and others.

— Associated Press

Sikhs in India aren't laughing AT Jay Leno's Mitt Romney joke

NEW DELHI — India's Sikh community isn't laughing at a recent Jay Leno joke.

Members of the religious group said they were outraged when the "Tonight Show" host showed a photo of a glittering gold building and claimed it was Republican Mitt Romney's summer home.

It was meant to be a joke about the Republican presidential candidate's wealth. But the building in the photograph is the Golden Temple, the holiest site in the Sikh religion.

Dalbeg Singh, a top Sikh leader, said Tuesday that community leaders would seek an apology from Leno.

India's foreign ministry said the government had taken the issue up with U.S. authorities.

A top official from the external affairs ministry said a formal complaint had been lodged with the State Department in Washington.

India had also sent a complaint to NBC, the broadcaster of the show, the official said. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday that Leno's comments "appeared to be satirical in nature."

— Associated Press

Extradited former priest faces55 SEX-abuse charges in Ireland

DUBLIN — A defrocked Irish priest who was extradited from Brazil with British help has appeared in a Dublin court charged with 55 counts of sexually abusing 18 children.

The judge ordered 72-year-old Peter Kennedy held without bail Wednesday in Dublin's Cloverhill Prison until his next court appearance Feb. 8.

Kennedy fled to England in 2002 after his accusers told police he had molested them when they were children from 1968 to 1984.

The church removed Kennedy from the priesthood in 2003, by which time he had emigrated to Brazil using his British passport. The church that year paid one of Kennedy's accusers $425,000 in damages, the biggest abuse settlement reported in Ireland.

Brazil deported Kennedy to England Dec. 26. He was returned to Dublin Jan. 18.

— Associated Press

Vandals knock head off a statue of Jesus outside Boston church

BOSTON — Boston police are looking for the vandals who knocked the head off a statue of Jesus outside a Roman Catholic church named for Mother Teresa.

The Rev. Jack Ahern of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta at St. Margaret's church in the city's Dorchester section said when he arrived at the church Sunday morning the statue's head was lying on the ground in pieces and the statue had been knocked off its base.

Ahern said the statue was right next to the sidewalk and people used to touch it for inspiration as they walked past.

The statue is beyond repair and there has been no discussion of replacing it, Ahern said.

— Associated Press

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