Senate Democrats Move to Overturn Hobby Lobby Decision

 

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.

The Church and the Cultural Acceptance of Sexual Violence

 

 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, made the statement below  at a 4-day meeting hosted by British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angeline Jolie.

Cardinal Nichols’ comments address a several  issues that I think are important ones for the Church to take up if we want to end sexual violence.

He deplored the de facto cultural acceptance of sexual violence. This is a key component in the issue everywhere on the globe, including here in the United States. Rape is treated as entertainment in this country. The signals our culture gives about sexual violence, are, at best, mixed. We sometimes go into a frenzy of indignation over a particular crime of sexual violence. But more often, we attack the victims and treat rape as entertainment.

There is a reason why young men video themselves committing gang rapes and then put those videos on the internet to brag. There is a reason why girls are cautioned to be careful what they drink at fraternity parties or to stay away from the jock dorms on campus. There is a reason rape victims don’t talk to their pastors or tell people in their churches what has happened to them.

It all circles back to this one thing: The cultural acceptance, including the direct promotion and exploitation of, sexual violence against women and girls.

He also said — although not nearly strongly enough —that sexual violence is a sin. Potential rapists and their victims both need to hear this. I once put together a meeting of the heads of the various religious groups in Oklahoma for the express purpose of asking them to call sexual violence a sin. My reason was simple: I had been going to church, sitting in pews, for decades, and I had never once heard this preached. This is a moral black hole on the part of the churches, and it has fed into the cultural acceptance of sexual violence.

Finally, Cardinal Nichols gives one of the most accurate descriptions of why sexual violence is such a fundamental crime against the humanity of its victims. Here’s what he said,

Human sexuality is a strong and vital component of our humanity and of each person’s nature. The exercise of that sexuality, in sexual relations, is something that touches the deepest aspect of our identity and personhood. A fundamental aspect of the Church’s teaching about sex is that sexual acts must always take place within the context of authentic freedom. This is because, properly understood, human sexuality has the capacity to unite two people, body and spirit, at the deepest level, in a completeness of self-giving that has within it the call to a permanent commitment between them and which, of its nature is open towards the creation of new human life. What is most relevant in this teaching for us today is that there is no place in sexual relations for brutality, aggression or any kind of de-humanisation of a person.

This Initiative is concerned to highlight that the use of sexual violence is always and absolutely a violation of human freedom and of every rational standard of human decency. And what is more, its de facto cultural acceptance in many places and in so many circumstances contributes significantly to the degradation of women in particular. Sexual behaviour is so often the key litmus test of the honour and respect given to women either in conformity to moral standards or in defiance of them.

I can say without equivocation that the church’s (I am speaking here of the entire body of Christ in every denomination) easy acceptance of sexual violence and its willingness to condemn the victim while harboring the perpetrator led me directly into 17 years of defiance against both organized religion and God Himself. It made me into an ardent advocate for legal abortion.

I do not think I am unique in this.

It literally took an act of God to change me about this. I was so damaged by what I had seen in the churches that I asked God in all sincerity if He hated women. I don’t often get direct answers to my prayers, but I got one then. That answer bound me to God in a way that nothing else could have. It has also made me fearless about speaking out about clerical disregard of sexual violence. I know — know — that this indifference is not only wrong, it is deeply sinful.

It means a lot when a Prince of the Church speaks out against sexual violence. We need to see a lot more of it. His remarks are directed at the use of sexual violence as a weapon against cultures and societies in warfare. I apply them to all sexual violence in every circumstance.

I’ve highlighted a few points in the text below.

From Vatican Radio:

Please find below the full text of the address by  Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, to the conference, delivered on 12th June 2014:

Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative

“I am privileged to have this opportunity to speak at this most important Initiative and to be invited to do so from the perspective of my Catholic Faith. In doing so, I offer my fullest congratulations to the Foreign Secretary in particular, for his dedication to this crucial cause.

The unbelievable surge of sexual violence against both women and men in parts of our world is manifested in the shocking facts well documented in this Conference. I doubt though whether even the most graphic accounts of this evil are capable of conveying the sheer horrors which are generated by sexual violence in conflict and warfare. The damage which is done to the human dignity of the large numbers of victims of sexual violence is so radical and so permanent that it defies description.

It is not the random act of men who have, for a while, lost all sense of decency, which defies description but the deliberate and ordered tactic of oppression, domination and destruction which is at the noxious heart of sexual violence. It is to the shame of our world that the systematic use of sexual violation is still today, in some places, considered as a duty of soldiers, an order that they must carry out. This horror is further compounded by the fact that the stigma attached to sexual violation often falls on the victim and not on the perpetrator. What terrible collusion is indicated by that fact! The public tolerance of sexual violence leads to the inversion of human decency; it reinforces other forms of oppression and undermines the morals which uphold the rights of the human person.

I wish to make three points regarding the moral and religious framework which, I believe, can strengthen this fight against Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The first is the clear principle that every human activity is subject to moral principles and judgment if it is not to lose its truly human character and sink into the realms of the amoral, the dark hole of a subhuman wilderness. This principle applies to situations of warfare and conflict. No declaration of war – whether arguably legitimate or not – excuses those who fight from their obligation to observe fundamental moral principles.

In Catholic teaching this is described as ‘jus in bello’, that just principles must be observed even in warfare. The teaching states: ‘the Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law in armed conflict. The fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties (CCC 2312). It refers explicitly to ‘non-combatants, wounded soldiers, prisoners’ who must be respected and treated humanely.’ It continues ‘Actions contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out’ (2313).

History has many examples of the pursuit of war criminals. It is also has many instances of the failure to do so. In this Initiative, the measures being proposed and pursued to strengthen the legal frameworks for the pursuit and prosecution of all war criminals are fully supported by the principles of morality and social justice and must be given widespread support. War is no excuse. The demands of justice remain in place. A crime is a crime, whether committed in the context of conflict or not.

And sexual violence is always a crime; it is always an immoral act.

The second point I draw from Catholic moral thinking and teaching is this.

Human sexuality is a strong and vital component of our humanity and of each person’s nature. The exercise of that sexuality, in sexual relations, is something that touches the deepest aspect of our identity and personhood. A fundamental aspect of the Church’s teaching about sex is that sexual acts must always take place within the context of authentic freedom. This is because, properly understood, human sexuality has the capacity to unite two people, body and spirit, at the deepest level, in a completeness of self-giving that has within it the call to a permanent commitment between them and which, of its nature is open towards the creation of new human life. What is most relevant in this teaching for us today is that there is no place in sexual relations for brutality, aggression or any kind of de-humanisation of a person.

This Initiative is concerned to highlight that the use of sexual violence is always and absolutely a violation of human freedom and of every rational standard of human decency. And what is more, its de facto cultural acceptance in many places and in so many circumstances contributes significantly to the degradation of women in particular. Sexual behaviour is so often the key litmus test of the honour and respect given to women either in conformity to moral standards or in defiance of them.

What is clear, therefore, is that the Church wholeheartedly backs every initiative to prevent sexual violence being perpetrated against anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. The justice at the heart of human sexual relations must be respected as integral to all justice, even in conflict and warfare.

I am proud today to be able to point to the significant work carried out by many religiously motivated people in the fight against sexual violence in warfare and its dreadful consequences. I salute especially the work of religious sisters, in many countries, who for decades have dedicated themselves to this work, without seeking reward or praise. They do so as part of their commitment to justice in our world today. And we are richer for their efforts, along with the efforts of many others, too. This enterprising work generates the kind of wealth without which our world cannot survive. They are, in my view, at the top of the world’s rich list!

The third point I wish to make flows directly from this notion of integral justice as our greatest wealth.

In the efforts of this Initiative to prevent sexual violence, we rightly speak of wanting to protect the human rights of everyone, especially the most vulnerable and the victims of this terrible form of abuse. In order for this language of human rights, and the framework it offers, to be robust, I believe we are helped by clarity about its foundations. The entry of human rights into the international legal framework is largely welcomed. But human rights themselves do not derive from a legal system, nor a political authority, or a state. The dignity of every person, and the pattern of rights which flow from that dignity, are inherent in the person, herself or himself. They are inalienable. Often, of course, there are choices to be made between competing human rights and difficult decisions ensue. But some rights are more immediate, more fundamental than others. I believe that this priority of human rights can best be seen when they are understood in the light of their ultimate origin.

The dignity of every person arises from within their nature and that nature is most clearly understood as deriving from its Creator, from the mystery of God. Here the light of faith sharpens our rational understanding, it deepens our sense of who we are and the dignity which is properly ours. And in this God-given dignity, the right to life itself and the right to bodily integrity are fundamental, as is the right to religious freedom. The violation of that bodily integrity in sexual violence is therefore a most fundamental denial of human dignity and a most gross breach of a person’s human rights. It is a crime which ought to be eradicated with all vigour.

Sexual violence as an instrument of warfare and conflict is a deep wound in the body of humanity, to borrow a phrase of Pope Francis. That it is as old as humanity is a cause for our lasting shame. That this Initiative is daily growing in strength, that it is beginning to engender a common will to say ‘no more, never again’ is a source of real encouragement. That it is producing the statutes and instruments by which perpetrators will be prosecuted and punish is a measure of its initial success. That it will in time challenge and change the cultures which tacitly support these crimes and heap the stigma of shame on its victims is a cause for real hope. I congratulate all involved and I assure you of my full support.”

Repeal the HHS Mandate. Do it for America’s Health.

 

The ink is not dry on the Hobby Lobby decision, and already the outline of the counterattack is forming.

On and on, round and round, deeper and deeper down into the pit of acrimony and hate we go.

I have a solution for this. It’s simple, straight-forward, and it will work.

Repeal the HHS Mandate.

The HHS Mandate is not necessary. It is based on a lie and has been protected by lies. It has served no reasonable purpose other than to divide the country and pitch us headlong into protracted court battles over issues that should never have been pushed into our faces in the first place.

It is especially sickening to see the public discourse about this agency rule sink to mindless slander, self-righteous posturing and now incitement to violence on public venues. All this because a back-room, hand-appointed industry-heavy committee wrote themselves a little regulation attacking those they perceived to be their political enemies (i.e., traditional Christians) and our president signed it.

The HHS Mandate is, at base, irrational. President Obama compromised his presidency, scarred his place in history and raised up a whole army of political opposition against himself by signing and defending this needlessly divisive agency rule.

He lied to people who had trusted him and deceived the Congress in order to be able to do this stupid thing. Then, he lied to the American people about what he had done. The Mandate, which was born of lies, has been defended with lies and is itself a lie.

The Hobby Lobby lawsuit was not about contraception, and it certainly is not in opposition to women’s equality or women’s health. Unlike many employers today, Hobby Lobby has always provided health insurance, including insurance paying for contraception, to its employees.

They drew the line at paying for contraceptives that were known abortifacients, specifically IUDs and the morning after pill.

Let’s put the issue of abortifacient aside for a moment. The most significant point in all this is that IUDs and the morning after pill are absolutely not good for “women’s health.” They also are not in any way necessary to women’s equality.

The current argument is that women must have IUDs and these IUDs must be paid for by a third party payor in order to maintain good health and achieve equality.

You heard that right. That’s the gist of it.

This argument is talking about IUDs. You know, as in IUDs that have been the object of class action suits for endangering women and have resulted in infections, infertility and quite a few funerals. According to the deep-thinking apologists for the HHS Mandate, women must have IUDs that are paid for by insurance, or their health and hopes of equality will be compromised.

The media has been hard-selling the lie that IUDs are all better now. They tell us that IUDs of today no longer do the nasty things that IUDs of yesterday did. They say that today’s IUDs are coated with sperm-killing hormones in addition to uterus-inflamming, conceptus-implantation-preventing copper wire. The bad old days are all gone now.

I wonder sometimes just why people are so stupid with their health. If IUDs killed women 20 years ago, if they hurt like the infernal regions to put in 20 years ago, if they perforated uteri and caused infections 20 years ago, then why are they so much better now?

Answer: Because it takes a while for the bodies and numbers and problems to pile up. But they are beginning to. And they will multiply as time goes by. It’s a sad state when trial lawyers who come along and mop up the damage are the true defenders of women’s health.

When discussion of the morning after pill comes up in debate, we hear about rape victims.

However, when the morning after pill is being pushed on young women, what they hear is “plan b,” meaning, essentially, have-sex-tonight and take-the-pill tomorrow and do it again anytime you want because, you see, it’s “safe.” The morning after pill is being touted and sold as a ubiquitous, totally harmless form of post coital birth control.

We know these things cause nausea, vomiting and cramping. Even their rah-rah proponents admit that much. We also know that ordinary birth control pills, with their much lower (and safer) dosage of hormones, can have devastating side effects. But we’re supposed to believe that using the morning after pill as birth control is not only harmless, it’s actually necessary for women’s health.

The morning after pills is being promoted as an over-the-counter remedy that is sold and bought like aspirin, and that is not a good thing for women’s health. High dosages of artificial hormones have long-term effects. These effects are so politicized that we will almost surely never hear the truth of it until the trial lawyers come along and start their mop-up work.

Some side-effects, such as cancer, as so long-term and difficult to connect that it’s doubt that anyone will ever put it together.

The stories you’re hearing about Hobby Lobby are lies.

The arguments in favor of the HHS Mandate are lies.

The Mandate itself is a lie.

What is true is that the HHS Mandate is destructive to the body politic and to our rights as free citizens. There is and always has been ways to provide insurance coverage for almost all employees without limiting or even involving First Amendment rights.

I think that the true purpose of the HHS Mandate is to attack the religious freedom. I think the Mandate was written by people who are actively involved with organizations that have fought traditional Christians in the culture wars for so long that they’ve become mentally bent with their hatred. I think the HHS Mandate was an act of hatred. It certainly was not an act of good governance. Subsequent events have demonstrated that rather clearly.

There is a simple way to do something really good for this country. It needs to be done as soon as possible.

Repeal the HHS Mandate. Start over with a fair committee to write real regulations designed to implement the legislation fairly without trampling on political opponents or enriching special interests. In other words, keep the promises President Obama made back when he was lobbying for passage of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Repeal the HHS Mandate and get this country out of this needless and stupid fight. The HHS Mandate is just an agency regulation. It is the product of a corrupt committee of special interests and one man’s vanity. And we are letting it damage our country. That is idiotic.

Repeal the HHS Mandate.

Do it for the sake of America’s health.

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

 

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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Book Review: The Cross and Gendercide

To join the discussion on The Cross and Gendercide, or to order a copy, go here

It is not often that I read a book that I could have written.

It’s even more rare when I read a book that is somewhat similar to one that I intend to write.

But that is what happened when I read The Cross and Gendercide, A Theological Response to the Global Violence Against Women and Girls.

I have devoted much of my adult life, beginning when I was barely out of my teens and going right through to this afternoon, to two majors issues: The way we treat our elderly, and a search for an end to violence against women.

Elizabeth Gerhardt, the author of The Cross and Gendercide, sounds like my sister from another mother. The differences between us are obvious, of course. She’s an academician/theologian and an administrator of shelters to protect and help women who are victims of violence. I have worked almost exclusively through the political arena.

She evidently has clung to her Christian faith throughout her career. I, on the other hand, left Christianity and God altogether for most of my early adulthood. My reason, ironically enough, was violence against women.

That leads me directly to the subject of Dr Gerhard’s book. I walked out of Christianity and spent around 17 years seething with anger toward Christ and his followers precisely because of the indifference and often the hostility I witnessed within the church toward women who were victims of violence. In particular, I was almost destroyed spiritually by the response I saw in one church toward a rape victim.

Dr Gerhard approaches this topic from a more scholarly perspective than I can muster. Even today, that old rage kicks off when I think about these things.

I think Dr Gerhard’s more measured approach is needed. But I also know from experience that my take-no-prisoners way of doing things has its place is this fight, as well. We are agreed on the topic of her book. The Church does not have an adequate theological response to violence against women. And that adequate theology is not difficult to find. It is right in front of every Christian in the cross of Calvary.

There is a reason why victims of human trafficking cry for hours after seeing The Passion of the Christ. The God they encounter in that movie is a God Who can understand them.

Watching Jesus being reduced to an object and then beaten, tortured and murdered resonates with them in a way that it does not with people who have never experience these things themselves. The cross changes God from a frowning figurehead off in the distance into a brother God Who understands and shares their anguish in a way that goes beyond words and does not need them.

Through the miracle of salvation, Christ dignifies their own dehumanization and lifts them out of the shame and loss of self that scars them.

That is the miracle of the cross. It is the message of Christianity.

The other miracle, and one which the Church ignores at its peril, is that these women from all over the world, including our own neighborhoods, who are victims of savage violence are our Jesus. They are Christ crucified, right in front of us. If we ignore them, we ignore Him.

That also is the miracle of the cross. It also is the message of Christianity.

I didn’t see this for a long time, for two reasons. First, I sought solutions in creating social responses such as rape crisis centers, and in changing laws. Second, I had x-ed both God and the church off my list of possible allies. I believed they did not care about violence against women, that in many circumstances, they promoted it.

My conversion experience was mostly an encounter with the living God. It was not intellectual. But it forced me to reconsider almost everything in my life, which was, many times, a deeply thoughtful and prayerful process. The first thing I had to learn is that my understanding of the nature of God and especially my understanding of His reaction to violence against women was wrong.

I learned, through prayer mostly, the depths of God’s love for womankind. I also learned the degree of depravity that violence against women really is. To call it a human rights violation does not touch it. Our God is Jesus Christ, Who was born of a woman. Everything that is human about Him came from His mother. She is the only human being who has ever or who ever will be elevated to the status of Queen of Heaven.

Violence against women is a direct sin against Our Lady.

After decades of starting organizations and passing laws and still encountering violence against women and indifference to that violence at every turn, I had a sort of epiphany. I had been too angry to see it before. In fact, it took me a long time to be able to think about it at all. And that epiphany was simply that the Church owes Jesus and Mary more than they have given where violence against women is concerned.

The victims of egregious denial of their basic human rights change from clime to clime. The group of people singled out to suffer varies from one location to the next. But no matter where you go, the one group who always has a firm grip on second place, and who is always subjected to violence and degradation of many sorts, is girls and women.

Women are bought and sold, marketed like chattel, all over the globe. With the crime against humanity that is egg harvesting, their bodies are harvested to be sold on the internet. With surrogacy, their bodies are rented out as incubators. With prostitution, trafficking and porn, they are sold and used as if they were appliances.

Women are subject to the most brutal violence imaginable in every country in the world. Women must fear being attacked for no reason wherever they go.

This is not random violence. It is a universal, global, culturally-sanctioned human rights violation that in terms of scale, persistence and ubiquity outweighs all others.

Where is the Christian outrage over violence against women? I’m not talking about a few seminars and a couple of tut-tut speeches scattered around. Where is the Christian response to this degradation of half the human race that the Cross demands?

The Church cannot sit idly by while Christ is crucified over and over again in His sisters all around this globe of ours. The Church does not dare be silent when Our Lady is degraded by this degradation of the female.

The Church needs to stand up on the whole issue of violence against women. Violence against women is a historic, endemic, universal human rights violation that spans humanity from dateline to dateline, pole to pole. It is the universal human rights violation of humanity.

The Cross and Gendercide raises the serious question of how we should develop a theology against violence against women. The author correctly points us to the cross in our search for this theology.

The Cross and Gendercide is is well worth reading. I recommend it.

 

 

It Just Depends What Kind of Pain You Can Take (Warning: NOT for Kids.)

It just depends what kind of pain you can take.  

Photo Source: Photobucket

Ok. So what do you want for your daughter?

Law school?

A loving husband, kids and a home of her own?

How about sitting on the podium as she is sworn in as governor of a state?

Does anything you hope when you look at your little girl include whips, chains, and sado-masochism, including anal sex?

Do you want your 15-year-old daughter being counseled (at tax-payer expense, I might add) on the ins and outs of “kink.” Do you want her young mind warped to the point that she views sex as something where the question is how much pain can you take?

If you have a son, do any of your hopes for him revolve around sick relationships based on hurting his wife or girlfriend? Do you like the idea of your son in chains while a dominatrix whips him?

If the answer to these questions is “no,” then I have a couple of follow-up questions for you. Why are you sending your son or daughter to public schools where they will be taught these things in sex education classes? If you haven’t demanded to see how your Congressperson voted on funding for Planned Parenthood, why not?

The Live Action videos below show a Planned Parenthood counselor, complete with the comforting medical symbolism of scrubs and stethoscope, counseling what she thought was a 15-year-old girl. This counselor goes into detail with this young girl about how to go about engaging in sado-masochistic sexual behavior, including anal sex with her 17-year-old boyfriend. The counselor even coyly mentions the possibility of sending a friend in to a store to buy “sex toys” for these underage kids.

I’ve put three fairly graphic videos below. None of them are for kids, even though this kind of talk is routinely given to kids as “sex education” and the song is promoted and sold in the venues they watch.

The first video, which is taken from The Young Turks, begins with one member of a panel that is discussing the exposure of young girls to beating through music decrying the situation. He is promptly answered by another panel member who says that the song being quoted is by Rihanna, a singer who was beaten up by her boyfriend and is now back with him.

Frankly, I don’t see how that makes this ok. It seems to me that the fact that Rihanna was beaten up by her boyfriend pretty much puts a face to this sickness.

My indignation is struggling with my desire to make a point here. In truth, I would like to just ask people how stupid they really are to allow their children to be exposed to this trash.

I guess, despite how repulsed I feel, that is the question. We can’t keep this off the airwaves. We can’t keep it off cable television. And it appears that, no matter which political party we vote for, we can’t stop our taxes going to pay for it. Our schools aren’t doing such a hot job on basic education, but they are very successful at teaching kids to accept and “explore” sexual perversion of every type.

So, what are parents who care — as opposed to those who clearly don’t — supposed to do? I’ve already said several times that I homeschooled my kids. That is one answer, for at least some people. But it’s only part of it. As the Planned Parenthood counselor noted, porn sites are easy to find on the internet. If we want to protect our kids, we have to limit their access to the internet and cut off some of the cable channels that go to our house.

Even more important, we have to spend time with our kids. I don’t mean time spent driving them from one lesson and one activity to another. I mean time spent together as a family, just kicking back.

Look at the videos below and decide what you think.

Live Action video of Planned Parenthood counselor “teaching” a 15-year-old girl about bondage, domination, sadism, masochism and anal sex.

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Planned Parenthood video, once again teaching about “kink” sex.

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Rihanna, S&M. Rihanna is the woman in the photo at the top of this post.

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In another take on the issue, Joanne McPortland raises the question — which occurred to me as well — as to what kind of burned-out teens are we dealing with that need sex toys and “kink” to supplement their adolescent hormones in providing excitement about sex? It’s a valid question indeed.

 

Atonement and the Undoable

Note: This is a re-post of an earlier post. I hope you enjoy reading it again.

Forgive

Eve Tushnet and a friend went to see a presentation at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, DC. The presentation was designed to prepare people for the High Holy Days.

Since the High Holy Days are about repentance, it tracks that the presentation was on atonement. However, Eve finished the evening more bemused that enlightened. As she put it,

All of the stories were interesting and for the most part well-told–but literally none of them followed the form I was most hoping for: “I sinned, I realized I was wrong, and I made amends, here’s how.” Several of the stories explored related questions of conscience: Ritija Gupta turned the story of how a bad-girl friend persuaded her to steal sixty cents’ worth of beads, at age seven, into a sharp little parable on how we misunderstand the gravity of our actions, condemning ourselves for peccadilloes while assimilating huge ongoing sins into our sense of what’s normal and acceptable. The host, Amy Saidman, did a funny shtik about the war between “Citizen Amy,” whose conscience would never allow her to damage a car and not even leave a note, and “Spray-Tan Amy,” who can’t stop because she is receiving an award that night, who is special and above the rules.

… The most powerful story came from the most intensely compelling storyteller, Colin Murchie. He’s someone I’ll be looking out for at future Speakeasy events. I don’t want to tell his story for him, but it was about a night when he was forced to completely reassess the motives which had led him to become a volunteer firefighter in a very tough Maryland suburb.

Based on Eve’s description, I would say that one reason the stories didn’t lead to atonement is that they weren’t about serious sin. I understand why, or at least I think I do.

The evening wouldn’t have been entertaining if the story tellers had talked about their adulteries, abortions, shoplifting and the night the guys all got drunk at the fraternity house and passed the girl around. If the wife-beater among them had confessed to beating his wife, and the woman who was sleeping with her husband’s best friend had told all, the evening might have ended early.

But the truth is that the first requirement for atonement has to be an action that wounds someone else.

Let me give you an example. Back in my misspent youth, I was the NARAL Director for Oklahoma. I referred women for abortions. I helped organize the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma and got it up and running.

In short, I helped kill people.

Lots of people.

Helpless little people that I denied were people while I was advocating for their deaths.

Now there’s something that needs a little atonement.

But how? How does anyone atone for so heinous a crime?

For those of you who are reading this with baited breath, waiting for me to give you an answer, I’ll cut to the bottom line: You can’t. You can not atone for sins as black as the ones I’ve committed.

Can’t do it.

Nothing you can do, nothing you can say, nothing, but nothing, but nothing will ever make right again what you have done wrong.

But if, for reasons that confound all comprehending, God still loves you, even after what you’ve done; if He welcomes you home to Him with joy that defies your ability to find words to describe it, and if He then puts you back into the same place where you committed some of your worst sins in the past –

– If He does all that, then, just maybe, you get the chance to … not do it over, because nobody ever gets the chance to do anything over … but to do it again, and this time to do it better.

How does an adulterer atone for his or her adultery? By being faithful to their spouse.

How does a wife-beater atone for beating his wife? By loving her the way God intended.

But even this kind of living atonement cannot undo the harm you have done. One of the hardest penalties of committing grave sin is that you can’t un-sin it. 

You can’t unadulter, unbeat, unrape, unkill anyone.

Without Jesus Christ you are stuck there in the pit of your sin and remorse forever. You will be a murderer/adulterer/liar/beater all your days. This is why I sometimes get so impatient with people who come on this blog and demand that the Catholic Church change the rules to tell them that their sins aren’t sins. They never do this about eating too many cookies or being a volunteer firefighter for the “wrong” motives.

Nope. They’re ok with those things and the Church’s teachings about them.

It’s the biggies that get them on here demanding a hall pass to heaven. They want the Church to tell them that their adulteries, abortions, disordered sex and lying, cheating ways are not a sin. They claim that anyone, anywhere, who says otherwise is “judging” them.

There are days when I want to put my arms around these lost souls and hug them. There are other days I want to ask, Are you kidding? Where do you get the arrogance to do these things and then demand that the Church — the Church — say that they are not sins?

Do you know what saved me?

The knowledge that I had sinned.

Without that, I would still be lost.

As for atonement, that came long afterwards, when I was mature enough in Christ to survive it. Atonement for me was being given an extra measure of forgiveness I most assuredly did not deserve. God put me in the place and almost coerced events so that I would be given the opportunity to pass pro life legislation. Atonement for me was being pilloried by pro abortion people. I was forced (against my will, I have to admit) to suffer public hazing for the babies.

It was that suffering, that character assassination and constant emotional battering, that finally set me free.

God forgave me, and, after a period of intense grief, I realized that I could not refuse His forgiveness by hanging onto my grief any longer. To do otherwise would be to say that my sins were greater than His mercy.

But it was the atonement — which in my case amounted to a kind of social death — that finally set me completely free of my sins.

I could not undo what I had done. I could not unkill those I had helped kill. I was powerless to rewind the havoc I had wreaked with my sinfulness.

But God could heal me of this grief, and He did. He gave me the chance to suffer just a bit, and the suffering cleansed me in my heart and mind.

I read somewhere — I think it was In This House of Brede, but I’m not sure — that atonement is really at-one-ment. That is a beautiful thought, and I think a true one. Atonement heals the person who atones and allows them to fully rejoin the human race, including those they have harmed, with a renewed self and a new purpose.

Now I, the former advocate of abortion, champion the unborn. I moved from who I was to who I am, from my then to God’s now. In the process, I found a wholeness and forgiveness that only someone who has gone to Jesus in the hopelessness and desperation of knowing that nothing they do can ever undo what they have already done can understand.

None of this belongs in a play, of course. At least not an entertaining one.

But it is the truth.

Saying Goodbye.

 

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Photo Source: C-SPAN

I am leaving the Oklahoma legislature. Last week was a week of formal goodbyes.

I gave a farewell speech to the House, which you can watch, if you’d like. Go here to see the video. The House Democrats held their annual Sine Die Party, and roasted me and other departing legislators. The Democratic Legislative Assistants prepared a delicious luncheon (Covered dish. All their best cooking. It was to die for.) with a cake with all our names and said another round of good-byes. I even got a small — and lovely — good-bye editorial in the Oklahoman.

We are still in the busiest time of the legislative process. We haven’t shut down. Not at all. That means I’m going to be tres busy until we actually do sine die. (Sine die is the motion we make to adjourn the legislative session.) But I am grateful beyond words to my colleagues for giving me these many avenues of good-bye.

Each of these things is a rite of passage for what has to be a huge transition in my life. Leaving the legislature is a little bit like a soldier, coming home from a war. You are leaving a combative, total environment which engages you on every level and returning to a world that now seems out of kilter by comparison.

Wherever people are for a period of time, that becomes their normal. Normal for me has long ago become the totally unreal world of elected politics.

At the same time, I am way past glad to be leaving. God gave me something like marching orders for the rest of my life a few years ago when I was sitting in the cathedral at Fatima. I’ve dithered since then, occupied and preoccupied by the legislative wars and the many needs of my constituents. If you don’t think that these things are a 24/7 occupation that devours of all your thoughts and passions, then, you my friend, have never been a legislator.

Those of us who legislate or who have legislated know that there are very few jobs that swallow you whole like legislating does. It is difficult to disengage enough to maintain your friendships and family and retain something of your personality.

As for fulfilling the call that God gave me, I found it well nigh impossible. I need more than corners of time in my days to write the things He wants me to write. I’m not going to discuss in detail what I think this is all about. I have a lot of praying to do first.

I do know that I am not going to abandon the political process. I am also not going to stop writing about the intersection of public life and Christianity on this blog. I will, if anything, be a lot more free to talk about these issues now that I’m not bound to protect the privacy of so many people.

That is not to say that I will be talking about closed door conversations with my colleagues or divulging the almost endless private things that my constituents have shared with me through 18 years of elected office.

I have represented, cared for and cared about thousands of people for a very long time. In the course of that, many of them have opened their souls to me. I have never and I will never talk about the people who trusted me to be their voice in government and who honored me by opening their lives and hearts to me in conversations that were in fact and in truth non-sacramental confessions.

All these things I take with me to my grave.

What I will talk about is the intersection of public policy and publicly stated comments, actions, etc. I’ve operated for a long time using the standard that if something is published and circulated publicly, I can talk about it. That won’t change. It will, rather, be enhanced by the fact that I know what’s behind these things. I will be a lot less guarded in my opinions in the future when I do not have the responsibility for many thousands of people on my shoulders.

Christians in America have a mountain in front of us. After more than two hundred years of having things our way, we are faced with a society in which we are beleaguered. We live in post Christian America. Our task is to re-convert our nation to Christ.  Right now, we are not up to that task. We are, in fact, confused, divided and overawed by our opposition.

That’s what I’m going to write about. Because somebody needs to do it. And because I am uniquely qualified for the job.

 

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My favorite Representative Hamilton photo. From Rose Day 2014. 

I tried to remember to thank everyone in this speech, but I somehow forgot to mention — even though I wrote their names down and they were right in front of me — two of the most important people. Louise Scoles, who fought for my election and was my sponsor when I entered the Catholic Church. And George Violette, my brother by another mother, who is family in every way except blood. I love both of you.

The “Tony” I introduce in the video is Tony Lauinger, president of Oklahomans for Life and Vice President of National Right to Life. He is my friend. I know that he will remain my friend after I leave office.

If you want to watch the speech, go here.

 

Nigerian Villagers Kill Boko Haram Terrorists

Nigeria bring back our girls protest 93088229

It appears that the ordinary people of Nigeria are getting enough of Boko Haram.

Villagers in Northern Nigeria have evidently lost faith in the government and begun taking things in their own hands. According to reports in Al Jezeera, local people in Northern Nigeria have killed and detained scores of Boko Haram “fighters” suspected of planning another attack.

After locals from the village of Kalbalge learned of an impending Boko Haram attack, they ambushed two trucks loaded with gunmen. At least 41 fighters were killed in the attack and approximately 10 armed men were disarmed and detained.

Kalbalge is in Borno, the same province where more than 300 girls were abducted last month. Boko Haram has been burning churches and murdering innocent civilians with impunity for years. I have personally talked to an Anglican bishop from Northern Nigeria whose church was burned, daughter was abducted and a parishioner beheaded.

In January, Boko Haram attacked a large Nigerian school, killed 29 boys, some as young as 11, burned their bodies and set fire to the school. They bombed the bus station in Abuja, just a few days after kidnapping the girls. On May 8, Boko Haram attacked the Nigerian village of Gamboru Ngala, killing at least 150 people, some of whom they burned alive. They have abducted more schoolgirls since the abduction in April.

From the New York Post:

I normally do not like vigilante law. But if the government of Nigeria either can’t or won’t defend the people of their nation, the ordinary citizens must do something themselves.

They’re still stealing children.

Islamist extremist group Boko Haram continues to rampage freely through northeastern Nigeria, blowing up a second strategic bridge, killing an unknown number of villagers and abducting the wife and two children of a retired police officer, residents said Saturday.

News of the ongoing carnage came as a team of French intelligence experts landed in the country, joining American and British teams with hopes of rescuing 276 school girls kidnapped more than three weeks ago by the terrorist group.

Details were murky on the latest child captives, taken Friday as Boko Haram converged on the town of Liman Kara on the Cameroon border, driving 3,000 people from their homes.

Officials and residents said they fled the carnage without having time to count their dead.

…  The group, which seeks to abolish Western-style schools and impose fundamentalist Sharia law on the country, has captured or shot hundreds of schoolchildren in its five-year reign of terror.

Vatican: Boko Haram Releases New Video of Kidnapped Girls

I’m a little disappointed in Public Catholic readers.

I posted a video yesterday of First Lady Michelle Obama talking about the girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. The first lady also discussed the attacks on girls in a more general fashion.

A number of Public Catholic readers responded with knee-jerk denunciations of the first lady that sounded very much like anything-she’s-against-I’m-for. The really ugly — and flat-out shameful — comments are now sleeping in the delete file.

If Michelle Obama finds a cure for cancer, are Public Catholic readers going to come out in favor of cancer?

It appears that if she speaks in support of hundreds of school girls who have been kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and are being sold as slaves, then at least some Public Catholic readers will evince difficulty in supporting the girls alongside her. They will instead launch into divisive and rather ugly attacks on her and by doing that, come out, at least obliquely, in support of violence and atrocities against women.

Is there violence against men and boys, as well? Yes. But to suddenly start proclaiming that women and girls are not treated as second class citizens all over the globe and that they are not subjected to horrific violence is not only ridiculous, it is disgusting.

I’m going to put a video from the Vatican below in support of the kidnapped girls. Boko Haram has released another of their charming videos. It appears that they are now demanding some sort of prisoner exchange for the girls they haven’t already sold.

Pope Francis has spoken in favor of these girls and against their kidnapping. I realize that by posting a video from the Vatican, I will now have to start deleting the comments from people who hate Pope Francis as well as those who hate Michelle Obama.

Because, you see, there are those — all of whom feel they are not only faithful Catholics, but more more faithful in their Catholicism than the pope himself — who, if Pope Francis discovered a cure for cancer, would come out in favor of cancer.

This kind of thinking is not thinking at all. If someone you don’t like says something that is true, then they said something that is true. When you attack the truth, or in this case, the plain facts and reality itself, in order to discredit them, you don’t discredit them. You discredit yourself.

Do not be driven by your hatreds people. In fact, take a look at yourself and stop hating others because you disagree with them. Don’t let your ideologies drive out your capacity for compassion, fair play and common sense.

I’m too busy this week and for the next couple of weeks to write as much as I normally do. And I’m going to be tired, grumpy, irascible and mistake-prone. If I’ve said this too harshly, please remember that I respect and like Public Catholic’s readers. But don’t come on here and speak out, even obliquely, in support of the atrocities committed against women and girls because someone you disagree with politically said that these atrocities are wrong.

Stop knee-jerking. And think.

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