Kim Davis: Is This the Beginning of a Judicial Dictatorship?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Cross Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/ldcross/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Cross Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/ldcross/

This is another take on the question of judicial overstep by the judge who imprisoned Kim Davis. I wrote it for Catholic Vote.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

150904_POL_KimDavis.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

Kim Davis, Democrat, went to jail rather than violate her Christian values. For this, she is getting hammered by those who think they own the Democratic Party and can decide who gets to be a “real” Democrat.

Donald Trump, Republican, supports sending her to jail. Meanwhile, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an order in his state protecting court clerks’ right to religious objection.

It’s all kind of a mess, isn’t it?

This jibes nicely with a comment by Robert George, who is Chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Professor George said, There really ARE two kinds of people in the world: those who will go to jail rather than do what’s wrong and those who will send them there.  

In addition to being willing to send people to jail, Mr. Trump appears to also be willing to demolish the separation of powers that keeps us free.

That’s a huge problem with this whole scenario that most people are overlooking. Mrs. Davis is not an administrative appointee. She is not an at-will employee. She is a duly elected official who holds her office by the direct will of the people. Let me clarify what that means: Her authority comes from the people. Courts do not have the power to imprison elected officials based on how they perform their elected duties.

 

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We Can Convert this Culture. The Only Thing Lacking is Leadership.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Olivier Carre-Delisle https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/

We can convert this culture. The only thing lacking is leadership.

That’s my take in a post I wrote for the National Catholic Register on two of the most recent polls about the Catholic Church in America today.

Here’s part of what I said:

… The trouble with “opinion” polls is that interpretation of the results rests in the hands of the interpreters. That’s why a recent poll that indicated that fully 90% of Catholics approve of the Pope, and a whopping 89% of Catholics also approve of their Church, received a headline from the Washington Post announcing that “The vast majority of US Catholics who left the Church can’t imagine returning.”

Their bias is showing.

I spent my entire legislative life looking at polls like this and then doing what I thought was best, despite the poll. I knew that poll results were indicators, not hard thinking. In the final analysis, polls didn’t matter. What mattered was whether or not I could communicate my vision to the people I represented. To put it another way, what mattered was whether or not I could exercise leadership.

I look at the same polls that Catholic bashers mine for nuggets to throw at the Church, and I see attitudes, situations and off-the-cuff reactions to disparate realities. I also see enormous opportunity for conversion of this culture.

The poll I cited earlier was a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Pew Research Center released another, slightly different, poll showing much the same results. The emphasis of the poll by the Public Religion Institute was the impact that the so-called “Francis Effect” was having on American Catholics. The Pew Research poll was mostly focused on Catholic attitudes about family.

It’s impossible to create parallels between the two polls because their respective definitions of “Catholic” are so different from one another. The Pew Research poll opens the spigot wide, noting that up to 45% of the American population is in some way “connected” to the Catholic Church.

The poll also reveals that 90% of American Catholics believe that the best family situation for raising children is “a household headed by a married mother and father.” I’m not sure what slice of their sampling they used to get this number. Was it everyone they consider Catholic? Or was it just regular Mass-going Catholics?

Pew Research basically defines anyone as a Catholic who says they are Catholic. This includes people who haven’t been inside a Catholic Church in decades right alongside those who attend daily Mass.

But whatever sampling they used, that is a powerful percentage.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/discerning-the-thirst-for-god-in-the-latest-pew-survey/#ixzz3lFv6tPQw

 

 

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Kim Davis is Out of Jail

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

There really ARE two kinds of people in the world: those who will go to jail rather than do what’s wrong and those who will send them there. Robert George, McCormick Professor, Princeton, Charman, US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Kim Davis has been released from jail. Judge David Bunning, who ordered Davis jailed in the first place, says that he is satisfied that her deputies have fulfilled their obligations to issue marriage licenses to gay marriages.

His order releasing Mrs Davis requires that she cannot interfere with her deputies issuing marriage licenses to “all legally eligible couples.” The implication is that if Mrs Davis does not perform her duties as a dully elected official to the judge’s liking, he will imprison her once again.

I am going to repeat something I said earlier: The judge is over-stepping his authority. Mrs Davis is an elected official and his purview does not extend to telling elected officials whether or not they are performing their duties in a satisfactory manner.

If an elected official does not perform their duties in a manner that the courts deem necessary, the courts have a certain latitude for redress, but this does not include summarily imprisoning the elected official. Perhaps the most clear-cut case of this in American history was when the Supreme Court ruled that the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from their hereditary lands to Indian Territory (what is now the State of Oklahoma) was unconstitutional, and President Andrew Jackson ignored the Court.

Impeachment and the election process are how this nation has dealt with elected officials who do not perform their duties properly. When courts begin to imprison elected officials based on how they perform their duties, they are overstepping the separation powers which is one of the primary guarantors of our freedoms.

I realize that those who favor gay marriage will not allow themselves to see this. I also realize that the concept of separation of powers has become increasingly weak due to judicial overstepping of its clear boundaries by using its power to issue rulings to create and pass legislative initiatives of revolutionary proportions without any reference to representation of the people. But the courts must be stopped from overstepping their boundaries by imprisoning elected officials for not performing their duties in the manner the court decides they should.

There is a lot more at stake here than the recent judicial fiat on gay marriage.

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Pope Changes Annulment Process. What Does it Mean?

Sometimes, it's obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

Sometimes, it’s obvious that there was no sacramental marriage. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Keith https://www.flickr.com/photos/outofideas/

My ignorance of canon law is showing.

Pope Francis issued two Apostolic letters, which are edicts affecting the entire Church this morning. These letters reform the process by which members of the laity — and those wishing to enter the Church who have  marital baggage from the pasts — can obtain an annulment.

I have questions out to canonists so that I can give you a more exact and accurate understanding of exactly what the Holy Father did, but there are a few things I can say, just from reading the documents. One critical reform that he has instituted is that the process of obtaining an annulment should be offered to the faithful without charge.

The diocese in which I live does not charge for annulments. That is the way it should be, everywhere. The reason I feel so strongly about this is that a complex marital arrangement can block people from entering the Church, and it can also keep them from taking Communion. That makes the annulment process a roadblock to Jesus. There should never have been a charge for someone seeking to partake of the Body and Blood of Our Savior.

If I understand what I read correctly, the Pope has put the annulment process in the hands of the local bishop, who has been given the option of appointing one person to act on his behalf in this matter. Pope Francis calls this person “a single judge under the responsibly of the Bishop.” One of the things I need to learn more about is how this would affect the existing tribunals.

The important point is a bit further down when the document states clearly “the bishop is judge.” I interpret that to mean that the local bishop is the first voice of appeal if there is disagreement about his designee’s decisions. It also means that the bishop is always directly responsible for the annulment process in his diocese.

The letters says that “a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed — in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use.” This simplified process “is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of martial nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments.” I interpret this to mean that this shorter process is for cases cases in which the facts say on their face that the marriage was not a sacramental marriage. That would probably include things such as common law marriage, forced marriage, child marriage, or marriages performed by atheists/pagans/justices of the peace/ship’s captains, etc.

As I said, I’ve asked people who are Canonists to help me understand what these changes will mean to the people in the pews. My guess is that these new rules will be abused by some, but will also help many people who are shut away from the sacraments by a past they cannot change. I think they will also remove what has been unmovable barriers to people who have messy marital pasts and who have converted and changed and are now following the call of Christ to enter the Catholic Church. I personally know people whose conversion to the Catholic church was blocked by their inability to fill out the paperwork required by the current process.

Marriage is a vastly important commitment. When you marry, you chose this one person as your life’s partner. You will create other people with them, people that are part of each of you, but are uniquely themselves. Your spouse is the one who stands beside you in life’s trials, the one who shares your future.

We have degraded and damaged marriage to the point that family itself has lost its meaning to many people. In many ways, these changes in the annulment process are a recognition of the fact that Western society has fallen into such deep and widespread marital sin that the necessity of reconversion means that we must accommodate these things in order to bring the converted to Christ.

Western society has fallen into depravity that has become the norm. But the message of the Gospels is unchanged. That message is simple and straight foward: Jesus Christ the Way to eternal life.  Not only that, but there is no sin we can commit that is greater than His forgiveness.

That’s what I think these changes are about. They are a way to telling people that no matter what kind of mess they’ve made of things, nothing they’ve done is greater than Christ’s mercy.

Here, from Vatican Radio, is the summary of the Apostolic Letters Pope Francis issued today:

  1. That there be only one sentence in favor of executive nullity – It appeared opportune, in the first place, that there no longer be required a twofold decision in favor of marital nullity, in order that the parties be admitted to new canonically valid marriages: the moral certainty reached by the first judge according to law should be sufficient.

  2. A single judge under the responsibility of the Bishop – The constitution of a single judge in the first instance, who shall always be a cleric, is placed under the responsibility of the Bishop, who, in the pastoral exercise of his own proper judicial power shall guarantee that no laxity be indulged in this matter.

  3. The Bishop is judge – In order that the teaching of the II Vatican Council be finally translated into practice in an area of great importance, the decision was made to make evident the fact that the Bishop is, in his Church – of which he is constituted pastor and head – is by that same constitution judge among the faithful entrusted to him. It is desired that, in Dioceses both great and small, the Bishop himself should offer a sign of the conversion of ecclesiastical structures, and not leave the judicial function completely delegated to the offices of the diocesan curia, as far as matters pertaining to marriage are concerned.

  4. Increased brevity in the legal process – In fact, beyond making the marriage annulment process more agile, a briefer form of trying nullity cases has been designed – in addition to the documentary process already approved and in use – which is to be applied in cases in which the accusation of marital nullity is supported by particularly evident arguments. In any case, the extent to which an abbreviated process of judgment might put the principle of the indissolubility of marriage at risk, did not escape me [writes Pope Francis – ed.]: thus, I have desired that, in such cases the Bishop himself shall be constituted judge, who, by force of his pastoral office is with Peter the greatest guarantor of Catholic unity in faith and in discipline.

  5. Appeal to the Metropolitcan See – It is fitting that the appeal to the Metropolitan See be re-introduced, since that office of headship of an Ecclesiastical province, stably in place through the centuries, is a distinctive sign of the synodality of the Church.

  6. The proper role of the Bishops’ Conferences – The Bishops’ Conferences, which must be driven above all by the anxious apostolic desire to reach the far-off faithful, should formally recognize the duty to share the aforesaid conversion, and respect absolutely the right of the Bishops to organize judicial power each within his own particular Church.

 

 

Deacon Greg offers an excellent news summary of the letters here.

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Dying to Keep a Job … Freedom of Conscience and Abortion, Euthanasia

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Do you support forcing doctors and nurses to violate their consciences by killing their patients with abortion and euthanasia?

How does this overall concept apply to the questions raised by the jailing of Kim Davis?

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Guess Who Didn’t Go to Jail?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chris Potter https://www.flickr.com/photos/86530412@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chris Potter https://www.flickr.com/photos/86530412@N02/

How about when the shoe is on the other foot?

From Daily Mail:

An openly-gay judge has said she is refusing to perform marriage ceremonies until same-sex couples can wed.

Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker says she won’t use her power to perform legal marriage ceremonies in her court because would be ‘an oxymoron’ for her.

Speaking to a meeting of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, she said: ‘I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I’m turning them away.’

Judge Parker said if asked to perform wed a couple, she would say: ‘I’m sorry. I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2105958/Openly-gay-Judge-refuses-marry-straight-couples-sex-couples-rights.html#ixzz3kmfU4wf6
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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Poll Reveals Catholic Base is Strong in US

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Prayitno/Thankyoufor https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Prayitno/Thankyoufor https://www.flickr.com/photos/prayitnophotography/

It appears that reports of the Catholic Church’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, it appears that they are 180 degrees off the mark. American Catholics chalked up astronomical percentages of approval for both their Church and the Holy Father in a recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Institute.

There were sighting of the usual Catholic confusion about their Church’s teachings. I think that’s to be expected. After all, the Catholic Church is both the largest church in the world and and the largest religious body in the United States. There are a lot of Catholics, which means there are also a lot of opportunities for addlepated thinking.

That’s what makes these survey results so compelling. If you can get 90% of a group of people this big to agree on anything, you’ve pulled off quite a coup. Considering the the Church has been under continuous attack and bashing and that it has managed to add a lot of fuel to those fires with its own clerical failures, the numbers are even more astounding.

I wrote about this for CatholicVote. Here is a bit of what I said:

How does the much-vaunted power of Pope Francis’ open-hearted approach to the papacy play with American Catholics? It turns out that it plays very well. The numbers reflect an almost universal love affair with this black-shoed, old-car-driving, selfie-taking man who is Peter.

American Catholics are happy their pope. Fully 90% have a favorable view of the Holy Father, and 89% also have a positive view of the Catholic Church. Those are power numbers that any world leader would envy. They don’t just reflect popularity. They speak of the sheer political power of the Church, of our ability to reconvert Western Culture, if we will just do it.

Any politician will tell you that their single most important demographic is their base. Most of the time, if your base turns on you, you are dead in the water. That is why it’s so hard to get an elected official to change their position on barn-burning issues such as abortion. A move like that is a little bit like jumping from one horse to the next in the middle of the Kentucky Derby. Chances are, both the jockey and horse are going down.

The Catholic Church may very well end up as the last lone soldier in the fight to re-convert Western civilization to traditional Christianity. This survey provides good news concerning that task. Our base is solid, if confused. Go here to read the rest.

NOTE: The opening sentence of this post is a paraphrase of a quote by Mark Twain.

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Four Presidential Candidates Sign Pledge Promising to Defend Marriage

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dr Wendy Longo https://www.flickr.com/photos/wtlphotos/

Four presidential candidates have signed the Presidential Pledge for Marriage that is being promoted by the National Organization for Marriage. The four signatories are Senator Ted Cruz, former Senator Rick Santorum, Dr Ben Carson and Governor Bobby Jindal.

Governor Mike Huckabee, Govern Scott Walker and Senator Lindsey Graham have announced that they will not be signing any pledges.

Most candidates have not responded to requests to sign the pledge. Those not responding are: Governors Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Former Governor Jim Gilmore, Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, private citizens Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

The National Organization for Marriage makes no mention of the Democratic candidates for president. Even though all of the big name contenders that I know about have not only made public statements in support to gay marriage, but appear to be vying with one as to who can support it the most vehemently, I think this is a mistake. I’ve always operated by giving everyone an equal chance to refuse.

This is the text of the pledge:

The Presidential Marriage Pledge

I, _____________ _____________, pledge to the American people that if elected President, I will:

One, support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Two, oppose and work to overturn any Supreme Court decision that illegitimately finds a constitutional “right” to the redefinition of marriage. This includes nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.

Three, conduct a review of regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the current Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.

Four, support the First Amendment Defense Act and other legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman without fear of retaliation from the government.

Five, direct the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.

There is also a People’s Marriage Pledge. You can go here to sign it. This is the text of the People’s Marriage Pledge.

The People’s Marriage Pledge

I pledge that I will only support a candidate for President of the United States who has pledged to take specific actions to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This includes:

•Supporting a federal marriage amendment protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

•Opposing and working to overturn any Supreme Court ruling that illegitimately finds a constitutional “right” to redefine marriage.

•Nominating to the US Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.

•Conducting a review of regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the Obama Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.

•Supporting federal legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their beliefs about marriage without fear of retaliation from the federal government.

•Directing the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.

I also pledge to support only those candidates for federal office who have taken positions consistent with the above policies.

I’m going to withhold my thinking on the whole question of pledges and opinion polls for a while. I’ll probably talk more about it later.

For now, it’s important to see that of the entire field of candidates in both parties, only four were willing to sign the pledge. While the Ds have taken a strong stand in favor of gay marriage, several of the Rs have waffled on the topic. These four do not appear to be waffling at all.

Read the pledge, think this whole process through, and tell me what you think. We’re going to be dealing with this issue for a long time. We need to consider our overall goals and strategies going forward.

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Two Reporters Were Murdered on TV Today. How Many Murders Have you Witnessed?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Americans saw another cold-blooded murder this morning, this time it was a disgruntled former employee, taking out his rage on his former co-workers.

Now, a young man and woman are dead and another young man is bound to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

What does it do to us, watching this horror show, day after day? How does following Jesus defend us against falling into the depravity we witness?

I took on those questions in this post that I wrote for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

The first person I ever saw murdered was Lee Harvey Oswald.

I was a kid at the time. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated on Friday. My family sat in front of our small-screen black and white television all that weekend. We watched obsessively.

As I said, I was a kid, a newcomer to the horrors of life. In a way, all Americans were kids, newcomers, at least to this kind of horror. My parents had grown up in the Great Depression and lived through World War II and Korea, so they were hardly rubes when it came to the horrors that evil can wreak.

But unknown to all of us at that time, America had passed through a membrane a little bit after noon on Friday, November 22, 1963. The America we had known, where children could go trick-or-treating without parental supervision and no one feared for their safety, where politicians were free to mix with the people without worry about being gunned down, where most kids slept under the roof of their own home with their married parents asleep down the hall in their own bedroom, had been mortally wounded.

The long bleed from that wound would go on for decades, right up until today. But America, the America in which I was born, ended when a dum-dum bullet tore through the back of President Kennedy’s skull and shattered, ripping out the right side of his brain.

I remember the shock when I saw Jackie step off the plane, blood all over her. I remember the shock the next morning when I saw her emerge from the White House, the tragedy written in every line of her swollen-eyed, bruised face.

She made it real to me. That blood on her skirt was America’s blood.

We watched the unfolding of that weekend-long national wake on our grainy-screened little television, and by the end of it, the tragedy was indelibly etched in our minds. That’s how it came to be that I witnessed the first murder I ever saw.


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/we-are-eyewitnesses-to-atrocity-we-must-also-be-eyewitnesses-to-christs-maj/#ixzz3jxBZSD5U

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Research Lab Assistants “Freak Out” at Sight of Baby Body Parts

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Britt-knee https://www.flickr.com/photos/lsuchick142/

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Britt-knee https://www.flickr.com/photos/lsuchick142/

This is the most recent video from the Center for Medical Progress detailing how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted babies to commercial medicine for research.

StemExpress is a mid-level handler who buys the organs of abortion babies from abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood, and then re-sells them to researchers. This video shows the director of StemExpress at lunch, discussing the acquisition of the livers, brains, arms and legs of murdered babies for her company.

The thing that I found most interesting in the video is her discussion of how careful she has to be in dealing with the researchers to whom she sells the baby’s body parts. She says that these researchers want the body parts stripped as much as possible of anything that would remind the researcher that he or she is using organs that were harvested from a living child.

She doesn’t put it quite that way, but that is her meaning.

She also comments that lab assistants “freak out” when they see an intact arm or leg with the hand or foot of the child attached. That is, of course, the real value of these videos. They make it clear what is going on here.

I think that if you asked the American public a hypothetical question about whether or  not to allow the use of “tissue” from “the products of an abortion” for “life-saving research” that would “benefit millions and might find the cure for dread diseases,”  and “would be thrown away anyway,” they would say yes. But when you show people sorting through the organs of a dead baby, lifting the tiny arms and tossing aside the empty skull with the vacant eyes, the whole thing takes on another dimension.

That dimension is reality. Reality is what the researchers want to avoid experiencing when they ask that hands be removed from the arms of murdered babies that they want to use in their research. Realty is what the lab assistants react to when they “freak out” at the sight of what is clearly the corpse of a murdered human being.

The reality is that abortion kills a living child. That is why it is wrong.

It is also why we must find other solutions for the miseries of misogyny than abortion.

This video is a lesson in dealing with those who face this grisly reality and do not find it difficult, whose conscience does not appear to be troubled by participating in what is in fact mass murder. History is replete with the stories of such people. They are often among the most urbane and “civilized” among us.

They are also a testament to the fact that you cannot judge the soul of another person by their outward demeanor.

People have been fooled for too long about the reality of abortion. These videos change that.

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