By Eric Marrapodi and Brianna Keilar, CNN
(CNN)–After years of bridge building with the Catholic Church, the Obama administration may have damaged some of the good will it built up with the nation's 70 million Catholics, which could have steep consequences at the polls in November.
Some rank and file Catholics are beginning to express the same frustrations as clergy about a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy requiring all employers, including religious ones, to pay for FDA-approved contraceptives, such as the birth control pill and Plan B, through health insurance plans. Churches are exempt but hospitals and schools with religious affiliations must comply. The new policy goes into effect August 1, 2012, but religious groups who oppose contraception have been given a yearlong extension to enforce the policy.
"What's offensive is that we're being told, our Catholic institutions which serve this nation well, are being told you who find these things offensive, you should pay for them, in fact you must pay for them," Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, told CNN.
Catholic teaching opposes the use of contraceptives. Wuerl acknowledged the clergy and the faithful have been at odds over the teachings on contraceptive use. But on this policy he said both are in lockstep over what is being perceived as a violation of religious liberties.
Editor’s Note: Marci Weis is the chief operating officer at a healthcare consulting and care management company in Washington. She is pursuing a Masters in Divinity degree for ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ. Weis and her lesbian partner have been together more than 20 years and they have two daughters.
Washington's Senate could vote as early as today on a bill that would allow gay marriage in the Evergreen State. A House vote is expected within days. If it passes both chambers, Gov. Christine Gregoire has promised to sign it into law.
By Marci Weis, Special to CNN
"Mama, if it doesn’t pass, will we still be able to be a family?"
Those were the words of my then-7-year-old daughter on the night of the 2009 election. Over the prior months, sides had been chosen, harsh words had been hurled from all fronts, battle lines drawn. Up for vote was a referendum on whether Washington state would allow gay and lesbian couples to have several of the rights and responsibilities of legally married heterosexual couples.
(CNN)–Reverend O'Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, Florida, joined CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin to discuss some controversial statements he has made in the past on social issues.
Dozier, an honorary Rick Santorum co-chair, defended his views that homosexuality is 'disgusting' and 'the paramount sin' in the eyes of God.
He went on to explain why he thinks that Mitt Romney is unelectable due to his Mormon faith.
Get all the latest from Brooke Baldwin's show at the CNN Newsroom Blog.
By Ericka Sanders, Indianapolis Recorder
Indianapolis (Indianapolis Recorder)–Gary Brackett's life reads like a movie.
He was a walk on at Rutgers University; yet by his senior year he was named defensive captain and won the team's defensive MVP honors.
The linebacker went undrafted in 2003, but was signed by the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent. What should have been the beginning of the happiest times in his life was the beginning of the most tragic.
During a 17-month span, Brackett lost his mother, father and brother. In October 2003, his father, Granville died of a heart attack. Three months later, his mother Sandra went into the hospital for a routine hysterectomy and suffered a stroke in the recovery room. Brackett made the decision to take her off life support. Not long after, his brother Greg was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia. Despite a bone marrow transplant from Brackett, Greg died a few months later.
What got him through? His faith in God.
"My mother was an ordained reverend and always told us about the importance of faith and being a faithful believer and (the power) of prayer," he told the Recorder. "When I'm dealing with tragedies or injuries, I give it to God. I believe that what is for me is for me."
(CNN)–CNN's Erin Burnett examines two recent cases of violence against women. Were they the product of religion or culture? Is there a difference?
In this video essay Burnett discusses her own experiences in the Middle East and speaks to an awarding-winning journalist, Deborah Scroggins, the author of "Wanted Women: Faith, Lies & The War on Terror," to try and answer the question "Islamic or Islamist?"
Read more about the issue of "honor murders" here and here on the Belief Blog.
And don't miss all the latest on Burnett's show from the Out Front Blog.
By Sarah Hoye and Dan Gilgoff, CNN
Philadelphia's Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua has died at the age of 88, the city's Catholic archdiocese announced.
The announcement Tuesday comes as the archdiocese faces one of the most sweeping sex abuse scandals in America.
The allegations date from the time when Bevilacqua was archbishop. He was not himself accused of abuse, but one of his top officials has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child in a ground-breaking prosecution.
He gave testimony in November for the upcoming trial to ensure that his evidence would be considered despite his age and illness.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Sen. Marco Rubio has introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, bringing to the Senate the ever growing charge that President Barack Obama and his administration are violating the rights of religious Americans.
The bill looks to repeal health care reform mandates that “violates religious liberties and conscience rights of faith-based institutions,” Rubio said in a news release.
The main concern from religious organizations has been the Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to finalize plans that would require church-affiliated organizations to offer private health care that would include contraceptives.
“The Obama Administration’s obsession with forcing mandates on the American people has now reached a new low by violating the conscience rights and religious liberties of our people,” said Rubio, a Florida Republican.
Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.
From the Blog:
Komen cut funding in light of increased scrutiny on Planned Parenthood by Congress.
CNN: Susan G. Komen drops funding for Planned Parenthood
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation revealed Tuesday it was cutting funds to Planned Parenthood, sparking an outcry from abortion rights advocates blaming “political pressure” and praise from an anti-abortion group.
CNN: Egypt’s Coptic Pope in poor health, official says
Coptic Pope Shenouda III, the spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian community, is in deteriorating health, the head of the Egyptian General Coptic Association said Tuesday.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.