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Politics

Bishop decries 'combative tactics' of a minority of U.S. bishops

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Albuquerque, NM
A majority of U.S. bishops disagree with the loud tactics of some of their peers in opposing President Barack Obama’s May appearance at the University of Notre Dame, but remain silent because they do not want to engage in a public battle over the issue, according to Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM.

In an Aug. 12 interview at archdiocesan headquarters here with NCR, Sheehan took the opportunity to decry the combative tactics of what he described as a minority of U.S. bishops who spoke out against the university’s invitation and issuance of an honorary degree. Many urged the university to rescind the invitation because of Obama’s opposition to criminalizing abortion.

Obama defends health care reform to faith leaders

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama called health care reform part of "our core ethical and moral obligation to one another" during a national teleconference Aug. 19.

The interfaith coalition that sponsored the 40-minute teleconference said that 140,000 people across the country, many of them faith leaders in their local communities, joined in the teleconference, either by phone or via one of several Web sites that carried the audio stream live.

The session, titled "Forty Minutes for Health Reform," was part of a broader interfaith effort in August and September titled "Forty Days for Health Reform."

Conservative religious women continue to shape Republican politics

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Analysis

In all the commentary about the now former governor of Alaska, some of it comic, much of it trivial, a basic fact has been overlooked: Sarah Palin has come to represent a vital and vibrant constituency in the Republican Party -- religious women -- and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The religious right came to be personified by male preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, but it was built by religiously motivated women who led the fights against sex education and the Equal Rights Amendment.

Health care debate poisoned

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NCR Editorial

William Kostric showed up at President Obama’s health care-focused town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., Aug. 11 carrying a loaded gun and a sign that read, “It is time to water the tree of liberty.” Kostric, speaking later on MSNBC, rooted his concern for the Republic in the creation of the Federal Reserve and the 16th Amendment establishing the federal income tax.

Roundtable explores gay civil marriage proposal

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WASHINGTON -- A prominent Baptist minister’s proposal to accept same-sex marriage as a civil right across the United States provoked strong reactions at a July 29 roundtable for journalists.

The Rev. Welton Gaddy, pastor of Northminster Church in Monroe, La., and president of the Interfaith Alliance, a 150,000-member national nonpartisan organization, presented the proposal as a framework for the roundtable discussion. It was held at the National Press Club in Washington and sponsored by Religion News Service as one of several events marking RNS’s 75th anniversary.

Faith groups converge on abortion reduction bill

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WASHINGTON

Religion News Service
The bill, crafted by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, an abortion-rights supporter from Connecticut and abortion opponent Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, includes methods -- namely, contraception -- that some anti-abortion groups traditionally have rallied against.

Conservative evangelical and Catholic groups joined abortion-rights organizations to support the bill, after it was expanded to include health care for pregnant women and new mothers, sexual education programs, a nationwide adoption campaign, as well as federally funded contraception.

"Religious, secular -- it doesn't make any difference," DeLauro said. "There was a sense that we had to move forward. For too long we've allowed principles to divide us on this contentious issue."

The 86-page bill -- the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Pregnant Women Act -- took four years to piece together. Conservative groups initially found it difficult to reconcile pregnancy-prevention programs and medical support for women with grants that will expand sexual education to include awareness about abortion and contraception.

Surgeon general nominee's view on abortion unclear

Washington

Plaudits for Dr. Regina Benjamin from an archbishop and colleagues and even her receipt of a pontifical medal may not be persuasive enough evidence of her credentials as a Catholic who supports church teaching for critics questioning whether she would become an advocate for legal abortion if she is confirmed as surgeon general.

President Barack Obama nominated Benjamin, 52, a physician from Alabama, to be surgeon general July 13.

Sotomayor, senators, delve into legal philosophy

WASHINGTON -- Judge Sonia Sotomayor energetically took on detailed questions about court cases both well-known and arcane as the Senate Judiciary Committee opened what was expected to be a quick process to confirm the 55-year-old appeals court judge to the Supreme Court.

After the first day of hearings July 13 was taken up mostly with opening statements by the 19 members of the Judiciary Committee, senators began a first round of questioning July 14, with each taking a half-hour for one-on-one discussion with Sotomayor about her judicial philosophy on a range of subjects.

Sotomayor mixed record on church-state disputes

WASHINGTON -- As a federal judge, Sonia Sotomayor sided with Santeria prisoners who wanted to wear religious beads and Muslim inmates who wanted to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

At the same time, she ruled against Muslims who wanted a Muslim crescent and star added to post office holiday displays that featured Christmas and Hanukkah symbols.

'Creative engagement' key to papal meeting with Obama

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WASHINGTON

Pope Benedict XVI's July 10 meeting with President Barack Obama was "a constructive model of respectful dialogue and creative engagement," said Catholic University of America international politics professor Maryann Cusimano Love.

Several other veteran Vatican and White House watchers interviewed by NCR had similar positive impressions of Obama's first meeting with the head of the Catholic church.

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