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Dems hit Bush after comments on funding for women's health

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has vowed to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood if elected to the White House, but drew immediate fire from Democrats for adding, "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues."

Democratic front runner Hillary Rodham Clinton replied on Twitter, "@JebBush: You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong." Bush later said he "misspoke" when speaking about women's health funding and was referring only to what he called the "hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding" for Planned Parenthood.

Bush and Senator Marco Rubio were interviewed Tuesday at a Southern Baptist conference by the Rev. Russell Moore, who noted that Clinton had been invited as well.

Rubio said the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood talking about the cost of fetal organs show that abortion "has become a money-making industry." The organization has said the videos are highly-edited and that it doesn't profit from donating fetal tissue to researchers.


Persecution of Christians spurs charity in lieu of asylum

PHILADELPHIA — A Syrian archbishop visiting Philadelphia says the United States' reluctance to offer asylum to persecuted Christians is "unjust."

Aleppo Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart made the remark Tuesday as he and an Iraqi counterpart appealed to the American people for help withstanding Islamic State oppression.

The rise of the Islamic State group has forced hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi Christians from their homes. Refugees have flooded unoccupied cities including Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and neighboring countries including Jordan and Turkey.

The Knights of Columbus has contributed more than $3 million for homes, schools, food and health care. The Catholic men's group says it's launching a fundraising and advertising campaign to help refugees.

The U.S. State Department says the U.S. has announced hundreds of millions of dollars in life-saving assistance for those affected by fighting in Syria.


New Mexico governor: Keep worshipping after church blasts

PHOTO: Gov. Susana Martinez speaks to reporters about the two explosive devices that were detonated on Sunday morning at Holy Cross Catholic Church and Calvary Baptist Church, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. (Robin Zielinski/Las Cruces Sun-News via AP)
Gov. Susana Martinez speaks to reporters about the two explosive devices that were detonated on Sunday morning at Holy Cross Catholic Church and Calvary Baptist Church, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. (Robin Zielinski/Las Cruces Sun-News via AP)

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico residents won't stop going to church after small explosions outside two churches Sunday morning.

No one was hurt by explosions that occurred just 20 minutes and a few miles apart, but congregants at the Las Cruces churches were shocked. Officials said the blasts at Calvary Baptist and Holy Cross Roman Catholic could have caused serious injuries if someone had been nearby.

Gov. Martinez promised that the "coward" behind the blasts will be caught. She added that if the intention was to frighten those who worship, it failed.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said investigators will look into any possible links between the blasts and the June fatal shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. He said there was no immediate indication of a connection.


Utah group to start Boy Scout troop welcoming gay leaders

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah group that backed the fight to overturn the state's ban on gay marriage is preparing to start a Boy Scout troop, though activists say getting it off the ground could be an uphill battle in the conservative state where the majority of troops are affiliated with the Mormon church.

Mark Lawrence with the group Restore Our Humanity said Tuesday that he's not sure if everyone is ready for the end of the ban on gay scout leaders announced July 27. But Lawrence says welcoming them could create more interest in the organization, and he has heard from several potential volunteers.

The Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it was deeply troubled by the decision and is considering breaking away to form its own worldwide scouting organization.


Former broadcaster James files lawsuit against Fox Sports

DALLAS — Former college football broadcaster Craig James has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against Fox Sports that contends he was fired because he had expressed opposition to gay marriage during a failed run for the U.S. Senate.

The former running back for Southern Methodist University and the New England Patriots is seeking at least $100,000 in damages. Fox hired him in August 2013 — more than a year after he lost the Texas Senate primary to Ted Cruz — only to fire him days later.

James filed his suit in Dallas, where he is seeking a jury trial to hear claims against the network that include breach of contract and violations of Texas law.

Fox Sports did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit. But in a statement last year, Fox called James "a polarizing figure" and said "the decision not to use him in our college football coverage was based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda."


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