Friday, November 29, 2013

Will Lack of Catholic ID Get Duquesne University Into Trouble ?- First Amendment Values Problems




THE OFFENSIVE OR " UPSETTING " POSTER 


Let me state I have don't know a hill of beans about Duquesne University . It could be like Georgetown University where a Arab student that had been attending Georgetown learned from the first time from me via twitter that Georgetown was Catholic. On the other hand it could be so Catholic in its ethos it puts Belmont Abbey to shame.

What I am focusing on is its official  rules of conduct and regulations.

Which bring us to this interesting story from F.I.R.E that seems to be watching this situation closely. See Political Poster Banned at Duquesne University .

As F.I.R.E says in part :

FIRE is proudly nonpartisan and takes no position on the claims asserted in the poster. We do, however, take a position on students’ right to express political opinions: We are unabashedly in favor of those rights. As a private institution, Duquesne University is not legally bound by the First Amendment, but it is morally and contractually bound to provide its students with free speech rights in accordance with the promises it makes in its Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct (PDF).

See above link at F.I.R.E to see those promises.

Now I am not sure why the administration banned this poster . According to the person that put the poster up she was told by someone  the images were " too upsetting: " .

A lot of things of course are upsetting and a good bit speech that is protected is aimed at being upsetting..  For the record I am not sure that image while thought provoking is in this day and age going to cause a lot of emotional drama to your average college students. I have seen worse things on regular network TV. This all makes me think something else is going on.

 I suspect a possible reason  the poster was taken down was because of theological / political dynamics. What some folks call " leftist ideas "  along with  many progressive social movements have a long tradition in some aspects of the Catholic Church. Thus we might when all things are said and done have a Catholic sensibility argument by the University.

Also  I have little doubt that the people behind this poster a combination of the College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation might also disturb some powers that be on different political and religious levels

Now the University might be saved by the section on publications that is referred to  in the code of student rights that is right after the section F.I.R.E cites.

This publication section refers back to the Mission Statement that seems rather perhaps too  vague as to Catholic ID . It is about the only place where the religious nature of the University is mentioned in the entire Code which is s part of the bigger problem.

Again I am not sure exactly what the true reason this poster is banned , but if it is because it offends Catholic sensibilities in the eyes of the College the code of conduct should be revamped to make the Catholic ID of the college clearer and what is expected of students.

Let me give an example. I think a Baptist knows what they are getting themselves into when they go to a school like Liberty University. They know if they go to a place like Baylor the rules might be a tad freer to give some more " freedom " . We can go down the line to a school like Wake Forest that has the most loose of Baptist ethos and affiliations. I highly suspect their student codes of conduct reflect this.

We can see this in Catholic colleges. You have Belmont Abbey for instance on one end then places like Catholic University and University of Dallas ( The Catholic Baylors of the world perhaps )  to schools that  promote the Sandra Flukes of the world in official publications. You can often see the Catholic ethos and the responsibilities that entails in the student handbook and rules of conduct which is basically the CONTRACT.

Thankfully in this country private colleges secular and religious have a good bit of freedom to restrict a good bit of First Amendment freedom that a secular school could not.  That is proper and good. I am for some Catholic Colleges not allowing a good many things on their college that happens on a secular college.

 Still if a Catholic ethos , conduct , ethics , etc argument is going to be used in restricting such speech that at the very least needs to be laid out more in the contracts you have with students. As F.I.R.E. states even a private religious  school has moral and INDEED PERHAPS legal contractual obligations in this regard.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hate Threats To the HHS Contraception Mandate ? - Blame Obama Blame Congress

Friendly Atheist I think shows the rather honest confusion that many have against about the fundamental issue in the HHS Contraception mandate cases at Can Corporations Have Religious Beliefs? The Supreme Court Will Soon Answer That Question .

He ends his piece :

What sort of awful boss asks the Supreme Court to change the law in order to make life more miserable for his employees?

I actually think Friendly Atheist honest confusion has to do with how this has been reported. I am seeing this everywhere.

The main issue is that must be confronted is NOT how much should your bosses be involved in your personal  and family life. People that phrase the question this way I think are often of the type that take for granted or give the benefit of the doubt that the power the Congress was legitimate.

The fundamental question is if the rules that came out of the the Affordable Care Act ( NOTE RULE MAKING NOT BY CONGRESS ) violated the employers right as to the Religion Freedom Restoration Act .

The issue is not women's access to birth control or a woman's right to choose.  It is about if the Govt interest  of providing  free birth control is using an avenue he cannot go down as to certain employers. It does not mean all avenues are closed to providing free birth control. In fact a critical part of the claims of the Plaintiffs in this case is  that the Government has MULTIPLE avenues to achieve this goal without violating their rights.

Agnostic Law Prof Ann Althouse is now trying to explain this again for the second time in two days. She states in part :


But the Hobby Lobby case isn't about narrowly interpreting the Constitution to let legislative majorities have their way. It's a conflict between 2 statutes, and it was absolutely not Antonin Scalia who encouraged giving religious exemptions. It was Congress, which was reacting to Scalia's rejection of constitutional exemptions. The RFRA bill was sponsored in the House by Congressman Chuck Schumer and in the Senate by Teddy Kennedy. (Each had a GOP co-sponsor). The Democrats controlled Congress, but the Republicans all voted for it too (with the sole exception of Jesse Helms). 

From the NYT article in 1993 when President Bill Clinton signed RFRA into law: President Clinton hailed the new law at the signing ceremony, saying that it held government "to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone's free exercise of religion."... President Clinton voiced wonder today at this alliance of forces that are often at odds across religious or ideological lines. "The power of God is such that even in the legislative process miracles can happen," he said. 

 This is about statutes and the politicos who produce them, not the judges who stand back and let them trip all over themselves pandering to everyone. If the Congress that passed the Affordable Care Act had wanted to exempt it from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it could have done so explicitly. It did not

Why should the Court cut back Congress's absurdly broad RFRA to help it out with what it failed to bother to do with the ACA? 

Now I am huge supporter of the RFRA and I don't find it absurd. But if you find the current conflict silly then  why did  Congress not exempt and why did the President Obama not  urge an exemption of the Obama Care from the RFRA ?

I have my theories why that happened , but regardless this situation  was very predictable. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Debating Religous Liberty & Birth Control On Rachel Evans Blog - Christians & Positive Liberty

Yesterday Rachel Evans opened up her comments to have a discussion on the HHS contraception mandate cases which the Supreme Court has decided to take two . It was good discussion though I wish more " negative " liberty people had showed up.

See 2 questions regarding the HHS mandate and religious liberty .

Two quick theological  matters before getting to the legal which is the main purpose of this post.

From watching the comments there I think we are seeing a pattern

Among  many progressive Christians there seems to little  sense of or indeed any real curiosity why some Christians have an opposition to birth control.The early Church history on the topic  , Humane Vitae , John Paul  II 's  Theology of the Body, and works that question the impact of contraception on marriage is not on their radar.

If it is it is perhaps viewed as some conservative Christians view some Islamic practices. That is with suspicion and viewed as having some sinister alternative political purpose. As we have seen this has not worked out well for Muslims and their religious liberty.

Second as we have seen before on some issues we have encountered recently there is no real in depth discussion as aspect of religious liberty as a human right and how it applies here.

NOW TO THE LEGAL which is much more immediate concern.

What at least I observed in the comments is something we are seeing playing out on the political scene more and more. That is we have a tension between the concepts of negative liberty ( The Govt Shall not ) and positive liberty which is more recent. Positive liberty believes rights are useless unless the Government helps affirm and enable those rights.

The birth control case is a prime example. The RIGHT to birth Control was born in the womb of the Government can't or negative liberty .. That is this is such an intimate choice that the Government has no competence. Hence the right to privacy.

 In a few short decades  we have gone from the Government can't ban birth control to the your right to it is useless unless we help you get it . Even if that involves making employers act against their beliefs. So much for Government staying out of intimate affairs which it has no competence !

In essence we have a group of many  progressive Christians that are all for POSITIVE LIBERTY and a much more expanded role of Government in helping people in a variety of concerns.

THAT IS A LEGITIMATE POSITION.

However what is lacking is it seems the awareness that this will produce some serious conflict where some conscious exemptions are needed. Regimes that don't have conscience  exemptions often don't fare well for liberty in the end. So far  a good many progressive  Christians seem not to be bothered by this at this point.

In this case we have Hobby Lobby that cover 16 of 20 FDA approved  forms of contraception . However because they will not cover certain morning after pills that is even a bridge too far for the advocate of positive piberty. EVEN CHRISTIANS !

Christians that support positive liberty and expanded role for Government ( A LEGIT POSITION ) need I think to start thinking about the need for protections much more than than do for people of faith and various other objectors rights.

Moving on there seems to be a theme that  in the EMPLOYER / EMPLOYEE relationship the employer has no or little religious liberty rights.

There is not really much  scriptural or theological or legal  thought given to why this is so but it is just is. There also seem to be little thought in encouraging  the employer to so easily shed his moral scruples in the pursuit of business and how that will effect social justice as a whole.

From a legal perspective there is little attention among some progressive Christians how this will effect independent contractors with no employees or in the end the employee itself as positive liberty just keeps marching on without a check.

Of more immediate concern is that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act  of 1993  is not on many people 's radar at all. Which is strange since this is the CAUSE OF ACTION and RIGHT that is partly at issue.

The RFRA was viewed as a major victory for religious believers rights and passed with great bipartisan support.

It basically says that the Government cannot impair your religious belief unless there is a is a compelling interest that the the policy must be narrowly tailored to meet that goal , and the government must show this is the least restrictive means possible in reaching that goal . This is called Strict Scrutiny is the hardest burden for the Government to prove.

From watching the conversations in the comments it seems everyone is pretty much adopting the old rational basis test. The rational basis test is pretty easy for the Government to win and it does ! . That is  the governmental action  must be "rationally related" to a "legitimate" government interest. In this case its  hey birth control might be a pretty good idea and making the employer pay for it is " rationally related to that goal.

There is an opportunity for Christians to have this discussion among each other as to religious liberty. In fact it is a conversation we must have.

Still I get the feeling that what we are seeing here is just basically the positive vs negative liberty debate rolling  on. This time with a somewhat Christian air to it.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Texas , Catch An Illegal Immigrant Day , and the First Amendment

Everything was going fine  this week down in Austin at the PUBLIC University of Texas regarding a controversial student sponsored  " catch an illegal Immigrant day " . The student group got their view out and students  that thought such a evenys was outrageous used more speech to combat those views and got their position out.

Then some ( what we call Government actors in these situations ) in the administration got involved . See via F.I.R.E.  Threat of Honor Code Charges Causes Texas Student Group to Cancel Event for all the details

Of course such action by the " older adults " does nothing to help the rather depressing views of Free Speech held by many students on campus.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pentecostals Embracing Sacraments ?

I thought this was intriguing article over at First Thoughts. See Surprised By Sacraments .

I guess I think of Pentecostals through largely just an " Americas " both North and South lens. I never really have considered it and how its developing , influencing , AND BEING influenced in other parts of the world. 

Is Cremation Bringing Back The Catholic Parish Cemetery ? - Archdiocese of Atlanta

This is a very very interesting article from the Archdiocese of Atlanta . See A final resting place: New practice consoles living .

Cremation for good reasons was frowned upon by the Church for a long time because some viewed it as a denial of the Resurrection of the Body.

However what we have in the Archdiocese is that loved ones ( and it appears in great numbers ) or engaging in more devout practices with their relatives that have passed on. I have to admit that while I am not personally myself thrilled with the idea of cremation for me , the fact I could be buried or be part of a columbarium as a part of a CHURCH and not some secular cemetery is appealing to me . In the end it is " Holy Ground "

This part was interesting :

Several parishes built columbaria and memorial gardens for cremated remains to serve parishioners’ needs. They were forbidden for years, but now these sites may be built with the approval of the archbishop. Deacon Egan said the driving concern has been relocating a columbarium or a memorial garden, if a parish church ever moves. A new archdiocesan policy requires a parish to reserve with the archdiocese one-third of construction costs in case a memorial area ever needs to be relocated, said Deacon Egan.

So if the new Parish moves you go with it ! That seems to even more affirm Catholic beliefs in a way as to our theology and belief about death.

Former Fox Journalist Now Vatican PR Guru Greg Burke Profiled By Daily Mail

Journalist Greg Burke has always been a interesting fellow to watch and indeed that continues as he is not in a very senior position in crafting the communications message and imaging of the Vatican . The Daily Mail profiles him in this piece . See The PR genius who helped make the Pope popular: Francis's marketing mastermind, an ex US journalist who belongs to Opus Dei .

I found this nugget of info very important and I think has showed part of the problem in the past .  

Mr Burke is the only person in the Vatican's communications structure with vast print and television experience from outside the sometimes insular world of Catholic media. 'I've had a lot of diverse media experience that I hope I can put to use for the Church that I love,' Mr Burke said at the time.

That is pretty incredible in this day and age I think. I think we are seeing the benefits of getting some new blood with a different experience in the system.

Just Reasons Why Brown Vetoed Messing With California's Statute of Limitations On Sex Abuse

Public Discourse has a good post on something that incredibly the California legislature passed , but thankfully he vetoed. See  A Lesson in Equality from California .

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Msgr. Michael Olson named Bishop of Important Fort Worth Diocese By Pope



This is pretty interesting since this is a Priest from the Diocese itself. That often does not happen though it just happened recently in the State of Texas in the Diocese of Tyler. There is a nice write up here by the Fort Worth Catholic paper .

Rocco Palmo  has as usual a great write up that gives a good bit of context.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Occasional Francis Critic & Sick Traditional Catholic Writer Gets Call From the Pope !

This is pretty interesting . See Pope personally calls Traditional Catholic writer, says he considers it important to be criticized 

One thing about Pope Francis is he really does keep his ear to the ground on what is going on in the world around him. Even to call writers that have been critical of him that are suffering illiness. 

New York Times Column Says Dallas Killed President Kennedy

Oh boy is Rod Dreher incensed and he should be . See It’s Always Dallas’s Fault .

I did not think I would have a  lot of interest in the the big 50th anniversary of the JFK killing. One reason is it is  a day that is recalled each year with a good bit of fanfare. Also I was thinking jeez what could be new under the sun that would be talked about.

However the other night I watched a fascinating show on National Geographic with great footage and eyewitnesses that talked about the whole TEXAS TRIP.

We forget about the event in Texas that happened before Dallas. JFK was met by very huge crowds everywhere. It was very much a success. This was no small feat because of the numerous purposes for this trip.

 The Fort Worth events were something else and  National Geographic special show how the people there really went out of their way.  The show went into how the host committee puts loads of priceless art into their hotel room to make them feel welcome was a prime example. The day he died he spoke in front of a packed audience at a Breakfast. They loved him and this was largely a crowd that likely did not vote for him.

When you see footage of JFK in Dallas we often just see Love Field and then boom the place he got shot. We don't often see the huge large friendly  crowds that lined the roads before they even got into downtown Dallas . This show had it.

Also as has been pointed out the Secret Service had no indications of threats to Kennedy in the city that " willed to Kill The President " as the NYT columnist would say.

The fact that Oswald not only was far leftist  but came within a hair of killing right wing General Walker plus wanting to kill Richard Nixon I know complicates things. All that plays a role in the conspiracy theories and as we see here blaming Dallas for something it did not do.

Pope Francis Rails Against A Society That Does Not Treasure Grandparents

This was in his daily homily today. See via Vatican Insider "A nation that does not respect grandparents, has no future, because it has no memory"

Did the Friendly Atheist Just Say Celibacy Causes Child Sex Abuse ?

It seems I am picking on the Friendly Atheist website since this is my third post in a row on that site .That  is partly because the Friendly Atheist is one of my first stops of the day and then something else catches my attention span then I don't blog. This happens a good bit when Football is on.

Still I thought there should be some comment on this post . See A One-Time Catholic Priest Argues That the Celibacy Requirement is ‘Destructive’

We are not quite hearing so much about this topic in some places because Priesthood Vocations are on the rise again in many places. I also find it interesting that as to VOCATIONS we are not really focusing on the true SEX and Marriage problem. That is Catholics that actually marry ! More harm is being done to Catholic lives ( see children ) , to society ,  and to the Church by the real problem of Catholic divorce than celibacy.

That being said the Friendly Atheist said this  :

It sticks to the concepts of celibacy and bachelorhood for its leaders, both rules that contribute to the child abuse scandals.

Really? Is Time Tebow that is not having sex till he is married a threat to children. Should we be encouraging teenage boys  girls to have sex as soon as they can so they don't abuse kids? Should we band people that for various reason have problems finding someone to have sexual relations with from the parks and schools. Should bachelors in our schools be viewed as suspect when they apply for teaching positions ?

Also if celibacy " contributes " to child sex abuse why do we see so such of it among married clergy and well married folks ?

Now perhaps the Friendly Atheists is saying the fact these folks are celibate they just don't care about kids and thus cover it up. Still the question remains. If that was the case why do so many families, churches with lay leadership and married clergy , schools, and various other public bodies that have guard over kids cover it up. Most of those folks are married and getting their thing on a good bit



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Friendly Atheist Mocks the Ancient Jesus Prayer

I actually like the Friendly Atheist web site. At times it can give some challenging questions Christians must respond too. However we are into day 2 of some rather bad posts at the site . For yesterday see Atheist Takes Pope Francis Out of Context- Pope Says Don't Be Curious My Flock !

Today we have This Is How You Pray Harder, While Accomplishing Nothing which mocks a Catholic blogger post on prayer.

 Hemant Mehta writes :

 the task they’re trying to accomplish. 

Like #1: Close your eyes and just repeat the name of Jesus. 

Our God is a good God… a good, egomaniacal God who wants you to repeat his Son’s name ad nauseam. (Which, by the way, is kind of hard to do. Try it.) 

In the rush to mock the Friendly Atheists appears not take the time to know his subject.

This is a not a problem that is not just limited to Atheist and goodness Christians do it too . Still for the reasoned educated Atheists class as they like to promote themselves it should be called out . Now this is what we call the JESUS PRAYER. It really is an active ancient  tradition  and very much used by Christians in the East  It has nothing to do with a egomania God. IN fact the " JESUS prayer is of some theological deepness that one would hope a educated person would just be aware of .

In reality a good many Christians use the Jesus prayer as centering prayer or contemplative prayer. 

This Eastern Orthodox Web site gives a good review what is going on. 

As that sites says :

 The third and final level is prayer of the heart. At this stage prayer is no longer something we do but who we are. Such prayer, which is a gift of the Spirit, is to return to the Father as did the prodigal son (Luke 15:32). The prayer of the heart is the prayer of adoption, when "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit that cries 'Abba, Father!'" (Gal. 4:6).

This is what is going with the Jesus prayers. It is at essence an intimate prayer with a person that we have real life RELATIONSHIP too. Think at times when we are separated from a loved one ( in most cases a spouse ) and just saying their name brings some peace to us. It makes them present.

This has little to do a pleasing a EGO Driven God that if we repeat his name we get various benefits from the Divine Slot Machine.

 It is in essence a conversation we are having with a person that is we love just as much as our spouse or children. Now I get how many would view that as some fairy tale hogwash  Heck even dangerous mentally ill hogwash. . Regardless that is the intent .

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Atheist Takes Pope Francis Out of Context- Pope Says Don't Be Curious My Flock !

I am guessing  Friendly Atheist  is one of the more popular site for people of no belief to stop in at. Terry Firma had a rather unfortunate post up commenting on daily Mass homily that the Pope did past week. The Homily got some attention but not for the reason Terry Firma is mentioning. See his post Pope Francis Warns Believers Not To Be Curious, So They May Avoid ‘Confusion’.

Thankfully some folks in the comments that are atheist took the author to task for a little bit or a great bit of dishonesty. Also one thankfully noted that the term " Dark Ages " is not a good one.

That being said this is an interesting example of the downsides of not having a full transcript to these homilies. 

Twenty Years Ago Today Clinton Signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)

Perhaps one of the better things to happen as to this White and also as to the Congress. Mirrors of Justice has some thoughts on Clinton's remarks .

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rev. Susan Russell Says to Mention Religious Liberty Is Threatened Is A Sin

I just read with some " good grief feeling " this column by Rev. Susan Russell at the Huff Post on Religious liberty. Her conclusion is that anyone that disagrees with her that religious liberty is under threat or even mentions it is a violator of the Ten Commandments . See What Religious Liberty Is... and Isn't

That is pretty heavy stuff isn't it. . I mean I am a violator of the ninth commandment if  I think not every thing is just bliss about religion matters under the First Amendment.

My  piece of advice is no matter what your viewpoint  one should be vocal and testy about your rights as to religious liberty  even if clergy call you a " liar "in an attempt to shut you up.

Every day there are some serious threats to freedom of  the speech and association. ( see our college campuses )

Every day there are in my view some pretty serious questions to our rights under the fourth amendment as to various issues that are at stake. Anyone that would say you are " Liar " if you had reservations about our liberty as to search and seizures and right to be left alone by the police would be laughed out of the room by the legal academy.

Heck even our rights under the confrontation clause have been at issue.

The same goes for the various rights as to religious liberty which even any cursory reviews of the law reviews would show. 

In the end it would be quite amazing if out of all our rights that require constant attention religious liberty is not one.

Now this particular clergy person is quite invested in some political positions that involve LGBT rights and what she would phrase as reproductive justice. However even secular courts that have even sided with some her  positions  realize there is a trade off with some serious consequences.

Regardless don't let a clergy person tell you that you sin if think your religious liberty rights are at risk and even to question it is SIN.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

United State Catholic Bishops Issue New HHS Contraception Mandate Statement

Its has a been a busy week on the HHS contraception mandate front. There was a major victory for those that oppose the HHS Mandate in the nation's 7th Circuit. That opinion is is being hailed in legal circuits as giving the bests argument on both sides we have seen so far. See Seventh Circuit Enjoins Enforcement of Contraception Mandate Against For-Profits by Marc O. DeGirolami . That post also lists the Circuit courts as to how they have ruled so far on various matters as to the HHS Contraception mandate.

Last but not least today at the conclusion of the United States Catholics Bishops meeting they have issue on statement on the matter. Rocco Palmo has that at  On "Coercive, Frustrating" HHS Mandate, Bishops "Stand United to Resist"

Why Don't Republicans Use Court Birth Control Opinions Against the HHS Contraception Mandate.

I have always commented as to the extreme and indeed troubling irony over the HHS Contraception mandate. That is the seminal cases on this , Griswold v. Connecticut etc etc  , really seem to stand for a principle that opposes the HHS Contraception mandate. That is there are some matter so personal and in which the Governments competence in is none that it it has to stay out.


As Prof Beckwith pointed  out in tn the comments at this post  :

Remember, that in Griswold v. Connecticut the Supreme Court grounded the right to contraceptive use in the newly found "right to privacy," a right that implied that on certain matters of intimacy the government was not fully competent to issue coercive judgments. To extend that right to allowing businesses and individuals not to pay for it, on the basis of a conscience exemption, makes perfect sense given the nature of the activity in question. After all, if you say that contraception is as medically essential as a blood transfusion, then it means that some citizens, like the minor children of Jehovah's Witnesses, may be fitted for contraception by the state against their will and the will of their parents. So, the analogy cuts both ways.

This all makes perfect sense so the question is why is this not happening  .

Randy Barnett at his post recently Republican Candidates Must Abandon Judicial Conservatism for Constitutional Conservatism shows us the problem.


....
Pete’s column also proposes a way to counteract the phoney charge that Republicans are engaged in a “war on women” that smart lawyers like Cuccinelli and Ted Cruz have a hard time adopting:

Cuccinelli also needed to address the false Democrat War on Women and contraception allegations. He should have fired back that the nonsense McAuliffe and his Democrats were peddling would actually have been unconstitutional under the long established Supreme Court precedent of Griswold v. Connecticut.
But this is not something that conservative Republicans can do if they are judicial conservatives who believe that the Court in Griswold was wrong to protect a right to use contraceptives. So the next question of a smart lawyer candidate who tries this response is, “Oh so you believe there is an unenumerated right of privacy?”  And they have all be trained to answer this answer “no.”  And the smarter and better trained they are as judicial conservatives, the more they are trapped by the accusation that state legislatures could ban contraceptives if they want, which then leads to the next questions is whether they think state legislatures ought to ban contraceptives.  How they answer this question can then get themselves in trouble with parts of their socially conservative base.

In short, this is a morass for those conservative Republicans who have embraced judicial conservatism, and who are smart enough and well schooled enough to understand where the logic of their position truly leads. So they must clam up.  Because Democrats now have their number, they will run this play until it can be stopped.....

I disagree with Barnett that there is any sort of viable social conservative movement that that wish to ban birth control that Republicans fear. During the Republican primary the GOP hopefuls  at a debate were asked a question  on this and seemed  mystified  that anyone would think they would want ban birth control. In fact Rick Santorum  , devout Catholic and social conservative favorite at the time , had regularly voted funds for federally funded provided birth control under Title X !

Still his main point remains. Start talking about " Right tp Privacy " and then we get right into some important  views of how the our Governing document must be interpreted.  Talk of "penumbras" and "emanations" just gives many conservatives the hives.

Still while it is clear some conservatives seems to sadly  gagged on this issue  other are not. Therefore it is interesting that they have not really made this a issue or at least pointed out it  more.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Perfect Disaster- United Methodist Jim Wrinkler To Head National Council Of Churches

I can't imagine a more unfortunate choice to head up the National Council of Churches than United Methodist Jim Wrinkler  at this time in our history . See A Sadly Appropriate Choice to Lead the National Council of Churches

If you have concerns about religious liberty in this country then Wrinkler is not the guy to go too. On the HHS Contraception mandate currently working it's way through various court Wrinkler had some jaw dropping things to say . See the highlights here .

Monday, November 11, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Legal Scholars - Want Peace On Gay Marriage ? Provide "Marriage Conscience" Religious Liberty Protections

A very diverse group of legal scholars are pushing this in various legislatures where gay marriage is being considered. This week they responded to a group that opposed their aims. It is very worth the read. I am for the part in agreement with their proposals with a small quibble as one part.

See Response from Scholars Supporting "Marriage Conscience" Religious Liberty Protection

The Bible Is Not X Rated Porn

Over at Religious News Service Jana Riess , who appears to have new book out , has a post up called The X-Rated Bible .

I have to admit I sort of am tired of this theme for several reasons when I see it .

First OMG there is sex in the Bible is something that has been written on a billion times and rarely nothing new under the sun is talked about.

Second there is often a attitude that Christians would be shocked if they knew about this and also indicates that many folks think a good many Christians are extreme prudes.

Last but not least there is little attempt to engage how Christian and Jewish tradition have engaged these texts in order to educate the reader.

Now to be fair I am not sure this is what Hana Riess is doing. This seems to be perhaps a more what should the  "Guardians of the First Amendment " ( Amazon etc ) be doing  as to books that talk about how to impregnate your daughter in a positive way. I get that argument and respect it.

However I think she is wrong when she says " But here’s the bottom line: The Bible would never pass these retailers’ litmus tests for objectionable content "

First I am not sure that is an accurate portrayal of the " litmus test " these folks are talking about . Now I do indeed find parts of  the question interesting . What is the line between books that glorify incest and some of the writing we see in Ann Rice books for instance like The Witching Hour ? Are we just left  with the famous  " I know when we see it " line  as to obscenity .

However the Bible is not Porn. It is  not Hustler , it is not Penthouse letters supposing that even exists now in the internet porn age  , it is  not even an Ann Rice book  , and it is not even really the  titillating Sports Illustrated  Swimsuit edition .

As one person in the comments said in part : " there’s a point you’ve missed here – yes, these events took place in the Bible (ancient Judaism was brutal at times) but they were not described in glowing pornographic detail for readers to get sexual “pleasure” from. That’s the difference...."

Exactly.

 Again I think she is trying to make a different argument here perhaps as to First Amendment values ( or maybe she is just trying to promote her book and who can blame her for that  ) . For instance I respect , like , and get the usefulness of an reductio ad absurdum arguement even though many of our nation's young elites don't get it. See Justice Scalia trying to explain this principle  to the kids at Princeton.


 However I do wish people would be a tad more careful in using caricatures of Scripture often used by the scoffers or at least be more explicit in what they are doing .

Sexy Liturgical Dancers ? The Pope ' s New Tango Mass

 When I saw a  headline from ROME REPORTS  which has also has a vid this morning ,  I was almost afraid to click it. Have the worst fears of some that fear Pope Francis would be bring a Liturgical chaos to the Church come true !

With fear of the worst of the 70's ( though with a sexy Latin beat ) in my mind I clicked the link Argentine composer brings Tango Mass to Pope Francis .

Thankfully it was not what I thought it was :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Alabama Atheists !! They Are Everywhere !



It is only by pure chance that is it is BAMA HATE week and I came across this post at the Friendly Atheist .
By the way I also suspect The Friendly Atheist does not know it is BAMA HATE WEEK since he probably roots for some hapless school like Illinois.

The  post  is A Wonderful Series of Articles About Alabama Atheists .

It links a series of article at  the AL.COM site written by journalist Erin Edgemon looking at the personal stories of Alabama atheists. I

 should note that the Alabama media group has every week interesting stories covering the religion beat and some good reporters that do it very well. Something I think is getting a tad more rare in the GANNETT world we live in . So kudos to them

The articles so far are pretty well done. They don't exactly ask any hard probing question to the atheists but just let them tell their own point of view .

 They discuss  about what it is like to be an atheist in Bible Belt central from their point of view.  There is no doubt many of them have suffered some not so great moments at the hands of Southern Christians sadly.

However this might also should be PARTLY  viewed through the lens of the great Southern tradition of exaggeration that they share with their fellow Christian Southerners.

This goes very much so in Alabama were people are very dramatic and trees are poisoned over a football game. There is a reason why Paul Finebaum had a nationwide sports show  audience that listened in daily with fascination to listen to this strange breed of Southern callers .

 I actually run across this sometimes with my fellow Southern Catholics that if you get them the right audience will talk about being "attacked , or harassed " when the truth is a lot more benign really in most cases.

Case in point the interesting story on Jerald Motyka who was a Church of Christ minister in Louisiana for years. He says :


Motyka grew up Catholic in Wisconsin. As a child, he said he was almost excommunicated from the church for questioning aspects of the religion. “I was told to shut up and sit down,” he said. Later he left the Catholic Church, but remained spiritual as he began a career in the U.S. Army. He got involved in the Church of Christ and threw himself into Bible study so much so that he became an ordained minister

Well of course it is about likely as Bigfoot existing that as a child he almost got " excommunicated " but again he has perhaps adopted the great Southern way of making  a story more interesting .

This story got me thinking of something  something Amy Welborn wrote about when the late great Christopher Hitchens attended a very well attended event for atheists in Alabama a few years backs . It was an interesting event and Amy gives her observation here of it at Pity The Neanderthals! 

She noted in part   

  • I watched Hitchens sign books for a while – until I spotted Noah Lett of EWTN in the crowd and went to talk to him.  It was pretty entertaining, in an awkward way, to watch the Super Friendly Southern Atheists who were so happy to see Hitchens come around the table to have their pictures taken , fling their arms around him without asking him if it was okay, give him big old  hugs, and put their faces right next to his. His expression was so pained – and I don’t think it was the cancer.
That got me thinking how I react to atheists has often nothing to do with their atheism.  It is often their political or cultural point of view that sends me up the wall and sets up the defenses.

I have gotten along fine with many bear hugging good ole boy doubter , agnostics, or atheists from the South. They are not that so hidden as perhaps some believe .

However a good many atheists I read and se  seem to be represented by a lot of non Southerners that often have their commentary dripping with a nice bit of cultural and political condescending attitudes .

That has more perhaps to do with their political and cultural upbringing  than if God exist. 

So it might be good for atheists are stretching their wings in Bama.  Perhaps it will  add some needed diversity perhaps to the national discussion on other issues that atheist engage in as too politics and other issues.

Anyway a good read and thanks the Friendly Atheist for linking these good articles.



Catholic Law Prof : Lack of Honesty In Promoting Obamacare Will Hurt Social Justice Efforts

I can recall a few years back a incredibly dishonest campaign in an effort to stop the execution of an Georgia man. It seemed in the name of " social justice " what were a few , well a whole ton really , white lies and misinformation. I am not a big fan of State execution but the whole episode made me distrust the that movement for a while.

I thought about that today when I read this relating to the Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act if you  wish via the Catholic legal law site Mirrors of Justice . See How Not to Do Social Justice: The Obamacare Example .

Law Prof Greg Sisk in a good piece really goes to to town on this issue.


...For today, one lesson emerges most clearly for anyone advocating social justice initiatives: Be scrupulously honest. If there will be winners and losers under a proposal, admit as much. If enactment of a government program or regulation will restrict freedom of choice by citizens to a certain menu of options approved by the government, be willing to say so. If intervention by the government will have economic effects, such as increasing the costs of products, don't pretend otherwise. If advancing the common good will require sacrifices by the many in order to provide better for the few, be forthright in defending that result. If instead, you mislead the people about what will come, even for what you believe to be a higher cause, then the public cynicism and popular backlash may do more than damage your cause in a political sense. It may set back the cause of social justice altogether and dissolve the common good into a battle of special interests seeking advantage in the aftermath of failure. By overreaching—and by being disingenuous as you overreach—the most vulnerable in our society may suffer the most when the house of cards collapses and public faith in civil society is weakened....

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Atheist Terry Firma and This Catholic Agree - Be Wary of Latest Facebook Censorship

It has been a rather depressing week for people that believe in First Amendment values. See the latest from Brown University via Rod Dreher at Brown: An Ivy League Kindergarten . 

Some of those comments come from America's " best and brightest " .

One thing I have observed protecting First Amendment is not always fun or popular. There are depressing number of Christians , Non Christians , Atheists , Liberals , Conservatives , Democrats , and Republicans that very much like to punish ( in ways that are chilling )  or censor speech they don't like all while professing love for Freedom of Speech , Assembly and  Religion .

This week Facebook posed a timeout on a person that posted a cartoon as to the crucifixion  . See via The Friendly Atheist Popular ‘Cyanide & Happiness’ Comic Artist Gets Banned From Facebook For Mild Crucifix Joke .

Now let me state  I of course know that Facebook is not a government actor.

Also just because Facebook , or any other social media like Google , Twitter ,etc is popular  and used my many it does not mean they should be treated like government actor. 

However social media sites like Twitter and Facebook should be reminded that they have special " duardian roles " in what we in the USA call First amendment values.

Just from a Christian and Conservative selfish point of view worried how the winds are blowing I can tell you " censorship " and chilling of speech is not going to be helpful to Christians in the future. So at the very least Christians and people of Faith should at least very selfish reasons worry about how certain social media , search engines , etc act.

Justice Clarence Thomas Watches How You Treat The Waiter or Waitress ( Do Unto Others .. )

Clarence Thomas gave what appears to be a wonderful presentation at DUKE last week . He talked about his life both legal and non legal. There was some nuggets I had not heard before. See Justice Clarence Thomas shares his journey from the South to the Supreme Court .

Law Prof  Josh Blackman keyed in on something he said  that I thought was interesting .


Each step of his career served as a “building block” for the next thing, Thomas said, directly addressing his student audience. “There are little things that you pick up along the way – how you conduct yourself, how you do your job, how you deal with other people, how you treat people.  I have been places with people who I would otherwise respect, and I watch what they do when they pass one of the cleaning people, or the [servers] at the tables.  Are they officious, or do they treat them as they would like to be treated?  All those things you can learn in any job,” he said.
Treating others the way he would like to be treated is an approach he takes even in crafting his judicial opinions, he said, in response to Levi’s observation that his opinions and dissents are always respectful in tone.

A lot of great wisdom there. It is sometimes leads to some serious error but human beings just as perhaps a survival instinct start making moral judgments on people within minutes of often meeting them. How they treat others in situations Thomas describes rightly or wrongly makes an impression on me right away that is hard to dislodge once I have acquired it.  The one thing I can't stand is rudeness  and people might be surprised how many people have quietly made a determination of their total moral worth based on an experience at the local eatery etc.

I can recall watching how a local Priest treated a staff person at Radio Shack. Now I saw indications he was " Father Bad Mood " but I was a tad floored. Futher he was a FRANCISCAN  and who ever heard of Father Scowl Franscisan ! However they apparently exist. Now it was perhaps wrong for me to JUDGE this Priest so much on this incident. However it was a hard impression ever for me to shalke.

Lesson - The most important lesson you can teach your kids , your students , etc is being polite and courteous to everyone.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Maybe the Catholic Church Was Right ? Some Horrors of Reproductive Technologies

There was a short but very good article on well perhaps the horrors of assistive reproductive technologies and the business and culture that now promotes it at Public Discourse . See Modern Families and the Messes We Make - Assistive reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization not only involve serious medical risks, they also disrupt family life and commodify human beings.

This reminds me of a very good article Ross Douthat of the NYT wrote in 2011. See The Failure of Liberal Bioethics

He ends his article by stating :

 ....Needless to say, the fears that Goodman dismissed as “largely unwarranted” proved to be completely justified. (Hundreds of thousands of embryos are sitting on ice in the United States, and presumably hundreds of thousands more have been “discarded” in the years since that “one clinic” opened its doors.) But like Dr. Mark Evans with selective reduction, Goodman gradually adapted herself to exactly the kind of developments that she once suggested should be resisted. By the mid-2000s, she was enthusiastically championing embryo-destroying stem cell research, pooh-poohing the idea that “a leftover frozen embryo” had any moral status worth respecting when cures might be at stake. (At one point, Smith e-mailed her about the seeming tension between this enthusiasm and her earlier anxieties. “My lines have changed,” she wrote back.) 

 There are three broad camps in contemporary debates over bioethics. In the name of human rights and human dignity, “bio-conservatives” tend to support restricting, regulating and stigmatizing the technologies that allow us to create, manipulate and destroy embryonic life. In the name of scientific progress and human freedom, “bio-libertarians” tend to oppose any restrictions on what individuals, doctors and researchers are allowed to do. Then somewhere in between are the anguished liberals, who are uncomfortable with what they see as the absolutism of both sides, and who tend to argue that society needs to decide where to draw its bioethical lines not based on some general ideal (like “life” or “choice”), but rather case by case by case — accepting this kind of abortion but not that kind; this use of embryos but not that use; existing developments in genetic engineering but not, perhaps, the developments that await us in the future. 

The liberal camp includes many thinkers I admire, and it has produced some of the more eloquent reflections on biotechnology’s implications for human affairs. But at least in the United States, the liberal effort to (as the Goodman of 1980 put it) “monitor” and “debate” and “control” the development of reproductive technologies has been extraordinarily ineffectual. From embryo experimentation to selective reduction to the eugenic uses of abortion, liberals always promise to draw lines and then never actually manage to draw them. Like Dr. Evans, they find reasons to embrace each new technological leap while promising to resist the next one — and then time passes, science marches on, and they find reasons why the next moral compromise, too, must be accepted for the greater good, or at least tolerated in the name of privacy and choice. You can always count on them to worry, often perceptively, about hypothetical evils, potential slips down the bioethical slope. But they’re either ineffectual or accommodating once an evil actually arrives. Tomorrow, they always say — tomorrow, we’ll draw the line. But tomorrow never comes.

It's Official -Bishop Fabre installed as New Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux ( Links & Pics ) )




We got a new Louisiana Bishop for Houma Thibodaux !  

The now Bishop Fabre replaces Bishop Sam Jacobs that has given a lifetime of good service to not just one but two Louisiana Diocese as Bishop . The Catholic Newspaper of the Diocese had a great deal on Fabre leading up to the installation .


This happened so quick that I almost forgot it was happening    The New Orleans Catholic newspaper has a nice write up here . In fact they had a whole special section here !

The text of his homily which is very nice can be read here.

The secular press had a nice write up here.  You also should  be able to access a nice photo gallery on that page too

Prayer Intentions of Pope Francis for Novemember 2013

Here they are :


Pope Francis' prayer intention for November is: “That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity”.

His mission intention is: “That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches”.