Signs and Wonders
Archbishop John J. Myers
Associated Press/Photo by Mel Evans
Archbishop John J. Myers

Signs and Wonders 09.28

Newsworthy

Refusing the Eucharist. Newark, N.J., Archbishop John J. Myers said this week that Catholics should examine the “full spectrum” of a candidate’s stand on issues before voting, with particular emphasis on abortion and “a proper backing of marriage.” He added that Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” Myers said he issued the statement because of what he described as a lack of clarity on the subject by other bishops. He said he would not and should not tell the 1 million Catholics in his archdiocese how to vote, but to vote in ways that defend traditional marriage and the right to life. He also said that recognizing homosexual activity as a civil right would erode religious liberty: “How long would the state permit churches, schools, or parents to teach their children that homosexual activity is contrary to the natural law if homosexual marriage were a civil right?”

Social issues matter. Mitt Romney has paid scant attention to social issues in this campaign, preferring instead to focus on the economy. That may prove to be a mistake. The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List released poll data this week showing that 54 percent of swing voters say they’re less likely to vote for President Obama after learning he opposes laws protecting babies who are born alive at abortion facilities. The poll, conducted by inc./WomenTrend, shows 69 percent of swing voters also reject the new federal mandate requiring business owners to cover contraceptives and potential abortion-inducing drugs under their insurance plans.

“Great victory.” An Illinois appellate court ruled last Friday that the state couldn’t punish pharmacists for refusing to sell possible abortion-inducing drugs in violation of their religious convictions. “The decision is a great victory for religious freedom,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has represented the pharmacists since 2005. “The government shouldn’t kick business owners out of the market just because it dislikes their religious beliefs.” The case began after then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued a mandate in 2005 requiring all pharmacies and pharmacists to sell Plan B, also known as the “morning-after pill.” When taken by women within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the drug may prevent pregnancy but also may cause an early abortion. In 2005, two Christian pharmacists filed a lawsuit against the governor. A circuit court dismissed their claim, but the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the case must be heard. Six other state —Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi and South Dakota—also have passed laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency-contraception drugs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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Ohio players. Both Romney and Obama were in the Buckeye State this week. "I'm going to win Ohio," Romney told NBC's Ron Allen Wednesday. "I'm going to become the next president." In an interview with ABC's David Muir, Romney seemed unconcerned that polls indicate he's falling behind in Ohio and other battleground states. "Polls go up, polls go down," Romney told Muir. So far, though, they haven’t gone up for him. Obama has a 4- to 6-point lead in national polls, and is ahead in nine of 10 battleground states—the exception being Missouri.

Eugene Genovese, RIP. The historian Eugene Genovese has died at age 82. Princeton’s Robert George called him one of the academic world’s “gifted scholars and teachers.” George said, “Gene was for most of his adult life a Marxist. Under the influence of his beloved wife, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, an eminent historian in her own right and a late-in-life convert to the Catholic faith, he eventually returned to the Church. But even in his Marxist days, he was driven by a passion for truth—and it was that passion that eventually brought him out of the errors into which he had been led by a passion for justice.” His most famous book was Roll, Jordan, Roll, a study of America slavery. Genovese, after his conversion to Catholicism, became a cultural conservative and—according to Jesse Walker of Reason—a “fierce critic of the academic left.”

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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