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NATIONAL
February 26, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
As officials in Arizona and the rest of the nation continue to wrestle with the legal and legislative issues connected to same-sex marriage, a new poll shows that support for allowing gays to marry has rapidly increased since such unions first became legal more than a decade ago, with inroads made even among the religious, once a bastion of opposition. About 53% of the random sample of 4,509 Americans surveyed by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute said they supported same sex marriage, up from 32% in 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it. The poll, released on Wednesday, was carried out between Nov. 12 and Dec. 18, 2013, by telephone and has a margin of error of 1.7 percentage points, the group said.
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SPORTS
February 20, 2014 | By David Wharton
SOCHI, Russia - Thousands of fans were streaming into Olympic Park at noon, funneling through the main gate toward a central plaza where the torch burns. Phil Wong moved with the crowd on his way to a curling match. The Canadian tourist passed a cluster of evergreens, clueless as to what lay on the other side. "A real cemetery?" he said. "Oh, that's creepy. " FRAMEWORK: Best images from Sochi It could be the quirkiest thing about the Sochi Games, this tiny graveyard, a patch of dirt and tangled grass at the center of an ultra-modern sports complex.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 20, 2014 | By Inkoo Kang
Arriving less than a week after the high-profile death of Pentecostal pastor and reality-show star Jamie Coots by snakebite, the religious thriller "Holy Ghost People" is well poised to exploit fears of an already misunderstood spiritual minority. "Holy Ghost People" takes its name from a 1967 documentary by Peter Adair that captures the soul of a politically progressive West Virginia congregation that handles snakes and speaks in tongues. Director Mitchell Altieri's disappointing feature makes nasty beasts of the very people Adair strived to humanize, portraying them as violent, intolerant hicks straight out of central casting.
NATIONAL
February 20, 2014 | By Cindy Carcamo
TUCSON -- Say a gay couple in Phoenix walks into a bakery to order their wedding cake. The baker refuses to take their order because of his deeply held religious beliefs. Under a measure that passed the Arizona Legislature this week, the baker would have greater protection to invoke religion to shield himself from a discrimination lawsuit. The bill, approved by the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday and the GOP-led House on Thursday, would bolster a business owner's right to refuse service to gays and others if the owner believes doing so violates the practice and observance of his or her religion.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 19, 2014 | By Richard Winton and Angel Jennings
County and state officials have begun moving dozens of physically and mentally disabled residents from two board-and-care homes where they were allegedly forced to live in "deplorable" conditions and punished if they failed to attend religious services. Los Angeles City Atty.  Mike Feuer  filed a lawsuit against Agape Mission House and Agape Home Church, unlicensed assisted-care facilities, alleging that residents lived in overcrowded and substandard conditions. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge last Friday appointed a receiver to immediately begin relocating residents from the homes in the 2200 block of South Hobart Boulevard.
OPINION
February 16, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 says, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. " But, like other rights enshrined in that declaration, religious freedom is widely violated around the world. Is that any of the business of the United States? President Obama thinks so, and he's right. Before the most receptive audience imaginable - a National Prayer Breakfast - Obama recently insisted that "promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 12, 2014 | By Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic
Laugh all you want at those old public-access television clips of the late Dr. Gene Scott, the eccentric televangelist who sometimes wore two pairs of glasses at once and shouted at viewers to "Get on the telephone!" whenever his fundraising totals ebbed. He and his Los Angeles Universal Cathedral, operating from the 1927 United Artists Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, turned out to be surprisingly good friends to historic preservation. And say what you will about the quixotic plan hatched in 2000 by Bishop Kenneth Ulmer of the Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood to turn the Forum, once home to Magic Johnson's "Showtime" Lakers and Wayne Gretzky's Kings, into a thriving combination of mega-church and high-end arena.
OPINION
February 9, 2014
Re "The cost of a cross," Editorial, Feb. 7 From 1957 until 2004, the central figure on the Los Angeles County seal was the image of the Roman goddess Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees (which seems fitting considering the importance of the citrus industry in the history of Los Angeles County). So my question for those who object to showing an image on the county seal of the San Gabriel Mission as it actually appears - with a cross on top - and to those who view this as somehow an endorsement of Christianity is this: Was the former seal an endorsement of Roman paganism?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 6, 2014 | By Abby Sewell
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and a group of religious leaders filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County in federal court Thursday over the decision to restore a cross to the county's seal. The county Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 last month to add a cross to the top of the San Gabriel Mission in its depiction on the county emblem, which is displayed on buildings, vehicles and official communications. The complaint filed Thursday argues that restoring the cross was unconstitutional because it "favors the Christian religion over all other religions and divides County residents by religion and by adherence or non-adherence to religious beliefs.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 6, 2014 | By Abby Sewell
A group of religious leaders filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Los Angeles County over a Board of Supervisors' decision to place a cross on the county's seal. Supervisors voted 3 to 2 last month to add the cross to the top of the San Gabriel Mission as it appears on the county emblem, which is displayed on buildings, vehicles and official written communications. Years ago, the board had removed a cross from the seal when a similar suit was threatened. The complaint filed Thursday argues that restoring the cross violates the state and U.S. constitutions because it "favors the Christian religion over all other religions and divides County residents by religion and by adherence or non-adherence to religious beliefs.
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