The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spent nearly $30 million lobbying in Washington through 2008-09, according to a new report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
That may not be good news for conservative-minded Catholics, however, given a significant fact about the USCCB. Except on matters of sex and abortion, the USCCB generally hews to the liberal line on public policy matters. Numerous commentators point to the bishops' pastoral letter and other teachings on the economy, and their support for universal healthcare, for instance, as proof the USCCB is virtually the religious arm of the radical left of the Democratic Party. That is true particularly on immigration.
But other prominent evangelical organizations, generally regarded as more conservative than the bishops, are among the top nine names in Pew's list.
Even as atheists in the Army are lobbying for chaplains for unbelievers, pagans and Wiccans at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have a place to cast their spells. And their new open-air “Stonehenge-like” ring of stones was provided at a cost of nearly $80,000 to the American taxpayers.
There was a time when exorbitant military expenditures were symbolized by the $640 toilet seat. But the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle certainly surpasses such examples on account of its absurdity. While the Air Force is attempting to justify the creation of a hilltop worship sight for pagan recruits on the basis of religious pluralism, in fact, the pagans who are supposed to be served by the availability of such a "circle" are almost nonexistent — at least at this point. As Jenny Deam wrote in a Los Angeles Times article (“Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches, and Wiccan”), even the academy admits pagans make up what must be the smallest religious minority at their institution:
Their ranks are slim. According to the academy's enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected.
GOP presidential contender Herman Cain has found himself contending with a variety of alleged scandals over the course of the last month, ranging from sexual harassment allegations to accusations of a long-term extramarital affair. The most recent allegation, which asserts that Cain had been involved in a 13-year affair with a woman from Atlanta, Georgia, led Cain to tell his senior staff on Tuesday morning that he was “reassessing” his campaign’s livelihood. However, there are mixed signals from the Cain camp regarding the future of Cain’s candidacy.
Cain’s declaration prompted some to wonder whether he would pull himself out of the race for a Republican presidential nomination, but Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block indicates that he simply meant he was conducting a “strategic reassessment” and “not a reassessment of withdrawing” from the race.
According to Block, Cain will be outlining the specifics of that strategic assessment during his campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, where Cain will “lay out his way forward.” When asked if Cain would drop out of the race under any specific circumstances, Block answered that there are only two things that would prompt Cain to leave the race: “Mrs. Cain, and if we show up to do an event and no one is there.”
A month after a similar amendment was rejected by voters in Mississippi, pro-life leaders in Colorado have announced that they will work to place a proposed “personhood” amendment on the ballot in their state. The amendment, which has already failed twice in the state, is meant to “protect every child, no matter their age, race, gender, location, or size,” explained Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, the Colorado group behind personhood amendment efforts in a number of states.
Proponents will need to get approval for the amendment from the Colorado Secretary of State, as well as about 79,000 petition signatures from state voters, in order for the amendment to make it to the ballot.
While past personhood amendment language has been confined to a one-sentence declaration that defines unborn children as persons under the law beginning at conception, the new proposed amendment states: “In order to affirm basic human dignity, be it resolved that the right to life in this Constitution applies to all innocent persons.” The amendment goes on to declare, among other specifications, that the “intentional killing of any innocent person is prohibited,” and that “no innocent child created through rape or incest shall be killed for the crime of his or her father.”
As for the pertinent definitions, the proposed amendment specifies that “‘person’ applies to every human being regardless of the method of creation,” and that a “‘human being’ is a member of the species homo sapiens at any stage of development.” Additionally, the amendment specifies that a “child” includes “a human being prior to and during birth.”
The community of San Juan Capistrano, California, has backed down from ticketing a couple for holding Bible studies in their home after the couple’s attorneys filed a religious-freedom lawsuit against the city. Back in September, city officials had fined Chuck and Stephanie Fromm $300 after determining that the couple was in violation of a municipal code that prohibited “religious, fraternal, or non-profit” groups to meet in residential neighborhoods without a permit.
As reported by The New American, the couple hosted a mid-week Bible study that drew some 20 participants, as well as a Sunday service with an attendance of around 50. According to the code, institutions needing a permit included “churches, temples, synagogues, monasteries, religious retreats, and other places of religious worship and other fraternal and community service organizations.”
The highly controversial sexual molestation charges against the assistant football coach at Penn State have now been followed by similar allegations against the assistant basketball coach at upstate New York’s Syracuse University.
Syracuse recently fired its assistant basketball coach, Bernie Fine, after allegations surfaced that he had for years sexually molested young ball-boys for the basketball team, dating back to 1984. The university was reportedly “shaken” by the allegations.
According to WSYR Channel 9, “Fine has been the subject of a sexual molestation investigation involving several law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s office, Onondaga County District Attorney’s office, Syracuse Police, and New York State Police.”
One of Fine’s alleged victims, Bobby Davis, now 39, told “Outside the Lines” that he was sexually abused by Fine for six years, starting in 1984, while serving as the basketball team’s ball-boy, at both Fine’s home and the university’s basketball facilities. He claims that the abuse continued until he was 27 years old.
Following the revelation of Davis, another alleged victim came forward — Mike Lang, 45, stepbrother of Bobby Davis who also served as a ball-boy for the basketball team. Lang asserts that Fine molested him while he was in the fifth or sixth grade.
Barney Frank, the first openly homosexual Congressman, whose “alternative” lifestyle at times spilled over into his public life, has announced that he is retiring at the end of his present term, ending a 30-year career as one of the most liberal members of the House of Representatives. In his official announcement, Frank explained that he had been contemplating retirement for the past year, and, facing a reconfigured district that would require him to aggressively campaign among hundreds of thousands of new constituents, he decided instead to drop out.
A political insider told the Boston Globe that “the new district in which Frank would have had to run next year was a major factor in his decision. While it retained his Newton stronghold, it was revised to encompass more conservative towns while Frank also lost New Bedford, a blue-collar city where he had invested a lot of time and become a leading figure in the region’s fisheries debate.”
Frank complained that the political arena had changed “in a way that makes it harder to get anything done at the federal level.” He reflected that as a legislator he had been effective at “working inside the process to influence public policy in the ways that I think are important. But I now believe that there is more to be done trying to change things from outside than by working within.”
An ex-employee of London’s buzzing Heathrow Airport is suing her former employer for unfair dismissal, claiming that she and other Christian staff were discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. According to the U.K.’s Sunday Telegraph, Nohad Halawi, who migrated to Britain from Lebanon in 1977, professed "that she was told that she would go to Hell for her religion, that Jews were responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, and that a friend was reduced to tears having been bullied for wearing a cross."
Halawi worked at the airport as a saleswoman at World Duty Free, where she sold perfumes at a commission-based pay position, but was dismissed in July, after working for the airport shopping outlet for 13 years. While nurturing many relationships amongst staff of all religious affiliations, she was fired following "unsubstantiated complaints by five Muslims about her contact," reported Christian Concern.
A complaint from a colleague was reported after Halawi described a Muslim staff member as an allawhi, which means "man of God" in Arabic, but another worker nearby thought she said Alawi, a branch of Islam that the worker is affiliated to. The misunderstanding instigated a heated exchange and Hawali was suspended immediately, and then fired in July.
While churches, pastors, and Christians everywhere bemoan the state of spirituality in today’s culture, Americans can point to few notable Christian leaders in the nation. The findings of a November 21 study led the Barna Group to conclude that there are gaps to be filled — if not for national leaders, at least for “more local and regional Christian leaders to emerge — whether in churches, ministries, or a variety of other capacities.”
Barna’s latest study —based on telephone interviews of a random sample of 1,007 adults in the continental United States, aged 18 and older — reveals that no single Christian leader has emerged to a level of influence that captures the attention of the nation. Indeed, when asked to identify the single most influential Christian leader today, 41 percent of respondents were unable to think of anyone meeting that description.
The death of longtime homosexual activist Frank Kameny offered an opportunity for “LGBT” professionals to gather and celebrate their increasing presence in the federal government, as well as to insist that more be done to advance their interests.
On a mid-November evening, a group of D.C. bureaucrats gathered at the Cannon House Office Building to remember the “gay rights pioneer,” who, reported the Associated Press, “is credited with staging the first gay rights protests in front of the White House and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. He had been fired from his job as a government astronomer for being gay. Kameny took that case to the Supreme Court 50 years ago.”
John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, told the gathering — which included White House staffers, Congressmen, and a Yale Law School professor — that Kameny was responsible for blazing the trail “that I and countless others followed into public service.” Berry, who in 2009 became the Obama administration’s highest level homosexual appointee, told the assembled group that Kameny’s “unrelenting and unceasing fight for gay rights enabled other Americans to step out of the closet and into the full light of equality. But most importantly, his long battle and eventual triumphs show the miracles that one person wrought upon the world.”
While Berry may be one of the most high-profile homosexuals serving in the Obama administration, he is by no means the only one.