Patterico's Pontifications


Spreading the Word

Filed under: Government,Religion — DRJ @ 6:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Here’s an unusual search and seizure case:

“The million-dollar question: Will you go to heaven?” is printed on the back of bills used as gospel tracts by a Dallas-area evangelical group.

The counterfeit money was seized by Secret Service Agents back in 2006 when a North Carolina man tried to deposit the $1 million bill in his bank account.

Last week, a Texas federal district court ruled that the fake money, printed by the Great News Network, is fake enough that it doesn’t pose a risk of fraud, so it’s not illegal.

Note: The U.S. doesn’t make a $1 million bill, or any bill over $1,000 for that matter. The slip–which bears the face of President Grover Cleveland–also says: “This is Not Legal Tender” and “Department of Eternal Affairs.”

The court also ruled that the Secret Service violated the Fourth Amendment when it took more than 8,000 of the bills from the organization’s offices without warrant, an unconstitutional search and seizure.”

The decision overturned a 2006 preliminary injunction ruling that treated the $1M bills as counterfeit money, not religious tracts, even though it appears only one person out of millions thought it was real:

“U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis refused to grant a request by Darrel Rundus of the Great News Network to order federal agents to return thousands of tracts – printed as million-dollar bills – seized June 2 from the ministry’s Denton office.

According to court documents, Secret Service agents became involved in the case after a bank customer in North Carolina recently tried to deposit one of the tracts. That led agents to the Denton ministry, where they grabbed up more than 8,000 tracts.
The government argued in court filings that the million-dollar bills are the same size as federal reserve notes, use a portrait of President Grover Cleveland and have the distinctive peach and green coloring of new currency denominations. The back of the bill also looks like the $20 bill, except that the borders contain type-written warnings against sins such as lustful glances at women. Repentance is also urged.

Brian Fahling, a Mississippi attorney who filed the injunction request on behalf of Great News Network, said the ministry has passed out millions of the tracts to spread a Gospel message, not to circulate counterfeit currency.

“One person out of 6 million was confused by this?” Mr. Fahling said about the bank incident in North Carolina. “It’s just absurd to think anybody would view this tract as real money.”

No word on the fate of the eternal optimist in North Carolina who tried to deposit one.



Dan Collins: “Sexual Abuse is Not a Catholic Franchise”

Filed under: Education,Law,Religion — DRJ @ 3:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

An excerpt from an excellent post by Dan Collins at POWIP:

“[T]he headlines in the MSM are all about Holy Week opening amidst charges of sex abuse cover-ups that may even touch on the Pope himself. Benedict has dismissed the charges, and between the NYT and the Pope, on a matter of truthfulness, please forgive me if I go with the Pope. Religion hater Christopher Hitchens has called for the US to cut off political relations with the Vatican, and yesterday True/Slant writer Matt Taibbi stated that the Catholic Church was a criminal enterprise and ought to be sued under RICO.

Well, that’s an interesting theory. But are public schools a criminal enterprise, as well? Because I believe that despite all the talk about celibacy being the root of the trouble for the Catholic Church, one would find that incidences of abuse and cover-up are at least as widespread among public schools. I realize that this is just a hunch, but it demonstrates the confirmation bias at play that none of the MSM is interested in performing the actual research that would be necessary either to confirm or deny the supposition.”

Read the rest and while you’re there, wish Dan a Happy Birthday.



The Preschooler’s Two Mommies Speak

Filed under: Education,Religion — DRJ @ 9:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The mothers of the Catholic School preschooler denied enrollment in next year’s kindergarten class are speaking out. It turns out they have two children enrolled at the school and, like most things in life, there’s more to this story:

“The lesbian parents of two children rejected from re-enrollment at a Boulder Catholic school say they won’t give up their faith despite their shock and anger at the church.

In a written statement, the women, who asked that their names not be used, said they enrolled their children at Sacred Heart of Jesus parish school because they’re Catholics who regularly attended services at Sacred Heart and baptized their children there.

“When we were allowed to have our children baptized, we made a promise to raise our children in the Catholic faith,” they said. “We now feel like our attempts at fulfilling this promise are being undermined by the church itself.”

A prior post on this story is here. The mothers dispute many of the church’s claims:

“The lesbian couple said in their statement that the decision was a shock because their children had been attending Sacred Heart’s preschool for three years — and they had been open with the school about their sexual orientation.

They said they will continue to attend Catholic services and raise their children as Catholics, though they don’t know if they will go back to Sacred Heart Church. They haven’t been there for two weeks to avoid being the center of attention.

In their statement, the lesbian couple said they’ve never sought approval from the church for their relationship and don’t expect the school to “modify its teachings to accommodate our family.”

“It is wrong to punish a child for who the child’s parents are,” they said in the statement. “We do not think this reflects what Jesus would have done.”

The Archbishop announced his support for the Church’s decision. Meanwhile, local protests continued over the weekend.



9th Circuit: Pledge Of Allegiance is OK After All

Filed under: Law,Religion — DRJ @ 5:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed itself today:

“A divided federal appeals court Thursday reversed itself, ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t violate the constitutional prohibition against state-mandated religious exercise even though it contains the phrase “one nation under God.”

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2002, which deemed that requiring students to recite the pledge violated their rights to be free of religious indoctrination by the government, was one of the most controversial to come out of the court that is second only to the U.S. Supreme Court in its power to determine law for nine Western states and two Pacific territories.”

Judge Stephen Reinhardt again found his way onto the panel and was the lone dissenter. The Court also rejected a challenge by the same plaintiff, Michael Newdow, to the phrase “In God We Trust” printed on the national money.

I’m glad these opinions weren’t issued on April 1st.



The Preschooler’s Two Mommies (Updated)

Filed under: Education,Religion — DRJ @ 10:11 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Boulder, Colorado, preschool student won’t be allowed to continue classes next year at a private Catholic preschool but it’s not the student’s fault. It’s because the student’s parents are lesbians whose relationship violates Church beliefs:

“According to teachers at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, a meeting was held Tuesday to discuss the issue. The staff was told a student would not be allowed to re-enroll because of his or her parents’ sexual orientation. The staff members were also told not to talk to the media.

In a statement sent to 9NEWS, the [Denver] Archdiocese said, “Homosexual couples living together as a couple are in disaccord with Catholic teaching.”

The story apparently became public after staff members disgusted by the decision decided to speak with the media.


UPDATE 3/8/2010 — The Denver Post reports there was a protest outside the church Sunday. In addition, the report includes this background information:

“Inside the church, the Rev. Bill Breslin addressed the issue in his sermon. He also posted his comments on his blog.

“If a child of gay parents comes to our school, and we teach that gay marriage is against the will of God, then the child will think that we are saying their parents are bad,” Breslin said on his blog. “We don’t want to put any child in that tough position.”

DeMelo said the schools do not ask questions about sexual orientation during enrollment, but once they found out, they had to address it according to their policy.

“We’re not trying to weed out people,” DeMelo said. “But when they can’t agree with our Catholic philosophy, it really makes it difficult to be a strong part of the school community; it’s a difficult situation.”

The article says the student is currently a preschooler and has been denied admission to next year’s kindergarten program.


Obama the Fan

Filed under: Obama,Religion,Sports — DRJ @ 2:33 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama and Vice President Biden attended the Georgetown-Duke basketball game today. Obama announced the game for a few minutes and joked with Verne Lundquist:

“Shortly after the second half began, the president was seated between CBS announcers Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg. Obama, an avid fan of the sport who often plays pickup basketball games, seemed to impress the pair.

After Obama described a spin move and basket by one player, Kellogg told him he could handle the job of announcing.

“After retirement, I’m coming after your job, Clark,” Obama replied. “I’m just letting you know. So you either have three more years or seven more years,” he said, referring to the possibility that he might be re-elected to a second term.

At another point, CBS aired tape of a pickup game Obama played during the 2008 presidential campaign, including a missed left-handed layup. That prompted Lundquist to ask Obama if he has problems dribbling to his right.

“I went to the Republican House caucus just yesterday to prove that I could go to my right once in a while,” Obama joked, referring to a televised session Friday when the president attended a House GOP retreat in Baltimore.”

The report noted that “[s]ecurity for the game was intensified, with fans having to pass through metal detectors, cars being searched as they entered the building’s garage, and a large number of security agents in the arena.” Apparently Obama isn’t averse to inconveniencing people after all, at least not for important things like basketball.

Yesterday ABC News reported Obama and his family haven’t joined a church in over a year and rarely attend public services. The report implied the Obamas worship in other ways because of the cost and hardship imposed on others when the First Family make public appearances:

“Keeping the faith in quiet moments of worship may be the best Obama can do given the realities of the presidency that make it nearly impossible to join a church without inflicting a heavy burden on taxpayers, fellow churchgoers and his own spiritual life, sources say.

Security concerns mean costly and complicated measures to ensure the president’s safety on church outings, including screening every member of the congregation for weapons and sweeping the church building and areas around it for threats.”

And at least one of Obama’s three reported church outings was about politics as much as church — his January 2010 attendance commemorating Martin Luther King Day.



Revealed: U.S. Military Uses “Jesus Rifles”

Filed under: Religion,War — DRJ @ 2:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC News reports a Michigan company that supplies high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. military inscribes references to New Testament Bible passages on the sights, including references to Second Corinthians, Revelation, Matthew and John:

“Trijicon confirmed to that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there” and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is “not Christian.” The company has said the practice began under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who was killed in a 2003 plane crash.”

Using weapons with Biblical references raises military concerns that its actions will be viewed as a religious “Crusade” in the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban.



Brit Hume’s Advice to Tiger Woods

Filed under: Media Bias,Religion — DRJ @ 8:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today’s hot topic discussion is brought to us by … Brit Hume?

Here is the original Hume clip. The clip above shows Hume on Bill O’Reilly’s show discussing his earlier comments, and it includes an excerpt from the original clip.

A person doesn’t have to be a Christian to have morals or to believe it’s important to be loyal to his or her spouse. Thus, I don’t blame religion for its followers’ failings unless the religion endorses sinful behavior.

Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s wrong for journalists to talk about religion. My impression is some pundits object to Hume’s advice as inappropriate in a media forum. If so, I think they are trying to separate media and religion in the same way some want to erect a wall between church and state. I don’t agree with that view. Atheists and believers in any profession should be able to speak up in America.



Obama Plans to Visit Indonesia

Filed under: International,Obama,Religion — DRJ @ 2:00 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama accepted an invitation to visit Indonesia next year where he hopes to show his wife and daughters his “old haunting grounds.” He also took the opportunity to praise Indonesia:

“As one of the world’s largest Islamic nations, it has enormous influence and really is, I think, a potential model for the kind of development strategies, democracy strategies, as well as interfaith strategies that are going to be so important moving forward.”

It’s been said that Indonesia is proof a Muslim country can embrace democracy, but it’s also been said Indonesia’s democracy is too weak to stand up to militant Muslims. I doubt that’s what Obama meant by “interfaith strategies” so let’s consider how the U.S. Department of State views Indonesia’s religious freedom:

“The Constitution provides for freedom of religion. The Government officially recognized only six religions, and legal restrictions continued on certain types of religious activity.

The Government generally respected religious freedom in practice; however, ongoing government restrictions, particularly among unrecognized religions and sects of the recognized religions considered “deviant” were significant exceptions to respect for religious freedom. Since the previous reporting period the Government convicted and sentenced the leaders of a hardline Muslim organization to 18 months in prison, including time served, for their role in organized violence against a peaceful demonstration in support of religious freedom. The Government also prosecuted terrorists responsible for religiously tinged violence in Sulawesi and the Malukus. In some cases, however, the Government tolerated discrimination against and the abuse of religious groups by private actors and failed to punish perpetrators, although the Government prevented several vigilante actions during Ramadan. Aceh remained the only province authorized to implement Islamic law (Shari’a), although non-Muslims in the province are exempted from Shari’a. Many local governments outside of Aceh maintained laws with elements of Shari’a that abrogated certain rights of women and religious minorities; however, no new laws based on Shari’a were known to have passed during the reporting period. Even though the central Government holds authority over religious matters, it did not try to overturn any local laws that restricted rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Members of minority religious groups continued to experience some official discrimination in the form of administrative difficulties, often in the context of civil registration of marriages and births or the issuance of identity cards.”

This is the “potential model” for “interfaith strategies” Obama praises?



First FLDS Criminal Trial Starts Monday

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Crime,Religion — DRJ @ 1:50 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The first criminal proceeding in the Texas FLDS case begins with jury selection Monday in Eldorado, Texas:

“Texas prosecutors allege that Raymond Merril Jessop broke the law by having sex with an underage girl he married in a ceremony blessed by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the sect that owns, occupies and operates the secretive Schleicher County ranch.

Monday’s trial will be the first of 10 criminal trials for men in the sect. The state claims FLDS members prey on their children by marrying girls to older men, often their blood relatives; FLDS leaders and members claim the state is persecuting it for practicing its religion.”

The case reportedly pits two excellent attorneys, 60 prosecution witnesses, and is expected to last 2 weeks. If this anecdote is any indication, it will be a challenging two weeks for the 2,800 residents of Eldorado and Schleicher County:

“Peggy Williams, the district court clerk in Eldorado, said the courtroom will seat 267 spectators, but 300 people have been summonsed for jury selection. Although some have been exempted, disqualified or excused, the court will be crowded.

Jury selection, she said, may take two days.

The trial will be a strain for Williams’ office: It will be closed Monday because she and her deputy will be in court, and her only remaining deputy was summonsed for jury selection.”

The linked article includes more details about the attorneys and the prosecution’s witnesses.


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