The HHS Mandate: Erasing the Bill of Rights

Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I Am Catholic, usually says it better. His post, Why the HHS Mandate is a Foul and Dangerous Thing, is no exception. It begins with a cartoon that encapsulates the whole messy mandate and its assault on our basic freedoms in a drawing. I put the cartoon below. Can anybody say it better?

Read the rest of Frank’s fine post here.

No Endorsement: Dems for Life Give Obama a Pass

Democrats for Life does not endorse Obama

BY BEN JOHNSON
Mon Oct 15, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – An organization dedicated to promoting the pro-life cause from within the Democratic ranks says it will not endorse Barack Obama for re-election as president of the United States in 2012.

“Our policy is to endorse candidates that are both pro-life and Democrat. We do not endorse Republican candidates and we do not endorse candidates who take a public position to support abortion,” Democrats for Life stated. “Since neither of the candidates meet our criteria, we will not endorse a candidate in the 2012 Presidential Race.” [sic]

Obama has been called the most pro-abortion president in history by many pro-life organizations.
DFLA also declined to endorse Barack Obama in 2008 and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in 2004.

Although there are some 21 million pro-life Democrats according to the group, and polls show a majority of Democrats support some abortion restrictions, the party has grown increasingly hostile over the last four years.

“We seem to acknowledge all the big diversity within our party, but when it comes to life, it’s awful silent,” former Congressman Bart Stupak told CBN News last week.

This spring, Democrats for Life asked the party to change its platform to recognize that Democrats hold “differing positions on issues of personal conscience, like abortion and the death penalty.”

Instead, the party adopted the most pro-abortion platform in its history, calling for taxpayer-funding of abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. (Read more here.)

Presidential Debate 2: Abortion, Planned Parenthood, HHS Mandate

President Obama raised the specter of a war on birth control during the debate last night. According to him, Governor Romney, if elected, is going to limit your access to contraceptives. This particular set of claims has become almost pro forma whenever pro abortion people debate those who are pro life. These statements are untrue. However, as with many lies that are so easily told today, they gain traction simply by virtue of being repeated again and again.

The people who keep pushing this lie base it on four assumptions, all of which are untrue.

1. They equate any opposition to unlimited funding for Planned Parenthood with a “war on birth control.”
2. They ignore the simple fact that legal access to birth control as a private matter is, as a result of a Supreme Court decision, protected by the Constitution of the United States.
3. They equate attempts to force religious institutions to pay for birth control with all legal access to contraceptives. They seem almost to be saying that if they can’t force churches to violate their teachings women will not have access to contraceptives. This is such an obvious lie, but they keep repeating it.
4. They erroneously imply that a lack of contraceptive availability is the cause of almost all abortions.

All four of these assumptions are untrue. But that doesn’t stop Planned Parenthood and its supporters from pushing them as if they were absolutely accurate at every turn.

There was no lack of this nonsense in the debate last night. I think it is ridiculous to say that Governor Romney is in any way attacking or waging war on contraceptive availability. The people who try to claim this are doing it by equating Planned Parenthood with all contraceptive availability. This is simply not true.

Yet President Obama made these same charges in the debate last night.

I could talk about many different issues which were covered in the debate, but I’m going to limit myself to this one. It is an essential point for pro-life people to understand and to be able to articulate. There are far too many people who are unaware of how inaccurate these charges are.

The following YouTube video is a good example of how this biased viewpoint can be presented in a subtle and effective fashion. It’s convincing, even though what it’s implying is not true. Have a look at it and see if you can spot the manipulations.

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Politics, Religion and Lilies That Fester

To Dolan or not to Dolan? That was the question.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan and his offer to pray the Benediction at the two political conventions were all the news a few weeks ago.

It seems that he offered to pray at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The Republicans, who are sharper tacks all around when it comes to currying religious political favor, answered with an immediate yes and then used their publicity machine to spread the word.

They made the most of the fact that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of all the bishops in these United States, was going to dip his vote-getting toe into their little pond. In their glee over what they obviously wanted to play into a de facto endorsement by the Catholic Church, they did everything but put out press releases saying, “We bagged the big guy!”

The Democrats, on the other hand, dissed the good Cardinal and his attempt at bi-partisan even-handedness by not even bothering to reply when he offered to pray the benediction at their convention. Their message, which was equally loud and clear, was “We don’t need no traditional Christians.”

It would have stayed like that if the Republican publicity machine hadn’t set off a mini-firestorm with its announcements. It looked, as the Rs intended, like Cardinal Dolan was playing favorties between the two political parties. Gloating Republicans slapped him on the metaphorical back while outraged Dems denounced him for being a partisan political hack.

Forced to defend himself, he explained that he had offered to pray at both conventions, and the Republicans had accepted his offer. The Democrats, on the other hand, had not even acknowledged it.

The officials who run the Democratic Party evidently had their heads stuck so far up their own militant secularism that it took them a couple of days to figure out that this wasn’t the big vote-getter they had originally believed. This gave time for the whole thing to become the church-state fight du jour.

Cardinal Dolan, and through him the Catholic Church, became one of the many bones of contention that allow the two political parties to chew on one another in their never-ending quest to get to 51% of the electoral vote.

After a few days of dealing with public indignation over this bit of hubris, the Ds evidently decided that maybe one itty bitty prayer wouldn’t compromise them all that much. Cardinal Dolan and his benediction were a pill they would swallow.

The two political parties want slightly different things from the Church. The Republicans want control of the Church’s moral voice so that they can use that voice to win elections. The Democrats, who have given up on using the Church’s moral voice, want to silence the Church, and, as much as possible, strip it of all its ministries.

Both parties want to bend the Church to their purpose and their will. The Republicans want to do this by patronizing the Church. The Democrats by attacking it. The result in both instances would be to slice and dice the Church down to an equally voiceless political carcass to be fed on and ignored.

That is precisely what the Rs and the Ds have done to every other denomination who has worked with either one of them. The so-called liberal Christian denominations and the so-called “evangelical” or “conservative” denominations have both carved up the Gospels to suit their politics. We expect certain denominations to give us a hatched up phony Gospel supporting corporatism, and the economic rape of the American people. We know that certain other denominations are going to come blaring in with their truncated Gospel supporting abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

We expect it. We know it’s coming. And truth be told, this weary wariness of what are obviously bogus claims to holiness on the part of these denominational-leaders-political-operatives is a big part of what is driving the ugly secularism that is developing in this country. We just don’t believe these guys are speaking for anybody but themselves.

These religious leaders have so destroyed the Gospels on which they stand in order to fit in with their political crowd that they are useless and shorn. They don’t have a moral and prophetic voice left.

The only denomination I’ve seen that has stood against this, the only voice that has refused to edit the gospels down to a political convenience in the name of getting their boy elected is the Catholic Church.

My great fear is that the pressures of fighting these fights against the out-of-control secularism and social nihilism that are tearing at our society will erode the Catholic Church’s determination to stay clear of politics and follow the Gospels. I am afraid that the Church will allow itself to become another bite of power in the maw of these two political parties. I dread the day on which the Catholic Church’s moral and prophetic voice is cast before political swine. I dread it to my core; not only for my Church, but for my country.

I hope and pray that I will never hear the American Bishops endorse a political candidate or a political party. As a Democrat, the way my party treated Cardinal Dolan disgusted me. If I had any remaining ability to be ashamed of my party, I would be ashamed of them. If I was a Republican, I would be equally ashamed of them, for different reasons.

I have seen the way that Republican office-holders treat the religious leaders who pushed to get them elected once they are in office. I have also seen those same religious leaders cow-tow to the elected officials and back down on the very moral issues that they say prompted them to be politically involved in the first place. It is an ugly and disillusioning thing to have to watch.

I don’t know how to be cynical enough about both these two political parties. I try, but my cynicism just can’t keep up with them.

I am not cynical about my Church. I go to mass and touch Jesus in the Eucharist and I am healed. There’s no way to be cynical about that.

I understand that the bishops are trying their best to defend the Church in what is an unprecedented attack in the HHS Mandate. I understand how grave this is. I also know, sadly, that both parties want the Mandate, each for their own reasons.

The Mandate helped the Republicans bag the big guy. It is probably why more and more Catholics are switching from Democrat to Republican. I think it is why the Democrats rudely ignored Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s generous offer to pray at their convention. Both parties are playing to their base, and right now their lead violin is the Catholic Church.

The only church that the politicians I know still respect at all is the Catholic Church. I think there are two reasons for this. First, the Catholic Church is big. It represents millions of votes. Second, neither party has succeeded in getting the Church to edit the Gospels to suit their politics. The Catholic Church still calls both parties to task when they violate the teachings of Christ. The same Pope who refuses to bend the Church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on the sanctity of human life also refuses to support neo-con goals of corporate dominance and the endless wars of empire. I don’t know of any other church that does this.

There’s an old saying in politics; keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The Church is the enemy of both the Democrats and the Republicans for the simple reason that it has, at least until now, refused to be co-opted by either of them. Politicians want to control, to co-opt groups and organizations and turn their purposes to the politician’s use. That is what the Republicans have succeeded in doing with a large number of denominations and what they are currently trying to do with the Catholic Church.

If they can’t control and co-opt, then politicians try to strip the person or group of power and influence so that they can’t give them any trouble in the future. It’s the classic “you’re either with me or against me” scenario played out in terms of budget items, regulations and laws. That is what the Democrats are trying to do to the Catholic Church right now. They have, as their Republican counter-parts have, managed to co-opt a large number of denominations; to get them to interpret the Gospels in ways that favor Democratic party goals. But they’ve given up on ever being able to turn the Catholic Church to their purposes.

Enter the HHS Mandate, the refusals to give grants to Church organizations who won’t refer for abortion and all the other ugliness we’ve seen and will continue to see.

The bottom line here is that neither political party is anybody’s friend. Nobody’s. Not yours. Not mine. And certainly not any church that preaches and teaches the Gospels of Christ.

Do we need the Church to step up and be the prophetic voice of God in our society? Oh my, yes we do. We need them more now than ever before.

But the very fact that we need them so badly is a reflection of what choppy water they are going to encounter as they do this. Our culture is trapped in a downward spiral. It is disassembling itself morally, spiritually and economically. Only the truth of the Gospels can equip the American people to save themselves from themselves. We need revival, but we will never get it from anyone less than a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Politics and politicians have to be engaged. We live in a democracy, which makes involvement in politics our duty as well as our right. But our god must be God, not our political parties.

Too many good people have been led astray  by bad shepherds who have taken the R or the D for their god, and have taught us to do the same. These religious leaders have become false prophets and failed shepherds who lead the flock astray. They are like Shakespeare’s lilies, who, when they fester, stink far worse than weeds. One failed religious leader does more damage than many militant secularists.

My humble suggestions to the bishops, and any other religious leader who is thinking about involving themselves in politics, are these:

1. Never, never, never compromise the Gospels of Christ for any political party. Call the Republicans out on their economic policies and blast away at the Democrats for their attacks on the sanctity of human life and marriage. Don’t compromise the gospels for these birds. Please.

2. Be prepared to be disliked, pandered to and, if the pandering fails, accused and abused. The world does not like real Christians. It never has.

3. Let the laity be the ones to slug it out in the political trenches, but arm us with good teaching and absolute fidelity to Christ so that we may do it well. Teach us. Lead us. Inspire us.

The Catholic Church is the only effective moral and prophetic voice left in this country. My plea to Cardinal Dolan and all the bishops is please, don’t allow my Church to become another religious political pawn.

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David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO, Explains HHS Lawsuit

David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, issued a statement yesterday concerning the lawsuit Hobby Lobby, Inc filed against the HHS Mandate. I thought you might find it edifying to read. The source for this article is Charisma News. Check it out for similar stories.

Hobby Lobby CEO: Christian Companies Can’t

Bow to Sinful Mandate

David Green
David and Barbara Green

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s Word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80 percent above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right.

I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief. So, Hobby Lobby—and my family—are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American—and no American business—should have to make.

David Green is the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores.

 

But Leave it There

I respected the woman speaking to me. She and I had the same background, shared most of the same beliefs. But we were at odds that day. She looked at me with the hot-eyed stare of a person who is not to be reasoned with and pointed her finger at me to emphasize her words.

“You can go to church as much as you want,” she said, “but leave it there.”

She was angry with me because I had passed a bill that, among other things, required unemancipated minors to either get parental consent or a judicial bypass before elective abortions.

The abortion wars destroy friendships in politics, and my friendship with this lady was ending over this bill. I could have said a lot of things to her that day, but I sensed some deep wound driving her anger, and I didn’t want to hurt her. So, I held my tongue. I knew as I walked away that this woman who had been my friend was now my enemy.

I also knew that her request that I leave my faith in the church pews was both arrogant and common. Accusations that people who believe in the sanctity of human life are trying to “legislate their religion,” or that they want to “build a theocracy” are standard commentary from the other side of the debate.

I try my best to never reply in kind. I don’t call people who favor legal abortion names. I don’t attack them for slips of the tongue or research their personal lives looking for sexual peccadilloes, embarrassing photos from long-past fraternity parties or ugly divorce testimony.

I do all I can to let them have the low road if they want it so much and keep my focus on the one thing I care about in all this, which is my simple belief that it is wrong to kill people. I won’t use my job to kill people. And I won’t help anyone else kill them, either. I know that sounds almost comically simple. But adhering to it in a legislative environment can get you cursed, reviled, slandered, picketed and, yes, advised to leave your faith at church.

I’ve been getting these demands that I be a sham Christian for years. Go to church all you want. We don’t care. But leave it there. The people who say this are usually in a froth of self-righteousness when they do it. They can look at you with such hatred that it almost scorches your skin. And they almost always toss in a canard about “separation of church and state” to give dignity to what is in reality an outrageous thing to say.

It’s ironic. People are always accusing politicians of being hypocrites, but in this instance we have a large segment of the population actually demanding it of them.

“Go to church all you want, but leave it there” has nothing at all to do with separation of church and state. There is nothing in the First Amendment that says that elected officials may not reference their personal religious and moral beliefs in the decisions they must make.

I don’t believe this lady was worried about separation of church and state. I think she wanted me to live and vote according to her beliefs rather than my own. That’s the core of these attacks. It’s that you’re not doing what they want you to, and attacking you with bogus nonsense about separation of church and state and building a theocracy sounds better than just pitching a fit and saying “Do what I tell you or else!”

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning has advanced far beyond me and what an angry lady said to me in the hallway outside the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Today we have the Health and Human Services Department of the United States Government telling the largest religious denomination in America virtually the same thing and backing it up with what amounts to a draconian threat.

Teach what you want from the pulpit they tell the Church. But if you don’t bend to the government and violate those same teachings in your institutions, we will fine and penalize you out of business. That’s the gist of the HHS Mandate compelling the Catholic Church to provide insurance coverage for birth control and abortifacients for the employees of its institutions.

What it all comes down to is that the Federal Government is telling the Catholic Church “Say mass as much as you want. But leave it there.”

And, yes, this time it really is a violation of separation of church and state.

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Part 8. Hate-Voting = Using the Devil’s Weapons Instead of the Armor of God.

Hate-voting for Christ is an oxymoron if there ever was one.

Hate-voting is the fine art of defaming the people you disagree with in order to punish, diminish and hurt them. Hate-voting destroys your Christian witness. When you say you are a Christian, other people will judge Jesus by you. When you spout a steady stream of invective aimed at people you disagree with politically, you are telling the world that following Jesus means being full of hate, rage and engaging in slander.

Hate-voting destroys your witness for Christ. It also separates you from Him in your heart.

I have no right to attack other people in the name of Christ and neither do you. As the bumper sticker says, we aren’t perfect; we’re forgiven. Stop for a moment. Think honestly about your own sins. You deserve to go to hell. So do I. We are saved, by the horrible price of the cross, from getting what we deserve. We owe a debt we can never repay. We who have been forgiven so much, do not have the right … we don’t have the right … to put ourselves in the place of AlmightyGod and viciously attack other people made in His Image.

It’s not all our fault. We’ve been deliberately manipulated into hate-voting by political pros who make extraordinary amounts of money for getting us revved up and full of hate. Remember the first equation: Your Vote = Their Power? That’s what this expensive manipulation of little ole’ us is about.

Political demagogues abound in our world. They mouth hatred at us from their “news” desks in the corporate press. Faux religious leaders, bent on gaining political patronage, follow suit, declaiming slander from their pulpits. Over in the cheap seats, bloggers chime in by passing along scandalous lies and making up a few of their own.

The political candidates themselves wage campaign battles focused on personal attack and talking about the other guy. We almost never hear one of them talk about what they would do with the power of government if we gave it to them. Even when they do, they confine their discussion of “the issues” to bullet points and bumper-sticker-speak. Both sides do it. Every election.

So, hating isn’t 100% our fault. Anyone who spends too much time listening to the loony hate-filled invective that passes for political discourse in our country today will find hate-voting hard to resist. However, no matter how much we are provoked, no matter how skillfully we are incited, each one of us is responsible for what we say and do. We’re not children. Children don’t hate-vote. Hate-voting is, by definition, the act of a legal and moral adult. I don’t think the old “the media thou gavest me” tempted me excuse will work for us any better than it did for Adam.

Hate-voting gives us the fruits of another, darker, spirit than the one we claim to follow. It’s fruits are bitterness, anxiety, self-righteousness and grandiosity.  It’s like a drug that clouds the mind, and like all mind-altering drugs, it is highly addictive. Hate-voters become addicted to the satisfying sense of power that comes from hurting other people, the grandiosity they feel from elevating the person they oppose to demonic status and then seeing their vote as a high moral drama with themselves as the hero of the story. This sense of power and grandiosity is the high of the drug hate-voting.

The search for another hate-vote fix leads people to keep on piling on the invective between elections, and then to continue hate-voting over and over, election after election. The names and faces of the candidates they oppose change, but their self-righteous certainty that this person is the devil incarnate transfers from one candidate to the next.

Hate-voting is the antithesis of how a Christian should approach their responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.

There is something evil in each of us, me included. None of us escapes original sin. We take nasty delight in repeating vile accusations. We enjoy the feeling of camaraderie that comes with being part of the crowd that hates together.

On the other hand, we do not like the aloneness of being the one who says “Wait a minute. I disagree with this person, but I don’t think he or she is a monster.”

Anyone who takes this stand will immediately find themselves on the outs with the hate-voters in their world. It is never enough for hate-voters that a person is willing to stand and fight for the issues they both believe. They will only accept people into their tribe who are willing to cast aside their thinking faculties and join them in their invective and hate. It is a tribal thing, and it has nothing, nothing, to do with Jesus Christ.

The cost of refusing to join in with the gang hate-offs that inspire hate-voting can be, will usually be, the loss of that cozy in-with-the-crowd belongingness that feels so good to most of us. Following Jesus almost always means standing for Jesus against the crowd. It just does. This is true even when the crowd in question is a group of professing Christians.

The surprising benefit to it is that refusing to hate-vote tends to clear your mind. The addiction to hate, bitterness, and slander fogs your brain. It swings the door to your heart wide open and lets the devil sashay his way in to control of your life.  From what I’ve seen, the more you focus on other people’s sins, the more you forget about your own. The more you forget about your own sins, the more self-righteous you become. The more self-righteous you become, the further away from God you move.

Refusing to hate-vote doesn’t mean you also refuse to say the truth of the situation. It doesn’t mean that you make excuses for sinful acts and give up your intellectual and moral capacities to weigh, evaluate and decide the right or wrongness of policies and behavior. It simply means that you focus on the wrong that is done, and not the person. This will make you more effective in your stand for what you believe, not less so.

The early Christians were confronted with living the Gospel in a world far more hostile and pagan than our own. It must have been tempting for them to turn to violence and terrorism. But St Paul told them to follow another way. “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil,” he said.

And what is that armor that he spoke of? Was it swords and shields and clanking breastplates? No. It is righteousness, truth, peace, faith, salvation and the Holy Spirit.

There is not one word in this about calling other people names or tearing them down to build someone else up. St Paul further said, that they — and we — are not engaged in a war against people. We are fighting “powers and principalities.”

We can not defeat the devil by using the devil’s weapons. That is why I am so emphatic that we must stop attacking persons and begin talking about the ideas and ideals that we believe. We must lay down the sword of defamation and put on the armor of God — truth, peace, faith, salvation, the Holy Spirit and true righteousness born of a humble awareness of our own sinful state.

This brings us to our final equation. It’s simple to understand and hard to accept. But if we want to live as Christians, we must make the effort.

Hate Voting = Using the Devil’s Weapons Instead of the Armor of God

Miracle Story: Fatima, Warning of Hell and Prophecy for Our Time

A photostatic copy of a page from Ilustração Portugueza, October 29, 1917

 

Yesterday was the 95th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. I’ve been to Fatima. It was an important turning point in my life that I may write about in the future.

I thought you might enjoy this video commemorating it.

Have a blessed Sunday.

 

 

 

 

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The Gift and the Miracle

“Old age is a shipwreck.”

That quote is attributed to Charles de Gaulle, John Kennedy, Orson Welles and various others. It would seem that a plethora of famous folks feel that old age and its attendant ills and declines is a misery and a curse.

I am taking care of my 87-year-old mother in the weakness of her slow going home and I have to say I disagree with these famous men. Old age is a gift. It is a tenderness and a sweetness and a time of extreme clarity and trust.

My mother was a tomboy. She climbed trees and played baseball. When she wasn’t playing sports, she was an absorbed fan, watching from the bleachers or listening to games on the radio and later watching them on tv. Now, she walks with a cane, and I have to help her up and down, in and out.

My mother loved to drive her car, insisted on owning one. She got her driver’s license, in an era when girls didn’t always get a license, the first day she was eligible and she drove herself where she wanted to go every day after that. Until the day I had to take her car keys from her so that she wouldn’t hurt herself or someone else. Now, she waits for rides and comes and goes according to other people’s schedules.

My mother lit up her first cigarette when she was 17 and smoked like a diesel for the next 70 years. Until the day the doctor told her that another cigarette might shut down her copd-afflicted lungs and I had to ban them from her existence.

My mother, who was and is my most stalwart supporter, my cheering squad, my best friend. No matter what I’ve done, both good and bad, my mother was always there to back me up, stand by me and help me out. I’ve always known, never doubted, never for a single moment considered any other possibility, that she would lay down her life for me anytime, anywhere, any hour or day that I needed it.

If I needed a heart transplant, my mother would say, “Here, take mine.” If I started robbing banks, she’d get mad at the bank.

I talked about my father in another post. My parents were insanely proud of me, totally trusting of me, and they convinced me from an early age that I could climb the Empire State Building bare-handed if I wanted to.

So, why, now that my brave tomboy mother walks with a cane and is dependent on family for all her care, do I say that old age is NOT a shipwreck?

Because, well … because it’s not. It’s a time of life; a return to innocence and trust and a laying down of responsibility and worry. My mother was always a worrier, a half-empty child of the depression who knew that every silver lining has its cloud. But she’s past that now. At some point that neither one of us noticed when it happened, she turned all her worries over to me.

The same mother I’ve trusted all my life now trusts me to care for, manage and make right all the bothersome details of her life. She trusts me the way my children trusted me when they were babies. She is so sweet, so dear, so unbelievably precious, that I could never, ever, never, regard this time of care taking and leave-taking as anything but a gift.

Is taking care of my mother while managing a demanding job a “burden?” Is it something that I resent or wish was different? Nope.

It’s a gift and a blessing. All God ever wants to do is bless us. But sometimes His blessings look different than we expect. We pray, in the words of Janis Joplin, for a Mercedes Benz. We get instead blessings of love, life and the responsibilities for one another that are part of living and loving.

Old age is not a shipwreck. It is one of the times of our lives. It is a gift of grace and beauty; a return to innocence and childlike joy for the one who is aged; a time to cherish and give back for those of us who haven’t gotten there yet.

I would not miss one day of the time I’ve spent with my mother, not from the days she took my hand and walked me safely across the street, to now, when I do the same for her.

That is the gift and the miracle of love.

The War on Girls: NYC Schools Pushing Plan B on Young Girls

In an act of disregard for the health and welfare of young girls, the New York City school system is handing out morning-after pills to girls as young as 14, sometimes before the girls have even had sex.

The morning after pill involves taking higher than normal doses of hormones, which, evidently, concerns almost no one, not even most of the girls’ parents. Parents in the NYC school system can sign an opt-out form for their daughters, but less than 2% have done so. I would imagine that part of the reason for this parental indifference is the way that “Plan B” has been pushed on our society. The risks associated with taking these hormones, especially when they are used as a form of birth control, are minimized or not discussed.

According to the Population Research Council:

At home and abroad, the abortion, family planning, and population control groups which seek to promote MAP ignore the scientifically-proven risks of levonorgestrel (the sole active ingredient of Plan B MAP). These well-documented adverse side effects include significant weight gain (on average 15 pounds), depression, ovarian cyst enlargement, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders,4increased risk of ectopic pregnancy5 and death. In some women, these serious adverse effects of levonorgestrel-type MAP could lead to further health risks for bulimia, anorexia, or clinical depression.

While these risks are multiplied with increased use, the advocates of MAP promote its increased, frequent, and repeated use. The makers of Plan-B, MAP suggest it “can be provided as frequently as needed,”6 as if it were candy or Tums. The wholesale promotion by the profiteers is undercut by solid evidence, and warnings advising women and physicians to limit usage, or to not use it at all.7 Norplant, the drug very similar to Plan B, was linked to severe medical problems which were never adequately studied or acknowledged by the FDA or the drug manufacturer (please see PRI’s Norplant information page, posted athttp://www.pop.org/main.cfm?

Also, the psychological pressure this puts young girls under to engage in sex is usually left out of the discussion. I have counseled young women in a crisis pregnancy center. I found that a lot of the young women were not engaging in sex because they enjoyed it. They said that they felt it was required of them. A lot of these girls seemed to have no idea that they could say “no.”

Plan B increases the pressure on young girls to engage in unwanted sex, since it gives boys the argument that they can always “get the morning after pill” from the school nurse. According to an article in the Sunday Times Magazine, quoted by ProLife Alliance:

A group of girls from a deprived area explained the morning after pill was just another way for men to force them into sex. The way these men see it, if there is no possibility of pregnancy, there is no reason for the woman not to have sex with them. One girl said “If you say you don’t want to have sex, they say ‘Give it up, don’t be silly, get down the clinic [to get the morning after pill].’” Another remarked that “boys push you into sex by saying you can take it the next day.”  These women believed that the morning after pill had reinforced their sexual subjection, helping men to force them into sex and placing sole responsibility for the consequences onto their shoulders.

Even affluent young women from public schools, who did not feel forced into sex, were in a less empowered position as a result of the morning after pill.  One said “It’s like it doesn’t matter how drunk you’ve been, or what happened”, because you can still take the morning after pill.  Another noted that she had taken the morning after pill “after a one-night stand where I was so drunk I couldn’t remember the next day if we had used protection.”  The morning after pill reassures them they can get so drunk they lose all memory without consequences.  But the morning after pill only protects them from pregnancy.  When they are that drunk, they are not empowered; they are often incapable of making sexual choices and open to sexual assault and other violence.

In addition to health risks from Plan B itself and the risk of being blackmailed into sex they don’t want, the morning after pill is an abortifacient. Like most of the other risks associated with this drug, the possibility of tricking a young girl into an abortion by schools who are pushing this drug on them does not seem to be addressed. In fact, the drug is touted as a panacea for avoiding abortion. According to a CNA article:

… the most recent study (2007) by Doctors Mikolajczyk and Stanford of the Department of Medicine in Public Health of the University of Bielefeld (Germany) clearly indicates that the pill’s “real effect” includes mechanisms that prevent implantation.

Published by the magazine Fertility and Sterility, the study used data from multiple clinical studies with advanced mathematical models and concluded that if emergency contraception only inhibited ovulation its true effectiveness would only be in a range of 8-49 percent.  If it acted before ovulation and if it inhibited ovulation completely, its true effectiveness would be between 16-90 percent.  The rest of the pill’s effectiveness consists in its anti-implantation mechanisms, which cause an abortion.

As usually happens in these so-called efforts at reducing teen pregnancy, the one person whose welfare is not considered is the girl, and the one person whose responsibility is not addressed is the boy. This pushing of a dangerous drug on young women at such a young age is, in my opinion, just the old sexual double standard, retro-fitted for today’s culture.

The article below discusses this in more detail.

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s a campaign believed to be unprecedented in its size and aggressiveness: New York City is dispensing the morning-after pill to girls as young as 14 at more than 50 public high schools, sometimes even before they have had sex.

The effort to combat teen pregnancy in the nation’s largest city contrasts sharply with the views of politicians and school systems in more conservative parts of the country.

Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Association in Washington, calls it “a terrible case once again of bigotry of low expectations” — presuming that teen girls will have sex anyway, and effectively endorsing that.

But some doctors say more schools should follow New York’s lead …

… New York’s program was phased in at health clinics at about 40 schools in the 1-million-student school system starting about four years ago. Since January 2011, it has expanded to 13 additional schools that don’t have clinics. The little-known program was reported on Sunday by the New York Post.

Nurse practitioners or physicians dispense the pills, and parents can sign an opt-out form preventing their daughters from taking part. Only about 1 to 2 percent of parents have opted out, according to the city Health Department. (read more here.)

Biden vs Bishops: Say It Ain’t So, Joe

WASHINGTON (RNS) In a rare public rebuke, Catholic bishops chided Vice President Joe Biden for saying during Thursday’s vice-presidential debate that Catholic hospitals and institutions will not be forced to provide contraception coverage to employees.

 

 

Without mentioning Biden by name, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the “inaccurate” statement “made during the Vice Presidential debate” was “not a fact.”

Biden and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan are both Catholic.

During Thursday’s debate, Biden said “No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”

Biden also said that there is no “assault on the Catholic Church.” Ryan responded, “Why would they keep suing you?”

More than 35 suits have been filed against the Obama administration’s plan to require employers to provide no-cost contraception coverage to employees. Religious employers like churches are exempt from those rules, while affiliated institutions – hospitals, universities and others – that serve the general public are not. (Read more here.)

 

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conservations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

Religion and Politics Go Together if We Say They Do

Every four years, pundits lard on the commentary about how “religion” is having a “big impact” on the upcoming election. Every four years.

Each time they do it, they add on other comments about how this is “unusual” or “unprecedented,” as if religion just became a guiding force in how free people make decisions a week or two earlier.

In fact, religion has always been a matter of considerable importance in American elections. I don’t think there’s anything surprising about this. In fact, I don’t see how it could be otherwise. Are we supposed to shear ourselves loose from who we are when we are confronted with a ballot? Are we supposed to ignore our deepest values in making decisions about our country?

I think that all this talk is, at best, nonsense. Of course religious belief guides people’s decisions about how they vote. Of course it matters to people whether or not a candidate for an office shares their core values. We are talking about choosing who will run our government. Our votes place enormous governing power over the lives and welfare of millions of Americans into the hands of these candidates.

Are we supposed to elect someone who doesn’t share our values? 

Should we deliberately decide to ignore the faith that guides us and the teachings that hold our lives together when it comes to deciding who we want to make key decisions for us? Why dose anyone find it surprising that “religion” plays a part in our ballot-box decisions?

We cannot see into the hearts of the people who ask us for our votes. We have to base our decisions on what they’ve done, what they say and how they hit us. Fortunately, our Constitution does not require us to explain our votes to anyone. We do not need the approval of a committee or a commission as to how we go about picking who we will support in an election.

I can vote for a candidate because she’s a woman. You can vote for a candidate because he or she is black … or white … or maybe because they are left-handed.

And yes, we can all vote for a candidate because they espouse positions on issues that we’ve decided are important to us but which other people claim we are stupid to consider. This is usually where voting for someone because of “religious” reasons comes in. If you are a strong believer in the right of workers to engage in collective bargaining and also a strong believer in the sanctity of human life, then how do you balance these two considerations in your vote?

The answer is that every single voter gets to work out conundrums like this on their own, as they please, and without being obliged to share their thinking OR their decision with anyone else. That’s the power of the secret ballot, which may be the most wonderful political invention since the idea of the vote itself.

I make it a policy not to try to tell Public Catholic readers how to vote. I also make it a policy to talk about the good and bad of candidates on both sides of these questions. My third policy is that I won’t say how I’m going to vote. My votes as a legislator are public record — as they should be. My votes at the ballot-box are those of an ordinary citizen. I vote by secret ballot.

What I will tell you is that you should never let someone else’s values be the reason for your decisions. Don’t let pundits persuade you that there is any wrong criteria you can use as a basis for deciding how to vote. It’s YOUR vote. It belongs to YOU. You can vote how you want, for whom you want, for any reason that works for you.

Now, go out there and think it through. If you should feel like praying about your vote and asking God for guidance, that, my friend, is your right. Use it any time you want.

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conservations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

VP Debate: President Attended Moderator’s Wedding.

President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review.

After TheDC made preliminary inquiries Monday to confirm Obama’s attendance at the wedding, ABC leaked a pre-emptive statement to news outlets including Politico and The Daily Beast Tuesday, revealing what may have been internal network pressure felt just days before Raddatz was scheduled to moderate the one and only vice-presidential debate Thursday night.

Both Politico and The Daily Beast jumped to ABC and Raddatz’s defense. The Huffington Post, a liberal news outlet, joined them shortly thereafter, while calling “unusual” ABC’s attempt to kill the story before it gained wide circulation.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/10/abc-news-scrambles-to-cover-up-barack-obamas-attendance-at-vp-debate-moderators-wedding/#ixzz29DDpXFjB

Christian Persecution: Proposed French Gay Marriage Law Tramples Freedom of Conscience

Critics fear that a proposed French law that would institute same-sex marriage would also interfere with the rights of conscience of individual citizens.

A LifeSiteNews article says,

There will be no allowances made for conscientious or religious objection in upcoming French legislation instituting “gay marriage,” the French minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira, revealed in an interview today …”
She further acknowledged that ‘the proposed law is described as “a social and political revolution.

Holland is planning to introduce similar legislation in early 2013.

More details from the LifeSiteNew article below :

PARIS, September 12, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – There will be no allowances made for conscientious or religious objection in upcoming French legislation instituting “gay marriage,” the French minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira, revealed in an interview today.

Speaking to the mainstream Catholic daily La Croix, Taubira gave the broad outlines of the same-sex “marriage” bill to be presented by the government by the end of October. That Taubira chose the quasi-official newspaper of the French Catholic bishops conference is being seen as a strategic move to head off Catholic and other religious objections.

She acknowledged in the interview that the change would constitute a “societal and legal revolution.”

The socialist Hollande government, elected in May, is wasting no time fulfilling its promise to bring the legislation forward. Most observers expected that the bill would not be introduced before the beginning of 2013, allowing the defenders of traditional marriage some time to organize their response after the politically sluggish summer months.

Taubira said that the bill will legalize same-sex “marriage” and adoption by homosexual “spouses,” giving them most of the same legal rights and obligations attached to marriage. It does not include, however, access to artificial procreation, including artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. Neither does it legalize surrogate motherhood.

Also, the legal “presumption of fatherhood” in which the law designates the husband in a marriage as the legal father of any child born to the couple, would not be applied to homosexual partners. In a same-sex “marriage,” one partner would have to adopt the biological child of the other to obtain parental rights.

Click “like” if you want to defend true marriage.

Some believe that the restrictions are intended to lessen opposition to the bill among traditionalists in parliament and the concessions may indicate that support for the scheme is less enthusiastic than expected, even among socialist members. It is thought likely that any restrictions included in the bill will be overturned later by the European Court of Human Rights.

In a decision involving a French lesbian wanting to adopt the child of her partner in a civil union, Gas v. France, the ECHR affirmed in March of this year that France had the right to deny the adoption in the interest of the child as long as homosexual couples had the same rights as heterosexual couples in the same legal situation. Once complete marriage equivalence is established, this situation would no longer apply. In addition, where heterosexual couples have access to artificial procreation and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, it will be argued that homosexuals cannot be excluded.

Christiane Taubira told La Croix that “discussions” have started with proponents and opponents of the bill. Included in these, she said, are several representatives of the association of 36,000 French mayors who officiate at civil marriage ceremonies. But these discussions will not change the government’s stance, Taubira said.

“We are in a state of law; the civil code will be modified, it will be imperative for everyone, including mayors.”

Resistance to the bill will also be hampered by the country’s hate crime laws which have been broadened to include “discrimination” on the grounds of sex and “sexual orientation” and “sexual identity.”

The goal of instituting “same-sex marriage” is rooted in the Left’s ideological notion of “absolute equality” in all matters, a cornerstone of socialist political theory. For this reason, it is believed that the current French government will in reality tolerate no opposition to the bill. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Canada and Catholic Schools

Deacon Greg Kandra, who blogs at The Deacon’s Bench, just published a post titled Canadian official: Catholic schools cannot teach that abortion is wrong.

The post reads in part:

Details from the web site New American:
The Education Minister of Ontario, Canada — a professing Catholic who sends her children to Catholic schools — declared October 10 that the province’s publicly funded Catholic schools may not teach students that abortion is wrong because such teaching amounts to “misogyny,” which is prohibited in schools under a controversial anti-bullying law.
“Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take,” Laurel Broten said during a press conference.
“Bill 13,” she asserted, “is about tackling misogyny.”
Passed in June, Bill 13 requires schools to provide “a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting, regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.” The law specifically mandates that schools — Catholic schools included — establish “gay-straight alliance” organizations. Now, it seems, it will also be used to infringe even further on religious freedom by prohibiting Catholic schools from teaching that abortion is sinful.(Read more here.)

Freedom From Religion Foundation Takes On Texas Cheerleaders

I just love it when militant secularists pick the wrong opponent. Anyone dumb enough to take on a group of Texas cheerleaders deserves the ensuing fight.

According to an ABC News story, a cheerleading squad at Kountze High School, near Beaumont Texas, were in the habit of holding up banners with Bible verses painted on them at football games.

Enter the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison Wisconsin. These folks, with their extraordinary sensitivities, were evidently so outraged at the thought of high school banners 1200 miles away that they felt compelled fire off one of their threatening phone calls to the Beaumont school superintendent.

The superintendent then forced the cheerleaders to stop holding up the banners.

Presumably, this allowed the outraged Wisconsin Freedom From Religion people to go back to sleeping at night, assured that they had stamped out the great banner threat to their goal of ending freedom of speech when they don’t like what’s being said. But they didn’t reckon with who they were dealing with. Evidently cheerleaders in Wisconsin are made of different stuff than they are in Texas. If the FFR people had asked me, I could have told them they were in for a fight.

You don’t mess with Texas.

You really don’t mess with Texas cheerleaders.

The cheerleaders are going to court. The ABC News article says in part:

Texas Cheerleaders Fight Back Over Bible Verses
Ryan Owens (“ABC News,” October 4, 2012)

Cheerleaders in a small East Texas town that worships two things — God and football — are now fighting back after the Bible verses they painted on banners to display at games were banned.

The cheerleading squad at Kountze High School, just north of Beaumont, Texas, would show their support for the team, and also display their religious beliefs, by painting Bible verses on the banners players run through before every game.

“We just wanted to encourage the boys,” one cheerleader said.

The banners apparently offended someone, though, and that unidentified person complained to an atheist group, which argued that the Bible banners amount to a public school’s advocating a particular religion, which is unconstitutional.

“This is not a Christian school and they cannot misuse their authority,” Annie-Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, said.

Ultimately, school superintendent Kevin Weldon forced the cheerleaders to stop using scripture on the banners.

That was when the squad members put down their pompoms and picked up the phone, calling attorney David Starnes, who argues that the banners are not school sponsored.

“It was student led … student initiated,” Starnes said.(Read more here.)

The Debate: What Do You Think?


I didn’t feel up to watching the debate last night.

For those of you who are in the same boat, or if you just to see it again, go to 2012 Election Central.

According to a CNN poll, the debate was a tie.

Who do you think won last night? Biden or Ryan? Which Catholic boy came out on top?

Pulpit Freedom Sunday: They Preached. They Endorsed. Did They Break the Law?

Despite 60,000 letters from Americans United for Separation of church and State, some 1,500 pastors of various denominations took to the pulpit to endorse political candidates last Sunday.

This action is not only controversial in the nation as a whole, clergy are divided about it, as well.

At the very least, Pulpit Freedom Sunday raises the question of whether or not the government can limit critics from having their say from the pulpit. A Baptist Press article about Pulpit Freedom Sunday says in part:

Charlotte, USA – Baptist Pastor Mark Harris stood before his flock in North Carolina on Sunday and joined hundreds of other U.S. religious leaders in deliberately breaking the law in an election-year campaign that tests the role of churches in politics.

By publicly backing candidates for political office from the pulpit, Harris and nearly 1,500 other preachers at services across the United States were flouting a law they see as an incursion on freedom of religion and speech.

Under the U.S. tax code, non-profit organizations such as churches may express views on any issue, but they jeopardize their favorable tax-exempt status if they speak for or against any political candidate.

“Pulpit Freedom Sunday” has been staged annually since 2008 by a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom. Its aim is to provoke a challenge from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in order to file a lawsuit and have its argument out in court.

The event has grown steadily in size, but the IRS has yet to respond – even though the pastors tape their sermons and mail them to the agency.

Now in an election year, where a few swing states – including North Carolina – will be crucial, political analysts say pastors campaigning from the pulpit could have an impact.

Critics say the movement threatens the U.S. constitutional principle of separation of church and state and makes pastors look like political operatives rather than neutral spiritual leaders.

“When the church further divides the country, where’s the win in that?” asked Reverend C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, and an opponent of “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

In his sermon at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, Harris endorsed a Republican candidate for the state’s Supreme Court, but did not specifically takes sides in the Nov. 6 contest for the White House between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“I don’t feel I’m breaking the law,” Harris said before addressing a congregation of almost 1,000. “I am speaking as a pastor and as a citizen of the United States where we have that freedom of speech.” (Read more here.)


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