The Christian Coalition is asking donors to contribute to a $2.7 million campaign aimed at getting religious conservatives to the polls next month, even as the government argues that some of its past efforts violate election law.
This is exactly the type of news that gets our blood boiling. Why is the Christian Coalition trying to raise funds geared at getting voters to vote in their favor for their beliefs? Have they not heard of the separation of church and state? Let's examine further.
According to the budget, more than $1 million would be spent on printing and distributing voter guides and congressional scorecards. The coalition hopes to distribute 45 million voter guides, mostly through churches on the Sunday before Election Day.
An additional $1 million would go for get-out-the-vote efforts, including phone calls, mailings and advertisements.
Okay, let's do some simple math here. We have $1 million for printing and distribution voter guides, while another $1 million is for the effort of making the public aware through solicitation. I thought we were raising $2.7 million? Where's the other $.7 million?
Spokesman Arne Owens called it a ``blueprint to our supporters on how we envisioned allocating funds'' so they ``would have some degree of confidence that we would be good stewards of the hard-earned dollars they are providing to us.''
Who is this guy? Sounds like he's the one getting the left over $.7 million to me.
``Religious conservatives are undoubtedly highly motivated to go to the polls in November,'' Owens said. ``They are extremely concerned about values and about moral issues, and the problems in the White House are viewed by them as symptomatic of some various severe moral problems in this country.''
Ah, so now we are going to bring moral issues into this. That's what the money is for. Or is it?
The group is in the midst of efforts to defend its past political activities. The Federal Election Commission has sued the Christian Coalition, accusing it of illegally spending thousands of dollars to promote the candidacies of Republican politicians, including former President Bush, Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.
I'm not a big supporter of the FEC but by God they are right on the money here. Let's read more.
The organization has asked a judge to dismiss the case, saying its activities did not specifically urge a vote for or against a particular candidate and therefore cannot be regulated by the FEC.
A technicality. But let's not pretend we're idiots. I'm sure the Christian Coalition certainly had their favorites in the elections, and I'm equally sure they influenced the supports to vote for certain candidates. Churches are run by people, and people have their own beliefs, and they support those who share the same beliefs. The pastor or minister can easily sway a congregation to a set of beliefs, so why not political as well. Except the point that they should stay out of politics.
The AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union have sided with the Christian Coalition in the court case, arguing that the FEC suit threatens free speech.
Well, I certainly believe in free speech, however I seriously doubt that is the issue here. It is interesting to see the AFL-CIO supporting the Christian Coalition. I wonder what agenda they have.
However, a group critical of the coalition, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has been calling churches and threatening to report them to the Internal Revenue Service for allegedly violating their tax-exempt status if they distribute the voter guides.
To this final note in the article, I say bravo to the AUSCS. This is a very serious issue. There is a reason why the church and state are separate. I'm not saying that man's law is above God's law, but rather that people have a tendency to bend God's law for their own purposes. Perhaps when humanity can truly understand God's law, then maybe people can dictate the world though God. However, until that time, they should remain separate.
Dr. Robert H. Schuller, founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, will reach millions of new viewers via national cable network broadcasts of his internationally televised Hour of Power program.
It never fails to amaze me that so called men of God always feel the need to reach millions. Isn't their current congregation enough?
Airing on CNBC as a paid program, the Hour of Power will be available to viewers of the cable network's 67 million homes it reaches across the United States. The Hour of Power is also broadcast to Europe as paid programming on CNBC Europe.
Speaking about airing as a paid program on CNBC, Dr. Schuller said, "This is a fantastic opportunity to take our message to people we haven't reached before. I want to thank all who have contributed to this ministry and enabled us to spread encouraging words of hope across America and around the world."
Now, true the Bible does say to go forth and spread the word, but since when did it become one man's responsibility? Where is his need to take his message to 67 million homes? Wasn't the Bible enough? Isn't the local church more than enough?
The Hour of Power is just that, a powerful hour of music, guest interview, and a message of hope and encouragement delivered by Dr. Robert H. Schuller, the founding pastor of the world famous Crystal Cathedral and author of 31 books. The program has introduced guests from all walks of life to its worldwide congregation.
World Famous? Why does this guy need to have a world famous church?
Dr. Schuller was called by the late Reverend Norman Vincent Peale to launch the ministry of his church in 1955, and he was encouraged by Billy Graham to launch the television program in 1970. The Hour of Power is the most widely watched broadcast of its kind in America. It will broadcast its 1500th consecutive weekly program on November 1, 1998, with special musical guests David Foster and Amy Grant. Only three weekly programs in the history of television have aired more consecutive weekly broadcasts. Dr. Schuller commented recently, "Those three programs along with the Hour of Power are all Sunday news programs -- but ours is the only good news program."
As if an answer to my question, it appears that he was pushed into this. However, it also appears they didn't have to push to hard. Guess it's not all bad that his show is the 4th longest running weekly program on television. However I am still tried by his remark that his show is the only good one on. Self arrogance? Maybe, but certainly no self humility.
President Boris Yeltsin welcomed visiting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat today and the two leaders discussed the prospects for a breakthrough in Middle East peace talks.
Hey, why should we just pick on America? Religion is religion. Why favor one over the other.
Arafat is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and other government officials and sign a Russian-Palestinian agreement on trade and economic cooperation.
The Palestinian leader is also expected to meet with Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Alexy II.
Is Arafat looking for religious sympathy? Does the Russian Orthodox Church have some unknown power over President Yeltsin?
Arafat's meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday made ``substantial progress,'' according to Albright.
Palestinians were less optimistic, saying no agreements were reached Wednesday except to continue talks in Washington on Oct. 15.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat today invited Russia to take part in Middle East peace negotiations in Washington and generally play a more active role in the peace process, Russian news agencies reported.
Russia is officially a co-sponsor of the peace process launched by a conference in Madrid, Spain, in 1991. But the United States has played a far greater role.
Yeltsin said his government might be interested in participating in the Washington talks, but first wants to know the views of Israel and the United States on the plan, Interfax reported, citing Yeltsin aide Sergei Prikhodko.
Well, not much religious activity here. I hope that someone can help bring peace to the middle east. However, bringing peace to the middle east will not be an easy process. Agreements involving trade and economic cooperation will never solve the thousands of years of hatred between the religious factions that exist. Far wiser people than I have often said that more blood has been shed in the name of religion than any other reason. It's a shame that more peace talks are not accused of the same.
In a humanitarian effort, a consortium of individuals -- Gustavo A. Cisneros, Oscar de la Renta, Theodore Kheel, Henry Kravis and Julio Iglesias -- have joined forces to provide relief to the Dominican Republic, ravaged in the wake of Hurricane Georges. Over 350,000 pounds of food will be shipped by AmeriCares for delivery to His Eminence Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, and distribution to the people of the Dominican Republic.
Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am a strong supporter of the American Red Cross. I am not opposed to relief efforts by any organization to help any disaster. What I want to know is why is AmeriCares delivering their relief supplies to the Archbishop of Santo Domingo? Why does he get to choose how to distribute the relief supplies? Why isn't AmeriCares doing this themselves?
In September, with maximum sustained winds of 150 MPH, Hurricane Georges ripped through the Caribbean rendering more than 150,000 people homeless and leaving a death toll of over 400.
The first relief shipment, including 46,000 pounds of beans and 90,000 pounds of rice, as well as sugar and tuna, is slated to arrive on Saturday October 10th. A shipment of baby food and evaporated milk is due to arrive on Monday, October 12th. Finally, a shipment of cooking oil is due to arrive on Wednesday, October 14th. Providing transportation by sea is AmeriCares, a private, nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization. Since its inception in 1982, AmeriCares has delivered over $2 billion worth of medicines and relief supplies to needy people within the United States and in 118 other countries around the world.
The products will be received by H.E. Archbishop Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez and distributed through channels established by the Catholic Church.
Let's hope he does a good job.
Pakistani lawmakers today moved closer to creating a new Islamic order that would give the federal government sweeping powers to impose laws inspired by the Muslim holy book, the Koran.
Can someone say "Yikes!"
With the opposition chanting ``shame, shame,'' the National Assembly voted 151 to 16 to pass the constitutional amendment, which has been condemned by human rights activists and constitutional experts.
Our thanks to the human rights activists and constitutional experts for giving their best effort. People can only do so much.
Under the amendment, the federal government would be ``obliged'' to enforce prayers five times a day and collect annual tithings. The amendment also says that it would override the ``constitution, any law or judgment of any court.''
The day this happens in America I'm moving to Canada. I'll learn to speak French if I must. This is a sad day. People have fought for years for religious freedom, not to have religion pounded into them.
The opposition, led by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, says the new Islamic state will deepen sectarian strife in a country wracked by religiously motivated violence.
``It is a weapon in the hands of fundamentalists, which would be misused against religious minorities,'' said Shahbaz Bhatti, a leader of the Christian Liberation Front, an advocacy group for minority Christians, who number about 2 million in Pakistan.
The opposition has also warned that, under the amendment, the government could overturn laws passed by Pakistan's four provincial governments. Asfandyar Wali Khan, a member of the Awami National Party, said it effectively meant ``the abrogation'' of the constitution.
It is good to see that there our some very level-headed leaders in this part of the world. I may not agree with their views, but I applaud their effort.
Before the amendment can become law it will require a two-thirds majority in the Senate, or upper house of Parliament.
May this never pass in the Senate.
``I congratulate the nation on the passage of the bill, which will help create a truly Islamic system,'' Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a speech following the vote today.
While Sharif's ruling Pakistan Muslim League has enough support in the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, it does not have the votes to carry the amendment in the Senate.
There really is a God. Man's law is not ready for God's law.
Some political analysts said Sharif may seek a vote in a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate, which would likely provide the required number of votes.
Sharif promised today to protect the rights of Pakistan's minority religious groups, barely 5 percent of the country's 140 million people.
``Islam is a religion which has always recognized the rights of minorities,'' he said.
If Islam recognizes the rights of minorities, is it right for the minorities to have control of the law?
While the current legal system is rooted in British common law, Pakistan already has taken tentative steps toward Islamic rule.
Since the late 1970s, for example, there have been laws stipulating that four male witnesses are required for rape prosecutions. The same law also provides the death penalty by stoning for the crime of having sex outside of marriage.
Human rights and minority religious groups have fought to repeal other Islamic laws, including one that allows the death penalty for anyone who profanes Mohammed or Islam.
I guess this means that as of right now, I could be stoned to death. On a serious note, if this law passes, this would be a serious tragedy not only for human rights but for religious rights as well. Imposing the religious views of one group onto another is a violation of the very right to have religious freedom to begin with. Even if their country does not have the same rights that we have in the United States, there is still the fundamental religious liberty that exists between all people. I pray this law never comes to pass.
The United States would take action -- ranging from diplomatic protest to economic sanctions -- against countries that engage in a pattern of religious persecution under legislation the Senate passed today.
The bill, passed 98-0, would require the president to choose from a list of options intended to promote tolerance around the world.
Is this country something or what? Well, if we can't get any more blue laws passed in the United States, then let's go take out our religious frustration on other countries.
``Our purpose is the world is not to punish any country,'' said Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., the bill's sponsor. ``Our goal is to change behavior.''
Sounds like a violation of human rights. Is Senator Don Nickles a part of the Borg collective?
Somewhere, ``right now, a man or woman languishes in prison, some on death row, because he or she did nothing more than choose faith in God,'' Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said from the Senate floor today. ``It is a reminder to the executive branch of the American government, both now and in the future, that as it encourages human rights all over the world, it must consider freedom of religion.''
Noble intentions. When did it become the responsibility of the United States to ensure the religious freedom of the entire world?
The measure would create a federal office responsible for monitoring treatment of religious people in countries where the State Department has documented acts of religious persecution. There were 77 such countries in a 1997 report released by the department.
The president could waive the sanctions if it is in the national interests of the United States or if a country has stopped violating religious rights.
I am forced to ask what if these countries have laws against the religious rights that we take for granted? Why should another country be punished for not have the same views or beliefs that we have?
``We have seen worldwide unspeakable religious persecution,'' Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said. ``We have seen Catholic clerics mistreated and tortured in China, we have seen Christians sold into slavery in the Sudan, we have seen the risk of the death penalty in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia (for) those of the Islam faith who seek to convert to Christianity.''
Ever since the founding days of religion, those that held different religious beliefs have always been persecuted. The Israelites suffered and the hands of the Egyptians, the Christians and the hands of the Romans, the Jews and the hands of the Germans and the Spanish Inquisition. I am sure there are many more. It almost goes without saying, if you are going to preach your faith, and to try to convert, expect to be persecuted.
A new ``ambassador-at-large for religious liberty'' would head the office of international religious freedom at the State Department, serving as a ``full- time, high-level, single-issue diplomat opposing religious persecution by forcefully representing American values and interests in bilateral relations with persecuting nations,'' according to a statement from Nickles' office.
Under the bill, a 10-member commission appointed by Congress and the president would investigate incidents of suspected religious persecution and make policy recommendations.
This is a serious violation of church and state in my book. I'm a registered Republican, but I am becoming more and more disenfranchised with the organization as its religious riech movement continues to placed their morals and standards in the name of religious freedom.
Included in this article are some of the recommendations from which the president can choose. Most of them are pretty silly in my opinion. However, I think that trying to impose our religious views on the rest of the world is even sillier. What makes the whole thing laughable is the fact that as a country, we have no single religious voice. And thus it should be. That is the whole purpose behind the freedom of religion, and the separation of church and state. Where did we go wrong?
Aborted fetuses found dumped in a field have been given to anti-abortion groups for Christian burials, a move critics say violates the separation of church and state.
I've included this article out of bemusement. Let's see where it takes us.
San Bernardino County Coroner Brian McCormick released the remains of the 54 fetuses Friday over objections from American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California officials, who said they may take legal action.
The religious groups named and provided a casket for each fetus. They planned weekend ceremonies at several churches and a service at a family planning clinic. Interment is planned at a Riverside cemetery, which donated three plots.
The fetuses were found last year in cardboard boxes in a county field. Authorities traced the fetuses back to a Los Angeles abortion clinic, which has since been closed. A truck driver for the clinic served 71 days in jail for dumping the fetuses.
Religious groups petitioned the coroner's office to release the fetuses for burial after the criminal investigation was completed. The ACLU had urged McCormick not to release the remains.
While I think that the remains should have been released, I believe the ACLU has a strong case.
``It is more than just the appearance of the state sanctioning a particular religious belief,'' said associate director Elizabeth Schroeder. ``Under California law there is only one way to dispose of this material ... that would be by incineration.''
Schroeder said the coroner's office ignored a 1984 California Court of Appeals decision. The court ruled the Los Angeles County district attorney's office violated the separation of church and state when it proposed to bury 16,500 fetal remains with religious ceremonies.
Why is it that most separation cases are tried in California?
In all fairness, this is a very serious issue. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has clearly violated the law it swears to uphold. I hope those responsible lose their jobs, or at the very least, never allowed to practice law again. To most, this would seem like such a small issue, but it's the small issues that eventually turn into large ones. This could possibly be the start of a trend to bring more violations of church and state into play, until this government is ruled by the church. Let us hope and pray that this is not the case and that day never happens.