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Religion & Faith

Bishop Terry LaValley. Source: Diocese of Odgensburg
Bishop Terry LaValley. Source: Diocese of Odgensburg

As social issues shape 2012 campaign, North Country bishop speaks out

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
Sue Stebbins  (Photo: SUNY Potsdam)

Diversity expert among critics of NYPD surveillance of Muslim students

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 over its monitoring of Muslim students following the Sept. 11 attack.

The Associated Press reports that in a letter yesterday, the New York Civil Rights Coalition refuses to accept the decision by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman's office said there were legal obstacles that prevented the probe.
The coalition writes that the governor must direct state authorities to investigate the surveillance.

The Associated Press reported last week that the New York Police Department kept close watch on websites and blogs maintained by Muslim student associations across the northeast U.S., including at SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University.

The surveillance reportedly took place in 2006 and 2007. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has faced a firestorm of criticism. But he continues to defend the police department, saying the city needs to be vigilant against terrorism.

Susan Stebbins is an anthropology professor at SUNY Potsdam. She's also special assistant to the president for diversity. The surveillance reportedly took place in 2006 and 2007. But Stebbins tells Julie Grant the college is just finding out about it now. (NCPR did request an interview with the New York Police Department, but didn't hear back for this story.)  Go to full article
Photo from pbs.org

PBS Amish documentary looks at diversity, highlights North Country communities

A new film called "The Amish" premieres tomorrow night on the PBS program American Experience. There's an advance showing tonight at SUNY Potsdam.

For many people watching the program, the Amish will seem very mysterious and far-removed from their everyday lives.

But in big parts of the North Country, the Amish are part of everyday life, we shop alongside them, do business with them, and share the roads with their horse-drawn buggies.  Go to full article
Articles written in 1928 about the incident at Massena.

Massena's history still tied to 1928 "blood libel" incident

A St. Lawrence County community is being reminded, again, of an 80 year-old rumor many people would rather forget.

A new novel re-imagines what happened when a...  Go to full article
Burmese refugees at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Utica

Burmese refugees hope for change

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
Bishop Terry LaValley, Photo: Diocese of Ogdensburg

Bishop blasts Obama HHS policy

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
First Baptist Meetinghouse in Potsdam. Photos: Realtor.com

Potsdam Baptist church closes doors after 188 years

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
The earliest known portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha. Source: Wikipedia

NPR examines the "miracle" of Kateri Tekakwitha

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

Books: "Jairus' Daughter"

Potsdam writer Evelyn Weissman's first novel, Jairus' Daughter, is a fictional autobiography that began as a series of stories for her children as an answer to...  Go to full article
Eric and Susan Olsen celebrate his homecoming from Iraq (NCPR file photo)

The Road from 9/11: How the war on terror changed one North Country family

One of the uncomfortable truths about the terror attacks on 9/11 is that some families have carried a far greater burden during the months and years that followed.
...  Go to full article

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