Monday, May 21, 2012

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Florida ordinance could give ‘transgender’ men access to women’s restrooms

by Ben Johnson Mon May 21 18:55 EST Comments (163)

 

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, May 21, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A proposed “civil rights” ordinance could open public restrooms and showers to transgender members of the opposite sex, its critics warn.

The city council of Jacksonville, Florida, is considering passing an ordinance to outlaw “discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, public accommodations, or housing. That means no employer, landlord, or owner of any facility open to the public may refuse to hire or rent their property to anyone who claims to be homosexual or transgender.

The measure, supported by Councilman Warren Jones, also leaves employers vulnerable to lawsuits if an applicant claims he is a victim of discrimination.

“This ‘civil rights’ ordinance takes away more rights than it supposedly grants,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, a pro-family legal organization.

Such a measure would “further infringe on the religious freedoms of Christians, and the majority of mainstream Americans who do not accept such alternative lifestyles as normal,” Joey Vaughn, a local business owner, told the Florida Baptist Witness. “There is no exemption or protection under the ordinance for followers of Jesus Christ who own or work in a business.”

The Jacksonville Baptist Association has been active in opposing the measure. However, members of the Religious Left have supported it, including two churches affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, as well as clergy of the Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Jewish faiths.

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The measure follows shortly after a similar motion passed the city council of Hutchinson, Kansas. The final measure, passed city council by a 3-2 vote last week, removed the transgender provision. However, it still opens public accommodations – including any church that rents its facility to the public – to homosexuals. A fact sheet on the ordinance states, “If a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party.” The council will vote on the specific legal language on June 5.

Adding transgender rights could facilitate another kind of abuse. Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes has warned that such laws give sexual predators “legitimized access” to women’s restrooms.

“Wherever this [provision] is passed, privacy and decency are eroded,” agrees Staver.

Canadian women have suffered a flurry of restroom attacks by men. In 2010, an Ottawa man was sentenced to three years in prison for assaulting a 15-year-old girl at Nepean High School. The year before, a Halifax woman was assaulted with a sharp object in a restroom at the mall.

In the United States, Concerned Women for America’s Donna Miller was shocked to see a man urinating in a women’s restroom in plain view, “very intentional, in your face” in 2009.

Yet a Macy’s store in San Antonio, Texas, fired 27-year-old Natalie Johnson for denying a man who identified himself as transgender access to the women’s restroom. 

Staver cited a case in Orono, Maine, where a teenage boy uses the female restroom on the grounds of his perceived gender identity.

Citing the inherent controversy, Jacksonville City Councilman Doyle Carter believes the motion should be settled by a public referendum. “I just think it’s an important issue and the citizens of the city should vote on it, not 19 people,” he said. The former mayor, John Delaney, who supports the ordinance, disagrees. “It’s not a democracy were everyone votes on everything, like ancient Greece,” he said.

“This has never been about discrimination,” Staver said. “These ordinances are meant to legitimize and codify the homosexual and transgender lifestyles.”

Public comments will be accepted at the council’s next meeting on May 22. The body could vote on the issue by June 12.

 

Tags: discrimination, florida, transgender

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U.K. riots probe fails to note role of fatherlessness: gov’t panelist

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Mon May 21 18:15 EST Comments (7)

LONDON, May 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Britain’s political class, bureaucracy, criminal justice system and social services are dominated by a politically correct ideology that has allowed the proliferation of a gang culture that instigated last summer’s English riots, one of the government’s four-member investigative panel has said.

Officially, the report by the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel blamed lack of confidence in police, materialism and poor parenting. But Simon Marcus, the founder of an inner city boxing club for troubled youth and a member of the panel, said that the official report ignored the biggest factor, which was the continued breakdown of the “traditional family” and the resulting fatherlessness suffered by huge numbers of Britain’s young people.

Writing in the Spectator, Marcus said that apart from the issues the panel’s report did cover, “poverty, inequality, consumerism, entitlement, policing, [and] discipline,” it had “failed to address the deeper causes” which were, largely, an “epidemic of father absence.”

The riots saw thousands of teenagers and young adults looting and torching homes and businesses in four cities in a week-long rampage, and are only the beginning, he said.

In the lives of British young people among the lower classes, many of whom are now almost entirely cut off from the working world, the emotional gap where fathers and intact families should be, he said, is being filled by a growing subculture of gangs, violence and crime.

“Many may be in denial of this reality - but in many parts of our country this culture now owns the streets and last August it simply did what it says on the tin,” Marcus wrote.

In addition, Marcus said he had identified “more sinister agendas” at work: “far-left activists were handing out leaflets calling for more riots”.

“Weeping families and burning homes seemed not to bother such people in their celebration of disaster.”

Between 6 and 10 August last year, the riots spread from 11 “working class” districts of London through media attention and social media like Twitter and Facebook, to Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, along with several towns by the end of the week. Homes, businesses and cars were torched, shops looted and five people died in riot-related incidents.

In the end, 3,100 people were arrested, with 1,000 charges laid for a total 3,443 of crimes across London alone. At least 16 others were injured and rioters caused an estimated £200 million worth of property damage.

As the founder of a charity that works amid the subculture, Marcus said he is no stranger to the violence and destruction of the world of gangs.

“I have seen gang culture dominate areas, observed how the disintegration of the traditional family has devastated poor communities and watched our broken welfare and criminal justice systems further demoralise and fracture our society.

“Yet a local government culture of psychobabble, ideology and self-perpetuating bureaucracy remains in denial.”

Many of his questions, he wrote, were left unanswered by a social services system that fails to keep adequate records, largely out of blindness to the causes of Britain’s social disruption. Marcus said he wanted to know how the greater numbers of intact families and the presence of “faith groups” affected the areas that saw little or no rioting, like the heavily Muslim dominated Tower Hamlets area. He also asked for offenders’ past criminal records of “soft sentencing” as well as their ongoing reception of public welfare benefits, wondering how these had affected the pattern of violence, but was told there were no such records available.

The “denial went everywhere,” Marcus wrote, all the way up to senior police refusing to consider that the violence was in any way gang-related.

Repeatedly in the panel’s investigations, Marcus noted reluctance on the part of officials to face up to the one constant. He “sensed the discomfort in the room” when youth leaders spoke of the problems of absent fathers and family breakdown and the contribution of “over-generous welfare” to the development of the “gang culture” activity.

This culture was clearly in charge during the August riots, he said, despite the constant assurances that only a small percentage of those arrested were known to be involved in gangs. Marcus notes, “76 per cent of convicted rioters had previous convictions and nine out of ten were known to the police,” and the 19 per cent of known gang members arrested were more than enough to have been instigators.

The soft and gentle approach to crime by politically correct officials, he said, has left terrorised shop owners, children and teenagers to fend for themselves on streets shared with long-term, hardened criminals who know they have nothing to fear from police or the courts.

Moreover, the ideology that blames “poverty”  for all bad behaviour, is trapping people in a mindset of helplessness.

“When criminals feel there are no consequences, the moral is they will break the law. When our society says that children know best, the moral is that adults have no authority. When we tell people they cannot succeed because of elitism, poverty and inequality, the moral is that there is no point in trying: someone must do it for you.”

Now that the government’s report is complete, it is going to be left to independent groups to point out that “many of our discarded traditions, structures and institutions used to work,”  including the 60 per cent of teenagers in one part of London who, sick of the bad behaviour of their peers, voted to bring back the cane for discipline in schools.

The solutions, he said, are already known to the “moral majority” of the British people, the many who, after the riots, spoke of “morals, values, family and community” and the armies of volunteers to turned out to help clean up.

Gangs must be broken, he said, but the ideologically driven system must too; politicians who preach “harmful policies” should be voted out and social workers who refuse to improve should be sacked; prisoners must be denied the vote and Islamic “hate preachers expelled”.

“It may mean you are shouted down in public and even discriminated against. But the best way to begin to turn around our struggling, crime-ridden, fatherless communities — and the only way to save the futures of terrified, miserable children — is to acknowledge the facts and policies that brought us here.”

Tags: family, uk

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Abortionist: banning abortions of babies who feel pain would ‘conflate murder and abortion’

by Kathleen Gilbert Mon May 21 17:49 EST Comments (58)

 

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Banning abortion on children old enough to feel pain would make people feel more morally justified in opposing abortion as “murder,” and would therefore create negative feelings toward late-term abortionists, said one D.C. abortionist on Monday.

Washington-based abortionist Willie Parker told The Washington Post‘s Sarah Kliff that a Congressional measure banning abortion on children older than 20 weeks in the District of Columbia would jeopardize late-term abortionists and stigmatize them as “callous.”

“These laws put providers in a position where they have to turn away patients who have great need. I also think they create this impression that abortion providers are callous and allow people to conflate murder and abortion,” Parker said.

“People feel morally justified to say ‘this is wrong’ because they’re led to think it’s close to murder. I think that jeopardizes us, by conflating abortion with an issue that would cause moral outrage.”

Congress is currently debating tighter restrictions on the nation’s capital. The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday held a hearing on H.R. 3803, the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act introduced by Rep. Trent Franks, R-AZ. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress sets policy in the city.

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The bill would follow seven U.S. states in challenging the boundaries set by the U.S. Supreme Court by Roe v. Wade, which declared a constitutional right to abortion at any point before the child is viable outside the womb, a threshold usually placed at 22-24 weeks.

Parker said such a measure “vilifies the women who might need an abortion the most.”

Parker said he was inspired to begin performing abortions when he “thought a lot about what Dr. [Martin Luther] King has said about having concern for other people,” and downplayed concerns about the risk to his own safety from the pro-life movement. “I was more concerned about what might happen to them than what might happen to me. And I feel like that’s an appropriate value system to operate around,” he said.

Tags: martin luther king, trent franks, washington d.c., willie parker

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Alabama pro-lifers celebrate closure of notorious Birmingham abortion facility

by Christine Dhanagom Mon May 21 17:23 EST Comments (8)

 

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, May 21, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life activists in Birmingham breathed a sigh of relief last Friday as New Women All Women, one of the city’s most notorious abortion facilities, finally closed its doors in the wake of an investigation triggered after two women were seen leaving the clinic in an ambulance.

Witnesses present at clinic on January 21, 2012, reported that two women were taken to the hospital, one apparently unconscious and bleeding and the second with an oxygen mask. The unconscious woman had to be carried out the door by emergency workers and lifted onto a gurney waiting outside, since there was no gurney access into the facility.

A 76-page report issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) revealed that, due to a “medication error” both patients had been given “an unknown excessive amount of the drug Vasopressin.” The report also noted numerous health and safety violations at the center including unlicensed health practitioners, uninspected equipment, inconsistent records, and a third botched abortion.

The ADPH issued a press release on Good Friday announcing that the facility would be required to relinquish its license on May 18.

A last ditch attempt to keep the clinic open under new ownership was thwarted thanks in part to the vigilance of pro-lifers who discovered that the company applying for a license to operate the clinic was planning to maintain an illicit arrangement with current owner Diane Derzis.

The ADPH denied the application for license submitted by Ochata Management, LLC, noting that the new owners were supposed to operate “independent from and not affiliated with” the center’s current officers and directors. Under the proposed arrangement, however, Derzis would have been “entitled to all the profits from the current operation of the center.”

“It is an example of what can be accomplished when pro-life groups work together toward a common goal,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

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The pro-life watchdog organization had been heavily involved in the effort to close the clinic. In a press release, Newman credited the work of numerous pro-life organizations, including Charismatic Episcopal Church for Life, Life Legal Defense, and The Survivors. “Without our combined work, this clinic would still be taking the lives of innocent babies today.”

Newman added that there was need for continued vigilance to “actively oppose” any attempts to reopen the clinic.

 

Tags: alabama, operation rescue

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Planned Parenthood celebrates ‘National Masturbation Month’

by Kathleen Gilbert Mon May 21 15:29 EST Comments (263)

 
An originator of Planned Parenthood's holiday.
An originator of Planned Parenthood's holiday.

May 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Florida Planned Parenthood affiliate has taken the opportunity of “National Masturbation Month” to highlight the national organization’s promotion of masturbation as part of a “a common and safe kind of sex play” with “many health benefits.”

On Friday, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida tweeted, “Happy Masturbation Month! We’ve got lots of info on masturbation here,” providing a link to Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s page on masturbation.

There, Planned Parenthood states that “there are many harmful myths about masturbation that may cause us to feel uncomfortable about it. These myths can cause guilt, shame, and fear. Let’s get the facts straight. Masturbation is a natural and common activity for both women and men.”

“National Masturbation Month” was first announced in 1995 by the San Francisco-based sex-toy shop Good Vibrations. The month-long celebration includes the annual “Masturbate-a-Thon” to raise funds for sex education. Individuals participate in competitions, either by webcam or in person, based on “longest duration spent masturbating and most orgasms.”

Jim Sedlak of Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP), a project of the American Life League, said that endorsing the “gateway drug” of masturbation was of a piece with Planned Parenthood’s ideology on sex education.

“Planned Parenthood is an organization that makes its money from people involved in sex,” Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.com in an email. “Although Planned Parenthood pushes masturbation for all, it particularly targets young people with the message. It is a way to get these young kids involved in a sexual lifestyle.”

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Sedlak said that youths buy the idea of masturbation as “risk-free” sex but end up “hooked on sexual stimulation as a way to escape their problems.” Especially alarming is how masturbation at an early age has been shown to interfere with a child’s ability to develop compassion and to learn—effects seen in children who regularly masturbate as young as six years old.

The parenting section of Planned Parenthood’s website tells parents to encourage elementary-age children to experiment with masturbation.

“Kids begin to want additional sexual experiences, and Planned Parenthood is there to sell them products and to make millions from them,” said Sedlak.

 

Tags: american life league, masturbation, planned parenthood

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Oklahoma Senate defends marriage

by Christine Dhanagom Mon May 21 15:16 EST Comments (7)

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, May 21, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - Joining the backlash against President Obama’s public announcement of his support for gay “marriage,” the Oklahoma state senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution reaffirming the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Same sex “marriage” is constitutionally prohibited in the state, by virtue of a 2004 amendment which received the approval of 75 percent of voters. Last week’s resolution re-affirming the state’s stance was passed by a similarly wide margin, with 40 of the 48 Senators voting in favor of the measure.

“Our citizens spoke loud and clear on this issue when they voted to include the definition of marriage in the State Constitution,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley, who authored the resolution. “Senate Resolution 62 reaffirms that our citizens, and no one else, make that call for Oklahoma.”

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Democratic State Senator Tom Adelson, an opponent of the resolution, accused Jolley of holding the legislature “hostage” because he needed “promotional material for the Gods-and-gays leaflet” for an upcoming election, Tulsa World reports.

Jolley denied the allegation, explaining that the resolution was a direct reaction to President Obama’s recent announcement that he was now a supporter of gay “marriage.” After publicly revealing his changed position in an interview on ABC, the president has repeatedly put the issue in the national spotlight in his own re-election campaign.

“I believe traditional one man, one woman marriage is still the bedrock of our society. While the president’s stated views may have changed, I do not believe it reflects the values of this state. That’s why I authored this resolution,” said Jolley.

Obama’s comments have triggered reactions from other politicians in Oklahoma, including Governor Mary Fallin, whose office issued a statement earlier this month reiterating the governor’s position that marriage was a union between one man and one woman.

United States Senator Jim Inhofe, R-OK, called Obama’s statement “not surprising,” stating that the president was “trying to shore up his liberal base in an election year.”

Commenting on the controversy, Timothy Putnam, director of the family life office for the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, told LifeSiteNews.com that supporters of traditional marriage should “be careful in the way we frame the discussion.” Conservatives should avoid saying that the law “prohibits” same sex “marriage,” since this “makes the assumption that the state can define marriage” in the first place, he said.

Tags: oklahoma, same-sex "marriage"

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Ex-homosexual group sues Washington school district for discriminating against reformed homosexuals

by Ben Johnson Mon May 21 13:22 EST Comments (10)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland, May 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Washington school district is under fire for discriminating against ex-gay students.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), a Virginia-based organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination against former homosexuals, has filed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint against Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua Starr after he called the group’s literature “reprehensible and deplorable.”

The flyer “promotes equality for all” and “doesn’t suggest that anybody should change” from homosexuality, PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs told LifeSiteNews.com.

In February, PFOX distributed flyers offering to help students at five county high schools dealing with “unwanted same-sex attractions.” as part of a policy (http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/flyers/) The flyer discusses why discrimination and verbal abuse against ex-gay students are wrong. It tells students “isn’t necessary to label” your sexual orientation as a teenager, the flyers say, because “[s]exuality develops over time.” It also asks students not to criticize homosexual students.

The school allows organizations to distribute information in public schools four times a year. However, at a student townhall meeting that month, Starr accused PFOX of spreading a “really disgusting message.”

“He most definitely has a problem with ex-gays. He makes it very obvious if you watch the video,” Griggs told LifeSiteNews.com.

Although Starr said “every school has to be a welcoming environment,” PFOX says he is not very welcome to the concept some people may reject homosexuality.

In testimony before the Montgomery School Board, Grace Harley, who “lived for 18 years as a transgendered man named ‘Joe,’” accused Starr of personally insulting formerly homosexual students.

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“If he had said the same things about gays, they would have fired him by now,” Harley said. “But because he hates people like me, they support him.”

“I have suffered more discrimination and intolerance as an ex-gay than I ever did when I was gay,” Harley said. “Please stop hating us.”

Such harassment becomes more likely when officials like Starr engage in it, PFOX states. “When the School Superintendent promotes intolerance of former homosexuals and organizations that support them, students and teachers will follow his example and learn to also disrespect sexual minorities like the ex-gay community,” Griggs said last Wednesday.

Griggs tells LifeSiteNews that the flyer is strictly a tolerant, informative message that and as such Starr has no grounds for calling it despicable.

The group vows to continue its work of telling those who deal with unwanted same-sex attraction that they can change, and to fight bigotry against those who leave homosexuality behind.

 

Tags: ex-gay, washington state

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Updated: 43 Catholic organizations, including Notre Dame, sue Obama administration over HHS mandate

by Ben Johnson Mon May 21 11:53 EST Comments (18)

 

Updated at 8:24 p.m. to add quotations from Cardinal Dolan and Tony Perkins.

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, May 21, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a coordinated defense of religious liberty, at 11 a.m. 43 Roman Catholic organizations filed a dozen lawsuits nationwide to strike down the HHS mandate.

The plaintiffs include some of the most significant organs of the U.S. church, including the Archdioceses of New York, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis; the Dioceses of Dallas, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ft. Worth, the Michigan Catholic Conference, Pittsburgh, and Rockville Centre; the University of Notre Dame, Catholic University of America, and the Franciscan University of Steubenville; and Our Sunday Visitor.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said the step was necessary “to protect our religious liberties from unwarranted and unprecedented government intrusion.”

The Archdiocese of Washington has created a website dedicated to the new lawsuit. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., called the mandate a “government attempt to force the Church out of the public square.”

“The Catholic rebellion has begun,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com.

The HHS mandate “amounts to nothing less than a grave threat to our constitutionally protected First Amendment right to freedom of religion,” said Franciscan University President Father Terence Henry, TOR. He added, although they never envisioned taking such a step, the board of trustees unanimously approved the lawsuit.

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Our Sunday Visitor linked its involvement to the legacy of its founder, Fr. John Noll, who fought the political clout of the Ku Klux Klan as that organization attempted to impose anti-Catholic policies at the turn of the 20th century. “Today, Our Sunday Visitor stands proudly with our fellow Catholic apostolates and with our bishops in resisting this challenge,” the publication announced in a press release.

The lawsuit has admirers well outside the Roman Catholic Church. These 43 Catholic institutions “are fighting back to protect the religious liberties of all Americans,” said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins this afternoon. “We stand with these Catholic organizations that have refused to give up their long held constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”

Perhaps nothing so encapsulated President Obama’s fall from grace with American Catholics than the participation of the University of Notre Dame, where his invitation to deliver the 2009 commencement address stirred controversy. 

“We have filed this lawsuit neither lightly nor gladly, but with sober determination,” wrote Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins in a letter explaining his actions. “Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the [g]overnment from providing such services…We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the [g]overnment not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings.”

Notre Dame does not qualify for the administration’s religious exemption because, although it is “firmly grounded in the tenets of Catholicism,” it does not primarily employ or serve other Roman Catholics.

“Notre Dame cannot be forced to give up its beliefs on abortifacients, sterilization, or contraception, nor its devotion to serving all mankind, without violating its religious beliefs and compromising its religious purpose,” the university’s legal complaint states.

Fr. Jenkins writes that he had registered his objection to the administration’s overly narrow religious exemption numerous times without satisfaction.

The university’s legal complaint states that after Obama announced an “accommodation” that would require insurance companies to directly provide contraceptives to employees and students for “free,” college officials “informed the White House that such a policy would not help Notre Dame, which is self-insured, and would not protect its religious liberties.”

The lawsuit argues the government has no compelling interest in the mandate, that forcing a religious institution to finance abortifacient drugs is not the least restrictive means of providing them, that the rule burdens the university’s free exercise of religion, and that it favors those religions that either favor abortion or have no interest in serving members of other religions.

The university’s health care plan is not grandfathered, and officials maintain they are not certain if it qualifies for the one-year “safe harbor” that extends the implementation of the HHS mandate past the election, into August 2013. The uncertainty over future regulations makes it impossible for the university to plan for its future.

If religious institutions fail to comply with the regulations promulgated next year, they could face a penalty of $100 per day per individual covered. In an online video, Chancellor Jane Belford of the Archdiocese of Washington said that could cost that diocese $4.2 million a year.

Although Fr. Jenkins does “not question the good intentions and sincerity” of administration officials, he warned if the HHS mandate were accepted, it “will be the end of genuinely religious organizations in all but name.”   

Even some liberal Catholics have greeted today’s lawsuit as a positive step. Michael Sean Winters writes at the dissenting National Catholic Reporter, “The lawsuit, and Jenkins’ commentary, are very good news.”

“First, I doubt there is anyone who could charge Notre Dame with being unreasonably hostile to the Ibama [sic] administration,” he wrote. Yet “the administration has still refused to back off the four-part test” to grant an institution a religious exemption “that was, and is, for many of us, the principal difficulty in finding a solution.”

 

 

Tags: franciscan university of steubenville, hhs mandate, notre dame

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