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Members of Congress gathered Tuesday to light the Capitol Christmas Tree, which traveled over 2,000 miles from Minnesota. (Dec. 2)

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House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, right, is assisted by Make-A-Wish Foundation recipient Aaron Urban, 10, from Linthicum, Md., to light the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree at the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, during a ceremony Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is an 88-foot white spruce from the Chippewea National Forest in Cass Lake, Minn. Standing left is United States Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree is seen after being lit by House Speaker John Boehner and Make-A-Wish Foundation recipient Aaron Urban, 10, from Linthicum, Md., on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is an 88-foot white spruce from the Chippewea National Forest in Cass Lake, Minn. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


Trial over teacher's dismissal due Dec. 16

INDIANAPOLIS — A schoolteacher's lawsuit over her dismissal by a northern Indiana Roman Catholic diocese can proceed to trial this month after a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of an appeal by the defendants.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld an order dismissing the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend's appeal of a September ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Miller Jr. allowing Emily Herx's lawsuit to go forward. The trial is due to begin Dec. 16.

Herx claims she was dismissed at Fort Wayne St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School because she tried to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, a process involving mixing egg and sperm in a laboratory dish that's banned under Catholic doctrine.


Pastor accused of affairs fights to keep job

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — An Alabama minister has returned to court in an effort to keep his job after confessing he had sex with church members without telling them he has AIDS.

Circuit Judge Charles Price said Monday that he'll rule within a week on whether the Rev. Juan McFarland can return to Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery or whether a temporary ban from the church will become permanent.

McFarland's attorney argued that the church approved bylaws in January 2013 giving him his job for life, and that a vote to fire him in October was improper.

An attorney for the church's deacons and trustees argued that McFarland pushed through the 2013 bylaws improperly and the October vote was valid.

McFarland had served the church for 23 years before confessing to his congregation.


Woman sues over rabbi's alleged voyeurism

WASHINGTON — A Georgetown University law student is suing after she says she was sexually exploited by a rabbi who is accused of secretly videotaping women in a Jewish ritual bath.

The Washington Post reports that the civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court and seeks class action status.

The rabbi, Barry Freundel (froyn-DEL'), was arrested in October and is charged with voyeurism for allegedly placing a hidden camera in the shower area of a ritual bath, called a mikvah. The lawsuit says the student took a Jewish law class that Freundel co-taught at Georgetown and visited the mikvah at Freundel's urging.

The lawsuit says Georgetown, the synagogue where Freundel was a rabbi and the mikvah ignored "red flags" that he was acting improperly.


Huge Utah nativity scene breaks Guinness record

PROVO, Utah — More than 1,000 people dressed as angels, wise men and religious royalty have gathered at a park in Provo, Utah, setting a new Guinness record for the largest live nativity scene.

The event on Monday featured a variety of performers who made videos posted on YouTube. It is also expected to serve as a backdrop for a music video.

The Daily Herald of Provo reports that Guinness World Record judge Michael Empric determined there were 1,039 participants in the production, along with a camel, donkey and sheep. That tops the record of 898 people last year at a nativity scene in the United Kingdom.

Organizers, however, said breaking the record was secondary to emphasizing the birth of Christ over Christmas shopping.


Boehner links tree lighting to Christ's birth

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner says Christmas is a time to rediscover "the glory of God's love."

Boehner presided at Tuesday's lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree, an 88-foot spruce from Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest.

Senator Al Franken said one of tree's 10,000 ornaments, a Native American dream catcher, is believed to "catch all the bad dreams and thoughts while letting only positive thoughts come true." The Minnesota Democrat said that's "a good sentiment for the holiday season."

It was left to Boehner to remind the crowd that on the first Christmas, an angel appeared announcing the birth of "a savior, which is Christ the Lord."

The National Christmas Tree will be lit Thursday on the Ellipse outside the White House in a ceremony attended by President Barack Obama.

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