Southern Religion

Dry cross

Rabbi Richard Simon excerpts an exchange between Justice Scalia and Buono’s attorney, Peter Eliasberg, which was part of the U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in Salazar v. Buono. At issue is the constitutionality of an eight-foot Christian cross in the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, Calif. They key passage is:

JUSTICE SCALIA: I don’t think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that’s an outrageous conclusion.

Simon says:

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Justice Scalia believes that the Cross is a universal symbol for respecting all the dead.

I don’t know who should be more offended by that, Christians or non-Christians!

Having practiced law for twenty years in a variety of positions before turning to the pulpit full-time, Simon refers us to Stephen Colbert for instructive humor:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Symbol-Minded
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Michael Moore

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Law, Religion | Comments Off on Dry cross

Back to Ohio, with a little help

Teenage runaway Fathima Rifqa Bary will be in the temporary custody of Franklin County Children Services upon returning to Ohio.

Magistrate Mary Goodrich’s order will take effect when the girl is transported back to Ohio or when the Florida court is satisfied with the documents to be provided by her parents establishing her immigration status.

The 17-year-old girl, who goes by Rifqa, is a native of Sri Lanka, and her immigration status is unclear. A Florida attorney appointed to represent her said in court Tuesday that there’s a chance she’s not in the United States legally.
. . .
Goodrich also ordered psychological evaluations for the Barys and Rifqa.

Thanks, judge.

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Cultural | | Comments Off on Back to Ohio, with a little help


Condomonium ensued following news that four “Catholic High Schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco are scheduled to host a performance of the condom-endorsing sex-education play Secrets:”

The play depicts a teenager who is HIV positive. Some content in Secrets was considered, by the Fremont, California Unified School District, to be sufficiently graphic to require that a permission slip be signed by parents before their child would be allowed to see it. The Fremont Unified School District also posts an online flyer (in English and Chinese) for parents, informing them of the performance, and inviting them to watch a video of Secrets before giving their permission. The flyer also describes two of the scenes: “A character dumps dozens of brightly wrapped condoms on the floor with a discussion about which type of condoms are the best to use and how to use them effectively.”

Forecast? Cloudy with a chance of fallout.

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Churches | | Comments Off on Condomonium

SBC’s Land pseudo-apologizes to JDL [Addenda I & II]

The president’s healthcare advisor Ezekiel Emanuel was given the “Josef Mengele Award” by Land. (photo courtesy Center for American Progress)

In a chummy, self-aggrandizing letter to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Richard Land expressed some regret for accusing the Obama administration and congressional Democratic leaders of attempting to do with health-care reform “precisely what the Nazis did.”

In the paragraph devoted to apology, Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission czar Land wrote:

. . . I deeply regret the reference to Dr. Josef Mengele. I was using hyperbole for effect and never intended to actually equate anyone in the Obama administration with Dr. Mengele. I will certainly refrain from making such references in the future. I apologize to everyone who found such references hurtful. Given the pain and suffering of so many Jewish and other victims of the Nazi regime, I will certainly seek to exercise far more care in my use of language in future discussions of the issues at stake in the healthcare debate.

Thus Land disingenuously fails to acknowledge real error, instead offering bloodless amends for hurt feelings.

We dealt yesterday with the barrage of other counterfactual claims which attended Land’s Louisiana misuse of Holocaust images and references to Nazi practices. That piece was a followup to a review of Land’s abuse of the facts and Nazi imagery in a Sept. 26 speech to the Christian Coalition in Florida.

Land’s disregard for the facts and use of Nazi imagery are of one piece. His summary intentions were well well-explained by professor of history emeritus at Indiana State University Richard V. Pierard, who wrote in response:

To evoke images of Hitler or the Holocaust to thwart health-care reform is a brutal insult both to the victims and survivors of that Holocaust. We must proclaim as widely as possible that the term ‘Nazism’ and images of the swastika have nothing to do with the issues at hand. Any such comparisons are false and are intended only to frighten and confuse people.

Pierard’s warning is as important as Land’s pseudo-apology is vacant.

Addendum I: Land echo

As a member in good standing of the Religious Right, Land is just another echo of the Religious Right Party Line.

For another party-line variation on Land’s Obama = “end of Christian civilization” line to the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Founders’ Day audience, watch Pat Robertson and Bill Donohue discuss how liberals are trying to “tear down society:”

Addendum II

Kudos to the Associated Baptist Press for unflinching coverage of the pseudo-apology. Although the ABP story may owe more than it acknowledges to Sam Stein’s blog at Huffington Post.

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Religion, SBC | 3 Comments

The concealment scandal

Southern Baptist Convention executive salaries and protestant sexual abuse are not the only ecclesiastical secrets hidden behind confidentiality agreements. The New York Times reported today the story of “a woman whose son (now sick with cancer) was fathered by her former lover, a still-active Franciscan priest.”

Mollie Wilson O’Reilly at dotCommonWeal called our attention to the church’s abusive concealment of that woman’s plight. The NYT reported:

Ms. Bond’s case offers a rare look at how the church goes to great lengths to silence these women, to avoid large settlements and to keep the priests in active ministry. She has 23 years of documents, depositions, correspondence, receipts and photographs relating to her case, which she has kept in meticulous files.

Those files reveal that the church was tightfisted with her as she tried to care for her son, particularly as his cancer treatments grew more costly. But they also show that Father Willenborg suffered virtually no punishment, continuing to serve in a variety of church posts.

The church entity Ms. Bond dealt with is the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans, whose members were known as mendicants because they survived on handouts from the communities they served.

“I know better than Franciscans what it’s like to beg, because nothing has happened without my begging the Franciscans,” said Ms. Bond, who is 53.

O’Reilly responds:

How many other confidentiality agreements are hiding stories like this one? What should the Church be doing about it? What would you want done if this were your pastor?

How many?

In the world of the Southern Baptist Church, they’re like cockroaches.

Likewise in Catholic world, they keep scurrying out, year after year.

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Churches, Religion | 1 Comment

SSPX/Vatican negotiations to start Oct. 26

Leaders of the Society of St. Pius X and Vatican experts are to have their first meeting on Oct. 26 at the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Oct. 15.

Little progress is likely and resolution will apparently be a long time in coming. Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of SSPX, reiterated a list of objections to the Second Vatican Council and said in an interview this week he hoped the dialogue deal with “errors” in the church.

He said:

The solution to the crisis is a return to the past.
We hope the discussions will allow us to dispel the grave ambiguities that have spread through the Catholic Church since [the Second Vatican Council], as John Paul II himself recognised.

The head-on collision is obvious, since Pope Benedict XVI has listed acceptance of Vatican II as a condition of reconciliation.

This process has been marked from the outset by SSPX intransigence and support for Benedict’s requirement by bishops who did not leave over Vatican II.

Bringing anti-Semitic SSPX with its resistance to religious liberty, ecumenism and collegiality into the mainstream Catholic fold will be a long, delicate process. If it is possible at all.

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | | Comments Off on SSPX/Vatican negotiations to start Oct. 26