Sunday, May 25, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
While speaking at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Secretary of State John F. Kerry remarked about the "cross-currents of modernity" in Africa. Kerry made these "cross-current" comments in tandem with remarks calling for respecting the rights and liberties of individuals.
It could be a veiled reference to the persecution of Ethiopian Christians as the Islamist group Kewarjah, repeatedly attacks Christians in Southwest Ethiopia. Moreover, the government has sought to ban all religious messages and talks in public.
However, the Secretary of State's summary of his talks neither seem to approve of religious pluralism or respecting religious observance. This hardly reflect President Obama's recent robust public comments endorsing religious freedom. Kerry's even-handed approach to addressing religious liberty in Ethiopia dismisses religious creed as being relevant in the "cross-currents of modernity" and declines to address what religious fanatics are enforcing their interpretations of faith.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Friday, May 2, 2014
To commemorate the 62nd consecutive year of the National Day of Prayer, there certainly were different approaches. Unlike his predecessor, President Barack Obama has not hosted an ecumenical service to commemorate the National Day of Prayer, the 44th President does issue proclamations each year. Mr. Obama's 2014 proclamation paid lip service to the importance of respecting religious liberty, which struck many political observers as ironic considering the manner which the Obama Administration has rolled out the Contraception Mandate portion of Obamacare.
On the other hand, Dr. James Dobson chose to play the prophet who will tell truth to power. Dr. Dobson was quite clear in labeling Mr. Obama as the "Abortion President". Dobson detailed how President Obama gave the keynote speech at the 2013 Planned Parenthood convention to brag how an expanded "womens' health services" would be part of Obamacare. Dobson also noted that Planned Parenthood garners $250 million a year for "reproductive health".
Dobson's group "Family Talk" recently won an injunction to block the Federal government from forcing it to impose the Contraception Mandate (which includes abortifacients). Dobson tearfully proclaimed: So come and get me if you must, Mr. President. I will not blow before your wicked regulation." Dobson urged his audience to fight on as: “We can win. And keep prayer because that’s what really made a difference here.”
Dobson's directness did not settle well with Representative Janice Hahn (D-CA 44th), who wagged her finger at the speaker and said "This is inappropriate" as she walked of the event held in the Canon House Office Building. Later Rep. Hahn, who co-chairs the weekly Congressional prayer breakfast claimed: "James Dobson hijacked the National Day of Prayer -- this nonpartisan, nonpolitical National Day of Prayer -- to promote his own distorted political agenda.” Hahn revealed that she was attending the Capitol Hill National Day of Prayer event to hear the Reverend Bill Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, speak but walked out due to Dobson.
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX 1st) sympathsized with his colleague Rep. Hahn but he also recognized that Dr. Dobson considers abortion to be a sin and can not separate his religious belief from politics. Dobson's pointed speech was not partisan in the sense of party politics or advocating specific legislation but he did detail real world challenges to living in a morally inspired life. Should the National Day of Prayer be full of pretty pabulum about prayer which amounts to nothing or should it be prayerfully minded people who share their faith, even when it is challenges the conventions of the day?
Recently, House Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th) had no compunctions about turning her ecumenical service to an Episcopalian Maudy Thursday foot washing into a rally for immigration reform. And the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has no (church) pulpit of his own, deigned to compare the resurrection from the Easter Miracle to President Obama's political resurrections. So blending politics with religion is not taboo.
Is it the event itself? There are thousands of National Day of Prayer events throughout the United States, but activities in the Federal City tend to dominate the spotlight. So having issues that are uncomfortable or contentious can threaten the non-political comity of the National Day of Prayer.
While that is true, what worth is the National Day of Prayer if it is just holding hands and singing Kumbaya? Sometimes following the path of prayer is not pleasant or readily placable. President Obama had the temerity to talk about religious liberty, while his Administration seeks to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their consciences and submit to participation in the Contraception mandate which is abhorrent to their mores.
It may be that the subject matter of Dobson's defiance is the issue. Forty one years after Roe v. Wade, Americans are still uncomfortable about abortion. Pro Life and Pro Choice activists cite various polls on the acceptability of abortion. Legislatively, the trend is towards restricting abortion but the judiciary strikes such laws as threatening the progressive right. But language matters. Notice how pro-abortion politicos talk about "womens' reproductive health" or perhaps "a woman's right to choose" rather than killing a human life which has not been granted personhood.
It is easier for morally conscious people to support "womens' reproductive health" rather than deal with the gruesome realities of abortion. This may be why the Gosnell Movie troubles Kickstart in its crowd-sourcing funding efforts. The Gosnell film bills itself as dramatizing the life of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, America's most successful serial killer -- the doctor is sin. Abortion often incites a clear break among religiously oriented people, dividing social justice spirituality from traditional Bible believers.
The question is-- Did Dr. Dobson unduly politicize the National Day of Prayer?
To commemorate the 62nd annual National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday in May, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation. The text of Mr. Obama's 2014 proclamation touted religious liberty and those being persecuted for their convictions.
Those are noble sentiments, if only they were observed. Dennis Miller has quipped that citizens who disagree with Mr. Obama are often treated worse then his enemies. The Obama Administration has been adamant about enforcing the Contraception Mandate upon religiously oriented organizations (but not churches themselves) which find abortifacients abhorrent.
The U.S. Supreme Court may decide on the constitutionality of this Contraception Mandate when it rules on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby in June. Nonetheless, Dr. James Dobson of Family Talk (and previously the founder of Focus on the Family), used his remarks at the 2014 National Day of Prayer to underline how deeply he finds Obama's abortion mandate offense and that he will fight for his religious freedom.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops will be sponsoring their third Fortnight for Freedom from June 21st to July 4th. This year, the Fortnight for Freedom will focus on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the Church's teaching. But living one's faith outside of the doors of the Church requires religious liberty.
If we relied upon words alone, one might conclude that the Obama White House has experienced a metanoia and respects religious liberty. But in the real world, actions speak louder than words.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Joseph, patron saint of workers,
blending skill with charity,
silent carpenter, we praise you!
Joining work with honesty,
you taught Christ with joy to labor,
sharing his nobility.
Joseph, close to Christ and Mary,
lived with them in poverty,
shared with them their home and labor,
worked with noble dignity.
May we seek God’s will as you did,
leader of his family!
Joseph, inspiration for workers,
man of faith and charity,
make us honest, humble, faithful,
strong with Christ’s true liberty,
Make our labor and our leisure
fruitful to eternity!