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State Restrictions, Federal Rights Collide in Inmate Abortion Quandry

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

The United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that when state law & federal rights collide, federal rights win. The court ordered the state of Missouri to provide free transportation to a pregnant prison inmate who wants to pay for her own abortion, even though Missouri law says that no state money can be spent on abortion services. Missouri has some of the most strict laws regarding abortion, including a moratorium on using any state funds for abortion services.

The Court said the state did not have to pay for the abortion itself, but that since the right to abortion was constitutionally protected under Roe v. Wade, it must make reasonable accommodation for the woman to obtain the services that she was choosing & paying for.

For the full story: State Must Let Inmate Have Abortion.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

Gov Approved Chinese Catholics Reach Out to Pope

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Politics and Government

Pope Benedict XVI & his Synod of Bishops has heard from a Chinese government sanctioned Catholic bishop that the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the official church, wants to restore some sort of relationship with Rome that will be acceptable both to Rome & to Beijing. Speaking on behalf of his fellow bishops, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun explained, "After long years of forced separation, the overwhelming majority of bishops of the official church have been legitimized by the magnanimity of the Holy Father. Especially in recent years it is becoming ever clearer that the bishops ordained without the approval of the Roman pontiff are accepted neither by the clergy nor by the faithful."

The pope had continued his predecessors' attempts to reconcile, inviting 4 mainland Chinese bishops to attend the synod. The Chinese government forbid them to attend & so their assigned seats have remained empty at the synod.

Any reconciliation would have to dance between the government's insistence on total domination of all its internal organizations, including the Catholic Church, and the Vatican's insistence that the pope has authority of his bishops & church within China.

Since 1951, the Catholic Church that is allowed to operate by the Communist Chinese government has been estranged from its holy father. The Chinese government allowed the church to operate only if its priests & bishops swore their allegience to Beijing rather than to Rome. Since then, the official church has not been recognized by the pope, & the pope has not been recognized by the official church. Nevertheless, a thriving underground,illegal church with loyalty to Rome has continued to exist, with its members & clergy often persecuted, arrested, & even executed. Rome has continued clandestine relationships with the loyal Chinese Catholics while at the same time attempting to reunite the faithful Catholics in the legal church.

For the full story: China: Priests of Official Church Want to be United with Pope.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

LA Catholics Release Priest Sex Abuse Personnel Records

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has released edited personnel files of 126 priests over a 75 year period. The priests have been accused & in some cases convicted or admitted to sexual abuse of minors, whose cases are part of a settlement effort with the diocese. The release confirmed accusations that complaints had been made over many decades from many parishes about the same individuals & that the church had grossly mishandled the situations. Often the claims were discounted, the priest's denials given undue weight, or inadequate steps were taken to care for the victims or to prevent future victimization by the same priests on other children. While some of the inadequacies were more reflective of the times & social consciousness, nevertheless the church itself admits that it should have done more, sooner, & more decisively.

The victims, through their attorneys, had sought the documents for many months & it seemed likely that no financial settlement to the cases could proceed without the disclosure. Legally compelling the diocese to release the records was proving more difficult & time consuming than first expected.

While the disclosure, which will be posted on the Internet by the diocese later this week, is welcomed by the victims, many say that the redactions frustrate their attempts to get a full picture. Raymond Boucher, the lead attorney in the civil case for the victims, commented, "Unfortunately, these files do not contain the full story of the participation by the church in the manipulation & movement of these priests. The full files would show how deep & pervasive the problem was & how much the church put its own interests ahead of those of the children & others who were molested by the priests. That is a broader & deeper story."

The edited files will be posted either on the diocese site or the diocese attorney's site.

For the full story: Church Releases Decades of Sex Misconduct Files.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

Supreme Court Turns Down Witch's Appeal

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Politics and Government

The United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a Wiccan priestess Cynthia Simpson, who wanted the court to rule against Chesterfield County, Viriginia for refusing to accept her services to offer invocations before its public meetings. Simpson had argued that because the clergy asked to give invocations were predominantly Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, the county was unconstitutionally favoring some religion over other religion. Although Simpson had won in her initial suit, she lost when the county appealed to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the county had sufficiently changed its policy by directing invited clerics to refrain from using the name of Jesus in their invocations.

Simpson practices a form of neo-paganism or witchcraft called Wicca, & is a member of a practicing group called the Broom Riders Association, following the traditions of Reclaiming Witches.

For the full story: Wiccan Priestess Loses High Court Appeal.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

AR Episcopal Church Adopts Gay Union Blessing Rite

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is poised to become the first parish of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) to formalize as a ritual blessings for same sex unions in the church. After years of discussions among its leadership & its congregation, St. Paul's has adopted a rite of blessing that will not begin to be used until at least next summer, to give national ECUSA leadership an opportunity to meet on the issue before any blessings are actually conducted.

The ECUSA is part of the international union of Anglicans called the Anglican Communion (AC), which began with the Church of England (CoE), a breakoff from the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation. The AC has endured repeated strife & division over the last several years as some national churches have adopted practices with which many other national churches disagree.

Many AC national churches refuse to ordain women, although that has been accepted in England, Canada, the United States, & some other areas for more than a decade. The ordination of non-practicing homosexual priests has also raised dissent. The consecration as bishop of a homosexual priest in New England in 2003 led to splits within the ECUSA as well as division throughout the AC. For the last several years, individual churches in the Anglican Church of Canada have used rituals to bless same sex unions. (Same sex marriage is legal throughout Canada.)

Same sex marriage is specifically prohibited in Arkansas, where a state constitutional amendment approved by voters last November defines marriage as a union between a man & a woman.

For the full story: Episcopal Church in Fayettevill Supports Blessing for Gay Couples.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

WI Considers Bill to Protect Disabled Preborn Children

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Politics and Government

Saying it will place an unfair burden on mothers of disabled preborn children who should be able to abort their less-than-perfect offspring, NARAL Pro-Choice America is opposing Wisconsin's SB 71, which would disallow civil lawsuits against medical professionals who fail to disclose potential birth defects of preborn children from their parents early enough for the parents to choose to abort their defective children. Under current Wisconsin law, such "wrongful birth" & "wrongful life" lawsuits are permitted. This means that health care providers who could or should have informed the parents may be liable for the costs of caring for the child.

Pro-Life Wisconsin state director Peggy Hamill supports the legislation, pointing out that "Both 'wrongful birth' & 'wrongful life' lawsuits send the dangerous message that people are 'products' that can be rejected if 'quality control' somehow fails."

Pro-Life Wisconsin's director of legislative affairs, Matt Sande, added, "Such lawsuits are hypocritical. The contradict public policy & laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act that affirm & protect the lives of our disabled citizens."

SB71 has passed the Wisconsin State Senate Judiciary Committee by a 3-2 vote, & is anticipated to be passed by the full Senate.

For the full story: Bill Banning 'Wrongful Birth' Lawsuits Advances in Wisconsin.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

LDS, Salt Lake City Prevail Against Suit for Access to Temple Square for Witnessing

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Politics and Government

Appeal of a first amendment case by plaintiffs including the Utah Gospel Mission was denied by the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving standing a decision by a lower court that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the LDS Church, more commonly known as the Mormons) & the city of Salt Lake (UT) had not violated first amendment rights by the city selling its property in front of the LDS temple to the church, which then closed the square to witnessing by non-Mormon religious people.

The original suit was filed by Utah Gospel Mission, the Utah chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City and private citizen Lee Siegel, a former Salt Lake Tribune science reporter. They had argued that the real estate transaction was a subterfuge between the city & the Mormons in an unconstitutional move to keep non-Mormons from exercising their rights to free speech & freedom of religion in the Temple Square, through which thousands of tourists & residents pass on a daily basis, especially tourists viewing the temple & Mormons who use the temple. The city & LDS church had argued that it was a simple real estate transaction, transfering property the city had no use for but that the church wanted for its own use.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which had represented the plaintiffs, has not decided whether to appeal the appeals court decision (3-0) to the Suprememe Court of the United States.

For the full story: Church Pleased with Plaza Ruling, Plaintiffs May Appeal.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

I Surrender All

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Thought for the Day

My dear Lord Jesus, I come to You now to be restored in You – to renew my place in You, my allegiance to You. I come to receive from You all the grace & mercy I so desperately need this day. I honor You as my sovereign Lord. I surrender every aspect of my life totally & completely to You. I give You my body as a living sacrifice; I give You my heart, soul, mind, & strength; & I give You my spirit as well. I cover myself with Your blood – my spirit, my soul, & my body. I ask Your Holy Spirit to restore my union with You, seal me to You, & guide me in this time of prayer. In all that I now pray, I include (my spouse, &/or my children, & all those in my domain ). Acting as their head, by Your permission, I bring them under my authority & covering, & I come under Your authority & covering. Holy Spirit, apply to them all that I now pray on their behalf.

Dear God, holy & victorious Trinity, You alone are worthy of all my worship, my heart’s devotion, all my praise, all my trust, & all the glory of my life. I worship You, bow to You, & give myself over to You in my heart’s search for life. You alone are Life, & You have become my life. I renounce all other gods, all idols, & I give You the place in my heart & in my life that You truly deserve. I confess here & now that it is all about You, God, & not about me. You are the Hero of this story, & I belong to You. Forgive me, God, for my every sin. Search me & know me & reveal to me any aspect of my life that is not pleasing to you, expose any false or unholy agreements I have made, & grant me the grace of a deep & true repentance.

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me & choosing me before You made the world. You are my true Father – my Creator, my Redeemer, my Sustainer, & the true end of all things, including my life. I love You; I trust You; I worship You. Thank You for proving Your love for me by sending Your only Son, Jesus, to be my substitute & representative. I receive Him & all His life & all His work, which You ordained for me. Thank You for including me in Christ, for forgiving me my sins, for granting me His righteousness, for making me complete in Him. Thank You for making me alive with Christ, raising me with Him, seating me with Him at your right hand, granting me His authority, & anointing me with your Holy Spirit. I receive it all with thanks & give it total claim to my life.

Jesus, thank You for coming for me, for ransoming me with Your own life. I honor You as my Lord; I love You, worship You, trust You. I sincerely receive You as my redemption, & I receive all the work & triumph of Your crucifixion, whereby I am cleansed from all my sin through Your shed blood, my old nature is removed, my heart is circumcised unto God, & every claim made against me is disarmed. I take my place in Your cross & death, whereby I have died with You to sin & to my flesh, to the world & to the Evil One. By the power of your death & resurrection, I am crucified with Christ, & I have crucified my flesh with all its passions & desires. By the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, I take up my cross & crucify my flesh with all its pride, unbelief, & idolatry. By the Father’s love, I put off the old man; I now bring the cross of Christ between me & all people, all spirits, all things. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my spouse, and/or my children, and my domain) the fullness of the work of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks & give it total claim to my life.

Jesus, I also sincerely receive You as my new life, my holiness & sanctification, & I receive all the work & triumph of your resurrection, whereby I have been raised with You to a new life, to walk in newness of life, dead to sin & alive to God. I am crucified with Christ, & it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. I now take my place in Your resurrection, whereby I have been made alive in you, I reign in life through You, I now put on the new man in all holiness & humility, in all righteousness, purity, & truth. Christ is now my life, the One Who strengthens me. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my spouse, &/or my children, & my domain) the fullness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks & give it total claim to my life.

Jesus, I also sincerely receive You as my authority & rule, my everlasting victory over Satan & his kingdom,. I receive all the work & triumph of Your ascension, whereby Satan has been judged & cast down, his rulers & authorities disarmed. All authority in heaven & on earth is given to you, Jesus, & I have been given fullness in You, the Head over all. I take my place in your ascension, whereby I have been raised with You to the right hand of the Father & established with You in all authority. I bring Your authority & Your kingdom rule over my life (that of my spouse, &/or my children, & my domain). Now I bring the fullness of Your work – Your cross, resurrection, & ascension – against Satan, against his kingdom, & against all his emissaries & all their work warring against me (my spouse, &/or my children, & my domain). Greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world. Christ has given me authority to overcome all the power of the Evil One, & I claim that authority now over & against every enemy. I banish them in the name of Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my spouse, &/or my children, & my domain) the fullness of the work of the ascension of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks & give it total claim to my life.

Holy Spirit, I sincerely receive You as my Counselor, my Comforter, my Strength, & my Guide. Thank you for sealing me in Christ. I honor you as my Lord & I ask you to lead me into all truth, to anoint me for all of my life, walk, & calling. I ask You to lead me deeper into Jesus today. I fully open my life to You in every dimension & aspect – my body, my soul, & my spirit – choosing to be filled with You, to walk in step with You in all things. Apply to me, blessed Holy Spirit, all of the work & all of the gifts of Pentecost. Fill me afresh, blessed Holy Spirit. I receive You with thanks & give you total claim to my life (my spouse, &/or my children, & my domain).

Heavenly Father, thank You for granting me every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. I receive those blessings into my life today, & I ask the Holy Spirit to bring all those blessings into my life this day. Thank you for the blood of Jesus. Wash me once more with His blood from every sin & stain & evil device. I put on Your armor – the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation. I take up the shield of faith & the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. I wield these weapons, not by my own strength, but by Yours, against the Evil One. By your mercy, I choose to pray at all times in the Spirit, to be strong in You, Lord, & in Your might.

Father, thank You for Your angels. By Your permission & Your authority, I summon them by Jesus Christ, who releases them to war for me (my spouse, &/or my children, & my domain). May they guard me at all times this day. Thank You for those who pray for me; I confess I need their prayers, & I ask You to send forth Your Spirit to rouse them, unite them, & raise up their full canopy of prayer & intercession for me. By your strength & grace I call forth the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ this day, on earth as it is in heaven, thoughout my life (my home, spouse, &/or children, & my domain).

I pray all of this in the Name of Jesus Christ, with all glory, honor, & thanks to the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

CA Governor Vetoes Same Sex Marriage Legislation

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Politics and Government

Although the legislation was passed by both houses of the Democrat-controlled California legislature, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger followed through on his promise to veto the bill that would have legalized same sex marriage in California. AB849 deleted "a man & a woman" from California's marriage law, replacing the term with "two persons."

The veto is not expected to be overturned, & a variety of ballot initiatives & other forms of campaign are planned or underway by advocates of both sides of the issue.

For the full story: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Same-Sex Marriage Bill.


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

First Comes Baby, Then Comes Marriage?

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Cults, Religions, and Faith Traditions

In an effort to stem the tide of the majority of black American families, in which the parents never marry, a church in New York City has performed a "Marry Your Baby's Daddy" group marriage ceremony at which 10 black couples who had children together joined in marriage.

The ceremony was encouraged by Maryann Reid, author of Marry Your Baby Daddy, a steamy, sexy novel about 3 young black single mothers who must convince their children's fathers to marry them in order to inherit their grandmother's $3 million estate -- without telling the dads about the money. The new St. Martin's Press book is not an advice, social commentary, or self-help non-fiction essay, but a creative endeavor providing an entertaining story with a provocative social challenge. Reid's previous published fiction, Sex & the Single Sister & Use Me or Lose Me: A Novel of Love, Sex, & Drama, share with Baby Daddy the genre of African-American erotic contemporary romance. But this newest book has a greater agenda than simply gracing the nightstands of black women who enjoy a good romance novel. "Single parenthood [among African-Americans] is very much accepted as the norm & being married is looked at as unusual," Reid, who is African-American, explained. Thursday's ceremony, she continued, "gives me hope that our future generations can possible see this & break the cycle of broken homes."

Rev. Herbert Daughtry of House of the Lord Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn, NY, which is known for its activism for black causes & advancement nationally & internationally, performed the weddings.

For the full story:


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Most Recent Post: 12/31 07:00PM by

The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26