60 Va. religious leaders protest coal energy plant

RICHMOND, Va. — More than 60 faith leaders from across Virginia have joined environmental groups in urging Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to oppose a coal-fired power plant that Dominion Virginia Power wants to build.

The ministers, rabbis and theologians signed onto a letter to the governor from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, one of the environmental groups fighting the plant in southwest Virginia's Wise County.

The religious leaders state in the letter to Kaine that speaking out against the coal-fired plant is their moral responsibility as part of their ”good stewardship of God's creation.“

In response, Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said: ”Dominion believes we are good environmental stewards, and we have a record that demonstrates that.“

Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said conservation and cleaner energy sources ”are central to the governor's energy plan, and he believes we'll get there faster if we work with all the parties to achieve that goal.“

S.C. students sue, citing funding discrimination

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A federal lawsuit alleges that the University of South Carolina discriminates against student religious groups because it does not give them activity fees available to other student organizations.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled more than a decade ago that universities cannot refuse to give activity fees to religious groups, according to the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom and the Christian Legal Society, which filed the suit. Russ ­McKinney, a university spokesman, said he hasn't seen the lawsuit and can't comment.

The advocacy groups said they sent a copy of the suit to the university with a letter saying they will drop the legal action if the school changes its policy within two weeks.

The groups are representing the university's Christian Legal Society chapter, which says it was denied fees in February.

SCLC now up to date on taxes

ATLANTA — The Southern Christian Leadership Conference has caught up on its late tax returns and says it plans to file its 2007 taxes on time. Last month, the civil rights group co-founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged that it had not filed a financial report with the IRS since February 2005, for the tax period ending in June 2004. Non-profits like the SCLC must file annual reports to account for donations.

University receives 1643 Bible

PROVO, Utah — A Bible written in Old Norse nearly 400 years ago has been donated to Brigham Young University's library by a Provo resident. Thor Leifson says the Bible was given to his family by a missionary who converted Leifson's relatives to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon church, four generations ago.

Curators determined the Old Testament section of the book was printed in 1643. The New Testament section was printed in 1644. BYU plans a major exhibition of its Bible collection in 2011.

Texas students may not vote 
to have prayers at graduation

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge has prohibited the Round Rock school district from allowing students to vote on prayers at graduation. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks is part of an agreement reached by the school district and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The group sued the school ­district in August on behalf of six parents and a former student.

The suit was prompted by a majority of seniors at McNeil, Round Rock and Stony Point high schools who decided to have prayers at graduation. Most students who cast ballots at Westwood High School voted against an invocation at commencement.

Sparks' judgment forbids the school district from holding any vote by students to have a prayer in any graduation.