Posts Tagged ‘Yahoo News’

Snowmen are Anti-Islamic

January 12, 2015

That is what a recent fatwa from a cleric from Saudi Arabia states. I read about it in this story from Yahoo News.

A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric has whipped up controversy by issuing a religious ruling forbidding the building of snowmen, described them as anti-Islamic.

Asked on a religious website if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children after a snowstorm in the country’s north, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid replied: “It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun.”

Quoting from Muslim scholars, Sheikh Munajjid argued that to build a snowman was to create an image of a human being, an action considered sinful under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.

“God has given people space to make whatever they want which does not have a soul, including trees, ships, fruits, buildings and so on,” he wrote in his ruling.

That provoked swift responses from Twitter users writing in Arabic and identifying themselves with Arab names.

“They are afraid for their faith of everything … sick minds,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another posted a photo of a man in formal Arab garb holding the arm of a “snow bride” wearing a bra and lipstick. “The reason for the ban is fear of sedition,” he wrote.

A third said the country was plagued by two types of people:

“A people looking for a fatwa (religious ruling) for everything in their lives, and a cleric who wants to interfere in everything in the lives of others through a fatwa,” the user wrote.

Sheikh Munajjid had some supporters, however. “It (building snowmen) is imitating the infidels, it promotes lustiness and eroticism,” one wrote.

“May God preserve the scholars, for they enjoy sharp vision and recognize matters that even Satan does not think about.”

Snow has covered upland areas of Tabuk province near Saudi Arabia’s border with Jordan for the third consecutive year as cold weather swept across the Middle East.

I wouldn’t have thought this would be a problem in Saudi Arabia, but evidently it does snow there. In any case, this ruling is not as crazy as it might appear. Islam is a religion which strongly forbids even the suggestion of idol worship and for this reason  Islamic law and culture has discouraged the visual representation of any human or animal which might be taken as an object of worship. This is why the arts in Islamic cultures have never produced any equivalent to the works of renaissance artists like MichelAngelo with their precise, almost photographic portraits and detailed studies of human anatomy and perspective. Persons with an artistic bent in Islamic countries have generally concentrated on beautiful calligraphy, generally of Koranic verses and abstract geometric designs. According to the strictest interpretations of Islamic law, as is found in Saudi Arabia, any representation of the human form for any reason is forbidden. Forbidding the creation of snowmen is simply taking the iconoclasm of Islam to a logical extreme.

This does say something about the nature of Islam. Islam does not seem to be a very joyful religion and its adherents certainly do not seem to have much of a sense of humor. The Ayatollah Khomeini is reported to have said,

Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. …”

Mohammed didn’t care for music, believing it to inspire sin, so Islamic cultures have tended to discourage music. There is no Bach or Mozart in Islam. There seems to be no joy in Islam.

It also says something, that every detail of life, no matter how trivial, seems to be subject to endless rules concerning what is allowed and what is forbidden. Can you imagine a person of any other religion even wondering if building a snowman is acceptable? There doesn’t seem to be much emphasis on thinking or reasoning for yourself in Islam. Every decision seems to be based on what Mohammed would do or what the religious authorities centuries ago wrote.

In contrast, Christians are told to:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:4-7)

We are set free from rules and are made sons of God.

23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 3:23-4:7)

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.(Romans 7:4-6)

This does not mean that we are free to commit sins, of course, but if we do commit sins we follow a God more interested in forgiving and saving us than one eager to condemn us. It may be said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and to a certain extent it is true, but we have very different ideas about who God is and what He wants from us. Our God wants us to be His sons and sent His own son to die for us. Their God wants us to be slaves of a harsh master. I think I prefer Jesus over Allah. At least Jesus doesn’t have any issues with snowmen.

Keith Ablow’s Homophobia

July 10, 2014

I had never heard of Dr. Keith Ablow before following a link from Yahoo News to this piece at the Huffington Post. I still don’t know very much about him and I am not really that curious. It may be that he has a whole history of saying controversial or even insane remarks in public, but I am only interested in the statements that the Huffington Post considered to be extremely homophobic.

When discussing gay rights on Fox News, who better to consult than the network’sreliable source Dr. Keith Ablow?

“Fox & Friends” asked Ablow on Wednesday for his thoughts on a new California lawthat replaces the words “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” under state laws. The new law has been described as a “milestone in the journey towards full equality” and an end to the last barrier to same-sex marriage in California.

“Nuts,” Ablow said of the new law. “There’s no way that the state of California can deny a marriage license to four spouses now. Eight spouses, or I would say three human spouses and the canine they absolutely love because if love is the foundation of marriage, they can love their dog, too.”

That’s right, folks. You heard it here first. A step forward for marriage equality will only lead to polygamy and marrying your dog.

Most of the comments that followed this piece were of a similar nature, mocking Dr Ablow for his ignorance and bigotry. Yet I want you to observe two things in the article I quoted in its entirety. First, notice that homophobia consists not in making hateful or derogatory comments towards or about homosexuals but in not embracing an entire agenda with sufficient enthusiasm or in raising an obvious, logical point against same-sex marriage.

Second, notice that neither in the article or on the comments are there any arguments presented that show that Dr. Ablow is wrong. If we are going to make a fundamental alteration in the nature of marriage by changing from a particular, and theoretically lifelong, relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of creating and maintaining families into a generic relationship between two individuals, of whatever gender, who feel a mutual sexual attraction, then what is there to stop any further alterations? Why not polygamy? There have been many cultures throughout history that have permitted polygamous marriages. Polygamy is a far less drastic alternation in the essential nature of marriage than same-sex marriage. Why not permit close relatives to marry? If they agree to not have children, there is no possibility of birth defects from inbreeding. Why not marry your dog or cat? There may be some question of consent here, but if that were  resolved, why not? For that matter, since we are separating sexuality from reproduction, why bother with marriage or families at all? Why not go for a Brave New World society in which babies are grown in test tubes?

I don’t believe that the person who wrote this or any of the commenters are in favor of either bestiality, incest or polygamy. They are in favor of  “marriage equality”. This is another example of feeling good without going through the trouble of thinking things through. There is no particular, logical reason why any of the innovations I listed above should not be adopted, once the logic that supports same-sex marriage is accepted, except that these innovations made people uneasy. They seem to forget that not two decades ago the idea of same-sex marriage was considered to be just as insane as anything I listed and even ten years ago, the idea made people uneasy. If such progress in changing people’s minds about same-sex marriage could be made through incessant propagandizing and not a little bullying, why couldn’t similar progress be made in anything I mentioned?

Thinking such matters through is hard work, however. Trying to think for yourself is even harder, and may even take some moral courage. It is much easier simply to insult the person who brings them up and repeat the same slogans and talking points everyone else is saying. If the good people are for  marriage equality, then it is best to fall into line and not think too much on where it is leading.

 

The Minstrel Show

June 5, 2014

I would have thought that the job of a history teacher at a middle school was to actually teach history, that is the various events that happened in the past. For example, a teacher might wish to mention racist practices that were accepted in the past, such as slavery or minstrel shows, that now are unacceptable because attitudes have changed for the better. However, according to this story at Yahoo News, teaching about past racism is now considered racist.

A middle school history teacher in small-town southeastern Michigan has been placed on paid administrative leave because he informed students that white entertainers used to paint their faces black to imitate black people and showed kids a video about it.

The teacher is Alan Barron, reports the Monroe News. The 59-year-old teacher has taught in the local school district for well over three decades and is retiring in just two weeks.

The suspension occurred after an assistant principal observed Barron teaching an eighth-grade class. Barron’s topic for the day was racial segregation laws during the Jim Crow era. The lesson included a video which showed how white actors commonly used theatrical makeup known as blackface — a practice which began in the nineteenth century and lasted over 100 years.

The unidentified assistant principal concluded that Barron’s lesson about how entertainers used to be racist was itself racist, according to the local paper. The assistant principal also apparently ordered that Barron stop the video as it was being played.

Parents with kids at the school have overwhelmingly opposed the suspension.

One parent, Adrienne Aaron, who has a daughter in the class, spoke with the Monroe News.

“It had nothing to do with racism,” Aaron (whose husband is black) said. “History is history. We need to educate our kids to see how far we’ve come in America. How is that racism?”

“He’s one of the best teachers we’ve had,” Aaron added. “We can’t believe that this is happening.”

Other parents have taken to social media. In a missive on Facebook, a frustrated parent called Barron a “great” teacher who “has changed many children’s lives.”

A school district spokesman, Bobb Vergiels, refused to say that Barron was suspended. Instead, Vergiels said, Barron is “on leave.”

“Mr. Barron has been on leave for about a week while we look into a reported situation in his classroom,” a school district statement obtained by the Monroe News reads. “Because this is a personnel matter that is going through the teacher-contract required steps, we cannot comment any further.”

As a result of the suspension, Barron cannot attend any school functions including an annual banquet during which he and other retiring teachers will be honored.

I really do not understand what the problem is here. Should Mr. Barron not teach the truth about the history of race relations in the US? Should his students not learn about aspects of American culture that may not be acceptable now, nevertheless did play an important role in our cultural development? The minstrel shows were terribly racist but they were very popular in their time and influenced White perceptions of African-American culture and contributed to the development of other forms of popular entertainment.

In a way it is a shame that the minstrel shows are so toxically politically incorrect by today’s standards. The minstrel shows were a uniquely American art form and the earliest American contribution to the theater. Although White actors blackened their faces to portray Blacks at least since the early 1600’s, the minstrel shows, featuring supposed slave on plantations began around 1830-1840. While most of the actors were Whites, there were minstrel shows featuring troupes of Black entertainers, in black face,  particularly after the Civil War. These all-Black troupes claimed that that their acts were more authentic representations of Black culture. They could be popular, but Whites often resented them if they became too successful.

Minstrel PosterBillyVanWare

Minstrel PosterBillyVanWare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The shows themselves usually consisted of three acts. The first act was a song and dance number as the troupe of entertainers came on stage and introduced themselves to the audience. There was an interlocutor who acted as a sort of master of ceremonies and was the straight man for the jokes. The second act had a structure somewhat like a variety show with music or acrobatics. Often there was a stump speech or oration given in Black dialect for humorous effect. This speech could be nonsense or perhaps something like a stand up routine, or it could be about a social issue, done in the guise of an ill-educated Black man making a fool out of himself. The third act was often a skit set on a Southern plantation. Sometimes the actors played parodies of serious drama, such as Shakespeare. Just before and during the Civil War, skits based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin became popular.

The actors generally portrayed stock characters such as the Old Uncle, the head of the slave family, the simple-minded, happy-go-lucky slave, the Dandy or Black man who imitated Whites and thought himself their equal, and during the Civil War, the Black soldier, more accustomed to retreat than fight. Female characters, usually portrayed by men or boys in drag included the Mammy and the Wench. Blacks were, of course, always shown as being dim-witted, lazy, and generally content to be slaves. They always spoke in Black dialect, and the Dandy trying to speak in standard English was a source of humor.

These shows were undoubtedly racist and offensive to African-Americans but they could also be subversive. The fool making the stump speech could make social criticism that might have ended with him being run off the stage if he had played it straight. The black face enabled audiences to accept such criticism since it was only an ignorant Black who was speaking. The minstrel shows introduced Whites to Black culture, though an introduction filtered by prejudice. It is not certain to what extent the song and dance numbers were authentically Black in origin, but the minstrel shows had a powerful influence on the development of American popular music, even among Blacks.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the minstrel shows were eclipsed in popularity by the development of vaudeville. Even so, new trends in theater and the emerging film industry often incorporated themes from the minstrel shows, especially with Black actors who often found themselves restricted to minstrel show type roles in the early years of the movies.

As I said, it is a shame that such a uniquely American and influential form of entertainment should also be so racist and politically incorrect. Perhaps the fact that these shows were so popular in their day doesn’t say much that is good about the history of race relations in America. Then again, perhaps these shows made Whites somewhat more sympathetic to Blacks than they otherwise might have been. In any case, it is surely a sign of progress that such blatantly racist entertainment is not tolerated today.

 

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Smoking is Really Hazardous to Your Health

January 20, 2014

By now everyone knows that smoking is not a healthy habit, to say the least. I am not sure, however, that many people, especially smokers, know just how deadly smoking really is. Most people associate smoking with lung cancer but how many know that lung cancer is one of the worst forms of cancer, with only a 15% survival rate after five years? How many people think about the connection between smoking and heart disease? These are only the most obvious health problems caused by smoking. There are a whole host of others, as related in this article from Yahoo News.

Fifty years after the first U.S. Surgeon General‘s report in 1964 warned about the link between smoking and lung cancer, research continues to identify more diseases that are directly caused by smoking.

Now, liver and colorectal cancers have been added to the list of cancers for which there’s sufficient data to infer smoking is not merely linked to but actually can cause the diseases, according to the newest Surgeon General’s report released today (Jan 17).

Cigarette smoke contains thousands of compounds, including 69 known to be carcinogens, chemicals that are directly involved in causing cancer. Carcinogens can result in tumors by damaging the genome or disrupting the cell’s metabolic processes.

Smoking is responsible for more than 90 percent of lung cancers. But traces of tobacco carcinogens have been found in other organs as well. For example, pieces of DNA bound to carcinogens have been found in breast tissue and breast milk, according to the report authors, who reviewed new research over the recent years.

“These carcinogens are absorbed systemically. They don’t just stay in the lungs. They are carried through the blood to many organs,” said Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California at San Francisco, who was not involved in compiling the report.

In colorectal cancer, tumors often originate in the glands and the cells that cover the inside of the bowel. Carcinogens in tobacco smoke can reach the large bowel through the blood supply and disrupt regular functioning of the cells. These cells then might form polyps, which can progress into malignant, or cancerous, tumors.

Reviewing large previous studies, the researchers found an increased risk of colon and rectal cancer, particularly after smoking for two or more decades. In some studies, smokers were up to twice as likely to develop colorectal cancer as nonsmokers.

The report authors also looked at other cancers such as prostate cancer and concluded that smoking is not a cause for this type of cancer, although it increases risks of dying for those diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Examining breast cancer, the researchers concluded the evidence suggests smoking can cause the disease.

“Even a finding that is ‘suggestive,’ is a pretty strong finding,” Glantz told LiveScience. “If I give a glass filled with clear liquid and say, this might give you breast cancer but I’m not absolutely positive, I don’t think you want to drink the liquid.”

Other new entries in the official list of smoking-caused diseases include Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, macular degeneration that can blind older people, and cleft palate birth defects.

“In addition to carcinogens in the cigarette smoke, there’s a lot of inflammatory agents,” Glantz said. Smoking causes these diseases partly “by triggering inflammatory processes and increasing the general inflammatory environment.”

Looking over the past 50 years of the war on smoking, the report authors warned that the disease risks from smoking by women have risen sharply and are now equal to those of men for lung cancer, and pulmonary and heart diseases.

Since the landmark 1964 report, nearly 21 million people have died prematurely because of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the report.

Heart and metabolic diseases attributed to smoking accounted for 40 percent of tobacco-related deaths, the report revealed.

“This is very important. When people think about smoking they usually just think cancer. Most people don’t really appreciate how big the risks of heart diseases are,” Glantz said.

I am glad I never started smoking, though I am not sure if I deserve any credit. Both my parents smoked and it may be that not smoking was my particular way of rebelling. In any case, the experience of growing up surrounded by cigarette smoke has given me such an aversion to the smell of smoke that I cannot stand to be in the same room as someone smoking. I guess that I am lucky not to be tempted into such an unhealthy and addictive habit.

 

 

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Paul Crouch

December 2, 2013

I read the news of the death of televangelist Paul Crouch in Yahoo News the other day. I didn’t actually know the man’s name though I had seen him on television a few times years ago, and I recognized his face. Paul Crouch was the founder of the Trinity Broadcast Network, which has become the largest Christian network in America.

Paul Crouch, the televangelist who built what’s been called the world’s largest Christian broadcasting network, has died. He was 79.

Crouch died at his home in Orange, Calif., on Saturday after a decade-long fight with degenerative heart disease, his grandson Brandon Crouch told The Associated Press.

“He was an incredible businessman, entrepreneur, visionary; he built something that impacted the world,” he said.

Trinity Broadcast Network had reported that Crouch fell ill and was taken to a Dallas-area hospital in October while visiting the network’s facility in Colleyville, Texas. He later returned to California for continued treatment of “heart and related health issues.”

“We mourn Paul’s passing and he will be greatly missed. But we know, as the old hymn reminds us, soon enough we will see him again in that great ‘meeting in the air,'” the network said in a statement Saturday.

Crouch began his broadcasting career while studying theology at Central Bible Institute and Seminary in his native Missouri by helping build the campus’ radio station. He moved to California in the early 1960s to manage the movie and television unit of the Assemblies of God before founding Trinity Broadcast Network in 1973 with his wife, Jan.

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I wouldn’t have anything to write about Mr. Crouch, since I have never actually watched his show, but it seems that he was a proponent of the Prosperity Gospel.

They grew the network into an international Christian empire that beams prosperity gospel programming to every continent but Antarctica around the clock. The programming promises that if the faithful sacrifice for their belief, God will reward them with material wealth.

Based in Costa Mesa, the network says it has 84 satellite channels and more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates as well as a Christian amusement park in Orlando.

The Crouches faced criticism for what critics say was their extravagant lifestyle. Ministry watchdogs have long questioned how TBN spends the hundreds of millions of tax-exempt donations they receive from viewers.

The account of their preaching is, no doubt, vastly oversimplified. A short news story of the death of a preacher cannot be expected to delve very deeply into that preacher’s theology. The Prosperity Gospel is the belief that devotion to the will of God will lead to material prosperity and well being. This would seem to contradict several passages in the New Testament in which Jesus warns his disciple to expect nothing but trouble and persecution as the result of following Him, and that they should aim for treasure in Heaven that never decays.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:23-25)

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-11)

For this reason, mainstream Evangelical leaders have considered the Prosperity Gospel to be heretical. There are, to be sure, passages which suggest that riches will come to those who are righteous. Abraham prospered as did the Israelites when they were faithful. Job regained all that he had lost and more after remaining faithful. The book of Proverbs suggests that prosperity is the result of righteousness. I think, though, that this is the general idea that those who are honest and just are actually more likely to prosper than the dishonest and unjust, whatever a cynic might believe. If money is what you most want in life, than it is likely that you will get money, but perhaps nothing more. If Heaven is what you want, you might get that, and much more.

 

Lesus

October 13, 2013

Recently, the Vatican issued a commemorative coin to celebrate the accession of Pope Francis I, featuring the Latin phrase that inspired the new pope to become a priest. Unfortunately there was a minor error in the coins that required the Vatican to recall them. Here is an account in Yahoo News.

Copy editors the world over can empathize (and cringe) with this mistake.

The Vatican issued a recall this week because about 6,000 of commemorative coins spelled the name “Jesus” as “Lesus.”

The medallion celebrating Pope Francis, includes a Latin phrase that reportedly inspired the new pope to become a priest.

In English, the phrase reads: “Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, follow me.”

So it read, in Latin, “Lesus therefore…”. That isn’t too bad compared to other famous typos, and if you could acquire one of these defective coins they will no doubt become very valuable in coming years.

But as a coin dealer told The New York Times, the flawed coins could be highly sought after by collectors.

“Regardless of what the Vatican decides to do now, it’s an interesting purchase for a collector,” Francesco Santarossa, owner of a numismatic and philatelic shop near St. Peter’s Square in Rome, said in a phone interview. “I don’t think they ever made such a mistake in the 600-year-long history of papal medals.”

At least the mistake was only on a coin and not in a new edition of the Bible.

Of course, the Vatican copy editors aren’t the first to miss a typo. There are many other famous mistakes throughout the history of Christian printing.

For example, the 1631 printing of the King James Version Bible has been dubbed the “Wicked Bible.” As one peruses the 10 Commandments, one will notice that Exodus 20:14 reads “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

England’s King Charles 1 and the Archbishop of Canterbury were not amused. Most copies of that bible were burned. The printers were fined 300 pounds (a large sum at the time) and lost their printing license. Only 11 copies of the “Wicked Bible” are known to exist today. The New York Public Library and The British Library in London each have copies.

And there’s the 1612 King James edition of the “Printer’s Bible,” which famously rewrites Psalm 119: 161  “Printers have persecuted me without a cause” rather than “Princes have persecuted me…” Speculation is that a typesetter, disgruntled with his publisher, introduced this error.

There are many more examples of “bible errata,”often amusing in retrospect but scandalous in the day. For example, A KJV printing in 1611 became known as the “Judas Bible.” It replaced “Jesus” with “Judas” in the passage from Matthew 26:36 “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.”

I wonder if anyone with a copy of the Wicked Bible ever said to their spouse that they were required to commit adultery because the Bible told them so.

 

DOMA

June 26, 2013

I wasn’t going to write about the unfortunate decision by the Supreme Court that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, but I read some comments on this ruling from a Catholic priest on Yahoo News.

As a Catholic priest who has performed hundreds of marriages, I am disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and to leave the Proposition 8 law unresolved. The DOMA decision, in particular, drives a wedge between Christian and secular rights unnecessarily.

If I now decline to perform a same-sex marriage because my church, the Catholic Church, only allows marriage between a man and a woman, how long will it be before my civil privilege of witnessing marriages will be challenged?

I lived in Mexico for four years, where religious and civil marriage ceremonies are entirely separate. When I performed marriages there, I was usually presented with a certificate proving that the couple had first gone to the civil authorities to register their union. My church ceremony was not recognized by the state and the civil marriage was not sacramental and therefore not binding in the eyes of my church.

I am beginning to think Mexico has it right. Let’s get religion out of the civil marriage business so that I and other ministers of religion can perform marriages that uphold the standard of one man, one woman, and one sacramental union. This is not to say that my church refuses membership to gays.

The Catholic Church teaches that same-sex attraction is not evil and that in regard to homosexuals, “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (CCC –The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358).

Notice the strange word “unjust.” As religious people, we are convinced that marriage is a huge part of God’s plan to share love and bring children into the world. We believe the core of family life is wife, husband and their children. We believe it is our right under the First Amendment to discriminate and limit marriage to members who are heterosexual.

Will the government invade our religion insisting that our schools teach that same-sex unions are marriages? Will our textbooks have to support this new definition of marriage? I hope not.

One thing is sure: Catholic Americans will have to show a new determination to embrace their brothers and sisters whose orientation is same-sex. We Catholics must be inclusive and sensitive in all of our dealings with our church members regardless of sexual orientation.

Maybe the Supreme Court’s decisions today will force us Catholics (and other religious groups) to be clearer about our beliefs, especially those that are counter to the culture in which we live.

I would hope that the First Amendment will protect my right to practice my religion and live my faith.

I am afraid it won’t work. The next step will be for the homosexual zealots to attack any church that refuses to perform same-sex marriages. They simply will not tolerate any dissenting views on this subject. Already, we have seen a bakery, wedding photographer, and a florist punished for refusing to violate their religious beliefs by providing their services to a gay wedding. Can anyone really believe that churches will be left alone?

The gay bullies will not leave anyone alone and will certainly not respect anyone’s religious beliefs. If you are a Christian and believe that homosexual behavior is a sin, your belief is infinitely less important that the homosexual’s right to act as he pleases without any condemnation from anyone. You are not even permitted to keep to yourself and leave them alone. Support the gay lifestyle with all your hearth and all your soul and all your strength, or be publicly condemned as a bigot.

 

 

NARAL Picks New President

January 15, 2013

Pro-abortion group NARAL has picked a new president and is trying to get more support from younger women. I read the story in Yahoo News.

NARAL Pro-Choice America announced on Monday it has tapped longtime Democratic operative Ilyse Hogue to serve as its new president as the group seeks to appeal to a younger generation of pro-abortion rights supporters.

Hogue replaces outgoing president Nancy Keenan, who is leaving the post after eight years. In May, Keenan announced she would step down from the group after the 2012 election in order to bring in someone who could appeal to younger voters.In an interview with the Washington Post, Keenan said the group had found an intensity gap among young women who weren’t around when abortion wasn’t legal. She said the group needed to recruit a new generation of pro-abortion rights activists for different roles—including her own.

The move comes amid what the group has described as increasing attacks on women’s rights around the country. According to an NARAL report released earlier this month, 42 anti-choice measures were passed in 25 states last year. The finding came as preparations are made to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down state laws restricting abortion.

Well, the problem is that many of the women of the younger generation who would have been avid supporters of NARAL’s agenda have been aborted. This is not a mean joke. Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto has postulated that women who support abortion are more likely to have abortions and thus will tend to have fewer children than women who are against abortion. He has called this the Roe Effect. It is difficult to determine whether there is any validity to the Roe Effect and it is by no means certain that the children of pro-life mothers will themselves grow up to be pro-life, but the fact that support for abortion has been declining over time may suggest that there is some validity to the hypothesis.

Do you notice, by the way, that the representatives of groups like NARAL don’t really like to say what they are actually for. They argue in vague terms of choice and cast their opponents as being anti-choice. Why don’t they just come right out and say that they are for killing unborn babies?  And why don’t I have any choice about whether my tax dollars go to an abortion mill like Planned Parenthood?

Ohio Teacher Afraid of Children

January 15, 2013

She is suing her school district for discrimination but I think that it is possible that she has chosen the wrong profession. Here is the story at Yahoo News.

A teacher from Mariemont, Ohio, is suing her school district, claiming discrimination. What makes the case unique is that the teacher, Maria Waltherr-Willard, suffers from pedophobia, a crippling fear of young children. She claims her disability led to the discrimination.

We first saw the news over at the Cincinnati.com. The paper reports that Waltherr-Willard began her career as a high school teacher, a position she held for decades. She was reassigned to teach in a junior high in 2010, despite, she claims, being assured earlier in her career that she would not have to teach younger children.

According to the Enquirer, pedophobia can lead to shortness of breath, vomiting and feelings of terror when around young children. Waltherr-Willard claims that she was discriminated against based on her age (she’s 61) and her disability.

“It’s a tough phobia. You can’t really get away from [children] when you’re outside,” Dr. Caleb Adler, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, told Cincinnati.com. Adler did not treat Waltherr-Willard.

The backstory, as described by the Enquirer, goes as follows: Waltherr-Willard taught foreign languages in high school for many years. Several years ago, word got to her that her district was considering putting those classes online, a move that would have had an effect on her position.

Waltherr-Willard apparently spoke to parents about the district’s decision to eliminate face-to-face French courses. Parents spoke out, and the district was not amused that one of its teachers was stirring the pot. Waltherr-Willard claims she was sent to teach at junior high as a kind of punishment for speaking out. She eventually resigned her position.

Good Morning America” reports that the lawsuit says “both parties agreed the phobia and anxiety disorder fell under the Americans With Disabilities Act and exempted her from future transfers within the school district.”

Parts of the lawsuit have already been dismissed by a federal judge. Three allegations remain. The case is scheduled to go to court in early 2014.

This is ridiculous. There was always the possibility that as a teacher she might be called to teach younger students. If the presence of children really makes her anxious, than she shouldn’t be teaching. I am a little bit concerned about the seeming expansion of the definition of disabilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act. It seems to me that before too much longer everybody will be considered disabled.

 

European Union Wins Peace Prize

October 12, 2012

As if to prove what a joke the Peace Prize has become, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize to the European Union this year recognizing its important role in keeping the peace in Europe for the last fifty years. I read the story in Yahoo News.

The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for promoting peace, democracy and human rights over six decades, a morale boost for the bloc as it struggles to resolve its economic crisis.

The award served as a reminder that the EU had largely brought peace to a continent that tore itself apart in two world wars in which tens of millions died.

The EU has transformed most of Europe “from a continent of wars to a continent of peace”, Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said in announcing the award in Oslo.

“The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest,” Jagland said. “The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.”

Jagland praised the EU for rebuilding Europe from the devastation of World War Two and for its role in spreading stability after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

If keeping the peace qualifies one for the Peace Prize, then why not award it to the US military? They are the ones that freed Europe from the threats of Nazism and Communism. Why not give the prize to NATO? How do you give an award to a whole country or a confederation of nations anyway?

Personally, I think that Paul Ryan should get some kind of peace prize for resisting the temptation to punch Joe Biden.


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