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March 20, 2012

Public Has 90 Days to Comment on Mandate for Abortion-Causing Drugs

The Obama administration on Friday released an advance notice of the public rule requiring all employers to provide insurance that covers drugs that could cause early abortions, inviting public comment for the next 90 days. But according to experts who’ve analyzed the fine print, the administration only seems to be asking for help in balancing its priority — free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacient drugs for all women — with the religious freedoms of employers.

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March 19, 2012

Put on Your Shoes

The media and the Administration don’t want you to know, but most Americans oppose the HHS mandate. The most important talking point used by those who support the HHS contraception mandate is that the Catholic Bishops and their allies are “out-of-touch? and represent a minority view.

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March 19, 2012

Standing firm

WASHINGTON—Despite the Obama administration’s efforts over the last few weeks to redefine opponents of the contraceptive mandate as anti-women, Protestant and Catholic leaders are standing firm in opposing the mandate on the grounds of religious freedom. In fact, religious leaders are expanding their line of attack with a new lawsuit from a religious business owner, adding to a number of other suits religious organizations have filed. This past week the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met to discuss the issue and on Wednesday put out a clear statement that its position is unchanged and that the Obama administration has continued to turn a deaf ear to their religious freedom concerns. (Download a pdf of the committee’s statement.)

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March 19, 2012

NYT Accused of Double Standard on Religion; Claims to Be Protecting Troops

The New York Times recently published an advertisement purchased by an atheist organization called "It's Time to Consider Quitting The Catholic Church." But when another organization tried to buy a similar advertisement against Islam, the newspaper decided not to immediately publish the ad, causing some to question whether or not the newspaper has a double standard on religion. On Mar. 9 the Times published an anti-Catholic ad purchased by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) which challenged Roman Catholic beliefs and pointed to the church's past sex scandals, among other things, as reasons for Catholics to leave their faith behind.

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March 19, 2012

Final Rule Reflects Abortion Surcharge in ObamaCare

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week issued a final rule concerning the new federal health care law, showing that not only must insurance plans partaking in federal “exchanges? charge all customers for abortion coverage, but they also have to keep it secret. Under the rule, PL 111-148, insurance companies that want access to federally subsidized clients must charge all their customers at least $1 per month, which will be directed to an allocation fund. The language, however, does not specify a maximum amount, meaning the actual monthly surcharges could be much higher.

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March 19, 2012

Washington Referendum Moves Forward

The effort to repeal a same-sex marriage law in Washington passed its first major hurdle this week, when a county judge approved the wording for a referendum that could eventually wind up on the state ballot in November. Though Thurston County Judge Tom McPhee removed language stating that the law “redefines marriage?—saying the word limit means the referendum can only mention the three main components of the law to be repealed, Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, said it makes little difference.

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March 16, 2012

Missouri Man Is First Private Business Owner to Sue HHS Over Contraception Mandate

(CNSNews.com) - A conservative civil rights group has filed a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of a Missouri business owner who says the HHS contraceptive mandate violates his constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. The lawsuit, filed by the American Center for Law and Justice, requests a permanent injunction prohibiting the HHS from requiring those who have religious objections to abide by the mandate, which requires employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

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March 16, 2012

Obama Administration to Defend Cross on Mt. Soledad War Memorial

(CNSNews.com) - The Obama administration, under fire from Christian conservatives because of the Obamacare contraception mandate, has decided to defend the Mt. Soledad War Memorial, which includes a 29-foot Christian cross. The Justice Department on Wednesday filed legal briefs asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in 2011 that the San Diego-area memorial was unconstitutional because it includes a commemorative cross.

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March 16, 2012

UK Consultation on Same-Sex Marriage Gets Underway Amid Criticism

The British government has launched its consultation on same-sex marriage, announcing that its main objective is to facilitate legal civil marriage between gay couples by 2015. Currently, homosexual couples have the option of joining in a civil partnership, but the government feels the institution of marriage should be broadened to include same-sex couples. Although the government seeks to ensure that religious institutions will remain exempt from performing same-sex marriages, Scottish priest Cardinal Keith O'Brien has called the consultation and its mission a "grotesque subversion of a universally acknowledged human right."

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March 16, 2012

Majority of Americans Do Not Believe Religious Liberty Is Under Attack

According to a new poll, a majority of Americans do not believe religious liberty is under attack, and only six percent of those who do feel religious liberty is being threatened blamed the recent debate over contraception coverage. The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, found that 56 percent of respondents did not feel religious liberty was threatened, while 39 percent of respondents felt their religious liberty was threatened.

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March 16, 2012

North Carolina University Backs Off Christian Club

After a federal lawsuit was filed, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro capitulated and will now grant formal recognition to a Christian student group. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed the suit March 1, after the school said the Make Up Your Own Mind club must allow any student, with any belief system, to hold leadership positions.

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March 16, 2012

Court Orders Obama Administration to Release Paperwork

The Obama administration this week released paperwork showing how it approved a grant to a branch of Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire — but only after a federal court ordered officials to quit stalling. Last year, the New Hampshire Executive Council — a group of five councilors who work with the governor to oversee the state’s business affair — denied a grant to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE), which runs six clinics in the state. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen then appealed directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund PPNE directly, bypassing the state.

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March 15, 2012

Faith Groups: No Progress in White House Meetings on Birth Control Mandate

The White House is currently in talks with various faith groups about the administration's mandate requiring employers to provide health coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs. Some of these faith groups have said, in public statements and in communications with The Christian Post, that no progress has been made toward an acceptable accommodation. World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, said in an email to The Christian Post that they have not made any headway. Those who are helped by World Vision are not required to be, or become, a Christian in order to receive their assistance. Because of this, World Vision does not qualify for an exemption to the mandate.

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March 15, 2012

Gay Activists Try to Suppress Biblical Worldview from Media

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced today its new “Commentator Accountability Project,? which seeks to “educate? journalists about spokespeople from organizations that hold a biblical view of sexuality. In an interview with Politico blogger Dylan Byers, GLAAD Communications Director Rich Ferraro said the 36 people networks need to be “educated? about — including Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, family formation studies director Glenn Stanton and education analyst Candi Cushman — “aren’t experts? but people who “represent nothing but extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.?

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March 15, 2012

Federal Marriage Law at Heart of Estate Dispute

The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came into play in a civil court case argued this week in a federal court in Pennsylvania. Ellyn Farley was a lawyer working for a Pennsylvania-based firm before she died in 2010 of cancer. In her will, she designated her elderly mother as the beneficiary of her life insurance and retirement packages. To her lesbian partner, Jennifer Tobits, she left her Jeep, the condominium they shared, and the all the cash in her bank account.

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March 14, 2012

With Liberty or Justice for All: Inside the Occupy and Tea Party Movements

Pam Hogeweide and Emmett Bailey would have much to talk about at a sit-down dinner. They are both active churchgoers, committed to their families, and love their cities—Portland, Oregon, and Richmond, Virginia. Both Pam and Emmett say their reading of Scripture compels them to join current U.S. political movements. The only difference? Pam is an Occupy protester, a decision she says allows her to pursue God's heart for justice, while Emmett is a Tea Party member, which he says ensures that God's gifts of liberty and freedom remain intact. How can people who share the same faith embrace such different political views? And what does their witness tell us about the state of American politics?

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March 14, 2012

Obama Administration Defunds Texas Medicaid Over Planned Parenthood

Just how committed is the federal government to Planned Parenthood? Enough to put more than 100,000 low-income Texas women at risk. The Lone Star State has completely defunded Planned Parenthood and other providers of elective abortions. Congress, meanwhile is looking into allegations that Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide have committed Medicaid fraud. Late last week, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced it will withhold Medicaid dollars from Texas unless it allows Planned Parenthood to have some of the money.

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March 14, 2012

Texas Schedules Five Abortionists for Hearings

The Texas Medical Board on Monday scheduled five abortionists to come before it for a disciplinary hearing in July. Robert L. Prince, Margaret Kouril Kini, Pedro J. Kowalyszyn, H. Brook Randal and Sherwood C. Lynn will discuss the evidence collected against them during an undercover sting operation last year, showing they illegally disposed of patients’ medical records, violated informed-consent laws and failed to report cases of suspected child sex abuse to the state.

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March 13, 2012

New Bill Aims to Repeal Louisiana’s Anti-Evolution Law

Karen Carter Peterson, a state senator in Louisiana, wants to make sure evolution is taught in science classes. Last week, Peterson introduced a bill that would repeal a four-year-old state law that encourages teachers to critique science such as evolution and global warming. The repeal effort, the second one in the state in the last year, represents the latest in a broader pushback against anti-evolution laws passed since 2008. Louisiana's Science Education Act, passed in 2008, was the first of its kind to be approved in a state legislature. It claims to promote "critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." Attempts to pass similar legislation, which are often called "Academic Freedom" bills, have failed in a number of other states including Iowa, Florida, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire. My colleagues James West and Tim McDonnell have reported on parents' and teachers' efforts to push back against climate-change deniers in the classroom in Vermont, Washington, and Connecticut.

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March 13, 2012

NYT Poll: Majority of Americans Say Employers Should Be Allowed to Opt Out of Contraception Mandate

(CNSNews.com) – A significant majority – 57 percent -- of Americans believe religiously-affiliated employers such as universities or hospitals should be able to opt-out of the Obama administration’s mandate to cover the cost of contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization for female employees, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released Tuesday. A smaller majority – 51 percent -- believes all employers should be able to opt out.

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