NEW YORK (AP) – The public policy committee of Conservative Judaism’s synagogue union is backing John Roberts for the U.S. Supreme Court, sending a letter to all senators saying “he is qualified to serve” on the basis of criteria “derived from Jewish tradition.”

It was the first time the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, with more than 700 member congregations, has taken a stand on a Supreme Court nominee.

Monday’s letter said some Conservative Jews might not concur, but the decision by the public policy committee “reflects the position of the United Synagogue.”

The committee said Roberts fits criteria it set before he was announced as the nominee, including “wide respect among diverse segments of society,” a jurist who is “neither an activist for change nor an unalterable opponent thereof” and demonstrates “balanced respect for foundational documents, reasonable interpretation and societal realities.”

Court reverses monument ban

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A federal appeals court voted 11-2 to reverse an order by a panel of the court to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a Plattsmouth city park.

The court cited the June 27 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol.

In the new Nebraska ruling, Judge Pasco Bowman said the Plattsmouth monument, which shows the commandments text with two Jewish stars of David, acknowledges “the role of religion in our nation’s heritage.”

Similar memorials “are replete throughout our country,” he said, citing the Library of Congress, National Archives, Department of Justice, Court of Appeals and House of Representatives buildings in Washington.

Ala. teachers get religion guides

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Two booklets about handling religion in public schools are being distributed to some 50,000 teachers by the Alabama Education Association.

The state teachers’ union is distributing the material to dispel the notion that the Bible and prayer aren’t allowed in public schools, a spokesman said.

The booklets, “The Bible and Public Schools” and “A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in Public Schools,” were produced by the First Amendment Center. They advise an academic, not devotional, approach to religion.

The center’s Charles Haynes organized the booklets upon suggestions in 1999 from U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley.

The consensus guidelines were endorsed by a broad range of civil liberties and educational organizations and sent by President Clinton to every U.S. public school district.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Alabama director, Olivia Turner, said she had not read the booklets and couldn’t comment.

New Mexico archbishop to become talk show host

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Sheehan will soon be hosting his own radio talk show.

The head of the Santa Fe Archdiocese will be heard on stations in Albuquerque and Gallup starting Sept. 8, and a Santa Fe outlet as of November.

“This is an effort to reach inactive Catholics and unchurched people as well as our own practicing Catholics,” Sheehan said. “The radio has helped people to come back to the faith.”

Sheehan will appear regularly along with others on the show, which will air twice each weekday.

The Immaculate Heart Radio Network hopes eventually to cover all of New Mexico. Other programming includes Mass twice a day and the pope reciting the rosary three times a day.

The archdiocese has raised $600,000 for the network. The Catholic network, based in Tahoma, Calif., owns the New Mexico “mother station” in Gallup, for which the archdiocese is providing about $150,000 a year for operations.

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