HHS Mandate Loses Big in District Court

Things are looking up in a couple of areas.

One Michigan Christian who wouldn’t stop fighting won in local court against the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Two Christian colleges won in Federal Appeals Court against the HHS Mandate.

I’m sure the HHS Mandate ruling will be appealed, but the cases are slowly turning our way on this terrible mandate. Say your prayers that this trend continues all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Becket Fund article describing the HHS Mandate victory reads in part:

Federal Appeals Court Hands Victory to Religious

Colleges, Commands HHS to Act Quickly to Fix

Mandate

Image: Federal Appeals Court Hands Victory to Religious Colleges, Commands HHS to Act Quickly to Fix Mandate

 

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2012
Media Contact: Emily Hardman, 202.349.7224

Washington, D.C. — Today, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. handed Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College a major victory in their challenges to the HHS mandate.  Last summer, two lower courts had dismissed the Colleges’ cases as premature.  Today, the appellate court reinstated those cases, and ordered the Obama Administration to report back every 60 days—starting in mid-February—until the Administration makes good on its promise to issue a new rule that protects the Colleges’ religious freedom.  The new rule must be issued by March 31, 2013.

“The D.C. Circuit has now made it clear that government promises and press conferences are not enough to protect religious freedom,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who argued the case.  “The court is not going to let the government slide by on non-binding promises to fix the problem down the road.” (Read more here.)

State Dept Officials Resign Over Benghazi

Reuters/Reuters – The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States in this September 11, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori/Files

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three senior U.S. State Department officials were asked to resign after an official inquiry harshly criticized their offices for failing to provide adequate security at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, before it came under attack in September, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security; one of his deputies, Charlene Lamb; and an unnamed official in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs were asked to step down because of the inquiry panel’s report, which did not faultSecretary of State Hillary Clinton in connection with the attack.

State Department officials declined to comment on the matter, saying it was a personnel issue. The Associated Press first reported that the three officials had resigned.

An unclassified version of the report released Tuesday by the State Department concluded that the mission was completely unprepared to deal with a September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

“We did conclude that certain State Department bureau-level senior officials in critical positions of authority and responsibility in Washington demonstrated a lack of leadership and management ability appropriate for senior ranks,” retired Admiral Michael Mullen, one of the leaders of the inquiry, told reporters on Wednesday.

The inquiry’s chair, retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering, said the panel had determined that responsibility for security shortcomings in Benghazi belonged at levels lower than Clinton’s office. (Read more here.)

Irish Government to Re-Write Abortion Laws

DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland’s government pledged Tuesday to pass a law soon that will allow women to receive abortions if continued pregnancy threatens their lives — including from their own threats to commit suicide if denied one.

The announcement comes after decades of inaction on abortion in Ireland, and just weeks after the predominantly Catholic country faced international criticism over the death of an Indian woman hospitalized in Ireland with an imminent miscarriage.

Health Minister James Reilly said parliamentary hearings on the issue would begin next month, lawmakers would receive a bill by Easter and they would be expected to vote on it by the summer. This would mark the first time that Irish lawmakers have ever voted on abortion, arguably the most divisive issue in a country whose constitution bans the practice. (Read the rest of the Yahoo News story here.)

Obama Puts Biden in Control of Gun Control Initiative

President Barack Obama, official portrait

President Obama announced today that he has put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of his efforts for reform concerning shootings such as what happened last week at Sandy Hook. Vice President Biden is a long-time supporter of gun control.

Mayor Bloomberg of New York called a press conference in which he pushed the president to use his executive order powers to make a unilateral regulation which would be a de facto form of gun control. President Obama has refused this, at least so far.

Unless President Obama does decide to use his executive order power to make a sweeping change on his own, this process will take quite a while. For one thing, Congress is still embroiled in the “fiscal cliff” debate. If the president allows things to proceed normally, I would expect him to announce more specific changes at the State of Union Address. However, there is nothing written in stone about that assumption.

One question, at least for me, is whether or not anyone in this administration sincerely intends to discuss this problem and look for solutions. Are they just saying this with the intention to concentrate on a single-law answer? I am also concerned about civil liberties generally in this climate and with this president. He has already shown a willingness to trample religious liberties.

Right now, he has the backing of the public. I also expect most of the press to support whatever he does unthinkingly. A lot of people are signing on to vote for and support what he comes up with without having any idea whatsoever what it will be or what it will entail.

As for me, I will continue to urge Public Catholic readers to take a more thoughtful, comprehensive and long-term approach to thinking about this. Use your minds, and don’t let propaganda and emotion carry you away.

The Associated Press article describing President Obama’s new initiative says in part:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is launching an administration-wide effort to curbgun violence, underscoring the growing political consensus over tightening gun restrictions following the horrific massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Obama is tasking Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime gun control advocate, with spearheading the effort. In remarks from the White House on Wednesday, Obama will outline a process for pursuing policy changes following the school shooting, though he is not expected to call for specific measures.

The president has vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to safeguard the nation’s children after Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children and six adults were killed at the school by a gunman carrying an arsenal of ammunition and a high-powered, military-style rifle.

The White House sees some urgency in formulating a policy response to the shooting, even as Obama and his top aides are consumed with averting the “fiscal cliff” before tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January. The incident has prompted several congressional gun rights supporters to consider new legislation to control firearms, and there is some fear that their willingness to engage could fade as the shock and sorrow over the Newtown shooting eases.

Many pro-gun lawmakers also have called for a greater focus on mental health issues and the impact of violent entertainment. White House aides say stricter gun laws alone are not the answer.

“It’s a complex problem that requires more than one solution,” White House spokesman Jay Carneysaid Tuesday. “It calls for not only re-examining our gun laws and how well we enforce them, but also for engaging mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, educators, parents and communities to find those solutions.” (Read the entire article here.)

Whither we are tending …

America has suffered a series of terrible tragedies in the past 20 years.

This is a recent feature of our American history.

We went for over two hundred years without facing the insanity of repetitive mass murders of innocent civilians in public places by socially inept angry young men. There have been incidents of mass violence throughout our history, including at least one school bombing in the 1920s.

But the present-day phenomena of one shooter killing people one after the other for no reason began with the clock tower at the University of Texas back in the 1960s. There was a decades-long lull between that atrocity and the next one. Now, they are occurring at shorter and shorter intervals.

What has changed in our national psychology that we have become a people who are living in fear of mass-murdering social misfits?

That is the first question we need to ask about this problem. It would be a huge mistake to come up with a solution without first working out exactly what the problem is that we are trying to solve.

I don’t want to contribute to the word-salad propagandizing that passes for commentary these days. I honestly think that this behavior on the part of people in the media has contributed to this problem. I believe emphatically that it has contributed to the fractured, unthinking way we respond to things. This needs to stop. We the people need to start thinking things through for ourselves.

I’m going to run through the various questions that have been raised by those who are proposing solutions. I’m also going to add some observations of my own. But what I am not going to do is try to whip you up into a froth of emotion. I also will not tolerate those who try to use the com boxes to do that. I want intelligent discussion, not ugly bizarreness.

This is a Christian blog. It’s purpose is to equip Christians to deal effectively with the challenges we face and to be fruitful witnesses for Jesus. That will be our focus.

This is all I’m going to say about whither we are tending today. We aren’t going to find a solution for this problem in a day. Or a week. Unless the President does something unilateral, it will be a slow and contentious process to get anything done at all. We not only need to spend some time thinking, praying and talking this through; we are required by circumstance to let it sit for a while.

All these pundits who push, push, push at controversial issues are doing it because controversy raises their ratings. This has become such an exaggerated, all-consuming focus with many of them that they focus on controversy at the expense of the facts or of fairness. This harms all of us.

I’m going to begin tomorrow with a discussion of changes in the past quarter century which I feel might have contributed to this problem. I’m really interested to what you think is creating this problem.

Then, I’ll list the various ideas people have for reform in government. However, I am convinced that the solution to this problem is not something we can achieve by just passing laws. We need to look at more than legislative changes.

We are going to take a break for Christmas. And then begin again in the New Year. I will also begin the series I was writing on how government works again after the New Year.

Before we do anything, I think we should all take this to the Lord in prayer. I know that I am going to.

Finding Normal

It’s still Advent.

Christmas is right around the corner.

We have to pull ourselves out of the grief cycle and find normal again. This isn’t easy. It’s never easy. But after a season of repeated tragedies layered on top of a tumultuous political campaign, it’s even harder.

Finding normal is the work in front of us.

Advent is a holy season of self-examination and repentance. Those activities seem especially fitting in this week after Sandy Hook. We need to use these days of prayer to draw closer to our God and seek His comfort and His direction.

At the same time, we have the work of preparing for Christmas. We have presents to wrap, food to buy and houses to clean. If we have little children, it is our responsibility to create Christmas for them. Remember that Christmas is more than presents and feasting. It is the birthday of our Savior.

Once more Americans have to find normal and live normal after a national tragedy has taken normal away from us. We will find normal in everyday things; in the cleaning, wrapping, praying and confessing of real life.

Healing comes from loving and living. It is in the warmth of our friendships and families; the safety of our homes. The dailiness of life will heal us, if we let it. Our resilience is in our faith and our ability to trust that even when things go wrong they are somehow also going right.

It is still Advent.

Christmas is coming.

And America is trying to find normal, once again.

In the Hands of God

Nobody died.

Nobody can die.

We are immortal souls clad in mortal bodies and we can not die.

“Your god didn’t save even one child,” one of our atheist readers said to me in private.

Not true. He saved every child.

Not one of these precious babies died. Their bodies stopped and they stepped out of them into the arms of our loving Lord. That’s all that happened to them.

Their parents, their school and community and our nation are devastated by their passing. We are torn into ribbons by the violence and insanity that took them from us. Death is real this side of the grave. Death is the devastation of unyielding loss and gone-ness. They are gone from us. We will never see them, hear them, touch them again in this life. In the words of King David, we can, and will, go to them one day, but they will never again come to us.

But even in the face of such tragic and overwhelming loss, we do not need to yield to the hopeless bitterness of my atheist friend. We know the truth of eternal life. They are not dead. No one died. Even though it may be decades in the future after we have lived long lives without them, we will see them again one day.

The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. Wisdom 3:1

Sisters of Life

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Will you change?

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The best of us …

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