Sunday, November 06, 2005

Stopping the Tragedy of Modern Slavery

Around the world, roughly 27 million people—including 8.4 million children—are trapped into lives of slavery by threat of violence. By comparison, that's the combined populations of New Jersey and New York state. According to the CIA, 100,000 slaves live in the U.S.

See my original post: "International Slave Trade – Where’s the Outrage?"

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Why Did Child Molesters Remain on the Altar?

Who is Worthy of Holy Communion?

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

Since 2002, stories about priests sexually abusing children and young people have flooded the news. These men were often returned to ministry after counseling. All too frequently, they also returned to committing grave crimes against children -- even as they celebrated the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the heart of the Catholic faith. The Second Vatican Council described this Sacrament as “the source and summit of Christian life.” Broadly stated, those who receive Communion and celebrate Mass must be in a state of moral worthiness.

According to Catholic teaching, the bread and wine consecrated at Mass are mystically transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1333). Priests stand at the altar in the person of Christ (Catechism, 1548). By invoking the Holy Spirit, they consecrate wafers and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Because of the holiness and centrality of this Sacrament, the Church sets precise rules for who can receive Communion.

According to the Church’s Code of Canon Law (916): “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess.” [Emphasis mine.]

Canon 1395, Paragraph 2, states that a cleric who has committed a sexual offense “by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants.”

Read more of this article.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Nation of Islam Beliefs vs. Mainstream Islam

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

The Nation of Islam beliefs are significantly different from those held by mainstream Muslims. Here is a brief overview.

Nation of Islam

“We believe that Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard Muhammad, July, 1930; the long-awaited 'Messiah' of the Christians and the "Mahdi" of the Muslims (NOI Web site).”

Mainstream Islam

God has never taken human form.

Nation of Islam

“The Master was preaching this Great Truth of salvation when He met a man named Elijah Poole in Detroit, Michigan. He chose him to be His Divine Representative in continuing this most difficult task of bringing truth and light to His lost and found people. For 3 1/2 years He taught and trained the Honorable Elijah Muhammad night and day into the profound Secret Wisdom of the Reality of God, which included the hidden knowledge of the original people who were the first founders of civilization of our Planet and who had a full knowledge of the Universal Order of Things from the beginning of the Divine Creation (NOI Web site).”

Mainstream Islam

Muhammad was the last prophet of God. “God's final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel,” states

Nation of Islam

Originally, all people were black and followed Islam. The center of their world was Mecca. Dr. Yacub, a troublemaker exiled from Mecca, created white people. Whites were destined to persecute blacks until the appearance of Master W.F. Muhammad. Through his messenger Elijah Muhammad, God would provide knowledge to free blacks from their oppression. (The National Review)

White people are a race of devils. “Is it wrong to attribute a predisposition to wheat before it comes up out of the ground? Wheat's characteristics and nature make it wheat. It differs from barley because of its nature. Wheat perpetuates its own characteristics just as the white race does. White people are born devils by nature. They don't become so by deeds. If you never put popcorn in a skillet, it would still be popcorn. Put the heat to it, it will pop. (Malcolm X, Playboy interview, May 1963, pre-conversion to mainstream Islam)”

Mainstream Islam

God created man from a single man and woman. Quran, Yusuf Ali translation, Chapter 4:1: ‘ O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you.”

Nation of Islam

“We believe in the resurrection of the dead--not in physical resurrection--but in mental resurrection. We believe that the so-called Negroes are most in need of mental resurrection; therefore they will be resurrected first. (NOI Web site)”

Mainstream Islam

“I do call to witness the Resurrection Day. (Quran 71:1)”

“Has not He, (the same), the power to give life to the dead? (Quran 71:40)”

“If any do deeds of righteousness--be they male or female--and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them. Quran 4:124)”, "What Do Muslims Believe?"
Nation of Islam, The Muslim Program
Nation of Islam, history
Beliefnet, Nation of Islam beliefs, National Review story, 1994, Playboy interview

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Farrakhan’s Baggage: What’s All the Fuss?

Minister Louis Farrakhan's portrait from The Final Call, a Nation of Islam publication.

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan acknowledges that he has baggage. But after his Millions More March, he enjoys more mainstream popularity among African-Americans than ever.

The Urban League, NAACP, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton supported the Millions More rally, as did celebrities Will Smith, P. Diddy, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Russell Simmons, and Kanye West.

Just before his Oct. 15 Washington, D.C., rally, Farrakhan appeared on Tavis Smiley’s PBS talk show.

Smiley asked: “… How do you respond to people who say … how can y'all rally around Louis Farrakhan?”

The NOI leader responded, in part: “Today, the condition of the masses of the black and the brown and the poor is such that in my heart, I knew we had to do something about this, so I'm making the call on the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. … I … have made that call, in spite of the baggage that I carry and our disagreements as human beings. ... So I believe, in spite of what they [his critics] say, I would remind them that Jesus said, ‘You can tell a tree by the fruit it bears.’ And if the message is good, the messenger can't be bad.”

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Kinder, Gentler Louis Farrakhan?

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

Ten years after the Million Man March drew massive crowds to the Mall in Washington, D.C., Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Minister Louis Farrakhan returned to the nation’s capital on Sunday (Oct. 16) to promote his Millions More Movement, CNN reported. This time, men, women, and children of all races were invited.

Farrakhan, a 72-year-old cancer survivor, is trying portraying himself as a unifier. His stated aim is to build a political movement targeted at African-Americans, Native Americans, other people of color, and poor people of all races. The Chicago Tribune quoted Farrakhan as stating: "If we don't make the movement inclusive, then we minimize the potential of leveraging the power of black, brown, red and poor."

No crowd estimates were offered, but the gathering was described as smaller than the Million Man March, which drew between 600,000 and 1 million people, CNN reported.

Farrakhan has a loyal core of support in the Nation of Islam and broader popularity among many African-Americans. U.S. Rep. Mel Watts, D-N.C., singer Erykah Badu, and the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were among the speakers at his rally, CNN said. The socially conservative Farrakhan had even agreed to allow gay activist Keith Boykin of the National Black Justice Coalition to take the platform during the 12-hour event, the Advocate (a gay magazine) reported. But at the last moment, Boykin was barred from speaking, sparking anger among gays gathered for the event, the New Standard reported.

But Farrakhan's true purpose remains enigmatic.

Read more of this article.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

How Much More Can U.S. Catholics Take?

Cardinal Roger Mahony, above, has been head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for 20 years.

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

The never-ending story of children and teens abused by priests and other church officials has opened yet another revolting chapter. This time, it’s Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest.

The archdiocese released summaries of personnel records that show it allowed at least eight priests who had been the targets of complaints to remain in active ministry and in contact with children, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday (Oct. 12).

One case involved Father Richard Henry. During the Eighties, the archdiocese received three complaints about Henry, including one from a nun. The sister, who served Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, reported in 1988 that Henry “was partial to boys,” the Times stated.

When that report was made, Cardinal Roger Mahony, the current head of the archdiocese, had been in his post for three years. Henry was allowed to seek therapy and continue in ministry. After a sheriff’s department investigation, Henry pleaded no contest in 1991 to four counts of lewd contact with a child. He served three years behind bars, the Times reported.

The archdiocese faces more than 560 lawsuits from people who allege they were sexually abused as minors. At least 245 clerics are involved. The archdiocese had previously put the number at 219. Seven priests who have been the target of complaints are still in active ministry.

Read more of this article.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

Healing With Animals

By Jan Fredericks, M.A., L.P.C.

Animals and people have always shared a special relationship with each other. With the increase of information concerning animals and their ability to heal people psychologically, spiritually and physically, we are becoming more aware of our relationship with all animals in our society.

To understand our culture and how it affects our thinking and values, we need to look at our original relationship with animals. The Creator made all living beings with nefesh chayah, Hebrew for living soul. ( I believe all animals will live eternally.) God gave us dominion over animals, which theologians interpret as being good stewards with compassion. In its context, all life lived in harmony (see Genesis 1:26), and we were made in God's image. All life (human and animal) was also given a plant-based diet (see Genesis 1:29-31a). In Genesis chapter 2:18-19, after God said, “It is not right that the man should be alone,” animals were created. Woman was made as the suitable helper for man and all lived together in harmony.

But, after sin entered the world, the animal/human relationship suffered greatly and has sped on a downward spiral to where we are today. We became desensitized and have failed to restore the harmonious relationship we once had. After the flood, God caused animals to fear man (Genesis 9:2) and Old Testament laws were made to teach compassion for animals. (Article continues.)

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Gays Said to Dominate Seminaries

In two 2002 articles, Phil Brennan of writes that gay men dominate many seminaries and that homosexual activity between students is widespread. As a result, orthodox Catholics are driven away.
  • Good Men

  • Homosexual Culture

  • In a 2004 article, Michael S. Rose writes about a scandal at an Austrian seminary, where a rector and student openly made out at a party. Using a small digital camera, a Polish priest recorded the inappropriate behavior. A subsequent investigation revealed that seminary computers had been used to download 40,000 pornographic pictures. The images included pedophilia and beastiality.
  • The Catholic Church's Abu Ghraib

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  • Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    Does Barring Gay Priests Solve Abuse Problem?

    By Lisa Haddock
    NJ Faith Forum Editor
    (Copyright Lisa Haddock, 2005; please cite my name, blog, and sources if quoting.)

    Does keeping gay men out of seminaries solve the sexual-abuse crisis the Catholic Church is facing? The short answer is no, but the reasons are more complex. They deserve a lengthy discussion.

    The scandal that broke in 2002 is no doubt driving this attempted purge, which is based on a 1961 Vatican pronouncement.

    “Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty [sex between men and boys], since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers,” the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious wrote. This document, “Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders,” is part of Canon Law Digest 5.

    In response to the scandal, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops commissioned a study; experts found that 81 percent of victims sexually abused by priests were boys, Catholic News Service reported. This percentage, as I will discuss later, is more than double the typical rate for boy victims.

    Read more of this article.
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    Friday, September 30, 2005

    Sex-abuse victims suffer legal setback

    Victims of sexually abusive priests in Pennsylvania lost a battle to let them sue dioceses over old assault cases, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday (Sept. 29). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected their suit (Meehan v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia), which pushed for a suspension of the statute of limitations on the grounds that dioceses concealed the commission of these crimes. Under Pennsylvania law, victims must file suits by the time they reach age 30.

    The case, filed on behalf of 18 victims, was a victory for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. A recent grand jury report lambasted the archdiocese for deliberately concealing the sexual abuse of minors by priests. The state Supreme Court ruling protects all dioceses in the state from similar lawsuits, the Inquirer reported.

    David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) stated: “This is a setback for public safety, a victory for child molesters, a relief for duplicitious bishops, and yet another heartbreak for those want to warn families about dangerous predators and who have been and are deeply wounded because of abusive clergy and complicit church officials.

    “There's just one remedy now: State lawmakers must open a ‘window’ so that the victims of horrific sex crimes and deception can have their day in court, expose their abusers, safeguard children, and get justice,” Clohessy said in a statement posted on SNAP’s Web site Wednesday (Sept. 28).

    SNAP statement
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    Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    Beyond the High Holidays

    By Rabbi Baruch Price
    Director, The Jewish Learning Experience
    Teaneck, N.J.

    Editor’s note: Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year 5767) begins at sundown Monday (Oct. 4). Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) will begin at sundown Oct. 12.

    According to our tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the anniversary of the creation of mankind. This indeed is a significant event deserving commemoration and perhaps even a little celebration (although a brief survey of the world around us leaves much doubt whether man’s creation is a cause for celebration). However, even a superficial glance at the way Jews observe Rosh Hashanah will leave an objective onlooker perplexed.

    The day is joyous, but bears no resemblance at all to the raucous reveling that characterizes the secular New Year. There is a palpable mood of sobriety, perhaps even anxiety. Why does it have to be so serious? Why don’t we Jews just “chill” and enjoy the party? The secular New Year is the celebration of the recurrence of an arguably arbitrary date. Perhaps people are celebrating the fact that they have survived another year; perhaps they are celebrating the potential of the coming year; perhaps they have absolutely no idea why they are celebrating at all, but why not throw a party anyway?

    There seems to be a universal, innate human need to mark time. We need a frame of reference by which we can measure and organize our lives. Rosh Hashanah furnishes this, just as New Year does, but it possesses a dimension that goes way beyond the pragmatism of providing a beginning and end point for our wall calendars.

    Rosh Hashanah is not just a measure of passing time, but is the yardstick of our moral and spiritual development.

    Read more of this article.

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    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    Victims’ Group Weighs in on Sex Abuse Report

    SNAP – the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests – has posted a report criticizing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. SNAP and other reform groups are unhappy with the archdiocese’s efforts to deny that its leadership deliberately covered up the sexual abuse of minors by priests. A Philadelphia grand jury report directly accused two previous cardinals of intentionally hiding the criminal behavior of abusive priests.

    Read my original post: Cardinals Implicated

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    Friday, September 23, 2005

    Cardinal’s Remarks Upset Catholic Reformers

    Cardinal Justin Rigali's coat of arms. The Latin motto means "the Word was made flesh," a phrase from the Gospel of St. John.

    By Lisa Haddock
    NJ Faith Forum Editor

    When a grand jury report blasted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s response to sexually abusive priests, Cardinal Justin Rigali and other church officials deflected some of the criticism.

    That reaction has saddened Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), a lay group formed in response to the sex abuse crisis.

    A grand jury report accused Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and John Krol of deliberately covering up sexual abuse committed by priests. Although he apologized for the harm done to the victims, Rigali said the report unfairly criticized his predecessors. An official archdiocesan response also tried to punch holes in the grand jury’s findings.

    “It’s time for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and for dioceses across the country to stop ‘shooting the messenger’ and to get their house in order,” VOTF President Jim Post said in a statement posted Sept. 21 on the group’s Web site. “Catholics cannot have accountability in our Church without the commitment of its leaders.”

    The group, which formed three years ago in Newton, Mass., is urging all lay Catholics to demand accountability from their leaders.

    To read the entire VOTF statement, click below:
  • VOTF

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  • Cardinals Implicated

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  • Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Cardinals Implicated in Sex Abuse Cover-up

    Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has criticized the grand jury report that condemned his predecessors. This portrait of Rigali was taken during his tenure as Archbishop of St. Louis.

    By Lisa Haddock
    NJ Faith Forum Editor

    A Philadelphia grand jury has accused Cardinals John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua of knowingly covering up sexual abuse committed by 63 priests from 1967 to 2002, the Washington Post reported Thursday (Sept. 22). The abuse allegations involve hundreds of children.

    Krol and Bevilacqua both served stints as heads of the archdiocese. Krol, who died in 1996, served from 1961 to 1988. Bevilacqua, who retired two years ago, served from 1988 to 2003. Bevilacqua retains the title of “archbishop emeritus.”

    According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the report stated: "In its callous, calculating manner, the archdiocese's 'handling' of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself."

    Among the most heinous cases reported, a priest repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl and then took her for an abortion after she became pregnant.

    In a 2002 Dallas meeting, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops established a policy requiring that any priest suspected of sexual abuse be removed from ministry. The policy mandates that the accusations be credible.

    The Philadelphia Archdiocese allowed 10 accused abusers to continue in ministry even after the 2002 meeting. Two currently remain in active service, the Post reported.

    To read MORE of this article, click below:
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  • Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Investigation Targets Unitarians, Racism

    This Unitarian Universalist ad proclaims the movement's opposition to discrimination. Copyright the Unitarian Universalist Association (used by permission).

    By Lisa Haddock
    NJ Faith Forum Editor

    The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is soul-searching after alleged racist incidents occurred during the movement’s General Assembly, the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth, Texas, reported.

    UUA President Rev. Bill Sinkford appointed a commission to investigate allegations of racist treatment toward young non-white convention delegates during the meeting, held in June in Fort Worth, Texas.

    In an apology posted in July on the denomination’s Web site, UUA Secretary Paul Rickter stated: “We have been disturbed by reports of other unfortunate incidents during General Assembly within our own Unitarian Universalist family, in which some UU youth of color were made to feel that they were not welcome.”

    The statement describes a verbal altercation involving an adult delegate and young non-white members.

    “Based on the reports of witnesses … a UU adult … questioned their right to be there, provoking an angry response from the youth.”

    A minister jumped into the fray to defend the adult. A young white attendee spoke up in defense of the youth of color. The young white delegate and minister exchanged heated words, according to the statement.

    “This was not the only incident,” Rickert’s letter continues. “We have also heard that on several occasions in Fort Worth , white UUs assumed that UU youth of color were hotel service people and asked them to carry luggage or park cars. We are troubled that some UUs may have treated other UUs as if they did not belong among us. We can and must do better.”

    Ironically, the 200,000-member, Boston-based association strongly condemns discrimination. The UUA’s statement of purpose says, in part: “The Association declares and affirms its special responsibility, and that of its member societies and organizations, to promote the full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, age, or national origin.”

    To read the letter describing racist incidents:
  • Paul Rickert letter

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  • Friday, September 16, 2005

    Archbishop Wants Seminaries to Bar Gays

    The Most Rev. Edwin O'Brien's portrait from his archdiocesan Web site.

    By Lisa Haddock
    NJ Faith Forum Editor

    A high-ranking Catholic prelate wants to ban gay men from seminaries.

    Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, who is supervising a Vatican-mandated investigation of U.S. seminaries, says he wants all gay men out of seminaries. The investigation comes in the wake of the sexual-abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in the U.S. Most of the abuse victims who have come forward are male.

    "I think anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary," O’Brien said in an interview with the National Catholic Register.

    O’Brien, who is head of the Archdiocese of the U.S. Military Services in Washington, D.C, said that even gay men who had been celibate 10 years or more should be barred from the priesthood.

    In news reports, Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), stated that by focusing on priests, the church is overlooking the role that the bishops played in the scandal.

    In 2004, O’Brien fired Air Force chaplain Thomas Doyle, who had been aiding sexual abuse victims in their legal cases and speaking out on their behalf. In an interview with the New York Times, Father Doyle refused to say that his removal was related to his advocacy work. ''I don't think it would be fair for me to say yes it is, no it isn't,'' he said.

    But he acknowledged that his work had not been well received by many bishops, the Times reported.


  • Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

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  • Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Faith Requires Compassion Toward Animals

    By Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.

    Editor's note: This item was originally posted as a comment on the PETA article.

    As author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism" and a longtime advocate of better treatment of animals, I agree that PETA’s methods are often insensitive and counterproductive.

    However, while its methods sometimes deserve criticism, PETA does put a necessary spotlight on animal-based diets and the horrors of factory farming, and these are issues that religious communities should address. The widespread production and consumption of animal products contradict religious mandates to protect our health, treat animals compassionately, preserve the environment, conserve resources, and help feed the hungry.

    Also, the raising of over 50 billion farmed animals annually worldwide on factory farms contributes significantly to global climate change, water shortages, and many environmental problems that threaten humanity. Hence, our diets and the ways we treat animals should be put squarely on religious agendas, not as a concession or favor to PETA, but because our religious teachings demand it and global sustainability requires it.

    To visit read more about Dr. Schwartz, click below:

  • To read the original PETA piece, click below:
  • PETA

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  • Sunday, September 11, 2005

    PETA Campaigns Anger Religious Groups

    This PETA ad has angered the Catholic League.

    By Lisa Haddock
    NJ Faith Forum Editor

    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is known for its provocative ad campaigns. Once again, the Arlington, Va.-based organization’s recent flyers have caused anger, Religion News Service reported Sept. 7. This time, religious groups are protesting.

    In the items considered objectionable, the following images have been used:

    -- Lab monkeys are compared victims of Nazi experimentation.
    -- A picture of a concentration camp’s sleeping quarters, filled with prisoners, is juxtaposed with a chicken coop. The slogan says: “To animals, all people are Nazis.”
    --The Virgin Mary is shown with a dead chicken. The slogan says: “Go Vegetarian. It’s an Immaculate Conception.”

    The Catholic League and the Anti-Defamation League have condemned the flyers. Earlier in the year, PETA had agreed to stop using holocaust imagery after complaints from Jewish groups.

    Last year, PETA stirred controversy by secretly videotaping kosher slaughter practices at an Iowa plant. The extremely graphic and disturbing video may still be viewed on the PETA Web site. Jewish authorities maintain the slaughterhouse adhered to kosher practices, which demand that an animal’s throat be slit by a very sharp knife. The process should inflict the least suffering possible. (Islamic dietary laws require similar slaughter processes.) As a result of the video, changes were made at the plant.

    In the past, images of kosher slaughter have been used for sinister purposes. The 1940 notorious Nazi propaganda film “The Eternal Jew” (“Der Ewige Jude”) used similar images to whip up hatred of Jews. During the kosher slaughter scene, the narration states, in part: “Jewish law has no love and regard for animals in the Germanic sense. Jews refuse to put a suffering animal out of misery. … These pictures prove the cruelty of this form of slaughter. It reveals the character of a race which conceals the brutality beneath a cloak of pious religious practices.”

    Note: The Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds that the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, was conceived without original sin. It is considered an infallible teaching of the church. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians venerate Mary as the Mother of God.

    PETA's kosher slaughterhouse video. WARNING: EXTREMELY DISTURBING CONTENT.
    Jewish response to PETA view of kosher slaughter practice, Jewish response
    Orthodox Union response to Iowa slaughterhouse procedures, Orthodox Union
    Stills and text from “The Eternal Jew” (including kosher slaughter scene),

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    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    New Orleans: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

    By Nancy Palmstrom, M.S.

    Nancy Palmstrom is an aquatic ecologist with 20 years of experience in aquatic resource assessment, restoration, and permitting. Her areas of technical expertise include water resource modeling, ecological risk assessment, discharge permitting and aquatic resource restoration programs.

    Beyond the rhetoric, beyond claims of racism, beyond partisan politics, there are a few facts that may help put the speed and effectiveness of the response to Katrina in perspective. After watching the news coverage of the disaster and witnessing the devastation and human suffering, it is easy ask why aren't we doing more? Why can't we help these people?

    Many factors are at play in the current events that have unfolded in the last week. Among them are:

    *The scale of devastation.

    *The level of preparedness of residents.

    *What was known about the risks and what was done about it.

    *The slow pace of bureaucracy.

    Read more of this article.

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    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Where is God When Disaster Strikes?

    By the Rev. Charles Austin

    The writer is a retired pastor and newspaper reporter.

    We are now hearing the questions always asked after a disaster. “Where was God as Hurricane Katrina destroyed lives and property last week? Doesn’t God care? Why did God do this?”

    People always ask those questions, but they are the wrong questions.

    However, one of those questions does have an answer. “Where was God last week?” God was in the hearts and minds of believers who suffered; God was sharing their sorrow, grief and loss. God was in the hearts and minds and bodies of people who did brave things to rescue others, to provide aid and comfort and give others strength to go on in horrible circumstances. God was--and is--in the prayers and aid that the rest of the country and the world will send to the devastated area.

    God is not off on vacation. God was there: instantly, continuously.

    Those other questions--Doesn’t God care? Why did God do this?--are the wrong questions. We want to ask them, but they are the wrong questions.

    Read more of this article.

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    Is Racism to Blame for Hurricane Response?

    New Orleans, La., Aug. 31, 2005 -- Evacuees, carrying what few posessions they are able to save from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, exit a rescue helicopter and head for the main staging area. Thousands of city residents were left stranded by the storm that struck the area on Aug. 29. New Orleans is being evacuated following Hurricane Katrina and rising flood waters. Photo by Win Henderson / FEMA photo.

    Two prominent African-American religious leaders are charging that the federal response to the crisis in New Orleans is rooted in racism. The population of New Orleans is approximately 67.3 percent African-American, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    From the Rev. Jesse Jackson:

    "The president has not put together a federal program or a coordinated effort to address this massive crisis. Mr. Bush came today and did what can be described as a ceremonial tour of the area. He would not touch the ground in New Orleans where suffering black people are dying.”

    “President Bush has come very late with very little.” Jackson described the scene in New Orleans as looking like “the hull of a slave ship.”

    From the Rev. Al Sharpton:

    "The question is why has it taken the government so long to get in. I feel that, if it was in another area, with another economic strata and racial makeup, that President Bush would have run out of Crawford a lot quicker and FEMA would have found its way in a lot sooner."

    Meanwhile, black members of Congress were hesitant to raise racial issues.

    "The issue is not about race right now," said Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, during a news conference covered by CNN.

    Jackson quotes in context, Rainbow/Push Coalition
    Sharpton quotes in context, Interview with Keith Olbermann
    Black lawmakers' responses, CNN

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    Wednesday, August 31, 2005

    Venezuelan Blasts President Chavez

    Above, Cuba's Fidel Castro, left, embraces Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez.

    Editor’s note: Fearing for her family’s safety in Venezuela, the author has asked that only her first name be used.

    By Jackie
    A Venezuelan living abroad

    Hugo Chavez believes that Cuba lives in the "sea of happiness" and wants to transport those ideas of "revolutionary democracy" -not communism according to him- into Venezuela. In the meantime, people die in Caracas because they don't have oxygen, but he spent $256 million in a live program from Cuba that lasted 6 hours, just talking.

    To gain the support of other leaders in the region, he keeps signing agreements, buying products from other countries, and in his country people are in extreme poverty. He said it is good to be poor, and the "solutions" are only temporary things that don't really solve problems.

    For the past years, he's been saying that U.S.A. is trying to kill him, and yet he has never met President Bush face to face. He's pissed he is not recognized as a president by the White House.

    And his friendship with Fidel Castro is very strong: He sends to Cuba 95,000 oil barrels a day, with much lower prices (which Castro hasn't paid). In exchange, Castro sent medical doctors to Venezuela, to teach the marvels of Cuba. The only thing is that many of those doctors have escaped from Venezuela to Miami searching for asylum.

    On top of that, Chavez has control of ALL the powers in the country, specially the electoral institution that cheated everybody with fixed machines that allowed only up to certain number of votes to be against him. There is a very high level of corruption, and the crime indexes are the highest in history, as well as emigration. Everybody that can is leaving or left already.

    So, what do I think of the man that divided the people and is destroying the country where I was born? I'm not saying that Pat Robertson was right, but it is a thought. I hope somehow that Chavez will get his punishment, and people in Venezuela will get to have a better country when the oil is still producing a lot of money.

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    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Robertson Apologizes for Chavez Remarks

    Above, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a clergyman who died for his resistance to the Nazis.

    By Lisa Haddock
    NJ Faith Forum Editor

    After igniting a firestorm of controversy, "700 Club" host Pat Robertson apologized for his remarks about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, CNN reported. On Monday's (Aug. 22) broadcast of the "700 Club" Robertson said: "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

    On Wednesday's (Aug. 24) "700 Club," Robertson tried to spin his comments. "I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP [Associated Press], but that happens all the time," the broadcaster said.

    But later on Wednesday, Robertson owned up to his words. "Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement," he said. "I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."

    On his Web site, Robertson clarified his comments. He asserted that it is morally right to assassinate -- under the right circumstances. Robertson pointed to the example German theologian and Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who took part in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis, is revered as a martyr and hero by many Christians.

    Read the CNN story.

    Read Robertson's Robertson's clarification.
    Read U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum article about Bonhoeffer.
    Read Wikipedia article.
    Read Summation of Bonhoeffer’s ethics and philosophy.
    To return to Current Issues and Controversies.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    Pat Robertson Stands His Ground

    The Rev. Pat Robertson -- a conservative Christian broadcaster and former U.S. presidential candidate -- continues to lambaste President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

    Read story on Robertson's Web site, Christian Broadcasting Network.

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    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Robertson Calls for Political Assassination

    By Lisa Haddock
    NJ Faith Forum Editor

    Is this the equivalent of a Christian fatwa*?

    The Rev. Pat Robertson has called for the assassination of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

    "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," the conservative Christian broadcaster stated during Monday's (Aug. 22) broadcast of "The 700 Club."

    Chavez has close ties to Cuban Communist leader Fidel Castro. Robertson said that Chavez will turn Venezuela into "a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."

    Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's ambassador to the U.S., stated: "Mr. Robertson´s call that U.S. government covert operatives murder President Hugo Chavez is a call to terrorism."

    Read story on CNN
    Read story on Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network
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    *Note: A fatwa is a ruling by a Muslim authority. It can apply to any issue. It is not a death sentence.

    Sunday, July 31, 2005

    Demonizing the Enemy Subverts Peace Process

    By Rabbi Stephen M. Wylen
    Temple Beth Tikvah, Wayne, NJ

    Ad-nai spoke to Moses saying, “You shall avenge the Israelites against the Midianites ....”
    (Nu. 31:1-2)

    The Midianites conspired with the Moabites to destroy Israel. Why, then, does God command Israel to fight the Midianites, but God commands Israel not to attack the Moabites (Dt. 2:9)? One possible answer is that Ruth, the grandmother of King David, was destined to be born among the Moabites. God said, “If Israel goes to battle against the Moabites the ancestor of Ruth might be killed, and then the Israelites will be deprived of their future salvation.”
    - multiple sources

    Read more of this article.

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