The Weekly Q.U.A.R.L.

Volume 1
Issue 7

November 22, 1998

Day 34, Season of The Aftermath, AM 3164

The Weekly Q.U.A.R.L. is an editorial based on actual news articles sent across various news agencies all over the world. It is full of conjecture and comments that will upset some people. Unless you are tied to a chair and have your eyelids taped open, you are not being forced to read this.

The articles are gathered by the Docile Evasion Foundation, a sub-organization of Q.U.A.R.L.

The editorials are provided by Master Thepines, EFG, KSC, spokesperson for Q.U.A.R.L.

The Weekly Q.U.A.R.L. is published by the Erisian Freedom Group, a sub-organization of Q.U.A.R.L.

For more information on Q.U.A.R.L. and it's organizations, visit us on the web at http://members.tripod.com/~Thepines

Table of Contents

Article 1 -- Pope Prays for Peaceful End in Iraq
Article 2 -- Church Members OK Same-Sex Ceremony
Article 3 -- In Maine First Amendment Case: AJCongress Asks Federal Appeals Court To Reject Claim That Constitution Requires Government To Pay Religious School Tuition
Article 4 -- Unity Among Catholics Urged
Article 5 -- Group Complains Over Clinton Speech
Article 6 -- The American Jewish Committee Asks Legislators to Override Governor's Veto of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Article 7 -- Ga. Baptists Target Homosexuality
Article 8 -- Bishops OK Anti-Abortion Measures
Article 9 -- Pope Rejects Church Democratization

Article 1 -- Pope Prays for Peaceful End in Iraq

Pope John Paul II asked the world Sunday to pray for the key figures in the Iraq crisis, asking God to ``illuminate their minds and hearts'' so that they ended the crisis peacefully.

After all, there are millions of Muslims that he hasn't converted to Catholics yet.

The pope spoke on Iraq in a shorter-than-usual Sunday morning address, his voice weak as he spoke to the faithful gathered below his window. He said his thoughts in recent days had turned ``with more intensity'' to the Middle East, especially to Iraq.

``I hope in my heart that a peaceful and just solution can be reached,'' John Paul said. ``Above all, I hope that an already hard-tested population is spared further suffering and sorrow.''

That is what Saddam would like to do to all of us. Now that I think about it, I bet the pope wants us all to suffer as well.

``I invite all to pray to the Lord to illuminate the minds and hearts of those responsible, so that they continue to use diplomatic means and dialogue to resolve the grave crisis.''

The pope repeatedly has opposed the U.N. sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime on the grounds of the hardships they pose to the Iraqi people.

So the Pope supports a ruthless dictator?

Article 2 -- Church Members OK Same-Sex Ceremony

Members of a Baptist church have given their ministers permission to officiate at same-sex blessing ceremonies -- a break with their state and national Baptist conventions.

Good for them.

A statement approved Sunday by members of Wake Forest Baptist Church stopped short of affirming same-sex unions, but it asked that God bless ``all loving, committed and exclusive relationships between two people.''

We can learn a lot from the people of Wake Forest.

The Rev. Mac Brunson, the Baptist State Convention president, had warned last week that the convention would end its relationship with Wake Forest Baptist if the church voted to affirm same-sex unions.

After Sunday's vote, he said, ``Regardless of how they phrase it, they're sanctioning same-sex marriage.''

More power to them.

The state convention in 1992 cut ties with its only two member churches that have publicly affirmed same-sex unions.

The fundamentalist-led Southern Baptist Convention defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Wake Forest Baptist is an SBC member but Groves said that the relationship exists in name only.

The 325-member church meets on the campus of Wake Forest University but is not governed by the school. The university is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention but receives minimal support from it.

Maybe they shouldn't belong if they don't receive any support. It sounds like they would be better off without them anyway.

Article 3 -- In Maine First Amendment Case: AJCongress Asks Federal Appeals Court To Reject Claim That Constitution Requires Government To Pay Religious School Tuition

Agreeing with a Federal District Court ruling that "parents who exercise their constitutional right to send their children to sectarian schools do not have the right to require taxpayers to subsidize that choice," the American Jewish Congress today urged an appeals court to reject a claim that the Constitution requires the government to pay religious school tuition.

In the case of Strout v. Commissioner, Maine Department of Education, AJCongress called on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to sustain the lower court decision barring funding by Maine of parochial school tuition for parents whose school district does not have a public high school. Those parents, therefore, must send their children to schools out of the district; Maine has a program to subsidize high school costs in the receiving district.

Maybe the state should just build a school in the district.

According to the AJCongress amicus brief, the case is based on the erroneous claims that "the failure to subsidize an activity is the same as active suppression of that activity," and that the First Amendment separation of church and state is an equal protection clause for religion, granting it the same rights as secular concerns.

In providing funds for school districts for out-of-district students, the state is not looking "to create alternative, competing methods of education, or to fund private schools or to increase competition." Rather, it is engaging in a purchase of educational services, not funding private schools or competition.

The problem is that these educational services are tainted.

Referring to the claim that "refusal to fund religious education coerces an abandonment of religious education," AJCongress responded that the Supreme Court has rejected this contention, which the brief calls "the untenable equation of a refusal to fund with a suppression of speech or religion."

There is no anti-religious discrimination here, said AJCongress. "All children of every or no religious denomination have the same right to attend free secular public schools maintained with tax funds. The fact that a child or his parents for him voluntarily choose to forego the exercise of the right to educational benefits provided in the public school systems does not deprive him of anything by state action."

This is bull. The AJCongress makes a great assumption that parents choose to move to a location without public schooling. This is blind arrogance.

The insistence of the appellant, moreover, "that the Establishment Clause affirmatively mandates that religion be treated equally with non-religion cuts a wide swathe through the law of church-state separation."

Establishment clause cases decided over decades, AJCongress said, "plainly prohibit what the appellants seek -- a state subsidy of religious education."

And by the constitution of our country, would be wrong.

Article 4 -- Unity Among Catholics Urged

The outgoing president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops called today for reconciliation between Catholics ``at either end of the spectrum of church opinion'' -- a healing that he said requires more respect for church authority.

What if the people don't want to follow church authority?

Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, addressing the opening conference of the group's annual gathering, said too many Catholics are unwilling to accept the leadership of bishops and priests.

``They endlessly debate the decisions of their pastors on issues great and small, extraordinary and routine. They appear to live either in a past or in a future of their own imagining, but not in the present in which their pastors must make decisions,'' Pilla said.

If it is not our place to question, then it is not our place to follow or believe.

Rivalries, he said, have too often characterized the life of the church.

``This adversarial approach may actually be a healthy thing in the secular culture,'' he said. ``But it can be out of place in the church.'' The bishops' task, he said, is to discern when criticism is valid.

There can be no criticism to discern if people follow blindly.

Article 5 -- Group Complains Over Clinton Speech

An election-eve church speech by President Clinton has provoked a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service, claiming the church violated its tax-exempt status.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said the Nov. 1 service at New Psalmist Baptist Church amounted to a Democratic rally, The (Baltimore) Sun reported today.

I agree completely.

Clinton was joined there by Gov. Parris Glendening, who was re-elected two days later.

``What we have a problem with is candidates of one party appearing at the pulpit for what is essentially a rally,'' said Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United. ``That's the problem we have with New Psalmist.''

Edward Smith Jr., an attorney for New Psalmist, said neither he nor the church has been informed by the IRS of any investigation. He denied the church endorsed anyone.

That's the problem. No one is saying the church endorsed anyone, but rather allowed known political candidates to speak on its pulpit about issues that did not concern the church.

At the Sunday morning service, Clinton urged the congregation to go to the polls.

``On Tuesday, you're in charge of the arithmetic if you vote,'' he said.

According to IRS regulations, churches and other nonprofit organizations that hold tax-exempt status are not permitted to engage in partisan politics. That includes endorsing or opposing candidates, giving money to political campaigns, or helping candidates win election.

The Christian Coalition could learn a thing or two here.

After the 1992 election, Americans United complained to the IRS that a small church in Vestal, N.Y., had bought newspaper advertisements two days before the election urging voters to reject Clinton on moral grounds.

The IRS revoked the church's tax exemption in 1995. Another group then sued the IRS, contending it violated the church's free-speech and equal-protection rights. A decision in that case is pending.

This will be a very important case to watch. However, I think the IRS is right this time. The IRS is not violating the 1st amendment. It never said that the church could not buy the newspaper advertisement. It simply said that by doing so it could no longer hold a tax exempt status. This seems pretty clear cut to me.

Article 6 -- The American Jewish Committee Asks Legislators to Override Governor's Veto of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The following statement was made today by Jonathan Levine, Midwest Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee, at a news conference at the State Capitol in Springfield:

"The Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) accomplishes one simple thing: It requires the government to be sensitive to sincere religious beliefs when government needs and our rights to the free exercise of religion conflict. RFRA doesn't guarantee that religious practices trump government functions, but simply reminds us all that Americans -- even those who are weak, unpopular, or even simply those unfamiliar to us, have the right to practice her or his religion without government interference.

Unfortunately, with his amendatory veto, Gov. Jim Edgar has chosen to exclude prisoners from RFRA protections. And while we respect Gov. Edgar's concerns for prison safety and security, we disagree with his decision, which effectively curtails the religious rights of those who need them the most.

I think an important thing to remember is that criminals that are incarcerated have lost most, if not all, of their rights.

As Jewish Americans, the issue of religious freedom has special meaning for us. Decades ago, Judaism was in the position of being unfamiliar and unpopular. American Jews know well the sting of religious discrimination. That is why we must stand on principle. That is why we cannot walk away and forget those Americans who are now in prison.

We oppose the denial of reasonable RFRA protections to anyone and we urge members of the General Assembly to override the Governor's amendatory veto on RFRA, House Bill 2370."

I can honestly say that I don't know which side to support on this decision. May the best decision win.

Article 7 -- Ga. Baptists Target Homosexuality

Georgia's Southern Baptists, protesting the idea of same-sex marriages in their churches, have chosen to exclude congregations that endorse homosexuality.

``It's a shame as Georgia Baptists that we have to hear of people performing same-sex marriages (in Baptist churches),'' said the Rev. Frank Page, pastor at Warren Baptist in Augusta.

It's more of a shame that the Georgia Baptists can't follow simple doctrine.

The vote came Tuesday as more than 2,400 representatives from churches around the state attended the Georgia Baptist Convention meeting. There are more than 1 million Southern Baptists in Georgia, second only to Texas.

A very small number of Baptist churches in Georgia endorse homosexuality, said the Rev. J. Robert White, executive director of the convention.

More power to the small group of churches.

The Rev. J. Gerald Harris, who was named the convention's new president, said Southern Baptists welcome homosexual individuals, but can't allow churches to advocate their behavior.

This sounds like double-talk to me.

``The unanimous verdict of scripture is that practicing homosexuality is a sin,'' said Harris, of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta. ``Love ... must not compromise the church's allegiance to scripture.''

As far as I remember, there are only 10 commandments in the bible, and Thou shall not be homosexual is not one of them.

The homosexuality provision says that churches should not knowingly take any action to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior. It was passed overwhelmingly with more than two-thirds of the vote.

Several representatives spoke against the measure.

``To speak on this very issue is perilous,'' said Bill Self of John's Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta. ``I want to ask one simple question. This year, the homosexuals. Who's next, churches that receive African-Americans? Churches that allow women in the ministry?''

Bill is right. How long before being a woman is a sin?

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, the Florida Baptist Convention elected a black pastor as its leader for the first time in its 137-year history.

The Rev. Elroy Barber, 53, of the West Side Baptist Church in Hollywood said his election was a step toward what Southern Baptists discussed three years ago.

In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution on racial reconciliation. The denomination apologized for Southern Baptists' failure to oppose slavery before the Civil War and for its shortcomings in working against racism.

Yet it practices homosexual prejudice right now.

Article 8 -- Bishops OK Anti-Abortion Measures

The nation's Catholic bishops say it's not enough to oppose abortion personally without taking steps to stop it. They're asking citizens to vote anti-abortion candidates into public office.

Something Catholic bishops don't need to do.

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 217 to 30 on Wednesday to make a statement that also urged Catholic officials to take action against abortion.

Catholic officials should focus on social issues such as poverty, housing and health care, they said. But being ``right'' on those issues ``can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life.''

Do these Catholic bishops plan to take care of all these unexpected children that are going to be born?

The statement, developed by seven of the eight U.S. cardinals, also said that officials who ``ignore church teaching on the inviolability of the human person indirectly collude in the taking of an innocent life.''

So if I support abortion, then I'm an accessory to murder?

The Rev. Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe, N.M., said the statement proves the Catholic Church ``remains the last great voice of the unborn.''

But opponents feared damaging repercussions.

``Any statement that tells people how to vote will be ill-received by Catholic and non-Catholic alike,'' said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y.

Amen to that, brother.

``If a Catholic officeholder changes his position on life issues of abortion or the death penalty ... he or she could well be accused by political opponents of caving in to the dictates of the church, a tool of the bishops,'' Hubbard said. ``We should trust people ... to cast their votes.''

Yes, we should. That is what makes this country so great.

The bishops amended the statement in light of the recent murder of a New York doctor who performed abortions to say that ``those who would claim to promote the cause of life through violence ... contradict the gospel at its core.''

The bishops also discussed proposed new regulations for Catholic education that supporters say will lead to more consistent teachings at the nation's more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities. Critics, however, believe they could erode academic freedom.

The same argument can be made that people don't have to go to their schools.

Those standards would require presidents of Catholic colleges to take an oath of fidelity to the church and require theologians to get permission to teach from local bishops. Catholic universities would be urged to recruit for their faculties only ``faithful Catholics.''

Well, when someone can show me a "faithful Catholic" other than the Roman Catholic hierarchy, I'll have a school for them to go to. Or rather a monastery.

Bishop Allen H. Vigneron, auxiliary bishop of Detroit, called the norms ``a solid mechanism for assuring Catholic identity of institutions.''

But Bishop John R. Roach, former archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, said he worries they ``may be a depressant to the quality of that dialogue.''

And Bishop Raymond J. Boland of Kansas City, Mo., fears the language is too vague. ``What exactly do we mean by the word faithful?'' he asked. ``A person who attends mass every weekend? What if they're divorced, separated or remarried? Is there a litmus test?''

I hope there is no test at all. Then again, if there was a test, there would be a lot less Catholics.

Article 9 -- Pope Rejects Church Democratization

Pope John Paul II took a tough line Friday with visiting bishops from Austria, dampening hope for changes in church policy demanded by an Austrian reform movement.

John Paul rejected the idea of a ``democratization'' of the Roman Catholic church, saying the truth cannot be arrived at ``through opinion polls and in a democratic manner.''

Nor can the revealed truth be decided by ``someone from below,'' the pope told bishops on a routine visit.

In other words, if it doesn't come from the Pope, it doesn't mean diddly squat.

Lay people must not consider priests and bishops ``an obsolete model'' with which the church can do without, he said.

Imagine a Catholic church without a Pope. Rather, imagine the Pope without people to lead.

The Austrian church has been rocked by a sex scandal and demands for reforms by a group called We are the Church, which has gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures and has the support of some bishops.

John Paul repeated church prohibitions against women priests, divorce and abortion.

After all, the Catholic church has been the center for religious discrimination for centuries.

Tensions in the church were clear to John Paul during a June trip to Austria, when Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the country's top church leader, acknowledged the conflicts within the church ``have caused some people to lose confidence in the pope and the bishops.''

Then let there be more conflicts in the church.

The traditional Catholic bastion was rocked by accusations that a cardinal, Hans Hermann Groer, sexually abused young boys.

Reports in the Austrian press last week suggested the bishops were unhappy with the Vatican's handling of the case. Groer was forced by the Vatican to relinquish his church duties, but only some time after the case became public.

So there was a cover up by the church. A concealment of truth from those that proclaim to be the sovereign keepers of the truth. Thou shall not lie comes to mind.

Final Thought

The church wants you to do this. The church wants you to do that. Yet the purpose of the church is to provide council and help with spiritual growth. When any religious organization puts their needs before their people's needs, can they truly guide us through the darkness.