Obama defends birth control mandate in health care law
DENVER (AP) — President Barack Obama says he has tried to accommodate religious objections to the requirement that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control.
Speaking to thousands of women at a campaign event in Denver, Obama defended the controversial mandate in the health care law.
He said, "We recognize that many people have strongly held religious views on contraception, which is why we made sure churches and other houses of worship — they don't have to provide it, they don't have to pay for it."
Plaintiffs in dozens of lawsuits call that exemption too narrow and arbitrary.
Obama also told the crowd that his administration "worked with the Catholic hospitals and universities to find a solution that protects both religious liberty and a woman's health."
But opponents of the mandate say the president's proposed accommodation is inadequate, and note that the law remains unchanged.
258-a-10-(Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in AP interview)-"far don't work"-Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says there's been no change in the birth control requirement to accommodate religious objections. (8 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *258 (08/08/12)>> 00:10 "far don't work"
257-a-06-(Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in AP interview)-"matter were solved"-Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says President Barack Obama has not accommodated religious objections to the birth control mandate. (8 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *257 (08/08/12)>> 00:06 "matter were solved"
259-a-09-(Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in AP interview)-"their own teachings"-Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says the exemptions to the birth control mandate don't cover most religious employers. (8 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *259 (08/08/12)>> 00:09 "their own teachings"
243-a-11-(President Barack Obama, at campaign event)-"pay for it"-President Barack Obama says he has accommodated religious objections to the health care law's birth control mandate. (8 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *243 (08/08/12)>> 00:11 "pay for it"
242-w-31-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with President Barack Obama)--President Barack Obama says he has tried to accommodate religious objections to the requirement that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (8 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *242 (08/08/12)>> 00:31
244-a-07-(President Barack Obama, at campaign event)-"a woman's health"-President Barack Obama says religious objections to contraception have been considered. (8 Aug 2012)
<<CUT *244 (08/08/12)>> 00:07 "a woman's health"
For a Mormon political first, a Mormon blessing?
UNDATED (AP) — Spiritual leaders will give invocations and benedictions each day at the Republican National Convention, but it's unclear if Mitt Romney will ask anyone from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to pray.
Romney will be the first Mormon nominated for president by a major party, but he rarely discusses his church while campaigning.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Romney served as a bishop, or pastor, for Mormon congregations in the Boston area.
The GOP convention will begin Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla. The full roster of speakers hasn't been released.
Robert Millet (MIHL'-iht), a Mormon scholar who advised Romney aides before the 2008 presidential campaign, says Romney won't want people to think he'll let Mormonism guide his presidency, so evangelicals may be asked to lead most prayers at the convention.
CIVIL UNION-CHILD CUSTODY
Defense: Pastor thought mom OK to leave US
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Mennonite pastor worked with a number of other people to help a woman flee the U.S. with her 7-year-old daughter rather than share custody with her former lesbian partner in Vermont.
The Rev. Kenneth Miller is on trial on a federal charge of aiding and abetting an international kidnapping.
Lisa Miller, no relation to the defendant, and Janet Jenkins entered a civil union in Vermont in 2000. Lisa Miller gave birth to her daughter, Isabella, in 2002. After the couple broke up, Lisa Miller renounced homosexuality and embraced Christianity.
The pastor is accused of helping Lisa Miller elude a Vermont court order to share custody with Jenkins and flee to Nicaragua to live with Mennonites there. The current whereabouts of the mother and her now 10-year-old daughter are unknown.
Federal judge rules against Hawaii gay marriage
HONOLULU (AP) — A federal judge has ruled against two Hawaii women who want to get married instead of entering into a civil union.
Judge Alan Kay's ruling was a victory for opponents of gay marriage including the Hawaii Family Forum, a Christian group.
Kay ruled that lawmakers and the people should decide whether to allow same-sex marriage.
The lawsuit by Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid argues they need to be married in order to get certain federal benefits. Co-plaintiff Gary Bradley wants to marry his foreign national partner to help him change his immigration status. Their lawyer plans to appeal.
The case put Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the unusual position of both being a defendant in the lawsuit and supporting the women's claims. The governor believes a same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.
Hutterites want apology for NatGeo television show
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Leaders of a Hutterite colony are demanding an apology from the National Geographic Society and a pledge that it will never again broadcast a television show they say misrepresented their way of life and damaged their reputation.
King Ranch colony minister John Hofer said "American Colony: Meet The Hutterites" was supposed to be a documentary about the German-speaking religious community in central Montana.
Instead, Hofer said, the producers turned it into a reality show that encouraged discord by pitting generations against each other.
National Geographic Channel CEO David Lyle responds that the show gave a fair and accurate depiction of colony life.
Hutterites are Protestants whose traditional, religious-centered lives have been compared to that of the Amish, but they live in commune-like colonies in rural areas of the western U.S. and Canada.
Churches hold Ramadan fast-breaking meal for congregation of burned mosque
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Churches in Joplin, Mo., are reaching out to members of a mosque destroyed in a suspicious fire.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations says St. Philip's Episcopal Church agreed to host an evening meal following the daytime fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The Islamic Society of Joplin's mosque was destroyed in a fire early Monday. Federal officials have been working to determine whether the fire was arson, but said Wednesday it's unclear when they'll know if the fire was set.
CAIR said four Joplin churches and a Jewish congregation were participating in the Muslim fast-breaking meal.
Glasses look to keep Israeli women out of sight
JERUSALEM (AP) — It's the latest prescription for extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who shun contact with the opposite sex: Glasses that blur their vision, so they don't have to see women they consider to be immodestly dressed.
In an effort to maintain their strictly devout lifestyle, Israel's ultra-Orthodox have separated the sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces in their neighborhoods. Their interpretation of Jewish law forbids contact between men and women who are not married.
Extremists have accosted women they consider to have flouted the code. Now they're trying to keep them out of clear sight altogether.
The ultra-Orthodox community's unofficial "modesty patrols" are selling glasses with special blur-inducing stickers on their lenses. The glasses provide clear vision up close, but anything more than a few yards away gets blurry — including women.
For men forced to venture outside their insular communities, hoods and shields that block peripheral vision are also being offered.
ISRAEL-CORRECTING THE BIBLE
Israeli scholar completes mission to 'fix' Bible
RAMAT GAN, Israel (AP) — For the past 30 years, Israeli Judaic scholar Menachem Cohen has been on a mission of biblical proportions: Correcting all known textual errors in Jewish scripture to produce a truly definitive edition of the Old Testament.
His edits mark the first major overhaul of the Hebrew Bible in nearly 500 years.
Poring over thousands of medieval manuscripts, the 84-year-old Cohen identified 1,500 inaccuracies in the Hebrew language texts that have been corrected in his completed 21-volume set. The final chapter is set to be published next year.
The corrections have no bearing on the Bible's stories and alter nothing in its meaning. Most were in the final two thirds of the Hebrew Bible and not in the sacred Torah scrolls.
Decision on pope's butler due next week
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says it will announce its decision Monday on whether to order the pope's butler to stand trial in the theft and leaking of secret documents that have embarrassed the church.
Paolo Gabriele was arrested May 23, so far the only person ensnared in a criminal investigation. He was released under house arrest July 21 pending a decision on whether to indict him.
Gabriele's lawyers have told reporters that he fully cooperated with the investigation, and that they'll be ready to face a trial in case of an indictment, which they say they expect. They deny that he was part of any conspiracy.
The documents point to corruption and power struggles in the church hierarchy.
Russia: Muslim sect members charged with abuse
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian prosecutors have brought child abuse charges against members of a reclusive Muslim sect accused of keeping some of their children in underground cells for over 10 years.
Russia's Vesti television reported Wednesday that prosecutors in Kazan, the capital of the predominantly Muslim central province of Tatarstan, have also charged Faizrakhman Satarov, the group's 83-year-old founder, with negligence.
It said Satarov declared himself a prophet and ordered some 70 of his followers to stop contact with the outside world and live in underground cells they dug under a house outside Kazan in the early 2000s.
Vesti quotes prosecutors as saying some 20 children lived there for years, some of whom have never seen daylight.
RUSSIA-PUNKS VS PUTIN
Verdict in Russian punk trial set for Aug. 17
MOSCOW (AP) — The Moscow judge presiding over the trial of three feminist punk rockers says she will issue a verdict in the controversial case late next week.
Prosecutors have called for three-year prison sentences for the three women, who gave an impromptu performance in Moscow's main cathedral to call for an end to Vladimir Putin's rule.
Some Russians say the three women — who have already been in jail for five months — deserve to be punished for desecrating the Russian Orthodox Church and offending believers.
Others insist that they are being harshly punished for their political beliefs.