NEW YORK ­— “Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition,” an exhibition of some 300 works, concludes the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s four-show series devoted to the region.

Meditative, scholarly and low-lit, the show focuses on the cultural and artistic clash that resulted during the initial contact between the southern provinces of the Christian Byzantine Empire and the emerging Islamic world between the seventh and ninth centuries.

Of note are children’s tunics recovered from gravesites and a Hebrew alphabet primer from Egypt, illustrated with a polychromatic carpet page, a lighted menorah and the Star of David.

The show’s subtitle is “Transition,” and it illustrates a crossroads. On clay lamps, there are both Christian blessings in Greek and Islamic ones in Arabic. The exhibit is on view through July 8 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


AUGUSTA, Maine — The Christian Civic League of Maine and the National Organization for Marriage say they’ve combined forces to defeat the same-sex marriage referendum proposal on next November’s ballot.

The chairman of Protect Marriage Maine, the Rev. Bob Emrich, says it will organize groups of different faiths as well as people with no faith traditions in opposition to the ballot initiative. Maine voters defeated a gay marriage proposal on the 2009 ballot.

Christian Civic League Executive Director Carroll Conley says his group was not a major player in the 2009 campaign, but he believes it can play a major role in the campaign this year.

Pro-gay marriage activists from 16 organizations have formed the Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition.

DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan officials have decided to demolish a mosque and a Hindu temple under pressure from Buddhist monks who demanded their removal from a Buddhist sacred area.

Ruling party lawmaker Lakshman Perera said that the places of worship and other buildings will be relocated to sites outside the designated sacred zone within six months.

Thousands of Buddhist monks and lay supporters stormed the mosque in the central Sri Lankan town of Dambulla last week, saying it was constructed illegally. They forced their way into the building and damaged some furniture, dispersing only after officials promised a solution on Monday.

Mohamed Saleemdeen, a board member of the mosque, denied it was an illegal building and said it had been there long before the area was declared a sacred zone about 20 years ago.

Buddhism is Sri Lanka’s state religion and monks are powerful in political and social affairs.

AURIESVILLE, N.Y. — A Roman Catholic shrine in New York’s Mohawk Valley has turned down a tourism grant after questions were raised about church-state separation.

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors awarded the $750 grant in February to the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville. Officials believe 5,000 people will come to the shrine when Kateri Tekakwitha is canonized as a saint on Oct. 21. She was a Mohawk Indian who lived nearby.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State claimed the grant violated the First Amendment.

A local official proposed a resolution saying the grant would only be used for sectarian purposes. But shrine spokesman Beth Lynch said the new conditions made it impossible to take the money.

Wire reports