JFK and Peace: Would He Have Kept Us Out of War in Viet Nam?

Would John Kennedy have kept us out of war in Viet Nam?

Any reply is conjecture. However, he had actually been to war. That is a far different perspective from the one we find in the long string of draft dodgers and never-serveds we’ve had in recent years.

My friends who’ve seen war are far less eager to commit American troops than my other friends who view combat from an armchair perspective. There was a time when the sons of presidents and men of great wealth and power, such as a vastly wealthy former American ambassador to England, fought and died in defense of this country.

Kennedy was of that time. He had experienced combat and nearly died as a result of it. His older brother had been killed in combat.

He knew the price.

How those life experiences would have influenced his decisions concerning Viet Nam, no one can say. But they would have been an enormous factor. Of that much, I am sure.

I lost people I care about in Viet Nam. I think their lives were wasted by incompetent military commanders and bad presidents of both political parties.

Here is a long speech from President Kennedy, talking about peace. I wish we had presidents today who felt the same regard for peace as this man.

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What if JFK Had Lived?

 

What if President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had not been assassinated?

1. Would he have gotten us out of Viet Nam?

2. Would his philandering have been exposed while he was in office?

3. Would Jackie have divorced him?

4. Would he and Jackie have had more children?

5. Would his bad health have killed him while he was in office, anyway?

6. Would he and Bobby have broken the Mafia in America?

7. Would Richard Nixon ever have been president?

8. Would there have been other, perhaps successful, assassination attempts against his life?

9. Would the 1964 Civil Rights Act have become law?

10. Would this country be a better place?

Imprisoned for Christ: Cardinal Van Thuan

I once worked with a woman who had lived through the fall of Viet Nam and then stayed in the country after the communist takeover.

She told me that where she lived, the officials would call someone in for questioning. She said that this person was never seen again. They simply vanished.

When they called her to come in for questioning, she and her large family stayed up all night discussing what to do. They decided to walk out of Viet Nam under darkness and take their chances on the open sea as stateless refugees. They did this as an entire family group.

She cried when she told me of the terrible things that happened in the boats with the other refugees.

Long story short, she and her family ended up in Oklahoma, where, when I knew her, they were working together to build a new life.

This lady was not a Christian. She was a Buddhist. They were rural people who had never had contact with the Americans during the war. Her crime was that her family was a well-to-do family who owned a granary in her small town. She was also an attorney.

Cardinal Van Thuan committed a much worse crime, one that continues to be punished in Viet Nam today. He was a Christian. Not only that, he was a leader in the Catholic Church.


The result was that Cardinal Van Thuan spent 13 years in solitary confinement inside a Viet Nam prison. He was so completely shut off from the world that most of his friends and followers thought he was dead. I would guess that what happened to him was somewhat like what happened to the people my friend knew: He went in, and was never heard from again.

I’ve read The Miracle of Hope by Andre Nguyen and Van Chau and also The Testimony of Hope which is a retreat Cardinal van Thuan gave for Pope John Paul II. I recommend both books to those who want to learn more about this great man of Christ.

My archbishop, Archbishop Paul Coakley, ordained our newest priest on June 29. Here is what he said:

We are living in an age of increasing indifference or even hostility toward faith and toward the Church. The generation of priests ordained today will, I suspect, witness increasing persecution and perhaps even a new age of martyrdom. It is already happening in other parts of the world.

Given certain signs of our times today, it is naive to believe it could not happen here. It is important, therefore, to be clear. The priesthood is not a career; it is not a path for those seeking a comfortable life. The priesthood is a vocation of radical commitment and radical dependence on Jesus Christ, who came not to be served but to serve.

I’m glad my archbishop realizes this and has the courage to say it publicly. Far too many priests are either unaware of it, or indifferent to it. As a Public Catholic in the political realm, and more specifically as a Catholic Democratic elected official, I’ve been on the tip of the sword for a long time now. I can tell you without reservation that I saw this coming way back for the simple reason that I was the object of so much excoriation and social/verbal abuse in my office because of my faith.

I had the advantage of perspective, since I had been in office in the 1980s, then left to raise my kids and was later re-elected to the same position. The changes in attitude and behavior toward Christians by non-believers was stark. However, most Christians were reacting by either allowing themselves and their faith to be co-opted so they’d feel comfortable with this new world, or by withdrawing into their Christian friendships and refusing to see it.

I knew it was a matter of time before it started expanding to other Christians who try to follow the Gospels but who were not in the hot spot of being Democratic elected Catholics. I found then, as I do now, that not many people want to hear the truth of what is happening. This attitude further isolates the Christian who is being attacked for Christ and also encourages the attackers to continue. At the very least, we need to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ when they are attacked for the faith we hold.

These head-in-sand Christians compare themselves to people like Cardinal van Thuan and say, I’m not afraid of being arrested in the middle of the night and put in solitary confinement for 13 years, so there is no problem here.

My answer to them is the same one alcoholics anonymous says to its adherents who claim they aren’t so sick since they’ve never done what that other drunk next to them has done: Not yet.

If you consider where we are now compared to where we were even 10 years ago, I don’t believe you can honestly say that this country, and indeed the whole Western world is not on a trajectory of overt hostility and verbal abuse and lately legal discrimination against Christians. If this trajectory is not reversed, it will inevitably end up at active persecution.

This video about Cardinal van Thuan describes a priest who was Christ’s man first. May his tribe increase.

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15 Countries Named for ‘Systematic, On-Going’ Abuse of Religious Freedom

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom issued a recent report that named 15 Countries of Particular Concern because of the threats that their governments pose to religious liberty.

These countries are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam. The governments in these countries have “either engaged in or tolerated systematic, on-going, egregious abuse of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”

Based on the stories I’ve seen since I’ve been writing about Christian persecution, I would guess that the most consistently persecuted group in these countries is Christians.

From CNA:

Washington D.C., May 4, 2013 / 04:11 pm (CNA).- A recent report on international religious liberty cautioned that severe threats to freedom of religion exist in diverse communities through the world and should be discouraged through actions by the U.S. government.

“The Annual Report ultimately is about people and how their governments treat them,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the commission that released the report.

“Religious freedom is both a pivotal human right under international law and a key factor that helps determine whether a nation experiences stability or chaos,” she explained.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom gathers information throughout the year by meeting with government officials, citizens, analysts and non-governmental organizations across the globe in order to assess the state of international religious liberty. The independent, bipartisan group then advises the president, U.S. Congress and State Department on recommended actions to be taken.

Issued each year, the commission’s report marks “countries of particular concern” (CPCs), which are defined as “countries whose governments have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.” The State Department has the opportunity to officially label CPCs and decide whether to impose sanctions or other penalties on each country.

The 2013 document recommended 15 countries to be designated as CPCs: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. (Read the rest here.)

Six Quick Takes: Christian Persecution in Vietnam, Egypt, Syria and the Good Ole USA

Today’s quick picks feature two instances of attacks on Christians freedom of conscience and religious freedom in the United States. Each of these is direct government discrimination against a Christian’s right to practice their faith unmolested. The statutory authority for these attacks on individual liberty is so-called anti-discrimination laws that have been passed in the past few years.

 

It would seem that, rather than ending discrimination, these laws are empowering it. I am beginning to look on at least some of these laws and the way they are being used as Jim Crow laws for Christians.

 

A third case of discrimination against Christians under the name of “tolerance” comes from Denmark. In this instance, a new law will force Christian churches to perform gay marriages.

 

The other three quick picks are samples of the violence that Christians face in much of the world. They range from mob violence in Egypt and Syria to government beating, torture and murder in Vietnam.

1. Vietnam: Church Leader Beaten to Death Syria: 300,000 Christians Flee War, Persecution

A Hmong church leader in Vietnam has been beaten to death in police custody, area sources said.

According to a story by Morning Star News, police beat Vam Ngaij Vaj around his neck and shoulders and probably electrically shocked him, resulting in his death on March 17. That’s according to a church leader who spoke with those who viewed the battered corpse.

“They think he could have been electrocuted as well as beaten,” said a Hmong Christian leader in Vietnam.

Morning Star News said Vaj, of Cu Jut District, Dak Nong Province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, and his wife were clearing brush from their field in nearby Dak Ha Commune of Dak Glong District when they were arrested for “illegally destroying the forest” on March 16. (Read more here.) 

2. Syria: 300,000 Christians Flee War, Persecution

ICC Note: Some 300,000 Christians are living as refugees after escaping war and persecution in Syria, Asia News reports. While people from every political, ethnic, and religious background are suffering in Syria’s civil war, Christians have found themselves in a very unique and frightening situation, having widely chosen not to take up arms or to openly support either the rebels or the regime. While many Christians have publicly denounced the brutality of President Assad and by no means support the regime, most Christians see little hope in an alternative government which, they fear, will be led by Islamists who will hinder or outright abolish the religious freedoms long experienced by Christian in Syria.

4/4/2013 Syria (AsiaNews) – More than 300,000 Christians have fled their villages and towns to escape the war, but also UN refugee camps, said Issam Bishara, regional director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. (Read more here.) 

 

3. USA, Washington State: Elderly Christian Florist Faces Thousands in Fines for Refusing to Provide Flowers for Gay Wedding

OLYMPIA, WA, April 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Christian florist in Washington state could be slapped with hefty fines because she refused to provide a floral arrangement for a gay “wedding.”

Barronelle Stutzman is facing thousands of dollars in fines.
Barronelle Stutzman is facing thousands of dollars in fines.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed charges today in Benton County Superior Court.

On March 1 Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, refused to sell flowers to Robert Ingersoll for his “marriage” to Curt Freed.

“He said he decided to get married, and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,’” Stutzman said. She said it was the only wedding she had declined in 37 years.

But Ferguson said that stance violates the law.

“Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation,” Ferguson said. “If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”

The state of Washington is seeking $2,000 in fines for every reported violation, as well as a permanent injunction requiring the shop to violate its conscience or stop selling flowers for wedding ceremonies.

Some of her neighbors in this very liberal state agree she should be compelled to sell flowers regardless of her religion.

One resident told KEPR-TV, “She doesn’t have the right to say no.”

The station reported Stutzman has received death threats after her simple testimony of faith went viral. (Read more here.) 

 

4. USA, New Mexico: Photographers Guilty of Discrimination for Refusing to Shoot Gay Wedding

June 7, 2012 (LifeSitenews.com) – A New Mexico appeals court has upheld a lower court verdict that a photography studio that refused to shoot a same-sex “wedding” on religious grounds is guilty of “sexual orientation discrimination” under state law.

According to the court’s verdict, the trouble began for Elane Photography when the company was contacted by lesbian Vanessa Willock asking if they could photograph a “commitment ceremony” for Willock and her “partner.” The company, owned by Christian couple Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, responded stating that they only shoot traditional weddings, and do not do “same-sex weddings,” but thanked Willock for her interest.

The following day, Willock’s anonymous “partner” sent an email to Elane Photography stating that she was going to “marry,” without stating that the “marriage” would be between herself and a woman.  She asked if the company could travel to the location of the event, and was told that it could. 

The two emails would be used as proof that the Huguenins were discriminating against Willock in her suit against the company, and resulted in a judgment of $6,637.94 against the defendant.

Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane photography, who informed the plaintiffs that she could not shoot their same-sex “commitment” ceremony.

Although the government of New Mexico does not recognize same-sex “marriage,” civil unions, or domestic partnerships for homosexuals, the court ruled that Elane Photography had engaged in illegal discrimination based on sexual preference under the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA). 

The Alliance Defense Fund, which was representing the couple, has decided to appeal the case to a higher court.

“Americans in the marketplace should not be subjected to legal attacks for simply abiding by their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy?

“Of course not, and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience. Because the U.S. Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling artists to promote a message they disagree with, we will certainly appeal this decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court.” (Read the rest here.) 

 

5. Egypt: Coptic Pope Decries Violence Against Christians

CAIRO (AP) — The leader of Egypt‘s Coptic Orthodox Church on Tuesday blasted the country’s Islamist president over his handling of the recent deadly sectarian violence, including an attack on the main cathedral in Cairo.

The remarks by Pope Tawadros II underscore rising Muslim-Christian tensions in Egypt. They were Tawadros’ first direct criticism of President Mohammed Morsi since he was enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Orthodox Christians. They are also likely to fuel the political turmoil roiling the country for the two years since the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Tawadros said Morsi had promised him in a telephone conversation to do everything to protect the Coptic cathedral, “but in reality he did not.”

Asked to explain Morsi’s attitude, Tawadros, who spoke in a telephone interview to a political talk show aired on the private ONTV network, said it “comes under the category of negligence and poor assessment of events.”

On Sunday, an angry mob of Muslims threw firebombs and rocks at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, leaving two people dead.

The attack followed a funeral service for four Christians killed in sectarian clashes in a town north of Cairo early the day before. (Read more here.) 

 

6. Denmark: New Law Forces Churches to Perform Gay Marriages

Homosexual couples in Denmark have won the right to get married in any church they choose, even though nearly one third of the country’s priests have said they will refuse to carry out the ceremonies.

The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.

Denmark’s church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote “historic”.

“I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it’s only heterosexual couples.”

 

Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church. (Read more here.) 

 

 

Why Do Photos of Aborted Babies Upset Pro Choice Advocates?

A picture is worth a thousand words. 

This is a photo of a baby who was murdered in an abortion.

“It’s surprising how human they look.”

When I wrote the post Real Men Don’t kill Their Children, I decided to illustrate it with this photo.

I did this because it seemed to fit the brazen indifference to human life and suffering evidenced by Toure Neblett, the news commentator. Mr Neblett gave a commentary supporting Roe v Wade in which he discussed the abortion death of his first child. In it, he took narcissism and selfishness to new lows.

He made the statement that seeing his second child on an ultrasound had bothered him a little because “it’s surprising how human they look.”

I didn’t and I don’t think any other photo would do justice to this attitude.

It didn’t surprise me at all when pro abortion people clocked in with their usual anger over the photo. It was, they said, an attempt to “shock” people.

No. It was not.

It was a factual presentation of what babies look like after a late-term abortion. Of course, that is shocking to people who base their entire flimsy arguments in favor of this killing on the preposterous idea that these babies are “not human.”

Photos like this put that nonsense to the lie that it is.

I believe that the stripping away of the lie, not some misplaced sense of propriety, is why this photo makes them so angry.

Photos have a way of blasting right through carefully constructed lies and showing the truth of things in a way that anyone who looks at them can understand. I don’t enjoy making people uncomfortable, but there are truths we need to see because seeing them is the only thing that will blast through the carefully constructed facade of lies we use to shield ourselves from the reality of what we are doing.

For instance, this:

And this:

And this:

I don’t often put shocking photos on this blog, but there are times when I think they serve a purpose. The photo of that dead baby, juxtaposed against Mr Neblett’s words, said a lot.

The angry reaction of pro abortion and pro choice people told me quite plainly that for them, the photo said too much. There are truths we do not want to know, photos we do not want to see, because if we acknowledge what they are saying to us, we will have to change.

Photos like that one force us to make a choice. We will either have to give up our illusions about what we are doing to other people, or we will have to give up our illusions about ourselves as kind, loving and compassionate persons.

This is more than most people who define themselves and their morality by the lies our society tells us can handle. Of course those photos are shocking. But the fact that they are shocking is not the reason for posting them. The reason for putting them in the public eye is that they are true. In the words of Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men, some people “can’t handle the truth.”

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