Nigerian Christians Want Peace, Not Vengeance

 

Nigerian Christians call for peace, not vengeance. They even talk of forgiveness. The Nigerian Christians I have corresponded with have — every single one of them — asked for prayer.

Our resolve to help them and stand by them must not falter. What that means — among other things — is that we must not allow ourselves to bullied into silence by personal attacks against us from those who want to turn a blind eye to Christian persecution. We must never allow them to divide us from other Christians.

We all stand in solidarity before the cross. We in the West are called to show that solidarity when it comes to the violent persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We need to lift up the witness of these martyred Christians and their families and friends for all the world to see.

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Southern Baptist Convention Files Suit Against HHS Mandate


The Southern Baptist Convention has joined dozens of other religious organizations by filing suit against the Obama adminstration’s HHS Mandate. Southern Baptists are the second largest denomination in America, with over 16 million members.

My question: Where are you Marymount Loyola?

From the CBN News:

The Obama administration has said churches and a narrowly defined category of religious organizations are exempt. But the administration is still threatening devastating penalties to many other ministry organizations, like Christian colleges, missions organizations, and family ministries.

“The government’s refusal to treat these ministries as ‘religious employers’ is senseless,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a written statement.

“These people spend their lives teaching and preaching their religious faith – if they do not qualify as ‘religious employers,’ the government needs to get a new definition,” Rienzi said.

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House Stenographer Cracks During Debt Limit Vote

I don’t think I’m going to drink the water the next time I go to the Capitol building in Washington.

I also might need to make myself a nice little aluminum foil hat.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any crazier, a member of the United States House of Representatives staff, identified in press reports as a stenographer, jumped to the podium during the debt limit vote and began shouting.

She had to be removed from the room. Reporters heard her shouting something about “He can not be mocked,” and the nation having been founded by freemasons.

Someone turned on a recorder during this last part. If you want to hear it, you can find it on CNN. The Daily Beast identified her as Dianne Ready, but it sounds like the people who were trying to calm her down were calling her Molly.

Jokes aside, I’m guessing that the tension and hatred in the Capitol building right now are so thick you could build a bridge with them. I can sympathize. I’ve never been in a legislative situation as messed up as this one, but I’ve done enough to know that these people need to get away from one another for a while. Nothing good is going to come from any of them until they get past this and settle down.

And, oh yes, craziness aside, they did manage to pull this country back from the brink of default … for a while. This deal expires after the first of the year.

From The Daily Beast:

A stenographer climbed the dais of the House of Representatives and started shouting in the last minutes of a House vote to end the government shutdown.

The House stenographer, who has been identified by other outlets as Dianne Reidy, “had kind of a crazed look” in her eyes according to Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) when she ascended the dais—just below Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) who was presiding over the House at the time—as the minutes ticked down in the crucial vote. The microphones in the chamber were off so that what she was saying was unintelligible on the floor and to viewers on C-SPAN.

After Reidy was escorted out of the House chamber by several staffers from the House Sergeant at Arms office, she shouted  “He will not be mocked” referring, presumably to God. She went on to proclaim that the United States “was not one nation under God, had it been, the Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Lord Jesus Christ.” Her outburst visibly disturbed a number of members and staffers, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), both of whom ran out of the chamber after her. Reidy was eventually hustled into an elevator by staffers. 

Once the vote concluded, both reporters and congressmen seemed more eager to talk about this incident than the final tally.

House Balks. Senate Restarts Talks. Debt Default Looms.


I am out of words for this stupidity.

It appears that the hermetically sealed brains in Congress really do think that this crisis they’ve manufactured is all about them.

I’ve got news for them.

The causes are all about them. But the consequences are about everybody but them.

This reminds me of one of those movies where the bad guy takes a hostage, usually the hero’s best girl or his child, and holds a gun to the screaming, terrified victim’s head while shouting “put down your gun, or I’ll kill ‘em!”

The difference here is that the bad guy is the Congress of the United States, the hostage is the American people, what they’re threatening is great harm to our country, and there is no hero.

You can find your member of Congress here.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — With the federal government on the brink of a default, a House Republican effort to end the shutdown and extend the Treasury’s borrowing authority collapsed Tuesday night as a major credit agency warned that the United States was on the verge of a costly ratings downgrade.

After the failure of the House Republican leadership to find enough support for its latest proposal to end the fiscal crisis, the Senate’s Democratic and Republican leaders immediately restarted negotiations to find a bipartisan path forward. A spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said Mr. Reid was “optimistic that an agreement is within reach” with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

With so little time left, chances rose that a resolution would not be approved by Congress and sent to President Obama before Thursday, when the government is left with only its cash on hand to pay the nation’s bills.

“It’s very, very serious,” warned Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and his leadership team failed in repeated, daylong attempts to bring their troops behind any bill that would reopen the government and extend the Treasury’s debt limit on terms significantly reduced from their original push against funding for the health care law. The House’s hard-core conservatives and some more pragmatic Republicans were nearing open revolt, and the leadership was forced twice to back away from proposals it had floated, the second time sending lawmakers home for the night to await a decision on how to proceed Wednesday.

Poll Results: Hemorrhoids, Toenail Fungus and IRS More Popular Than Congress

86% of the American people disapprove of the job our Congress is doing. Public Policy Polling tested Congress head to head with various entities. According to the results, all these things are more popular than Congress. Hemorrhoids 52 Congress 31 IRS 42 Congress 33 Mothers-in-Law 64 Congress 20 Dog Poop 44 Congress 41 Toenail Fungus 44 Congress 42 Department of Motor Vehicles 58 Congress 24
Congress did beat out one contender (drum roll): Charles Manson 18 Congress 56

Regression to the Mean in Governance is Deadly Business

 

Regression to the mean is a term used in statistics.

Simply put, outstanding results will always go back to average results. If, for instance, the ocean produces a rogue wave of 100 feet, it will eventually go back to producing more normal waves.

Every time nature produces a Michelangelo, it compensates by going back to producing a plethora of those of us in the paint by numbers crowd.

Human institutions appear to have a form of regression to the mean that is more active than that found in nature. The CIA and its propensity for punishing agents who actually make the breakthroughs it uses to get funding from Congress is a case in point.

The agent who was the main character in the movie Zero Dark Thirty has learned this the hard way. She’s been passed over for promotions and punished in other ways because, as one of her colleagues put it, “she’s not miss congeniality.” The topper for the delicate sensibilities inside one of our nation’s spy factories was when she sent a broadcast email to her colleagues after the agency gave a group award for finding Bin Laden.

From RT:

“She hit ‘reply all’ ” to an email announcement of the awards, a second former CIA agent recalls to Miller. Then, to all of her colleagues, the agent sent a message along the lines of, “You guys tried to obstruct me. You fought me. Only I deserve the award.”

One source tells the Post that a testy attitude is typical within the CIA, and says “Do you know how many CIA officers are jerks?”

“If that was a disqualifier, the whole National Clandestine Service would be gone,” the former agent claims.

Even still, the real-life Maya’s online outburst “stunned” her colleagues, the source says. (Read the rest here.)

It sounds like they’re easily “stunned” at the CIA.

Of course, this isn’t the first time they’ve punished an agent for doing his or her job. John O’Neill, had latched onto the threat represented by al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden years before 9/11. If the agency had listened to him and used his intelligence to inform our elected officials, there might not have been a 9/11.

Think about that: Three thousand dead Americans might be alive today, and we could have avoided a decade of war. If the agency had listened to John O’Neill.

But what they did instead is classic bureaucrat. It’s the kind of management that allowed the over-paid heads of General Motors to bankrupt the largest corporation in the world.

They got rid of the guy — “pushed him out” — who was warning them — and us — about 9/11.

And the rest is, as they say, history.

Or in this case, the dead are dead, the wars are fought, the patriot act is passed, and, along with all the rest of the destruction that 9/11 wrought, we the people are being surveilled.

This regression to the mean stuff has deadly consequences when it involves governance. It becomes a signifier for incompetence and corruption. It leads to unnecessary wars, unnecessary deaths, and the destruction of the treasure and liberties of a great nation.

We don’t need to put every man, woman and child in this country under government surveillance to “keep Americans safe.” We certainly don’t need to enrich private corporations by feeding them at the surveillance money trough. That is corporate welfare gone nuts boys and girls. It is corruption at the expense of all our liberties.

We need to fire a few people at the CIA. And I don’t mean the woman who found bin Laden.

Isn’t that Illegal?

 

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

That is the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Our government managed to rattle along without an income tax until this amendment was ratified in 1913. It’s ironic that this particular amendment was placed in the Bill of Rights, since it has become a method of limiting many of the other rights that Americans enjoy.

For instance, our system of jurisprudence is based on the notion that the individual citizen is regarded as innocent until proven guilty. What that means in practice is that the government actually has to prove that someone has broken the law before it can deprive that person of life, liberty or property.

However, the income tax laws turn this completely on its head. The government does not have to prove anything as regards income tax violations. It merely makes the charge and the individual citizen is tasked with proving their innocence. That is what income tax audits are all about. The government is operating on the idea that you are guilty of income tax evasion until and unless you can prove yourself innocent. The topper is that the government can be as invasive and onerous as it wants in these audits.

I know from personal experience that even a one-page tax form concerning employment with regular documented salaries can turn into an audit that costs the tax payer thousands of dollars and ties them up for many months. In other words, the government can audit an individual or a small business into bankruptcy, even if the business or the individual actually can prove that their taxes are clean and the government’s charges are bogus.

The powers granted to the government through its enforcement of the 16th Amendment are draconian enough without the application of political vendettas and personal malice. That’s why there are laws which are supposed to protect us from that sort of thing.

However, as our government veers away from the people, there is less to keep it in check. I’m not sure why a people that blandly accepts the idea that their government is reading their emails and listening in on their phone calls would be surprised to learn that this same government is also abusing the power inherent in the tax codes.

Maybe they’re not surprised.

Maybe it’s just that we the people have been battered so much by these repeating crises that we’ve become somewhat response damaged. Or perhaps we’re getting weary of voting the crooks out of office and then getting another set of crooks just as bad.

How many times have the voters of this country risen up and tossed the bums out?

And how much good has it done us?

That’s because the bums are replaceable by other bums, all of whom are owned and controlled by the same special interests. We can replace the puppets, but we don’t touch the puppet masters.

Maybe this is why there has been so little reaction to the news that the Obama administration exchanged information about people’s tax files with the IRS.

Or maybe people don’t understand that this is probably an illegal activity.

Or maybe people are just too tired to respond.

Which is it, I wonder? Are we losing hope in our ability to make our government respond to us?

Again, I am not sure. What I do know is that each succeeding administration tops the previous one in running over the American people.

From The Daily Caller:

Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to The Daily Caller.

Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations division, also received an email alongside White House officials that contained confidential information.

Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials — including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew — contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.

The emails provided to Oversight investigators by the IRS had numerous redactions with the signifier “6103.”

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code forbids a federal employee from “disclos[ing] any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee.”

Federal employees who illegally disclose confidential taxpayer information could face five years in prison.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/09/white-house-irs-exchanged-confidential-taxpayer-info/#ixzz2hXi90qoD

The HHS Mandate and the Government Shutdown

I met Dr Alveda King a few years ago when she spoke at our annual Pro Life Rose Day celebration at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

She was shuffled from one event to another like someone on a conveyor belt, which means that I know she does not remember either me or most of the many people she met that day.  Perhaps her most important meeting was a closed-door discussion she had with leaders of Oklahoma’s African American community. That discussion resonates in the hearts of people I know who were there. It affected them, and they are still turning what she said over in their minds.

That, I think is the point. Conversion is not usually a spoing! moment, but a process. Even when it seems to happen all at once, it’s been coming for quite a while. My own conversion experience is an example of that. I know from personal conversations that some of the people who heard Dr King speak are slowly being converted by what she said as they think about it in time.

I respect Dr King and I take her opinions seriously. That is why I am linking to an article she wrote about the government shut down and the HHS Mandate. I don’t fully agree with what she says.

It’s her opinion that the shutdown is entirely about the HHS Mandate. I don’t think so. If that was what the shut down was about, then that would be the issue. Frankly, if that was what the shutdown was about, the shutdown would probably be over and the HHS Mandate would be history. It is because the demands leading to the shutdown were broadened that the thing has been such a stand-off.

However, I do know that the HHS Mandate is on the table, along with other considerations. I view the HHS Mandate as the government, waging war on the First Amendment. I advocate doing whatever legitimate actions are necessary to get the president to rescind this mandate. Failing that, I advocate fighting the mandate in the courts. Failing that, I advocate and will participate in a protracted and unyielding fight to repeal the mandate by social and political means.

If the mandate was the only issue, I would support this shutdown without reservation, even though I honestly fear the path we are taking with these disruptions of government. This brinksmanship will push things to a breaking point one of these days, and that has the potential to bring down horrific consequences for this country.

For all these reasons, I am more confused than anything else about our government today. I don’t think there’s a genuine leader or a whole-hearted patriot in the whole thing. I certainly do not trust the leadership of either political party.

I just gave you my opinion about this, which differs somewhat from Dr King’s.

However, I think her opinion is worth reading and considering as we think about both this shutdown and the continuous threat of shutdowns that seems to be how our government is doing business lately.

From CP Opinion:

BY ALVEDA KING
October 9, 2013|9:54 am

“For death has crept in through our windows and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth. Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares.”
 Jeremiah 9:21 NLT

America, not only do our children not play in the streets, they shoot each other in the classrooms. Don’t think that anyone is safe just because some of us can afford gated mansions, armored cars, private schools and the like. None of us are exempt from the times, including the looming shut down.

Tragically, some of our government leaders are using scare tactics to numb our consciences, to instill fear in us and turn our hearts away from genuine justice.

Please make no mistake about it, the government shutdown is about the HHS Mandate which if allowed will force harmful contraceptives and easy access to abortion on our boys and girls.

Hundreds Gather to Pray the Rosary for Religious Freedom

This is one of those heartening stories that can make your day.

More than 750 people gathered October 5 in front to of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, Long Island to pray the Rosary for religious freedom. This is especially heartening after yesterday’s story about Marymount Loyola.

The event was organized by Catholics for Freedom of Religion. I am not familiar with this group, but it sounds like it might be a good example of leading from the pews.

From The National Catholic Register:

WEST ISLIP, N.Y. — Come HHS mandate or high water, hundreds of Catholics turned out in Long Island at a local hospital to pray the Rosary and protest the erosion of freedom of religion in the U.S. public square.

Despite the threat of a downpour, more than 750 registered participants gathered on Oct. 5 to pray three decades of the Rosary in front of Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, on Long Island.

Organized by the non-partisan Catholics for Freedom of Religion (CFFR), the 90-minute event began with an opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, and then a few speakers addressed the crowd about the U.S. tradition of freedom of religion and the threat to Catholic rights and health care posed by the HHS mandate.

The U.S. Department  of Health and Human Services’ mandate requires all employers to cover the cost of contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacient drugs in their health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The U.S. Catholic bishops have objected that the federal government is forcing Catholic employers and institutions to either violate their beliefs or cease providing health care.

“Christ must not be cast out of his places of healing,” said Richard Sullivan, chairman of the board of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, in a speech to the crowd. “No faithful person, Catholic or non-Catholic believer in the dignity of humankind from conception to natural death, should be forced against his conscience to participate in, fund or facilitate activities that they may consider illicit, immoral or evil.”

Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which includes Good Samaritan Hospital where the rally was located, is also a party to legal action challenging the constitutionality of the HHS mandate.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/long-islanders-gather-for-massive-rosary-rally-for-freedom?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-11%2012:33:01#ixzz2hQcLrGBk

Oh Good Grief

I stand corrected.

I wrote yesterday that the trustees of Marymount Loyola University — a Jesuit-run, Catholic university — voted that the school would not provide abortion coverage as part of their employee insurance plans.

I read today that while they had indeed voted to not provide abortion coverage in their employee insurance plans, they also voted to provide aide in helping employees find coverage that will pay for their abortions. I don’t know if this is in response to the threats of at least one faculty member to “consider legal action” or not.

But I do know it’s a faux following of Church teachings.

What is so almighty tough about taking a stand? Hobby Lobby did it. Organizations and institutions, both Catholic and non-Catholic, all over this country are doing it.

What makes this Catholic university so precious that it can’t stand for the sanctity of human life?

The trustees’ logic in handing down this decision says a lot:

“We acknowledge that the issue of abortion is extremely complicated and encompasses varied and competing values that often leave no one happy,” Burcham and Aikenhead stated. “Nonetheless, we believe that the right to life and dignity for every human being is a fundamental part of Catholic beliefs (all other rights flow from this primary right to life and dignity) and that this vision needs to be evidenced in LMU’s policies and procedures.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFDWmTGB

I know — and I mean I know full-well and from hard personal experience — just how tough it can be to take a stand for life. When people claim for themselves the right to kill other people, it does something to them. They become ruthless, focused on their ends with no regard to the means. They will do anything they can get away with to anyone who opposes them. I’ve been on the receiving end of this hate, and I can tell you, it scalds.

That is no doubt what this Catholic university faced.

It is what pro life people face all over this country.

But this Mr Wishy Meet Ms Washy decision still stinks.

It’s one of those I-don’t-believe-in-abortion-personally-but-I-won’t-impose-that-on-anyone-else politically correct word salad decisions. When a politician does it, they are pilloried. But when a Jesuit (priests) school does it, then, it’s …. what???

If this is our leadership, how can anyone expect those of us who are just pew-sitting Catholics to follow the Church? If Church institutions tuck tail and run, then who is going to stand?

Are we supposed to lead from the pews?

There are days when I feel that the Church is asking the laity to step forward and lead the charge for Christ while we also have to step around the Catholic leaders in Catholic institutions as they run past us, heading for the rear.

Telling people that you won’t directly pay for an abortion, but that you’ll be happy to call around and find someone else who will pay for it, is not taking a pro life stand.

Catholics have a right to expect greater integrity and authenticity than this from Catholic institutions and Catholics in official and quasi official Church leadership positions.

From the National Catholic Register:

The board of trustees at Loyola Marymount University has handed down a Solomonic decision in the controversy over the university’s abortion coverage that may end up leaving few happy. Although the board confirmed LMU will no longer provide health plans that cover elective abortion, the Jesuit university will help employees find alternative plans that do.

The board held an Oct. 7 meeting to discuss the decision to drop elective abortion coverage from all LMU health plans starting Jan. 1, 2014.  Board chairman Kathleen Aikenhead and LMU’s president, David Burcham, revealed that the board had ratified that decision, but stated that it would not affect coverage for “therapeutic abortions, contraception and other forms of reproductive care mandated by the state of California.”

The board also added that LMU would select a “Third Party Administrator (TPA)-managed plan” for employees seeking abortion coverage.

“The employee will be responsible for the entirety of the cost associated with this additional coverage and, thus, no LMU dollars will be used in paying for this additional coverage,” the letter from Aikenhead and Burcham stated.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/lmu-board-splits-the-baby-on-abortion-coverage?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-9%2006:36:01#ixzz2hFAYxqtk


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