Update on the latest religion news



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 will."

Bishop William Lori (LOHR'-ee) 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,"


408-a-07-(Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, Yeshiva University scholar, at House hearing)-"Americans are threatened"-Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, a scholar at Yeshiva University, says the religious rights of more than Catholics is at stake. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *408 (02/16/12)>> 00:07 "Americans are threatened"

409-a-15-(Congressman Gerald Connolly, D-Va., at House hearing)-"that's not true"-Congressman Gerald Connolly, D-Va., scolds religious leaders for testifying at the hearing. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *409 (02/16/12)>> 00:15 "that's not true"

407-a-03-(The Reverend Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, at House hearing)-"and we will"-The Reverend Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, says President Barack Obama's contraceptive coverage mandate is unconscionable. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *407 (02/16/12)>> 00:03 "and we will"

287-a-09-(Allison Dabbs Garrett, senior vice president for academic affairs, Oklahoma Christian University, at House hearing)-"violating federal law"-Allison Dabbs Garrett, Oklahoma Christian University's senior vice president for academic affairs, says her school shouldn't have to provide drugs and procedures it believes are wrong. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *287 (02/16/12)>> 00:09 "violating federal law"

285-a-15-(Dr. Laura Champion, medical director, Calvin College Health Services, at House hearing)-"within my belief"-Dr. Laura Champion, medical director of Calvin College Health Services, says she can not in good conscience obey President Obama's contraceptive coverage mandate. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *285 (02/16/12)>> 00:15 "within my belief"


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 exercise thereof.

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.


313-a-09-(The Reverend Jack Roberts, pastor, Bronx Household of Faith, in AP interview)-"our local communities"-The Reverend Jack Roberts, pastor of the Bronx Household of Faith, says he believes his congregation and others have been under spiritual attack. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *313 (02/16/12)>> 00:09 "our local communities"

314-a-08-(Jonathan Pines, attorney for the City of New York, reading prepared statement)-"immediate appellate review"-Jonathan Pines, attorney for the City of New York, says the city will appeal the judge's temporary restraining order. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *314 (02/16/12)>> 00:08 "immediate appellate review"

315-a-07-(Jonathan Pines, attorney for the City of New York, reading prepared statement)-"First Amendment violations"-Jonathan Pines, attorney for the City of New York, says the city and congregations prepared for months for this past Sunday's deadline. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *315 (02/16/12)>> 00:07 "First Amendment violations"

312-a-11-(The Reverend Jack Roberts, pastor, Bronx Household of Faith, in AP interview)-"so we're elated"-The Reverend Jack Roberts, pastor of the Bronx Household of Faith, says he's thankful for a federal judge's restraining order stopping New York City from barring worship in its public schools. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *312 (02/16/12)>> 00:11 "so we're elated"


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 auditorium.

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 at school.

The banner was put up in 1963. It has been covered since the court ruling.

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.


350-a-07-(Father John Wauck, Vatican analyst, in AP interview)-"does the electing"-Vatican analyst Father John Wauck says the cardinals have the Catholic church's highest responsibility. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *350 (02/16/12)>> 00:07 "does the electing"

349-a-12-(Father John Wauck, Vatican analyst, in AP interview)-"pope, of advisors"-Vatican analyst Father John Wauck says the pope will consecrate 22 new cardinals this Saturday. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *349 (02/16/12)>> 00:12 "pope, of advisors"

348-a-12-(Father John Wauck, Vatican analyst, in AP interview)-"that they have"-Vatican analyst Father John Wauck says there's significance to the cardinals' red robes. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *348 (02/16/12)>> 00:12 "that they have"

346-a-06-(New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, cardinal-designate, in AP interview)-"I do, yeah"-New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan says he isn't sure his red cassock will fit after all the pasta he's been eating. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *346 (02/16/12)>> 00:06 "I do, yeah"

347-a-03-(New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, cardinal-designate, in AP interview)-"Red Sox fan"-New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan jokes that he's hesitant to put on the red socks that complete his new attire. (16 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *347 (02/16/12)>> 00:03 "Red Sox fan"


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 Tuesday.


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 worldwide.

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 last fall.

The sentence was announced in a crowded courtroom that included some passengers from the targeted flight.

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