Category Archives: Religion

Religious Freedom

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Religious freedom has been taking a beating.

A National Review editorial last week made the point that during the Clinton administration Democrats in Congress felt the Supreme Court had too narrow a view of religious liberty. As a result the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by President Clinton. 

Along comes the Affordable Care Act (ACA), …which empowered the Obama administration to issue regulations that burdened a religious liberty..

This leaves Democrats in a political pickle. They passed a law to protect religious freedom, but they do not desire to protect religious freedom when doing so interrupts their risible war-on-women soap opera.

Senator Udall, in his rhetoric, has been particularly dishonest about this, characterizing the Hobby Lobby decision as mandating that women “have to ask their bosses for a permission slip to access common forms of birth control.” In fact, the decision does no such thing: Hobby Lobby has nothing to do with the right to do anything, but rather with the right to not do something.

Elsewhere on the religious freedom front, the Islamic State of Iraq has ordered Christians to either  pay jizya (a religious tax), convert to Islam, or die.

Hamas and the Iron Dome

140718-Hamas-Iron-DomeHamas has fired over 1200 rockets claiming “every Israeli is a legitimate target”. So far only one “legitimate target” has been killed. That’s because of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense.

Israel doesn’t consider individual Palestinians “legitimate targets”. Before striking back at Hamas it warned civilians with pamphlets and phone calls. Hamas responded by telling them to stay in place as human shields.

Charles Krauthammer writes in the Washington Post, “Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity”:

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Hamas and the Iron Dome

William Saletan in Slate says there’s plenty to argue about in Gaza, “But one thing should be clear to everyone: Hamas is insane. It’s destroying Gaza.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is perplexed:

What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” he asked rhetorically in a TV interview. In another appearance, he pleaded: “We are the losing side, and every minute there are more and more unnecessary deaths. … I don’t like trading in Palestinian blood.”

The Guardian disagrees. Seumas Milne says, “The idea of Israel defending itself from unprovoked attacks is absurd.”

Campus Speech

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Well, at least the Harvard Black Mass didn’t happen Monday night.

The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club invited the devil himself to campus. Lucifer’s speaking gig was arranged in conjunction with the New York Satanic Temple. The event was to take place in the form of a Satanic Black Mass. Joining the Prince of Darkness at the lectern was to be Harvard professor Christopher Robichaud. According to USA Today Robichaud planned to remark on religious liberty.

Not surprisingly, Catholics were outraged and the thing was  moved off campus under a storm of protest. At the last moment it was cancelled altogether.

In April Brandeis University cancelled altogether its offer of an honorary doctorate for Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She writes and speaks about real religious liberty and the real war on women in Muslim countries. She’s also a critic of Islam itself. Condoleeza Rice was driven away from her Rutgers University speech by unhinged faculty members and their poorly informed students accusing her of war crimes. IMF boss Christine Legarde was also disinvited from her speaking engagement at Smith University.

I’m not equating disinviting Legarde, Rice, or Ali to disinviting Satan. I’m equating academics to nuts.

In a column about the lack of due process in college, Thomas Sowell discusses “free speech” zones on campus:

The track record of academics in other kinds of cases is not the least bit encouraging as regards the likelihood of impartial justice. Even on many of our most prestigious college campuses, who gets punished for saying the wrong thing and who gets away with mob actions depends on which groups are in vogue and which are not.

This is carried to the point where some colleges have established what they call “free speech zones” — as if they are granting a special favor by not imposing their vague and arbitrary “speech codes” everywhere on campus.

The irony in this is that the Constitution already established a free speech zone. It covers the entire United States.

Waiving the Individual Mandate for Sainthood

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 Four popes, two living and two not so much, gathered at the Vatican on Sunday for a papal Hall of Fame induction. The wildly popular and beloved Pope Francis canonized the wildly popular and beloved Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. It was a two for one not seen since the middle ages. The brains of the operation, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, assisted. Daily Beast called it a Pope-a-polooza.

John Paul II ended communism. John XXIII ended meatless Fridays. They’ve been called bookends of the Second Vatican Council

Individual Mandate for Sainthood Waivers

John Paul II took the High Speed Escalator to Heaven when Benedict XVI waived the 5 year saintly waiting period. Francis greased the skids for John XXIII by granting a waiver of the two miracle mandate for sainthood.

Here’s Peggy Noonan capturing the sweeping grandeur of the event. And here is Maureen Dowd capturing the sweeping under the rug of the priest sex abuse scandals. 


Pope and President


The president met the pope last week. Obama came bearing a gift box of seeds from Michelle’s garden. He hoped that some of Francis’s popularity, if not infallibility, might grow on him.

The pope gave the president a copy of Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel). The 223 page document is Francis’s first papal publication. The pope comes down hard on trickle-down economics in one part of his writing.

President’s Favorite Pope Parts

That part might be Obama’s favorite. This other part, maybe not so much (No, I haven’t read it. I got this from  David Weigle in Slate):

Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual.”

Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?