Monday, March 3, 2014
The New York Times - opinion column: Arizona Did Us All a Favor, by Timothy Egan:
YOU’RE a fundamentalist Mormon — that is, the breakaway sect, not recognized by the main church, with a scary compound in Northern Arizona. Women wear long prairie dresses, men rule with an iron fist. You believe in a host of things that violate civil and even criminal law. But your beliefs are “sincerely held.” They come directly from God.
Until Gov. Jan Brewer joined the avalanche of sanity and vetoed Arizona’s so-called religious liberty bill, you may have found some protection in the law. The bill was a green light for bigotry. And indeed, the measure gave those with “sincerely held” religious beliefs the right to refuse service to perceived sinners.
But if you drill down on the logic that all but three of the state’s House Republican legislators tried to enshrine into law, you see a very un-American tenet at work — far beyond the implications for gays and lesbians. You can follow this strain of reasoning up to a pivotal case that will be heard later this month by the Supreme Court. . . .
Thursday, February 6, 2014
U.N. Committee Report Blasts Vatican for Policies on Sexual Abuse and Attitudes on Sexuality, Contraception, and Abortion
The Huffington Post/AP: UN Report Denounces Vatican For Sex Abuse And Stands On Contraception, Abortion And Homosexuality, by Nicole Winfield:
The Vatican "systematically" adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a U.N. human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.
In a devastating report hailed by abuse victims, the U.N. committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed. . . .
Saturday, December 7, 2013
SFGate: Supreme Court birth control ruling could ripple widely, by Bob Egelko:
If a corporate employer can refuse on religious grounds to provide workplace insurance for contraception, what about employers with religious objections to blood transfusions or vaccinations? Or those who believe in healing by prayer?
Those questions lurk below the surface of the challenge the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review to regulations in the new federal health care law requiring employers to make contraceptive coverage available to their employees. That mandate, two groups of corporate owners argue, violates their freedom of religion. . . .
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The New York Times: Conservative U.S. Catholics Feel Left Out of the Pope’s Embrace, Laurie Goodstein:
. . . In the eight months since he became pope, Francis has won affection worldwide for his humble mien and common touch. His approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding.
But not everyone is so enchanted. Some Catholics in the church’s conservative wing in the United States say Francis has left them feeling abandoned and deeply unsettled. On the Internet and in conversations among themselves, they despair that after 35 years in which the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, drew clear boundaries between right and wrong, Francis is muddying Catholic doctrine to appeal to the broadest possible audience. . . .
Sunday, January 27, 2013
The New York Times: In Fight Over Life, A New Call by Catholics, by Laurie Goodstein:
The March for Life in Washington on Friday renewed the annual impassioned call to end legalized abortion, 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision. But this year, some Roman Catholic leaders and theologians are asking why so many of those who call themselves “pro-life” have been silent, or even opposed, when it comes to controlling the guns that have been used to kill and injure millions of Americans. . . .
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
NY Archbishop Promotes Sainthood for Social Activist Who Received Abortion, But Later Adopted Church's Position
The New York Times: In Hero of the Catholic Left, a Conservative Cardinal Sees a Saint, by Sharon Otterman:
Dorothy Day is a hero of the Catholic left, a fiery 20th-century social activist who protested war, supported labor strikes and lived voluntarily in poverty as she cared for the needy.
But Day has found a seemingly unlikely champion in New York’s conservative archbishop, CardinalTimothy M. Dolan, who has breathed new life into an effort to declare the Brooklyn native a saint. . . .
Monday, November 12, 2012
The New York Times: Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues, by Laurie Goodstein:
Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.
They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights againstsame-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot, and saw anti-abortion-rights Senate candidates defeated and two states vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use. . . .
Friday, August 24, 2012
NBC News: Court rules controversial stem cell research is legal, by Maggie Fox:
The three-judge panel says the government has correctly interpreted a law that bans the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos for research. The ruling is unlikely to put the issue to rest and one of the judges pleaded for Congress to make clear what the government should and should not be able to do. . . .
See also this story by the Associated Press.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
The Huffington Post (Blog): Why Religion Opposes Female Rights, by Nigel Barber:
Recently, the Catholic hierarchy moved to bring the Leadership Conference of Women Religious into line with orthodox Church teachings . This organization of American nuns had been in conflict with the Vatican over issues related to women's rights, including reproductive rights. The spectacle of an all-male task force being brought in to tell women what they must think may seem badly dated. Yet, male priests still tell most of the world's women what to think and their message is often anti-feminist. . . .
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
The Wall Street Journal – blog: Manny Pacquiao Hits Out Against Contraception, by Shibani Mahtani:
When Philippine President Benigno Aquino pushed forward a controversial health bill yesterday that seeks to subsidize contraception in the predominantly Catholic country, he set himself up for possible criticism from more than just the country’s powerful Catholic church. Another likely foe: Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.
The famous athlete, who is also a congressman representing the Philippines district of Sarangani, has come out swinging against the idea of using state funds to make contraception more widely available in the country, which has one of the highest birth rates in Asia. . . .
Sunday, August 5, 2012
ABC News: UN warns on Philippines birth law:
The United Nations is warning that failing to pass a controversial birth control law in the Philippines could reverse gains in development goals.
There has been considerable opposition from the Catholic church to the bill, which seeks to make it compulsory for the government to provide free contraceptives.
The UN Population Fund is hoping President Benigno Aquino's allies, who dominate the House of Representatives, can gather the numbers to pass the bill on Tuesday after years of debate. . . .
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The Chicago Tribune/Reuters: German court bans circumcision of young boys:
Jewish and Muslim groups protested on Wednesday after a German court banned the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons in the first ruling of its kind in the country.
The court in the western city of Cologne handed down the decision on Tuesday in the case of a doctor prosecuted for circumcising a four-year-old Muslim boy who had to be treated two days later for post-operative bleeding. . . .
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The Huffington Post: Would Jesus Have Said "Vagina?", by Bruce Reyes-Chow:
Okay, I am not preaching anywhere this Sunday, but feel free to "liberate" the idea, should you need a sermon starter. That said, I do hope that more than a few preachers out there are going to somehow use the recent Michigan state legislature vagina kerfuffle as fodder for some good conversations on power, community and discernment.
For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about but have noticed an increased use of the word "vagina," you are not imagining things. The increased volume of verbal vagina usage can be attributed to last Thursday's rebuke of Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown after her use of the word "vagina" during a debate on abortion the day before. . . .
For more on the story, click here.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Ms. Magazine: VICTORY in North Dakota:
North Dakota voters soundly rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment yesterday that would have granted "the right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief" even if such actions are otherwise illegal. Sixty-four percent of voters rejected the measure and only thirty-six percent voted in favor of it. Measure 3, or the so-called Religious Liberties Restoration State Constitution Amendment, was criticized for being too broad and for potentially permitting North Dakotans to even beat their wives or children if their religions allow it. The Measure would have also potentially given pharmacists and doctors the right to deny women birth control or other reproductive health services due to religious objections. . . .
Catholics for Choice press release: A Victory for Common Sense, the Common Good and Real Religious Freedom:
Catholic Leader Hails Defeat of Measure 3 in North Dakota
“The electorate in North Dakota saw though the smokescreen of Orwellian newspeak that the USCCB’s public relations machine manufactured in the last few weeks to roundly defeat a measure that would have imposed the bishops’ failed ideology on the electorate with no regard for their freedom of conscience or religion. A large majority, 64 percent of those voting, overturned an attempt to redefine religious liberty in a manner that would allow conservatives to impose their religious beliefs on others,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “The electorate judged that the move would have a detrimental impact on existing laws and allow some crimes to become protected under the redefined religious freedom arguments. . . .
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The Washington Post: Religious leaders ask HHS to broaden birth control exemption, by David Gibson:
A coalition of nearly 150 religious leaders, led by conservative Protestants, have petitioned the Obama administration to broaden the exemption that allows churches and some religious organizations to avoid a controversial new mandate that all health care insurers provide free contraception coverage.
In a letter sent Monday (June 11) to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the 149 religious leaders note that they hold differing views on “the moral acceptability” of birth control and on the viability of various administration proposals to allow faith-based groups to bypass the mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage. . . .
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Washington Post: Analysis: Catholic bishops divided in legal battle against Obama birth control mandate, by David Gibson:
The wave of lawsuits filed this week by more than 40 Catholic groups against the Obama administration’s birth control mandate was meant as a demonstration of church unity and influence in the face of what some bishops see as a grave threat to the church’s very existence.
But the strategy has also exposed serious fault lines within the U.S. hierarchy, as some leaders are privately and even openly questioning the legal and political ramifications of the bishops’ latest battle with the White House. . . .
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
CNN: College drops health care plan over religious objections to new law, by Dan Gilgoff:
A Catholic college in Ohio has apparently become the nation’s first to drop its health care plan because it opposes parts of the federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.
The Franciscan University of Steubenville posted on its website last week that it is discontinuing its health care plan. . . .
Sometimes the right to liberty and the right to equality point in the same direction. Sometimes the two rights conflict. Which constitutional value should prevail when the right to religious liberty clashes with the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of race and sex? More particularly, should faith-based organizations, in the name of religious liberty, be immune from anti-discrimination law?
Bob Jones University v. United States suggests a compromise: permit faith-based organizations to discriminate on the basis of race or sex if that discrimination is religiously required, but at the same time refuse to condone or support that discrimination by denying those religious organizations any financial aid. In fact, it is already federal policy to withhold government subsidies from religious organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, and the Bob Jones Court rejected a free exercise challenge to that policy. The same policy should apply with regard to discrimination on the basis of sex. Allowing religious groups to discriminate on the basis of sex but declining to provide grants, vouchers, or tax exempt status to those that do discriminate honors both our commitment to religious liberty and our commitment to equality.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Marie Ashe (Suffolk University Law School) has posted Women's Wrongs, Religions' Rights: Women, Free Exercise, and Establishment in American Law on SSRN. Here is the abstract.
This article provides an historical examination of American Constitutional law concerning religion as it has evolved through three periods: the Mormon period of the late nineteenth century; the religious pluralism period of post-WW2 decades; and the multiculturalism period that began around 1990 and that remains underway. It examines Supreme Court interpretations of First Amendment provisions pertaining to religion, and it contextualizes those interpretations to explore their implications for women’s liberty and equality at each of the three periods. Its argument is that Constitutional doctrine relating to religion – through its multiple doctrinal reversals – has consistently entailed and depended upon negative constructions of women, sacrificing women’s liberty and equality interests in order to prefer and to cultivate the liberty and equality interests of churches.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
The Huffington Post: Why Religious People Should Support The Rights of Women in Reproductive Decisions, by Harry Knox:
Lately, headlines have been full of reports of religious condemnation of abortion and birth control. As a person of deep faith, I believe the opposite: I believe that -- as a matter of social justice -- religious people should support the rights of women to make decisions about bearing children, including about abortion and birth control. God's love encompasses all creation. It includes a woman in labor and it includes a woman having an abortion. It does not stop at the door to a women's clinic. For women, justice must include the right to make decisions about sexuality and reproduction.
Many people of faith and religious institutions think that reproductive rights should be protected and expanded, but often they are silent. Women's reproductive rights have been so stigmatized and stripped of moral value by certain religious leaders that it can be difficult to speak up. Ongoing opposition to comprehensive contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and their allies is the latest example of stigmatizing women's health care. This is a good time to reconsider why religion should support, not oppose, women's reproductive rights. . . .