A reverend in Illinois organized a demonstration to hand out condoms outside of a local Hobby Lobby store in order to protest the Supreme Court's ruling on contraception, the Daily Herald reported. Rev. Mark Winters of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Naperville, Ill., said it started out as a joke in a Facebook, but after he got a great response, he decided to organize a protest. The group of demonstrators stood outside the store to hand out condoms donated by Planned Parenthood. Winters told the Daily Herald that he wanted the protest to show that not all Christians oppose birth control. He also said he hoped to get people to question whether the Supreme Court's decision was fair to Hobby Lobby employees' religious freedom.
First up from the God Machine this week is a story out of Illinois, where a Christian minister came up with an interesting way to protest the Supreme Court's recent anti-contraception ruling.
After the ruling was issued, and Americans learned that some employers had been empowered to restrict their employees' access to birth control, many on the left may have been tempted to go to Hobby Lobby stores and hand out contraception as a way to register their outrage.
But in Northern Illinois, some clergy weren't just tempted -- they actually did it.
Winters added, "Jesus had a lot of issue with powerful people using power over the powerless."
The Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher, a Unitarian Universalist minister who attended the demonstration, added, "I'm just hoping that (people who see the demonstration) realize that this opinion (of Hobby Lobby's owners) is not the opinion of religious people as a broad spectrum, but that religious people have many different opinions."
On a related note, a Baptist minister held a prayer vigil outside Hobby Lobby's flagship store in Edmond, Oklahoma, to decry the decision. "Hobby Lobby employees who will now have difficulty accessing health care they need to responsibly plan for their families' futures," Dr. Bruce Powell explained.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* The pope prioritizes the environment: "This past weekend, Pope Francis did something that was quietly revolutionary. In a talk at the Italian university of Molise, Francis characterized concerns about the environment as 'one of the greatest challenges of our time' -- a challenge that is theological, as well as political, in nature. 'When I look at ... so many forests, all cut, that have become land … that can [no] longer give life,' he reflected, citing South American forests in particular. 'This is our sin, exploiting the Earth.'"
* The religious right finds a new approach to immigration: "In response to the influx of Central American children fleeing to the southern border of the U.S., the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is repeating his belief that all national borders were determined by God and therefore anybody who crosses them without permission is directly offending the Creator."
* Churches and guns: "Two Catholic dioceses in Georgia have banned guns and other weapons from church facilities in response to the state's new so-called 'guns everywhere' law."
* How religious is your state? The Pew Forum ranks all 50 based on four relevant categories.
* The Family Research Council's Tony Perkins said this week that the Obama administration is imposing Islamic law in the U.S. military. For the record, the Obama administration is not imposing Islamic law in the U.S. military.