September 6th, 2012
11:30 AM ET
Editor's note: Michael Sean Winters writes the blog "Distinctly Catholic" for the National Catholic Reporter and is the author of "God's Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right."
By Michael Sean Winters, Special to CNN
Four years ago, anti-abortion Sen. Robert Casey addressed the Democratic National Convention.
“Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion,” he said. “But the fact that I am speaking here tonight is testament to Barack’s ability to show respect to the views of people who may disagree with him… he’ll pursue the common good by seeking common ground rather than trying to divide us.”
The next day, speaking to fellow anti-abortion Democrats, we all admitted we had been moved to tears by Casey’s speech.
As candidate and as president, Obama promised he would try and heal the culture wars.
August 23rd, 2012
01:12 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – Even as the official Republican Party continues to try to derail Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin over his remarks about “legitimate rape,” a powerful force within the GOP has begun rallying to the candidate’s side: the party’s socially conservative base.
Powerful Christian activists in the GOP have begun pushing back against party leadership, alleging it has gone too far in trying to thwart Akin and that it is attempting to sideline issues that social conservatives care about, such as abortion.
The criticism is creating major tensions between the mainstream Republican Party and a key part of its base days before the GOP’s convention is set to open in Tampa, Florida.
August 22nd, 2012
12:25 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – Both Todd Akin’s claim that women’s bodies can prevent conception in cases of “legitimate rape” and the GOP’s newly-adopted platform language calling for a constitutional ban on abortion have provoked controversy for largely the same reason: They showcase the belief that all abortions should be illegal, without exception.
But even as Democrats and abortion rights groups use the controversies to reinforce allegations of a Republican-led “war on women,” don’t expect the anti-abortion movement to back away from calls for all abortions to be illegal - even for women impregnated by rape or incest.
“Philosophically, the consensus is very clearly that life is life and that it should be not be taken and that abortion is not a compassionate response to something terrible, even like rape,” said Marvin Olasky, the editor in chief of World magazine, an influential evangelical publication.
July 26th, 2012
11:36 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A large majority of black and Hispanic Americans identify as both “pro-life” and “pro-choice” when it comes to abortion, according to a survey released Thursday. The poll finds that both minority groups are more likely than Americans in general to embrace or to reject both labels.
Large majorities of African-Americans identify both as “pro-life” (71%) and “pro-choice” (75%), according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released Thursday. Hispanic Americans harbor similarly complex views on abortion, with 77% identifying as “pro-life” and 72% calling themselves as “pro-choice.”
The survey found that 52% of black Americans and 47% of Hispanic Americans acknowledge that they embrace or reject both labels, proportions that are higher than those for Americans overall. Thirty seven percent of all Americans embrace both labels or neither label.
The numbers show that most people see the pro-life and pro-choice identifiers through their own unique prisms, says Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute.
May 18th, 2012
02:58 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – In an anticipated and controversial address Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius delivered a speech that blended inspirational messages to graduates with a discussion of public policy's tough decisions, including health care and honoring religious freedom.
Her speech at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute awards ceremony had been considered controversial by conservative Catholic organizations that saw her appearance as the university validating her positions on abortion and contraception.
The speech did not mention the controversy directly, but Sebelius did address faith in public life in a section of the speech devoted to John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president of the United States.
"Kennedy was elected president on November 8, 1960," she said. "And more than 50 years later, that conversation, about the intersection of our nation's long tradition of religious freedom with policy decisions in the public square, continues."
April 12th, 2012
03:14 PM ET
By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Editor
Washington (CNN)–Two leading national anti-abortion organizations Thursday endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president.
The moves may be the first indications of social conservatives coalescing around Romney after their first choice, Rick Santorum, dropped out of the race.
In backing the former Massachusetts governor and all but certain GOP presidential nominee, both National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List highlighted what they called Romney's strong "pro-life" positions and criticized President Barack Obama for what they call a "pro-abortion agenda."
"On pro-life issues, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama provide a stark contrast. As the country's most pro-abortion president, Barack Obama has pursued a radical pro-abortion agenda," said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. "It is now time for pro-life Americans to unite behind Mitt Romney. For the sake of unborn children, the disabled, and the elderly, we must win."Read the full story on CNN's Political Ticker.
March 21st, 2012
10:45 AM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – A Washington advocacy group training in-the-trenches religious leaders to speak out on hot-button issues like abortion is nothing new.
But a liberal beltway group training left-leaning clergy to speak out for abortion rights is.
“Religion does support a woman’s personal decision-making about whether she is ready to become a parent,” said Sally Steenland, director of the Faith Initiative at the Center for American Progress, a progressive group that launched its Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute on Tuesday.
February 7th, 2012
12:44 PM ET
By Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Special to CNN
Faced with a deluge of media opposition and pressure from lawmakers, the Susan G. Komen foundation amended its decision to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood last week. Afterward, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell complimented each other on getting Komen to buckle under pressure.
Mitchell’s hostile interrogation of Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Komen’s CEO and founder, was widely viewed as a key moment in Planned Parenthood’s campaign against Komen.
“I thought you did such an interesting interview with the ambassador yesterday,” Boxer said to Mitchell during a televised discussion, “which I think helped bring this about, if I might say.”
February 1st, 2012
09:23 PM ET
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.
January 31st, 2012
11:11 PM ET
By CNN Political Unit
(CNN) – 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.
The major breast cancer research group cut funds to the prominent family planning organization after Planned Parenthood has come under increasing scrutiny from Congress over how it provides abortion services. The Komen Foundation gave few details on the reasons behind the decision, attributing the announcement to "changes in priorities and policies" and the need to "most fully advance [its] mission."
"It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our priority. We are working directly with Komen Affiliates to ensure there is no interruption or gaps in services for women who need breast health screening and services,” the group said in a statement.
The Komen Foundation did not respond to repeated requests for more information about the decision.FULL STORY
About this blog
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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.