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Bill Schorr | Adam and Eve / media.caglecartoons.com

Whose Trial Is It Anyway?

  • Bishop's lawyers attack sexual abuse victims support group.
  • De LaSalle kids have a  few words with archdiocese at marriage talk

Julie Cain, Ms. Magazine

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

As we’ve been reporting on the Ms. Blog, Kansas City was rocked last fall by the indictment of Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report that a priest in his parish had pornographic pictures of children on his computer. Finn managed to avoid any serious punishment; he simply has to regularly report to a prosecutor any suspicious goings-on in his diocese that might relate to sexual abuse.

Meanwhile a lawsuit filed against another accused Kansas City pedophile priest, Fr. Michael Tierney–the fifth such suit against Tierney since 2010–has tried to ensnare just the organization devoted to stopping such abuse, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

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De LaSalle kids have a  few words with archdiocese at marriage talk, Jon Tevlin, Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune
When De LaSalle senior Matt Bliss heard rumors that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis planned to hold a mandatory school assembly to talk about marriage, and potentially gay marriage, he remembers thinking, "This is not going to end well." He was right.

 

Where's the Bishops' outrage over poverty?

It saddens me that at a time when so many American families suffer from unemployment and poverty, the leadership of the Catholic Church reserves its loudest voice of moral outrage for issues related to human sexuality. 

James Salt, Catholics United

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Jim Fuller

Over the past few weeks, the Catholic bishops have initiated an unprecedented campaign opposing new health insurance rules that will expand coverage of contraception. Church leaders are angry that Catholic-affiliated hospitals, universities, and social service agencies were not exempted, and, for this reason, are now reading letters in all 19,000 parishes across the country publicly opposing the new rule.

Catholics United understands that contraception use is a sensitive issue for the Catholic Church, but it is hard to stomach this level of outrage when the bishops have been relatively silent on so many pressing issues of our day.  Where was the public outcry over our nation's past use of torture or our involvement in unjust wars?  Why aren't the bishops reading letters at Mass about the moral scandal of unemployment and poverty in America?  

On top of this, many bishops are using misleading statements and unnecessarily heated rhetoric to intensify the conflict.  In order to help set the record straight, Catholics United wants to make sure that you have the facts about the new health care regulations as they relate to contraception:

Churches are exempt from these rules.  The new rules require that institutions that employ and serve non-Catholics, such as hospitals and universities, are required to include contraception coverage in their health insurance plans.  No Catholic church or diocesan office will be affected.

No one is being forced to use contraception against their will.  The new rules simply require that employees have access to these services. Individuals who are opposed to the use of contraception do not have to make use of the coverage.

There will be fewer abortions because of this decision.  Regardless of your beliefs about contraception, everyone should recognize that greater access to prevention services will result in fewer unplanned pregnancies.  Fewer unplanned pregnancies will result in fewer abortions.  And despite many false claims to the contrary, the contraception covered by this rule does not include abortifacients, like RU-486, that induce abortion.

It saddens me that at a time when so many American families suffer from unemployment and poverty, the leadership of the Catholic Church reserves its loudest voice of moral outrage for issues related to human sexuality.  I sincerely hope and pray that our Church leaders can tone down their rhetoric, refocus their priorities, and begin using their powerful voice to address the vast economic insecurities and conflict in the world and honor the rich heritage of Catholic social teaching.

In the coming months, let's hope that both sides of this debate can come together and find a solution that both meets the medical needs of all employees and protects the religious identity of Catholic institutions.

Court Rules Religiously-Based Restrictions in HHS Contracts with Bishops Violate Establishment Clause

  • First Amendment prohibits government favoring a particular religious view.
  • Fear Factor: The Religious Right's Problem With Women
  • Has Obama Exposed the Powerlessness of the US Bishops?

Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Late yesterday (March 23) a federal court in Massachusetts ruled [PDF] in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in a challenge it brought against the Department of Health and Human Services over contracts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. When the ACLU first brought the case in 2009, HHS permitted the USCCB to prohibit the referral of victims of sexual assault to be referred for contraception and abortion services. Although HHS did not renew the USCCB contract last year, the ACLU proceeded with the case "to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not misused to impose religious restrictions on vulnerable trafficking victims that receive U.S. aid," according to a statement.

Judge Richard Stearns agreed the case was not moot, and in holding that the policy permitting the Bishops to restrict trafficking victims' access to reproductive health services violated the Establishment Clause, noted, "[t]o insist that the government respect the separation of church and state is not to discriminate against religion; indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others."

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Fear Factor: The Religious Right's Problem With Women, Dr. Peggy Drexler, Huffington Post

  • What is it about women that the men of deeply conservative religions find so threatening? What runs so deep that it justifies traumatizing an innocent eight-year-old like Naama Margolese in Beit Shemesh?
  • Special Project | The War on Women and the GLBT Community: Week of March 25

Has Obama Exposed the Powerlessness of the US Bishops? Adele M. Stan, AlterNet

  • In offering the bishops an "accommodation" they refused to accept on a contraception provision of the new healthcare law, the Obama administration effectively exposed the powerlessness of the bishops when the rest of the church rose to accept the offer.
  • With Catholic leaders and churchgoers turning their backs on the bishops, the men who rule the church are watching their political power wane.
  • What War on Religion?
     

Fear Factor: The Religious Right's Problem With Women

  • What is it about women that the men of deeply conservative religions find so threatening? What runs so deep that it justifies traumatizing an innocent eight-year-old like Naama Margolese in Beit Shemesh?
  • Special Project | The War on Women and the GLBT Community: Week of March 25

Dr. Peggy Drexler, Huffington Post

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

The world has seen the terror and confusion on the porcelain face of eight-year-old Naama Margolese, who was insulted and spat on by ultra-Orthodox men as she walked to school in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. The Haredi, to use Israeli term, found her bare arms so immodest that they screamed "whore!"

The video of a very frightened young girl and the furious, arrogant men, who told reporters they were perfectly justified in their actions, has become a flashpoint in what some are calling a struggle for the soul of a country.

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Special Project | The War on Women and the GLBT Community: Week of March 25, David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest
Now, somehow, we’ve come to a decidedly indecent place that, yes, even in an emergency, a corporation’s beliefs are more important than a woman’s life.
7 New Items including:

  • President Obama: Sign the Executive Order Banning Discrimination in GLBT Employment
  • Use Birth Control? You’re Fired!
  • How We're All Paying for Rush Limbaugh to Take Viagra (And Why it Costs a Lot More Than Contraception)
  • Why Evangelicals Don't Care When Rich White Conservatives Defile Marriage
  • The New-Old Southern Strategy Mixes Racism and Sexism for Nasty Results
  • Priest Denies Lesbian Communion at Mother’s Funeral
  • Clobbering "Biblical" Gay Bashing
     

The Ryan Budget and Moral Cowardice

  • Any responsible budget plan requires a balanced approach that would both increase revenue and reduce spending. This proposal would cut taxes, merely hope for revenue, increase military spending, and slash most everything else that isn’t protected by large corporate interests.
  • Woe to You, Legislators!

Lisa Sharon Harper, Sojourners / God's Politics

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Remember Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2011 budget, The Path to Prosperity? Well, it’s baaa-aaack — and this time the path is smoother and wider and offers a quicker trip to judgment.

Christianity and most of the world’s faith traditions explicitly demand protection for the poor and the preservation of the lives and dignity of all. Well, the Chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan, high-tails it down his Path, budget rolled in-hand, in the exact opposite direction from those moral commitments.

Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), concluded that the Ryan budget “is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation's history)."

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Woe to You, Legislators! Jim Wallis,
Sojourners / God's Politics

  • The self-professed budget hawks have completely ignored the most consistently egregious, wasteful, and morally compromised area of the whole federal budget<http://blog.sojo.net/tag/budget/> — our endless and unaccountable military spending. Paul Ryan and the Republicans would cut nothing from the Pentagon profligacy. This makes them hypocrites.
  • Tell Congress we want a moral budget
  • Why 30,000 People are Fasting
     

How the Fundamentalist Mind Compels Conservative Christians to Force Their Beliefs on You

  • Good people are willing to subvert the U.S. Constitution and even violate human decency in their quest for converts.
  • Is America on the Verge of Theocracy?
  • How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington

Valerie Tarico, AlterNet

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Many evangelicals wear their religion on T-shirts and around their necks and on car bumpers and eye-blacks. They hand out tracts on college campuses and stage revival meetings on military bases. They use weddings and funerals to preach come-to-Jesus sermons. In their resolve to spread the good news that Jesus saves, some also do things that are more morally dubious.

In Tucson, nice young couples cultivate relationships with lonely college students without disclosing that they are paid to engage in “friendship missions.” In Seattle, volunteers woo first- and second-graders to afterschool Good News Clubs that the children are incapable of distinguishing from school-sponsored activities. In Muslim countries, Christian missionaries skirt laws that ban proselytizing by pretending to be mere aid workers, putting genuinely secular aid workers at risk. In the U.S. military, soldiers bully other soldiers into prayer meetings or the Passion of the Christ and then send bizarrely profane emails to people who try to stop them.

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Is America on the Verge of Theocracy? Henry A. Giroux, TruthOut.org / Alternet

  • Extremists shape American politics to unabashedly pursue legislative policies that favor the rich and punish the poor.
  • 4 Fundamentalist Ideologies Threatening U.S. Liberty
  • How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington

How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington, George Monbiot, Guardian
The degradation of intelligence and learning in American politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies
 

Is America on the Verge of Theocracy?

  • Extremists shape American politics to unabashedly pursue legislative policies that favor the rich and punish the poor.
  • 4 Fundamentalist Ideologies Threatening U.S. Liberty
  • How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington

Henry A. Giroux, TruthOut.org / Alternet

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Michael Sodos

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

Americans seem confident in the mythical notion that the United States is a free nation dedicated to reproducing the principles of equality, justice and democracy. What has been ignored in this delusional view is the growing rise of an expanded national security state since 2001 and an attack on individual rights that suggests that the United States has more in common with authoritarian regimes like China and Iran "than anyone may like to admit."

I want to address this seemingly untenable notion that the United States has become a breeding ground for authoritarianism by focusing on four fundamentalisms: market fundamentalism, religious fundamentalism, educational fundamentalism and military fundamentalism. This is far from a exhaustive list, but it does raise serious questions about how the claim to democracy in the United States has been severely damaged, if not made impossible.

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How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington, George Monbiot, Guardian UK
The degradation of intelligence and learning in American politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies

 

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