Thursday, November 29, 2007

Unitarians Universalists throwing manhole covers

A comment by LilBridge on one UU's dismay over Mark Green's $8 million donation to Oral Robert's University,
I'm from Tulsa and work less than a mile from ORU. I'll tell you this: there are a lot of people who believe in the missions of Oral Roberts Ministries and the university but don't agree with the way the organization(s) has/have been run. With Richard Roberts stepping down, a lot of people see this as the opportunity to change the course of ORU and ORM while still maintaining the goal. I don't agree with the mission of the Roberts' regime, but I think Mr. Green has the right idea -- he put some serious conditions on that donation.

And not to sound rude, but our religion is hardly lacking in affluence. I'm willing to bet UU groups around the country have a lot more money than most others religions of the same size.
As one who's done a Church pledge drive, I know that --like Ditka said of George Halas-- UU's throw their nickels around like manhole covers.

I was going to suggest some reasons... It is strange that so many militant secularists though, have such a hard time talking about oh so worldly cash.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Church and State; Religion and Politics

Father Neuhaus explains the difference over at First Things.
I speak in favor of the separation of church and state, and therefore against the resolution that religion and politics should always be kept separate. Permit me to explain. To enforce the exclusion of religion from politics, or from public life more generally, violates the First Amendment guarantee of the “free exercise of religion.” The free exercise of religion is the reason for the separation of church and state—a principle that aims not at protecting the state from religion but at protecting religion from the state.
Although sometimes the religous have a nasty habit of taking politics to extremes the issues don't deserve,
IN 1995, Jim Wallis was arrested for protesting against welfare reform in the Capitol Rotunda. In 1983, he was arrested in the Rotunda for protesting the MX missile. But these days, Wallis is more likely to be meeting lawmakers than breaking laws when he is on Capitol Hill.

Mona al-Tahawy on Saudi Arabia treatment of women

Gender Apartheid
by Mona Eltahawy

NEW YORK — Once upon a time, in a country called South Africa the color of your skin determined where you lived, what jobs you were allowed, and whether you could vote or not.

Decent countries around the world fought the evil of racial apartheid by turning South Africa into a pariah state. They barred it from global events such as the Olympics. Businesses and universities boycotted South Africa, decimating its economy and adding to the isolation of the white-minority government, which finally repealed apartheid laws in 1991.

Today in a country called Saudi Arabia it is gender rather than racial apartheid that is the evil but the international community watches quietly and does nothing.
Read the rest over at The Arabist....

Friday, November 23, 2007

First Things Ryan T. Anderson on the Stem Cell breakthrough

From The End of the Stem-Cell Wars by Anderson.
Princeton's legal philosopher Robert P. George, who also serves on the President's Council on Bioethics, told me, "From the beginning we have been arguing that we must do everything we can to advance the cause of stem cell science but without sacrificing our respect for nascent human life and the principle of the inherent and equal dignity of each and every member of the human family. This latest news just goes to show that it really is possible."

It also is illustrative of the politics of science. Had a President Gore or a President Kerry allowed the science to go forward without regard for moral principle, it would have set a terrible precedent. A Gore or Kerry presidency would have bestowed federal blessing and taxpayer funds on laboratory work predicated on the assumption that embryonic human beings can be treated as spare parts and that cloning to kill is acceptable.

But because President Bush stood his ground, we have avoided that moral catastrophe. Had Bush lost either election, or had he caved to pressure from those who slandered him as "antiscience," it is very possible that the new method of stem cell production--the new gold standard, in all likelihood--would never have been found. Most likely, science and the public would have accommodated themselves to the mass production and mass killing of human embryos.
It was listening to Democrats demagogue embryonic stem cell research that made a political conservative out of me. Ron Reagan's speech at the Democratic Convention convinced me the party had flipped out. I was only vaguely aware of the whole issue until then but Reagan's promises were overreach. The more I read, the more immoral the whole thing seemed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sisyphus: Vote right on abortion or go to Hell

via Sisyphus:
The Bishops’ instructions included a warning to voters that “their eternal salvation could be at stake” on how they vote.
Every decision we makes carries consequences.

Whether one of those consequence is our salvation I'm not sure, but it's not a bad idea to view even our small decisions --much smaller than voting-- as decisions with consequences.

I guess I would just respond to the Bishops their salvation is at stake too, then cast my ballot; the contents known (hopefully) only to me and the Gods.

The defense of socialism in Czechoslovakia is more than the concern of the Czechoslovak people

Instapundit links Adriana Lukas on Czechoslovakia and 1968 forty years later.

It doesn't seem that long to me. Many old videos to be found on YouTube.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Grassley goes after the "prosperity gospel"

Preachers feel heat of Grassley tax probe via the Des Moines Register online.
Grassley wants to know about personal use of assets, relationships among related church organizations, expenses to maintain personal residences for the ministers, credit card statements, leased vehicles, houses or land deeded to churches, loans from followers, and more.

Most of the ministries in question preach what's known as the "prosperity gospel," promoting the idea that God will grant rewards of financial wealth to those who are faithful followers and contributors.

Grassley said he launched his investigation following media reports by "enterprising journalists" about some of the ministries, and after receiving tips from unnamed church insiders. He's asked for answers by Dec. 6.

"Churches aren't any different from any other nonprofit organization, and they have to abide by the same tax laws," he said.

At issue is the credibility of the nation's tax laws, Grassley said. He also wants to ensure that nonprofits are careful trustees of contributors' money.

[***]

Grassley's inquiry has puzzled one close observer of televangelists, whose reach and influence are considered to have shrunk since their heyday in the 1980s.

Stephen Winzenburg, a professor of communications at Grand View College, has for 20 years studied televangelists, taping broadcasts and analyzing content. He said he doesn't understand why Grassley has chosen to launch an investigation now, or why he has chosen these six churches.

"I'm thrilled that he's doing it, but the timing is odd and the choice of people is very unusual," Winzenburg said. Media investigations of some of the ministries date from several years back, he said.

He said he wondered why Grassley was pursuing some relatively new televangelists rather than longtime, prominent figures such as Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts or Jimmy Swaggart.
Makes the IRS and All Saints look sort of lame. Grassley's going after the preachers' lifestyles and stewardship because of unamed tips from parishoners.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Michael Yon: Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home

Photo of Muslims and Christians preparing St John's Church, Bhagdad for the arrival of the Most Reverend Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop of the St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Diocese for Chaldeans and Assyrians in Iraq.

Much more over at Michael Yon online

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UUJeff: Until atheists and humanists even come close to 1% of any nation's populations....

UUJeff writing on Atheism as movement,
Until atheists and humanists even come close to 1% of any nation's populations, how can they ever hope to become the dominant paradigm of thought?
Atheism was the dominant paradigm of thought in Marxist lands, and I would think 1% of the populations in today's China or Russia --and a good many other countries-- would identify as atheist.

Militant atheism has failed. Marxism has failed. All the 20th centuries "isms" failed, but that's why Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and the others are back flogging books.

Religion's important again and atheists are part of religion. The flip side of the coin. Militant atheism as movement is gone, but atheism as God's absence is very much back.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Evolving Liberalism: John Haynes Holmes debates Clarence Darrow on Prohibition in 1924

Liberal Religion isn't what it used to be. From Jacob Rukin's Prohibition. The debate is available in a book from albris.
Responding to arguments that Prohibition limited a person's freedom of choice, clergyman John Haynes Holmes said in a 1924 New York City debate, "We all agree, do we not, that the liberty of the individual must bow in a complex society to the safety and happiness of all of us together?" Holmes continued, "Liquor is dangerous to public safety because it creates poverty, it cultivates crime, it establishes social conditions generally which are a burden to society."

In that 1924 debate, opponents of Prohibition were represented by the famous defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, who argued, "Every human being ought to be left to follow his own inclinations and his own emotions, unless he clearly interfered with the rest to an extent that was so injurious that it would manifest to most anybody else." He also said, "If the doctrine should prevail that when 60 percent (estimated) of the people of a country believe that certain conduct should be a criminal offense and for that conduct they must send the other 40 percent to jail, then liberty is dead and freedom is gone. They will first destroy the 40 percent, and then turn and destroy each other."