Ben Johnson

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Southern Baptist leader: Obama Contraception mandate ‘is not only a Catholic issue’

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, February 2, 2012, ( – The Obama administration’s mandate that religious institutions cover all birth control, including abortifacient drugs like Plan B and Ella, and sterilization in their health insurance plans has people of faith banding together across traditional doctrinal divisions. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said any government law requiring people of faith to violate their conscience “is not only a Catholic issue, even though the mainstream media wants to make this a Catholic issue.”

Dr. Mohler, an influential leader in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and the wider evangelical movement, sounded off during his daily podcast on Tuesday. “[E]vangelicals need to stand back and – in our own terms, on our own doctrine – understand that our religious liberty is being similarly subverted and attacked.”

Although many evangelicals and Protestants do not share the Roman Catholic belief that all forms of artificial contraception are immoral, all Christian churches have traditionally taught abortion is wrong, he said.

The health care reform carves out a narrow exemption for the mandate for churches and institutions that serve only members of their own faith. All others must fund contraception, including abortifacient methods such as Ella and Plan B.

“And this coverage that is now required of us and all religious employers other than local churches does mean that our institutions, our seminaries, our colleges and others that might serve anyone outside the faith will also be covered by this mandate and thus forced to violate our own consciences,” he said.

Mohler said he admired “the courage of the Roman Catholic bishops in saying they are willing to go to jail rather than to comply” and wondered how many evangelical leaders will be willing to do the same.

“We’re going to find out in the coming months,” he warned. “In the meantime, everyone who stands both for the sanctity of human life and for the mandate of religious liberty must express outrage in whatever form is available to us to the president of the United States.”

He went on to hope “remedial legislation” and “court action” would “restore religious liberty to Christian institutions to operate in a Christian manner on the basis of Christian conviction in supposedly free America.”

Mohler may have had in mind the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 introduced earlier this week by Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL. Rubio describes the proposal as “a commonsense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so.”

Under current regulations, religious institutions have an extra year to comply with the mandate.

“This (the one-year delay) does nothing to expand conscience protections it merely punts compliance for most religious employers with conscience objections until after the election,” Tom McClusky of Family Research Council’s activist arm, FRC Action said in a statement. “Despite the fact that certain drugs and devices approved by the FDA can work after conception to destroy a newly developed baby, the Obama administration mandate still forces all insurance plans to carry these drugs and devices even if employers are morally opposed.” McClusky said he hopes “all voters who respect life take note of the Obama Administration’s ardent policies against life and religious liberty and vote accordingly in November.”

The new regulations have the Catholic Church finding support across the religious spectrum.

Galen Carey, Vice President for Government Relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, said, “The HHS rules trample on our most cherished freedoms and set a dangerous precedent.” Carey, who met with President Obama last July to promote continued funding of welfare programs, said, “Freedom of conscience is a sacred gift from God, not a grant from the state.”

The outpouring of support has crossed confessional, and sometimes religious, boundaries.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed two lawsuits against HHS challenging the contraception mandate on behalf of both Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic liberal arts college founded by Benedictine monks, and Colorado Christian University, an evangelical school. 

A coalition of more than 60 religious leaders, including two Orthodox Jewish leaders, signed a letter to President Barack Obama, stating that “religious organizations beyond the Catholic community have deep moral objections.”

The letter, written last December 21, said, “Most press reports on the controversy concerning the contraceptives mandate portray the opposition as coming only from the Catholic Church and Catholic organizations. But this is wrong. It is emphatically not only Catholics who deeply object to the requirement that health plans they purchase must provide coverage of contraceptives that include some that are abortifacients.”

It noted the same coalition sent a previous letter to Joshua DuBois, who heads up Obama’s outreach to faith communities, asking for him to remedy these concerns, without success.

Among those who signed it were Dr. Richard Land, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the leaders of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, the Assemblies of God, and the Wesleyan Church.

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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