Update on the latest religion news



Pastor who supported Prop. 8 disappointed but not surprised

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A California pastor who rallied churches to support Proposition 8 says he's disappointed but not surprised that a federal appeals court has declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The Rev. Jim Garlow says it's not the first time the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals "has done something strange, bizarre and off the wall."

The three-judge panel is giving gay marriage opponents time to appeal its 2-1 decision before ordering the state to let same-sex weddings resume. The dissenting judge said the ban could help ensure that children benefit from being raised by a married mother and father.

Gay and lesbian couples cheered outside the courthouse in San Francisco when yesterday's ruling was announced.

But Garlow says he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to recognize the societal value of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.


275-a-10-(The Rev. Jim Garlow, San Diego pastor and chairman of Renewing American Leadership, in AP interview)-"and one woman"-The Rev. Jim Garlow, a San Diego pastor and chairman of Renewing American Leadership, says another California pastor who supported Proposition 8 was personally threatened. (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *275 (02/07/12)>> 00:10 "and one woman"

274-a-10-(The Rev. Jim Garlow, San Diego pastor and chairman of Renewing American Leadership, in AP interview)-"everybody else hatemongers"-The Rev. Jim Garlow, a San Diego pastor and chairman of Renewing American Leadership, says his church has been targeted for supporting Proposition 8. (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *274 (02/07/12)>> 00:10 "everybody else hatemongers"

273-a-12-(The Rev. Jim Garlow, San Diego pastor and chairman of Renewing American Leadership, in AP interview)-"physically, emotionally, spiritually"-The Rev. Jim Garlow, a San Diego pastor and chairman of Renewing American Leadership, says most Americans believe marriage is between a man and a woman. (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *273 (02/07/12)>> 00:12 "physically, emotionally, spiritually"

272-a-12-(The Rev. Jim Garlow, San Diego pastor and chairman of Renewing American Leadership, in AP interview)-"off the wall"-The Rev. Jim Garlow, a San Diego pastor and chairman of Renewing American Leadership, says he isn't surprised at the ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court. (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *272 (02/07/12)>> 00:12 "off the wall"


White House wants to address contraceptives rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says it wants to allay the concerns of church-affiliated employers over a requirement that they provide birth control coverage regardless of their religious beliefs.

Press secretary Jay Carney continued to defend the new policy yesterday, while making clear that the White House is looking for a way to tamp down the growing election-year firestorm that's erupted since it was announced late last month.

The president's policy limits exemptions to religious groups that only serve and employ fellow believers.

Carney said Obama wants to ensure that women employed by church-affiliated employers like Catholic hospitals, colleges or charities are able to get contraception. At the same time, Carney said Obama wants to find a way to respect religious beliefs and convictions.

Catholic bishops across the country stated that they cannot and will not implement the new policy.


263-a-18-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"care preventive services"-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says President Obama is aware of the outcry over his administration's mandate that church-affiliated groups provide free contraceptive coverage. ((note length of cut)) (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *263 (02/07/12)>> 00:18 "care preventive services"

262-a-16-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"by religious groups"-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says church-affiliated groups were given an extra year to determine how to implement the contraceptive coverage mandate. (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *262 (02/07/12)>> 00:16 "by religious groups"

259-w-33-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney)--The White House says it wants to allay the concerns of church-affiliated employers over a new requirement that they provide birth control coverage regardless of their religious beliefs. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *259 (02/07/12)>> 00:33

260-a-10-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"provides this coverage"-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says President Obama takes seriously the religious objections to the administration's contraceptive coverage mandate. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *260 (02/07/12)>> 00:10 "provides this coverage"

261-a-12-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"same contraceptive services"-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says President Obama believes Catholic hospitals and universities should be required to provide free contraceptive coverage. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (7 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *261 (02/07/12)>> 00:12 "same contraceptive services"


In Ohio, Gingrich hits Romney on contraception

CINCINNATI (AP) — Newt Gingrich is criticizing both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama's records on requiring Catholic organizations to provide contraceptive aids in some circumstances.

The Republican presidential candidate told GOP voters in Cincinnati yesterday that Obama has declared war on the Catholic Church. The administration recently issued a regulation requiring church-affiliated employers to cover birth control for their workers.

Some Catholics say the rule forces Catholic institutions to violate their religious convictions.

Romney also has criticized the Obama administration's actions, but Gingrich says Romney has a weak record on the issue.

Gingrich says Romney insisted that Catholic hospitals give out abortion pills against their religious beliefs when he was governor of Massachusetts.

In 2005, Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide rape victims with emergency contraception.


Komen exec quits after Planned Parenthood flap

ATLANTA (AP) — A policy chief who resigned from the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity says she stepped down to allow the organization to move forward.

Karen Handel told reporters yesterday that she had become a focal point in the dispute over whether the Komen organization should give money to Planned Parenthood.

Handel said Komen officials started discussing whether to change their policies in 2010 before she joined the group. She said the charity was concerned that some Roman Catholic Dioceses had encouraged believers not to give to Komen because it supported Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.

Handel says she was tasked with helping develop a policy that kept Komen on neutral ground in the abortion debate.


US court sides with CDC over fight with counselor

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected arguments from a former counselor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who claims her religious rights were violated because she was fired for refusing to counsel a gay woman.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a judge's decision to dismiss Marcia Walden's lawsuit against the CDC.

Walden worked as a contractor for the CDC in 2007 when a woman came to her for advice involving a same-sex relationship. Walden was let go after she told the woman she couldn't help because her "personal values" as a devout Christian prevented her from offering any assistance.

Walden said her firing was a result of religious discrimination, but the three-judge panel said it was not persuaded by her arguments.


Religious license plates for sale in SC

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina drivers can buy religious license plates that feature three crosses and a sunrise.

A federal judge ruled in 2009 that "I Believe" tags that legislators created with a state law violated the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion by government. These new tags were not created by a state law. Instead, they were created and sponsored by the nonprofit group www.IBELIEVEsc.net.

Nonprofit spokeswoman Adrian Grimes says the new tag is a nonpolitical way for Christians of all denominations to share their faith.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued over the 2008 law. A spokesman says the group sees no constitutional problem with these plates.


Drug gang banners in Mexico ahead of Pope visit

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A drug gang unfurled banners in a Mexican city that Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit next month, telling rival traffickers to keep out and keep the peace during the papal visit.

One of the banners was signed by The Knights Templar, a violent, pseudo-religious cartel from the neighboring state of Michoacan (meech-wah-KAHN').

The cloth banners with hand-painted messages were found and quickly removed yesterday, a few weeks after the local Roman Catholic archdiocese had issued a public plea to drug gangs not to mar the Pope's visit with violence.

Taking its name from a medieval Roman Catholic order of religious warriors who fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem, the Knights Templar cartel has been blamed for murders, extortion, drug trafficking and attacks on police.


Pope may visit Lebanon in September

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is confirming that Pope Benedict XVI may travel to Lebanon later this year.

The top Roman Catholic official in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, said yesterday that Benedict was expected in Lebanon in September to present a document on the future of the church in the Middle East.

It would be the second trip for the 84-year-old Benedict in 2012, following his March 23-29 visit to Mexico and Cuba.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said a Lebanon trip was under consideration. The Vatican usually confirms trip details closer to the actual date.

Benedict has expressed increasing concern about the plight of Christians in the Muslim-dominated Middle East.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati invited the pope during a November audience at the Vatican.


Bishops told pedophiles lie, victims must be heard

ROME (AP) — Psychologists have told bishops from around the world that priests who rape and molest children often lie when confronted with an accusation, and that victims usually tell the truth and need to be believed in order to heal.

The messages were delivered yesterday at a Vatican-backed symposium on clerical sex abuse that's aimed at helping bishops create tough policies to protect children and root out pedophiles from the priesthood.

Advocates for victims have dismissed the symposium, but organizers say it shows an unprecedented commitment by the Vatican to crack down on abuse.

Monsignor Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist who ran a U.S. treatment center for abusive priests, told the conference that bishops for too long took the word of manipulative priests over victims.


Retired cardinal criticized for abuse comments

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan is facing criticism from representatives of clergy sexual abuse victims for a recent interview in which he said he regretted apologizing for the priest abuse scandal in 2002 when he was bishop of Bridgeport.

In the interview with Connecticut Magazine, Egan says "I don't think we did anything wrong" in handling abuse cases. He says he was not obligated to report abuse claims, and maintained that he inherited the cases from his predecessor and did not have any cases on his watch.

Attorneys who represented numerous abuse victims say Egan's apology withdrawal is "just another slap in the face" to victims. They say clergy have been required to report abuse claims to authorities since the early 1970s.


Plea averts trial in NY Hasidic firebomb case

NEW CITY, N.Y. (AP) — A guilty plea has averted a trial in an attempted murder case that brought unusual attention to a religious dispute in a Jewish enclave in New York.

Defense attorney Deborah Lowenberg says Shaul Spitzer pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree assault. The 18-year-old is a member of a Hasidic sect in New Square. Spitzer had been accused of severely burning neighbor Aron Rottenberg with a firebomb.

Rottenberg claimed that Spitzer was acting at the direction of the village's chief rabbi because Rottenberg had stopped praying at the main synagogue. The rabbi denied involvement.

Lowenberg says Spitzer could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

New Square is about 30 miles north of Manhattan. The insular village has 7,000 residents, nearly all of them members of the Skver (skvehr) Hasidic sect.


Police say Jerusalem monastery desecrated

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police say "death to Christians" and other Hebrew-language graffiti has been scrawled on a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said yesterday that "price tag" was also painted on the monastery in the Valley of the Cross, near Israel's parliament.

The phrase "price tag" refers to retaliation by suspected Jewish extremists for Israeli government actions against settlers.

Such acts originally targeted West Bank mosques but have recently expanded to include a mosque inside Israel, Israeli military bases, and now, a Christian holy site.

Army Radio reported that "Maccabees of Migron" was painted on the monastery, too. Maccabees were ancient Jewish heroes, and Migron is an unauthorized settlement facing a court-ordered evacuation.

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