Yet prior to Schiavo’s death, professors from top Catholic universities helped convince the courts and the public that removing her feeding tube was acceptable and consistent with Catholic teaching—even while the Vatican said it was euthanasia. Several professors sought to publicly undermine Pope John Paul II’s clear statements on the moral obligation to feed and hydrate even the most severely injured patients.
“At yesterday’s hearing before a House Armed Services subcommittee, former U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) chaplain MeLinda Morton, a Lutheran minister, accused the school of having a ‘pervasive and systemic climate of religious intolerance.’ She memorized her talking points very well: her ideological co-conspirator, Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, had previously charged that a ‘systemic and pervasive’ climate of intolerance exists. Strong words given that of the thousands of cadets who have been at the Academy in the last four years, only thirteen have had cause to complain.
Even more telling is the fact that not one Roman Catholic has complained. The panel that investigated the school interviewed many cadets, faculty and staff; they were split into various focus groups. Speaking of the First and Second Class Catholic Cadets, the Academy’s report concluded that ‘The overall, unanimous position of these cadets was clear: free exercise of religion is not a problem at USAFA.’ Of the Third and Fourth Class Catholic Cadets, the report said, ‘These cadets were surprised that this is an issue at USAFA’; it also said, ‘None of these cadets had specific instances of religious intolerance or bias.’
“Now this is bizarre. In those instances when evangelicals have crossed the line with heavy-handed proselytizing efforts, Catholics have typically been the target audience. So why have no Catholics—who are 30 percent of the student body—complained? After all, according to a Jewish graduate who has frequently complained to school officials about the alleged problem, ‘This is not Christian versus Jew. This is evangelical Christians against everybody else.’ Other complainants have made similar comments.
“No one has been more maligned in this scam than Dr. James Dobson. Repeatedly, it has been said that the close proximity of his Focus on the Family headquarters and the USAFA is problematic. Nice try by the left-wing zealots, but we Catholics aren’t biting. Dobson is our friend.”
The first ad includes a quote from Dean referring to Conservative Christians at a June 6, 2005 press conference in San Francisco, saying: "They are not very friendly to different kinds of people...they all behave the same and they all look the same." The second round of advertising begins next week in Nevada.
The first print ad is available online at www.fidelis.org.
The fact that Schiavo, who died in March almost two weeks after her gastric feeding tube was removed, was breathing on her own makes all the difference, Rabbi Yaffe said. Jewish tradition makes clear that nourishment must be provided under such a circumstance, even if the person has no chance of recovery or has severe brain damage, like the Florida woman.
"A pay raise is warranted," he said yesterday. "People work very hard in this job. I work a full day Saturdays and a half day many Sundays. It's a seven-day-a-week job at this point. And we haven't had an actual pay raise since 1995." (Oh boo hoo)
Legislators currently earn $69,700 a year, up from $66,000 last year. They got a two-year cost of living adjustment in December, based on the rate of inflation in Philadelphia. (Looks like a raise to me)
Mellow, of Scranton, said legislators have much business away from Harrisburg, with many meetings with taxpayers and groups in their local districts and much work on constituents' needs and concerns. (Here's my concern .... The 10 grand you want to take out of my pocket to put into yours!)
The "informal interactive hearings" were meant to give nongovernmental organizations—NGOs, in U.N. parlance—a voice in Millennium Development Goals, the pillars that United Nations' activity will be guided by in the coming years.
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, applied to go—and said he wasn't alone in doing so."Many, many other pro-life and pro-family NGOs applied to the U.N. to participate in this conference," he said, "and every single one of them were rejected."
International Right to Life U.N. liaison Jeanne Head said the obvious bias further hurts the credibility of the beleaguered international organization."It cannot be considered credible," she said. "They cannot say that they've made a step forward. They've made a step back."
To make your voice hear to the U. N click here.
The bill is now law. The Senate, where conservatives hold the largest number of seats, rejected the bill last week. But it is an advisory body and final say on legislation rests with the Congress of Deputies.
For those of you keeping track, this is how far we have fallen globaly:
Netherlands - Legalized in 2000. Same-sex couples also have the right to adopt children, either within the Netherlands or from abroad.
Belgium - Legalized in 2003. Gay couples cannot adopt children, although that is being discussed by lawmakers.
Spain - Legalized on Thursday. Gay couples have all the rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples, including adopting children.
Canada - The House of Commons passed legislation Tuesday that would legalize gay marriage by July 31 as long as the Senate also passes the bill, which is expected.
USA - Massachusetts is the only state that allows gay marriage. Vermont and Connecticut have approved same-sex civil unions.
Source: The Associated Press
"This is the guy. There's no question about it," said former hostage Chuck Scott a retired Army colonel who lives in Jonesboro, Ga. "You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I'd still spot him."
Not everyone agrees. Former hostage and retired Air Force Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, of Peoria, Ariz., said he doesn't recognize Ahmadinejad, by face or name, as one of his captors.
An NTU study released in January 2005 found that 25 lawmakers had 10 or more days of unexcused absences in the 108th Congress, amounting to more than $500,000 in illegal salary payments. Seventeen of those 25 senators (including Sens. John F. Kerry and John Edwards) and representatives were campaigning for higher office. From January 2003 to the October 2004 recess, presidential hopeful John Kerry missed 146 days of votes without being granted leave, the NTU said, making his total salary overpayment $90,932.68.
A provision to repeal the law is included in a Senate appropriations bill that emerged from committee this week.
"With enough pressure from taxpayers, we can persuade the full Senate to restore the 'No Work, No Pay' law, or fight to keep the law intact when the bill goes to a conference committee," the NTU said in a press release.
The crackdown, which was announced to churches earlier this month in a letter from the South Dakota Department of Revenue and Regulation, has alarmed church leaders who see the collection effort as a threat to their independence.
At issue is whether churches are exempt from the payment of use taxes on items such as candles, sacramental wine, bread and prayer and song books. When those items are bought out of state, the department of revenue says, a use tax must be paid. The letter orders the churches to obtain a tax license.
And if a church is found to owe back taxes, the state wants to collect the amount owed from the past three years. Penalties and interest would be waived.While an individual church may owe a few hundred dollars or less, when added together, the revenue from the more than 2,000 churches in the state adds up.
KNWC, a Christian radio station with an affiliate in Sioux Falls, also has been affected by the use tax. Effective last February, the Department of Revenue and Regulation changed KNWC's state from exempt to nonexempt, and the radio station now will pay about $24,000 in sales and use tax on concerts each year. A sales tax will be put on tickets.
In e-mail exchanges with a Department of Revenue and Regulation agent, the Rev. Chris Franklin of First Christian Church was told the state would require licenses for all congregations. In addition, he was told that churches should keep records for the past three years and church boards accept the responsibility for accuracy in tax payments.
Thousands of e-mails are pouring into Allstate after a lawsuit was filed against the insurance giant by a former employee who alleges he was terminated because he wrote a column posted on several websites that was critical of same-sex marriage and espoused his Christian beliefs.
J. Matt Barber was a manager in Allstate's Corporate Security Division, its investigative arm, at the Fortune 100 company's headquarters in Northbrook, Ill. On his own time, he has written several columns published on the Internet at sites such as TheConservativeVoice.com and MensNewsDaily.com.
Barber posted a column in December that was critical of same-sex marriage and the practice of homosexuality. One version of the column ID'd Barber in the bio-line as an employee of Allstate even though he did not submit the piece with that information.
After Allstate – which financially supports homosexual advocacy groups – received a complaint about the column, Barber was fired and escorted off the company's property Feb. 3. On May 26, with the help of the Christian Law Association and David Gibbs III, who represented Terri Schiavo's family in the final weeks of her life, Barber filed a lawsuit against Allstate in federal court. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees.
If you would like to email Allstate you may do so here.
So, naturally, he pulled over to the side of the road, grabbed a rope and chased after the four-foot-long gator. He managed to get a lasso around the animal's snout. Not bad for an amateur!
Meanwhile just across the state line police captured a three-foot-long alligator that was spotted near a convenience store in Fairmont, West Virginia.
Anybody out there missing a few gators?
No more ice time for John Peragallo. His Zamboni privileges at Mennen Sports Arena In New Jersey were revoked after police charged him with drunken driving -- on the ice -- (We don't know if his drinks were on ice)
Peragallo, was intoxicated Sunday afternoon while driving the four-ton ice-cleaning machine during a break in public skating. (Hey at least he waited for the break) A concerned employee called police shortly after noon saying the Zamboni was speeding, sliding into turns and nearly crashing into the boards, while the driver wore a smile.
If Peragallo is convicted, he faces the loss of his driving license -- for cars and Zambonis.
The government has moved over the last few months to appease critics both within Liberal ranks and among Canadians at large. Amendments were introduced to ensure no religious group or charitable organization would be forced to accept same-sex marriage. But in spite of those amendments some groups remain unconvinced.
Same-sex marriage remains one of the most difficult issues ever to confront Canadian politicians. In large part passage of the bill is the reason the parliamentary session was extended for the first time in 17 years.
Asked if it's part message and part marketing, Osteen says: "To me, we're marketing hope." And hope sells. Last year, Lakewood brought in $55 million. Sales of Osteen's book "Your Best Life Now" became an instant best seller. But he makes no apologies for his style or his success. "We need to be excellent for the Lord," says Osteen. "There's nothing that says we can't come in and have great sound and great lighting and be on time and have this service more produced if you'll call it that, because, you know what, God deserves the best."
Preaching by evangelicals across the country has taken on a new form by offering everything from Christian-themed parks to rock bands. Critics like Notre Dame sociology professor Michael Emerson say it cheapens religion by making it just another commodity for people to consume. They call it "feel-good theology." "Religion changes to nothing more than 'make me feel good,' and there's no sacrifice," says Emerson.
That's not how they see it at Lakewood. "The Bible says it's the goodness of God that leads people to repentance, and you know the more we preach hope and that God is good for you, the more people we will see come and get their lives turned around," says Osteen.
If Osteen's Lakewood Church is the Cadillac of all mega churches, then this new facility will be the Hummer. It's the old Compaq Center where the Houston Rockets played professional basketball and where Osteen hopes to soon save souls. It's a $90 million facility that will seat 16,000 people, double the current space. Osteen sees a day when up to 100,000 will stop in for weekly services. "It's the same message that people were preaching hundreds and hundreds of years ago, we're just repackaging it," he says. Osteen says it's a new day, and God's people need a new house.
Sandra Cano said “Using my name and life, Doe v. Bolton falsely created the health exception that led to abortion on demand and partial-birth abortion. How it got there is still pretty much a mystery to me. I only sought legal assistance to get a divorce from my husband and to get my children from foster care. I was very vulnerable, poor and pregnant with my fourth child, but abortion never crossed my mind.”
The hostility has existed since the birth of the Church. But why did Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas return to the Catholic faith? Why did Norma "Jane Roe" McCorvey of the famous "Roe vs Wade" case that legalized abortion and Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida convert to Catholicism? Why do I continually stumble upon story after story about born again Christians who discover what they have been told about the Catholic faith by non-Catholics is a lie? The answer they will give you is the Roman Catholic Church is the only clear voice of Christianity!
While the Evangelical Right gets most of the press, the number of Catholic converts is growing. In the past two decades since John Paul II has been Pope the Catholic Church in America has grown 23%, the Church in Africa has doubled to over 100 million, and membership in the Catholic faith has reached the 1 billion mark worldwide! This phenomenal growth is a reaction to John Paul's steadfast fidelity to Church teaching and the incredible moral decline in the world.
The vast majority of converts to Catholicism say they are attracted to the Church for the following reasons; an unwavering moral code, it is the only link with Jesus and His teachings, and the Catholic Church has all of the right enemies. Converts see the Roman Catholic Church as the uncompromising voice against such evils as; abortion, racism, moral relativism, fornication, radical feminism, the assisted suicide movement, contraception, the homosexual agenda, pornography, materialism, and secularism. The Catholic Church does not bow to opinion polls or social trends. It is a shining light of truth in a dark and fallen world.
Many converts say that they always have felt drawn to Catholicism's emphasis on reason, order, structure, and beauty. I know many so called "bible believing" Christians find convert reasons for joining the Catholic Church bewildering. The fact is people are hungry for the truth. You can be bible believing and be Catholic. In fact it's required! Once one truly seeks the truth they are destined to find themselves in the Catholic Church.
In that article I mentioned Dr. David J. Brown. According to the book, "Goodbye! Good Men", Dr. David J. Brown, a clinical psychologist who screens candidates for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, has argued publicly that “the sin of Sodom was inhospitality.” This remark was taken from a video-taped school board meeting on March 3, 1998
(Click here for video).
Even though his comments are in direct contradiction to Catholic teaching and were made back in 1998, Dr. Brown is still retained by Bishop Adamec for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown!
In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, the Rev. Giuseppe D'Alonzo, promoter of justice for the Diocese of Rome, said he was neither for nor against beatification for the late pope, who was considered a saint by many even before his April 2 death.
Once the cause officially opens, two theological experts will begin gathering all John Paul's published works from before he was pope to determine if they are theologically sound.
Meanwhile, a historical commission will gather all his non-published works, including letters, manuscripts and personal notes he wrote, to document his life. They also will gather things written about him _ both in favor and against.
Once all the material is gathered, the Diocese of Rome turns the case over to the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which appoints other theological and religious commissions to study the case and make a final report to the pope, who must decide if John Paul has lived in a "heroic" way.
If the Vatican then confirms a miracle has occurred after John Paul's death thanks to his intercession, he can be beatified. A second miracle is needed for him to be made a saint.
Folks there is a new fee dubbed the "granny tax". What is it? Well if you have a loved one in nursing home you will be paying a $15.91 a day tax under the heading of "Pa. State Assessment". That brings the cost of care at one of the area's more attractive nursing homes to more than $7,000 a month.
The Rendell administration deemed the extra charge necessary to gain access to more federal Medicaid matching funds and avoid slashing government nursing home reimbursements. It was authorized by the Legislature in 2003, but then went through lengthy negotiations by the state and federal governments before taking effect this spring.
Facilities in which low-income, government-subsidized individuals represent more than three of every five patients actually see higher reimbursements than before, without needing to increase any of their resident fees.
But the assessment has divided nursing home providers into winners and losers and some are making it up from people through daily fees. It is people with assets in facilities with relatively small dependence on Medicaid who are affected by the assessment charge. In essence, say critics, people who are wealthy or who just saved prudently for retirement are being tapped to boost the government's subsidy of Medicaid patients. $15.91 ais the amount the state is assessing most nursing home beds across the state.
Money collected from all the assessments goes into a pool that draws additional federal matching funds for the state. About $320 million annually is being collected through the fee. The money is disbursed back to the nursing homes in a formula that favors facilities with higher numbers of Medicaid beneficiaries.
From the story: “There hasn't been a very efficient way to deliver a sustained message to gays and lesbians," says Howard Buford, founder of Prime Access, an ad agency specializing in gay and ethnic marketing. "If there's a channel dedicated only to redecorating a house or only to preparing food, it seems a channel for gays and lesbians should have preceded that." (USA Today)
Would Mr. Buford say the same of the Christian market, which is far larger? Just yesterday, ABC News noted “MarketResearch estimated the retail market for religious products at about $7 billion in 2004.” (ABC News)
No it's not a real story (yet) but we are getting really close. Here is the real scoop:
The Supreme Court is split when it comes to the ten commandments. With Justice Souter explaining Âliberty and social stability demand a religious tolerance that respects the religious views of all citizens.Â (Fox News)
George Will said of the ruling: Âabout 25 years ago the court evidently decided that the Establishment Clause's historical context, and the Framers' intentions regarding it, are irrelevant.Â (Townhall)
Well 25 days later I recieved a response from Mr. Carter. Scince many of you had the same concerns I will share his response:
Dear Mr. Pierce:
Thank you for taking the time to write with your concern.
The format for Pittsburgh Cable News Channel (PCNC) is news, talk and information. "Aesthetic Medicine" is a medical program about cosmetic and reconstructive surgery which offers very clear and direct information about what is involved with the related medical procedures and their outcomes. There is a notice about the nature of the program and a caution that it may not be suitable content for all viewers at the beginning of the program and at the beginning of each segment when there is anything particularly graphic upcoming whether, for example, it is video of an operation where blood & tissue is visible or stills showing the healing of various body parts that have undergone surgery.
"Aesthetic Medicine" is telecast from 7:30-8:00 PM on Thursdays with retelecasts at 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM on Sundays; I know you will have your son avoid watching PCNC at those times in the future. The show is not prurient in nature; it is a medical information program. In addition to the cautions before and during the show, as you have mentioned, it is noted in the program schedule that viewer discretion should be exercised regarding "Aesthetic Medicine". It is unfortunate timing that you missed the cautions and selected the channel with your young son. The woman without clothes was showing what the medical doctor had fixed for her.
However, viewer feedback is very important to us and we are grateful for input such as yours. We continually evaluate the programming offered on our cable network for the value to our viewers. While the way the information about cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is currently presented on "Aesthetic Medicine" is helpful to persons considering such procedures, there may be a way to maintain the value of the information and still make it more palatable for general viewers. We are certainly willing to look into the issue.
Once again, your viewership and your comments are valued.
I have had several questions about the new show. Jerry Bowyer will kick off the best in afternoon talk begining in September. No he is not "Father Jerry Bowyer" as some have said. I know he is excited about the opportunity. For those of you who have heard Jerry in the past I will say get ready for something very different. I will let Jerry introduce himself in September and will ask all of you to give your feedback as we develop the show.
Thanks to all of you who support PowerBlog!. Please continue to spread the word and click on our sponsors. It really does help keep this going. I want to welcome Marilyn, CSB and Mark. The newest PowerBloggers to stop by and sign the guestbook.
The forum has been great. Thomas, Simpleton and Kybosh post regularly. I encourge all of you to join the discussions.
That's the latest PowerBlog! update. Enjoy reading and posting and visit often!
With all due respect to Rev. Graham, he has said and done some things that have caused me great concern. From the advice he gave our current President about not worrying if there is only one path to heaven, to the statements he made about the Clintons over the weekend in New York. It seems Rev. Graham is conflicted in the twilight of his evangelical career.
Over the weekend, Graham called the Clintons "wonderful friends" and "a great couple," quipping that the former president should become an evangelist and allow "his wife to run the country." I do hope he was kidding. He peppered his speech with pop-culture references from Madonna to Bono to MTV. He wove a parable about bad decision-making from the plot of "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith," in which Anakin Skywalker becomes the villain Darth Vader.
"The decisions you make tonight will effect your whole future and your eternal future," he said, before inviting people forward to accept Christ.
But what does that mean to Rev. Graham? Protestants hold him up to be the pinacle of Christian leadership. Many Catholics also adore the man. In fact more than 1300 Protestant and Catholic churches sponsored his last crusade in New York.
Anytime Catholics and protestants come together it's always an interesting study. Back in 1984 Rev. Graham played a behind-the-scenes role in President Reagan's decision to establish formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican. Since the birth of new evangelicalism in 1948, fundamentalists and new evangelicals had not agreed on many things. But, both groups had always stood in opposition to formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
So what caused Rev. Graham to embrace this? You have to go back a bit to understand Rev. Graham's unoffical, but evident embrace of Catholicsim. In 1965, Graham spent forty-five minutes with Cardinal Richard Cushing, Archbishop of Boston. Following the meeting Graham said "I feel much closer to Roman Catholic tradition than to some of the more liberal Protestants."
In 1979, Rev. Graham deemed the pope the moral leader of the world. On the eve of the Papal visit to the United States in 1979, The Religious News Service produced a September 27,1979 dispatch which quoted Graham as follows:
"The visit of Pope Paul II to the United States is an event of great significance not only for Roman Catholics, but for all Americans - as well as the world... In the short time he has been Pope, John Paul II has become the moral leader of the world. My prayers and the prayer of countless other Protestants will be with him as he makes his journey."
Now I'm not saying Rev. Graham is really a closet Catholic, but the fact that he can acknowledge a kinship with the Catholic church who stands opposed to every fundamental doctrine of the Reformation is evidence that maybe Rev. Graham is open to the truth. We can only pray that Rev. Graham fully accepts that truth and sets an example for all Christians.
Long in the works, Logo will initially be seen in about 10 million homes with digital cable. Unlike Here and Q, two pay-per-view, gay-oriented networks already operating, Logo will be available in homes that do not specifically order it.
Films such as "Kissing Jessica Stein" and "Philadelphia" and documentaries will fill many of Logo's first hours. The network also has a scripted series, "Noah's Arc," about a homosexual black man and his friends in Los Angeles, a reality series about opening a gay bar and the stand-up comedy series "Wisecrack."
A gay man himself, Graden had hoped to help out with Logo even before he was appointed its president. Graden said his job is to serve the target gay and lesbian audience and not worry about cultural critics who may look over his shoulder.
TEN COMMANDMENTS: The constitutionality of Ten Commandments in public buildings and on government property, under the First Amendment's ban on an "establishment" of religion. (Van Orden v. Perry, 03-1500, and McCreary County v. ACLU, 03-1693)
FILE SHARING: Whether the entertainment industry may sue technology manufacturers over consumers who use their products to steal music and movies online. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster, 04-480)
INTERNET ACCESS: A test of the tight control cable companies hold over high-speed Internet service in a case that will determine whether the industry must open up its lines to competitors. (National Cable & Telecommunications Assoc. v. Brand X Internet Services, 04-277; FCC v. Brand X Internet Services, 04-281)
DEATH PENALTY: A look at courts' flexibility to reopen cases, in an appeal that asks if an appeals court was wrong to order more study of a Tennessee death row inmate's claims. (Bell v. Thompson, 04-514)
RESTRAINING ORDERS: Whether police can be sued for how they enforce restraining orders. (Castle Rock, Colo., v. Gonzales, 04-278)
Unconvinced by the justifications offered by both Churches on Tuesday for their actions in ordaining an openly homosexual bishop and authorising same-sex blessings, members of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham asked them to leave the council and its central finance and standing committees.
Although the motion invites the Churches to withdraw voluntarily, it amounts in effect to a punishing expulsion. The debate was held behind closed doors at Nottingham University yesterday, and the motion was passed 30 to 28 by secret ballot, with four abstentions.
The expulsion is effective until Lambeth 2008, when bishops and archbishops are expected to call the North Americans to account.
The seven had been removed from their ministerial duties in the archdiocese years ago.
The Vatican's decision to laicize, or permanently remove them, is the most serious action the Roman Catholic Church can take against a priest. They are barred from ever administering sacraments or serving as priests in any capacity.
Since 2001, Presbyterians have been awaiting recommendations from a ''Peace, Unity, and Purity" task force, charged with seeking a way to overcome severe disagreements on gay relationships and other issues.The task force is close to completing its work, with the group preparing its final report at meetings in Dallas next month and Chicago in August.
Some are not even waiting to read the fine print: 85 conservative congregations sent delegates to a convocation in Edina, Minn., that concluded last weekend.There, representatives endorsed platforms that laid out essential doctrines and ''ethical imperatives," including the Bible as infallible, salvation through Jesus Christ alone, the necessity of world evangelism, and rejection of gay sex and abortion.
The group -- which calls itself the New Wineskins Initiative -- also proposed a radically reorganized, mission-minded denomination to halt decades of decline in the Presbyterian church, which currently has 2.4 million members.
New Wineskins wants its conservative beliefs and restructuring plan to be adopted by next year's national assembly. The assembly will also debate the task force report and the latest liberal attempt to abolish the church's policy against actively gay clergy and lay officers.
For years, liberals have been frustrated by the denomination's repeated refusal to abolish its sexual conduct rules, while conservatives have been equally frustrated by liberals' ongoing agitation and disregard for church law. Some are saying a breakup is ''inevitable".
Joseph Banister, a certified public accountant in San Jose, Calif., had been telling his clients they don't need to file federal income tax returns because the 16th Amendment, which gives Congress "power to lay and collect taxes on incomes," was never properly ratified.
(Warning: Try this out YOUR OWN RISK!!!!!)
Banister was taken into custody Nov. 19 by IRS agents and released on $25,000 bond after pleading not guilty. A jury in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento found him not guilty on a charge of conspiracy and on all three counts of aiding and assisting the filing of false tax returns for a client.
Banister's website offers a defense of his views, including an 85-page report titled "Investigating The Federal Income Tax: A Preliminary Report." The federal indictment accused Banister and co-defendant Walter A. Thompson, of Redding, Calif., of conspiring to defraud the United States of approximately $259,669 in income and employment taxes. In a separate trial, Thompson was acquitted of conspiracy and found guilty on charges unrelated to Banister.
If Banister had been convicted of all counts, he could have been sentenced to 14 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.
J. Matt Barber was a manager in Allstate's Corporate Security Division, its investigative arm, at the Fortune 100 company's headquarters in Northbrook, Ill. Besides working for the insurance provider, Barber was and is a professional heavyweight boxer, a jazz drummer and a Web commentator. His columns have appeared on TheConservativeVoice.com, MensNewsDaily.com and others.
Though the column in question was written and posted in December, it wasn't until Jan. 31 that Barber was called into a meeting with two Human Resources officials, one of whom Barber says "slapped down" a printed copy of the column in front of him and asked if he had written it.
Recognizing the piece, Barber confirmed he had written it on his own time, at his home and on his own computer. Barber claims he was told, "Here at Allstate we have a very diverse community."
Barber says the Human Resources assistant vice president told him the column didn't reflect Allstate's view and that he was suspended with pay. Barber was immediately ushered off company grounds.
Three days later, on Feb. 3, Barber, who had worked for Allstate for five years, says he got a call informing him he was fired "for writing the article," he said. Now, with the help of the Christian Law Association and David Gibbs III, who represented Terri Schiavo's family in the final weeks of her life, Barber is challenging Allstate in federal court.
So what did he write? In the commentary piece, he makes several arguments against same-sex marriage. Wrote Barber:
"Marriage between one man and one woman, and the nuclear family have forever been cornerstones of civilized society. Regrettably, there are at present, many within the militant homosexual lobby who wish to take a sledge hammer to those cornerstones – many who hope to undermine both the historical and contemporary reality of marriage and family – many who, through judicial fiat, aim to circumvent the Constitution, the legislative process, and the overwhelming will of the people in an effort to redefine marriage. Accordingly, the unsolicited, oxymoronic and spurious expression 'same-sex marriage' has been forced into popular lexicon. For one to believe that homosexual behavior, the act of sodomy in particular, follows the biological order of things," wrote Barber, "one must ignore the fact that sodomy violates natural law – you know … wrong plumbing … square hole/round peg. The whole thing really is a testament to man's creativity. Give us something good, and we'll bend over backwards to twist it into something else."
The insurance company's foundation has donated money to homosexual-advocacy organizations, including the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the LAMBDA Legal Defense and Education Fund. A notice about the Allstate foundation says funds are given to "nonprofit organizations that are related to tolerance, diversity and inclusion."
Editors Note: The "tolerance" displayed by Allstate makes me want to send them a dictionary!
On Wednesday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a provision in the state's gambling law that allowed the state Gaming Control Board power to override local zoning ordinances in deciding where casinos will be located. Under the court's decision, municipalities cannot stop casinos from coming into their community but they would be able to decide where those facilities should go.
Organizers of the parade appealed to Israel's Supreme Court to repeal the ruling, saying the decision was a violation of the homosexual community's freedom of expression.
The city council, including the mayor, decided "it is not right to allow the march or other planned activities to take place in the streets of Jerusalem, fearing that it will create an uproar, offend a wide sector of city residents and out of fear of public disturbances," Eitan Meir, director general of City Hall, said in a letter to organizers.
A majority of Jerusalem's more than 600,000 residents are either Orthodox Jews or Muslim or Christian Palestinians. All conservative communities that oppose homosexuality.
•Belief in Deity
Scientology considers the belief in a God or gods as something personal and therefore offers no specific dogma. The nature of the Supreme Being is revealed personally through each individual as s/he becomes more conscious and spiritually aware. There exists a life energy or force (Theta) beyond and within all.
There are no particular human incarnations of God, as the universal life force (Theta) is inherent in all. All humans are immortal spiritual beings (thetans) capable of realizing a nearly godlike state through Scientology practices.
•Origin of Universe and LifeAll is manifestation of the universal spirit, which is all that actually exists.
Rebirths continue until one consciously confronts all pre-birth, current-life, and previous-life traumas and realizes one's true nature as a "thetan," immortal spirit--transcending matter, energy, space, and time. Achieving this state enables the spirit to escape the cycle of birth and death--to operate independently of the physical universe and become one with God.
Painful experiences and harmful acts in one's prebirth, current, and past lives become imprinted in the reactive mind and lead to irrational behavior. Departures from rational thought and untrue ideas ("aberrations") can result in wrongdoing.
Salvation is achieved through the practices and techniques of Scientology, the ultimate goal of which is to realize one's true nature as an immortal spirit, a thetan. The path to salvation, or enlightenment, includes achieving states of increasingly greater mental awareness--Pre-Clear, Clear, and ultimately Operating Thetan. An Operating Thetan is a spirit who can control matter, energy, space, time, thought, and life. Practitioners ("Auditors") are regarded as ministers and counselors who assist others to achieve self-enlightenment. Auditors help others to identify their prebirth, current, and past-life disturbances, which are obstacles to happiness and spiritual enlightenment.
Suffering occurs as part of the spirit's entrapment here in the physical universe. Only when the individual is aware of his spiritual nature can he identify his barriers within the universe and overcome them, rising out of a lower state and into a higher state of happiness and freedom.
Based on the belief that you cannot free yourself spiritually without working to free others, Scientology has founded and supports many organizations for social betterment, particularly in the areas of drug abuse, crime, psychiatric abuse, government abuse of law, human rights, religious freedom, education, and morality. Scientology strongly favors the use of their methodology for spiritual/mental healing over the use of conventional treatment.
Six months ago philosopher Philip Blosser, himself a convert from the Episcopal Church to Catholicism, wrote a blog article on conversion to Catholicism. For those who have not read it and who now find themselves in the “Should or must I leave the Episcopal Church?” predicament, this lengthy piece is mandatory reading. I commend it to you.
Emergency contraceptives, also known as morning-after pills and by the brand name Plan B, are intended to prevent pregnancy by ensuring that an egg does not become fertilized. Emergency contraception can reduce the chance of pregnancy by 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of intercourse. It is different from RU-486, often called the French abortion pill, which aborts an already attached embryo.
Abortion is a murder," countered Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a Bronx Democrat. "We have experts and all indications are that this pill might cause abortion.""Day by day we see how parents are taken out of the picture," Diaz said in floor debate, opposing many of his Democratic colleagues. "This is wrong, the wrong message."
The bill passed 34-27 with an unusual amount of voting across party lines. Seven other states have similar measures.
He was dying but could not tear himself from the game," said Alexei Sulimov, a senior doctor who said he and his colleagues were shocked by the death. "Brain hemorrhage took place due to sustained emotional stimulation of the brain. The boy had overworked. ...
"This was the result of emotional stress because he was obsessed with the games. Apart from his obsession with computer games he was a healthy kid and there was no reason why he should not have had a long and healthy life."
Swann, 53, a Republican, also claimed the Democratic governor has failed to move the state forward in line with promises Rendell made as a candidate in 2002.
"We have to hold an incumbent governor's feet to the fire," Swann maintained. "At this particular point, most Pennsylvanians tend to agree with me: He hasn't done a lot, and we need a change."
At a news conference before his first money-raising event as a potential candidate, Swann said he won't announce a decision any time soon concerning the race.
A former television news anchor who drew complaints of sexually harassing and threatening a hair salon manager won't be charged.
There was "insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction" against former KDKA-TV anchor Bruce Pompeani, Beaver County First Assistant District Attorney Anthony Berosh said yesterday.
Berosh declined to give details, saying only that the investigation is over and he was unaware of any other complaints against Pompeani.
Pompeani allegedly started to visit the salon almost weekly last year and made sexual advances and lewd comments toward its manager, according to a police report. The woman told police she was intimidated and didn't report the alleged harassment because Pompeani had threatened her. She eventually told her district manager, who called police.
Pompeani was fired in January. His attorney, Stephen Colafella, refused to comment and Pompeani did not return a message left at his home.
The arrest followed a rash of unwelcome discoveries of dead animals dumped in the area. According to veterinarian Patrick Proctor, the PETA people told North Carolina shelters they would try to find the dogs and cats homes. He handed over two adoptable kittens and their mother, only to learn later that they had died, without a chance to find a home, in the PETA van. This is not the first report that PETA killed animals it claimed to protect.
The Center for Consumer Freedom, which represents the food industry, a frequent target of PETA campaigns, released data filed by PETA with the state of Virginia that shows PETA has killed more than 10,000 animals from 1998 to 2003. "In 2003, PETA euthanized over 85 percent of the animals it took in," said a press release from the lobby, "finding adoptive homes for just 14 percent. By comparison, the Norfolk (Va.) SPCA found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals and Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66 percent."
The Center's David Martosko considered PETA's hefty budget -- reportedly, $20 million -- and many contributions from well-heeled Hollywood celebrities, then figured, "PETA has enough money in the bank to care for every unwanted animal in Virginia (where it has its headquarters) and North Carolina."
PETA prefers to spend donations, apparently, not caring for flesh-and- blood animals entrusted to it but on campaigns attacking medical researchers, meat-eaters or women wearing furs. It is as if PETA prefers the idea of animals to animals themselves.
Is it optimism or defiance when an octogenarian renewing a subscription chooses the three-year option? If my alarm clock were set for my last hour, should I be alarmed? I don't need those things to remind me of God's love, which is as constant as the ticking of that clock. But if I knew my time was at hand, I'd rush to see and hear and touch kids and grandkids, in-laws and out-laws, cousins, friends, the ones whose sepia faces are frozen in the time of the Great Depression and the New Deal, and those in the full-color era of the Meal Deal. Thanks, I'd say to them all, and forgive me, I'd say to them all. It has been great, I'd say to them all.
People always think they'd do things so differently. The night I found out I had breast cancer, before we knew how bad it was or whether I would survive (I have been cancer-free for four years now), I went home and helped my 11-year-old daughter with her math homework. Just spending time with her, teaching her and helping her through some of life's problems was the most important thing in the world to me, and remains so to this day.
If I knew that I had only a short time to live, I would call some formerly close friends--female and male--and tell them that I still love them and think of them.So what's keeping me from doing it now? Probably my perception of social mores and the fear of being embarrassed or rejected if I were to do so now.Nevertheless, I think that I'll make the calls anyway.
So (you knew it was coming) what would you do with a year left of life?
The Disney resolution, passed in 1997, called for Southern Baptists to refrain from patronizing Disney theme parks and products, mainly because of the company's decision to give benefits to companions of gay employees.
Earlier this year, the American Family Association, a Mississippi-based conservative Christian group, ended a boycott of Disney launched nine years ago over similar issues, including the gay benefits, gay-related events at its theme parks, and violent and sex-filled content of movies made by its Miramax subsidiary. Since the boycott began, Disney and Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein have agreed to part ways and the TV show "Ellen" was canceled.
Also Wednesday, SBC delegates passed a resolution that encourages parents to investigate their children's public schools to determine whether they are too accepting of homosexuality.
With more than 16 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention is second in size to only the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Resolutions approved by the convention are nonbinding, and all member churches are autonomous in their ministries.
Cadets attend Catholic services in the Air Force Academy's Chapel
UPDATE:On June 28, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the religious climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Catholic League president William Donohue sent the members of the House subcommittee a letter today outlining his concerns.
Donohue outlined three issues: a) the most-often cited examples of bigotry against non-Christians have nothing to do with bigotry b) robust freedom of speech on religious matters is now at risk, and c) a climate inhospitable to Christians has been created at the institution. He offered specific examples to buttress his case.
Donohue concluded by saying that the criticisms mounted against the Air Force Academy are largely bogus and are driven by those who have an ideological agenda.
The U.S. Air Force Academy faces charges that it has allowed rampant evangelization on campus. (How dare they!!)
This week, after a six-week barrage of allegations, the Air Force is expected to release a report based on more than 300 interviews, addressing charges that the academy is rife with an officially encouraged religious evangelization. Critics say the behaviors violated the Constitution and Department of Defense regulations--and threatened troop unity by teaching future commanders overt religious favoritism. The Air Force has admitted the merit of some of the charges.
They claim that mandatory gatherings often opened with prayers and that some professors actively recruited cadets to join evangelical churches. At Christmastime some senior faculty members would sign religious ads in the base paper, including this 2003 message: "We believe that Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the world. If you would like to discuss Jesus, feel free to contact one of us!"
The Democratic National Committee Chairman also claimed the Democrats are the party of Biblical values, that “the Bible never talks about gay marriage,” and the GOP is “anti-biblical.”
In a recent PBS interview, Dean claimed on most issues “Democrats are much more in sync with the both evangelical Christians and others, Catholics and so forth.” He later said “I don't think that the Republicans have any right to lecture Democrats about morals because our morals really are pretty biblical when you look at them.” (PBS)
According to a recent survey by researchers at the University of Chicago, 76 percent of doctors believe in God and 59 percent believe in some sort of afterlife.
The survey published in the latest issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that 90 percent of doctors in the United States attend religious services at least occasionally, compared to 81 percent of all adults. Fifty-five percent of doctors say their religious beliefs influence how they practice medicine.
Although physicians are nearly as religious as the general population, their specific beliefs often differ from those of their patients. While more than 80 percent of patients describe themselves as Protestant or Catholic, only 60 percent of physicians come from either group.
Physicians are 26 times more likely to be Hindu than the overall US population. They are seven times more likely to be Jewish, six times more likely to be Buddhist and five times more likely to be Muslim.
Christian, Mormon and Buddhist doctors were the most likely to say "my religious beliefs influence my practice of medicine." Jewish and Hindu physicians were the least likely. Physicians from the South and Midwest were slightly more religious than those from the East and West.
"Michael said, 'I kept my promise,' and therefore convicts himself of having killed Terri. Moreover, to say that she 'Departed this Earth' on February 25, 1990 illustrates the dualistic philosophy that Schiavo and his attorney Mr. Felos have. That statement shows no regard for the fact that a human person is just as much a body as a soul, and this hyperspiritual way of thinking justifies all kinds of physical violence. Such dualism has been condemned by the Catholic Church as a heresy. Any Catholic who does not renounce the kind of thinking demonstrated by Mr. Schiavo has ceased believing as a Catholic."
For one thing, the congregation had dwindled to a handful of reclusive members who chased away visitors. For another, the windows were painted white so no one could see in. And just before it closed its doors for good a couple of years ago, eight dump trucks came in and spread dirt over the church's back lot.
Last month, the suspicions played out in a way that almost no one in this southeastern Louisiana town of 5,000 could have imagined: Nine people, including the pastor, his wife and a sheriff's deputy, were accused of engaging in cult-like sexual activity with children and animals inside the hall of worship. Eight now face child rape charges that could bring the death penalty.
Authorities said witnesses have described the use of robes, pentagrams on the church floor, sex with a dog and the sacrifice of cats. The alleged victims, suspected to number up to two dozen, include children ranging from infants to young teens - some of them the offspring of those accused.
Investigators say the abuse began in 1999 and continued until the church closed in 2003. But it was not until a woman called from Ohio in April, saying she had fled to protect her child, that police claim they had even an inkling of what was happening. About the same time, the church's pastor, 45-year-old Louis Lamonica, walked into the neighboring Livingston Parish sheriff's office, sat down and, according to investigators, named names and detailed activities inside the church.
Lamonica was arrested, followed by eight others authorities described as central members of the ring. All but one are being held without bond. Even the tipster from Ohio, Nicole Bernard, was arrested on rape charges along with her ex-husband.
Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards said the group apparently had an effective formula for escaping detection: the use of a church, a close-knit relationship between the members and victims unlikely to report abuse to authorities. Edwards stopped short of saying the cult consisted of devil-worshippers but said some of the defendants told investigators that "devil worship was the reason for their participation."
Glynn Fendlason served as pastor of the church, then known as First Assembly of God, from 1982 to 1989, following the death of Lamonica's father, who founded the church. The active membership dispensed thousands of meals to the poor and elderly.
Fendlason said the younger Lamonica, while his father was pastor, was a "good fellow" who played bass guitar, taught Sunday school and worked with youth groups. Some of the other defendants also were active in the church.
After Fendlason resigned as pastor, he said he stayed out of the church's business for fear of disrupting the congregation, but heard that Lamonica, who became pastor in 1994, excommunicated many members, including members of his own family, and increasingly made the church more isolated.
Rendell, a Democrat, has granted 231 pardons and denied 31 requests during two-and-a-half years in office, the vast majority for minor offenses.
Republican Tom Ridge, who campaigned aggressively to limit the clemency process, granted 270 applications and rejected 140 during nearly seven years in office.
If he is re-elected and maintains his current pace, Rendell would issue more pardons than any other modern governor, Democrat or Republican, who has served two terms.
Governors may grant two forms of clemency -- pardons and commutations. Pardons restore legal rights and privileges lost upon conviction, such as the right to purchase and carry a gun and employment rights. Commutations reduce the length of sentences for those currently incarcerated.
Before their requests for clemency get to the governor's desk, applicants must first get a majority of the five-person Pennsylvania Board of Pardons to vote in favor, or a unanimous vote in the case of those sentenced to life or on death row.
Currently awaiting action by Rendell are 133 clemency applications approved by the Pardons Board, including two from convicted murderers asking to have their life sentences reduced. Michael H. Anderson has been waiting more than two years, and George Gregory Orlowski more than one year, for the governor to act.
About half of Rendell's pardons have involved theft-related offenses and about one-fifth were granted to those convicted of drug offenses or drunken-driving. The most serious crimes among his pardons include aggravated assault, statutory rape, prison escape and arson.
The report prompted Gov. Jeb Bush to ask the Pinellas County chief prosecutor to investigate what happened the night Terri Schiavo collapsed. The governor cited an alleged gap in time between when her husband found her unconscious and called 911. The husband says there was no delay in making the call.
When he prepared his $24 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, Gov. Ed Rendell's goal was to spread out the spending cuts so several agencies would "share the pain." Judging from the cries of protest that are pouring in from affected groups and constituents, Rendell is getting what he expected.
You will find it at 2224 East Carson St. Pittsburgh, PA 15203 412-325-2227
Check them out on the web here.
The executive board of the United Food and Commercial Workers plans to discuss the possibility of disaffiliation with the AFL-CIO.
Today is one of the most significant days of my life. It is with great optimism, expectation, and determination that I announce my candidacy for the Florida State Senate.Over the past month I have met and spoken with dozens of members of the Republican executive committee from all five counties where the eighth district lies. I have been amazed at the commitments already made to me concerning my candidacy and election. I am convinced that we can develop the three-fold chord of momentum, manpower and money necessary to win the Republican primary, and then the general election of 2006.
Last night when I was alone in my library, I studied the faces of three of my heroes: Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill. I pondered their lives and their public service to three separate generations in three critical eras of history. Each of them was affable; each of them had an intense love of life, and a great sense of humor. But beyond the fact that they were great men on a personal level, they were all fierce defenders of liberty; they were all unconquerable champions of freedom, truth and justice who loved God and their fellow man.In their public lives, they were loved by many, and ridiculed by others. Each of them in turn stood for principle even when it put them at odds with other public servants. Likewise, each of them enjoyed and endured a roller coaster relationship with the press of their day. On one day they were lionized, on the next day they were vilified. Such was their lot.
But in spite of this see-saw relationship with their colleagues and the press they never wavered from nor abandoned the principles and causes to which they dedicated their lives. And now most of the world holds them as heroes. I know I do; I have named two of my sons after these great men.In my relationship with the press and the media of the eighth district, thus far I have been treated with respect and evenhandedness, for which I am thankful. However, I know that there are media forces and political forces outside of this district and perhaps within it that will be determined to inject false attacks and malice into this campaign to derail me if at all possible. I fully expect this in our current political climate, and I'm prepared to face it with dignity, honor, good will and humor as God gives me the strength.
I expect to win this election. But I harbor no illusions that this will be an easy race. As I invoke the name and the memory of these great men, my goal is to run, win, and then to serve in such a way that would make each of them proud. And my sincere hope is that should they be looking down on us at this moment of time that they will pray to our Maker that His grace and strength will be our guiding force over the next year and a half. And that by the hard work and dedication of my family, our campaign team, and the dedicated Republican volunteers and voters that will be the driving force of this election, that we will be together again on the first Tuesday of November in the year 2006, celebrating my election to the Florida State Senate.Thank you and God bless you.
The Washington Post reports that the marker bears an inscription that notes Terri "Departed This Earth" on February 25th, 1990. And the bronze marker bears the words "I kept my promise."
David Gibbs, an attorney for the woman's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, decried the marker as "another unkind act toward a grieving mom and dad."
The interment failed to bring a close to the Schiavo saga, which included a lengthy court battle over her end-of-life wishes. Instead, acrimony flared anew, with her parents complaining they were not notified beforehand about the service.
"The Europe of Benedict -- In the Crisis of Cultures," is a compilation of three major addresses he gave between 1992 and 2005, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and headed the Vatican department that safeguards doctrinal orthodoxy.
The last was delivered on April 1, a day before the death of Pope John Paul and three weeks before Benedict's election.
While all the material was previously published in other forms, the importance the Pope attaches to it was underscored by the fact that the compilation was being presented later on Tuesday by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, his vicar for Rome, and Marcello Pera, speaker of the Italian Senate.
It was also being published less than two weeks after Italy's Roman Catholic Church won a significant victory in a referendum that blocked attempts to dismantle Italy's strict law on assisted fertility and embryo research.
In one section of the book, the Pope asks rhetorically why the Church should not accept that abortion is legal in many countries.
"Why don't we resign ourselves to the fact that we lost that battle and dedicate our energies instead to projects where we can find greater social consensus?" he writes.
Because this, he says, would be a superficial and hypocritical solution.
"Recognizing the sacred nature of human life and its inviolability without any exceptions is not a small problem or something that can be considered part of the pluralism of opinions in modern society," he writes.
"There is no such thing as 'small murders'. Respect for every single life is an essential condition for anything worthy of being called social life."
Some Italian politicians fear that the country's powerful Catholic Church will try to make capital of its victory in this month's fertility referendum and eventually try to overturn the country's abortion law.
The book, about 150 pages in Italian, takes its title from St Benedict, the 5th and 6th century monk who founded the Benedictine order which guarded European culture in the Middle Ages.
In other sections of the book, the Pope criticizes a decision to exclude a reference to Europe's Christian roots in the EU constitution.
The Vatican campaigned hard for such a reference in the EU charter, which was rejected recently by voters in France and the Netherlands and is now effectively on hold.
The Pope's disappointment with modern Europe transpires in several sections of the book.
"Europe has developed a culture which excludes God from the public conscience in a way never before known to humanity ..." he writes.
The book was jointly published by the Vatican editorial house and an Italian publisher who had acquired rights to Ratzinger's writings before he became Pope.
From the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,www.thetaskforce.org
June 16, 2005
Articles of Faith: In the Spirit of Pride
By Christian de la Huerta (Christian de la Huerta is a member of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.)
The Pride celebrations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community celebrated across the country during June must seem a strange ritual to outsiders. With a wild mix of go-go boys, drag queens and topless lesbians, all throbbing to tribal drumbeats, this seemingly self-indulgent display causes outrage for social conservatives, and chagrin for those in the gay community who would like to see us acting more conventionally. But perhaps there is another way to look at Pride besides as an exercise in hedonism: perhaps it represents the pressing back of cultural boundaries by a people uniquely qualified for spiritual exploration.
Throughout history, people we today label lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender have been honored for their roles of spiritual service and leadership. In many cultural contexts, gay people have been the healers, teachers, shamans, keepers of beauty, mediators and peacekeepers; those who "walked between the worlds." For queer spiritual practitioners, not only is their homosexuality or gender identity not a sin, sickness or abomination, it is a gift, a blessing and a privilege. It is the element of their personality that has pushed them outside the realm of comfort and conventionality and into the place of mystery inhabited by those who fulfill roles of sacred service.
If there is any doubt about the pervasiveness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in religious leadership roles, it would be a compelling exercise if, on some weekend, every single queer minister, rabbi, music director, teacher or other spiritual functionary stayed home from religious services. The term "Gay Pride" barely begins to capture the sense of honor and respect this rich spiritual heritage deserves. According to the Dagara tribe in Africa, certain people Westerners would identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are uniquely physically and energetically suited to be "gatekeepers," the guardians of the doorways into other worlds, realms and realities. The Dagara believe that much of the pain and woundedness of the world can be traced to a lack of respect for these spiritual gatekeepers. In fact, author and speaker Malidoma Some says that part of the reason the world is in the shape that it is in is because the gatekeepers "have been fired from their jobs."
Similarly, among Native American peoples, the Two-Spirit were thought to have special powers and played key roles in tribal ceremonies. These people, who lived on the edges of tribal life, were associated with the gift of prophecy and the implementation of rituals, and were said to possess healing powers. Today Two-Spirits are regaining their place of honor among many Native American communities after being annihilated or forced to go underground during the European invasion.
Is it any wonder that mystics and saviors of many spiritual traditions can often be found with those on the margins of society? Perhaps, beyond "healing" the poor, the religiously unclean and the sexually different, these prophets found in these people a spiritual kinship that sustained their ministries. If the historical figures of Elijah, Buddha, or Jesus were to come back today, I would not be surprised to find them in gay bars, with "welfare moms" or with AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. For it is people in the boundary places of the world who are often closest to the Divine.
All this does not mean that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are better than straight people. (After all, heterosexuals should not be blamed for not having a "choice" about their sexual orientation!) It does mean, however, that queer people should have a sense of responsibility to continue bringing light, healing and spirit to the world, even if the world does not yet realize or fully appreciate our value and contributions.
Furthermore, it is time for religious leaders to stop asking queer people to apologize for who we are and to recognize our innate spiritual offerings of service and leadership. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have gravitated to and fulfilled spiritual roles throughout history, in numbers that far exceed our proportion to the overall population. We have contributed tremendously to the evolution of humanity.
For those who snicker or cringe at the fabulous excess of Gay Pride festivals, realize this: These are the outsiders, the spiritual warriors, the scouts of consciousness who are integrating spirit and sexuality for much of the rest of society. We owe these modern-day shamans the latitude they need and the respect they deserve to do this crucial work.
And for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the world is crying out for us to speak from a place of real power and pride. We must know, in the deepest recesses of our souls, in the very fabric of our tissues, in every one of our cells in every part of our bodies, that we are blessed in the ways we express our love and our passion. Our blessing is that we know love, and we must love deeply, passionately and selflessly. It is our calling as a people. It is our calling as human beings.
This spiritual calling is what I will be celebrating during Gay Pride. I invite all of you who hear this call within you to do the same.
The state is looking at the possibility of collecting sales tax on copies of these documents, citing examples of private companies that have spent thousands of dollars on large volumes of copies, without paying any taxes on them.
For most individuals, this new enforcement might mean forking over a few extra cents per page. But some county row officers assert that collecting the sales tax would add an extra layer of bureaucracy to the process, forcing them to track taxable versus tax-exempt customers, re-publicize their new fee structures and purchase new equipment and software.
Pennsylvania's state sales tax has been in effect for more than 50 years, but it has never been applied to copies of government records and collected from government offices. The tax is 6 percent, except in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, where it's 7 percent.
The sales tax issue will undoubtedly be the buzz of the yearly conference of the Pennsylvania Recorder of Deeds Association, which starts today in Pittsburgh.
The ratification of 11 constitutional changes by presbyteries, or regional governing bodies, of the Louisville-based denomination comes three years after a report on the sexual abuse of children of missionaries at boarding schools in the Congo, the church announced this past week.
The new regulations, which will become part of the church's Book of Order on July 3, impose stricter requirements for reporting abuse to civil authorities and give accusers more say in the disciplinary process.
According to the report, Terri's condition was due to the loss of blood to her brain for a period of time sufficient to damage large parts of it but leaves wide open the crucial question of what brought about that circulatory failure in the first place.
The report dismisses bulimia, alleged by her husband and widely reported by the media as the cause, and rules out a heart attack, also named as a cause. It makes no attempt to identify the real cause of the incident, or answer the key question: if neither bulimia nor heart attack were the cause, what did stop Terri Schiavo's brain from receiving its life-giving supply of oxygen?
Instead of clearing up the many questions concerning the life and death of Terri Shiavo, the report on the autopsy of her remains only raises even more questions. Rather than confirming the many dubious claims of her husband, his lawyers and their allies in the media about her real condition and its cause, it strongly suggests that the claims were unsupported by the facts.
Moreover, instead of being conducted free of any possible bias, the medical examiner largely relied on the so-called medical records supplied by one of Michael Schiavo's lawyers.
According to the authoritative The Empire Journal, the major source of inside information about Schiavo case, the medical examiner, Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner (ME) Jon Thogmartin said he based some of his autopsy findings on medical reports and records provided by Gary Fox.
Fox was one of two medical malpractice attorneys for Michael Schiavo. Thogmartin's refusal to allow an independent medical expert chosen by Terri's parents, the widely acclaimed Alleghany County Medical examiner Dr. Cyril Wecht, or even one chosen by Terri's husband Michael for that matter, to observe the autopsy procedure raises serious doubts that his report on the post mortem examination was unbiased.
Even though it was not possible for an autopsy to reveal that the deceased was in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) and could not be rehabilitated, the ME and an associate claimed that the evidence indicated she was.
Dr. William Hammesfahr, nominated for a Nobel Prize for his work in medicine, has been recognized by agents for Medicare, the federal government, and others for new approaches to helping the brain injured.
Dr. Hammesfahr has released a statement in response to the autopsy report on Terri Schindler Schiavo. You read it here.
Governor Bush has asked Bernie McCabe, Pinellas-Pasco County State Attorney to investigate why Michael Schiavo waited 40-70 minutes to call the paramedics following Terri's intial colapse.
Here is how the lazy hunter does it. Track the blackbuck antelope through the Texas hill country brush. Sight the target through the rifle's scope as it stops to feed. Rest the crosshairs just behind the buck's shoulders for the killing shot. Ready. Aim. Click. A Remington .30-06 rifle fires the shot, but the hunter is miles away, sitting behind a computer, watching the antelope on the monitor and using the mouse to pull the trigger.
Live-Shot.com is the only known cyber-hunting site in the country. It's not cheap to hunt barbary sheep, wild hogs, red stags or blackbuck antelope from the comfort of the family room. Besides the $14.95 membership fee, there's a $1,000 animal stocking fee, $300 for each two-hour hunt and $75 for additional hours, $235 in taxidermy and meat-processing fees, and a Texas hunting license, which, as in many states, is available online. Of course, shipping and handling are extra.
Live-Shot takes place on 200-plus acres of land north of San Antonio. Live-Shot's rifle is mounted and attached to a small motor, three video cameras and anactuator similar to ones used in car door locks. The actuator is attached to a wire that pulls the trigger when the mouse is clicked.
Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee sent a bill to the House that would ban Internet hunting in the state. Lawmakers in another 19 states are pushing like-minded legislation.