Seventy clergy with the United Methodist Church (UMC) in Minnesota have signed a statement saying that they would “offer the grace of the Church’s blessing” to same-sex couples, reported the United Methodist News Service.

Speaking during the UMC’s annual state denominational conference, the Rev. Bruce Robbins (left), pastor of the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, said that clergy groups had been meeting “who want to challenge parts of the United Methodist polity with which we disagree — that which relates to the lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual community and Christian marriage.” Robbins said the issue had gained importance with the “possibility of a constitutional amendment in the state of Minnesota” that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

James Arness, the legendary actor known to several generations of TV viewers as Marshall Matt Dillon of Dodge City, Kansas, in the 20-year-long series Gunsmoke, died of heart failure on June 3 at his home in Los Angeles. Arness, who was born James King Aurness in Minneapolis in 1923, was 88 years old. His younger brother, actor Peter Graves, best known for his role on Mission: Impossible, and for his earlier role in the series, Fury, died last year.

The highly contentious battle over the funding of Planned Parenthood in Indiana may also prove to be a costly one.

On Friday, a federal appeals court overturned the controversial decision of Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, who had ruled that the Medina Valley Independent School District of Texas could not include prayer in its commencement ceremonies, nor use any language perceived to be religious in nature.

John Birch Society president John F. McManus, as part of his nationwide speaking tour, addressed a standing room-only audience recently in the idyllic town of Riverdale, New Jersey. McManus addressed the crowd of over 250 people on the issue of exposing and defeating the New World Order, which members of The John Birch Society have identified and warned against in over 50 years of education and advocacy. The two hour-long address, Stopping the New World Order: An Overview of America, explored the true nature of power, prestige, and influence in the United States, and touched upon all major sources, personalities, and historical events central to understanding why United States policy, both domestic and foreign, has taken its current path, and has ventured down this course of action for so many years.

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