Homeschool vs Govt Schools: Vatican Says Let Parents Decide

Archbishop Francis A Chulicatt speaks to the UN in support of homeschooling.

Public schools do not offer an equal chance for a good education to all students. Some public schools are excellent. Others are soul-killing factories. From my experience, it seems that this divides along economic lines.

Wealthy parents, who have access to private schools for their children, also have the option of sending them to the best public schools. Poorer parents often have no choices. They are forced to send their children to sub-standard, dangerous, inner-city public schools.

The deterioration of our society is apparent in the students themselves. Violent, disruptive children from dysfunctional families are common. In my House district I’ve had children as young as 7 or 8 or who were so violent and disruptive that they were uncontrollable. One elementary age child could not be left alone with younger children for even a short period of time because he would try to kill them by choking them.

Many of the children in these schools grow up without hope of a future. In spite of years of sex education they seem to have a complete lack of morality concerning personal sexual behavior. The girls regard getting pregnant while they are teens as an achievement. The boys brag about the number of out of wedlock children they have sired.

Homeschooling is the only viable alternative for many people. Private school tuition is more than they make, and even if they could afford it, their children would be unhappy as the lone working class child in a school where all the other kids come from wealthy families. The lifestyle of the other children would be too different from theirs and too unapproachable.

The choice between public and private schools is a no-win scenario for lower income parents. Homeschooling is the one option they have. The great thing about it is that homeschooling works. I can say from my own experience as a homeschooling mom that homeschooled kids learn. They have no trouble in college or holding jobs when they’re grown.

They don’t suffer the emotional and moral damage that is inflicted on children who spend their formative years in the pressure cooker of an inner city public school. They have strong friendships with other homeschooling kids that last into adulthood. They bond deeply to their families and their faith.

That’s why I was so happy to see the article, Homeschoolers applaud Vatican position on homeschooling. It is great to know that once again, my Church supports families in doing what is best for our children. If you’re interested in homeschooling, read it and smile.

Advocates of homeschooling applauded a statement by the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations in which he defended parents’ right to homeschool their children. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said in remarks to the international body, “Parents … have the right and duty to choose schools inclusive of homeschooling, and they must possess the freedom to do so, which in turn, must be respected and facilitated by the State.” He added, “For some time now, my delegation has noticed a disconcerting trend, namely, the desire on the part of some to downplay the role of parents in the upbringing of their children, as if to suggest somehow that it is not the role of parents, but that of the State.”

Speaking at the Economic and Social Council at the UN on behalf of Pope Benedict, Archbishop Chullikatt “States are called to have respect for the freedom of parents to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions which equally applies to their right to make judgments on moral issues regarding their children.”(Read the rest here).

The Atheist Boys Club and Online Misogyny as Sport

On-line misogyny. The anonymous crime against human dignity.

Leah Libresco, who blogs at Unequally Yoked and bills herself the “geeky convert” wrote a fascinating post last week about online misogyny from the atheist perspective.

Her post, Ave atque vale, Jen McCreight, discusses how one female blogger has been forced to retire from blogging due to online attacks from the atheist boy’s club. Ms McCreight’s  explanation for quitting is both straightforward and poignant. I just can’t take it anymore, she said. According to the post, the group primarily responsible for these misogynist attacks bills itself FtBullies.

I’m not going to repeat the things Ms McCreight has suffered at the hands of these people. Leah Libresco covers it in her post, as does Ms McCreight in hers. If you want to see it, you can follow the links. I’m also not going to discuss her beliefs.

The important issue to me is that she is a woman and she has been attacked to the point that she feels compelled to remove her voice from the public debate simply because she’s a woman. Do I need to tell you that this is wrong? I doubt it. Anyone who sincerely tries to follow Jesus Christ already knows that.

The simple fact is, we should never treat human beings made in the image and likeness of God in this degrading manner. We do not have the right terrorize women into silence with threats of rape and by sludging their names all over the internet. Brutalizing women, whether it’s done physically or verbally, is wrong. It is a sin.

Before I began writing this post, I googled “internet misogyny.” I got a pageful of hits with more pages to follow. It was, for the most part, articles by women trying to defend women against this sadistic menace. You can look here, here, here or here. I picked these because they were the first four hits. I don’t vouch for their brilliance or even the specifics of their facts. What I do vouch for is that they point to a real and growing problem of misogyny directed against women in our society.

The debate following Leah Libresco’s post evidently fell along predictable lines. I didn’t read it, but she did, and what she read moved her to write two more posts, defending Ms McCreight’s decision to step down. Based on what she said in these posts, I am assuming that some people felt that Ms McCreight should just toughen up, “take the heat,” and get on with it.

My first thought about this was that it sounded suspiciously like they were expecting the victim to “handle” what no one should be asked to “handle” in a civilized society. Do we believe that misogyny is something that women should learn to accept, and that if they don’t learn to accept it, there’s something wrong with them?

As I said earlier, I’m not going to address Jen McCreight’s beliefs. Whatever she believes she has the right to talk about it in public venues without being assaulted by the misogynist boys club competing in their favorite sport. I’m also not going to discuss the irony of such rampant misogyny from the self-proclaimed “tolerance” police of our society. Ms McCreight did a fine job of that in her post How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism that you will find here.

My point is that misogyny is wrong. It is cowardly. When it’s done anonymously over the internet, it sinks to levels of spineless cowardice that defy description. It is also a particularly virulent form of cyber-stalking, which means that it is probably illegal and punishable by criminal statutes.

However, the message I want to convey with this post is not about legal sanctions. It’s about us; about Christians and how we should treat other people. It is simple. If you are a Christian: 

Do not engage in misogynist attacks against women.

Do not go to websites that do this.

Do not click on links that lead to it.

If one of your kids starts using their computer time for this, stop them.

We bear the name of Christ. He has taught us to be better than that.

Will African American Voters Stay Home on Election Day?

I’ve posted before about the conflict some African American clergy feel concerning President Obama’s endsorsement of same-sex marriage earlier this year.

According to a recent Yahoo News article, this concern seems to be spreading from more conservative African American clergy to those who have been Obama supporters in the past. If the upcoming presidential election is close enough, this could be an important factor in the outcome. President Obama received an critical boost in key states in 2008 from the enormous turn-out of African American voters on his behalf. If this turn-out fails to materialize again, it could be decisive in a close election.

I’ve heard from people who are close to the campaign that the Obama forces have targeted the African American communities in swing states in an effort to rev up their voter turn-out in November. The question remains how much, if any, the President’s decision to personally come out in support of same-sex marriage will ultimately impinge on those efforts.

The Yahoo article says in part:

Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That’s a worrisome message for the nation’s first African-American president, who can’t afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.
The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.
In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. But any loss of votes would sting.
When President Obama made the public statement on gay marriage, I think it put a question in our minds as to what direction he’s taking the nation,” said the Rev. A.R. Bernard, founder of the predominantly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York. Bernard, whose endorsement is much sought-after in New York and beyond, voted for Obama in 2008. He said he’s unsure how he’ll vote this year. (read more here)

Cardinal Dolan Says Leave Religion Alone

Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to the press at the North American College in Rome.

.- Religious freedom in the United States has historically been understood as allowing religion to “flourish unfettered from government intrusion,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

“Simply put, government has no business interfering in the internal life of the soul, conscience, or church,” said the cardinal, who serves at the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cardinal Dolan delivered the John Carroll Society Lecture at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10.

He voiced concern that “the promotion and protection of religious liberty is becoming caricatured as some narrow, hyper-defensive, far-right, self-serving cause.” (Read more here)

 

Go Oklahoma! Hobby Lobby Files Against HHS Mandate

I know Hobby Lobby well.

Back my homeschooling days, it was my home away from home.

Hobby Lobby defies a simple description. Christian-based Hobby Lobby is an office supply/book/homeschooling supply/music/video/art store for Christians. If you're looking for a great choice of Bible translations, a Christian statue for your garden or the best math book for your homeschool, Hobby Lobby has it. Their supply of Christian music is superb, as are their videos, especially for children.

I've spent many happy hours wandering the aisles at my local Hobby Lobby. Two of my Catholic Bibles came from there, along with a lot of Christmas decorations and homeschooling supplies.

Hobby Lobby's brows-ability is one of it's best points. A Christian can spend hours wandering the aisles and soaking up the freedom of being in a place where no one is going to shock your sensibilities or insult your faith. You can enjoy the whole day there and never encounter a single Christian-bashing word. I sometimes go to Hobby Lobby, just to kill time. I almost always end up walking out with a purchase.

I love the place.

When I read that Hobby Lobby had filed suit against the HHS Mandate, it seemed personal; as if a beloved family member had announced they were standing with me in a time of trouble. That's how close I feel to my Church in this struggle for religious freedom, and how much a part of my shopping life Hobby Lobby has been. The Christian Post story about their lawsuit reads in part:

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a privately held retail chain with 22,500 employees led by a Christian family, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, opposing the Health and Human Services “preventive services” mandate, the company announced Wednesday. The company becomes the largest and only non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the government's contraception mandate.

The company's CEO and founder, David Green, said Wednesday that the mandate would force the Christian-owned-and-operated business to provide, without co-pay, the “morning after pill” and “week after pill” in their health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to 1.3 million dollars per day.

We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs and comply with this mandate,” Green said during a teleconference press meeting. “We know that we have been blessed by God's grace and believe it is because we have chosen to live our lives and to operate our business according to His Word and we are very grateful for that. But our faith is being challenged by the federal government.”

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/hobby-lobby-first-evangelical-led-business-files-lawsuit-against-hhs-mandate-81539/#avyFlW7OthoKWaRX.99

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If you live near a Hobby Lobby, stop by and tell them thanks. If you don't, say a prayer for them and their continued witness for Christ.

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What Other World Leader …

What other world leader would go into a troubled area like Lebanon? The Holy Father brings the message of the only hope this world has. My prayers go with him.

Leavin’ On a Jet Plane

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane.

Play Nice while I’m gone.

Public Catholic attracts the best people. I learn something every day from your thoughtful comments.

If an internet troll shows up while I’m gone, acting like 20 kinds of fool, being obnoxious and trying to start a fight, just ignore them. You’re better than that.

I’ll be checking in every day. I’ll take care of it when I do.

Vaya con dios mis amigos.

Christian Persecution: British Charity Accused of Funding Boko Haram

Boko Haram

Men look at the wreckage of a car following a bomb blast in Abuja last year.
The terrorist group Boko Haram was suspected. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

I have written about the terrorist war on Christians in Nigeria before. Nigerian Christians are being subjected to murderous attacks from an Islamic group which calls itself Boko Haram.

Guns, bullets and bombs do not build themselves. Money from the West often turns out to be the source of terrorist funding. These bloody enterprises frequently hide behind the name of “charity.”

So, it’s not unusual or surprising that Nigerian media accused Al Muntada, a British charity of providing funds to Boko Haram. An article from The Observer says in part:

Peer raises fears over UK charity’s alleged links to Boko Haram

British charity is under scrutiny amid claims funds ended up in hands of Nigerian terrorists blamed for killing hundreds

A British charity is under scrutiny amid claims some of its funds have ended up in the hands of African terrorists blamed for killing hundreds of people.

Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group in Nigeria with close links to al-Qaida, has targeted churches and Christians as it seeks to spread terror across the country.

The Nigerian media has reported that the country’s state security service, working with local and international agencies, believes money raised by the Al Muntada Trust found its way to Boko Haram.

A charity of that name, which has its headquarters in London, raises money for disaster projects in Africa. It has attracted controversy in the past for giving a platform to radical clerics.

Lord Alton of Liverpool told parliament in July there was evidence Boko Haram carried out 600 murders this year and called for it to be proscribed in the UK as a terror group. Its rise has alarmed Africa experts and prompted concerns of “blowback” for the UK as its supporters return from Nigeria. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Israel and the Global War on Christians

American Christians are among Israel’s most stalwart supporters.

Evangelical Christians, in particular, have been unyielding in their demands that America stand by the tiny nation. Their advocacy for Israel has raised the political stakes concerning America’s policy toward Israel in the upcoming election.

Violent persecution of Christians is a growing reality in much of the world. It cuts especially deep when it happens in countries and comes from people that Christians here in America support. There is an innate desire to turn our heads and pretend that it isn’t happening. As a long-time supporter of Israel, I understand the feeling. However, our first allegiance must be to our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

In a September 7 article Playing politics with the global war on Christians, John Allen discusses just such a conundrum: The violent persecution of Christians in Israel. Members of my parish went on pilgrimage to Israel last year and came back with eyewitness testimony concerning similar stories. It appears that persecution of Christians in Israel is real.

You can write the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren here. Please do so. If there is one country that should be willing to listen to American Christians it is Israel.

The article says in part:

Playing politics with the global war on Christians

Most people, most of the time, are fundamentally decent. Hence if they knew that there’s a minority facing an epidemic of persecution — a staggering total of 150,000 martyrs every year, meaning 17 deaths every hour — there would almost certainly be a groundswell of moral and political outrage.

There is such a minority in the world today, and it’s Christianity. The fact that there isn’t yet a broad-based movement to fight anti-Christian persecution suggests something is missing in public understanding.

In part, of course, the problem is that unquestionable acts of persecution, such as murder and imprisonment, are sometimes confused with a perceived cultural and legal “war on religion” in the West, a less clear-cut proposition. In part, too, it’s because of the antique prejudice that holds that Christianity is always the oppressor, never the oppressed.

Yet as with most things, politics also has a distorting effect, and a story out of Israel this week makes the point.

On Tuesday, the doors of a Trappist monastery in Latrun, near Jerusalem, were set ablaze, with provocative phrases in Hebrew spray-painted on the exteriors walls, such as “Jesus is a monkey.” The assault was attributed to extremist Jews unhappy with the recent dismantling of two settlements on nearby Palestinian land.

Founded in 1890 by French Trappists, the Latrun monastery is famed for its strict religious observance. Israelis call it minzar ha’shatkanim, meaning “the monastery of those who don’t speak.” Ironically, it’s known for fostering dialogue with Judaism, and welcomes hundreds of Jewish visitors every week.

Tuesday’s attack was not an isolated incident. In 2009, a Franciscan church near the Cenacle on Mount Zion, regarded by tradition as the site of Christ’s Last Supper, was defaced with a spray-painted Star of David and slogans such as “Christians Out!” and “We Killed Jesus!” According to reports, the vandals also urinated on the door and left a trail of urine leading to the church.

Last February, the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land wrote to Israeli authorities to appeal for better protection after another wave of vandalism struck a Baptist church, a Christian cemetery and a Greek Orthodox monastery. That time, slogans included “Death to Christianity,” “We will crucify you!” and “Mary is a whore.”

At the time, the custodian, Franciscan Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, complained that no arrests had been made in any of these cases. (Read more here.)

 

Romney Reboot: Will It Be Enough?


  • Romney Campaign Starts Reboot (ABC News)

    ABC OTUS News – Romney Campaign Starts Reboot (ABC News)

LOS ANGELES – After a week of withering criticism from fellow Republicans and conservatives, theRomney campaign said today that it is now the appropriate time in the campaign – with just 50 days until election day – to begin offering specifics on policies proposed by the candidate.

Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie called the decision as a “natural progression” of the campaign, and told reporters on a conference call they recognize that voters would “like to know a little more about the specifics,” and that the campaign is now ready to “meet the demands.”

“We do think the timing is right, at this moment, to reinforce the specifics, more specifics, about the Romney plan for a strong middle class,” he said.

The call with Gillespie came the morning after an article published by Politico reported disarray among the top advisers charged with running the campaign. Today, the campaign seemed ready to reset the message, telling reporters that Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan will take advantage of venues and use surrogates to make sure the specifics of their ideas are understood by voters before Election Day.

Gillespie made it clear that Romney and Ryan would not be unveiling new plans or policies, but instead would be offering more specifics on those already in place. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: In the West, Where the War Is Forced Upon Us

Hearings on a discrimination suit filed by four British Christians against their government began September 4 in the European Court of Human RightsThe Christians say that they have lost their jobs because they would not comply with demands that they violate their Christian faith.

Their complaints range from a woman who was fired because she wore a cross on a necklace to work, to a registrar who lost her job because she refused to conduct same-sex cvil partnerships. These people have been the object of ridicule for filing these claims. But they have persisted, even in the face of predictions that they will ultimately lose the case. This article from The Telegraph gives more details:

David Barrett

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent

9:00PM GMT 10 Mar 2012

In a highly significant move, ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross.

It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work.

A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.

The Government’s position received an angry response last night from prominent figures including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

He accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life. (Read more here.)

It appears that Britain has crossed the line into active legal discrimination against people of faith. This lawsuit and the attitude of intolerance toward Christians that caused it should be harbingers for the rest of us.

Violent persecution of a group of people doesn’t spring fully grown from nowhere. It grows from smaller things and lays down roots of acceptance in our minds and hearts in an incremental, almost invisible fashion.

Christians in much of the world are subjected to the brutality of violent discrimination that often approaches genocide. We haven’t gotten to violent persecution here in the West. But I believe we are moving in that direction.

Much of Western society today hovers somewhere between openly accepted verbal harassment of their Christian majorities and active legal discrimination against them. Majority populations have been subjected to active discrimination and violent persecution by a minority which has control of the governing apparatus of the country before. South Africa is one recent example.

Here in America, people of faith in general and Christians in particular have been subjected to a barrage of lawsuits seeking to wipe all mention of faith out of our public life. These lawsuits force us to chisel God’s name off our monuments, take down religious symbols from our parks and public facilities and ban all mention of the Almighty at public events such as football games. Most recently, there has been a move to do away with the National Day of Prayer and to expunge “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

The HHS Mandate and lawsuits trying to force religious ministries to refer women for abortions have broadened these attacks from a debate about monuments, public prayers and slogans. They are now attacking the Church itself.

Meanwhile, verbal agitation aimed at silencing individual citizens becomes more strident and widespread. Private conversations between two people in line at a grocery store can be hijacked by the Christian-basher standing behind them who rudely interjects his (it seems almost always to be a “him.”) version of the usual atheist canards attacking their faith. The sense of entitlement these people seem to feel to harass, insult and bully Christians is truly mind-boggling. Christians often find themselves falling silent about their faith simply because they get worn out by the constant hassle and circular arguments these people force on them.

This is harassment. The names that Christians are called and the way that Christianity is attacked in some of the media has become so extreme that it can fairly be called hate speech. This is not benign. It is Christian baiting and it’s time we called it that. 

We are in a plunge downward here in America. Yesterday’s outrageous insults against Christians become today’s accepted beliefs. The line between an aggressive secularism and active legal discrimination was crossed with the HHS Mandate.

In Britain, this has evidently reached the point that individual Christians face loss of their jobs for something so small as wearing a cross on a necklace. Other Christians lose their jobs if they refuse to participate in activities that violate their faith.

It isn’t such a big step in a violent world from social bullying and legal discrimination to violent persecution. In fact, the legal apparatus, if it becomes draconian enough, actually supports and protects the persecutors.

I hope that the European Court of Human Rights rules in favor of these four Christian petitioners. But even if it does, to paraphrase a line from an old Star Trek episode, the war is still forced upon us. A positive ruling in the four Christians’ favor would not turn back the tide of Christian-baiting and the constant push for more discriminatory laws against people of faith.

If the court rules against these Christians, the matter becomes even more urgent. A negative ruling will open the door for what almost certainly will be oppressive laws that force Christians to chose on a daily basis between Jesus and their jobs and eventually, their freedom.

I quoted Vijay Ooman, of Nigeria in an earlier post. What he said is worth a second read:

When we hear and read of how a Christian nation, founded by those who left Europe because of the persecution they faced, has today abandoned that call, its not only sad but pathetic.

Can any of the western countries ever be called as a Christian nation any more? It is no different than a child denying his own parents and telling the world ‘ I dont know who they are”…

It is time the Churches in the west turned back to profess and be the witnesses they once were..

Based on the letters I get, I think a lot of Christians around the world are watching us here in America as we fight for our basic freedom of religion. American Christians need to start standing up for Jesus in their daily lives. If this misuse of the law to force us to violate our faith continues, we need to be prepared to practice non-violent civil disobedience. After all, don’t we sing in our churches that we are “soldiers of the cross?”

Are Pro-Life Democrats Being Hunted to Extinction by Their Own Party?

I’ve got a strong pulse for somebody who’s supposed to be extinct.

I am battered, chipped, stained and cracked in a few places. But extinct? Nope. I am a pro-life Democrat, and according to a recent Weekly Standard article, I am a living ghost of times past.

Is that true? Am I one of the last of my kind, the final dinosaur stumbling to the end of its species? Well … maybe. Maybe I am.

The Standard article makes a good case for the notion that even if there are a few pro-life Democrats rattling around, they are so compromised that they have no significance. Democrats for Life of America is a case in point. This gutsy little band of warriors keeps hanging on in the despised fringes of the larger Democratic party, doing their best to be the voice of life in the party of abortion.

I had great hopes for Democrats for Life of America. I still hope for them. I have spoken at their national convention, and was for a while one of their two state directors in Oklahoma. But as the Standard article makes clear, their presence at the Democratic National Convention this week was a sad affair marked primarily by the absence of anyone paying them the least little bit of attention. Not a single current Democratic office holder bothered to show up at their event.

They did have a smattering of former Democratic office holders. They were mostly people who either gave up or lost their office as a result of the fight to put pro life language into the Affordable Health Care Act. Pro-life Democrats took a beating in the last election, which explains the total lack of interest from those currently in power.

In my opinion the reason why pro life Democrats took such a drubbing at the polls in 2010 is simple. They compromised on the Affordable Health Care Act. There was a moment in time when pro-life Democrats held the aspirations of pro life people in their hands. They were the ones who had the power to force the President to accept language that would have blocked using federal money to pay for abortions. This language could have staved off attacks on religious liberty such as the HHS Mandate.

For a while they held tough. I remember how proud I was of them. Then, they blinked. I understand the enormity of the pressures they were under. I’ve read that at least one of them was threatened with the closure of military bases in his district. This would have cost thousands of his constituents their jobs. That’s not a small thing to an elected official. Your constituents trust you and rely on you to take care of them. When these power throw-downs come along, you are often all they’ve got. Protecting them becomes a reflex, similar to the reflexive way we jump to protect our children.

President Obama placed these Democratic office holders in the terrible position of either endangering the livelihoods of thousands of the people they were supposed to protect, or caving on the pro life amendments to the Affordable Health Care Act. That is the sort of threat that would make any decent office holder quake.

When he offered them empty promises as a sop, a way out, they jumped on those promises. The rest is history. The ink was barely dry on the Affordable Health Care Act when the President began to renege on the promises he made to pass it. We have now reached the point that he has turned it into a direct attack on religious freedom with the HHS Mandate.

But even before the HHS Mandate, the whole pro-life Democrat house of cards had come tumbling down.

Pro life people, rightly outraged, vowed to never support another Democrat. Those pro-life Democrats who had failed to fight to the death over the Affordable Health Care Act were mostly either defeated at the polls or simply decided not to run for re-election. What we got as a result was a Democratic Party that was even more fixedly pro abortion (as opposed to pro choice) and nihilistic than ever before. This distillation of the party also resulted in the loss of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. The party that was left was leaner, meaner and narrower in focus than ever before.

All this raises two questions, both of them very serious to the pro life cause and the future of our nation. The first question is simple and straightforward: Is it possible for anyone except an exception to be a pro life Democrat?

Odd as this may sound, I say yes, it is possible. But the person who undertakes this has to be tougher than the pro-life Democrats we’ve had before. It is not possible to be a pro-life Democrat and be well-liked or supported by your party. The pressures other Democrats put on pro life Democrats to compromise their beliefs are enough to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond. Unfortunately what happens in practice is that they far too often manage to squeeze the diamond of a pro life Democrat into a lump of compromising coal.

I know something of these pressures. I’ve been attacked by my party for so long, in so many ways because I am pro life that I honestly have lost count and memory of a lot of it. After all, who wants to reminisce about the bad times? I’ve had other Democratic House members yell at me and tell me to get out of the party, not just once in a while, but almost every working day. I’ve been through the threats, slanders, pickets, censure votes and shunning. I’ve eaten lunch alone and sat by myself in meetings time after time and day after day. All because I am pro life.

I’m not going to go into the details, because the details don’t matter. What matters is that these pressures were always an attempt to get me to compromise. Not, mind you, to switch to pro choice, but to compromise. A lot of times what they wanted me to do was far more politically savvy than what I actually did do. They were willing to let me hide in plain sight and say I was pro life, just so long as I would compromise.

But I can’t reason my way past the tripping-up truths of the pro life cause to find a compromise that doesn’t involve either killing people or helping someone else kill people. I’m too unsophisticated and basic in the way I look at things to be confused by the obfuscations and serpentine reasoning that most people fall for.

I look past all that with my simple little Okie brain and think, I’m not gonna kill anybody. And I won’t help anyone else do it, either.

So, the answer is yes, you can be a pro life Democrat and do it right. But you’ve got to be willing to be a little bit politically stupid in the clinches. You can’t let yourself be fooled by the tomfoolery that will come at you. And you have to look ‘em in the eye when they threaten you and not blink.

How do you do this? You pray the Rosary every day. Go to daily mass. Go to confession frequently. Read the Bible. And spend lots of time with your family and real friends — you know, the people who aren’t impressed with you but who love you even when you’re in disgrace.

The answer, in short, is that you’ve got to stay grounded; grounded in Christ, grounded in the real relationships of your life

The second question is a little bit more complex. Does it matter if there are pro life Democrats?

After all, the pro life movement runs strong on the Republican side of the fence. Why not just keep investing where you get the best returns?

I won’t go into this too deeply since I’m going to talk about it a lot on this blog. But I will say that yes, it does matter. It matters because we can not ever build a culture of life with half the people. It matters because to a large extent the official Republican Party (as opposed to the rank and file) is flimflamming us with their vows of pro life fealty. It matters because our country cannot survive if it continues with this polarized win-at-all-costs-even-if-it-harms-the-country hyper partisan governance.

Are pro-life Democrats being hunted to extinction by their own party? Yes. We are.

Does it matter to this country and to the pro life movement if they are? Yes. It does.

If pro-life Democrats want to have a voice in the party, they’ve got to stop compromising their pro-life principles for the party. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I believe it’s a fact. However the real reason for not compromising is not to affect the party. It’s that you don’t and shouldn’t compromise about core values. Not killing people (to put it in my simplistic terms) is the core value. If human beings don’t respect human life, we descend rather quickly to a world where the biggest and meanest get to make all the rules.

The right to life is the basic human right. Nothing anyone can say has the power to change that. If we compromise there, then we’re not on a slippery slope, we’re in a chute, going straight down.

My Archbishop is Not a Wimp

Archbishop Coakley is the one in the middle.

My religious leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, is not a wimp.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, along with a small group of Catholic bishops and priests from America, walked the El Camino de Santiago in Spain. The El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James) is a 100 mile pilgrimage that leads to the tomb of St James in Santiago, Spain. They made the walk August 21 to August 28.

The priests and bishops who made the pilgrimage together were: Archbishop Coakley, Bishop James Wall of Gallup NM, auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver Co,  Fr Gerry Baker of Owensboro KY, and Fr Don Kline of Pheonix, AZ.

I’ve been to the tomb of St James in Santiago. The church which houses the tomb has a stone near its entrance which has been kissed by generations of pilgrims as they complete their long walk. The stone is worn away, hollowed out, by a thousand years of pilgrims, touching their lips to its cool surface.

I kissed this stone. However, I cheated. I walked to the church … from my hotel. My “pilgrimage” was a lot less rigorous.

But then, I AM a wimp.

Clearly, my archbishop is not.

For more details, read here.

Dems Gavel God Back Into the Platform

The Democratic Convention approved an amendment to the Democratic Party Platform this evening returning God to the document.

Even though language including the name of God won the vote, it was hardly a slam-dunk. Amending the platform this late in the process requires a floor amendment and a 2/3 vote of approval from the delegates. Rather than allow a vote of each individual delegate, party officials decided the matter by gaveling through a voice vote.

Ohio Governor Ted Stricklin made the motion to include the words “make the most of their God-given potential,” and “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel” in the official Democratic Party Platform. It took two calls for a vote, and many who were in the hall claim that the nays yelled at least as loudly as the ayes, but Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared that the ayes had it and banged down the gavel, ending the matter. This was greeted by boos from delegates on the convention floor.

So there you have it. The Democrats have put the name of God back in their platform. Does anybody besides me question their sincerity?

Check here to see a video of the vote.

 

No Room for God in Demo Platform

In another one of those does this surprise anybody moves, the Democratic Party platform committee has removed references to God from their platform.

According to an article in The Examiner the new party platform removes the word “God” from this paragraph:

We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.

The new paragraph reads:

We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth – the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.” 

The change is not significant in itself. I don’t think God is going to fall out of His heaven because a political party expunged His name from a paragraph in its platform. The significance of the change lies in its consistency. A one word change could mean anything, but when it is grouped alongside the HHS Mandate and party position on abortion and marriage, it becomes part of a pattern. That pattern says a lot. 

This change in language has no force of law. Democratic elected officials are not required to do what it says. But as a reflection of the values shift within the inner circle of party activists, I believe it is meaningful. It doesn’t so much change things as it acknowledges the way things truly are. 

Singin’ Those Swing State Blues

According to a recent Associated Press story, the upcoming presidential election will come down to how people vote in these seven states:

Colorado

Florida

Iowa

Ohio

Nevada

New Hampshire

Virginia.

The message for residents of these states is clear: Lock up your babies and little old ladies. It’s going to be a bumpy fall.

For the next three months, you and your vote will be the quarry of big-game hunting politicos willing to twist every knob, turn over every rock and crawl down every hole in search of that elusive 51% of the votes in your state.

You and your vote are the object of their desire, the purpose of their actions and the subject of their dreams. The candidates and their campaign teams will become your new best friends. They’ll prove it by never letting a moment of any campaign day slide by without reaching out to touch you in some fashion.

They’ll come to you over the phone with robo calls from the candidate, his wife, the governor, the mayor, your preacher and maybe a Hollywood star or two. Flip on your tv and they’ll blare at you with yappy ads. Go to your mailbox and there they’ll be again. You’ll be observed, polled and think-tanked to smithereens.

The reason for all this attention is simple. You can’t make up your mind.

After what seems like years of campaigning and political back and forth, you still don’t know which one of these two guys you want for your president. I’m not sure what it is about Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia that makes you so indecisive, but it does seem that this happens to you a lot.

While you folks are getting pummeled and pushed, the rest of us who live in the states that made up our collective minds a year ago will watch. We’ll see the “focus groups,” “on-the-spot-interviews” and on election day, the “exit polls” telling us minute by minute what your reactions are to each itty bitty piece of jaffe reporting and the rare actual issue that will come up.

We’ll see you become more tense;  hear your voices as they spiral higher. We’ll watch as the constant hammering from your new best friends Romney and Obama wears away your patience. We’ll listen as you sing those swing state blues.

But we know you. You will not make up your minds. When election day rolls around, you’ll surprise everyone by what you do, including, probably, yourselves.

Until that day (and may it come soon) you’ll just have to suffer your quadrennial punishment while the rest of us watch. Around my house, we’re going to lay in a store of popcorn, soft drinks and snacks so that we can kick back and have a good time at the upcoming three-month-long watch party.

As for those of you in the barrel, you are the front line of active Democracy. You know and I know that the day the election is over, your new best friends will pack up and go back to where they came from. They probably won’t even issue a good-bye robo call. The only way you’ll know they were ever there will be by the tilted campaign signs wilting in the rain and an occasional campaign mail piece hanging out the back end of a trash truck.

My advice to you is to spend the quiet of that day after the day when America chooses its next president unpacking your babies and little old ladies. You can tell them that it’s safe for them to come out now.

African American Pastors Form Group to Defend Marriage

On the eve of President Obama’s really big show in Charlotte, a group of African American pastors announced that they are forming a group to defend traditional marriage. The African American vote is crucial to the President’s re-election chances. I believe that the President will sweep the African American vote. The question is whether or not they will turn out with the same enthusiasm — and numbers — as they did four years ago.

President Obama’s announcement earlier this year that he now favors same-sex marriage and the Democratic Party’s inclusion of a plank supporting same-sex marriage in the Party platform may play a role in this situation.

What effect, if any, all of this will have on the outcome of the election remains to be seen.

New Christian group created to celebrate, defend marriage

By Michelle Bauman
William Owens, Jr., speaks about marriage during a press conference Aug. 29, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.

.- Pastors from across the country have come together to form an organization celebrating the important role of marriage and encouraging Christians to take action in support of it.

“For us to remain silent is for us to give consent to the belief that traditional marriage can be redefined,” said William Owens, Jr., founder of We Celebrate Marriage.

“This is not a time in our generation to be silent.” (Read more here.)

Public Humiliation, Forgiveness and Cardinal Cordileone

I do not drink when I know that I will have to drive later.

By that I mean I do not take a drink. Liquor does not cross my lips. I will not touch the stuff.

The reason? I don’t want to end up like Cardinal Cordileone of San Francisco.

According to an August 27 CNA article, Cardinal Cordileone was driving his mother home from dinner with friends when he was stopped in a DUI checkpoint. He was subsequently arrested for having a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.

Any arrest for driving under the influence is humiliating and expensive. For those of us who’ve never been through it, I would imagine that it’s also frightening. It would certainly scare me.

Public figures face a whole other level of humiliation and terror if they are caught drinking and driving. I am sitting here in Oklahoma. Cardinal Cordileone is over 1500 miles away in California. But I know all about his recent troubles. I know about his dinner, the drive with his mother, the DUI checkpoint and subsequent arrest. I also know that he is now issuing anguished press releases about the “disgrace” he thinks he’s brought on the Church.

Since he is a strong supporter of Church teachings on same-sex marriage, abortion and other hot-button issues, those who disagree with him may latch onto his embarrassment as a means of punishing him. He could end up drubbed and defamed from coast to coast. His only hope to slide by relatively unscathed is if other news — hurricanes and political conventions come to mind — prove more interesting.

I feel for every public figure who gets caught in one of these nasty little messes. This is partly because I know that there but for the grace of God go I. As I said, I won’t touch liquor when I know I’ll have to drive later, even if the later is hours in the future. I don’t even want to smell the stuff. But I am aware that there are plenty of other ways that I can walk out my front door and end up on the front page of the newspaper, looking like a fool, or worse. All it takes is a moment of inattentiveness and I am toast. We live in such an unforgiving world, and the media is so harsh in the way it treats people that the most innocent mistakes can and do become instruments of personal destruction.

This brings me to my second reason for feeling sympathy for those caught in these public traps. I’ve seen this kind of thing happen to enough people that I know that these mistakes and mishaps don’t reflect what kind of person they are or even how well they do their jobs.

I am sympathetic with Cardinal Cordileone. I would guess that he is telling the truth when he talks about feeling shame. I think he probably means it when he says he regrets what he sees as the disgrace he’s brought on the Church. But in truth the public facts of this situation are just not all that terrible. Having one too many at dinner with his mother and then getting caught with too much beer under his belt while driving her home is just not the worst story I’ve heard.

I know that driving drunk is dangerous. I am as aware as anyone that automobiles can inflict lethal damage. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been caught and then get the same punishment as anyone else. What I AM saying is that, in truth, nobody was hurt. He is going to pay the fine or whatever. I have a feeling that this is a lesson learned.

And he was driving his mother home from dinner.

It’s a terrible experience to have your private embarrassments become a source of public humiliation. The possibility of that happening is an omnipresent reality for public figures. Cardinal Cordileone has put the wrong foot forward in his new job, and he’s done it a very public and embarrassing way.

He says in his public penance press release that he hopes, “some good” will come out of it. Frankly, if his embarrassment does nothing more than underscore that California law is no respecter of persons, that’s quite a lot.


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