Our Sorrowful Mother: Ndi Nyina wa Jambo

 

Ndi Nyina wa Jambo — I am the Mother of the Word

Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

I remember years ago, a constituent of mine, a Hispanic gentleman of great faith, talking to me about all the visitations Our Lady had graced the world with in the past century.

Something’s going to happen. He told me.

I nodded and pretended to understand, but, in truth, I didn’t. It was only later, when I went to Fatima, that the great hidden truth of Our Lord sending His mother to warn and instruct us began to take hold in my thinking.

At that time, I was unaware that Our Mother had visited her children in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. I had never heard of her prophecy of the Rwandan genocide. But she had visited Rwanda and she did warn them. Our Lady spoke to the people of Rwanda 13 years before the genocide. This is from If Only We Had Listened, by Immaculee Ilibagiza:

… in 1982, all the visionaries reported horrid visions of unspeakable violence, bloodshed, torture, destruction, and thousands of dismembered corpses littering the landscape — it was a prophetic warning from the Virgin Mary that if Rwandans did not cleanse their hearts of hatred and fill their souls with God’s love, evil would win out and a genocide would sweep across the land. Sadly, the Virgin’s warning became reality: The terrible Rwandan genocide unfolded exactly as she prophesied. … In 2001, after a twenty-year investigation into the events of Kibeho, the Vatican formally recognized the original three visionaries: Alphonsine, Marie-Claire, and Anathalie. Kibeho has now become the only Vatican-approved Marian site on the African continent, placing the humble village on the same spiritual level … with … Lourdes and Fatima.

I didn’t know of this when my constituent talked to me about these things. Later, I only knew about Fatima, and what I knew about that was mostly from my personal experience. I knew that the place was God-soaked, and I knew that God had spoken to me there. From that vague nothing-much of an understanding, I began to learn.

What I learned was that Jesus repeatedly sent His mother to warn her children of the coming conflagrations of the 20th century. In each of these warnings, she spoke of the horrors of hell and of the great numbers of people who were going to end up there. She encouraged prayer for the conversion of these people.

Then, she gave what I tend to think of as political warnings: Of the fall of Russia into Communism, of the genocide in Rwanda. Along with the warning, she also provided a solution. Each time, this solution centered on prayer.

Pray the Rosary, she said at Fatima. Consecrate Russia to my Immaculate Heart, she instructed. She added a call to pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows at Kibeho. Turn to God and cleanse your hearts of hatred, she instructed Rwanda.

It is interesting — and powerful — that Our Lady spoke of the Divine Mercy when she spoke at Kibeho. The Divine Mercy comes to us through an obscure Polish nun named Faustina Kowalska. Sister — now Saint — Faustina was visited, not by Our Lady, but by Jesus Himself.

He dictated another Rosary to pray to her: The Chaplet of Divine Mercy. He also asked for a Divine Mercy feast day, which St John Paul II established.

The one who turns to God in this world, and lives according to God’s will, can, through Divine Mercy, shorten and even avoid his time in purgatory, Our Lady said at Kibeho.

Repentance, prayer, love and mercy: Can these things really be the answer to our miseries in this life? Mary said this at Kibeho:

When I visit someone and speak to them, I am openly addressing all people. If I am now turning to the parish at Kibeho, it does not mean that I am concerned only for Kibeho or for the diocese of Butare, or for Rwanda, or for the whole of Africa. I am concerned with and turning to the entire world. … Repent! Repent! Repent! … I am speaking this appeal to the whole world. Today man empties all things of their true value. Those who are continually committing sins are doing so without ever accepting that what they are doing is wrong.

The things Our Mother tells us do not change one word of the Gospels of her Son. They do not add to His teachings. They apply His teaching in a direct way to the challenges of our times. I think of them as the best sermons, the greatest Christian teaching, available to us in this world today.

Christ has sent us His own mother to teach us how to follow Him in these challenging times when, as the Anchoress said yesterday, the “center does not hold.” I both agree and disagree with what Elizabeth Scalia, aka, the Anchoress, said in that post.

Yes, we are flinging ourselves off into chaos, destroying our civilization with the glee of an angry child, knocking over a tower of blocks it took him all afternoon to build. But the center itself is unchanged by this. The center is Christ, and He is holding. We are simply refusing to take the outstretched hand of our Savior and be saved. We would rather thrash around in our self-centeredness and drown for eternity in the final and bitter desserts of our own caprice.

Repent! Repent! Repent! Our Lady tells us.

Devote yourselves to my Immaculate Heart, pray the Rosary, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. Cleanse your hearts of hatred. Fill your souls with God’s love. In other words, chose life, not death.

Because, Something’s going to happen. 

My constituent told me that, and I nodded in agreement without understanding what he was saying. Now I can answer him more honestly.

Something’s going to happen. 

Yes. It is.  

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Obama Meets with Eastern Christian Leaders. Hears of Plight of Persecuted Christians.

President Obama “dropped by” National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s meeting with Eastern Christian leaders for a forty-minute discussion about the Christian genocide in Iraq.

From Catholic News Service:

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Eight Eastern Christian leaders spent 40 minutes talking to President Barack Obama about the situation of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.  “We felt how deeply moved he was by what was happening to the Christians there,” Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, said at a Mass later the same day at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church. The Sept. 11 Mass closed the three-day inaugural In Defense of Christians summit. A conference organizer told Catholic News Service

The cardinal said each of the leaders from Eastern Catholic and Orthodox rites had a chance to speak individually to Obama, who the White House said “dropped by National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s meeting at the White House.”

Although the White House did not release details of the discussion, throughout the summit the Christian leaders spoke of the threat to Christians and other minorities posed by Islamic State militants, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Several said they were advocating religious freedom, an inherent right. They spoke of the need for local leaders and the international community to become involved in a solution because, as one Orthodox bishop said, “no one can possibly agree to a beheading.”A White House statement, read out near the end of the In Defense of Christians summit, said Obama reinforced the U.S. commitment to fight Islamic State militants and other groups that threaten the Middle East, as well as American personnel and interests in the region.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

ISIS and Genocide are Satan’s Delight

 

Oklahoma plans to execute a murderer in the next few months.

This murderer raped an 11-month old baby to death.

How does it make you feel when you read the sentence? Would you like to volunteer to dispatch this man yourself?

That’s satan’s delight. The dark lord’s pay-back for atrocity is a triple hitter. First, there is the payback of the deed itself; the horror and suffering of the victim, the sadism and utter degradation of the perpetrator. Then, there’s the horror and rage of those of us who must deal with the after effects. And finally, there is the fall from grace of those who see it and are moved in their hearts to murder as revenge.

Every outrage is a trifecta for satan. Every time.

Consider for a moment how much more delightful government-waged atrocity is to this being of hate and death. Genocide, and its evil twin the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents of every group, feed his craving for annihilation.

If the heinous murder of one innocent child can make good people crave the taste of bloody revenge, the mass slaughter of millions can raise up the murdering beast in all of civilization. Genocide has the power to make monsters of us all.

The antidote to that, if you are a Christian, is the certain knowledge that these murderous rages of retribution, no matter how tempting they may seem, are of the darkness and not the Light. You can not follow Christ and yield to them.

Recently, a blogger on a small web site posted an article setting out the roadway to an American genocide against Muslims. I could sugar coat it, but that would be a lie. The roadway of discrimination leading to organized violence against a specific group of people was explicit and clear.

The resulting carrying on was due, at least in my opinion, to the fact that the web site is a Christian site. It was precisely because the worldwide response of Christians everywhere, ranging from the Pope to those who are victims of this genocide has been so completely Christian that so many people have latched onto this obscure web site and its blog post. It may not be much, but it’s the best they’ve got.

The bulk of this reaction was gleeful denunciation from the same people who have heretofore been mostly or even entirely silent about the genocide in Iraq. These are the same people who bash Christians day and night.

It was accompanied by a more muted See? It’s not just us! response from a few Muslim commenters.

The truth is, I understand and sympathize with the Muslim response, while I take the “outrage” from the consistent Christian bashers as a pose that is simply part of their on-going hazing of Christians in general.

The point to me is that this writer has gone over the falls of giving satan his delight. Christianity is the religion of life, not death. We stand for the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. We acknowledge that all human life is sacred.

We know that we will be persecuted and attacked for this. Our Savior told us that we would be persecuted for His name. He also told us that our reward in heaven would be great.

That does not mean that we are called to sit idly by while millions of innocent people are being slaughtered. Self defense is always allowed, and the defense of those who cannot defend themselves is part of that.

But we may not ever — ever — engage in bloody battles of vengeance aimed at expiating the rage and hurt we feel over the atrocities we witness. That savagery is not Christian. It is anti-Christ. And it dooms those who do it to the same hell where the followers of ISIS are sending themselves.

Make no mistake about it: God is not mocked. And calling for the indiscriminate slaughter of any of the people that He made in His image is mocking Him, big time.

ISIS and genocide are satan’s delight.

Don’t allow yourself to become his delight, as well.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

If You Don’t Like Black People, You’d Better not Plan on Going to Heaven, Because There’s Going to be a Lot of Them There

 

 

Opio Toure

Opio Toure was my friend.

We knew one another before either one of us was elected to office, back when we were both young and full of ourselves. Then, for a few blessed years, we served together in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

We differed, as people always do, on a couple of issues. But our hearts walked the same path. There was a time, and it wasn’t so long ago, when being black in the Oklahoma House meant taking a lot of guff. It was subtle guff, but guff, just the same.

 

Opio, back when we both were young and full of ourselves. 

I remember one time when a battle of some sort of ugly guff-ism was coming down, I got overwhelmed. I turned to Opio in disgust. “You need to make me an honorary black person,” I said, “because I’m sick of these white folk.”

He looked at me and said, “Oh, you black. You black.”

That remains a treasured memory for me, and it will until I see Opio again.

When things got tough, Opio and I used to leave Bible verses on one-another’s desks. Those verses are also among my most treasured memories.

Opio was a Baptist preacher, who had Catholic relatives. One of his favorite items was a Rosary that had belonged to his aunt. He carried it around on the House floor, fingering the beads for comfort. We talked about the holiness of that Rosary, soaked with years of the prayers of his God-fearing, God-loving aunt.

It is not an exaggeration to say that I love Opio Toure, my brother in Christ.

 

Linda Richardson, prayed my asthma away.

Then, there’s the God-fearing, God-loving black women who grace this world.

I have asthma. A few years back, the asthma almost did me in. It got worse and worse, until every step I took felt like I was walking through knee deep mud. Then one day, my assistant, Linda Richardson, reached out with the authority of the Spirit-filled and laid her hands on me and prayed, rebuking the asthma in Jesus name.

This was totally spontaneous on her part, we were just talking when she did it. But I felt the power immediately. From that day forward, the asthma began backing off. It’s still there, but it’s quiet. I don’t need medicine for it, haven’t needed medicine for it for a long time.

 

Kurt David English

I remember when I was working on my Master’s degree. My fellow student, Kurt David English, and I teamed up to help each other through the degree process. Kurt is a black, Spirit-filled man. We prayed together and talked about Jesus together and supported one another through that degree process. I don’t think either one of us would have made it without the other.

 

Representative, soon to be Senator Anastasia Pittman, carrying a Martin Luther King sign.

Then there’s my seat-mate, office mate and best legislative bud Representative, soon to be Senator Anastasia Pittman and our assistant, the incomparable Miss Trena Byas, as well as Gracie Monson. These praying women have gotten me through a lot of deep water. During tough times in the legislature, they formed a kind of retreat around me, a safe place. They made a home for me when being a pro life Democrat left me otherwise homeless.

 

Representative Anastasia Pittman and Miss Trena Byas, my legislative homies. 

 

The powerful praying woman of God, Gracie Monson

This is just the tip of it. I could write a book on the powerful praying black people who have blessed my life. In this world of politically-correct weak-and-worthless Christianity that tries to make itself small enough not to be a target of those who hate Christ, black Christians are the unafraid and anointed.

 

Democratic Floor Leader, Representative Opio Toure

I once asked Opio (I was pretty mad when I asked it) why it was OK for a black Democrat to be an outspoken Christian but a white Democrat Christian who talked about Jesus got slapped around by the party.

He laughed and shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said. Even though he didn’t have an answer, the acknowledgement of what I was facing helped me enormously.

Back when Democratic activists were putting out flyers in the district I represented denouncing me directly for my Catholic faith in the most bigoted manner possible, it was Opio who said “This is outrageous.” No one else would stand with me.

This post is more reminiscence than anything else. But it does have a message: If you don’t like black people, you’d better not plan on going to heaven, because there’s going to be a lot of them there.

 

Saint Josephine Bakhita, captured by slavers, freed in Christ. 

Another message I’d like to pass along is that if you’re a white Christian and you haven’t found yourself a few Spirit-filled, black, praying friends, you need to get out more, because you are missing your blessing.

Black spirituality, including Black Catholic spirituality, is different from white spirituality in the precise ways that we white folks need to improve ourselves. Black spirituality is unashamed of the name of Jesus. Black Christians don’t mess around trying to hide their Jesus so that no one will accuse them of all the things that Christians get accused of in this post Christian America. They aren’t afraid of being harassed and criticized for Christ. They step right out there and proclaim the Lord and His power, and they mean it. Nobody talks their Jesus down to them. They won’t allow it.

Black Christian power was shaped in the crucible of hundreds of years of slavery and second-class citizenship. It was black faith and that powerful black praying that allowed them to walk right out of those ghettos, to march through the fire-hoses and police dogs and cops with truncheons and lead this whole nation to a rebirth of equality.

 

Mother Mary Lange, founder of the Oblate Sisters of Providence

Faith alone explains the power of the Civil Rights Movement that fought and won a war without bullets or guns against an opponent who had and used both those things.

We don’t make enough of what black people have accomplished for themselves and for this country by enduring and winning the Civil Rights fight. We emphasize the wrong things. The evil of their persecutors was true evil. But the focus should be on the nobility and power of the fight that black Americans made against that evil.

The Civil Rights Movement was faith with legs. It was truth spoken to power. It was, in a way that we don’t acknowledge, our finest hour as a nation.

And it was Spirit-filled from bottom to top. It was an expression of black Christianity and the power of a praying people.

White Christians need black Christians. We need to learn from them.

Try spending time in a black church once in a while. I promise you, you will be blessed.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Oklahoma Archbishop Files Suit Over Stolen Host that Satanists Have Slotted for Desecration

 

Archbishop Paul Coakley filed suit today against the group which has said it will conduct a “black mass” at the Oklahoma City Civic Center.

The basis for the lawsuit is that the group has illegally obtained property belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, i.e., a Consecrated Host.

There are a number of statutes which might apply to this situation. According to an article in National Catholic Reporter, a “black mass” involves a naked woman lying on the “altar,” which has a certain symmetry since their “priest” is a convicted sex offender. Since Oklahoma has laws against public nudity, the Satanists claim they are going to forego that, along with using excrement and urine.

Here is a sampling of other statutes which might apply to the situation. These are all from Title 21,  criminal law. I’m sure there are many others under tort law.

Oklahoma Criminal Statutes:

1. Receiving property obtained under false pretenses:”§21-1713.  Receiving stolen property – Presumption.

A.  Every person who buys or receives, in any manner, upon any consideration, any personal property of any value whatsoever that has been stolen, embezzled, obtained by false pretense or robbery, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the same to have been stolen, embezzled, obtained by false pretense, or robbery, or who conceals, withholds, or aids in concealing or withholding such property from the owner, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not to exceed five (5) years, or in the county jail not to exceed one (1) year, or by a fine not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by both such fine and imprisonment.

2. Larceny:
“§211701.  Larceny defined.
Larceny is the taking of personal property accomplished by fraud or stealth, and with intent to deprive another thereof.”
3. Crime against a house of worship (as an Accessory to the crime).
“§21-1765.  House of worship or contents, injuring.
Any person who willfully breaks, defaces, or otherwise injures any house of worship, or any part thereof, or any appurtenance thereto, or any book, furniture, ornament, musical instrument, article of silver or plated ware, or other chattel kept therein for use in connection with religious worship, shall be guilty of a felony.”
§21173.  Accessories defined.
All persons who, after the commission of any felony, conceal or aid the offender, with knowledge that he has committed a felony, and with intent that he may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment, are accessories.
§21901.  Blasphemy defined.Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.
 
§21902.  Serious discussion not blasphemy.If it appears beyond reasonable doubt that the words complained of were used in the course of serious discussion, and with intent to make known or recommend opinions entertained by the accused, such words are not blasphemy.

This is the press release Archbishop Coakley put out about the lawsuit:

Image007

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Updated: Muslim Leaders Join in Condemnation of ISIS

1539530 Articolo

On August 8, the Oriental Bishops called on Islamic leaders to issue Fatwas against the genocide committed against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq by the group that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

So far as I know, there has been no Fatwa against genocide. I found one Fatwa issued against ISIS by Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who is said to be Iraq’s most influential religious leader. Ayatollah Sistani called for a Fatwa urging Iraqis to fight against ISIS. However, I believe that this particular FATWA was aimed at defending Shia Muslims against Sunni Muslims. I do not think it addressed the slaughter of Christians and Yazidis.

I don’t know anything about either Fatwas or the arguments between various branches of Islam. I am only quoting what I have read. So this could be wrong. ISIS itself issued a charming Fatwa in favor of rape, but nothing else from religious leaders.

On August 8, the Indonesia Ulem Council Issued a Fatwa against ISIS. Again, it was not against the genocide or the barbaric actions of ISIS. The Fatwa seemed to be based on the potential ISIS has to harm Islam.

The Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, who is said to be Egypt’s top religious authority condemned ISIS yesterday. Once again, his basis for doing so was that ISIS is damaging to Islam. The article I read did not contain a condemnation of the genocide.

If Public Catholic leaders know of Fatwas issued by Islamic religious leaders against the genocide in Iraq and Syria, please share the information and I will publish it.

At the same time that Islamic religious leaders are mostly silent on the genocide, Islamic political leaders have spoken out. The Arab League accused ISIS of crimes against humanity as regards the Yazidi. In another article, they were said to have called for the formation of a “national unity government” in Iraq. I have no idea what a “national unity government” might be, but I view it with suspicion. The article I read said nothing about the crimes against Christians. It may simply be an incomplete article.

In Australia, Samier Dandan, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, called the man whose little boy was photographed holding the head of a victim of ISIS, “a lunatic.”

The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) issued a condemnation of the forced expulsion of Iraqi Christians. Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who is said to be an influential Muslim religious leader, posted this condemnation on his website. “These are acts that violate Islamic laws, Islamic conscience and leave but a negative image of Islam and Muslims,” the statement said. “The Christians are native sons of Iraq and not intruders.”

Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperaton, which represents 57 countries and 1.4 billion Muslims, officially denounced “the forced deportation under the threat of execution” of Christians, calling it a “crime that cannot be tolerated.” He said that ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.”

Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, the highest religious authority in Turkey, said that Muslims should not be hostile towards “people with different views, values and beliefs, and regard them as enemies.” This doesn’t sound like a Fatwa, but it is at least an Islamic religious leader, speaking on the general subject.

And finally, Indonesia has declared ISIS illegal. 

This response from Islamic leaders around the world is heartening. Decent people everywhere need to unite against these crimes against humanity, whoever does them, wherever they happen.

This roundup is informal in the extreme. I hope that Public Catholic readers will add information to it if they have it.

YouTube Preview Image

UPDATE: For a survey of reaction against the Iraqi genocide in the Muslim press, go here.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Vatican Unambiguously Denounces and Condemns Unspeakable Jihadist Acts

 

Public Catholic reader Ken brought this to my attention.

The Vatican has released a statement condemning the crimes against humanity that are occurring in the Middle East. The statement lists what it calls “unspeakable criminal acts … which bring shame on humanity,” including beheading, crucifying, abduction of women and girls as spoils of war, the barbaric practice of infibulation and forced conversions.

From the Vatican Website:

The whole world has witnessed with incredulity what is now called the “Restoration of the Caliphate,” which had been abolished on October 29,1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. Opposition to this “restoration” by the majority of religious institutions and Muslim politicians has not prevented the “Islamic State” jihadists from committing and continuing to commit unspeakable criminal acts.

This Pontifical Council, together with all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, followers of all religions, and all men and women of good will, can only unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity:

-the massacre of people on the sole basis of their religious affiliation;

-the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying and hanging bodies in public places;

-the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) or forced exile;

-the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick;

-the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war (sabaya);

-the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;

-the destruction of places of worship and Christian and Muslim burial places;

-the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;

-the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols as well as those of other

religious communities;

-the destruction of a priceless Christian religious and cultural heritage;

-indiscriminate violence aimed at terrorizing people to force them to surrender or flee.

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. We cannot forget, however, that Christians and Muslims have lived together – it is true with ups and downs – over the centuries, building a culture of peaceful coexistence and civilization of which they are proud. Moreover, it is on this basis that, in recent years, dialogue between Christians and Muslims has continued and intensified.

The dramatic plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious communities and ethnic minorities in Iraq requires a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, as well as those engaged in interreligious dialogue and all people of good will. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the use of religion to justify them. If not, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility can the interreligious dialogue that we have patiently pursued over recent years have?

Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence with the authorities to end these crimes, to punish those who commit them and to reestablish the rule of law throughout the land, ensuring the return home of those who have been displaced. While recalling the need for an ethical management of human societies, these same religious leaders must not fail to stress that the support, funding and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible.

That said, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is grateful to all those who have already raised their voices to denounce terrorism, especially that which uses religion to justify it.

Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis: “May the God of peace stir up in each one of us a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace. “

[01287-02.01] [Original text: French – working translation]

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

I Just Bought a Bumper Sticker. You Should Buy One Too.

 

 

I just bought a bumper sticker like the one in the photo above. Next month, I’m getting a t-shirt to go with it.

The symbol on the left is a letter in the Arabic alphabet. It is pronounced “noon.” It is a slur against Christians in that part of the world, meaning Nazarene.

ISIS has used this symbol to mark the homes of Christians, as well as the bodies of the Christians they have murdered. They intend it as a great insult and degradation. But there is no higher honor than to be marked with the name of Christ. These people they are killing are martyrs who go straight to heaven.

I have this sign of the Nazarene on my Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages. It is an honor and a privilege to do so.

Now, it’s going on my car.

The merchant is Lisieux Learning on Zazzle.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Free Speech is a Civil Right: IRS and the Freedom from Religion Foundation Disagree

 

So … we’ve got an organization whose sole purpose is to drive religious expression from the public sphere by the use of threats of legal action and harassment.

This organization files a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service and demands that the IRS join them in their harassment of religious people by “monitoring” churches for possible violations of IRS rules. In this instance, what they were suing about was the so-called “Johnson Amendment” to the IRS code.

The Johnson Amendment is the basis for the IRS rule that preachers may not endorse candidates from the pulpit if they are to receive tax-free status. The IRS rule itself is quite specific and narrow. Neither it nor the Johnson Amendment were intended to become the dreadnought by which churches are harassed and bullied in order to keep them from speaking out on moral issues. But that is exactly what has happened.

Groups such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation routinely conflate the Johnson Amendment with a limitation on First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and religion, including freedom of speech in religion. They harass, bully and intimidate Christians all over the country with threats of lawsuits.  I say Christians because I am not aware of them doing this to other faiths.

It seems obvious to me that they are using the Johnson Amendment as a lever to try to destroy the moral and prophetic voice of Christianity, not only in the public sphere, but from the pulpit, as well.

The Internal Revenue Service of the United States government settled this latest lawsuit by agreeing to become the FFRF’s hammer to beat down on free speech in the pulpit. They didn’t say this in so many words. What they agreed to do was to single out groups based on whether or not they are faith (read that Christian) organizations and “monitor” what their pastors preach for possible violations of the IRS code. If that is not a deliberately chilling government surveillance for the purpose of limiting free speech, what is?

It is particularly salient that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is not just trying to stop churches from endorsing candidates for political office; it is also claiming that they violate the Johnson Amendment when they discuss legislation or political issues. Abortion is a political issue. Gay marriage is a political issue. The genocide in the Middle East is a political issue. Corporatism, the environment, divorce, pornography, sex trafficking, prostitution, taxes, jobs and most everything else in America is a political issue.

We are Americans, which means that we are political people. We have what is purported to be a government of, by and for the people, which means at its root that governmental matters belong to us to cuss, discuss, slice and dice however we choose. That should include every segment of our society, including the pulpit.

If we are also Christians, then our faith guides us in everything we do. Jesus Christ is the Lord of our lives. We try to follow the Gospels in everything. Our faith leaders have not just a right, they have a responsibility to lead us in the Gospel paths of living.

There is no line for Americans between themselves and their politics for the simple reason that our politics, and our government, are us. Our beliefs are legitimately pertinent to political debate because we are the government.

What this lawsuit by the FFRF — and other actions to censor and stifle religious discussion, opinions and activism —  amount to is an attempt to censor and silence a whole set of ideas. This lawsuit is a blatant push to silence people that the FFRF disagrees with by the use of government surveillance of selected groups, coupled with the threat of government action against those groups, and the government is going along with it. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is using the IRS to censor speech in the pulpit. This is not an attempt to drive Christianity from the pubic square through bullying. It is a direct mis-use of government power to silence free speech among a whole class of citizens because another group of citizens does not like what they are saying.

The IRS is going to “monitor” churches to see if the clergy talks about anything more pertinent to our daily lives than, say, Isaac blessing Jacob instead of Esau, for the purpose of hauling them up before the Man. It is as simple as that.

From New American:

The Internal Revenue Service continues to extend its already vast overreach, this time by agreeing to monitor church sermons as part of an agreement the government made on July 17 with the aggressively atheistic Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Freedom Outpost reported, “The Internal Revenue Service settled a lawsuit brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The 2012 lawsuit was settled after the IRS agreed to monitor what is said in houses of worship, something that is a clear violation of the First Amendment, since no law can be written by Congress to this effect.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin, brought the suit against the IRS, asserting that the group had been ignoring complaints that churches were violating their tax-exempt statuses. According to the group’s suit, churches promote political issues, legislation, and candidates from the pulpit.

FFRF asserted, “Pulpit Freedom Sunday … has become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity. The IRS, meanwhile, admittedly was not enforcing the restrictions against churches.”

FFRF claims that the churches are acting in violation of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which states that non-profits cannot endorse candidates.

A 2009 court ruling determined that the IRS must staff someone to monitor church politicking, but the Freedom From Religion Foundation claims that the IRS has not been adhering to the ruling.

Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom and head of the Pulpit Initiative, told LifeSiteNews that “the IRS has no business censoring what a pastor preaches from the pulpit.” Stanley states that his organization is currently “attempting to bring the era of IRS censorship and intimidation to an end by challenging the Johnson Amendment, which imposes unconstitutional restrictions on clergy speech.”

He contends that churches should not have to choose between tax-exempt status and freedom of speech. “No one would suggest a pastor give up his church’s tax-exempt status if he wants to keep his constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure or cruel and unusual punishment,” he said.

Stanley insists that not only would it be unfair for churches to have to choose between one or the other, but that “churches are automatically tax exempt out of recognition that the surest way to destroy the free exercise of religion is to begin taxing it.” “Churches are constitutionally entitled to a tax exemption and that exemption cannot be conditioned on the surrender of constitutional rights.”

In celebration of its victory with the IRS, the Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a press release wherein it outlined its win:

The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations. While the IRS retains “prosecutorial” discretion with regard to any individual case, the IRS no longer has a blanket policy or practice of non-enforcement of political activity restrictions as to churches.

The press release also acknowledges, however, that the judge in the case could not order immediate action since a moratorium has been placed on the investigations by the IRS of tax exempt groups after the 2013 scandal in which the IRS was found to have been targeting Christian and conservative groups.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Governor Mary Fallin Condemns Black Mass

Governor Mary Fallin

Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin condemned black mass that is scheduled for Oklahoma City next month.

From the Governor’s website:

Gov. Fallin Condemns Black Mass Scheduled for Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today condemned a scheduled performance of a satanic black mass next month in Oklahoma City.

“This ‘Black Mass’ is a disgusting mockery of the Catholic faith, and it should be equally repellent to Catholics and non-Catholics alike,” said Fallin. “It may be protected by the First Amendment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t condemn it in the strongest terms possible for the moral outrage which it is. It is shocking and disgusting that a group of New York City ‘satanists’ would travel all the way to Oklahoma to peddle their filth here. I pray they realize how hurtful their actions are and cancel this event.”

Fallin joins Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley in criticizing the event, scheduled for Sept. 21 at the Oklahoma City Civic Center. The archbishop said the black mass “is a satanic inversion and distortion of the most sacred beliefs not only of Catholics, but of all Christians.”

Oklahoma City officials have said the Civic Center is a public building and the city must abide by the First Amendment and allow it to be leased to any group that agrees to abide by all laws and city ordinances.

The black mass in Oklahoma City reportedly is being organized by the Satanic Temple of New York City, which last year submitted plans for a public monument of a seated Satan on the state Capitol grounds to counter a monument of the Ten Commandments.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK