FaithWorld

Anti-abortion rights activists target “personhood” amendments

When Americans go to the polls for the congressional elections in 2010, in some places they may also be asked to vote on state ”personhood” amendments that would effectively define life as starting at fertilization or the “start of biological development.”

A proposal like this was rejected by voters in Colorado in November but anti-abortion rights activists hope to get similar ballot measures together in at least a dozen states for 2010.

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This could have broader political implications as initiatives in the past on so-called hot button social issues such as gay marriage have brought conservative Christians — an influential voting block in the out-of-power Republican Party — to the polls.

One of the groups involved is the “American Life League” or ALL, a socially conservative Catholic organization that had a booth on Saturday on the sidelines of a summit of self-styled “values voters” in Washington.

Among other things, ALL would like to see an amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which won’t happen any time soon) “to establish that legal personhood is granted to all human beings in the United States from the beginning of their biological development.”

U.S. conservative Christians rally against Obama agenda

U.S. conservative Christians, a key base for the out-of-power Republican Party, gathered in Washington on Friday to rally the faithful against President Barack Obama’s agenda, including his top domestic priority of healthcare reform.

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Obama’s falling poll numbers and what they depict as his ultra-liberal views on abortion rights, healthcare and climate change are galvanizing a group that could prove vital to Republican prospects of taking back control of Congress in the 2010 congressional elections or the White House in 2012.

Conservative activists see exploitable opportunities in Obama’s policies and performance that also can stir more centrist voters, such as suspicions of “big government” and the almost uniquely American skepticism of global warming that prevails in much of the heartland.

Vatican editor defends himself against U.S. conservatives

oss-romWhen Gian Maria Vian took over as editor of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano in late 2007, most observers yawned. No-one really expected much change at the staid newspaper. But within a few months, the paper started to rock and roll — at least as much as a paper like that can.

Slowly but surely, change has come to the 148-year-old mouthpiece of the Vatican, considered by many in the past a bland broadsheet at best and once called the “Catholic Pravda”, a reference to the communist party organ in the former Soviet Union.

It started publishing color pictures and more articles by and about women — not bad for an institution that is still a male bastion. It also began including more international cover, war cover and economic cover.
Some of its unorthodox commentaries have also been lighthearted and provocative. To wit: it ran an editorial saying that perhaps the washing machine had done more to liberate women than the pill or the right to work. It post-humusly forgave John Lennon for once boasting that the Beatles were more famous than Christ. And, it finally set the record straight that no, the pope does not wear Prada.

Have culture war issues returned to America?

America’s seemingly dormant culture wars reignited this week as the issue of gay marriage competed with the sour economy and volatile markets for media attention.

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The emotive issue was thrust back onto center stage by Vermont lawmakers on Tuesday, who overode a veto from the governor by a wafer-thin margin, making the New England state the fourth in the United States where gays can wed. You can see some of our coverage from earlier this week here and here.

Known for picturesque foliage, quaint dairy farms and socially liberal politics, Vermont joins New England neighbors Connecticut and Massachusetts in allowing gay marriage. Iowa legalized gay marriage last week.