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Religion news around the world

Assemblies of God, LDS, Catholic gain

NEW YORK (AP) — An annual tally of church membership in the U.S. found gains by the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormon church and the Assemblies of God last year, while mainline denominations continued their decades-long decline.

The data was published in the latest Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, released this month by the National Council of Churches, based in New York.

Membership in the Catholic Church rose nearly 1.5 percent to more than 68 million, the largest denomination by far in the country. The church rebounded from a slight drop last year.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints saw a 1.7 percent increase in its U.S. membership to just under 6 million, while the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal faith group, recorded a nearly 1.3 percent jump, to 2.9 million members.

Facebook post gets teacher suspended

APEX, N.C. (AP) — A middle-school teacher was suspended after she posted an angry entry on her Facebook page saying she was the target of a "hate crime" by Christian students.

Melissa Hussain, an eighth-grade science teacher at West Lake Middle School, was suspended with pay while investigators reviewed her case.

Hussain wrote that it was a "hate crime" that students anonymously left a Bible on her desk, and she said she "was able to shame her kids" over the incident.

Hussain's Facebook page does not mention her religious affiliation and she did not respond to phone and e-mail messages.

Greg Thomas, spokesman for the Wake County schools, said parents objected to comments on Hussain's social-networking site about her conflict with Christian students.

Parents said classroom tensions escalated after a student put a postcard of Jesus on Hussain's desk that she threw in the trash.

Catholic diocese, hospital part ways

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A Roman Catholic bishop is ending the diocese's relationship with St. Charles Medical Center, largely over a surgical birth-control technique forbidden by the church.

Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker said the hospital should no longer be considered Catholic. The main point of contention was tubal ligation, which leaves women unable to get pregnant and does not comply with church teaching against artificial contraception.

Vasa said he and the hospital board spent a long time discussing their differences but they could not come to an agreement.

Judge hinders suit by former editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has dealt a blow to a lawsuit by the former opinion editor of The Washington Times, who claims he was unfairly dismissed.

Richard Miniter claims Times executives pressured him to attend a Unification Church event and harassed him when he refused to sign a fraudulent document to help a manager. His lawsuit alleges breach of contract, emotional distress and damage to his reputation.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina denied Miniter's request to block the Times from transferring assets while the case is pending. Urbina said Miniter failed to offer any evidence that the Times intended to hide assets.

Jewish champ hopes to defend boxing title

NEW YORK (AP) — Jewish boxing champion Yuri Foreman hopes to defend his title at Yankee Stadium in June — unless a bar mitzvah gets in the way.

The 154-pound champion would fight former welterweight titleholder Miguel Cotto on June 5 at the ballpark in the Bronx, promoter Bob Arum said Tuesday. Arum has been hoping to bring a fight to Yankee Stadium for years.

"The Yankees want to make a deal, we know we can make a deal, they're just working through a problem at Yankee Stadium," Arum said. "But you wouldn't believe it if I told you."

He's not kidding.

Ramping up the irony, Foreman is studying to become a rabbi.