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Location: Tallahassee, Florida, United States welcomes all opinions from any religion or viewpoint in the common appreciation of Chick tracts. This blog, however, will highlight religious events and controversies that would be of special interest to regular Chick readers. You don't have to agree with them or each other, but if you read Chick tracts or Battlecry, you might expect these type stories to be addressed. (Sorry, no personal attacks allowed.) All main postings are from writers and any responses are from the public

Friday, March 25, 2011

Religion Dying Out In Secular Countries

Parts of the world are literally losing their religion, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by the American Physical Society, finds that religion is dying out in nine countries.

The findings unveiled at an APS meeting in Dallas show that religion may become extinct in Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The study, conducted by Richard Wiener of the University of Arizona, and Daniel Abrams and Haley Yaple of Northwestern University, took data stretching back 100 years for those nine countries.

"In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40 percent, and the highest number was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60 percent."

The study also found that "Americans without affiliation comprise the only religious group growing in all 50 states."

"In 2008 those claiming no religion rose to 15 percent nationwide, with a maximum in Vermont at 34 percent," the study says.

The study concludes that religion in these societies might one day disappear.

"The model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Transgender Benders Sue for Birth Cert. Changes

Two transgender New Yorkers are suing the city for what they say are unfair regulations for obtaining new birth certificates.

Sam Berkley, who was born a woman, and Joann Prinzivalli, born a man, say they’ve been able to change their genders for their Social Security benefits, their driver licenses -- everything but their city birth certificates.

To change a birth certificate, the city requires applicants to have had "convective surgery" -- a full sex change -- plus they must meet a list of other requirements, including a psychiatric evaluation.

"When you have to apply for a job, when you have to apply for health insurance, when I have to apply for a passport I need to show that document," said Berkley, who lives in Brooklyn. “What am I supposed to do in that moment when the person on the other end is looking at me and I don't know what's going to happen."

Berkley and Prinzivalli are suing the city for what they say is humiliation and discrimination.

Noah Lewis, an attorney for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education fund, said the city's policy is out of date.

"I should be able to say that I’m a man, and they shouldn't tell me I need this surgery to be a man," Berkley said.


The law department said that although the city understands the concerns, "the board of health should not change its requirements without assurance that the amended certificate cannot be misused.”

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

NPR Executive Tells Muslim Donors Christians Are "Scary/Racist"

A video made surreptitiously by a conservative sting artist shows phony, would-be Muslim donors meeting with two NPR fundraisers who are caught on the tape making candid, awkward comments about the Republican Party -- and also talking bluntly about the ouster of commentator Juan Williams.

Slate's David Weigel posted the video and a report on the incident. The sting operation, produced by conservative activist James O'Keefe, shows NPR fundraisers Ron Schiller (who has since left NPR) and Betsy Liley at lunch with two men masquerading as wealthy Muslim donors who supported The Muslim Brotherhood (and Islamic Activist group that wants to spread Sharia law). That the NPR people appear to tell the supposed contributors that they should support NPR because it promotes many of the same agendas as the Muslims, and is critical of Republican, Christian, and white "middle class" America.

But against the backdrop of a possible cut off of NPR funding proposed by the GOP-controlled U.S. House, Schiller can be heard saying that "very little of our funding comes from the government." (They receive $90 million in Federal tax money.) Then, talking about the GOP, he adds: "The current Republican Party, particularly the tea party, is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian -- and I wouldn't even call it Christian." In answer to a leading question about the tea party movement, he adds, "Basically, they believe in white, middle America, gun toting -- it's pretty scary. They're seriously racist..."

Schiller, who has left his job as NPR Foundation's senior vice president for development, goes on to say that he is proud that NPR let Juan Williams go last year after Williams said on Fox News he would be concerned if he boarded a plane with fellow passengers in Muslim garb. "He lost all credibility and that breaks your ethics as a journalist." Schiller says.

NPR, in a statement, said: "The fraudulent organization represented in the video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept. We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for. Mr. Schiller announced last week he is leaving NPR for another job." NPR made no mention of Betsy Liley, Senior Director of Institutional Giving for NPR, who was also present at the meeting and expressed similar sentiments. The video is available at You Tube.

Reaction to the tape, which the 26-year-old Mr. O'Keefe posted online Tuesday, was swift.

“At a time when our government borrows 40 cents of every dollar that it spends, we must find ways to cut spending and live within our means,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

“This video clearly highlights the fact that public broadcasting doesn’t need taxpayer funding to thrive, and I hope that admission will lead to a bipartisan consensus to end these unnecessary federal subsidies,” the Virginia Republican said.

“Remove NPR from the federal budget and be done with it. … It’s time to push Big Bird out of the nest so he can fly on his own,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican, who has led efforts to cut NPR’s funding.

The tone captured on the 11-minute edited tape illuminates a persistent image problem for the Washington-based network.

“NPR hates Middle America, plain and simple. The utterances from NPR officials underline that these taxpayer-funded bureaucrats loathe most of the taxpayers who feather their comfortable nest,” said Media Research Center President Brent Bozell.

See Chick's THE TRIAL.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

New 2011 Catholic Bible Will Omit "Virgin"

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said its 2011 translation of the Bible will omit the word "booty" from a verse and replace "virgin" with "young woman."

The bishops group, based in Washington, said the latest edition of the New American Bible, due out March 9, will be more accurate and more accessible than previous versions, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Among the changes in the new version, which was compiled by a team of 50 scholars and translators assisted by language experts, theologians and bishops, is the replacing of the word "booty" with "spoils" of war. The word booty, which has become American slang for buttocks, has been known to elicit snickers from school children.

The 2011 version also replaces the word "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 with "the young woman," explaining the original Hebrew word, almah, may or may not refer to a virgin.

"We needed a new translation because English is a living language," said Richard Sklba, the retired auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee and part of the New American Bible's review and editing team.

(So I guess the Bible, like the Constitution, is a "living document" that only means what we think it SHOULD mean, haw-haw-haw!) See Chick's THE ATTACK.

Fundy Demonstrators Win In Court

The United States Supreme Court did what it had to do Wednesday when it affirmed Fred Phelps' constitutional right to preach his anti-gay gospel at military funerals on behalf of the Westboro Baptist Church. Indeed, you could argue, as Chief Justice John Roberts did, that the free speech protections of the First Amendment were designed for this very case -- where a small minority seeks to dramatically express itself on political issues in a way the rest of the country considers outrageous or even "brutalizing," as Justice Samuel Alito aptly put it in his angry (and lonely) dissent.

The Court's 8-1 ruling in Snyder v. Phelps, which permits Phelps to use the First Amendment as a shield against tort liability, thereby recognizes and replenishes a fundamental truth about American law and the foundational document upon which it is based. Political speech, in a public place, peacefully expressed, is where the lofty platitudes about "freedom" and "liberty" meet the hard truth about placards near a military funeral which say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." Four of the Court's conservatives and four of its progressive justices all agreed: the signs can stay.

If it is of any solace to those of you who, like Justice Alito, are infuriated by the result here, what helped spare Phelps and company from a $5 million tort judgment was not the value of their placarded message at Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder's 2006 funeral. "While these messages may fall short of refined social or political commentary," was all Chief Justice John Roberts would say about that in his majority opinion, before conceding that the issues the church highlighted -- "the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens, the fate of our Nation, homosexuality in the military, and scandals involving the Catholic clergy -- are matters of public import."

Instead, paradoxically, what ensured victory for the church at the constitutional level were the limitations and restrictions placed upon its picketing members at the time of the Snyder funeral. The Phelps family won twice in court -- don't forget, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling -- because the church's message was diluted by all sorts of preconditions which prevented members from protesting at the gravesite during the funeral itself. They had a right to be where they were. They obeyed the rules. Here's how the Chief Justice wrote it up:

The church had notified the authorities in advance of its intent to picket at the time of the funeral, and the picketers complied with police instructions in staging their demonstration. The picketing took place within a 10- by 25-foot plot of public land adjacent to a public street, behind a temporary fence. That plot was approximately 1,000 feet from the church where the funeral was held. Several buildings separated the picket site from the church. The Westboro picketers displayed their signs for about 30 minutes before the funeral began and sang hymns and recited Bible verses. None of the picketers entered church property or went to the cemetery. They did not yell or use profanity, and there was no violence associated with the picketing.
That was back in 2006. Since then, states and local municipalities all across the country have enacted more funeral protest regulations which limit the ability of protesters like Phelps to impact the experiences of those mourning their loved ones. The American landscape now is dotted with rules designed to minimize the communicative -- the brutalizing -- force of the church's message. That ought to come as some solace to Justice Alito as well. To paraphrase from "Fiddler of the Roof," lawmakers everywhere are humming the same spiritual: "May the Lord protect and keep Fred Phelps ... far away from us!"
After the ruling, Margie Phelps, a member of the church who is also a lawyer, and who argued the case forcefully for years on behalf of Westboro Baptist, told CBS Radio News what she would like to tell the Snyder family now that they've lost their case. "This was a fool's errand. It was un-American as anything you could have done. That boy is still dead.... Now get down on your knees, mourn for your sins, repent and obey," cackled Phelps, the lawyer, the despised victor in a constitutional showdown they'll be talking about until the next military funeral case gets filed in federal court.

Now the big question is will the Phelps realize that just because they CAN protest at such events, does that mean they SHOULD. See Chick's THE TRIAL.