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Faith leaders testify in support of EPA's Clean Power Plan

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More than two dozen faith leaders rallied at public hearings hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency to testify in support of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan to cut greenhouse gases.

The plan was proposed June 2 and is designed to cut carbon pollution from power plants as part of the White House's Climate Action Plan. The plan aims to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2030.

In addition to the public hearings Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington, the EPA held similar meetings this week in Denver, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Holy Land still safe for pilgrimages, says head of U.S. tour group

The head of a Michigan-based tour company that leads trips to the Holy Land said the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas so far has not had an impact on pilgrimages he and his associates lead.

"Everything is still functioning like in any other normal business day. The sector of tourism industry to the Holy Land is not affected," said Steve Ray, a tour guide and CEO of Footprints of God in Ann Arbor.

Rabbi David Saperstein tapped as first non-Christian to serve as U.S. ambassador for religious freedom

President Barack Obama on Monday said he plans to tap Rabbi David Saperstein as the next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, the first non-Christian to hold the job, which was created in 1998.

As ambassador, the man named as the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine in 2009 will head the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom and will be tasked with monitoring religious freedom abuses around the world.

Obama administration says it plans opt-out alternative on mandate

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The Obama administration has filed a brief with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver indicating it plans to develop an alternative for Catholic and other religious nonprofit employers to opt out of providing federally mandated contraceptives they object to including in their employee health care coverage.

Catholic leaders speak out about policy toward migrant kids, families

A Latin America expert for Catholic Relief Services, the head of the bishops' migration committee and the president of a Catholic college in Michigan were among those urging the government toward humanitarian responses to a surge of children and families crossing the U.S. border from Central America.

Obama to employers: Notify workers if you're dropping contraceptive coverage

Employers that intend to drop coverage for some or all forms of contraception in the wake of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision must notify employees of the change, the Obama administration said Thursday.

The notice was posted on the Department of Labor website as a new "frequently asked question" about the Affordable Care Act, the health care law passed in 2010 and still being implemented.

Votes fall short to move Senate bill forward in response to Hobby Lobby

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The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to block consideration of a bill aimed at reversing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and forcing businesses to provide contraceptive coverage for employees even if they object to it on religious grounds.

Known as the "Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014," or S. 2578, the measure was co-written by Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Mark Udall of Colorado. Murray introduced the bill July 9. The 56-43 vote fell four short of the 60 needed to move ahead on the bill.

Study: College choices can steer men toward thinking about priesthood

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The college experience -- and the Catholic college experience especially -- can influence a young man's decision toward considering a priestly vocation, according to a study issued in early July by Boston College.

Among the factors that have helped sway a man's decision to enter priestly life are access to clergy at the college as well as access to the Mass and other elements of Catholic life.

Americans view Jews, Christians warmly; atheists, Muslims get cold shoulder

A new Pew Research survey finds U.S. adults feel most warmly about people who share their religion or those they know as family, friends or co-workers.

Americans give their highest scores to Jews, Catholics and Evangelicals on a zero-to-100 "thermometer" featured in the survey, "How Americans Feel about Religious Groups," released Wednesday. They're nestled within a few degrees of each other: Jews, 63; Catholics, 62; evangelicals, 61.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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