Church leaders denounce World Vision decision

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) Leaders of the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention are denouncing World Vision’s announcement that it will start hiring Christians in same-sex marriages.

The Rev. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, calls World Vision’s decision “a fundamental shift away from a normative biblical understanding of marriage.” Wood adds that Assemblies of God churches and members should begin shifting their support to other charities.

World Vision President Rich Stearns said it’s not endorsing same-sex marriage, but has “chosen to defer to the authority of local churches” on the issue.

But the Southern Baptists’ public policy chief, the Rev. Russell Moore, writes that if what the Bible teaches is true, “then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.”

World Vision is currently sponsoring the national concert tour by the Christian band Casting Crowns.

Married Davenport man will become Catholic priest

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) An Iowa man will remain married when he’s ordained this summer as a priest in the Roman Cath-olic Diocese of Davenport.

Chris Young, who has been married 29 years, will join the Catholic clergy thanks to a 1980 dispensation from Pope John Paul II, according to the Quad-City Times. The pastoral provision, applies to former clergy of the Episcopal Church.

The 53-year-old Young will be one of about 100 men in the U.S. who became Catholic priests through such a process.

Young was a lifelong Episcopalian until eight years ago and had served as priest at Christ Episcopal Church in Moline, Ill., but says he was drawn to “unequivocally belong to the church that our Lord himself had founded.”

Young said he’ll practice celibacy upon becoming a Catholic priest. His wife, Jody Young, said it’s an unusual change but one she accepts.

High court seems divided over birth control rule

WASHINGTON (AP) The Supreme Court seems divided over whether companies have religious rights that should exempt them from the health care law’s birth control mandate.

The case involves family-owned companies that provide health insurance to their employees, but object to covering certain methods of birth control that they say can work after conception, in violation of their religious beliefs.

Tuesday’s arguments at the court focused mainly on the question of whether profit-making businesses have religious rights. The Obama administration said they don’t, but lawyers for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties argue that a 1993 federal law on religious freedom extends to businesses as well as individuals.

If the justices agree, they would have to decide whether the government policy is crucial and is put in place in the least objectionable way possible.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote could decide the case, showed interest in the argument that the companies could stop offering health insurance and instead pay a tax of $2,000 per employee. That route might allow the court to sidestep the thorniest questions in the case.