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5th Circuit says HHS accommodation on mandate not a burden on religion

The religious rights of faith-based entities -- including the dioceses of Fort Worth and Beaumont, Texas, and the University of Dallas -- are not substantially burdened by the process to receive an accommodation from the federal government to avoid participating in a health care mandate for contraceptive coverage, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

Iowa court says state's ban on 'webcam abortions' unconstitutional

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The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that women in Iowa may obtain a medically induced abortion without an in-person examination by a physician.

Abortions by telemedicine -- or "webcam" abortions as they are known -- take place when a woman gets a chemical abortion without any doctor being physically present.

The patient consults with the doctor via webcam at a clinic and the doctor remotely activates a drawer in an examination room that opens to provide the woman with abortion drugs, such as RU-486.

GOP presidential candidates enter the Catholic cafeteria

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A headline in the Washington Post Friday morning said, A Test of Faith: Pope Francis Puts GOP Hopefuls on the Defensive.” And, well, he might. After all, Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ is an affirmation of the scientific consensus on climate change, and very strong instruction that the world needs to do something about it… and fast.

Supreme Court rules for Arizona church in sign ordinance case

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A tiny Arizona church that has no permanent home prevailed at the Supreme Court on Thursday when the justices ruled that the Town of Gilbert must scrap strict rules on temporary signs pointing worshippers to the church’s services.

More a free speech case than a religious rights case, Good News Community Church’s victory has nevertheless buoyed those who say the town had placed the free speech rights of politicians and others above those of a house of worship.

United Methodist conferences petition denomination on behalf of LGBT rights

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An Upstate New York bishop has dismissed a 2013 complaint that accused a retired United Methodist pastor of breaking church law by officiating at several same-sex weddings, including his daughter’s.

Bishop Mark Webb’s May 26 decision to dismiss charges against the Rev. Steve Heiss eliminates a costly and controversial church trial, which in other cases has highlighted the denomination’s divisions over ministering to gays and lesbians.

Senate adopts anti-torture amendment backed by Catholics, evangelicals

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The U.S. Senate in a bipartisan vote Tuesday approved a measure that would prohibit all U.S. government agencies and their agents from using torture as an interrogation technique.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, sponsored the anti-torture amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016.

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July 17-30, 2015

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