Tag: religious freedom

The Reality TV We Should Be Watching

  CNN has excellent footage of delivering food to the Yezidis in Iraq and rescuing some of them. People need to see this footage. This is how bad it it…

 

CNN has excellent footage of delivering food to the Yezidis in Iraq and rescuing some of them. People need to see this footage. This is how bad it it is for Yezidis and Christians. H/T The Daily Signal which has an excellent photo essay on this topic. Here’s a teaser. Do visit TDS for the whole series.

These are real people.

This is real suffering.

This is religious persecution.

The Vatican, through the Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a statement enuntiating the need for a response to the plight of these innocent people whose only crime is to have different religious beliefs from the Islamic State (formerly ISIS):

The whole world has witnessed with incredulity what is now called the “Restoration of the Caliphate,” which had been abolished on October 29,1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. Opposition to this “restoration” by the majority of religious institutions and Muslim politicians has not prevented the “Islamic State” jihadists from committing and continuing to commit unspeakable criminal acts.

This Pontifical Council, together with all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, followers of all religions, and all men and women of good will, can only unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity:

-the massacre of people on the sole basis of their religious affiliation;

-the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying and hanging bodies in public places;

-the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) or forced exile;

-the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick;

-the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war (sabaya);

-the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;

-the destruction of places of worship and Christian and Muslim burial places;

-the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;

-the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols as well as those of other religious communities;

-the destruction of a priceless Christian religious and cultural heritage;

-indiscriminate violence aimed at terrorizing people to force them to surrender or flee.

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. We cannot forget, however, that Christians and Muslims have lived together – it is true with ups and downs – over the centuries, building a culture of peaceful coexistence and civilization of which they are proud. Moreover, it is on this basis that, in recent years, dialogue between Christians and Muslims has continued and intensified.

The dramatic plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious communities and ethnic minorities in Iraq requires a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, as well as those engaged in interreligious dialogue and all people of good will. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the use of religion to justify them. If not, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility can the interreligious dialogue that we have patiently pursued over recent years have?

Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence with the authorities to end these crimes, to punish those who commit them and to reestablish the rule of law throughout the land, ensuring the return home of those who have been displaced. While recalling the need for an ethical management of human societies, these same religious leaders must not fail to stress that the support, funding and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible.

That said, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is grateful to all those who have already raised their voices to denounce terrorism, especially that which uses religion to justify it.

Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis: “May the God of peace stir up in each one of us a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace. ” [Emphasis mine.]

Indeed, that is the question, what credibility will any religion have if its members do not promote and defend human dignity?

Watch some real reality TV and do whatever you can to help, starting with your heartfelt prayers and encouraging others to look reality in the face.

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Genocide. The Price of Leading from Behind.

Iraq. It’s not looking good. Earlier today, I posted: “Iraq. Genocide. ‘Never Again’ Should Cue Something More Than A James Bond Movie.” At that point, the WSJ was reporting that…

Source: www.news.va

Source: www.news.va

Iraq. It’s not looking good.

Earlier today, I posted: “Iraq. Genocide. ‘Never Again’ Should Cue Something More Than A James Bond Movie.”

At that point, the WSJ was reporting that the US Military might start to get involved, particularly with dropping supplies to the Christians and other religious minorities who are being forced out of their homes as the Islamic State advances.

Pope Francis made an urgent appeal today. Some bullet points –

  • The attacks are being waged upon “defenseless populations.”
  • He urges the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by the violence
  • And to guarantee all necessary assistance – especially the most urgently needed aid – to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others.

Meanwhile, very serious and detailed news from Iraq indicated ABSOLUTELY NO ACTIVITY on behalf of these persecuted people, even though various countries and the international community have the resources to mobilize quickly. After all, it’s not like they’re not in the area or nearby already…

“Daash is testing our defenses,” said Rosg Nuri Shawess, a top Kurdish military commander, pointing to two towns that had fallen to the Islamic State, Qaraqosh and Bartella, that were visible in the distance. “And if we don’t show them we are strong here, then we have lost Irbil.”

Shawess, who also is a member of the Iraqi government’s national security council, called the situation “extremely critical” as he examined the foremost strong point along the highway. He described the Kurdish military plight as “too much distance to protect, with too few men and not enough weapons.”

“The Americans keep saying they will help us,” he added as surveillance planes or drones, likely American, circled far above the clouds. “Well, if they plan to help they had better do it now.”

It was unclear if the United States planned to do anything to help fend off an Islamic State thrust at Irbil, where the U.S. also has recently expanded its CIA station and set up a Joint Operations Center to coordinate military activities with the Kurdish and Iraqi governments.

And here’s a very troubling piece of information –

Kurdish officials repeatedly have claimed that the United States and the Iraqi government in Baghdad have refused to send military aid and that they have only Saddam Hussein-era weapons and limited ammunition to counter Islamic State forces that are armed with advanced American weaponry.

“Armed with advanced American weaponry”? Now that should definitely demand some investigation from the U.S. and others.

But the biggest lesson so far should be that leading from behind doesn’t work. Iraq was invaded for the purpose of “democracy building.” What about military involvement when innocent people are being slaughtered and exiled simply because they have different religious beliefs than those in control? It’s fundamental human rights violation. It’s genocide.

I’m certain that I don’t have all the information. I can only go by what’s reported in the media. But we do know that a genocide is under way. In my previous post, I quoted Dan Hodges from The Telegraph. And I can’t think of a more appropriate way to close this piece:

For once, just for once, can we actually do something? The UN, Nato, the US and the UK. It doesn’t really matter whose umbrella its under. For once let’s demonstrate that the billions of pounds we spend on the most powerful military forces in human history can actually stand up to a bunch of petty hoodlums with machetes, or AK47s, or Toyota 4x4s.

Just this once let’s not wait. For the book. And then the film. And then the hand-wringing and empty pledges that “we will ensure this never happens again”.

Just this once let’s actually stop them being killed with their families.

Just this once. Stop leading from behind.

UPDATE:

DOHUK, Iraq

American military forces bombed at least two targets in northern Iraq on Thursday night to rout Islamist insurgents who have trapped tens of thousands of religious minorities in Kurdish areas, Kurdish officials said.
Word of the bombings, reported on Kurdish television from the city of Erbil, came as President Obama was preparing to make a statement in Washington.

ANOTHER UPDATE. Yes. No. Maybe so.

From HotAir, looks like supplies have been dropped. Military action is being disputed.

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And So It Starts – Spinning The Hobby Lobby Case

This is a picture of yesterday’s San Jose Mercury News, front page, above the fold. The headline: CONTRACEPTIVE BENEFIT TAKES HIT Underneath that it reads: COMPANIES THAT OBJECT CAN NOW…

This is a picture of yesterday’s San Jose Mercury News, front page, above the fold. The headline:

CONTRACEPTIVE BENEFIT TAKES HIT

Underneath that it reads:

COMPANIES THAT OBJECT CAN NOW AVOID COVERAGE.

Well, yes, maybe; but mostly no.

  • Fact #1: The only companies that can avoid coverage are those which family run, have strongly held religious beliefs, and are closely run by the family.
  • Fact #2: Most companies will not even consider cutting contraceptive coverage because offering contraception reduces the costs of pre-natal, maternity, and delivery care.

In other words, most people who rely on their health insurance for their contraception (because working people can’t afford the average $9/mo for contraceptive pills, I guess) will still be covered. Contraception will still be widely available and easily accessible, often even free (paid for by the government, that is). It’s just that now the Supreme Court has ruled that a small segment of the population doesn’t have to pay for someone else’s contraception.

Even if you support the use of contraception, there is no war against you.

 

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Of Gods And Men

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the situation of Christians in Iraq. It was not good, judging from the email sent by a Dominican who was there. And…

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the situation of Christians in Iraq. It was not good, judging from the email sent by a Dominican who was there.

And things look worse now:

Last Sunday, for the first time in 1600 years, no mass was celebrated in Mosul. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized Iraq’s second largest city on June 10, causing most Christians in the region to flee in terror, in new kinship with the torment of Christ crucified on the cross. The remnant of Mosul’s ancient Christian community, long inhabitants of the place where many believe Jonah to be buried, now faces annihilation behind ISIS lines. Those who risk worship must do so in silence, praying under new Sharia regulations that have stilled every church bell in the city.

You should read the entire article by Drew Bowling & Andrew Duran at The Daily Beast.

But here are a couple more key paragraphs:

The media has largely ignored the horrifying stories that are emerging from Mosul. On June 23, the Assyrian International News Agency reported that ISIS terrorists entered the home of a Christian family in Mosul and demanded that they pay the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims). According to AINA, “When the Assyrian family said they did not have the money, three ISIS members raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father. The husband and father was so traumatized that he committed suicide.”

And:

As the horrors unfolded in Iraq, back in Washington, in the briefing room of a presidential hopeful, an Iraqi bishop made a desperate plea for help via phone as a delegation of Iraqi Christians seeking greater support for the Kurds. “We have no food, no petrol, no [means] to protect ourselves. Where are America’s values? Where is our dignity?” Many in Washington are keen to see greater Kurdish autonomy, viewing them as the prudent third way between the Sunni states that have supported Islamist militants (Turkey, Saudi, Qatar) and Shia Iran and its puppets. The Kurds represent not only the best hope for an American ally in an increasingly Islamist-dominated region, but also the best hope for the survival of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

Tragic. They need our prayers.

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Action! – Two Quick Thoughts on the Hobby Lobby Decision.

Yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling on the Hobby Lobby case was a welcoming gesture not only towards religious freedom, but also freedom of conscience. Lots of people are commenting; so I’ll offer…

Yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling on the Hobby Lobby case was a welcoming gesture not only towards religious freedom, but also freedom of conscience.

Lots of people are commenting; so I’ll offer a few quick thoughts myself. This decision doesn’t mean that we rest and that the battle is over. Here are two considerations:

  1. Some states, definitely Washington state, already required businesses to offer contraception coverage before the HHS Mandate. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled clearly that closely run family businesses can exempt themselves from the Mandate, I hope that these businesses will be taking the necessary steps, even turning to the courts. For those businesses which have had to pay for the coverage but have not utilized it, I wonder if a good attorney could even get them a reimbursement of funds they were required to pay…illegally.
  2. Health care reform has a long way to go. Justice Alito didn’t say this specifically in his decision for the majority, but some of his language could be taken to hint at it. Setting aside the financial mess of our current system, there are at least two other considerations.
      • 1. We need a movement to challenge the definition of contraception as something that falls under health care. In fact, contraception usually works to keep the female body from working as it should. Definitions are very important. At the UN, for example, the Catholic Church and other organizations have worked effectively to keep the term “reproductive health” from including abortion. If someone is interested, I have an idea for a campaign that could work. I already own the URLs. Just need someone with bandwidth and funds. Contact me offline if you are that person – no looky loos.
      • 2. Health insurance is a mess. It used to be something that only covered major illnesses. For a variety of reasons, many related to employee compensation, it has come to cover just about everything. Maybe we need to curtail health insurance so that it covers major health issues. Then patients might be a little more aggressive in how they navigate their health care, particularly with regard to cost. As far as I can tell, the model where insurance covers just about everything ends up costing doctors a lot in terms of administrative services, which in turn drives up the cost of the medical service delivered.

Yesterday’s witness before the Supreme Court was fantastic. The news coverage that I saw showed mainly pro-lifers. ABCNews interesting identified them as “anti-abortion rights pro-lifers.” I love that “pro-life” got into the mix. That could be the sign of a big shift in language, not unlike when Planned Parenthood started to be identified on cable and network news as “the largest provider of abortions.”  The commentator also said that there were some NOW protesters. But the cameras never showed  them. Hmmmm….

Also the face of the movement against the HHS Mandate was that of young women for whom pregnancy is still relevant. Too often, I’ve seen these protests/discussions/debates carried out by women (on both sides of the issue) who are obviously too old for this to be a personal issue.

And I saw Lori Windham, one of the attorneys for Hobby Lobby, give her remarks on the steps of SCOTUS. She was simply amazing. Her analysis was good, her delivery was great. She did not sound like an attorney.

Despite the work ahead of us, there’s much to celebrate. Cheers!

 

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“We have no king but Caesar.”

Bishop Jenky of Peoria has an excellent letter that will be read at all the Masses this weekend in his diocese. It’s too good to just cite one part so here…

Bishop Jenky of Peoria has an excellent letter that will be read at all the Masses this weekend in his diocese. It’s too good to just cite one part so here it is in toto:

Dear Catholic Believers,

Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present. Neither the president of the United States nor the current majority of the Federal Senate have been willing to even consider the Catholic community’s grave objections to those HHS mandates that would require all Catholic institutions, exempting only our church buildings, to fund abortion, sterilization, and artificial contraception. This assault upon our religious freedom is simply without precedent in the American political and legal system. Contrary to the guarantees embedded in the First Amendment, the HHS mandates attempt to now narrowly define and thereby drastically limit our traditional religious works. They grossly and intentionally intrude upon the deeply held moral convictions that have always guided our Catholic schools, hospitals, and other apostolic ministries.

Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: “Behold your King.” The mob roared back: “We have no king but Caesar.” Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin. For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life. God is not mocked, and as the Bible clearly teaches, after this passing instant of life on earth, God’s great mercy in time will give way to God’s perfect judgment in eternity.

I therefore call upon every practicing Catholic in this Diocese to vote. Be faithful to Christ and to your Catholic Faith. May God guide and protect His Holy Church, and may God bless America.

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC

Catholic Bishop of Peoria

 

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Secretary Clinton Warns of Threats to Religious Freedom.

Today, the HHS Mandate went into effect for private businesses. And the U.S. State Department released its annual report on International Religious Freedom. Secretary Clinton gave remarks today. Funny thing. She didn’t…

Today, the HHS Mandate went into effect for private businesses.

And the U.S. State Department released its annual report on International Religious Freedom.

Secretary Clinton gave remarks today.

Funny thing. She didn’t mention anything about today’s start of the HHS Mandate.

 

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Catholic Charities Clarifies Its Position On The Compromise

There’s been a bit of concern regarding statements or quotes from Catholic Charities that made it sound as if the organization was distancing itself from the USCCB and accepting the…

There’s been a bit of concern regarding statements or quotes from Catholic Charities that made it sound as if the organization was distancing itself from the USCCB and accepting the compromise on the HHS contraception mandate.

Catholic Charities has a statement posted on its website to clarify the matter:

In response to a great number of mischaracterizations in the media, Catholic Charities USA wants to make two things very clear:

1.  We have not endorsed the accommodation to the HHS mandate that was announced by the Administration last Friday.

2. We unequivocally share the goal of the US Catholic bishops to uphold religious liberty and will continue to work with the USCCB towards that goal.

Any representation to the contrary is false.

Well done! Feel free to drop a line to thank Fr. Snyder at info@catholiccharitiesusa.org.

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