Arizona Passes Bill Allowing Business Owners to Refuse Service Based on Their Religious Beliefs

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Arizona’s state legislature has passed a bill aimed at curbing lawsuits against business owners who refuse services based on their religious beliefs.

According to a news story by azcentral.com, the bill is a response to the court decision in New Mexico forcing a baker to provide a cake for a gay wedding.

I haven’t read the bill, and don’t have an opinion about its specific language. I do, however support the concept of conscience rights. I think we’re going to see more of this type of legislation. Based on recent court rulings and the spate of lawsuits filed against mom and pop businesses, a legislative solution is needed.

However, I don’t think such solutions as these will work long-term, or even short-term. The entire issue has become court-based, and the courts seem willing to override the will of the people with very little consideration for the gravity involved in taking that action. The DOMA decision is the Roe of gay marriage, and it will end up having similar results.

If the court had allowed DOMA to stand, that would have pushed the debate back to a legislative level. If courts had refused to overturn votes of the people in the domino fashion which they are doing, I think the entire issue would have been settled in a long series of legislative battles at the state level. This would have taken more time, but it ultimately would have saved America what is going to be an ugly, on-going battle that will polarize and damage our country even further.

I think the resistance to gay marriage will end up in a fight to amend the Constitution, and that will become a protracted and painful battle involving increasing public disenchantment with what we have wrought, much like the fight about abortion.

If you follow this link, you’ll be able to watch a news video about the vote. You can see how difficult this vote was for everyone involved. As one legislator to another, my heart goes out to all of them, on both sides of the question. From azcentral.com:

The Arizona Legislature has passed a controversial religion bill that is again thrusting Arizona into the national spotlight in a debate over discrimination.

House Bill 2153, written by the conservative advocacy group Center for Arizona Policy and the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense against a lawsuit.

The bill, which was introduced last month and has been described by opponents as discriminatory against gays and lesbians, has drawn national media coverage. Discussion of the bill went viral on social media during the House floor debate Thursday.

Opponents have dubbed it the “right to discriminate” bill and say it could prompt an economic backlash against the state, similar to what they say occurred when the state passed the controversial immigration law Senate Bill 1070 in 2010.

Proponents argue that the bill is simply a tweak to existing state religious-freedom laws to ensure individuals and businesses are not forced to do something that goes against their beliefs.

The bill will be sent to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has five days to sign it into law, veto it or do nothing and allow it to become law.

Holy Gust! Pope Francis has that Windblown Look.

Source: www.news.com.au

Wardrobe malfunctions afflicted our pope today as he prayed for strife-torn Ukraine.

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If You Build It, They Won’t Necessarily Come.

St Patrick went to Ireland.

St Paul went to most of the Roman world.

The apostles traversed the known world bringing the message of eternal salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ everywhere they went. With the exception of St John, they paid for their fealty with their lives.

Not today’s Catholics.

Somewhere along the line, the missionary paradigm shifted to the build-it-and-wait-for-them-to-come-to-us paradigm. Today’s discussions of evangelizing the world revolve around how to shape our catechesis of the people who show up for regular meetings at our churches. “How can we change our catechesis so that we catechize them into faithfulness?” is the question we ask ourselves.

In other words, we’ve abandoned the Gospel call to convert a lost world that is dying for lack of the saving grace of Christ. We’ve gotten so far away from it that we’ve even lost the ability to effectively convert the people who are sent to us or who come to us of their own volition, actively seeking conversion.

The working Catholic paradigm of converting the world is that we may — or most likely may not — build a church to house the people we already have, and if anybody else wants Jesus, it’s up to them to come to us. Worse, we turn people away for not qualifying, or in the case of our serpentine annulment process, because they can’t find everyone they need from their misspent pasts to fill out the right paperwork.

The miracle in all this is that, in spite of everything, the Church is growing. Year after year, our cathedral in my archdiocese is jam-packed through one mass after the other for the Rite of Election.

We are growing, not due to our missionary fervor, but due to the great hunger for God that runs throughout our lost world. People are hungry for the words that lead to eternal life. They want meaning and love in their lives. Most of all, they want to belong to somebody or something bigger than themselves. They want, they hunger for, Jesus Christ.

People are weary of the no-hope nihilism that our society offers them. They want a way out.

And we have the Way. We are not saved just for ourselves and our families. We have the only Way there is, and it’s our job to lead people to it.

Despite the full cathedrals at the Rite of Election, there are vast fields of lost humanity ready to harvest for the Lord that we ignore. They are, to be specific, everyone who does not come to us, requesting entrance, which, to be even more specific, is everyone who has not found some way to partly Catechize themselves.

Everything we do, from our indifference to converting people, to our diffident refusal to ruffle the feathers of those who oppose Jesus by talking about Him, says that Jesus is our private little g god and that there’s nothing about Him that other people need trouble themselves to find.

Sitting around and waiting for people to convert themselves and then beg us for entrance into our Church is the exact opposite of what Jesus told us to do. It eschews the example of the many saints that we quote at one another in our endless arguments during our internecine battles about nothing much.

The Catholic Patheosi have recently discussed Catechesis in depth and with their deep understanding of churchy things. Now, I am discussing, in my usual backwards way, what I think catechesis truly is. Catechesis is conversion, or it should be. As such, it is not limited to specific periods of formal instruction.

The base problem with our Catechesis is simply that it is not converting people. It is not even converting people who come and ask to be converted and who faithfully attend meetings in an effort to become converted. There are many reasons for this, and I’m not expert enough in this area to have ideas about the specifics.

But I can say from quite a bit of first-hand experience that when it comes to most of the world outside our church doors, we not only aren’t catechizing anybody, we aren’t even trying. We do not go to these people and talk to them about Jesus. We simply ignore them, as we ignore everybody else who doesn’t come to us first.

We need to forget the paradigm of build a church and wait for the world to come to us. Because more and more, even if we build it, they won’t necessarily come.

It’s hard to get into the Catholic Church today. You not only have to be the one to convert yourself, you’ve got to be the one to take all the initiative about joining. Then, you’ve got to jump through all sorts of hoops.

If you have a complicated past involving messy marriages — as so many people in this post-Christian age do — you may very well end up having to go through preparation for what amounts to a court proceeding to have your past legally expunged. If you can’t be a good enough lawyer for yourself in this court to get it done, you are not welcome at Christ’s table.

I have a suggestion on this, which I know will offend a lot of people. But perhaps the Church could begin the annulment process for converts by establishing a sort of triage system. If it was a common law marriage, or the person was married by a judge or in a church that worships satan or trees or whatever, then there’s no real reason for them to take the full canonical dose to get an annulment. Those marriages are invalid on their face. We also need a process for people who can’t go back decades and find everyone, or if they do find them, are physically afraid of them.

I’m not talking about Catholic marriages here. I am talking about marriages in the pre-conversion lives of converts; marriages outside the Church.

Ditto for things like baptismal certificates. A lot of protestant churches do not keep the extensive records that Catholics do. Many of them stay in business for a few years then close up and go away. If there’s a doubt in the pastor’s mind, then he should just give the convert a provisional baptism. Keeping people out of the Church over things like this is wrong.

The world is changing. We are going to be dealing more and more with people who have never heard the name Jesus; people who have been fully catechized, but not as we mean it. They are fully catechized in the nihilism of hook-up sex, do-unto-others-before-they-do-it-to-you-first, anything-goes post-Christian cultural dissolution.

It’s going to take more than the old build-it-and-wait-for-them-to-come-to-us paradigm if we seriously want to evangelize this new world. It will require the Apostolic fervor that built the Church in the first place.

My thoughts on what the Church needs to do in the New Evangelization are quite simple. Preach Christ. To everybody. And take down the No Room at the Inn sign.

Richard Dawkins Hoist on His Own … Ummm … Interview

Ravi Zacharias describes an interview where Richard Dawkins overstepped a bit in his never-ending battle against Christianity. He ended up looking almost as foolish as he says Christians are.

Stay with the video to the end. Ravi runs the audio of the interview he’s describing.

Enjoy.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ4DAXmW8I8&feature=player_embedded

If You Want to Avoid Disability, Get Up and Move

 

This is bad news for us desk jockeys.

It turns out that just sitting on your duff for long periods of time increases your likelihood of becoming disabled. That’s true, even if you exercise every day.

I’m not surprised by this. I had my first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis when I was 16. But it was never a problem for me until my first few terms in the Oklahoma House. At that point, the ra became increasingly painful — and I do mean painful.

When I quit the House to stay home and raise my kids, it was still with me. But as the years of being an active mom and engaging in daily walks went by, the symptoms receded and, in time, almost vanished. I still took my medicine, whether I needed it or not, and I had achy-breaky, flu-like symptoms every day. But the ra only really flared before big storms.

Then, I got myself re-elected. After just a few weeks sitting in that chair on the House floor for hours at a time, the ra was back. It’s been getting worse ever since.

I have never known if it was due to the prolonged sitting or the prolonged stress. For instance, I get a headache every year. The headache lasts from the beginning of session to the end. Then, when we sine die, the headache leaves. That’s stress, I think.

An article in live science seems to point the finger of blame (at least so far as the ra is concerned) at the long hours of sitting. According to new research, people who sit for long periods of time are more likely to experience disability, even if they engage in regular exercise.

Given our society’s enforced sitting, which begins in preschool and goes on throughout the working years for most people, I would guess that explains a lot of the joint replacement surgeries, walkers and canes that seem to be showing up with younger and younger people.

It’s difficult on most sitting jobs to find opportunities to walk around on a regular basis. Based on this study, maybe that should change.

From live science:

Older adults who spend a lot of time sitting may be at increased risk of having a disability, regardless of how much they exercise, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed information from more than 2,200 adults ages 60 and older who wore a pedometer to track their movement for at least four days.

While they were awake, participants spent about nine hours a day sitting down. Every additional hour spent sitting was linked with a nearly 50-percent increase in the odds of having a disability, the study found. The researchers defined disability as having significant difficulty completing daily tasks, such as eating, bathing or getting out of bed and walking across a room.

That means that, if there are two 65-year-old women, and one sits for nine hours a day and the other sits for 10 hours, the second one is 50 percent more likely to have a disability, the researchers said. About 3.5 percent of all participants had a disability.

Church of England Will Not Perform Gay Marriage Blessings

The Church of England will not perform gay marriage blessings. It also will not ordain clergy who are in gay marriages.

The Pastoral Guide detailing this position affirms that Our Lord taught that marriage is an indissoluble union between one man and one woman. It allows homosexuals and their families, including those who are not living a life of chastity, to participate in the sacraments.

From The Church of England’s House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage:

… As bishops we have reflected and prayed together about these developments.  As our statement of 27th January indicated, we are not all in agreement about every aspect of the Church’s response.  However we are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.

… ’The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman.”

… The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.

Judge Sentences Elderly Nun to Three Years in Prison

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Now we’re safe.

A federal judge has removed that arch-fiend, 84-year-old Sister Megan Rice, from the streets by sentencing her to 35 months in prison.

Sister Megan was convicted of breaking into the Oakridge Nuclear Weapons Facility in Tennessee. She and her band of desperadoes admitted to spray painting peace slogans on the facility. When a guard finally found them, they offered him food and began singing.

This mirrors a conviction in 2003 of three elderly nuns who broke into a missile silo and smeared their own blood on a Minuteman missile.

The whole thing reminds me of the scene in The Search for Red October when the American diplomat looked at the Russian diplomat and asked, “Have you lost one of your submarines again?

I keep wanting to ask our military security people, “Have those nuns run circles around you again?”

What the military/judiciary complex with its courts, prisons and really big guns, can’t seem to understand is that all their security, which costs the American taxpayer many billions of hard-earned dollars, is no match for a bunch of elderly nuns. Do they really think they can keep these sisters locked up in prison if the sisters want to get out?

The only thing saving this nation from a deadly nun attack is the nuns’ confounded insistence on following the Prince of Peace. Instead of blowing things up, they sing songs and offer food to the guards.

And, oh yes, they don’t seem all that terrified by the courts. When the nuns were sentenced in 2003, one of them made the sign of the cross over the jury, judge and spectators.

When Sister Megan stood before the court today, she asked the judge to not consider her age in sentencing her. “To remain in prison for the rest of  my life would be the greatest honor,” she said, “I hope that happens.”

Since she’s 84, her 35-month sentence may be long enough for her to get her wish. I would normally worry about a woman as frail and elderly as Sister Rice, going to the big house. But in this case, I think the real danger is to the big house. It would be interesting to see the result if something as revolutionary as genuine Christianity broke out behind those bars.

It looks to me like Sister Megan walks with God. When that’s true of a person, anything can happen.

 

From Nuclear News:

Sister Megan Rice, 83, was able to beat USA’s most secure nuclear weapons facility

prison-break

 

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge sentenced an 84-year-old nun, Sister Megan Rice, on Tuesday to 35 months in prison for breaking into a Tennessee military facility used to store enriched uranium for nuclear bombs.

Two others accused in the case, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, were sentenced to 62 months in prison.

The three were convicted of cutting fences and entering the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in July 2012, embarrassing U.S. officials and prompting security changes.”(Rice) does not have the extensive criminal records the others have. Her crimes are minimal in comparison to the others,” U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar said.

The three were also sentenced to three years of supervised release after leaving prison and ordered to pay restitution for the damage they caused.

Rice asked the judge not to take her age into consideration when handing out the sentence.”To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest honor,” the nun said in court. “I hope that happens.”Rice and the others admitted to spray painting peace slogans and hammering on exterior walls of the facility. When a guard confronted them, they offered him food and began singing.

Denmark Bans Religious Slaughter of Animals. Minister Says “Animal Rights Come Before Religion.”

Animalrights

Denmark’s government has banned the religious killing of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat.

The move has been labeled “a clear interference in religious freedom,” by the non-profit group Halal, while Jewish leaders are calling it “anti-Semitism.”

Israel’s deputy minister of religious services, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan said, “European anti-Semitism is showing its true colors.” The Danish group Halal, said it was a “clear interference in religious freedom limiting the rights of Muslims and Jews to practice their religion in Denmark.”

The predictable blog posts labeling Jewish and Muslim opposition to the move as “much ado about nothing much” and just more religious overreaction have already started.

It’s seems ironic to me that Denmark euthanizes people and, lately, giraffes.

From The Independent:

Denmark’s government has brought in a ban on the religious slaughter of animals for the production of halal and kosher meat, after years of campaigning from welfare activists.

 The change to the law, announced last week and effective as of yesterday, has been called “anti-Semitism” by Jewish leaders and “a clear interference in religious freedom” by the non-profit group Danish Halal.

European regulations require animals to be stunned before they are slaughtered, but grants exemptions on religious grounds. For meat to be considered kosher under Jewish law or halal under Islamic law, the animal must be conscious when killed.

Yet defending his government’s decision to remove this exemption, the minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.

 

University of Texas Scientists Grow Human Lung in a Lab

Lungs x ray

Science fiction is moving toward science fact, and that can be good news for a lot of people.

University of Texas scientists grew a human lung in a laboratory. Then, they did it again.

The lungs were grown from cells obtained from the lungs of children who were killed in an accident. Their lungs were too damaged to be used in transplant. Joan Nichols, a researcher at the University of Texas, Medical Branch, says it will be about 12 years before laboratory-grown lungs are ready to be used in human transplants.

If the CNN story is accurate, nobody was killed, paid money to have their body harvested, or was otherwise exploited to grow these lungs. That means there is no moral impediment to using them when they become available.

From CNN Health:

(CNN) – For the first time, scientists have created human lungs in a lab — an exciting step forward in regenerative medicine, but an advance that likely won’t help patients for many years.

“It’s so darn cool,” said Joan Nichols, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch. “It’s been science fiction and we’re moving into science fact.”

If the lungs work — and that’s a big if — they could help the more than 1,600 people awaiting a lung transplant. Lungs are one of many body parts being manufactured in the lab — some parts, such as tracheas and livers, are even further along.

“Whole-organ engineering is going to work as a solution to the organ donor shortage,” said Dr. Stephen Badylak, deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

Image A is before new cells were reseeded. The finished product is image B.
Image A is before new cells were reseeded. The finished product is image B.

New transplant technology keeps organs ‘alive’ outside body

The researchers in Galveston, Texas, started with lungs from two children who’d died from trauma, most likely a car accident, Nichols said. Their lungs were too damaged to be used for transplantation, but they did have some healthy tissue.

They took one of the lungs and stripped away nearly everything, leaving a scaffolding of collagen and elastin.

The scientists then took cells from the other lung and put them on the scaffolding. They immersed the structure in a large chamber filled with a liquid “resembling Kool-Aid,” Nichols said, which provided nutrients for the cells to grow. After about four weeks, an engineered human lung emerged.

 

Oklahoma Pharmacy Says It Won’t Provide Drugs for Missouri Execution

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An Oklahoma pharmacy, The Apothecary Shoppe, says it will not provide drugs for the Missouri execution of Michael Taylor. The execution in scheduled for February 28.

Mr Taylor’s attorneys filed suit against The Apothecary Shoppe in an effort to stop them from providing the drugs. Taylor pled guilty to the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl.

This story raises all sorts of interesting questions. It’s one thing to support the death penalty and another to take part in an execution. A lot of people support the death penalty in theory and have not thought through the ramifications of what it actually involves.

My personal feeling is that Pope John Paul II’s teaching on this subject are exactly right. The death penalty is not necessary to protect the public. We can lock these people up and never let them out again.

I read Ann Rule’s book about Ted Bundy because Bundy is the single best argument for the death penalty I know of. He escaped from incarceration twice. During the second escape, he committed a number of heinous murders, including the rape and murder of a child that he abducted from her school. This murder is the one for which he was finally executed. If we can’t keep these guys locked up, then the death penalty is a necessity.

From FoxNews.com:

An Oklahoma pharmacy has agreed not to provide Missouri with a made-to-order drug for an inmate’s execution scheduled for later this month, according to court documents filed Monday.

According to the documents, The Apothecary Shoppe, of Tulsa, will not prepare or provide pentobarbital or any other drug for use in Michael Taylor’s execution. The documents ask a judge to dismiss the case that Taylor’s lawyers had filed against the pharmacy seeking to stop it from providing the execution drug. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Taylor’s attorney, Matt Hellman, said that as part of the deal, the pharmacy acknowledged it has not already provided any drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for the execution, which is scheduled for Feb. 26.

The department and the Missouri attorney general’s office did not immediately return calls Monday night seeking comment about the agreement or the status of Taylor’s execution.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon indicated last week that the state has drugs to carry out Taylor’s execution. Nixon, speaking at a news conference Thursday, did not directly answer “yes” or “no” when asked about availability of the execution drug but said, “In order to complete that ultimate responsibility, that’s necessary. The Department of Corrections is prepared to carry out that execution.”

Taylor pleaded guilty to abducting, raping and stabbing to death a 15-year-old Kansas City girl in 1989.


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