Jodi Kantor and Jo Becker of The New York Times report, “As the Supreme Court investigates the extraordinary leak this spring of a draft opinion of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a former anti-abortion leader has come forward claiming that another breach occurred in a 2014 landmark case involving contraception and religious rights.” The former leader, the Rev. Rob Schenck, said that he was told the result of the landmark Hobby Lobby case in advance. Schenck recruited couples who shared his values to get close to the conservative justices on the Court. He claims that one of these couples learned about the decision from the Alitos and passed that information along to Schenck. Alito denied the allegation.
Tad Walch of Deseret News reports, “Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Monday about the Colorado Springs LGBTQ club shooting, saying they ‘condemn most especially violent acts that are the result of intolerance against any of God’s children.” The alleged perpetrator’s family is part of the church, though the perpetrator himself, Anderson Lee Aldrich, has not been involved with the church for several years.
Michelle Boorstein and Erin Cox of The Washington Post report, “A nearly four-year investigation of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore tallied more than 600 young victims of clergy sexual abuse over 80 years, a court filing by the Maryland attorney general said Thursday.” The court filing sought to make the entire 456-page report public. The report is only the second of its kind in the country and included allegations of cover-up and failure to report abuse. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said in a statement, “Upon reading today’s motion, we feel renewed shame, deep remorse and heartfelt sympathy, most especially to those who suffered from the actions of representatives of the very Church entrusted with their spiritual and physical well-being.”
David Crary of the Associated Press reports, “Among U.S. faith leaders and denominations, there are sharp differences over the bill advancing in the Senate that would protect same-sex and interracial marriages in federal law.” Some of the country’s most conservative denominations have voiced support for the legislation, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Catholic and Southern Baptist leaders, however, remain opposed. The Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, an American Baptist pastor and the president of the Interfaith Alliance, wrote, “There is a misconception that faith and LGBTQ+ equality are fundamentally incompatible. As a religious leader, I regard this historic legislation as an important contribution to America’s religious freedom.”
Brian Murphy of The Washington Post reports that Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a Washington Post columnist on topics of faith and conservative politics, has died from complications of cancer at age 58. Gerson infused his political speeches and later works with theological imagery and themes, as he believed them to be integral to American identity. Murphy writes, “David Shipley, The Post’s editorial page editor, called Mr. Gerson ‘the rare writer whose mind, heart and soul came through in equal measures in his work.’” Gerson served on the National Advisory Board of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, which publishes this journal.
Ruth Graham of The New York Times reports, “The traditional Latin Mass, an ancient form of Catholic worship that Pope Francis has tried to discourage, is instead experiencing a revival in the United States.” Some supporters of the Latin Mass find beauty in its rituals, while other proponents are fueled by a right-wing movement in American Catholicism to return to traditional religious practices and beliefs. Graham writes, “The Mass has sparked a sprawling proxy battle in the American church over not just songs and prayers but also the future of Catholicism and its role in culture and politics.”
New USCCB Leadership, Catholic Voting and Closed Door Sessions: U.S. Bishops Prepare for Annual Meetingposted on November 15, 2022
Michael J. O’Loughlin of America Magazine reports that U.S. bishops are gathering for their annual meeting which includes the election of new leadership. The bishops will also update their Catholic voter guide in the wake of the overturning of Roe and the subsequent protection of abortion rights via ballot initiatives in five states in the midterm elections. Many lay Catholics also hope to see a focus on transparency. Russel Shaw said, “Open, honest and full communication is required for the good health of any community. Secrecy and confidentiality have their place. But unnecessary secrecy cuts leaders off from their people and too easily becomes a tool of manipulation and control.”
Adam Kovac of The Forward reports that Tamar Manasseh, a Chicago-based rabbi, is reviving the Jane Collective, a pre-Roe underground abortion network that connected women seeking abortions with safe providers. The new version, dubbed We Are Jane, does not directly provide abortions but instead provides birth control care packages and fundraising for a local abortion rights organization. Manasseh said, “We are commanded to be active. We have a world to repair right now, one of those cracks is the erosion of women’s rights.”
David Crary, Peter Smith, and Nuha Dolby of the Associated Press report, “In the midterm elections, evangelical Christians across the nation reconfirmed their allegiance to conservative candidates and causes, while Catholic voters once again showed how closely divided they are – even on abortion.” Roughly half of Catholic voters cast a ballot to protect abortion rights in Michigan and Kentucky, while approximately two-thirds of evangelicals voted to reject the measures. The two religious groups showed a similar split when it came to party affiliation, with far more evangelicals voting for the Republican Party. John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah University, said, “The Christian right, despite the fact that they got what they wanted with the overturning of Roe, is not getting the extent of the victory they had hoped.”
Yonat Shimron of Religion News Service reports, “Jews across the country voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates — 74% to 25%, according to a new exit poll of 800 registered Jewish voters sponsored by the pro-Israel group J Street.” The poll found that concern for democracy was the largest motivating factor for Jewish voters, closely followed by abortion. Many Jewish voters also reported concerns about antisemitism as instrumental in their decision. Jim Gerstein, the founding partner of GBAO Strategies which conducted the poll, said, “There is a new element of the Jewish vote that takes place in the aftermath of Charlottesville and Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the high-profile antisemitism taking place in the country right now.”