July 2015 Archives
July 2, 2015
Some updates and predictions on religious liberty in America
In the wake of the most recent SCOTUS lie against both law and nature, there have been calls from the left for stripping tax exempt status from all religious institutions, especially "bigoted" or "conservative" ones, including churches. This one is typical of the hostility and anti-religious bigotry of such pieces.
My own take is that such a move against churches per se will not be the very next move in the left's playbook. I think we can guess somewhat how that playbook will go before getting to churches by what is already happening.
July 3, 2015
Forever hold your peace [Updated and corrected]
We have blogged before here at W4 about the shutting down of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, the Oregon bakery that refused to serve a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
The latest news took even me by surprise. The unsurprising part was that their $135K fine has been confirmed by the relevant elected official. I'll let readers know if I find out about a genuine crowdfunding campaign to help them.
Here's the bizarre part: Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian has reinstated a "cease and desist" order that was voided even by the administrative judge in the case (the judge was on board with the $135K fine). This cease and desist order says that they may not publish or publically make any declaration of their intent to fight the case. Such statements, says Avakian, violate the portion of the public accommodations law that says that you can't express an intent not to offer services to members of the protected class.
It may be relevant here to point out that at the moment Sweet Cakes by Melissa doesn't exist. It's been shut down successfully by the leftist bullies' lawsuit. [Correction: My impression that the business had ceased to exist altogether appears to be incorrect, as the business still has a web page. I am now unable to find the link that I recall stated that the business had shut down. My guess is that they shut down their storefront and are operating out of a private home and that a report on this was the route by which my error arose. They still have a web site. Their web site says, "We here at Sweet Cakes strongly believe that when a man and woman come together to be joined as one, it is truly one of the most special days of their lives, we feel truely honored when we are chosen to do the cake for your special day." It is noteworthy that Avakian did not target this "discriminatory" statement on the web site but rather the statement, "The fight is not over" on a talk show. Maybe he just didn't get around to censoring the web site.] Nonetheless, according to Avakian, to go on a talk show and say, "The fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong," as the husband, Aaron Klein, said, is to make a discriminatory statement and violate a law. [Edited]
July 6, 2015
Something to add to the list of things to do to protect your church
This will be a short post. This is an important article, because it highlights an aspect of necessary church self-defense that I hadn't thought of. I had thought of the move of only allowing your church to be used for weddings for members. Check.
But "Darwin Catholic" points out that, if you turn a blind eye to members living as same-sex couples, that will also be used against you in a discrimination suit if the church refuses to let those members use the church facilities for a wedding and refuses to perform the wedding.
This is extremely important, and I haven't heard anyone say it yet. The helpful summary of ways to protect your church at this link does mention church discipline and the importance of a clear church discipline policy, but it needs to be driven home that your church has to carry out that church discipline, not just have it on paper.
This is especially important for the see-no-evil crowd who say you are "dirty minded" if you think it's a cause of scandal for two men to be openly homosexual and living together. (I've written about this at the end of the entry here, for example.) Now I see that doing so could also render the church open to lawsuit. If that homosexual "couple," members of your church, that everyone was pretending were living together in a chaste relationship ("You nasty judgemental bigot, how dare you ask whether they're actually chaste it's none of your business shut up") then asks to get "married" and Fr. Wishy-Washy won't "marry" them, I really doubt it's going to be much of a defense in court to say, "We were giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they had no intention of having a sexual relationship, Your Honor. This request for a wedding took us completely by surprise." They will be prima facie "gay" members of your church in good standing. Your church's policy will be to let members in good standing use the church for weddings. You are nonetheless discriminating against them. Ergo, you are not abiding by your own church policies and are discriminating. Ergo, you deserve to be sued for all you're worth. QED.
Church discipline in such cases is therefore no longer optional. "Don't ask, don't tell" is no longer a viable church policy. A thought worth pondering.
July 8, 2015
Another one bites the dust
It's a shame that there seems to be one culture war issue dominating the news these days, but even I, who often try to buck some current trend in blogging, find that new items are cropping up that need to be highlighted:
Baylor University has dropped its explicit ban on "homosexual acts" in its sexual conduct policy. It has switched to saying only that "physical intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity."
A couple of points to note:
July 10, 2015
On frivolous claims of contradiction
An excellent set of quotations taken from 19th-century lawyer Edmund Bennett, The Four Gospels From a Lawyer's Standpoint (1899)
Is the story of Barabbas a myth, merely because one evangelist (John) says he was a robber, and two others (Mark and Luke) call him a murderer? Was there no king of Tyre because in some places his name is spelled Hiram and in other Huram? Is there no true time of day, because all the clocks in your house strike at a different moment?... ...[H]ow vastly...improbable that four different persons, at different times and in different places, should deliberately sit down without any apparent motive to write four similar fictitious stories without any knowledge of each other's work; or, if they had such knowledge, that they did not make their stories agree better with each other! It is too absurd to be worthy of even denying. Here again we may learn from secular matters that the actual occurrence of some event is not to be doubted because of some discrepancy, or even some contradiction, in details between the different narrators thereof. For instance, some historians assert that Lord Stafford was condemned to be hanged for his alleged participation in the popish plot in 1680, while Burnett and other historians narrate that he was beheaded. But that he suffered death for the charge, though probably unjustly, no one doubts....Do not, therefore, I pray you, give up your Bible, your religion, or your God because of such flippant talk about the contradictions of the Gospels, come from whom it may! (pp. 35-55)
July 14, 2015
So much for that particular CHI
The big news in the evangelical world today concerning "gay, celibate Christians" who affirm an essential and positive homosexual identity (I have coined the expression CHI or "Christian Homosexual Identifier" for this) is that Julie Rodgers, a Protestant CHI, has "come out" a second time, this time in favor of non-celibate relationships.
Rodgers was hired amidst some fanfare by Wheaton College last year and was featured in an interview in World. Her role was to be the leader of an LGBT student club at Wheaton. Now she has resigned at Wheaton (that's one good thing).
But let me back up a bit.
July 16, 2015
The Jesuits continue to disappoint
While those on the left have been worrying about serious outrages such as the fact that Nathan Bedford Forrest's remains haven't yet been dug up, those of us on the right have been thinking about something a little grimmer and more urgent--that being the fact that Planned Parenthood is not only tearing unborn babies apart (which we already knew) but also trafficking in their body parts.
Into what should be a firestorm of criminal investigation by the various executive branches (state and federal) comes this odd piece by America Magazine (author, Sam Sawyer, S.J.) school-marmishly lecturing the organization that has brought out the revelations for "unfair editing."
July 17, 2015
Corruption and the Cost of Compromise: The next chapter
A day or so after reading this article a little bell was ringing in the back of my mind. I disagree with the article's confident statement that the trafficking in fetal body parts that has recently come to light is legal, but that wasn't what was triggering my mental bell-ringing. It was the mention of Bill Clinton and the year 1993 and a change in a law. What was that...?
Then it hit me: Yes, that was when the ban was lifted on federal funding for research using aborted fetal tissue. The Gospel Coalition piece merely says that the law hasn't changed since. Yes, that too. And why not, through a long Bush presidency? Why, in fact, has no Republican candidate since then made an issue of defunding research using aborted fetal tissue? I'm old enough to remember when that was a big deal.
Do you know what that means? It means that Planned Parenthood is getting its blood money from the taxpayers in two different ways: By the direct route, PP receives moogoo tax dollars for "educational" work. Indirectly, PP receives funding for this very trafficking that we have just been reading about and horrified by, because the researchers themselves can get federal funding and use it to purchase the "specimens" they need!
And some repentance is in order here on the part of establishment pro-lifers.
July 18, 2015
Greece submits to Germany
Greece has been living beyond her means for many years. A welter of exotic methods were devised to preserve the profligacy from its natural consequences, including, above all, the European currency union, which affords European periphery nations the extraordinary luxury of borrowing at German rates.
When the consequences of profligacy, in due time, began to present themselves, a German solution emerged: austerity.
In January, Greeks voted decisively against austerity, electing a hard-left government of quacks and celebrity academics. In early July, Greeks voted still more decisively against austerity in a national referendum purposed toward giving these quacks and academics more leverage in bailout negotiations. That backfired spectacularly.
This week the Greek parliament, in sullen resignation, voted to accept even harsher austerity.
The guiding purpose of European Union negotiations was to preserve the currency union: but German severity in the negotiations was predicated on the willingness to countenance a lasting breach of the currency union, specifically the exit of Greece from the Eurozone. He who loses his life will find it, while he who finds his life will lose it.
Greece, it appears, has now found its Eurozone lifeline, and it is a most austere one indeed: far deeper spending cuts and much higher tax increases than what Greek voters rejected on July 5th. Everything that Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras and his Socialists campaigned against — and won the elections by opposing — they will now get, good and hard. And the Germans are still talking openly about a “temporary” Grexit.
The reluctance of Greek voters to contemplate abandoning the euro as their currency grounds their humiliation. In the end Greece clung to the advantages and prestige of the euro more tightly than Germany clung to the vision of a complete and intact currency union. Berlin called Athens’ bluff.
Next, the Greek parliament will be obliged to pass various labor market reforms that make Scott Walker’s throne of skulls in Wisconsin resemble a modest pile of chicken bones at a buffalo wings joint. Greek public assets, many billions of euros in value, will be held in some sort of EU/IMF trust as a means to finance the coming bailout. Decades of generous public-sector benefits will be pared back; long-overdue liberalization of protected markets will be imposed; parsimony will be inflicted by distant bureaucrats; and taxes will rise at every step of production.
A hard-left government, while still clutching at the benevolences of the euro, chose flattery and cheap nationalism over facing up to the difficult decisions occasioned by decades of Greeks living beyond their means; and ultimately induced in Brussels technocrats and German politicians a severity rarely seen in Europe.
Beware Eurozone bureaucrats, even those bearing gifts.
July 19, 2015
Justice and the Whacky World of Legal Sex
As is usual for the Jesuits post-1965, they continue to muddy waters and cloud minds by pretending to play both sides of every coin, fence, and issue. But they don’t really HOLD both sides, and so their sometime façade of even-handed neutrality always has holes in it. Regarding Obergefell, this editorial by young Jesuits (in training) makes the usual hand-waving for appearing neutral:
For those who support it, yesterday’s ruling is against injustice and for equality. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, against religion and for immorality. And there’s a danger if religious voices continue to react as if advocacy for same-sex marriage is in itself a form of religious persecution. It simply is not. The motivations don’t match religious persecution, and neither does the end result. To equate what many perceive as correcting an injustice with religious persecution is to invite that persecution.
Notice the distancing of “for those who…” and “what many perceive” from the editorial self? But are they really neutral? Not hardly:
Many of us know people in same sex relationships of authentic love. We have come to understand that love, fidelity, and mutual commitment are worth being grateful for, regardless of the genders involved. We know the real hardships our loved ones suffer on account of not having the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts – whether through actual discrimination on the part of the government or through internalized perceptions of inferiority and worthlessness.
As expected, the supposed neutrality of the liberal simply shrugs away definitive Church teaching that the kind of “love” that holds between active gays and lesbians isn’t actually love at all, it is something else. Our young Jesuits would have scolded Jesus when he tells the adulteress to “go and sin no more,” and when he calls the Samaritan woman at the well - who He says “had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband”- away from adultery and fornication. True respect for gay people cannot allow us to pretend that years of dedicated living out a sinful desire that rejects God’s idea of love is, actually, love.
So, was it really a matter of justice that gays have recognition for same-sex “marriage”?
July 21, 2015
In praise of stigma
This post is going to be about an article by Robert P. George, but it isn't about the subject that probably first springs to your mind (in July of 2015) when you hear that name.
The post in question by George is here, and I'm going to take issue with it. I respect Prof. George for all of his own courageous positions on a variety of crucial social issues, with which of course I agree. I admire him and wish him well. But in this article, I think he is wrong.
George disagrees with those who have argued that Peter Singer should be stigmatized and even fired for his heinous moral views--just for example, his recent statement that one should rescue a large herd of pigs from a fire rather than a single human baby. All of Singer's heinous views flow quite naturally from his utilitarian philosophy. He is nothing if not consistent, as G.K. Chesterton once said about a madman.
Prof. George argues for academic freedom above all differences of opinion on these matters:
July 24, 2015
Good news for Vincent Lambert (for now)
I have criticized the American pro-life establishment for not being more on the ball with this and have attempted in my extremely tiny corner of the blogosphere to rectify this to some extent. One of the things I found troubling was the treatment of Vincent as though he were already dead and as though we, battle-weary American pro-lifers, couldn't possibly be expected to go on fighting for him, praying for him, or even to give any sort of regular coverage of the battle for his life. Wesley J. Smith, whom I admire greatly, even said this:
Lydia. I can't write about everything. It was Terri Schiavo redux. Alas, that is like trying to refight the 1968 election.
Well, fortunately for Vincent Lambert, his parents and his supporters in France didn't believe that it was "like trying to refight the 1968 election"--in other words, impossible, like trying to change the past. Since Vincent is, in fact, still alive (Not Dead Yet) and since from our point in time his being dehydrated to death remains a merely contingent possibility, they knew that they could still act causally to try to stop it. And the good news is that, for the moment, they seem to have succeeded!
July 25, 2015
Marion Zimmer Bradley's Daughter on Homosexuality and Gay Marriage
Marion Zimmer Bradley ("MZB") was an American science fiction author, editor, and anthologist. She was married to a child molester -- eventually convicted -- and, unbeknownst to almost anyone, serially molested and tortured her daughter, Moira Greyland.
Moira started speaking out just over the past year or so. WWWtW readers might find this interesting:
Naturally my perspective is very uncomfortable to the liberal people I was raised with: I am “allowed” to be a victim of molestation by both parents, and “allowed” to be a victim of rather hideous violence. I am, incredibly, NOT ALLOWED to blame their homosexuality for their absolute willingness to accept all sex at all times between all people.
But that is not going to slow me down one bit. I am going to keep right on speaking out. I have been silent for entirely too long. Gay “marriage” is nothing but a way to make children over in the image of their “parents” and in ten to thirty years, the survivors will speak out.
July 27, 2015
New Post up on Bart Ehrman and the authorship of the gospels
I have a new post up at my personal blog. It's a followup to an informal radio debate recorded between Bart Ehrman and my husband, Tim. To be more precise, it is a followup to part I of that debate.
For more details, including links to both parts of the radio broadcast, go here.
July 28, 2015
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
As promised, I want to take up some questions of custody. Of children, that is.
As I did some research for this, I discovered some facts that I didn’t know, and re-discovered some things that used to be fairly commonly said but have fallen out of common parlance.
For example, apparently for centuries, when an unwed mother gave birth, the father was accounted as having no rights at all, whereas if married the father had full rights and the mother virtually none at all. I see claims that in some places mothers were accounted not as a co-equal “parent” with the father, but as (a) the father’s wife – her first place in the family which entitles her only to WIFELY estate, and (b) as the children’s caretaker to the extent the father approves same. Hence her position over the children was little more than glorified babysitter.
Apparently, under Roman law children were accounted a kind of possession of the father, at least in some respects though perhaps not all. This is undoubtedly connected with the Roman father’s authority to abandon a child by exposure. And this attitude carried over into middle ages, where children were (after infancy) viewed as a valuable resource for labor, to which the father had the right (until older, I guess).
Fairly recently (speaking historically), in the US, the custody rules for children after divorce relied on the “principle” of so-called “tender years”, in which it was said that a child needs its mother during its tender years, much more so than its father. As a result, virtually all custody battles between parents for children under age 7 were won by mothers. This became standard only starting in the later 1800s, I gather. Before that, at least in some places, illegitimate children were simply left to the community to raise, belonging neither to the father (who had no rights) nor to the mother. Only much more recently did unwed fathers start to get ANY traction in having a voice on custody of their biological children. They still have nowhere near an equal position.
July 30, 2015
Second post up on Bart Ehrman
The flood of evidence against Planned Parenthood
It is almost impossible at this point to keep up with the flood of evidence that is coming in against Planned Parenthood. I think that the undercover organization is stepping up the pace in order to make sure the evidence is out there before it can be squelched or confiscated. (The squelching has already begun.)
The most recent video release indicates that unborn children are sometimes born "intact" in the abortion process. While the ghoul being interviewed does not actually admit that they are alive in that case, of course if they are old enough they might indeed be alive when born. This is all the more likely since digoxin is not used to stop the heart if the mother has consented to donate the child's body for research. (The transcript here is explicit on that point. See the context of both places where the word "digoxin" is used.) How the baby is actually killed if still alive at birth is not stated.
The haggling over baby body parts and the explicit agreements to alter procedures to obtain usable specimens make it absolutely clear that federal law is being violated. Our federal executive branch is absolutely in the tank for these evil people at Planned Parenthood, but I still think it is worthwhile to sign this petition.
Meanwhile, kudos to Ted Cruz for leading the attempts to defund Planned Parenthood (the least we can do). His Republican opponents in the U.S. Senate on this matter deserve to be, figuratively speaking, tarred and feathered. Since Cruz is willing to take on the despicably compromised GOP establishment on such a morally fundamental point, he at least deserves serious consideration as a possible presidential candidate.