Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let´s get serious Pope Benedict

Excerpt from

Prior to being Christ's Vicar on Earth, Pope Benedict's previous incarnation was the Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which centuries before took the biblical command to "not suffer a witch to live" seriously and went by a different name: the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

As defender of the faith, Ratzinger could have amended the Vatican's Crimen Sollicitationis [Crime of Solicitation], which originally drew guidelines for how the
church dealt with priests that used the confessional booth to solicit sex from parishioners, even the young. In 2001, Ratzinger revisited the document in a confidential letter to bishops reminding them of the strict penalties whistle blowers faced if they took the matter outside the church.

As David France reported in his book Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal, any accusation against a priest for paedophilia, as long as the allegedcrime wasn't more than 10 years ago, would trigger a church trial. The rub, however, was that the lawyers and jurors would all be priests sworn to secrecy. "Appeals," France wrote, "would go directly to an ecclesiastical tribunal in Rome, under Ratzinger's authority." More damning, priests that took part in the proceedings could not talk about them, the Irish Examiner reports, until 10 years after the child abused reached adulthood.

Lawyer Thomas O'Shea, who represented three young men allegedly olested by a former Houston seminarian, noted in the article that the Vatican's secrecy oath ensures that the statute of limitations for such crimes will have already run out in the US if any priest decided to speak out after his secrecy oath expired. The church rejected O'Shea's accusations and said Crimen Sollicitationis merely clarifies internal procedures. Nowhere in the policy are the victims and their rights mentioned, says canon lawyer Father Thomas Doyle.

Ratzinger had the power to change these polices but did nothing. He still does, Doyle told the BBC nearly two years ago, and advised that the church's policy should be: "[F]ull disclosure to the civil authorities, absolute isolation and dismissal of any accused and proven and convicted clerics, complete openness and transparency, complete openness of all financial situations, stop all barriers to the legal process and completely co-operate with the civil authorities everywhere."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Religious objectors abuse their children

NOTE: I am posting this letter that was written in 2003 only to help reveal the attitude of our government here in the 21st century. To think congress would even consider such legislation is a mark of just how corrupted our system has become in the service of religion. I will follow up to find out what happened to the legislation. Perhaps this travesty was defeated. We can only hope so.

Letter from a Former Amish Child Sawmill Worker to Congress

United States Senate

United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC
October 21, 2003

Senators and Representatives:

I was born and raised Amish. Both my brother and I were forced at a very young age to work in a sawmill that was owned and operated by our Amish uncle. As soon as we left elementary school at age 14 it was decided by various leaders in the community that we would work on the sawmill because our family was poor and needed the money. We protested this decision, but our protests were overruled by the leaders in the Amish community.

The sawmill work was extremely dangerous and strenuous. We worked around saws, belts, cables and other power equipment used to move and cut logs. We rolled heavy logs onto carriages where they were clamped and cut. We lifted and carried boards weighing hundreds of pounds. Often times we had to step over tracks while carrying these boards, which created risks for slipping or twisting. My brother and I were lucky in that neither of us suffered a serious injury, but to this day I have back problems due to the two years of hard physical labor that I did on that sawmill.

My brother and I each earned less than minimum wage in these jobs, about $20 per day. The days were at least 8 hours long, and often 10 hours. We did not receive any of this money as it was paid directly to our parents.

Our experience in the sawmill convinced me that sawmills are completely inappropriate places for children to be working. There was nothing about our Amish upbringing that made the sawmill any less dangerous for us than it was for children of other religions. I am now 31 years old, a toolmaker and a father of two young children. There is no way I would allow my children to work in a sawmill and I am grateful for laws that prevent all children, regardless of faith, from working in sawmills.

For these reasons, I was shocked and dismayed when I read news articles stating that Congress was considering a change in the law that would allow Amish sawmill owners to employ Amish children as young as 14, while preserving child labor protections for children of other faiths. This would be a tragic mistake, as Amish children need these protections at least as much as non-Amish children. Amish children, because of their parents’ financial condition and the lack of educational opportunities, are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by sawmill owners. I had also thought that the U.S. Constitution would prohibit such blatant discrimination based solely on a child’s religion.

I do not think that the safety provisions included in the proposed legislation will make these jobs safe for children. Sawmills are inherently dangerous for children and cannot be made safer by simply limiting the use of power equipment or the distance between the children and such equipment, or requiring adult supervision I had all those things on the sawmill, and it was still much too dangerous for children.

I applaud those Senators and Representatives who are standing up for Amish children and ask you to please continue your opposition to this proposed legislation. I implore others who might be considering the proposal to reject it and maintain current child labor protections for Amish children as it is for any other child, regardless of religion. I speak for many Amish children who have no choice in this matter, because for them it is futile to speak out. Thank you for listening to my concerns.

John Miller
Mansfield, OH

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Christians want us to believe there is nothing wrong with Christianity

Monique Davis is a Christian. A mature representative, in the Illinois legislature. This person in probably every other aspect of her life is normal, possibly a loving protective mother. She has served in the legislature since 1987. Apparently in all these years she served honorably or she would not have been re-elected so many times.


Her religion has turned her into a raving lunatic. The hate filled diatribe she directed to Rob Sherman, a well respected Atheist activist, can only be attributed to religious bigotry. Such bigotry had to be carefully inculcated by clerics and the people around Ms Davis. It also traces to the overbearing attitude of privilige Christians in the United States have adopted over the years. They seem to completely forget that there are other faith groups in our country and that tens of millions of Americans check the "None" box. Perhaps Ms Davis is feeling stressed because finally Americans are stepping back and considering just what kind of country we became by according Christianity so much deference and respect for so many years.

Ms Davis must do the honorable thing and resign. Or, the Illinois legislature can force her out. Either way, a person who demonstrates such lack of self control and such misbegotten feelings can no longer claim a right to serve her state.

Here is the diatribe:

"The following exchange between atheist activist Rob Sherman of Buffalo Grove and Ill. Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) took place Wednesday afternoon in the General Assembly as Sherman testified before the House State Government Administration Committee.[...]
Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic -- when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school.
I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?
I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--
Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?
Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!
Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---
Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon."

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune, April 3, 2008

List of children's rights organizations

Abundant Life Foundation
Action on Rights for Children
Berkshire Industrial Farm
Canadian Children's Rights Council
Child Rights Information Network
Child Watch Phuket
Child Welfare League of Canada
Child Workers in Asia
Child advocacy 360
Childline India Foundation
Children First Now
Children's Aid Society (Canada)
Children's Defense Fund
Children's Rights Project, UWC
Defence for Children International
Development and Education Programme for Daughters and Communities
Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism
Fight Against Child Exploitation
First Focus
Free The Children
International Children's Peace Prize
International Falcon Movement
KidsRights Foundation
National Safe Place
Pies Descalzos Foundation
Red Hand Day
Stand for Children
Stop Child Executions Campaign
Terre des hommes
The Global Fund for Children
Watchlist (NGO)

For hypertext links go to

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The secret downsides to religion no one admits to

The following is quoted from a personal narrative of a person who I say was wounded by organized religion. Two factors are relevent: organized religion plants the concept that human life has a transcendent purpose that one can only understand via religion. So even in this case the person escaped the yoke of Catholocism he was still compelled to search for something to assuage his need for transcendental answers. Admittedly, this is not how he describes his search, but this is at bottom the hole he was trying to fill. "I need (sic) some faith...didn't I". Secondly religion often creates friction between family members who are at odds about religion. This man is fortunate his wife is in agreement, but he knows he has to face his other family members with the truth of his status and he knows this is going to be unpleasant. In many ways, he is faced with the same dilemma a gay person is faced with when their family members are say very conservative.

After college I still went to church in Columbia, South Carolina. I wasn't very comfortable with the more conservative church there. A priest in a homily once referred to NPR as "National Communist Radio". I didn't like the fundamentalization of the Catholic Church, so I went less and less.

I then began looking around at other faiths. I read Taoist and Buddhist literature. I attended a UU service a couple of times and even visited a Zen Buddhist temple. I began meditating and did some Tai Chi. I liked a lot of it, but it wasn't really right for me. But, I need some faith...didn't I?

Last spring I began reading a lot of the atheist bloggers over at ScienceBlogs. Pharyngula and Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge
stick out the most in mind. At first the outspoken atheism rankled me quite a bit. I really liked their writing in general, though. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that atheism was a real option. I started thinking "Why not?", and it short order I had accepted that I was an atheist. It was months later that my wife and I really talked about the issue. Apparently she had gone through a similar crisis of faith, and had given up on God soon after I had. It was a great discussion. I still haven't talked to my family about it. I don't know how they will react, but I am not looking forward to it. The conversation has to happen soon, though.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Issue - Church role: defending dogma or confronting wickedness?

Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Saturday | January 27, 2007

The island's dubious label of being the murder capital of the world has led me to question the effectiveness and presence of the Church's prophetic voice to the nation. Certainly, biblical understanding of the role of the Government supports the notion that it has a necessary role in law enforcement or 'bearing the sword'. But this cannot absolve the Church of her prophetic responsibility to a nation held hostage by violence.

It is has been my experience as a devout Christian that the organised Church in Jamaica has devoted much time, scholarship and strategy to the defence of denominational dogma and legalism, while the weightier matters of justice and mercy have fallen by the wayside.

Corporate gatherings devote much time to preserving divisive denominational issues of Sabbatarianism, modes of baptism, styles of worship, women's adornment and glossolalia. This long list of pet doctrines undoubtedly have their place, but an earnest witness of true faith must also
include a radical commitment to confront the wickedness that has become commonplace in Jamaica.

It was the understanding that like John the Baptist and Jonah, the Church ultimately stands as God's prophet to the nation, that led Dr. King and the black Church to confront and overthrow institutionalised wickedness in the United States.

If the Church in Jamaica is to be truly relevant and effective, her leaders must be willing to do more than propagate an escapist, divisive, doctrinal nit-picking kind of Christianity that only serves the four walls of the church. Jesus did promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against her.

Teach about religion, not a religion

The following is clipped from a New Republic article
Atheism's Wrong Turn
by Damon Linker
Post Date Monday, December 10, 2007 | Issue Date Monday, December 10, 2007

If the only role of religious education was to propagate colorful local traditions and rational ethics, there would [be] little problem, but there is more- so much more. Many religions add education on the hatred of outside groups, active dis-belief in scientific knowledge, and closed-mindedness about other views of reality, not to mention obscure taboos, self-hatred, and other impediments to mental health. This is a problem, yet the new atheists make only one concrete proposal, which comes from Daniel Dennet. That is to to teach children about religion. That's right- more religion! His proposal is to teach all students about the vast depth of human religious tradition, from the major religions including their own, to those of other cultures and other times, perhaps including even atheism, though not necessarily. This long-term, detailed study of other traditions would enable children to make up their own minds about life's cosmic questions, knowing what many of the possible answers are, not just the ones their parents told them. This instruction would be a capstone to a truly liberal and civic-minded education. The American founders responded to the recent history of religious intolerance both in Europe and in some of the early colonies by separating church and state. We have since have taken this wisdom and extended it to a state-sponsored system of education that would make the founders extremely proud. But the intolerance they tried to guard against is still with us, and particularly with other cultures with whom we deal very closely. The new atheists would surely like to wave a wand and make it all go away. But in the real world, we need to attend to the real causes of intolerance and illiberality, and one primary cause still with us is parochial, illiberal, education, which might be slightly mitigated by a liberal curriculum of cross-cultural and cross-religious education.

Religious objectors violate the rights of children

From the Columbian, Clark County Washington:

"Who wins in a battle between parental rights and the criminal justice system? The child, at least in cases where solid science is used to prove that routine medical treatment was withheld from a child by the parents. Unfortunately for Ava Worthington, none of this matters. It’s too late. The 15-month-old Oregon City, Ore., girl died at home on March 2 of bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection. According to The Associated Press, doctors say the pneumonia and the infection could have been prevented or treated with antibiotics. Her parents, Carl and Raylene Worthington, are accused of using prayer instead of medical care to try to cure Ava. Both pleaded not guilty on Monday in Clackamas County to charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment."

The concept of children as separate persons has not taken hold here in the United States. The rights of children are spelled out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which has been signed off (but not fully implemented) by all but two countries in the world. Disgracefully, the United States is one of the two. Somalia is the other one. We are keeping company with violent backward thugs.

You can help. Take action now...

Individuals and organizations in the United States that support the treaty must make a considerable effort to educate their fellow citizens about the importance of U.S. ratification of the CRC. For example, individuals can organize informational meetings and distribute materials about the CRC; work with local churches, schools and community groups to create grassroots support; and contact local newspapers with letters to the editor and op-eds in support of U.S. ratification of the CRC. Organizations can help by educating their staff and members about the Convention; discussing the CRC in newsletters and membership magazines; sending informational mailings to members; including the CRC as an issue at annual meetings; getting field offices involved; and officially endorsing U.S. ratification of the Convention.

Thursday, April 3, 2008