All posts from “August 2009”

« July 2009 | Home | September 2009 »

August 31, 2009

What to Watch: Carrie Prejean Sues Pageant Officials

-- Just when you thought the Carrie Prejean saga was over, she has filed a lawsuit, claiming pageant officials discriminated against her religious beliefs, caused her emotional distress and engaged in slander. Prejean claimed that she lost her crown after voicing her opposition to same-sex marriage during the Miss USA beauty pageant.

-- Montana's high court will consider a claim that a doctor’s refusal to help a patient die violated his rights under the state’s constitution. Depending on the outcome, The New York Times reports that Montana could become the first state in the country to declare that medical aid in dying is a protected right.

-- In case you were wondering for some reason, George W. Bush isn't planning on converting to Catholicism according to his brother Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida. “That would be a great thing, but you won’t see him here as a Catholic — he’s pretty comfortable with his Methodist faith. I’d like him to come here though. It would be fun.” Jeb Bush spoke about his own conversion to Catholic and how he opposes elected officials who think they should keep their faith “in a safety deposit box.”

Continue reading What to Watch: Carrie Prejean Sues Pageant Officials...

August 31, 2009

What to Watch: Kennedy's Letter to the Pope

Happy Monday. Here are items from the weekend that we're watching:

--A funeral for Ted Kennedy was held on Saturday where Cardinal Theodore McCarrick read from Kennedy's letter to Pope Benedict XVI as well as from the Vatican response. Kennedy mentions what he believes to be his accomplishments, mentioning immigration, health care, and education.

"I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me."

From Ross Douthat's New York Times column: "It’s worth pondering how the politics of abortion might have been different had Ted shared even some of his sister’s qualms about the practice."

--On a related note, Mike Huckabee is defending his remarks that Kennedy would have been told to “go home to take pain pills and die” if he had been under President Obama’s health care plan. He said on his Fox show that his comments were overblown and taken out of context, according to Politico.

“When diagnosed with brain cancer, Senator Kennedy didn’t do as President Obama suggested and take a pain pill and ride it out at home," Huckabee said. "He went to the best medical facilities in the world, had surgery and sought to live as long and as strong as possible.”

-- Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) has spent about a tenth - $152,777 - of his campaign's receipts on the church he founded called Beloved Community Christian Church. Congressional Quarterly's Jonathan Allen uses it as an example of how candidates use the campaign finance system to redirect funds to institutions they care about. There's nothing illegal about his donations, but it's unusual because they are directed towards a church.

--Terri Schiavo's father died in Florida at age 71.
Terry Schiavo died in 2005 after the feeding tube was removed according to her husband's wishes. Her heart stopped 15 years before, but her family had insisted she wanted to live.

Continue reading What to Watch: Kennedy's Letter to the Pope...

August 27, 2009

What to Watch: S. Korea Considers Banning Missions Work in the Middle East

Here's what we're watching today:

-- In international politics, South Korea is considering restricting Christian missionaries' travel to the Middle East because of potential terrorist attacks. South Korea sends more missionaries than any country but the U.S. In 2007, 23 church volunteers were abducted by the Taliban. The South Korean government negotiated for the group's release after they had killed two men.

-- The Wall Street Journal rounds up the discussion on abortion and health care. Earlier this week, Factcheck.org and Time wrote articles that under the proposed health care legislation, abortion would be federally subsidized.

-- After South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer called for Governor Mark Sanford to resign, he said it would be "heaven on earth," but no. "I very much appreciate the offer. In that light, I mean, in some ways, the proposal is -- is almost a representation of something close to heaven on Earth, because ... it would represent heaven on Earth to take him up on that offer of him taking my spot here for the last 16 months," Alex Koppelman quotes him as saying. After Sanford admitted he had had an affair, he compared himself to David in the Bible.

-- A Kentucky judge ruled that a law stating that the Kentucky's Homeland Security must declare dependence on "Almighty God" is unconstitutional. "Even assuming that most of this nation's citizens have historically depended upon God, by choice, for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now," the judge wrote.

Continue reading What to Watch: S. Korea Considers Banning Missions Work in the Middle East...

August 26, 2009

Kennedy's Catholic Faith

The Boston Channel offers details on Sen. Ted Kennedy's last hours and his Catholic faith.

"It was a total surprise to me to see another world he was involved in -- the spiritual world," said Rev. Patrick Tarrant of Our Lady of Victory Church.

Tarrant, who was called to Kennedy's bedside late Tuesday as the senator was dying, said it was clear that Kennedy was ready for the journey that awaited him. He described the senator as "a man of quiet prayer" in his last hours.

"The truth is, he had expressed to his family that he did want to go. He did want to go to heaven. He did want to die and he did want to go. He was ready to go. There was a certain amount peace -- a lot of peace, actually -- in the family get-together last night. I couldn't help but think that the world doesn't know that part of the senator at all," Tarrant said in a lilting Irish brogue.

Tarrant told the news channel that the priest saw a more personal side that was deeply devout and the "secret" of Kennedy's power.

"I think the whole world knows certain parts very well, but I think there's another part of his life that very few people know, and that's his deep faith. His very deep faith in God and his love for his family," Tarrant said.

The Boston Globe has more details on the funeral arragements:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy will lie in repose at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum before his funeral at a historic Boston church where he prayed daily while his daughter successfully battled her own cancer. Kennedy will then be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to his brothers.

Kennedy's funeral is being planned for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in the Mission Hill section of Boston. Commonly known as the Mission Church, the 1,300-seat basilica on Tremont Street was built in the 1870s. Kennedy prayed there in 2003 while his daughter, Kara, overcame lung cancer.

August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy Has Died

Senator Ted Kennedy known as the "Lion of the Senate," died at age 77 earlier tonight after battling brain cancer.

Hailing from a large Catholic family, Kennedy was the brother of former President John F. Kennedy and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, who were both assassinated. He was also brother of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who was hailed after her recent death among pro-life groups for her efforts.

Kennedy's presidential aspirations were damaged after a 1969 crash that left a woman dead, and was defeated in the 1980 primary by former President Jimmy Carter.

The Washington Post is calling him "one of the most powerful and influential senators in American history." According to CNN, he played major roles in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.

Update: Sojourners President Jim Wallis released a statement, saying that Kennedy had invited Wallis to his home to discuss the relationship between faith, morality, and politics after the 2004 election.

Their own deep Catholic faith was evident and their articulation of it very impressive. Our discussion was not partisan at all--it was not about how to win religion back for the Democrats. Rather, we focused on the great moral issues facing the nation, and how we as people of faith needed to respond to them.

Kennedy delivered the 1983 speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty Baptist College (now Liberty University) called "Faith, Truth and Tolerance in America." From the Associated Press:

When a Moral Majority fundraising appeal somehow arrived at his office one day in the early 1980s, word leaked to the public, and the conservative group issued an invitation for him to come to Liberty Baptist College if he was ever in the neighborhood.

Pleased to accept, was the word from Kennedy.

"So I told Jerry (Falwell) and he almost turned white as a sheet," said Cal Thomas, then an aide to the conservative leader.

Dinner at the Falwell home was described as friendly.

Dessert was a political sermon on tolerance, delivered by the liberal from Massachusetts.

"I believe there surely is such a thing as truth, but who among us can claim a monopoly?" Kennedy said from the podium that night. "There are those who do, and their own words testify to their intolerance."

August 25, 2009

Supreme Court Orders Abuse Records Unsealed

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that documents from lawsuits against six Roman Catholic priests for alleged sexual abuse must be unsealed, according to the Associated Press.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg denied the Connecticut diocese's request to keep the seal until the full court decides whether to review the case. The diocese wrote that it intends to ask the full U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, stating that "granting access to such documents would intrude upon the private affairs of citizens, with the potential to inflict great harm and injustice."

The records have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001, and an attorney representing The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post requested to see the documents. Here's more from the Hartford Courant.

In its motion asking the high court to keep the stay in place, the diocese says there is a good chance the high court will take up the diocese's case because of two issues: the state Supreme Court's definition of what constitutes a legal document; and the church's contention that its First Amendment rights would be violated by the unsealing of documents that church officials produced with the understanding that they would be sealed forever.

August 25, 2009

Judge Dismisses DOMA Challenge

A judge dismissed a California gay couple's lawsuit claiming that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, a week after U.S. Justice Department lawyers defended the law.

The couple had argued that the law, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, discriminated against gay men and lesbians. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction to consider the broader constitutional questions.

During his campaign, Obama promised to work for DOMA's repeal. While defending the law, government attorneys wrote that it was discriminatory. "This administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal," they wrote.

Here's more from the Associated Press:

Brian Raum, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group that has joined the government in defending the federal marriage law, said Carter was right to dismiss the case on procedural grounds.

The federal government cannot be sued in state courts, Raum said.

Smelt and Hammer's lawsuit could be back in a federal court in a matter of months, when "ultimately it will come down to the merits," he said.

Earlier this year, a gay rights group in Massachusetts filed a lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act on constitutional grounds, and the state brought a separate case arguing that the law interferes with its right to establish its own marriage laws.

August 23, 2009

What to Watch: Rifqa Barry Stays in Florida

Here are a few stories to start off your week:

-- A judge in Orlando ruled Friday that Rifqa Bary be kept in Florida as courts settle who gets custody of her. Bary is the 17-year-old girl from Ohio, who fled to Florida because she believes her Muslim family must kill her for converting to Christianity.

-- Catholic bishops responded to a new Wisconsin provision that requires providers of health insurance include contraceptive services as a "benefit," according to the Catholic News Agency. The rule will make Catholic dioceses and other agencies to pay for a “gravely immoral” service, the conference says.

-- Florida Governor Charlie Crist told a Friday that he's had prayer notes placed in the Western Wall in Jerusalem each year and no major storms have hit Florida. "I give that to God," Crist said. "But it's nice."

August 21, 2009

What to Watch: SD Doctors Must Tell Women Abortion Ends Life

Here are the stories we're reading today.

-- A federal judge a South Dakota upheld the part of the law that requires women to be told abortion ends a human life. She reversed the part of the law that said doctors must say that the procedure increases the likelihood of suicide, and that the woman has a relationship with the fetus. Doctors must disclose "that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being," the Associated Press reports.

-- There's a debate in Texas schools over who should go down in history. The Houston Chronicle reports that the first draft says students should be expected “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.”

-- Mike Gerson weighs in on health care.

In fact, any national approach to this issue is likely to challenge the current social consensus on abortion. The House bill would result in federal funding for abortion on an unprecedented scale. But forbidding federal funds to private insurers that currently cover elective abortions (as some insurers do) would amount, as pro-choice advocates note, to a restriction on the availability of abortion. Either way, government will send a powerful, controversial social signal.

-- Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been in the news this week for his trip to Israel, telling CBN that evangelicals more supportive of Israel than Jews are.
"[Y]ou'll find people all over the board about whether they think is ought to have ... absolute control over its border and whether they should give up land for peace and just thow many countries can oversee Jerusalem at one time," Huckabee said. "I don't find that kind of dichotomy generally within the Evangelical community. It's pretty adamant: There ought to be one city. It ought to be a Jewish state. And it ought to be secure."

What did Huckabee say earlier this week about a two-state solution in the Middle East? Take this week's news quiz to find out.

-- President Obama basically says,"Happy Ramadan."

August 20, 2009

What to Watch

Here's a round-up of stories we're watching today.

-- A Connecticut church may operate a postal station if it makes clear to customers where the postal station ends and church property begins, a federal appeals court ruled today.

-- Sojourners President Jim Wallis and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins agreed today that the government should not fund abortion as part of health care reform.

"Tony, I will support your effort to make sure that abortion is taken off the table in this debate," Wallis said on CNN. Perkins responded, "Well, ask the president, then, to take it off the table and accept these amendments, and then we can have a discussion on how we fix health care in this country, and I'll be glad to work with you on that because we agree — we need to fix health care in this country."

-- Galen Carey, the new government affairs director for the National Association of Evangelicals, writes about his experience with health care during his wife's lung cancer. "My experience does not make me an expert in health care reform, but it does make me acutely aware of what is at stake in the current debate," he says. "[Federally-funded abortion] would be a deal breaker for many Americans, myself included, who care deeply about health care reform but who are committed to the protection of human life at all stages."

-- Nevada Sen. John Ensign, a long-time member of Promise Keepers, says he did not break the law like former President Clinton did. After he admitted to having an affair with someone on his staff, Ensign said he would not resign.

-- Kathleen Parker wants to know why no one is covering President Obama's Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships the same way they covered former President Bush's office.

August 19, 2009

Obama Attempts to Debunk Rumors in Call to Faith Leaders

President Obama pitched government-funded health care as a “a core ethical and moral obligation” in a conference call open to the public tonight, saying that some people are "bearing false witness."

"This notion that we are somehow setting up death panels that would decide on whether elderly people get to live or die. That is just an extraordinary lie," he said. "You’ve heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion. Not true."

Obama also said his opponents have claimed that elderly Americans that a new health insurance system could jeopardize Medicare.

"Many of you have older members of your congregations. They’re all now scared to death that someone is talking about cutting Medicare benefits," he said. "That is again simply not true."

Faith in Public Life estimated that 140,000 people participated in the call.

"These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation," Obama said. "And that is that we look out for one another. That I am my brother’s keeper and my sister’s keeper."

Sojourners President Jim Wallis, Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes also spoke.

Continue reading Obama Attempts to Debunk Rumors in Call to Faith Leaders...

August 19, 2009

Francis Collins Resigns from Faith and Science Foundation

National Institutes of Health chief Francis Collins resigned from the BioLogos Foundation, the foundation he started in May as a way to reconcile faith and science, USA Today reports.

"I want to reassure everyone I am here to lead the NIH as best I can, as a scientist," Collins said, noting concerns.

The author of The Language of God: 'A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief has been outspoken about his faith in the past.

''The NIH director needs to focus on science,'' Collins told the Associated Press on Monday. ''I have no religious agenda for the NIH.''

The AP reports that Collins resigned from the Web site the day before assuming his new job, but was proud of its work.

"I do think the current battle that's going on in our culture between extreme voices is not a productive one," he said. "The chance to play some kind of useful role in that conversation by pointing out the potential harmony was something that seemed to be making some inroads."

Update: Family Research Council's David Prentice responds to Collins, who supports using embryos for research and helped Obama craft his policy for the NIH. "Saying that one is a devout evangelical Christian while promoting embryo and cloning experiments, is a bit akin to claiming to be a devout Druid while promoting clear-cutting of forests," Prentice writes.

August 18, 2009

Founder of American Family Association in Intensive Care

Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association (AFA), is in intensive care at a Mississippi hospital for meningitis.

AFA President Tim Wildmon said in an e-mail to supporters that his father was diagnosed over the weekend, but his condition had improved in the last day.

Don Wildmon founded the conservative organization as the National Federation for Decency in 1977. The website claims 180,000 paid subscribers to its monthly magazine, the AFA Journal, and owns and operates about 200 radio stations.

August 18, 2009

Obama's Call to Faith Leaders

President Obama will address health care concerns during a public call-in with religious leaders tomorrow at 5 p.m. Eastern, as reported last week.

The press release states that a "high-level administration official" will answer questions, but a Faith in Public Life spokeswoman declined to give more details pending confirmation.

The call will be open to the public, streamed live, and include various religious leaders, including Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, Kansas megachurch pastor Adam Hamilton, and Sojourners President Jim Wallis.

To listen to “40 Minutes for Health Reform,” log on to www.faithforhealth.org at 5 p.m. Eastern or call 347-996-5501.

August 17, 2009

Jenny Sanford Extends Forgiveness in First Interview

South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford offers forgiveness to her husband and his mistress in her first interview since he admitted his affair. The Vogue article describes her shock, struggles, and faith. See my post on Her.meneutics for more.

August 17, 2009

Having it Both Ways on Same-Sex Marriage?

The Department of Justice defended the Defense of Marriage Act again while claiming the law discriminates against gays, according to the Associated Press. "This administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal," government attorneys wrote. The DOJ asked the court to dismiss a lawsuit brought on by a gay couple who married in California last year.

"The administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory and should be repealed," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, because it prevents equal rights and benefits.

The Justice Department, she added, is obligated "to defend federal statutes when they are challenged in court. The Justice Department cannot pick and choose which federal laws it will defend based on any one administration's policy preferences."

The law prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, permitting states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The White House issued the following statement by Obama.

"This brief makes clear, however, that my Administration believes that the Act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress. I have long held that DOMA prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my Administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law."

August 14, 2009

‘End of Life’ in Health Care Proposal May be Dropped

Senators may drop the “end of life” provision tucked in the House’s health care reform bill being hotly debated, according to The Wall Street Journal. The provision stipulates that “planning consultations” should take place between senior citizens on Medicare and their physician at least every five years.

Opponents say the provision shows that architects of the health-care overhaul want to ration seniors' care. Democratic lawmakers say no part of the House bill calls for rationing care. Physician counseling would be voluntary.

But growing complaints over the provision are leading key lawmakers to conclude that the health overhaul should leave out any end-of-life counseling provisions. A group in the Senate Finance Committee that is attempting to craft Congress's only bipartisan health bill has decided to exclude such a measure, Senate aides said this week.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin made comments on her Facebook page on August 7 criticizing the bill:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Continue reading ‘End of Life’ in Health Care Proposal May be Dropped...

August 12, 2009

Virginia Jail Agrees to Stop Censoring Religious Mail

A Virginia jail will stop censoring religious mail after protests from civil rights organizations that clerks had turned Bible-quoting missives from an inmate's mother into tattered strips of paper signed "Love, Mom."

Rappahannock Regional Jail authorities agreed to change the policy after receiving a letter signed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Rutherford Institute, Prison Fellowship, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Prisons may block writings that pose security threats, including hate speech and X-rated images, but must allow access to otherwise religious materials, according to several court rulings and federal law.

"They can't treat religious materials like a knife or drugs or pornography," said Eric Rassbach, national litigation director for the Becket Fund.

Continue reading Virginia Jail Agrees to Stop Censoring Religious Mail ...

August 10, 2009

Senate Confirms Collins as Head of NIH

The Senate on Friday confirmed Francis Collins, a geneticist known for his role in decoding the human genome and dedication to bridging the gap between religion and science, as director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday that Collins was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

"Dr. Collins will be an outstanding leader," Sebelius said in a statement. "Today is an exciting day for NIH and for science in this country."

Collins, an evangelical Christian, authored the best-selling book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, and established the BioLogos Foundation to promote harmony between Christian faith and scientific discovery.

August 10, 2009

Obama to Call Faith Leaders on Health Care

President Obama has accepted an invitation to speak during a public call-in about health care reform on August 19. The call will be open to the public, streamed live, and include a coalition of religious groups ranging from Sojourners to Faith in Public Life to the National Baptist Convention. More details will be released this afternoon.

The coalition released the “40 Days for Health Reform” initiative this morning, including a national TV ad featuring Christians arguing for healthcare reform, prayer events, meetings with members of Congress, and a nationwide health care sermon weekend on August 28-30.


August 7, 2009

Senate Rejects 'Cash-for-Clunkers' Aid to Charities

The Senate voted to add $2 million to the $1 billion "Cash for Clunkers" program, but it rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn to allow people to donate their "clunkers" to charities.

The program offers vouchers worth up to $4,500 for drivers trading their vehicles in for more fuel-efficient vehicles, and it currently requires all vehicle trade-ins to be destroyed.

Several news outlets report that charities aren't cheering.

Here's a video from the Associated Press:

August 6, 2009

Doonsbury Takes on The Fellowship

The comic strip Doonsbury takes this week to mock The Fellowship, a group that ministers to high profile leaders in Washington, D.C. Nevada Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford have both been involved with The Fellowship and recently admitted having affairs. The group meets for prayer and Bible studies, and some politicians live in a house on C Street in the district.

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau starts off on Monday with captions "A troubled GOP lawmaker furtively makes his way to the one place he'll be understood, supported, and above all, forgiven...the house of fallen sons."

On Tuesday
, the politician asks a character from The Fellowship, "May I meet the family in prayer so I can be absolved of an adulterous affair? Also, can I get a room for my girlfriend?" The man responds, "First things first. How's Friday?"

Wednesday's strip caricatures members of the group wanting details on his affair. Today, Trudeau depicted the politician saying "I had no inkling that God would then test me by placing her husband in my path. First he demanded $50,000 for his silence, then, after I paid, he raised it to $100,000!" Someone in the group says, "So her husband betrayed you." He asks, "Yes, but I'm a Christian. Do I forgive him?"

Any predictions for Friday?

db090806.gif

(h/t Bill Shuster)

August 5, 2009

AP: Proposed Health Insurance Would Allow Abortion Coverage

Proposed health care legislation could allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to fund abortions, the Associated Press reports.

Pro-life groups want specific restrictions on a health care plan that offers abortion, and a measure was passed, then reversed last week in a House committee.

The new federal funds would take the form of subsidies for low- and middle-income people buying coverage through the health insurance exchange. Subsidies would be available for people to buy the public plan or private coverage. Making things more complicated, the federal subsidies would be mixed in with contributions from individuals and employers. Eventually, most Americans could end up getting their coverage through the exchange.

The Democratic health care legislation as originally introduced in the House and Senate did not mention abortion. That rang alarm bells for abortion opponents.

Since abortion is a legal medical procedure, experts on both sides say not mentioning it would allow health care plans in the new insurance exchange to provide unrestricted coverage.

It would mirror the private insurance market, where abortion coverage is widely available.


Continue reading AP: Proposed Health Insurance Would Allow Abortion Coverage...

August 4, 2009

U.S. Suggests Softened Darfur Stance

The Obama administration may soften some sanctions against the Sudan government, the Los Angeles Times reports.

gration.jpg

President Obama's envoy to Sudan, J. Scott Gration, said that the Khartoum government has shown a willingness to allow aid to be delivered to the region.

The government expelled several humanitarian groups earlier this year after an international court accused Sudan's president of war crimes in Darfur.

"We see that there is a spirit of cooperation and an attitude of wanting to help," Gration said. ... "There's ways that we can roll back these sanctions in a way that allows us to lift the restrictions we need, such that the government continues to be sanctioned and military equipment continues to be sanctioned," he said.

The new approach has sparked fierce debate among Obama's advisors and is causing consternation among some of his strongest supporters, who had expected the president to toughen U.S. policy toward a government that he had sharply criticized as untrustworthy during last year's presidential campaign.

The article states that the International Criminal Court estimates that about 135,000 people have been killed or died from disease and starvation, and more than 2.5 million people remain displaced in Darfur.

Continue reading U.S. Suggests Softened Darfur Stance...