Time to go through the looking-glass, even though thousands of (presumably christian) protesters gathered in front of the capital building last week.. it seems those very same people are outraged that muslims would gather at the same spot.
The event sounds like yet another Tea Party protest, or perhaps an encore of last weekend’s Values Voter Summit: Devout believers joining together this Friday to pray on Capitol Hill for the soul of America.
Who could argue with that? Well, when the believers happen to be Muslims, and there could be as many as 50,000 of them kneeling to pray in Arabic, yes, you could see how there might be some blowback from the usual suspects.
Indeed, the online publication from David Horowitz, FrontPageMag.com, sounded the alarm in an article Monday titled “Taking Islamism to the Streets,” and the title of the “9/12 Project” post is simply, “OUTRAGED!” The writers at “Bare Naked Islam” are calling the event “disgusting” and “treasonous” and warn that “50,000 Muslims, terrorists, and terrorist sympathizers” will turn the Capitol into “a giant outdoor mosque.” And Charisma magazine, a mainstream Pentecostal publication, quoted Christians in its account saying things like, “It is warfare time.”
The most organized pushback so far is from a new organization of a nativist bent called Stop Islamization of America, or SIOA. It describes itself as a group of “scholar warriors/ideological warriors in the cause of American freedom and Constitutional government”– and defines Islam as against those things. SIOA is using Friday’s event, “Islam on Capitol Hill,” as a launchpad for the group and to stage a counterprotest.
BALTIMORE – In a direct challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, America’s Roman Catholic bishops vowed on Tuesday to accept no compromise for the sake of national unity until there is legal protection for the unborn.
About 300 bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their national meeting, adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and advised Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, as he began drafting a statement from the bishops to the incoming Obama administration. That document will call on the administration and Catholics who supported Obama to work to outlaw abortion.
“This is not a matter of political compromise or a matter of finding some way of common ground,” said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio. “It’s a matter of absolutes.”
The bishops, long one of the leading political forces against abortion, spent the first part of Tuesday behind closed doors reportedly debating the merits of “Faithful Citizenship,” a nuanced guide for Catholic voters issued last November.
Though the document made clear that “the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many,” it also advised Catholics to weigh issues like poverty, war, the environment and human rights when choosing candidates.
But some bishops said they were surprised to see Catholics cite the document as justification for selecting candidates–like Obama–who support abortion rights. A slim majority of the nation’s Catholics voted for the Democratic candidate.
Several bishops said that Catholics could not in good conscience vote for a candidate who favored abortion rights after Obama pledged to pass legislation that would overturn state’s restrictions on abortion such as late-term abortion bans and requirements of parental consent.
“Any one of us here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow–die tomorrow!–to bring about the end of abortion,” said Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis.
Bishops Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said such legislation could threaten laws that allow health-care workers to refrain from carrying out procedures that violate their conscience, putting Catholic health care institutions in jeopardy.
“There are grave consequences,” Paprocki said in an interview. “If Catholic hospitals were required by federal law to perform abortions, we’d have to close our hospitals.”
“I don’t think I’m being alarmist,” Paprocki told the bishops.
George agreed that losing federal funds would put Catholic health care facilities, which make up a third of the nation’s hospitals, out of business. Closing Catholic hospitals would put many patients seeking charitable care from those facilities at risk, he added.
In crafting the statement to Obama, the bishops urged the cardinal to indicate a desire to work with the administration in areas of economic justice, immigration reform, health care for the poor and religious freedom. But they stressed the church’s “intent on opposing evil” and “defense of the unborn child.”
They vowed to oppose any law or executive order that might loosen restrictions on abortion.
They emphasized that efforts to advance abortion rights would “permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans and would be interpreted by many Catholics as an attack on the Church.” They also urged Catholics in public life to be committed to the teachings of the church.
Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., vice president-elect Joe Biden’s home town, called on his brother bishops to be more punitive against Catholic officials who are “stridently anti-life.”
“I cannot have the vice president coming to Scranton and saying he learned his values there when those values are utterly against those of the Catholic Church,” Martino said.
Sister Jamie Phelps, a theologian at Xavier University in Louisiana, also served on Obama’s National Catholic Advisory Board. She applauds the bishops for issuing the statement. But she said the Faithful Citizenship document made it clear that while the rights of an unborn child are a priority voters should consider a whole range of issues regarding the preservation and quality of life.
“That child has no voice if it’s not the voice of the bishops and the voice of Catholics,” she said. “But you can not pick and choose an intrinsic evil.”
George said the Faithful Citizenship document remains the guiding principle for Catholic voters. But he said future versions should be tweaked so portions are not “misused and misinterpreted.” He said Catholics seemed to overlook the “whole question of proportionate reason.”
George has attributed Obama’s victory to the economy, insisting that it was not a referendum on moral issues such as abortion rights.
The bishops also approved a blessing on Tuesday devoted to a child in the womb, intended to support parents, unite parishes and foster respect for human life within society.
“Obviously it’s a very tangible way for us to witness pastorally and sacramentally to the life of an unborn child,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville. “It’s very consistent with the priorities we’ve raised.”
Members of a fundamentalist American church group planning to stage a protest at the funeral for a Winnipeg man brutally killed on a Greyhound bus have managed to enter Canada, a spokeswoman told CBC News on Friday.
Canadian border guards are under orders to prevent members the Westboro Baptist Church, a controversial Kansas-based sect, from entering the country.
The group intends to picket the funeral of 22-year-old Tim McLean to tell Canadians his slaying on July 30 was God’s response to Canadian policies enabling abortion, homosexuality and divorce and remarriage.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day’s office sent an alert to border patrol to “look out” for people with signs and pamphlets consistent with the messages that the church promotes and to keep them out of the country.
Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, said a group of church members was turned away from a border crossing at Niagara Falls, but a small group did manage to get into Manitoba overnight.
“They were looking for picket signs and they were looking for leaflets. Well, we don’t do leaflets, and the picket signs, you know, Fed Ex ships them overnight,” she said.
However, Phelps-Roper said the reaction the group has raised from some police and public officials has her questioning whether the planned protest will go ahead.
“The question to my mind [is] whether or not we ought to get them the heck out of that country, because that’s some crazy stuff when you’ve got your officials talking like they are in a back-alley brawl and not government officials who took an oath to obey the law and so forth.”
Phelps-Roper said she would advise church members not to go ahead with the protest if there is a concern they might be arrested or harmed.
A counter-protest against the church’s picket plans was launched on the social networking site Facebook on Thursday.
More than 700 people have since joined the group; postings indicate they plan to form a “human wall” around the family to shield them from the church protest, if it takes place.
Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin said the group should be “sent packing,” and should not try to show up in Winnipeg “for their own safety.”
“We’re not going to allow these people to compound the tragedy of the McLean family loss, and Canadians simply won’t tolerate these lunatics disrupting what should be a respectful service,” he told CBC News on Friday.
“Your freedom to swing your arm in the air ends when it touches the end of my nose,” he added. “What these people were going to do was hurtful, harmful and disruptive to the peace, order and good government that we guarantee to our citizens, so they have no place in this country.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A University of Central Florida student, upset religious groups hold church services on public campuses, is holding hostage the Eucharist, an object so sacred to Catholics they call it the Body of Christ.
Church officials say UCF Student Senator Webster Cook was disruptive and disrespectful when he attended Mass held on campus Sunday June 29. It was during that Mass where Cook admits he obtained the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is a small bread wafer blessed by a priest. According to Catholics, the wafer becomes the Body of Christ once blessed and is to be consumed immediately after a minister passes it out to churchgoers.
Cook claims he planned to consume it, but first wanted to show it to a fellow student senator he brought to Mass who was curious about the Catholic faith.
“When I received the Eucharist, my intention was to bring it back to my seat to show him,” Cook said. “I took about three steps from the woman distributing the Eucharist and someone grabbed the inside of my elbow and blocked the path in front of me. At that point I put it in my mouth so they’d leave me alone and I went back to my seat and I removed it from my mouth.”
A church leader was watching, confronted Cook and tried to recover the sacred bread. Cook said she crossed the line and that’s why he brought it home with him.
“She came up behind me, grabbed my wrist with her right hand, with her left hand grabbed my fingers and was trying to pry them open to get the Eucharist out of my hand,” Cook said, adding she wouldn’t immediately take her hands off him despite several requests.
Diocese of Orlando spokeswoman Carol Brinati said she was not aware of anyone touching Cook. She released a statement Thursday: “… a Catholic Campus Ministry student representative filed a complaint with the Student Union regarding the behavior of the two young men. A Student Government Representative called Catholic Campus Ministry to apologize for this disruption.”
Cook filed an official abuse complaint with UCF’s student conduct court regarding the alleged physical force. Following that complaint, Brinati said church members filed their own official complaints of disruptive conduct. Punishment for either offense could result in suspension or expulsion.
“The church feels that I’m the problem here,” Cook said. “The problem is actually that this is a publicly-funded religious institution. Through student government here, we fund them through an activity and service, so they’re receiving student money.”
Cook is upset more than $40,000 in student fees have been allocated to support religious organizations on campus for the 2008-2009 school year, according to student government records. He denied he is holding the Eucharist hostage to protest that support.
Regardless of the reason, the Diocese says its main concern is to get the Eucharist back so it can be taken care of properly and with respect. Cook has been keeping the Eucharist stored in a plastic bag since last Sunday.
“It is hurtful,” said Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese. “Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family.”
Gonzalez said the Diocese is willing to meet with Cook and help him understand the importance of the Eucharist in hopes of him returning it. The Diocese is dispatching a nun to UCF’s campus to oversee the next mass, protect the Eucharist and in hopes Cook will return it.
Cook said he’d consider returning the Eucharist if he gets an apology and a meeting with the Bishop’s office to discuss the Diocese’s policy on physical force.
Gonzalez said intentionally abusing the Eucharist is classified as a mortal sin in the Catholic church, the most severe possible. If it’s not returned, the community of faith will have to ask for forgiveness.
“We have to make acts of reparation,” Gonzalez said. “The whole community is going to turn to prayer. We’ll ask the Lord for pardon, forgiveness, peace, not only for the whole community affected by it, but also for [Cook], we offer prayers for him as well.”