Sudanese Court Orders Release of Meriam Ibrahim, Who was Sentenced to Death for Her Christian Faith

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SUNA, Sudan’s official news agency, says that the Court of Cassation in Khartoum has canceled the death sentence against Meriam Ibrahim. The court has also ordered her release.

Miss Ibrahim, who has a Muslim father, was raised by her Christian mother. She was convicted of apostasy for marrying a Christian and given a death sentence. She was 8 months pregnant at the time.

For more details, go to Fox News.

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

Photo Source: Desert News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more details, check out the Desert News.

Here is the video:

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If you Want to Read What Archbishop Cordileone Said at the March for Marriage Today, Here it Is.

SJC photo resized

I am proud to be part of a Church that is not intimidated by politically-motivated bullying.

From what I’ve read, the pro-gay-marriage folks did manage to drive down attendance at the March for Marriage today. I am familiar with this sort of thing, on a much smaller level.

The photo at the top of Public Catholic’s page was taken of a demonstration against me, calling for my censorship by the Oklahoma Democratic Party. The reason was that I had passed a pro life bill over the veto of our Democratic Governor. That made me a big-time traitor in the eyes of many party members. In fact, it put a wedge between me and many of them that has never gone away, not to this day.

I learned about the demonstration in the photo only a few hours before it happened. The demonstrators showed up at a fundraiser I held to try to get funds for my re-election campaign. The minute I heard about the demonstration, I knew that donors were going to stay away from the fundraiser and the whole thing would be a big, embarrassing, bust.

I sent one email to a couple of close pro life friends who were not at all political, asking them to come just so I wouldn’t be left alone. When I got to the fundraiser, I was booed and to enter the building through a gauntlet of people chanting “Traitor!” at me in loud voices. I also had a few of them run at me, waving signs and yelling various things.

When I got inside the building, I discovered that my friends had forwarded that email to their friends, who in turn forwarded it to their friends. I specifically told my friends not to make a donation. All I wanted was for them to be there to give me emotional support. What I got was a group — not a huge crowd, but several dozen — pro life people who dropped everything and came to the fundraiser to support me.

These people were not political activists. They were just pro life citizens who felt called to keep me from being left alone. What totally surprised me is the amount of money they donated to my campaign. One of them told me that when he walked past the yelling demonstrators, he waved his check book and said, “I’m going in, and I’m giving money!”

These weren’t lobbyists — who, with two exceptions, ran away from me as fast as their little legs could carry them — but ordinary people, writing checks on their personal accounts.

It was a surreal experience for me all around. But I went home that evening feeling affirmed.

It was also interesting that a number of close friends of mine apologized to me later for not coming. They were really embarrassed, but they told me they were just too scared to come and be there during that demonstration.

I think this is what happened on a much larger scale at the March for Marriage today. People didn’t show up because they were scared to take a stand in a hostile world. They didn’t want to be called names.

I actually understand that, and I am not condemning anyone for it. But please folks. look into your hearts and see if you can find the courage to stand up in the future. We’ve got to start doing that.

It makes me proud that my Church was not among those who ran away. Archbishop Cordileone has been targeted for a bit of bullying over his plans to speak at this march. But he was there, and he gave a fine speech. At no time did he allow his comments to drop into the negativity and defamation that characterize what has been aimed at him and the organizers of this march.

Here is a link to a video of the Archbishop’s speech.

The sound quality on this video is less that stellar, so I’m putting the full text, which I found on the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s website, below.

Read it and be proud.

Building a Civilization of Truth and Love

  • June 19, 2014

“BUILDING A CIVILIZATION OF TRUTH AND LOVE”

Archbishop Cordileone’s Talk at the March for Marriage

June 19, 2014; Washington, D.C.

In our Catholic faith tradition, young people around the age of junior high school or high school receive the sacrament of Confirmation, normally administered by the bishop.  At a Confirmation ceremony I celebrated recently in a large, Hispanic parish, two of the young people shared some reflections on what their Confirmation meant to them.  They said that their Confirmation gave them the grace to go forth and “build a civilization of truth and love.”  I could not have said it better myself!  And that, my friends, is why we are here.  Both are necessary, both, together, if we wish to have a flourishing society: truth and love.

This is the legacy we have received from our ancestors in faith.  To my fellow believers in Jesus Christ I would call our attention to those first generations of Christians in the city of Rome, who were so often scapegoated by the powerful pagan Roman government.  But when a plague would strike the city and the well-to-do fled to the hills for safety until the plague subsided, it was the Christians who stayed behind to care for the sick, at great risk to their own health and very lives.  And not just the Christian sick: all the sick, regardless of religion, of how they lived their lives, or even what they thought of the Christians themselves.  The historian Eusebius noted about the Christians of his time, “All day long some of them tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them.  Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.”  Likewise, the Emperor Julian complained to one of his pagan priests, “[They] support not only their poor, but ours as well.”

It is this kind of love and compassion in the service of truth, especially the truth of the human person, that has marked the lives of the holy ones of our own faith tradition and others as well: hospitals, orphanages, schools, outreach to the poor and destitute – giving without concern for getting anything in return, seeing in each human being, especially in the poor and destitute, a priceless child beloved by God, whom God calls to turn away from sin and toward Him, so that they might be saved.  In1839 Jeanne Jugan met one such priceless child of God, a blind old crippled woman whom nobody cared for.  That night, Jeanne carried the woman home to her apartment, and put her to sleep in her own bed.  From this profound encounter was born the Little Sisters of the Poor, who even today are loving, caring for and providing homes for thousands of elderly who deserve dignity as well as care.  These are the very nuns who now face the possibility of being shut out of spreading the love of Jesus to the needy because of their refusal to comply with a healthcare mandate that violates their moral convictions, convictions which stand on the truth of basic human dignity.

Let us, then, take our cue from the best our predecessors in faith have inspired, and not humanity’s frequent failings and sins.  Like them, we now in our own time need to proclaim and live the truth with charity and compassion as it applies to us today: the truth of a united family based on the union of the children’s father and mother in marriage as the foundational good of society.  Every child comes from a man and a woman, and has a right, a natural human right, to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their own mother and father.  This is the great public good that marriage is oriented towards and protects.  The question is then: does society need an institution that unites children to the mothers and fathers who bring them into the world, or doesn’t it?  If it does, that institution is marriage – nothing else provides this basic good to children.

Yes, this is a foundational truth, and one to which we must witness by lives lived in conformity to it, and which we must proclaim with love.  Love for those millions of loving single mothers and fathers who struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives and succeed in creating loving homes for their children – they need and deserve our love, affirmation and support.  Love for the husband struggling with fidelity, for the woman who feels abandoned and pressured into abortion, for the teenager struggling to believe in the heroic vision of love that makes sense of chastity, for the single person who cannot find a mate, for the childless couple trying to cope with infertility, for the wife who finds herself nursing a sick husband in her marriage bed, for the young person trying to navigate through sexual identity issues and may feel alienated from the Church because of it, maybe even because of the sort of treatment received from those who profess to be believers.  To all of you, I say: know that you are a child of God, that you are called to heroic love and that with God’s help you can do it, that we love you and want to support you in living your God-given call.

And let us not forget: we must also proclaim this truth especially with love for those who disagree with us on this issue, and most of all, for those who are hostile toward us.  We must be careful, though, not to paint our opponents on this issue with broad strokes.  There is a tendency in our culture to do this to groups of people the powerful don’t know and think they don’t like.  We must not do that.  We must recognize that there are people on the other side of this debate who are of good will and are sincerely trying to promote what they think is right and fair.  It is misdirected good will.  But even those from whom we suffer retribution – and I know some of you have suffered in very serious ways because of your stand for marriage – still, we must love them.  That is what our ancestors in faith did, and we must, too.  Yes, it is easy to become resentful when you are relentlessly and unfairly painted as a bigot and are punished for publicly standing by the basic truth of marriage as a foundational societal good; it is tempting to respond in kind.  Don’t.  For those of us who are Catholic, we just heard our Master command us in the gospel proclaimed at Mass the day before yesterday: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44).  We must not allow the angry rhetoric to co-opt us into a culture of hate.

Yes, we must show love toward all of these and more.  Love is the answer.  But love in the truth.  The truth is that every child comes from a mother and a father, and to deliberately deprive a child of knowing and being loved by his or her mother and father is an outright injustice.  That is our very nature, and no law can change it.  Those with temporal power over us might choose to change the definition of marriage in the law even against all that we have accomplished through very generous participation in the democratic process, but our nature does not change.  If the law does not correspond to our nature, such that there is a conflict between the law and nature, guess which will prevail?  And people will figure it out.

We can take heart from what we see happening now in the pro-life movement.  Back in the early 1970’s, just before the Court issued its infamous Roe vs. Wade ruling, public support for abortion was growing rapidly.  And as with marriage redefinition today, a generation gap opened up in the polls, leading many to predict that opposition to abortion would literally die off.  That was the future; before long, it would not even be an issue.  Instead, something unexpected happened.  A relatively small band of faithful believers held the line on the sanctity of human life in the womb, and today, two generations later, the pro-life movement is flourishing like never before.  We now have the most pro-life generation of young adults since the infamous Roe decision.  People have figured out that it is a human life that is within the mother’s womb, and that abortion, yes, really does harm women; they’ve figured out that it’s good to cherish that human life and surround the mother with love and support so a truly happy choice can be made, the choice for life.

People, too, will figure out that a child comes from a father and a mother, and it’s good for the child to be connected to his or her father and mother.  These truths may seem obvious to us, but they aren’t to everyone while in the heat of controversy.  They will figure out this truth about marriage, though, because it, too, is in our nature, and it is a key to individual and societal flourishing.  All we have to do is look around and see that our society is broken and hurting in so many ways; there is so much work to do to fix it and bring healing.  Yes, it is very complex, and many different things need to be done: we need to fix our economy; we especially need to pay a living wage to working class families; we need to fix our broken immigration system; we need to improve our schools, especially those that are failing children from poorer families.  Yes, we need to do all this and more.  But none of these solutions will have a lasting effect if we do not rebuild a marriage culture, a culture which recognizes and supports the good of intact families, built on the marriage between a man and a woman committed to loving faithfulness to each other and to their children.  No justice, no peace, no end to poverty, without a strong culture of marriage and the family.  This noble cause is a call to love we cannot abandon, that we will not give up on, and that in the end we know will triumph.

So take heart: the truth spoken in love has a power over the human heart.  We are here today to March for Marriage, to pick up the torch, and pass on to a new generation the truth about marriage, not just the abstract truth, but the lived reality that makes a difference in children’s lives.  So, my friends, we must not give up: the truth will not go away, and we will not go away.  Let us take heart from the legacy we have received, let us place our trust in God, and let us go forth to build a civilization of truth and love.

The Skunk Stinks.

Desert Wolf Skunk 400x300

The Skunk. Photo Source: defenceweb

Who needs this?

Who is it going to be used against?

Those are the questions that the Skunk brings to mind. I’m not talking about a beautiful little animal with that possesses a massive olfactory defense system. I am talking about a drone that possesses a massive offense system, and that has been developed and is being marketed for use against civilians by corporations.

The Skunk is, as I said, a drone that is designed for what is euphemistically being called “riot control.” It possesses the ability to monitor people and then fire pepper spray and rubber bullets at them. What no one mentions is that a drone that can fire pepper spray and rubber bullets can also fire any other type of spray as well as bullets made of lead.

It turns out that the corporatist interests in South Africa plan to put the aptly named Skunk to work, protecting their mines. The first 25 Skunks will be delivered to the African mining industry this month. It was developed by a South African company named Desert Wolf.

If all this sounds like a comic book to you, I’m with you. This company is seriously named Desert Wolf???

And they developed a weapon to be used by corporations to protect their interests called the Skunk???

It would be funny, except there’s nothing funny about the potential of the Skunk. It is a drone designed to monitor and attack civilians and it is being marketed to corporations in troubled parts of the world for their private use. Frankly, this device does not belong in civilian hands. It certainly does not belong in the hands of corporatist interests. I’ve had enough dealings with corporatists in the political arena to be convinced that respect for human life, human dignity or just plain human beings is not in them.

They’d kill grandma for a quarter and claim it was free enterprise and capitalism. Then, they’d call grandma’s relatives who objected a bunch of radicals and commies.

Corporatists are down there in the moral swamp with abortionists and human traffickers. They give a whole new dimension to the word “amoral.”

The idea of corporatists with fully armed Skunks and free reign to use them is chilling.

From The Blaze:

Los Angeles hockey fans proved last week that even the friendliest of drones can get a nasty reception from rowdy crowds. But the booze-fueled celebrants may have reacted even more violently if they encountered this drone.

The Skunk is billed as the first riot-control drone: It fires pepper spray, rubber bullets and dye-balls at protesters; blinds them with strobes; and broadcasts audible warnings, all while keeping its all-seeing eye trained on the crowd and recording their actions.

The octocopter is a product of the South African company Desert Wolf. Armed with four paintball guns and ammunition hoppers, it can fire a variety of ammunition to subdue or disperse unruly crowds, or simply mark certain people in the group.

The Skunk is designed to control crowds without endangering the lives of security staff. Bright strobe lights, on-board speakers and “blinding lasers,” the company boasts, enable operators to communicate with and warn the crowd.

But if they don’t respond, look out.

“The Skunk is equipped with four high-capacity paint ball barrels firing at up to 20 bullets per second each, with 80 pepper bullets per second stopping any crowd in its tracks,” Desert Wolf says on its site. “The current hopper capacity of 4000 bullets and high-pressure carbon fiber air system it allows for real stopping power.”

According to Defence Web, payload capacity of the unmanned aerial vehicle is roughly 88 pounds but since the gun assembly weighs just over 30 pounds, the aircraft has an excess of power. And Desert Wolf has found its first customer for the intimidating machine: South African mine owners, hoping to control crowds of workers.

March for Marriage 2014: What I Believe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Congresswoman Pelosi’s Letter to Archbishop Cordileone is Not a Letter. It’s Politics.

Nancy Pelosi

Let’s make something clear at the outset.

When you send a letter to someone and then give the letter to the press, it’s not a letter. It’s a statement, an attempt to garner publicity, or something of the kin. It is not, most emphatically not, a communication between two people.

Things like this are not written or sent with the intention of persuading, informing or asking. They are not a discussion. These “public” letters are grandstanding, plain and simple.

Which brings me to the case of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s famous letter to Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco.

It seems that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to the Archbishop, with the supposed intention of asking him not to participate in the March for Marriage, which is scheduled for June 19.

Ok.

So, Congresswoman Pelosi disagrees with her Archbishop and took it on herself to write him about the disagreement. So far, we have a sort of pastoral thing going on here. We also have a private communication between a priest and member of his parish, which in this case is the diocese.

What Congresswoman Pelosi did next negates all that. She gave the letter to the press.

That changes everything, my friends.

The single act of giving the letter to the press turns it into a political stunt.

Representative Pelosi represents San Francisco. You know, the San Francisco which hosts the notorious Folsom Street Fair.

That letter is a great little vote-getter for a politician representing San Francisco. But, if it’s just between the Congresswoman and the Archbishop, no one will know, and no political gain will be had.

Once the letter became public fodder, it stopped being a letter and became a political act in an election year.

I haven’t been able to find a copy of the full text of the letter. If anyone has one, please send me a link and I’ll post it. However, from what I’ve read, it was the usual stuff.

According to SFGate, she took Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge?” rhetorical question out of context to make it into an endorsement of homosexual sex, gay marriage and whatever what-not she wanted to put into it.

My reaction to this is simple: Yawn. In fact, Big Yawn.

Everyone who’s been keeping up with current events knows this is a deliberate mis-use of the Holy Father’s words by taking them out of context. I’ll just bet Congresswoman Pelosi knows it, too.

There was more, and from what the Chronicle reported, it was, as I said, the usual character assassination claptrap that is leveled at organizations and individuals who have the temerity to oppose redefining marriage. It sounds as if the Congresswoman cut and pasted from a good many propaganda pieces to write this thing.

That makes sense because the whole point of it seems to have been politics. I think she was piling on, along with a lot of local politicians, in order to grandstand for her constituency. This letter is politics. It isn’t and was never intended to be an attempt to communicate with or persuade the Archbishop.

I would include all the other similar public statements to the Archbishop from elected officials in this same assessment. I think Archbishop Cordileone’s public and cordial response to these political missives was well done.

As a Democrat, I’m embarrassed by Congresswoman Pelosi’s little letter. But I’m not as outraged as more normal people who’ve never held office appear to be. I just view it as another pre-election bit of campaigning by a woman who is a Congresswoman first and a Catholic second. Or maybe she’s a Catholic third … or fourth.

I’ve been told by people who’ve discussed it with her that Congresswoman Pelosi talks about her faith in an emotional and seemingly sincere fashion. They think she’s trying to be a good Christian and is deluded about abortion and gay marriage.

What do I make of that?

Nothing.

I mean that. I don’t have a clue.

Maybe she means it. Maybe she doesn’t. I see people all the time who cut their faith to fit their politics and don’t have the first notion that they are doing anything wrong. In fact, they — every last one of them — tend to get highly indignant and can even become abusive when someone points out to them that they are, in fact, walking on the wrong side of the issues if they want to be consistent Catholics.

Is she another self-deluded my-own-little-g-god Catholic, albeit a very public and powerful one, who has persuaded herself that the little g gods of her political party trump the two-thousand-year teachings of the Catholic Church? Is she just another person who’s drunk so deeply of the intoxicating propaganda of power politics that she’s convinced herself the Church is wrong and the little g gods are right? Does she honestly believe that the Church needs to change to align itself with her politics to preach, teach and follow Christ? Has she sold herself the whole bill of goods?

Or, is she callously doing what she has to do to get elected in San Francisco?

Orrrr … to take another look at it, has she been doing what she has to do to get elected for so long that she no longer knows, really, what she believes?

I don’t know.

I can tell you that I’ve seen a lot of this. I’ve seen good people who are deluded and bad people who don’t care and lots of people who have so totally lost contact with themselves that they no longer know much about anything as to what they believe or who they are.

All I think I know — and I’m pretty sure of this one — is that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s letter to Archbishop Cordileone asking him to withdraw from participation in the March for Marriage was pure politics. There was nothing else to it.

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.

 

 

Pope Francis on Child Labor, Fear of God, Love of Money, and Arms Dealing

Pope Francis is first of all a priest. The world is his parish and every single one of us is in the crosshairs of his admonitions to follow Jesus without reservations.

Following Jesus all the way, without holding anything back, is a revolutionary act. People who do it, even the most placid and low-key of them, become revolutionaries themselves. They are God’s change agents in a fallen world.

Those who try to follow Jesus part way, who stop when it gets difficult or conflicts with other things they hold dear, are pretty much useless to God. He cannot change the world with partially converted Christians. We are called to follow Him. There are no qualifiers to that command. It is absolute and all-encompassing.

When Pope Francis exhorts us to do just exactly that, he invariably becomes the target of half-converted Christians who have been using a selective view of the Gospels to condemn others and deify themselves. Everybody gets a kick out of it when the Holy Father calls out somebody else about sins we find appalling. But when he does it to us, well, that’s, as we say in these parts, meddling.

There has grown up here in America a false theology based on the idea that only a couple of sins — abortion and homosexuality — are truly sinful and anything and everything that has to do with money is outside the concerns of morality. In other words, if you oppose abortion, then you can rob all the banks you want.

This has grown to the point that there is a whole movement of fallen Christians out there who will lecture and hector anyone who has concern about the poor and helpless. They justify themselves and attack others with what are blatantly selective and anti-Christ interpretations of Scripture.

They use this obviously false and self-serving bogus theology to justify helping the rich get richer by transferring the wealth of our nation to them. They take prosperity that belongs to everyone and give it to a few and then proclaim that what they are doing is righteousness before God.

I’ve lived with this blasphemy for years on my job as a legislator. I’ve listened as the distorted, self-serving, anti-Christ interpretations of Scripture are flung in people’s faces. It is evil right down to the ground.

The idea that opposing abortion and gay marriage politically is the sum total of the Gospels is a sick, sad, anti-Christ interpretation of Scripture invented by political activists for their own purposes. It is, in itself, deeply sinful.

When Pope Francis tells us that we are bound to follow the whole Gospel of Christ, he is telling us the same thing that Dietrich Bonhoeffer said with his famous comments about cheap grace.

Of course Pope Francis is being attacked for speaking out for the poor. Of course he is being reviled for teaching the whole Gospel.

That’s what happens to people who stand for Christ and Him crucified. It. Happens. Every. Time.

I’ve chosen this particular video because it contains excerpts from three of Pope Francis’ recent audiences in which he addressed what is the moral plague that is destroying the witness of a good many Christians today. He talks about child labor, the love of money, arms dealing and fear of God.

In my opinion, these things are just a few of the manifestations of one thing: A false Gospel that says that economics cannot be judged by moral beliefs. If that isn’t a lack of fear of God in action, I don’t know what is.

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Told Ya This was Gonna Happen

Whenever Oklahoma gets on the national news, it’s always something bad. We pretty much get ignored unless we are hit with a massive tragedy or some Okie manages to make a real mess of one sort of the other.

Our latest foray into national attention is no exception.

Oklahoma has developed real problems executing people. Between lawsuits and botched executions, we’ve shown ourselves to be downright incompetent in the area of administering the death penalty. All this led to the second kind of national attention we usually get, which is to say a derisive critique.

This situation came about because of the zealous fight put up by attorneys for the two men slated for execution by the State of Oklahoma this year. After exhausting years of appeals, the attorneys switched from defense to offense. The object of their attack was the method of execution itself. They managed to intimidate the drug companies that supply drugs that are used in executions to the point that the state had problems getting enough drugs to kill someone.

When it came time to execute one of the two men, the prisoner — who had a history of assaulting and trying to kill people while in prison, particularly guards — resisted being moved from his cell. The guards had to taser him. Maybe the aftereffects of that hit with electricity was why things went so awry later.

All I know for sure is that the doctor couldn’t find a vein to use to administer the drugs and finally had to put the needle in the prisoner’s groin. According to news reports, the needle “blew” the vein, which led to a thoroughly botched execution. The prisoner ultimately died, but it was 45 minutes later, after the doctor stopped the execution.

The governor has issued a stay until next November for the other prisoner.

I wrote at the time that the attorneys for these two men needed to consider carefully what they were doing. I knew that Oklahoma has the laws on the books to use a firing squad as a means of execution. I also knew that the legislative will was to do exactly that.

Now, my colleague, Representative Mike Christian, wants to conduct hearings on what process would be necessary to switch to death by firing squad as the preferred method of execution in Oklahoma. Representative Christian, who is a retired Highway Patrolman and fellow Southsider, has said that he would be fine with beheading or feeding prisoners to the lions as methods of execution. In my opinion, that pretty much sums up the prevailing attitude among the people I worked with.

I guess I get to say I told you so.

I don’t want to behave like a seeress, but with me gone, the number of legislators who will be voting against the death penalty next year just dropped by one. Not that we had enough votes between us to matter. Legislators who oppose the death penalty in Oklahoma are a tiny group. If it comes to a vote, the chances of legislation passing that would enable the use of firing squads in Oklahoma is just about 100%. And that’s assuming that legislation is even necessary. Oklahoma already has this means of execution on the books.

I understand that the attorney for a death row inmate operates from the idea that any delay is a good delay. If they can buy their client one day, they’ll do it. But this particular delay may not play out to be all that pleasant for those who will be executed.

I’ve never seen an execution, and hope sincerely that I never have to. But people who have seen executions by lethal injection tell me that it looks painless for the prisoner. No one can say that for other means of execution. They may be quick, but they don’t look painless.

Killing people is grisly business. Lethal injection is certainly the most painless way we’ve found to do it. As I’ve said repeatedly, I do not favor the death penalty except in rare situations that almost never, and shouldn’t ever, arise in America. However, I am aware that I am an outlier on this.

Most people in this country, and certainly most people in Oklahoma, favor the death penalty. The feeling runs so strong that even the Supreme Court had to overturn itself back in the 1970s when it ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. Of course, the Supreme Court didn’t say it was overturning itself. But that’s what it did.

Americans want the death penalty. Not many elected officials are going to argue with them about it. As it turns out, not many judges will, either.

If death row inmates had the wherewithal to donate millions to political campaigns, that would change in a heartbeat. You’d suddenly see elected officials all over this country developing a tender conscience about the death penalty. But people on death row are almost always poor, which eliminates that possibility.

So that’s where we stand. All I can do is repeat one more time: I told ya this was gonna happen.

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.

 


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