Plattsburgh, NY, Mar 01, 2012 — This week, North Country Public Radio has been talking to religious leaders and politicians in our region about the national debate surrounding birth control and sexuality. It's become a big issue for Republicans in the 2012 presidential primary.
Republicans in Congress are also advancing national legislation that would allow all employers, not just religious groups, to deny health insurance coverage for things like contraception if those services violate the beliefs of the company's owners.
These culture-war debates could shape big races here in the North Country this November, including the battle for the 23rd district congressional race. Republican challenger Matt Doheny has accused Democratic congressman Bill Owens, of working "to violate the free exercise of religion."
Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey from Peru is also expected to face a strong primary challenge, in part because of her support for same-sex marriage, which is now legal in New York.
This political debate may, at times, seem disconnected from the reality of modern American life. According to the widely-respected Guttmacher Institute, roughly 90% of fertile, sexually active women in the United States are using contraception. But for some women, religious teachings play a profound role in shaping and defining their sexuality. Away from the glare of politics, faith and intimacy can be closely intertwined.
Our Plattsburgh correspondent Sarah Harris sat down recently to talk in-depth with Erica Macalintal. She's a 22-year-old nursing student at SUNY Plattsburgh who will graduate this May. Macalintal is a devout Roman Catholic who says her sexual life has been deeply influenced by the theology of her Church. Go to full article
Ogdensburg, NY, Feb 29, 2012 — Yesterday we began a conversation about social issues that are in play during this election year, ranging from contraception to prenatal testing to the role of religion in politics and public life. Catholic bishops across the country are working to defeat laws requiring that insurance coverage provided by religious groups include services like contraception and vasectomies.
Polls show that the vast majority of American families, including Catholics to use contraception. But in a conversation with Brian Mann yesterday, Bishop Terry LaValley of Ogdensburg said the church's opposition to contraception is firm.
"Because it's a fundamental teaching of our faith. It's a question of life, of the preservation of life."
LaValley said requiring faith groups to offer insurance coverage for services like contraception and vasectomies amounts to "an attack on religious freedom."
The Rev. Laurena Will has been pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ogdensburg for seven years, and an ordained minister for 20. Her church owns the building that houses the Ogdensburg Planned Parenthood Clinic. Martha Foley spoke with her yesterday. Will sees the insurance mandate and the religious freedom issue that rises from it; from a very different perspective. Go to full article
Ogdensburg, NY, Feb 28, 2012 — After the long recession, most pundits expected the 2012 political campaign to revolve around economic issues.
But politicians on the right and left have instead been reviving some surprising social questions, ranging from contraception to prenatal testing to the role of religion in politics and public life.
In an interview with Newsweek magazine, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, argued that opposition to insurance coverage for those services amounts to "an attack on women."
"Many of us are outraged, really outraged," Sen. Gillibrand told the magazine. "In the year 2012, we should not be debating access to birth control. No boss should be making a decision about what health care their employees should be eligible to take."
Polls show that the vast majority of American families use contraception and think contraception should be widely available. Surveys also suggest that a smaller majority of Americans think religious groups should provide full insurance benefits to employees.
But Bishop Terry Lavalley, who heads the Diocese of Ogdensburg, sees this very differently.
He argues that Federal changes to healthcare laws proposed by the Obama administration threaten the religious freedom of groups like the Roman Catholic Church.
Bishop LaValley met recently with Brian Mann to talk about the Church's prominent role in this year's political campaign and about the difficulties of teaching Catholic doctrine in an age when even many Roman Catholics are making very different moral choices. Go to full article
Potsdam, NY, Feb 27, 2012 — New York civil rights advocates want a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo following a decision by the attorney general's office not to investigate the New York Police Department... Go to full article
Utica, NY, Feb 10, 2012 — For half a century, one of the most repressive nations in the world has been Burma, or Myanmar, as its military government renamed it several years ago. But recently... Go to full article
Ogdensburg, NY, Feb 06, 2012 — The top Roman Catholic official in the North Country is blasting the Obama administration for requiring churches to provide health insurance to employees that includes... Go to full article
Potsdam, NY, Jan 02, 2012 — After 188 years, the First Baptist church in Potsdam has voted to close. The remaining members gathered for their final services this weekend. A congregation of thirteen... Go to full article
Fonda, NY, Dec 26, 2011 — Last week, the Vatican declared that a Washington state boy's recovery from a deadly and debilitating illness was a miracle. The Pope signed documents attributing... Go to full article