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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Is it a Fluke, or a Harbinger? House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Loses to Political Outsider

Eric cantor portrait

Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, lost his primary battle to retain his seat to a political newcomer yesterday.

Congressman Cantor, who came into the race with massive campaign funding and the weight of incumbency behind him, lost to Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College. Brat raised the comparatively scanty sum of $200,000 for the race. In contrast, special interest groups poured money into Cantor’s campaign, which spent over $5.4 million. The American Chemistry Council, which represents a group of blue-chip corporations,  spent over $300,000 on ads for Cantor by themselves.

It is not often that an incumbent loses. It is also not often when the candidate with the least amount of money — in this case, a great deal less money — wins.

Early news reports seem to be giving the Tea Party movement the credit for Brat’s win. It is reported that Brat campaigned as an outsider running against an insider who, according to Brat, was not conservative enough. The fact that the election was a Republican primary instead of a general election makes that plausible.

Brat used high profile endorsements, such as one by radio personality Laura Ingraham, to counter the money factor in the race. He also campaigned against Cantor’s support for a more moderate position on immigration.

Apparently, the political deep-thinkers in Washington failed to see this coming. According to the New York Times, the only question along the beltway was how high Cantor’s victory margin would be. Congressman Cantor himself seems not to have realized how serious the challenge was until just a short time before the election.

The cherry on top of what must have been a miserable night for Congressman Cantor and his supporters came when a group of pro immigration reform demonstrators burst into the campaign gathering just a few minutes after he had made his concession speech. The irony in that needs no explaining.

What does all this mean in the larger arena?

The deciding factor in the impact this stunning turnover will have on the Republican Party as a whole and, through it, the American political landscape, depends on whether or not it was a fluke or a harbinger. What, if anything, does it say about other races later this year?

Congressman Cantor was so sure that he was going to win that he made the mistake of not taking his opponent seriously. He didn’t get the news that he was in trouble until just a few weeks before the votes were cast. He walked into the punch with his arms at his side. Hubris beat Representative Eric Cantor every bit as much as Dave Brat did.

His colleagues are now forewarned. One certain effect this election is going to have is that no incumbent will make the mistake of ignoring an underfunded, seemingly insignificant opponent. I doubt very much if we see other races like this one where the incumbent just la-la-las his way through the campaign until the last few weeks.

Will that save them? I would guess that it depends on the district and how blatantly the Congressperson has sold out their constituents to special interests, in particular special interests whose program is anathema to the people they represent.

The Republican voters of Virginia just chose a man as their nominee who doesn’t owe the corporatist interests that control their party his soul. In doing so, they tossed out a man who was owned by those interests to the tune of $5.4 million.

Mr Brat’s acceptance speech was a rousing statement of voter empowerment. If he makes it past the Democrat in the fall, a question that will likely be resolved by the configuration of the district, we’ll get a look at who he is in power.

Will he be able to stay the same guy once he meets all his new best friends and gets a taste of the perks, flattery and pressures of actual political office?

I’m sure that the calls from what was surely a rather flummoxed Republican Party began last night as they moved to pick up the pieces and head toward the general election. The other calls, which are forerunners of the full-bore flattery and stroking that will begin if he wins in November, began right along with them.

Will this election result in at least one independent member of Congress who thinks for himself and does not check with special interests before he wipes his political nose? I hope so.

No matter his politics, that would be a refreshing change.

If You Want to Read the Commission’s Order to the Colorado Baker, Here It Is

This post concerning the egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of Colorado baker Jack Phillips has garnered quite a few comments.

A number of those comments have contained partial quotes from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s order requiring Mr Phillips to undergo court-ordered brain-washing, ie, “staff training.” The order also included demands that he re-write his business’ policy and file quarterly reports.

Here, for those who are interested, is a photo of the original order in its entirety.

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Sensitivity Training for Supporters of Traditional Marriage vs Chairman Mao’s Re-education Camps. How Do They Differ?

First Amendment on scroll1

 

Americans have long deplored “thought police” and “re-education camps” in Communist regimes.

We have thumped our chests and demanded human rights for those in other climes. We have been appalled by the violations of the basic civil rights of their citizens by totalitarian states; rights that we took for granted. These governments seemed and actually were hell bent on enforcing emotional/moral/social conformity at the price of individual liberty, religious freedom and the rights of free speech and thought.

Americans have practically written the book on condemnation of such actions by other governments against their hapless citizens.

So, why are we doing the same thing to our citizens?

I’ll be first to admit that sensitivity training is less violent and draconian than marching people through the streets in front of jeering crowds and then consigning them to re-education camps for years. But the difference is a matter of degree. The underlying principle of government-enforced mind control is the same.

In fact, the re-education meetings in which people denounce one another and confess to their lack of revolutionary fervor that are conducted by these same regimes seem eerily close to sensitivity training as it’s currently being used by our courts and various “civil rights commissions.”

I started thinking about this because of the court-ordered abuse of the civil rights of Jack Phillips. Mr Phillips is the owner of what must be the only bakery in Colorado. He is also a new social and economic Christian martyr.

As so often happens with the people who turn out to be the real heroes, Mr Phillips seems an unlikely candidate for the title. He’s a small businessman, a baker by trade, just trying to make an honest living. He didn’t go out looking for trouble. He’s no grenade-throwing political activist with a vast talk-show following. He doesn’t wear $1,000 suits and he probably hasn’t had a single voice lesson to prepare him for his new life in the public sphere.

He’s a baker. He owns a bakery. He makes donuts and apple fritters and stuff.

So how did Jack Phillips the baker become a Christian martyr?

It’s simple. He refused to violate his faith.

He didn’t, mind you, bother or even try to engage anyone else. He simply followed his own beliefs by living them in his own life with his own actions. These beliefs led him to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding. And that made him the target of the culture cops.

Because, you see, wedding cakes are a human right. Religious freedom, not so much.

That is the question here, not wedding cakes, but religious freedom. I am not advocating for a particular position by Christians on the great cake-baking question. I am advocating for the right of free Americans to follow their faith without being forced into re-education (brain-washing) as punishment for doing so.

The cake-baking issue is distinct by virtue of the pettiness of the demands of those who want to coerce others on the one hand and the enormity of the principle involved in the actions of those who resist on the other. The extra issue of forcing people into re-education for practicing their faith is also enormous. And chilling.

I can only surmise that the offended parties couldn’t find any other baker in the whole state of Colorado to bake their cake. Why else would they drop all the lovey-dovey premarital stuff and spend their time dragging Mr Phillips into court? It’s not like he refused them service. They could have bought all the donuts and cupcakes they wanted. He refused to bake a cake for this one specific purpose, which was against his religious beliefs.

But in the brave new world of government-enforced political correctness, acting on religious beliefs by living them is not allowed. No one is allowed to believe and adhere to a morality except the group morality of the almighty politically-correct zeitgeist. It appears that violation of this bit of absolute totalitarianism is a new kind of crime, and by that I mean a literal, criminal act.

After going through all the good times that everyone who has ever been in a courtroom knows all too well, Mr Phillips found himself guilty as charged of being publicly Christian. I believe the specific legal verbiage was a tad different from that, but that’s what it amounted to.

He has been court-ordered to bake the blasted cake and — get ready for this — go to “sensitivity training,” and send his entire staff to the same training, where, presumably, they will get their brains washed out and cleaned of any remaining individual thinking. He’s also supposed to re-write his company policies to reflect the values he’s been ordered to learn to believe.

On top of that, he has to submit quarterly reports to Colorado’s “Civil Rights Commission” (which seems an odd name for this group) to prove that he’s baking up a storm for gay weddings everywhere.

How does this differ from Chairman Mao’s re-education camps? By degree. How does it differ from governments forcing people to attend re-education groups? You got me.

And, since this sort of government bullying of private citizens was unthinkable not so very long ago, I tend to regard that matter of degree as a moving dot on the line toward totalitarianism.

Mr Phillips, for his part, says he’s not going to change his company policies. “My God is bigger than any bullies they’ve got,” he said.

As for the sensitivity training designed to rehabilitate Mr Phillips into believing what the government demands he believe, that may not work out, either. “My 87-year-old mom works here, and she says she’s not going to be rehabilitated,” he said.

When quizzed about how he would respond if the Supreme Court of the United States orders him to bake the cake and get his brain washed out, he said, “There’s civil disobedience. We’ll see what happens. I’m not giving up my faith. Too many people have died for this faith to give it up that easily.”

This is left-wing-nut totalitarianism. But we can’t get away from it by a blind flight to the right. There’s plenty of right-wing-nut totalitarianism, too. Blindly empowering either one of them is going to do us in.

The real answer is up to his elbows in flour in a bakery in Colorado. Ordinary people who will not compromise their faith and are willing to take the hits involved in standing for Jesus are the answer. We have to say “no.” And by “we” I mean all of us pew-sitting Christians who’ve been going along to get along.

Because extraordinary ordinary people like Jack Phillips are the only real heroes there are.

 

The video below discusses the way that Christians are being blocked from certain professions for holding traditional Christian beliefs. It also gives us the example of another brave person who is standing for her beliefs in the face of enormous government pressure; in this case from a government-funded university.

 

Vatican: Place the Family at the Center of all Concerns

May 15 is the United Nation’s International Day of the Family.

Monsignor Vicenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Council on the Family, will go to New York to address the United Nations for this event. He also had a few words to say in advance. He commented that people will say “forever” to a soccer team (or here in Oklahoma, to the Sooners) but to their own husband or wife, not so much.

The family has been sliced and diced almost out of existence by our modern culture. Now, it is being legally defined into meaninglessness. Without the family as a base, other forms of community fail alongside it.

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HGTV Does Brain Vacuuming as Well as House Hunting. Who Knew?

Jason and David Benham have all the visual and familial requirements needed to be HGTV stars.

This house-hunting, home-decorating network is populated from time zone to time zone with bona fide hunks.

Consider this …

Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan HGTV

Twins

Or this  …

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Cousins

It was no surprise to any viewer when the network announced plans to introduce a new show, called Flip It Forward, featuring another set of hunky twins. The show looked like a sure money maker for HGTV. What did surprise was when the network abruptly ash-canned the new show.

Why?

Were the twins not twin-y enough? Weren’t they hunk-y enough?

Why would these twins …

BENHAM BROTHERS

… who clearly have the looks and relationship to be HGTV mega stars, have been kicked to the curb?

The answer, it seems, lies not in any failure of formula in the casting. It is rather that Jason and David Benham didn’t pass the politically correct police smell test.

It leaked out that HGTV had accidentally hired a set of hunky twins who are (gasp!) the sons of an actual practicing Christian minister named Flip Benham. To top that off, they have made statements of their own in support of totally incorrect wrong-thinking such as opposing abortion, and being against gay marriage and divorce.

We can’t have that on television.

In fact, we won’t have that on television.

It turns out that HGTV is more than a fluffy little house-oriented network. It is also a politically ideological network which subscribes to brain vacuuming its stars as well as house hunting. Who knew?

Meanwhile, the Red Guard ugliness of self-appointed thought and speech police marches on. Last month, it was Brendan Eich, the month before that, it was Duck Dynasty. Now, it’s David and Jason Benham.

Who will it be tomorrow?

Christians in public life are fair game these days. In fact, the day is coming, and it’s not far off, when a Christian in public life who hasn’t been attacked for their faith is probably hiding it and being mealy-mouthed about it. We are rapidly approaching a time when being attacked for following Christ is a testimony and witness to the public believer’s faithfulness.

Firing the Benton twins for having politically incorrect ideas is just another in a long line of totalitarian intolerance aimed at believing Christians. The message in this sort of thing, whether the incident in question is the resignation of a software mogul or the refusal to allow believing Christians to hold jobs in television and entertainment, is that Christians need to hide their beliefs if they want to be employed.

Faith Driven Consumer is sponsoring a petition to reinstate Flip it Forward, with Jason and David Benham in the starring roles. You can find it here.

Thank you to Public Catholic reader Manny, who brought this story to my attention.

The UN and the Vatican: Politicizing Torture to Defend Abortion

The Vatican went before the UN Convention on Torture to answer questions about the clergy child abuse scandal and Church teachings on abortion and homosexuality, not as a church, but as a government.

In addition to raising the preposterous idea that Church teaching on abortion is torture of women, the Convention also raised the issue of the practice of transferring child abusing priests from one parish to another.

I am guessing that the Convention’s position on the Vatican and child sexual abuse is based on the contention that sexual child abuse, when it is allowed by a governmental body, is a form of government-sanctioned torture. I may be giving them more credit than they deserve, but that’s the only hook I can see on which they could hang these charges.

I don’t know how they get to their other positions that the Church should change its teachings abortion and homosexuality because they are torture. There is no basis for such claims. I think that these idiotic charges reveal the real motivations behind this line of attack against the Catholic Church.

The Vatican’s position regarding the charges concerning the child sexual abuse scandal is that it did not, as a city state, have governing control of the child-abusing priests around the world who perpetrated these crimes. The Vatican says that the abusers were under the laws and governance of the countries in which they resided.

This is true in a legal sense; in a moral sense, not so much.

The Vatican itself is a city state, and as such can be called to account as a government. However, the Catholic Church, whose head resides in the Vatican, is a church and not a government. That’s a complicated situation which can — and obviously does — lead to all sorts of political gamesmanship.

As a Catholic, I do not think of myself as a citizen of the Vatican. I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church, with the emphasis on Church. 

The Roman Catholic Church is called to a much higher purpose, and is required to behave in an entirely different manner, than any government. It makes claims for itself that go far beyond governance. The leaders of our Church ask for a level of compliance and respect from the laity that good governmental leaders do not ask and bad governmental leaders cannot get.

To be blunt about it, if you are going to go around saying that you speak for Christ, you have a responsibility to not behave like the sons of Satan.

I think that trying to claim that the Church committed torture in the sexual abuse scandal as defined by the Convention on Torture is a callous political ruse. The fact that the Convention added the additional charge that the Church’s teachings on abortion and homosexuality are a form of torture makes that clear.

I think this ruse is designed to lessen the Church’s moral teaching authority on issues such as the sanctity of human life and marriage.

As a tactical action in the culture wars, it is a strong move. The Church’s power, such as it is, comes directly from its moral and prophetic voice.

The clergy sexual abuse of children scandal degrades that moral and prophetic voice in a way that the Church’s enemies, with all their attacks and criticisms, never could. It is a forceful weapon in the hands of those who want to destroy the persuasive power of the Catholic Church’s moral voice. That is why people who hate the Church’s teachings in certain areas seem to delight in talking about the scandal.

They constantly seek new ways to raise that clear failure of Christian discipleship on the part of so many Church leaders and keep it before the public eye because it damages the Church’s claim to holiness.

The sexual abuse of children by predatory adults is widespread in this world. There appears to be certain industries and organizations which routinely cover up for abusers. For instance, the entertainment industry deserves a good looking over in this regard.

Focusing on the Catholic Church to the exclusion of other offenders is not only dishonest, it enables these other predators to continue harming children.

Limiting public outrage about the sexual abuse of children to anger at the Catholic Church does not serve children well. It allows abusers in every other walk of life to keep on abusing. But, even though it does not serve children well, it does serve a political purpose. The purpose is to provide a platform for taking aim at the Church’s teachings that the attackers disagree with.

By using a Convention against torture that the Vatican signed to attack the Church, the enemies of the Church’s teachings in areas such as abortion, gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research and questions of economic exploitation weaken the Church’s voice against those things.

I think that is what this whole line of attack is about. In truth, torture is a narrow word that does not lend itself to this kind of politicized use. That is why the word has such historic power. The Convention is broadening the definition of torture beyond its original meaning to raise these charges.

By doing that, it cheapens the moral prohibitions against torture. By callously using torture as a misplaced and politicized gotcha attack instrument, the Convention weakens the very thing it is designed to strengthen, which is the international effort to end the use of torture.

I have strong feelings about the use of torture, based on actual knowledge of torture and contact with victims of torture. I have equally strong feelings about diluting the meaning of the word torture so that it becomes useless. I think this kind of political gamesmanship — which is really about abortion, gay marriage, economic exploitation, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, etc — enables torturers and lets them continue.

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Bishops Invite Bishops to Join March for Marriage 2014

March for Marriage participants carry a banner in Washington DC on March 26 2013 Credit Addie Mena CNA CNA US Catholic News 3 26 13

Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco announced plans to attend the second annual March for Marriage in Washington, DC.

The two bishops extended an invitation to their brother bishops to join them.

For more information about the march, go to The March for Marriage 2014 website.

The March for Marriage will be held June 19, 2014 in Washington, DC.

From Catholic News Agency:

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2014 / 03:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Two U.S. bishops leading efforts to defend and promote marriage offered their support for this year’s national March for Marriage and invited their fellow bishops to do the same.

“We are very grateful for this opportunity to express our support for the March for Marriage and to encourage participation in this event,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco.

In an April 7 letter, they encouraged their fellow U.S. bishops to promote the march in their respective dioceses.

Bishop Malone is the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop Cordileone chairs the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

The 2014 March for Marriage will be held in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2014. It is the second national demonstration to support the institution of marriage existing as a unique union between a man and a woman.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bus

The chickens are coming flapping home.

And it turns out that these chickens walk on two legs and have roosting habits that are nothing more than mob action.

Catholic education’s easy bargain of don’t ask, don’t tell concerning dissent against Church teachings and morality has coalesced into “outrage” from parents and students when high schools try to teach and enforce Church teachings. Consider this, this and this.

Bishops, when faced with these angry mobs have turned to the time-honored bureaucratic practice of court-martial-the-private/fire-the-secretary/shoot-the-messenger. Sister Mary Tracy resigned in Seattle. Sister Jane Dominic Laurel took a sabbatical in North Carolina. Father Rocky Hoffman hasn’t been cashiered the way the nuns were, but he has been properly apologized for to the mob.

The response to angry mobs demanding that Catholic schools not teach Catholic teaching has been to wave the white flag and toss the hapless offender who committed the crime of doing what the Church says we should all do under the bus.

It appears that our Catholic schools have become something other than what we thought they were. I keep wondering, are they nothing except a place for well-to-do people to send their kids in order to avoid the public schools? Is there no moral component to Catholic education these days?

And what about these bishops? Are any of them capable of being stand up guys? I don’t have any sympathy with the bishops about this court-martial/fire/shoot and then-cut-and-run routine they’re doing. If the bishop runs away, the people will be lost.

If every Catholic who believes what the Church teaches gets thrown under the bus for being politically incorrect enough to say so in public, we’re going to need a lot bigger bus.

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It’s Getting Awful Crowded Under that Bus. Another Catholic School Apologizes for a Speaker Teaching Catholic Morality

It’s getting awful crowded under that bus.

Another Catholic high school has apologized to “outraged” parents for a speaker who spoke on Catholic morality. The lucky winner this time is Prout School in Rhode Island.

It’s the same old, same old song once again. According to an article in Catholic Culture Father Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, who is the executive director of Relevant Radio, gave a talk to a group of high school students whose parents were subsequently “outraged” by its content.

Outraged parent, Kathleen Schlenz, says that the talk was “offensive regarding divorce, homosexuality, and even adoption.”

Just like the proverbial slot machine, David Carradini, principal of the Prout School apologized, saying that Father Hoffman’s answers to student questions “were not entirely representative of the full breadth of Church teaching on a number of complex and sensitive issues.” Dan Ferris, the Providence diocesan school superintendent, followed up with a statement proclaiming that the remarks were “disappointing and pastorally insensitive to Church teachings.”

In an interesting twist, Father Hoffman’s presentation was recorded so that it could be aired on Relevant network. Parents at Proust School said that the address should not be aired.

First Sister Jane. Now Father Hoffman. And I’m not even mentioning the mess in Seattle.

If this keeps up, we’re going to need a whole fleet of buses.

From Catholic Culture:

For the 2nd time in recent weeks, parents of students at a Catholic high school are protesting that a speaker’s presentation on Catholic morality was harsh and insensitive.

Parents of students at the Prout School in Rhode Island have expressed outrage over an appearance by Father Francis (“Rocky”) Hoffman, the executive director of Relevant Radio, a network of 33 Catholic stations. Kathleen Schlenz, whose daughter attends the school and heard the lecture, said that the presentation was offensive “regarding divorce, homosexuality, and even adoption.”

Father Hoffman, who was on retreat, was unavailable to comment. But David Carradini, the principal of the Prout School, apologized for the presentation and said that Father Hoffman’s answers to students’ questions “were not entirely representative of the full breadth of Church teaching on a number of complex and sensitive issues.” The Providence diocesan school superintendent, Dan Ferris, also issued a statement, saying that the priest’s remarks were “disappointing and pastorally insensitive to Church teachings.”


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