Thursday, February 9, 2012

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Priests for Life sues Obama administration over contraception mandate

by Ben Johnson Thu Feb 09 18:48 EST Comments (10)

Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life.

STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK, February 9, 2012, ( - Despite the fact that his organization is named “Priests for Life” and its national director is an ordained clergyman, Fr. Frank Pavone says the pro-life Catholic group does not qualify for the Obama administration’s narrow definition of a religious organization. Thus, the organization would be forced to pay for all contraception, including abortfacient drugs, under Obama’s controversial birth control mandate.

This morning, the New York-based pro-life group filed suit against the Obama administration, saying the new mandate violates its First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit, filed in California court, seeks injunctive relief from the HHS rules.

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Since Priests for Life is a private association registered as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation, it does not qualify for the Department of Health and Human Services religious exemption - which covers only churches and religious orders. A press release from the organization says it “therefore must comply with these conscience-violating mandates, decrees, and punitive measures.”

Priests for Life says it must begin implementing the contraceptive rule by this August. Religious institutions other than churches have until August 2013 to comply.

“We don’t need a year, nor do we need a moment, to determine what we are going to do, or to ‘adapt’ to the rule,” Fr. Pavone said. “The rule is unjust. You don’t adapt to injustice; you oppose it.”

For legal assistance, the organization turned to Charles LiMandri, a San Diego-based civil rights lawyer who helped save California’s Mt. Soledad Cross monument from an ACLU lawsuit and was general counsel during the Proposition 8 campaign. “This is the first time in history any administration has used brute force to compel someone to violate his conscience or moral convictions,” LaMandri said. “It’s also antithetical to the core American principles of religious liberty and freedom from invasions of privacy.”

The plaintiff is ready to see the case go all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Despite media chatter about how the mandate will play in the 2012 election, Fr. Pavone said the issue can no longer be seen as “just a partisan political football.”

“It’s unthinkable that President Obama would force Americans of any faith to violate their consciences.” he said. “Yet here he is, arrogantly imposing these regulations that clearly discriminate against Catholics and all Christians, as well as people of any faith who believe in the sanctity of innocent human life. This has clearly become a human rights case.”

Fr. Frank Pavone added, “Religious freedom is not a right just of religious groups; it’s a right of every American.”

Tags: birth control mandate, frank pavone, priests for life

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Students challenge Yale’s infamously raunchy ‘Sex Week’ with ‘True Love Week’

by Peter Baklinski Thu Feb 09 18:09 EST Comments (8)

The message of Yale's Sex Week is being challenged this year by True Love Week.

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, February 9, 2012 ( – As Sex Week gets into full steam at Yale University with its calendar of pornographic events including “bawdy storytelling”, “Your body is a wonderland”, “BDSM and Alternative sexualities”, and “Fornication 101 with Oh Megan!”, a group of countercultural students have decided to do something about what they call a “degrading and trivializing vision of sexuality.”

“Yale’s sexual climate is one where rape is tragically too frequent, where the point of most campus parties is to find a hook-up buddy and binge drink, and where women and men do not have the discipline to demand more of their sexual partners than physical pleasure,” said Isabel Marin of Undergraduates for a Better Yale College, a group that advocates for what they call “a better sexual culture” at Yale.

Undergraduates for a Better Yale College (UBYC) organized True Love Week to run alongside Sex Week. Their event seeks to showcase an alternative to sexual objectification and to the prevalent college hook-up lifestyle.

Events during True Love Week may be lighter on sexual titillation, but they promise to expose the secret of something far better than fleeting and impersonal sexual pleasure: true happiness through authentic love. Events include: “The Person as a Gift”, “Sexual Bliss: Satisfaction and Marital Happiness for today’s Couples,” and “Chastity and Human Goods.”

“Yalies do not respect themselves enough to ask their partners to care about them as people - to engage with them in a relationship,” UBYC’s Isabel Marin told

“They think that being kissed — or more — for a few hours is the most care and attention they can reasonably ask of their peers. I care that my peers learn about healthy relationships so that rape and STIs on campus are diminished, and so that Yalies realize that they can demand more respect from those they engage with sexually.”

One event at Sex Week titled “Fornication 101 with Oh Megan!” has “certified sexologist” Megan Andelloux, who is the director of the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, present a course that introduces students to “carnal knowledge, comfort in awkward situations, and hot safer sex behaviours.”

Topics in the course include “ejaculation, petting kitties, anal adventures, g-spot stimulation, and sexual positions” with a note that the event will not “involve typical attire”.

LifeSiteNews asked Marin to explain what sex is about, if it is not about maximizing physical pleasure, as Andelloux would have it.

“Sex is about being fully unified with someone,” Marin explained. “It expresses your passionate love and commitment to another person - to finally being so unified with someone that you are completely open to them.”

Marin argued that if a man has not promised his “entire love and life” to his girl — something that she believes happens in marriage— then he is “holding back love and commitment.” She argues that if the guy is not “ready and open to having a baby” with his gal, then he is not “completely open” to anything she might give him, especially a child. Such a couple should “not be having sex,” she argued.

Marin speculated that women in Yale’s hook-up culture are really “looking for affirmation that someone finds them attractive, that someone likes them enough to ‘make out’ with them. They see a cute guy and want to see if he likes her back,” she said.

The problem encountered by women, Marin explained, is that when the guy no longer wants a relationship with her, it “tears her self-confidence down”.

Marin also related how men in the hook up culture are using women as a means to feeling “physical pleasure”, as a tool to be “stimulated, and ideally to orgasm.” She pointed out that orgasming without relationship is an “empty pleasure, and cannot sustain real happiness.”

“This is not the way to find affirmation and happiness,” she said.

The UBYC members believe that it is their mission to spread what they call the “good news” that “real happiness does exist” in “committed relationships.”

“All we can do is ask people to say ‘no’ to a hook up and ask for a real relationship; to be brave enough to respect themselves; to have higher standards for themselves and their peers.”

Yale’s Sex Week ends with a bang on Valentine’s Day as “pleasure activist” and sexologist Carol Queen explores the “paths to great sex” and examines the “role of partnering and love, casual experiences, identity and affiliation, and of course learning solo.”

Contact Yale University
Richard C. Levin, president
Ph: (203) 432-2550

Send words of support to Undergraduates for a Better Yale College
Eduardo Andino, UBYC co-founder

Isabel Marin

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Michigan attorney general joins religious liberty case against Obama administration

by Ben Johnson Thu Feb 09 17:50 EST Comments (1)

Michigan Attorney General Bill Shuette

LANSING, MICHIGAN, February 9, 2012, ( – Michigan’s state attorney general has joined the case against the Obama administration, calling its controversial contraception regulation “an unconscionable intrusion on religious liberty.”

Bill Schuette will file an amicus curiae “(friend of the court”) brief in pending cases filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on behalf of Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian College, and the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) against the new health care rule, which compels them to pay for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

“This is a radical attack on the First Amendment that cannot stand,” Schuette said. “We cannot compromise religious liberty. We cannot undermine constitutional protections. We cannot trample freedom of religion in the United States of America.”

The attorney general, who was elected in 2010 as part of an electoral tidal wave that swept Republicans into Michigan’s statewide offices, filed amicus briefs in two previous religious liberty cases handled by the Becket Fund. In 2011, he supported the ministerial exemption at the heart of the Hosanna-Tabor case. The Obama administration wanted to strip that right from parachurch ministries, but the Supreme Court unanimously upheld their hiring rights. The Lutheran school in the case is located in Redford, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

Schuette also filed an amicus brief in support of Julea Ward, a former Eastern Michigan University student forced out of a counseling program because of her religious objections to homosexuality.

Joy Yearout, the deputy director of communications in the attorney general’s office, told, “Attorney General Scheutte considers religious liberty to be one of most fundamental Constitutional protections.”

“This mandate is such an attack on the First Amendment rights of people of faith across America that he’s going to make it a high priority as these cases move forward,” she said.

Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a law professor at the Catholic University of America, said he thought Schuette was the first state attorney general to participate in Becket’s cases.

Both Rienzi and Yearout said that the attorney general will be spearheading efforts with other state attorneys general to file a multi-state amicus brief.

“He is speaking with others to rally more support, and I expect there to be plenty more support,” Rienzi said.  “We are grateful for the support that we are receiving from around this country, and we expect to be successful.”

The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in the Hosanna-Tabor case gives the fund’s lawyers additional confidence. “We think they’ve displayed the same and untenable and narrow view of religious liberty here,” Rienzi said.

If the state wants to compel religious people to violate their conscience, “they use the least restrictive means,” he said, “and one thing is really clear: there are plenty of other ways to get people contraceptives without forcing religious objectors to be part of it.

“The government provides free contraceptives to millions of people all over this country,” Rienzi told LifeSiteNews. “If they want to get people contraceptives, they can do it without getting religious people involved.”

Yearout says her office plans to explore every possible option to prevent religious institutions from being compelled to pay for services they find sinful, even if the case is not successful.

“Attorney General Schutte will be looking at every tool he has available to make sure our religious liberties are protected. And this is just the first step in that direction,” she said.

Contact Information:
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
G. Mennen Williams Building, 7th Floor
525 W. Ottawa St.
P.O. Box 30212
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-1110


Tags: becket fund, bill schuette, michigan

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Boehner pledges to end Obama mandate as Catholic Dems splinter, Obama digs in heels

by Kathleen Gilbert Thu Feb 09 16:53 EST Comments (9)

House Speaker John Boehner

WASHINGTON, February 9, 2012 ( - House speaker John Boehner has pledged that Congress will block the Obama administration’s mandate that most religious employers pay for birth control coverage, a mandate that has proved so thorny that several prominent Catholic Democrats have begun to turn against it.

“If the president does not reverse the department’s attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must,” said Boehner in a rare floor speech, according to the Washington Times.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has already introduced a bill to repeal the mandate, and blasted President Obama over the new rule in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

“I know what the U.S. Constitution says about it, and what it says is the federal government does not have the power to force religious organizations to pay for things that that organization thinks is wrong,” said Rubio, widely thought to be a possible GOP vice presidential pick.

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On the other side of the aisle, more Catholic Democrats are backing away from the mandate that has left even much of the liberal Catholic establishment in shock.

Rep. John Larson, the House’s fourth-ranking Democrat, is urging the administration to reconsider, according to Politico. “Having worked to pass the Affordable Care Act and being firmly supportive of its implementation, I believe that further flexibility needs to be granted to religiously affiliated organizations in this instance,” wrote Larson in a letter to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Tim Kaine, Obama’s former DNC chairman, shared similar sentiments. “I think the White House made a good decision in including a mandate for contraception coverage in the [health care act] insurance policy,” Kaine, a former Virginia governor, said in a radio interview on WHRV also picked up by Politico. “But I think they made a bad decision in not allowing a broad enough religious employer exemption.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who has in recent years turned against his earlier conservative views on abortion, told a constituent that he was “disappointed” at the mandate. Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois and freshman Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both Catholics, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, have also come out against the mandate, making a total of five Congressional Democrats so far.

Bart Stupak and Kathy Dahlkemper, two Catholic Democrat Representatives who lost their seats in 2010 amid backlash for supporting the health care bill at the last minute, have also expressed dismay over the mandate.

Dahlkemper has said she wouldn’t have voted for the bill had she anticipated the mandate, and Stupak said that the executive order Obama signed in exchange for his support two years ago ostensibly upholding traditional restrictions on abortion funding should apply to abortifacient birth control drugs as well.

Despite hints at considering resolving conflict over the mandate earlier in the week, the administration on Wednesday made it clear that it was sticking by the principle of birth control as a civil right, a view shared by the family planning lobby, which has been calling strenuously for the mandate to stay in place.

“I want to be clear today that the commitment to ensuring that women have access to these important health care services remains very strong,” Mr. Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, told reporters Wednesday.

Tags: birth control mandate, contraception, john boehner, obama

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Brazilian president stokes fire of abortion issue with new pro-abortion appointment

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Thu Feb 09 16:43 EST Comments (0)

Eleonora Menicucci

February 9, 2012 ( - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is provoking speculation about her intentions following the appointment of a new pro-abortion women’s minister, a little over a year after almost losing the presidential election over the abortion issue.

Eleonora Menicucci, a Labor Party stalwart and personal friend of Rousseff, shared a prison cell with the now-president during their imprisonment under Brazil’s military regime in the 1970s, when they were arrested for their involvement in terrorist and revolutionary activities as socialist militants.

Menicucci also shares Rousseff’s and the Labor Party’s support the for the legalization of abortion, a position that Rousseff was forced to abandon during the presidential elections of 2010, when her coronation by outgoing president Luiz Lula was almost thwarted by a campaign against her by pro-life and pro-family Christians. Rousseff went on to win the elections after signing a pledge not to initiate abortionist or homosexualist legislation.

Rousseff has remained silent on the abortion issue since her election, but the appointment of Menicucci has raised suspicions that her pro-abortion views will not remain dormant during her administration.  Although her predecessor in the Secretariat of Women’s Policy, Iriny Lopes, also had a history of pro-abortion posturing, Menicucci has admitted to the Folho de Sao Paulo newspaper that she has had two abortions herself, an apparent flouting of Brazil’s prohibition of all abortions except in cases of rape.

She has also acknowledged her own sexual ambiguity, stating in a 2007 interview, “I have relationships with men and women and I am very proud of my daughter, who is gay and who had a child by artificial insemination.”

Menicucci says that she regards the abortion issue as one belonging to the legislature rather than the executive, but is defiant in her loyalty to the abortionist position, refusing to distance herself from her past statements.

“My personal position from today on it is not important. I already gave my personal position in interviews, above all in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, when feminism was required to take positions. I do not repent of it. It’s my history,” she recently told the press. She also offered a defense of the legalized killing of the unborn, echoing the claims of abortion rights advocates that the deadly procedure is necessary for “public health.”

“As a hygienist, I have to say that it (abortion) is an issue of public health. It isn’t an ideological issue,” said Menicucci. “No one in a position of authority who has any sense, who hears the numbers, does not admit that women continue to die as a consequence of abortion.”

Indignation, but little surprise

President Dilma Rousseff’s selection of Menicucci was met with indignation but little surprise on the part of Brazilian conservatives and pro-lifers.

Widely-read conservative columnist Reinaldo Azevedo blogged that Rousseff had “fooled” evangelical leaders with her promise not to support the abortionist and homosexual agendas, writing that “it was only a tactic” and adding, “Now, it is a question of fooling the society with proselytism. Dilma chose for the post a militant of the cause.”

“President Dilma has nominated a Secretary of Women’s Policy (SPA) in her image and likeness,” pro-life leader Fr. Luiz Lodi da Cruz told LifeSiteNews, adding that she is “an extreme feminist,” and “ardent defender of the discrimination of abortion” who has “practiced lesbianism.”

“The nomination of Eleonora, who will take possession on Friday, is a signal of the coherence of the president,” said Lodi. “Belonging to a party that is committed to abortion (the Labor Party), Dilma was constrained to present herself as a ‘Catholic,’ defender of ‘life’ and even a devotee of ‘Our Lady of Aparecida,’ so as not to lose the 2010 elections.  Now, upon nominating her secretary, with the status of of Minister of State, Dilma does justice to her pro-abortion and anti-family tradition.”

Tags: abortion, brazil

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Komen: embryonic stem cell research ‘has not shown promise’ for breast cancer cure

by Christine Dhanagom Thu Feb 09 15:54 EST Comments (16)


February 9, 2012 ( - In the midst of the firestorm of controversy over whether the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation would continue its funding of Planned Parenthood, Komen released a statement this week about embryonic stem cell research that has further rankled pro-abortion advocates.

“A recent review of our funded grants revealed that human embryonic stem cell tissue has not been used in breast cancer research funded by Komen,” said the February 5th statement. “To this point, embryonic stem cell research has not shown promise for application in breast cancer.”

The statement was prompted by online reports that Komen had defunded some of its grantees due to their involvement in embryonic stem cell research, a claim which the organization has denied.

The reports were based in part on a November statement from Komen in which the organization said it only supported research using stem cells “derived without creating a human embryo or destroying a human embryo.” This statement has since disappeared from the organization’s website, but a copy posted at is still available.

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Some of the organization’s grantees, such as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Yale University, do have embryonic stem cell research programs, but Komen says that grant money is not used for these programs, and never has been.

However, the organization did not clearly rule out the possibility of sending its money in that direction in the future, claiming in its recent statement: “Embryonic stem cells are currently considered to have the most potential for use in the regeneration of diseased or injured tissues. Whether embryonic stem cells will have a role or will be of value in the fight against breast cancer has not been clearly determined.”

“Komen will continue to focus its research efforts on the most promising areas of science which have the greatest potential for breast cancer patients,” the statement continued.

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research, however, are not appeased. Huffington post writer Don Reed called on the organization to “undo the damage” caused to its reputation by renouncing “any ideological prejudice against stem cell research.”

The claim that embryonic cells have not shown promise for breast cancer research is “weak, and unsupported by fact,” Reed fumed. “Many scientists are doing work with various stem cells, including embryonic, to answer the devastation of cancer.”

But according to Dr. Theresa Deisher, CEO and Founder of AVM Biotechnology which is dedicated to the development of pro-life medical technology, work with embryonic stem cells is driven by economic, rather than scientific, considerations.

“The attractiveness of using embryonic or fetal stem cells to a company is the ease of scalability. These cells will grow readily and rapidly in their manufacturing facilities. You can expand them to treat a lot of patients,” she has said.

“That rapid growth is attractive economically to companies. Unfortunately, that exact property is what makes these cells not optimal for treating patients, because that rapid growth doesn’t cease. It doesn’t become dampened or controlled when we put them in patients. So, the economics of these companies are in direct conflict with the best well-being for the patients,” Deisher also commented.

While myriad cures have been produced using adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells continued to lag far in the rear. Recently one of the two major companies doing embryonic stem cell research in the United States, Geron Corp., announced that it was abandoning the field, delivering a major blow to the hopes of advocates of the unethical research.


Tags: abortion, komen for the cure, stem cells

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Rick Warren tweets: ‘I’d go to jail rather than cave in’ on Obamacare mandate

by Ben Johnson Thu Feb 09 15:19 EST Comments (31)

Pastor Rick Warren with President Obama

LAKE FOREST, CALIFORNIA, February 9, 2012, ( – Rick Warren, perhaps the nation’s most influential evangelical pastor, has tweeted he would “go to jail” rather than cave in to a government mandate that violates God’s commandments.

Pastor Rick Warren, pastor of the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, tweeted his defiance of the Obama administration’s requirements that religious institutions cover all forms of contraception, including abortifacients like Ella and the IUD, as part of their health care plans.

On Tuesday, Warren addressed the issue three times on his Twitter feed.

“I’d go to jail rather than cave in to a govement [sic.] mandate that violates what God commands us to do. Would you? Acts 5:29,” he wrote.

The second message quoted that verse of Scripture: “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name” The apostles replied “We must obey God rather than men!” Acts 5:29

Pastor Warren’s third tweet stated, “I’m not a Catholic but I stand in 100% solidarity with my brothers & sisters to practice their belief against govt pressure.”

Warren has been called “America’s most influential spiritual leader” and “America’s Pastor.” His 2002 book, The Purpose Driven Life, sold more than 30 million copies.

Warren’s words come as a particularly stinging indictment to Barack Obama, who chose Warren to give the invocation at his presidential inauguration in January 2009.

Warren’s comments come as part of a flurry of evangelical condemnation of the mandate, which goes into effect for religious institutions in 2013.

On Wednesday, Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and one of Time magazine’s “Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America,” told “we will not comply” with the mandate.

“We want the law changed, or else we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail,” Dr. Land told LifeSiteNews.

Dr. Land urged all Southern Baptist pastors to “preach from the pulpit just how serious and dangerous this initiative by the Obama administration is,” and “encourage their parishioners to contact their congressmen and their senators and the president and let them know how deeply unhappy they are with this decision.”

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said evangelical Christians may be required to face imprisonment over the issue last Tuesday, announcing on his daily podcast, “You at least have to admire the courage of the Roman Catholic bishops in saying they are willing to go to jail rather than to comply with this. How many evangelical presidents and pastors and leaders would be willing to do the same?”

“We’re going to find out in coming months,” he warned.

Numerous Orthodox and Protestant churches have joined Roman Catholics in stating the provision, adopted as part of the president’s health care reform bill, violates religious liberty and undermines the First Amendment.

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Tags: rick warren

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Stanley Cup winning goaltender: ‘I stand with Catholics’ against birth control mandate

by Thaddeus Baklinski Thu Feb 09 14:33 EST Comments (13)

Tim Thomas

BOSTON, February 9, 2012 ( – Boston Bruins star goalie Tim Thomas sent waves through the sports world Wednesday when he announced through his Facebook page that he supports Catholics in their fight against the Obama administration’s mandate that forces coverage of contraception, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs.

“I Stand with the Catholics in the fight for Religious Freedom,” wrote Thomas, who won last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup MVP.

To date over 170 Catholic bishops heading U.S. dioceses have spoken up against the mandate after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced last month that religious groups objecting to the mandate would be given one year to comply.

In his post Wednesday, Thomas quotes from a poem called “First They Came….” by prominent German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, which deals with the failure to speak up during the rise of Nazism in Germany.

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up,” Thomas wrote.

The goaltender made headlines in January when he refused to visit the White House with his teammates as part of a celebration of their Stanley Cup win.

He explained on his Facebook page at the time that he believes “the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberty, and Property of the People.”

“Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country,” he continued.

Though the controversy over Obama’s mandate has centered on Catholics, leaders from numerous Christian denominations and religions have spoken out strongly against it, even pledging to go to jail if needed.

“We want the law changed, or else we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail,” Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told LifeSiteNews on Wednesday.

Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart has dubbed Thomas a “true Tea Party patriot” due to his use of political symbolism on his goalie mask, including the phrase “In God We Trust” and the Gadsden Flag (a Tea party symbol), according to the International Business Times.

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To support Tim Thomas visit his Facebook page here.

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Catholic Health Association: we might have to sue over Obama mandate

by Kathleen Gilbert Thu Feb 09 11:55 EST Comments (12)

Sr. Carol Keehan

February 9, 2012 ( - As the backlash against an impending mandate for all employers to pay for birth control continues to grow, the loyalties of Catholics who went to bat to support the administration as it pushed the federal health reform law are beginning to disintegrate.

Now the Catholic nun who was perhaps the bill’s most symbolically important supporter has said in an interview that the Obama administration can expect to be hit with a lawsuit over the mandate should negotiations and legislative fixes fail.

Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association, to whom Obama gave one of the pens used to sign the bill as a token of gratitude two years ago, said that the mandate could bode very ill for Catholic healthcare down the road.

“This has real potential for serious problems, and its immediate problem is the federal government for the first time telling the Church that it has to buy drugs that ... the Church has said it does not believe are moral,” Keehan told Vatican Radio on Wednesday.

Keehan, who said in a recent press release that news of the mandate “jolted” her organization, said that CHA had tried but failed to persuade the administration to use the normal definition of religious employer in the new health insurance rules, which would have included Catholic universities, hospitals and charities in addition to houses of worship.

“People that have worked for our hospitals, universities and schools have been able to buy those drugs for themselves, if that’s what they wanted to do. Now for the first time we’re being told that we have to buy them,” she said. “That has a lot of potential in a country with very loose abortion laws, very loose euthanasia laws, and with some of the other medical things that are coming down, it’s got a lot of potential to ... take away the protections we have.”

Keehan said that court action was one “major avenue” Catholics may have to pursue to defend themselves against the government. Meanwhile, “as civilly, as Christianly as we can, [we will] try to work with the powers that be to have them understand that this was not a good call,” she said

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Keehan and CHA had strongly supported the health care reform law even as pressure mounted from bishops to shoot down the measure for its potential to increase abortion and lack of conscience protections. In 2010 Cardinal Francis George, then head of the U.S. Bishops Conference, said that Keehan was “to blame” for the massive bill’s success and had dealt a “wound to Catholic unity.”

In the months following passage, CHA continued to support the bill - even as recently as September - and received a video message from President Obama thanking Keehan for her “extraordinary leadership.”

Keehan isn’t the only recent Catholic defector from the administration.

Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), a Catholic who lost her seat after her 11th-hour vote for the health care bill, said recently that she never would have supported it had she known about the birth control mandate. Doug Kmiec, a prominent conservative law professor who drew major criticism as the flagship Catholic “apologist” for Obama’s 2008 campaign, has said that the mandate has left him “without a candidate.”

Tags: abortion, birth control mandate, carol keehan, obama

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EWTN files lawsuit against Obama mandate

by Kathleen Gilbert Thu Feb 09 11:24 EST Comments (8)


HANCEVILLE, Alabama, February 9, 2012 ( - Lawyers for the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) say that the broadcasting network has taken the Obama administration to court over a mandate forcing Catholic employers to pay for birth control, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced that it had filed suit Thursday morning on behalf of EWTN, considered the largest religious media network in the world.

“The federal government cannot force people to violate their religion like this,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund and a constitutional law professor at the Catholic University of America.  “Mother Angelica founded EWTN to spread the teachings of the Catholic Church—not to betray them.”

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Executives of the network said that it was unconscionable for the lay Catholic-run network to pay for abortifacient drugs such as Ella, the “week-after” birth control pill that is a sister drug of RU-486.

“If we are willing to compromise our Catholic faith, we are selling the soul of the network,” said Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN’s President and Chief Executive Officer.  “The mission of EWTN is not negotiable.”

The network also criticized government officials for offering religious groups another year to comply with the mandate.  “Maybe they missed the word ‘Eternal’ in the name,” quipped Warsaw.  “Betraying God’s love for every human person—even ones who are small and vulnerable—just isn’t something we’ll ever be able to adapt to.”

EWTN’s case is the third lawsuit brought by the Becket Fund challenging the Obama administration’s abortion drug mandate.  The Becket Fund also represents Belmont Abbey College, a Benedictine Catholic college in North Carolina, and Colorado Christian University, a nondenominational Christian university in Colorado, in similar lawsuits.  To date, the government has sought several extensions in those cases rather than answering the claims.


Tags: abortion, birth control mandate, catholic, ewtn

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Pennsylvania university sells Plan B pill in vending machines

by Ben Johnson Thu Feb 09 08:13 EST Comments (8)


SHIPPENSBURG, PA, February 8, 2012 ( – At tiny Shippensburg University, potentially abortifacient emergency contraception is no farther away than your nearest vending machine.

The university, located in southern Pennsylvania, has decided to carry the Plan B pill in a vending machine on campus.

The pills costs students $25 – but the university considered providing it without charge.

“We were uncomfortable providing it for free because that would mean we were supporting Plan B with either state money or fee money,” said Dr. Roger Serr, vice president of Student Affairs.

He said before selling the drug, college officials “did a survey of the student body, and we got an 85 percent response rate that the students supported Plan B in the House Center.”

According to Fox News, the university sells 350-400 pills a year to its 8,300 students.

Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, said, “This is absolutely reckless, and it’s the direct result of the Obama administration’s FDA.” The drug, which contains a high dose of hormones that studies suggest could prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, is available to anyone over the age of 17 without a prescription.

She said the pill is being used because of the high incidence of sexual abuse on campus and the fact that many young women “are making poor choices.” She said instead of anonymous drugs, the university should have doctors available for women who have been abused.

Multiple calls to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation were not returned.

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Tags: shippensburg university

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