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Judge rules against EWTN in HHS mandate case

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By Ben Johnson

IRONDALE, AL – A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the network founded by Mother Angelica must comply with the HHS mandate, despite its deep-seated religious objections, because the ObamaCare provision does not violate the First Amendment.

"EWTN doesn't have to comply with the mandate. All it has to do is sign a form certifying its opposition to the use of contraceptives and then deliver that form to its third-party administrator."

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled in Mobile that the Obama administration may compel the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) to comply with a provision furnishing female employees with contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, because the network does not directly supply the services.

“The mandate, as it was enacted, does not violate the Constitution,” she ruled. 

"EWTN doesn't have to comply with the mandate. All it has to do is sign a form certifying its opposition to the use of contraceptives and then deliver that form to its third-party administrator," she continued.

The Obama administration's health care “accommodation” requires employers to certify their religious objections, but their insurance company must then offer female employees birth control pills for “free.” Critics say the move is nothing more than an accounting gimmick, but Judge Granade found the distinction compelling.

"Thanks to the accommodation that allows religious nonprofits to opt out of the mandate, EWTN is free to continue refusing to cover the allegedly abortion-inducing drugs without suffering any discrimination for making that choice,” wrote Judge Granade, who was appointed to the bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush.

According to the network's attorney, Lori Windham of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, “This decision is out of step with the overwhelming majority of decisions in similar cases nationwide.”

More than 300 plaintiffs have filed 100 lawsuits against the controversial HHS mandate. Judges have granted injunctions in 40 of the 46 cases led by non-profits to date, a victory rate of more than 80 percent.

“The fact that the court has dismissed the serious issues of conscience and religious freedom that EWTN has raised is very troubling,” Michael P. Warsaw, CEO of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, said Wednesday morning.

“As an organization that was founded by Mother Angelica to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, we do not believe that contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and voluntary sterilization should be defined as health care. We simply cannot facilitate these immoral practices,” Warsaw said.

Like the Little Sisters of the Poor, EWTN contends that it would be complicit in evil if it signed a form allowing its insurance provider to offer abortifacient contraceptives to its employees. Any form of artificial contraception clearly violates Catholic teaching, including the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae.

“This unjust action is in direct contravention of the fundamental human right to religious freedom and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution,” Deacon Keith Fournier wrote at Catholic Online today.

EWTN promised to make an immediate appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Its lawyers also asked for an injunction against the decision pending that ruling, saying that the Catholic network would be forced to comply with the mandate in two weeks if it were not granted. Newly confirmed HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell has until tomorrow to file an objection.

The Catholic network's legal battle began when EWTN filed suit on February 9, 2012, shortly after the president unveiled his accommodation. “The mission of EWTN is not negotiable,” Warsaw said at the time. “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.”

U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, a Bush Sr. appointee, dismissed the case on March 25, 2013 – ironically, the date of the Feast of the Annunciation, a major Christian holiday celebrating the conception of Jesus Christ.

The network filed this lawsuit last October.

The ruling comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is pondering its verdict on Hobby Lobby's case against the HHS mandate, filed on First Amendment grounds. Justices did not issue a ruling this morning. Analysts say that decision will come on Monday at the earliest. 

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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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