American Scene: Chaplain at same-sex rite leaves Southern Baptists

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NEW YORK — A long-serving Air Force chaplain has left the Southern Baptist Convention after the conservative denomination publicly questioned his attendance at a same-sex civil union ceremony at his base in New Jersey.

The chaplain, Col. Timothy Wagoner, is remaining on active duty and has affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which holds more moderate views on homosexuality and some other issues than the Southern Baptists.

“I find very little that is more important and nothing that is more exhilarating than providing for the religious freedoms and spiritual care of all service members and their families — and will joyfully continue to do so,” Col. Wagoner said in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

Col. Wagoner’s exit from the Southern Baptist Convention, which SBC leaders welcomed, is a direct fallout from the repeal a year ago of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibited acknowledged gays from serving in the military.

Gay service members are now able to be open about their relationships, and same-sex civil union and marriage ceremonies can take place at military installations if they are legal under state law. New Jersey recognizes civil unions, and thus the June 23 ceremony uniting Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and civilian Will Behrens had legal stature.

Bullied bus monitor: ‘Time to move on’

GREECE — A New York school bus monitor who was shown in a video being relentlessly bullied by a group of boys said she is retiring.

Karen Klein told the Associated Press on Friday that it was a tough decision to leave the job she held for three years, but that it is time to move on.

The 68-year-old suburban Rochester grandmother said she is not quitting because of what happened on the last day of school in June, when four seventh-grade students taunted her with profanity, insults and threats during a school bus run. A 10-minute video of the episode went viral online and spurred an outpouring of more than $700,000 in donations from all over the world.

The Greece Central School District has suspended the students for a year.

MASSACHUSETTS

Dad shoots 2 children before killing himself

WORCESTER — A man who had recently separated from his wife shot his two children before committing suicide, prosecutors said.

A family member called police Saturday night after finding the bodies of 41-year-old Daryl Benway and his 7-year-old daughter, Abigail, in the master bedroom of their two-story Oxford home, said Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.

Benway’s 9-year-old son, Owen, was found shot in the head in the kitchen and was taken to UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center in serious condition. Owen has been in pediatric intensive care, a spokesman for Mr. Early said Sunday. He said he had no additional information about Owen’s condition, and a hospital spokeswoman would not comment.

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