By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor
Washington (CNN) - For the Greens, the Christian family behind the Hobby Lobby chain of stores, their battle with the Obama administration was never really about contraception. It was about abortion.
After all, the evangelical Greens don't object to 16 of the 20 contraceptive measures mandated for employer coverage by the Affordable Care Act. That puts the family squarely in line with other evangelicals, who largely support the use of birth control by married couples.
Like other evangelicals, however, the Greens believe that four forms of contraception mandated under the ACA - Plan B, Ella and two intrauterine devices - in fact cause abortions by preventing a fertilized embryo from implanting in the womb. (The Obama administration and several major medical groups disagree that such treatments are abortions .)
“We won’t pay for any abortive products," Steve Green, Hobby Lobby's president, told Religion News Service. "We believe life begins at conception.”
By Delia Gallagher, CNN
ROME (CNN) - The Vatican said Thursday that gays and lesbians must be treated with respect, their children may be baptized in the church, and admitted that Catholic priests are sometimes unsure about how to deal with same-sex couples.
There is a “certain unease at the challenge of accepting these people with a merciful spirit and, at the same time, holding to the moral teaching of the Church,” the Vatican said in a document, called an Instrumentum Laboris.
The 75-page document is a compilation of the results of a survey sent to 114 bishops’ conferences around the world. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, General Secretary of the Synod, said that 85% of the conferences responded to the survey.
The document will be used as a guideline for discussions at a synod, a meeting of top Catholic bishops convened by Pope Francis, to be held in Rome in October.
The official name of the synod is "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization."
By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - For decades, the March for Life has followed a familiar formula: Bus in thousands of abortion opponents. Protest in front of the Supreme Court. Go home.
But this year, in addition to braving snow and bone-chilling wind, the March will move in a different direction, says Jeanne Monahan, president of the anti-abortion group.
Long-winded political speeches? See ya.
An exclusive focus on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that lifted restrictions on abortion? Gone.
A hipster Catholic musician, evangelical leaders and March for Life app? Welcome to the protest.
And those changes just skim the surface.
The March for Life, billed as the world’s largest anti-abortion event, is remaking itself in deeper ways as well, says Monahan.
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
(CNN) - The Supreme Court waded cautiously back into the larger debate over abortion on Wednesday.
A number of justices raised concerns about a Massachusetts state law preventing activists from crossing a 35-foot buffer zone around reproductive health clinics.
During an intense hour of oral arguments, Massachusetts officials said the issue was more about public safety and pedestrian access on local sidewalks. Anti-abortion supporters countered their free speech rights were being violated.
What the high court decides in coming months could affect a broader range of free speech arenas - over issues such as war, taxes, corporate bailouts and elections - where the location of the message is often key.
By Bill Mears, CNN
Boston (CNN) - Outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Boston on a recent winter day are the regulars - a small, devoted team of anti-abortion activists, handing out fliers and urging patrons to hear their message: "Save that child." "Every life is precious, protect that life within you." "Please change your mind." Several people pray silently nearby.
Clearly marked on the sidewalk, nearly 12 yards from the front doors, is a painted boundary, a line the protesters cannot cross. By state law, their First Amendment rights stop there.
A metaphoric line - testing the competing limits of what has become a constitutional fight between free speech and public safety - will now be surveyed by the nation's highest court.
The justices on Wednesday will step back into the larger national debate on abortion, when it holds oral arguments on a challenge to a Massachusetts law that established tighter buffer zones around facilities that perform the procedure.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - American Catholics overwhelmingly support newly installed Pope Francis, according to a poll released Friday, and agree with his statements that the church should focus less on contentious social issues.
Nearly seven in 10 American Catholics say the church has become too focused on same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraceptives, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Friday.
What's more, 60% of American Catholics support same-sex marriage, a number that continues to be larger than support from all American adults. Thirty-one percent of American Catholics said they do not support same-sex marriage.
This number is consistent with other polls, like a Public Religion Research Institute poll in 2012 that found 59% of American Catholics support same-sex marriage.
By John L. Allen Jr. and Hada Messia, CNN
Aboard the Papal Airplane (CNN) - Pope Francis said Monday that he will not "judge" gays and lesbians, including gay priests, signaling a shift from his predecessor and offering another sign that the new pope is committed to changing the church's approach to historically marginalized groups.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said in a wide-ranging news conference aboard the papal plane.
Though he was answering a question about the so-called "gay lobby" at the Vatican, the pope indicated a change in tone, if not in teaching, in the church's stance towards gays and lesbians more generally. FULL POST
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – On Monday morning, a Catholic parish in Virginia posted an urgent message from its priest on Facebook.
A couple was pregnant with a child diagnosed with Down syndrome, said the Rev. Thomas Vander Woude of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Virginia.
If they didn't find a couple willing to adopt the unborn child by the end of day, they would abort it, according to the priest.
Within hours, hundreds of couples had contacted the church with adoption offers, according to Holy Trinity staffers.
(CNN)– Are Satanists for or against abortion? Apparently, there's a hot debate.
A group calling itself the "UK Church of Satan" on Twitter says it's open minded, tweeting out "Why Wouldn't Satanism be pro-life?" on July 5.
But the High Priest of the New York-based Church of Satan says it's squarely in the abortion-rights corner.
How to settle this diabolical duel?
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Forty years after the Supreme Court protected abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, a new survey finds that white evangelicals remain the only major religious group that supports overturning the landmark ruling, even though most such groups find abortion morally wrong.
Slightly more than half (54%) of white evangelicals, according to the Pew Research Center study, favor completely overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman’s right to have an abortion. No other religious group, including white mainline Protestants, black Protestants and white Catholics, agreed with completely overturning the ruling.
In fact, substantial majorities of white Protestants (76%), black Protestants (65%) and white Catholics (63%) say the ruling should not be over turned, the survey found.
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.