If You Think Hobby Lobby’s Owners Don’t Deserve Constitutional Rights for Trading with China, What are You Gonna Do About Your Cell Phone?

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The argument gets repeated a lot these days.

It’s a one-two-three punch that goes like this:

1. Hobby Lobby imports its wares from China.

2. This is absolute evil and means that Hobby Lobby supports forced abortion, the one-child policy, slavery and probably the mass slaughter at Tianamen Square and the Cultural Revolution, as well. It may even mean that Hobby Lobby’s owner are Communists.

3. So … Hobby Lobby’s owners do not deserve and should not have Constitutional Rights under the Constitution of the United States of America.

ta da.

I have a question for those who make this argument. That question is not based on the fact that they don’t know anything about who sells Hobby Lobby its wares. The question doesn’t even address the highly tenuous assertion that people are guilty of the sins and crimes of everyone they associate with in the business world. (That would make all of us guilty of some pretty ugly stuff, you know.)

My question is simpler: What are you gonna do about your cell phone?

I am speaking specifically of Samsung cell phone owners, but that could apply to just about every one of us who owns a cell phone. I mean, Apple’s been in the news a lot because of its China connections.

In fact, whenever someone wants to create a faux moral outrage, or damage a company, they trot out the China connection.

The real outrage — and the one we need to address or die as a  global power — is that we’ve moved our industrial base to China so that our manufacturers could use slave/child labor. This isn’t about one company or another company. It’s about moving our entire industrial base to a Communist regime.

The trouble is, that’s an issue that falls under the corporate control of our government, which, sad to say, removes it from moral discussion for a lot of people. We’ve been sold the rapacious lie that money and how it’s got is outside morality for so long that many ordinary people think it makes sense.

Anyone, up to and including the Pope, who dares to question this money-is-outside-morality cant will be called by a Communist by the corporatist-owned media and their talking heads. That’s particularly rich, since what the corporatist media is protecting are corporations who’ve gone to bed with a Communist regime.

But I digress.

Let’s get back to your Samsung cell phone. And your Samsung smart watch/camera/Chromebook/tablet. If you are really truly sincere when you say that about Hobby Lobby’s owners don’t deserve Constitutional rights because you are sure they trade with China and trading with China is anathema, then you need to toss those babies today.

It seems that Samsung has done a bit more than import from China. They’ve been manufacturing their wares there, which means they have a direct contractual relationship with the plants that employ egregious and exploitative labor practices.

It probably also means, given Samsung’s size, that they are the sole proprietor or customer of these plants. We’re talking big money here. Samsung has money power (the only power that matters in a corporatist world) to change what happens in these plants.

This has led to repeated claims by China Labor Watch that Samsung has been using child labor to manufacture its products.

Of course, Samsung is a publicly-held corporation whose stocks are traded in the open market. That means the Hobby Lobby decision doesn’t apply to them. They’ve got to provide abortifacients in their insurance plans for their stateside employees.

So, what about the folks who’ve been jumping up and down like apes in a cage over the Hobby Lobby decision?

If you think they are going to go all moral and righteous over Samsung and its corporate child-labor-using brethren, raise your hand.

Nobody?

Me neither.

From China Labor Watch:

New York – China Labor Watch (CLW) has once again exposed the employment of child labor in Samsung’s supply chain, this time at a factory called Shinyang Electronics in Dongguan, China. This revelation comes nearly two years after CLW first revealed the exploitation of children in a Samsung supplier factory.

The production orders of Samsung are seasonal, and suppliers like Shinyang will alter the strictness of hiring practices in order to adapt to Samsung’s demands. During the busy season and in urgent need of labor, Shinyang hires child labor and underage student workers. These minors will usually only work for a period of three to six months, toiling for 11 hours every day without overtime pay, and the factory does not purchase social insurance for them as required by law. These young workers usually leave when the factory as it enters the off-season, and the factory does not need to provide any sort of severance pay.

On June 30, Samsung published its 2014 sustainability report titled “Global Harmony”. Within, Samsung says that it inspected working conditions at 200 suppliers in 2013 and “no instances of child labor were found”.

After allegedly inspecting hundreds of suppliers, Samsung did not find one child worker. Yet in just one Samsung supplier factory, CLW has uncovered several children employed without labor contracts, working 11 hours per day and only being paid for 10 of those hours.

CLW’s investigation of Shinyang revealed at least 15 sets of labor violations. In addition to child labor, unpaid overtime wages, excessive overtime, and a lack of social insurance, the investigation exposed a lack of pre-job safety training and protective equipment despite the use of harmful chemicals; discriminatory hiring; overuse of temp workers; workers made to sign blank labor contracts; illegal resignation requirements; potential audit fraud; broad company regulations that establishes the pretext to punish workers for almost any behavior; a lack of any union; and poor living conditions.

Senate Democrats Move to Overturn Hobby Lobby Decision

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Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, is leading the charge to overturn the Hobby Lobby decision.

From The Washington Post:

“One thing we’re going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Tuesday. “This Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous, and we’re going to do something about it. People are going to have to walk down here and vote, and if they vote with the five men on the Supreme Court, I think it’s — they’re going to have — be treated unfavorably come November with the elections.”

Senator Reid can make this audacious claim because Hobby Lobby v Burwell was adjudicated on a statute, The Religious Freedom Act. What Senator Reid, and, according to him the rest of the Senate Democrats, wants to do is basically repeal the Religious Freedom Act. I only have a few points to make at this juncture.

  • As a lifelong Democrat and an 18-year veteran as a Democratic elected official (I’m still in office until November) I am ashamed of my party for doing this.
  • We need to convert the Democratic Party. If we do not, this kind of back and forth will continue until it destroys our Republic. We will never build a culture of life unless we convert this party.
  • I wish those who oppose the HHS Mandate would mount the same kind of of fearless and passionate offense against it. One thing that has been abundantly clear to me for well over 30 years is that pro life politicians do not have the same fearless commitment and willingness to do what’s needed for our cause as the other side’s politicians have for it. Where is the pro life Wendy Davis? Why hasn’t the House taken on the HHS Mandate with the same fervor that we are seeing in this attack against Hobby Lobby v Burwell in the Democratically-held Senate?

We are trapped between our own wishy-washy advocates who make speeches, gather votes based their “stands” and then do nothing, and these passionate, committed opponents who are willing to stake their careers on attacking religious freedom and the sanctity of human life. It is simply not an effective tactic for us to continue demonizing our opposition while we settle for nothing but empty promises and political grandstanding from our supporters.

We are being used.

Meanwhile, the other side of this fight has real political warriors with fire in their bellies who are willing to stake everything on defending their viewpoint

I am going to suggest you do two things today and one thing tomorrow.

For today, write both your United State’s Senators and demand that they fight publicly and behind closed doors to stop this re-write of the The Religious Freedom Act. It does not matter if they are Democrats, Republicans or Independents, they need to hear from you. Second, write your member of Congress and demand that they stop sitting on their hands and take action against the HHS Mandate.

That’s for today.

For tomorrow, check with your state political party about when precinct meetings will be held next spring. Put the date on your calendar and plan to go.

For Republicans, Google “(name of your state) Republican Party” or (name of your state) Republican Committee. For Democrats, Google, “(name of your state) Democratic Party”.  Examples: Oklahoma Republican Party, or, Oklahoma Republican Committee. Oklahoma Democratic Party.

Rush Limbaugh is a Cigar-Chomping Idiot

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I know. I tell everyone not to call people names.

But there comes a time when “idiot” isn’t a pejorative; it’s an excuse.

Mr Limbaugh is doing his the-pope-is-a-marxist-communist-not-a-corporatist-like-me thing again. After reading this latest rather bizarre attack against the Holy Father, I am faced with three possibilities.

1. Mr Limbaugh has relapsed into his drug problem.

2. He’s an idiot.

or

3. He is deliberately baiting the Vicar of Christ for ratings, despite the fact that a grade-school child could read the interview he’s referencing and know that he’s misquoting and miscasting what the Holy Father said.

Given the choices, I’ve decided that, in charity, I will give Mr Limbaugh the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s an idiot. I don’t, for instance, think that the fact that he makes at least $70 million per year in salary, or that his net worth is approximately $400 million, has in any way messed with his mind.

What set Mr Limbaugh off on another of his attack-the-Holy-Father spiels is an interview Pope Francis gave to Il Messaggero on Sunday. Rather than try to untangle the web of misquotes and confabulation that Mr Limbaugh has spun, I’m going to quote a couple of highlights, then put Pope Francis’ entire interview below and let you read it for yourself.

Here are what I think of as the lowlights from Mr Limbaugh’s latest attack piece on my spiritual leader, Pope Francis. 

“The 77-year-old pontiff gave an interview to Il Messaggero, Rome’s local newspaper, to mark the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a Roman holiday. He was asked about a blog post in the Economist magazine that said he sounded like a Leninist when he criticized capitalism and called for radical economic reform.”

Oh, yeah, some obscure blog post in the Economist said he sounded like a Leninist, that got everybody riled up.  We remember that.  Don’t you?  I don’t remember.  Anyway, he said, “I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel.  Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: ‘but then you are Christian’,” he said, laughing.

I don’t know if the pope is saying that Jesus was a communist.  I mean some people could read it that way.  He says the communists stole our flag, and if our flag is rooted in solving poverty, and the communists want to claim that’s what they did, I mean, you connect the dots if you wish.

What Mr Limbaugh is doing here is quoting a misquote from an article headlined “Pope Says Communists are Closet Christians,” and then responding to it with the assessment,  I don’t now if the pope is saying that Jesus was a Communist. I mean some people could read it that way.”

Ok, so he doesn’t know if Pope Francis is saying that Christ the Lord is a Communist? Are we supposed to believe that he’s serious?

Maybe he’s an idiot.

Or maybe this was an attempt to be sly and clever by  attacking with innuendo.

You decide.

Me, I’m going with idiot, because, as I said, it’s the kindest interpretation I can come up with.

Here, for those of you who would like to see it, is what the Holy Father actually said. It’s the whole interview, without cuts or edits.

I highlighted the part about Communism so you can want go straight to it if you want. If you can find the place where the Pope Francis said or implied that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a Communist, let me know. Frankly, I think that all you have to do to understand what Pope Francis is talking about is to remember that he’s from a country where children live in garbage dumps and scavenge for survival; a country where Communists have tried to take over by appealing to these poorest of the poor and offering them help.

That, and read the interview yourself instead of miscasting misquotes in order to make a coarse point.

From Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) The Rome daily “Il Messaggero” on Sunday published an interview with Pope Francis made by journalist Franca Giansoldati. In his responses to questions on a wide range of issues, the Holy Father focused, among other things, on the challenges of change in the current “era” and “culture,” which has consequences for political, financial, and social life. The Church, along with various civil and social institutions,  must respond to these challenges by protecting the common good and defending human life and dignity.

“Always protecting the common good, which includes “defending human life and dignity” is “the vocation of every politician,” the Holy Father said. Today, the problem of politics – which Pope Francis called a “worldwide problem” – is that it “has been devalued, ruined by corruption, by the phenomenon of bribery.” This “moral decay, not only in politics but also in the financial or social” sector, is driven by “change of epoch” that we are experiencing today, which is also “a change of culture.” In this context, our anxieties about poverty are not concerned solely with material poverty.

“I can help someone who is hungry, so that they are no longer hungry,” the Pope said. “But if someone has lost his job,” he is involved in another kind poverty. He no longer has his dignity.” Helping families in need, then, requires a “joint effort.” Pope Francis recognized that this is an “uphill” journey, but insisted it must be undertaken, working above all for the good of children. “Starting a family is an effort,” he said, because of economic difficulties that “social policy does not help.” Commenting on the very low birth rates in Europe – which makes it seem “as if she were tired of being a mother, preferring to be grandmother,” the Holy Father noted that the causes of this phenomenon lie not only in a “cultural drift marked by selfishness and hedonism,” but also in the current economic crisis.

Pope Francis was asked how he would respond to being called “a communist.” “I would only say that the Communists have stolen the banner… The banner of the poor is Christian; poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” The cause of the poor is pre-eminently a Christian cause.  The Gospel cannot be understood “without understanding real poverty.” At the same time, the Pope said there is also a “very beautiful ‘poverty of the spirit’,” being poor in the sight of God because God fills you up. The Gospel, in fact, is addressed indiscriminately to the poor and to the rich and “does not at all condemn those who are rich,” but rather condemns their riches when they become the objects of idolatry.

To the question “Where is the Church of Bergoglio headed?” Pope Francis replied, “Thanks be to God, I don’t have any church – I follow Christ. I didn’t found anything.” He went on to say “my decisions are the fruit of the meetings before the conclave. I have done nothing on my own.”

The Church in Asia “is a promise,” he said, turning to his upcoming trips to Korea, in August, and to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, in January. He also spoke about China, saying it represents “a great, a very great pastoral challenge.”

During the interview, Pope Francis also took up a number of other themes already addressed during his pontificate, such as the place of women in the Church. Without an understanding of femininity, the Pope said, one “cannot understand the Church herself.” Women “are the most beautiful thing God has made. The Church is a woman.” He said that in doing theology, one must take account of this “femininity,” and that the Church must continue to work on and develop a “theology of the woman.”

Pope Francis spoke also about the corruption and the economic and sexual exploitation of children. The Pope speaks of incidents of child prostitution that were reported to him when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, involving even elderly men. “For me,” the Pope said, “people who do this to young girls are paedophiles.”

Finally, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome, Pope Francis spoke about the everyday life and traditions of the City of which the Pope is the bishop. This role, the Holy Father said, is “the first service of Francis.” Pope Francis said Rome shares many of the problems of other cities “such as Buenos Aires.” He said a conference dedicated to the theme of “the pastoral care of the great cities” will take place in Barcelona in November. Pope Francis expressed his hope that the citizens of Rome, the inhabitants of a city “that should be a beacon in the world,” would not lose “joy, hope, confidence, despite difficulties.”

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

The Greens of Hobby Lobby: One Family with Courage is a Majority

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There is no getting around the fact that Jesus offends some people. Nevertheless, He is too important in my life for me to cower in fear of mentioning His name. David Green, owner, founder Hobby Lobby

The Green Family (who are Okies, by the way) risked everything they had worked for all their lives.

They put everything but their lives on the line by refusing to accede to the HHS Mandate’s requirement that they pay for insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs. The Greens, who are Southern Baptists, already provided insurance coverage for contraceptives for their employees.

But they would not be participants in the evil of abortion. It conflicted with their faith in Jesus Christ.

So, they took a stand that was, in terms of business, totally stupid. They refused to abide by the HHS Mandate. What’s more, they put the name of their company, which they had built themselves from a $600 dollar investment, on a lawsuit.

This wasn’t a roll of the dice. It was an act of faith. The lawsuit was turned back, then resurrected in other rulings. When it was first turned down, the Greens said they would not abide by the Mandate, even if it meant paying millions of dollars a day in fines to the government.

This was not grandstanding. It was a reality of their lives at that time. They were facing ruinous fines for following Christ. It would most likely have put them out of business.

Another court overturned the earlier ruling and they were granted a stay.

Their lawsuit made it’s way to the Supreme Court, and today, the Court ruled that the Green family, as well as other owners of privately-held corporations, are exempt from the contraceptive portion of the HHS Mandate.

I’ve been watching and reading a bit of the reaction to the news. It’s totally predictable claptrap about how this ruling allows corporations not to follow “the law” and how it “endangers women’s health.”

My reaction to this is give me a break. First, the Supreme Court’s ruling is the law, which is something the HHS Mandate has never been.

The HHS Mandate is an agency rule which has the force of law. It was never passed by elected officials. It was created by an appointed committee. To call this thing a law violates the underlying principles of government by representation on which this nation was founded.

Second, women’s health is not endangered by not being able to get insurance coverage for abortifacients. What endangers women’s health is allowing things like the morning after pill to be put on counters where everyone can buy and use them as many times a month as they want. The health consequences of using the morning after pill for birth control could be terrible for women’s health.

Also, as I just said, the stuff is available over the counter. If a woman uses it the way it’s intended, it would be a once in a lifetime deal. If they are using it repeatedly, they are endangering their health. Period.

I’ve read all sorts of comments attacking this ruling, but I think the ruling is wonderful.

It puts a couple of teeth back into what has rapidly been becoming a toothless concept of religious liberty in this country. The government — the government — does not have any business requiring people to violate their faith under threat of government penalties. The government also does not have any business passing draconian agency regulations that infringe on American liberties by the fiat of a hand-selected back-room committee and calling it “law.”

The Green family saved our First Amendment freedoms today.

They did it as an act of faith in which they put their entire life’s work on the line based entirely on their faith in Jesus Christ.

May their tribe increase.

Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Today the nation’s highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles. The Court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey. Barbara Green, co-founder/owner of Hobby Lobby

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Meriam Ibrahim has Been Charged with a New Crime. Faces 7-Year Sentence.

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Meriam Ibrahim has not been freed. The story I posted earlier was incorrect.

She was arrested once again while she and her family were at the airport, awaiting a flight to leave the country.

According to The Independent, the new charge is that she was using a passport obtained from South Sudan. Sudan does not recognize her as a South Sudanese citizen because it does not recognize her marriage to her Christian husband. Her husband has South-Sudan/American citizenship.

Mrs Ibrahim is being charged with forging her passport, a crime that is punishable by up to seven years in prison. She is being held in a Khartoum police station. Her family has refused to leave without her.

From The Independent:

 

The US and South Sudanese ambassadors have been summoned to Khartoum by Sudan over the rearrest of a Christian convert accused of apostasy trying to flee the country after being released from death row.
Mariam Yahya Ibrahim was freed on Monday after an appeals court cancelled the death sentence imposed for having converted from Islam to marry her Christian husband, after the government came under what it called unprecedented international pressure.
But she was detained again on Tuesday for trying to use documents issued by the embassy of South Sudan to fly out of Khartoum with her American-South Sudanese husband and their two children – deepening the diplomatic wrangle over her case.Sudan does not recognise her as a South Sudanese citizen because, despite lifting her sentence, it does not recognise her marriage to a Christian, something not allowed under the Islamic laws applied in Sudan, where most people are Sunni Muslims.South Sudan, with a majority Christian population, became independent from Sudan after a public vote in 2011 that ended years of civil war between the two states.
“The airport passport police arrested Abrar after she presented emergency travel documents issued by the South Sudanese embassy and carrying an American visa,” Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services’ media department said on Facebook, referring to Ibrahim by her Muslim name.

The Pope is Catholic. Catholic Haters Hate That About Him.

Following Jesus without deviating will get you smeared every time.

I think it’s a rule of some sort, written by Satan a couple of thousand years ago.

It even happened to Jesus Himself when He walked this earth.

So … if somebody calls you names for following Him, say thank you. It’s always nice when someone notices your fidelity to Christ and pays it the ultimate compliment.

Pope Francis, who has been following right down the line on this Jesus thing, has drawn the usual verbal lightning down his own head by doing it. Just this morning, I read an article calling him, once again, a Communist for speaking out on behalf of the poor.

I believe this particular article accused him of “following Lenin” in response to the Holy Father’s linkage of economics and war. Because, you know, war has nothing to do with economics. By this logic President Dwight Eisenhower followed Lenin, too.

Puleez.

“Following Lenin????”

I wonder if the author of that post is following Lenin’s advice. I’m referring here to the Lenin who wrote “A lie, told often enough, becomes the truth.” I also wonder if the author is acquainted with the bloodthirsty things that Mr Lenin did.

Pope Francis, “following Lenin????”

That one goes beyond pigs flying in tight formation and heads on out past hens apeckin’ on a hot griddle to jump the hate-blog shark. It doesn’t even rise to the level of defamation and slander. It’s just … hateful wing nutism that turns out to be accidental comedy.

At the other end of the wing nut comedian scale, we have a writer over at Salon who wastes a lot of band-width on her angst at learning that Pope Francis is Catholic. You know: pro life, pro traditional marriage and family; that kind of Catholic.

This author goes, alongside her right-wing-nut buddies, right past common sense and lands splat in a big barrel of mud. Instead of saying that the Vicar of Christ is in cahoots with Lenin, she informs us — with rageful venom that almost leaps through the screen and scorches the reader — that the pope is … ummmm … you know … a bigot, sexist, oppressor who supports pedophilia.

Nice shot, that last. And one that’s beginning to weary. I’ve been and will continue to be as outspoken as anybody about the failure of bishops to protect children from predatory priests. But there are pedophile protectors in just about every nook and cranny of this world of ours. We actually help victimize kids more by using this issue as a club to beat the Church with and ignoring everyone else.

In fact, I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that at least some of this outrage is just Catholic hating. The reason? I’ll give you two: Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. You need another reason? Go read Coreyography. Try the defense in trendy circles of egg harvesters who prey on young girls barely out of their teens. Or, consider the easy way the media pushed the baby-bodies-in-the-septic tank hoax. I could go on, but the examples rapidly get so ugly that I don’t want to talk about them.

Following Jesus will get you smeared. That’s a fact and it always has been a fact.

Pope Francis is getting his share of politically-motivated, wing-nut smear jobs. In fact, he’s been on the receiving end of a regular dose of it ever since we first heard “Habemus Papam.”

What these folks want, of course, is for the pope to re-write the Gospels to fit their politics. They want the Holy Father to affirm them in their sins and stop making trouble with this Gospel of Christ stuff. They’ve managed to buy and bully a lot of other religious leaders into doing exactly that.

One side gives us a Caspar Milquetoast Jesus who high-fives porn, prostitution, abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of the family. The other side gives us a sociopath Django Jesus who just loves torture, corporatism and endless war. They’re both liars, you know. Just like the one who sent them. Their way is the wide way that leads to death.

When the Holy Father goes off their political reservation and flat-out says that sin is sin, even when it contradicts the “moral” teachings of right-and-left-wing-nut politicos, he’s in for it. His punishment is to be labeled a Communist-Lenin-following-bigot-sexist-oppressor-who-supports-pedophilia.

My advice to Public Catholic readers is don’t give it a thought. If you know someone stupid enough to buy this load of guano, you might mention to them that believing this stuff is kind of like a reverse intelligence test. If you believe it, you flunk the test. Other than that, just stay the course, stand for Christ and trust Him to get you and all the rest of us through these days in which we live.

We have eternal life and the joy of walking with Jesus. We can partake of the Real Presence any time we go to mass. We are free of the yokes of anguish, despair and bitterness. All we have to do is take them off, lay them down and live life abundantly.

Trust God, do your part, say a prayer for the nuts who are being nutty in such ugly and, yes, laughable ways. Then, go live your life for Jesus.

And, oh yes, when someone calls you a name for following Christ, do what Jesus told you to do: Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven.

Fortnight for Freedom: Defending Religious Liberty on Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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The jury’s out on our religious freedoms.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

We’re all waiting to see what the Supreme Court does to us or for us in their decision on Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. 

The Supremes are going to hand down a decision on this case soon, and the stakes are enormous.

What will the First Amendment mean next month, after they’ve spoken? How much freedom will we have to practice our faith? Will we be forced to make choices between shucking our faith when we step out the door of our churches? Is the Supreme Court going to take a giant step toward pushing faith out of the public square? Or will it uphold the First Amendment rights of Americans to practice their faith in public?

At issue is the question of whether or not the infamous HHS Mandate will be allowed to force Christian employers to provide funds, either directly or indirectly, for abortifacients and abortion. In other words, can the government force people to participate in murder?

On this day, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, I am going to suggest that you participate in the Fortnight for Freedom by following the links here to read about the case and then say a prayer.

From the Christian Post:

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Protesters pray at the steps of the Supreme Court as arguments begin today to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide coverage for contraception as part of an employee’s health care, in Washington March 25, 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court convened on Tuesday to consider whether business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control.

An attorney involved in a Supreme Court case that will determine to what extent privately owned businesses can opt-out of providing certain types of birth control for religious reasons believes there are “‘high stakes” involved in the outcome.

Matt Bowman, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, has served as an attorney for Conestoga Woods Specialties, who alongside Hobby Lobby, have sued the federal government to be exempt from the Health and Human Services’ “preventive services mandate” that requires businesses to cover birth control that can lead to the early termination of a pregnancy.

“The stakes are very high in the Conestoga and Hobby Lobby case,” explained Bowman regarding the First Amendment implications in the lawsuit. “It involves fundamental issues of whether or not religious freedom belongs to every American, and whether the government can redefine freedom to force citizens to buy abortion pills for other people.”

Salutorian Puts Jesus in His Graduation Speech, In Spite of School Censorship

Photo Source: Desert News

Brooks Hamby’s high school graduation speech got kicked back three times. The reason? He persisted in talking about his faith.

Evidently, Mr Hamby eventually submitted a draft that was approved. But it turned out the censorship was all for naught. When I watched the video below, it sounded to me like Mr Hamby gave the first couple of lines from his approved speech, then shifted to remarks the administration knew nothing about.

“I presented three drafts of my speech,” he said, “all of them denied on account of my desire to share with you my personal thoughts and inspiration to you: My faith in Jesus Christ.”

You can hear a murmur from the crowd and sense consternation on the dais behind him as he continued.

Rumors have evidently circulated that the school denied Mr Hamby his diploma, but according to an interview he gave the Desert News, this is not true. But he did say that the school and their attorney’s told him they would shut off the microphone if he gave a speech mentioning Jesus.

Here is the text of the letter the school district sent him before he gave his speech. This letter is a lot of force to bring down on a graduating high school senior. I think Mr Hamby showed remarkable courage. How many of us would have the guts to do the same?

Based on District legal counsel opinion referencing two 9th Circuit Appellate Court cases, any aspect of a graduation speech that makes reference to Jesus and prayer is inappropriate and violates prevailing legal standards. The first and second draft speeches proposed oppose government case law and are a violation of the constitution. The District is advising you that reference to religious content is inappropriate and that the two drafts provided will not be allowed. If you choose to move forward with a differentiated speech that interjects religious content, the sound will be cut off, and a disclaimer to the entire audience must be made explaining the District’s position.

For more details, check out the Desert News.

Here is the video:

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Truth Sifting to the Top 2: AP Retracts False Accusations Made in Babies Buried in Septic Tank Story

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I’m writing back to back truth-sifting-to-the-top posts today.

It happens that way sometimes. The truth, after a loud cacophony of untruths, will suddenly start sifting to the top all at once.

It seems that the story of Irish nuns having dumped 700 baby bodies into a septic tank is just that: A story. Or rather, a hoax. Or, to put it bluntly the invention of an anti-Catholic press looking for anything at all to be turned into another scandalizing story about the Church.

Father James Martin, SJ, who is an editor at large at America magazine, pinged the Associated Press in public about their inaccurate reporting of the Septic Tank Story. The AP responded by printing a retraction.

The one time I asked for a retraction from a publication because of a story about me, the story was serious lawsuit bait. They printed a left-foot-of-honesty retraction kind of like this one. Instead of just saying “we got it wrong folks,” they spent most of the ink saying that I hadn’t been available when they tried to contact me to verify.

I should have demanded at least one other retraction, for the same reason, (lawsuit bait) but didn’t. I kind of regret that now. However, I’m sure their retraction would have been as murky as the one I got the first time. After being attacked like this for years, I’m slower than most to believe these too-bad-to-be-true exposes.

Since it wouldn’t be possible for either the dead nuns or the dead babies to sue, my hat is off to the Associated Press for giving it up and doing a retraction. I am also grateful to Father Martin for pushing them to do it. America Magazine has the clout to force the issue, something that not everyone does.

I want to ask Public Catholic readers to stop and consider all this in light of themselves and their reactions. The babies buried in the septic tank story sounded bogus from day one. It was implausible on its face. I wrote about this and then commented on it in the com boxes. The response was that a few commenters chimed in with reality-stretching explanations as to why the story could have been true, despite the impracticality of stuffing 700 bodies into a septic tank.

I think those people wanted to believe the story, for their own reasons.

On the other hand, a lot of good people got drug off the road by this story. I imagine there were heartsick Catholics all over the world going, “not again,” when they read this thing. I’m guessing that a lot of them got down at heart over it, and maybe even a few of them wondered if they would still follow the Church.

That was the agenda behind this story. The reason for jumping on this odd assortment of random facts and stringing them together into accusations of 700 baby bodies thrown into a septic tank by nuns who operated a Catholic orphanage was … well … to damage the Church and to destroy your faith.

I had no hard proof the story was bogus.

But my knowledge gained from having lived in a household that used a septic tank,

plus my understanding of the space requirement for 700 bodies,

plus my knowledge of the Church’s teachings about respect for human remains,

plus my understanding of the kind of people I know nuns to be,

plus my understanding of how lousy the popular press is with anti-Catholicism

led me inexorably to the conclusion that the story, minus some real proof, was, to put it bluntly, almost certainly a dead, flat lie.

However, I didn’t jump out there and say this is a lie. What I did was counsel you to wait and see how it all turned out; to let the truth sift itself to the top.

I’m going back over this now to caution readers, once again, about the popular media. You can’t believe them. They deliberately use stories that get you worked up and hook you into obsessive viewing throughout their 24-hour news cycle.

More to the point, much of the popular media is rabidly anti-Catholic. I look at a lot of news stories about religion, and I can tell you that I see story after story, trashing the Catholic Church, Christians and Christianity. The rare balanced — not favorable, but balanced — story stands out like a flashing light.

Most of what the media is saying about the Church is carefully selected and edited to put the Church in the worst possible light. I think the reason for this is that the Church has taken courageous stands on social issues that go against the media zeitgeist.

In this atmosphere, my advice to let the truth sift itself to the top is doubly important. Do not allow yourself to be yanked around emotionally by these stories. Do not bite down on the the totally untrue implication that you have to decide who is right or wrong and what should happen to them.

There are plenty of things in your life that you need to decide, and plenty of things you need to be concerned about. But these endless cycles of outrageous and manufactured stories are not among them.

When it comes to negative reporting about our Church, get out your salt. Take every negative story published about the Church that does not have substantial objective facts that you can look at yourself to back it up with as much salt as you can load in your wagon and wheel in.

Here, courtesy of America, the National Catholic Review, is the left-footed retraction from the Associated Press. Notice it falls over itself with one thing that has been lacking in the reporting of this story: Specificity. The retracting is limited to specific facts the AP got so wrong there is no denying it. Even then, they toss in the idiot jibe that “that may have occurred” regarding refusal of baptism. No proof, no fact; just speculation to gloss their mistake.

Ireland-Children’s Mass Graves story

DUBLIN (AP) — In stories published June 3 and June 8 about young children buried in unmarked graves after dying at a former Irish orphanage for the children of unwed mothers, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptized. The AP also incorrectly reported that Catholic teaching at the time was to deny baptism and Christian burial to the children of unwed mothers; although that may have occurred in practice at times it was not church teaching. In addition, in the June 3 story, the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the tank contains, if any. The June 3 story also contained an incorrect reference to the year that the orphanage opened; it was 1925, not 1926

For more details, check out Kathy Schiffer’s great post on this topic. 

March for Marriage 2014: What I Believe

This video promoting the March for Marriage 2014 deals with the issue of religious freedom as it pertains to the overall issue of supporting traditional marriage.

I have written about these same things many times, including here, here, here and here.

Because of the issues raised in Public Catholic’s com boxes, I want to clarify where I stand.

I support civil and human rights for gay people, including legal provision for gay couples in areas such as inheritance, property and next of kin issues, among others. Gay people are human beings and American citizens. They have every right to engage in electoral politics, petition the courts or use any other legitimate means to achieve their ends, even when I do not agree with those ends.

One area where I disagree  is that I do not support the redefinition of marriage. I also unilaterally oppose the enormous designer-baby, baby-selling, egg harvesting/surrogacy industry. I am not talking about private arrangements between two people that do not involve money.  I have no interest in making that illegal. I would leave it under the same regulations as other medical procedures such as the voluntary donation of organs for transplant.

Egg harvesting and surrogacy for money, on the other hand, is predatory medical malpractice on its face. It should be illegal and doctors who do it should have their licenses to practice medicine permanently revoked. There should also be strong provisions for civil actions — with no limit on judgements — against these doctors. Egg harvesting should — and if it wasn’t for misogyny it would — fall under the same legal definitions and protections as the donation of bodily organs.

In my opinion, Medical Associations that support egg harvesting and surrogacy render any claims they make about protecting the public a sham by that action. Corporatists who support it — and they all seem to — are just being their evil money-is-everything/people-are-nothing selves.

I also am opposed to “tolerance education” the leads to confusion in young children and the infringement of the civil liberties and human rights of those who oppose gay marriage.

I am appalled by the use of bullying, job termination and labeling of those who oppose gay marriage. This is being used as a political tactic and it is destructive to everyone involved, as well as our nation as a whole.

I further believe that the letters from prominent elected officials demanding that Archbishop Cordileone not attend the 2014 March for Marriage were part of a coordinated effort to drive down the numbers of those who attend the march. The use of defamation of those sponsoring the March, as well as the plethora of name-calling that I have seen on this blog has led me to the conclusion that this is an attempt to keep people from attending the March by using intimidation.

If I had the money to go, I would be there. I am determined that I will be there next year, precisely because of this intimidation. I will not be intimidated and bullied in this manner. No one else should allow themselves to be bullied and intimidated like this, either.

I urge everyone who lives within driving distance to go to Washington today — there’s still time to participate in some of the events — and make yourself heard.

You can also donate to the National Organization for Marriage here.  I began monthly donations after Brendan Eich was fired for making a donation to Proposition 8. You can see the receipt for my donation here.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this bullying and name-calling are not intimidating me. They are leading me to a stronger commitment.

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