Lord Have Mercy. Christ Have Mercy.

After seeing the video “Passion of the Copts” all I could think was Lord have mercy. This hauntingly beautiful rendition of the Kyrie Eleison and the equally beautiful Gospodi Pomiluj below it are for them and for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ everywhere.

Kyrie Eleison – Zurgo – Navratil Andrea

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Gospodi Pomiluj

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The Persecution Continuum: Vandalizing Churches

Deacon Greg Kandra had the story of churches that were vandalized in Brooklyn this week. The police have already arrested a suspect and charged him with a hate crime.

That is exactly the right charge. The increasingly widespread vandalizing of churches is indeed a hate crime. Where is this rise of hatred directed at people of faith in general and Christians in particular coming from?

I believe it is inspired by the virulent anti-Christian ethos in our halls of higher education, the mass media, and at least two social movements.

Christian-bashing hate blogs lead easily-led not-so-brights into hatred, support of discriminatory practices against Christians and verbal hazing of Christians. This kind of we-are-special and the people-we’ve-picked-out-to-hate-are-less-than-human incitement has historically been able to create fanatic followings of mental and moral midgets who will do anything to anyone to prove their “specialness.”

Cheap demagoguery is not new and it is certainly not a sign of intellectual prowess. Falling for it and following it is actually a sign of emotional immaturity and the inability to think for oneself. If ever anyone was being brain-washed today it is the millions of people who have fallen into the Dawkins pit of “mock them; ridicule them; in public; with contempt.” Following this kind of leader does not prove you are intellectually superior. It proves that you are morally and developmentally challenged.

Vandalizing churches is just the next, highly-predictable step in the march toward violent persecution. For people in this country to dismiss these things because it’s not so bad here as it is in Kano Nigeria, is a little like someone looking at a pot of water sitting on the stove with steam rising off the water and saying, “It’s not boiling,” as if that means it isn’t on its way to a boil.

The social movements that have taken on a cloak of animosity toward Christians are the gay rights movement and the abortion rights movement. Their behavior seems to be basically a reaction to that simple fact that Christian teaching is that homosexual sexual activity is disordered sexuality and that abortion is the killing of a human being.

These people — who are closely allied with one another politically — appear to be angry because the Church will not redefine its teachings to tell them that their sins are not sinful. In the beginning they expressed this as anger because Christian people exercised their free right as American citizens to lobby for laws against abortion and in favor of traditional marriage. This has since morphed into demands that the law force Christians to participate in abortions and same-sex marriages against their will or face loss of their livelihoods and businesses.

As such, these social movements have begun waging war on the freedom of conscience of those who disagree with them.

This has become so heated and crazy that both the gay rights movement and the abortion movement have increasingly aligned themselves with the christian-bashing-hazing-insulting-sickos of extreme secularism. This despite the fact that both their movements are based on common claims to human rights that arise directly from the Christian teaching that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.

They might do well to consider the history of extreme secularism and atheism when it is ascendant. Atheist/secularist movements have historically aligned themselves with ideas such as readily available abortion and the rights of groups that feel marginalized. However, when they take power, oppression of homosexuals and state control of human reproduction always seems to follow.

The result of these various forces in action has been a steady march from verbal attacks and verbal hazing toward legal discrimination and now an uptick in vandalizing churches. Most of these instances of vandalism appear to be just that: Vandalism.

One interesting thing is that almost all of them are being covered by local and community press. The larger press is ignoring them, primarily, I would guess, because taken individually, they seem to be isolated incidents of vandalism. It’s the sheer number and consistency of them, combined with the social/political/educational hazing of Christians, that makes them significant.

I don’t think these vandals are organized. However they so often replicate one another that they are appear to be coming from a central set of ideologies and attitudes. If you wonder what that is, just watch the subtle but ubiquitous jibes at faith on almost every television channel, sit in on a lecture or two at your local university, or visit some of the hate blogs and witness their steady, bam-bam-bam drumbeat of Christian-bashing and hatred.

I did a simple Google search this morning on vandalized churches. This is a completely unscientific list of news stories about churches that have been vandalized this summer. The common things the vandals write on the church walls, statues, etc, are Nazi insignia and comments about religious “brainwashing.”

Washington National Cathedral

On July 29, a vandal splattered the organ of historic Bethlehem Chapel and the gilded, hand-carved altarpiece in Children’s Chapel with bright green paint. Damage is currently estimated at $15,000.

Brooklyn, NY

NEW YORK (WABC) – Police arrested a man in connection with the vandalism to a number of houses of worship in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Tuesday morning.

55-year-old Chris Papadimitropoulos is charged with six counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime, 12 counts of criminal mischief and 12 counts of making graffiti.

Wilmington, DE

A trio of Wilmington churches were vandalized with red spray paint on Saturday morning, WCVB initially reported and a town official confirmed to Patch.

“Brainwashed” was stenciled onto statues, doors and stairs and other church property at St. Dorothy’s Church, St. Thomas of Villanova and Wilmington Congregational Church.

Union County SC

Union County, SC -

Union County Sheriff David Taylor says the Buffalo United Methodist Church at 108 Hill Street in Buffalo was vandalized.

Taylor says German swastikas, graffiti and satanic symbols were spray-painted throughout the church.

Bibles inside the church were also ripped apart.

Charleston, SC

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - A South Carolina man said he was “mad at God” when he took out his frustration on 17 churches in dozens of acts of vandalism over the past five years, according to a local newspaper.

Lincoln Township, PA

LINCOLN TOWNSHIP — The pristine face of a 19th Century church was scarred by a vandal Saturday.

 An original stained glass window at Christ Casebeer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lincoln Township was broken with a large rock. The church was built in 1845, according to Rev. Dennis Doebler.

Lee County, FL 

The search is over for three men responsible for breaking into St. Raphael’s Church. Lee County deputies detained and charged three juvenile men early this morning.

Deputies responded to St. Raphael’s Church on Lee Boulevard May 25th after it was broken into and restroom walls and doors were vandalized.

“I can’t of course repeat some of the things that were written on the wall; but they were needless to say obscene,” said Father Dennis Cooney, of St. Raphael’s. “It was something that was done out of pure viciousness.”

A donated Cadillac in the parking lot was also spray painted.

St Paul, MN

Two St. Paul churches were apparent crime victims recently.

According to a police report, someone tipped over a concrete statue of Saint Juan Diego at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 401 Concord St., breaking off its head. The damage occurred sometime between 6 p.m. Monday and 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to police. The statue is valued at $1,000.

Police are also investigating the theft of copper gutters valued at $1,000 from the First Church of Christ Scientist at 2315 Highland Pkwy. The theft is believed to have happened sometime between July 25 and Thursday.

Aurora, CO

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) Investigators searching for the vandal or vandals responsible for heavily damaging a church in Aurora on Easter Sunday are looking into some DNA evidence in their attempt to solve the case.

So far there’s no description for who the vandal who damaged St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church on March 31 was, but the priest there thinks he knows how they did it.

Father Jim Gilchrist told CBS4 he thinks they took a rock from the prayer garden, smashed a window and crawled in, and then trashed the place.

They ransacked the worship area, shot off fire extinguishers and stole cash and checks from the office.

Buffalo, NY

The Union County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the vandalism of a church in Buffalo.

Sheriff David Taylor said someone broke into Buffalo United Methodist Church on Hill Street overnight and spray painted swastikas, upside down crosses, pentagrams and Satanic messages around the church, splattered red paint on statues, tore pages out of Bibles and turned crosses upside down. Damage was found in the sanctuary and Sunday school rooms.

Roswell. NM

ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – Roswell Police are searching for suspects in a string of churchvandalismovertheweekend.
According to police, one church received a threatening letter and another had a bunchofwindowsbroken.
“Everybody is kind of stunned that nothing is sacred anymore,” said Deacon Howard Herring of St. Peter’s Catholic Church. “Even churches are under attack.”

Hampshire, TN

HAMPSHIRE, Tenn. - It’s a place where people come to worship, but police said they’re investigating why a mid-state church became the target of vandals, even starting a fire inside.

Investigators said they will be looking at whether this was a prank or something much more serious at Dry Fork Church of Christ.

In a town like Hampshire, Tennessee, church is more than just a place of worship.

“Dry Fork Church of Christ was established in 1850 and we presently have served in this location since 1973,” said Shirley Green, who has been a member of the church her entire life. “Our parents and grandparents went here and now our descendants are here.”

The congregation was shocked to find their church had become the target of vandals.

Batavia, NY

BATAVIA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Batavia Police are on the hunt for a graffiti vandal who targeted three churches. The three calls came in to police between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. Monday.

Someone spray painted on Batavia Assembly of God, Grace Baptist Church and City Church with the message “Religion is a mind virus.”

Pastor Marty MacDonald of City Church said, “I am hoping to meet with this person and go out to lunch and hug him and pray for him, because that’s what the Bible tells us to do.”

Westlake Village, CA

Cleaning crews worked swiftly to remove derogatory graffiti that was placed on property belonging to the City of Westlake Village and St. Jude Catholic Church on Easter weekend.

Vandals targeted the 32000 block of Lindero Canyon Road sometime between Fri., March 29 and Sat., March 30, authorities said.

The graffiti included a reference to homosexuality, several four-letter words and a swastika, a source told The Acorn. One scrawl reportedly said, “God is gay.”

Gastonia, NC

GASTONIA, N.C. — The pastor of Covenant Baptist Church said it is a place of hope and faith, and it is disappointing that someone decided to put a negative message on the church wall.

Obscene words with a reference to God and satanic images are covered with a towel on one wall of the church. Power washing did not wipe them away. The cloth does not cover the framework of the disturbing graffiti.

Savannah, GA

 SAVANNAH, GA (June 13, 2013): Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Detectives are searching for 24-year-old Michael Christopher Garko, believed responsible for thousands of dollars in damage to a Savannah church.

At 8:35 a.m. Monday, Metro officers responded to The Church at Godley Station, on the 1600 block of Benton Boulevard. Officers observed a broken window on the front door and several shattered glass windowpanes around the building. It did not appear that the suspect made entry.

Shelton, CT 

SHELTON – St. Margaret Mary Church, located at 380 Long Hill Ave., was vandalized overnight, police said.

A maid discovered the damage Monday around 6:30 a.m. and called police.

Extensive damage was done to the interior of the church. Several religious statues inside and outside the church were destroyed. Two vehicles in the church’s parking lot were vandalized, police said.

Read more: http://foxct.com/2013/06/10/church-in-shelton-vandalized-statues-destroyed/#ixzz2av5q9GxZ

Omaha, NB

A vandal appears to have used a Holy Cross athletic field near 60th and Center Streets to turn donuts, leaving behind a trail of damage.

Employees discovered the vandalism Thursday morning.

“This damage was definitely purposeful,” said Katie Holmes, office manager for Holy Cross. “It looks like someone was doing donuts on the grass and lost control.”

A section of the field was torn up by the tire tracks. A church-owned garage door appeared to have been backed into, and some nearby heavy city equipment was damaged, she said.

It was the second time in the past year that church has dealt with damage at its field, Holmes said. In the earlier incident, a driver ran into the fence.

Brooklyn, NY

A graffiti vandal painted a large letter “X” on two statues outside St. Anselm’s Church on the corner of 82nd Street and Fourth Avenue last week, but cops have faith they’ll catch the culprit, who was caught on video in the act, and who now has a price on his head.

Union, SC

UNION, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Graffiti, torn Bibles and other vandalism was found in a Union County church early Tuesday morning, according to deputies.

Union County Sheriff David Taylor said furniture was damaged, swastikas and satanic phrases were spray painted on the walls and several Bibles were torn apart.

The phrase “Christ is dead, Satan is alive” was spray-painted on one wall.

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Muslim War On Christians: It’s Women and Girls First

What kind of “men” kidnap young girls as a means of waging a “holy” war?

The video below is difficult to watch, but then the reality of what is happening to Christians in Egypt and elsewhere is far more difficult.

The practice of kidnapping Christian girls, raping them and forcing them to “convert” to Islam appears to be widespread throughout the Middle East. There’s not much to say about men who do cowardly things like this to women and young girls except that their “manhood” isn’t all that manly.

One of the more disgusting things about this is the silence from feminists. Where is the outrage about this outrage?

On a side note, I repeat Ravi Zacharias’ reaction when he heard Dr. Richard Dawkins’ incitement of his followers concerning people of faith to “mock them; ridicule them; in public; with contempt.” Dr Dawkins and his crowd should book flights to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc, and try this there.

They could also do similar experiments with the Hindus of India. I’ve got videos of what can happen.  Or, they might try ridiculing the faux religion of statism that is practiced in the various atheist paradises.

In truth and in fact, the only societies in the world where they have the freedom to behave like this are those that are informed by Christian values. You know: The terrible, horrible Christian morality that says that all human beings matter, no matter their stage of life or level of health, and that every person has certain inherent rights that come from God.

God help us all if the Christian bashers of the world succeed in wiping that morality out of public discourse and civil society.

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Bleeding Nigeria and Boko Haram

Boko Haram has killed at least 1600 people in Northern Nigeria since 2010.

It’s a repetitive story of bombings, mass shootings and knife attacks, much of it centered on the northern city of Kano. I used to know people who lived in Kano and I’ve heard their stories of atrocities against the Christians there.

This business of killing Christians in Kano precedes Boko Haram. LIke all forms of persecution, it gets and has gotten worse over time. A couple of decades ago, I knew people who were  victimized by deadly anti-Christian riots that were more or less disorganized and at least somewhat spontaneous.

But for the past 10 years or so Kano and all of northern Nigeria has been subjected to the organized violence of Boko Haram. I’ve published posts here at Public Catholic indicating that Boko Haram is funded and trained by extremist Muslim forces from outside Nigeria, indeed, from outside Africa. It appears that at least some of the funding for Boko Haram may be coming through England,

That’s an interesting and sad thought. A small child who is blown to bits on a summer’s evening may owe his or her death to the actions of international financiers and organizers who have given over their lives to organized killing.

A few days ago, Boko Haram struck again with a series of bomb blasts in Kano. These happened during the evening hours in the Christian section of the city. Many Muslims were out at the same time, because of Ramadan.

As usual for these things, Boko Haram has taken to killing other Muslims who don’t conform to their ideas, in addition to Christians.

My question: Why don’t the Muslims and Christians unite against these killers and get rid of them?

Another question: Why don’t the rest of us in the “civilized” world put their money people in prison? I don’t think it would be too difficult to write a law that could shut them down.

In the meantime, the killing and the dying go on in bleeding Nigeria.

From the Associated Press:

Associated Press

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Multiple explosions rocked a Christian area in Nigeria’s northern Kano city Monday night, with security forces ferrying scores of wounded to hospitals.

A mortuary attendant at Murtala Mohammed Specialists Hospital said at least 10 bodies had been brought in from the scene. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Nigeria is fighting an Islamic uprising by extremists based mainly in the northeast, where the government has declared a state of emergency. Kano city and state are not part of that emergency.

Nigeria’s government is fighting an Islamic uprising by a network called Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden.” The group wants Islamic law imposed in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of more than 160 million, which is divided almost equally between Christians who live mainly in the south and Muslims who dominate the north.

Witness Kolade Ade said at least one blast appeared to come from a Mercedes-Benz parked beside a kiosk selling alcohol and soft drinks.

“After the first bomb, I threw myself into the canal (drain) to hide. There were at least three blasts,” he said.

The explosions came as hundreds of people thronged the area in Sabon Gari neighborhood, where some were playing snooker and others table tennis.


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Christians’ Dual Citizenship and Engaging the Culture for Christ

In the video below, Cardinal Wuerl discusses what he calls the “subtle” loss of religious liberty in America.

From my viewpoint, the loss of religious liberty is only subtle to those who do not want to see what is happening. In truth, it has been snowballing for quite a while.

The sign of hope is that for the first time, there is real pushback. I’m not talking about angry speechifying and partisan political demagoguery, but actual pushback in the form of court cases, marches and a public engagement in favor of religious liberty by whole groups of people who heretofore opted out of the battle.

The HHS Mandate was a watershed moment in American history in this regard. By attempting to force the Church itself to violate its own teachings in a federalized, all-fifty-states manner, the Mandate forced the war upon religious leaders who had been committed to a policy of negotiation and compromise. The Mandate pushed things past compromise and into choosing this day whom you would serve.

The administration has since backed off parts of the mandate, but the essential core of its position on religious liberty: That the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion pertains only to churches and direct church institutions, has not budged. The question that this forces on thinking people is whether or not they will support our Constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion without government interference or not.

Far too often, people allow their partisan political loyalties to make their decision in this matter for them. This is such a strong trend that I am fairly certain that if the party who was being criticized for attacking religious liberty changed from, as it is in this case, the Ds, to the (as it has been and will be again in other cases, the Rs) many people would switch their positions on the issues to follow their party.

I do not know how to get people to stop looking at the world through partisan-tinted glasses. But I know that this is essential — essential — if you want to be effective for Christ in our country’s political discussions.

One way that America is unique is that every citizen is a de facto politician. No American citizen is exempt from responsibility for the directions our government takes. Because of the great freedoms and the many powerful options to seek redress against our government that every American citizen possesses, we are all called to have opinions and engage the political world for change, at least on some level.

Our government and both political parties have become corrupted by the control of special interests and overweening government bureaucracies. I don’t know how else to say it. We, as American citizens, have a responsibility to stand back from that corruption and think for ourselves. As Christians we have an eternal responsibility to put the Gospels first in our considerations.

American Christians are citizens of two kingdoms simultaneously. We are American citizens and we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God. One of the great things about America is that is has not, up until very recently, required its citizens to chose between these two kingdoms.

America has always honored the demands of conscience of its individual citizens. Those whose faith demands it are not required to fight in our wars and no one challenges their patriotism. We have never forced anyone to undergo a religious test to hold public office in this nation.

But now, there are groups which seek to push their ideas on other people to the point of abrogating their right of personal conscience. Rather than follow the time-honored American tradition of allowing those whose faith compels them to forego certain activities to do so, they are using the law and courts to force religious people to participate in everything from abortions to gay marriages. They base this on nebulous claims to their “right” to these activities which, they say, trumps the rights of other citizens not to participate in them.

The HHS Mandate is a sinister, tyrannical abuse of government power that attempts to shear the First Amendment loose from its time-honored moorings in the rights of individual American citizens to act and live according to their faith without government penalties, intervention or discrimination. It thrusts the United States government into areas where it has never gone before and into which it should not go now.

Other laws, such as those Cardinal Wuerl mentions in this video, have been bubbling up all over the country, which, at least in their local applications, set aside First Amendment guarantees of religious liberty almost entirely in favor of other new goals of government meddling in American’s private lives and religious institutions in order to force private citizens to participate in culture war objectives such as abortion and gay marriage against their will.

I am aware that a good number of the readers of this blog comfort themselves with the fiction that all they have to do to support religious liberty is to vote Republican. I am also aware of the fact that most people don’t have my experience dealing with these issues from inside government and seeing first hand what a shallow and ultimately bogus hope that is.

I can only tell you that I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears, not once but many times, how completely craven both political parties truly are in these matters. I am not saying that many of the people in the Republican party are not wonderful, committed Christians. I am saying that when push comes to shove, they allow their party to tell them to back off, back down and shut up about everything from pro life to religious liberty. I have seen it happen.

In this respect, they aren’t all that different from the Democrats. There are devout Christians in the Democratic Party, as well. But they can’t withstand the pressure from their party.

The big difference is that Democratic party structure itself has become overtly hostile to traditional Christian morality as it applies to human sexuality, while the Republican party gives a lot of lip service to supporting it. The Rs do not attack Christian morality concerning human sexuality with legislation designed to undermine it. The Ds will and do.

But the Rs (again, I refer to the party structure, not individual Republicans) only take stands with words, or when they see a political advantage. In fact, in many instances, (I’m specifically thinking about the HHS Mandate here) the Rs take stands only with words and do not use their clout in Congress to effect change.

The point I am making, is that if you are a Republican, you should not stand for this. You need to stop buying the manipulative nonsense your party is pushing and demand they go at the HHS Mandate by making it a sticking point in their negotiations on budget issues or wherever else they can gain traction. People get what they want. If the Republicans wanted to stop this mandate rather than just use it for campaigning purposes, they could make a big difference.

On the other hand, Democrats like me are so isolated and besieged within our parties that only the most determined of us can stay the course at all. It is impossible to describe to someone on the outside the kind of pressures that Democratic lawmakers are under to compromise matters of faith concerning issues such as abortion, marriage and religious freedom.

If you are a Democrat, you need to step up to the plate and demand that your party stop attacking the pro-life, pro-religious freedom lawmakers in their midst. You also need to consider running for party offices, beginning at the precinct level, to replace some of these nuts who are running our party and get the thing back on track.

Americans do not have the luxury of sitting around and saying “what can you do?”

The truth is, any American, all Americans, can do a lot.

My father was a mechanic with an 8th grade education. I went to the worst schools in the poor part of town. I am a woman, from an era when women didn’t have the options we have today. And I have spent 18 years in elective office.

Why? Because I am an American citizen and I have Constitutionally guaranteed right to engage the larger culture about the things I believe.

The rest of you should try it. Politics can be both honorable and holy work. All you have to do is put Jesus first and let the chips fall.

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Same Judge Who Turned Hobby Lobby Down, Now Grants Them a Stay on HHS Mandate

I’ve read the news reports on several outlets, and I’m not exactly sure what the judge did, except that it’s clear that he stopped the government from dropping the guillotine on Hobby Lobby next month.

The draconian HHS Mandate, which is scheduled to go into effect in August, would probably, in the judge’s own words, “cut the legs from under” any “individual or corporation” who is so bold as to say “no” to it. Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby is exempt from compliance with the HHS Mandate, at least until higher courts rule in the matter. He also put the case on hold until October 1 to give the Obama administration time to respond.

What does this mean?

Well, it means that the government can’t start putting Hobby Lobby out of business because it won’t pay for abortifacients for its employees, at least not next month.

It also gives the Obama administration a bloody nose. The administration originally contended that First Amendment protections of the free exercise of religion only applied to churches. Then, when it began losing in court, the administration widened that out to include direct affiliates of churches. The administration has not budged in its position that the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion does not apply to you, me or any other individual.

I think this latest ruling puts other judges on the hot seat. Are they going to allow corporations and individuals to go down the tubes next month, or are they going to step up and grant similar stays for everyone?

One interesting fact: Judge Joe Heaton is the same judge who denied a somewhat similar request by Hobby Lobby in November 2012. His reasoning then read like Obama administration boilerplate.

What has happened to change his mind?

It may be that the reasoning of other justices who did not agree with him made him re-think the issue. It may also be that he finally wised up to the fact that the HHS Mandate is a challenge to the Constitution itself. It may also be that he came to understand what I saw when I first read about the nascent HHS Mandate months before it was promulgated: This thing has the makings of a Constitutional crisis of a magnitude not seen in this country since the Civil War.

There has been a huge overstepping of individual liberties in the culture wars lately. Whether the issue is abortion or gay marriage, those who promote these positions are not satisfied with laws that allow them to do what they want. They are pushing hard for laws that force other people to participate in doing it with them.

The HHS Mandate, by directly targeting the Church itself, along with its many ministries, stepped up the fight and made it something that was impossible to ignore. The days of going along to get along ended for believers in religious liberty and freedom of conscience when President Obama signed that thing.

It’s possible Judge Heaton got his wits together and realized the magnitude of what he was dealing with. It’s also possible that Hobby Lobby’s lawyers wrote a better brief this time around.

I don’t know.

I do know that this ruling today is a good and hopeful one for all of us who hold our Constitutional liberties dear.

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Imprisoned for Christ: Cardinal Van Thuan

I once worked with a woman who had lived through the fall of Viet Nam and then stayed in the country after the communist takeover.

She told me that where she lived, the officials would call someone in for questioning. She said that this person was never seen again. They simply vanished.

When they called her to come in for questioning, she and her large family stayed up all night discussing what to do. They decided to walk out of Viet Nam under darkness and take their chances on the open sea as stateless refugees. They did this as an entire family group.

She cried when she told me of the terrible things that happened in the boats with the other refugees.

Long story short, she and her family ended up in Oklahoma, where, when I knew her, they were working together to build a new life.

This lady was not a Christian. She was a Buddhist. They were rural people who had never had contact with the Americans during the war. Her crime was that her family was a well-to-do family who owned a granary in her small town. She was also an attorney.

Cardinal Van Thuan committed a much worse crime, one that continues to be punished in Viet Nam today. He was a Christian. Not only that, he was a leader in the Catholic Church.
The result was that Cardinal Van Thuan spent 13 years in solitary confinement inside a Viet Nam prison. He was so completely shut off from the world that most of his friends and followers thought he was dead. I would guess that what happened to him was somewhat like what happened to the people my friend knew: He went in, and was never heard from again.

I’ve read The Miracle of Hope by Andre Nguyen and Van Chau and also The Testimony of Hope which is a retreat Cardinal van Thuan gave for Pope John Paul II. I recommend both books to those who want to learn more about this great man of Christ.

My archbishop, Archbishop Paul Coakley, ordained our newest priest on June 29. Here is what he said:

We are living in an age of increasing indifference or even hostility toward faith and toward the Church. The generation of priests ordained today will, I suspect, witness increasing persecution and perhaps even a new age of martyrdom. It is already happening in other parts of the world.

Given certain signs of our times today, it is naive to believe it could not happen here. It is important, therefore, to be clear. The priesthood is not a career; it is not a path for those seeking a comfortable life. The priesthood is a vocation of radical commitment and radical dependence on Jesus Christ, who came not to be served but to serve.

I’m glad my archbishop realizes this and has the courage to say it publicly. Far too many priests are either unaware of it, or indifferent to it. As a Public Catholic in the political realm, and more specifically as a Catholic Democratic elected official, I’ve been on the tip of the sword for a long time now. I can tell you without reservation that I saw this coming way back for the simple reason that I was the object of so much excoriation and social/verbal abuse in my office because of my faith.

I had the advantage of perspective, since I had been in office in the 1980s, then left to raise my kids and was later re-elected to the same position. The changes in attitude and behavior toward Christians by non-believers was stark. However, most Christians were reacting by either allowing themselves and their faith to be co-opted so they’d feel comfortable with this new world, or by withdrawing into their Christian friendships and refusing to see it.

I knew it was a matter of time before it started expanding to other Christians who try to follow the Gospels but who were not in the hot spot of being Democratic elected Catholics. I found then, as I do now, that not many people want to hear the truth of what is happening. This attitude further isolates the Christian who is being attacked for Christ and also encourages the attackers to continue. At the very least, we need to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ when they are attacked for the faith we hold.

These head-in-sand Christians compare themselves to people like Cardinal van Thuan and say, I’m not afraid of being arrested in the middle of the night and put in solitary confinement for 13 years, so there is no problem here.

My answer to them is the same one alcoholics anonymous says to its adherents who claim they aren’t so sick since they’ve never done what that other drunk next to them has done: Not yet.

If you consider where we are now compared to where we were even 10 years ago, I don’t believe you can honestly say that this country, and indeed the whole Western world is not on a trajectory of overt hostility and verbal abuse and lately legal discrimination against Christians. If this trajectory is not reversed, it will inevitably end up at active persecution.

This video about Cardinal van Thuan describes a priest who was Christ’s man first. May his tribe increase.

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Conscience Rights and the Obama Administration

The USCCB released a new video today discussing the war on the right of conscience in America.

I think it’s a powerful video that expresses the issues far better than anything I could say. All Americans should be upset about what the Obama administration is doing to our First Amendment liberties.

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Even Water Moccasins are Cute When They’re Babies

Even water moccasins are kind of cute when they’re babies.

Kind of.

However, it doesn’t take too long before they turn into fat, stinky, ugly poisonous death dealers that will come at you over the water like they were on patrol.

If they bite you, I guarantee that it will ruin your day, your week, possibly your life.

But they do look harmless when they’re babies. As, I would imagine, do Black Mambas and Gaboon Vipers.

Everything has its harmless-appearing phase. But some things are snakes right from the beginning, and if you take them in and try to cuddle up with them, it’s a matter of time before they teach you the reality of what they are and the damage they can do.

It’s much the same with blind hatred of groups of people. It can seem kinda cute at the beginning, when comedians and quipsters are making funny comments at their targets’ expense. It can even seem a good thing when social custom and the first few laws start the process of tamping down on what seems to the rest of the world as the excesses of behavior of the group in question.

After all, it’s reasonable. And besides, they’re bringing it on themselves.

But somewhere — and it’s not too far — along the line, the baby snake proves that even when it’s a baby it can kill you. Cuddle a baby rattler, and you’ll find out. It’s much the same with hatred of a group of people. Almost before you know it, you’ve tripped over into the dehumanizing concept of they-bring-it-on-themselves so saying-hateful-things-about-them and limiting-their-freedoms-is-reasonable-and-good.

The first serious victim of the poison of prejudice and discrimination is the purveyor of the prejudice, the practitioner of the discrimination. Once you believe it’s ok to hurt people just because, you’ve successfully chipped a bit of the gold-plate off your own goodness and let the cheap clay that’s inside come through.

You damage your own soul long before you begin to really damage the people you decide it’s ok to attack and hate.

I’ve said this a number of times, but the idea seems to float by some of the readers here without latching on and growing roots. Violent persecution is not the beginning of the process. It is the end result. It begins as the cute little snakey thingy of quips, mockery and derision that make up social practice.

I don’t know if it’s a refusal to see, or the concept really is difficult for some people. But life is not just a frozen section we call right now. It is a continuum. In fact, what we call right now is already past when we say the words.

Little hatreds grow into big prejudices, and big prejudices turn into discriminatory practices and laws, which turn into discrimination, which, over time, becomes persecution that leads to violence and ends, ultimately in genocide.

It really is almost like a row of dominoes falling over.

That’s why I find myself scratching my head and wondering “Are they for real?” every time I read a comment saying that, yes, there may be “some” violent persecution of Christians in “other places,” but in America, there is no such thing.

While it’s true enough that Christians are not jerked from their beds and drug into the streets to be beaten, raped and tortured here in America, it is also true that we are being subjected to overt pressure from our government and from social practice to restrict our beliefs to behind closed doors. It is true that what began just a few years ago as trendy criticism, some of which was even true, has, in some quarters, become nasty, Christian-baiting hatred that seeks to intimidate and isolate Christians.

We are faced with an increasing number of regulations and laws that seek to limit Christians in the free exercise of their Constitutional rights.

This is happening in America and in much of the rest of the Western world.

I am putting a brief video below about a street preacher in Britain who was arrested for saying that homosexuality is a sin. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with what he said or not, the question is, does he have the right to say it?  If the same restrictions had been placed on homosexuals a decade or so ago, they would not have been able to conduct their movement.

I would have been up in arms if anyone had arrested a gay activist for saying any of the many wacky things they’ve said down through the years, including when a queen in full drag sang “Your son will come out tomorrow” outside the National Democratic convention a few years ago. They’ve got a right to do this.

And so, if the West is going to continue to have free speech, does this preacher.

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Samuel Adams: Once Might be a Mistake. Four Times is a Pattern.

Kathy Schiffer wrote a post yesterday that moved Samuel Adams beer from a purveyor of too-politically correct advertising to dedicated Christian basher and misogynist.

I wrote a couple of days ago about the Samuel Adams beer commercial in which the company aired an ad that conflated their beer with the Declaration of Independence and then paraphrased it to take the words “endowed by their Creator” out of this quote?

Once the not-so-surprising backlash began, Samuel Adams issued the meaningless comment (I wouldn’t call it an apology) that they were just following the guidelines of the beer manufacturer’s association. I assume that Samuel Adams beer is a member of this association and voted on these “guidelines” which hardly makes them binding. The comment is, as I said, meaningless.

However Kathy moved the discussion to a whole new level by informing her readers of Samuel Adams’ past behavior. She is speaking of Samuel Adams’ company chairman, Jim Koch, when she says (emphasis mine):

It appears that Mr Koch made the usual lame comment when the public got angry. “We are not in control of the program,” he claimed, “and it was never our intent to part of a radio station promotion that cross the line.” In 2002, Boston Beer Company Chairman Jim Koch (pronounced “Cook”) was the so-called Grand Marshall of the “Sex for Sam” stunt, a radio contest on WNEW-FM in Manhattan.  Syndicated radio shock jocks Opie and Anthony staged a contest, challenging couples to engage in sexual activity in risky public places:  in taxis, in ATM vestibules, in the Disney Store and—wait for it!—in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.   Couples earned points (5, 10 or more) for each tryst in a public place.  The couple who succeeded in engaging in sexual intercourse in St. Patrick’s Cathedral were awarded 25 points for their effort.  The only way to earn more points was to engage in coitus at Koch’s feet—for which enterprising exhibitionist couples earned 30 points.

There are a few holes in the denial I put in italics. 

First, as Kathy points out:

Of course, this was the third time Koch’s company sponsored the “Sex for Sam” contest. And while acknowledging that his “presence on the show was a lapse in judgment, a serious mistake,” Koch has avoided describing just what he was doing in Opie and Anthony’s studio.

Along with handing out bottles of Sam Adams to contestants who stopped by the studio to take a break from having sex in cabs, ATM vestibules, and the Disney Store, Koch also served as the contest’s official “celebrity” voyeur. That meant if couples had sex in front of Koch, they were awarded 30 points (by comparison, sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral was worth 25 points).

According to the audio clips you’ll find below, Koch watched as five couples attempted to obtain those 30 points (only two, um, succeeded). While Koch said he felt embarrassed for the three couples who failed to complete the act before him, he told Opie and Anthony that the competitors were, “awesome, all of ‘em, better teams. The quality gets better every year. (To read the rest go here.)

Second, he was advertising on and participating in the Opie and Anthony Show. Does anybody remember Opie and Anthony? They’re the sorry excuses for men who “interviewed” a “homeless” man and laughed approvingly and joked with him as he described in graphic terms how he wanted to rape and beat then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and also how he wanted to rape First Lady Laura Bush to death. I’ve heard a recording of this routine. I am not going to say more about it, because it makes me too angry.

One ad might mean that the advertiser approved the campaign and was not aware of exactly what each specific ad had in it. Lame comments about following their own manufacturer’s association guidelines are admission that they knew, approved the ad, are not sorry and think we’re all stupid enough to buy their little comment as a reason.

But four times is a pattern, especially when three of those times involved active participation by the company’s founder and chairman. It moves the question from political correctness carried to the point that we are now editing the Declaration of Independence (which is bad enough) to deliberate Christian and Catholic bashing. The kind of thing the company sponsored on Opie and Anthony puts them outside the line, or at least it does with me. The fact that they supported Opie and Anthony …. no words.

I believe that the “comedy” routine about the First Lady and Secretary of State came after Samuel Adams’ beer sponsored the Sex for Sam promotion. But it is in keeping with what the continuous message of the show. Opie and Anthony had one “joke:” degradation of women and overt misogyny. In my opinion, misogyny, including incitment to violence against, and in some cases such as the one concerning the First Lady, murder of women, for laughs was the Opie and Anthony show.

Frankly, I don’t see how any decent human being would ever advertise on Opie and Anthony, based on their misogyny and support of violence and degradation of women.

My advice to those who want a clean conscience: Lay your money down for a product that does not support Catholic bashing, Christian bashing, dehumanizing and degrading exhibitionist sex and does not buy advertising on shows that promote the rape, battering and murder of women.

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