Archive for the ‘Freedom of religion’ Category

Obama’s First 100 days: Gag bill for ministers? “God damn America” is O.K., Literal reading of the bible may not be….

April 29, 2009

The House is expected to act on hate crimes legislation Wednesday.

Opponents spoke out against the bill, Tuesday, on Capitol Hill calling it a “gag bill for ministers.”

The legislation adds gay and transgender people to the list of federally protected classes for hate crimes.

Texas congressman Louie Gohmert is a former judge. He says the law already punishes people who commit terrible crimes for any reason.
 hate crimes law, he said, would add nothing but punishment for pastors who preach biblically held beliefs against homosexuality.

“It would not take too many arrests to have an extraordinary chilling affect on some religious teachings with regard to sexual immorality,” Gohmert claimed.

Congressman Clyburn says the law is only meant to keep gay people from being targeted because of their sexuality.

“Nothing in this legislation will stymie the free expression of any religion,” he said.

Opponents are working to amend the legislation to protect pastors.

From CBN News


Bush, In China, Gets Laughs; Talks Freedom of Religion

April 19, 2009

Former President George W. Bush cracked jokes about how he scoops up after his dog on neighborhood walks and then turned to more serious subjects like terrorism and the financial crisis Saturday during his first overseas trip since leaving office.

Bush — in China for the Boao Forum — also shared some of his most unusual moments with leaders, including the time he listened to former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi sing “Hound Dog” while visiting Graceland mansion, home to the late Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee.

The stories drew laughter and applause from the audience in a huge banquet hall at the forum, an annual conference where executives hobnob with global leaders at a resort on China’s southern tropical island province of Hainan. Security was tight and there were no protests.

Bush said after he left the White House and moved into his new home in Dallas, Texas, he decided to take his Scottish terrier Barney for a walk. To be a good neighbor, he said he carried a plastic bag so he could clean up his dog’s droppings. The task seemed ironic to him, he said.

“I was picking up what I had been dodging for eight years,” Bush said.

The former president said after he left the presidency in January, he plopped down on the couch and said, “Free at last.”

But his wife, Laura, piped in: “You’re free to do the dishes,” he said.

After a few other jokes, Bush shifted to more serious topics. Although this was his first trip overseas since leaving office, it was his second speech in a foreign country. Last month, Bush spoke in Calgary, Canada.

On Saturday, he said he would not criticize Barack Obama and wished his successor all the best.

“He was not my first choice, but now that this election was made, it speaks volumes about the United States of America,” Bush said.

He recalled that when the financial crisis began hitting America, he accused Wall Street of getting drunk and giving the country a hangover. Bush said he hoped a more sober economic order would emerge from the global slump.

“Maybe the next time around, there won’t be enough booze,” he said.

The crisis gives the world an opportunity to modernize financial systems, craft smarter regulations for complex financial instruments, create better banking standards and enact more efficient warning systems, Bush said.

“Our economy has been hit hard, but we have the resources and resilience to recover,” he added.

Bush also urged global leaders to continue the struggle against terrorism and to support the young democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But he said the economic center of the world was shifting to Asia, which accounts for 55 percent of the global economy. China will continue to be of high importance to the U.S., he said.

“It’s just mind boggling how this country has changed,” he added.

During past visits to China, Bush urged Chinese leaders to expand religious freedom in the country. He mentioned the issue again Saturday in a low-key, oblique way.

“People who are allowed to worship freely in society,” he said, “are people who are going to be peaceful citizens.”

Fox News

Jackie Chan Urges China To Remain its Restrictive, Controlling, Communist Self: “Freedom is Too Chaotic”

April 18, 2009

BOAO, China —  Action star Jackie Chan said Saturday he’s not sure if a free society is a good thing for China and that he’s starting to think “we Chinese need to be controlled.” 

Chan’s comments drew applause from a predominantly Chinese audience of business leaders in China’s southern island province of Hainan.

By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer

The 55-year-old Hong Kong actor was participating in a panel at the annual Boao Forum when he was asked to discuss censorship and restrictions on filmmakers in China. He expanded his comments to include society.

“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said. “I’m really confused now. If you’re too free, you’re like the way Hong Kong is now. It’s very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic.”

Chan added: “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”

The kung fu star has not been a vocal supporter of the pro-democracy movement in his hometown of Hong Kong. Since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, voters have not been allowed to directly elect their leader. Several massive street protests have been held to demand full democracy, but Beijing has repeatedly said Hong Kong isn’t ready for it.

The theme at Saturday’s panel discussion was “Tapping into Asia’s Creative Industry Potential,” and Chan had several opinions about innovation in China.

He said that early in his career, he lived in the shadow of the late martial arts star Bruce Lee. He said that during his first foray into Hollywood, he struggled to establish his own identity, so he returned to Hong Kong. After spending 15 years building his reputation in Asia, Chan finally got rediscovered by Hollywood, he said.

Chan said the problem with Chinese youth is that “they like other people’s things. They don’t like their own things.” Young people need to spend more time developing their own style, he added.

The action hero complained that Chinese goods still have too many quality problems. He became emotional when discussing contaminated milk powder that sickened tens of thousands of Chinese babies in the past year.

Speaking fast with his voice rising, Chan said, “If I need to buy a TV, I’ll definitely buy a Japanese TV. A Chinese TV might explode.”

Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, right, gestures as he speak while ... 
Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, right, gestures as he speak while Chinese actress Lin Peng look on during a news conference to promote his new film ‘Big Soldier’ in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 2, 2009.(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Georgetown Honors Obama, Not Jesus (There Can Only Be One Messiah….)

April 16, 2009

Apparently there can only be one Messiah: and it isn’t Jesus.  When Barack Obama appeared at Georgetown University this week, a reference to Jesus was covered at the request of the White House….


Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”–symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the “IHS” monogram that had previously adorned the stage at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall was still covered up–when the pediment where it had appeared was photographed by

From CNS:

 Messiah Obama Evokes “Sermon on The Mount” At Georgetown, But Anti-Abortion Advocates Don’t Cede High Ground

A Few Troublesome Signs For Obama


From The Washington Times
When President Obama gave his economics speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday, several folks noticed something was missing.

That “something” was an ancient monogram — the letters IHS — that symbolizes the name of Jesus. It was missing from a wooden archway above the dais in Gaston Hall where the president delivered his 45-minute speech. 

The gold-lettered monogram appeared near a painting of three female figures — symbolizing morality, faith and patriotism — and decorative edging along the wall that spelled out the Jesuit motto “Ad majorem Dei gloriam”—”To the greater glory of God.” Georgetown was founded by the Jesuits.

Some of them may have been turning in their graves in the cemetery across campus at the sight of the missing monogram which looked like a blacked-out space above a blue backdrop and a row of American flags flanking the nation’s chief executive. Was Georgetown selling short its Catholic heritage, we wondered.

I contacted the university this morning to ask why the monogram — in this post-Easter season — was hidden as its absence had been noted by several bloggers, including Dawn Eden — formerly of the New York Post — on her dawn patrol blog

Julie Bataille from the university’s press office e-mailed me that the White House had asked that all university signage and symbols behind the stage in Gaston Hall be covered.

“The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they’ve done for other policy speeches,” she wrote. “Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn’t high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context.”

I also noticed the Free Republic blog had photos comparing “before” and “after” depictions of the unfortunate monogram, which the university covered with what looks like a black cloth. 

Not every Catholic institution would have caved to quite this extent. Victor Nakas, spokesman for Catholic University, e-mailed me to say several presidents have visited CUA and the most recent administration official to speak there was then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

“I can’t imagine, as the bishops’ university and the national university of the Catholic Church, that we would ever cover up our religious art or signage for any reason,” Mr. Nakas wrote. “Our Catholic faith is integral to our identity as an institution of higher education.

I called the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Institute at Georgetown University, who was at the speech, as to what he thought.

“It is more for camera quality than anything else,” he surmised. “They don’t want distractions that would make the eye wander. I don’t think this is motivated by theology, but by communications strategy.”

Students “were dying to get into the hall,” he added. “There is this great enthusiasm for Obama especially among Catholic young people. The conservatives don’t know how to deal with this. 

“The audience wanted to cheer and cheer this very professorial address. He played Professor Obama. He’s a damn good professor but not even he could make economics a barnraiser.”

Julia Duin, religion editor (with lots of help from deputy national editor Victor Morton)


What Others Are Saying:

Imagine if Obama were to give a speech at the Islamic Center of Washington, DC.   Would members of that community approve the covering of the Shahada?

Not only was this step taken by the White House advance team, Obama himself mangled a parable from the Sermon on the Mount about two houses, one built on sand only to be blown away in a storm, and another built on rock impervious to the swirling winds.



Jeremiah Wright
Rev. Jeremiah Wright, addresses the National Press Club April 28, 2008 in Washington, DC. He once said “God damn America” during a “sermon” and was Barack Obama’s spiritual advisor until one year ago…. Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty


Notre Dame President Has No Problem With Obama On Abortions Because The Prez is Not Catholic?

University of Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins said in a letter to trustees that the university’s invitation to President Obama to deliver its commencement speech and receive an honorary degree is in keeping with “both the letter and the spirit” of a 2004 statement by U.S. bishops known as “Catholics in Public Life,” the AP/ reports. Jenkins said that the university’s decision was based on an interpretation of the statement “supported by canon lawyers we consulted, who advised us that, by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of church teaching can act in ‘defiance’ of it.” Under this interpretation, “Catholics in Public Life” would not apply to Obama, who is Protestant.


Notre Dame President Explains Obama Invite

The University of Notre Dame’s selection of President Barack Obama as its commencement speaker follows the “letter and spirit” of a statement passed by U.S. bishops in 2004 and cited frequently by critics as a reason Obama should not have been invited, the school’s president says.

In a letter to trustees, the Rev. John Jenkins said university officials believe the statement, known as “Catholics in Political Life,” refers specifically to honoring Catholics whose actions are not in accord with the church’s moral principles. Obama is Protestant.

Photo of Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C.
Fr. Jenkins

“This interpretation was supported by canon lawyers we consulted, who advised us that, by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in ‘defiance’ of it,” Jenkins wrote in the letter last week. “Moreover, fellow university presidents have told me that their bishops have told them that in fact it is only Catholic politicians who are referred to in this document.”

From the South bend Tribune
Read the rest:


Archbishop “Appalled” By Obama Invitation; Position on Abortion at Issue

Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein has added his voice to “the chorus of faithful Catholics” objecting to the University of Notre Dame’s decision to make President Barack Obama the featured speaker at the school’s May 17 commencement.

In a letter to Notre Dame President the Rev. John I. Jenkins, Buechlein said he was “appalled and embarrassed” by the invitation, given that Obama’s views and actions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research are “blatantly opposed to the Catholic Church’s doctrine.”

Read the rest from the IndyStar:

The University of Notre Dame says its invitation doesn't mean the university agrees with all of Obama's positions.

The University of Notre Dame says its invitation doesn’t mean the university agrees with all of Obama’s positions.

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