Found while lurking at an Anonymous forum:
News and commentary on Religion, especially Southern religion.
Monday, November 30, 2009
The circuit court made its foregoing findings and decision to grant postconviction relief based on pretrial events that occurred at Clemmons’s burglary and theft trial held before Judge Floyd Lofton. Clemmons’s defense counsel, Llewellyn J. Marczuk, testifying at the postconviction hearing, related that, at the earlier trial, a security guard had reported to Judge Lofton that Clemmons had taken a hinge from one of the courtroom doors, hid it in his sock, and intended to use it as a weapon. The hinge was found and taken from him before he harmed anyone. In another incident, Clemmons extracted a lock from a holding cell, and he later threw the lock which hit his mother. During this second episode, Clemmons purportedly threatened Judge Lofton. In a third incident, Clemmons reportedly reached for a guard’s pistol during his transportation to the courtroom. Based on these occurrences, Judge Lofton placed Clemmons in leg irons and seated a uniformed officer near him during trial. This court upheld Judge Lofton’s remedial actions in Clemmons. 303 Ark. at 267-269, 795 S.W.2d at 928-929.
Recidivism quickly made Clemmons a frequently cited example of Huckabee's recklessness with commutations and pardons. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote in June of 2004:
[Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry] Jegley cites numerous examples of Huckabee's freeing felons who go on committing more crimes and wind up back in prison.
Maurice Clemmons received a 35-year sentence in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was let out three months later.
The following March, Clem-mons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. You'd think they'd keep him locked up after that, but no: He was paroled last March and is now wanted for aggravated robbery.
If Huckabee decides to set these criminals free, Jegley says, at least "he ought to give an accounting. I can't imagine why in the world they'd want them released from jail. There's a good reason we're afraid of them. The sad truth is that a significant number of people re-offend."
The victims' families, Jegley says, "deserve an explanation. I look into people's eyes who've suffered the unspeakable. I believe they deserve justice.
The record suggests that Huckabee recklessly ignited the cycle of criminality which has had a variety of horrific consequences, possibly including the execution-style murder of four Lakewood, Washington, policemen.
He was one of many. Some with catastrophic consequences. Maurice Clemmons, named a "person of interest" in the murder of four police officers in Washington state coffeehouse Sunday morning, was granted clemency from what amounted to a life sentence by then Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000. He was subsequently paroled.
The blame-shifting takeaway is:
He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990, this commutation made him parole eligible and he was then paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him. It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state..
Huckabee’s refusal to accept responsibility for the consequences of his own actions, and blame-shifting, are old news to prosecutors who were present during his era of Arkansas gubernatorial pardons. Literally. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote in June of 2004:
Until now, Huckabee has refused to comment on his controversial policy of making violent prisoners eligible for parole– they include murderers, armed robbers and rapists, who often return to a life of crime after they’re freed – but in a statement to The Leader this week, he lashed out at prosecutors for not doing more to keep prisoners behind bars – to which Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley had this response: “That’s a load of baloney.”
“I’m offended as a prosecutor and as a citizen. He can blame the prosecutors, but ultimately he’s the man responsible,” Jegley says. “He’s the only one who can sign on the dotted line.
“All he has to do is look in the mirror and say, ‘I let (convicted rapist) Wayne DuMond go free who then killed at least once and probably twice.’”
Jegley says the governor ignores the will of the people when he reduces a life sentence without parole that was handed down by a jury.
“He has obviously disregarded the jury’s decision. It’s a crying shame that a sitting governor would be so insensitive to victims’ right and disregard the system,” says Jegley, who points to several clemency cases where felons went free and then committed more crimes.
In addition, Jegley, Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld and others have accused Huckabee of violating the state Constitution when he commutes sentences without explanation. The Constitution requires the governor to give reasons why he grants clemency to criminals.
“He doesn’t do it,” insists Herzfeld, who recently had a clemency overturned because Huckabee did not explain why he commuted a murderer’s life sentence.
Here is Huckabee’s response to critics:
“Have Robert Herzfeld, Larry Jegley and the other prosecuting attorneys prosecuted every crime to the full extent the law allows? In other words, have they in every case pursued the maximum penalties? Did they ever plea bargain? How often? What’s the percentage of cases in which they’ve accepted less than the maximum penalties allowed by law?
"This is the day I've been dreading for a long time," Jegley said to the Seattle Times this Sunday, when told Clemmons was a suspect in the quadruple murder.
Huckabee issued more commutations and pardons than all of the six neighboring states combined. He apparently gave little real consideration to his actions, or so one might generously infer from his decision to pardon the likes of Glen Green. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote:
But if he read the confession and still considers Green deserving of parole, he's certainly unfit to hold office. Who would free a madman who beat an 18-year-old woman with Chinese martial-arts sticks, raped her as she barely clung to life, ran over her with his car, then dumped her in the bayou, her hand reaching up, as if begging for mercy?
Such lack of care is perhaps not a quality reasonable people seek in a president.
Scientology Public Affairs Officer Mike Klagenberg in a letter to the editor of Catholic Online wrote:
The article on forced abortions in Scientology is tantamount to bearing false witness. It is absolutely a gross lie fabricated by a very few disgruntled former members that are using the Catholic On Line site to forward their scurrilous lies and bitterness in an attempt to tarnish the Church and it's members.
I have filed eight stories on Scientology since June, 2009. As we researched for these articles, the witnesses we found included former members, investigators, affidavits from litigation, etc. The amount of information available regarding false declarations, questionable practices, and suspicious relationships is enormous; its impact is global.
. . .
One major force of opposition facing Scientology – and probably the one that Mr. Klagenberg was referencing – does not come from without but from within. Former Scientologists have formed a leaderless Internet-based cadre called Anonymous. Group members, for the most part, do not know each other’s names; there is no central office, no hierarchy and no official spokesperson.
. . .
Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Québec defended the right of the group to oppose Scientology last February. He received a letter from “Anonymous Quebec” documenting a number of issues after publicly declaring that Scientology wasn’t a church ["La scientologie, c'est autre chose. Pour moi, cette communauté n'est pas une Église"] during an interview.
The article Klagenberg protested doen't rely on anonymous sources:
Sea Organization or Sea Org is a sort of “religious order” within Scientology where only the most committed members of the late L. Ron Hubbard’s cult live out their lives. For the unborn child of a mother in Sea Org, that isn’t very long. They are aborted.
. . .
It would seem, however, that principle gave way to pragmatics as Scientology grew. Affidavits and other reports of forced abortions go back as early as 1994 while the abortions themselves began taking place in the mid 80’s.
Mary Tabayoyon spent 25 years in Scientology, 21 of which were as a member of Sea Org. In an affidavit dated 26 August 1994 for the case CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL VS. STEVEN-FISHMAN AND UWE GEERTZ,
Defendants, she described a September 26, 1986 Sea Org Flag Order (an order binding upon all members) that forbade members from having any more children. Disobedience would result in exile to a lower expression of service. When the child reached age 6, the parents could return.
. . .
Underlying this is another fight, joined the St. Petersburg Times in a Nov. 8 editorial:
As former staffers lift the veil of secrecy that for years has obscured the inner workings of the Church of Scientology, a new mystery emerges: Why are government authorities looking the other way? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ample reason to reconsider its decision to grant Scientology tax-exempt status as a religion. Labor officials should determine whether wage and working condition violations have occurred, and law enforcement ought to investigate whether the church's restraint on members' free movement crossed a legal line.
Charges were detailed in a three-part series the newspaper ran this summer and which is referred to by Catholic Online:
- Part 1: Scientology: The truth rundown
- Part 2: Death in slow motion
- Part 3: Scientology: Ecclesiastical justice
The relentless parade of revelations about the Scientology’s essentially ludicrous core beliefs and sociopathic practices still do it more harm than the group's heavy-handed public relations response. It is the revelations which make the case for law enforcement attention and IRS review of the church's tax-exempt status. Official church response simply underlines that case.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Gerald Warner of the London Telegraph contrived to sneer at Barack Obama and tar Vatican II for the Irish Catholic Church/police clerical pedophilia cover-up.
Warner did so as part of his argument defending Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid, whom he admires:
The Most Reverend John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin (1940-1972) was a great Catholic prelate. Under his pastoral leadership, the numbers of clergy and religious increased by more than 50 per cent, he created over 60 new parishes and built over 80 new churches and 350 schools. But he was a Vatican II sceptic who implemented reform conservatively, in accordance with what would now be called the “hermeneutic of continuity”. So he is a bogey figure to radicals.
Warner argues that McQuaid was unfairly maligned because he retired in 1972, and the investigating commission dealt with “the period 1 January 1975 to 1 May 2004.”
Er, yes about the time periods, but the commission came across important cases which the record showed had earlier been presented to and had not properly handled by McQuaid. The commission report finds that McQuaid set the pattern of failure to enforce canon law. For example, it found with obvious cause [Part 2, page 191] "that Archbishop McQuaid acted the way he did to avoid scandal both here and in Rome."
Rather than protect the children.
That case and others (some detailed by Warner's commenters) involving decisions by McQuaid as archbishop, led the commission to state in its conclusions [Part 2, page 206]:
This case has a special significance because it was one of the earliest in the Commission‟s remit. The apparent cancellation by Archbishop McQuaid of his original plan to pursue the priest through the procedures of canon law was a disaster. It established a pattern of not holding abusers accountable which lasted for decades. Firmer treatment of this priest might have avoided much abuse in the future. The Archbishop and Bishop Dunne had no doubt that a serious crime had been committed but avoided taking any action as that would have involved Rome becoming involved in the case. The Archbishop appointed Bishop Dunne to investigate the case and, in the Commission‟s view, promptly undermined him in his position.
In the Commission‟s view, Archbishop McQuaid‟s actions fell very short of what should have been done. Given that he was fully aware of the 1922 instruction, there was no justification for his failure to set up a proper canonical process to deal with the matter. In fact, he deliberately manipulated the situation in a manner that did not involve him reporting the matter to Rome.
Lacking evidence that Vatican II created McQuaid's pattern-establishing behavior or precipitated Dublin's fall, we must of course look elsewhere. Less fun than castigating our ideological foes, but if well-pursued, constructive.
The witchdoctor-cultivated belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven "as many as 10,000" east African albinos into hiding from hunters who work with unscrupulous dealers to sell them for a reported $75,000 per dismembered set, reports the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Society (IFRCCS) in the study Through Albino eyes [.pdf].
The violence is focused on children who are stalked by "contract killers" who are in the employ of "witchdoctors" with wealthy clients, the report said. The "children who are both extremely vulnerable and extremely conspicuous," and are a focus of mobilized police effort. But most of the attacks occur in rural areas where there are few police resources.
Through Albino Eyes [.pdf] reports that East Africa's latest albino murder was in Tanzania's Mwanza region in late October. Hunters of albinos beheaded 10-year-old Gasper Elikana "to stop him screaming," hacked off his leg and fled with it. Elikana's neighbors and father tried to defend him. His father was seriously injured.
"This is the 21st-century, y’all will want to remember," Civil Commotion suggests.
Bringing African albinos into that century with us will require considerable effort. Swift legal action against those profiting from the slaughter is certainly part of the mix. In September, three men were sentenced to death for murdering an albino boy -- reportedly the first such sentence in Tanzania.
Other governmental actions recommended by IFRCCS Include:
- Ensure effective legal protection for people with albinism.
- Use local administrative structures to locate albino people in
- Conduct public anti-discrimination campaigns and extend
medical services to albinos in need.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
In September, Berlusconi quietly issued a decree giving himself the authority to redirect designated funds away from taxpayer intentions. He then assigned to Catholic churches and monasteries some 10.6 million Euros that Italian taxpayers "had earmarked on their tax returns for secular institutions."
Under this law Italian taxpayers are able to declare that 0.8% ('eight per thousand') of their taxes go to a religious confession or, alternatively, to a social assistance program run by the Italian State. This declaration is made on the IRPEF form. People are not required to declare a recipient; in that case the law stipulates that this undeclared amount be distributed among the normal recipients of such taxes in proportion to what they have already received from explicit declarations. Only the Catholic Church and the Italian State have agreed to take this undeclared portion of the tax.
Before he was caught misapplying those funds, Berlusconi was already neck-deep in a bribery scandal. Remember, this is the media mogul who said yesterday he would like to "strangle" those who wrote books or made films about the mafia. Would that include the ghost author of an escourt's graphic account of her dalliances with Berlusconi? Whatever the answer, it was Berlusconi's dalliances that brought him into such conflict with the Vatican that he apparently felt redirection of funds was required to make amends.
The Australian newspaper Brisbane Times describes it as follows:
A historic - and potentially disastrous - schism has opened between church and state in Italy after the embattled Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, used a newspaper owned by his brother Paolo to stage a virulent attack on the editor of the nation's main Catholic newspaper.
In a ferocious, front-page campaign, the Berlusconi newspaper branded the Catholic editor, Dino Boffo, a homosexual and alleged he was the target of a harassment suit from the wife of a man he was allegedly in a relationship with. All of this in apparent retaliation for sustained criticism of the Prime Minister's morality and personal life.
Boffo, the prominent boss of the powerful Avvenire, newspaper of the Italian Bishops' Conference, was immediately supported by a public statement from the Vatican. But on Thursday, after issuing a detailed, 10-point rebuttal and explanation of the origin of the allegations, Boffo chose to resign, describing the campaign against him as ''media butchery'', stating that his reputation had been ''violated'' and he could no longer allow his family to remain at the ''centre of a storm of gigantic proportions''.
In his letter of resignation, Boffo described the sexual scandal used against him as a ''diabolically engineered, colossal, fictional set-up''. He said he had chosen freely to step aside because ''the church has better things to do than strenuously defend one person, even if unfairly targeted''.
In that light, how can the Catholic Church keep misappropriated money, without being seen as selling indulgences to the corrupt?
[H/T: Religion Clause]
His death inspired his father Edward, a physician, to start his own investigation of the church. "We thought Scientology was something like Dale Carnegie," Lottick says. "I now believe it's a school for psychopaths. Their so-called therapies are manipulations. They take the best and brightest people and destroy them." The Lotticks want to sue the church for contributing to their son's death, but the prospect has them frightened. For nearly 40 years, the big business of Scientology has shielded itself exquisitely behind the First Amendment as well as a battery of high-priced criminal lawyers and shady private detectives.
Read the entire article here.
More recently, the Scientology wars have come to Catholic Online.
This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don't like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men -- even holy men.
Read the entire piece here.
Without mentioning signature verification.
If the petition gatherer cannot somehow verify that there is one, unique, real human being standing behind each signature (and not the same human being behind several signatures), such petitions are meaningless.
But apparently does no other identity verification. Not even a verification email to the address you give them.
Just bumps the counter.
Which means people can sign several times under bogus names, and that a suitably unethical person can sign for you.
But in the case of the institutional Catholic Church we have an organisation with an unusually powerful mechanism of self-protection: the capacity to convince the society it is abusing to take part in the cover-up. The damage the church has done to Irish society lies in the ways it has involved that society in the maintenance of an abusive instrument of control and power.
It is easy to miss a central aspect of this whole scandal. The report is concerned with the actions of the church authorities and describes in damning detail their sense of being above the law of the land. (Cardinal Desmond Connell, for example, told the commission that “the greatest crisis in my position as Archbishop” was not, as might be imagined, his discovery of appalling criminality among his clergy, or even his own disingenuous public claims that “I have compensated nobody”, but the decision to allow gardaí access to diocesan files.) But it is striking that parents, teachers and wider communities seldom went to the police either.
This was not a matter of ignorance. It is clear that some of the paedophiles were not secretive and cunning, but reckless and flagrant. In the early 1970s, for example, Fr James McNamee, who had built a swimming pool in his house into which only young boys were allowed, was so notorious among the children in his Crumlin parish that “whenever the older boys in the area saw Fr McNamee, they either ran away or started throwing things and shouting insults at Fr McNamee. Apparently he was known as ‘Father smack my gee’.” If children were shouting abuse at a priest in 1970s Ireland, adults undoubtedly noticed. They must have known why.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Not long enough for memories to fade. When this year's Conservative Party cards went on sale emblazoned exclusively with "Season's Greetings," pseudo uproar ensued. One Tory back-bencher deemed them "totally unacceptable." Lost over the hill and through the woods in politically correct land, never reaching grandmother's house.
The online Conservative Shop has since added some "Wishing You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" cards to its "Season's Greetings" stock. Although none with any message show a religious Christmas picture. No Christ Child in a manger. No Star of Bethlehem. No wise journeying wise men or watchful shepherds. Instead, each has an outline of the Conservative oak tree logo, within which is either a robin or one of four snowscapes (yawn).
It seems the first skirmish in the war against "Season's Greetings" ends with British Tories losing the high ground they held last year as the Christmas party.
Victims of priestly pedophilia have responded to revelations of a decades-long cover-up in the Dublin Archdiocese with a call for expansion of the investigation to every diocese in Ireland.
Tragically predictable, the Irish Catholic Church pooh pooed the victims. Auxiliary Bishop Eamon Walsh of Dublin huffed to Ireland On-Line that further investigation would be a bootless distraction from "consolidating our services."
It sounds like a habitual reaction - even one that is intended to mislead. Over a span of three decades, four successive archbishops of Dublin responded to clerical child sexual abuse in their diocese with “denial, arrogance and cover-up.” Similarly, the Vatican refused to cooperate with the Murphy Commission investigation of a sample of 46 Dublin Archdiocese priests out of 102 against whom complaints has been made between 1975 and 2004.
Against that background, it is reasonable to ask if Walsh's argument is fraught with the "mental reservation" the report revealed was abused by the Dublin Archdiocese clergy to frustrate inquiry and to mislead. For example, the report said:
Both Marie Collins and Andrew Madden independently furnished the Commission with examples of how [mental reservation] was deployed by the Archdiocese in dealing with their complaints. In 2003, Mr Madden was invited to meet Cardinal Connell. In the course of an informal chat Cardinal Connell did apologise for the whole handling of the Fr Ivan Payne case. He was however at pains to point out to Mr Madden that he did not lie about the use of diocesan funds in meeting Fr Payne‟s settlement with Mr Madden. He explained that when he was asked by journalists about the use of diocesan funds for the compensation of complainants of child sexual abuse, he had responded that diocesan funds are not used for such a purpose; that he had not said that diocesan funds were not used for such a purpose. By using the present tense, he had not excluded the possibility that diocesan funds had been used for such purpose in the past. According to Mr Madden, Cardinal Connell considered that there was an enormous difference between the two.
Thus by cunning use of verb tense and omission, Connell used the most literal meaning of the words to create the false impression that diocesan funds had never been used. Yet with his interior knowledge of the meaning of the words he spoke, he was telling a truth his audience did not hear.
According to BBC, Bishop Walsh “told Bloomberg he was disappointed and surprised by the Vatican’s attitude” in failing to cooperate with the investigation of the Dublin Archdiocese.
We are not surprised, but we are nonetheless disappointed, by Walsh's attitude. Without further investigation, Irish officials cannot hope to understand what they must do to fully awaken from a national nightmare awash in Catholic Church and state corruption. It is clear from the decades of history of similar scandals around the world that to delay full investigation is to further conceal. Walsh's appeal to getting on with other business is an attempt rationalize an end to investigation, inevitably to serve some unstated church interest in suppressing scandal. Thus Walsh, like his predecessors, seeks concealment.
Irish Times Timeline
Yes, there are other denominations which engage in brazen coverups.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
No one has to die under the feet of door-busting, Black Friday shoppers this morning. The 34-year-old employee who was trampled at a Long Island, N.Y., store last year would have been spared had more people celebrated Black Friday as Buy Nothing Day.
On Buy Nothing Day, some of us celebrate our own refusal to be stampeded by the kind of fear-driven consumerism that kills relatively few people outright, but is deadly to lasting human happiness and a livable planet. As the video below explains:
This report was written by the Murphy Commission of Inquiry. It should not be confused with the Ryan Report, which was issued in May.
The Ryan Report was written by The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and while similarly damning was not tightly focused on church abuse.
The Murphy Commission Report shows that church leadership was aware of the problem, despite claims to the contrary, and put concealment of abuse and purchase of insurance against future claims ahead of concern for the victims. Specifically, the report said:
The taking out of insurance was an act proving knowledge of child sexual abuse as a potential major cost to the Archdiocese and is inconsistent with the view that Archdiocesan officials were still 'on a learning curve' at a much later date, or were lacking in an appreciation of the phenomenon of clerical child sex abuse.
The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation report took three years to prepare. It focused on the handling of complaints about abuse by priests, using a sample of 46 cases of priests against which scores of complaints had been filed between 1975 to 2004, involving some 320 children.
The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation report's overarching conclusion is:
The Commission has no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities over much of the period covered by the Commission‟s remit [January 1975 to May 2004]. The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up. The State authorities facilitated the cover up by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes. The welfare of children, which should have been the first priority, was not even a factor to be considered in the early stages. Instead the focus was on the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of the good name, status and assets of the institution and of what the institution regarded as its most important members – the priests. In the mid 1990s, a light began to be shone on the scandal and the cover up. Gradually, the story has unfolded. It is the responsibility of the State to ensure that no similar institutional immunity is ever allowed to occur again. This can be ensured only if all institutions are open to scrutiny and not accorded an exempted status by any organs of the State.
I read the report as Justice Minister.
But on a human level - as a father and as a member of this community - I felt a growing sense of revulsion and anger. Revulsion at the horrible evil acts committed against children. Anger at how those children were then dealt with and how often abusers were left free to abuse.
But the white heat of our anger should not for one moment deflect us from what needs to be done.
The persons who committed these dreadful crimes - no matter when they happened - will continue to be pursued. They must come to know that there is no hiding place. That justice - even where it may have been delayed - will not be denied.
This will be a lonely Thanksgiving and Christmas season for a great many of us. In Florida, the economy has left thounsands of seniors in nursing homes alone for the holidays, according to Capitol News Service.
For others, the issues are more personal. There are many like GWFrink3, for whom the season of rejoicing is also a season of grief.
They need us, even as their smiles conceal their pain.
SouthernOne calls upon those of us who are well. Together, let us help those who are not. Without regard for how much we like them. Or, within some limits, whether they reject us (repeatedly) when we reach out.
Is this not the season which is founded upon celebration of such compassion and forgiveness?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
In my mind, there's something about Jesus' injunction to "let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay" (Matt. 5:37) that is applicable beyond oath-taking situations and confirms the truth that "anything beyond these is of the evil one." Christians have no business embellishing the truth and twisting it for political purposes and that is what the Manhattan Declaration does from beginning to end.
All driven by the desperation of a Christian Right which feels power slipping through its fingers like sand.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin was reminded Tuesday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) that child victims of clerical sexual abuse are owed attention he has diverted to his quarrel with Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy.
He claims that it's important that we protect the unborn. But it's equally as important to protect those who have been born, and those young children who have been raped and sodomized by clerics and priests. But yet he seems to protect those clerics.
More specifically, SNAP said:
... Bishop Thomas Tobin should aggressively reach out to anyone who has knowledge of either predator’s crimes, especially because they are known offenders who walk free. For the sake of public safety, Tobin should also post on his website the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics. (More than 15 bishops, a small minority, have taken this simple, inexpensive, proven method of alerting parents about and protecting kids from dangerous predators. Tobin, however, has repeatedly refused to do so, even though his diocese has one of the highest rates of accused pedophile priests in the US.)
Protecting children from clerical abuse by those under his authority is undeniably among Tobin's responsibilities. SNAP argues (citing examples, which church spokesmen attempt to rebut) that "admitted, proven and credibly accused pedophile priests like Lepire out there, getting little or no help or supervision or monitoring from or by the bishops who essentially helped them rape and sodomized kids by ignoring or hiding their crimes."
Police investigating [McBride's] death in 2007 had been repeatedly stymied by the church, which failed to provide personal audit files as requested, [his brother] Stephen McBride said.
"Every time I think of scientology I still get a real bad aftertaste in my mouth," he told reporters in Canberra.
"There's something just not right about it."
Mr McBride is adamant the church contributed to his brother's suicide, with the coroner reporting [a barrage of] telephone messages contained intimidating statements, such as "this behaviour is unacceptable" and "you have missed your interview".
Senator Xenophon said said he still did not have the governmental support required to launch a probe. Nonetheless, "This is a hell of a week and I think we are distracted with other issues, but I think it's inevitable there will be an inquiry, one way or the other."
Lisa Miller writes in Newsweek:
Major [Nidal] Hasan may suffer from loneliness, isolation, PTSD, and a terror of being deployed overseas. He may, indeed, be mentally ill. But he was also allegedly exchanging e-mail with Anwar al Awlaki, a Yemeni-American cleric whose rhetoric urges Muslims to see terrorism as a selfless and righteous act for the greater good of the global Muslim community. In his tract "44 Ways to Support Jihad [.pdf]," al Awlaki writes, "Jihad today is obligatory on every capable Muslim. So as a Muslim who wants to please Allah it is your duty to find ways to practice it and support it." Even if Hasan was not, strictly speaking, an enlisted man in a terrorist cell, he was exposed to these ideas. They may have framed his thinking. They may have given him a "rationale" to act as he did. Either-or choices don't satisfy. Bruce Hoffman, professor at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, puts it this way: "Just because somebody may be mentally unstable doesn't mean this isn't an act of terrorism."
First, just the facts, then select samples from the annual grinding of the axes:
- FBI Reports Small Increase In Hate Crimes, But On Very Limited Data of FBI hate-crime statistics.
- Report: Religion-Based Hate Crimes Highest Since 2001.
- New FBI data show a sharp increase in the reported number of anti-gay hate crimes.
- ADL decries rise in U.S. hate crimes against Blacks, Jews and gays .
- More anti-gay, religious-motivated crimes reported, according to latest FBI report.
Monday, November 23, 2009
The Santa hats in the new American Humanist Association ads confuse us. A little ...
The Liberty Council really doesn't like the hats, or the whole campaign:
The American Humanist Association is waging war against Christmas, but their temper tantrum is doomed to failure. An overwhelming percentage of people in America believe in God and celebrate Christmas. Rather than advance its "Godless" agenda, the American Humanist Association has shown just how far out of step it is with reality.
Talk about historical revisionism and theological misdirection. Many of these signatories are the spiritual heirs of the Christian slaveholders. They come from the faith tradition that opposed the civil rights movement, abandoned public schools for private Christian schools, demonized government funding for the poor and disadvantaged. Their theological soul-mates are the ones who said AIDS was a gay disease and refused to address the issue for 20 years. As for the rights and equality of women, for heaven's sake, the Southern Baptist signatories believe women should be homemakers, helpmates to their husbands who are the breadwinners. Southern Baptist fundamentalists believe women are unworthy of ordination.
Not just femaie, either, but regardless of sex, there is still a penalty for "telling." And a higher price for silence:
While researching this piece, I spoke to a number of adults – men and women – who as children endured horrific sexual abuse at the hands of their mothers, aunts, grandmothers and female carers. Very few of them had ever had a chance to tell their story before, and the effect of keeping their experiences to themselves for so long has had a disastrous effect on their mental state.
It exploded into public view last week. Bishop Thomas Joseph Tobin of Providence, RI, because of the pro-choice political views expressed by Rep. Patrick Joseph Kennedy (D-RI), asked him in 2007 not to take communion.
Tobin was and is flexing church political muscle, as his letter to Kennedy made clear:
In light of the Church's clear teaching, and your consistent actions, therefore, I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving Holy Communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.
Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life director Mark Silk's painstaking review leaves no doubt about either the intended force of the letter or Tobin's willingness to follow up with additional force. The disappointed bishop said that had Kennedy ignored the request, "the next step might have been more direct."
Right-wing Catholics celebrate and defend the action, just as they call for similar actions against Department of Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both of whom are Roman Catholic. Indeed, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has repeatedly said Sebelius should stop taking Communion until she changes her stance. Even so, Catholic priests are not somehow compelled to follow Tobin's model.
Monsignor John Brenkle of St. Helena Catholic Church, whose church Pelosi attends while at home in California, exemplifies an alternative to Tobin's strong-arm approach. Brenkle told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
There are people who would strongly forbid Nancy Pelosi from receiving communion, but I’m sorry, we don’t question people’s religious or political stance.
Bishops are not themselves in overarching agreement, as Catholic religion journalist David Gibson explained:
In reality, the Catholic hierarchy and the nearly 70 million-strong church itself are hardly so unified, even if their efforts on current health care reform and gay marriage have been impressive. Both within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and throughout the pews, American Catholics are deeply split on a range of issues that affect matters internal to the church as well as policy in the public square. And contrary to another popular notion, the bishops can take as much flack from the right as they do from the left.
True and yet fatally incomplete, as Gibson reveals further along in his column when he explores the why the USCCB president, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, is pushing to reassert the authority of bishops:
According to church insiders, the irritation of George and some other bishops stems from frustration that lay Catholics did not seem to heed their warnings about voting for Barack Obama, (53 percent of Catholic voters went for the Democrat) and anger at Notre Dame's decision to invite Obama as its commencement speaker last May over the objections of the local bishop in Indiana, John D'Arcy. Cardinal George and dozens of other prelates joined D'Arcy in protesting the invitation.
It is clear then that even if journalists all become (and they should be) masters of basic canon law as is required to deal with the factual details, this will still be about the Roman Catholic Church exercising authority over U.S. domestic political policy, and yearning to exercise more. Is it too much to group some Bishops with the American Taliban? Remonstrance is to be expected. It is merited by events.
Bishop Tobin's record of public political arm-twisting dates at least to his comparison of Rudy Giuliani to Pontius Pilate in May of 2007 (the same year that he penned his until recently private letter to Kennedy), reports Meredith Shiner of Politico.
That characterization was part of Tobin's answer, via an op-ed in the Rhode Island Catholic, to a Giuliani presidential campaign fundraiser invitation.
The column was political throat cutting of the most ordinary kind and defies his recent positioning of himself as the diligent, caring spiritual shepherd. For example, Tobin wrote:
Rudy’s public proclamations on abortion are pathetic and confusing. Even worse, they’re hypocritical.
Now this is what we get from Rudy as he attempted to explain his ambiguous position on abortion in a speech at Houston Baptist College earlier this month: “Here are the two strong beliefs that I have, here are the two pillars of my thinking . . . One is, I believe abortion is wrong. I think it is morally wrong . . . The second pillar that guides my thinking . . . where [people of good faith] come to different conclusions about this, about something so very, very personal, I believe you have to respect their viewpoint. You give them a level of choice here . . . I’ve always believed both of these things.”
What? This drivel from the man who received high marks, and properly so, for his clear vision and personal courage in healing New York City, and by extension, the nation, after the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11.
Chris Matthews interviews Tobin: Nov. 23
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Who else could? Al Mohler himself.
Crumb isn't offering a substitute for Genesis, or pretending to. Nor is Crumb offering an object of worship. He has instead created a work or art in his medium of choice - comparable to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (Gibson working in his medium of choice). But for all his quoting of Crumb, Mohler doesn't seem to grasp that. He skips right along, without acknowledging the broader issues, to assert, it seems, that Crumb's work contravenes the second commandment. Are we missing something here?
The real concern of the church hierarchy is dissent from lay Catholics, and that is why archbishops feathers' are more ruffled when the last name of a critic is Dowd or O'Malley rather than Goldstein or Horowitz. (My mother's maiden name is Broderick, by the way.) The groundbreaking reporting on the pedophile priest scandal was done by journalists for The National Catholic Reporter, as well as by The Boston Globe, which also employs a great many reporters with good old Irish names and Catholic backgrounds. The press is not criticizing "Catholics." As the hierarchy knows perfectly well, the majority of Catholics do not agree with their bishops' and pope's position on opposition to married priests, to women priests, to contraception, to divorce, and to legal abortion. The bishops can't persuade a majority of those raised in their own faith to support their positions, so they lash out at critics and try to intimidate the press with charges of anti-Catholicism.
Some are even reasonably good humored in their rebuttal of defacement.
Alternatively ... .
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Sharon Autenrieth at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch agrees the fundamental Manhattan Declaration points, yet sees the ovearching whacko of it. Charles Colson talks of educating young evangelicals about "the three most important issues," and Autenrieth responds:
Really? The “three most important issues”? That’s a bold statement. And what are the issues that are drawing younger evangelicals attention, anyway? Much research shows that young evangelicals are pro-life in similar numbers to their elders. They seem to be more pro-life than senior citizens in the church, as a matter of fact. But get a group of young Christians talking about social issues and you are also likely to hear about climate change and justice issues - human trafficking, militarism, and especially global poverty. Let’s just focus on that last one for the moment. Are the signatories of the Manhattan Declaration confident that preventing civil society from recognizing same-sex marriage is a more central issue for Christians than addressing poverty? Are they serious? Let’s see…in the parable of the sheep and the goats Jesus separated the blessed from the cursed based on how they treated the hungry & thirsty, the sick, the stranger, the naked and the prisoner. If that’s not enough reason to prioritize serving those in need, consider that James 1:27 says that “Religion God your Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
…There is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.
When confronted by actions or motivations that defy explanation, the mouthpieces of secular political culture are content to attribute these actions or motivations to religion and then rush to criticize them as such. While so-called Islamist violence is a particularly frequent object of this type of black box rationality, one also encounters it in less spectacular contexts. Contemporary homophobia in the United States, for example, is typically linked to Evangelical Protestantism and Christianity more generally in public discourse, in spite of the fact that many devout Christians eschew bias based upon sexual orientation and many prominent homophobes have only marginal religious credentials. This is not to deny that some individuals do understand their own violent actions or prejudices as religiously-motivated. However, this fact does not imply that public commentators on religion should take this self-understanding at face value. This is especially the case in politically-charged times, when the attribution of individual causes too easily becomes a blanket description of entire communities and traditions.
Archbishops John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and Charles J. Chaput of Denver. responded to the far-right hammering of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), for which collections are being made this weekend.
Chaput, one of the investigators of the Legion of Christ, was reported by the Catholic News Agency to have said of blog attacks: “People shouldn’t believe everything they read or be upset with the kind of intensity that I’ve seen, because I think that intensity leads to blindness.”
According to CNS, Nienstedt explained that the Campaign aims to “break the cycle of poverty” for 40 million people in the U.S. by funding local “self-help, anti-poverty” organizations. Many of these are not under the auspices of the Church, but agree to follow guidelines which prevent them from violating Catholic teachings, the archbishop explained. And had “immediately cut off” violators.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Bad solution to the wrong problem. So argues Peterr at FireDogLake:
Archbishop, if the government offers grants to provide housing for low-income people that have strings attached that you disagree with, such as prohibiting discrimination against certain family arrangements, don’t apply for the grant. It’s that simple. No one is holding a gun to your head, saying “take this money or else.”
This isn’t about religious freedom — it’s about churches asking for special rights: the right to legally discriminate in workplace practices and the right to legally discriminate in the delivery of publicly funded social services.
What are we missing here?
Ronnie Floyd, chairman of the task force, answered 12 questions after he spoke at the Illinois Baptist Pastors' Conference, according to a report in Baptist Press.
Kevin Kerr, president of the Illinois Baptist State Association, asked the first question, according to the report. He wanted to know about the Cooperative Program commitment of churches represented on the task force which average less than 6 percent.
Floyd first deflected the question by saying that he didn't appoint the task force, but was just asked to chair it. Then he repeated SBC president Johnny Hunt's preferred answer to questions about CP commitment: "We don't spend percentages, we spend dollars."
Floyd then talked of how his church, First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark., is increasing its gifts to the Cooperative Program 44 percent. That sounds good until you realize that the increase will still leave the church giving about 3 percent of its $14.8 million in undesignated offerings to CP.
Even more revealing is Floyd's comment later about his belief that a lack of biblical stewardship is one of the underlying problems in the SBC.
"God tells individuals to tithe and honor Him with the first tenth and with offerings, but studies show the average evangelical gives 2.4 percent to all charities. How are we going to change the world with the Gospel when 98 cents of every dollar given stays in the churches and 98 cents of every dollar earned stays in the pocket of the member?"
So Floyd first asks Southern Baptists to ignore the low percentage his church gives to the Cooperative Program, then complains about the low percentage people give in general. Although we suspect that the billions of dollars represented by the 2.4 percent evangelicals give to charities spends just like the money Floyd's church sends to the SBC.
With reasoning like Floyd's, one can expect the Great Commission desurgence to continue.
The sky isn't falling but you might want to keep a close eye on the wall of separation between church and state.
Bill Robinson, the founder of Corrections Concepts Inc., was referencing the childhood fable where a chicken that gets hit on the head with an acorn causes something of a panic by claiming that the sky is falling.
In this case, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which issued a warning about the prison, knows the difference between a nut and the atmosphere.
Some 150 Christian leaders, mostly Religious Right protestants and conservative Roman Catholics, issued today a 4,700-word restatement of their opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support for religious freedoms and call for civil disobedience. They call their statement the Manhattan Declaration.
Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.
Just as this morning's sunrise is unique to today, it is an "unprecedented coalition," as the Catholic News Agency asserts. CNS also says:
The Manhattan Declaration is the result of several months of dialogue among Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders culminating in a gathering of approximately 100 leaders in New York City on September 28, 2009.
Attendees considered an early draft of the “Manhattan Declaration, A Call of Christian Conscience,” but the document was entrusted to a drafting committee that included Dr. Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton University, and renowned Evangelical leader Charles Colson.
The signatories explained that they speak now because in order "to defend principles of justice and the common good that are now under assault."
Signatories predictably include 15 Roman Catholic bishops, among them New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson; Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; various other seminary leaders, professors and pastors.
More about this Manhattan Declaration later.
With hyperventilating certainty about the future Chuck Colson declares the Manhattan Declaration "one of the most important documents produced by the American church, at least in my lifetime."
Unhappy Scientology: Last month a French court convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud and fined it almost a million dollars. This week the Australian government is responding to the complaints of former members Down Under.
Australian Senator Nick Xenophon used parliamentary privilege to raise allegations of criminal misconduct and called of an examination of the Church of Scientology's right to tax-exempt status, reported news.com.au.
The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has said he will consider calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the Church of Scientology.
The alleged incidents voiced in the Senate on Tuesday came from disgruntled former members with their own agendas to put forward and were used by Senator Xenophon for "his own political aspirations."
With pressure rising Down Under, the Australians are likely to go French on this and impose sanctions.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams fired back Nov. 19, telling a conference in Rome that the Roman Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a barrier to Christian unity.
Speaking at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University prior to his Saturday meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, Williams said, drawing a sharp contrast, “For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women.”
He went on to say that Anglican provinces that ordain women had retained rather than lost their Catholic holiness and sacramentalism.
Thus, he thoroughly defied one of the animating tensions which led Pope Benedict XVI to offer disaffected Anglicans a “Church within a Church” that would enable them to retain traditional Anglican practices within the Catholic faith.
Williams not only repudiated the notion that he might lead a reversal of direction in the Anglican ordination of women, he also described the pope's historic offer as little more than an “imaginative pastoral response” which contributed little to ecumenical relations between the two churches.
Along the same lines, he also said:
It does not build in any formal recognition of existing ministries or methods of independent decision-making, but remains at the level of spiritual and liturgical culture.
As such, it is an imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some; but it does not break any fresh ecclesiological ground.