Conscience rights

Court rules against Little Sisters plea to avoid way to bypass mandate

DENVER -- The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious entities are not substantially burdened by procedures set out by the federal government by which they can avoid a requirement to provide contraceptive coverage in health insurance, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 14.

Survey: 133 percent increase in attacks on religion in past three years

WASHINGTON -- A new report from the Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas, shows that incidents of "religious hostility" have more than doubled in the United States over the past three years.

The report, "Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America, 2014 Edition," chronicles a series of more than 1,300 court cases recently handled or monitored by the institute, a nonprofit legal group that represents plaintiffs who feel their religious liberty has been violated.

U.S. appeals court hears religious liberty case

Oral arguments were heard Sept. 8 in the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis for a religious liberty case in which a family is seeking exemption from the U.S. Health and Human Services mandate. The mandate would require them to participate in group insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and birth control for their teenage and adult daughters.

The Thomas More Society is defending Missouri State Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, and his family in the case.

VIEWPOINT | Separation of Church and State -- what it really means

Christopher Stefanick

The Declaration of Independence states we all have God-given rights -- not government-given rights, nor king-given rights -- and that the whole purpose of a government is to defend the rights that a government certainly has no right to take away. Among the most important of our God-given rights is the freedom of religion.

For the first time in U.S. history, we have a presidential administration that has chosen to use the words "freedom of worship" instead of "freedom of religion" -- a dangerous shift of phraseology.

Groups lash out at new opt-out rules for HHS mandate

WASHINGTON -- Pro-life groups that have battled with the federal government since the first rules were issued on contraceptive coverage in 2012 derided the government's latest rules allowing religious institutions -- and potentially some for-profit companies -- to opt out of the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

"Once again HHS (the federal Department of Health and Human Services) continues to violate the conscience rights of Americans while claiming just the opposite," said an Aug. 22 statement from Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life.

Editorial | Louisiana court vs. the seal of confession

Last week Catholic news organizations, including the St. Louis Review, published a troubling story about the Louisiana Supreme Court attempting to compel a priest to break the seal of confession.

At issue was a lawsuit filed by the parents of a girl who claimed that, in 2008 at the age of 14, she told a priest that she had been abused by a now-deceased parishioner. The parents claim that the priest was negligent in not reporting the abuse. The girl claimed she told the priest of this in the confessional.

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