Knights of Columbus Win Prize for Ethical Business Practices

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Hooray for the Knights!

Ethisphere Institute has named the Knights of Columbus life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Companies. The Knights were one of only two life insurance companies to earn this honor.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- The fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus has been recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies by a research center on best practices in corporate ethics and governance.

“This really speaks to the fact that a company can be committed to Church teaching, committed to Catholic values, and still provide a top quality service and be very successful at what they do,” Andrew Walther, vice president for communications and media with the Knights, told CNA March 21.

Timothy Erblich, CEO of the Ethisphere Institute, announced the award March 20, saying, “the Knights of Columbus join an exclusive community committed to driving performance through leading business practices. We congratulate everyone at Knights of Columbus for this extraordinary achievement.”

The institute named the New Haven, Conn.-based Catholic fraternal organization and life insurance company to its 2014 World’s Most Ethical Company list. The Knights is only one of two companies in the life insurance category to be recognized.

Is Religious Freedom Threatened? Duhhh … Is This a Trick Question?

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When the roll is called down yonder, we’ll all line up according to our politics.

At least that appears to be the situation regarding the answers to the question of whether or not religious freedom is threatened.

There’s a lot of gas expended on this question, and most of it falls so predictably into political camps that the answers look more like responses to a roll call than genuine thinking.

Liberal Democrats, say no, of course not; only ignorant fools think so. Liberal Protestants, who are also almost entirely liberal Democrats, say no; only bigots who want to cling to their bigotry say yes. Conservative Republicans say yes; only liberal flat-liners who’ve sold this country out doubt it. Conservative Protestants, who are becoming more and more a solidified conservative Republican front, say yes; only weak Christians think otherwise.

Catholics? As the religious group that is Liberal Democrats, Conservative Republicans and every single thing in between, all sitting around the same table, we answer, yes/no/what did you say? and whatever.

So what do I, a decidedly liberal Democrat who is also a decidedly devout Catholic, say?

Before I answer that, I’m going to narrow that question to whether or not religious freedom is threatened in United States of America. I think the answer for much of the rest of the world is so obviously yes that those who doubt it fall into the same intellectual space as holocaust deniers.

Even when I narrow the question to the United States, I am tempted to reply … Duhhhh … Is this a trick question?

Rather than go for the golden one-word/one-off, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding answer, let’s review the obvious, public and undeniable facts.

What did the Supreme Court do this week?

It heard three cases brought before it by people who feel so strongly that their religious freedom is being violated that they are willing to risk their businesses and life’s work to stand against it. These are not rabble rousers. They are stable, quiet, pillars-of-the-community types, who normally eschew both litigation and the spotlight. They are the people who are the foundations of this country.

These people didn’t want to be part of a Supreme Court case. They were backed into this position by an overweening government that is so bent on enforcing an agency regulation that infringes on religious liberty that it is willing to precipitate a Constitutional crisis to do it.

What is happening in court rooms all over this country? We have mom and pop businesspeople — again quiet, apolitical, non-litigious, pillars of the community types — who are being forced to risk their livelihoods rather than violate their religious beliefs. This is happening because of overweening government force.

Not one of these people wanted to do this. Not one of them is the type who loves standing in front of microphones and sounding off. Every single one of them is putting their livelihoods on the line to stand for what they believe against a government that has taken hubris as its operating standard.

According to court testimony by administration attorneys, the fiction that is driving these government attacks on religious liberty is a deliberate narrowing of the First Amendment. Instead of religious freedom that applies to every man, woman and child in this great nation, the Obama Administration is seeking to shoe-horn it into the box of a narrow “freedom of worship.” In other words, keep your faith behind the closed doors of church sanctuaries, or suffer government-mandated penalties.

The standard argument against all this is either a stubborn sophistry which simply denies the obvious, or an insulting version of the hayseed argument. The hayseed argument goes like this: We sophisticates in the know understand that these hayseeds out in the hustings are deluded fools for thinking that their rights are being violated. We morally superior denizens of right-thinking also know that the hayseeds in the hustings are so blighted morally that their outdated ideas of religious fealty need to be shut down for a greater good that is defined by — you guessed it — us.

The hayseed argument, stupid and arrogant as it is, is actually the driving argument behind all these initiatives against individual freedom. It is the insider’s view of what they think is outsider foolishness for opposing the obviously higher morality and wisdom of their betters.

A slightly different version of the hayseed argument is the moral ingrate argument. It goes something like this: Moral imperatives which have been discovered in the last five years require that the moral ingrates of this country abandon their claims to religious freedom in order to serve the higher morality that we sophisticates have fashioned for ourselves and which we are going to use government force to enforce on everyone else.

The hayseed and moral ingrate arguments often overlap in actual practice. Sometimes they merge. The subtle difference between them is that one appeals to the pretension of moral superiority on the part of those who purvey it, and the other feeds their pretensions of intellectual superiority. Both arguments are at base a pose and a sham that have far more to do with bell-jar/echo-chamber thinking than anything approaching reality.

There is one other argument that surfaces in these discussions. That is the every-kid-in-China argument. This one is familiar to mothers of previous generations who were faced with recalcitrant children who wouldn’t eat their veggies. You know: The every kid in China would love to have that spinach on your plate, so you’d better eat it argument.

Applied to the question of attacks on religious freedom in America today, it goes something like this. Christians in other parts of the world are suffering real persecution. They are being burnt, beheaded, raped, imprisoned and tortured. So how dare you complain about government oppression of your little rights?

The irony is that this particular argument is usually advanced by someone who, in other contexts, does everything they can to deny and minimize the horror of Christian persecution.

I’m going to circle back here and take another look at the original question: Is religious freedom threatened in America today?

The answer is, of course. That’s obvious. The parsing — and that’s all it is — runs along lines of party affiliation and prejudice.

 

Note: This post is my reply to the discussion about Patheos’ Public Square Question: Is Religious Freedom Threatened? 

So, there’s a Catholic sister, who’s a hospital chaplain …

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President Obama and 700 of His Closest Friends are Off to See the Pope

Obama Francis Economic Disparities

President Obama has created a Constitutional crisis over religious freedom by aggressively using the power of his office to re-define it as a narrow “freedom to worship.” He seems proud of the moniker “most pro abortion president in history.” He has done more to destroy traditional marriage than any other living American.

Why would he want to have his photo taken with the pope?

Maybe he views himself as a sort of alter-statesman, a gee to the Holy Father’s haw, an omega to the pope’s alpha.

All I know is that the President of the United States is on his way for a photo op with the black-shoe pope who rides around in a battered up old jalopy that looks like it came from an inner city slum.

The president is arriving on his very own jet, accompanied by his entourage of 700 staff. He’ll be dressed to the nines and swoop in with his Secret Service agents, complete with mirror glasses and grim expressions.

The pope will presumably ramble over from the digs he shares with other Vatican staff and clergy after a hearty communal breakfast.

One man is the synthesis of ambition and earthly power. The other is the anti-thesis of it.

One man is considered the most powerful man on earth. The other is so gentle that small children steal his chair while he’s making a speech.

One man leads my country. The other leads me.

What will they talk about as the cameras flash?

So, there’s this Irish priest, and he’s dying …

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Franklin Graham and World Vision in a World of Changing Gods

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World Vision, which is an evangelical Christian organization, has evidently decided to hire “married” gay couples. Rev Franklin Graham has issued a statement condemning this action.

I hadn’t intended to comment about this. Public Catholic is a Catholic blog, and the World Vision-Franklin Graham argument is taking place among Evangelical Protestants. My first thought was that it would be best to let them tend to their own chickens.

I’ve changed my mind because there is only one Jesus, and only one universal body of Christ. That makes this a matter of concern for all Christians and not just the Evangelical Protestant part of us.

I’m going to begin by saying that I have seen this before. After Roe v Wade came down, most of the many Christian denominations dithered. Several denominations that are now stalwart pro life warriors leaned toward accepting Roe. The Catholic Church stood almost alone in its resistance to the ruling.

I believe the same thing is happening once again with gay marriage. A lot of religious organizations are dithering. They don’t have 2,000 years of consistent teaching to instruct them. All they’ve got are their own personal interpretations of Scripture. It’s tempting — given the human desire that we all feel to make things easy on ourselves — for these organizations to come up with a scenario that allows them to go along to get along.

I’m no stranger to this. Politicians are justifiably famous for it. That is not due to any special weakness in those who hold public office. It is due to the fact that when a politician does it, everybody knows about it. Most of us get to trim the corners of our beliefs to make things easy for ourselves without anyone else being the wiser.

However, large Christian organizations are even more high profile than politicians, especially at a time like now, when the cultural gods are changing. Our society has taken the cross off the altar and replaced it with 300 million little tin gods of self. Instead of following Christ, we bow down to our own desires.

The little g gods of self say that whatever people want to do is morally right. We refuse the real God and chase, like a dog following its tail, after this most picayune of gods — our ever-changing, never-satisfied desires. We fix our course on self-love, selfishness, self-righteousness, self-promotion; everything but self-awareness.

We lie to everyone to excuse our behavior, but most especially we lie to ourselves.

When a well-known Christian organization publicly departs from 2,000 years of Christian teaching on a matter as serious as the definition of marriage, it can not legitimately claim, as World Vision has done, that it is doing it to “unite Christians.” That’s a specious argument if I have ever heard one.

I do not know, do not pretend to know, what the real motivations for this change are. But I don’t believe that the public statements I’ve read are anything more than a lie. They may, at least at some level, be lies that the people who put them forward told themselves, but they are not the truth.

No one could be intelligent enough to run an organization of this size and be stupid enough to believe that this action will unite Christians.

People who have donated money and otherwise supported this organization on the assumption that it was and would continue to be genuinely faithful to the Gospels have every reason to feel betrayed. This was a back room deal. Whatever the true motivations of its proponents were, fealty to their historic organizational beliefs and respect for their supporters could not have been among them.

I think Franklin Graham is justified in expressing dismay and disavowal of World Vision’s decision.

I am also a little bit philosophical about it. We’re going to see more of this. We’re also going to see some of these early deserters turn around and get their heads right as the Holy Spirit works on them. Others will become, as many Christians are today about abortion, set in their defense of principles that fly in the face of Christian morality.

These are difficult times for Christians. The gods of our world are changing. Many will fall away.

Our task is to stay close to Our Lord and to be faithful in all we do. We need to pray, go to mass, trust God and not be afraid.

 

For a brief look at long-standing Christian teaching, including Catholic teaching, concerning marriage, go here.

For an entirely different take on this question, check out Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at Inebriate Me and Billy Kangas at The Orant.

 

Voris Doesn’t Disrespect the Pope, Either

I recently posted a statement that if you want to disrespect the Pope, you need to go to another blog. 

That post garnered quite a few complaints from would-be Pope dis-respecters, including attempts to get around it by use of innuendo and leading questions. It’s interesting how committed these people are to disrespecting the Holy Father.

Michael Voris of The Church Militant recently put up a YouTube video in which he addresses the same issue. It turns out that he doesn’t disrespect the Pope, either. I don’t agree with everything Mr Voris says, but he’s right-on about this.

Have a look.

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Religious Freedom: Will the Supremes Let Us Keep It?

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Photo Source: Deseret News

Today’s the day in which the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sibelius vs Hobby Lobby.

The question at hand is not whether the HHS Mandate is Constitutional. The question which is being brought before the Court is whether or not the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protects Hobby Lobby against the fines and penalties of the HHS Mandate.

The Obama Administration has argued in previous court appearances that the First Amendment only applies to formal worship activities and other direct actions of federally recognized churches, within the confines of their church proper. This narrow interpretation of the First Amendment would end freedom of religion in this country. In fact, it is very similar to the kind and type of religious freedom that totalitarian states operating under communism grant.

So much is at stake with this case.

Please pray that the Supreme Court will preserve the religious liberties and religious exemptions that Americans have long enjoyed.

From SCOTUS Review:

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Linked with:

Docket No.Op. BelowArgumentOpinionVoteAuthorTerm
13-35410th Cir.Mar 25, 2014TBDTBDTBDOT 2013

Issue: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.

So, a Guy Who’s Not Especially Devout is Going to a Friend’s Wedding …

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Pope Francis: March 29-30 Will Be a Day of Reconciliation

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Pope Francis has set aside this coming Friday as “24 hours for the Lord.”

He is hoping that local parishes will offer special opportunities for prayer and the sacrament of confession. I’m going to try to take advantage of this call for prayer and reconciliation as best I can. Hopefully, many Public Catholic readers will do the same.

We are living in times where our faith is challenged and attacked by the larger culture. If we are going to stand for Christ and not fail, we need to pray and keep ourselves spiritually clean.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- During his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis announced that March 29-30 would be “24 hours for the Lord,” during which people can find special opportunities for prayer and the sacrament of confession.

“Next Friday and Saturday we will live a special moment of penance, called ‘24 hours for the Lord.’ It will begin with a (liturgical) Celebration in the Basilica of St. Peter’s (on) Friday afternoon, then in the evening and night some churches in the center of Rome will be open for prayer and confessions,” he explained to the crowds in St. Peter’s square on March 23.

“It will be – we could call it -  a celebration of forgiveness, which will happen also in many dioceses and parishes of of the world.”

The Holy Father then noted that “the forgiveness that the Lord gives us” should make us “celebrate like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, who when the son returned home, had a party, forgetting all his sins.”


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