BIRTH CONTROL POLITICS
Democrats protest religious freedom hearing
WASHINGTON (AP) - Religious leaders and scholars have told a
House panel they'd rather go to jail than comply with President
Obama's mandate that employers provide free contraceptive coverage.
The Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church
Missouri Synod, said "We must obey God rather than men, and we
Bishop William Lori said Catholic institutions would
not violate their faith, and a Baptist college professor said he'd
share a jail cell with his colleagues if necessary.
Cong. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., scolded the panel for testimony he
condemned as shameful political exaggeration.
But Rabbi Meir Soloveichik (soh-loh-VY'-chihk) said he had to
"speak up" because conscience rights are being threatened.
Dr. Laura Champion of Calvin College, one of two women to
testify, said treating pregnancy as if it's a disease is something
she rejects "both religiously and medically,"
CHURCH SCHOOL SPACE
Judge permits Bronx church to meet at NYC school
NEW YORK (AP) - A federal judge has temporarily blocked New York
City from banishing worship from its public schools.
The city had told dozens of congregations that this past Sunday
would be the last time they could rent schools for worship
services, but federal Judge Loretta Preska has issued a temporary
restraining order covering the next two Sundays.
Preska found that the Bronx Household of Faith was likely to win
its challenge to the city regulation on the grounds that it
violates the First Amendment assurance that Congress shall make no
law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free
Bronx Household of Faith Pastor Jack Roberts said he was
"elated" with the judge's ruling.
But city attorney Jonathan Pines said he would appeal to the 2nd
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
SCHOOL PRAYER BANNER
Cranston votes not to appeal prayer banner case
CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island public school district
committee has voted not to appeal a federal court decision ordering
the removal of a prayer banner displayed in a high school
The Cranston School Committee voted 5-2 Thursday night, after
more than two hours of public hearings.
A federal judge last month ruled the prayer banner at Cranston
High School West was unconstitutional and ordered it removed in a
lawsuit filed on behalf of 16-year-old atheist Jessica Ahlquist.
Ahlquist is a junior at the school.
The legal battle over the banner made Ahlquist the target of
online threats. She was also briefly shadowed by a police officer
The banner was put up in 1963. It has been covered since the
Lawyers for Ahlquist are asking the court to order Cranston to
pay $173,000 for legal fees.
NY archbishop jokes about red cardinal vestments
VATICAN CITY (AP) - New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, one of 22
men who will be elevated to the rank of cardinal Saturday, says the
Vatican's tailors may have to let out his new red cassock after all
the pasta he's been eating.
He also jokes that he's reluctant to wear the red socks that
complete his new wardrobe, lest he be considered a Red Sox fan.
Vatican analyst Father John Wauck says cardinals "wear red as a
symbol of their willingness to shed their blood" for the church.
He says the cardinals serve as advisors to the pope and will
someday vote on who should be the next pope.
AP Interview: Cardinal wants to be bridge to China
ROME (AP) - Hong Kong's cardinal-designate says he wants to
"keep the door open" between the Vatican and the Chinese
government, but acknowledges that there are "lots of battles"
ahead for the Catholic church.
Bishop John Tong, who will be elevated to cardinal this weekend,
says he wants to maintain dialogue and friendships without
renouncing principles, so that he can be "a bridge" for the
church in China.
Beijing severed ties with the Vatican in 1951 after the
Communist party took power and established a state-controlled
catholic church outside the pope's authority.
KC bishop seeks dismissal of criminal charges
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Attorneys for the Roman Catholic bishop
of Kansas City-St. Joseph have asked a court to dismiss charges
against him for allegedly failing to report suspected child abuse
by a priest, arguing that the church delegated such reporting
responsibilities to another diocese official and that the charge
therefore couldn't apply to the bishop.
Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese were charged in October with
failing to report suspected child abuse. Prosecutors contend that
he and other church officials knew about pornographic photos of
children allegedly found on the computer of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan
five months before they contacted police.
Ratigan has pleaded not guilty to dozens of state and federal
child pornography charges and remains behind bars.
Finn is the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to face
criminal charges related to how the church handles child sexual
abuse claims against priests.
Santorum to deliver church address in Georgia
ATLANTA (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum
will speak at a Georgia church on Sunday in advance of the state's
March 6 primary.
Santorum will offer the keynote address at the "God and
Country" rally at First Redeemer Church in Cumming.
A recent Georgia poll found the former Pennsylvania senator
trailing Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in the state.
But Santorum has surged nationally in recent weeks, pulling off
a trio of wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. He also
narrowly won the leadoff caucus state of Iowa.
With 76 delegates, Georgia is the biggest prize on Super
Nigerian underwear bomber gets life in prison
DETROIT (AP) - A Nigerian Muslim who tried to blow up an
international flight near Detroit on behalf of al-Qaida has been
sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The mandatory punishment Thursday for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
(ahb-DOOL'-moo-TAH'-lahb) was never in doubt after he pleaded
guilty in October. The 25-year-old says the bomb in his underwear
was a "blessed weapon" to avenge poorly treated Muslims
The bomb didn't fully detonate aboard an Amsterdam-to-Detroit
flight but caused a brief fire that burned Abdulmutallab.
He admitted afterward that the attack was inspired by Anwar
al-Awlaki (ahn-WAHR' al-aw-LAH'-kee), a radical American-born
cleric and leading al-Qaida figure killed by a U.S. drone strike
The sentence was announced in a crowded courtroom that included
some passengers from the targeted flight.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)