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Pope Problems: Papal Visit Incurs Significant Taxpayer Expense

Pope Francis has landed and American taxpayers are footing the bill.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the World Meeting of Families agreed on Friday to shoulder Philadelphia’s costs for hosting the pope. The Meeting is sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family and is held every three years in a different world city. This year, it’s located in Philadelphia. Read more

Cities Hosting Pope Francis Must Take Pains To Protect Church-State Separation, Says Americans United

Cities Hosting Pope Francis Must Take Pains To Protect Church-State Separation, Says Americans United

Officials in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C. should take care to respect separation of church and state during the upcoming visit of Pope Francis, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In a letter sent today to officials in the three cities as well as federal agencies, Americans United noted that during previous papal visits, government officials have attempted to divert tax money for religious purposes.

Pluck Of The Irish: Same-Sex Marriage Vote Shows Yearning For An End To Clerical Domination

A provocative headline from Reuters news service last week caught my eye. “Irish plunge stake through Catholic Church’s heart,” it read.

The headline is perhaps a bit hyperbolic. The column, by John Lloyd, co-founder of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, is a thoughtful analysis of how quickly the Catholic Church’s influence has fallen in Ireland – and why that has happened. Read more

Contraceptive Clash: No More ‘Compromises’ Over Basic Rights

The ongoing national debate over access to birth control took a new twist Feb. 1 when President Barack Obama announced yet another attempt to meet the concerns of conservative religious groups.

Under current law, all employers with more than 50 employees must provide their workers with health insurance. A federal regulation stipulates that contraception be included as part of the coverage.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy and its Religious Right allies don’t want employers to have to include birth control in these plans. Read more

Taxpayers And Evangelization: Who Should Foot The Bill For Preaching?

In late January, the Roman Cath­olic hierarchy celebrated “Catholic Schools Week.” To mark this event, the bishops issued a statement lauding Catholic schools for leading “the New Evangelization.”

 “Catholic schools have a rich history in supporting the work of on-going evangelization of the Catholic community in the United States,” observed Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of Harrisburg, Pa., in a media statement. He praised the role of parochial schools in “offering the life-giving Word of the Gospel” and “a challenging education in an atmosphere where Jesus Christ is the center.” Read more

Capitol Circus: Religious Right Leaders Plan D.C. Prayer Rally For ‘Evil’ America

On May 8, a group called Come Pray With Me plans to hold a prayer service in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.

This is kind of a big deal. Statuary Hall isn’t some sort of public facility that anyone can use. Groups have to get permission from the congressional leadership to hold events there, and it’s not often granted.

So what is Come Pray With Me, and why does it merit this honor? Read more

Wise Council: D.C. Stands Firm On Religion Exemption In Same-Sex Marriage Law

It's always fun to report on church-state victories, and yesterday, we had a big one.

The District of Columbia Council voted 11-2 to permit same-sex couples to marry in the nation's capital. And despite threats from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, the council refused to unduly broaden the measure's religious exemption, which already adequately protected religious freedom. Read more

Critical Mass: Justices Gather In D.C. For Special Religious Service

The U.S. Supreme Court is back in session today, which means Justice Sonia Sotomayor has taken her seat on the bench for the first time.

Yesterday morning was another first for the junior justice. She attended the Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle as a VIP guest. Read more