Religion news in brief

AP News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2016 1:12 PM
Religion news in brief

Justices seem to seek compromise in birth control case

WASHINGTON (AP) — A seemingly divided Supreme Court is exploring a possible compromise ruling in the dispute between faith-based groups and the Obama administration over birth control.

The justices issued an unusual order Tuesday directing both sides in the case to file a new round of legal briefs by April 20. They're being asked to examine the minimum that groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor must do to register their religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage.

The court suggested that they could tell their insurance company at the time they arrange for health insurance that they don't want to include some or all contraceptive coverage. Armed with that knowledge, the insurer would notify people covered by the health plan that contraceptive coverage would come directly from the insurer, with no money from or involvement by the nonprofit's health plan.

Attorneys for the groups say that shows the court recognizes that "the government's current scheme forces them to violate their religion."

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Conservative groups say governor betrayed faithful

ATLANTA (AP) —Conservative groups in Georgia say Gov. Nathan Deal's veto of a "religious freedom" bill shows he has turned his back on people of faith.

Representatives of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, the Faith and Freedom Coalition and others said Tuesday they won't give up on passing legislation in future years.

A portion of the bill vetoed Monday lets people claiming their religious freedoms have been burdened by state or local laws force governments to prove there's a "compelling" state interest overriding their beliefs. Supporters say more than 30 states have similar laws.

Republican state Sen. Marty Harbin of Tyrone also called on House and Senate leadership to demand a special session in response to Deal's veto, joining two other senators.

Legislative leaders have given no sign they will do that.

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North Carolina AG applauds Georgia governor's veto

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's Democratic attorney general is commending Georgia's Republican governor for vetoing a bill that critics have called discriminatory.

Attorney General Roy Cooper said at a news conference Tuesday that Gov. Nathan Deal "stepped up" on Monday when he rejected a "religious freedom" bill. Cooper said Deal recognized the negative economic impact it would have Georgia if he signed the legislation.

Many corporations have spoken out against the bill in Georgia and a new law in North Carolina that prevents local governments from approving protections for LGBT people.

Cooper has said he won't defend the North Carolina law, prompting critics to call for the attorney general's resignation. Cooper has refused.

The Georgia bill was modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. People claiming their religious freedoms are burdened could force state and local governments to prove a "compelling" interest in enforcing laws that conflict with their beliefs.

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Authorities: Animal rights activist arrested at Easter Mass

NEW YORK (AP) — Authorities say a teacher from North Carolina has been arrested after he disrupted an Easter Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.

A group of six animal rights activists interrupted the noon Mass on Sunday. Police say one of the protesters shouted into a bullhorn that "only the devil" could create "animals capable of love and joy just so humans can make them suffer and die."

Police say 23-year-old Jacob Martin was taken into custody and was charged with interrupting a religious service.

The animal rights group said Martin is a Christian school teacher.

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Former Kentucky priest who viewed child porn going to prison

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Catholic priest accused of snapping hundreds of inappropriate pictures of students at his parish school is heading to federal prison for nearly three years.

Stephen Pohl wasn't charged with any crime for taking the photos, since the children in his pictures were clothed. But he was found guilty of a charge of looking at child pornography on his computer. The 57-year-old former pastor of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Louisville to 33 months.

Police seized his computer during an investigation that started after a student told his parents he felt "weird" about some photos that Pohl had taken.

The U.S. Attorney's office says it is in the process of identifying the students in Pohl's photos, and their parents will be contacted.

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EWTN chaplain recounts Mother Angelica's last days

IRONDALE, Ala. (AP) — The chaplain of the Eternal World Television Network has eulogized its founder, Mother Mary Angelica, during a memorial sermon at the station's Alabama headquarters, recalling the days leading up to the Easter Sunday death of the Roman Catholic nun.

Before her death, Mother Angelica, 92, told nuns to do whatever they could to keep her alive because she considered her suffering an act of devotion to God, Al.com quoted EWTN Chaplain Joseph Wolfe as saying.

Mother Angelica launched a religious talk show in 1981 in the garage of a monastery in rural Alabama that eventually grew into the Eternal World Television Network. The network has been blessed by the Vatican, and EWTN officials say it broadcasts 24 hours a day in 144 countries and territories.

Mother Angelica had been in declining health since a cerebral hemorrhage on Christmas Eve in 2001. Wolfe said Mother Angelica had a bone fracture that developed because she had been bedridden for months and began crying out in pain Friday. He said nuns and priests were at her side praying when she died Sunday afternoon.

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