Members of Congress Attend This Week's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington
WASHINGTON (AP) Several lawmakers spoke about their faith on the House floor Monday evening.
Oklahoma Congressman James Lankford recalled how he had prayed to Jesus Christ
for the first time when he was eight years old. He said the National Prayer
Breakfast is a great time to come together across party lines and pray for God's
President Barack Obama spoke at this Thursday's 61st annual National
Prayer Breakfast, which organizers say was attended by about 3000 people
from 140 countries.
Illinois Senate Committee Approves Gay Marriage
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) A strict party-line vote has sent proposed
gay-marriage legislation to the Democrat-controlled Illinois Senate floor for
the second time in a month.
The Executive Committee voted 9-5 in favor of the plan despite Republicans'
concerns that it will force resistant religious organizations to open their
parish halls and fellowship centers if not their sanctuaries to gays and
lesbians seeking marriage ceremonies.
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, predicts the body's 40-Democrat
majority will find the 30 votes necessary to make Illinois the 10th state to
give marital rights to same-sex couples. He wants a Valentine's Day floor vote
Boy Scouts of America Ban On Gays Decision Delayed Until May
A decision on whether the Boy Scouts of America will end its ban on gay members and leaders will not be voted on until the organization's annual meeting in May, the national executive board said Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
Deron Smith, the BSA director of public relations, said the executive board would prepare a resolution to be voted on by the 1,400 voting members of the national council. "After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," Smith said.
The meeting will take place in May in Grapevine, Texas
Arkansas Lawmakers OK Bill Allowing Concealed Guns in Church
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) Arkansas' state Senate has given final approval to
legislation that would allow concealed handguns in churches and other places of
worship if the institutions OK it.
Gov. Mike Beebe has said he plans to sign the measure into law, but wants to
work with legislators to develop another bill to address concerns that insurers
could raise the premiums of churches that opt to allow concealed handguns.
The bill's supporters include rural churches that law enforcement could respond
quickly if they're attacked. Other churches have argued that guns don't belong
in any house of worship.
Business Owner Sues Over Health Plan Contraception
ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (AP) A central Minnesota business owner is joining the wave
of lawsuits over religious freedom and the birth control mandate included in
President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
Greg Hall owns American Manufacturing Co. in St. Joseph. Hall says his Catholic
beliefs will not allow him to offer contraception to his employees as part of
the Affordable Care Act.
Faith-affiliated charities, hospitals and others have filed dozens of lawsuits
against the mandate. However, many for-profit business owners are also suing,
claiming a violation of their religious beliefs.
The lawsuits are yielding conflicting rulings in appeals courts around the
Catholic Bishops Conflicted Over Gays, Immigration
WASHINGTON (AP) Roman Catholic and evangelical leaders who have been calling
for immigration reform could end up opposing the legislation if it includes
same-sex partners among those who would be eligible for visas.
That inclusion is backed by President Barack Obama, the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus and other liberal Latino groups.
But Catholic bishops, with the support of evangelicals and other theological
conservatives, have sent a letter to Obama protesting his proposal.
Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops, says recognition of gay couples
``jeopardizes passage of the bill.''
Galen Carey, public policy officer for the National Association of
Evangelicals, which has been lobbying for new immigration laws, said, ``Our view
is immigration reform is not the place to have this discussion.''
The theologically conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod also signed the
Catholic bishops' letter.
Ministers Call for a Repeal of the Death Penalty
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Maryland religious leaders are urging lawmakers to repeal
the state's death penalty.
A diverse group of ministers met in Annapolis on Wednesday to denounce the
Maryland's last execution occurred in 2005, when death row inmate Wesley Eugene
Baker was put to death under former Gov. Bob Ehrlich.
Since 1976, Maryland has executed five people and five more remain on death
Gov. Martin O'Malley, who opposes capital punishment, pushed for repeal in
2009. The Democratic governor has said that he believes the General Assembly has
the will to ban capital punishment this session.
Faith leaders say the death penalty should be repealed on the grounds that it
is immoral, costly and has been shown to be a poor deterrent of heinous crimes.
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