Monday, December 31, 2012

Pope Benedict Talks Role of Parents at Last 2012 Sunday Angelus

At the last Sunday  Angelus of the 2012 year Pope Benedict talked about the role of parents by looking at example of Mary and Joseph. Vatican Insider has a overview at The Pope: "Parents are not the friends nor the masters of their children"

The full text is here.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

CBS Sports Writer Dayn Perry Unleashs the Shellfish Argument on Angels Baseball Player

Baseball sports writer Dayn Perry over at a CBS sports blog commented on an article that dealt with the state of gay athletes in pro sports.

Like in the New England Patriots' locker room. Earlier this season linebacker Brandon Spikes sent out a tweet claiming to be homophobic "just like I'm arachnophobic. I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I'd still scream if I found one in my bathtub."

Spikes later said he was joking. But former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, among baseball's most thoughtful and intelligent players, isn't kidding when he says an "out" teammate could divide a team.

"For me, as a Christian … I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it's not right," he says. "It will be difficult and uncomfortable."

Hunter is of course entitled to his personal beliefs (although one wonders whether he is similarly affronted by, say, shellfish and neatly maintained beards, which are also forbidden by the holiness code of Leviticus), and when he talks about potential problems within the clubhouse, he may well be correct .......

This is rather unfortunate and a person that writes for Washington Monthly, ESPN the Magazine, The Miami Herald, The Montreal Gazette, Reason, and The New York Sun, and many others should be held to a higher standard. The shellfish arguemnt is often presented as a grand gotcha .

However Christians of all Faith traditions have actually thought about  those verses . For instance see here  , here , and here  all of which is easily available  to find within minutes on the internet. It should be noted of course that the Angel baseball player did not even cite what portions of the Bible he was referencing by this seemed of little importance to Mr Perry.

Pro athletes of Faith I suspect in the future will note that Mr Perry might not exactly take the time to take their Faith seriously

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Does U.S.Catholic Editor Need Some Empathy For Those That Claim Religious Liberty Concerns ?

That is the feeling I got just after the reading the title of his blog post Religious liberty for businesses: Protected freedom or excuse to discriminate? . I will return to that blog title later on.

Scott Alessi looks at the Hobby Lobby case  ( where he thinks the CEO 's wealth is important for some reason to point out ) , and a group of people that  are having religious libertyobjections to providing some type of services as to same sex marriage ceremonies. In particular he talks about a certain Trolley company woes.

Let me note before proceeding further that the New Mexico photographer case he cites in passing has other major  First Amendment concerns that stand apart from the religious liberty claim, For that see 
Amicus Brief in Elane Photography v. Willock (the New Mexico Wedding Photography Case) whose signers all support the right of same-sex marriage rights by the way.

It seems he is a tad more open to the Hobby Lobby problem though he states  both " illustrate just how easily fighting for a company's "religious freedom" can cross the line".

In the article he puts "religious freedom" and "religious liberty" in scare quotes but note he does not put the word "rights" in scare quotes in that last paragraph. He also declares that these folks would not be " supporting or condoning same-sex marriage by extending the same service he already provides to same-sex couples ".

Well it appears they disagree. Let me add there is a also sort of odd belief in the Separation of  Church / Faith and work that we see from time to timel urking around here.

He ends his piece :

Religious liberty is undoubtedly a valued freedom that should be protected. Just how far it extends into the business world is an issue best left for the courts to determine. But when it comes to denying rights to employees or customers, lets drop the "religious liberty" argument and call it what it really is: discrimination.

Well that is fair to a certain point. There is a facet of religious liberty that allows discrimination. There unprotected discrimination and protected discrimination. There is just discrimination and unjust discrimination.

However today the word discrimination is used sadly in a much one sided way. In fact at the recent controversy at Tufts University  the fight against discrimination was being used to discriminate against other  and  to try impose a new required Orthodoxy. See Can Tufts Handle Religious Pluralism? from F.I.R.E. .

A good place to perhaps gets some need empathy or understanding is Prof Rick Garnett article  Confusion About Discrimination at Public Discourse.  I recommend that piece. In fact I recommend his full Law Review on the subject here .

After discussing just and unjust discrimination Prof Garnett states:

The near-universal, if sometimes unreflective, conviction that “discrimination” is wrong means that assertions of religious freedom are sometimes heard as requests that political authorities tolerate a wrong—i.e., “discrimination”—which they would otherwise prohibit, penalize, or discourage. Such requests then raise the question of whether it is “worth it” for the authorities to do so—that is, whether doing so would complicate too much the government’s own projects, or conflict too glaringly with its values. And so, when they are granted, accommodations are regarded all around as concessions. Sometimes, to be sure, we do and probably should think about honoring rights in terms of protecting, or simply tolerating, a liberty to do even the wrong thing (so long as the wrong thing is not too wrong). Our free-speech decisions and doctrines provide many examples, including the Supreme Court’s recent rulings protecting depictions of animal cruelty, hateful funeral protests, and over-the-top-violent video games.

We should not forget, though, that one dimension of the freedom of religion is, sometimes, precisely the freedom to “discriminate,” and that this freedom should be protected not simply because such discrimination is an all-things-considered tolerable wrong—sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t—but because it is inextricably tied to something good—a human right—and is, sometimes, beyond political authorities’ legitimate reach.

I noted at the beginning I was not thrilled with the blog title that the Editor at U.S. Catholic used.

I am not sure that most people that have religious liberty concerns are looking for an " excuse " to discriminate  against gay people. They serve gay people all the time in the course of many parts of their normal operation of business.

However they still think there is a difference in serving a person of same sex attraction lunch versus participating and using their talents to enhance the celebration of a same sex union.

 I do not suspect bakers are foregoing selling birthday cakes to people that have same sex attraction. Though some might again have problems participating in enhancing the rites of a same sex union with a wedding cake.

In other words I don't think the assumption should be from the start that people are looking for an "excuse" to pile on a certain group of people , but that they have a real life moral quandary in the VOCATION they are in.

 I think a path toward respecting everyone rights and human dignity plus association rights is a distinction between belief versus  status or immutable characteristics . As per previous example it would be indeed be unjust to discriminate against a person because they have same sex attraction. An example being again the restaurant refusing to serve people they think are gay would be unjust. The choice not to participate in a public rite of belief such as same sex marriage that also implies some sort of attempted sexual union one views as illicit would be a different matter.


Coach Lou Holtz Films A Catholics Come Home National TV Ad For College Bowl Week

Coach Holtz from Catholics Come Home on Vimeo.

There is a big write up here and an interview video at CATHOLICS COME HOME AIRS SUPER BOWL-STYLE TV AD

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Syrian Catholics and Orthodox That Don't Believe in the Real Presence ? BBC Syria Christmas Story

While there are no doubt some low Church Protestants and Evangelicals in Syria most of the population is Orthodox or Catholic. This Get Religion author notes that the writer of this story might not get that. See A boring, non-sacramental Christmas in Syria

Young Church Attendance Might Be Down But Those That Go Are Devoted

This is an interesting article about how there might be fewer young folks at Church those that go are very devoted to it. An observation I have been making in Catholic circles.

See from the Indy Star Millennials at worship services are few but passionate

Day After Christmas Pope Talks To Vatican Square Flock on St. Stephen’s Day - Deacon and First Martyr

It is a special day for Deacons  I suppose. Vatican Radio has the full text at Pope: St. Stephen, model of New Evangelization

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Christmas Eve Homily of Pope Benedict ( Full Text )

Pope Benedict light a candle in his window before the start of Christmas Eve Mass

Rocco has the full text up at "Let Us Go Joyfully to Bethlehem"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

At Christmas Diocese of Little Rock Buries A Very Young Seminarian - Bishop Taylor's Homily ( Full Text )

I have had in my heart the Catholics and others that  knew Daniel Phillips  just 30 minutes north of me in the Diocese of Little Rock and by extension the family and their "extended family " of a young 19 year old Seminarian that died in a tragic car accident.

How does a Bishop just days before Christmas explain the death of this young man. Our Faith tell us he is more likely to be in a better place.  Still that does not exempt us from asking the questions of why and in the end  we find God's time is not our time. Anyway I thought this was a wonderful homily by the Bishop that uplifted me after I read it.

According to this young man  that attended the funeral all of the  Diocese of Little Rock Seminarians were in attendance as well as most from his seminary from Dallas. Let us keep his family this Christmas in our prayers as well as the young man that devoted to all to Christ . Here is the Bishop of Little Rock's homily.

Homily for the funeral of Daniel Phillips, a seminarian of the Diocese of Little Rock

12-21-12--Wis 4:7-14; PS 27; 2 Cor 5:1,6-10; Lk 12:35-40

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. But you and I feel the darkness of this day for another reason: the wreck that took Daniel's life and the loss we have suffered as a consequence. But our faith in Jesus, to who...m Daniel gave himself so fully, invites us to view this tragedy through the prism of faith. That's what Daniel would want! Let me share with you some thoughts that help me embrace God's will, despite the bitter loss I feel.

1. Daniel was following Jesus fully and faithfully. In the Gospel you just heard, Jesus said: "The Son of Man will come when you least expect him" and "it will go well for those servants whom the master finds wide-awake on his return." I had my last serious conversation with Daniel 3 weeks ago when I visited him at Holy Trinity seminary and I can attest that Daniel was wide-awake spiritually. At that time I was impressed by how happy he was to be a seminarian and how certain he was that God was calling him to open his heart to the possibility of becoming a priest. Daniel was a man of prayer and very considerate of others. He had a very big heart and did such thoughtful things. For example, he knew that I would be leaving Holy Trinity at 5:00 am the next day to catch an early flight, and there he was the next morning waiting outside my door at 5:00 am to walk me to my car and see me off. I know I wouldn't have been that thoughtful at his age, or for that matter, probably even now! Yesterday I recalled that, you know, we speak of baptism "by desire" in the case of people who have already decided to be baptized but die before actually completing RCIA. Well, if there were such a thing, we could say that--by analogy--Daniel had already received, in a certain sense, the sacrament of priesthood "by desire" and so I'd like to think that our Lord will arrange things so that this great and holy desire of Daniel's will become a reality in the great liturgy of heaven, Daniel concelebrating with Jesus our High Priest.

2. As we heard in our Second Reading, believers walk by faith, not by sight. Daniel was at my house Sunday for a Mass and seminarian Christmas party, and in my homily I spoke about fear and adversity. And isn't fear of death our greatest fear? And the loss of loved ones our greatest adversity? On Sunday I reminded Daniel and the others that when we pray the Lord's Prayer, we praise God and his kingdom in the first half of the prayer, and then in the second half we ask him to provide for us, forgive us and protect us from the Evil One, freeing us from fear of all that could do us harm, which is not the same thing as exempting us from having to face adversity, indeed quite the opposite. We are to take up our cross and follow Jesus--walking by faith and not by sight--on the path of sacrificial love that leads us to our own personal Calvary. And notice: this is not just resigning ourselves to enduring unavoidable adversities, but rather embracing the cross with love, modeled on the love with which Jesus embraced his own cross for our salvation. When we ask God in the Lord's Prayer to "Deliver us from evil" we affirm that God has broken the power of the Evil One and therefore can bring good out of evil--even the school shooting in Connecticut, and all other bad things that happen--like Daniel's accident. This is verified for us today in Daniel whom God has used, to some degree, to break the power of evil --how many 19 year olds do you know who spend their weekends on the Adoration Team at a Search retreat, as Daniel did last weekend? And verified also in the ways God is already bringing good out of this bitter loss, though we can't see it quite yet. Today God is inviting us to see more clearly what really is important in this life...and I'll bet he's calling some of you to step forward to take Daniel's place in the seminary and eventually in the priesthood. Maybe some of you for whom he spent some of his last hours in this life in prayer, in Adoration last weekend?

3. Believers grieve differently. We actually may grieve more intensely because the deeper the relationship--and spiritual relationships are the deepest of all--the deeper the relationship, the more intimately our lives become intertwined, and thus the more wrenching it is when one is pulled away. The loss feels like something is being ripped out of our very self...because it is. Indeed, it would be really sad if we did not feel this intense grief, because that would mean there wasn't much to our relationship. And yet our grief is a grief full of hope, confident that God will continue to provide for us and for Daniel as only he knows how.

4. God measures time differently than we do. Our First Reading speaks of the just man who dies early and says that while we generally think of wisdom as the accomplishment of old age, the young man who lives a blameless life can already attain that wisdom normally associated with the elderly. And since the reason God made us was "to know him, love him and serve him in this life, so as to live happily with him in the next," Daniel suffers no loss--we're the ones who have suffered a loss! But Daniel enjoys a great gain in being able to return to the Lord, even though at an age that seems to us way too early. In this we are like children watching a parade through a knothole in a fence: we can't see the entire parade, nor can we see its final destination; we see only what happens to be passing right in front of us at that moment. But God sees the entire parade and it is his direction that the parade is headed.

On December 25 we celebrate Jesus' birth, a date chosen because it was just a few days after the Solstice. No one knows Jesus' real birthday, so the Church picked a day in which God's creation expresses in its own way the true meaning of Jesus' birth: that in Jesus the light is more powerful than the darkness. The Solstice is on the 21st but it's not until the 25th that we can really tell that the darkness is receding and the days are getting longer and brighter once again. And the light is more powerful than the darkness also for us. Daniel is in a good place, so let's support each other with words of faith and reach out to each other with love and compassion, confident in the great hope we have in Jesus our Savior, who rose victorious from the grave.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

After Baby Jesus Is Gay Billboard Some New Zealand Anglicans Tired Of One Parish's Christmas Message Monopoly

2009 Oh How Can I compete with God in Bed Christmas  Billboard 

OMG I am pregnant Christmas billboard

And DRUMROLL Please .......... For Christmas 2012

Some New Zealand Anglicans are getting tired of one city church's Christmas message hijacking the Church's message as a whole  it appears. See Anglican Down Under post ACANZP's Christmas Message to NZ: Was Jesus Gay?

After Baby Jesus Is Gay Billboard Some New Zealand Anglicans Tired One Parish's Christmas Message Monopoly

Church Of England Archbishop Tweets Concern Over Drastic Cuts To Military

I almost did a double take when I saw this. Good for one Church of England Archbishop in what appears to be a consistent appreciation of the military and certain real life issues. . However  some were not pleased . See Archbishop of York warns defence cuts 'risk the safety of the nation' .

Let me add as an American I appreciate the Archbishop's concern and related that the U.S. does not have shoulder more and more responsibility in these affairs alone. THe U.K. and it's military is a vital component in keeping the peace in many places.

Friday, December 21, 2012

White House 's Nightmare Headline - U.S. Justice Department vs. The Little Sisters of the Poor

The editor of Get Religion , Terry Mattingly , makes an interesting observation of a story that is in the Catholic and conservative alternative media but strangely not the mainstream. See Got news? White House vs. Little Sisters of the Poor which deals with the real world consequences of the HHS Contraception mandate.

This is all strange since the media just it seems weeks ago was all nuns on the bus . What happen ?

Pro Life Implications of St Ambrose 's Commentary On The Visitation In Today's Office of Readings ( DEC 21 )

I was struck today by today's Office of Readings that had Church Father St Ambrose 's commentary on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary found the Gopsel of Luke.

There are among many things some very pro life overtones that should out to us today,

From a commentary on Luke by Saint Ambrose, bishop

Mary visits Elizabeth

When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman to show that God is able to do all that he wills.

When she hears this Mary sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve God’s word; she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.

Filled with God, where would she hasten but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, laborious efforts. Quickly, too, the blessings of her coming and the Lord’s presence are made clear: as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence, but he is aware of the Lord’s: a woman aware of a woman’s presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.

The child leaps in the womb; the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for you, and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. When John leaps for joy Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, but we know that though Mary’s spirit rejoices she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in his mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.

You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works.

Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. In another place we read: Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.

Can We and Should We Always Nationalize Problems and / or Solutions - Gun Deaths and the Internet

Two articles on the gun control caught my eye today. One is at the Corner  Gun Rights, Gun Control, and Irreconcilable Cultural Differences a piece I somewhat agree with.

However related to that at The Volokh Conspiracy  see Can We Talk (about Guns)? The whole thing is worth a read but this part really struck me as sound:

Hoffman also suggests the nature of internet discourse cuts against the tolerance of differing approaches to social problems.

My intervention here is to just to point out that the problem we actually have here is one of discourse – we are forced by the Internet to nationalize problems. This makes it much, much harder for local communities to experiment with localized solutions to threats to the moral order. If a community in, say, Connecticut wanted to ban assault weapon clips (because it made them feel safer – let’s put to one side data on efficacy!), Glenn Reynolds would lead a charge against the liberal fascists. Indeed. Heh. Yes. If a community in Tennessee wants to arm its teachers (because it makes them feel safer – let’s put to one side data on efficacy!) Josh Marshall and Andrew Sullivan would call them out as conservative fascists. Or loonies. Or winners of the Moore award. And we’d all get to pat ourselves on the back, but no one would actually get the benefit that law is supposed to provide, which is the helpful illusion that we’re more civilized than we actually are, and that we’re actually doing something to push back against the tide.

That is: a national conversation about guns and violence, facilitated and sped up by the internet, reduces our ability to try out different versions of the good life, and thus diminishes our capacity live together in peace.

I think he has a point. I also suspect this problem is magnified due to a decline in the understanding and appreciation of tolerance as a virtue. Not tolerance as acceptance or approval, but true tolerance. Tolerance as in there is something unpleasant, objectionable, or distasteful that one nonetheless tolerates. And this is brings us back to the problem of cocooning. If we have little interaction with those of truly different viewpoints — those whose entire worldview and starting premises are different than ours — we have a harder time recognizing the goodwill and fundamental humanity of those with whom we disagree. And that means we have a more difficult time discussing divisive political issues and trying to find common ground. So instead we demonize and attempt to marginalize our opponents — undertakings that may make us feel good, but do nothing to improve the situation.

Excellent Wall Street Journal Article On When Massachusetts Banned Papist Holiday of Christmas ( Religious Liberty )

Wriiten by the founder of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty that is a doing a lot of good work.  See When Christmas Was Banned in Massachusetts  -For the Pilgrims, Dec. 25 was not a day for 'gaming or reveling in the streets.'.

Pope Benedict's 2012 End of Year Christmas Address to the Roman Curia ( Full Text )

Here it is hot from the presses and as usual there is some things that will make some just scream .

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Louisiana Colleges Are Leaders In Worst Offender Category of Limiting Speech Rights On Campus Report Says

That is from the new  report from one of the leading First Amendment and related concerns advocacy groups for our colleges campuses. See New Report: Three-Fifths of Colleges Seriously Restrict Free Speech on Campus . The report they link goes in the factors they examine when giving a rating.

2012 Ends a Good Catholic Vocations Year for University of Louisiana Lafayette ( ULL )

Nice end of the year news coming out the Catholic Student Center and Campus Church of the University of Louisiana Lafayette. See 2012 Vocations

Of course the Catholic Parish on a campus is where vocations should be good and everything indicates to me that the Catholic community at ULL will further help increase these numbers.

Howard Kurtz Reminds Us Again In Gun Control Fight Why Citizens United Is Needed Counterweight to Media

This past year we have seen the media put " religious liberty " in scare quotes and frame the HHS contraception mandate as fight over birth control or even a war on contraception. We saw how Andrea Mitchell of NBC took it upon herself  to go after the Komen CHARITY because they would not fund her buddies in Planned Parenthood.

Now we have this  from Howard Kurtz himself !! :
There was certainly a media agenda during the battle for civil rights in the late 1950s and 1960s. Television helped shine a spotlight on Alabama Gov. George Wallace and other Southern politicians who were fighting to preserve a segregationist society. News organizations were accused of being liberal, but they were on the right side of history in exposing practices that were fundamentally wrong. Rosa Parks’s refusal to move to the back of the bus would have been for naught had the media not made her a symbol of racial injustice.

In more subtle fashion, the media have led a national conversation about gay marriage, which as recently as 2004 was deemed politically unthinkable. Now it is legal in nine states, the last three of which adopted new laws in popular referenda last month. Again the press was accused of taking the liberal side, but sometimes that consisted of interviewing newly married gay and lesbian couples, who didn’t seem threatening to anyone. Whether the media changed the culture or lagged it, they were not missing in action.

Read the whole link.

No matter what your views are on gun control what Kurtz is saying should perhaps raise some alarm bells. It might be different if the United States had a real advocacy media like we see in Europe perhaps. That is various media outlets in the print world take and present the news through a certain viewpoint. However in the United States we don't have that. In fact there are few cities left that have more than one newspaper nowadays.

Events like this  remind me more and more why I supported the Citizens United Supreme Court opinion. It's a necessary counterweight to the media folks that because of their First amendment rights are able to to basically lobby ( as Kurtz admits they are doing ) while other are handicapped.

Pope Benedict Writes A Christmas Article For the Financial Times

What a nice surprise to wake up to this Thursday morning. Vatican Radio has the full text at Pope Benedict writes article for the Financial Times

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

House Speaker John Boehner Talks How St Thomas More Influences Him

I really hope the full text of this speech becomes available at some point.because I haveing a hard time finding it.  I would like to the read it. The Corner has some of the remarks that the Speaker made on the influence of St Thomas More on him at  Speaker Speaking Above the Noise & Fury

Tragic Day For Diocese of Little Rock and Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas - Catholic Seminarian John "Daniel" Phillips Killed In Auto Accident

How horribily sad for his parents, friends and classmates. He was just 18. See Seminarian killed; dreamed of being 'Father Daniel' that was just posted at the Arkansas Catholic.

Robert Bork, RIP - A Past Article Where He Talks About His Conversion to Catholicisim

I was doing Christmas shopping today and now just hearing the news that Robert Bork has passed on. Mirrors of Justice has a few links up as well one that is about his conversion to the Catholic Faith.

Update- Austin Ruse has a piece up too see Robert Bork: From Atheism to Christian Faith

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Will Movement For More Gun Control Result In Less Gun Laws In the End

I was twittering with Grant Gallicho who is an  associate editor of Commonweal magazine, about the background that led the Louisiana voters to approve this rather significant gun rights amendment this past fall.

I have been thinking on this but the last few years has led to flurry of gun rights legislation in the State of Louisiana. They include being able to carry a gun Church  and  having a Louisiana lets celebrate the 2nd Amendment sales tax holiday each year . These laws and others led to the vote this past fall where Louisiana residents now has the strongest protection of gun rights in the nation perhaps enshrined in their governing document.

However the question is what started this train of pro gun rights bills ? I think most observers of the scene would reference perhaps  a huge misstep by the Government. That was the seizure of guns from New Orleans residents during Katrina .

The reaction to many Louisiana  citizens was just pure astonishment , and I am pretty convinced that event led to the laws and amendments I cite above.

It appears we are going to have another gun control conversation. ABC news was in full gun control mode tonight. The social media is all abuzz too.

Gun control proponents need to be wary. Many proposals that I am hearing don't seem to be that narrowly tailored to fight a specific problem. It's probably true that to some extent New Yorkers  are from Mars and residents of some other States are from Venus. Seizing weapons might in lets say from a New Yorker point of view be very sensible in wake of a hurricane like New Orleans. However  as we see others did hold that viewpoint .

If proposed gun control laws are not narrowly tailored I think you can expect a lot of communities to react by enacting very pro gun rights legislation.

The whole net result of this Congress must do something movement might be far less gun control in the end not more.

Justice Scalia , Gays and Penn State , and the Reductio ad Absurdum

Justice Scalia recently walked into I what it hink is a very faux controversy at Princeton recently. Instapundit recently seemed to have the the same problem when he posted "What is the gun community going to do about this tragedy?"/"I dunno. What is the gay community going to do about Penn State?" .

Law Prof Ann Alhouse went into all this at  Why are people having so much trouble understanding rhetorical devices?

I thought at Instapundit one remark that was posted  as prety apt :

Wait, is garage mahal actually so stupid that he can fail to see a reductio ad absurdum right in front of his nose?

I’ll try once more to explain it.

InstaPundit thinks that it would be absurd and ridiculous to blame all gays for the minuscule percentage of gays who are serial rapists. His whole point depends on us seeing just how ridiculous that would be. He is trying to get morons like AF and garage mahal to understand that is equally ridiculous to blame all gun-owners for the minuscule percentage of gun-owners who commit mass murders. But some lefties are so in love with the idea of calling all gun-owners and NRA members and Republicans mass-murderers that they are unable to understand a simple analogical reductio ad absurdum.

I think Althouse does a pretty good job pointing out how Scalia was using a reductio ad abusrdum for legal purposes.

Its a siogn of the times that education has gone downhill so much people can't grasp a reductio ad absurdum when it happens. It more shocking that people that do then act like they don't get to the argument in order to frame the speakers points in a deceptive way

Monday, December 17, 2012

Two Catholic Parishes In Diocese of Lake Charles Louisiana Desecrated - Priceless Statues Destroyed

With all the horrible news that we had to deal with this weekend I missed till today this sad Catholic Louisiana story. Two Catholic Churches were in the town of Sulphur which is in the Diocese of Lake Charles. The above pictures are from local resident " Feminist Papist " tumblr and her descriptions of them are here , here, and here and here

As noted there and in the articles below that has more pictures of the destruction  some the statues were hundred of years old and beyond repair. Further you can't put a price on the memories they had and the links to the past it had for this community. A Baptist Church and Methodist Church was also damaged but thankfully there was just window damage.

Here are a few news articles and vid. We found out this situation could have been far worse as the Priest confronted the man himself that seemed out of mind. See Priest comes face-to-face with Sulphur vandalism suspect

There is a good article here Sulphur man arrested for vandalism of local churches . The vicar general of the Diocese of Lake Charles is quoted there as saying :

"It's a very sad day when an individual has a certain drive within themselves to destroy property, especially the sacred vessels of the Catholic Church," said Monsignor Daniel Torres, vicar general of the Diocese of Lake Charles who was at Our Lady of Lasalette. "It's very sad, and it brings forth a dimension that there is a presence of evil that lurks in this world.

"We have to pray very hard that the violence that we experienced in Connecticut yesterday; that the violence to people's property and destruction ends," he continued. "We need to really be strong in our prayer life and get back into the reality that we need to be strong in our faith and conform our lives to the way of Christ. Because that's the only way. That's the only way."

There is a video and more pics of the damage here. There is also some conversation in the comment section about the man who did and a couple know him it appears. Needless to say keep him in your prayers.

Madness !! Little Sisters of the Poor Might Have To USA Over Contraception Mandate

Catholic Vote has Think the HHS Mandate Won’t Hurt Non-Catholics? Think Again.

The politics of this are so infuriating. It really does not seem to be that much of deal to make the HHS Contraception mandate compliant with the  "Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and have real  conscience protection safeguards.

In fact in the big scheme of things it is likely such acts would very little decrease in the availabity of contraception. Yet some folks are dug in and this is the result.

Church Volunteer & Former Knight of Columbus Sues Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth Over Sex Abuse Like Allegations

I think you can expect to see more and more of these lawsuits in the future especially from the Laity.Its actually my feeling that many Dioceses sort of maintain a sort of different reporting standard as to Laity and Clerics in this regard as to avoid perhaps lawsuits of this kind. I have no hard data on that but again just a feeling based on the number of LAY allegations we are seeing in the annual sex abuse audits.

As to how we balance all these interests and maintain child saftey while not lightly calling people's reputations out I am not sure. No easy answers from where I am standing

Religion Clause has Volunteer Barred From Working With Diocese Youth Sues For Defamation .

Pope Benedict - Life Would Be Easier If People Did Honest Fulfillment of Their Everyday Duty ( John the Baptist Reading )

This past Sunday 's Gospel reading is always interesting to me . In St John Baptist gives some interesting advice in part:

The crowds asked John the Baptist,

"What should we do?"

He said to them in reply,

"Whoever has two cloaks

should share with the person who has none.

And whoever has food should do likewise."

Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,

"Teacher, what should we do?"

He answered them,

"Stop collecting more than what is prescribed."

Soldiers also asked him,

"And what is it that we should do?"

He told them,

"Do not practice extortion,

do not falsely accuse anyone,

and be satisfied with your wages."

Military folks don't comlainabout your pay ? That  is something that pehaps one would not expect for him at first. Pope Benedict commented on this passage at yesterdays Angelus. An overview is here.

The Vatian does not have the full English translation of the Holy Father's preaching yesterday but someone has a translation up here. The bolding is mine.

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospel for this Sunday of Advent once again presents the figure of John the Baptist, as he speaks to the people who have come to him by the river Jordan to have themselves baptized.

Since John, with forceful words, calls on everyone to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah, some of them asked him: "What must we do?" (Lk 3,10.12.14). These dialogs are very interesting and prove to be of great actuality.

The first answer is addressed to the crowd in general. The Baptist says: "Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise" (v 11).

Here we can see a criterion of justice that is inspired by love. Justice demands overcoming the disequilibrium between those who have superfluous things and those who lack necessities. Charity urges us to be attentive to others and to meet his need, instead of finding justifications to defend our own self-interests.

Justice and charity are not contradictory - they are both necessary and complement each other. "Love — caritas — will always prove necessary, even in the most just society... (because) there will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable" (Enc. Deus caritas est, 28).

Let us look at his second answer which was addressed to some 'publicans', the tax collectors for the Romans. Because of this, they were despised [by their fellow Jews], and also because they often took advantage of their position to rob others. The Baptist does not ask them to find another job, but only not to demand more than the required amount (cfr v 13).

The prophet, in the name of God, does not ask for exceptional gestures, only for the honest fulfillment of one's duty. The fist step to eternal life is always observance of the commandments - in this case, the seventh, "Thou shall not steal" (cfr Ex 20,15).

The third answer had to do with soldiers, another category endowed with certain powers, and therefore, tempted to abuse them. He tells them: "Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages" (v 14).

Even in this case, conversion begins with honesty and respect for others: an indication that is good for everyone, especially for those with greater responsibilities.

Considering these exchanges together, we are struck by the great concreteness of John's words: Since God will judge us according to our actions, it is there in our behavior, that we must show we are following his will.

That is precisely why the Baptist's injunctions are always actual. Even in our very complex world, things would go so much better if everyone obeyed these rules of conduct.

Let us pray to the Lord, through the intercession of the Most Blessed Mary, so he may help us prepare for Christmas by bearing good fruits of conversion (cfr Lk 3,8).

After the prayers, he said:

The European Encounter for Young People organized by the Community of Taize will be held in Rome from December 28 to January 2. I thank the families who, following the Roman tradition of hospitality, have made themselves available to be hosts to this young people.

But because, thank God, the requests for participation have been greater than expected, I renew the appeal, already made in the parishes, so that, in all simplicity, other families may also have this beautiful experience of Christian friendship.

How Pro Abortion Advocates Barely Kept The United Methodist Church Pro Abortion In 2012

I followed the United Methodist 2012 General Conference this year pretty closely via the social media. That was pretty easy to do because it seems at both their gathering UMC delegate folks are very good with things like twitter and blogs to keep people aware of what is happening.

The UMC is part of the American Mainline that is trending in the opposite direction of many it's sister mainline congregations. That is as it's sister mainline bodies trend more "progressive" in theology the UMC is trending in the opposite direction.

The main reasons for this are :

- It is a truly a world wide faith community with a great number of members from Africa and Asia

- These non USA members actually to a certain degree have their demographic fairly represented in the UMC as to votes at the Convention.

- These non USA Methodist are now aligned with the more traditional American Orthodox faction of the UMC.

This last convention was hot. There were issues relating to gay marriage and blessings , to resolutions on Israel, to major reforms of the UMC structure itself among many other things..

My main interest was the pro life and religious liberty aspects of what would be voted on. In particular there was going to be a move to have the United Methodist Church sever ties with the very radical Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) . That took on added importance this year to me as the RCRC was a huge advocate of the HHS Contraception mandate . In fact the RCRC was upset the mandate did not go far enough and go into the four walls of the Church itself !!

John Lomperis over at IRD has an excellent four part series on how the efforts to stop this were successful. See Why Was the 2012 General Conference So Unproductive and Dysfunctional?

To make a long story short advocates of the RCRC and pro choice movement were in full panic mode after the first week of voting on several matters. It was clear that the UMC relationship with the RCRC was going to be in deep trouble.

So what did they do. They made sure to delay and delay to to run out the clock so this important discussion would not happen.

From Part 2

I was an observer of the Church and Society #2 legislative committee, whose leadership was extremely liberal. The chair was the Rev. Molly Vetter, who appears to be active in the California-Pacific MFSA chapter. I observed the sub-committee chaired by Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, an outspoken supporter of the Common Witness Coalition, and a very passionate defender of abortion (the subject of many petitions in her sub-committee). In both the sub-committee and full committee, the respective chairs managed the discussion in such a way that they nearly ran out of time to address a petition to end our denomination’s formal affiliation with the militantly, uncompromisingly pro-abortion political group, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). Both Bigham-Tsai and another delegate at different points tried to have an RCRC-supportive church official come and lobby delegates under the pretense of “providing information.” In the sub-committee, when a delegate suggested that such testimony be balanced by hearing from the Rev. Paul Stallsworth, the head of Lifewatch (our denomination’s pro-life caucus) and an elected Jurisdictional alternate delegate, Bigham-Tsai falsely claimed that that was not allowed.

Having now been to the last three General Conferences, I can say that the Rev. Bigham-Tsai’s leadership was by far the most heavy-handed and blatantly manipulative that I have seen of any legislative committee or sub-committee chair. The majority of the sub-committee’s bioethics-related petitions would have at least nudged the UMC in a life-affirming direction. But this was contrary to the values of Bigham-Tsai, who successfully prevented most of these petitions from ever being discussed by insisting on devoting the first several meetings to very, very lengthy and needlessly repetitive personal sharing by delegates about “their hearts,” by calling needlessly frequent and early breaks, and after she did not like the way some votes were going, launching into an angry, self-righteous, and not completely coherent tirade about how she suspected that something nefarious was afoot. In the debate over revising the UMC Social Principles’ somewhat muddled statement on abortion, the Rev. Bigham-Tsai tried to strong-arm the sub-committee into hastily accepting, as a starting point, the language of the only one out of the seventeen relevant petitions that would have moved that statement in a more liberal rather than life-affirming direction, thus needlessly injecting a time-consuming fight over process. She used her power over the petitions’ order of consideration to crassly manipulate sub-committee delegates into ultimately giving up on even considering the majority of petitions that would have moved the UMC in a more pro-life direction, because of the hope she teasingly held out that they might get to consider RCRC if they had time.

This effort continued to the very last day as we see in this part :

DeLong and company also demanded that petitions to end our denomination’s scandalous affiliation with the strident Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (a move the relevant committee had supported in a decisive, historic vote) be labeled “sexuality-related” and moved to the back of the agenda with the other tabled petitions. Despite the strong objections of renewal leaders and even some relatively fair-minded liberal denominational officials, the Agenda Committee agreed to classify RCRC as “a sexuality issue.” The committee had also decided to overrule the anti-RCRC petitions’ original “global” classification in order to treat them as “U.S.-only” issues, even though: they dealt with a global denominational agency, UMC leaders from Africa, Europe, and the Philippines were outspokenly eager for the General Conference to pass them, and they involved a resolution that explicitly mentions “international” issues, the United Nations, and South Africa. Under the new rules, classifying RCRC as a “U.S.-only” issue provided a useful pretext for demoting these petitions’ priority. Moreover, the relevant legislative committee chair, Rev. Molly Vetter, used her position to have the anti-RCRC petitions deemed low priorities. Throughout the final day, DeLong and her allies sought to intimidate delegates and conference leaders by being very visibly primed and ready to fulfill their threat to forcibly shut the General Conference down in a THIRD illegal protest so that delegates would be unable to even discuss RCRC. But the anti-RCRC petitions were far enough down on the agenda list (albeit not at the very end as DeLong had demanded) that the Agenda Committee expected that there would not be time to get to them, EVEN IF it had not been for the eleventh-hour chaos caused by the Judicial Council’s striking down the compromise restructuring plan. And indeed, time ran out for plenary consideration of RCRC, which gave the bullying protesters what they wanted.

And thus the convention "ran out of time" to discuss the matter

The good news though is there are good signs now that their game plan has been exposed pro lifers might be much more successful the next time this issue comes up at their General Convention.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Portrait Artist For Pope Does Delightful Children's Book On Benedict's Real Life Love For His Fish ( Forward by Mons. Georg Gaenswein )

I was not aware that the official portrait artist for the Pope ( shown above and who has a wonderful story herself ) had written a charming children's book that is centers around Pope Benedict's real love for his garden and his fish. The UK Telegraph had a story on the book that was released the same day the Pope did his first tweet. The book is currently available only in Italian.

Mons. Georg Gaenswein wrote the forward for the book which was published in the Vatican newspaper . This site has a English translation of that foreword which I reproduce below.

The mystery of a little pond

A tale created and illustrated

by Natalia Tsarkova, painter

Foreword by Mons. Georg Gaenswein

Translated from the 10/10/12 issue of L'Osservatore Romano  
It is not a secret that Benedict XVI loves the Vatican Gardens, but he especially loves the Gardens of the Pontifical Villas in Castel Gandolfo.

Whenever he is in residence at the 'Castello' during the summer months, he takes a walk through the gardens every day, praying the Rosary amidst the beauty of creation: the trees, the plants, the flowers, the birds, the farm animals, the great orchard, the olives, the centuries-old oaks, the majestic cedars and so many other beauties of nature are an invitation to enjoy and meditate on creation.

They are like a symphony of extraordinary forms and colors, of amazing sounds which do good for the heart and soul. All nature, all creation, is a tangible testimonial to the greatness and beauty of the Creator, who made it all for us.
Among the places most loved by the Holy Father at the Castello is the Giardino della Madonnina, which was made for his predecessor Pius XI in 1933, and since him, four more Pontiffs before Benedict XVI would find it a pleasant place to pray - Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II.

Before the image of the Virgin Mary in the garden named for her, there is a little pond with red fish and two large carp. Every time the Pope finishes his prayers before the Madonna, the fish seem to gather at the edge of the pond, awaiting a generous treat from the Holy Father.

In fact, an anonymous and generous hand daily prepares a small bag with bread crumbs for the Pope to feed the fish. There is great 'joy' and lively activity in the pond when the 'largesse' comes.

This is the routine that gave birth to the story told by the author of this engaging little book, The mystery of the little pond , which is the story of two goldfish.

Natalia Tsarkova composed a dialog between Father Goldfish and his son, and has enhanced her story with marvelous illustrations and designs. And in the end, she could not do without a cat..

Behind the story is, of course, the Pope's love of creation, of animals, especially the small ones. Thus, to look at all creatures, including the small ones - who often escape an inattentive look - with the eyes of love, is the message of this engaging book.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Director of Nation 's First Religious Liberty Law Clinic At Stanford Interviewed

See Conversations: Stanford’s Religious Liberty Clinic .

Of Catholic interested it is noted his mentor was Professor Mary Ann Glendon at Harvard and he is a former Law Prof at Ave Maria School of Law.

Three Cheers For Duck Dynasty and Duck Commander As They Take On Louisiana Coastal Erosion

See Duck Commander Urges Restoration of Mississippi River Delta's Imperiled Wetlands .

Top of the Hat to The Dead Pelican

Did Sister Simone Campbell , Network and Nuns On The Bus Help Make Michigan Right To Work Happen ?

While most attention to Nuns on the Bus was focused on their opposition to certain Paul Ryan budget proposals , I saw in the final days they were involved in other matters that was not getting the same national attention. See their media release here , and 'Nuns on the Bus' tour rolls into Grand Rapids to support 'Protect Our Jobs' proposal.

I thought about that today when I read this CNBC piece  How Republicans Engineered a Blow to Michigan's Powerful Unions and saw this :

Battle Over Ballot Measure

Republicans said a key factor in passage of right-to-work was what they consider an "overreach" by unions in Michigan.

On March 6 of this year, a union group including United Auto Workers union president Bob King announced that they would seek a November ballot initiative to enshrine in the Michigan constitution the right to collective bargaining.

"It was a power grab. In retrospect it was a huge mistake," said Scott Hagerstrom, Michigan state director of Americans For Prosperity, a conservative non-profit partially funded by the Koch brothers.

At a public meeting of labor and corporate officers last summer, Snyder said he deliberately pleaded with union leaders not to go forward with the ballot initiative.

"If you do this, you should anticipate you're going to create a divisive discussion on right-to-work also," Snyder told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday, recalling his remarks.

Unions pressed forward and some Republicans say that this essentially blew up a "gentlemen's agreement" between the unions and Republicans that neither would rock the boat on labor legislation in Michigan.

UAW President Bob King told Reuters that labor leaders pursued Proposal 2 because they expected a Republican push on right-to-work regardless.

The battle over Proposal 2 was nasty. Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, a group backed by DeVos, spent $22.7 million to oppose it, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the state. DeVos family members alone provided $1.75 million of its funding, the records show.

Protect Working Families, a group backed by a union coalition that included the UAW, spent $22.9 million supporting Proposal 2, according to reports filed with the state. The UAW contributed about $5.6 million to that committee.

The proposition went down to defeat by 57 percent to 43 percent. Republicans interpreted this as suggesting that the public would support right-to-work, Colbeck said

Catholic Owners of Drury Hotel Chain Will Fight HHS Contraception Mandate

This is a very good story about the family behind the Drury hotel chain  and their Catholic Faith. See Drury Hotel founder says faith, family shape business decisions

At the very end of the article the HHS Contraception mandate :

Although he is pro-life and objects to the mandate, his company is subject to it because it is considered “secular” by the government, despite the fact that it is a private family company.

Drury said that he has sent out notices that the company – which is self-insured – will not comply with the mandate and is in the process of pursuing a legal challenge to it.

“We will not participate in payments of any kind” that oppose Church teaching, he said.

As you can see their hotel holdings and properties are pretty vast

May I suggest people stay at Drury when traveling

New China Governement Leadership Continues Persecution of Catholics And Protestants

Vatican Insider notes it seems the same ole policy is going to be still the policy still. This should not shock people since China's Western and very Christian trading partners will not object too loudly it appears.

See China: New government, same anti-religious hatred

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Catholics Come Home TV Ads Hit Canada For First Time This Christmas

They will be playing some 1700 times in  English, Cantonese and Mandarin in the Archdiocese of Vancouver . The The B.C. Catholic has the story at Archbishop hails 'wonderful' ads slated to run on City TV, CTV, Global & Omni

Catholics Need To Get More Invested In First Amendment Values Fight At Tufts University

Because as recent events at Vanderbilt University not only is our ox going to be likely gored it always HAS BEEN.

F.I.R.E , one of the leading advocates for rights of speech and association on colleges campuses ( both private and public ), has a great overview of the situation at Tufts University that has escalated somewhat the past few days. See Can Tufts Handle Religious Pluralism? .

It could be Tufts today and places like Tulane tomorrow and that is just the private University threats.

Michigan Catholic Bishops Fight Anti Sharia Laws In Last Days Of Legislative Session

I have gone to great lengths to post on  how I think many of these proposed anti sharia laws are a threat to religious liberties. The irony is of course it sets precedent that might affect Christians more.

See Michigan Catholic Bishops Oppose Anti-Sharia Bill .

Belgium Teenager That Battles Cancer Get Wish to Be U.S. Soldier For a Day ( Great Story )

This is just a wonderful story of a Belgium teenager that has battled cancer getting his wish to be a U.S. Solider for day via the the Make the Wish Foundation and U.S. Army. It appears his grandfather's stories of the American soldiers from that Greatest Generation liberating Belgium had a huge effect.

Nice write up, great video , nice photo  gallery via the Courier - Journal at Belgian boy's wish: Be an American Soldier .

Adultery and Consumation Are Not Issues That Affect Same Sex Marriage Says UK Equality Minister

This is a very interesting  comment coming  the United Kingdom's Womena and Equality Minister from remarks she said on the radio.

“I can be absolutely clear to you, when it comes to issues of adultery and consummation those are issues that relate to heterosexual marriages. What they won’t be doing is relating to same-sex marriages, but there will be clear protections in terms of grounds for divorce for individuals who are in a same sex marriage, that will be unreasonable behaviour, that’s exactly as it is under civil partnerships at the moment, so clear protections in there, but clearly there will be some differences.”


The Ugly Vicar has more at "Thou cannot commit adultery" - the (theo)logical impossibility of 'equal marriage'

"unreasonable behavior" what is that ?

As More Facts Come In Will American Media Update Viewers on the Ireland Savita " Abortion " Story

When the tragic death of  Savita Halappananvar in Ireland came into the news I decided to take a stand back approach for a while.

The reasons for that are :

-I find some of Europeans press to be a tad sensational on their first reports of these matters

-There is also a brand of advocacy journalism in Europe with newspapers taking different positions  in reporting that is not always apparent to Americans

-if it involves the Catholic Church it is even more sensational

-If it involves the Catholic Church in Ireland reported by Irish Press the current climate dictates caution

Also it did not take long get indications that not all was it as seemed perhaps.

One thing I found quite odd was how quick this was leading the American Network news as their lead story. It turns out there is a lot more to this story than we knew and now it involves some journalism ethics !!

Get Religion has a look at this abortion controversy and provides some good links at  Savita’s tragic death and media ethics .

The question is now shall we see updates from all those American networks who seemed to be taking the pro abortion forces talking points as the facts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Kind Of Religious Freedom Does New York Times Frank Bruni Envision ? Law Prof Responds

In the New York Times Frank Bruni talks about what he views as religious freedom. The answer is we don't have it. See The God Glut
He takes as his launching point allegations made by a West Point Cadet that there is an very oppressive Christian religious atmosphere at the Academy . I sort of find this a strange article to launch a pontification since the AP reports show that even some secular folks at the Academy were not quite buying it all.

Marc O. DeGirolami the Associate Director of the Center for Law and Religion at St John's University engages Bruni's piece at If the Answer is “More Religious Freedom,” What Is the Question?

After giving a review of Bruni's grievances he states :

....Bruni concludes with the view that all of this — this composite of inclusion of religion in public life (more precisely, of God in public life), most of which is, he believes, unhealthy for the country — “doesn’t sound like religious freedom at all.”

That’s the particular point that I find both problematic and illuminating. The problem is that describing what sits at the root of Bruni’s complaints as an absence of “religious freedom” doesn’t really work. For one might have thought that permitting people to voice religious reasons for their public policy and political beliefs was part of religious freedom. One might even believe that retaining God as a part of the public life of the country — manifested in some of the ways that displease Bruni — is also a feature of religious freedom. Bruni is absolutely right that “We Americans” have not drawn hard lines between religion and government. That is certainly true historically. Part of the reason may be that we have not been sufficiently attentive to religious freedom; but another fairly substantial part of the reason not to draw such lines is precisely to protect religious freedom.

So talk of religious freedom and its absence is not really the issue. What Bruni really means is that (1) he disagrees with the policy positions staked out by those who tend to use religious arguments in public contexts, including in the gay marriage context that he raises, and that (2) he dislikes the invocation of God — whose evil works are, “in instances,” as copious as His good ones — in public life generally and wishes that it would end. That’s not an uncommon view. But it would be more straightforward — and much simpler — if Bruni just said as much, without the confusing rhetoric about the demands of “religious freedom.” Even in the separationist era of the mid-20th century, religious freedom, at least as practiced in this country and as constitutionally protected, has not generally been about drawing the kinds of lines that Bruni favors.


Can Angry Tweets Toward the Pope ( @pontifex ) Be Prayers

The Pope from what is being said starts actually posting on the twitter tomorrow. As expected some folks that are not quite fans of the Catholic Faith or any Faith at all for that matter have taken advantage of this.

One Jesuit Priest born and raised in New Orleans though had a interesting take on this as he worked through his anger to perhaps something more positive as to this development. See from the Jesuit Post

Praying #bitterweets with #pontifex 

Maybe there is something to do that. Some of my best prayers in the past have been angry ones toward God. Now it turned out in those cases I was not exactly in the right very often but oddly they were a conversation that had a result.

Some Thoughts On The Southern Baptist Sex Abuse Problem Article In St Louis Newspaper

Sorry for the font problem I had with parts of this post .

Get Religion looks at an article on the issues of sex abuse in the Southern Baptist Church and gives some comments. See The Southern Baptists’ scarlet ‘A’

A few random observations as someone that has followed this over the years.

- Christa Brown is mentioned. She runs here and runs this blog here She is part of SNAP a group that often associated with Catholic clerical abuse , but also has non Catholic members and watch dogs. I have some problem with SNAP at times , and though I often in disagreement with some of Christa Brown's stances I think she is the most rational of the crew. That is I think she is a honest dialogue partner as to this issue.

 She has a tendency to bring in other unrelated theological issues , but as SNAP goes she is one of the least offenders. Which is why I think she get some respect across the spectrum of the SBC.

 - The press is still for some reason just focused on Catholic matters and seems unable to look at other Faith groups for the most part. I think this is partly because they do not want to take the time to understand the official structures of these Faith communities and more importantly the unofficial culture that comes into play.

- Related to this is that the line between cleric and lay person in the Southern Baptist Church becomes very blurry . For instance the music minister , the Deacon, even the youth minister become just another person at the Church if accused. Again we see this happening in coverage of other non Catholic Faith Communities

- Adding to the coverage problems is there are increasing number of Southern Baptist Churches and Missions that don't have Southern Baptist in the name. So when a allegation occurs even local journalists seem to never to make the connection to the State Convention or local  SBC aassociation

- It is pretty obvious the Southern Baptist have a sex abuse problem, ( like other Faith communities) .

- Because of the very often rural nature of the Church and community ethos that go along with that no doubt thousands upon thousands of cases will never be brought to the light of day

- I do not think it's beyond belief  that in many cases an unofficial ole boys network has helped shuffle people along while keeping the fingerprints of leaders in SBC seminaries, the SBC Convention, and State Conventions hidden . I have always thought for instance the case of Angelo Golatt in Alexandria Louisiana had a lot of SMOKE to it. 

- In the end the Southern Baptist Church ( like a good many Faith Communities) structure does not give a plaintiff and very importantly the defense attorney a defendant with very deep pockets. In most cases it will be just the local Church. So a good many cases never meet the light of day and thus never get  press attention.

- Related to the above point Southern Baptist don't seem to have written a lot down about past allegations at various levels of its structure. Thus a lack of a paper trail does not help in prosecuting cases that can be decades old or for that matter in a civil suit.

- That being said I think the local Churches have made strides recently as well as everyone else