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Religion around the world

RELIGION IMPORTANT IN LIFE, MAJORITY IN U.S. POLL SAY

Associated PressNEW YORK -- A consumer marketing survey showed that 54 percent of Americans said "religion plays an important part in my life," while 59 percent held that view among an elite category of "trend-setters."

The survey of 5,916 Americans, 10 percent of them classed as "trend-setters," was conducted by the Brand Futures Group of Young and Rubicam.

"Quite simply, God is back," said Ira Matathia, the group's CEO.

The report noted that faith is cropping up in everything from tattoos to teen apparel to the popular "What Would Jesus Do?" merchandise.

Far more Americans rated religion as important than did other national populations surveyed: The Netherlands, 25 percent; United Kingdom, 19 percent; France and Germany, 14 percent.

PANEL SAYS JUDGE BROKE LAW IN TEN COMMANDMENTS DUEL

Associated Press

GADSDEN, Ala. -- A judge who fought to keep a Ten Commandments plaque hanging in his courtroom may have violated ethics laws by soliciting donations from people who supported his crusade, a state panel has ruled.

The Alabama Ethics Commission voted 5-0 on Wednesday that there was probable cause to believe Roy Moore violated the state law prohibiting public officials from using their offices for private financial gain.

Moore denied personally raising money or receiving any money from the fund, which he said is maintained by his attorney. Moore said he is being persecuted for his defense of Christianity.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS POSE A THREAT, GROUP SAYS

Ecumenical News International

LONDON -- The international development agency Christian Aid has warned that genetically modified (GM) foods are a threat to farmers in the developing world and, contrary to commercial claims, are not the answer to world hunger problems.

Christian Aid also says that GM foods are being released for public sale in the West without adequate research and safeguards. It is appealing for consumers in the West to unite with the farmers of the developing world in a campaign against GM foods.

BISHOP IN MELBOURNE DRAWS CRITICISM OVER STAND ON GAYS

Ecumenical News International

MELBOURNE -- Despite a nationwide controversy, Dr. George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia's second-biggest city and capital of the state of Victoria, is standing by his claim that homosexuality is a "greater health risk than smoking."

Pell's comments, made after he had refused communion to gay Catholics and their supporters wearing rainbow sashes at Mass in Melbourne's St. Patrick's Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, have drawn a sharp response from a range of community groups and politicians.

CATHOLIC DISPUTE IS SETTLED; AUSCHWITZ CROSSES REMOVED

Ecumenical News International

WARSAW -- Police have removed 300 crosses from the former Auschwitz concentration camp after a yearlong occupation of the camp's "Gravel Pit" by Polish Roman Catholic nationalists.

The government action, taken after consulting the Roman Catholic Church, is a bid to end a long-standing dispute between Catholic nationalists -- who set up the 300 crosses and want to remember the deaths of more than 100 Polish Catholics at the site -- and Jewish groups who have strong objections to the presence of the religious symbols there. More than 1.5 million people -- most of them Jews -- were put to death in Nazi gas chambers in the Second World War.

CHAPEL BUILT, SERVICES HELD ON DISPUTED BOMBING RANGE

Ecumenical News International

VIEQUES ISLAND, Puerto Rico -- Activists from Protestant and Catholic churches have erected a chapel and held a worship service on Sunday in the middle of a controversial U.S. military bombing range here.

"Tomorrow they may tear down this chapel, but our struggle for life will go on," declared Hilario Sanchez, a Roman Catholic priest who gave the homily during the ecumenical service, held on the target range which is covered in missile fragments and unexploded bombs.