The Indiana #RFRA, Memories Pizza, and the Left’s Fascist Orgasm

**Posted by Phineas

satire left tolerance liberal fascism

(Credit: Michael Ramirez)

 

“I know there is an authoritarian Left in this country, and I fear it.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan to Richard Nixon (1970)

(Preface: I should clarify something from the start — I am not a religious person. Born and raised Roman Catholic, I haven’t been to a Mass for anything other than a wedding or funeral in over 35 years. While I respect the Church (and most other faiths) and the opinions of the faithful (Well, most of them), I feel no need or urge to go to church on Sundays or offer up my voice in prayer; the existence or not of God is not of great importance to me, though I don’t doubt that God exists in some form. Neither atheist nor agnostic, perhaps the best description for me is “apatheist.” I just don’t care.

What I do care about passionately, however, is the promise of the American Revolution, the political and social settlement represented in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the freedom of all decent people to live their lives as they see fit without fear of being picked on or persecuted for who they are. What I write below should be read in that context.)

What happened in Indiana over the last week was an utter, damnable disgrace, and a good portion of this nation should be ashamed of themselves for acting like a digital lynch mob.

How did this start? A bit over a week ago, the Indiana legislature passed a bill, similar to a federal act and laws in 19 other states, allowing defendants in lawsuits, including those brought by non-governmental actors, to offer religious belief as a defense when accused of discrimination. It was not a “safe harbor” or anything that precluded a suit or encouraged discrimination. A court still had to determine whether the professed religious defense was outweighed by a pressing state need. Its only purpose was to provide a possible shield to those who felt their religious beliefs were being trampled. (Further essential reading.)

The reaction to the bill made one wonder if Indiana hadn’t opened death camps for gays.

The hysteria generated by progressive reactionaries and other fools who I’m sure didn’t read the bill was appalling to behold. Monumental hypocrites such as Apple’s gay CEO Tim Cook roundly denounced Indiana for bigotry against gays and for denying their rights… while Apple makes iPhones in Communist China and sells them in Iran, where gays are regularly murdered by the state for being gay. Other ignoramuses called for the NCAA basketball tournament to be moved from Indiana next year, or ran to the microphones to condemn Indiana while pretending their own state’s RFRA didn’t exist..

Eventually the pressure from the howling horde of progressive corporate execs, the MSM, and “activists” proved too much for the cowardly lions in the Indiana legislature and their jelly-spined governor, and they amended the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to gut its provisions. The mob had won, and the democratic will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives was left beaten and bleeding in a back alley. If that were the end of it, it would be bad enough.

But it wasn’t.

During the week of furor over Indiana’s RFRA, a “reporter” at ABC’s Channel 57 affiliate in Indiana,  Alyssa Marino, went looking for devout Christians mouth-breathing, hate-filled homophobes who would refuse service to homosexuals.

And she found them at Memories Pizza

You can read Scott Ott’s report on how the media created the Hell that was about to descend on the O’Connors, owners of “Memories.” But I want to point out one especially egregious example,  a tale of two headlines:

headlines

(h/t @TDelovely)

The top is the first headline to run over Marino’s story, and below is the “corrected” version. See the enormous difference between the two? The first claims the O’Connors declared a blanket denial of service to gays. Pretty despicable, right? The later limits that to catering a gay wedding. (And who would order pizza for a wedding, anyway?) But, here’s the kicker: Marino’s question to Crystal O’Connor was wholly hypothetical! There was no gay couple seeking pizza for their wedding. Marino has simply walked in and asked a question along the lines of “What would you do if…?” O’Connor then made the mistake of answering honestly: gays would be welcome to eat at the restaurant, presumably also to get takeout or delivery, but that her business would decline to cater a wedding because it would require them to participate in an activity that went against their Christian faith. Again, a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question. The hypothetical gay couple could then go to another pizza parlor for catering, which would profit.

Simple, right?

No. This was the crime of “wrong thought,” and for that the O’Connors became vragi naroda, “enemies of the people.” Thanks to the media and the firestorm ignited on the Internet, Memories Pizza’s social media presence was attacked, and threats of violence, arson, and even death were received. It got so bad the O’Connors closed their shop and went into hiding. While through the efforts of Dana Loesch and her crew at The Blaze TV, the O’Connors more then recouped their losses (1), one has to ask: Did they really deserve this for simply holding an opinion not popular with our media and urban elites?

Of course not! What happened to Memories Pizza and to the Indiana government was disgusting: Thinking they had found their new Emmanuel Goldstein, the ignorant, reactionary Left began with a ritual Two Minutes Hate and ran with it until it became nearly a sexual ecstasy of rage. The state government was intimidated, a couple was left in fear for their lives, and the rights of people to freedom of conscience and freedom of association were torn apart in a political Bacchanalia.

There is a sickness in our body politic, one brought about by the authoritarian Left the late Senator Moynihan cited at the start of this article. One key component of the American settlement is the idea of political and religious tolerance, that we can all hold different beliefs –and we don’t have to like those beliefs or even each other– but not be punished for them. Our English forebears, Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, experienced just that sort of oppression and came to a New World to escape it. Later it was the Jews fleeing persecution in Europe; a letter from President Washington to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island eloquently describes that idea:

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

(…)

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

Emphases added. Washington, I’m almost certain, would be nauseated by what happened this last week.

What the authoritarian Left is doing strikes at the heart of the American settlement by refusing to honor the “liberty of conscience” we have long made room for in this land. Remember the conscientious objectors of the Vietnam War era (and earlier wars), who refused to engage in combat because of religious objections? Then, the Left lionized them as heroes. Would they now be spat upon because they used religion as a defense? It was for moments like these, when the power of the State impinges on the deeply felt religious beliefs of people, whether in matters of war or simply participating in a wedding, that Congress passed nearly unanimously and President Clinton signed the federal RFRA, and the states followed with their own.

But the Left leaves no room for dissent, unless it is dissent they approve of. All others are not just disapproved of, but must be actively harassed and punished until they publicly recant and think right thoughts, like some Maoist “struggle session.”

I’m going to close with a long quote from attorney Kurt Schlichter, who served many years in the Army, including Kosovo, where he saw first hand what happened when the consensus of tolerance broke down:

Which brings us to America in 2015. It’s becoming a nation where an elite that is certain of its power and its moral rightness is waging a cultural war on a despised minority. Except it’s not actually a minority – it only seems that way because it is marginalized by the coastal elitist liberals who run the mainstream media.

Today in America, we have a liberal president refuses to recognize the majority sent to Congress as a reaction to his progressive failures, and who uses extra-Constitutional means like executive orders to stifle the voice of his opponents. We have a liberal establishment on a secular jihad against people who dare place their conscience ahead of progressive dogma. And we have two different sets of laws, one for the little people and one for liberals like Lois Lerner, Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton, who can blatantly commit federal crimes and walk away scot free and smirking.

Today in America, a despised minority that is really no minority is the target of an establishment that considers this minority unworthy of respect, unworthy of rights, and unworthy of having a say in the direction of this country. It’s an establishment that has one law for itself, and another for its enemies. It’s an establishment that inflicts an ever-increasing series of petty humiliations on its opponents and considers this all hilarious.

That’s a recipe for disaster. You cannot expect to change the status quo for yourself and then expect those you victimize not to play by the new rules you have created. You cannot expect to be able to discard the rule of law in favor of the rule of force and have those you target not respond in kind.

Read the whole thing.

The Left is discarding the rule of law for the rule of force, substituting the power of the mob for the “immunities of citizenship,” and while you may think it silly to compare America to Kosovo, it may also be that Col. Schlichter has simply reconnoitered farther down the road they want us to walk and seen where it ends.

“I know there is an authoritarian Left in this country, and I fear it.”

And we should, still.

Footnote:
(1) Fair disclosure: I was one of the donors and was honored to do so.

RELATED: The Power Line podcast has an excellent discussion of the Indiana situation, and RFRAs in general, with law professor John Yoo.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Obama: “Don’t criticize Islam because Christians did terrible things, too!”

**Posted by Phineas

satire does not equal 02

Sigh. While speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama warned against insulting religions, just because one has the right to do so. In the process, he engaged in some intellectually lazy moral equivalence:

“Humanity’s been grappling with these questions throughout human history, and unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place — remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ,” Obama said.

“…So it is not unique to one group or one religion; there is a tendency in us, a simple tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. And God compels us to try.”

Obama advocated starting with “some basic humility.”

First, let’s all take a moment to clean up after the spit-take we all experienced when Barack “I’m the 4th greatest president, ever” Obama advocated some basic humility. Better, now?

The President was speaking in the context of the horrific murder of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’adh Yusuf al Kasasibah by burning him alive. And Obama, always supposing himself to be the only reasonable man in the room wanted to warn others, “Hey, Christians have done some nasty things, too, so let’s not go overboard in reaction.”

This is called a tu quoque error, Latin for “you, too,” or arguing the accuser is a hypocrite for being just as guilty as the accused. Not only is this an error of relevancy –what happened centuries ago has no bearing on the atrocities committed by ISIS nor our condemnation of them– in this case Obama is showing an all too common ignorance of both history and the religions he presumes to lecture about.

Put bluntly, when a Christian commits “terrible deeds” while invoking the name of Christ, he is acting against Christ’s teachings. On the other hand, when a Muslim does something similar, he is often acting in accord with the teachings of the Qur’an, the hadiths, and the recorded deeds of the life of Muhammad. Writing at Victor Davis Hanson’s site, Bruce Thornton puts it so when criticizing another example of historical and theological ignorance:

This point makes [Harvard Professor Kevin Madigan’s] argument a false analogy, for there is nothing in traditional Islamic theology that provides a basis for making violence against heretics and non-believers un-Islamic. The professor wants to argue away these inconvenient truths about traditional Islam by arguing that the faith can evolve away from them, just as Christianity did. But again, whereas historical Christian violence could find no scriptural justification, and much to condemn it, Islamic violence and intolerance––and of course slavery and Jew-hatred––are not the result of fringe or extremist misinterpretations. Rather, they are validated in the Koran, the Hadith, and 14 centuries of Islamic theology and jurisprudence, all regularly and copiously cited by today’s jihadists and theologians.

Thus the doctrine of jihad against infidels––the notion that such aggression is a justified form of the defense of Islam and necessary for fulfilling Allah’s will that all people become Muslims––is the collective duty of those dwelling in the House of Islam. The Koran instructs, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth.” Nor can there be any “tolerance” or “mutual respect” for those who reject Islam, especially Jews and Christians: “O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” The professor’s dream of a “broad-minded form” of Islam would require an extensive reinterpretation or rejection of some of Islam’s fundamental tenets.

That whole article is worth the time to read.

While I was raised in a Catholic household, I’m not a religious person. And while I have a great deal of respect for (most) religions, I have none for the kind of shallow, intellectually indolent and sanctimonious ignorance Obama displayed in his remarks. The fact is, while Judaism, Christianity, and Islam arose in roughly the same region and have some similarities, what is valued as right and good and a religious duty in Islam is far different than in the former two faiths, as anyone who takes more than a superficial glance at them can see.

If we’re to fight this war successfully, we have to understand accurately the beliefs of those fighting on the other side. Sadly, we’ll have to wait for the next president to have any hope of that in our leadership.

PS: Regarding the Crusades, whatever wrong happened during them, let’s not forget that they originated in a Western counterattack against the Muslim conquest of two-thirds of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, including Christendom’s holiest sites.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Let’s remember how #JamesFoley lived, but also how he was brutally murdered

James Foley

Photojournalist James Foley

For those of you who were under the radar and missed this horrifying news from earlier this week:

In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded American journalist James Foley – and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. Even so, the U.S. military pressed ahead, conducting nearly a dozen airstrikes in Iraq since Tuesday.

[…]

Foley, 40, from Rochester, New Hampshire, went missing in northern Syria in November 2012 while freelancing for Agence France-Presse and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. The car he was riding in was stopped by four militants in a contested battle zone that both Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control. He had not been heard from since.

The beheading marks the first time the Islamic State has killed an American citizen since the Syrian conflict broke out in March 2011, upping the stakes in an increasingly chaotic and multilayered war. The killing is likely to complicate U.S. involvement in Iraq and the Obama administration’s efforts to contain the group as it expands in both Iraq and Syria.

The group is the heir apparent of the militancy known as al-Qaida in Iraq, which beheaded many of its victims, including American businessman Nicholas Berg in 2004.

The video released on websites Tuesday appears to show the increasing sophistication of the Islamic State group’s media unit and begins with scenes of Obama explaining his decision to order airstrikes.

It then cuts to a balding man in an orange jumpsuit kneeling in the desert, next to a black-clad militant with a knife to his throat. Foley’s name appears in both English and Arabic graphics on screen. After the captive speaks, the masked man is shown apparently beginning to cut at his neck; the video fades to black before the beheading is completed. The next shot appears to show the captive lying dead. The video appears to have been shot in an arid area; there is no vegetation to be seen and the horizon is in the distance where the sand meets the gray-blue sky.

At the end of the video, a militant shows a second man, who was identified as another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warns that he could be the next captive killed. Sotloff was kidnapped near the Syrian-Turkish border in August 2013; he had freelanced for Time, the National Interest and MediaLine.

I was on Twitter when news of Foley’s murder broke.  The expressions of outrage towards his killers, the condolences posted to his family – all were understandable. For a brief moment, I joined in with the calls for people to always remember how he lived, and to put out of mind how he died.  It seemed fitting at the time. But as the week went on, and the more I thought about it, the more I concluded that – while it is indeed important to remember Foley’s work as a photojournalist, something he felt called to do in war-torn countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq, it was also vitally important to keep his murder fresh in people’s minds as a reminder of just how radicalized the “religion of peace” has become, and how we simply cannot continue the policy of appeasement towards Islamofascists that has taken place under the Obama administration.

Like many, I have not been impressed AT ALL with the “official response” communicated by the Obama administration to Foley’s brutal murder, because there is a continued insistence by them and other dangerous liberal moral relativists that terrorists like ISIS simply “pervert” the Islamic faith.  There’s the implication that if we stop and try and “understand” these inhumane swine who behead innocents in the name of “Allah” and bury alive rape victims as punishment in countries like Iran then maybe we could all just “get along”, sing “Kumbaya” and all that.

No.  I wrote this in 2010, and I still believe it to this day:

For a brief time long ago, I used to subscribe to the belief that there was a “moderate” element to Islam. I don’t anymore. Yes, there are Muslim Islamists out there who are not hateful, who are respectful of the religious beliefs and faiths of others, etc, but my opinion is that these Muslims are not full-fledged Islamists – and that’s a good thing. There is hope for that minority of Islamists that they can turn away from the evil “religion” we know as Islam.

That is, if they’re not murdered first.

No, Mr. President – I will not be “tolerant” of this religion, not in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Doesn’t mean I’ll get violent, but it DOES mean that I will speak out strongly against it, loudly and often. Islam, which is the law of the land in many Muslim countries via the use of the Koran as their “standard,” stands for everything we’re supposed to be against. Secularists and non-secularists alike can see this. It’s a crying, outrageous shame that you and so many of your fellow “enlightened” liberals do not.

If Foley’s sickening, torturous death does not wake people up as to the horrors of radical Islam, perhaps the ongoing persecution of non-believers by ISIS will:

Reports coming in from Sinjar, a small town that was once home to Iraqi minority community, Yazidis, suggest that the Islamic State militants are carrying out a “genocide” in the town.

For the Sunni militants, the Yazidis are a race of “devil worshipers” and killing them would only amount to a “holy act.”

The 4,000-year-old religious group has faced persecution for centuries for its unique belief and practices.

Earlier on Sunday, the Islamic State captured the town after driving away the Kurdish forces in the region. Witnesses claim that the militants are executing dozens of Yazidis for refusing to convert to Islam.

The Gulf News report claimed that 67 young men were shot dead by the militants. Besides executing the Yazidis, the Al Qaeda offshoot, is also reportedly taking Yazidi women for “jihad” marriage.

Mohammed al-Khuzai, an official with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society told NYTimes that ISIS took more than 100 Yazidi families to the airport at the nearby town of Tal Afar, where it executed the men.

“ISIS killed all the men,” Khuzai said, “and are planning to keep the women for jihad marriage.”

Reports have also come in claiming that the Islamic State militants have forcefully taken away a large number of children from the Yazidi town. A resident told McClatchy DC that militants were taking away young children from their families. 

Several Sinjar local government and municipal workers also have been executed by the ISIS. 

And then there are the Iraqi Christians. And the Syrian Christians.  I could go on and on, but you get the disturbing picture.

It’s time for world leaders to stop being silent, time to stop sitting back hoping the problem will just “go away.” Time for “leaders” here at home to stop largely ignoring the issue or downplaying because it’s “not happening here.”  Time for dangerous left wing moral relativists like the President, Reps. Keith Ellison, and Sheila Jackson Lee to stop playing the religious equivalency games.  Condemn it, call it out, STOP making excuses for it, stop rationalizing it. Stop putting it “in its proper context.”  9/11 wasn’t the first time radical Islam used its might to kill innocents in its quest to punish “infidels”, and James Foley’s beheading won’t be their last radical act of cold, sickening brutality, either. Pretending otherwise on all counts will only ensure that more will die.  

UN climate chief sees her job as “sacred.”

**Posted by Phineas

"Our mission is sacred; let none deny it."

“Our mission is sacred; let none deny it.”

Courtesy of the dread William Teach of Pirate’s Cove, the United Nation’s “Executive Secretary for Climate,” Cristina Figueres, sounds like she’d be more at home in a temple to Gaea than in a position supposedly dealing with empirical science. Her job, you see, is sacred:

The top climate official at the United Nations has described her role in pushing nations to contain the Earth’s climate as a “sacred” job.

“We are truly defining the quality of life for our children,” Christina Figueres, the U.N.’s executive secretary for climate, told USA TODAY on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“We have to do everything we can because there is no plan B because there is no planet B,” she said.

“I fully intend my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to live on this planet. This job is a sacred responsibility,” Figueres said.

She also notes that the world has spent a trillion dollars so far to fight climate change and that we need to spends trillions and trillions more. Every year. And all controlled by the UN, I’m sure.

Okay, we’ve all heard people at times sacralize their job, usually to show their dedication to a task that involves significant risk or hardship. Military and police come to mind. And, sure, politicians often prattle on about the sacred trust they’ve been given by their constituents, but most of us recognize that as a rhetorical device. Perhaps that’s the case for Ms. Figueres, too.

But I don’t think so.

Instead, it has the ring of sanctimony that brooks no debate or challenge. Indeed, if you question man-caused global warming or what, if anything, needs to be done to fight it, you’re putting her descendants at risk. It moves from being a matter of empirical, testable science, on which there can be reasonable disagreement, to a tenet of faith and morality, something holy. Disagree with her “sacred mission,” and you become a “denier,” one who has denied the faith. It’s a short step from there to being designated a “traitor to planet” and perforce evil.

It would be funny, if only these people weren’t in positions of influence and power, with the ability to implement their programs to our great harm, if we don’t keep a close eye on them.

That’s our “sacred responsibility.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#IranDeal: It wasn’t just the Israelis and the Saudis Obama backstabbed

**Posted by Phineas

"Left to rot."

“Left to rot.”

There’s been a lot of talk since the weekend about the deal brokered between Iran on the one hand, and the US and its European partners on the other, that supposedly somehow represented a breakthrough in the quest to prevent the Iranian mullahs from getting their hands on nuclear weapons. Discussions have centered around diplomacy and grand strategy, and the motives of the Iranian and US governments. Matter of “high politics,” as they might have said in the 19th century.

But the agreement touches people on a very personal level, too. Left unmentioned in any of the negotiations are Americans trapped in Iranian prisons, men such as Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor from Idaho who was accused of the horrid crime (in Iran, under Islam) of preaching the Gospel and helping to establish home churches (1). Abedini was yanked off a bus, his passport taken from him, and he was consigned to Iran’s notorious Evin prison.

And, in the negotiations leading to this wonderful deal, the US never mentioned him once:

Two words are nowhere to be found in the pages of text that spell out a new interim nuclear deal with Iran: Saeed Abedini.

Now some supporters of the American pastor, who’s been detained in Iran for more than a year, are accusing U.S. officials of betraying Abedini by signing off on an agreement that doesn’t get him out of prison.

“We were across the table from the Iranians, and we did not bring home Americans. To me that’s a tragedy and that’s outrageous,” said Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini’s family in the United States.

While analysts debated the nuclear agreement’s pros and cons, Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, said she was trying to comfort her two young children.

“It’s very painful,” she told CNN’s “The Lead” on Monday. “My kids were crying this morning, saying, ‘God, don’t let Daddy die. Bring him home.’ “

One would think an American government, leading a nation founded on principles of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, would have raised a stink about Abedini at these negotiations, something along the lines of “You want sanctions lifted and your sequestered cash released? Give us Abedini and we’ll talk.” (2)

But then one would remember Barack Obama is in charge. Defending Americans in danger abroad is a bit alien to him, as we learned in Libya.

Via Bryan Preston, who connects Abedini’s abandonment to his Christianity and draws a parallel to the Obama administrations attacks on religious liberty here. I disagree with Bryan on this: nations have often sacrificed individuals for “reasons of state” when a higher goal was at stake. In the Obama administration’s case, the nuclear deal with Iran was paramount, and if the government was willing to blindside Jewish Israel and Muslim Saudi Arabia with this, they weren’t going to let the fate of Saeed Abedini (or Robert Levinson) stand in the way. It’s shameful and cynical, to be sure, but not religiously motivated.

RELATED: There are several good articles explaining why this deal stinks. At The Weekly Standard, John Bolton calls this “abject surrender.” Writing at PJM, Michael Ledeen points out, among other excellent observations, that the Iranian treasury was almost empty, but we’ve now agreed to give them billions. Genius. Eli Lake at The Daily Beast quotes an expert who says this comes close to a “nuclear 1914 scenario.” How fitting, with the hundredth anniversary of World War I approaching. James Carafano calls this a deal based on a dangerous fantasy — Munich II. My own observation is this: Regardless of the restrictions placed on the Iranian public nuclear program by this deal, if you think there isn’t a secret program run in parallel by the military that is still going full-speed, you’re high.

This deal makes war more likely, not less.

PS: There’s a support page for Pastor Abedini at Facebook, and a web site for Robert Levinson.

Footnote:
(1) Abedini’s offense was compounded by being himself a convert to Christianity from Islam. Under Islamic law, that is the crime of apostasy and is punishable by death. I suppose the Iranians thought they were being merciful for just sticking him in jail for eight years.
(2) Not that I’m a religious person, but I believe very strongly in the natural right of all humans to freedom of speech and religion, and, within very broad bounds, government should stay the heck out. No law is legitimate that oppresses those rights, and an American government that won’t stand up for its citizens’ rights in the face of a tyranny that tramples both is craven.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Shutdown follies: Priests threatened with arrest for ministering to military

**Posted by Phineas

Jeez, first they threaten to arrest 90-year old WW II  veterans for visiting their own monument, now they’re going after priests who dare to hold services during the shutdown:

In a stunning development, some military priests are facing arrest if they celebrate mass or practice their faith on military bases during the federal government shutdown.

“With the government shutdown, many [government service] and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer,” wrote John Schlageter, the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, in an op-ed this week. “During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”

Kansas representative and Army veteran Mike Pompeo (R) is righteously angry:

“The constitutional rights of those who put their lives on the line for this nation do not end with a government slowdown,” Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, a graduate of West Point and an Army veteran, said in a Friday statement. ”It is completely irresponsible for the president to turn his back on every American’s First Amendment rights by furloughing military contract clergy.”

Added Pompeo: “The President’s strategy during the slowdown, just as during the sequestration, is to create as much pain as possible. However, this action crosses a constitutional line of obstructing every U.S. service member’s ability to practice his or her religion.”

I’m not sure I agree with Pompeo’s 1st amendment argument; if there are Catholic churches near the bases, the soldiers can simply be given leave time. Also, while unusual, it is possible to hold a limited service without a priest present. Confession and absolution would be dicier, I imagine, and I’d can’t imagine they’d dare try to arrest a priest there to perform the Anointing of the Sick. But, at a minimum, Catholic personnel are probably feeling a bit picked on. (The article doesn’t say if the same restrictions are being applied to ministers and rabbis.)

But, as with the fiasco over the veterans and access to monuments, you have to ask what is going through the heads of people in the administration who gave this order. The optics are awful enough when the government, in effect, says “Your spiritual well-being is non-essential,” but to say no even to priests who offer to work for free? Really? The Republicans should send Team Unicorn a thank-you card; the campaign commercials on this would be just brutal.

All they need now to complete this is for Harry Reid to issue another one of his caring, empathetic, milk-of-human-kindness statements.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

North Korea: Dictator executes ex-girlfriend for doing porn, owning Bible

**Posted by Phineas

"I've got some bad news, boss..."

“She did what??”

I’ve figured it out: North Korea is the only nation founded on a bad acid trip:

Kim Jong-un’s ex-girlfriend was among a dozen well-known North Korean performers who were executed by firing squad on Aug. 20, reports said Wednesday.

Sources in China said singer Hyon Song-wol as well as Mun Kyong-jin, head of the Unhasu Orchestra, were arrested on Aug. 17 for violating North Korean laws against pornography and were executed in public three days later.

The victims of the atrocity were members of the Unhasu Orchestra as well as singers, musicians and dancers with the Wangjaesan Light Music Band.

They were accused of videotaping themselves having sex and selling the videos. The tapes have apparently gone on sale in China as well.

A source said some allegedly had Bibles in their possession, and all were treated as political dissidents.

According to reports (and we don’t know how reliable they are), Mun and her colleagues were mowed down by a machine-gun firing squad, which I suppose is merciful compared to dropping a mortar round on top of the condemned. And, really, who among us hasn’t at some time, however briefly, fantasized about doing the same to a pain-in-the-neck ex?

The families of the victims were all sent to North Korea’s hellish gulag, par for the course for the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation.

It is good to be King psycho-dictator.

At first glance, the “porn and Bible” angle made me think this was some sort of fake, but it does make a weird sort of sense. Think about it: you live in a police state that takes most of your income and rations how much food you get. You get more than most, but you want more. Well, porn sells.

Plus, and here’s where the Bible comes in, these are acts of rebellion and defiance. Could it be that the sex-videos and Bibles were some weird equivalent to a teen “acting out” against a parent, giving them a sense, however fleeting, of a bit of freedom and individuality? We’ll never know. But, in an atheistic, puritanical, Confucianist-Stalinst state, both uncontrolled sex and religion threaten the totalitarian rule of the individual by the government — they become thought-criminals, a la 1984, and have to be destroyed.

In this case, instead of being grounded, they were shot and their families swept into non-existence.

Final thought: North Korea has to be one of the most thorough internal-surveillance states on the planet. I find it very hard to believe that no one knew this was going on and that it didn’t get back to Dear Leader III before now. As a friend asked, did Kim know, but tolerated it until the new wife found out and demanded “something be done?”

Again, we’ll never know, but anything twisted is possible in North Korea. Especially if it’s twisted.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

NC House Speaker’s office: So-called “state religion” resolution “dead”

Via ABC11/WTVD:

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis’ office said Thursday that a resolution asserting North Carolina has the power to set an official state religion is dead, and won’t go any further.

The resolution, filed by two Republicans from Rowan County, declared “each state is sovereign and may independently determine how the state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion” – thereby claiming the federal government and courts have no authority to decide what is constitutional.

The bill’s primary sponsors were Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, a tea party member. Eleven other legislators signed the resolution. Legislators introduce hundreds or even thousands of resolutions every year, honoring constituents or declaring their stances on issues, but they carry little legal weight.

Warren said in a statement that the bill was only intended to allow Rowan County officials to open their meetings with prayer, not to establish a state religion.

Great. It’s dead. Over. Scrapped. Gone. Done. Can we move on now? Please?

Related: Clearing up confusion on the “NC wants to establish a state religion” nonsense

Clearing up confusion on the “NC wants to establish a state religion” nonsense

A brouhaha is erupting both in this state and nationwide over reports that the state of North Carolina wants to “establish a state religion” by way of a “bill” introduced in the state house. I’m hoping to clear up some confusion about this as our local Democrat-friendly mainstream media seems to want to throw misleading and in some cases false terms around with wild abandon, which further complicates attempts at setting the record straight.

To begin with, the “state” is not trying to “establish a religion.” A few well-intentioned but misguided GOP House members have filed a JOINT RESOLUTION (not a “BILL” – big difference) essentially stating that North Carolina – by way of the 10th Amendment –  does not have to “recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the state of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the state from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.” More from Charlotte station WBTV:

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) – Just days after state lawmakers joined the fight for prayer in “the name of Jesus” before Rowan County Commission meetings, a local church has joined the fight and put its money where its mouth is.

Cornerstone Church has purchased the first of several billboards that show support for commissioners, urging them to continue to pray in the name of Jesus.

“It’s very exciting,” pastor Bill Godair told WBTV on Wednesday.  “I was thrilled about it.”

Godair had tried to donate $10,000 to the county’s legal fund to fight the ACLU, but when the church was told that may not be legally possible, Godair turned to the billboard idea.

On Monday, House Joint Resolution 494, called the Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013, was filed by Republican Representatives Carl Ford and Harry Warren.

Warren represents Rowan County and is in his first term.

Ford represents Rowan and Cabarrus counties. He was on the Rowan County Commission when the American Civil Liberties Union first raised the objection to sectarian prayers at meetings more than a year ago.

The resolution, which would back county commissioner’s use of sectarian prayer in meetings, is co-sponsored by nine other Republican Representatives from across the state.

The proposed resolution says citizens should not lose First Amendment protection “by virtue of their appointment, election, contract, employment, or otherwise engagement,” and “The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the state of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the state from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”

Let me respond to what these GOP reps are doing by saying this: While I can’t stand the ACLU, and I understand the GOP reps in question are trying to protect Rowan County Commissioners and their right to say a prayer before meetings, this is NOT the way to go about doing it. This is a local – and by local I mean COUNTY issue – and should have stayed there.   Let the Rowan Commissioners fight this thing in court – which they’ll have to do, thanks to the ACLU’s lawsuit.  Bringing this resolution before the state legislature has not only complicated the matter, but it’s also bought an unnecessary “outside” microscope to this state, which doesn’t need the distraction.  Furthermore, why bring forth a resolution that would have a strong probability of being struck down by the courts if it was an actual bill passed and signed into law by the Governor (which won’t happen – as resolutions don’t need the Gov’s signature)?  All in all, in spite of the “good intentions” involved here (and you know what they say about “good intentions”), this resolution should be yanked. Period.

Not surprisingly, this resolution has liberals almost literally foaming at the mouth with indignation and “outrage”, with many – including, unsurprisingly, some in our local media – incorrectly calling it a “bill” when it in fact is not a “bill” but a resolution – an important distinction, as explained below:

Resolutions and Bills

Difference between resolutions and bills.

This part is especially key: “a resolution has no life after the term of the session in which it is adopted.” Legislators are in the 2013-2014 legislative year. Their session is up in July. You do the math as to how long this resolution would stay in effect IF it even went anywhere, which it won’t.

I’ve asked the Charlotte Observer’s Andrew Dunn and WRAL’s Laura Leslie, who each did reports on this for their respective news outlets, to please update their stories to alert people as to the differences between a bill and a resolution. Dunn has said he would, but Leslie has yet to respond. I also asked Leslie to correct her report referring to this legislation as a “House Bill.”

What’s important to understand about all of this however, is that the goal was/is never to “establish a state religion.” This was done in response to the ACLU’s push back against the Rowan County Commissioners saying a Christian prayer before public forums, and the GOP legislators merely want them to be able to do that without the ACLU being able to do anything about it. The ACLU and the GOP in this state do not get along, as I suspect is the case in many other states. Even saying that, as noted earlier good intentions oftentimes make for bad law and this one should be shelved/dumped, but in this particular situation I wanted it to be noted how this all started and why, and to assure people that this state is *NOT* trying to establish an “official state religion”, contra to the hyperventilating at the Huffington Post, NBC News, and local news outlets like WRAL and the Observer who either outright imply or report the “seek to establish a state religion” allegation as fact.(1)

(1) I’d even go as far as to say if this WERE a bill and NOT just a resolution, and it happened to pass both the state house and senate, the Governor would very likely veto it.

Update – 6:30 PM: Forgot to mention a couple of notable responses to this “bill” from well-known local Democrats. First up, Chris Fitzsimon at the liberal NC Policy Watch in Raleigh, which describes itself as a “progressive, nonprofit and non-partisan public policy organization” (huh?):


And from Pam Spaulding, NC-based blogger at Pam’s House Blend (part of the nationally known Firedoglake blog), and whose specialty is gay rights issues:


“Teahadists”? “George Wallace” (raaaaaaacism!)? Stay classy, y’all.

Egyptian Muslim cleric threatens Copts with genocide

**Posted by Phineas

It’s that Religion of Peace-thing, you know:

Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-heavy constitution as products of Egypt’s Christians. Recently, Muslim Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazy said in an open rally, as captured on video:

“A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church — by Allah, and again, by Allah — if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter…. our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him.”

More recently, Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim — who earlier praised Allah for the death of the late Coptic Pope Shenouda, cursing him to hell and damnation on video — made another video, entitled, “A Notice and Warning to the Crusaders in Egypt,” a reference to the nation’s Copts, which he began by saying, “You are playing with fire in Egypt, I swear, the first people to be burned by the fire are you [Copts].” The video was made in the context of the Tahrir protests against Morsi: Islamic leaders, such as Hegazy and Ghoneim, seek to portray the Copts as dominant elements in those protests; according to them, no real Muslim would participate. Ghoneim even went on to say that most of the people at the protests were Copts, “and we know you hid your [wrist] crosses by lowering your sleeves.”

The heart of Ghoneim’s message was genocidal: “The day Egyptians — and I don’t even mean the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafis, regular Egyptians — feel that you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the earth. I’m warning you now: do not play with fire!”

And to make that genocide even easier to carry out, he dehumanized them by comparing them to animals:

“Respect yourselves and live with us and we will protect you… Why?… because Allah has forbidden me to be cruel to animals. I’m not trying to compare you to animals … but if I am not cruel to animals or plants, shall I be cruel to a soul created by Allah? You are an infidel in Allah’s sight — and it is for him to judge you. However, when you live in my country, it is forbidden for me to be unjust to you — but that doesn’t mean we are equal. No, oh no.”

Ghoneim can weasel all he wants, but the idea is clearly planted. Copts are inferior, maybe even animals, and if they don’t act like good little dhimmis… If you noticed a resemblance to Germany in the 1930s, your mind wasn’t playing tricks on you.

The Coptic Christmas falls on January 7th this year. You can imagine what a merry season it is for them.

And speaking of Christmas, Islam’s birthplace (maybe…) demonstrated its dedication to tolerance for all by arresting 44 people who were engaged in a hideous plot.

They were planning to celebrate Christmas:

In the latest kingdom-wide crackdown on those who would violate the national religious policy of Islam only, Saudi Vice and Virtue Police arrested 44 on charges of plotting to celebrate Christmas, as reported on Dec. 27, 2012 by the Beirut-based Al-Akhbar news portal.

The raid took place in the northwest province of al-Jawf, at the private residence of an individual identified only as “an Asian diplomat.”

The fiends… It’s a good thing the watchful officers of the Vice and Virtue police were on the job. Who knows what might have happened? They might have sung carols, exchanged good wishes and presents, said a prayer or two — someone might have had a good time!!

Is it any wonder, in the kind of society that develops under Sharia law, that people can speak of another of the world’s major religions, Christianity, as being the most persecuted on the planet and even in danger of extinction in the lands of its birth?

A merry Christmas season and a happy New Year, indeed.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)