Are Wealthy US Foundations Paying to Suppress Religious Freedom?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy The Hague https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassythehague/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy The Hague https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassythehague/

Are wealthy US foundations paying to suppress religious freedom?

John Lomperis of the Institute for Religion and Democracy says that so far as the Ford Foundation and the Arcus Foundation are concerned, the answer may be yes.

From Catholic News Agency:

“The agenda of such groups in opposing basic conscience protections could hardly be more diametrically opposed to our nation’s great traditions of freedom of conscience and of religion,” Lomperis, who serves as United Methodist Director for the institute, told CNA Feb. 10.

He contended that the pattern of grants “serves a fundamentally totalitarian vision these foundations and their allied politicians have of ‘religious liberty.’” This vision is especially opposed to those who value traditional sexual morality and respect for unborn human life, he noted.

“Our society is now facing serious questions about to what extent Christians (as well as, to a lesser extent, followers of other faiths) will be allowed to have the same degree to live in accordance with our values without facing new and powerful coercions,” Lomperis said.

The Arcus Foundation’s website lists a 2014 grant of $100,000 to the American Civil Liberties Foundation supporting “communications strategies to convince conservative Americans that religious exemptions are ‘un-American.’” A two-year Arcus grant to the ACLU in 2013 gave $600,000 to support the ACLU’s Campaign to End the Use of Religion to Discriminate. Arcus Foundation tax forms describe this as a “multi-pronged” effort to combat “the growing trend of institutions and individuals claiming exemptions from anti-discrimination laws because of religious objections.”

 

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History of the Crusades: First Siege of Constantinople 674-678

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings in 633-638 AD. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/02/muslim-conquest-of-christian-syria-palestine-633-638/#ixzz3RdfAEqIp

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The Bad, Bad Law, IRS, Congress and Stealing from Grandma

Photosource: Flickr Creative Commons by Tax Credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

Photosource: Flickr Creative Commons by Tax Credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

If you give the IRS the legal power to seize money without cause, they’re going to take that legal power and use it to abuse everyday folks.

It’s kind of like one of Newton’s Laws of Motion. It just works that way.

It seems that back when Congress was in one of its rare bill-passing moods, this time in a holy zeal to wage “war on drugs,” it turned diarrheic and passed any stupid law that came into its collective head. Among these was a law that gives the IRS the power to seize monies of private citizens without preamble or proof of wrongdoing, without, in fact, suspicion of wrong-doing.

Here’s how it works. Suppose, say, you sold 3 prime acres of the old family homestead. Suppose you got the not-so-princely sum of fifty thousand dollars for the land.

Rather than deposit all of the money in one savings account, suppose you opened a second savings account and deposited 7 thousand you were setting aside to pay taxes on the sale. Then, you put another 5 thousand in an account set up to pay for the funeral of an elderly relative when the time comes. The rest of the money you put in your main savings account.

By doing this innocent, and even intelligent, bit of allocating of your own money, you would have committed a federal crime called “structuring.” Because you had “structured” your money to suit your needs, the IRS could seize it without warning.

The IRS does not have to prove that you had criminal intent for the money. It does not even have to believe that you had criminal intent for it. Your money could be seized and you could be prosecuted without having done anything wrong at all, simply for allocating your money to suit yourself like, say, a free American.

The law that allows this was passed with the supposed purpose of catching bad guys, specifically bad guys who are funding terrorists and laundering drug money and such. As will all bad laws, I would imagine that anyone who questioned its utterly stupid verbiage was accused of being “soft” on crime. This kind of emotional and political blackmail, writ as it is across the internet and in cable news talk-a-thons, can scare lawmakers into voting for bad laws.

When the force pushing for the law is none other than the IRS with their vast terror-tactic powers and the president of the United States, who is off on a legacy-building crusade, voting against even a law as obviously horrid as this one gets dicey. Political demagoguery and political cowardice are how grandma loses her life-savings to government forfeiture and ends up defending herself in federal court against charges that she has violated this nebulous and entirely unjust law.

The IRS has been seizing private monies with this law for a long time. According to Yahoo News, they seized $242 million in 2500 cases between 2005 and 2012. Fully one third of these seizures “were nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000.” Half of these were returned after owners challenged the IRS action.

That’s sounds sorta good. It means that half of these people were able to defend themselves. But think for a moment what defending yourself against the IRS entails.

Think of the anguish, the fear, the expense, the protracted and ugly battles and accusatory conversations, the search for an attorney who specializes in this stuff, the legal fees. Think about that and tell me that even the people who got their money back didn’t suffer a kind of legal purgatory because of this bad, bad law.

Consider also that not every innocent person whose money was flat-out stolen from them under this law was able to get it back. It takes determination and cash to fight these things. It takes willpower and nerves of steel. It takes a lot more fight than, say, an elderly person who had been depositing their spouse’s life insurance in separate accounts, divided up for the kids, would be able to muster.

The IRS has run into a bit of criticism because of the fact that it’s using the legal power that Congress gave it in the way the law clearly says that it can. As a result, the IRS is saying that it will stop being such a bad boy agency in this regard. They promise that they are going to stop seizing money that comes from legal sources. And we’re supposed to believe them and trust them and call it square.

What’s missing in this is the responsibility of our elected lawmakers in Congress to either repeal or amend this law. I know, it sounds like science fiction to expect our lawmakers to stop positioning themselves to either (1) take back the power if they are the Ds or (2) add the White House to the power they’ve got if they are the Rs, and do their jobs.

I know that’s not going to happen. Running for the next election is all they do in Congress. Governing this great country and representing the interests of We the People is not what they are about.

They aren’t going to change that just because the government is abusing the people they are supposed to represent due to a bad law that they passed themselves. That would be responsible. It’s the kind of thing that an actual public servant might do.

This is the United States Congress we’re talking about. They don’t do nothin’ but run for the next election and serve the special interests who pay for their campaigns.

This bad law won’t change so long as We the People continue to be bamboozled into thinking that either of the two political parties is the answer to our woes. So long as they can engage us in their ridiculous pie-throwing contests and keep us mesmerized with blind party loyalty, they’re going to continue with their bad governance and dereliction of duty.

So what we have is an agency saying that it’s going to change how it enforces a bad, bad law in order to stop a bit of bad, bad publicity. Meanwhile the people we’ve elected to write the laws are ignoring the problem and behaving as if lawmaking, actual lawmaking and law-fixing, has nothing whatsoever to do with them.

What’s wrong with this picture?

From Yahoo News:

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa widow is charged with a crime and had nearly $19,000 seized from her bank after depositing her late husband’s legally earned money in a way that evaded federal reporting requirements.

Janet Malone, 68, of Dubuque, is facing civil and criminal proceedings under a law intended to help investigators track large sums of cash tied to criminal activity such as drug trafficking and terrorism. But some members of Congress and libertarian groups have complained that the IRS and federal prosecutors are unfairly using it against ordinary people who deposit lawfully obtained money in increments below $10,000.

At issue is a law requiring banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 cash to the federal government. Anyone who breaks deposits into increments below that level to avoid the requirement is committing a crime known as “structuring” — whether their money is legal or not.

The IRS has increasingly used civil forfeiture proceedings to seize money from individuals and small businesses suspected of structuring violations, according to a review by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group. The agency seized $242 million in 2,500 cases from 2005 to 2012 — a third of which arose from nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000. Nearly half was returned after owners challenged the action, often a year later.

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History of the Crusades: Muslim Conquest of Christian Syria-Palestine 633-638

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings in 633-638 AD. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

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Is the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy Story a Confabulation?

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Elvert Barnes https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Elvert Barnes https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

The I Aborted My Baby because He was a Boy story is almost too perfect.

By “perfect,” I mean that it reads like someone took every crazy accusation anyone ever leveled against man-hating feminists and characterized them in a blog post. Is this story a not-so-funny first-person prank? Did someone make up a tale about how they murdered their baby boy with abortion?

The bedeviling thing, to me at least, is that I’ve dealt with people just as crazy mean as the author of this post sounds. I’ve dealt with women who are this man-hating, and I’ve dealt with men who are this woman-hating and neither one had any qualms about sharing their viewpoint. That gives the post a certain cultural veracity.

None of the people I’ve dealt with took to the web to write blog posts about it. They either contacted me in anger about legislation I was trying to pass, wanted me to “help” them pass a hateful law, or, occasionally, wanted me to use my legislative powers to “get” somebody for them.

What that means in terms of the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy story is that I know it’s possible it’s the truth. I know this because I’ve met and listened to people who are this crazy, this evil and this self-righteous about their vile beliefs.

I went back to the Injustice Stories web site this morning and read through the posts that it lists. The blog is said to be a forum for individuals to post their own “injustice stories.” Thus, the various blog posts are purportedly written by different people.

I’m not a linguist, but it doesn’t seem to me that the writing style differs from one post to the next. It’s not difficult to tell my writing from Kathy Schiffer’s or that of the Anchoress. All three of us write differently from Deacon Greg. Our writing is a “voice” we use, and it is somewhat unique to each of us. It’s usually that way with people.

I’m not saying that the posts on Injustice Stories are all written by one person. I don’t know that. But I will say that they do not differ in voice or syntax enough to sound like more than one person is doing the writing.

So, the question is out there? Is the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy Story an attempt to prank the internet? Is it true, or is it confabulation?

I don’t know the answer to that.

Confabulation or fact, the story is possible. Sex-selected abortion is a horrible realty all around the world, including here in the United States. The world’s two largest nations by population — China and India — both have seriously lopsided male-female ratios due to sex-selected abortion. Men outnumber women in these countries by margins wide enough to unhinge the social order.

Live Action has released videos of Planned Parenthood counselors in locations all over the United States who are willing to help women obtain abortions simply because their unborn child is a girl. Half a world away, an Australian doctor had to fight to keep his medical license because he refused to either do or refer for a sex-selected abortion.

This is why the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy story is plausible. I don’t know if this particular blog post is a fact or a confabulation. I don’t even know the author’s last name. But I believe that baby boys have been aborted just because they were boys, and right here in the United States.

Why would anyone do that?

Because they can.

When you legalize killing a whole group of people for any reason whatsoever, they will be killed for every reason possible.

We live in a fallen world. We all bear the mark of Cain. Blood guilt is our heritage, born of unending war, violent crime, family violence, abortion and euthanasia.

Legal abortion knocked over the carefully tended wall we had built between human life and our passions. It let the wolves of our own depravity into the fold. We defined a class of people as subhuman and declared open season on killing them.

So why should we be surprised when people avail themselves of this freedom to kill by doing exactly what we have given them the legal right to do: Kill for any reason that suits us.

Is the I Aborted My Baby because He was a Boy story fact or confabulation? If it’s fact, a precious baby boy has been horribly murdered. That matters quite a lot.

But in terms of social/political commentary in which individual lives get swept up and lost in talk of millions dying for decades, no, the veracity of the story does not matter. It does not matter because the laws which allow such things and the belief systems which excuse them are real.

Every abortion kills an innocent person who can not fight back, can not even speak for themselves. We can pretend they are not real, and if confronted by a million ultrasounds attesting to their reality, we can persist and refuse to back down in our claims that they are not human. If that fails, we can fall back on claims that, yes, they are human, but not human enough.

And that concept of not human enough is another slippery slope of illogic claiming to be the heart of rationality that leads even deeper into the abyss. If we can kill human beings because they are not human enough, the door swings wide for euthanasia and after that killing the poor and disabled, the “useless eaters” among us. Not human enough is such a subjective and frail reed of verbal positioning that it falls easily before the next new killing plan.

A large segment of our society has abandoned the notion of moral absolutes and seeks to replace it with verbal positioning. If they can concoct an argument that sounds convincing in their own ears, then whatever they are arguing for becomes their new morality. Ironic as it is, they then claim this newly-minted moral reality of theirs as a moral absolute.

When it comes to legalized killing, there is no bottom for these people. They sincerely believe that it is a moral imperative to allow the legal murder of any group of people that they can convince themselves should be killed. The great wall of the sanctity of human life was breached with legal abortion and that let the wolves in.

Now, they, like satan, prowl about, seeking whom they may destroy.

 

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Ascension Press: Following Jesus to the Priesthood

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by VISION Vocation Guide https://www.flickr.com/photos/visionvocationguide/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by VISION Vocation Guide https://www.flickr.com/photos/visionvocationguide/

Ascension Press has released the beautiful video below to encourage young men to consider the priesthood. I am drawn to the raw honesty of these young men’s testimony. It also appeals to me that this is a video about vocation to the priesthood that focuses on God, instead of us.

Too much of our discussion about vocations focuses on attacks on the liturgy, women in the Church and other things that are supposed to make us more worthy of God. That leads to blaming, attacking and limiting one another. It creates self-righteousness and hurtful behavior that drives people away from Jesus rather than drawing them to Him.

Vocation to the priesthood really is about God and His call. We need to trust Him more and our prejudices and rages less.

Enjoy the video. It’s well worth the look.

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President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Speech: Offensive, but Not Surprising.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

President Obama’s tiresome predilection for offending Christians showed itself again at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. It seems that our prez will besmirch Christianity, even if he has to dredge up stuff from a thousand years ago and mis-characterize history to do it.

I’m going to put a video of the full text of his speech below. Parts of it are good. But, as usual when President Obama talks about religion, he can’t resist taking a swipe at Christianity.

This predilection he has for ham-handed attempts to be “fair” to all faiths by belittling and defaming Christianity seems ingrained in him. It harms his presidency, divides this nation and makes it tough to be a Jesus-loving Democrat.

After all this time and the great political price he and his party have paid, you would think he’d be smart enough to get out his pen and draw a line through these statements when his speech writers put them in. But he doesn’t. Maybe the reason is that he means it so much that he doesn’t care about the political consequences.

He’s so set on this that it makes me cringe when he says something complimentary about Pope Francis. I don’t feel that he’s complimenting the Holy Father. I feel that he’s patronizing him. When he talks about American freedom of religion, I cringe again. This president has directly attacked the First Amendment with his HHS Mandate. So, when he praises this country’s great freedom of religion, I feel that he’s patronizing the American people.

As for his comments about Christianity vis a vis ISIS, the Crusades happened hundreds of years ago, which hardly makes it pertinent to the rapes, beheadings and burnings alive that are happening today. Also, the Crusades were a defensive war in response to an invading army. Much of the Middle East was Christian before this “conversion” by the sword which resulted in the deaths and exile of whole populations of Christians.

Jim Crow was brought to ground by a great Christian leader, leading equally great Christians. These men spoke from the prophetic voice of the Gospels to animate a movement and convict a nation of the powerful message that we are, all of us, made in the image and likeness of God and deserve the same legal rights. The Civil Rights Movement was led by black pastors who had held the black community together and given it dignity for decades. Martin Luther King, Jr preached the Gospel to power, and that power changed history. It was Christianity that ended Jim Crow, just as it was Christian abolitionists who ended slavery.

I am offended by President Obama’s mis-use of history to convict today’s Christians of the crimes of ISIS, Boko Haram, al Queda, and others. But I am not surprised.

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Pope Francis Calls Human Trafficking a Shameful Wound Unworthy of Human Society.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

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Woman Brags that She Aborted Her Baby Because He was a Boy

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

Beautiful, precious, baby boy. Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Britt-knee https://www.flickr.com/photos/lsuchick142/

The woman in question is Lana.

Lana wrote a post for a blog called Injustice Stories. I don’t know if Injustice Stories is a series of confabulations or not, but even if it is, it’s still horrifying. In one blog post she related how she murdered her baby boy with abortion just because he was a boy. As chilling as that is, the post is worse.

It’s a long explanation about how this woman killed her own child because she saw it as some sort of execution in the name of women’s rights. This was no “I thought it was a blob of tissue” abortion. It was a deliberate, considered murder of an innocent child because she “couldn’t bring another monster” into the world.

Her feeling is that a baby boy is a monster because all male human beings are monsters.

I don’t know what to say about this woman. I have no idea if it was horrific events that made her this way or if she’s just using her totally bogus version of feminism to glorify her own psychopathy.

I do know that, based on her own words, she murdered her baby. As I said, this was not a confusion. She was not in a terrible plight. She simply killed her baby because he was a boy and he would grow up to be a man and she hates men. She ends “if the curse returns, I will do exactly the same thing again.”

In a follow-up post she reacts to the things people have said in response to her story. “Do people really exist who want to see me dead because of what I chose to do with my own body,” she asks. “Those are the minds of mentally disturbed individuals.”

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Jordan Goes to War for Real

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Klaus Nahr https://www.flickr.com/photos/klausnahr/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Klaus Nahr https://www.flickr.com/photos/klausnahr/

Lt Muath al-Kasabeh, the Jordanian pilot ISIS burned alive, did not die in vain.

Jordan has responded to this infamy with vows to “wipe out” ISIS and they appear to be willing to put firepower into the endeavor.

Here are Jordan’s military objectives against ISIS:

1. Target top leadership, with al-Baghdadi at the helm.

2. Stop illegal revenues which ISIS has been getting from fuel.

3. Weaken and destroy training centers and logistical centers.

These are sound military objectives.

From CBN News:

“We are determined to fight IS until we achieve the goal of this war, which is wiping out the IS completely,” al-Jabour said, adding that this is the beginning not the end of their campaign to defeat ISIS. There’s some speculation that Jordan is planning a limited ground campaign. Meanwhile, Britain’s Prince Charles visited King Abdullah at the start of a six-day Mideast tour. The prince told the BBC the plight of Middle East Christians was an agonizing situation. King Abdullah faces a daunting challenge. He needs to mobilize and maintain his country’s fight against ISIS while realizing that a significant minority of his citizens sympathize with the Islamic State. The king will be looking for the military and moral support from the U.S. and other coalition partners as he fights for the future of his kingdom.

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