Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pope, Pelosi, Abortion, Politics

One of my favorite newspapers, the Arizona Republic (AR), published a "news briefing" on February 19 entitled "Pope urges Pelosi to reject support of abortion rights". Apparently, when Pope Benedict XVI met recently with Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic U.S. House speaker, he, according to the AR, told Pelosi, a Roman Catholic and an abortion-rights advocate, that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life "at all stages of its development."

I find it amazing how people can identify themselves with a particular faith and not hold to some of the basic tenets of that faith. Is being a Roman Catholic for such a person simply something they do out of "family tradition" or perhaps out of political expediency? Why would such a person want to meet with the Pope and take the risk of being told they weren't being a good Catholic? Do the pro-Democrat, anti-abortion people of America really care that Pelosi is an abortion-rights advocate? Do the abortion-rights advocates really care what the Pope thinks? Would someone like Pelosi even seriously consider the request of her spiritual leader when the political risks are so high?

Here's my point. The answers one is likely to give to all these, and other similar questions, just point to the fact that somewhere along the line, we have lost the ability to think straight about some key matters because we have lost our desire to adhere to some absolutes.

For starters, even if we believe there is a God (which I do), we do not find it necessary to accept what He is likely to say about certain things, especially if it does not fit in with our own desires or goals. Secondly, organized religion for many has become more of a membership club than a collective means of worshiping and serving the Creator. Thirdly, personal faith has become just that to a lot of people -- that is, it's so 'personal' that they themselves stipulate all the ground rules of the very 'faith' they choose to have. For example, "I'll be a Christian, but I won't accept the tenets of Christianity concerning the virgin birth, the sanctity of life, total dependence on God, and the Great Commission, etc."

What does all this mean for the true Christian? The way I see it is simply this: I have to realize that unless a politician stands up for and personally adheres to the teaching of his or her faith, especially those claiming to be Christians, whether Roman Catholic or otherwise, then I must discard as completely irrelevant anything they say about their faith and possibly most of what they say outside matters of faith.

At least that's the way I see it. What do you think?

(you can now Twitter me by going to Twitter )

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Can Now Follow Me on Twitter

Hello readers -- you can now follow me on Twitter.com -- search it for Ken Godevenos and happy trailing.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

God Spare Us From Religions That Make the Laws of the Land

I read with interest the report of journalist Saeed Shah in Islamabad dated February 16, 2009. The headline simply read “Pakistan Makes Deal To Enforce Islamic Law In Northwest Region”.

Let me give you the background: Pakistan, forced by Taliban militants, has agreed to officially enforce Islamic (sharia) Law in parts of its country. In exchange the militants will agree to a ceasefire there. The country’s president insists the Taliban are “trying to take over the state” and warned against the deal. Up to now, the U.S. has strongly opposed any attempt by Pakistan to negotiate with the Taliban. The area involved is not wild or remote or tribal but heavily overrun by Taliban and al-Queda.

One think-tank analyst there is calling this a surrender, arguing that “if you keep treating a community as something different from the rest of the country, it will isolate them.” A retired judge points out that now there will not be one law in the land and foresees further disintegration. “If you concede to this, you will go on conceding.”

The deal-maker for the militants is a local Islamic leader who once led hundreds of men to fight with the Taliban against the U.S.-led coalition. Pakistan freed him recently when democracy was restored, although the U.S. was against it doing so. (But hey, you’ll never hear the press drawing that to anybody’s attention as something the U.S. did right considering what’s happening now.)

The ‘signee’ for the government, the regional leader for the area, Hajji Adeel said the goal was “to speed up the justice system.” Of course, there is no proof that it will do that. Adeel’s real motive is revealed in his next statement, “If six months ago, sharia had started working…the intensity of the terror there would have been much less.” Whether or not that is true can be checked out six months from now. But the fact remains bullies and militants get their way because no one strong enough to defeat them is supported any longer. Where this may lead is anybody’s guess, but you can bet it ain’t going to be pretty. Not for the country, not for the non-Islamic inhabitants, and certainly not for the Islamic women who may end up being judged by sharia. Already in this region the Taliban have been enforcing their brutal version of Islamic Law that includes public floggings and summary execution. That’s their ultimate goal, not just “observer” status in the courtroom.

The Provincial Law Minister said, “It’s not that we are giving in to their demands, rather we are demanding of them to restore peace first.” You could have fooled many of us. Here’s the part I found most interesting. The way this will work is that Islamic “religious experts will sit in on the court alongside a regular judge to ensure that rulings are in compliance with Islam.” Wow, can you imagine that in the free world? Baptists and Pentecostals and Catholics and Jews sitting in “alongside a regular judge to ensure our rulings are in compliance with each of their faith’s belief systems.” Not a chance. Nor would the majority of us want that.

But in Pakistan and other countries where Islam has either an upper hand or a strong presence, it’s okay. Or is it? What if the so-called religious experts do not agree with the ruling? Then what? Can they overturn it? Will they just file a “dissenting report”? Will they scream and yell and bring out the militants again to get their way? No one knows, so, “no thanks”. I would rather go with rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s. Let the courts of the land judge those that fall into their hands, including the Christians. But let us as Christians (and I’m sure the Jews would want to do likewise) settle our own differences within the Body.

Back in northern Pakistan, the militant deal-maker (who is not a Taliban by the way) has only managed to get a 10-day ceasefire from the Taliban during which they will consider whether or not the deal is a good one. Right. The deal-maker still has a lot of persuading to do.

The Pakistani president concedes that the future of the country is in grave danger from the Taliban, present in huge parts of the country. He said the Taliban are “trying to take over the state of Pakistan” and “we’re fighting for the survival” of Pakistan.

But of course in the West we actually debate long and hard over whether or not we should allow sharia law in various jurisdictions even without Taliban presence (at least that’s the case in parts of Canada, but I’m sure the U.S. won’t be too far behind – just think of the money that a full application of sharia law for all Muslims would save the Obama administration that could be diverted to more bailouts of wall street executives). No, in the West no one will admit that we’re “in grave danger” or that “we’re fighting for our survival”. That would be politically incorrect.

I am not against anybody’s law. I am against any religious law becoming the “law of the land.” Thank God that in North America we ‘lost’ that battle long ago.

At least that’s the way I see it. I’d welcome your comments.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Watch out as Obama revamps Faith-based office

The new American president is at it again. He keeps providing evidence that he just does not get it!

This time he wants to deal with the problems others have with faith-based initiatives by, I believe, ultimately removing any faith-based differences. In the media reports based of his recent National Prayer Breakfast announcement last Thursday, Obama indicated that his dream of eliminating our “differences” will not happen overnight.

Mr. President, in case you have not noticed, the very meaning of faith-based relies on differences between people of faith and no-faith, or ones with a certain faith versus another. All the historical leaders of major religions accepted that, but you seem to be having trouble with it.

There is believe that what’s really behind Obama’s comments and direction is the fact that many are objecting to some faith organizations helping those in need while receiving government grants are doing so by only hiring and utilizing those of like-faith. This, say the naysayers, is not right.

But legislator beware, this very direction may well eliminate the masses of volunteers who desire to happily work “within” their own faith-group, serving humanity. It is one thing to require charities to offer their services, especially those of a social nature, to all – as they should – but it is another thing to dictate to them ‘by whom’ they should do it. A state cannot rely on their help to do things more effectively and economically, even if it contributes to their operational costs, and demand things be done its way. Mr. Obama, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

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