Sebelius Says Government Will Enforce HHS Mandate Aug 1

Now, here’s a surprise.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the agency will go ahead with enforcement of the HHS Mandate on August 1.

Sebelius, more than any other government official, is responsible for this broadside against religious freedom. The hand-picked committee that wrote this regulation operated under her agency’s control. That is not to gainsay that President Obama signed it and has backed it to the max, despite promises he made to pro life Democratic members of Congress.

The Affordable Health Care Act, often called Obamacare, includes provisions for freedom of conscience and religious exemptions. The President also made public promises to Democratic Congressmen, primarily Congressman Bart Stupak, on this issue. The President was forced to do this in order to pass the Affordable Health Care Act. Former Congressman Stupak signed a letter in opposition to the HHS Mandate in which he referred to these promises and said that the President had failed to live up to them.

The Affordable Health Care Act included provisions that the Health and Human Services Department would promulgate rules and regulations to enforce the law. The committee charged with this came up with the HHS Mandate, which broke the President’s word and created what seems to be an on-going attack on religious liberty in America. Membership of this committee contained a heavy component of Planned Parenthood and abortion advocates.

Secretary Sebelius is the former Governor of Kansas. During her tenure as governor, she went so far as to use her power as the state’s highest elected official to publicly campaign against and defeat pro life Democratic state Senator Mark Gilstrap, presumably for opposing her on the issue of abortion. She also received and accepted large campaign donations from Dr George Tiller, the controversial doctor who was infamous for performing late-term abortions in Wichita, Kansas. Dr Tiller was murdered in 2009.

All this is to say that the HHS Mandate is not, as its supporters like to claim, a law. It is a regulation written by a committee of unelected, hand-picked abortion supporters many of whom were financially connected to organizations that will benefit from the mandate. As such, it has very little to do with “women’s health” or access to birth control, and a great deal to do with using the power of government to attack and, if possible, destroy, organizations that these groups such as Planned Parenthood see as their political opponents.

That committee was not a balanced and reasonable group of citizens working in good faith. It was a hanging jury designed to use the Affordable Health Care Act to promote the viewpoint of a few organizations and one side of the culture wars.

An article from The Washington Times concerning Sebelius’ plans to implement the HHS Mandate August 1, says in part:

President Obama’s top health official said Monday the administration will finalize its new rules granting free birth control, saying the controversial policy will go into effect in August.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius‘ comments came the same day that the public comment period for the contraception mandate ended, and even as a bevy of nonprofit groups and companies are fighting in court to overturn it.

“As of Aug. 1, 2013, every employee who doesn’t work directly for a church or a diocese will be included in the benefit package,” Mrs. Sebelius said at a forum moderated by Reuters that was held at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/8/free-birth-control-rules-to-be-finalized/#ixzz2Q3mvFX4S
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

 

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Gendercide in India

Gendercide.

Sex-selected abortion.

The “problem” is as old as misogyny, which is to say, it goes back to the day we were cast out of the garden. Baby boys are wanted all over the world, baby girls, not so much.

Christianity has always stood against killing babies. It has always opposed taking the life of any innocent person, including that most innocent of persons, the baby in the womb. There are no exceptions in Christianity which allow people to kill their baby girls, either born or unborn. Killing a baby girl is murder. Murder is a mortal sin. Unrepented and unforgiven, murdering a baby girl will send you to hell for eternity.

I am deliberately using stark language because I think we dress things up a bit too much sometimes. In our zeal to keep the peace and not offend, we weaken the message until it loses its meaning.

Gendercide is just a fancy way of saying mass murder of baby girls by means of abortion. Sex-selected abortion is just another way of saying misogyny. It is blood-soaked sin that will send everyone involved straight to eternal hell.

India is one of the places where sex-selected abortion has become a means of satisfying the demand for boys. China is another such place. Explanations focus on dowries, care for elderly parents and the religious rites that only a son can perform.

It will interesting to see what effect the persecuted, but growing, Christian population of India will have on this situation over time. Among other things, I imagine that they will be the ones who end up having enough girls to sustain their culture.

The following video discusses the murder of India’s daughters by their own parents with what must, as a practical necessity, be the  collusion of much of the rest of Indian society.

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We’ve Got Snonadoes in Oklahoma

The thunder woke me up.

Roads in Western Oklahoma have an inch or so of wet, slicky ice. We’ve got power outages, freezing rain and sleet. The leading edge of this is thunder-boomers with hail, winds, driving rain, and of course (this is Oklahoma) the threat of tornadoes.

Snonadoes.

Yesterday and the day before I ran the air conditioner.

Now, we’ve got snonadoes.

This isn’t all that unusual around here. It doesn’t happen every day. But it does happen. The basic rule is that water coming down from the skies is always accompanied by at least the threat of tornadoes. You can’t have a good cry in Oklahoma without spinning up a twister.

I’ve turned off my computer, flipped the air conditioner over to heater and checked the weather reports. Now, I’m going back to bed. I imagine that by the time I get up, it will be all better. If it’s not, I may have to mush to work.

 

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Abortion is Everything. Women — or At Least Baby Women — Are Nothing.

Oklahoma passed a law against sex-selected abortions, a few years back. 

When we did, the bill was opposed by … “pro choice” advocates claiming they speak for “women’s rights,” including, of course, representatives from Planned Parenthood. 

Imagine my lack of surprise when I learned that Planned Parenthood is, once again, opposing a bill that is against sex selected abortions. I would guess that you know this, but in case you don’t, misogyny has long included a willingness to kill baby girls. In the days before Christ, it was a commonplace in much of the world to “expose” baby girls. What that means, basically, is toss them out and let them die from exposure, hunger, thirst, wild animals, etc.

Christians, with their stubborn insistence on the worth of every human being, ended this by the simple facility of refusing to do it themselves, going out and rescuing these little girls and raising them, and, of course, by condemning the practice in a manner that today would be called “judging.” It took time, but the practice of dumping baby girls along with the household refuse stopped. This has been true everywhere Christianity is embraced.

It’s taken two long millennia, but the practice of baby girl killing is rearing its ugly head once again in the so-called Christian world. The manner and means of accomplishing this slaughter is two-fold: Identifying that an unborn baby is, in fact, a girl, and then performing an abortion to do way with her.

This practice is called sex-selected abortion, or gendercide, and it is so widespread in places like India and China that it has unbalanced the population ratio, leading to a shortage of young women to be brides. Misogyny is such a stubborn evil that, instead of making these cultures value baby girls more and stop killing them, this shortage of girls has led to kidnappings, forced marriages and families of brothers “sharing” one wife.

What does this have to do with the United States and Planned Parenthood? Just this. Birth ratios in certain ethnic groups are becoming out of whack here in much the same way they have in other parts of the world. This leads to the conclusion that sex-selected abortion is probably being used on baby girls in those populations. Planned Parenthood clinic workers have been videoed by Live Action helping women arrange to abort a baby because it is a girl.

At the same time, Planned Parenthood and “pro choice” activists always seem to show up to oppose legislation to that would make sex-selected abortion illegal.

A case in point is a current piece of legislation in Florida. That’s the same Florida which is considering a bill to require that babies who survive an abortion be given medical care and not just killed; the same Florida where the Planned Parenthood lobbyist famously spoke against this local Infant Born Alive act.

The short title to the legislation is here. For those of you who don’t want to traipse over to look at it on another web site, here is what it says:

 

SB 1072: Termination of Pregnancy Based on Sex or Race of the Unborn Child

GENERAL BILL by Evers

Termination of Pregnancy Based on Sex or Race of the Unborn Child; Citing this act as the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”; prohibiting performing, inducing, or actively participating in a termination of pregnancy knowing that it is sought based on the sex or race of the child or the race of a parent of that child, using force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection or race-selection termination of pregnancy, and soliciting or accepting moneys to finance a sex-selection or race-selection termination of pregnancy; providing criminal penalties, etc.

 

Planned Parenthood tried to play coy about its opposition to this bill. They always do. Here in Oklahoma, they said they opposed the bill because it was “unnecessary.” It Florida, they say the bill is “harmful.” They layered on a bit of what Planned Parenthood is always about in Florida by adding that instead of “wasting time” on “harmful” bills like legislation that would end sex-selected abortion, Florida lawmakers should focus on “expanding health care.”

I personally think that anytime Planned Parenthood talks about “reproductive health” they mean abortion. I also think that anytime they talk about funding for “health care” or expanding “health care,” they mean more money for Planned Parenthood. 

So, I see their alert on Florida’s bill to ban sex and race selected abortions as a one-two punch for Planned Parenthood. Tell legislators to kill this ‘harmful’ bill, they say, and at the same time, encourage them to give Planned Parenthood more money.

The bottom line here is that abortion is more important than women’s lives to these folks. The only way around that conclusion is if you perform whatever moral lobotomy on yourself it takes to believe that killing baby girls before they are born simply because they are baby girls is somehow or other a good thing. You then have to take it a step further and convince yourself that ending this egregious practice is “harmful.”

The question I wanted to ask when I read this legislative alert was “Harmful to whom?” Who does it harm to make it a crime to abort a baby girl just because she’s a baby girl? It seems to me that the “harm” is all on the other side of this equation. 

In addition to the alert, I’m going to put an oldie but a baddie down below. Here is a video of a Planned Parenthood worker advising a young woman as to how to go about obtaining an abortion just to “get rid of” a baby girl. 

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Over 85,000 File Comments on HHS Mandate

Americans have the right to petition their government.

Eighty-five thousand of us took advantage of that right by commenting on the latest version of the HHS Mandate. This isn’t the first go-round of this process where the mandate is concerned. Back in August 2011 when the initial rule was issued, 147,000 commenters, most of them again the Mandate, filed comments.

It is mind boggling how much political capital the Obama administration has expended on this outrageous attempt to subvert the First Amendment. One of the many things that amazes me is the President’s willingness to play games with the American people by misrepresenting the issue and deliberately deepening the divides of the culture wars that are damaging us as a society. His allegiance to Planned Parenthood evidently knows no bounds.

If there’s one thing I know about politics, it’s that you don’t quit until the fight is over. This fight won’t be over until we have preserved the right to religious freedom for all Americans.

This article from the National Catholic Register gives a run-down of the history of this fight so far.

WASHINGTON — More than 85,000 parties have filed comments ahead of today’s 11:59pm Eastern time deadline to respond to the federal government about the latest version of its mandate that forces employers to provide contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization in their employee health-insurance plans.

“There is still a lot of energy behind this in the Catholic community,” said Anthony Picarello Jr., associate general secretary and general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which urged Catholics and people of good will to submit their comments with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

More than 147,000 comments — most critical of the mandate — were previously filed when the government’s initial rule was issued in August 2011 and when the Obama administration proposed its first accommodation in February 2012.

The bishops’ March 20 report said last year’s proposed accommodation was inadequate and that the administration’s latest version of the mandate still violates religious liberty and conscience rights.

The USCCB filed its 26-page comment with HHS on March 20. The report said the mandate was virtually unchanged and that its religious “exemption“ still excludes most religious organizations and does not remove the burden on religious freedom.

EWTN’s Response

The Eternal Word Television Network also filed a comment, asserting that the government’s proposed rule does not permit anyone other than a church to be exempt from the mandate, noting that religious beliefs and conscience objections are held by people and organizations that are not churches.

The government is essentially forcing EWTN — which owns the Register — and other objecting parties to call contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing pills “good” and to pay for them, without deductibles or co-pays by employees, says the filing, which was signed by EWTN President and CEO Michael Warsaw and General Counsel John Manos.

EWTN’s comment says, “At the heart of this dispute is whether EWTN or persons with similar beliefs must use their bodies and money to support this erroneous belief under government force. The Constitution restrains the government from forcing its beliefs on individuals, particularly any religious belief.”

“Yet this mandate persists to force EWTN and others to part with money and their health under threat of government force,” the filing adds. “Thus this fight is not about providing health care; it is about an erroneous belief, which the government accepts as a foregone conclusion, that contraceptives, voluntary sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs are health care. EWTN refuses, by exercising the rights guaranteed to it by the same government, to swallow this error and merely ‘go along.’”

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/tens-of-thousands-beat-deadline-to-protest-hhs-mandate?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-04-8%2023:11:01#ixzz2PyzUbEtA

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Shark Jumping Planned Parenthood Lobbyist was on Local Catholic Charities Board of Directors

This is the kind of story that makes me wish I had a biting stick.

It turns out that the Planned Parenthood lobbyist who basically Ok’d letting babies who survive abortions die rather than receive medical care is not, as appearances would lead one to believe, a neophyte amateur. She’s a professional lobbyist and president of the firm, Snow Strategies.  I made a copy of the relevant page from her web site because these things have a habit of going down at times like this.

It’s interesting that she’s considered a professional lobbyist.  It makes me wonder what they feed their professional lobbyists in Florida to get such a poor crop. However the thing that has me reaching for a biting stick is down the page on Mrs Snow’s list of credits. I’m talking about the fifth paragraph where it says

… and serves on the board of Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida-Tallahassee. 

So, this shark-jumping Planned Parenthood lobbyist is also on the board of directors of the local Catholic Charities?

Bleck. Yeck. Yuck. Phooey.

Or as Shirley Temple used to say, “oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness.”

What is going on here? There’s no doubt that Planned Parenthood got Mrs Snow’s total loyalty where this piece of legislation is concerned. She may be an inept lobbyist who accidentally hung her client and herself out to dry, but there’s no question of that old bugaboo “Catholic morality” being imposed on anybody — including herself — because of her actions.

Deacon Greg Kandra called the Catholic Charities in question and they confirmed that Mrs Snow had been on their board, but left in January. This raises all sorts of potential scenarios, including that she left because of her work with Planned Parenthood.

I checked, and Planned Parenthood did not list her as their lobbyist in 2012. However, they do list her in 2013. I do not know if other people in her firm lobbied for Planned Parenthood in previous years, since the listings are by the lobbyist’s name and not lobbying firm. But it sounds as if Planned Parenthood might be a new client for her.

One thing the listings did show is that Mrs Snow’s firm has a large number of clients. Here in Oklahoma, we call lobbyists like these “hired guns” because they advocate for anybody with the doh-reh-mee.

It looks like this lady moved from Catholic Charities to Planned Parenthood with little or no time gap between. She held two positions, two high-profile and responsible positions, in opposing armies of the culture wars. She had a high-powered position of trust, one which assumes loyalty, on each side of the abortion debate, both within what can not be more than a matter of weeks of one another. How does anyone go from the board of directors of Catholic Charities (which is listed on her web site as a current position) to lobbyist for Planned Parenthood in one quick step?

I made a big transition like this, only I went in the opposite direction. It took me years before I was ready to go public with it. How does anyone cross over such a deep divide in a matter of days?

I’m asking questions I can’t answer about something I cannot fathom, and that is the mind and heart of another person. All I know is that this story doesn’t make sense to me. Stay tuned. I have a feeling there’s more to come.

In the meantime, I’m going to give you another look at Alisa LaPolt Snow, former board member of Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida-Tallahassee, lobbying her little heart out for Planned Parenthood.

Bleck. Yeck. Yuck. Phooey.

 

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Buckle Your Seat Belt. It May be a Bumpy Ride.

The Patheos Plumbers (IT people) are going to overhaul the inner workings of Public Catholic.

I’ve been told that comments may vanish and then come back. I don’t know what else will happen.

Just bear with us. Things will be all better (much better, in fact) once they finish.

 

NOTE: I’ve learned that Public Catholic will get the overhaul this weekend. When it happens, comments may blink on and off, but it will be temporary.

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Abby Johnson Speaks to Abortion Workers

Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinic director, speaks from her heart to abortion workers in this video.

I understand how she feels. No one could be more pro choice that I was at one time. God rescued me and forgave me. Once I realized the full horror of what I had done, the hardest part was forgiving myself and accepting God’s forgiveness. I finally came to the realization that I had to let go of it because doing anything else would be refusing God’s forgiveness; it would be a way of saying that my sins were greater than His love, which is a lie.

However, I have never lost the awareness of myself as a sinner saved by unmerited grace. I also still feel sadness over the people I know who are still in that place where I was. I once told a group of people I was speaking to that it was like being in a terrible car wreck and by a miracle getting out of it unscratched but being unable to go on and forget it because I knew that there were still people trapped inside.

Abby Johnson’s love and concern for those people who are still trapped inside the abortion industry is apparent in this video.

I am posting it here in the prayerful hope that it will touch the life some abortion worker who might see it and be changed by it.

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Pope Francis and the Orthodox: We are going to Be a Christian Family

This interview with the Metropolitan Tarasios Primate of the Greek Orthodox of South America. The interview sheds light on Pope Francis, as well as the gracious personality of the Primate himself.

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Popes Benedict and Francis: Differences in Style, Continuity in Teachings and Faith

Pope Francis is an outgoing informal man, while Pope Emeritus Benedict is shy and introverted. But don’t let those differences in style confuse you. Both are holy men of fidelity to the truth of our Catholic faith. To learn more, watch the video below.

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Video: March for Marriage

This is the story you didn’t see: The positive story of the March for Marriage in Washington, DC

 

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Catholic Teaching on Marriage: The Good of Families is About the Good of Society

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is the of San Francisco is chairman of the US Bishops’ Subcommittee for the promotion and defense of marriage. He spoke to Catholic News Service about Catholic teachings on marriage. Here is what he had to say.

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My New Hero: Former Pro Life Democratic Congressman to be Ordained Deacon

Deacon Greg Kandra always has the story, and this is no exception. He has also introduced me to someone who is my new hero.

Mike Forbes is a soon-to-be newly ordained Deacon. On April 13, Bishop Joe Vasquez, bishop of the Diocese of Austin, will ordain 11 new deacons, including Mr Forbes.

A former member of the United States House of Representatives from New York, Congressman Forbes was originally elected as a Republican, but switched parties. He had criticized the Republicans for being “tone deaf” to the needs of average Americans. However, the New York Democratic Party Chair, Judith Hope, refused to welcome Forbes into the Democratic Party because he is pro life.

I can certainly identify with this. Pro life Democrats are a beaten, bedraggled crew. Just look at the photo at the top of this blog if you want a taste of how our party supports us. At the same time, the Republicans are tone deaf to the needs of average Americans.

If you try to follow Jesus, you will not fit in with either party. That’s a fact.

Here, straight from the Deacon’s bench, is the story:

Describing himself as a devout Catholic in love with Christ all of his life, Mike Forbes considered whether God was calling him to the diaconate for more than 10 years during a successful career in public service. He held staff positions with the New York legislature and the U.S. Congress, and was elected to three terms in the House of Representatives. Since 2001, he has been president of his own advocacy, public relations and marketing firm.

He and his wife, Barbara, are members of St. William Parish in Round Rock; they have two adult children and two children at home. Forbes credits the example of the four deacons is his parish with motivating him to begin a serious inquiry about formation.

The “street retreats,” in which the candidates spent two days living on the streets with the homeless, and prison ministry were enlightening pastoral experiences. He remains open to ministering wherever God, through the bishop, calls.

And Wikipedia notes: 

n 1994, Forbes ran on three ballot lines for the House of RepresentativesRepublican, conservative, and right to life. He defeated incumbent George Hochbrueckner by six percentage points. Forbes got a seat on the powerful Appropriations committee, unusual for a freshman representative, due to his ties with new House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In December 1996, Forbes announced he was not going to vote for Gingrich for speaker. Forbes voted for Rep. Jim Leach instead. Forbes supported the Clinton impeachment.

On July 17, 1999, Forbes switched to the Democratic Party after chastising national Republicans for being “tone deaf” to the needs of average Americans. While embraced by President Bill Clinton, Democratic leader Dick Gephardt, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Max Cleland, and other Senate and House Democrats, New York’s liberal Democrats (particularly chairwoman Judith Hope) refused to welcome Forbes into the Democratic Party because he is a staunch pro-life advocate.

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The Politically Incorrect Steve Jobs on Public Education

 American has a two-tier public education system. It works likes this.

Those who live in the “right”areas get the best teachers, clean schools with great facilities and all the resources they need to succeed. Every child has a textbook, there are many engaging extra curricular activities. Their parents have enough time after work to be involved in their children’s education.

These kids are on the “track” that leads to the best colleges and the good life.

Those who live in the “wrong” areas get the worst teachers, dirty schools with peeling paint and ugly mobile classrooms that look like World War II barracks taking up their playgrounds. They can’t take textbooks home for study because there are not enough for each child to have one. Their exhausted parents work two or three jobs just to keep a roof over the family’s head. They don’t have the energy to be involved in their child’s school, and even if they did, the school ignores the parents and refuses to listen to them.

These kids are “throwaway” kids. They are on a “track” that leads to gangs, drugs, teen pregnancy, fast food jobs, and for many of them, prison. 

Education in this country, which should be a way of offering opportunity for every child, has become a means of creating and perpetuating a new upper class. Education isolates people into separate spheres with separate futures. Some are fed royal jelly. Others are shunted to the bottom before they even start in life.

In this old video from the days after he left Apple and before he came back to Apple, Steve Jobs sat down for a free-ranging interview. He talked a lot about education, and as usual, his comments reflected his own brand of independent thinking. I think he raised points that we all need to consider.

Have a look and decide for yourself what you think of his ideas.

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George Washington University Catholics: Standing by Their Man

Two students at George Washington University have begun a campaign to use the university’s regulations to silence a Roman Catholic priest.

Their reason? Because the priest follows Roman Catholic teaching.

According to one news story I read, the two seniors, Blake Bergen and Damian Legacy, “feel alienated because the chaplain at George Washington University’s Newman Center rejects homosexuality, and they aren’t going to take it anymore.”

An article in the school’s newspaper, the GW Hatchet, says that the two students “have launched a coordinated campaign to rid the campus of the priest.” They claim that they have left the Newman Center because Fr Greg Shaffer’s “strong anti-gay and anti-abortion views are too polarizing.” Evidently, Fr Shaffer also committed the sin of using his freedom of speech to write a blog post in which he advises students with same-sex attractions to live celibate lives.

Bergan and Legacy wrote a piece for Huff Po with the totally disingenuous title, “The Fight for Love at George Washington University,” in which they toss around words and phrases like  homophobic and “persecution of the LGBT community.”

I’ve left this story alone, since Patheos’ blogger Dawn Eden clearly had the inside track. When Deacon Greg Kandra came alongside her with additional coverage, I thought it was done and done.

I still don’t believe I have a lot to add, but I do want to bring out a couple of points for Public Catholic readers.

First, the two men behind this attack on Fr Shaffer are not Roman Catholic. One of them was raised as a Jew and is now agnostic. The other wanted to become a Catholic priest and was turned down by Fr Shaffer because of his refusal to leave the gay lifestyle. He has since become a priest in something called the North American Catholic Church. I am not familiar with this denomination, but I’m sure it’s not Roman Catholic.

I’m not sure why no one has asked if this whole campaign is just a matter of personal sour grapes and vengeance masquerading as concern for a “cause,” but I think it is a legitimate question. I don’t usually consider personal motives when I look at political actions. But this time, they seem fairly consequential.

According to the George Washington University Newman Center web site, 3,000 of the 10,000 students on this campus are Roman Catholic. Everything I read on their web site sounds like the Newman Center is there to minister to these students, although they do welcome people who are not Catholic to join in. Nothing I saw there makes me feel that the students are in any way required to participate in Newman Center activities.

Frankly, unless the university decides to play the fool and do what these men are demanding, this whole thing may turn out to be a teapot tempest. It sounds like a very nasty bit of vengeful character assassination aimed at a faithful priest who simply had the good sense to tell someone who was actively participating in the homosexual lifestyle that he was not good priest material.

Duh.

My comments on this are two-fold. First, this kind of wacko behavior could only occur in a social environment where people felt free to engage in Christian and Catholic bashing. These two young men probably wouldn’t be any less vicious if they weren’t feeling empowered by the endemic Catholic bashing on our campuses, but they most certainly would have taken another route for their personal vendetta.

Second, these priest bashers aren’t having it all their own way. Students on the campus have opened a blog supporting Fr Shaffer.

It’s about time.

Christians need to stop running away when someone attacks a fellow Christian and stand by them instead. This is the main point this post. We’ve gone on too long letting the bullies cull out one or the other Christian and attack them while the rest of us either run away or stand by and watch it happen. In truth, we are so glad that the object of the attack is them, and not us, that we keep quiet so that it won’t become us.

There’s a word for this. It’s called cowardice.

I am writing this post to commend the Catholic students of George Washington University for standing by their pastor. I am also writing it to encourage you to do the same when you see other Christians being attacked for following Christ. 

Silence means assent. We’ve been silent in the face of Catholic and Christian bashing for far too long.

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Catholic Gonzaga University Bans Knights of Columbus Because They’re Catholic

I’ve written posts recently that I said were “man bites dog” stories. I suppose that makes this one a “dog bites self” story. 

According to the Cardinal Newman Society, Gonzaga University which bills itself as a Catholic university and whose mascot is the bulldog, banned the Knights of Columbus from their campus. This evidently came after a year of stone-walling by the University administration.

The reason this dog decided to bite itself? 

Because the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic organization. Dr Sue Weitz, Gonzaga Vice President for Student Life, wrote (emphasis mine):

“The Knights of Columbus, by their very nature, is a men’s organization in which only Catholics may participate via membership,” says a letter obtained by The Cardinal Newman Society written by Sue Weitz, Vice President for Student Life. “These criteria are inconsistent with the policy and practice of student organization recognition at Gonzaga University, as well as the University’s commitment to non-discrimination based on certain characteristics, one of which is religion.”

So. Does this mean that if I went to Gonzaga, my all-mom (which, by definition, makes us all female) rosary group could not be recognized by the university? What about an all-girl lamaze class? Of course, the all-male part of this letter, coming from a school with a winning basketball team, which, if I’m not mistaken, is all-male, is ridiculous on its face. It’s just puffery.

The thing that really strikes home is the “dog bites self” action of a Catholic university banning a Catholic organization because it’s Catholic. Dr Weitz commented in the letter that she “believes strongly in the university’s policy of non-discrimination and inclusiveness.”

I would guess that she probably believes what she wrote, but it’s nonsense. In truth, schools like Gonzaga that are so self-consciously “inclusive” and committed to “nondiscrimination” are the elite training grounds for a new upper class. Wealthy parents prepare their children from infancy to go to schools like Gonzaga because they are a funnel for targeting certain people into the privileged zip codes and plumb positions that rule the rest of us.

Harvard, Princeton, Yale are the premiere examples of this. A diploma from one of these schools is a ticket to entry into that other world of easy connections the rest of the country knows nothing about.  Gonzaga students have to push a bit more to get there, but for a vice president of this school to call it “inclusive” and “nondiscriminatory” is an oxymoron.

In truth, these upper tier schools, including those on the second and third tiers like Gonzaga, are no more inclusive and nondiscriminatory than the old “400” of East Coast high society.

Money is the new discrimination. Wealth is the new prejudice. And the attitudes of the moneyed class control and corrupt higher education from top to bottom. Based on this action banning the Knights of Columbus from their Catholic school, I would say that these attitudes of exclusiveness and discrimination rule absolutely at Gonzaga. 

I don’t find it surprising at all that a school which has veered so far from Catholic teaching as it regards wealth and power would be embarrassed by an unashamedly Catholic organization like the Knights of Columbus. Catholicism, if it is practiced as a faith and not a social delimiter, is the antithesis of what all these upper tier schools have become. 

There was a time when education was considered a leaven to our whole society. The principle behind public education is that we will provide a free, equal education for all our citizens so that every single one of them has a chance to live their life to its fullest. 

What has happened instead is that our schools have become, as I said earlier, funnels for discrimination. From the horrible slum schools we foist on large segments of the population, to the country club public schools we provide to other segments of the population, and on into the university level, education in this country has become a method and a means of creating and perpetuating a moneyed elite and a limited citizenry.

Gonzaga is part of that.

The last thing a school of this nature would want is a genuine Christian influence on its campus. Christianity has a way of turning this elitist nonsense on its head and demanding in the name of a God of justice and mercy that we do better.

I am not saying that this bizarre little letter with its facile self-righteousness that banned the Knights of Columbus from Gonzaga’s campus said any of this. I am not even saying that the Vice President who wrote it or the administrative board that backed it are thinking in these precise terms. I am saying that this is what they are doing.

These upper tier schools appear to be so self-congratulatory that it would never occur to them to challenge their own moral assumptions. They are bubbles of group-think and like-thinking and they have become increasingly aggressive about keeping anyone who is not “our kind” off their premises.

The Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Church which preaches the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount are definitely not “our kind” in these schools.

Upper tier schools talk a good game about their inclusive, nondiscriminatory values. But in practice they are the instruments by which we have created and are perpetuating an isolated and privileged new upper class.

Gonzaga still claims it’s Catholic identity. In fact, it’s rather self-conscious about it. But I think Gonzaga lost its true Catholic identity long before it sent this letter banning the Knights of Columbus from its campus. True Catholic identity means identifying with the least, the lost, the poor and the weak. Gonzaga has evidently become the kind of school where that Gospel challenge to true inclusiveness and non-discrimination is a bridge too far. 

 

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Christian Persecution: Six Quick Takes

 

Easter isn’t all new clothes, gorgeous masses in stunning church buildings and arguments about red shoes and foot washing. 

In some places, Calvary is present in the lives of the people. The Church itself and all its Christian people hang on the cross of persecution.

In other places, such as the United States and Great Britain, society is moving along the continuum toward violent persecution. Christians in those two countries have come to expect and accept that they will be subjected to hate speech against Christians, Christian-bashing on web sites. They are increasingly being forced to accept that they face growing legal discrimination against Christians and moves to force Christian speech and expression out of the public sphere. We are at the “you can go to church all you want, but leave it there,” phase of discrimination, and this discrimination is rapidly becoming government-enforced.

At the same time, Christians in Egypt fear being kidnapped with no police support to stop it. Christians in Bangladesh have their children stolen and trafficked and again, the police do not punish the traffickers. Christians in North Korea are imprisoned and worked to death. Christians in Nigeria are murdered, tortured and their churches are burned.

I could go on. But there is too much of it for one post.

Here is this week’s roundup of Christian persecution in Six Quick Takes.

 

1. Nigeria: Easter Attacks Kill 80, Thousands of Christians Flee to the Hills 

By BosNewsLife Africa Service – “Nigerian Christians appealed for prayers Tuesday, April 2, after Easter season violence in troubled central Nigeria left as many as 80 people dead and displaced some 4,500 others.

At least 19 people were killed since Easter Sunday when gunmen believed to be nomadic Muslim cattle herders attacked the mostly Christian Atakar group in Kaura district, a remote area of Kaduna state, officials said.

Witnesses said the attacks on three communities, including the Mafang and Zilang villages, killed many women and children. Kaduna police spokesman Aminu Lawan told reporters his forces were still investigating.

Ataka Christians live near Plateau state where authorities claimed fighting between cattle herders, who are mainly Fulani Muslims, and Christian villages killed nearly 60 people in recent days.

The area is on the uneasy dividing line between Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and largely Christian south…

Christians said that following Sunday’s violence, thousands of villagers fled to the nearby hills. (Read more here.)

 

2. Bangladesh: Christian Children Re-Captured By Trafficker

Eleven of the 16 Christian children who were rescued from Muslim traffickers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Jan. 2 have again gone missing. Sources in the Christian community, as well as reports in local newspapers, report that they believe the children were re-trafficked and taken to madrassas, Islamic training centers, where they will likely be forced to convert to Islam and study the Quran.

Eleven Christian children, originally from the Rangamati district of Chittagong Hill Tracts, disappeared for the second time earlier this year after being given back to the custody of their parents. “We were not aware that our child would be taken to a madrassa,” one parent told International Christian Concern (ICC).

The children, along with five others, had been rescued by police from a madrassa in the Abuzor Giffari Mosque Complex in Dhaka. The children had been missing for months. They were returned to their parents soon after their rescue, but traffickers continually threatened the parents until the recent re-disappearance of the children. Local authorities say the children were likely trafficked again to madrassas and are concerned that they will be forcibly converted to Islam.

“The [leader] of the traffickers gives a large sum of money to the traffickers to take the kids to the madrassa,” said an ICC source. “Because of this, they threatened the parents and took their children, again, to a madrassa. It is all because of large sums of money, and because there are no punishments for the trafficker.” (Read more here.)

 

3. North Korea:  Number 1 for Christian Persecution

North Korea is the most hostile place for Christians around the globe,  according to the annual “World Watch” list from the Open Doors Organization.

The list ranks the 50 countries where Christian persecution is most severe. North Korea tops the 2013 list, thus holding its ranking for the eleventh year running.

“Christians are classified as hostile and face arrest, detention, torture, even public execution,” the Open Doors report said. (Read more here.)

4. Great Britain: Majority of Church-Going Christians Feel Persecuted and Marginalized

Over two-thirds of Christians in the United Kingdom feel part of a victimized minority, and David Cameron is making that worse by redefining marriage, the Coalition for Marriage says.

In a new poll commissioned by the group, almost eight in 10 said the prime minister’s same-sex marriage plan will lead to those who back traditional marriage facing the sack.

More than two-thirds (67 percent) said they felt part of a “persecuted minority.”

Marginalized
The survey also showed that over half of the U.K.’s Christians who voted Conservative in 2010 would “definitely not” do so again in 2015.

Colin Hart, campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage, said the poll showed “widespread and continued opposition towards David Cameron’s plans to redefine marriage.”

He added: “More worryingly it shows how Christians and those of faith are being treated like illegal aliens in their own country. They are being marginalized and persecuted for their beliefs. (Read more here.)

5. Egypt: Christians Targeted for Kidnappings

MATAI, Egypt (AP) — Ezzat Kromer’s resistance to his kidnappers did not last long. One of the masked gunmen fired a round between his feet as he sat behind the wheel of his car and said with chilling calm, “The next one will go into your heart.”

The Christian gynecologist says he was bundled into his abductors’ vehicle, forced to lie under their feet in the back seat for a 45-minute ride, then dumped in a small cold room while his kidnappers contacted his family over a ransom.

For the next 27 hours, he endured beatings, insults and threats to his life, while blindfolded, a bandage sealing his mouth and cotton balls in his ears.

Kromer’s case is part of a dramatic rise of kidnappings targetingChristians, including children, in Egypt‘s southern province of Minya, home to the country’s largest concentration of Christians but also a heartland for Islamist hard-liners.

The kidnappings are mostly blamed on criminal gangs, which operate more freely amid Egypt’s collapse in security since the 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Crime has risen in general across Egypt, hitting Muslims as well. But the wave of kidnappings in Minya has specifically targeted Christians, and victims, church leaders and rights activists ultimately blame the atmosphere created by the rising power of hard-line Islamists.

They contend criminals are influenced by the rhetoric of radical clerics depicting Egypt’s Christian minority as second-class citizens and see Christians as fair game, with authorities less likely to investigate crimes against the community.

Over the past two years, there have been more than 150 reported kidnappings in the province — all of them targeting Christians, according to a top official at the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police. (Read the rest here.)

6. United States: Pro Life Student Group Banned at Johns Hopkins University

.- A pro-life student group at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., is appealing a denial of official recognition, saying that it is being discriminated against for its views against abortion.

Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, told CNA that this decision is surprising, given that Johns Hopkins administration and students “pride themselves on being a ‘free speech campus’ – allowing dissenting opinions on campus and allowing a free exchange of ideas on campus.”

She added that there is a need for “upholding freedom of speech that isn’t popular.”

Voice for Life, a pro-life organization that is trying to re-start on the Johns Hopkins campus after several years of dormancy, has been rejected multiple times by the university’s student government, despite receiving clearance from the necessary committees as having met all campus requirements. (Read more here.)

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Divine Mercy, Post Birth Abortion, Morning After Pills for Little Girls, Gay Marriage, Polyamory, Sequesters, Unending Undeclared Wars and Us

Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday.

Divine Mercy Sunday is based on the visions of St Faustina and was instituted by Pope John Paul II.

There is a Divine Mercy Novena which you can pray in the week and a half before the feast. Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday all come during the busy time of the year for me, which is what I blame for the fact that I have forgotten to start this Novena in time every. single. year. It might be due to the fact that I am, as one commenter accused me of being, “a lukewarm Catholic.” But I kinda doubt it. I think I forget it because I’m an absent-minded Catholic with a lot on her plate.

My excuses don’t change the fact that Divine Mercy is an opportunity for a spiritual deep-cleaning that no one should miss. I’m not going to try to explain Divine Mercy Sunday because I couldn’t find anything I could link to that was simple, clear-cut and authoritative. I’ve read the Apostolic Decree establishing the feast, as well as clarifications from the Vatican to the United States Conference of Bishops, but I don’t feel comfortable laying down a 1-2-3 list for other people to follow.

Here is what I do feel I can say. The fount of Jesus’ mercy is opened to us in a more thorough way if we will got to confession (I’ve read that going to confession during Lent suffices) and then take communion on Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus promised through his saints that we would receive a total remission of our sins on this day, something akin to what we received at our baptism. The important things (to me at least) are a willingness to face our own sinfulness and seek forgiveness in confession and then to unite ourselves with the risen Christ in the eucharist.

I am not speaking for anyone else but myself here. I am certainly not quoting Church authorities, but I don’t think Christ gave us this great gift of Divine Mercy just to save ourselves. I think it is also a way of equipping us spiritually to go forth and proclaim the Good News by how we live, what we say and to whomever we meet. 

We are, all of us, as God told Abraham, “blessed to be a blessing.”

So what does this have to do with post birth abortion, morning after pills for little girls, gay marriage, polyamory, sequesters, unending undeclared wars and us? For that matter, what do we have to do with anything on that list?

William Butler Yeats wrote in The Second Coming:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

The falcon cannot hear the falconer.

We are the falcon and Christ is the falconer. We live in a world whose center cannot hold. Our job — our seemingly impossible job — is to be light in a world that loves the darkness, craves death and hates the truth. We cannot be the light if we are ourselves part of the darkness. No matter how talented, sincere or dedicated we are, we can not be the light of Christ in a blackened world if we are still in love with our own sins. We delude ourselves if we think that.

Divine Mercy Sunday is a day when the sacrifice of Calvary and the reality of the Resurrection unite in one great gift of complete forgiveness for those who are willing to seek and accept it. It is a gift to us. It is also a way of blessing us, so that we can become a blessing.

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