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Your Tax Dollars At Work

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I don’t mind Christian churches helping the community, but if they are using federal dollars (yours and mine) to do it, then it becomes whole new ball game. There are rules associated with acceptance of federal dollars. Federal law allows discrimination in faith-based organizations hiring practices, but the money they receive cannot be used to promote their religion of fund any religious activities.

Re:  Taxpayer-Funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers Using Religion To Oppose Abortion

 

WASHINGTON — If you want to help carry out the anti-abortion mission of the taxpayer-funded Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center, you have to be a Christian.

It’s right there on the Rapid City, S.D., center’s volunteer application.

“Do you consider yourself a Christian?” “If yes, how long have you been a Christian?” “As a Christian, what is the basis of your salvation?” “Please provide the following information concerning your local church. Church name … Denomination … Pastor’s name.” “This organization is a Christian pro-life ministry. We believe that our faith in Jesus Christ empowers us, enables us, and motivates us to provide pregnancy services in this community. Please write a brief statement about how your faith would affect your volunteer work at this center.”

But that hasn’t stopped the center from receiving federal funding and other forms of government support.

In 2010, it was awarded a $34,000 “capacity building” grant as part of President Obama’s stimulus bill.

Last year, the nonprofit National Fatherhood Initiative, with “support from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Family Assistance,” awarded the center $25,000 for capacity building.

And when South Dakota passed a law requiring that women get counseling from a “pregnancy help center” before receiving an abortion, the Rapid City center was quick to sign up — becoming one of three such facilities listed on the state’s official website.


The author goes on to say:

Like other crisis pregnancy centers, the Rapid City Care Net seeks to prevent abortions by offering women a combination of free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, a “24 hour hotline,” and medically dubious “abortion education” (its website claims that “a number of reliable studies have demonstrated connection between abortion and later development of breast cancer”).

The Rapid City center is not alone. On its website, the facility says it “submits to the affiliation guidelines” of the national Care Net organization, which supports more than 1,100 explicitly Christian crisis pregnancy centers. Care Net requires that at each center, “those who labor as pregnancy center board members, directors, and volunteers are expected to know Christ as their Savior and Lord” and that “all board members, staff, and volunteers of the center agree with the Care Net Statement of Faith.”

The fact that many of the country’s anti-abortion pregnancy centers are Christian organizations is not something that is prominently featured in state literature promoting these groups or even on many of the centers’ websites.

But for many of these places, Jesus Christ is central to their daily activities.

Care Net requires that each of its affiliates pledge to adhere to the network’s ” Pregnancy Center Standards of Affiliation,” the first of which reads: “The primary mission of the center is to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ in conjunction with a ministry to those facing pregnancy related issues. The pregnancy center is an outreach ministry of Jesus Christ through His church. Therefore, the pregnancy center, embodied in its volunteers, is committed to presenting the gospel of our Lord to women with crisis pregnancies — both in word and in deed. Commensurate with this purpose, those who labor as pregnancy center board members, directors, and volunteers are expected to know Christ as their savior and Lord.”

This organization, Care Net, is not a crisis pregnancy center, but an outreach ministry and clearly is in violation of federal law. We want our money back.

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Religious Nutcases in Charge of the Battlefield (American Taliban)

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein is an attorney, businessman and former Air Force officer. He is founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and author of in which he describes his fight against alleged coercive evangelistic practices by some members of the military.

Re: Backward, Christian Soldiers | The Nation, Stephen Glain, February 10, 2011 | This article appeared in the February 28, 2011 edition of The Nation.

…Only wags and heretics would suggest that such a stigmata-like wound places Weinstein in the company of another Jewish prophet who spoke truth to the legions of an imperial power. At the very least, however, his journey from corporate lawyer to patriarch of a tribe of persecuted minorities is worthy of an Old Testament morality play. For the past half-decade, the Air Force Academy alum has labored to reverse the currents of Pentecostalism that course through the US military in general and the Air Force in particular.

It is an asymmetrical struggle, an endless round of Whac-a-Mole with a network of fundamentalist groups that would otherwise level the wall separating church and state with the help of supine, if not complicit, Pentagon top brass. In the battle over the meaning and implications of the First Amendment, Weinstein has staked himself at the fault line between the free-exercise clause and the establishment clause, which simultaneously preclude Congress from legislating a state religion and guarantee freedom of worship.

“The free-exercise clause does not trump the establishment clause,” Weinstein says from the living room of his home, a tastefully designed adobe ranch house in Albuquerque. “Our Bill of Rights was specifically created not for the convenience of the majority but to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. From that perspective it is absolutely imperative.”

Since he established his watchdog group, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), in 2005, Weinstein has built a client base of more than 20,000 mostly Catholic and Protestant—as well as Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, atheist, and gay and lesbian—members of the military. For them, Weinstein and MRFF are the only recourse for servicemen and -women who have been either punished for their faith or subjected to fundamentalist proselytizing in violation of military guidelines.

In a nutshell, the Army is adding fundamentalist christianity to the already overflowing brainwashing pot that th young recruits find themselves in the moment they step down from the bus at basic training. “Hardcore” is probably the drill sergeant’s favorite. But, playing favorites with religion is not only in violation of the establishment clause it flies in the face of military regulations, as previously stated. The conclusion or inference of that statement is that those activities must be held up to the light and scrutinized or bounced off those military guidelines that prohibit such action. Will that happen? The author seems to doubt it and I think that this is the presupposition; the article is a statement that pleads for more men like Weinstein to put themselves forward into this fray.

Leading the Pentecostalist charge is a constellation of different groups, none more prominent than Military Ministry, an affiliate of Campus Crusade for Christ, a global outreach network with an estimated annual budget of nearly $500 million, raised largely from individual donors and congregations, according to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Military Ministry maintains branch offices at the nation’s main Army bases, as well as overseas initiatives like Bible-study programs globally. The group’s mission statement, according to its website, is “To Win, Build, and Send in the power of the Holy Spirit and to establish movements of spiritual multiplication in the worldwide military community.” In a 2005 newsletter, Military Ministry’s executive director, retired Army Maj. Gen. Bob Dees, said the group “must pursue our…means for transforming the nation—through the military. And the military may be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure.”

Military Ministry is particularly well represented at basic training installations like Fort Jackson in South Carolina, the Army’s largest boot camp. According to MRFF researcher Chris Rodda, the group instructs recruits through Bible-study programs that “when you join the military, you’ve joined the ministry,” and it ardently associates conquest on the battlefield with religious conversion. In a 2007 report, MRFF provides links to photos of Fort Jackson troops posing with rifles in one hand and Bibles—some with camouflage covers—in the other. A Bible-study outline distributed by Military Ministry cites Scripture to sanction killing in combat by “God’s servant, an angel of wrath,” to “punish those who do evil.”

I have to pause here and consider just who is it anyway that gets to decide “evil”. This is, in my humble opinion, largely political since civilian politicians run the military and will not hesitate to use the Army to further political ideology – take George Bush, for example. He did not hesitate to label muslims as “evil”. Fox news, of course, ran with this theme to the point of boredom. When you have religious/military leaders preaching to “punish those who do evil” some of the low-information young soldiers take what is told them by these superiors as concrete orders.

In April [2010], in response to MRFF demands, the Pentagon withdrew an invitation to the Rev. Franklin Graham, known for his Islamophobic remarks, to speak at a National Day of Prayer Task Force service. In August Weinstein revealed that troops from Virginia’s Fort Eustis were confined to their barracks and assigned cleanup duty after they refused to obey their commanders’ orders to attend the performance of a Christian rock group. That same month MRFF publicized the mass baptism of twenty-nine marines at California’s Camp Pendleton before their deployment to Afghanistan. News accounts of the ceremony, part of a battalion commander–inspired operation called “Sword of the Spirit,” were republished by Ansar Al-Mujahideen, a leading jihadi website.

The bottom line is that these regulations against command sponsored proselytizing were implemented not only to ensure good order and discipline, but also to protect the soldiers against unwanted distractions from their duties, especially if those soldiers who object are in the minority. By the way, isn’t that what our Bill of Rights is all about? Above all else, the Bill of Rights was created not to codify the rights of the majority, but to protect the minority from tyranny.

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Everlasting Life? Yes, But It’s Not What You Think

Re: Robert Lanza, M.D.: Why You Will Always Exist: Time Is ‘On Demand’, Robert Lanza, M.D., Scientist; Theoretician; Author, ‘Biocentrism’, Posted on HuffPo: February 10, 2011 08:48 AM

You’ve laughed and cried. And you may even fall in love and grow old with someone, only to be ripped apart in the end by death and disease. The universe leaves you dead or grieving with a hole in you as big as infinity.

Are we part of a depraved cosmic joke, the product of a vast and ruthless universe?

…Can life really be reduced to the laws of physics? Or are we — as all the great spiritual leaders of the world have intuited — part of something higher, which is more noble and triumphant?

All I’ve got to say is thank the Spaghetti Monster! The good Dr. Lanza is telling us that eternal life exists but is based on the space-time-Einstein thing. He doesn’t even mention you-know-who. Moments in life, it turns out, exist forever. Lanza likens this to a phonograph record. He also quotes a character from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five:

Our consciousness animates the universe like an old phonograph. Listening to it doesn’t alter the record, and depending on where the needle is placed, you hear a certain piece of music. This is what we call “now.” The songs before and after are the past and future. In like manner, you, your loved ones and friends (and sadly, the villains too) endure always. The record doesn’t go away. All nows exist simultaneously, although we can only listen to the songs one by one. Time is On Demand.

“The most important thing I learned,” said Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Slaughterhouse Five,” “was that when a person dies, he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.”

Even though I’m skeptic about his theory that moments in time have always existed (it grates against my conception of free-will), I still prefer this description of the afterlife over all the other faith-based ones. He makes as strong or stronger a case for everlasting life as I’ve heard. The title itself has religious tones and I admit I was hesitant to read it, but if you are looking for another parrot droning on and on about faith or “what god says/wants/hates” in order to re-justify your faith, then you won’t find it here – thankfully. This is a refreshing new viewpoint.

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