House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood. What Happens Next?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

The United States House of Representatives voted this afternoon to defund Planned Parenthood.

Commenters are saying that the vote is largely symbolic, since the bill will most likely never be heard in the Senate. However, there are procedural ways around that. Also, if the bill is amended, it might pick up a few Democratic votes.

We need several things to get this into law.

I wrote a summary of things that we can do to have the best chance of making a law for CatholicVote. 

Here is part of what I said:

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon defunding Planned Parenthood 248-187.

Three Republicans voted against the bill. They were: Representatives Charlie Dent (PA), Robert Dold (IL), and Richard Hanna (NY). Two Democrats voted for the bill. They were: Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL) and Collin Peterson (MN). Representative Steve King (R-IA) basically abstained by voting “present.”

According to Fox News, the bill would transfer monies that currently go to Planned Parenthood to what are called “government-backed community health centers.” This does not sound as if the bill moves the monies to local health departments. But I am not sure.

This is a critical first step in defunding Planned Parenthood. However, a successful effort at law-making must overcome two hurdles. First, it must garner 60 votes in the Senate to stop potential filibusters. Second, it must be able to overcome a presidential veto.

Read the rest here.

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How Did Those People Get Invited to the WH Reception for Pope Francis?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

The story is out there, circling the internet. It goes something like this: President Obama has invited a trove of dissenting Catholics and critics of Catholic teaching to the White House reception for Pope Francis.

I delayed writing about it because I couldn’t track it back to the original source. I wasn’t able to get an official list of invitees. The internet sources I found linked to one another in a circular fashion.

Then, I stumbled across the GLAAD site. GLAAD is, among other things, a gay rights media watch dog. I don’t know if the White House issued any individual invitations to the reception. But it appears that they issued a sort of group invitation to GLAAD which allowed GLAAD to issue their own invitations to people of their choice.

GLAAD invited their own Director and Executive Director. They also invited — get ready for this now — Sister Jeanine Gramick.

Sr Gramick’s ministry to homosexual people, as well as her books, have made her a famous dissident in the Church. She was  instructed by the Congregation on Doctrine and the Faith that she was teaching things that were in contradiction to Catholic teaching and that were “erroneous and dangerous” to souls and to stop both the ministry and her writing. In addition to defying the Church on homosexuality, Sister Gramick also petitioned President Obama to repeal the Hyde Amendment and allow direct federal funding for abortions.

It appears that the White House reception for Pope Francis will host a number of questionable invitees. Some of them are, like Sr Gramick, in rebellion against the Church. Others, such as Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson, who was the first sexually active gay Episcopalian bishop, are not Catholic, but merely notorious for living a lifestyle that affronts Catholic teaching.

I’m not going to give you a laundry list of questionable guests to the White House reception for the pope. I can’t verify all of them. I think a lot of them were invited through this process of first inviting controversial groups who are known to be in disagreement with the Church and giving them the power to invite others. That makes tracking it back like unraveling a spider’s web. It’s further complicated by the fact that most of these organization will keep their actions private. In short: We may never know who was invited, or by whom.

None of this excuses the White House for this inhospitable behavior. They knew this would happen when they chose groups like GLAAD in the first place.

I’m not outraged by this. President Obama’s attitude toward Christians in general and the Catholic Church, in particular, has pushed my outrage button so many times that the poor thing is almost worn out.

What I am is embarrassed. This discourtesy toward the Holy Father is not just the boorishness of one rude man toward his guest. It is the discourtesy of the United States Government toward the leader of the largest Church in the world.

There is only one pope, and the position of leadership that he occupies is unique. He is the spiritual and moral leader of a billion and a quarter people, one seventh of the world’s population. His leadership crosses every border, reaches into every culture and clime. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, the Catholic Church is there.

No other leader on this planet approaches the scope and reach of the leadership exercised by this humble man in white.

I would like to be proud of the way my country conducts itself when it welcomes the Pope to these shores. I want the president to demonstrate the genuine warmth and open-hearted kindness of the good people of these United States of America.

We are not a bunch of idiot rubes who put our most divisive and oafish foot forward by inviting people to meet the pope when we know those people’s presence will create controversy. That is not American hospitality. It is President Obama’s inability or unwillingness to put his petty political concerns aside for one day and be the host in chief.

There are many homosexuals who are also faithful and devout Catholics. The president should have invited a few of them. If he doesn’t know any, he should have asked me. I know several. There is no reason — none — to go in-your-face with this important guest to our country by inviting people who have publicly engaged in flame-throwing against the Church.

I am left to wonder; When Pope Francis visits Cuba, will Fidel Castro, this atheist communist, end up treating him with more respect that our American president?

 

For more thoughts on this issue, check out Elizabeth Scalia over at Aleteia, and John White at Catholic Vote. 

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Lone Vet Returns to Iraq to Fight ISIS

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by  G.obal Panorama https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by G.obal Panorama https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/

60 Minutes covered the plight of Iraqi Christians Among other stories, they found an American military veteran, in Iraq, training Iraqi Christians in self defense.  He’s there because he’s a Christian who wants to help Christians defend themselves in this time of genocide.

From 60minutesovertime.com. 

Lone vet returns to Iraq to fight ISIS

|“I’m not here serving my country–I’m here serving Christians,” says former U.S. soldier Brett Felton, who returned to Iraq to train Christians how to defend themselves from ISIS

I applaud this. One of the necessary components of genocide always seem to be that the victim population can not or does not defend themselves.

Go here to see the story.

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We Can Convert this Culture. The Only Thing Lacking is Leadership.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

We can convert this culture. The only thing lacking is leadership.

That’s my take in a post I wrote for the National Catholic Register on two of the most recent polls about the Catholic Church in America today.

Here’s part of what I said:

… The trouble with “opinion” polls is that interpretation of the results rests in the hands of the interpreters. That’s why a recent poll that indicated that fully 90% of Catholics approve of the Pope, and a whopping 89% of Catholics also approve of their Church, received a headline from the Washington Post announcing that “The vast majority of US Catholics who left the Church can’t imagine returning.”

Their bias is showing.

I spent my entire legislative life looking at polls like this and then doing what I thought was best, despite the poll. I knew that poll results were indicators, not hard thinking. In the final analysis, polls didn’t matter. What mattered was whether or not I could communicate my vision to the people I represented. To put it another way, what mattered was whether or not I could exercise leadership.

I look at the same polls that Catholic bashers mine for nuggets to throw at the Church, and I see attitudes, situations and off-the-cuff reactions to disparate realities. I also see enormous opportunity for conversion of this culture.

The poll I cited earlier was a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Pew Research Center released another, slightly different, poll showing much the same results. The emphasis of the poll by the Public Religion Institute was the impact that the so-called “Francis Effect” was having on American Catholics. The Pew Research poll was mostly focused on Catholic attitudes about family.

It’s impossible to create parallels between the two polls because their respective definitions of “Catholic” are so different from one another. The Pew Research poll opens the spigot wide, noting that up to 45% of the American population is in some way “connected” to the Catholic Church.

The poll also reveals that 90% of American Catholics believe that the best family situation for raising children is “a household headed by a married mother and father.” I’m not sure what slice of their sampling they used to get this number. Was it everyone they consider Catholic? Or was it just regular Mass-going Catholics?

Pew Research basically defines anyone as a Catholic who says they are Catholic. This includes people who haven’t been inside a Catholic Church in decades right alongside those who attend daily Mass.

But whatever sampling they used, that is a powerful percentage.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/discerning-the-thirst-for-god-in-the-latest-pew-survey/#ixzz3lFv6tPQw

 

 

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Kim Davis is Out of Jail

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

There really ARE two kinds of people in the world: those who will go to jail rather than do what’s wrong and those who will send them there. Robert George, McCormick Professor, Princeton, Charman, US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Kim Davis has been released from jail. Judge David Bunning, who ordered Davis jailed in the first place, says that he is satisfied that her deputies have fulfilled their obligations to issue marriage licenses to gay marriages.

His order releasing Mrs Davis requires that she cannot interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses to “all legally eligible couples.” The implication is that if Mrs Davis does not perform her duties as a dully elected official to the judge’s liking, he will imprison her once again.

I am going to repeat something I said earlier: The judge is over-stepping his authority. Mrs Davis is an elected official and his purview does not extend to telling elected officials whether or not they are performing their duties in a satisfactory manner.

If an elected official does not perform their duties in a manner that the courts deem necessary, the courts have a certain latitude for redress, but this does not include summarily imprisoning the elected official. Perhaps the most clear-cut case of this in American history was when the Supreme Court ruled that the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from their hereditary lands to Indian Territory (what is now the State of Oklahoma) was unconstitutional, and President Andrew Jackson ignored the Court.

Impeachment and the election process are how this nation has dealt with elected officials who do not perform their duties properly. When courts begin to imprison elected officials based on how they perform their duties, they are overstepping the separation powers which is one of the primary guarantors of our freedoms.

I realize that those who favor gay marriage will not allow themselves to see this. I also realize that the concept of separation of powers has become increasingly weak due to judicial overstepping of its clear boundaries by using its power to issue rulings to create and pass legislative initiatives of revolutionary proportions without any reference to representation of the people. But the courts must be stopped from overstepping their boundaries by imprisoning elected officials for not performing their duties in the manner the court decides they should.

There is a lot more at stake here than the recent judicial fiat on gay marriage.

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Pope Francis’ Virtual Papal Audience with Americans Full Version

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

If you missed Pope Francis’ virtual papal audience with America, here it is, without editing.

This is an incredible event. I cried like a baby when the single mother with the two little girls spoke to the pope about her life and her feelings. I think the reason why so many of these people cried when they were talking is the healing power of telling their story to the Vicar of Christ.

This is the power that all priests have, if they will just use it. They can heal or wound as no one else can. It depends on their willingness to suffer with other people’s suffering.

We have a wonderful pope.

YouTube Preview Image

 

For a more in-depth reaction, check out Deacon Greg. 

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Poll Reveals Catholic Base is Strong in US

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Prayitno/Thankyoufor https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Prayitno/Thankyoufor https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

It appears that reports of the Catholic Church’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, it appears that they are 180 degrees off the mark. American Catholics chalked up astronomical percentages of approval for both their Church and the Holy Father in a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Institute.

There were sighting of the usual Catholic confusion about their Church’s teachings. I think that’s to be expected. After all, the Catholic Church is both the largest church in the world and and the largest religious body in the United States. There are a lot of Catholics, which means there are also a lot of opportunities for addlepated thinking.

That’s what makes these survey results so compelling. If you can get 90% of a group of people this big to agree on anything, you’ve pulled off quite a coup. Considering the the Church has been under continuous attack and bashing and that it has managed to add a lot of fuel to those fires with its own clerical failures, the numbers are even more astounding.

I wrote about this for CatholicVote. Here is a bit of what I said:

How does the much-vaunted power of Pope Francis’ open-hearted approach to the papacy play with American Catholics? It turns out that it plays very well. The numbers reflect an almost universal love affair with this black-shoed, old-car-driving, selfie-taking man who is Peter.

American Catholics are happy their pope. Fully 90% have a favorable view of the Holy Father, and 89% also have a positive view of the Catholic Church. Those are power numbers that any world leader would envy. They don’t just reflect popularity. They speak of the sheer political power of the Church, of our ability to reconvert Western Culture, if we will just do it.

Any politician will tell you that their single most important demographic is their base. Most of the time, if your base turns on you, you are dead in the water. That is why it’s so hard to get an elected official to change their position on barn-burning issues such as abortion. A move like that is a little bit like jumping from one horse to the next in the middle of the Kentucky Derby. Chances are, both the jockey and horse are going down.

The Catholic Church may very well end up as the last lone soldier in the fight to re-convert Western civilization to traditional Christianity. This survey provides good news concerning that task. Our base is solid, if confused. Go here to read the rest.

NOTE: The opening sentence of this post is a paraphrase of a quote by Mark Twain.

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Four Presidential Candidates Sign Pledge Promising to Defend Marriage

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Four presidential candidates have signed the Presidential Pledge for Marriage that is being promoted by the National Organization for Marriage. The four signatories are Senator Ted Cruz, former Senator Rick Santorum, Dr Ben Carson and Governor Bobby Jindal.

Governor Mike Huckabee, Govern Scott Walker and Senator Lindsey Graham have announced that they will not be signing any pledges.

Most candidates have not responded to requests to sign the pledge. Those not responding are: Governors Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Former Governor Jim Gilmore, Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, private citizens Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

The National Organization for Marriage makes no mention of the Democratic candidates for president. Even though all of the big name contenders that I know about have not only made public statements in support to gay marriage, but appear to be vying with one as to who can support it the most vehemently, I think this is a mistake. I’ve always operated by giving everyone an equal chance to refuse.

This is the text of the pledge:

The Presidential Marriage Pledge

I, _____________ _____________, pledge to the American people that if elected President, I will:

One, support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Two, oppose and work to overturn any Supreme Court decision that illegitimately finds a constitutional “right” to the redefinition of marriage. This includes nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.

Three, conduct a review of regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the current Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.

Four, support the First Amendment Defense Act and other legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman without fear of retaliation from the government.

Five, direct the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.

There is also a People’s Marriage Pledge. You can go here to sign it. This is the text of the People’s Marriage Pledge.

The People’s Marriage Pledge

I pledge that I will only support a candidate for President of the United States who has pledged to take specific actions to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This includes:

•Supporting a federal marriage amendment protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

•Opposing and working to overturn any Supreme Court ruling that illegitimately finds a constitutional “right” to redefine marriage.

•Nominating to the US Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.

•Conducting a review of regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the Obama Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.

•Supporting federal legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their beliefs about marriage without fear of retaliation from the federal government.

•Directing the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.

I also pledge to support only those candidates for federal office who have taken positions consistent with the above policies.

I’m going to withhold my thinking on the whole question of pledges and opinion polls for a while. I’ll probably talk more about it later.

For now, it’s important to see that of the entire field of candidates in both parties, only four were willing to sign the pledge. While the Ds have taken a strong stand in favor of gay marriage, several of the Rs have waffled on the topic. These four do not appear to be waffling at all.

Read the pledge, think this whole process through, and tell me what you think. We’re going to be dealing with this issue for a long time. We need to consider our overall goals and strategies going forward.

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Two Reporters Were Murdered on TV Today. How Many Murders Have you Witnessed?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Americans saw another cold-blooded murder this morning, this time it was a disgruntled former employee, taking out his rage on his former co-workers.

Now, a young man and woman are dead and another young man is bound to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

What does it do to us, watching this horror show, day after day? How does following Jesus defend us against falling into the depravity we witness?

I took on those questions in this post that I wrote for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

The first person I ever saw murdered was Lee Harvey Oswald.

I was a kid at the time. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated on Friday. My family sat in front of our small-screen black and white television all that weekend. We watched obsessively.

As I said, I was a kid, a newcomer to the horrors of life. In a way, all Americans were kids, newcomers, at least to this kind of horror. My parents had grown up in the Great Depression and lived through World War II and Korea, so they were hardly rubes when it came to the horrors that evil can wreak.

But unknown to all of us at that time, America had passed through a membrane a little bit after noon on Friday, November 22, 1963. The America we had known, where children could go trick-or-treating without parental supervision and no one feared for their safety, where politicians were free to mix with the people without worry about being gunned down, where most kids slept under the roof of their own home with their married parents asleep down the hall in their own bedroom, had been mortally wounded.

The long bleed from that wound would go on for decades, right up until today. But America, the America in which I was born, ended when a dum-dum bullet tore through the back of President Kennedy’s skull and shattered, ripping out the right side of his brain.

I remember the shock when I saw Jackie step off the plane, blood all over her. I remember the shock the next morning when I saw her emerge from the White House, the tragedy written in every line of her swollen-eyed, bruised face.

She made it real to me. That blood on her skirt was America’s blood.

We watched the unfolding of that weekend-long national wake on our grainy-screened little television, and by the end of it, the tragedy was indelibly etched in our minds. That’s how it came to be that I witnessed the first murder I ever saw.


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/we-are-eyewitnesses-to-atrocity-we-must-also-be-eyewitnesses-to-christs-maj/#ixzz3jxBZSD5U

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Why Would a Pro Life Catholic Stay in the Democratic Party?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Lobo https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Lobo https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/

Why would a pro life Catholic stay in the Democratic Party?

In my case, it was because, when I prayed about it, the direct and clear answer was that I had to stay. I didn’t understand it at the time. It was the exact opposite of what I expected, or at that moment in my life, wanted to hear.

But later on, I saw that God knew what He was doing. I was like a chess piece that someone moved into place for a design play and the play would only work if I was a Democrat.

Maybe God trusted me by leaving me in the lion’s den, trusted me not to cut and run, not to go all rubbery and waffle. Maybe He simply gave me an opportunity to make good the things I’d done wrong in my past. I only know that the way He used me was an extra measure of forgiveness that I did not deserve.

The point is that you can serve God from anywhere. You just have to be willing to do what He tells you, and then take the incoming flak for doing it.

I wrote about these issues for the National Catholic Register.

Here is a bit of what I said:

… That is the cautionary side of the story concerning Arkansas Representative Mike Holcomb. Representative Holcomb split with the Democratic party this week by changing his registration from Democrat to Republican. When you or I change parties, it’s just a matter of changing a letter on the voter ID. But when Representative Holcomb does it, he’s switching his entire House district, right along with himself. The next election will determine how his constituents feel about this.

Representative Holcomb’s reason for doing this this makes a lot of sense to any pro-life Democrat — he can no longer sit on the side of abortion. The Arkansas Democrats’ position on funding for Planned Parenthood is said to have triggered the move.

Arkansas Ds have been quick to announce that, so far as they are concerned, Representative Holcomb’s departure from their column is good riddance to bad rubbish. Their public statements are a classic case of “don’t let the doorknob hit you in the you-know-what on your way out.”

It’s easy for someone like me to read between these broadly-drawn lines to the personal acrimony and anger behind them. One article I read said that Representative Holcomb has been caucusing with the Rs, anyway.

I don’t know of course, but I can extrapolate from my own experience to what seems like an understanding of the name-calling, verbal hazing and threats that led to this situation. It can get ugly inside those caucuses, especially when one member paints a bulls-eye on themselves by refusing to do the due on something as explosive as abortion.

Nobody outside the inner world of elected officialdom can imagine just how personal and ugly the pressure can be on a pro-life elected Democrat.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/political-parties-have-group-think-but-we-have-the-mind-of-christ/#ixzz3jljChyd1

 

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