Category : Senate

(AI) A Religious Test? TEC Member of Senate grills a nominee for the Federal Judiciary who is a member of Falls Church (Anglican)

An…[Episcopal Church] member of the US Senate grilled a nominee for the Federal Judiciary over his membership in an ACNA congregation, asking if his beliefs would prejudice his work as a judge.

In written questions submitted to Trevor McFadden, (pictured) Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked the nominee his views on gay marriage, abortion and homosexuality, citing Mr. McFadden’s membership on the vestry of Falls Church parish as an area of concern.

The Senator wrote:

You are an elected member (until 2020) of the Falls Church Anglican, which broke away from the Episcopal Church largely due to the denomination’s consecration of an openly gay bishop. The Falls Church Anglican considers “marriage to be a life-long union of husband and wife” intended for “the procreation and nurture of godly children” and entailing “God-given” “roles of father and mother.” In 2015, the associate pastor of the Falls Church Anglican agreed that “if the U.S. Supreme Court decision includes a redefinition of marriage, this will constitute an intrusion of the state on God’s institution of marriage ‘from the beginning’.” Do you understand the majority of the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges to have held that the right to marry is a fundamental right under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and that same-sex couples may not be deprived of that right?”

Mr. McFadden responded: “yes”.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate

(WSJ) CC Pecknold on the very troubling recent Senate questioning of a recent Roman Catholic Judicial Nominee

…at the very moment Ms. Feinstein is alienating religious conservatives, two prominent Democrats are pushing a new progressive claim on Christianity. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has spoken to journalists about how her faith shapes her political views. And Hillary Clinton, who reportedly once considered becoming an ordained minister, has made religion central to her postelection messaging, as the Atlantic reported last month in a story titled “ Hillary Wants to Preach.”

Sens. Feinstein and Durbin were troubled not by Ms. Barrett’s Catholicism, but by her failure to prove her religion could conform to a more dogmatic progressivism. The “religious test” Democrats want to impose isn’t about religion per se; it’s about ensuring that every religious claim can be bent to more comprehensive political aims. It’s about defining anyone who dissents from the mores of the sexual revolution as disqualified from public office. That’s what makes Ms. Feinstein’s questioning so chilling.

Few liberals have spoken out against these religious tests, providing tacit consent for the Democratic Party to continue the practice. One of America’s major political parties appears prepared to consent to a very different kind of creed from the one the American founders envisioned. Our forefathers understood religious freedom in positive terms, as freedom for the highest good, God. This “first freedom” was held as the basis of all the political freedoms, including the freedom to dissent and to disagree on matters of law and politics.

Ms. Barrett has spent her career honoring the older creed—not only with her Scalia-like deference to the law, but through respect for freedom of religion and conscience. Ms. Feinstein honored the new creed, the one dividing an already polarized nation. A dogmatism now threatens countless Americans’ freedom, and it isn’t Catholicism.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate

(NR) Did Senators Durbin and Feinstein try to Impose a Religious Test for Office when questioning nominee Amy Barrett?

A judicial confirmation hearing this week stoked fears among conservatives that it is becoming acceptable on the American left to voice intensely anti-Christian sentiments.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for Amy Coney Barrett — a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and President Trump’s nominee to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals — during which two senators, Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), suggested that Barrett’s Catholic faith might disqualify her from serving as a judge.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

Durbin, meanwhile, criticized Barrett’s prior use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” saying it unfairly maligns Catholics who do not hold certain positions about abortion or the death penalty. “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” he asked her outright.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate, Theology

Sen. Tim Scott: Fight hatred, fear and domestic terror with American ideals

There is nothing “right” about racism and hate. It’s a learned disease, and the best antidote is unity. This weekend’s events involving white supremacist groups are as disturbing and disgusting as they are heartbreaking. The attack was a stark reminder of the darkness of hate. We must come together, as we have before, to confront the issues that chip away at the very foundation of who we are and what we stand for as a country.

Unfortunately, the people of South Carolina know this type of domestic terrorism all too well. Our response to the events in Charlottesville, Va., should mirror our response to the murders at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston. Condemnation of racism. Swift justice for a terrorist. And unity for the community that grieves. It starts with calling the attack in Charlottesville by its name. This was an act of domestic terror, perpetrated by a hate-filled person attacking his fellow citizens….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Senate

(Wired) America’s infrastructure is such a mess it earns a D+ grade, and we need $4.6 trillion just to bring it to a B

One of President Donald Trump’s first promises after getting elected was to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure—bridges, roads, tunnels, pipes, dams. And whether you’ve had to evacuate a town in the shadow of a crumbling dam, buy filters for tainted municipal water, or even just bounced over potholes on a highway, you’ve experienced the problems the president alluded to.

Well, it really is as bad as you think. The American Society of Civil Engineers has just released its latest infrastructure report card, and grades the United States at D plus. That means the country’s public works are in substandard condition, with a risk of failure. The ASCE releases its reports every four years, and the mark hasn’t changed since the last time. “While our nation’s infrastructure problems are significant, they are solvable,” says ASCE President Norma Jean Mattei. But that’ll take money.

So … $1 trillion, right? Great news! Except the ASCE report says it’ll take $4.59 trillion to bring things up to a B, or adequate grade, by 2025. That’s a shortfall of $2 trillion over current spending plans. Again: $1 trillion is nowhere near enough.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Senate, The U.S. Government

(WSJ) Erik Stanley–How to Fix the Johnson Amendment

Yet the IRS hasn’t investigated any of the pastors who have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The agency has made a confusing situation worse by providing no explanation for why it has refused to enforce the law against these pastors. Thus many religious leaders remain in legal limbo while the IRS continues to pronounce its ability to monitor and punish them. This inaction has stymied the possibility of a civil-rights lawsuit, making a legislative fix necessary.

The Free Speech Fairness Act would get the IRS out of the speech-police business while prohibiting political expenditures or contributions by tax-exempt organizations. It would provide a relief valve for speech by allowing all charities to speak on political issues, as long as the speech is done in the course of carrying out the group’s regular activities. Because the bill doesn’t allow for political contributions or expenditures, dark money can’t flow through exempt organizations to campaigns.

America’s pastors deserve better than the Johnson Amendment. The Constitution demands that they have the ability to speak from their pulpits without fearing punishment by the officials from one of the most feared federal agencies. President Trump should urge Congress to swiftly pass this law and do away with this injustice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate, Theology

President Trump Nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch for the US Supreme Court

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Theology

Perspective from the Pages of History

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Politics in General, Senate, Women

(WSJ) Orrin Hatch–How Trump Can Help Religious Charities

The House is scheduled to vote Friday on the National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation is passed annually to set the military’s budget and settle other policy issues. A significant hangup had been Democratic opposition to a provision known as the “Russell amendment,” which would have clarified conscience protections for religious groups that receive federal contracts. The amendment is named after Rep. Steve Russell (R., Okla.), who offered the amendment at the House Armed Services Committee.

Forty-two Democratic senators signed an Oct. 25 letter opposing the Russell amendment. They claim it would have authorized bigotry by allowing religiously affiliated contractors to “engage in discriminatory hiring practices” or even to fire employees for using birth control or in vitro fertilization. These accusations are grossly inaccurate, but they led to the amendment’s removal from the final bill. The U.S. now risks losing the crucial work religious service providers do for communities with the support of federal contracts.

Every day, stories of grace and mercy are being written as people of faith help those in need. Catholic Charities has helped single moms fill their basic needs. The Mormon Church, through LDS Charities, has donated wheelchairs to hundreds of thousands of people. The University Muslim Medical Association Community Clinic in Los Angeles provides care for thousands of people in a desperate part of town. The Jewish Social Service Agency supports families of children with autism. Samaritans Purse provides disaster relief across the world.

These groups are being marginalized by the federal government. What happened?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate

Charleston SC Cathedral Dean Peet Dickinson–Coming Close: Citizenship in Heaven

As Paul reminded the Christians in Philippi, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” So, what difference does having an ultimate transcendent citizenship make for our lives as earthly citizens of the United States of America?

Having a heavenly citizenship allows us to avoid the polar postures of triumphalism on the one hand, and nihilism on the other. It allows us to unequivocally pray for President-elect Trump in his victory and pray for Secretary Clinton in her defeat. Just as we have prayed for President Obama throughout his time in office, we will, without hesitation, pray for President Trump after his inauguration just as we would have prayed for Secretary Clinton had she won the election. We must pray for and meaningfully aid President-elect Trump in “binding the wounds of division” as he put it in his conciliatory victory speech. As citizens of heaven we can have the eyes of our hearts opened to the very real pain and fear that people are feeling in many parts of our country. I received a message this morning from a friend who is a teacher asking for my prayers as she had genuinely frightened African American and Muslim children weeping in her arms today at school. Our call as citizens of heaven is to have open arms of love and compassion like my friend and to work tirelessly on our knees and in the civic square to make sure that their fears are not realized. As citizens of heaven, we are free to celebrate and magnify that which is good, and to rebuke and stand against that which is evil, regardless of which political party or politician is before us. As citizens of heaven, we know full well that all authority on earth comes under the sovereign authority of Almighty God. As citizens of heaven, we are rooted in a great and glorious truth that Christ Jesus our redeemer lives and his Spirit is within us, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, House of Representatives, Ministry of the Ordained, Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Senate, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for an Election from the American Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States…[and of my community[ in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Spirituality/Prayer, State Government, Theology

(NR) A Little Perspective on 2016, from a Documentary on Christian Persecution

This year’s presidential election may well be the most divisive in U.S. history, pitting liberals and conservatives against one another perhaps more bitterly than ever before, and the two major-party candidates seem in many ways to reflect cultural ills and political corruption that have been brewing for decades. On both the right and the left, countless citizens appear to believe that one candidate or the other will bring about the “end of America.” Conservatives argue that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will, among other things, transform the Supreme Court into a progressive super-legislature to impose its anti-democratic will for a generation. Meanwhile, liberals maintain that Republican nominee Donald Trump will deport millions of minorities and exacerbate existing racial tension to the detriment of less-privileged Americans.

It is easy to allow the evident failures of our political system ”” culminating in the simultaneous nomination of perhaps the two most dishonest, corrupt presidential nominees in U.S. history ”” to consume our focus and destroy our confidence in the future of our country. But as these seemingly endless debates absorb our attention and ongoing rancor pollutes our national dialogue, millions of people around the world face genocide, and they fear for their lives and those of their children.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, House of Representatives, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate, Syria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Larry Sabato's Penultimate Crystal Ball on the upcoming American Eleection

Hillary Clinton has picked an awful time to hit one of the rough patches that has plagued her throughout the campaign. Now with just days to go until Election Day, there’s added uncertainty about the outcome. But while she may not be on the brink of an Electoral College win the size of Barack Obama’s in 2008 or even 2012, her position as the clear frontrunner in this race endures.

We’re holding at 272 “hard” Safe or Likely electoral votes for Clinton, and an additional 21 electoral votes leaning to her (Nevada and North Carolina). Trump is now at 214, better than Romney’s 2012 total of 206, but also without a clear path to add the 56 additional electoral votes he needs to get to 270. Again, even adding Florida, the two Toss-up House districts, and Leans Democratic North Carolina and Nevada would only get him to 266.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Theology

Key Guardian article on the elitism+incestuousness of some of the usa ruling class

They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.

Let us turn the magnifying glass on them for a change, by sorting through the hacked personal emails of John Podesta, who has been a Washington power broker for decades. I admit that I feel uncomfortable digging through this hoard; stealing someone’s email is a crime, after all, and it is outrageous that people’s personal information has been exposed, since WikiLeaks doesn’t seem to have redacted the emails in any way. There is also the issue of authenticity to contend with: we don’t know absolutely and for sure that these emails were not tampered with by whoever stole them from John Podesta. The supposed authors of the messages are refusing to confirm or deny their authenticity, and though they seem to be real, there is a small possibility they aren’t.

With all that taken into consideration, I think the WikiLeaks releases furnish us with an opportunity to observe the upper reaches of the American status hierarchy in all its righteousness and majesty.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, Senate, Theology

In Senate floor speech, Tim Scott recalls ”˜sadness and humiliation’ of being targeted by police

“I shuddered when I heard Eric Garner saying ”˜I can’t breathe.’ I wept when I watched Walter Scott turn and run away and get shot and killed from the back. And I broke when I heard the 4-year-old of Philando Castile’s girlfriend tell her mother, ”˜It’s OK. I’m right here with you,’ ” said Scott, referencing three of the dozens of black men killed by policemen over the past two years.

Scott found an outlet for his pain in a series of scheduled floor speeches this week aimed at starting an honest, if also difficult, conversation about race relations in the United States. His first speech Monday focused on how the wrongful actions of police officers should not overshadow the heroism of others. On Wednesday, Scott expounded on the theme in deeply personal terms.

“While, thank God, I have not endured bodily harm, I have felt the pressure applied by the scales of justice when they are slanted,” he said. “I have felt the anger, frustration, sadness and humiliation that comes with feeling like you’re being targeted for nothing more than being yourself.”

In addition to sharing his own experiences being profiled by law enforcement because of his skin color, he mentioned his brother, a sergeant major in the Army, who was accused of stealing his Volvo on a road trip from Texas to Charleston. He also spoke of a former staffer who was stopped so many times he felt compelled to buy a different automobile to avoid further scrutiny.

Read it all and take them time to watch the whole speech.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Senate, Theology, Violence