ACLU Vows To Keep Fighting Missouri Prayer Amendment

The American Civil Liberties Union says it will keep fighting against Missouri’s new constitutional amendment on prayer after a federal judge dismissed its initial lawsuit.

Read the Associated Press report at St. Louis Public Radio.

Posted in Church/State, Issues

Illinois Senate Approves Same-sex Marriage

The Illinois Senate has voted to legalize same-sex marriage, advancing a proposal that would make the state the 10th in the nation allowing same-sex couples to wed. Read the report at St. Louis Public Radio.

Posted in Church/State, Issues

Sandra Fluke Tries A Reasoned Approach To Hot-button Issues

One year after Rush Limbaugh made the Georgetown University law grad a four-letter household word, Sandra Fluke told an audience at Washington University she wants to make her points as a talker, not a screamer.

Read Dale Singer’s report in the St. Louis Beacon.

Posted in Church/State, Issues

Senate Chaplain Coming To New Sunny Mount Baptist Church

On Sunday, New Sunny Mount Baptist Church will have a guest speaker whose “congregation” is more unusual than most. The Rev. Barry Clayton Black is a retired Navy rear admiral and the chaplain of the U.S. Senate.  

Read Donna Korando’s report in the St. Louis Beacon.

Posted in Church/State, Issues

Groups Poring Over Obama Administration’s Proposed Compromise On Contraception

The Obama administration’s proposal to allow women to get free contraceptive services while exempting more church-affiliated groups was praised by a representative of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood office, but the immediate reaction among local church-related groups has been more subdued. Read Robert Joiner’s report in the St. Louis Beacon.

Posted in Church/State, Issues

Blunt Predicts High Court Will Allow ‘Conscience’ Exemption From Contraceptive Mandate

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt predicted Friday that the U.S. Supreme Court eventually will rule on – and likely reject – the federal mandate requiring employers to provide no-cost coverage for contraceptives or other health care, even if it goes against their religious or moral beliefs. Read Rob Koenig’s report in the St. Louis Beacon.

Posted in Church/State, Healthcare, Issues

40 Years Later, Local Divide Over Roe vs. Wade Remains Stark; Girl Scouts A New Target

On the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing most abortions, two of Missouri’s leaders in the battle agree on two points: The November elections were a significant setback to the efforts of  opponents to outlaw abortion and overturn 1973’s decision, Roe vs. Wade. The fight isn’t over.

Read Jo Mannies’ report in the St. Louis Beacon

Posted in Church/State, Healthcare, Issues

St. Louis Groups Mark 40th Anniversary Of Roe v Wade

Groups on both sides of the abortion issue will be out in force today, the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion. Read Rachel Lippmann’s report for St. Louis Public Radio.


Posted in Church/State, Healthcare, Issues

George Will On Religion In American Life

George Will speaking at Graham Chapel. (Sid Hastings/Washington University)

George Will has no religious affiliation. Nonetheless he says he recognizes the value that religion brings to public life and offered his analysis of its proper role in American politics before a packed house at Washington Unviersity’s Graham Chapel.

Read Dale Singer’s report for the St. Louis Beacon

Posted in Across the Spectrum, Church/State, Commentary, Issues



Dear Beaconites and Beyond Novemberites —

In the days following Missouri’s primary, the Beacon has been filled with news of church as well as state.

In part, this reflects the power of religion in Missouri politics. As Beacon political reporter Jo Mannies noted, Todd Akin, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, began his victory speech by thanking “God our Creator who has blessed this campaign, heard your prayers, and answered them with victory.” Such declarations, in addition to reflecting Akin’s genuine beliefs, amount to high octane fuel for his base of support.

Religious freedom was directly on the ballot with Amendment 2. It passed overwhelmingly despite considerable uncertainty about what its actual impact will be, Beacon staffer Jason Rosenbaum reported. State and federal constitutions already protect religious freedom. Whether Amendment 2 can extend such protection is a matter of debate.

The most controversial wording in the amendment did not appear on the ballot — wording that could be interpreted to curb prisoners’ rights and to allow students to object to assignments. The ACLU has already challenged the measure in court.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, the vulnerable Democratic incumbent who will be seeking to tamp down Akin’s margin outstate, voted for Amendment 2. Neither she nor her staff would immediately explain why, but Thursday she said the ballot language looked straightforward and added, “I’m all for prayer.”

As religious themes played out in politics this week, internal politics played out in religious institutions. Pat Rice reported on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which convened in St. Louis to ponder a response to Vatican efforts to impose tighter control. A Vatican critique in April characterized the group as favoring “radical feminist” ideas and exhibiting disregard for church doctrine in areas such as artificial contraception, homosexual relationships and abortion.

More than 900 Women Religious opened their session here with prayer, song and a plan to discuss matters in closed session before entering into further dialogue with church officials. In contrast to secular politics, where religious references often exacerbate division, the Women Religious leaders seemed determined to minimize open conflict.

Meanwhile, conflict erupted at one of the region’s most noteworthy religious institutions when Saint Louis University’s law school dean quit, as Beacon staffer Dale Singer reported. “It is the ultimate irony that a Jesuit university would operate so far outside the bounds of common decency, collegiality, professionalism and integrity,” said Annette E. Clark in her resignation letter. “I simply cannot be part of, and I assure I will not be complicit with, an administration that can’t be trusted to act honestly and in the best interests of its faculty, staff and students.”

University president Lawrence Biondi, whose outsized personality has had an impact far beyond the campus, said Clark was about to be fired anyway. In a letter, he said Clark’s actions “demonstrate a lack of a clear and comprehensive understanding of the duties and obligations, autonomy and authority, of a modern-day dean at a large and complex university.”

You might regard the various intersections of politics and religion this week as mere happenstance. Or perhaps the news reflected something deeper about the intertwined forces that shape our world and ourselves.

Politics is about power. Yet politics is shaped in part by beliefs. Religious institutions are about beliefs. Yet religious institutions are shaped in part by disputes over power. This week, Beacon coverage provided a window to watch as the forces of power and belief continued their endless interplay.












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Posted in Across the Spectrum, Church/State, Commentary, Editor's Desk
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