Daily Archives: November 11, 2009

RNS: Court Pulls over Christian License Plate

A Christian license plate in South Carolina has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court. The license plate showed a cross, stained glass window and the words “I Believe.”

The ruling overturned the state law known as the “I Believe” Act which gave the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) authority to issue the license plate.

U.S. District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie held that “such a law amounts to state endorsement not only of religion in general, but of a specific sect in particular.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Bishop again Challenges Patrick Kennedy over abortion stand in health-care reform

Even as they agreed to postpone a planned face-to-face meeting that had been set for Thursday, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin turned up the heat Monday on U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy over his “rejection” of church teaching on abortion, calling on him to enter into a process of conversion and repentance.

In a letter to Kennedy posted Monday on the Web site of the Diocese of Providence’s weekly newspaper, the bishop disputes Kennedy’s assertion that his disagreement with the hierarchy “on some issues” including abortion did not make him any less of a Catholic.

“Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does,” the bishop said in a letter issued just two days after Kennedy was among a group of minority lawmakers who attempted to block tough new restrictions on abortion that were added Saturday to the House’s health-care reform legislation.

“Although I wouldn’t chose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion,” the bishop declared.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, House of Representatives, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Google and Facebook teach Vatican the mysteries of the internet

Media experts will join bishops from across Europe to tell them how best to communicate the Catholic Church’s message in the 21st century.

Steeped in history, the Church often struggles to explain its outlook and Pope Benedict XVI has in recent months been mired in controversy over remarks about the role condoms can play in halting the spread of Aids and his decision to rehabilitate a Holocaust-denying British bishop.

During a four-day conference which starts on Thursday, representatives from the social network Facebook, the search engine Google, the YouTube video sharing website and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia will explain the importance of “new media” in the lives of young people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Europe, Media, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Columbus Dispatch: Area Episcopal churches to bless same-sex unions

Gay Episcopalians in central and southern Ohio can have their relationships blessed in church starting on Easter next year.

Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal announced at the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio on Friday that he would lift the prohibition on blessing same-sex unions.

The diocese includes Columbus and the lower half of the state, a territory of about 25,000 Episcopalians in more than 80 churches.

To allay the fears of some conservatives, Breidenthal added that no priest will be required to perform a same-sex blessing.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

David Brooks: The Rush to Therapy

[After the Fort Hood shooting eruption] a shroud of political correctness settled over the conversation. Hasan was portrayed as a victim of society, a poor soul who was pushed over the edge by prejudice and unhappiness.

There was a national rush to therapy. Hasan was a loner who had trouble finding a wife and socializing with his neighbors.

This response was understandable. It’s important to tamp down vengeful hatreds in moments of passion. But it was also patronizing. Public commentators assumed the air of kindergarten teachers who had to protect their children from thinking certain impermissible and intolerant thoughts. If public commentary wasn’t carefully policed, the assumption seemed to be, then the great mass of unwashed yahoos in Middle America would go off on a racist rampage.

Worse, it absolved Hasan ”” before the real evidence was in ”” of his responsibility. He didn’t have the choice to be lonely or unhappy. But he did have a choice over what story to build out of those circumstances. And evidence is now mounting to suggest he chose the extremist War on Islam narrative that so often leads to murderous results.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Violence

AP: Mexican clergy seek global help as violence grows

Gunmen shoot a priest and two seminary students in the back. Federal police storm a Mass to capture a suspected drug kingpin. Priests pray with the families of murdered men, then face killers in the confessional.

Mexico’s Roman Catholic clergy, increasingly caught in the middle of the nation’s drug war, are meeting this week to draft a strategy for coping with the violence, aided by advice from colleagues who faced similar threats in Colombia and Italy.

“We have become hostages in these violent confrontations between the drug cartels living among us,” said Archbishop Felipe Aguirre, who works in Acapulco, located in Guerrero state where the priest and seminary students were killed in June.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Mexico, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence

Kristin Swenson–Biblically challenged: Overcoming scriptural illiteracy

Comedian Jay Leno has gotten lots of mileage out of exposing general ignorance, including biblical ignorance. He’ll ask passersby a question such as “On the first day of creation, God said, ‘Let there be _____'” and people will respond: “Um, peace!” Or he’ll ask, “Who were Cain and Abel?” and get the answer: “Friends of Jesus?”

The Bible is the all-time best-selling book””according to a 2002 Gallup poll, nearly every American (93 percent) owns at least one””yet it seems people know little about it. A Kelton Research survey in 2007 indicated that people know more about what goes into a Big Mac than they know about the Bible and can name members of the Brady Bunch far better than they can name the Ten Commandments. A 1997 Barna survey showed that 12 percent of adults think that Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark, and about half don’t know that the book of Isaiah is in the Old Testament. Yet another poll (by Gallup in 2004) revealed that nearly one in ten teens thinks that Moses was one of the 12 apostles.

Americans are not alone in their ignorance. Earlier this summer, St. John’s University in Durham, England, released its biblical literacy report for the U.K. While 76 percent of respondents said that they owned a Bible, 79 percent couldn’t identify a single accurate fact about Abraham, and 60 percent had no idea what the parable of the Good Samaritan is about.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Jack Iker: Reflections on the 27th Annual Convention of the Diocese

What a joy and delight it was to participate in our diocesan convention this past weekend! I can tell you that after 35 years of ordained ministry, having attended annual conventions year after year, both here and in two other dioceses, seldom can they be described as joyful or delightful! Too often they are contentious, boring, and frustrating! But let the record show that this one was indeed very different! It was a great experience, and I think that everyone who attended will agree.

All six resolutions were adopted unanimously and without dissension! Gone were the contentious debates of the past between opposing sides! We spoke with one mind and one voice. Likewise, everyone was in agreement about the need for the proposed amendments to the diocesan Constitution and Canons. We even agreed on the adoption of a budget of over $1,981,000 and parish assessments to support it, without one dissenting vote!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Michael McGough: Married Catholic priests? Yes and (mostly) no

While authorities of the new church-within-a-church will abide by “the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule,” an “ordinary” (a bishop or former Anglican bishop) may also ask the pope for permission to ordain married men “on a case-by-case basis.” This could be a face-saving way to perpetuate the Anglican tradition of a married clergy without saying so, or it could be a warning that married Anglican laymen will be ordained only rarely. Either way, the new Anglican body within Catholicism will not have the autonomy enjoyed by the Eastern Catholic churches.

The more stinging rebuff to Roman Catholic advocates of married priests is this rather mean-spirited provision of a companion document: “Those who have been previously ordained in the Catholic Church and subsequently have become Anglicans, may not exercise sacred ministry in the Ordinariate.” In other words, if you left the Catholic Church and now want to return alongside other Anglican priests, you are treated worse than an Anglican priest who never belonged to the Catholic Church in the first place.

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Posted in Uncategorized

NPR: A Widow Paints A Health Care Protest

The mural tells the story of a horrible day back in the spring. Fred was being transferred to a new hospital and Regina needed records of Fred’s many tests and treatments from the old hospital.

“I had gone down to medical records,” [Regina] Holliday says, “and they said, ‘That’ll be 73 cents a page and a 21-day wait.’ I said, ‘My husband is upstairs with Stage IV kidney cancer in your hospital and you’re telling me I have to wait 21 days? Everything’s on the computer. All you got to do is print it out and you’re going to make me wait 21 days?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s just the way it is.’ I was floored.”

This is a must-listen-to piece. If you listen to this and do not understand why Health Care reform is crucial, something is not right..

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine

Walter Russell Mead: Corruption Costs $1.6 Trillion Per Year

How much do crooked politicians and others steal every year?

Nobody really knows, of course, but as the BBC reports today, the UN estimates that $1.6 trillion each year is stolen each year and moved across national borders. Tragically, much of this money is stolen from poor countries. It is bread taken out of the mouths of the poor.

Don’t expect this figure to drop any time soon. Led by Russia, China and Iran, a large group of countries are fighting efforts to crack down.

This money is significantly greater than the value of all foreign development aid. It is more than the ten year cost of the health care bill that just passed the House. It would be enough to fund a worldwide basic health system and provide basic primary education to every child on earth. Over the next fifty years it will cost the world much more than climate change.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Theology

US wants more Nato troops for new Afghanistan surge

President Obama is to ask members of Nato to provide up to 4,000 more troops to help to break the deadlock in Afghanistan.

Mr Obama is poised to confirm a surge of more than 30,000 US combat troops, according to senior military sources. He will also urge the rest of Nato to provide thousands of soldiers to train new recruits to the Afghan National Army (ANA).

His appeal is set to be largely ignored, however. At present only two Nato members have offered more troops ”” Britain and Turkey ”” and no other country is expected to come up with any, according to alliance sources. Such a response would threaten the credibility of the alliance in Afghanistan and represent a considerable snub for Mr Obama, who was viewed as a welcome change after the administration of President Bush.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, War in Afghanistan

Complications grow for Muslims serving in U.S. military

Abdi Akgun joined the Marines in August of 2000, fresh out of high school and eager to serve his country. As a Muslim, the attacks of Sept. 11 only steeled his resolve to fight terrorism.

But two years later, when Mr. Akgun was deployed to Iraq with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the thought of confronting Muslims in battle gave him pause.

He was haunted by the possibility that he might end up killing innocent civilians.

“It’s kind of like the Civil War, where brothers fought each other across the Mason-Dixon line,” Mr. Akgun, 28, of Lindenhurst, N.Y., who returned from Iraq without ever pulling the trigger. “I don’t want to stain my faith, I don’t want to stain my fellow Muslims, and I also don’t want to stain my country’s flag.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Military / Armed Forces, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Obama seeks revision of plan's abortion limits

President Obama suggested Monday that he was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health care legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them.

“There needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we’re not changing the status quo” on abortion, Mr. Obama said in an interview with ABC News. “And that’s the goal.”

On the one hand, Mr. Obama said, “we’re not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.”

On the other hand, he said, he wanted to make sure “we’re not restricting women’s insurance choices,” because he had promised that “if you’re happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, it’s not going to change.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

WSJ: Roman Catholic Church emerges as key player in legislative battle over Healthcare

Injecting itself aggressively into the health-care debate, the Roman Catholic Church in America has emerged as a major political force with the potential to upend a key piece of President Barack Obama’s agenda.

Behind-the-scenes lobbying, coupled with a grassroots mobilization of Catholic churches across the country, led the House Saturday to pass an amendment to its health-care bill barring anyone who receives a new tax credit from enrolling in a plan that covers abortion, a once-unthinkable event in Democrat-dominated Washington.

The restriction would still have to be accepted by the Senate, where it will likely face a tough fight. The issue could sink the larger health legislation if the chambers fail to reach agreement, or if any consensus language leads supporters to defect.

The House vote, and the central role played by one of the country’s biggest religious denominations, stunned abortion-rights groups that had worked hard to elect Mr. Obama and expand Democratic congressional majorities. Activists on the left had thought social issues would take a back seat to economic concerns.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate