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Man defends religious rights, wears fox hat in license picture

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An Oregon man's driver's license picture has become the focal point of a constitutional rights case study.

He goes by the name Bishop, and he says he wears a fox hat to honor his religion.

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"I'm a practitioner of the Seven Drums religion," Bishop said. "It's one of the (Native American) Nez Perce religions where we all have a wild animal totem."

Bishop says his animal is a fox, so he wears the hat as a symbol of that spirit wherever he goes.

The DMV office let him wear it when he took his new license picture. However, the application was denied, leaving him without a license for nine months.

"For our facial recognition software to work, we need people to remove any hat or facial gear that obscures their face," a spokesman for the DMV said.

Bradley Steinman, Bishop's lawyer, helped him resolve the case.

"Religious freedom is one of the foundational principles of the United States," Steinman said. "It's one of the things that makes our country the greatest country on the earth."

Bishop said his religious freedoms were violated, so he decided to fight back. He eventually won his appeal, but now he wants to warn others to stick up for their rights no matter what it takes.

"It shouldn't matter if you wear a yarmulke or a hijab or 'a silly fox hat,' as the man at the DMV wants to call it," Bishop said.

SXSW apologizes for asking Olympic fencer to remove hijab

Video includes clips from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Embassy London and images from Getty Images.

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U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad said she was recently asked to remove her hijab during a popular event. 

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In a series of tweets Saturday, Muhammad said a South by Southwest employee asked her to remove her hijab for an ID photo. Muhammad said she was also given the wrong ID badge shortly thereafter. 

Muhammad, who wears the hijab for religious purposes, will be the first U.S. Olympic athlete to wear a hijab during competition in the 2016 Summer Olympics. She's also the first Muslim woman to compete for the U.S. national team in fencing. 

Muhammad was in attendance to speak at a SXSW presentation called "The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life."

After her "crappy experience checking in," SXSW officials said they personally apologized to Muhammad and released a statement, saying: 

"It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge. This was one volunteer who made an insensitive request and that person has been removed for the duration of the event."

Donald Trump slams Pope Francis’ remarks on his faith

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Donald Trump just took on perhaps a foe even he can’t tackle: Pope Francis.

The pope, during a news conference aboard the papal airliner, told reporters, this, according to The New York Times:

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

Trump, never one to back down from ANY fight, was quick to respond. Thus said the Donald, via a statement released by his campaign:

For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. They are using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.  

Catholic bishops not obligated to report clerical sex abuse, Vatican says

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A Vatican training manual tells newly appointed bishops they have no obligation to report allegations of clerical sexual abuse to authorities, according to multiple reports.

The instructions were part of a Vatican training manual outlining how senior clergy should respond to allegations of abuse.

“It's a legalistic take on a critical issue, one which has brought only trouble for the church and its leaders,” wrote Cruxnow.com Associate Editor John Allen. The Catholic news site was the first to report on the documents and criticized the church for failing to focus further on abuse prevention.

Instead, the church said the duty to report lies with the families of abuse victims. Clergy members are only obligated to investigate the allegations internally but encouraged the bishops to know the local legal requirements, The Independent reported.

"According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds," the training document says, according to The Independent.

The guidelines were written by Tony Anatrella, a controversial monsignor and psychotherapist who serves as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family, The Guardian reported.

“While acknowledging that 'the church has been particularly affected by sexual crimes committed against children,' the training guide emphasizes statistics that show the vast majority of sexual assault against children are committed within the family and by friends and neighbors, not other authority figures,” the newspaper reported.

Since 2001, the Vatican has been training newly appointed bishops on how to deal with reports of clerical sexual abuse. So far the training has reached 30 percent of the world's Catholic bishops, according to Cruxnow.com.

Pope baptizes 26 babies in celebration of Jesus' baptism

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Pope Francis baptized 26 baby boys and girls Sunday, marking the day Catholic doctrine says Jesus was baptized. 

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The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord is a tradition for Catholics worldwide, occurring the Sunday after Epiphany. The pope's celebration took place at the Sistine Chapel. (Video via CNN)

While the Catholic Church doesn't have an age limit for baptizing, typically infants raised in Catholic homes are baptized and dedicated shortly after birth. 

The pope encouraged parents to raise the newly baptized infants Catholic and told mothers to nurse when needed during Mass. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images and Davezelenka / CC BY SA 3.0

Texas governor gets 'spiteful' Capitol display ousted, says it mocks Christianity

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Incensed by what he saw as a “juvenile parody” that used “tasteless sarcasm” to mock Christianity, Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday successfully urged the State Preservation Board, whose staff had approved the display, to remove a Capitol holiday display produced by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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The display, on view in the Capitol basement since Friday, was intended to celebrate the Bill of Rights and the winter solstice. It showed a Bill of Rights in a manger and had a sign that said, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, we honor reason and the Bill of Rights. (Adopted Dec. 15, 1791). Keep State and Church Separate.”

In his letter to the Preservation Board, Abbott complained that the “exhibit places the Bill of Rights in a manger and shows three founding fathers and the Statue of Liberty worshipping one of America’s founding documents as a replacement for Jesus Christ. This juvenile parody violates the Preservation Board’s regulations and should be removed immediately.”

Abbott is chairman of the Preservation Board.

Mother Teresa and sainthood: Here are the 5 steps to getting there

In 2015, Pope Francis approved a decree from the Congregation of Causes of Saints that attributed a miracle to Mother Teresa, the woman who spent her life ministering to the poor in India. With that approval, Mother Teresa , born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, will be declared a saint.  

The canonization ceremony will take place Sept. 4 at the Vatican and will be led by Pope Francis. Mother Teresa died on Sept. 5, 1997.   

The process of becoming a saint in the eyes of the Catholic Church  isn't an easy one. It generally takes years of investigation and interviews to get to a point where miracles are then required. 

If  you are wondering how the process generally goes, here are the steps involved in being named a saint:

Step 1: Die

Unfortunately, the first thing you have to do to become a saint is to die. That leaves a lot of us out of the running. The purpose of being dead before becoming a saint is an important one -- you have the benefit  of being in heaven along with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Step 2: Servant of God

This is where the process of naming a saint gets put into motion. While it’s generally five years after a person dies before the process can begin, there have been some exceptions.

There are three things to look at if a person is to be considered for sainthood (canonization is the Church’s term). First, the person must be thought of as having “heroic virtue;” second, they must be thought of as being in heaven, and third,  they must be recognized by the Catholic Church for the sake of the faithful still here on Earth.

This step generally begins when people petition the bishop of the diocese where the potential saint lived to begin an investigation into that person’s life. The bishop will interview people who knew the person, collect the person’s writings, etc., then will write a report to determine  if the next step should be taken. If the report is favorable, the person gains the status of “Servant of God.”

Step 3: Venerable

If the person is deemed “Servant of God,”  then the findings of the local bishop are sent to Rome to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. The investigation into the life of the person will continue, with a positive outcome being the person is deemed a person of “heroic virtue.” As part of this process a person called a “devil’s advocate” raises questions and objections to the candidate’s sainthood to make sure all aspects of the person's life is examined. (That's where the term originated) The congregation will also investigate the circumstances of the person’s death if they were killed – determining if the person was killed for his or her faith. The person is known as "Venerable" if they pass this stage. According to the church, people may seek their intercession in prayer at this point.

Intercession is an important point in the process, and is what will move everything else along. To become canonized, miracles are required, and the miracles come for a petitioner praying to the person for help. The miracles must be documented and investigated. There must not be means  other than divine intervention that could have caused the miracle.

Step 4: Blessed

If a person claims a miracle happened due to intercession by the person in heaven, and it is investigated, confirmed and approved by the pope, then the would-be saint’s  status is moved to “Blessed.” This process is called beatificationA ceremony is held  when a person is seen as “Blessed,” usually in that person’s home town or home country.

Step 5: Saint

After the four previous  steps are completed, there’s just one more, but it’s a big one. A second miracle must be investigated and confirmed. Once that happens, the person may be named a Saint. If they are, they are assigned a feast day on which they will be celebrated.  A Mass at the Vatican usually follows that. 

The sitting pope has the option to shorten any part of the process – including waiving the requirement for one or both miracles and not waiting to start the process until the person has been dead for five years.

Click here to read about the two miracles attributed to Mother Teresa.

Sources:  according to the Catholic Education Resource Center, How to Become a Saint For Dummies; Catholichawaii.org

Pope Francis clears way for Mother Teresa's sainthood

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Mother Teresa will officially become Catholic's newest saint.

Pope Francis has recognized a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, CNN reported. 

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The miracle involved a Brazilian man who was suffering from multiple brain tumors. He was healed after his family prayed to Mother Teresa to heal him, Avvenire, the official newspaper of Italian Catholic bishops, reported.

Mother Teresa is expected to be canonized in September.

>>Could you make 'saint'? Here are the 5 steps to getting there

The nun was known for caring for people in the slums of Calcutta, India. She died in 1997 and was beatified in October 2003 by Pope John Paul II, CNN reported.

The first miracle attributed to Mother Teresa after her death involved a woman in Kolkata who suffered from a stomach tumor. She was healed after she prayed to Mother Teresa.

Police: Woman drove car into Scientology doors because church is ‘evil’

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A woman who police say plowed through the glass doors of the Church of Scientology building near the University of Texas campus Monday night told officers she thought the church was “evil” and that she drove her car into the lobby because she couldn’t find a rock to throw at it, her arrest affidavit said.

Erin McMurtry, 31, was charged with criminal mischief at a place of worship, a felony, a few hours after the incident. She had been booked into Travis County Jail with bail set at $6,000, but as of Wednesday was no longer in custody.

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Shortly before 9 p.m., witnesses in the Church of Scientology of Texas building on the corner of 22nd and Guadalupe streets told police they had seen the silver sedan parked on the Drag in the bike lane for about 10 minutes before watching it “methodically drive onto the curb in between poles” on the sidewalk in front of the entrance, the affidavit said.

The vehicle traveled north on the sidewalk before turning into the glass doors of the building and accelerating, witnesses told police. The car smashed the doors, plowed into reception area couches and then into the doors of a nursery. One of the witnesses said he noticed the driver “shooting him a bird,” according to the affidavit.

Before witnesses watched the car pull out of the building, one of them wrote down the license plate number, the affidavit said. They told police the car headed west on 22nd Street.

Although witnesses were unable to provide a description of the driver, officers responding to a separate call spotted a vehicle matching a description of the car involved in the crash, police said.

About an hour after the crash, detectives spoke with the driver, identified by police as McMurtry. When first asked about the Church of Scientology incident, McMurtry told police, “No comment,” the affidavit says. But after officers surveyed the damage to her car and found the license plate to be nearly an exact match to what witnesses had written down, McMurtry was handcuffed and given a Miranda warning about her rights.

During more questioning about the crash, McMurtry asked if anyone was hurt before telling police, “I confess, I did it” but that she didn’t want to hurt anyone, the affidavit says.

When pressed for her motive, she told police “Scientology was evil because they blackmail people” and that “they are a terrible organization disguised as a church,” according to the affidavit.

McMurtry also told police that “she wanted to throw a rock through the window of the church but could not find one so she drove into the church instead,” the affidavit said.

Nun posts pic with dead 10-point deer, Facebook erupts

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A Pennsylvania nun’s photo of a 10-point buck she shot last week is drawing criticism on social media.

Sister John Paul Bauer went hunting on the first day of deer season, and waited in her tree stand for about three hours for a deer to come near her.

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She told WSEE that while she waited, she prayed the Rosary.

A short time later, several deer arrived, including two bucks. She bagged the larger one.

"I've always prayed the Rosary on the tree stand. That's a tradition.  You get up in the morning, you pray the Rosary in the tree stand.  So, I just think the Blessed Mother did smile upon me."

The nun learned to shoot while serving in the Navy. She said there’s something spiritual about hunting.

"When you're up on a tree stand, you're still, you're quiet.  You listen. You watch as the frosty ground just becomes alive.  It's like creation all over."

She has read comments on the Diocese of Erie Facebook page criticizing her for killing a beautiful animal, but she says it’s more about conservation than the thrill of the hunt because without the deer harvest, the animals would starve.

The Diocese of Erie appears to have removed the post.

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