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Catholic faculty back contraceptive insurance rule

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Faculty members of Jesuit-run John Carroll University in Cleveland have urged U.S. Catholic church acceptance of the Obama administration’s contraceptive insurance regulation as adapted Feb. 10.

The federal Health and Human Services regulation mandates that nearly all employee health insurance plans cover artificial contraception and voluntary sterilization services, including plans for employees of many religiously run institutions, even if the sponsors of those institutions are morally opposed to the use of those prescriptions or medical procedures.

Lawyer: Christians united in opposition to HHS contraceptive mandate

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The new federal mandate that employers provide free insurance coverage for contraceptives that can be abortifacients, sterilizations and other services has united Christians across denominational lines, said a lawyer for the American Center for Law and Justice during a panel discussion at Aquinas College in Nashville.

"They understand it's not about contraceptives but religious liberty and abortion," said David French, senior counsel for the center who lives in Columbia, south of Nashville.

Maine diocese to focus on education about marriage, not political push

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PORTLAND, Maine -- Faced with a second referendum on same-sex marriage in three years, the Diocese of Portland will focus its efforts this time on education rather than contributing money or its name to a political campaign.

"We learned the last time around that we need to do a lot more effective teaching" about the nature of marriage as a union of a man and a woman, said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Portland at a March 2 news conference.

In November 2009, by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, Maine voters repealed a law allowing same-sex marriage in the state. Supporters of same-sex marriage have gathered enough signatures to place the issue before the voters again Nov. 6.

At the news conference, Malone made public a 22-page pastoral letter titled "Marriage: Yesterday, Today, Always," which he said will be "at the heart of our response" to current challenges facing the institution of marriage.

He said in 2009, the diocese had supported the repeal campaign through television ads and by holding a special collection at Masses. In addition, Malone said he sent an appeal for contributions to nearly every U.S. bishop.

White House insists contraception talks are on track

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The Obama administration is rejecting charges by the nation's top Catholic bishop that talks to modify a controversial birth control mandate are "going nowhere" because of alleged White House intransigence and efforts to diminish the central role of the bishops.

"The White House has put nearly every issue requested by the bishops on the table for discussion and has sought the views of bishops on resolving difficult policy problems, only to be rebuffed," an administration official close to the negotiations said Tuesday.

Rick Santorum's secret army: home-schoolers

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Strapped for cash and paid staff, Rick Santorum has enlisted a ragtag but politically potent army to keep his campaign afloat: home-schoolers.

Heading into Super Tuesday, Santorum urged home-schoolers to organize rallies, to post favorable features on social media and to ring doorbells on his behalf.

"Santorum has been very aggressive in reaching out to the home-schooling community, especially in the last month," said Rebecca Keliher, the CEO and publisher of Home Educating Family Publishing.

Drawing on his experience as a home-schooling father of seven, the former Pennsylvania senator has also sought to rally enthusiasm by pledging to continue that course in the White House.

"It's a great sacrifice that my wife, Karen, and I have made to try to give what we think is the best possible opportunity for our children to be successful," Santorum said during a March 1 campaign stop in Georgia. "Not just economically, but in a whole lot of other areas that we think are important -- virtue and character and spirituality."

Antitrust efforts have gone in dustbin of history

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Viewpoint

The food we eat is increasingly part of a globalized and industrialized concentrated system. Researchers point to a growing consolidation in food production, processing and distribution. Four or five companies control thousands of brands. Poultry growers have one-sided contracts, pig and beef producers increasingly are forced to give up independence for contracts to produce in confined animal production units. Farmers are increasingly treated like serfs on their own land.

Mitt Romney trouncing Rick Santorum among Catholics

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Mitt Romney has trounced Rick Santorum, an ardent Catholic, among Catholic voters, but Romney's support among evangelicals has wavered thus far in the GOP presidential primary, according to a new analysis of exit poll data.

Although he won evangelicals in two states, in general Romney has performed 15 percentage points better among non-evangelicals, according to an analysis released Friday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Exit poll data is available in seven of the 11 states that have held primary contests to date, according to the Pew Forum. More detailed religious affiliations are available in six of those states.

White evangelicals formed more than a third of all GOP primary voters in each state except for Nevada (24 percent) and New Hampshire (21 percent). Romney, a Mormon, won the evangelical vote in those two states, and almost tied for first in Arizona and Florida. But he lost the evangelical vote badly in three states: Michigan, Iowa and South Carolina.

Somewhat surprisingly, Santorum has not won the Catholic vote in a single state in which data is available, according to the Pew Forum.

New poll shows California Catholics increasingly support gay marriage

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Results of a Field Poll released Wednesday show growing support for gay marriage among registered California voters, including Catholics. Fifty-nine percent of those polled favor same-sex unions, the greatest support in the 35 years the Field Poll has been tracking the issue. Catholics showed 51 percent support in the new poll, up four percentage points from the 2010 poll.

Protestants polled showed 45 percent support, an 11 percentage point gain, while 49 percent remained opposed. Eighty percent of voters with no religious preference said they support gay marriage.

Among white voters polled, there was 64 percent support, while 53 percent of Hispanic voters and 50 percent of African-American and Asian-America voters said they support same-sex marriage.

The strongest support in the poll (69 percent) comes from voters 18 to 39 years old. Among voters 40 to 64 years old, there is 59 percent support, and 45 percent support among those over 65.

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