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FAITH: Bible conference ... Harvest festival Sunday ... Meatball dinner ... more

Church Bible conference Saturday The Hauge Area Bible Conference continues with three speakers on the greatness of God at 10 a.m. Saturday in Ny Stavanger Free Lutheran Church, 720 Neill Street, in Buxton, N.D. Pastor Rodney Stueland of Dilworth,...

Church Bible conference Saturday

The Hauge Area Bible Conference continues with three speakers on the greatness of God at 10 a.m. Saturday in Ny Stavanger Free Lutheran Church, 720 Neill Street, in Buxton, N.D.

Pastor Rodney Stueland of Dilworth, Minn., Toby Knutson of Fargo and Joel Zeltinger of Bismarck, will follow the theme: "Have You Been Gripped with the Greatness of God Lately?"

Sessions continue at 11 a.m., 1:15, 2:20 and 7 p.m. Saturday and at 9 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Everyone is welcome. Meals will be provided.


Info: Rose Finstrom (701) 847-3052.

Harvest festival slated for Sunday

Riverside Lutheran Church, Wannaska, Minn., will hold a Harvest Festival featuring a musical program by the Rev. Don and Bonnie Guttormson of Roseau at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

An offering will be taken for Christ Lutheran Church in Minot, which had extensive flood damage.

Pie and coffee will be served. Everyone welcome.

Info: Liz Santl (218) 463-3231.

Church meatball dinner Sunday

The men's group in Northwood (N.D.) Evangelical Lutheran Church will serve its annual dinner of meatballs, mashed potatoes, lefse and pumpkin and apple desserts 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday.


Everyone welcome.

--Herald staff reports

Gay debate snags counselor rules

A coalition of social workers, psychologists and family therapists demanded this week that the state of Nebraska adopt rules that would require certain mental health professionals to offer referrals to gay patients if they refuse to treat them because of religious beliefs.

Terry Werner, who heads the Nebraska chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said such referrals are already required in the code of ethics that governs each profession in the group. But he said the state's Division of Public Health has yet to adopt the same language for so-called licensed independent mental health practitioners, a position the Legislature created in 2007.

The new independent position allows qualified mental health practitioners who serve as counselors, social workers and therapists to diagnose and treat mental illnesses without formal medical supervision. Werner said the proposed regulations have sat untouched by the Division of Public Health since mid-2010.

Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, has said psychologists, therapists and other licensed counselors should be able to refuse to treat clients because of religious or moral convictions and not have to refer them to another therapist. Their concern rose largely from an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex marriage, raising the prospect that gay couples could come to Nebraska therapists for marriage counseling.

Bible study group sues school district


A before-school Bible study group has sued Owasso (Okla.) Public Schools, claiming the department censored the group's fliers and handouts.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Tulsa by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Owasso Kids for Christ. It alleges the school unconstitutionally prohibits the group from distributing religious fliers, from taking part in an open house and from using the school's public address system.

The plaintiffs argue that groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and YMCA are allowed such access.

School Superintendent Clark Ogilvie said on the district's website that the issue is "misconstrued and taken out of context." He said the district doesn't deny religious groups access to the schools -- but said they must follow school policies.

School district hears constitution issue

Leaders of a South Carolina school district where a Christian-themed rally was held at a middle school were counseled about the First Amendment's separation of church and state, said an attorney who met with them.

The Christian rapper who performed last month at a daytime rally at New Heights Middle School in Chesterfield County is coming back this week to two high schools for nighttime events, the lawyer said in a letter to a group that complained about the event.

"They say they are committed to following the First Amendment," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. "But it seems they are turning this school district into a worship center."


Public schools do not exclude student religious groups from meeting on school property before or after school hours, but the events are supposed to be student-led and organized.

Attorney David Duff of Columbia sent a letter to the foundation after it complained about a Sept. 1 rally during the school day that featured the Christian rapper who calls himself B-SHOC and youth evangelist Christian Chapman. Duff met with District Superintendent John Williams, school board members and New Heights Middle School principal Larry Stinson.

"I believe that all concerned now have a full understanding of the interplay between the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the principle of separation of church and state in the public school context," Duff wrote. He also said the First Amendment principles would be reviewed when administrators next meet as a group.

Judge hears religion amendment views

A proposal state constitutional amendment that would repeal Florida's ban on public financial aid to religious organizations should be stripped from the November 2012 ballot, a teachers union lawyer argued Thursday.

Amendment 7's title, "Religious Freedom," and ballot summary are misleading, Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer told Circuit Judge Terry Lewis during a court hearing.

They fail to sufficiently warn voters that the Republican-controlled Legislature's ballot proposal also would turn the existing prohibition upside down by requiring state and local government agencies, instead, to provide funding for churches and other religious entities, Meyer said.

Meyer was also arguing for some public school officials and clergy who are part of the challenge. He focused on the summary's statement that the changes would be "consistent with the U.S. Constitution."


"This affirmatively misleads the voter into believing all we're voting on is a proposal that will make the Florida Constitution consistent with the federal constitution when in fact nothing could be further from the truth," Meyer said.

He said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows for but does not require funding of religious organizations as the Florida proposal would.

Daniel Nordby, general counsel for Secretary of State Kurt Browning, argued the summary is accurate and not misleading because the "consistent with" phrase is merely shorthand for more cumbersome language in the body of the amendment.

The amendment itself says "Except to the extent required by the First Amendment" of the federal constitution, government agencies cannot deny funding or other support to individuals or entities because of "religious identity or belief."

Meyer's clients also are challenging a new law that requires the attorney general to rewrite defective ballot summaries and titles instead of removing such amendments from the ballot.

--Associated Press

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