Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Iowa Christian Group Receiving Your Tax Dollars to Fund Campaign to Strip Same Sex Couples' Marriage Rights

     An Iowa group that receives your tax dollars to help fund its "faith-based initiatives" is using those tax dollars to try and take take away the marriage rights of Iowa's same sex couples.  How's that for the separation of church and state?

     Between 2004 and 2009 the politically influential Christian organization Iowa Family Policy Center (IFPC) received more than $3 million in federal grants through two subsidiaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
     The group has also created its share of controversy, most recently garnering headlines when it publicly claimed that homosexual activity was “more dangerous for individuals who engage in it than is smoking,” and thus, needed to be banned via constitutional amendment.
     Recipients of federal funds are bound by the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore cannot discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or disability in providing services. However, even though the Iowa Supreme Court ruled last year that a same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, sexual orientation is not currently part of any federal civil rights language.
     Bryan English, the director of communications for the IFPC, said recently in a phone interview regarding the one-year anniversary of same-sex marriage in Iowa, “This isn’t a civil rights issue. [Homosexuality] is a choice in behavior and as a Christian organization we don’t believe this is a right, it is a sin against Jesus Christ.”
     Not all Americans believe in Jesus Christ.  There is a separation of church and state in this nation and you cannot legislate your religious views, Mr. English. 

     I have an idea.  Why don't we pass a law promoting the biblical practice of male genital mutilation, requiring all men, as is Jewish (and many Christians') religious practice, to be circumcised, since it's someone's god's will? 

     Are you ready to go under the knife, Mr. English?

National Day of (Christian Fundamentalist) Prayer Finally Ruled Unconstitutional

     A giant win for the separation of church and state in our nation occurred last week in a Wisconsin U.S. District Court!

     U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb decided in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a ruling that the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer and requiring a National Day of Prayer proclamation by the president violates the establishment clause of the Constitution's First Amendment.  In her ruling, Judge Crabb wrote: "The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy."
     The Foundation filed its groundbreaking suit in October 2008. Plaintiffs besides the Foundation are Anne Nicol Gaylor, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker, Paul Gaylor, Phyllis Rose and Jill Dean, who are all Foundation officers or board members. Defendants are President Barack Obama and Robert Gibbs, his press secretary. Original defendants were President George Bush and Dana Perino, his press secretary at the time.
     All presidents since 1952 have issued proclamations designating the National Day of Prayer each year. Since 1988, the National Day of Prayer has been held on the first Thursday in May. The president’s proclamations are released by the Office of the Press Secretary.
     Judge Crabb enjoined Obama from enforcing the National Day of Prayer law, but stayed the injunction until the appeals process is completed. The law setting the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer passed Congress in 1952 after an intensive campaign led by Rev. Billy Graham.
     Click here for the full and in depth article.  There is an entire history to anti-semite, homophobic Billy Graham, racist Pat Robertson, and the entire Christian right forcing this day of prayer/religion test upon political officials and citizens of the United States. 

    President Obama responded to the ruling, by playing the hypocrite and ignoring his constitutional law education, by vowing on Twitter to go ahead with the presidential prayer proclamation in May.  The Christian right immediately started spreading rumors and lies online that Obama had canceled the National Day of Prayer, that he was making it a day of prayer to Allah instead, etc.  They even have a Facebook page.  How's that for spreading the Gospel According to Hate?

     Here are a few excerpts of the historic ruling:

     "It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience. When the government associates one set of religious beliefs with the state and identifies nonadherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon the individual's decision about whether and how to worship.”
     "If the government were interested only in acknowledging the role of religion in America, it could have designated a 'National Day of Religious Freedom' rather than promote a particular religious practice."
     "With or without a statute, private citizens are free to pray at any time. Private citizens are also free to join together to hold celebrations of their faith, including by proclaiming their own day of prayer."
     "That is not an accommodation under Supreme Court precedent; it is taking sides on a matter of religious belief. Because supporters of the National Day of Prayer have no need for the machinery of the State to affirm their beliefs, the government's sponsorship of that day in § 119 is most reasonably understood as an official endorsement of religion and, in this instance, of theistic religion."    
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Massachusetts Priest, James Scahill, under Fire for Calling on Pope to Resign

     A conservative Catholic group has called on a Massachusetts priest to apologize for suggesting that Pope Benedict XVI should resign if he does not take stronger action to confront the church's sexual abuse scandal.  Adding its voice to the uproar over the Rev. James J. Scahill's remarks last weekend (April 3-4), the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said the priest had effectively accused the pope of lying during four sermons at St. Michael's Catholic Church..  "It is a serious matter when a priest suggests that the Vicar of Christ is a liar," said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Dedham, Mass.-based group.
     But, the vicar of Christ is not only a liar, but an enabler of child sexual abuse by priests, who supposedly stand in the person of your Christ!  Ben's signature is on the documents.  
     Reached Thursday, Scahill said he does not regret the remarks and will not apologize. "This has nothing to do with Jim Scahill; it's about the total lack of transparency relating to the abuse of children and minors and the subsequent cover-up for decades," he said.
     Keep up the good work, Fr. Scahill!  I'm happy to hear that you have the support of your parishioners.  At least one Catholic "family" of parishioners is standing up to the abuse and making their voices heard.  If only other parishes would start screaming reform, who knows what kind of change might actually evolve in the church.

     WWLP reports:
     Father James Scahill received a standing obviation after he gave his homily today, the first since making those controversial comments about the Pope last week.  Parishioners are still backing him after a deposition released a few years ago, revealed that Father Scahill knew about Father Lavigne molesting children in the early 1990s.  Scahill didn't act on it. Scahill says he still has the right to call for the Pope's resignation after the global sex abuse scandal.
      What?  Wait a minute.  Scahill knew about sexual abuse and didn't report it?  Hello!  Maybe he needs to revise his homily to state: "When the pope resigns, I will also resign for my own sins of omission concerning sexual abuse that went unreported."  

     Of course, if he was ordered silent by his supervisors, is he really guilty?  Or maybe he did report it to his bishop, and the bishop covered it up.  Or maybe he reported it to the bishop, who reported it to the archbishop, who reported it to the cardinal, who reported it to the Vatican, who reported it to the pope, who covered it up.  Or maybe he reported it to the bishop, who had been told by the archbishop, who had been told by the cardinal, who had been told by the pope to not report it to the authorities, as this was the way of the church in the early nineties.  Or maybe he did report it to the authorities and they covered it up, with the support of the rich and powerful Catholic church of which they were members and depending upon to receive their weekly piece of unleavened Jesus for their entrance into the heavenly kingdom, where they could live side by side with other forgiven priest-predators, who could rape the holy aborted children of feminists for all eternity, while choirs of angels sang songs and seraphim gave them full body massages.

     This is all just so disgusting and ridiculous.

     But isn't there a single priest out there who's hands aren't dirty, who isn't living some sort of a double life, but who is willing to call the pope and the others out for their enabling of sexually abusive priests?

Uganda Kill-the-Gays Bill Update: United Kingdom to Ban Ugandan MP

     Finally the government challenges Uganda's kill-the-gays bill.

     No, not the United States government.

     The British government will ban a Ugandan MP from travelling to the UK if he is successful in passing a law that would impose the death penalty in Uganda for being gay.  Civil servants in the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development and the Borders Agency are drawing up plans to block the visa of born-again Christian MP David Bahati if he does not drop legislation that would see consenting adults who have gay sex imprisoned for life and impose the death penalty on those with HIV – which will be called "aggravated homosexuality".  The bill also proposes the death penalty for those having gay sex with anyone under the age of 18, with someone disabled or what the legislation describes as "serial offenders".  It also calls for life prison sentences for those "promoting homosexuality", which could come to mean human rights groups or those who fail to inform on a gay couple.  One senior British government source said the issue could turn into a "major diplomatic incident if the Ugandans do not back down".
     Thanks to Towleroad for the heads up!

Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, Money, Sexual Abuse, and the Pope's Puppets

     The Pope's closets, I mean closest, advisers chose money over protecting people from the abusive Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, celibate father of numerous illegitimate children, chaste sexual abuser of seminarians, and poverty-living founder of the ultra-conservative and ultra-lucrative Catholic order, the Legionaries of Christ, which now has assets of over one billion dollars. 
     However, the pope involved in the enabling and cover-up of Fr. Marcial Maciel's crimes was not Pope Benedict, but the soon-to-be-saint John Paul II, who's closest advisers turned a blind eye to Maciel's abusive legacy, in order to fatten their wallets.  As Jesus said, "Render unto pedophiles..."

     WBUR reports:
     Investigative journalist Jason Berry's series on Father Maciel in the National Catholic Reporter suggests that his ability to raise money may have played a role in keeping Maciel in the priesthood, despite accusations made against him.  "He seems to have had this militant sense of spirituality, and he was a genius at fundraising," Berry says. "From the earliest years of his involvement with high church officials, he always had money, lots of it."
     But Maciel's trouble in the church began early. Berry lists an addiction to morphine and accusations of making sexual advances at young seminarians as early as 1956.
     "The Vatican did an investigation, suspended him -- but then reinstated him in 1959," Berry says.  And in three episodes from 1976 to 1989, former Legion priest Juan Vaca accused Maciel of abuse in detailed reports he sent to the Vatican, Berry says. The Vatican did not take any action.
     In his article, Berry says that Maciel's fundraising skills and his connections at the Vatican fed off one another.   "We know that wealthy families who gave money to the Legion of Christ had a pipeline, frankly, to go to private masses said by Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Palace," Berry says.
     According to Berry, two of Maciel's most powerful Vatican allies were Monseigneur Dziwisz, a former organizer of papal masses who is now a cardinal; and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state at the time. Berry says that he has been told that both priests received thousands of dollars in donations from Maciel.
     I, for one, wait with jubilant expectation for the day that both John Paul II and Marcial Maciel Degollado are declared saints, enjoying their eternal reward in their heaven with their Catholic god, who turns a blind eye to the suffering of children, who are being sexually abused and raped by priests in persona Christi.