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Which Catholics are against contraception coverage?

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COMMENTARY

There's a battle brewing in America, one that is at the very heart of religious freedom, separation of church and state, and of individual conscience.

Or so one might think in listening to the U.S. Catholic bishops and some conservative Catholic and Christian media.

They argue against the Obama administration's requirement that health care coverage for women mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act include contraception, and that "that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith," according to one bishop's letter to his diocese.

Right still reads Falwell's playbook

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Analysis

Religion in America has long been prominent in the public square, but it is only recently that the primary face of religion in political discourse has been the face of conservative evangelical Christianity. The outsize role of conservative evangelicals in the Republican Party nominating process attests to the success of a group of conservative pastors such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Rev. Pat Robertson and others in representing the views of their adherents and bringing their flocks to the polls.

Same-sex marriage issue facing lawmakers, voters in several states

WASHINGTON -- The same-sex marriage issue will be facing lawmakers and voters in several states this year.

Democratic-controlled legislatures in Washington state, Maryland and New Jersey are considering legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage, while Maine voters will vote on a same-sex marriage referendum in November.

Voters in North Carolina and Minnesota will consider constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman. In New Hampshire, the Republican-controlled legislature is gearing up to vote on a bill that could reverse that state's same-sex marriage law.

Maryland Gov. Martin J. O'Malley, a Catholic, is sponsoring legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. If it passes Maryland will be the seventh state, plus the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex marriages.

Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops, said same-sex marriage is being pushed by a small group of advocates.

Issues of conscience, without hyperbole

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The Department of Health and Human Services’ recent refusal to expand the federal definition of religious employers who can be exempted from offering contraceptive and sterilization coverage in their employee health insurance plans has stirred strong reactions. Some critics have evoked images of bygone American anti-Catholicism and claimed that the White House is at war with the church and has engaged in a historic assault on Catholicism.

Resist the pipeline and find a new, greener way

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The Obama administration rightfully rejected the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. Congressional Republicans had given the president a Feb. 21 deadline to either green light the TransCanada Corporation’s proposal, or determine the project is not in the national interest. If built, the 1,700-mile-long conduit would run from Western Canada’s tar sands areas across our border into the Dakotas and head south to Texas refineries.

New foreign policy on gay rights seen as threat to religious liberty

QUINCY, Mass. -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement in December that respect for gay rights is now a factor in the Obama administration's foreign policy decisions is on a collision course with religious freedom, said an official with the Becket Fund.

"This administration clearly wants to elevate certain rights over others. And unfortunately it seems that religious freedom is never prioritized in their foreign policy as it should be," Tina Ramirez told The Anchor, newspaper of the Fall River Diocese.

Ramirez is director of government and international relations for the Becket Fund, which seeks to protect the free expression all faiths.

On Dec. 6, Clinton announced to U.N. diplomats in Geneva that U.S. agencies engaged abroad have been instructed to "combat the criminalization" of the "status or conduct" of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.

New law means stripping certain protestors of their rights

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COMMENTARY

Habeas corpus, hocus pocus, whatever.

Most Americans haven't the slightest idea what this arcane Latin term might mean or why it might be important to them, but it is the reason why most of the cases against Occupy Los Angeles are being dismissed.

It is also the reason why President Barack Obama signed HR 155, the National Defense Authorization Act, into law, giving the president and the military the authority to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely without charges and bringing them before a judge.

Although I have been arrested and jailed scores of times over the years for civil disobedience, it was not until I was arrested and jailed with 300 "occupants" of Occupy Los Angeles on Nov. 30, 2011, that I had a renewed appreciation for habeas corpus.

Top bishop said he feels betrayed by Obama

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WASHINGTON -- In the wake of President Barack Obama's controversial decision to mandate that religious groups pay for contraceptives for their employees, much of the coverage focused on how the president had disappointed progressive allies by giving religious groups an extra year to comply.

But the decision also had New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, feeling personally betrayed.

"I have to say, there's a sense of personal disappointment," Dolan said Tuesday after he gave a lecture on "Law and the Gospel of Life" at Fordham Law School.

Last November, amid deepening tensions between the bishops and the administration over the pending contraception mandate and other issues, Obama invited Dolan to the Oval Office, where the two men shared what Dolan called a productive and "extraordinarily friendly" meeting.

"The president seemed very earnest, he said he considered the protection of conscience sacred, that he didn't want anything his administration would do to impede the work of the church that he claimed he held in high regard," Dolan said. "So I did leave a little buoyant."

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October 10-23, 2014

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