Religion news in brief…Ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin doesn’t play MLK concert

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WASHINGTON (AP) – A gospel singer who says God delivered him from being gay did not perform at a concert at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington after gay rights activists complained.

The Washington Post reports that singer and pastor Donnie McClurkin was scheduled to perform Saturday night to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for Mayor Vincent Gray, says the Grammy-winning singer decided not perform because the purpose of the event was to bring people together.

But in a video statement, McClurkin says he was “asked not to attend” and was uninvited despite the pleas of Washington pastors.

In a 2004 AP interview, McClurkin said God had delivered him from gay thoughts and desires, and can do the same for others.

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Agents: 44 gunned down in Nigeria mosque

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) – Nigerian security agents say suspected Islamic militants wearing army fatigues gunned down 44 people praying at a mosque, while another 12 civilians died in an apparently simultaneous attack.

Sunday’s attacks in northeast Nigeria are the latest in a slew of violence blamed on the radical group Boko Haram, which wants to impose strict Islamic law throughout the country. About half of Nigeria’s 160 million people are Christians.

It was not immediately clear why the Islamic Boko Haram would have killed worshipping Muslims, but the group has in the past attacked mosques whose clerics have spoken out against religious extremism. Boko Haram also has attacked Christians outside churches and teachers and schoolchildren, as well as government and military targets.

The news about Sunday’s violence came as journalists received a video featuring Boko Haram’s leader, who gloats over recent attacks, threatens more, and even says his group is now strong enough to go after the United States.

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – A Roman Catholic bishop has told the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that differences over homosexuality matter less than the Christian faith that unites them.

Bishop Denis Madden told the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh that Catholics and Lutherans may interpret the Bible differently, but shouldn’t let that drive them apart.

The nation’s largest Lutheran denomination welcomes partnered gay and lesbian clergy and recently elected its first partnered gay bishop.

But Madden said as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches in 2017, Catholics and Lutherans should remain in respectful dialogue, “even when the course ahead presents itself as more rocky than we first imagined.”

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NJ archbishop: I didn’t know of abuse allegations

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – Newark, N.J., Archbishop John J. Myers said he was unaware of allegations of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior made against a priest who gave him lavish gifts when they served in the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., according to a 2010 deposition.

Myers was the Roman Catholic bishop of Peoria from 1990 to 2001. He said in the deposition he knew nothing of the allegations against Monsignor Thomas Maloney, then a priest at a parish in Normal, Ill.

The Peoria diocese entered into a $1.35 million settlement last week with former altar boy Andrew Ward, who came forward publicly and claimed he was abused by Maloney in the mid-1990s, when he was 8. The deposition was released as part of the settlement.

In the deposition, Myers said he did not know that concerns were raised about Maloney, who died in 2009. Myers said if he had learned of the allegations he would have called for an investigation.

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Soccer-loving pope meets world-class stars

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Two big-name Argentines have had a VIP meeting at the Vatican – Pope Francis and Barcelona football star Lionel Messi.

The player, his fellow teammates on the Argentine national soccer squad as well as Italy’s national team players enjoyed a private audience Tuesday with the first Latin American-born pontiff in the Apostolic Palace.

The teams meet Wednesday in Rome in a friendly match.

Francis told the players to remember they are role models on and off the field “for better or worse.” He asked for their prayers for himself “on the playing field God put me on.”

Francis also lamented that sport has become big business.

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