Birth Control Lawsuit; Judge Blasts his Critics; Gay Adoption; Cross Dispute; Ten Commandment...


Catholic broadcaster sues over Obama policy

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - A Roman Catholic broadcasting network is

suing the Obama administration over its mandate that religious

organizations pay for their workers' birth control.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by the nonprofit EWTN Global

Catholic Network, claims the policy is unconstitutional because it

would require the broadcaster to violate church principles on the

sanctity of life or pay fines of $600,000 a year.

Network president Michael Warsaw says EWTN had to sue because it

would be forced to use donors' contributions to pay for morally

objectionable health services including contraception,

sterilization and abortion drugs.

EWTN spokeswoman Michelle Johnson says the Alabama-based network

employs 340 people, 135 of them women.

Lawsuits to block the contraceptive mandate also have been filed

by a Catholic college and a Protestant university.





Judge slams critics of Texas school prayer ruling

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - A federal judge blasted by Newt Gingrich and

other conservatives for his ruling that prohibited prayer at a

Texas high school graduation is firing back.

In accepting a settlement to the case, Judge Fred Biery

admonished those who "demagogued this case for their own political

goals." To those critics, he wrote, "You should be ashamed of


Biery did not mention anyone by name in his court order. Yet one

target appeared to be Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who condemned the

judge's decision last summer to issue the prayer ban after an

agnostic family filed a lawsuit.

Under the settlement, the Medina (meh-DEE'-nah) Valley

Independent School District will not officially make prayer part of

graduation ceremonies. The settlement doesn't prohibit student

speakers from praying during their remarks.



Va. Senate passes adoption discrimination bill

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's state Senate has passed

legislation allowing private adoption agencies to deny placements

that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, including

opposition to homosexuality.

The House of Delegates passed an identical version of the bill,

and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has said he'll sign the measure.

That will make Virginia the second state with such a law.

Supporters say it was modeled after a North Dakota statute.

State Sen. Jeffrey McWaters says his "conscience clause" bill

protects the religious rights of private child placement agencies,

including dozens that contract with the state to provide foster

care and adoption services.

But Sen. Adam Ebbin, the only openly gay member of the General

Assembly, said the bill will endanger gay and bisexual children who

could be placed with parents opposed to homosexuality.



Group wants Supreme Court to save CA war memorial

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Supporters of a war memorial cross on federal

land in San Diego have rallied at the Mount Soledad site as they

asked the Supreme Court to reverse a decision deeming it


The nonprofit Liberty Institute filed the petition on behalf of

the Mount Soledad Memorial Association to preserve the 43-foot

monument atop the picturesque peak overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The gathering of 75 supporters Thursday also drew about

three-dozen opponents who want the cross taken down.

The supporters told the opponents that the cross is not about

religion but about honoring service members, and future generations

should have the opportunity to experience the memorial.

Opponents responded that courts have determined the cross is




ACLU suing NM city over Ten Commandments monument

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of

New Mexico has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Bloomfield

residents over a Ten Commandments monument displayed at City Hall.

The lawsuit alleges that the monument is a government

endorsement of religion and violates the U.S. and state


ACLU New Mexico executive director Peter Simonson says the

government should not decide which religious doctrines it favors

and then post them on government property. But he said individuals,

religious communities, and religious associations should be free to

post the Ten Commandments as they wish, and the ACLU will defend

their right to do so.



Christian singer taking mentor with him to the Grammys

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Christian singer Brandon Heath, who's

nominated for three of the Grammy awards that will be handed out

Sunday, is taking his high school choir teacher with him to the

awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Heath says that when he was a teenager, Bobby Jean Frost

encouraged him to audition for a competition called "Grammy in the

Schools," which he went on to win.

The now-retired Frost says she could see back then that the

young Brandon had personality as well as talent.

Heath says his teacher envisioned his future success, so it's

fun to be able to "show her that she was right."

He quipped, "I've got the hottest date at the Grammys, y'all!"

A laughing Frost responded, "The oldest too!"

Brandon Heath is nominated for best Contemporary Christian Song,

Album and Performance.






5-time Grammy winner nominated again

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Christian music star Steven Curtis

Chapman says his latest Grammy award nomination, for best

Contemporary Christian Performance, is one of many blessings in a

25-year career.

The five-time Grammy winner says he feels blessed that people

still want to hear the songs he writes.

This year's Grammy nomination is for performing the song "Do

Everything," from his album "re:Creation."

Chapman says this past year also has brought him and his wife

their first grandchild, and more healing from the tragic death of

their adopted daughter Maria, who was run over in the family's

driveway in May 2008.

Chapman says his family is, "by the grace of God and the

prayers of so many people, really doing well."






Grammy nominee gets advice from TobyMac

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Grammy-nominated Christian singer Jamie

Grace says she gets frequent advice from her mentor.

The 20-year-old Grace says TobyMac, who discovered her on

YouTube and signed her to a record deal, tells her to stay in


TobyMac says he also reminds her to keep writing great songs and

"stay true to who brought you here." He quickly adds, "I'm not

talking about me. I'm talking about God."

Grace's song "Hold Me," featuring TobyMac, is nominated for

best contemporary Christian music song.

She says her sister has told her not to "stress out about

winning" this Sunday because it's such an honor just to be







Judge allows 2 claims in archdiocese bankruptcy

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A federal judge is allowing two claims to go

forward against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee for

alleged sexual abuse by clergy.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan Kelley on Thursday dismissed a third

claim because that person already had entered into a settlement.

The archdiocese argued the two claims were filed beyond the

statute of limitations.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection last year,

saying pending sex-abuse lawsuits could leave it in debt. About 570

people filed restitution claims by the Feb. 1 deadline.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests estimates if

the archdiocese had been successful on the statute of limitations

argument, 95 percent of the cases could have been ultimately







Bishop warns of priest sex abuse cases in Asia

ROME (AP) - A Filipino archbishop has told a Vatican-backed

conference on priestly sex abuse that a culture of silence

prevalent in Asia has kept many victims from coming forward.

Concerns are rising that Asia may be the next ground zero in the

abuse scandal.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle (TAHG'-lay) said a

widespread deference to the church in places like the Philippines

may have kept a lid on reports. He said more and more people have

come forward in the past five years, but added that reports of

priests keeping mistresses still far outpace reports of pedophiles.

Tagle on Thursday addressed the conference, which is aimed at

helping bishops and religious superiors craft guidelines on how to

care for victims and keep abusers out of the priesthood.



(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


AP-NY-02-10-12 0334EST


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