Department of Homeland Security Tells Romeike Family “You Can Stay”

It appears that the Romeike family will be staying in the United States, after all.

Their story revolves around issues of religious freedom and the rights of parents to educate their children in their faith. The Romeikes elected to homeschool their children due to a desire to educate them in their Christian beliefs. Germany’s law evidently requires all children to attend public or state-approved schools. There are no exceptions for family home schools or facilities that group together to hire a tutor and provide a group homeschool.

The Romeikes elected to homesechool their children in a Christian-based family homeschool, anyway. When the government threatened to seize their children, they came to the United States, seeking asylum. They moved to Tennessee and applied for citizenship and immigration status.

According to CNN,

An immigration judge initially granted their request in 2010 to the Romeikes and their children, saying they were “members of a particular social group” and would be punished for their religious beliefs if returned.

But the Justice Department revoked it last year.

The Board of Immigration Appeals concluded homeschoolers are too ‘amorphous” to constitute a social group eligible for protection under the asylum law.Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal, effectively ending court based action on their situation.

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association announced today that the Department of Homeland Security has granted the family “indefinite deferred action status.” I am not familiar with this term, but based on what the HSDLA’s website says, it sounds as if the family can continue to stay in this country.

This video tells the family’s story.  It’s a reminder of just how good we have it, and what freedoms we possess here in the United States. It is also an encouragement to us to stand up for our rights and work to keep them.

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Russia, Ukraine, Crimea and World War III, According to Hitler.

 

I watched a bit of news last night in an attempt to figure out what’s happening in Ukraine.

I flipped it off because the three cable news channels I looked at (CNN, MSNBC and Fox) were each interpreting everything according to whose side they are on in America’s partisan political brawls. It was heavy on political manipulation and light on information. Worse, it was difficult to sort out which was which.

This video comes as close to explaining what is happening and what the potential problems are as anything I found on the news channels.

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Gay Hairdresser Refuses to Do Governor’s Hair Because She Opposes Gay Marriage

I slipped away from the grind to have an itty bitty medical procedure today. It was nothing serious; just one of those things you sometimes have to do.

When I woke from the anesthesia, got a bit ungrogged and checked my email, I thought at first that the Onion had hacked The Anchoress’ blog. I found my fearless leader intoning on what may be the winner of the Most Absurd News Story Rolling Around the Internet Contest. These events actually occurred about a year ago, but are getting noticed now.

It seems that Antonio Darden, a gay hairdresser in oh-so-chi-chi Santa Fe, declined to cut Governor Susana Martinez’s hair because she opposes gay marriage and he had decided in his little church of one that he would violate his moral beliefs to continue as her hairdresser.

The governor, in a moment of startling sanity, just rang up someone else and got them to do her hair.

Because, you see, it turns out the Mr Darden is not the only hairdresser in New Mexico.

And this is not about segregation, slavery, lynchings or basic human rights.

Everybody’s free here to do what they want. And that’s as it should be.

Aside from the governor’s commonsense response, there is a serious point in all this silliness that I would like to make. I’m turning off the laugh track for a moment because I want Public Catholic readers to understand the issues here.

When people refuse to provide wedding cakes, flowers and photos for gay weddings because they feel that it would violate their faith and place them in the position of being cooperators with sin, they are acting in response to two-thousand-year-old teachings. They are following the dictates of legitimate churches which have existed far longer than this Republic. They are, in short, exercising their First Amendment rights to be exempted from an activity on the basis of personal conscience and religious faith.

An important point is that none of these things are essential services, such as say, police, fire protection or emergency health care.

Even though cakes and flowers do not rise to the level of warfare (cough) the underlying principles of the issue make it analogous with conscientious objectors in time of war. This country’s historic respect for religious belief applies even in times of war, when those whose faith requires it are either exempted from military service altogether or placed in non-combatant positions.

I have a personal friend who took personal conscience exemption during the Vietnam War based on his belief that it was morally wrong to kill another person. I also knew a number of Mennonite boys who did the same thing.

The hairdresser’s pique is simply a personal political statement. He’s free to make it, and I’m glad the governor “gets” that.

I’ve known hairdressers who refused to cut hair for people for lots of reasons.

If one of the pazillion hairdressers in New Mexico doesn’t want to cut your hair, then you probably don’t want him or her to be whacking at your hair, anyway.

This won’t go on too long, or be carried too far, for the simple reason that hairdressers, gay or otherwise, have gotta eat. If they refuse service to everyone who doesn’t agree with their politics concerning an issue like gay marriage (on either side of the question), then they’ll end up reducing their business, and their income, by half. They will also increase their competitor’s business by that same half.

If that’s what they want to do, I say go for it. It is, as they say, a free country.

From MSNBC:

By msnbc.com staffA Santa Fe hairdresser is waging his own boycott of sorts: He is denying service to the governor of New Mexico because she opposes gay marriage.
Antonio Darden, who has been with his partner for 15 years, said he made his views clear the last time Gov. Susana Martinez’s office called to make an appointment.”The governor’s aides called not too long ago wanting another appointment to come in,”
Darden told KOB.com. “Because of her stances and her views on this, I told her aides, ‘no.’ They called the next day asking if I’d changed my mind about taking the governor in, and I said ‘no’ again.”Martinez has said marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Darden, who said he has cut the governor’s hair three times, said he won’t serve her unless she changes her mind about gay marriage.”If I’m not good enough to be married, I’m not going to cut her hair,” Darden toldThe New Mexican on Wednesday.”I think it’s just equality, dignity for everyone,” he told KOB.com. “I think everybody should be allowed the right to be together.”

Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Martinez, said: “The governor has been very clear that she does not support gay marriage but does believe that all people should be judged on their merits and not discriminated against.” 
He noted that Darden was not her usual hairdresser and that following reports of his decision, the governor’s office got calls from more than 10 salons on Wednesday saying they’d be “happy to cut the governor’s hair,” Darnell told The New Mexican.

Ukraine, Crimea, Russia: Is This a New Cold War?


Patriarch Saitsolav Shevchuk and Pope Francis say mass together.
Source Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation.

Patriarch Svaitsolav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church warned us a few weeks ago.

“Humanity may be on the verge of a new Cold War,” he said in early February on the Voice of America. “It is about the future of democracy in Europe.” Referring to Russia, he warned of the danger of “aggression, violence and interference from our northern neighbor.”

I didn’t write about it then because I didn’t — and don’t — understand the situation. I gather that the original protests were sparked by disagreements over the current Ukrainian economic situation and whether to ally economically with the European Union or with Russia.

As I understand it, the Ukrainian prime minister backed out of a promise he had made to sign an economic agreement with the European Union. He was under pressure from Russia, which included threats of trade sanctions, not to sign. Also, the agreement would have required the prime minister to release one of his political rivals from prison.

Was it more complicated than that?

I think so. I am surmising that the underlying considerations — and the cause of the demonstrations — were not just pure economics, but the question of who would control the country. Was Ukraine going to become a European democracy, or would it be pulled back into economic and political servitude to the Russian bear?

Were there other factors we don’t know about?

Almost certainly.

But what has happened since seems, at least in terms of the broad strokes, painfully obvious.

Ukraine exploded with prolonged and increasingly violent protests that have resulted in the deaths of Ukrainian citizens at the hands of their own government.

Now, Russia has invaded both Ukraine and Crimea. This armed invasion can not be viewed as anything less than an act of war.

The question rises almost immediately: Is Russia also going to invade other former Soviet satellite states? Will they eventually exit Ukraine and Crimea peacefully, or is this a military takeover and permanent re-colonization?

I wish I could give you a more intelligent read on this situation, but I feel hamstrung by the simple fact that I don’t know who to believe. I am not referring here to Ukrainian and Russian news sources, but rather to our own. There are so many agendas operating in American news, and our president has lied to us so many times, that I’m more than a little chary of taking what any of them say at face value.

One thing is clear: Patriarch Shevchuk understood the situation and spoke with prescient clarity.

Dissing Matthew McConaughey’s Really Beautiful Oscar Acceptance Speech

There was a smattering of applause and the room went stunned silent when Matthew McConaughey thanked God in his Oscar acceptance speech.

Did he just use that name in a way that was not mocking, leering, or jibing?

Today, the blogosphere is kicking that speech around like a kid with a shiny new ball. Because, you see, we have reached the pass where the mention of the holy name of God in a respectful way in public, but especially at, of all things, the Oscars, is, well, My dear, it is just not done. 

One of the funniest and most inane of the inevitable disses about Mr McConaughey’s speech (at least that I’ve seen) comes from Time Entertainment. You know. The child of the same Time Warner that owns all those media venues that have been hard-selling gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia and now polygamy.

The article claims to find the speech “confounding,” and “semi-bizarre.”

Here’s a taste of the commentary:

What exactly did he mean by all that? After winning for his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyer’s Club, Matthew McConaughey launched into a semi-bizarre tale about his inner life.

And the confused writer goes on to try to disassemble the speech. My response to Time Entertainment is, what exactly do you mean by all that? Does the name of God really disturb you that much?

Go to the bottom of the article and click on McConaughey’s speech and decide for yourself. Then the next time you watch a show or read a column that comes from the Time Warner megalith, consider the source.

Go to the bottom of this link and watch a video of Mr MConaughey’s speech here.

If You Want to See the “Wedding” Service Performed at the Grammys, Here It Is.

I put a link to this on an earlier post, but it somehow got switched for another link while I was off Sunday.

I think it’s important to see this. Note, that it is not just an attack on traditional marriage, but contains slurs against Christianity, as well. Go here to see it.

Also, here is the link to the Katy Perry performance. Katy Perry, is a former Christian recording artist who says she no longer believes in Christ.

I’ve read posts about this event saying all the usual things. You know, bigoted Christians “overreact.” Natalie Grant just did it for the promotional value. That kind of stuff.

The bigoted Christians “overreact” is a standard ploy being used against us. I heard it when I said the DOMA decision was going to destroy marriage. I had it leveled against me again when I said that the storefront euthanasia practiced in Switzerland and the Belgian decision to allow euthanasia for children and those with dementia, combined with the destruction of marriage, made Western Civilization a dead man walking.

The first comments last summer made me parse my public statements just a bit, even though I knew what I knew and I was also aware that the people saying this to me knew nothing. But still, there was that niggling “What if I’m wrong?” thought.

The even more aggressive comments I got (which were deleted before they got to this blog, btw) when I said Western civilization is a dead man walking didn’t bother me at all.

These comments are like the man with the pan of water, telling the frog to calm down and stop overreacting.

There is no basis in fact for the absolutely stupid, “calm down, nobody’s forcing churches to perform gay marriages” statements. The truth is, churches in Britain have been sued to attempt to force them to perform gay marriages. The USCCB in this country has been sued for teaching Catholic teaching. And Loyola Chicago opened its campus venues to gay wedding receptions under direct penalty of law.

I think Loyola Chicago should have tried using their spines to stand upright and filed suit against this egregious law. They should never have complied with it. Whatever happened to the historic loyalty and courage of the Jesuits?

Everything I’ve described has happened in the past few weeks. We are witnessing a cultural implosion, and it is aimed first of all at the Church.

There are times when people do overreact. But this isn’t one of them.

To Heaven and Back: Dr Mary Neal’s Near Death Experience

I reviewed the book Dr Mary Neal wrote about her near death experience a few months ago.

She describes her experience in this video.

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Bishop Moves Openly Gay Priest. Parishioners Protest.

Roman Catholic Bishops assign priests within their diocese.

When priests are ordained, they place their hands between those of the bishop in a sign of their obedience to him.

Bishop Michael Barber, of the Diocese of Oakland, has evidently reassigned Father Bill Edens, an openly gay priest who has been pastor at Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley Ca.

Father Edens responded to this with an emotional homily that included reading an excerpt from a poem: “A friend once gave me a gift, a box of darkness, and it took me a long time to discover that even this was a gift.”

Parishioners at Newman Hall Holy Parish have held meetings in an attempt to try to fashion a protest about Father Edens’ reassignment. Father Edens has not participated in these meetings.

Bishop Barber has evidently said in private that he wants to change the pastoral direction of this parish.

Is moving this priest part of that “change in direction?”

Is the priest being punished in some way?

I don’t know. All I know for certain is that re-assigning priests is part of any bishop’s authority and that these reassignments are often painful, both for the priest in question and for the parish.

People grow close to their pastor. They confide in him and learn to trust him. He becomes a source of comfort and Christ-like love for them. When he’s reassigned, it can feel like being orphaned.

Priests return this love. They become the one who knows all these things about the people around them that no one else knows. They are the repository of their parishioner’s darkest secrets and deepest trust. Being torn away from this is like being tossed out of a warm bed and into the cold rain.

Yet, as Father Edens said with his poem, even this “box of darkness” is a gift. Because new beginnings and fresh starts keep both the priest and the parishioners focused on Christ instead of one another. It is easy for a parish to become ingrown and fixed on itself and its own small issues. A parish can lose sight of the fact that it is part of the Universal Church and that the head of that Church is Jesus Christ, not father so-and-so.

I don’t doubt that this parish and priest are suffering because of this move. But I also know that if they accept it in faith in Christ, that it will lead them eventually to a closer and more trusting walk with Our Lord.

From East Bay Express:

During Sunday Mass several weeks ago at Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley, Father Bernard Campbell spoke of anger, bitterness, and sadness. At the end of the service, the pastor read a short excerpt from a poem: “A friend once gave me a gift, a box of darkness, and it took me a long time to discover that even this was a gift.”

The quote was his way of helping parishioners process the surprising news he had just delivered: Michael Barber, the new bishop of the Oakland Diocese, had decided to remove him and another pastor, Father Bill Edens, from Newman Hall. The “darkness” appeared to be a reference to the fact that, as Campbell told the crowd, the bishop had not met with the pastors or given them any information on the reason for his decision. It was, however, the bishop’s direct order, he said. And yet more troubling was the fact that, according to the pastor, Barber had made it clear that the removal of these two priests supported his broader goal “to see a major redirection of ministry at Newman.” The bishop had apparently expressed this intention last fall to the leadership of the Paulist Fathers, the Roman Catholic order that has run Newman Hall for more than a century.

The details of this “new vision,” as Campbell also described it in his remarks, are not yet clear. In the weeks since the February 16 speech — a copy of which was posted on the church’s website — parishioners at Newman Hall have continued to send letters to the bishop demanding an explanation. A day after the news broke, hundreds of churchgoers met at Newman Hall to discuss the situation and ways they might protest. Campbell and Edens did not attend. The bishop and the Diocese of Oakland have not publicly addressed this backlash or responded to individual parishioners who have written letters.

Today’s Christian News

 

I’m too tired to write, but here are a few quick links to think about until Monday.

Brewer’s Foolish Veto The news reports about the Arizona bill were dead flat lies from a dishonest press.

No Same-Sex Marriages in Loyola Chapel, Campus Open to Receptions Jesuit-run Loyola of Chicago will not allow gay weddings on campus, but the university will not fight a local law requiring them to host gay wedding receptions. Every venue on campus will be open for wedding receptions “regardless of religious or gender identification.”

Cardinals Say Synod on Family will Balance Truth, God’s Mercy Synod desires to balance Christ’s teaching about the permanence of marriage and the call for the Church to show God’s mercy to those who have divorced and remarried.

African Bishops Warn: If You Try Something with Divorce and Remarriage, It’s Going to Hurt Us on Polygamy

Abortions Outnumber Births for NYC African Americans

Christian Singer Natalie Grant Walks Out of Grammy Awards See also Mass Wedding at Awards Show a Stunt to Push Gay Marriage Agenda Natalie Grant and Kirk Cameron criticized this year’s Grammy Awards for “an all out assault on the traditional family.” Grant walked out. They will undoubtedly pay a price for this in their careers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Jesuits at Loyola Chicago had this kind of courageous faith?

To see a video of the “wedding,” which, in my opinion, was an attack on Christianity as well as marriage, go here. Queen Latifah, who officiated at the “ceremony” was deputized by the City of Los Angeles for the day, so these marriages were legal. At the same show, Katy Perry, a former Christian recording artist who has said that she no longer believes in Christ or is a Christian, performed this number. 

Three-Parent IVF Babies Gets Green Light

Religious Freedom is a Constitutional Right Not a “Tax-Exempt Status” CatholicVote blogger discusses the coming fight to force churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies.

Boko Haram Murders Between 40 and 60 Boys at Nigerian Christian School

Man Wakes up in Body Bag at Funeral Home 

And finally, a video by Natalie Grant, called, fittingly, I will Not Be Moved.

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Conscientious Objection About Wedding Cakes and Flowers is not About Slavery, Lynchings, Segregation or a Refusal of Service

Conscientious objection about wedding cakes and flowers is not the same thing as slavery, lynching, segregation or a refusal to provide service.

It does not rise to the level of a violation of the civil rights of the cake buyers. It is not discrimination.

We are not talking about a refusal to provide service for a class of people. We are talking about businesses who routinely provide services to everyone, including homosexuals. These mom and pop businesses are owned by individuals whose religious beliefs are not only opposed to gay marriage, but that teach that participation in a gay marriage makes them part of the sin of it.

I believe that this last sentence is the real motivation behind the enormous amount of rage and political energy being expended to force what is a small subset of all the bakers, florists and photographers in this country to participate in this specific event. These people do not want to participate in gay weddings because they believe gay marriage is sinful. That fact, and not the entirely bogus claim of discrimination, is what lies behind the furor.

This is not about discrimination, which is clearly not happening. It is about a need for approval and acceptance, which is not a legal construct.

The question of linking discrimination to service by businesses only occurs when a class of people are routinely refused service because they are of that class of people. The mis-used analogy of the African American civil rights struggle actually demonstrates why these shop owners are not discriminating and why there is no legal discrimination happening in this instance.

African Americans were refused all service at what were labeled “white only” establishments. They could not drink at “white” drinking fountains or even sit at the counter in a “white” drug store. They had to live in “colored” neighborhoods, and attend “colored” schools. This was enforced both by legal penalty and tolerated mob violence, including lynchings which were attended by large crowds of people and ignored by the police.

On the other hand, the bakers, florists and photographers who do not want to participate in gay weddings routinely provide services to homosexual people in every other instance. There is no attempt or desire on their part to refuse service to any group of people. In fact, at least one of the people engaging in these lawsuits was a regular customer of the establishment prior to filling suit.

These businesses are not refusing service based on anyone’s sexual preference. They just don’t want to participate in one specific type of event, and the reason they don’t want to is their religious beliefs which have been honored and respected since the beginning of this nation.

This is not discrimination. This is an exercise of what should be an individual’s freedom of religion.

The true discrimination here is the attack on individual’s right of conscience and religious freedom in an attempt to coerce them to violate their conscience in order to provide flowers, photography services and food for a private event. There is no question that this refusal does not deny the homosexuals in question access to these services. They are available at any number of other similar businesses. There is not and never has been any attempt to deny service to homosexuals. This is not about a class of people. It is about a specific type of event.

What these activists are literally making a federal case about is wedding cakes and flowers. The business people they are attacking provide services to everyone, including homosexuals, in every other instance except gay weddings. To label this discrimination in the Constitutional sense and call it “hate” is ridiculous.

I believe that the real issue is forcing other people, specifically religious people, to provide homosexuals with a sense of social acceptance. I actually understand that longing and sympathize with it. However, the fact is that these florists, photographers and bakers are not practicing discrimination in any sane legal sense.

They are, rather, being harassed, threatened, verbally abused, legally bullied and, yes, discriminated against themselves. The aggression and “hate” appears to be on the side of the people who are attacking them.

Conflating the question of whether or not a few business owners — who routinely and without question provide homosexuals with services otherwise — ask for the freedom to not participate in a single event which violates their religious beliefs, with the horrible suffering of African Americans under Jim Crow laws is equally ridiculous. It cheapens the African American experience in this country.

It is a fact that homosexuals have suffered violence in the form of gay baiting in the relatively recent past. I have had friends who were beaten up, simply because they were gay. I understand that this scars and damages people, including people who are not themselves subjected to this violence, but who must live in fear of it.

As a woman who has lived all her life with omnipresent and socially tolerated random violence against women, I understand this quite well. American women today are told not to go out at night, to always travel in groups to avoid attack. Movies, television and the internet make a lot of money selling violence against women as prurient entertainment.

Powerful movie directors who rape young girls are defended and lionized by that same industry. Young women are told to avoid drinking from open containers at parties to avoid being drugged and gang raped. We operate shelters for women who are subjected to beatings and violence so they can flee their homes in order to avoid being killed.

The desire of a few mom and pop business owners to ply their trade without being forced by law to provide services for one specific type of event that violates their religious beliefs is not gay bating. It is also not discrimination.

In this case, the discriminatory shoe is on the other foot.


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