Ignoring protests from residents and a resolution from state legislators calling for the state’s seasonal celebratory tree to be called by its Christmas designation, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee insisted that the blue spruce that graces the Statehouse this year be referred to officially as a “Holiday Tree.”

According to the Associated Press, Chafee, who changed his party designation from Republican to Independent in 2007, said that eschewing the term “Christmas” is in line with the principles laid down by Rhode Island founder Roger Williams that the state would supposedly be a place where religion and government are to be kept separate.

“I’m just continuing what other governors have done,” Chafee told the Boston Herald after a ceremony dedicating a separate “holiday tree” to soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I just want to make sure I’m doing everything possible in this building to honor Roger Williams.” To be sure, noted the AP, Chafee’s immediate predecessor, Republican Governor Donald Carcieri, “used both holiday tree and Christmas tree in his correspondence. Other governors have made no specific reference to Christmas at all with invitations to ‘holiday celebrations’ featuring a ‘tree lighting.’"

Things just got a little bit tougher for homosexuals in Nigeria. The African nation’s Senate has made homosexual activity punishable by more than a dozen years in prison.  And those who try to sanctify alimentary antics with wedding vows will get a decade.

A prison in Nigeria, which is 50 percent Muslims, 40 percent Christian, and 10 percent other, is not a place one wants to be, as Amnesty International (AI) has reported, which might be one reason the news has upset leftists everywhere, from AI to the enraged British. The latter seem more worried about “homophobia” in Nigeria than the anti-homosexual hatred, courtesy of the country’s Muslims, in downtown London.

 

Here’s a switch! The ACLU has come down on the side of students in Brownsville, Texas, who were told by the local school district that they should not openly display their rosaries. As reported by the San Antonio Express newspaper, the ACLU’s Texas franchise is “looking into whether the Brownsville Independent School District’s policy on wearing rosaries and crosses is violating students’ religious rights.”

In a statement ACLU spokeswoman Lisa Graybill said that under the “First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Texas’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act, students’ right to wear articles of faith in school is indisputably protected.”

Officials of Brownsville’s Simon Rivera High School assured the usually secular legal watchdog group that it had not ordered students to remove the rosaries, but had merely asked them to make them a little less obvious, noting that the wearing of the Catholic faith symbol has been tied to gang affiliation. In fact, local police chief Oscar Garcia told the Express that students at Rivera had been seen wearing homemade rosary-like accessories around their heads and waists to show off their gang connections.

Does God Exist?  I recently came across a very interesting debate on YouTube on the subject of “Does God Exist?” The debaters were Christopher Hitchins, the Anglo-American author of God Is Not Great, who took the side of atheism, and Prof. William Lane Craig of Biola University who argued in favor of creationism. You can actually watch the whole debate, which turned out to be a fascinating exchange between two highly intelligent men on a subject that will be debated forever.

Of course, I favor the creationist point of view. A cursory examination of just one’s own human body must convince one that there is a creator. The whole process of birth, starting from conception to the emergence of a complete human being in only nine months, is to me a miracle, which is performed millions of times a day all over the world. Just consider the different body fluids we all have: blood, sweat, tears, saliva, digestive juices, insulin, urine — all produced in just the right amounts at the proper times, each with its own distinctive purpose. How could any of this be the result of accident?

But all of these obvious manifestations of creationism that surround us have not stopped educators and judges from objecting to the teaching of Intelligent Design in the public schools. Why? Because it infers the existence of God. If creationism is the means whereby reality came into being, then God does exist. Yet, you would think that the most famous 19th-century advocate of evolution would be on the side of today’s atheist educators. But such is not the case.

The Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence of South Carolina is a bishop in the Episcopal Church. He has remained with that old, American Episcopal Church, which during the Revolutionary War had been the church for American patriots who, for logical reasons, could no longer belong to a church intimately connected with the British Crown, despite its many changes.

Bishop Lawrence is one of the few significant clergyman left in that church since its drift toward “politically correct” theology beginning in the 1960s. Many former Episcopalians, both parishioners and clergy, have broken away.  They adopted the “Affirmation of St. Louis” in September 1977, which affirmed the historic and immutable nature of Christian doctrine. Among the principles acknowledged to be part of that doctrine were the sanctity of human life at the time of conception and human sexuality is only moral when it's between a man and a woman in marriage.

Bishop Lawrence chose to stay with the church into which he had been brought, even though that church was now pronouncing that abortion was acceptable in a broad number of cases, that homosexuality was an acceptable human relationship, and that clergy need not be male, or even heterosexual. He continued to preach what his parishioners believed — what his church formerly espoused — despite the fact that these were in conflict with those who now ran the Episcopal Church.
 

In an interview Thursday night with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Herman Cain’s lawyer repeatedly dodged questions as to whether his client had carried on 13-year affair with a woman the candidate describes as a “friend.”  Earlier that day, the influential New Hampshire daily, the Union Leader, reported that the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO had paid money to a woman claiming to have carried on a long-term extramarital affair with Cain.
 
 

It has been a holiday tradition for as long as anyone can remembers: Salvation Army bell-ringers standing at the entrances of stores and malls, their red kettles at the ready, beckoning for shoppers to drop in their spare change or a few dollars for those less fortunate. And, for the past few years, it has become a tradition for homosexuals activists to bang their drums of grievance in a call for friends, enablers, and fellow “gays” to boycott the compassionate Christian organization for what they argue is “anti-gay” discrimination.

This year is no exception, as such news sources as USA Today and MSNBC have picked up on the efforts of Bil Browning, the leading voice in the Grinch-like campaign against Salvation Army. On his blog site, a clearinghouse of sorts for homosexual news, commentary, and camp, Browning challenges his readers to skip donating to the worthy charity in favor of one “that doesn’t actively discriminate against the LGBT community.”

Browning charges that the Christian group — which has been helping the homeless and helpless around the world since General William Booth began ministering to the down-and outers in London’s east end back in 1865 — “has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians. While you might think you’re helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, not everyone can share in the donations. Many LGBT people are rejected by the evangelical church charity because they’re ‘sexually impure.’”

Christian quarterback for the Denver Broncos Tim Tebow has taken a lot of flak for his faith. Both players from other teams, as well as fans, have openly mocked and ridiculed Tebow’s Christian beliefs, and even media outlets have taken jabs at Tebow’s faith, albeit, in mostly subtle ways. Still, Tebow has remained steadfast and has attracted the attention of fellow Christian, Kurt Warner, a former quarterback for the New York Giants and St. Louis Rams, who has some advice for Tebow: Tone down the public displays of your faith.

Tebow is not ashamed of his deeply entrenched faith. He began his postgame news conference Sunday by thanking his  "Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" and ended it with "God bless." He openly prays on the sidelines and even on the field when he has thrown a touchdown. Tebow is often seen taking a knee, either in prayers of gratitude or in anticipation of a play. In fact, he does it so often that newspapers and fans have taken to coining a term for it: “Tebowing.”

 

Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, has announced that it will cease performing abortions in December, becoming the first abortion clinic to close in the state in two decades. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that “Regions is the last remaining hospital in the Twin Cities area that performs elective abortions…. Last year it performed 545 abortions, down from 902 a decade earlier.”

With the declining numbers of abortions in Minnesota, the hospital, which is part of HealthPartners, decided to terminate its GYN Special Services Clinic, which ranked just sixth in overall abortions in the state. According to state Health Department numbers, each of the five more profitable clinics were responsible for at least 1,000 of the procedures in 2010.

Overall, there has actually been a hopeful decline in abortions in the state over the past few years, with 11,505 abortions reported in the state last year, compared to 14,450 in 2000. Nationally, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, there has also been a steady decline in the number of abortion clinics nationally, from a high of 2,900 in 1982 to around 1,800 by 2005, a number that remained consistent through 2008. Most recently, as several states have enacted legislation to restrict abortion, pro-life leaders expect the numbers to dip even more.

I entered graduate school to study English literature in the late 1980s, eventually receiving a Ph.D. in Ren-aissance literature, and have been a professional academic ever since. I have reached that point in life where I am sufficiently wizened — and sufficiently jaded — to be allowed the luxury of griping about how much tougher it was growing up for my generation. As a life-long teacher, I might also be granted indulgence if I grumble about how little my college students actually know compared to what I learned. And although there is as much justice as exaggeration in these observations, the thing that never ceases to amaze me is how morally stunted and ethically underdeveloped our students are, how utterly unable to make even obvious moral distinctions, and how completely uninterested in differentiating between virtue and vice.

The very concepts make them profoundly uneasy: Who says virtue is better than vice? Who am I to judge the rightness or wrongness of what someone else chooses? For these students, “tolerance” — that catch-all virtue into which all other virtues have been absorbed — means accepting without question all choices and modes of behavior. They are smart enough to realize that legitimizing the bad choices of others means that they are entitled to the same legitimization for their own bad choices as well, a system of mutually beneficial amorality in which the self-interested embrace of tolerance is enough not only to absolve their own sins, but also to confer upon them a kind of active virtue that grants immunity from the moral and spiritual consequences of their choices.

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