Vanderbilt faith groups follow Catholics off campus

A coalition of 11 Christian student groups at Vanderbilt University are insisting their leaders should be chosen based on shared faith -- the newest front in a growing battle over "religious freedom."

The campus groups, who call themselves Vanderbilt Solidarity, joined together to oppose the university's "all-comers" policy, which says student groups must be open to all students, including in leadership, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

The religious groups say they cannot be led by students who do not share or profess their group's faith.

"Until recently, Vanderbilt explicitly protected the freedom of all student organizations to select members and leaders who shared and supported the group's purpose, including -- for religious groups -- its faith," the Solidarity groups said in a statement on Monday (April 9).

Claiming the policy violates "the central tenets of our faith," the faith-based groups applied for registered status on campus, but included their own constitutions containing faith-based requirements for leadership positions. If the school does not recognize the constitutions, the groups would be considered unregistered next year.

Priestly constituent blasts GOP budget proposal

Faith leaders and poverty experts Wednesday called the new House GOP budget proposal "immoral" and "irresponsible."

The budget released the previous day by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., included deep cuts to programs that would unfairly burden the poor, middle-income families and senior citizens, said Fr. Thomas Kelly, who participated in a phone conference with the media.

Nonprofit groups oppose Obama's change in charitable deductions

WASHINGTON -- For the fourth year in a row, President Barack Obama is proposing lower tax deductions for the wealthy on donations to churches and other nonprofit organizations. And for the fourth year in a row, nonprofit groups say the change would lead to a dramatic drop in charitable giving.

The reduction, included in Obama's 2013 budget proposal, rankled the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

"We were hoping this would not come up again this year. We asked that they not renew it, but unfortunately the request was not taken," said Nathan Diament, the group's Washington director. "It's a real concern."

Under the Obama proposal, the tax break for charitable donations would fall from 35 percent to 28 percent for the top 2 percent of taxpayers, those earning more than $250,000.

In real terms, that would mean a wealthy taxpayer who donates $10,000 to a charity would be able to only claim a $2,800 deduction on his taxes, rather than the current $3,500.