Archbishop Carey: Church of England ‘One Generation Away from Extinction’

“One generation away from extinction in Britain” is the phrase.

Lord George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, used it in a speech at the Shropshire Churches Conference.

The news stories I’ve read conflict as to whether he said that “Christianity is one generation away from extinction” or “The Church of England is one generation away from extinction.”

There are news stories with quotes around the phrases saying it both ways.

The point is still the same. Decades of blundering around, chasing the culture and trying to be politically correct rather than preaching Christ have taken their toll. Acceding to the monster of extreme secularism (which, when it’s carried to its most aggressive end is a form of tyranny that seeks to wipe out religious belief) has backed the church in England into such a tiny corner of insignificance that it can no longer behave as a church.

In an odd sort of way, this is exactly what I’m trying and failing to talk about when I keep calling for the leadership in the worldwide Catholic Church to stop talking to one another and begin talking to the laity and to use simple, direct language to do it. They must stop hiding behind mush-mouthed theology-speak and start communicating with the larger culture.

Lord Carey talks about a need for ministries for young people as a way to revitalize the Church of England. My advice is far simpler: Preach Christ and Him crucified.

When Church leaderships, whatever the denomination, fall in love with themselves and their access to the various halls of power, they have fallen for the first and most pernicious form of corruption Christianity can know. I see it in a small form at the Oklahoma legislature when I see religious leaders subvert the Gospel they claim to follow in order to cozy up to political power.

This form of corruption happens in both the right-wing and left-wing churches. It is done by both the Rs and the Ds, although I will say that the Ds are much kinder in how they treat “their” religious leaders who step out of line than what I’ve seen from the Rs. The point here is that I’ve seen religious leaders toss their religious leadership out the window in order to not lose their access to political power.

The Church — and by that I mean all denominations that make up the body of Christ — has become too much in love with the world and too addicted to sitting at the big table at the front of the room at political gatherings.

The reason the Church of England is foundering is that it has made too many accommodations of the Gospels of Christ to fit the various political and social fancies of the days through which it has passed. There is no reason to get up on a Sunday morning and go sit on a hard pew to hear the same social/political claptrap that you hear outside the Church. That is especially true when the social/political claptrap in church is spoken in a mumbly, sneering manner.

My family attended the Episcopalian Church (which is the American version of the Church of England) for several years. Our first vicar was a good man. When he left, the bishop put a replacement in who was, in my opinion, a charlatan. This man, who also taught at one of our universities, stood up in the pulpit and bragged about how he had destroyed the faith of a Southern Baptist student who had come to him for counseling in a time of doubt.

He preached that Christianity was just one faith among many and that the miracles in the Bible were lies and that most everything in the Scriptures was untrue. He didn’t believe in the trinity, the Virgin Birth or much of anything else.

Why would anyone continue to go to a church that preached this nonsense? These are not the words that lead to eternal life. This is the teaching of the evil one, wearing vestments.

This is, hopefully, an extreme example. But tepid faith and compromised Christianity deserve to die because they are not the words that lead to eternal life.

If you preach Christ and you don’t back down or run away when the resistance comes, people will begin to fill your pews.

The world is a butcher shop. Young people today are so damaged by the excesses of their parents with their divorces and obsessions about jobs and career and me, me, me lifestyles that vast numbers of them cannot marry and form families of their own. Their values are so degraded by the sex education and oppressive amoral training in relativism that they receive in the schools that they cannot see themselves or other human beings as children of God.

They are easy prey for any amoral, destructive teaching that comes down the road. They are ignorant of Christianity. When a young person asks, in all honesty, “Who is Jesus?” as a young person asked a friend of mine recently, you know that the culture is post Christian.

People are dying spiritually, our whole Western world is dying spiritually. This vast spiritual vacuum will be filled with something, and it will not, in the end, be atheism. That philosophy is too cold, hopeless and shallow to sustain a culture.

The question becomes what will fill the God-sized hole in the people today if the Church continues down its road of self-absorption and cowardly accommodation to its own demise?

The possibilities  are many, but the one true fact remains. Nothing and no one but Christ and Him crucified will suffice. Only Jesus Christ has the words that lead to eternal life. Our only hope as a culture and as individual people is the empty tomb.

People need Christ.

Let me say that again.

People need Christ.

They also need clergy who will stop pandering to the larger culture and preach Christ. The larger culture, which is increasingly dominated by the values of the pit, will react with anger to anyone who preaches Christ. The belittling, smearing and slandering will follow close on the heels of anyone who speaks for Jesus. That is no reason to stop doing it. It is confirmation of how badly it is needed.

The Church of England needs clergy who mean it. They don’t need ministries. They need faith. And courage. And conviction. And a willingness to live and die for Jesus.

Preach Christ.

The rest will follow.

From iOL News:

London – The Church of England is just “one generation away from extinction”, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said on Tuesday.

Lord Carey laid the blame at the feet of Church leaders who he said should be “ashamed” of their failure to bring youngsters into their services.

His stark message was echoed by the Archbishop of York, who told the General Synod that compared to the need to attract new worshippers, “everything else is like re-arranging furniture when the house is on fire”.

The Most Reverend John Sentamu told the Synod – where leaders will debate how to persuade traditionalists to accept women bishops – that they spent too long “arguing over words and phrases, while the people of England are left floundering amid meaninglessness, anxiety and despair”.

Lord Carey, who stepped down from Lambeth Palace in 2002, remains among the most high-profile campaigners for Christianity in the country. He said: “We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We are one generation away from extinction – if we do not invest in young people there is going to be no one in the future.”

The series of high-level warnings about a looming crisis comes at a time when Christian belief and the Church of England appear under attack on a number of fronts. Recent census figures have shown a decline of more than 10 percent in a decade in numbers of people who call themselves Christian, and the courts have rejected a series of pleas from Christians for respect from the law for their beliefs.

Last month, one of the most senior judges struck a blow. President of the Family Division Sir James Munby declared the courts are not Christian and “the days are past when the business of judges was the enforcement of morals or religious beliefs”.

Ministers – who ignored the Church of England’s objections to same-sex marriage – have gone so far as to threaten the autonomy of the Church of England by hinting that the government will intervene to force its hand if it cannot bring itself to approve the appointment of women bishops.

Lord Carey’s warning was delivered in a speech at Holy Trinity Church in Shrewsbury as part of the Shropshire Churches Conference 2013.

Steve Jobs, Consubstantial and the Mass

 

Apple’s board fired Steve Jobs in the 1970s.

He went on to a company that ultimately gave us Toy Story and many other computer animated blockbuster films and another company that created what became Mac OSX.

In the meantime, Apple made a lot of money selling the Macintosh, which Steve Jobs had master-minded. When other companies, particularly Microsoft, caught up with Apple’s early competitive advantage and passed it by, Apple began to founder.

I was forced to use an Apple computer for desktop publishing in the mid 1990s, and it was dreadful. I could not wait to get back to my pc. The old Mac OS couldn’t do the job anymore. It was buggy and out of date.

Apple brought Steve Jobs back by buying his operating system from him. At the same time, they put him back in the company loop.

This video is the announcement of this move to bring Steve Jobs back. It begins with a totally ham-handed presentation by the man who was running Apple into the ground at that time, followed by a presentation by Steve Jobs explaining the new operating system. Jobs’ presentation is followed by more ham-handedness that ends in dragging an obviously disgusted Jobs and his co-founder Steve Wozniak back on the stage for a final, underwhelming presentation.

It’s long, but it’s also a case study in the difference between pedestrian leadership and genius leadership. Jobs is clearly angry when he walks out on the stage. I would imagine he was embarrassed to be following such a bad act and angry about what Apple had devolved to.

How does this apply to the word “consubstantial” and the mass? It applies because Jesus deserves better than the pedestrian ugliness of the first presentation in this video. He deserves a liturgy that communicates clearly and is beautiful.

Making the mass ugly because of theological pretensions is a mistake. It is always a mistake. It is an everlasting mistake.

If you watch this video, you will see a dramatic demonstration of the power of simplicity in communication.

I keep hammering on the word consubstantial because it is so unforgivably ugly, awkward, unmelodius and downright insulting. It insults the laity with its high-handed obscurity, and it insults the mass, where heaven touches earth, with its ugliness.

I am not unhappy about or opposed to the changes in the liturgy. It doesn’t bother me one bit. Guarding the liturgy is one of the Church’s primary jobs. What bothers me is when the changes are a step down. The liturgy should be beautiful. It should soar and sing with our love for the God Who made us.

Consubstantial is like a brick on the prayer path of the mass that trips people and causes them to fall out of the rhythm of the worship and awe that leads them to the eucharist. People should not have to overcome the language of the mass. They should be uplifted by it.

My message to Church leadership as it is considering the new evangelization is to start speaking more directly and clearly. Talk to people instead of talking at them. You are communicating the greatest story ever told which tells the truth of the only Hope the world has ever had. Stop mumbling and talking to one another and speak out. Preach Christ.

Here’s the video.

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Trading on the Female Body

 

What do you call doctors who run ads in college newspapers, on Facebook, etc, enticing young women to risk their health for money?

What do you call doctors who do this to sell these women’s eggs on the internet to the highest bidder to use in embryonic stem cell research or to create designer babies which they then sell for thousands of dollars?

This is not infertility treatment because the women in question are not infertile. It is a misuse of fertility drugs to hyper-stimulate a young woman’s ovaries far beyond what any fertility doctor would do. It is medicine without conscience, for profit and built on lies. The first lie is that young women can trust these doctors.

We’ve lived in a world where doctors use their powers to make people well rather than sick for so long that we just instinctively trust the white coat. But egg harvesting and surrogacy are breaches in that trust big enough to drive unnecessary deaths for the physician’s profit through.

What do you call doctors who deliberately make well people sick in order to rake in profits for themselves?

I think we should call them Mr, Ms or Mrs, as in someone who is no longer licensed to practice medicine.

Aside from the obvious misogyny of this practice, it does raise the question of whether or not anyone can trust their doctor if doctors start making well people sick to make profit.

The medical profession protects these parasitical doctors. The gay rights movement defends them by calling those who oppose them names (you should see my delete box.) Wealthy buyers of women’s bodies create television shows normalizing what is nothing more than a new form of prostitution and dehumanization of women. The feminist movement sold out women for abortion a long time ago. Elected officials bow down to the $$$ from the medical associations, the gay rights movement and the wealthy exploiters.

All the talk is about “families.”

But what about your family? What about your daughter?

In this, as so much else, you are going to have to protect your daughter alone, without the support of the powers that be, because the powers that be are busy elsewhere, raking in the cash that comes from farming your daughter’s body, compromising her health and fertility and endangering her life.

If you love your daughter, keep her away from this.

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Christian Persecution and Conversion in Nigeria

Nigerian Christians have suffered a decade of murderous attacks from militant islamists, in particular the killer cult of Boko Haram.

At the same time, Christianity has been growing. The Pentecostal movement is flourishing in Nigeria with all night prayer services drawing thousands of worshipers.

The old saying is, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Present-day martyrs for Christ are no exception to that.

From PRI The World:

Under an open-air pavilion built to seat a million people, children sleep on mats spread out on the cobblestones while their parents enter their 6th consecutive hour of worship.

All-night prayer vigils are at the core of the country’s booming Pentecostal movement. Some churches draw worshippers in the hundreds of thousands.

At one church, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Friday night vigils take place in what locals call an “auditorium.” It’s a covered pavilion the size of 87 football fields, and it’s not quite big enough. The church has already cleared ground for a bigger one.

In fact, it’s something of a pattern: the church’s old pavilion was demolished a few years back, and now vendors have set up shop on the old foundation.

Once the service starts, all these people selling, they’ll close their shops and go inside the auditorium to listen to the word of God,” says Wale Akande, a volunteer who stands by the auditorium, welcoming visitors to the Holy Ghost Service in a fluorescent green vest.

The pavilion here was built in 2000 to seat a million people. It’s basically a corrugated rooftop. The ground below is paved with cobblestones and lined with thousands of crude wooden benches and plastic chairs. Akande says attendance is down tonight because of rain; the pavilion is only a third full.

 

Dolan: Christian Persecution is “a Humanitarian Catastrophe’

 

God love Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

He took the podium at the annual fall assembly of Catholic Bishops to speak out for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

Public Catholic reader, Manny, sent a wonderful letter to Cardinal Dolan a few weeks ago, encouraging the Cardinal to do all that he could to help persecuted Christians. Perhaps we should all take to our word processors and send letters.

Christians need to stand in unity with persecuted Christians and not be intimidated by foul-mouthed attacks from those who seek to silence us. People who try to deny the persecution of Christians and who attack those who speak out for them are fellow travelers and enablers of those who carry the guns, wield the clubs and light the flames.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, urged his fellow bishops to be advocates of Christians persecuted for their faith around the world, encouraging prayers as well as action on their behalf.

In his address to the assembly, Cardinal Dolan said one million Christians have been killed for their faith in the first years of the 21st century, which he called “a new age of martyrs.” Citing the Pew Research Center, he said that over 70 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with restrictions on freedom of religion.

He declared a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Syria, where two Orthodox bishops have been kidnapped amid the ongoing civil war. He said the Iraq war and its consequences have “devastated” Iraq’s ancient Christian community. The 2012 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad resulted in a massacre of 58 Christians.

The cardinal also noted a “serious escalation of violence” against Christians in Egypt, where dozens of Coptic churches have been burned. An August attack on a school run by Franciscan nuns resulted in the rape of two teachers. Three nuns were paraded “as prisoners of war.”

There have also been attacks on African Christians, such as shootings of priests and church burnings …

Cardinal Dolan said the situation in India is “grave” in the aftermath of the 2008 Orissa massacres that killed hundreds of Christians and displaced thousands more. Thousands of homes and about 400 churches were destroyed.

In addition, the cardinal noted the pressures on Christians in China, such as the state supervision and imprisonment that faces Catholic bishops and other religious leaders.

In light of these grave global challenges, Cardinal Dolan made several suggestions for action.

The bishops should encourage “a culture of prayer for persecuted Christians,” both in private prayer and in liturgical intercessions …

He encouraged the bishops to make others aware of the suffering of other Christians through their columns, blogs, speeches and pastoral letters … ask pastors to preach on the topic … encourage Catholic media to “tell the stories of today’s new martyrs.”

The bishops can insist that U.S. leaders listen to persecuted Christians and make their protection “a foreign policy priority,” he added, observing that this has not been a high priority for presidential administrations of either major political party.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Does It Again

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court overturned a second pro life bill this week. This one concerned trans-vaginal ultrasounds.

I’ve been waiting for this decision before I commented on all this. Now, I’m going to wait and get my head organized.

Then, I imagine I will have a few things to say.

Here is the CNN Report:

Washington (CNN) – Oklahoma lost another round in its effort to restrict abortions when the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday declined to hear an appeal in a case that would force women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound first.

The justices, without comment, refused to accept the state’s appeal over HB 2780, which would require healthcare providers to perform an ultrasound scan before terminating a woman’s pregnancy.

Lower state courts found the law unconstitutional. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said those judges did not give proper legal weight to previous high court rulings allowing some regulation and restriction on abortions.

The new law mandated that pregnant women seeking an abortion be given the chance to view the ultrasound image and be given a medical description, including “the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, if present and viewable, and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable.”

Neither the woman nor her doctor would be punished or penalized if she refused to look at those images, but the procedure, performed either vaginally or abdominally, and the explanation would be required.

Message to the Vatican: Traditional Families Need Your Help

 

After all the hullaballoo, it turns out that the Vatican is not seeking input from the laity about it teachings, procedures, or anything else.

The survey the Vatican announced a week ago is designed to collect raw data at the diocesan level. It is not, as the popular press implied, a poll of the laity on Church doctrine and discipline. The data will be used as a resource in the 2014 Synod.

I’ve seen the survey, and I hope that it is not fully reflective of the issues that will be considered in the Synod. I am concerned that it is too focused on the needs of “new” family structures and not enough on how the Church can better support the traditional family.

I realize that the problems and the noise from those in “new” family structures tends to focus Vatican attention. But while those in “new” family structures are making all the demands and creating all the fuss, traditional families are quietly foundering.

Men and women, husbands and wives, in traditional Catholic families need a lot — and I mean a lot — more teaching and support, both spiritual and practical, from their Church. I hope that the bishops do not have the idea that what the Church is doing now to support traditional families within their care is enough. It simply is not, and I point to the need for this survey on “new” family structures as an indication of how serious the problem is becoming.

The huge increase in these “new” family structures which predicates surveys and Synods on how to deal with them is, to a great extent, testimony to the fact that traditional families have been suffering and failing. Traditional family has been under unremitting, concerted attack for almost 5 decades now. The Church needs to change how it supports traditional families to reflect this reality.

We need new and more inclusive ways of nurturing healthy Catholic families for the simple reason that traditional Christian families are under such enormous destructive pressure in this post Christian society. This destructive pressure bears down on every area of family life, from the way jobs are constructed, to social pressures, to the propaganda our children are inundated with in the public schools.

As Yogi Beara said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

If the church truly is a community, building healthy Catholic families by providing practical support of many types has to be part of its ministry.

From the National Catholic Register:

Vatican Collecting Diocesan Data, Not Lay Opinions in Worldwide Survey (2030)

Multiple media reports have given rise to the misconception that Pope Francis is polling Catholics for their views on Church teaching and practices.

 11/08/2013 Comments (3)

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi and Archbishop Bruno Forte, special secretary of the 2014 Synod of Bishops, speak Nov. 5 at the Vatican.

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis wants to know about the state of marriage and the family in the Church, before the bishops meet in Rome for an extraordinary synod next year. However, the lay faithful should not expect to be receiving a survey on their views from the Vatican anytime soon.

For one thing, the Vatican’s survey is being handled at the diocesan level, and the aim is to collect raw data, not opinions on Church doctrine or discipline, in advance of the 2014 synod. The data will help inform the bishops as they develop pastoral solutions for the challenges faced by modern families.

“Each bishop determines what is the most useful and reasonable manner of consultation to assist him in preparing his report for the Vatican,” said Don Clemmer, assistant director of media relations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Clemmer said once a diocese completes its report, the data will be sent back to the USCCB and then forwarded on to the Vatican.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/vatican-collecting-diocesan-data-not-lay-opinions-in-worldwide-survey?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-11-8%2022:12:01#ixzz2kAjgql7O

Will Illinois’ Proposed Gay Marriage Law Violate Religious Freedom?

 

Will Illinois create discrimination in the name of ending discrimination?

Illinois’ bill redefining marriage to include same-sex “marriages,” is on the governor’s desk, awaiting his signature.

Proponents of the bill say that ti will end discrimination against homosexuals. Others are concerned that a lack of exemptions for individuals and small business owners, including one-owner businesses, will allow coercion and a violation of these citizen’s basic right to religious freedom.

One thing that is commonly (and I think, deliberately) overlooked in discussions of this issue is that religious freedom and freedom of conscience are basic human rights.

From The Chicago Tribune:

Illinois’ gay marriage bill that awaits the governor’s signature doesn’t force religious clergy to officiate at same-sex weddings or compel churches to open their doors for ceremonies. But similar safeguards aren’t spelled out for pastry chefs, florists, photographers and other vendors who, based on religious convictions, might not want to share a gay couple’s wedding day.

The lack of broader exceptions worries some who fear an erosion of religious freedoms, even as supporters of the law say it will eliminate discrimination.

“We’re going to have to wait for lawsuits to arrive,” said Peter Breen, an attorney with the Thomas More Society, a socially conservative legal group.

President Requires Insurance Coverage for Mental Illness and Addiction

 

President Obama has used his mighty law-making pen to require all insurance carriers to provide coverage for mental health treatment and addiction in the same manner as they do physical illnesses.

This is part of a package of regulations designed to stop the mass shootings this country has experienced. The proponents of this action say that it will not result in a large increase in the cost of health care coverage. I do not believe that. I think it will cost a huge amount.

I have unhappy family experience with addiction, and I don’t have much hope that this measure will curb the plague of drug addiction and alcoholism that is warping our society. I’ve seen what happens when people are sentenced to drug treatment by the courts. I’ve also seen what happens when their family persuades them to go to an expensive treatment program.

The drug treatment plan my family member attended because of court order was a scam. The family member was supposed to be in residence 24/7 as part of their treatment, but they came and went as they chose. There was no effort to enforce the rules or kick this person out. The treatment facility was raking in government money and not even enforcing its own rules with people that were sentenced to it by the courts.

I’ve also had unhappy experience with an expensive (very expensive) private treatment program. I went to meetings for family members and did the whole nine yards. The place was full of doctors, police, and others who had been sent there in order to keep their professional standing. They were not sorry. About anything.

The viewpoint expressed in meetings was that their families, friends and colleagues were … I can’t repeat the language … for being angry with them for the things they’d done in their addictions. These were privileged people, doing the doh-si-doh required for them to keep their license.

My family member went through the program and then got out and went right back to using.

On the other hand, I have seen people stop using and rebuild their lives and reclaim their souls just by going to the entirely free and voluntary Alcoholics Anonymous program.

No drug treatment program will help people who don’t want to be helped, and if someone really wants to stop, the expensive programs aren’t necessary. Also, the ones I’ve seen are overpriced — massively overpriced — and catering to their clientele more than they are treating them. Many of them are just raking in government money and processing people with no real concern about treating them.

I am concerned that the mental health care that will come about as a result of this ruling will be somewhat the same.

We have taken the idea of “treatment” as a panacea for ghastly behavior to the max. I have read that some of the young men who have killed large numbers of people in these mass murders were mentally ill. However, most of them were also from privileged well-to-do families with access to any care they needed. In fact, at least one of them that I’ve read about was under treatment at the time he committed the murders.

I am not opposed to mental health care for mentally ill people. In fact, I support it.

But I think that using this treatment as a catch-all cure for what are much deeper social ills will not and can not work. I think it is dodging the real issues, which are complex and require more of us as a society than just paying for some “expert” to fix people for us. I also think that simply handing over the money without stringent requirements about the quality of care is a mistake.

Drug addiction treatment, in particular, is, at least in my experience, over-priced and under-effective unless the person receiving the treatment truly wants to change and is motivated to endure what it takes to do that. In that case, free programs such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous are effective. In fact, from what I’ve seen, Alcoholics Anonymous is actually far more effective and beneficial than expensive treatment programs.

I realize that desperate family members who drain their life savings to send their loved ones to treatment for their addictions are doing it because the person they love will not go to meetings, do the work and endure the suffering required to heal from their addiction. They are losing someone they love and they are willing to do anything — including destroy themselves financially — to save them.

I have felt the same desperation and grieved the same grief over someone I love who is caught in the living death of addiction.

However, I speak from experience with the tragedy of addiction when I say that it’s up to the addicted person to want to change. If they ever reach the point that they are motivated to get help because they want to change for themselves, then AA or AN will do a fine job of helping them heal. Otherwise, bankrupting yourself will not help them.

By the same token, forcing insurance companies to open their coffers to pay for these outrageously expensive drug treatment programs will not help people who do not want to change, either. Statements that this will not raise the cost of health care are nonsense. These programs are massively expensive.

Since health insurance is now on the government dole, it will almost certainly end up contributing to our burgeoning national debt.

I wish there was a magic cure for these problems, but there isn’t.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday will complete a generation-long effort to require insurers to cover care for mental health and addiction just like physical illnesses when it issues long-awaited regulations defining parity in benefits and treatment.

The rules, which will apply to almost all forms of insurance, will have far-reaching consequences for many Americans. In the White House, the regulations are also seen as critical to President Obama’s program for curbing gun violence by addressing an issue on which there is bipartisan agreement: Making treatment more available to those with mental illness could reduce killings, including mass murders.

In issuing the regulations, senior officials said, the administration will have acted on all 23 executive actions that the president and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced early this year to reduce gun crimes after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. In planning those actions, the administration anticipated that gun control legislation would fail in Congress as pressure from the gun lobby proved longer-lasting than the national trauma over the killings of first graders and their caretakers last Dec. 14.

“We feel actually like we’ve made a lot of progress on mental health as a result in this year, and this is kind of the big one,” said a senior administration official, one of several who described the outlines of the regulations that Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, will announce at a mental health conference on Friday in Atlanta with the former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

What Are You Gonna Do? Arrest Me for Praying?

The Supreme Court heard arguments this week on whether or not the town of Greece NY had violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The reason?  Most of the prayers that opened its city council meetings were given by Christians.

From what I’ve read, Greece opened its city council meetings with prayers from many faiths through the years, including Jewish and pagans. The argument is that most of the prayers were offered by Christians, which means …

What?

Evidently it means that Americans United for Separation of Church and State found a couple of people to say that this offended them and were who willing to be plaintiffs in a court case. This Court case has ended up at the United States Supreme Court.

The issue in Town of Greece v Galloway, as described on the Supreme Court Blog, is …

Issue: Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that a legislative prayer practice violates the Establishment Clause notwithstanding the absence of discrimination in the selection of prayer-givers or forbidden exploitation of the prayer opportunity.

What is the establishment clause that gives the federal government the right to intrude into small-town city council meetings and censure the speech of citizens who address those meetings? Just this: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

That clause, (which, by the way is an accurate description of it, it is a clause and not a sentence) is the pry bar that those who hate religion in general and Christianity in particular have used for decades to attack the presence of religious speech in the public sphere.

Of course, the clause is not a sentence. Here the entire sentence in which this clause rests: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

Those of you who read the comments on this blog might have noticed that there is a group that decries the fact that these rights — all of them, by the way — apply to Christians as well as other citizens.

“Christians can believe whatever they want,” they say, “but I don’t want them trying to force their beliefs on me.”

They are not talking about mobs of Christians showing up on their front yard carrying torches and demanding that they get baptized.

No.

What they are talking about and speaking against and trying to stop is the exercise of these free rights by American citizens who happen to also be Christians. What they are objecting to is that there are people, some of whom are  motived by their Christian faith, who vote according to their conscience and petition their government either by contacting their elected officials or through the courts.

They steadfastly refuse to admit this, even as they maintain the position, but what they are objecting to is the freedoms of other Americans to disagree with them and to act on that disagreement.

In other words, what they object to is the fact that Christians have and exercise the same rights that they do. They try to frame political involvement by Christians as somehow or another a violation of “separation of church and state” or, failing that, an attempt to “force other people” to do something or other.

But it is not. All Americans, including Christians, have these rights. That is called democracy.

This one-sided application of American rights and freedoms shows up with boring repetition in the com boxes and public debate. It also shows up in court cases. The establishment clause, it would seem, is the only part of the First Amendment that those who want to limit religious expression in the public sphere believe should apply to Christians.

All that stuff about the government not interfering with the free exercise of religion, or everyone having free speech and the right to petition the government, including Christians, is nixed right out of their conversations and their court cases. These same people will make self-righteous statements about how they support the Constitution, but what they mean is they support their own interpretation of the Constitution and want to use that interpretation as a hammer to beat those who disagree with them into silence.

For the past few decades, the Supreme Court has been playing catch to their throw. Every case that gets tossed to the Court ends up limiting religious expression in public situations. The Town of Greece v Galloway is particularly galling because it is aimed directly at one religious group, and that group is Christians.

I don’t know what the Supreme Court is going to do with this case. But I do know that I, for one, will feel no compunction to obey any ruling limiting my right to pray in public. I say that as an elected official and an American citizen who has the right to free speech.

I’ll pray if I want.

What are they going to do? Arrest me for praying?

From Fox News:

The Supreme Court is wrestling with the appropriate role for religion in government in a case involving prayers at the start of a New York town’s council meetings.

The justices engaged in a lively give-and-take Wednesday that highlighted the sensitive nature of offering religious invocations in public proceedings that don’t appeal to everyone and of governments’ efforts to police the practice.

The court is weighing a federal appeals court ruling that said the Rochester suburb of Greece, N.Y., violated the Constitution because nearly every prayer in an 11-year span was overtly Christian.

The tenor of the argument indicated the justices would not agree with the appellate ruling. But it was not clear what decision they might come to instead.

Justice Elena Kagan summed up the difficult task before the court when she noted that some people believe that “every time the court gets involved, things get worse instead of better.”

Greece is being backed by the Obama administration and many social and religious conservative groups in arguing that the court settled this issue 30 years ago when it held that an opening prayer is part of the nation’s fabric and not a violation of the First Amendment. Some of those groups want the court to go further and get rid of legal rules that tend to rein in religious expression in the public sphere.

On the other side are the two town residents who sued over the prayers and the liberal interest groups that support them. Greece residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens say they and others who attend the meetings are a captive audience and should not be subjected to sectarian prayers.

At its broadest, the outcome could extend well beyond prayer and also affect holiday displays, aid to religious schools, Ten Commandments markers and memorial crosses. More narrowly, the case could serve as a test of the viability of the decision in Marsh v. Chambers, the 1983 case that said prayer in the Nebraska Legislature did not violate the First Amendment’s clause barring laws “respecting an establishment of religion,” known as the Establishment Clause.


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