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This Week In God

THIS WEEK IN GOD.... At my old site, I did a weekly item called "This Week in God" -- yes, I borrowed the name from "The Daily Show" -- summarizing some of the news from the world of religion, most notably in instances in which faith intersected with politics and/or public policy. I've traditionally run the posts on Saturdays, but with the Biden announcement yesterday, I delayed it a day this week.

First up from The God Machine this week is a major court decision on doctors trying to limit medical treatment on religious grounds.

Doctors cannot discriminate against gays and lesbians in medical treatment, even if the procedures being sought conflict with physicians' religious beliefs, the California Supreme Court decided unanimously yesterday.In the second gay-rights victory this year, the state Supreme Court said religious physicians must obey a state law that bars businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

"The First Amendment's right to the free exercise of religion does not exempt defendant physicians here from conforming their conduct to the ... antidiscrimination requirements," Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote for the court.




In this case, a California woman hoped to have a baby through intrauterine insemination. A physician at the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group refused, saying her religious beliefs compelled her to deny treatment to lesbians.

There are plenty of OB/GYN doctors who refuse to perform abortions, but this is different -- we're talking about doctors who provide insemination services, but only want to make the services available to certain kinds of patients. This week, the California Supreme Court agreed that the medical group's religious objections do not trump anti-discrimination laws.

Also from The God Machine this week:

* We are poised to see the first ever invocation from a rabbi before a presidential nominee's acceptance speech: "Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will be making history August 28 as he opens the Democratic convention's last day."

* Jim Wallis "oozed patriarchy" this week, and Pastor Dan called him on it.

* Incredible: "This summer, 11 years after the FBI raid, the Pentagon's inspector general exonerated [Army engineer David Tenenbaum] and endorsed his assertion that the investigation by the leaders of the Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) in [Michigan] targeted him because he is a practicing Jew."

* It seemed like a good idea at the time: "It was a coup for Democrats: An emerging young evangelical voice, a registered Republican no less, accepted their invitation to deliver a prayer at next week's Democratic National Convention. But Cameron Strang, the 32-year-old editor of edgy and hip Relevant Magazine, had second thoughts and pulled out of delivering the benediction on the convention's first night, Monday. Citing fears that his bridge-building gesture would be wrongly construed as an endorsement, Strang said he instead hopes to take a lower-profile role, participating in a convention caucus meeting on religion later in the week."