Religion news in brief

Senate chaplain prays budget battle will be resolved

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black is asking God to give senators the wisdom to know how to pass a budget that would avert a government shutdown and “the backbone” to do it.

Hours before Texas Republican Ted Cruz began a filibuster in opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care law, Black used Tuesday’s invocation to express what he called the American people’s “jitters” over a possible shutdown next week.

Cruz is urging his colleagues to oppose moving ahead on a bill that would fund all of government except Obamacare to prevent Majority Leader Harry Reid from stripping the health care provision from the bill. A test vote could take place Wednesday.

Black asked God to “give our senators the wisdom to know what is right,” and “the backbone to go through the doors you open.”


Judges weigh religious exemption for health law

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another federal appeals court, this one in the nation’s capital, is considering whether for-profit businesses can be exempted from a contraceptive mandate in the health care law because of the owners’ religious views.

Two brothers who own businesses in Ohio say the requirement would force them to violate their Roman Catholic faith and values.

Two of the judges at Tuesday’s hearing questioned whether business owners should have to give up their religious rights. But the third judge said he believes religious freedom must sometimes yield to the greater good.

The case comes as two other appeals court circuits have issued conflicting rulings in similar cases. The Obama administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case involving Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian bookstores. Their Christian owners won a temporary exemption from the mandate after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the companies are likely to prevail in the case.

But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Mennonite owners of a Pennsylvania furniture manufacturing company.


Catholic college cancels talk by gay marriage prof

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Roman Catholic school Providence College has canceled a talk by a Michigan philosophy professor who supports gay marriage, prompting concerns about academic freedom from some faculty and students.

The school said Tuesday that it canceled Thursday’s appearance by John Corvino of Wayne State University, who has written and spoken extensively in favor of gay marriage. The school said his talk could undermine the nature of a Catholic college.

The talk was sponsored by several academic departments and programs, and a Providence College theology professor had agreed to present the Catholic view, although the provost told faculty in an email he was concerned she didn’t have time to prepare.

Some faculty members said they’re concerned they can’t have an open discussion in an academic setting.


10 Commandments monument toppled in Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) — A stone monument of the Ten Commandments that sits on a street behind the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington has been toppled by vandals in what its patron is calling a hate crime.

The 3-foot-by-3-foot granite monument weighs 850 pounds and sits in front of the headquarters of Faith and Action, a Christian outreach ministry. The group installed the tablets in a garden outside its offices in 2006, and the group’s president says the tablets were angled so that justices arriving at the high court would see them.

The Rev. Rob Schenck (shank), who heads the organization, says the vandals pushed the monument forward so the commandments can’t be seen, suggesting antipathy toward a message revered by Christians, Jews and people of other faiths.

But Schenck says his organization hasn’t decided whether to press charges if security camera footage identifies the vandals.


Vatican official to be in Kan. for sainthood nod

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Vatican official will visit Kansas to complete a lengthy investigation into a possible miracle that could help elevate a Kansas priest to sainthood.

Italian lawyer Andrea Ambrosi returns to Kansas on Saturday to finalize the investigation into whether the Rev. Emil Kapaun (kah-PAWN’), a Kansas priest who died in 1951 in a North Korean prisoner-of-war camp, will become a saint.

The Hutchinson News reports that the recovery of Avery Gerleman, a student at Hutchinson Community College, is one of the possible miracles being investigated by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Gerleman believes Kapaun saved her life back in 2006, just as he saved soldiers in the prisoner-of-war camp.

The Catholic church usually requires two miracles for sainthood, but only one will be required if Kapaun is declared a martyr.

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