September 2010

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is off his meds again. He writes in South Africa’s TimeLive that the University of Johannesburg should sever its academic relationship with Ben-Gurion University in Israel:

I never tire of speaking about the very deep distress in my visits to the Holy Land; they remind me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like we did when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. My heart aches. I say, “Why are our memories so short?” Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their own previous humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon?

Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about all the downtrodden?

What I never tire of doing is reminding people like Desmond Tutu that when Gentiles, and especially Christian prelates, start talking like this, Jews the world over respond, “how dare you lecture us about our history, our religious traditions?”

Together with the peace-loving peoples of this Earth, I condemn any form of violence – but surely we must recognise that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh? Surely resistance also makes us human? Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Starved? Starved? The situation in the Palestinian territories apparently isn’t bad enough for Tutu, he has to start fantasizing about stuff that isn’t even happening. And as for the “nonviolent tools” of resistance that the Palestinians have chosen, I’m sure this guy will be surprised to hear about them.

I support the petition by some of the most prominent South African academics who call on the University of Johannesburg to terminate its agreement with Ben-Gurion University in Israel (BGU). These petitioners note that: “All scholarly work takes place within larger social contexts – particularly in institutions committed to social transformation. South African institutions are under an obligation to revisit relationships forged during the apartheid era with other institutions that turned a blind eye to racial oppression in the name of ‘purely scholarly’ or ‘scientific work’.” It can never be business as usual.

Apparently, UJ should sever its relationship with BGU because they worked together during apartheid. I’m sure that makes sense to Tutu, but it escapes me what kind of moral logic is being employed there.

The Governor of New Jersey has done something that will no doubt bring howls of outrage from the usual suspects (cue Carlton Veazey) but which is long overdue. He has used his veto pen to strike a blow for life. According to LifeNews:

After the New Jersey state Senate defeated an attempt to override the decision of Gov. Chris Christie to cut off state taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood abortion businesses, the first facility run by the national abortion giant is closing.

The Cherry Hill Courier Post newspaper says a Planned Parenthood facility located on Haddonfield Road and operated by Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey will close down.

PP-SNJ stands to lose as much as $160,000 in taxpayer funds because of Christie’s decision and the upholding of his veto. With the closing of the Cherry Hill center, Planned Parenthood customers seeking abortions or other “services” must go to PP centers in Camden, Bellmawr, and Edgewater Park.

Parenthood of Southern New Jersey president Lynn Brown told the newspaper, “We are in think mode and creative mode and we are doing all that we can to try and salvage to see as many people as we need to see.”

“We all know it’s strictly ideological,” Brown said of the funding cuts to the abortion business. “This is a very frustrating and perplexing time for us.”

Cry me a river. Christie saw an opportunity to score a trifecta and he took it. He saved the state some money that desperately needed to be saved; he made a pro-life statement; and he concretely deprived one of the most odious organizations in America of enough of its lifeblood to shut down one of its death factories. Undoubtedly, some women will go to one of the others, but the lack of a close facility may result in some seeking a different way to deal with a crisis pregnancy.

It’s incredible to think that, despite the Hyde Amendment on the federal level, Planned Parenthood’s biggest source of income is the taxpayers. According to National Right to Life:

PPFA took in over $1 billion in revenues from all sources in the fiscal year running July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008. Over a third, nearly $350 million, came in the form of “Government Grants and Contracts”—your tax dollars and mine.

Private donors were responsible for nearly a quarter with “Contributions and Bequests” totaling $244.9 million. “Health Center Income” was the biggest source of revenue (see above) with “Other” bringing in an additional $68.9 million.

Even more striking is this, from Life Decisions International:

PPFA’s income for fiscal year 2006-2007 was $1.018 billion (up 11 percent from 2005-2006), with nearly one-third coming from taxpayers. This “not-for-profit” entity ends virtually every fiscal year with tens of millions of dollars in “excess revenue over expenses” (known to most people as “profit”). The “excess” for 2006-2007 alone was $114.8 million.

Another way to look at this is that Planned Parenthood–an allegedly “non-profit” organization–makes a tidy profit every year (more than 10% of revenues, 3-5 times what those evil insurance companies make) that is made possible by what you and I contribute toward its bottom line.

I’ve said before that federal funding for abortion was not as important as the question of whether abortion is legal at all, and that I wasn’t so sure how effective a strategy it was to focus on keeping the Hyde Amendment in place. I still think that, but I will make an exception: anything that can be done to deprive Planner Parenthood of its blood money is fine by me. Way to go, Governor.

(Via MCJ.)

Normally I wouldn’t link to something like this, but dude. Someone has melded (make that mind melded) two of the nerdiest obsessions of our time to create a three-minute short that has to be seen to be believed (NOTE: Hollywood-type gore warning):

Me, I can’t wait for the feature length film. The only question is whether Leonard Nimoy will play Spock or a zombie.

(Via Hot Air.)

On Saturday, October 2, there’s going to be a march in Washington that sounds like it’s going to consist of far left primal scream therapy. The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church is trumpeting its participation and that of some of its usual allies:

The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society is among a diverse group of supporters of a march on Saturday, Oct. 2, to demonstrate re-commitment to change in the United States. Persons from across the country will gather at the Lincoln Memorial for “One Nation Working Together for Jobs, Justice and Education for All.”

The march will feature faith leaders, environmental and peace activists, human and civil rights leaders, labor leaders, education leaders, celebrities and sports figures gathering to help reorder the U.S.’s national priorities so that investments in people come first.

Some other supporters of the march include American Friends Service Committee, Pax Christi USA, Jewish Funds for Justice, Sojourners, Human Rights Campaign, U.S. Human Rights Network, National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, Interfaith Worker Justice, National Education Assn., AFL-CIO, and Communications Workers of America.

Oh, that’s just a start, folks. This one promises to be the mother-of-all-far-left shindigs. Among the partners the GBCS newsletter does not mention:

ANSWER Coalition (front for Stalinist Workers World Party)

Code Pink

Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

Communist Party USA (CPUSA)

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

Institute for Policy Studies

International Socialist Organization

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays National

People for the American Way

Rainbow PUSH Coalition

School of Americas Watch (SoA Watch)

The Religious Institute

Tikkun-Network of Spiritual Progressives

Unitarian Universalist Association

United Church of Christ

United for Peace and Justice

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

US Peace Council

Win Without War

Working Families Party (ACORN front)

Nice playmates you got there, GBCS–not just garden-variety liberals, but all kinds of totalitarian and anti-Semitic, not to mention anti-Christian, wackos. I also think it’s interesting, not to mention sad, who the formerly staunchly anti-Communist, pro-Israel American labor movement is comfortable associating with these days.

Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be an representation from the National Council of Churches, the Episcopal Church, or the PCUSA, but there’s still time for them to get in on the party.

Several weeks ago, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of World Vision in a potentially important First Amendment case. At issue was the question of whether religious organizations that accept government funds may discriminate on the basis of religion. According to the Heritage Foundation:

The case involves World Vision, a nonprofit Christian humanitarian organization focused on the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision was sued for religious discrimination by two employees it fired after learning that they did not agree with World Vision’s doctrinal beliefs.

As a general rule, federal nondiscrimination law demands that private employers ignore religion in making employment decisions. But the same law includes an accommodation for “a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society.” The question in Spencer v. World Vision was whether World Vision fit this definition and therefore qualified for the accommodation.

For Americans United for Separation of Church and State, however, the question isn’t whether World Vision qualifies for the accommodation–it’s whether the accommodation should be made at all. AU and allies the Interfaith Alliance, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Humanist Association are appealing, and explained why in a press release today:

In a friend-of-the-court brief, AU and allied organizations have asked the judges who decided Spencer v. World Vision, Inc. – or the entire 9th U.S. Circuit – to rehear the case to make it clear that allowing publicly funded groups like World Vision to discriminate in employment on religious grounds raises serious church-state issues.

“Religious groups have the right to impose theological requirements on staff in privately funded positions, but when tax money enters the picture, that must change,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “No one should be denied a taxpayer-funded job for being the ‘wrong’ religion. That makes a mockery of our nation’s commitment to eradicating discrimination.”

The crucial matter here is that AU and its allies believe that eradicating “discrimination”–which is to say, prohibiting the consideration of any and all distinctions that can be made between people in hiring, for instance whether they support the mission and rationale behind a given organization–is more important than religious freedom.

There’s a reason why the accommodation is in the law. Religious organizations are inherently founded in a shared vision, shared mission, and shared beliefs. Agreeing with those shared perspectives are at least as important as being able to do a particular job. For instance, imagine an evangelical church hiring a secretary who it later discovers is an atheist. She’s able to do everything she’s asked to do, but after a short time in the office starts making clear to every person she encounters in the neighborhood (but outside of the office) that she considers what the church stands for to be utter nonsense that no thinking person could possibly accept. Now, say that same church is receiving federal funds to run a ministry to the poor in its community, and that the secretary has duties that intersect with that ministry. By AU’s light, it would be illegal for the church to fire the secretary because of her views. At least that’s the way it sounds to me.

One can make a good case that no religious organization should receive federal funds, and you can make the case from the standpoint of those organizations that they would be better off if they did their work without federal help. It is the situation, however, that the government has expressed a desire to work with religious organizations to achieve certain mutually agreed upon goals. Having done so doesn’t give the government the right or obligation to dictate to otherwise private institutions how they should conduct their operations, including hiring on the basis of agreement with the organization’s perspectives and beliefs. Contending that it does means that every entity that ever receives money from the government ceases to be a private organization and becomes part of the state, a result that no one except those on the far left wants to see happen. The interesting thing is that the government knows that; hence the accommodation in the law. So why don’t AU and their allies?

Hey, how about that McDonald’s two blocks from Ground Zero, Bill? That’s killed, that’s killed more people than the nineteen hijackers.
–“Documentary” filmmaker Michael Moore on the Bill Maher Show

That would be us, at least according to the promoters of one of the weirdest conferences I’ve ever heard of. Called “Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right,” it’s being held on November 6 near Notre Dame University, and will feature the following, uh, somethings:

•Dr. Robert Sungenis: Geocentrism: They Know It But They’re Hiding It
•Mr. Mark Wyatt: Introduction to the Mechanics of Geocentrism
•Dr. Robert Bennett: Scientific Experiments Showing Earth Motionless in Space
•Msr. Rick/Wyn Delano: Scientific Evidence: Earth in the Center of the Universe
•Mr. Martin Selbrede: Answering Common Objections to Geocentrism
•Dr. Gerry Bouw: The Biblical Firmament: Outer Space is Not Empty
•Dr. Robert Sungenis: Galileo and the Church: What Really Happened?
•Mr. John Salza, Esq.: The Fathers and Exegesis of Scripture on Geocentrism
•Dr. E. Michael Jones: English Ideology, Newton & the Exploitation of Science
•Mr. Hugh Miller: Carbon 14 & Radiometric Dating Show Young Earth

The “idea” behind this confab is explained thus:

Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatment of the scientific evidence supporting Geocentrism, the academic belief that the Earth is immobile in the center of the universe. Garnering scientific information from physics, astrophysics, astronomy and other sciences, Galileo Was Wrong shows that the debate between Galileo and the Catholic Church was much more than a difference of opinion about the interpretation of Scripture.

Scientific evidence available to us within the last 100 years that was not available during Galileo’s confrontation shows that the Church’s position on the immobility of the Earth is not only scientifically supportable, but it is the most stable model of the universe and the one which best answers all the evidence we see in the cosmos.

If you happen to have $50 you aren’t using and are in the neighborhood of South Bend, Indiana the first Saturday in November, drop in on Sungenis and Company, and be sure to ask them to autograph your map of the world:

(Via Mark Shea.)

By distinguishing some theology with a modifier — feminist, black, Latin American, eco-, post-colonial, or indigenous, we are playing into the idea that these theologies are special, different — boutique theologies if you will. Meanwhile, unmodified theology — theology without adjectives — thus retains its privileged position as normative. Unmodified theology is accepted as Christian theology, or orthodox theology, or important, normal, basic, real, historic theology.

But what if we tried to subvert this deception? What if we started calling standard, unmodified theology chauvinist theology, or white theology, or consumerist, or colonial, or Greco-Roman theology? The covert assumption behind the modifier post-colonial thus becomes overt, although it is generally more obliquely and politely stated than this:  Standard, normative, historic, so-called orthodox Christian theology has been a theology of empire, a theology of colonialism, a theology that powerful people used as a tool to achieve and defend land theft, exploitation, domination, superiority, and privilege.

If that doesn’t sound disturbing, I’m not writing well or you’re not reading well.

Brian McLaren, “Post-Colonial Theology” in Sojourners

I know that it’s thought rude to speak ill of the dead, but that doesn’t mean one has to praise them, either. Sometimes simply silence would be the best response. I think that’s the case with the passing of the Rev. Lucius Walker last week, but the National Council of Churches doesn’t agree.

During the 1970s, Walker was the NCC’s Associate General Secretary for Church and Society. He was fired from that position for doling out lots of money to “community organizers,” but the NCC doesn’t hold that against him. In fact, they hold him up as a shining example of what the NCC stands for:

The Rev. Dr. Lucius Walker, 80, a former member of the National Council of Churches staff who became a controversial and beloved activist for human rights in the 1960s and 70s and later founded an organization that sent hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to Latin America, including Cuba, died September 7 in his home in Demarest, N.J.

“Lucius is one of several NCC staff members whose contributions to justice and faith we honor with pride,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary. “He did not leave the council in 1978 on a happy note, but today we freely acknowledge that he exemplified the highest standards of the council and we are proud of him….

“Lucius’ rhetoric was often radical and I don’t suppose all our member communions would approve of it,” Kinnamon said. “He frankly regarded U.S. policy in Latin America and Cuba as imperialistic, and he openly violated the embargo rules because he regarded them as unjust and immoral.

“But his credo always was that God anointed Christians to bring good news to the poor, release to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed. He believed we are called to feed the hungry. And these words of Jesus certainly unite the 45 million who relate to NCC member communions.”

About his work after leaving the NCC, the article says this:

Since 1988, Walker had been active in organizing shipments of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplied to Latin America, including Cuba, where his visits violated the U.S. travel embargo countless times. To carry out his mission, he founded an organization of clergy called Pastors for Peace. More than half the organization’s 40 missions have been to Cuba, which has been off-limits to U.S. visitors and businesses since the Kennedy Administration.

Under Walker, IFCO became a successful working partnership of national religious agencies and indigenous community groups involved with funding, field services and leadership training. Represented in its membership were African American, Latino and American Indian interests.

From this, you’d get the idea that Walker was a generous, big-hearted follower of Jesus who opposed injustice wherever he found it, just like the NCC. In fact, Walker was an enabler of those who persecuted Christians, and a big supporter of anyone who opposed the United States. He traveled numerous times to Havana, and in 2000 proclaimed during a speech there, “Long live the creative example of the Cuban Revolution! Long live the wisdom and heartfelt concern for the poor of the world by Fidel Castro!” He traveled frequently to Baghdad in the company of Ramsey Clark to visit his buddy Saddam Hussein, and IFCO is a member organization on the steering committee of the Stalinist group International ANSWER. Discover the Networks goes on to describe IFCO’s “social justice ministry”:

Among the more than 40 groups whose activities IFCO “sponsors,” and on whose behalf it accepts tax-deductible donations, are Refuse and Resist (affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party), the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (which supports the convicted cop killer and leftist icon), Not In Our Name (affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party), and the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, or NCPPF (founded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian). In fact, an IFCO seed grant subsidized the founding of NCPPF.

They’ve also been big fans of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and Hugo Chavez’ Venezuelan dictatorship.

Michael Kinnamon says that Walker “exemplified the highest standards of the council and we are proud of him.” I wonder whether he knows just how accurate that statement is.

The PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network, or IPMN (also known as the Society Of Gentiles Gung-ho for the Interment and Elimination of the State [of Israel], or SOGGIES) is at it again. In relentless pursuit of its mission–to convince Jews that the PCUSA is a harbor for unhinged anti-Semites–the chairman of the “education committee” of SOGGIES, Walter Davis of San Francisco Theological Seminary, writes the New York Times:

From the beginning, political Zionism carried seeds of its own destruction.  Religious Zionism merely calls attention to the tragic flaw in both ideologies:  the conviction that Jews and non-Jews can never live together in peace. Religious Zionism projects this belief into the divine will, thereby sacralizing the mission of the Zionist state.

Don’t you just love it when Gentiles tell Jews what they believe? The Jewish Virtual Library says this of religious Zionism: “Based on a fusion of Jewish religion and nationhood, it aims to restore not only Jewish political freedom but also Jewish religion in the light of the Torah and its commandments. For Religious Zionism, Judaism based on the commandments is a sine qua non for Jewish national life in the homeland.” While there is a minority of religious Zionists (who are themselves a minority of the Jewish population of Israel) that reject co-existence with non-Jews, they have been increasingly rejected by both secular and most religious Zionists. Strong majorities of both secular and religious Zionists want very much to live at peace with non-Jews in and outside of Israel, and will gladly do so when that desire is reciprocated.

Israel’s leaders have demonstrated this conviction by ongoing policies of “transfer.”   As Ben Gurion put it in 1937, “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”

This quote is a fabrication that has been peddled by anti-Israel journalists such as Johan Hari, and has been debunked by historians Benny Morris and Efraim Karsh. And there is no “ongoing polic[y] of transfer.”

Israel already operates a “separate and unequal” system, which Prof. Taub denies.  The only question now is whether Israel will reinforce its system of apartheid cum ethnic cleansing, or develop a democracy for all the inhabitants of historic Palestine. Since the first option is an untenable long-term solution, both choices mean the end of Zionism as a state ideology.

If Israel is practicing “ethnic cleansing,” it is absolutely incompetent at it. Palestinians account for about 20% of Israel’s population, and there are millions more on the West Bank and in Gaza, where the populations are growing. But of course Israel doesn’t practice ethnic cleansing, or apartheid, except in the far left fever swamp imaginings of Davis and his ilk.

Zionism is the belief that, in a hostile world, Jews need a homeland if only for their own self-preservation not just culturally or religiously but even physically, a belief that has been validated countless times in the last century. But to SOGGIES–which, speaking of apartheid, has never uttered a peep about the absolute prohibition on non-Muslims so much as setting foot in Mecca, or the forced expulsions of hundreds of thousands of Jews from predominantly Muslim lands since the end of World War II–the notion of a Jewish state is as abhorrent as the idea that Jews should be able to defend themselves against those who would slaughter them wholesale.

And don’t forget, PCUSAers–this stuff is going on in your name. That letter to the Times was signed:

Rev. Dr. Walter T. Davis

Chair, Education Committee of the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.);

Professor Emeritus, San Francisco Theological Seminary

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