FBI Counters Claim

Of Racial Profiling

The FBI is denying that five Muslims were subjects of racial profiling when they were detained and questioned at a New York Giants football game after reports that they were seen bowing down for evening prayer.

An FBI spokesman said Wednesday that the men merely were subjected to "routine, precautionary law enforcement" because they conducted their prayer session near the stadium's main air duct.

Two of the five Muslims who were taken from their seats and questioned at Giants Stadium on Sept. 19 spoke of the incident Wednesday at a news conference in New York City to promote awareness of Muslim religion and culture.

Law school student Sami Shaban, 27, of Piscataway, N.J., said the episode left him with "a feeling of disappointment."

"I'm as American as apple pie," he said, describing himself as a Giants fan since the team's 1986 Super Bowl victory. "Now I'm sitting there and I'm made to feel like an outsider for no reason other than I have a long beard and I prayed."

Shaban said the men arrived at the stadium early in the first quarter and found an open location off the concourse near Gate D where they said their evening prayer, one of five required daily by the Muslim faith. He and Mostafa Khalifa, 27, of Howell, N.J., an information technology professional, said they were then taken to a room and questioned by the FBI for a half-hour.

-- Religion News Service

Mormons Get Help

Recruiting in Pa.

Mormon missionaries have found western Pennsylvania to be one of the hardest places in the country to gain converts, so the church has asked an NBA team's marketing guru to lead a missionary push in the region.

Jay K. Francis, 59, has taken a three-year leave from his job as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Utah Jazz and the Larry Miller Group, the entity that controls all entertainment enterprises for Jazz owner Larry H. Miller.

Francis, a lifelong member of the church, will oversee 120 missionaries ages 19 and 20 from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in western Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia, Ohio and New York. The mission field Francis will oversee stretches from Uniontown, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, to Jamestown, N.Y. The area has about 10,000 Mormons, most living in greater Pittsburgh.

"Pennsylvania has the smallest number of Latter-day Saints per [capita] of any state in the union," said Evan Stoddard, mission leader for a Mormon congregation in Pittsburgh.

Stoddard, associate dean of liberal arts at Duquesne University, a Roman Catholic school, said the stable, traditional, family-oriented outlook of people in western Pennsylvania -- many of whom have family ties to churches -- make it a difficult place to win converts.

-- Associated Press

Pastor Electrocuted

In Baptism Accident

A Baptist pastor was electrocuted after grabbing a microphone while submerged in the water of a baptistery.

The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, of University Baptist Church in Waco, Tex., died Sunday. Microphones have long been used at the church because of the size of the congregation, which regularly exceeds 600 worshipers on Sundays, according to Blair Browning, a spokesman for the church.

The baptismal candidate had not stepped into the water and was not injured, Browning said.

About 800 people gathered for the morning service. The church serves a large congregation of Baylor University students. Attendance on Sunday was greater than usual because of homecoming weekend at the university.

About 1,000 people congregated at the church for a memorial service Sunday night, Browning said.

"I don't know how, why, where or what's going to happen," Ben Dudley, University Baptist's community pastor told the congregation, "but we will continue as a church in the community because that is what Kyle would have wanted."

-- Religion News Service