Update on the latest religion news



Pa. Christian college sues over birth control regs

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Christian college in Pennsylvania is suing the federal government, saying regulations that require employers to offer contraceptives that abort fertilized embryos violate its religious values, including the biblical commandment "Thou shalt not kill."

The Alliance Defense Fund filed the lawsuit on behalf of Geneva College, which was founded by the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

College President Ken Smith said, "At Geneva College, we only have one Lord, and he does not live in Washington, D.C."

The Alliance Defense Fund filed a similar lawsuit in Louisiana on behalf of Louisiana College, and lawmakers in Missouri, Georgia, New Hampshire, Idaho and Arizona have filed legislation that would allow insurance companies to ignore the mandate.

Missouri state Senator Jolie Justus, a Kansas City Democrat, said she believes it's wrong "to pit religious beliefs versus contraception."


308-a-11-(Ken Smith, president of Geneva College, at news conference)-"shall not murder"-Geneva College President Ken Smith says President Barack Obama's contraceptive coverage mandate is abhorrent and unacceptable. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *308 (02/21/12)>> 00:11 "shall not murder"

309-a-12-(Ken Smith, president of Geneva College, at news conference)-"Lord of all"-Geneva College President Ken Smith says the school recognizes only one Lord. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *309 (02/21/12)>> 00:12 "Lord of all"

310-a-16-(Gregory Baylor, senior counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, at news conference)-"tank of gas"-Gregory Baylor, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, says the morning after pill need not be provided to women without a co-pay. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *310 (02/21/12)>> 00:16 "tank of gas"

262-a-20-(State Senator Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, in remarks)-"no sense whatsoever"-Missouri State Senator Jolie Justus says she opposes legislation that would allow employers to refuse to provide health insurance coverage for birth control, abortions or sterilization procedures. ((note length of cut)) (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *262 (02/21/12)>> 00:20 "no sense whatsoever"


Ex-judge in Mass. defends forced abortion ruling

BOSTON (AP) — Retired Massachusetts judge Christina Harms is defending her decision to order a schizophrenic woman to have an abortion and be sterilized against her will — a ruling that was overturned by the state Appeals Court.

The 31-year-old woman had characterized herself as "very Catholic" and said she was opposed to having an abortion. Her parents had said their daughter was not a devout Catholic; they sought and received consent from Harms' court for an abortion.

Harms defended her ruling in a letter she sent to other judges — a letter first reported by The Boston Globe.

Harms also criticized Boston University for withdrawing a job offer after her ruling was overturned.

The school says it never made a formal job offer to Harms, but acknowledges that the controversy created by her ruling contributed to the decision to take her out of the running for the job.


Romney says Obama has 'fought against religion'

SHELBY, Mich. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says President Barack Obama's administration has "fought against religion" and has sought to substitute a "secular" agenda for one grounded in faith.

Obama's campaign rejected that characterization, calling Romney's comments "disgraceful."

Romney rarely ventures into social issues in his campaign speeches but was asked about how he would protect religious liberty during a town hall-style meeting one week before the Michigan primary. He said, "Unfortunately, possibly because of the people the president hangs around with, and their agenda, their secular agenda — they have fought against religion."

Romney, who is Mormon, added that he "has understood very personally the significance of religious tolerance."

He also declared his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage and said his presidency would reflect those positions.


248-a-17-(Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, Republican presidential candidate, at town hall meeting)-"president, thank you (applause fades)"-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says President Barack Obama's administration has fought against religion. ((note length of cut)) (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *248 (02/21/12)>> 00:17 "president, thank you (applause fades)"

249-a-16-(Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, Republican presidential candidate, at town hall meeting)-"fought against religion"-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says freedom of religion comes first in the Bill of Rights. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *249 (02/21/12)>> 00:16 "fought against religion"

250-a-15-(Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, Republican presidential candidate, at town hall meeting)-"to Planned Parenthood"-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *250 (02/21/12)>> 00:15 "to Planned Parenthood"


Santorum celebrates nation's religious roots

PHOENIX (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says the U.S. needs to return to its religious roots.

Campaigning in Phoenix Tuesday, he recalled President John Adams' dictum that "Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It's wholly inadequate for the governance of any other."

The former Pennsylvania senator told his audience that the Constitution doesn't give them rights, but is meant to protect the rights they possess because they're "a creation of God."

Turning to the Declaration of Independence, Santorum noted that the "unalienable rights" people receive from their Creator include the pursuit of happiness. But he said happiness back then was defined as doing what's "consistent with God's will in your life."

He also took aim at President Barack Obama's contraceptive coverage mandate, charging that shifting the cost from religious groups to their insurance companies "was a phony accommodation" that was meant to "trample" religious beliefs.


203-a-13-(Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, in campaign speech)-"trample those beliefs"-Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum criticizes the accommodation Presidential Obama made for religious groups on contraceptive coverage. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *203 (02/21/12)>> 00:13 "trample those beliefs"

312-a-09-(Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, in campaign speech)-"in your life"-Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says the pursuit of happiness guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence meant more than seeking pleasure. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *312 (02/21/12)>> 00:09 "in your life"

311-a-15-(Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, in campaign speech)-"creation of God"-Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says Americans have more than just constitutional rights. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *311 (02/21/12)>> 00:15 "creation of God"

313-a-05-(Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, in campaign speech)-"of any other"-Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum suggests that the nation needs to return to its religious roots. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *313 (02/21/12)>> 00:05 "of any other"


Southern Baptist leaders OK 'Great Commission'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee has approved giving the denomination an additional name, although delegates at this summer's annual meeting would have to approve the optional "Great Commission Baptists."

Some Southern Baptists worry that their denomination's official name still carries the stigma of a 19th century split with northern Baptists over slavery. But a more momentous change at this summer's convention could have a greater impact.

African-American pastor Fred Luter Jr. of New Orleans was elected last year to the Southern Baptists' No. 2 position, first vice-president. Most in that post have gone on to become president.

If Luter is elected president, he would be the first black leader of a denomination that has been predominately white for much of its history, but is beginning to show more diversity.


Va Senate passes adoption discrimination bill

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Legislation allowing private adoption agencies to discriminate against gay prospective parents is on its way to Virginia's governor, who has said he will sign it.

The Senate voted 22-18 Tuesday to pass legislation allowing private agencies to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality. The House had already passed the bill, which only needs Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's signature to take effect July 1.

North Dakota is the only other state with such a law.

Two Democrats joined all 20 Senate Republicans in voting for the "conscience clause" legislation.

Proponents say the measure protects the religious rights of agencies that contract with the state to provide child placement services. Opponents say adoption agencies' moral or religious beliefs should not take precedence over the best interests of the child.


Villanova cancels gay artist's workshop

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Villanova University has canceled a workshop by a controversial gay performance artist, saying his shows aren't in keeping with the school's Catholic values.

Tim Miller tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that he was told about the cancellation of next month's planned workshop on Sunday.

Miller gained notoriety in 1990 when he and three others had grants vetoed by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Miller's work is frequently provocative and he's been arrested in the past for demonstrating for AIDS research funding.

In a statement, Villanova said it embraces intellectual freedom and academic discourse but had concerns about how Miller's work matches its "Catholic and Augustinian values and mission."

Miller said he had held a similar workshop at DePaul, the nation's largest Catholic University.


Religious Carnival bands use samba for evangelism

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's Carnival in Rio, like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, is a celebration of pleasures before the deprivation of Catholic Lent, which starts today with Ash Wednesday.

But in Rio de Janeiro, at least three Christian Carnival bands used the festival for street evangelism.

A band that calls itself "Youth Dependent on God" offered the usual samba rhythm and dance, but the lyric came as a surprise to many.

The band's revelers sang, "We are the people of the Lord, a holy nation. We are here to proclaim the marvels of he who has called us from the darkest depths to his glorious light, and to glorify the name of Jesus."

Participants called the experience exhilarating, saying it ushered them to the front lines of a spiritual battlefield. One band member said, "I've seen people accept Jesus during Carnival because they heard us and felt the call."


Monitoring of Muslim students sparks outrage

NEW YORK (AP) — New York's mayor is facing off with Yale University over efforts by the NYPD to monitor Muslim student groups.

The Associated Press revealed Saturday that New York police kept close watch on the blogs and websites of Muslim student associations across the northeast U.S., and in one case sent an undercover officer on a rafting trip with students from the City College of New York.

Yale President Richard Levin said in a statement Monday that the monitoring of students based on religion was "antithetical" to the university's values.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the practice. He says there is nothing wrong with officers keeping an eye on websites that are available to the general public.

He says, "I don't know why keeping the country safe is antithetical to the values of Yale."


159-v-33-(Warren Levinson, AP correspondent)--The president of Yale University objects to New York police surveillance of Muslim students at the Connecticut school. AP correspondent Warren Levinson reports. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *159 (02/21/12)>> 00:33

253-a-08-(New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at news conference)-"want them do"-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says police don't use surveillance without reason. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *253 (02/21/12)>> 00:08 "want them do"

252-a-16-(New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at news conference)-"throughout this country"-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defends New York police surveillance of Muslim students in the wake of complaints about the practice from the president of Yale University. (21 Feb 2012)

<<CUT *252 (02/21/12)>> 00:16 "throughout this country"


White House apologizes for Quran burning

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is apologizing for the burning of Muslim holy books in a pile of garbage at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

Press secretary Jay Carney says it's a "deeply unfortunate incident" and doesn't reflect the respect the U.S. military has for the religious practices of the Afghan people.

Carney echoed military officials Tuesday in saying that the Quran burning at Bagram Air Field happened unintentionally, and that an investigation was being undertaken to understand why it did and ensure it didn't happen again.

A Western military official said the Qurans were removed from a library at a nearby detention center because they contained extremist messages. Carney didn't address those specifics, but said the administration was following the matter closely.

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