Religion News for the week of Sept. 28, 2012:
Compiled by Eric Stock
Ill. court backs pharmacists on morning-after pill
CHICAGO (AP) - An Illinois appellate court has ruled in favor of two pharmacists who objected to providing emergency contraception because they said it violated their religious beliefs.
A lawsuit by Luke Vander Bleek and Glenn Kosirog challenged a 2005 executive order by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich requiring all pharmacists to fill prescriptions for the so-called morning-after pill.
They argued they were protected by the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. That law says health professionals cannot be punished if they refuse to offer a service because of their conscientious convictions.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the ruling applies only to the two pharmacists. But their lawyer, Francis Manion, says the precedent means the state cannot go after other pharmacists who similarly refuse to provide the pill.
IFI, churches want to help defend gay marriage ban
CHICAGO (AP) - A judge will decide later this year whether the conservative Illinois Family Institute and two Chicago-area churches can help defend Illinois' gay marriage ban.
Cook County Circuit Judge Sophia Hall is presiding over a lawsuit filed by 25 gay and lesbian couples who want to overturn the 16-year-old law.
But Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and Attorney General Lisa Madigan refused to defend it, saying the ban violates the constitution.
Two downstate Illinois county clerks already received permission to defend the law. Now the institute and the Arlington Heights-based Church of Christian Liberty and Bensenville-based Grace Gospel Fellowship say they should be able to intervene, too.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are representing the plaintiffs. They say there's no legal reason for more groups to intervene.
Former Miss America attending Christian college
PURCELLVILLE, Va. (AP) - Teresa Scanlan says her reign as Miss America 2011 was God's plan, not hers.
Scanlan was 17 years old when she won the beauty pageant she had only entered for a chance to earn scholarship money.
Now 19 and having completed her year as Miss America, Scanlan is still on the public speaking circuit but also is a freshman at Patrick Henry College, a Christian school in Virginia. There she's pursuing her original goals - to become a lawyer and eventually a Supreme Court justice or president of the United States.
Scanlan says her speaking engagements as Miss America provided constant opportunities to share her Christian faith. Sometimes she was advised not to do so, but says ``I couldn't help it.''
Scanlan explains, ``To be able to use that to bring glory to God was my main purpose.''
Teens Caught Causing Damage To Alton Church
(Metro News Service) - Two teen boys are facing charges after being caught causing damage to a southern Illinois church. Reverend E.J. Roberts, with Greater St James Baptist Church in Alton says nothing was stolen, as the burglar alarm probably scared the boys off.
Police say the teens broke two windows on the church bus and poured motor oil inside. They also shattered a church window, climbed inside and kicked in and broke an office door. The reverend says they caused about three-thousand-dollars worth of damage.
Students meet for annual prayer gatherings around school flagpoles
UNDATED (AP) - Students around the country have prayed around their school flagpoles in what has become an annual event.
``See You At The Pole'' started more than 20 years ago in Burleson, Texas, and is now held on thousands of high school and junior high school campuses nationwide on the fourth Wednesday in September.
In Irving, Texas, MacArthur High School student Selina Shaw told KCBI radio, ``I think it's important to take a stand and show your peers and teachers who you are and what you stand for.''
In Minnesota, KTIS radio interviewed students taking part in ``See You At The Pole'' events in Blaine and Delano schools.
The students held hands, sang hymns and prayed for each other, for their schools and for the country.
Notre Dame staff seek gay, lesbian protections
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - More than 600 University of Notre Dame faculty and staff have signed a statement urging the Roman Catholic school to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination clause.
A full-page ad published Tuesday in the campus newspaper, the Observer, and signed by 366 school employees urges Notre Dame ``to make the protection, recognition, and equal treatment'' of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people an official part of school policy.
Notre Dame administrators last spring turned down the latest request to add sexual orientation to the university's nondiscrimination clause. But they delayed a decision about whether to recognize a gay-straight campus alliance pending a full administrative review of existing nondiscrimination practices and protections. The decision on the gay-straight student alliance is expected this fall.
Israeli rabbi to followers: Burn your iPhones
JERUSALEM (AP) - An influential ultra-Orthodox Israeli rabbi has ordered his followers to burn their iPhones, the latest attempt by the insular community to keep the outside world at bay.
A religious newspaper published the ban on its front page this week, as mainstream Israeli newspapers were gushing about Apple's eagerly anticipated new smartphone, the iPhone 5.
The decree by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (kym kah-nee-EHV'-skee) came ahead of Judaism's holiest day, Yom Kippur, which began Tuesday evening. He said that it's forbidden to own the smartphone, and those who already have one must burn theirs.
Israel's growing ultra-Orthodox minority tenaciously guards its traditional way of life against the influence of the secular majority. Many shun TVs and computers to avoid images that break their standards of modesty.
Obama summons world leaders to reject extremism
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Confronting global tumult and protests over an anti-Islam video, President Barack Obama has told world leaders that protecting religious rights and free speech should be a universal responsibility.
Obama told the U.N. General Assembly that ``in every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening.''
The president said he and most Americans are Christians, but don't prohibit blasphemy against their faith, or the beliefs of others.
He said that's because America's founders knew that unless freedom of speech is protected, ``the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened.''
Obama said that while the anti-Islam video is offensive, ``The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech- the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.''
Rick Warren Hospitalized
(Undated) -- “Purpose Driven Life” author and Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren was hospitalized earlier this week after experiencing pain in his arms.
The Christian Post says the Southern California pastor will be undergoing a series of tests, though the doctor’s “diagnostic guess” is he has an inner ear virus that may have spread to the nerves in his neck and down his arms. Warren sent an email Tuesday afternoon to his megachurch saying, quote, “Pray for a quick and accurate diagnosis, a fast remedy.”
Evangelicals Supporting Romney’s Presidency, Mormonism Notwithstanding
(Undated) -- Some political observers who claimed a year ago that many evangelicals would not support Romney’s presidential aspirations because of his mormonism appear to be wrong.
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press put a poll in the field that found 74 percent of registered evangelicals will vote for Romney. The Christian Post reports one of the reasons for the miscalculation is few religious leaders spoke out against voting for a Mormon.
Religion in the News, sponsored by Carmody-Flynn Williamsburg Funeral Home, can be heard each Sunday morning during the Steve Fast Show 7 to 11 a.m on WJBC 1230 AM, 93.7 FM and here on WJBC.com.
Eric Stock can be reached at email@example.com.