DETROIT — The Michigan appeals court says prosecutors can’t use a pastor’s testimony in a sexual assault case.
The court said Wednesday that the testimony would violate a state law that protects communications between clergy and church members. Prosecutors say Samuel Bragg, as a teenager, confessed to the pastor of Metro Baptist Church in Belleville about a 2007 assault of a 9-year-old girl.
The Rev. John Vaprezsan alerted the victim’s family and also informed police. Bragg’s case in Wayne County court has been on hold because of the dispute, and prosecutors say they’ll now go to the state Supreme Court.
Prosecutors say the pastor’s testimony should be allowed partly because Bragg was with his mother when he talked to Vaprezsan. But the appeals court says the mother’s presence doesn’t make a difference.
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Reno County Commission will end its long tradition of offering mostly Christian prayer before its meeting.
Four witnesses asked the commission Tuesday to continue having ministers offering Christian prayer. But the commission declined, ordering County Counselor Joe O’Sullivan to draft a new policy.
Last month, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told officials that a review of commission meetings from December through March found more than 80 percent of the opening prayers invoked the name of Jesus.
The consensus of the board is to seek professionals to offer nonsectarian prayers. If no minister or other speaker is available, a commissioner would say a prayer or ask for a moment of silence.
KALUTARA, Sri Lanka — Dozens of Buddhists led by monks joined a demonstration Monday urging Sri Lanka’s government to proceed with plans to dismantle a mosque located in a sacred Buddhist area.
The protesters marched peacefully through Kalutara town, south of Colombo.
Last month, thousands of Buddhist monks and lay supporters stormed the mosque in the central town of Dambulla, saying it was constructed illegally. But residents say it has been there for nearly half a century, long before the area was declared a sacred zone.
The government announced that the mosque and a Hindu temple would be demolished and relocated. Muslim clerics and politicians have strongly opposed the decision.
An organizer of Monday’s protest, Asoka Menikkgoda, said the government should safeguard Buddhism, the state religion, and not yield to Muslim pressure.
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is negotiating with a private landowner to buy property surrounding a historic mission site in northern Idaho.
Ed Short, the real estate agent who owns the land next to the Old Mission State Park, said he believes the Coeur d’Alene Tribe would be the best owner.
Ancestors of the tribe and Roman Catholic priests built the Mission of the Sacred Heart in Cataldo in the 1850s. Last October, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe opened a $3.2 million visitor center at the park to house the “Sacred Encounters” exhibit, which details Salish Tribes’ interactions with Jesuit priests.
Eric Van Orden, the tribe’s attorney, said tribal officials are interested in purchasing the 100-acre parcel surrounding the mission, but said he couldn’t release details. The land includes an old cemetery with the graves of Jesuit priests, trails to the Coeur d’Alene River and 1,300 feet of waterfront.