Kathleen Gilbert

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Feds tell college it’s not Catholic enough

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert

MANHATTAN, January 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal agency has told a New York Catholic college that it has distanced itself too far from the authority and teaching of the Catholic Church to merit government recognition as a sectarian institution - a development Catholic education watchdogs are using as a warning to other secularized Catholic institutions.

On Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Manhattan College could not prevent faculty from unionizing on the basis that it is a religious institution.  Despite acknowledging that the college is recognized as Catholic by the New York Archdiocese, the NLRB wrote that it reviewed college statements and course content, and found “that the purpose of the College is secular and not the ‘propagation of a religious faith’.”

The office listed several examples from the school’s own governance, faculty, coursework requirements, and literature to prove its lack of a meaningful relationship with the Catholic Church. These included the diminishing number of leadership roles filled by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, and the school’s emphasis on “academic freedom and diversity” and “institutional autonomy,” which Manhattan College called “[requisite] for its effective functioning and the achievement of its Mission.”

“The College brochure for prospective students that includes the application for admission ... makes certain references to St. John Baptist de La Salle, but does not include any reference to the Catholic Church or Catholicism,” NLRB pointed out. The school’s own Trustees Report noted that by the 1960s, the board had successfully “eliminated any structures of control by authorities of the Church or the Institute [of the Brothers].”

The opinion also quotes Religious Studies faculty member Dr. Joseph Fahey, who contrasted the school’s objective approach to Catholic studies with its theology courses in the 60s, at which time the “primary purpose of the college” was “to indoctrinate students into the Catholic faith and to proselytize students.” 

Immediately following the ruling, The Cardinal Newman Society published an analysis from a top legal expert advising Catholic college leaders on ways to protect their religious freedoms by maintaining a strong Catholic identity.

“Federal and state laws are increasingly being used to coerce religious institutions into actions and commitments that violate deeply held religious convictions and moral principles,” warns Kevin Theriot, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, in that analysis.

Theriot suggests ways Catholic educators can defend their exemptions from laws that require health insurance coverage for contraception or employee benefits for same-sex couples.

“Any available exemptions for religious institutions will not apply if a college that was founded as a religious institution has become largely secular,” Theriot cautions. “It is therefore vital that Catholic colleges and universities maintain their Catholic identity in all of their programs in order to best protect their religious character and mission.”

“For decades since the infamous Land O’Lakes declaration, too many Catholic colleges and universities have straddled the line between Catholic and secular,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS). “While the Vatican and bishops have patiently encouraged the renewal of Catholic identity, state and federal regulators are increasingly demanding that Catholic colleges justify their claims to be religious.  For all but a handful of faithful Catholic colleges, this is a difficult if not impossible task.”

The new information comes, CNS points out, at a time when the federal government has become increasingly antagonistic even to faithful Catholic institutions. In August 2009, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accused Belmont Abbey College of discriminating against female employees by not covering contraceptives in its health insurance plan. The school argues that Catholicism regards contraception as a grave evil.

In November 2010, CNS hosted a closed-door meeting with bishops and presidents of faithful Catholic colleges to discuss ways to defend the religious liberty of Catholic institutions of higher education. 

At the meeting and in The Cardinal Newman Society paper released today, Theriot identified ten factors that federal courts may consider when determining whether a school is exempt from certain laws as a religious organization. Several of the same factors were used by the NLRB in its ruling against Manhattan College.

Theirot pointed out that the Catholic Church’s own Canon Law and the document Ex Corde Ecclesiae, clearly define what it means to be a Catholic institution. “It should be noted,” he said, “that a college that does not faithfully adhere to and apply the Catholic Church’s own law might find it difficult if not impossible to convince a secular court that it is a Catholic institution deserving protection.”

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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