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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why is the Catholic Church Surprised?

In the months prior to the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, then candidate Barack Obama said, “The first thing I'll do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).” FOCA, as co-sponsor Barbara Boxer described, “supersedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman’s right to choose. That means a poor woman cannot be denied the use of Medicaid if she chooses to have an abortion.”

Back in December of 2008, just after Obama’s election as U.S. President (winning 54% of the Catholic vote), I noted that, according to New York Post columnist Ray Kerrison, Obama’s commitment to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) “dominated [the U.S. Catholic Bishops’] discussions at their annual convention in Baltimore last month.”

In his column Kerrison said that FOCA “would also compel taxpayers to fund abortions and provide abortions in military hospitals. Most provocatively of all, it would force religious hospital and health-care institutions to perform abortions in violation of their convictions.”

Kerrison added that, “If President-elect Barack Obama goes through with his campaign pledge to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, holy hell is going to break loose.” He concluded that, “FOCA means war.”

Of course, FOCA never made it out of Congress. Thus, Obama never got the chance to keep his pledge to sign the infamous bill, and the “war” with the Catholic Church had to wait a few years.

Furthermore, while a member of the Illinois state Senate, Obama opposed a bill that mirrored the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA). He took to the floor and gave the only speech against the bill, saying, “I mean, it—it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute.” (What?! We need the “equal protection clause” to tell us that we shouldn’t kill our children?!)

The Catholic Church teaches that health care is “a basic human right,” and has been very supportive of the idea of the U.S. federal government implementing universal healthcare. Enter Obamacare. For months leading up to the final passage of Obamacare, Catholic Bishops lobbied heavily for its passage—minus federal funding of abortion. Once House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to add the Stupak amendment to the House version of Obamacare, the Bishops were onboard.

Though the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the version of Obamacare that passed (because of the removal of the Stupak amendment), they did not support GOP efforts to repeal it once republicans took control of congress. Also, some Catholic leaders supported Obamacare in spite of the lack of the Stupak amendment.

Regardless of previous positions on Obamacare, and in spite of Obama’s recent retreat, the Catholic Church is now in an all out war with the Obama administration over contraception. This begs the questions, why the outrage now? What did they expect?

In other words, there was no reason to believe that Obama was going to be anything other that a radical liberal on social issues. The time for “war” with Obama was BEFORE he was elected leader of the free world. However, in partnering with democrats and liberals, it seems that many within the leadership of the Catholic Church have for far too long been willing to violate my proverb that, “It is no act of charity to be generous with someone else’s money.”

Or, as Paul Rahe recently put it, the American Catholic Church decades ago “fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States – the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity – and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor.”

The contraception mandate is classic example of “state paternalism.” It is exactly what one gets when the people surrender that kind of power to their government. If liberals remain in power, the result will be no different when the issue comes to marriage or any other matter precious to Christians and other like-minded Americans.

Left unfettered, the slow creep of liberalism knows no bounds. As Mark Steyn recently noted, “In Sweden, expressing a moral objection to homosexuality is illegal, even on religious grounds, even in church…In Canada, the courts rule that Catholic schools must allow gay students to take their same-sex dates to the prom.”

Elections have consequences. If Americans continue in their willingness to surrender more of their liberty in order to receive another entitlement, we will even further embolden those, who, while claiming to serve us, are seeking to become our masters.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2012, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Komen Suffers Pro-Abortion Extortion

It was inevitable. Only those who are principally opposed to abortion can withstand the onslaught that the left is sure to unleash when there is even the appearance of being pro-life. When Komen for the Cure—the world’s largest breast cancer charity—initially announced that its decision to defund Planned Parenthood was due to the fact that Congress was investigating the nation’s largest abortion provider, it was painfully clear that Komen was not standing on firm ground. One doesn’t need an investigation into Planned Parenthood to discern what they are all about.

Alas, after only about three days of relentless attacks from the Planned Parenthood extortion machine, Komen backtracked and declared “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”

This seemed to satisfy many on the left and frustrate those of us who had cheered Komen’s initial declaration. However, some have noted that Komen’s follow-up statement was not necessarily a capitulation. James Taranto reports that “Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, parses the statement for LifeNews and finds it actually reflects no change in policy: ‘We have known and have reported that they are continuing five grants [to Planned Parenthood] through 2012. This is a reference to that. The second clause about eligibility is certainly true. Any group can apply for anything. It does not mean they are going to get anything.’”

Pro-life advocate Jill Stanek notes that “Komen’s apology was careful not to include any commitment to give Planned Parenthood grants in the future. The Komen executive team doesn’t want to, now more than ever.”

It is unclear the direction Komen will take with Planned Parenthood in the future. One thing is clear—money will certainly factor into their decision. Major corporate donors were threatening to end their relationship with Komen over its initial Planned Parenthood statement, and Feminazis such as NOW’s Terry O’Neill were threatening corporations to do just that.

“…corporations like Yoplait, and Dell computers, and New Balance shoes, all these corporations…they’re going to have to move away from Komen,” said O’Neill on the MSNBC’s The Ed Show. As Taranto noted, the campaign against Komen “is analogous to a protection racket: Nice charity you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.”

Also, time and again Komen was accused of “playing politics.” So much so that, in its follow-up statement, Komen said, “We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.” Komen later added that they would be “Amending our criteria [to] ensure that politics has no place in our grant process.”

Spending millions of dollars lobbying every year, Planned Parenthood is the most politically active organization operating in the most politicized industry within the U.S. Yet, after Komen decided it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood, The New York Times concluded that “Companies like Ford Motor, Dell and Yoplait may not find the same value in identifying themselves with the foundation after its sharp departure from political neutrality.”

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called Komen’s original decision “profoundly stupid,” adding that Komen had “taken sides in a fight that was not its own.” You know what’s really “profoundly stupid”? Concluding that Komen was neutral and “apolitical” (to use another Bookman word) when they were funding Planned Parenthood, but “playing politics” when they decided to do otherwise.

Also “profoundly stupid” is to conclude that abortion represents only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. This is the lie that will never die. The New York Times, Ed Schultz, Ezra Klein, The Boston Globe, et al, parroted the 3 percent nonsense. Of course, the left does this to give people the false idea that Planned Parenthood isn’t all about abortion.

Part of the deception involved in this number is that, when a woman goes into Planned Parenthood for an abortion, there are multiple other “services” that go along with the abortion. Counting these services separately from the abortion is like concluding that, when someone stops at a liquor store and gets 4 candy bars, 3 bags of chips, and 2 packs of gum along with their Crown Royal, only 10 percent of the “services” the liquor store provides involve alcohol. Liquor stores are to alcohol what Planned Parenthood is to abortions.

Perhaps the greatest absurdity in all of this is the fact that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms. That’s right—all of the bluster over “women’s health,” and there are zero mammograms done at Planned Parenthood clinics. Do you think liberals would be satisfied in this debate if Komen took the approximately $700,000 it donated to Planned Parenthood last year and gave it to crisis pregnancy centers to purchase mammography machines? Nah, me neither.

Copyright 2012, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Newt’s Past Doesn’t Disqualify Him

One of the most beloved men in the history of humanity is the second king of Israel, King David. The “ruddy and handsome” young man, who was the legendary slayer of the Philistine giant Goliath, is a transcendent figure, significant not only within the religious realm, but the world over.

As America is embroiled in another presidential primary season, we would do well to keep the lessons of King David in mind.

When seeking out the successor to Israel’s first king, Saul, Samuel the prophet went to the home of Jesse. As Jesse’s seven older sons passed before Samuel, each was rejected. God then revealed that he had chosen Jesse’s youngest son, David, to lead His people.

David excelled at many things. He was an accomplished musician and authored many of the Psalms. He became a mighty military leader, defeating the likes of the Amalekites, Ammonites, Edomites, Moabites, Philistines, and Syrians. Furthermore, he was a prophet, with many of the Messianic prophecies attributed to him.

The New Testament lists David in the genealogy of Jesus. Jesus is often referred to as the “Son of David” and the “Root of David.” Throughout the New Testament, David is directly mentioned or alluded to as a “father” or “patriarch” of Israel. Truly, David was a blessed and revered man.

On the other hand, David also was an adulterer and a murderer. Early in his reign, while the army was away and David remained in Jerusalem, he slept with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in Israel’s army. When she revealed that she was pregnant, David tried to hide his sin by calling Uriah back home in hopes that some time with his wife would conceal the fact that another man was the father of her child.

When Uriah nobly refused to allow himself the comforts of home while his comrades were away at war, David plotted with his generals to have Uriah killed in battle. His planned succeeded. Uriah was killed and David then took Bathsheba for his wife.

All of this, and yet God still called David “a man after My own heart.” Certainly David suffered dire consequences for his sin (including the death of the son Bathsheba bore), but God never abandoned him, and David repented and turned back to God. King David ruled Israel for over three decades.

Of course, this is not to say that we need to seek out adulterers and murderers as our leaders, but it is a fact that each of us has our shortcomings (“all have sinned”). How many of us would look “electable” if all of our baggage were laid out for all to see?

Newt Gingrich is a man with much baggage. A presidential candidate on his third marriage should give any voter great pause. It is quite noteworthy that, if not for his marital shortcomings, Gingrich would probably be the clear GOP frontrunner. (His critics point to other issues in his personal and political past, but by far the largest millstone around Newt’s neck is the failure of his marriages.) This speaks volumes to the consequences of divorce. I think it also speaks well of many within the republican electorate that such matters are still considered significant when going to the ballot box.

However, Gingrich’s adulteries alone should not disqualify him from being the GOP nominee. I don’t say this lightly. I despise the plague of divorce that has ravaged our nation for decades. As a teacher of teenagers for nearly 20 years, I know all too well the sad consequences that divorce brings.

When a politician’s past indiscretions (sin) are of such nature that it brings into question whether he is fit to lead, there are several things to consider—at least for a Christian voter. The first question to ask: is he currently walking in faith? The second question goes hand-in-hand with the first: is he repentant?

Now, as C.S. Lewis notes, “repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into…it means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.”

I’m not sure if Mr. Gingrich has gotten to this point, but if he has, he needs to make it clear to us. Many evangelical voters took great comfort when, in the last presidential race, John McCain told Pastor Rick Warren that he took responsibility for the failure of his first marriage and that it was the greatest regret of his life.

Newt is certainly no King David, and this column is not an endorsement of him. In fact, I have issues with him that go beyond his marital past. However, each of the GOP candidates has his “issues.” Nevertheless, ANY of them is a VAST improvement over Obama, and I will eagerly cast my vote for whoever is the GOP nominee.

Copyright 2012, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World