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By Doug Ireland, The Guide
When candidate Barack Obama announced last summer during his campaign that he would expand President George W Bush's so-called 'faith-based initiatives' program, this bad news was greeted with moans of distress from those who believe in the separation of church and state. Among them: the Rev Jesse Jackson, who was caught on videotape whispering into an open TV microphone that Obama's proposal was so repugnant to him that he'd 'cut his nuts off' over it.
Connecticut’s highest court ruled on Friday that thousands of pages of documents from sexual-abuse lawsuits filed against priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport that had been kept sealed for more than a decade must be made public.
The 4-to-1 decision by the State Supreme Court was the latest milestone in a seven-year legal fight between the Diocese of Bridgeport and four newspapers: The New York Times, The Hartford Courant, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post.
The diocese claimed that the records would open old wounds, while the newspapers argued that they were an important part of the record of the church’s handling of sexual-abuse charges.
The thousands of victims of Ireland's child-abuse homes spent decades just trying to get the public to believe them. A mammoth investigation has proved the horrors of their youth, but left many disappointed that their abusers were not named.
A nine-year probe into child abuse by Ireland's Catholic religious orders painted a damning portrait of a system that shielded child-molesters from justice and trapped generations of Ireland's poorest children to misery from the 1930s to the 1990s.
High Court Sides With Ashcroft, Mueller in 9/11 Detainee Abuse Case
By Jesse J. Holland, Associated Press | ABCNews
A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that FBI Director Robert Mueller and former Attorney General John Ashcroft can't face a lawsuit from a former Sept. 11 detainee who argued they were responsible for his restrictive confinement because of his religious beliefs.
The court on Monday overturned a lower court decision that let Javaid Iqbal's (Ick-ball) lawsuit against the high-ranking officials proceed.
Iqbal is a Pakistani Muslim who spent nearly six months in solitary confinement in New York in 2002. He had argued that while Ashcroft and Mueller did not single him out for mistreatment, they were responsible for a policy of confining detainees in highly restrictive conditions because of their religious beliefs or race.
"Notre Dame U. plans to bestow an honorary degree on President Barack Obama. This caused the ultra Iraq War Hawk, Rep. Peter T. King (R-3-NY), to toss a major hissy fit. He insisted that because of Obama’s support for abortion, that the award would be an insult to “Catholic moral teachings.” Why weren’t these Catholic standards applied to the Bush-Cheney Gang’s War without End, torture policies and the shredding of the U.S. Constitution?"
“Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.”-- George Carlin
As TomDispatch readers are well aware, James Carroll is a man who knows something about the dangers of mixing religious fervor, war, and the crusading spirit, a subject he dealt with eloquently in his book Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews. A former Catholic priest turned antiwar activist in the Vietnam era, he is a weekly columnist for the Boston Globe, and was perhaps the first media figure to notice -- and warn against -- a presidential "slip of the tongue" just after 9/11, when George W. Bush referred briefly to his new Global War on Terror as a "crusade." He was also possibly the first mainstream columnist in the country to warn against the consequences of launching a war against Afghanistan in response to those attacks -- the disastrous results of which we now see daily.
Carroll's focus on fundamentalist religion and violence is long standing. In print and in other ways, he has spoken out and worked against militarism and intolerance, and has focused on the ways in which religion and violence are increasingly merging into a toxic brew capable of setting our planet aflame. Most recently, he's publicly put both his own practice of Catholicism and the perilous state of his church -- perched as it is at the edge of a fundamentalist precipice with a new Pope who threatens to push it into the void -- under a microscope.
Book Review: "A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman’s Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide” By Mark D. Siljander
By Amy Branham, Gold Star Mother, Houston, TX
This book took me on an emotional journey that I really had to struggle with. After reading the first chapter or two of this book, I did not want to go any further. It wasn’t because I objected to what the author was learning and sharing in his story. It was because of where he came from that made me feel very vehemently opposed to hearing what he had to say. Here was an evangelical Christian Republican Congressman who had been known in Washington D.C. as one of the biggest Jesus freaks ever to walk the halls of Congress! One who, under normal circumstances and, much more so today, wouldn’t give me, one of those left-wing liberals, the time of day!
By Jason Leopold
A recent edition of the U.S. Army’s suicide prevention manual advises military chaplains to promote “religiosity,” specifically Christianity, as a way to deter distraught soldiers from committing suicide, which in recent months, according to one veterans advocacy group, has reached epidemic proportions.
The Army Suicide Prevention Manual says “Chaplains... need to openly advocate behavioral health as a resource” to treat suicidal soldiers and instructs behavioral health providers “to openly advocate spirituality and religiosity as resiliency factors."
Pope Benedict XVI has warned against the misuse of religion for political ends, in a speech to Muslim leaders on the second day of his visit to Jordan.
By Robert C. Koehler, Tribune Media Services
“The special forces guys — they hunt men, basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom.”
It’s worse than you think.
Torture, religion, democracy, God. They’re all part of the mixed-up, horrific business that George Bush unleashed in the Middle East and Central Asia, and that Barack Obama is struggling to control and rationalize. As the words above demonstrate, the 12th century is striving mightily to join hands with the 20th in the U.S. military: Unbridled religious arrogance is forging a link with high-tech weaponry and an unlimited defense budget.
Catholic Democrats Offer Statement of Support to Notre Dame for Inviting Obama to Deliver Commencement Address
Catholic Democrats Offer This Statement of Support for Notre Dame in their decision to invite President Barack Obama to deliver the university’s 2009 Commencement address. No need to be Catholic to sign. Click here.
New research shows young Americans are dramatically less likely to go to church -- or to participate in any form of organized religion -- than their parents and grandparents.
It's a huge change," says Harvard University professor Robert Putnam, who conducted the research.
US Troops Urged To Share Faith in Afghanistan | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The US's highest ranking military officer has said it is not the US military's position to promote any specific religion, after Al Jazeera revealed footage of troops apparently preparing to convert Afghans to their Christian faith.
Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to be the third pontiff to visit the Holy Land from 8-15 May, following in the footsteps of Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 2000, on a mission officially described as a “pilgrimage” and one of “peace and reconciliation.”
However, the Pope will be stepping into “a diplomatic minefield,” where the Catholic highest spiritual authority will be unmercifully scrutinized by the protagonists of the one hundred year old Arab-Israeli conflict for the Holy Father’s every step, word and handshake, which would force him into the defensive in an impossible balancing act that will rule out any hope his presence is supposed to inspire, especially among the down-trodden Arabs of Palestine, whether those who are “Israelis” living as second class citizens since 1948 or those Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation since 1967.
Even the pontiff’s own Catholic diminishing flock in the Holy Land seems in controversy over the timing and the itinerary of his pilgrimage. "We will ask him why he came, what he intends on saying … and why he isn't coming to Gaza," Father Manuel Mussalam, the pastor of the only Catholic church of about 300 believers in Gaza, out of 3000 Christians in the Israeli besieged Mediterranean strip, was quoted by AFP as asking. "We'll tell him that this is not the right moment to come and visit the holy places, while Jerusalem is occupied," Mussalam added.
“GOD IS PROBABLY SPEAKING” THROUGH THESE MESSENGERS OF PEACE
By Nick Mottern
On Sunday, April 26, 2009 Martha Conte, Margaret Eberle, Nora Freeman and I attended Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, NY in our bannering campaign to encourage Westchester County clergy and congregations to actively oppose the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
We found a remarkable openness to our message among the congregation and the first occasion in more than a year of church visits in which a pastor made an on-the-spot revision of the day’s sermon to include our witness.
In the conclusion of his sermon “God Is Still Speaking”, the Rev. Dr. John W. Miller said: “God is probably speaking through these four people who appeared today to bring a message of peace.”
April 27, 2009
I am writing to tell you about my meeting last week, along with other representatives of CARD (Coalition Against Religious Discrimination), with Joshua DuBois, the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
I entered the meeting with very mixed emotions. Although I was glad that the Secular Coalition for America has the political connections to meet face-to-face with the person who runs President Obama's new faith-based office, I was saddened that this meeting was even taking place -- saddened that our new president has decided to continue the failed faith-based policies of his predecessor.
Recognizing the Jewish State of Israel
What are the consequences of Israel’s newest demand for recognition on the Palestinian people and prospects for peace?
By Abu Yusef from occupied Palestine | Palestine Monitor | 19 April 2009
Here in Palestine, we have been utterly confused as to why Israel has publicly backtracked from the Annapolis Peace Process over the last weeks, in the midst of overt US pressure to continue the broken negotiations.
We understand that parties like Shas, Likud, Israel Beitenu and others in the coalition do not want to achieve any meaningful peace, and that in fact they want only to extend the Israel’s civilian and military reach into the occupied Palestinian Territories…so why would they be adverse to what had taken place since Annapolis? If anything they should be the ones eagerly promoting a return to the process, while the Palestinians should be running for the hills.
After all, since Annapolis:
- Not one of the over 6 million Palestinian refugees from abroad has been granted the right of return to either Israel or the occupied Palestinian Territories.
- Gaza, while disengaged from by Israel in the civilian sense, remains occupied and controlled by Israel in every other way imaginable.
- The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has increased to over 11,000.
- The Judaization of East Jerusalem has continued full bore with the destruction and seizure of hundreds of Palestinian homes.
- The illegal annexation Wall has continued to grow in the occupied Palestinian Territories despite its condemnation in international and Israeli courts.
- The settlement enterprise not only continued throughout 2008, it increased dramatically. Tenders for new construction increased by 550% (!), and a whole 55% of these were designated for construction even beyond the illegal annexation Wall.
- The system of checkpoints and movement restrictions, by which Palestine is turned in to a series of isolated cantons, have increased dramatically throughout 2008, and are set to increase ever more according to the promises of Israel’s Avigdor Liebermann.
United Nations officials on Monday tried to save an anti-racism summit in Geneva after some delegates walked out in response to a speech by Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, the Iranian president, describing Zionist rule in Israel as racist.
”Following World War II they resorted to military aggressions to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering,” Mr Ahmadinejad told the conference, speaking through a translator.
Peter Gooderham, British ambassador, condemned the Iranian leader’s ”offensive and inflammatory comments” that prompted the temporary walk-out. Delegates said they would return after he had finished speaking.
By Jason Leopold, The Public Record
A U.S. Army soldier who was allegedly forced to attend fundamentalist Christian themed events and sued Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claiming his First Amendment rights were violated should not be permitted to seek relief in federal court because he failed to take his grievances to his superiors, the Justice Department said in court documents filed last week in response to the Army’s soldier’s federal lawsuit.
US religious Right concedes defeat
America's religious Right has conceded that the election of US President Barack Obama has sealed its defeat in the cultural war with permissiveness and secularism.
By Alex Spillius | Telegraph UK
Leading evangelicals have admitted that their association with George W. Bush has not only hurt the cause of social conservatives but contributed to the failure of the key objectives of their 30-year struggle.
James Dobson, 72, who resigned recently as head of Focus on the Family - one of the largest Christian groups in the country - and once denounced the Harry Potter books as witchcraft, acknowledged the dramatic reverse for the religious Right in a farewell speech to staff.
Now that the Senate has rejected Obama’s proposal to limit the deductibility of charitable contributions, an even greater aid to charities would be the abolition of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
A behind-the-scenes controversy has broken out among Muslim American leaders over a coalition of Muslim organizations' threat to cut off contact with the FBI because of what it calls the agency's "McCarthy-era" tactics.
The coalition of two dozen Muslim American groups said last week that the FBI's treatment of one of its member organizations and what it regards as inappropriate FBI infiltration of mosques have disrupted the growing trust between the agency and the Muslim community. The coalition blasted the FBI, saying in a statement that "these McCarthy-era tactics are detrimental to a free society."
Rabbis affiliated with the Israeli army urged troops heading into Gaza to reclaim what they said was God-given land and "get rid of the gentiles" — effectively turning the 22-day Israeli intervention into a religious war, according to the testimony of a soldier who fought in Gaza.
Literature passed out to soldiers by the army's rabbinate "had a clear message — we are the people of Israel, we came by a miracle to the land of Israel, God returned us to the land, now we need to struggle to get rid of the gentiles that are interfering with our conquest of the land," the soldier told a forum of Gaza veterans in mid-February, just weeks after the conflict ended.
FBI planting spies in U.S. mosques, Muslim groups say
By Eliott C. McLaughlin | CNN
Ten U.S. Muslim organizations threatened this week to cease working with the FBI, citing "McCarthy-era tactics" by the agency, including efforts to covertly infiltrate California mosques.
The groups claim the FBI has sent undercover agents posing as worshippers into mosques, pressured Muslims to become informants, labeled civil rights advocates as criminals and spread misinformation.
The FBI declined to comment on specific allegations but called the proposed move unproductive.
By Jeff Sharlet
Young Christians encounter sex, violence, and the eros of evangelicalism in a Texas hell house.
“Sexual purity,” a young Christian virgin once told me, is the most radical commitment a soul can make. He called it a rebellion: against materialism, consumerism, and “the idea that anything can be bought and sold.” By purity he meant chastity, not just abstinence but a belief in sex as something apart from the world, even as sex literally creates our world. Read the rest.
We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.
Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.