Cruz supporters in Iowa take Trump to task
DES MOINES, Iowa — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he won't attack Republican rival Donald Trump. But Cruz's surrogates aren't making the same pledge.
Christian conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats (plahtz) exchanged a series of testy messages with Trump over Twitter on Tuesday. At a Cruz rally in Ottumwa, Iowa, Vander Plaats bashed Trump for saying in an interview that he had never sought forgiveness from God. Vander Plaats said the Bible calls for selecting leaders "who don't believe they are God, but who actually fear God."
Cruz backer and Iowa congressman Steve King is meanwhile telling voters that the race in his state has come down to either Cruz or Trump.
King told voters gathered at a historic church in Bloomfield, Iowa, that they don't know what Trump's "core beliefs are" and they "don't know what he'll do tomorrow."
Pastor who was imprisoned in Iran returns home to Idaho
BOISE, Idaho — An American pastor who was imprisoned for nearly four years in Iran has returned home to Boise, Idaho.
KBOI-TV reports that Saeed Abedini (sah-EED' ah-beh-DEE'-nee) landed Tuesday afternoon on a private plane. Abedini was one of four Americans released in Iran under a negotiated prisoner exchange on Jan. 16.
The 35-year-old Abedini spent the previous five days with his parents and sister at a secluded retreat in Asheville, North Carolina. His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, and their children originally planned to meet him at the retreat operated by the Rev. Franklin Graham.
Graham's spokesman, Mark DeMoss, told the Idaho Statesman newspaper that the plans had changed, with Abedini returning to Boise to reunite with his family.
The Boise man was detained in Iran for compromising national security, presumably because of Christian proselytizing. He was sentenced in 2013 to eight years in prison.
Accreditors looking into BYU law school due to LGBT policies
SALT LAKE CITY — Law school accreditors are investigating Brigham Young University amid claims that the Mormon church-owned institution violates nondiscrimination standards by expelling students who live in same-sex relationships or leave The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before graduation.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the American Bar Association is reviewing a complaint from the activist group FreeBYU.
The group is also appealing a university-wide decision from a different accrediting group, which found no violation on the university's part in similar complaints on the religious-freedom issue.
A BYU spokeswoman says the university responded to a request for information from the bar association a few months ago.
The law school's last accreditation review was during the 2011-2012 school year. The next formal review is scheduled for the 2018-2019 year.
Vatican: Iran must join fight against terrorism
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has told Iran's president that Tehran should play a key role in stopping the spread of terrorism as the country tries to improve its image following an agreement on its nuclear program.
The pontiff warmly clasped the hand of President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican Tuesday in the first official call paid on a pontiff by an Iranian president since 1999. They held 40 minutes of private talks before Rouhani met with other top Vatican officials. The Holy See says the "cordial" talks also stressed common spiritual values.
Usually it's the pope who asks his audience to pray for him. This time, after the two men spoke with the help of Italian and Farsi language translators, it was the guest who asked the pope for prayers. Rouhani said, "I ask you to pray for me."
Grand jury indicts leader behind Planned Parenthood videos
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood has indicted two anti-abortion activists who covertly shot videos of the organization.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson says Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden (duh-LY'-dihn) was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. Another activist was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record.
Anderson says the grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.
The Center for Medical Progress is the anti-abortion group that covertly shot videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetuses for research.
At last week's Evangelicals for Life conference in Washington, a Baptist leader asked Daleiden if posing as an organ buyer to obtain the interviews amounted to lying.
Daleiden responded that he believes "the purpose of undercover work is actually to serve the truth and to bring the truth to greater clarity."
Virginia couple weds despite snow, with tiny change in plan
LYNCHBURG, Virginia — A Virginia couple wouldn't let the weekend snowstorm ruin their wedding plans.
WSET-TV reports that Michael and Emilee Ellsworth of Lynchburg had planned to be married Saturday at a country club, but blowing snow made travel dangerous for the couple and their guests.
They canceled the wedding at the country club and then made a last-minute decision to have an intimate ceremony at their pastor's home.
Pastor Michael Sherrett says when they posed for pictures outdoors, "it sort of seemed like a warmth there that the Lord gave us from the cold wind."
The couple said the date 1-23 was already engraved on the groom's ring, so there was no turning back.
On Sunday, as the weather cleared, they walked down the aisle at the country club in front of family and friends.