BIRTH CONTROL POLITICS
White House still at odds with Catholic bishops on birth control
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House says legislation in the Senate
that would exempt not just religious, but all employers from
providing birth control coverage that violates their religious or
moral beliefs is "dangerous and wrong."
President Barack Obama tried to get religious employers to
provide free birth control coverage before backing off last week
amid controversy and declaring such coverage must be provided by
their insurance companies instead.
The archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, calls that
a distiontrolnction without a difference. In a prepared statement,
he said the church would not comply, and he urged Catholics to take
a stand for the church and for freedom.
At the White House, Carney dismissed Catholic bishops'
opposition to the revised birth control policy, saying: "They
never supported health care reform to begin with."
US to raise human rights as China's Xi visits
WASHINGTON (AP) - White House officials have said today's
get-acquainted visit by China's likely future leader could include
discussion of grave human rights concerns.
White House senior director for Asian affairs, Daniel Russel,
told reporters that China's Vice President Xi Jinping (SHEE
shihn-peeng) needs to understand U.S. concerns about the situation
in Tibet, and freedom of speech and religion.
The chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom, Leonard Leo, says that in the past year, there has been
"an intensification of hostility toward religion on the part of
the Chinese government." He says Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur
Muslims, Protestants in house churches and Catholics
loyal to the pope have been targeted.
Leo says the Obama administration should address those concerns
with public statements as well as private diplomacy, and threaten
to impose sanctions such as travel restrictions on Chinese
officials who violate human rights.
WASHINGTON GAY MARRIAGE
Washington gov signs gay marriage bill into law
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed into law a
measure that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state, but
gay and lesbian couples can't walk down the aisle just yet.
The law takes effect June 7, but a legal challenge could put the
law on hold pending the outcome of a November vote. Separately, an
initiative was filed at the beginning of the session that opponents
of gay marriage say could lead to the new law being overturned.
As the Democratic governor signed the legislation, a man
shouted, "Do not betray Christ!" However, his voice was
overwhelmed by gay-marriage supporters who cheered and spoke loudly
during his outburst.
Gregoire noted that some religious groups supported the bill.
Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who
opposes gay marriage, was in town speaking with conservative
voters. He urged them to continue their effort to block the law
from taking effect.
CORN FESTIVAL-FIRST AMENDMENT
Federal court rules for Ohio festival free speech
CINCINNATI (AP) - A federal appeals court has ruled that the
free speech rights of two Christians were violated at an Ohio
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
ruled unanimously Monday that a policy against solicitation at the
annual Sweet Corn Festival was too broad, and unconstitutional. The
panel reversed a federal judge's ruling.
The case stemmed from the summer 2009 festival in the Dayton
suburb of Fairborn, Ohio. Plaintiffs Tracy Bays and Kerrigan Skelly
planned to convey their religious beliefs among festival-goers, and
Bays began walking through the park wearing a sandwich board sign
with Christian messages. After encountering opposition from a
festival worker and officials, they left.
They sued in 2010. The Christian legal aid group Alliance
Defense Fund argued their appeal.
MEETING PRAYER OPPOSED
Group presses county board to drop prayer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - The Freedom From Religion Foundation is
pressing Wisconsin's Brown County Board to drop its prayer before
The atheist group says the prayer is unnecessary, inappropriate
Board Supervisor Tom DeWane says some members have disagreed in
the past about whether the prayer should include specific
references to Jesus Christ. But, DeWane says most believe opening
meetings with prayer is a good idea.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette says the Freedom From Religion
Foundation has successfully lobbied the Eau Claire County Board and
Ashland City Council to drop prayers at meetings.
The group also filed a lawsuit in 2007 to remove a nativity
scene from Green Bay City Hall.
Pastor's daughter accidentally shot at Fla. church
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say the daughter of a
pastor remained in critical condition Monday at a Florida hospital,
a day after being accidentally shot in the head at a St. Petersburg
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office was called to the Grace
Connection Church at about 12:24 p.m. Sunday.
Investigators say Moises Zambrana was showing his gun in a small
closet to another church member interested in buying a firearm.
Zambrana reportedly took out the magazine of the Ruger 9mm weapon
but did not know there was a bullet in the chamber.
The gun went off and fired through a wall, striking 20-year-old
Deputies said Zambrana has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
No charges have been filed.
KEY WEST CHURCH
Key West church named minor basilica
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - A Key West church has been named a minor
basilica by the Vatican.
St. Mary Star of the Sea will be the first basilica in the
Archdiocese of Miami and the fifth in the state of Florida. The
church was established in 1846 and is the oldest Catholic church in
Archbishop Thomas Wenski announced the news to parishioners in
Key West through a video played at weekend masses.
Churches are given the "basilica" title in recognition of
their historic and spiritual importance.
There are 72 minor basilicas in the United States.
The official designation will take place in a ceremony on May
SHUL OF ROCK
Former Deadhead starts synagogue for NYU students
NEW YORK (AP) - Once he followed the Grateful Dead. Now he leads
a flock that follows Hasidic Judaism.
Rabbi and former Deadhead Dov Yonah Korn says he plans to
harness the punk-rock energy of Manhattan's Bowery "in a Jewish
Korn and his wife, who met at a concert, are starting a
synagogue for New York University students.
The New York Post says the Lubavitch shul (loo-BAH'-vihch shool)
will be just a stone's throw from the former home of legendary rock
club CBGB, which closed in 2006.
The synagogue's $8.3 million price tag was paid for by donations
from hundreds of past and present NYU students. It's in a
commercial section of a condo building that's also home to Grammy
winner John Legend.
IMF: More ultra-Orthodox Israelis need to work
JERUSALEM (AP) - The International Monetary Fund says Israel's
long term prosperity depends on more ultra-Orthodox Jews joining
the work force.
The IMF says in a preliminary report after a two-week mission to
Israel that the country's economy is strong and has weathered the
global economic slowdown well. But it notes that only about 40
percent of ultra-Orthodox men are employed.
The report highlights a growing rift in Israel between the
secular majority and a fervently devout minority. In ultra-Orthodox
society, men focus heavily on religious study and often do not
work, living instead on government welfare. And since
ultra-Orthodox couples typically have about six children, the
religious minority could become increasingly dominant.
SF SIKHS-HATE CRIMES
US Attorney meets with SF Bay Area Sikh community
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Sikh community leaders have told the U.S.
Attorney in San Francisco that they face workplace discrimination
Sikhs, whose religion is sometimes confused with Islam, told
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag on Sunday that they constantly struggle
with discrimination and bigotry.
The Contra Costa Times says Haag's visit to the Sikh Center in
El Sobrante was designed to assure them the federal government is
ready to respond to reports ranging from hate crimes to identity
The Sikhs expressed concern that the FBI doesn't specifically
track anti-Sikh hate crimes, lumping them in with anti-Muslim
Haag promised to discuss those concerns with FBI officials.
SKorean pastor arrested over children's deaths
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean police have arrested a
Christian pastor and his wife over the deaths of their three
children. The parents are accused of whipping and starving the
children in an attempt to cast out demons.
Police said the couple was arrested Saturday after their 10-year
daughter and two sons aged 8 and 5 were found dead at their home.
Authorities say the couple told investigators they stopped
feeding their children and beat them with a belt and a fly swatter
to drive away evil spirits. Investigators say the couple cited a
Biblical proverb that reads "Do not withhold discipline from a
Police say the husband was pastor of an obscure Protestant
congregation called the Brother Church.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)