Saturday, August 22, 2009

Devotional: We must devote...

We must devote, not only times and places to prayer, but be everywhere in the spirit of devotion; with hearts always set toward heaven, looking up to God in all our actions, and doing every thing as His servants; living in the world as in a holy temple of God, and always worshiping Him, though not with our lips, yet with the thankfulness of our hearts, the holiness of our actions and the pious and charitable use of all His gifts. ...William Law
image by The Forbes Show

Euthanasia Group Behind "End-of-Life" Counseling

Thursday August 20, 2009
By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 20, 2009 ( - Although President Obama and liberal Congressional Democrats have denounced claims that the health care reform establishes "death panels," it does not help reassure the American public that the nation's foremost pro-euthanasia group is actively pushing "end-of-life counseling" as a centerpiece of health-care reforms.

Compassion & Choices, a rebranding of the former Hemlock Society, aggressively lobbies to legalize euthanasia as a "human right" by means of legislation and the judicial system. But the group has revealed that it is a major player behind incorporating a measure (sec. 1233) of the "American Affordable Choices Act of 2009" (HR 3200) that would pay doctors and medical professionals to offer "end-of-life" consultations every five years with elderly patients or those suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses.

"As Congress debates health insurance reform, Compassion & Choices is leading the charge to make end-of-life choice a centerpiece of any program that emerges," the euthanasia society declares on its website. "We are working hard to reach our goal to make end-of-life choice a centerpiece of national health insurance reform." the rest

Lord, Where Shall We Lutherans Go?

Uwe Siemon-Netto
posted August 22, 2009

As one whose profession it has been for many years to observe the plight of Christianity, I am always grateful for signs that God is truly a Jewish God – one with a hilarious sense of irony. This happened again during the ELCA’s national assembly, which will go down in history as a singularly boneheaded display of unfaithfulness.

Just as delegates worked themselves up to their decision to allow homosexuals in committed relationships to serve as pastors, a highly selective tornado knocked the cross off the roof of Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, where some of their shameful meetings took place.

I could not help grinning: This was truly Old Testament-style: God sometimes uses nature to make a point. Of course you will have to believe in these things in order to grasp their ramifications. If on the other hand you accept Biblical truths only selectively, as did the majority of the Minneapolis delegates, then this incident could only have been a random occurrence – you know: as random as the beginning of the universe.

I was then reminded of another display of God’s irony 40 years ago in East Berlin when a television tower, the tallest building in the whole city, went into operation. Walter Ulbricht, the East German Communist party leader, had ordered it built to symbolize the superiority of the Marxist-Leninist worldview that was the state religion in his land.

When the tower was inaugurated on a sunny day, the Communists were aghast. Its rotating ball-shaped dome consisting of hundreds of thousands of metal prisms reflected the sun in the shape of a huge cross regardless of the time of the day. Ulbricht’s regime invested millions of marks to rid their edifice of this embarrassing phenomenon. They did not succeed. To this day, an enormous shining cross keeps dominating Berlin, which has alas become the most godless capital city in Western Europe. the rest image

Lutheran gay clergy vote tests mainline churches

By ERIC GORSKI, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, August 22, 2009

In breaking down barriers restricting gays and lesbians from the pulpit, the nation's largest Lutheran denomination has laid down a new marker in a debate over the direction of mainline Protestant Christianity, a tradition that once dominated American religious life.

By voting Friday to allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy, the 4.7-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will either show how a church can stand together amid differences, or become another casualty of division over sexual morality and the Bible, observers say. the rest

Gov. David Paterson blames calls for him to step aside on race

By Kenneth Lovett
Daily News Albany Bureau Chief
Friday, August 21st 2009

ALBANY - Gov. Paterson blamed a racist media Friday for trying to push him out of next year's election - launching into an angry rant that left even some black Democrats shaking their heads.

"The whole idea is to get me not to run in the primary," Paterson complained on a morning radio show hosted by Daily News columnist Errol Louis.

He suggested that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the country's only other African-American governor, also is under fire because of his race.

"We're not in the post-racial period," Paterson said.

"The reality is the next victim on the list - and you can see it coming - is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than trying to reform a health care system."

Paterson said the campaign against him is being "orchestrated" by reporters who would rather make the news than report it. the rest

A reflection from an ELCA Pastor on their actions this week in Minneapolis

Saturday, August 22, 2009
Texanglican blogspot-The Rev. Randall Foster

A reflection from a good friend of mine, Pastor Ryan Mills of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Grand Prairie, Texas, who was a "voting member" (i.e., delegate) to this year's Churchwide Assembly:

Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.

Minneapolis...there's something about this city that leads church bodies into temptation, and to abandoning the faith of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

As a "voting member" to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I've witnessed firsthand the agony of a faithful, orthodox, minority crying out like a voice in the wilderness. In the same room where the General Convention of TEC voted to part ways with the rest of the Christian church and affirm +VGR, this week the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to "find ways for congregations that choose to do so to recognize lifelong, monagamous, same-sex relationships", and to ordain and "roster" (i.e. license) such persons as members of the clergy. It was no freak of weather that a tornado hit the convention center during deliberations, and broke the cross off the steeple of the church next door.

My overall feeling, after despair and righteous anger, was that this decision exposes an eschatological flaw in the structure of our "denomination". The Scriptures, Ecumenical Creeds, writings of the Fathers, Magisterial works of the Reformers, and our Luthearn Confessions and catechisms in the Book of Concord all bear witness to the Truth, Jesus Christ, at work at present in his Holy Word and Sacraments in the power of the Holy Spirit within the life of the Church. Supposedly this Tradition is the norm of our proclamation, teaching, faith and life. In fact, the "social statement on sexuality" that also passed in Minneapolis, (by 66.6%!) frankly recognized that any vision of sexual relations outside of celibacy in singleness and chastity within marriage would be "in contradiction" and a departure from this lode of teaching and Tradition. The "bound consciences" of congregations, synods, and bishops to disagree with the ministry policy changes, and to retain traditionalist oversight over their own clergy and pastoral practices is enshrined within these changes, but as we know from Richard John Neuhaus, where orthodoxy becomes optional, it will eventually be proscribed. the rest

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lutherans vote yes on gay 'relationships'

By Julia Duin
Aug. 21, 2009
Belief Blog

I am writing from the Minneapolis Convention Center. They were standing in long lines at the microphones; members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America — the largest of three major Lutheran denominations. Some were near tears. Others earnestly quoted Scripture and still others quoted Martin Luther.

Here is the vote they just passed: 619 'yes' votes, or 60.63 percent, to 402 'no' votes. The resolution: "that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships."

Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson asked the assembly to not comment but to quietly pray. They started debating a second resolution allowing sexually active gay pastors but have just taken a lunch break. Bishop James Mauney of the Virginia Synod told me he voted for the first resolution. One can recognize the presence of gay couples in Lutheran churches, he said, but that does not mean clergy have to "bless" their relationships in terms of church-sanctioned quasi-wedding ceremonies. That he will not do. But will this resolution lead to same-sex blessings? That is the $64 you-know-what.

Both sides also mentioned — a lot — something called "bound conscience." the rest

ELCA to Allow Same-Sex Blessings

Keynote Address by Bp. Fitz Allison Nov 2008 to Lutheran Theo. Conference

The Episcopal Church: The Canary in the Culture's Coal Mine
Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison
November 2008

The Episcopal Church has lost approximately a third of its members in 50 years. This should be a warning to other denominations. The gas that is choking The Episcopal Church is the same gas that is affecting all other church traditions, as well as the universities and other institutions of Western Civilization. The air we breathe does not contain the gas of coal mines, but our air does contain a mold or yeast.

Jesus warned us of this yeast in Matt. 16:6: “Take heed, beware the yeast of the Sadducees!” The disciples were confused since they thought he was rebuking them because they had brought no bread. Then they realized that he was not talking about bread but about the teaching of the Sadducees. the rest

Nazir-Ali calls for release of Iranian converts

The Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali is calling upon the President of Iran to have mercy on two female converts who have been imprisoned for leaving Islam and embracing Christianity.
by Robert Williams, Christian Post
Friday, August 21, 2009

Two Iranian women - 27-year-old Maryam Rustampoor and 30-year-old Marzieh Amirizadeh - were arrested on 5 March for leaving Islam. They were put in the notorious Evin prison where they are reportedly deprived of medical attention and often blindfolded for interrogations for several hours.

They were brought before the court on 9 August and told to recant their faith which they refused to do and were then sent back to the prison where they face charges of apostasy - punishable by death in Iran.

“Maryam and Marzieh are being held simply because they have changed their belief. The UN Declaration on Human Rights says people everywhere should be free to do this and the Iranian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion,” Bishop Nazir-Ali was quoted as saying by The Times.

“I appeal to the Iranian President to have mercy and to release these two young women forthwith so that they can receive the medical treatment which they so desperately need,” said Dr Nazir-Ali, who is stepping down soon as a diocesan bishop to concentrate on helping persecuted Christians around the world. the rest

1941 Germany: Sermon Delivered by Bishop Clemens August Count of Galen

A Catholic Bishop Speaks Out Against "End of Life Care"
posted August 21, 2009

"No, these are not the reasons why these unfortunate patients are to be put to death. It is simply because that according to some doctor, or because of the decision of some committee, they have no longer a right to live because they are ‘unproductive citizens’. The opinion is that since they can no longer make money, they are obsolete machines, comparable with some old cow that can no longer give milk or some horse that has gone lame. What is the lot of unproductive machines and cattle? They are destroyed. I have no intention of stretching this comparison further. The case here is not one of machines or cattle which exist to serve men and furnish them with plenty. They may be legitimately done away with when they can no longer fulfil their function. Here we are dealing with human beings, with our neighbours, brothers and sisters, the poor and invalids . . . unproductive—perhaps! But have they, therefore, lost the right to live? Have you or I the right to exist only because we are ‘productive’? If the principle is established that unproductive human beings may be killed, then God help all those invalids who, in order to produce wealth, have given their all and sacrificed their strength of body. If all unproductive people may thus be violently eliminated, then woe betide our brave soldiers who return home, wounded, maimed or sick.

Once admit the right to kill unproductive persons . . . then none of us can be sure of his life. We shall be at the mercy of any committee that can put a man on the list of unproductives. There will be no police protection, no court to avenge the murder and inflict punishment upon the murderer. Who can have confidence in any doctor? He has but to certify his patients as unproductive and he receives the command to kill. If this dreadful doctrine is permitted and practised it is impossible to conjure up the degradation to which it will lead. Suspicion and distrust will be sown within the family itself. A curse on men and on the German people if we break the holy commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ which was given us by God on Mount Sinai with thunder and lightning, and which God our Maker imprinted on the human conscience from the beginning of time! Woe to us German people if we not only licence this heinous offence but allow it to be committed with impunity!"
Full sermon image

The Future of Anglicanism

Found at TitusOneNine

Albert Mohler: Rethinking Abortion -- Two Unexpected Witnesses

Friday, August 21, 2009

Looking across the moral landscape of the last half-century, one issue looms larger than all others -- abortion. Considered from a historical perspective, the intensity and duration of the abortion debate came as something of a surprise. Handing down its infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court declared the abortion question settled and closed. They were wrong.

Almost four decades after Roe v. Wade, Americans are still torn over the issue of abortion. Indeed, the intensity of the abortion debate in 2009 exceeds that of 1973. The controversy over abortion is not only unsettled and unresolved -- it is still developing before our eyes. To the great consternation of abortion-rights proponents, Americans have not accepted abortion on demand as a permanent reality. As a nation, we have debated any number of issues beyond abortion in recent years, but abortion remains the controversy that is most central, unavoidable, and deeply personal.

The personal dimension of the abortion controversy came to light this week from two unexpected witnesses. The first is Sarah Kliff, a reporter for Newsweek magazine. In a very personal column, Kliff describes her experience visiting Omaha, Nebraska and the abortion clinic of Dr. LeRoy Carhart, now perhaps the nation's sole specialist in late-trimester abortions. As Kliff writes, her experience covering abortion for the magazine over the past two years has led her into contact and conversation with a range of persons on both sides of the abortion debate. She recognizes that, "both sides feel abortion is an issue worth waging war over." the rest

Stubborn facts on Episcopalians

Friday, August 21, 2009
by Douglas LeBlanc

Jon Meacham has occasionally cited John Adams as saying facts are stubborn things, but apparently some facts aren’t stubborn enough to be noticed by Newsweek under Meacham’s editing.

I truly wanted to like Lisa Miller’s latest Newsweek column. For starters, I agree with her: The Episcopal Church attracts far more news coverage than its membership numbers merit. I’ve devoted much of my journalism career to writing about the Episcopal Church, and I am part of the problem. I have no trouble admitting this or laughing about it.

Further, Miller steps up to one of tmatt’s favorite hobbies: Explaining why the Episcopal Church attracts so much coverage.

What ruins the piece for me is that Newsweek has not corrected errors first pointed out by fellow Godbeat scribe Frank Lockwood. It openly corrected one error: The claim that President Reagan ever identified himself as an Episcopalian. It quietly corrected two other problems: Referring to the church’s General Convention as an annual rather than a triennial meeting, and referring to President Ford as if he were still alive. (Under a sacramental reading of Hebrews 12:1, one could make the case for referring to President Ford’s faith in the present tense.)

But Newsweek has let stand some howlers involving membership statistics. As one of many journalists cursed with innumeracy, I sympathize with Miller on these mistakes. I once wildly overstated the membership of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, but as soon as I realized my error I alerted my editor to it, and he corrected it. the rest

Noonan: Pull the Plug on ObamaCare

It's the best cure for what ails the Obama presidency.
August 20, 2009

Looking back, this must have been the White House health-care strategy:

Health care as a subject is extraordinarily sticky, messy and confusing. It's inherently complicated, and it's personal. There are land mines all over the place. Don't make the mistake the Clintons made and create a plan that gets picked apart, shot down, and injures the standing of the president. Instead, push it off on Congress. Let them come up with a dozen plans. It will keep them busy. It will convince them yet again of their importance and autonomy. It will allow them to vent, and perhaps even exhaust, their animal spirits. Various items and elements within each bill will get picked off by the public. Fine, that's to be expected. The bills may in fact yield a target-rich environment. Fine again. Maybe health care's foes will get lost in the din and run out of ammo. Maybe they'll exhaust their animal spirits, too.

Summer will pass, the fight confined to the public versus Congress. And at the end, in the fall, the beauty part: The president swoops in and saves the day, forcing together an ultimate and more moderate plan that doesn't contain the more controversial elements but does constitute a successful first step toward universal health care.

That's not what happened. the rest

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gynecologists in Spain plan to choose jail before performing an abortion

Madrid, Spain
Aug 20, 2009

(CNA).- Dr. Esteban Rodriguez, spokesman for the organization Right to Life (Derecho a Vivir) in Spain, responded yesterday to comments by the country’s Minister of Justice, Francisco Caamano, who said there was no room for a conscience clause in the new law on abortion.

“We are willing to go to jail rather than following a criminal law, Rodriguez said, “and we are willing to commit the supposed crime of disobedience before the crime of abortion.”

“We will not kill our patients, nor will we commit a crime against the public health deliberately harming the heath of women, no matter how much the Minister of Justice threatens us and abuses his power,” the doctor said.

“We doctors are not soldiers, nor policemen, nor executioners. There is no civil disobedience in the refusal to kill a human being, but rather the fulfilling of our professional obligation,” he added. the rest

NYT: Lutherans May Permit Noncelibate Gay Pastors

August 20, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS — Leaders of the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination began a civil but tense debate here on Thursday on whether to ordain gay men and lesbians, an issue that is likely to come to a vote on Friday.

The denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is considering lifting a ban on noncelibate gay and lesbian pastors, permitting the ordination of people in committed same-sex relationships.

At issue is how the Bible should inform policy, how the denomination can best serve its mission, and how a vote to ordain gay men and lesbians would affect the church’s relationships with the broader Christian community. Fears of a schism have been fueled by recent turmoil in the Episcopal Church, which voted in July to permit the ordination of openly gay bishops. The issue has cost the Episcopal Church about 100,000 members, who have left to join a new, more conservative entity called the Anglican Church in North America.

Although an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America task force proposed a “structured flexibility” clause that ultimately would leave gay ordination up to each congregation, a sense of division looms. Some delegates here are cloaked in shawls distributed by a Lutheran organization endorsing gay ordination, while others are wearing buttons from an opposing Lutheran organization. the rest

The Death Book for Veterans

Ex-soldiers don't need to be told they're a burden to society
AUGUST 18, 2009

If President Obama wants to better understand why America's discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your Choices."

Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living." the rest

Your Life, Your Choices-pdf

Veterans Deserve Respect, Not Sly Coercion in Advance Care Planning, Says Aging with Dignity President

ELCA Fear: Admitting Gay Clergy Would ‘Dissolve’ Church Unity

August 20, 2009

Lutherans referred to Anglicans more than once Thursday morning as they discussed whether to admit openly gay and lesbian persons into rostered ministry.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church entered into full communion when both churches approved “Called to Common Mission.” ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly approved the agreement in 1999 and General Convention approved it in 2000.

“I live and serve in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and I feel like I've seen this movie before,” said Pastor Ryan Mills of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod. He said changing ELCA’s policy on rostered clergy will alienate the ELCA from Roman Catholics and will scandalize the church’s ethnic ministries.

“Pastoral practice needs latitude, but the truth can never be compromised,” he added. the rest

Tornado hits ELCA convention; sexuality statement passes

By Stephen J. Lee
August 19 2009

While the Lutherans inside were debating a controversial new social statement on human sexuality, a tornado hit the outside of the Minneapolis Convention Center on Wednesday afternoon. A short time later, the assembly passed by an exact and needed two-thirds majority a controversial new social statement on human sexuality.

Nobody, including the Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, drew any connection between the circumstances. And the main thing: nobody was hurt when the tornado hit, Hanson told the 2,000 people gathered at the church's bienniel national assembly.

The tornado did damage across parts of south Minneapolis, including downing trees and lamp posts, but no injuries were reported.
the rest image

ELCA Approves Sexuality Statement

Lutherans Narrowly Adopt New Sexuality Statement

Albert Mohler: A Quiet Circumvention of Morality -- Women in Combat

Thursday, August 20, 2009

From a Christian perspective, the concern about women in combat goes far beyond the pollsters' questions. If we truly believe that God created men and women for different but complementary roles and shows his glory in the faithfulness of men as primary protectors and women as primary nurturers, the entry of women into combat roles is an open rejection of God's purpose. As military historians document, every society throughout history has normalized the military service of men. Though women have known combat in isolated cases throughout history, the fact that such cases are rare is the exception that proves the rule. This wisdom is part of general revelation and thus the moral wisdom shared by virtually all cultures.

When women are injected into combat, the dignity of women is undermined. In the extreme conditions of combat, women are exposed to the very worst that human beings can do and a physical violence that exceeds the imagination. There is no shortage of arguments against this practice. Biological arguments document differences of physical strength and stamina. Psychological arguments consider not only the psychological profile of women in combat but the difference the presence of women makes on men fighting alongside them. Sociological arguments and economic considerations focus on the costs of women in combat roles. These arguments are important, but not ultimate. the rest image by

'The Biblical Dinner', a Brilliant 'Must See' Documentary Film Releases This Month

GARDEN VALLEY, Calif., Aug. 20 /Christian Newswire/ -- "The Biblical Dinner" a 60-minute video depicting the last supper film releases this month. This DVD Studio Production released by Bridgestone Multimedia Group and Alpha Omega Publishers is a viewers delight.

A film that transforms you back in time... IMAGINE yourself transported to a time before electricity, before upright seating, and before silverware; to a place illuminated by ancient oil lamps, warmed by the laughter of friends who are prepared to give their lives for your safety.

Welcome to THE BIBLICAL DINNER... Pastor Jay McCarl (Calvary Chapel of the Georgetown Divide, CA) hosts an intimate, thought-provoking meal with customs dating back to the time of Abraham, and relevance stretching far into eternity. Pastor Jay explores a variety of subjects including:

• The remarkable historical events surrounding the last supper

• Ancient table manners including Gifts of Hospitality

• The Spiritual ramifications of a single piece of bread

• The unexpected significance of the seating arrangements of the last supper the rest


Hospital Says Nurse Forced to Participate in Abortion Has No Legal Rights

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 19, 2009

New York, NY ( -- New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital believes that a pro-life nurse has no legal rights to defend herself in court after she was forced to participate in an abortion. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit last week for Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo who says she told the hospital about her objections.

Since 2004, officials at Mount Sinai Hospital knew that Cenzon-DeCarlo had deeply-felt pro-life views and would not consent to assisting in an abortion.

That didn't stop hospital officials from threatening her with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion.

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit last month for Cenzon-DeCarlo and now they filed a brief on Monday in response to Mount Sinai Hospital's claim she can't defend herself.
the rest

The Ugly Truth of Obamacare

False charges about Obamacare don't help.
August 19, 2009
By John Stossel

Like the end-of-life tempest. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin popularized the term "death panels." She said: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care".

The charge that the House and Senate health care bills would mandate end-of-life counseling -- hence "death panels" -- caught on. Rush Limbaugh, defending Palin's charge, said, "(D)eath panels ... it's a great way to phrase this end-of-life counseling".

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa piled on: "You have every right to fear. ... We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma". the rest

When it comes to health care reform, Obama doesn't believe reasonable people can disagree

Katherine Mangu-Ward
August 19, 2009

It's funny—I don't feel like a fearmongering naysayer. And I haven't gotten a check from a health insurance lobbyist in ages. Actually, come to think of it, I've never gotten a check from the insurance lobby.

But Obama says that I am, along with (pick your poll) 30 to 60 percent of Americans who are not on board with massive government intervention in one of the biggest and fastest growing sectors of our economy. So it must be true. I do have all the hallmarks of the cynic. "In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain," President Barack Obama wrote in The New York Times on Sunday, after gazing into the near future of the health care debate and seeing a dystopia full of "scare tactics." And it's true.

I am "exploiting" "concerns." By expressing them. In print. In conversation. My 30 to 60 percent fearmongering brethren and I, cynics that we are, just keep having concerns. the rest

The Gloves are Off: Planned Parenthood President Slams U.S. Bishops on Abortion, Healthcare

Wednesday August 19, 2009
By John Jalsevac
August 19, 2009

( - The president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, has penned a scathing editorial, published today in the Huffington Post, in which she sets her sights on the U.S. Catholic bishops, slamming them for their opposition to the abortion mandate in the Obama health care bill, and to abortion in general.

"Does anyone else see the irony in the U.S. bishops wanting to define universal health care as covering everything except for what they don't support?" writes Richards. "Since when does universal health care mean denying comprehensive reproductive health care supported by the majority of Americans?"

Richards then goes on to accuse the bishops of endangering "millions" of women's lives around the globe with their "hard-line opposition to women's rights." "The effort to criminalize access to safe abortion endangers most women in the developing world -- the very women that you would think the bishops would be concerned about," says Richards.

The U.S. bishops, while expressing support for healthcare reform in general, have been adamant in their stance that healthcare reform must not include mandated abortion coverage - something that the current legislation would do if passed. the rest

Competing Emotions
When I watched an abortion for the first time, my reaction surprised me.

[Too bad she didn't watch a partial birth abortion-I bet her reaction would be much more surprising]

More forgo clergy-led funerals for those by secular 'celebrants'

posted August 20, 2009
By Cathy Lynn Grossman

When Kenneth Kistner, 85, died in February, his wife, Carmen, didn't call any clergy.
At the Detroit memorial service for the Marine veteran and retired educator, Kistner's family read a eulogy — one that Kistner himself approved years earlier, when it was drafted by a secular "celebrant" near their retirement home in Largo, Fla.

A growing number of people want to celebrate a loved one's life at a funeral or memorial service without clergy — sometimes even without God.

And that's giving rise to the new specialty of pastoral-style secular celebrants who deliver unique personalized eulogies without the rituals of institutional religion. the rest

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Devotional: Although we have no claim on God's mercies...

Although we have no claim on God's mercies, and although they are altogether undeserved, nonetheless they never cease. We have done much to provoke God and give Him cause to cut off His mercy in our behalf. We have abused His mercy, ignored His mercy, even at times ungratefully accepted His mercy. Still, while God's mercies may not always be visible, they are always present. The mercies of God may change their form, as the morning light varies from the evening light, but the mercies of God will never cease to give their light. Even chastisement is mercy in disguise; and frequently, under the circumstances which make chastisement necessary, it proves to be more merciful than if God had not chastised us at all. ...Woodrow Kroll
image by commorancy

Imagine You Are a Doctor

August 19, 2009
by Hunter Baker

As the debate over healthcare reform has developed, opposition has coalesced against the idea of a “public option” — the creation of a new government insurance program. The most common objection is that the existence of such a program would lead many companies to abandon their employee insurance plans in favor of a cheaper government alternative as a way of cutting costs. Thus, despite the president’s many assurances, individuals with insurance plans they like would probably lose their current coverage and end up moving to something like Medicare. The specter of losing a good private plan and ending up in a less satisfactory public program is a solid reason for opposing the measure, but there is a better reason for opposition. It has to do with human rights.

Imagine that you are a physician. You have made it through four years of college on a steady diet of biology, chemistry, and calculus, four years of medical school so demanding that you have no life outside of school, and at least three years of residency in which you have regularly worked 100 hours a week for a very low salary. You have been the first to get up and the last to go home. And somewhere in there your third decade of life, commonly known as your “twenties” (normally a fun time), has disappeared. Along the way, you have probably racked up an astronomical personal debt because there is no time to work a second job to help pay it off. The first professional hurdle you set out to clear will be six figures accumulating interest. Forget family. If you have a spouse at this point, he or she is probably full of resentment at never seeing you.

After all this, have you made your way to an easy job? No. You are likely spending four days a week seeing patients, another day in surgery, taking a 24 hour call every four days, and working one weekend out of every four. The only time you are ever off is when another doctor can be found to cover your responsibilities while you are out. The job itself is rewarding, but incredibly difficult. You see patients and listen to them explain their symptoms. Using your knowledge, you have to figure out what is wrong with them and which of the many options for treatment you should choose. If you are a specialist who performs surgeries, you have to cut into another human being with a blade and try to correct what is wrong inside the body. It’s stressful work. the rest

UK: Over 45,000 NHS staff call in sick each day

Over 45,000 NHS staff call in sick every day, which is lowering standards of patient care, according to the first national NHS Health and Wellbeing Review into staff habits.
By Andy Bloxham
19 Aug 2009

"But I think they also reflect a light on a problem that is society-wide, which is very bad public health outcomes in our country, whether it is smoking, diet, weight, alcohol, also the issue of sexually transmitted diseases, we have very bad public health outcomes in Britain."

He added: "We need to have an approach that says of course the NHS is absolutely vital in the nation's health, but we do need to protect those public health budgets, and make sure we are making progress on things like smoking, diet and obesity, all the things that will put pressure on the NHS itself in the future." the rest

Hentoff: I am finally scared of a White House administration

August 19, 2009
By Nat Hentoff

I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

The members of that ultimate federal board will themselves not have examined or seen the patient in question. For another example of the growing, tumultuous resistance to "Dr. Obama," particularly among seniors, there is a July 29 Washington Times editorial citing a line from a report written by a key adviser to Obama on cost-efficient health care, prominent bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).

Emanuel writes about rationing health care for older Americans that "allocation (of medical care) by age is not invidious discrimination." (The Lancet, January 2009) He calls this form of rationing — which is fundamental to Obamacare goals — "the complete lives system." You see, at 65 or older, you've had more life years than a 25-year-old. As such, the latter can be more deserving of cost-efficient health care than older folks. the rest

Voters' awareness up, Obama's popularity down

TEC Joins Healthcare Lobbying Effort

August 19, 2009

In an effort to mobilize supporters of healthcare reform, representatives from a number of Christian denominations and others are organizing a national call-in webcast that will feature President Barack Obama. The program will begin at 5:00 p.m. EDT this evening.

The “40 Minutes for Health Reform” webcast is being organized by the advocacy group Faith In Public Life. That group consists of representatives from the Episcopal Church, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Sojourners, the National Council of Churches in Christ, and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, according to a release on the event.

“We believe there is a silent majority that has seen family and friends struggle,” said Kristin Williams, media relations associate for Faith in Public Life. “Those people are not the loud protestors at town hall meetings.” the rest

CANA Announces the “Church and Islam Project”

HERNDON, Va. (August 19, 2009) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) announced its “Church and Islam Project,” an education-focused initiative to help Anglicans in the U.S. understand Islam and the challenge it poses to the Church and its mission.

CANA’s Canon Missioner, the Rev’d Canon Julian Dobbs, recently spoke at CANA’s Annual Council on the subject. “As Christians, we are called to reach out to the world around us to spread the love of Christ and that includes learning how to respond to other religions. CANA is committed to providing its members with honest and respectful information, while exposing the truth about so-called moderate Islam and encouraging evangelism to Muslims,” he said.

In addition to holding educational seminars and providing materials to CANA members, CANA’s “Church and Islam Project” will provide information at a new website: The Church and Islam

An ordained Anglican priest, Mr. Dobbs will be heading the “Church and Islam Project.” He was most recently the U.S. executive director for the Barnabas Fund, at which he developed awareness for the persecuted church and this growing ministry across the U.S.

“Through its association with the Church of Nigeria, CANA has watched with horror as anti-Christian violence has increased especially where Nigerian States have introduced Sharia [Islamic] law. Churches have been burnt and destroyed, Christians have been intimidated and some have been killed, all in the name of Islam. Islam continues to invade the Church here in the U.S., where Christians are increasingly subject to statements from Episcopal bishops and other leaders who confuse parishioners about the theological irregularities of Islam and champion ‘open pulpits’ where mullah’s are invited to teach from lecterns once dedicated to the proclamation of the historic Christian faith,” Rev’d Dobbs continued.

“Countless pastors and churches are being drawn into discussions on Islam and Christ, but we cannot let polite multi-faith dialog substitute for the truth of the Gospel message. CANA is committed to providing resources to help Christians deepen their understanding of Islam and to develop the appropriate Biblical response,” he said.

CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns agrees. “The Gospel message does not exclude a fifth of the world’s population who are Muslims. We are called to love our neighbor – no matter what religion they practice – because the Christian faith has a distinctive message which brings the salvation and love of God to a needy and broken world through the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. link

CANA website

Egyptian priest faced with death fatwa after prayer hall request

Muslim village elders in Minia Governorate in Egypt have issued a death fatwa against a Coptic priest after he sought permission to convert part of his family home into a prayer hall.
by Anne Thomas
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

According to the United Copts of Great Britain (UCGB), Father Estefanos Shehata was also banned for one month from entering his home village of Ezbet Dawood Youssef in Minia Governate.

Father Estefanos told the Middle East Christian Association (MECA) that the Muslim elders had reacted angrily to his request for the prayer hall, which he had wanted to use to conduct funeral services and marriage ceremonies.

Buildings must receive special licenses from the Egyptian government before they can be used for religious purposes, something Coptic Christians have traditionally struggled to obtain.

Although Ezbet Dawood Youssef is home to around 800 Coptic Christians, they are yet to receive permission for their own church despite the village already having one mosque and constructing a second. the rest

Christ Church members wrestle with new Episcopal policies

By Abe Levy

Hundreds of members of Christ Episcopal Church, one of the largest and most influential Episcopal churches in South Texas, filled their parish hall Tuesday evening to meet with their bishop, Gary Lillibridge, and ask him this: Is there room in the Episcopal Church USA for their long-standing, conservative beliefs?

At the Episcopal Church's annual meeting last month, its leaders voted to open the door to ordaining gay clergy in committed relationships and blessing same-sex unions.

The decision has sparked much discussion among the 90 parishes in the Diocese of West Texas, a district with about 30,000 members that spans much of South and Central Texas. Lillibridge voted against the new policies at last month's convention, saying restraint at this unstable time is best for dealing with this controversial matter.

“At this point, it's going to take all of us working together with God's wisdom as a very diverse diocese to come up with a response,” he said after the meeting at Christ Church, the largest donor to the West Texas Diocese and its largest church with up to 800 people at weekly services. the rest

Study: Homosexuals Twice as Likely to Seek Mental Health, Substance Abuse Treatment

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
August 18, 2009

( - A study led by Susan Cochran and her team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, published in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry, reports that homosexuals seek treatment for mental health issues or substance abuse at a rate over two times higher than heterosexuals.

The study of 2074 people interviewed in the California Health Interview Survey found that 48.5% of homosexual and bisexual individuals reported receiving psychiatric or drug abuse treatment in the past year as compared to 22.5% of heterosexuals.

When the research results were broken down by gender, the report states that lesbians and bisexual women received the most medical treatment and heterosexual men received the least. the rest

Ninety-five Lutherans come out during ELCA vote on gay pastors

By Andy Birkey

As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) meets in Minneapolis to vote on the inclusion of openly gay and lesbian clergy, proponents are making sure the stories of gay and lesbian pastors are heard. Advocates are distributing a document in which 95 members of the Lutheran clergy — a number that references Martin Luther’s 95 Theses — announce that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The booklet, “One Table, Many Blessings” (pdf), shares how the ban on openly gay clergy has affected their lives.

Currently church rules state openly gay or lesbian clergy should remain celibate and not enter into same-sex relationships. A vote later this week could change those rules to allow clergy who are in committed, life-long same-sex partnerships. the rest

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Binghamton college told to stop discriminating against churches

College scraps discriminatory policy prohibiting use of facilities for religious purposes
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have reached a favorable settlement agreement with Broome Community College on behalf of North Pointe Church, which is now allowed equal access to campus facilities after being told it was no longer permitted to meet on campus. ADF attorneys filed suit in February over the school’s discriminatory policy prohibiting religious groups from renting its buildings for meetings while allowing other similarly situated community groups to do so.

“Churches shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Daniel Blomberg. “We are pleased that Broome Community College now recognizes the constitutional right of churches and other religious groups to meet in public meeting facilities on the same terms as other groups.”

North Pointe Church had been regularly holding meetings in a rented facility on the Broome Community College campus for several months. But college officials invoked a ban on “religious services” and barred the church from continuing to rent space there after a few members of the public complained to the college about a church meeting in a public facility.

ADF attorneys, along with local counsel Raymond Dague of Syracuse, filed North Pointe Church v. Moppert with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of NewYork, arguing that churches have equal access to public facilities under the law and cannot be discriminated against because of the religious nature of their meetings--especially as paying customers.

In March, just days after the filing, the college stated in court that it would be closing its facilities to everyone on weekends because of financial constraints that made it cheaper to simply close the buildings; however, later evidence revealed that Broome’s buildings actually remained open on the weekends for other uses.

Barred from using the campus, the church searched for and found another location at which to meet during the ongoing litigation and plans to continue meeting at its new location now that it has already moved. However, the change in the Broome policy removes an unconstitutional barrier for any church that wishes to meet on the campus on equal terms with other groups in the future.

ADF attorneys filed a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit with the court Tuesday in light of the settlement, in which the college also agreed to reimburse legal fees and costs. link (Picture by Raymond Dague)

Ultimately, government health represents the nationalization of your body

August 15, 2009
Mark Steyn

Some years ago, when I was a slip of a lad, I found myself commiserating with a distinguished American songwriter about the death of one of his colleagues. My 23-year-old girlfriend found all the condolence talk a bit of a bummer and was anxious to cut to the chase and get outta there. “Well,” she said breezily. “He had a good innings. He was 85.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” he said. “I’m 84.”

That’s where Obamacare leads: You’re 84, and it’s easy for him to say. Easy for him to say what you need — or don’t need. Relax, he assured an audience of puffball-lobbing plants in Portsmouth, N.H. . . . By the way, when I mock “puffball-lobbing plants,” obviously all such events are stage-managed, but the trick is to make it not quite so obvious. When Nixon was campaigning in ’68, Roger Ailes used to let a couple of dirty no-good long-haired peaceniks into the room so his candidate could swat ‘em down: It ginned up the crowd, made for better TV, and got the candidate pumped. “Thought it went well tonight,” he’d say. “Really socked it to those hippies.” In essence, Ailes stage-managed it to look un-stage-managed. If those who oppose Obamacare are merely a bunch of “un-American” “evil-mongers” (according to, respectively, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid), the cause would benefit from allowing the president to really sock it to a couple of them once in a while. To retreat behind a wall of overly drooling sycophants does not help Obama at this stage in the game. the rest

Central Asia Sounds Alarm on Islamic Radicalism

August 17, 2009

KOSH-KORGON, Kyrgyzstan — The three men were locals who were said to have once crossed into nearby Afghanistan to wage war alongside the Taliban. They then returned, militant wayfarers apparently bent on inciting an Afghan-style insurgency in this tinderbox of a valley in Central Asia. By late June, they were holed up in a house here, stockpiling Kalashnikov rifles and watching pirated DVDs of martial arts movies.

Their exact plans will most likely never be known. The Kyrgyz security services tracked them down a week after their arrival and stormed the building, according to officials and village residents. All three men were killed, including one who blew himself up with a grenade after being wounded.

The security operation was one in a recent spate of firefights and attacks in Central Asia that have raised concerns that homegrown militants with experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan may be trying to move north to take on the region’s brittle governments. the rest

Lutherans debate dropping celibacy requirement for gay clergy

A proposal up for a vote at this week's convention would permit ministers and lay leaders who were in 'lifelong, monogamous, same-sex relationships.'
By Duke Helfand
August 18, 2009

The nation's largest Lutheran denomination opened debate Monday over a proposal to allow noncelibate gays and lesbians to serve in the clergy.

Leaders of the 4.7-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are expected to decide during their weeklong Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis whether to alter existing policy, which requires gays and lesbians in ministry to remain celibate.

The new policy would permit local congregations, if they wanted, to choose ministers or lay leaders who were in "lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships." the rest

ELCA Opens 2009 Church Assembly with Call for Respectful Discussions

Fashionable vs. modest apparel becomes an issue in Colorado

Summertime often tests the question of what not to wear.
By Claire Trageser and Electa Draper
The Denver Post

In fashion, less might be more and skin might be in, but offices, churches, schools and many shoppers often find what's in vogue is outside their comfort zone.

Despite summer heat and the revealing clothing sold in most stores, office bosses, school principals and Denver's Catholic archbishop are reminding women to keep their bodies covered.
This lesson was a hard one for an intern at Denver Advertising, a Christian-based agency.

Mike Lash, the agency's director, said the woman would often wear cropped or low-cut shirts and too- short skirts. Lash had another female employee suggest clothing that might be more appropriate.

"Revealing clothing can be distracting and can send the wrong message," Lash said. "We don't want a client that wants us for our breast size."

Finding fashionable and modest clothing can be difficult for everyone from preteens to middle-aged women. the rest image

Albert Mohler: It Promises Far Too Little -- The False Gospel of Prosperity Theology

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"God knows where the money is, and he knows how to get the money to you." That was the message of Gloria Copeland as she was speaking at the Southwest Believers' Convention recently held in Fort Worth, Texas. The event drew the attention of The New York Times and reporter Laurie Goodstein contributed a compelling report about the meeting and its message.

The Southwest Believers' Convention drew a crowd of more than 9,000 to hear an "all-star lineup" of preachers deliver the message of the prosperity gospel. One by one, the preachers and the speakers enticed the gathered thousands by offering them the assurance that God wants them rich -- even fabulously rich.

As Goodstein reports, the preachers were not shy about drawing attention to the luxurious lives they lead. "Private airplanes and boats. A motorcycle sent by an anonymous supporter. Vacations in Hawaii and cruises in Alaska. Designer handbags. A ring of emeralds and diamonds." According to the preachers of the prosperity gospel, these are merely examples of the riches and rewards that come to those who have sufficient faith -- and invest sufficient funds in the ministries of the prosperity preachers. the rest image

Deepening of partnership between the Diocese of Egypt and the Diocese of Singapore


A historic Memorandum of Understanding between St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore and All Saints’ Cathedral, Cairo, Egypt with St. Mark’s Pro-Cathedral, Alexandria, Egypt was signed on the 1st of August 2009 in Singapore in order to set the pace for cooperation and partnership in a “Twinning Companionship.” The Most Revd Dr Mouneer Anis, the President Bishop of Jerusalem & the Middle East & the Bishop in Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, was present to sign the documents. He was visiting as the invited Retreat Speaker at the Extra-ordinary Synod of the Province of South East Asia at Kuala Terengganu, West Malaysia called for the election of its new Primate and Archbishop, July 28 to 29, 2009. the rest

Robert Novak, Long-Time Conservative Columnist, Dies at 78

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Robert D. Novak, 78, an influential columnist and panelist on TV news-discussion shows who called himself a "stirrer up of strife" on behalf of conservative causes, died today at his home in Washington of a brain tumor first diagnosed in July 2008.

Novak's "Inside Report" syndicated column, shared for 30 years with the late Rowland Evans, was important reading for anyone who wanted to know what was happening in Washington. Novak and Evans broke stories about presidential politics, fiscal policy and inter-party feuds. Their journalism, which reported leaks from the highest sources of government, often had embarrassing consequences for politicians.

In recent years, Novak was best known for publicly identifying CIA operative Valerie Plame. His July 14, 2003, column was printed days after Plame's husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly claimed the Bush White House had knowingly distorted intelligence that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa.

The column triggered a lengthy federal investigation into the Plame leak and resulted in the 2007 conviction of a top vice presidential aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, for perjury and obstruction of justice. Bush later commuted Libby's prison term. the rest image

Why Obama's Ratings Are Sinking

Americans will put up with a lot. But not with someone who imperils their future.
AUGUST 17, 2009

Public approval ratings of Barack Obama may be falling quickly right now—but his rating of the American public is probably falling even faster.

The president won a decisive victory in November promising to rescue the ailing American economy through public spending, and to reform the health system with government at the core. He has certainly succeeded in spending money. The Congressional Budget Office now estimates that the national debt will balloon to $17.1 trillion by 2019. And he is trying valiantly to deliver on his second promise. Between keeping his promises and the signs of an improving economy, Mr. Obama has every reason to think his approval ratings should be flying high.

Instead, Gallup reports that disapproval of the president's economic policies has grown to 49% in July from 30% in February. Even among the president's core supporters, young people in the 18-29 age group, his overall approval has dropped 11 points since January. the rest

Rifqa Bary Before her Escape: Beatings, Brutality, Subjugation

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rifqa Bary is an honor student, a cheerleader - a good girl. Like Amina and Sarah Said, she lived two lives: she was a happy productive successful student in school and a tortured, oppressed and brutalized victim at home. Many in her school were shocked to hear that Rifqa, the quintessential good girl, had run away from home; those close to her were not surprised at all.

On several occasions friends of Rifqa would bring her down to the school counselor because of bruises on her legs and her arms, beatings suffered at the hands of her father and brother (sounds like Islam Said). The middle school, in a serious dereliction of duty, did not report these beatings to child welfare services. Beatings were random, violent, unprovoked. Take, for example, when Rifqa and her father Mohammad were driving in the car. He would force her to wear the hijab, which she hated. In her discomfort she would slouch down, embarrassed, and her father would haul off and sock her in the face so that she never forgot to sit up straight in her costume. The beatings were regular and so much a part of the landscape of Rifqa's life, she became inured to them, just like Amina and Sarah and Aqsa and every "honor" victim. the rest

White House disables e-tip box

by Mike Allen

Following a furor over how the data would be used, the White House has shut down an electronic tip box — — that was set up to receive information on “fishy” claims about President Barack Obama’s health plan.

E-mails to that address now bounce back with the message: “The e-mail address you just sent a message to is no longer in service. We are now accepting your feedback about health insurance reform via” the rest

Obama Admin Official Sebelius Wants End-of-Life Counseling in Health Care Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 17, 2009

Washington, DC ( -- During a weekend interview, a top Obama official said she wants the controversial end-of-life counseling proposal to remain in the final version of the health care bill Obama may receive. The counseling, which skeptics say amounts to "death panels" could promote assisted suicide and health are rationing.

The sections are found in the House version of the health care bills and they call for giving doctors financial incentives to discuss end-of-life issues.

Critics complain that doctors should not be paid to have the discussions and worry that they will promote assisted suicide in states where the practice is legal and promote rationing such as the denial of lifesaving medical treatment or food and water. the rest

Witchcraft in the White House

by Kristen Atkinson
Saturday, August 15

The Obama White House is abuzz with talk of witchcraft by first grandmother, 72-year-old Marian Robinson, who lives in the White House residence. A close friend of Michelle Obama says the president is furious at his mother-in-law after learning that she was practicing Santeria, an African spirit cult, in the White House.

"The president is quite upset about this on two different levels. First, he is a committed Christian, no matter what his critics say about Reverend Wright. He is adamant that Sasha and Malia be raised with Christian influences. He does not want them to be involved with African voodoo. And secondly, he is worried about the political fallout if his enemies get wind of this. Rev. Wright was bad enough, but this would be political suicide," a close friend of Michelle’s confided.

Religion took center stage during the campaign last year when videos showed the Rev. Jeremiah Wright shouting "God damn America." Obama was forced to distance himself from the since-retired pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where he worshiped for 20 years. Many people were shocked by the videos and questioned Obama’s fitness to be president. Since taking office, Obama has avoided worshiping in public and now prefers the chapel at the presidential retreat at Camp David. the rest

Monday, August 17, 2009

Devotional: Our adversary majors in three things...

Our adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness,” he will rest satisfied. ...Richard J. Foster
image by BMigulski

Elderly “mercy killings” spur argument among experts

An act of benevolence or murder?
Monday, August 10, 2009

Mixed feelings filled Alan Doby as he recalls the recent loss of three family members.

There was a sense compassion and relief for his aging father, George A. Doby, 87, who killed himself after fatally shooting his 85-year-old wife, Edna, who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.

But Alan Doby smoldered with a quiet anger because his autistic son Jacob also was killed that day, July 26, by George Doby’s hand.

“He meant no malice,” Alan Doby said of his father’s actions in his parent’s violent death. “He didn’t want to see her in pain.

“But I don’t understand why he had to take Jacob.”

In a two-week period last month, murder-suicides claimed the lives of two Metro Atlanta couples in their ‘80s. the rest

Afghan Husbands Win Right to Starve Wives

August 17, 2009,
By Robert Mackey

Bowing to international pressure and unprecedented protests by hundreds of women on the streets of Kabul, the Afghan government promised in April to review a new law imposing severe restrictions on women in Shiite Muslim families.

Last week, though, Human Rights Watch discovered that a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, “except in extreme circumstances.”

The new law was signed by President Hamid Karzai, who is depending on support from Sheik Muhammad Asif Mohseni, the country’s most powerful Shiite cleric, in this week’s presidential election. Shiites, who were oppressed by the Sunni-led Taliban government, are believed to make up between 10 and 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population. Sheik Mohseni and scholars close to him were allowed to write the first draft of the new law, and he was reportedly unhappy that Parliament had introduced a provision that banned men from marrying girls under the age of 16. the rest

Conservatives Now Outnumber Liberals in All 50 States, Says Gallup Poll

Monday, August 17, 2009
By Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief

( - Self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals in all 50 states of the union, according to the Gallup Poll.

At the same time, more Americans nationwide are saying this year that they are conservative than have made that claim in any of the last four years.

In 2009, 40% percent of respondents in Gallup surveys that have interviewed more than 160,000 Americans have said that they are either “conservative” (31%) or “very conservative” (9%). That is the highest percentage in any year since 2004. the rest

Presiding Bishop outraged over Israeli evictions

Monday, 17th August 2009
By George Conger

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has joined the international chorus of voices expressing outrage over the Aug 2 eviction by Israeli police of two Arab families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem.

In an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton published on Aug 5, Bishop Jefferts Schori said “this action undermines the quest for peace led by you and President Obama and represents a step backward in the peace process and a likely precursor to further violence.”

On Aug 3 Mrs Clinton called the eviction "deeply regrettable" and "provocative," and told reporters the “the eviction of families and demolition of homes in east Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations.” the rest

Reader's Digest plans to file for U.S. bankruptcy

Mon Aug 17, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Reader's Digest Association Inc, publisher of the widely-read Reader's Digest magazine, said on Monday it would likely file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for its U.S. businesses to cut its debt load.

The media company, known worldwide for its family-friendly namesake magazine, been trying to slash costs and boost growth since it was taken private in 2007 by an investor group led by Ripplewood Holdings LLC.

The bankruptcy would take the form of a so-called pre-arranged filing, Reader's Digest said in a statement. A pre-arranged filing comes after a company has already reached deals with its lenders to cut its debt.
the rest image

Overhauling health-care system tops agenda at annual meeting of Canada's doctors

By Jennifer Graham (CP)
posted August 17, 2009

SASKATOON — The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.

Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.

"We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"We know that there must be change," she said. "We're all running flat out, we're all just trying to stay ahead of the immediate day-to-day demands." the rest

EEOC: The Pill more important than religious liberty

Sunday August 16, 2009
Rod Dreher

According to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, requiring religious colleges to provide contraceptive coverage in their health care plans is more important than religious liberty -- a stance that's led the president of the Catholic Belmont Abbey College to say he'll close the college before giving in to Caesar:

The president of a small Catholic college said Friday he would rather close the school's doors than violate the church's teachings on contraception should the college lose the latest battle involving health-insurance laws and religious freedom.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that Belmont Abbey College violated discrimination laws because the school's employee health insurance plan does not cover contraception, according to a letter the EEOC sent to the school...

Oh, please. There is no such thing as male contraceptives, and if there were, they would also be prohibited under Roman Catholic moral teaching. Men can undergo sterilization proceedings, though, and when the college discovered it was inadvertently providing coverage for them, it closed those loopholes. No, this is all about people in the government who don't like the Catholic Church's stance on contraception trying to use a bogus discrimination law violation to force the college to violate its collective Catholic conscience.

You don't have to agree with the Catholic Church's stance on contraception to find this ruling appalling. Is it really the case that the failure to cover birth control pills for people who voluntarily seek employment at this tiny liberal arts college is an outrage so great that it's worth bringing down the weight of the federal government on this college? By the EEOC's reasoning here, wouldn't affirmative action programs designed to privilege racial minorities be a violation of federal law because they exclude people on the basis of race?

Again, this is not about equality. This is about punishing a Catholic college for being Catholic, in defiance of the sexual revolution. Folks ought to be raising hell about it. the rest

Albert Mohler: The Hidden Reality of Abortion -- Empowering Men

Monday, August 17, 2009

America's long war over abortion has classically been defined as a struggle between competing rights -- depicted as the right of a woman to have an abortion versus the right of an unborn child to the protection of life. This long-familiar framing of the issue suggests, at the very least, that the rights of women and their unborn children are, or at least they can be, presented as an irresolvable conflict.

From the very beginning, this has been an unsatisfactory approach to the abortion controversy. Those who contend for the sanctity of human life at every stage of development are, by virtue of moral necessity, also concerned with the health, welfare, and well-being of women. The reduction of the abortion question to a matter of "rights" is itself a symptom of our moral confusion.

One of the most insidious aspects of the abortion controversy has been the success of the feminist movement in presenting abortion on demand as a matter central to the liberation of women. The feminist logic suggests that women can never be seen as equal to men in terms of career so long as the "risk" and reality of pregnancy and motherhood are present. As the feminists argue, abortion becomes a mechanism for leveling the playing field and for liberating women. the rest

Her Choice, Her Problem: How Abortion Empowers Men

Islam: America's New Firebell in the Night

Monday, August 17, 2009
by Allen Hunt

I did not know Thomas Jefferson, and I am no Thomas Jefferson. But Jefferson rightly foresaw that slavery and the question of its morality and expansion would be America's “firebell in the night.” We are still coming to terms today with the awful legacy of slavery in a free land.

However, Islam represents today's “firebell in the night.” The so-called “religion of peace” stands as a small, but growing, presence in America, and its slowly increasing demands for accommodation have thus far generally met with acquiescence and ignorance. One cannot help but wonder how long it will be before America awakens to the very real threat within its own borders, a threat not only to life but to freedom as well. the rest

Mainline Protestant groups weigh policies affecting gay people

by Jeff Diamant/The Star-Ledger
Sunday August 16, 2009

It was Aug. 5, 2003, and bishops at the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church had just voted for the first time to let an openly gay man become a bishop. Louie Crew of Montclair, active in Episcopal Church politics for decades, was there in Minneapolis and vividly remembers trying to hide his jubilation when Gene Robinson was made bishop of New Hampshire.

"We were under strict orders not to cheer," said Crew, who is gay, recalling the scene in the auditorium that day at the Minneapolis Convention Center. "We all respected the fact that it was a momentous decision that would be very painful to a large minority of the persons present. I don't think there was anybody that disrespected those restraints."

Still, to no one's surprise, keeping the Church together afterward has been a struggle.

Four Episcopal dioceses, in Fort Worth, Texas.; Quincy, Ill.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and San Joaquin, Calif., have split with the national church over the issue. African conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which the Episcopal Church is part of, have aligned with those departing U.S. dioceses. the rest

Lutheran gay policies face close vote

Proposal would allow clergy in open same-sex relationships
By Julia Duin
Monday, August 17, 2009

America's largest Lutheran denomination has reached its crossroads on homosexuality and allowing openly gay clergy, with crucial votes slated at its biennial assembly this week in Minneapolis that participants say are too close to call.

"We recognize we're in for some long conversation this week," said Virginia Synod Bishop James F. Mauney, who oversees 42,000 members in 163 churches across the state. "I am hopeful that our worship will guide our conversation and we will be guided by the Holy Spirit."

The gathering of 65 synods representing the 4.6-million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America mirrors a denomination split over homosexuality.

Only celibate gay clergy can serve in ELCA churches. A small majority - 54 percent - of ELCA clergy support gay ordination, according to a Clergy Voices survey conducted in May and posted recently on the denomination's Web site. the rest