A Hillsborough public policy group whose Christian platform included a push for a state ban on gay marriage has embraced a new attack on an old target: the separation of church and state.
Ten billboard advertisements against what activist Terry Kemple called the separation “lie” are being put up across Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Seven or eight of the billboard messages already are in place, and the rest will be by the end of this week, Kemple said.
For the next six months, they’ll be seen a million times a day, said retired businessman Gregg Smith, who rented the ad space for $50,000.
The message, as explained on www.noseparation.org, is that “America’s government was made only for people who are moral and religious.”
“The Judeo-Christian foundation that the Founding Fathers established when America began is the reason that this country has prospered for 200-plus years,” said Kemple, president and sole employee of the local Community Issues Council, which paid for the Web site.
“The fact is, for the last 40 years, as anti-God activists have incrementally removed the recognition of God’s place in the establishment of our country, we have gone downhill.”
Smith, 73, who spends half of the year at his Tampa home, brought the idea to Kemple’s attention as a “separate ministry” needing local support. For now, the initiative is just educational, though both men left open the opportunity for future work.
“Has the thought occurred that this may be the beginning of something bigger? Of course,” Kemple said. “There is no next step.
“We’ll just see what God ordains.”
The billboards showcase quotes from early American leaders like John Adams, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. Most of the quotes portray a national need for Christian governance.
Others carry the same message but with fictional attribution, as with one billboard citing George Washington for the quote, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
“I don’t believe there’s a document in Washington’s handwriting that has those words in that specific form,” Kemple said. “However, if you look at Washington’s quotes, including his farewell address, about the place of religion in the political sphere, there’s no question he could have said those exact words.”
Kemple, who was considered last year for the Republican nomination to replace a state representative, is not alone in fighting what Thomas Jefferson wrote was “a wall of separation” built by the “whole American people.”
Former Secretary of State Katherine Harris, while campaigning for the Senate in 2006, called separation of church and state a “lie we have been told,” adding that “God is the one who chooses our rulers.”
More recently, Christian separation critics have scoffed at President Barack Obama’s assertion in April that Americans “do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.”
At the time, Kemple and Smith were beginning to plan for the billboards.
“I don’t think it’s coincidental,” Kemple said. “I think God had his hand in it.”
Drew Harwell can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4170.
CORRECTION: Retired businessman Gregg Smith rented ad space for $50,000. Earlier versions of this story used in print and online incorrectly stated his role in the transaction.
A Roman Catholic priest who won fame running an Argentine foundation for poor youths was convicted Wednesday of sexually molesting a boy who participated in the program. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
A three-judge panel found Father Julio Grassi guilty of one count of sexual abuse and one count of corrupting a minor. He was acquitted of 15 other charges alleging abuse of two other boys at his “Happy the Children” Foundation. All the alleged crimes occurred in 1996.
Grassi, 52, continued to proclaim his innocence, saying he was “the victim of an injustice.”
“I feel ashamed for justice, not for me,” he said after the verdict.
Outside the court, protesters demanding Grassi’s imprisonment scuffled with the priest’s supporters. Two people were detained by police.
Grassi became widely known in Argentina after starting the “Happy the Children” Foundation in 1993, opening several homes for poor children and doing other charitable work.
Through television appearances and other appeals, the priest raised millions of dollars (euros), many of the donations coming from important public figures who distanced themselves from the priest after the allegations.
A lawyer for one of the alleged victims said it was good that Grassi was sentenced, but he criticized the priest’s acquittal on most of the charges.
“We are going to appeal the verdict because there are facts that have not been considered,” attorney Juan Pablo Gallego said.
The court withheld the identities of the three alleged victims.
Grassi was the third member of the Argentine church to be convicted of sexually abusing minors.
A FORMER Melbourne priest who sexually abused young boys over an 18-year period from 1958 refused to apologise for indecently assaulting an 11-year-old for fear of a compensation claim being made against the church, a court has heard.
Retired Catholic priest Desmond Laurence Gannon, 79, told police last year that he was giving the boy an anatomy lesson when he took him from school and assaulted him in 1968. “I thought it was less formal rather than inviting him into the presbytery and that’s all,” he said.
It is Gannon’s fifth prosecution for sex offences. He was previously convicted in 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2003 for other indecent assaults committed between 1958 and 1976.
While Gannon received jail sentences on each occasion, he served an immediate term only once.
In a victim impact statement read yesterday to the County Court, the now 51-year-old victim described feeling “broken” and totally worthless and said he did not socialise as a normal child after the offences.
“It destroyed all my hopes and dreams,” he told Judge Frank Gucciardo.
Gannon, who previously served across Melbourne including in Macleod, Ashburton, Northcote and Kilmore, yesterday pleaded guilty to five counts of unlawful and indecent assault.
Prosecutor Ray Gibson told the court that in 1968 Gannon travelled alone with the victim and stopped his car on a bush track outside Kilmore where he assaulted him. Gannon told the boy not to tell anyone and that they wouldn’t believe him.
The victim was assaulted by Gannon on two other occasions, once after arriving early for altar boy duties at Mass and another in a pump room at a college swimming pool.
Gannon was secretly recorded by police last year refusing to apologise to the victim because he was fearful of a compensation claim against the church. “I won’t say sexual abuse because at the time I didn’t know what it was,” he told the victim.
Mr Gibson said that Gannon’s offending had been “planned and deliberate”.
Brian Bourke, for Gannon, said his client had not offended since 1976 and that to impose a jail term for offences 40 years old would be “unreasonable”.
Character witnesses for Gannon said he was remorseful, but Mr Gibson and Judge Gucciardo questioned the extent of the remorse as Gannon had failed to apologise.
Witness Donald Johnson, a former Baptist minister, said Gannon had “a maladaptive approach to his own sexuality”, but had never said he knew what he did was wrong.
Judge Gucciardo will sentence Gannon on June 3.
A seven-year-old girl allegedly starved to death by her mother and mother’s partner was made to sit in a cold bath as a punishment, a court has been told.
In video evidence shown at Birmingham Crown Court, a 12-year-old girl said that she herself had been made to stand in front of a fan in her underwear.
Junaid Abuhamza, 30, and Angela Gordon, 34, both of Leyton Road in Handsworth, Birmingham, deny murdering Khyra Ishaq.
The prosecution said Khyra was starved to death and kept prisoner.
The court heard the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also in the care of the defendants.
She told a policewoman that children at the house would miss out on food if they were naughty.
She also said that she was struck with a stick and made to stand in front of a fan wearing boxer shorts and a vest.
She added that she and others would also be made to stand outside the house.
The court has heard that Khyra lost up to 40% of her bodyweight and resembled a “concentration camp” victim when she was found.
Earlier this week, the jury was told that Mr Abuhamza and Ms Gordon told children at the house they believed Khyra had been possessed by an evil spirit.
Mr Abuhamza pleaded guilty last week to five cruelty charges relating to other children.
Ms Gordon denies five child cruelty offences, which were allegedly committed between December 2007 and May 2008.
The case has been adjourned until Monday.
WICHITA, Kan. – The family of slain abortion provider George Tiller said Tuesday that his Wichita clinic will be “permanently closed,” effective immediately.
In a statement released by Tiller’s attorneys, his family said it is ceasing operation of Women’s Health Care Services Inc. and any involvement by family members in any other similar clinic.
“We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women’s health care needs have been met because of his dedication and service,” the family said.
Tiller was shot to death May 31 while serving as an usher at the Lutheran church in Wichita that he regularly attended. Scott Roeder is being held on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault in Tiller’s death.
Tiller’s family said it will honor his memory through private charitable activities.
Family members said they wanted to assure Tiller’s previous patients that the privacy of their medical histories and patient records will remain “as fiercely protected now and in the future” as they were during Tiller’s lifetime.
Hello Pro-life Friend:
As you know, abortionist George Tiller is dead.
First, we should grieve for him that he did not have an opportunity to properly prepare his soul to face his Maker. Unless some miracle happened, he left this life with his hands drenched with the innocent blood of tens of thousands of babies that he murdered. Surely there will be a dreadful accounting for what he has done.
It now falls to pro-life activists like you and me to stand strong and unflinching in the face of the unjust criticism we will now endure because of his killing. And so I turn my attention to the attacks that will follow his death.
We must use this as a “teaching moment;” a chance for “dialogue” with our fellow Americans concerning this terrific holocaust of the unborn. In that light, I am going to speak clearly and without compromise. I beg you to read this entire letter, and to then watch the video I filmed.
Let us be clear: George Tiller was a mass murderer. He routinely killed innocent children who were “viable.” For the unlearned, that means that those babies could live outside the womb on their own. He specialized in killing “handicapped” children whose parents decided that they were not fit to live. He even offered photographs of the dead children and baptisms for the victims that fell under his knife.
According to God’s laws, and the laws that govern how we protect the innocent in times of peace, George Tiller was one of the most evil men on the planet; every bit as vile as the Nazi war criminals who were hunted down, tried, and sentenced after they participated in the “legal” murder of the Jews that fell into their hands.
I write all of these words with surgical precision to shore up the more timid elements of the pro-life movement. Pro-life leaders are already falling over themselves to exclaim, “We are peaceful! We deplore this violence!”
Of course we are peaceful; that is why this horrific shooting in a church has immediately garnered national attention. It is precisely because we are peaceful that Dr. Tiller’s killing sticks out like a huge wart on an otherwise flawless complexion. If abortionists were gunned down every week, it would gather no more attention than crack dealers who are gunned down every week by fellow drug dealers.
For those surprised by my words, let me tell you exactly why I am using such clear and unflinching rhetoric.
Here is what is about to happen: President Obama has already relayed his “shock.” The arch proponents of child killing such as Planned Parenthood, the National Organization of Women, NARAL, and a host of other enemies of children are going to blame the pro-life movement for Dr. Tiller’s death.
These child killers, and their allies in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill, will attempt to browbeat the pro-life movement into surrendering our most effective weapons in this battle: our rhetoric, our actions, and our images.
Concerning rhetoric, they will blame those of us who call abortion “murder” and say that it is this highly charged rhetoric that inspires people to “take the law into their own hands.”
Concerning actions, they will say that our protests and vigils and sit-ins are responsible for the shooting.
Concerning images, they will whine that the pictures of babies murdered at the hands of Tiller and other abortionists incite people to acts of violence.
All of these accusations are lies.
Beyond that, these foolish accusations fly in the face of equally radical rhetoric, images, and images in the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, and the abolitionist movement. If Dr. Martin Luther King had followed the advice of the timid in his day, President Obama would still be riding in the back of the bus.
Simply put: pro-lifers must not flinch, waver, or in any way alter our course in our epic struggle to make child killing illegal again.
Our rhetoric must bear witness to the truth: abortion is murder. Abortion is the brutal slaughter of innocent human beings; a vile, demonic murder of a human being made in the image of God. Those “doctors” like George Tiller who slay the innocent are hired assassins whose hands are covered with blood. As the sacred Scriptures say: “Cursed is he who receives a bribe to strike down an innocent person.”
Our actions must be equal to this crime: we must protest with vigorous (yet peaceful) actions such as have been used by every social revolution since America’s birth. The easiest picture to have is that of the civil rights activists of the 1960s. They held “illegal” marches, freedom rides, and “sit-ins” at lunch counters; they were met with water canons, dogs, police brutality, arrests, and jail. If we are going to end child killing, we must unflinchingly adopt the strategies of heroes past.
Our images must simply reflect the truth. We must continue to show the victims’ bodies that we have pulled out of dumpsters; we must not retreat a single inch from showing the decapitated heads of little boys and girls, the arms and legs that were suctioned or carved out of their mothers wombs; we must paint the picture of sewers and landfills being used as unholy graves for these holy victims.
In the days following Dr. Tillers killing, every pro-abortion advocate in the country will howl that Tiller’s death is the fault of the pro-life movement’s rhetoric, actions, and images. We must not fear, nor flinch, nor waver on any front.
Our mission is to end the legalized killing of the unborn from conception until natural birth. In this epic struggle – this “war” between the “culture of death” and the “culture of life” – there are going to be unforeseen crises and difficulties. Dr. Tiller’s death is one such unforeseen moment.
However, we must not allow the forces of death to use this moment to glorify their heinous acts. Rather, we must use Dr. Tiller’s death as a “teaching moment” to pull the veil away from the insidious murder that is happening every day, every hour, in abortion mills like Tiller’s across the country.
Wherever Mr. Tiller’s soul is right now – I know he agrees.
Be strong, be brave, and be unflinching in the coming days. We must defend the babies in the face of the death of their killer.
Who doesn’t love making fun of a religion as crazy as Islam?