Saturday, November 27, 2004
Towards a Constancy of Values: It Starts with the Unborn
It got me to thinking about moral stances, and their implications. Let's start with abortion. The normal argument, the argument that was presented to me at the start of this thought, is mother's rights vs. rights of the unborn.
Think about it. The choice comes down to whether a mother has the right to commit a killing of a living person in order to not have to deal with that person, either by raising it herself or turning it over to the authorities. It's overwhelmingly a choice of convenience, with only a tiny fraction dealing with birth defects, medical need or, or rape and incest. It's a case of a mother deciding that she just doesn't want to deal with it. Or her significant other, or parent.
So a human being, in the most defenseless part of its life, is killed to make her mother's life more convenient.
Any rights based on killing someone so that someone else is not inconvenienced is already an immoral choice.
The morality that says nine months of a woman's life is more valuable thatthe life of a baby. She doesn't even have to raise that baby, just give it enough time to be born. This says that life that isn't convenient is not very valuable.
When a morality that says life is not very valable, that a woman can squelch it anytime she wants before it is outside of her body, is confronted with someone who is an oppressor who is killing huge numbers of people and tossing them into unmarked graves and is supporting the murder of people via terrorist techniques, it should not be surprising atht many who hold this view say its wrong to do anything to help those people. Although they claim a moral high ground because some people are hurt in the meanwhile, what it really reiterates is that life is only valuable if it's convenient, not because it is a special thing. Fighting a war against an oppressor, especially when its a war sponsored by someone whose politics you already hate is so convenient to reject, even if the greater good of mankind is benefited by it.
Life is only valuable when it's convenient allows for all sorts of hideous outcomes. The Killing Fields in Cambodia are only bad because it was no longer convenient to ignore them, not because of the inherent evil done in the name of ideology. That murder of innocents in terrorism is only bad if it inconveniences your way of life. That letting babies and mothers starve so others can get rich by skimming large amounts of money off a program to aid them is perfectly a moral thing to do, because their death and suffering is just an inconvenience. Charity becomes the role of the state, and I shouldn't have to reach into my own pocket (the states highest in the liberal mindset are proven least likely to personally contribute). It's not convenient.
The consistancy of view here means: Life is cheap. It has no inherent value. It only becomes valuable if I want it to be valuable. Anyone else can go to perdition.
This is not a very positive view to base a morality on.
The other view, the Pro-life view, is life is sacred, a gift of God, and it should be cherished. Babies shouldn't be punished because of the mistakes of the mother, and if the mother doesn't want to raise it, why there are many, many people who will be happy to relieve her from that burden.
It means the poor need to be cared for, because they are children of God, and it means that looking down on them, creating programs that will destroy their families and keep them poor and a source of discontent and easy voters is an evil thing to do. It means helping those we can to learn how to make the best of life, by not turning our backs on them, but helping them to learn how to care for themeselves, and being there to help them if they fail. This is not necessarily the government's job only - it's the job of all people. In fact, it becomes more the job of the individual, because when he doesn't do it, he's copped out.
It means that the ill deserve respect and care, not being put down when it is inconvenient to care for them, even if they have damage like brain injury or birth defects.
It has other implications, many of them based not on what the government should do, but what we, as human beings who understand that life is sacred should do. Perhaps prison sentences should be more humane, or perhaps the death penalty should be transmuted into life without parole type sentences, or other reforms, because the people involved, even when they have done wrong, have value.
People have value beyond their being a cog in the wheel of the state. People have value because they are created in the image of God, and this is the inherent value this country was founded on:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The morality that this country was founded on in ideal (even if not in true practice) was that we are each valuable just because we are alive. And when you begin basing your morality on the convenience of life, not the sacredness of life, you undermine just those things we have been striving to create here.
And yes, it really starts with the rights of the unborn.
Also Posted at Knitting A Conundrum
Diversity, like Tolerance, seems only to count if it works for them....
A Latino attorney general? A black woman as secretary of state?
Who would have imagined it 50 years ago – or even, more recently, say, during the Clinton administration? Give President Bush credit for breaking barriers that his Democratic predecessor never got around to breaking.
Just don't try telling that to white liberals who are thrilled with the idea of minorities doing well – as long as they can claim credit. If they can't, or if the minorities happen to be conservative, things can get messy.
The American people are about to get a sense of just how messy now that Mr. Bush has nominated Alberto Gonzales to head the Justice Department and Condoleezza Rice to run the State Department.
Senate Democrats don't have the votes to thwart the nominations, but that won't stop them from trying to bloody the nominees before they take office. Witness what happened 13 years ago during the confirmation process for Clarence Thomas, who went from Pin Point, Ga., to Yale Law School to a seat on the Supreme Court – but not before being subjected to what Mr. Thomas called a "high-tech lynching" for challenging liberal orthodoxy on affirmative action, abortion and other issues close to the hearts of Democratic constituencies.
As Democrats sink their teeth into the Gonzales and Rice nominations, note the condescension. Liberals can – in one breath – convey both the high opinion they have of themselves and the low opinion they have of everyone else.
I've had a taste. During a stint as a columnist at a newspaper in Arizona, I criticized a Democratic U.S. attorney for ducking a civil rights case involving Latinos. I got lots of angry phone calls and e-mails. One note that stands out: A reader asked where I'd be "without affirmative action secured for (me) by the Democratic Party."
And now Mr. Gonzales and Dr. Rice might get a taste of their own. It's nothing personal. It's about credit, and who gets it. If Mr. Bush, with these appointments, scores points with minorities, Democrats will have to face these constituencies and this question: "What have you done for me lately?"
Liberals know that, which is why they're under pressure. And people under pressure tend to say and do really dumb things. Like the left-leaning reader who e-mailed me to criticize Mr. Gonzales and couldn't resist trying to stick a big sombrero on the Harvard Law School graduate. The reader wrote: "Execution of the mentally defective? Fine with Alberto. Health and safety? You don't need no stinkin' laws ensuring a safe workplace. ... He may end up killing more Mexicans than hypertension."
Nice. I especially like the "stinkin' " line – borrowed from the 1948 film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, in which a very Mexican-looking fellow famously boasts: "Badges? ... I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!" Now, I have to wonder: Would the reader have chosen the same words to attack someone whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower? Somehow, I doubt it.
We've already seen a whole number of racist style political cartoons against Ms. Rice, enough so that some black groups were beginning to speak out about it. Bet it gets a lot thicker here before it's over. True tolerance and understanding of diversity means people don't have to lockstep behind you. And it is a great day for growth in American when we find that people like Ms. Rice and Mr. Gonzalez can reach some of the top levels of the American government. We should be rejoicing at how the American dream of opporunity and equality actually still work, instead of dragging them through the mud as Uncle Toms and Aunt Jemimas, when it was their own hard work and smarts that got them there.
What the Nazis Called for - Closer to Conservatives or Liberals?
Comparing someone to a Nazi involves far more of an emotional appeal than a factual argument, unless the person is, in fact, a card-carrying Nazi. If you're not actually discussing genocide and brutal world domination, the Nazi comparison is just plain offensive. What confuses most people is its frequent application to pretty much anybody to the ideological right of Lenin.
In fact, the Nazis were actually socialists by nature, not capitalists. In a 1927 speech, Hitler said, ''We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.''
The word ''Nazi'' is short for Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiter-Partei, or National Socialist German Workers' Party. Hitler came to power by turning the unemployed, the working class, and the academic elitists against the rather conservative German republic. In fact, once he achieved power, anyone who questioned his policies was branded a ''conservative reactionary'' by the state press.
In a widely distributed 1932 pamphlet, Joseph Goebbels addressed the question of Socialism. ''We are socialists,'' he wrote, ''because we see the social question as a matter of necessity and justice for the very existence of a state for our people, not a question of cheap pity or insulting sentimentality. The worker has a claim to a living standard that corresponds to what he produces.''
The Nazi Party platform contained 25 demands, adopted in 1920 and essentially unaltered at the time Hitler took power. Many of those socialist demands resonate far better with modern-day American liberals than Conservatives. Consider the following examples:
7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens.
Does this sound more akin to the liberal belief that the government is responsible for job losses or gains, or the conservative position that jobs are created by private enterprise (though helped or hindered by current economic policies)? Does it sound like a demand for welfare?
11. Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery.
This is aimed directly at landlords and large business owners. It hardly seems likely that capitalists and conservatives would insist that no one receive any money unless he personally earn it by doing the actual work themselves.
12. In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
If that doesn't sound like today's standard liberal hate speech against Halliburton, nothing ever will.
13. We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).
Nationalization of industries is hardly in line with the conservative aim of privatization of industries. It's liberals, in general, who want to nationalize industries (starting with healthcare).
14. We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.
Wealth redistribution? Does that sound like a particularly right-wing ideal?
15. We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.
Republicans and conservatives are accused of wanting to halt Medicare and steal Social Security in every election cycle, so this demand for expansion could hardly be a part of any conservative agenda.
25. For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich. Unlimited authority of the central parliament over the whole Reich and its organizations in general.
Conservatives, who favor more limited government with lower taxes (in order to restrict its growth), would directly oppose a strong central government with unlimited authority (possibly resisting with guns, which German citizens first had to register, then surrender).
Despite the historical facts, liberals frequently insist on equating conservatives and Republicans to Nazis. This is only done to stir up feelings of hate, of course. If Democrats want to know why they keep losing elections, it's because they allow the left-wing politics of hatred to be their public face. Until the Democrats relegate liberals to the minority fringe where they belong, we will continue to see the country slide towards a one-party system, which would be detrimental to us all.
Source: Joe Mariani, Chronwatch.com Emphasis added
Friday, November 26, 2004
UNScam & Annan's Son
The secretary-general's son, Kojo Annan, was previously reported to have worked for a Swiss-based company called Cotecna Inspection Services SA, which from 1998-2003 held a lucrative contract with the U.N. to monitor goods arriving in Saddam Hussein's Iraq under the oil-for-food program. But investigators are now looking into new information suggesting that the younger Annan received far more money over a much longer period, even after his compensation from Cotecna had reportedly ended.
The importance of this story involves not only undisclosed conflicts of interest, but the question of the role of the secretary-general himself, at a time when talk is starting to be heard around the U.N. that it is time for him to resign, and the staff labor union is in open rebellion against "senior management."
"What other bombshells are out there being hidden from the public and U.N. member governments?" asked an investigator on Rep. Henry Hyde's International Relations Committee, which has held hearings on oil-for-food.
From the NY Sun:
The younger Annan stopped working for Cotecna in late 1998, but it now turns out that he continued to receive money from Cotecna not only through 1999, as recently reported, but right up until February of this year. The timing coincides with the entire duration of Cotecna's work for the U.N. oil-for-food program. It now appears the payments to the younger Annan ended three months after the U.N., in November, 2003, closed out its role in oil-for-food and handed over the remains of the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
This latest bombshell involving the secretary-general's son was confirmed Wednesday by Kofi Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, in response to this reporter's query, based on information obtained elsewhere. In an email, Mr. Eckhard wrote: "I was able to reach Kojo's lawyer this morning. He confirms that Kojo Annan received payments from Cotecna as recently as February 2004. The lawyer said that these payments were part of a standard non-competition agreement, under which the decision as to whether to continue the payments or not was up to Cotecna."
Lessons in Tolerance
Air Force Academy officials sent out a memo in September notifying staff of their policy on tolerance. "Our policy is clear. Tolerance of gender, racial, ethnic and religious diversity is required at our Air Force," one official said.
Under the policy, certain staffers were admonished for putting innocuous biblical verses at the bottom of their e-mails, and cadets were warned after using academy e-mail accounts to encourage others to see Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."
Don't be confused. This was not a church/state issue per se, but involved the school's "tolerance" policy. But can't you see how the term has been mangled to further certain ends having nothing to do with the stated policy of promoting tolerance?
Is it "tolerant" for the school to discourage Christian students or staff from speaking freely about their faith, in e-mails, no less? Only if we accept the idea that Christianity is presumptively offensive and intolerant on its face.
As far as I can tell, there was nothing remotely threatening to non-Christians in those e-mails, merely positive words about Christianity. But in many pockets of postmodern America, bold (and even meek) professions of Christianity are often seen as expressions of intolerance precisely because intolerant secularists have succeeded in branding Christianity itself as intolerant.
Another step in the attempt to establish Atheism as the state religion....Or why else should freedom of religion be interpreted as being freedom from religion? True tolerance would allow us all, no matter what our personal religious persuasions, to have a say, Christian, Wiccan, Buddhist, Islamist, or Atheist. This freedom from religion functions as the establishment of one, Atheism, as the official state position.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Abortion: Facts Banish the Myth of the Backyard Butcher
As senior Government figures state their view that there are too many abortions, especially late abortions, and pro-choice voices raise the spectre of backyard deaths if abortions are restricted by law, it is time, says Dr David van Gend, to correct the historical and clinical misconceptions surrounding the "myth" of the backyard butcher.
There is no denying the power of the "No coat-hangers" cry raised by abortion pressure-groups in response to recent public statements by politicians, but it is the power of emotional blackmail. It says to citizens, if you put any limits at all on abortion, women will die again in the backyard, and you will be responsible.
That vision, however, is an illusion. The whole backyard butcher scare campaign can be discredited by a few historical facts. Women will not die as a result of laws limiting abortion.
Fact one: making abortion legal or illegal has never, historically, made the slightest detectable difference to the safety of women. This is because of fact two: that medicine alone, not the law, has achieved all the magnificent gains in maternal safety.
These dramatic gains were made by medical breakthroughs such as antibiotics in the 1940s, blood transfusion, improved surgical techniques and emergency services - and the medical gains were achieved before there was a single liberal law or "safe legal clinic".
Study the entire Australian Bureau of Statistics data on Causes of Death 1906-1996. Observe the death rate for illegal abortion plummet from about 100 deaths every year in the 1930s (before antibiotics) to just one death in the whole of Australia in 1969 (the last year of the old "backyard" regime) - before there was a single "legal" clinic anywhere in the country. All this was thanks to medical advances alone, with the legal status of abortion unchanged and irrelevant.
Observe also that maternal deaths from all causes - childbirth, miscarriage, abortion - dropped exactly in parallel, for the exact same medical reasons. It was medical progress, not legal agitation, which made abortion (whether criminal or medical), and childbirth, irreversibly safer.
Facts one and two dispel the cherished illusion that "illegal" means "unsafe", and that "therefore it must be legal" - the trump card of the abortion lobby.
This is beginning to be acknowledged even by abortion supporters. Writing in the US journal Women's Quarterly, Candice Crandall reluctantly accepts that medical advances, not legal changes, were responsible for improved safety: "In fact, it wasn't Roe v Wade (the US Supreme Court ruling in 1973 to legalise abortion) that made abortion safe: it was the availability of antibiotics beginning in the 1940s."
She also confirms that "the most powerful of the pro-choice arguments was the claim that any infringement of the right to an abortion would return America to the dark ages when thousands of women died because of unsafe, back-alley abortion".
Thousands of women? In fact, she notes, the US death toll had dropped to 41 in the year before Roe v Wade, not the ten thousand figure promoted by the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL).
Co-founder of NARAL, Dr Bernard Nathanson, writes: "I confess that I knew the figures were totally false - but the overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible." Whatever it takes.
Yes, genuine limits on abortion would again drive some selfish abortions "underground", but certain things do indeed belong underground - like paedophilia, drug-dealing, and the killing of our young.
And we should not overdramatise the dangers of going underground: historically the so-called "backyard" usually was, and would be again, merely the "backroom" of a qualified doctor's surgery.
In such covert but clean circumstances, and with routine backup at Casualty, the immediate physical risk of illegal abortion would be very ordinary.
I say "immediate physical" risk, because there are other profound injuries, moral and emotional, sustained in creating a place of death in one's own body, which are far from ordinary, and delayed risks such as breast cancer which are not yet well defined.
Enforcing genuine limits on abortion does not place women at any significant physical risk, because medicine has minimised that risk.
The current alternative is to have no limits, to permit the wholesale slaughter of unwanted unborn children - "children", as one writer put it, "who would have loved you" - and the wholesale scarring of young mothers' (and fathers') hearts, which might lose the capacity to love at all.
And Hollywood Blue
"September and October have been brutal in terms of movie choices," said John Hamann of Box Office Prophets, which tracks ticket sales.
The Hollywood Reporter blames a shorter-than-usual season for some of the drop in income. This year's fall season was one of the more frequently occurring 10-week periods, while the previous two years were both 11-week seasons.
But the industry mag concluded the dramatic decline was caused by a combination of bad movies and bad buzz about them.
What kept the season from coming up even shorter were the stupendous numbers for Disney/Pixar's "The Incredibles," which raked in $151 million domestically, and DreamWorks' "Shark Tale," with $157.9 million.
Stuff that has real, broad based appeal and rings truel like The Incredibles has a long history of making big bucks for the entertainment industry.But they have trouble seeing the connection sometimes - and there won't be any December Lord of the Rings to pull them out this year.
Too bad. I miss going to the movies.
Proclamations 1789 and 2004
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the twenty-six of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that Great and Glorious Being, who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country, previous to their becoming a nation; for the single manifold mercies, and the favorable interposition’s of His providence, in the courage and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish Constitutions of Government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private institutions, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discretely and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us) and to bless them with good governments, peace and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science, among them and us; and generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
George Washington, 1789
All across America, we gather this week with the people we love to give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. We are grateful for our freedom, grateful for our families and friends, and grateful for the many gifts of America. On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come from the Almighty God.
Almost four centuries ago, the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest feast to thank God after suffering through a brutal winter. President George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and President Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War, asking Americans to give thanks with “one heart and one voice.” Since then, in times of war and in times of peace, Americans have gathered with family and friends and given thanks to God for our blessings.
Thanksgiving is also a time to share our blessings with those who are less fortunate. Americans this week will gather food and clothing for neighbors in need. Many young people will give part of their holiday to volunteer at homeless shelters and food pantries. On Thanksgiving, we remember that the true strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of the American people. By seeking out those who are hurting and by lending a hand, Americans touch the lives of their fellow citizens and help make our Nation and the world a better place.
This Thanksgiving, we express our gratitude to our dedicated firefighters and police officers who help keep our homeland safe. We are grateful to the homeland security and intelligence personnel who spend long hours on faithful watch. And we give thanks for the Americans in our Armed Forces who are serving around the world to secure our country and advance the cause of freedom. These brave men and women make our entire Nation proud, and we thank them and their families for their sacrifice.
On this Thanksgiving Day, we thank God for His blessings and ask Him to continue to guide and watch over our Nation.George W. Bush, 2004
(thanks to Bunker Mulligan for the 2004 proclamation)
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The Declaration of Independence BANNED in California School!!
A California teacher has been barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God -- including the Declaration of Independence.
Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek School in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Cupertino, sued for discrimination on Monday, claiming he had been singled out for censorship by principal Patricia Vidmar because he is a Christian.
"It's a fact of American history that our founders were religious men, and to hide this fact from young fifth-graders in the name of political correctness is outrageous and shameful," said Williams' attorney, Terry Thompson.
"Williams wants to teach his students the true history of our country," he said. "There is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence."
Vidmar could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in San Jose and claims violations of Williams rights to free speech under the First Amendment.
Phyllis Vogel, assistant superintendent for Cupertino Unified School District, said the lawsuit had been forwarded to a staff attorney. She declined to comment further.
Williams asserts in the lawsuit that since May he has been required to submit all of his lesson plans and supplemental handouts to Vidmar for approval, and that the principal will not permit him to use any that contain references to God or Christianity.
Among the materials she has rejected, according to Williams, are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, Samuel Adams' "The Rights of the Colonists" and William Penn's "The Frame of Government of Pennsylvania."
"He hands out a lot of material and perhaps 5 to 10 percent refers to God and Christianity because that's what the founders wrote," said Thompson, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, which advocates for religious freedom. "The principal seems to be systematically censoring material that refers to Christianity and it is pure discrimination."
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a California atheist who wanted the words "under God" struck from the Pledge of Allegiance as recited by school children. The appeals court in California had found that the phrase amounted to a violation of church and state separation.
In case you are interested, the phone and fax number of the school is:
Main Telephone Number: (408) 245-3312
Fax Number: (408) 245-7484
10300 Ainsworth Dr
Cupertino, CA 95014
Cupertino School Board : William Bragg, Superintendent : email@example.com
School Board : Pearl Cheng, Chairman Ben Liao Josephine Lucey Gary McCue George Tyson firstname.lastname@example.org
Cupertino School Board 10301 Vista Dr Curpetino, CA 95014 408-252-3000
The Legacy of Allowing Hate to Flourish
A Muslim preacher has provoked a storm of protest by admitting on Dutch television he wants parliamentarian Geert Wilders to die. Wilders, an independent Conservative MP, plans to set up a party "to tackle Islamic extremism" in the Netherlands.
Abdul-Jabbar van de Ven, 25, was asked on programme Het Elfde Uur on the evangelical broadcaster EO if he wanted Wilders, who faces death threats for criticising Islam, to die within the next two years.
Van de Ven told presenter Andries Kneuvel that he wished Wilders would die, preferrably due to illness.
But he said he hoped Wilders was not murdered by a Muslim and that murder in general was wrong.
He did admit however that he felt "some joy" on hearing of the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh on 2 November. Van Gogh was apparently killed because he made a short film featuring semi-naked women talking about domestic violence in Islamic society.
A Muslim, 26, who holds Moroccan and Dutch nationality, has been arrested for the killing.
Prosecutors say the murder suspect Mohammed B. was part of a group of extremist young Muslims. Several other people have been arrested as part of the investigation into Van Gogh's assassination.
Preacher Van de Ven used the television programme on Tuesday night to once again deny media accusations that his sermons in mosques have helped radicalise some of the suspects and drive them to violence.
Van de Ven made the distinction between a "wish and the act". He said one could wish in one's thoughts and prayers that a person might die, but not approve of murder.
Presenter Knevel told the media later he was very unhappy with the preacher's comments.
The programme received hundreds of reactions following the interview with Van de Ven. Some listeners were angry the programme had given Van de Ven a platform to express his views.
Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk said on Radio 1 news she was shocked at the views expressed by the preacher. "How can we in the Netherlands have sunk so low. I am really concerned about this," she said.
Verdonk was one of the politicians in the Netherlands who defended the principle of freedom of speech in the days after Van Gogh's murder.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Fallujah - What Happened on the Other Side
It demonstrates the insurgents' willing breaking of international law by using mosques and cemeteries as fighting points and/or as weapons caches which loses them their protected status under international law. There are also pictures of improvised explosive factories and the atrocities that were uncovered (slides 30 - 36 - several of them show blood stained walls )
and slides of some of the over 200 weapons caches.
Thanks to Pardon My English for the tip!
Where do the Churches Stand on Right to Life/Right to Abortion?
It should be noted that prior to the 1960s virtually all religious denominations in America opposed the legalization of abortion and considered abortion except to save the life of the mother as a grievous sin.
While some denominations may have a strong position one way or the other on the abortion issue, individual pastors and regional church bodies may have an entirely different position. Some pastors and congregations in pro-abortion denominations are staunchly pro-life. Almost all denominations listed have independent, quasi-independent, or internal pro-life groups which work within their denomination’s structure to develop or strengthen its pro-life position.
As a result of the dedicated work by denominational pro-life groups and growing pressure from grassroots congregations, virtually all denominations who still espouse a pro-abortion position are inching slowly toward a more "pro-life" position. This office is not aware of a single denomination that has moved toward the pro-abortion side in the last 15 years.
For the names and addresses for pro-life groups working within specific denominations, please write or call the Outreach Department at NRLC.
- The Roman Catholic Church
- has continuously and steadfastly opposed the legalization of abortion and has supported virtually all meaningful pro-life legislation and public policies. The bishops have testified before Congress on numerous occasions pleading for restoration of respect for all human life. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared several pastoral letters clearly defining the Catholic Church’s pro-life position. Most dioceses have active respect life offices and parish pro-life committees.
Many dioceses are beginning to establish Project Rachel programs to assist women (and men) who are recovering from postabortion syndrome. And a large number of dioceses also maintain hotlines and provide services to help women with problem pregnancies.
- The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod (LCMS)
- has passed a series of resolutions beginning in 1971 opposing abortion on demand and supporting the restoration of legal protection to the unborn child. It has urged all agencies of the LCMS to "continue to give testimony to its pro-life stance to all levels of government in the U.S." The LCMS has called for development of pro-life educational material for all age levels. The LCMS has vehemently opposed the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) and strenuously supported the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (PBA Ban Act.)
- The United Church of Christ (UCC)
- has strongly supported the legalization of abortion since 1971. The UCC supported FOCA and strongly opposed the PBA ban to the point of joining the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARRAL) in a statement affirming President Clinton’s veto of the PBA Ban Act in 1996. The UCC has also called for the church to support abortion in any national health care bill.
- The Southern Baptist Convention
- initially called for legislation in 1971 that would allow for the possibility of abortions under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe to fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother. In 1976, the convention changed its position to oppose abortions used as a means of birth control. In 1980, the convention strengthened its position by supporting legislation and/or a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion except to save the life of the mother. In recent years the Southern Baptist Convention has taken an active leadership role in supporting pro-life legislation, including backing the PBA Ban Act and opposing FOCA and other pro-abortion measures. The convention has also developed a broad range of pro-life educational material for all levels, including a comprehensive pro-life Sunday school curricula and materials for Sanctity of Life Sunday in January.
- American Baptist Churches
- leaves abortion policy to local churches and individuals. A resolution adopted in 1988, updated in 1994 and accepted as current policy, "acknowledges diversity of ... convictions within our fellowship," making no distinction between those who believe that human life begins at conception (with the consequence that abortion is immoral), and those who believe it can be morally acceptable based on "compassion and justice." This relativism gives no protection to the unborn child, and little guidance to women and men who must live with the consequences of their choice.
- Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)
- "has taken a very strong pro-life position, believing that the unborn child is a human being whom God is creating." The position paper of 1978, which is also accepted as the current position, expresses a clear understanding of the sanctity of human life. "Abortion is the intentional killing of an unborn child between conception and birth. ... Scripture leaves no doubt about the continuity of personhood that includes the unborn child, and therefore, under the Sixth Commandment, prohibits shedding innocent blood." At the 1996 General Assembly, PCA strongly condemned partial-birth abortions "as a murderous and horrifying practice and a grave offense against almighty God," and petitioned the President and Congress "to act in accord with this Biblical standard."
- The Presbyterian Church (USA)
- historically opposed abortion. As recently as 1965, it said, "The fetus is a human life to be protected by the criminal law from the moment when the ovum is fertilized ... As Christians, we believe that this should not be an individual decision on the part of the physician and the couple. ..." In 1970 the PCUSA issued a study report which regarded abortion as help for unwanted pregnancies and in 1972 language regarding "personal choice" and "responsible decision" regarding abortion began to appear in church documents.
In 1983, the PCUSA General Assembly adopted a policy which affirmed abortion as a "stewardship responsibility." PCUSA today actively supports the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC, formerly known as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, or RCAR). In 1992, after restudying the issue, the General Assembly adopted a new policy which states that "there is a basis in our tradition not only for a woman’s difficult choice for abortion, but also for the preservation of the lives of the unborn because they are human beings made in God’s image." In 1997, the PCUSA broke with other pro-abortion churches to become the first major mainline denomination to take a position expressing "grave moral concern" about partial-birth abortions.
- The United Methodist Church
- began in the early 1970s to view abortion as a "choice". The United Methodist position in favor of abortion has been so strong that two of its institutions helped organize and affiliate with the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. For many years RCAR used office space in the United Methodist Building which is located across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court. In both 1996 and 1997 the United Methodist Church publicly supported President Clinton’s veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. While the 1996 United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline still maintains a strong pro-abortion position, it now includes wording recognizing the "sanctity of unborn human life." It further states, "We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection."
- The Episcopal Church
- as late as 1958 held a strong pro-life position, stating, "Abortion and infanticide are to be condemned." In 1967, the 62nd General Convention of the Episcopal Church supported abortion law "reform," to permit the "termination of pregnancy" for reasons of life, rape, incest, fetal deformity, or physical or mental health of the mother. In 1982, the 66th General Convention condemned the use of abortion as a means of gender selection and non-serious abnormalities.
By 1988, the 69th General Convention had developed a position that stated, "All human life is sacred. Hence it is sacred from its inception until death." The statement goes on to call for church programs to assist women with problem pregnancies and to emphasize the seriousness of the abortion decision. In 1994, the 71st General Convention expressed "unequivocal opposition to any ... action ... that [would] abridge the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of her pregnancy, or that would limit the access of a woman to a safe means of acting upon her decision." In 1997, at the 72nd General Convention, the delegates approved a resolution that did not condemn partial-birth abortions but expressed grave concerns about the procedure, "except in extreme situtions."
- The Evangelical Lutheran of Church in America (ELCA)
- is a union of three smaller Lutheran denominations which merged in 1988. Each had different views on on abortion. In 1990, the ELCA adopted a statement that accepts abortion but only as a "last resort" in the most extreme circumstances. The statement goes on to say that it opposes abortion ist except in the cases of "clear threat to the life of the woman", "extreme fetal abnormality" incompatible with life, and in cases of rape and incest. Beyond these cases "this church neither supports nor opposes" other abortion-restricting legislation. At the ELCA's 1997 convention, a resolution to restrict ELCA funding of abortions to the three cases stated above was rejected 70%-30%. The ELCA funds elective abortions in the church’s health care coverage for pastors and professional church workers, and some Lutheran-affiliated hospital perform elective abortions.
- Orthodox Churches
- have consistently maintained strong opposition to legalization of abortion and support virtually all pro-life legislation. Various bishops and of priests have testified at hearings ty, and have attended pro-life conventions, rallies, and marches. The Orthodox Church in America made a public statement opposing President Clinton’s veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
- Independent Bible Churches and Evangelical Churches
- have usually maintained a pro-life position based on biblical teaching. Since these churches are not part of formal associations or structures, they do not have denominational statements or resolutions on the abortion issue. But the great majority would support pro-life legislation and oppose continued abortion on demand.
Source: Pregnant Pause
Religious Groups that say they are for Choice
This list is from the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice
If your church or group is listed, that means it takes a pro-abortion stance. FYI.
Mt 7:16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs from thistles?
Interesting what you don't see. A big gap in the Evangelical Christian sector and the Orthodox Jewish area (which, I have been told, is the fastest growing sector of the Jewish faith both in Israel and in the US).
Interesting the growth rates of the churches listed:
The Presbyterian Church (USA) lost 46,658 members during 2003 – higher than the projected downturn and the highest percentage loss in more than a quarter of a century. The exodus reduced membership to 2,405,311 as of Dec. 31, 2003 – a loss of 1.85 million members since the PCUSA and its predecessor denominations had a peak membership of 4,254,597 in 1965.
8,365,816 8,334,204 8,294,445 8,258,352
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN Membership in United Methodist Women
874,679 834,658 811,289 775,939
The > UCC has suffered a net loss of members every year since 1965
Someone described liberal theology as the doctrine of the Trinity being redefined to mean feminism, Marxism and political activism. Perhaps that explains some of the names listed below:
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
The Episcopal Church
Ethical Culture Movement
American Ethical Union
National Service Conference of the American Ethical Union
Society for Humanistic Judaism
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO)
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Central Conference of American Rabbis
North American Federation of Temple Youth
Union for Reform Judaism
Women of Reform Judaism, The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods
Women’s Rabbinic Network of Central Conference of American Rabbis
United Church of Christ
Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church
General Board of Church and Society
General Board of Global Ministries, Women’s Division
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation
Young Religious Unitarian Universalists
American Humanist Association
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith
Catholics for a Free Choice [NOT recognized by Roman Catholic Church!!!]
Church of the Brethren Women’s Caucus
Disciples for Choice
Episcopal Urban Caucus
Episcopal Women’s Caucus
Jewish Women International
Lutheran Women’s Caucus
Methodist Federation for Social Action
National Council of Jewish Women
Women’s American ORT
YWCA of the USA
Support Passage of the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act
If you don't know what a D&C abortion does to an older fetus, I ask you to look at this chart and think about what it would mean in terms of pain.
UPDATED NOVEMBER 19, 2004 -- You can help build momentum in Congress for an important pro-life bill, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, by urging your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives to cosponsor the bill immediately.
On May 20, 2004, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), with the strong backing of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), introduced a the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act in the House (H.R. 4420). Senator Sam Brownback (R-Ks.) introduced the bill in the Senate (S. 2466).
This bill would require every abortionist to provide, whenever a woman seeks an abortion past 20 weeks after fertilization, specified information about the capacity of her unborn child to experience pain during the abortion. After that, the woman must either accept or refuse (by signing a form) the administration of pain-reducing drugs directly to the unborn child. The bill would apply to all abortions past 20 weeks, regardless of the method used, including partial-birth abortion and dismemberment ("D&E") abortion.
The bill contains a number of proposed congressional findings regarding the scientific evidence that unborn children would experience great pain during abortions at 20 weeks (and perhaps earlier). The findings also cite a number of existing federal laws that seek to diminish the suffering even of animals, such as restrictions on how livestock can be slaughtered and restrictions on the use of animals in medical research.
Earlier this year, in a legal challenge by the National Abortion Federation to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York heard testimony on the question of whether partial-birth abortion causes pain to the premature infants who are subjected to that method. After hearing pertinent expert testimony under oath from both sides, on August 26, 2004, U.S. District Judge Richard C. Casey made certain formal "findings of fact," including these:
"The Court finds that the testimony at trial and before Congress establishes that D&X [partial-birth abortion] is a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure. Dr. Anand's testimony, which went unrebutted by Plaintiffs, is credible evidence that D&X abortions subject fetuses to severe pain. Notwithstanding this evidence, some of Plaintiffs' experts testified that fetal pain does not concern them, and that some do not convey to their patients that their fetuses may undergo severe pain during a D&X."
On September 1, 2004, National Right to Life sent a letter to members of Congress citing Judge Casey's findings and urging them to cosponsor the bill. You can view an always-current listing of House cosponsors, arranged by state, by clicking here, and an always-current list of Senate cosponsors by clicking here.
In a Zogby poll conducted in November 2004, the public supported "laws requiring that women who are 20 weeks or more along in their pregnancy be given information about fetal pain before having an abortion" by a 75-18 percent margin.
For the full text of the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act and additional documentation on the pain inflicted on unborn children by abortion, see the section of the NRLC website on The Pain of the Unborn Child. You can download a two-page factsheet summarizing some of the scientific evidence that unborn babies feel pain by clicking here (PDF file).
Source: National Right To Life
They Were the Best of Times, They Were the Worst of Times
We are living in historic times, as all the landmarks of the past half-century are in the midst of passing away. The old left-wing critique is in shambles — as the United States is proving to be the most radical engine for world democratic change and liberalization of the age. A reactionary Old Europe, in concert with the ossified American leftist elite, unleashed everything within its ample cultural arsenal: novels, plays, and op-ed columns calling for the assassination of President Bush; propaganda documentaries reminiscent of the oeuvre of Pravda or Leni Riefenstahl; and transparent bias passed off as front-page news and lead-ins on the evening network news.
Germany and France threw away their historic special relationships with America, while billions in Eastern Europe, India, Russia, China, and Japan either approved of our efforts or at least kept silent. Who would have believed 60 years ago that the great critics of democracy in the Middle East would now be American novelists and European utopians, while Indians, Poles, and Japanese were supporting those who just wanted the chance to vote? Who would have thought that a young Marine from the suburbs of Topeka battling the Dark Ages in Fallujah — the real humanist — was doing more to aid the planet than all the billions of the U.N.?
Those on the left who are ignorant of history lectured the Bush administration that democracy has never come as a result of the threat of conflict or outright war — apparently the creation of a democratic United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, and Afghanistan was proof of the power of mere talk. In contrast, the old realist Right warned that strongmen are our best bet to ensure stability — as if Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been loyal allies with content and stable pro-American citizenries. In truth, George Bush's radical efforts to cleanse the world of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, bring democracy to the heart of the Arab world, and isolate Yasser Arafat were the most risky and humane developments in the Middle East in a century — old-fashioned idealism backed with force in a postmodern age of abject cynicism and nihilism.Quite literally, we are living in the strangest, most perilous, and unbelievable decade in modern memory
Victor Davis Hanson
Party Politics, Iraq Style
At least 122 political organizations have registered to run in Iraq's Jan. 30 elections, thrilling organizers but setting the stage for tough bargaining over the next eight days.
Many of the parties are expected to combine in loose coalitions as they seek to maximize their seats in a new national assembly. Such alliances must be declared to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) by the end of this month.
Even so, voters will face a bewildering array of choices. There are religious parties representing Shi'ite Muslim, Sunni Muslim and Christian voters; secular parties with religious affiliations or regional interests; parties organized around sheiks and clerics; and parties devoted simply to justice, democracy or equal rights.
"We have so many parties, so many people wanting to participate," said Farid Ayar, a spokesman for the IEC. "It is wonderful. I am happy."
Source: Washington Times
Looks like lots of people want to play, a widespread acceptance of the concept!
After Abortion: For those who need healing
Here are some places to get started:
A blog by an abortion survivor with many links and much information for those coping with the after-effects who want and need help.
National Office of Post Abortion Reconcilliation and Healing
Founded in 1990, the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, Inc. networks researchers and psychotherapeutic professionals working in the field within the U.S. and abroad, consults on the formation of post-abortion support services within secular and religious settings including Project Rachel, provides training for care providers, maintains a national "800" referral line for those seeking assistance in reconciling an abortion experience, publishes the International Post-Abortion Support Services Directory, produces and vends audio, video, and printed materials, maintains an annotated book list, tracks support group models, and sponsors the Healing Vision conference at Marquette University.
Hope After Abortion:
It's normal to grieve a pregnancy loss, including the loss of a child by abortion. It can form a hole in one's heart, a hole so deep that sometimes it seems nothing can fill the emptiness.
Since 1973, there have been more than 36 million abortions in the United States. While some women report relatively little trauma following abortion, for many, the experience is devastating, causing severe and long-lasting emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma.
Many links here for resources, help, support.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Talking the Talk
"I always take time to worship God in as evangelical a way as is feasible, given time and location constraints. As you know, I consider myself an evangelical Christian, really a Christian conservative, if you want to know the truth..."
I am not trying to take Senator Clinton's faith walk away from her, but I remind her of a biblical saying: By their fruit you will know them.
Hillary's public comments suggest another orientation: (soaurce: On the Issues)
On abortion, she has said and done:
Must safeguard constitutional rights, including choice. (Oct 2000)
Late term abortion only if life or health are at risk. (Oct 2000)
Remain vigilant on a woman’s right to chose. (Jan 2000)
Keep abortion safe, legal and rare. (Jan 1999)
Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. (Jan 1999)
Reach out to teens to reduce teen sex problems. (Jan 1999)
Supports parental notice & family planning. (Feb 1997)
Voted NO on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime. (Mar 2004)
Voted NO on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life. (Mar 2003)
Recommended by EMILY's List of pro-choice women. (Apr 2001)
Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record. (Dec 2003)
Expand embryonic stem cell research. (Jun 2004)
On the Issues notes this about her as well:
Strongly Favors topic 3: Sexual orientation protected by civil rights laws (10 points on Social scale)
* Gays deserve domestic partnership benefits: Strongly Favors topic 3
* More funding and stricter sentencing for hate crimes: Strongly Favors topic 3
* YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes: Strongly Favors topic 3
Opposes topic 4: Permit prayer in public schools (7 points on Social scale)
* Rated 0% by the Christian Coalition: an anti-family voting record: Strongly Opposes topic 4
Strongly Opposes topic 10: Absolute right to gun ownership (0 points on Social scale)
* Limit access to weapons; look for early warning signs: Opposes topic 10
* Gun control protects our children: Strongly Opposes topic 10
* Don‚t water down sensible gun control legislation: Strongly Opposes topic 10
* NO on banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence: Strongly Opposes topic 10
Strongly Opposes topic 15: More spending on armed forces (10 points on Economic scale)
* Rated 100% by SANE, indicating a pro-peace voting record: Strongly Opposes topic 15
Strongly Favors topic 17: Seek UN approval for military action (0 points on Economic scale)
Hillary, do you think we can't tell the difference?
Hattip to Blogs for Bush
Victory in Fallujah
As the Blade of Toledo reports:
Victory in Fallujah scant media respect. The rule of thumb for the last century or so has been that for a guerrilla force to remain viable, it must inflict seven casualties on the forces of the government it is fighting for each casualty it sustains, says former Canadian army officer John Thompson, managing director of the Mackenzie Institute, a think tank that studies global conflicts.
By that measure, the resistance in Iraq has had a bad week. American and Iraqi government troops have killed at least 1,200 fighters in Fallujah, and captured 1,100 more. Those numbers will grow as mop-up operations continue.
"That kill ratio would be phenomenal in any [kind of] battle, but in an urban environment, it's revolutionary," said retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, perhaps America's most respected writer on military strategy. "The rule has been that [in urban combat] the attacking force would suffer between a quarter and a third of its strength in casualties."
The victory in Fallujah was also remarkable for its speed, Peters said. Speed was necessary, he said, "because you are fighting not just the terrorists, but a hostile global media."
Now, though, some of the story is starting to filter out.
From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Iraqi insurgents hoped to recreate in Fallujah a reprise of the 1994 battle of Grozny, which is also a city of about 300,000, during which Chechen rebels destroyed an entire Russian brigade of some 2,500 soldiers while Russian forces virtually leveled the Chechen capital. Military analysts say the Americans in Fallujah avoided the fate of the Russians in Grozny by carefully gathering intelligence over the two months preceding the attack; by innovative use of new technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles; by being able to drop bombs and shoot artillery and even mortar shells with precision, and because of the superior training of American soldiers and Marines.
U.S. and Iraqi government casualties were held down by adopting tactics, first developed by the Israelis, to use bulldozers and tanks to clear routes through buildings to avoid ambushes set in the street
One of the things that show how bad things were in Fallujah before our forces went in is the story about the torture chambers scattered through the town:
The Australian Herald Sun reports:
THE US military said today it had discovered nearly 20 torture sites in the course of its massive military operation against the insurgency in the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
"They had a sick, depraved culture of violence in that city," Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Wilson, from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, told reporters at a briefing near the former rebel stronghold.
"It looks like we found a number of houses" where torture took place, said intelligence officer Major Jim West.
The US officers said the number of torture sites was "close to 20".
On November 8, US troops backed by Iraqi government forces launched the largest post-Saddam military operation in Iraq in a bid to reclaim lawless enclaves across the country ahead of January elections.
ABC News adds the following:
Marine Maj. Jim West said that in addition to numerous weapons caches, troops clearing the city after a major U.S.-led offensive had found rooms containing knives and black hoods, "many of them blood-covered."
Briefing reporters at a base outside Fallujah, West said one room had "handprints on the walls and along the sides of the walls … There was blood covering the entire wall and along the floorboard area."
He said troops had found signs of "torture, murder, very gruesome sights." "We found numerous houses where people were just chained to a wall for extended periods of time," he added.
West did not provide more details, but said "a few less than 20" such sites had been found in the city, a stronghold for insurgents 40 miles west of Baghdad.
At least 34 foreign hostages have been killed by their captors in Iraq this year, including three Americans. Many of the victims have been beheaded and their deaths shown on grisly videos posted on the Internet. Iraqi police and other security forces have also been killed after their capture by insurgents.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Straining at the Bits
Did French-American relations become strained because of Iraq? Hardly. In World War II, some of the first combat Americans faced in the European war was against French troops fighting for the Vichy regime in North Africa. In 1956, the U.S. found itself on the opposite side from France (and Britain) during the Suez crisis. In 1966, France removed itself from the military arm of NATO, meaning that France has not been a military ally of the United States for nearly 40 years. In 1980, French President Valery Giscard d’Estang infuriated Jimmy Carter when he met secretly with Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev to discuss ways around Carter’s post-Afghanistan anti-Soviet toughness. In 1986, American pilots on their way to bomb Libya in retaliation for a terrorist attack were put at risk when France refused to allow them to fly over French territory. Throughout the 1990s, French leaders portrayed the European Union as a conscious counterweight to America. In 1999, France opposed Bill Clinton’s war in Kosovo.
Freedom of religion or freedom from religion?
Following is an excerpt from an interview with Cardinal Ratzinger on this. Something to think about.
In an interview with the newspaper La Reppublica, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that "there is an aggressive secular ideology which is worrying."
"In Sweden," he said, "a Protestant pastor who had preached about homosexuality, based on a line from Scriptures, went to jail for one month. Laicism is no longer that element of neutrality which opens up spaces of freedom for all."
"It is being transformed into an ideology which is imposed through politics and which does not give public space to the Catholic or Christian vision, which runs the risk of becoming something purely private and thus disfigured," he added.
"In this sense, a struggle exists and we must defend religious freedom against the imposition of an ideology which is presented as if it were the only voice of rationality, when it is only the expression of a 'certain' rationalism," the cardinal clarified.
Q: Where is God in modern society?
Cardinal Ratzinger: He has been put on the sidelines. In political life, it seems almost indecent to speak of God, as if it were an attack on the freedom of those who do not believe.
The world of politics follows its norms and paths, excluding God as something that does not belong to this world. The same in the world of business, the economy, and private life. God remains marginalized.
To me, its seems necessary to rediscover -- and the energy to do so exists -- that even the political and economic spheres need moral responsibility, a responsibility that is born in man's heart and, in the end, has to do with the presence or absence of God.
A society in which God is completely absent self-destructs. We saw this in the great totalitarian regimes of the last century.