Saturday, August 02, 2008

Sidewalk abortion activists save lives and give great joy

Commentary by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. I have great respect for the good father's views even though, as an atheist, I do not share them entirely. I am slightly surprised by his predestinarian views, however. I did not think that Calvinism had any part in Roman doctrine. What he reports brings tears of joy to my eyes, however. Those who save the lives of babies do the holiest work imaginable, in my view

"God chose us in Christ, before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight" (See Ephesians 1:5). On Saturday, July 12, I had the joy of baptizing three babies, chosen by God from all eternity to live. A cause of particular joy and celebration was that two of these babies were rescued from abortion. Their mothers had gone to an abortion mill in Allentown, PA, but sidewalk counselors intervened and helped them to find the strength to say "No" to abortion and "Yes" to life.

The Church was filled with pro-life advocates, including the sidewalk counselors who intervened, and all were immersed in the joy of the victory of life. Once this ceremony was scheduled, I announced it nationally, not only so that as many people as possible could come, but also so that the whole pro-life movement could be encouraged by this celebration of victory.

Yadira, one of the mothers who turned away from abortion had already gone into the facility. But a few moments later she found the strength to come out, because she looked at an image on a brochure that one of the sidewalk counselors gave her. That image showed an aborted child. It revealed the reality of what abortion does to a baby, and Yadira knew she could not do that to her baby.

And so her baby Shaelyn, along with baby Brandon, also rescued from abortion, were blessed, anointed, and bathed in the waters that make an end of sin and a beginning of eternal life. These babies, once marked for abortion and inscribed in a scroll of death, now have their names inscribed in the Book of Life.

During the ceremony, I preached about how the Church and the pro-life movement say to these mothers and fathers, "I am with you." We come to their side, rescuing them from despair and giving them the strength to do what is right. We help them to see through the lies of the devil. In fact, in the baptism ceremony, everyone renews the vows of their own baptism. The question resounded through the Church: "Do you reject Satan?" "I do!" the response thundered back. "And all his works?" "I do!" "And all his empty promises?" "I do!" Jesus taught that the works of the devil are lies and murder. Abortion continues because of the lie, the empty promise, that freedom can be found by killing a baby.

We renounced this lie together, and we baptized the babies together. There is no such thing as a private baptism. The Church's ritual calls for baptism to be celebrated as a communal event. The whole Church welcomes the lives that God has chosen from all eternity. His choice is more important than ours, and comes before ours. We choose life because God has already chosen to entrust us to the care of each other. On July 12, we joyfully affirmed God's choice for Shaelyn and Brandon.


"Blame everybody but the guilty party" loses for once in Britain

A couple ordered to $2 million damages to a boy who suffered brain damage on a bouncy castle have won their appeal in a 'victory for common sense'. Timothy and Catherine Perry were held responsible for the accident in which 13-year-old Sam Harris was kicked in the head by an older teenager. But yesterday the country's top judge overturned a High Court ruling in May that the couple had not paid close enough attention to the children's party.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips, sitting with Lord Justice May and Lord Justice Wilson at the Court of Appeal, overruled Mr Justice Steel's decision by declaring that it was a 'freak and tragic accident'.

Legal experts hailed the decision a victory for those supervising bouncy castles who had been left open to compensation claims by parents over even minor accidents.

The accident happened at a tenth birthday party the Perrys were holding for their triplets in a playing field in Strood, near Rochester, Kent, in September 2005. Sam Harris, then aged 11, asked Mrs Perry if he and another boy, Sammy Pring, 15, could have a go. The Perrys had also hired a bungee run and while Mrs Perry had her back turned, Sammy accidentally kicked Sam in the head when performing a somersault. Sam suffered a 'very serious and traumatic brain injury', and now needs round-the-clock care. His parents, Janet and David Harris, who are separated, sued the Perrys.

The High Court ruled that Mr and Mrs Perry should pay an immediate $200,000 to the Harris family and were liable to pay up to as much as $2 million more in damages. But yesterday the High Court ruling was overturned. Sam will not receive any compensation and his parents are expected to take their case to the House of Lords.

Neil Addison, a barrister specialising in civil law, said: 'This appeal simply marks common sense. 'It is a tragic accident and one obviously feels sorry for the boy and his parents but I am not at all surprised at the outcome.'

During the appeal hearing, Lord Phillips said Mrs Perry was under no obligation to keep the bouncy castle under continuous observation, and it was not 'foreseeable' that it posed a 'significant risk of harm'. He added that Mrs Perry had acted 'reasonably' in believing she could supervise the castle and the bungee run at the same time.


Turning the tables on the Inquisitors

Catholic barrister and legal author Neil Addison offers a personal view on the case of Christian registrar, Lillian Ladelle. Addison argues that Ladelle's victory provides welcome recognition for the right of religious people to refuse to carry out work which contradicts their beliefs. And the widespread condemnation of the court victory shows up the intolerance of today's liberal crusaders

In June, Christian registrar Lillian Ladelle won a case for religious discrimination against her employers, Islington Council in London, after she was `discriminated, bullied and harrassed' for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples. To judge from the howls of anguish following the judgement, one might think that the Inquisition was already setting up stakes outside St Paul's, with the Archbishop of Canterbury issuing fatwas from Number 10.

`Secularism in peril!', declared the National Secular Society (NSS) (1) after its president, Terry Sanderson, wrote in a Guardian comment piece that `This is a catastrophic judgment, not just for gay people but for the wider community'. It might seem easy just to dismiss this comment as just one, rather predictable, reaction by a particularly anti-religious organisation. But, significantly, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) decided that the NSS statement should be the only information about the Ladelle case to be put on the its website (it has now been removed).

Since the CEHR has a statutory responsibility to oppose all forms of discrimination, one might have expected it to have applauded, rather than criticised, a victory for a victim of religious discrimination. But the reaction of the CEHR and other `liberal' commentators to the Ladelle case has shown up the nasty, intolerant underside of the modern diversity and equality establishment, and its double standards concerning the interrelationship of Christianity, law and society. In addition, the reactions demonstrate an increasing inability to understand the concept of conscientious moral objection.

If you take the trouble to read the tribunal judgement in the Ladelle case (2), it will become clear that Ladelle was not trying to avoid her work responsibilities, nor was she abusive or insulting to any gay colleagues or members of the public. She had moral, religious objections to performing civil partnership ceremonies because she saw that as an endorsement of homosexual conduct - something she disagreed with. So, when a civil partnership came up, she asked other staff members, who were happy to perform them, to step in. This did not cause any administrative problems for her employers, Islington Council. It did not delay or cause problems for a single civil partnership and no complaints about Lillian were received from any gay member of the public.

But two employees at Islington, who described themselves as `members of the gay community', complained about Ladelle. In consequence, Lillian was bullied by her manager and details of her personal situation and a `confidential' management letter about her was revealed to the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Forum. What her complainants ultimately objected to was not what Lillian did or how she acted, but what she thought and what she believed. She could not be allowed to continue her work in peace, she had to be challenged and her views had to be changed because, in the mind of the heresy hunters of the modern diversity industry, she was guilty of `thought crime'.

Ladelle's case was brought under the 2003 Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) regulations (3), which were brought in at the same time as the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) regulations (4). In paragraph 50 of its judgement, the employment tribunal notes that there is a complex interrelationship between these two sets of regulations and the two principles of non-discrimination they represent: `This is a case where there is a direct conflict between the legislative protection afforded to religion and belief and the legislative protection afforded to sexual orientation. One set of rights cannot overrule the other set of rights.'

In all areas of discrimination law, there is the question of `reasonable accommodation' so that, for example, Sikh employees are not required to take off their turbans in order to conform to the uniform worn by everyone else. However, during the tribunal hearing, Ladelle's manager said: `I don't believe we should be accommodating people's religious beliefs in the registry service.'

The tribunal had to reject that point of view just as they would have to reject the point of view of any manager who didn't believe it was necessary to accommodate someone's sexual orientation, disability, sex, race or age. If it had been impracticable for Islington to accommodate Lillian, or if it would have made the working of the registry service impossible or unreasonably difficult, then Ladelle would not have won her case. But the evidence was that Ladelle's unwillingness to conduct civil partnerships caused no such problems. Her manager was not prepared to accommodate her religious beliefs because the manager did not agree with them.

Rod Liddle criticised Ladelle in The Sunday Times and described Christians as a `vanishingly small section of the British population' (5). Even if assuming, for the sake of the argument, his remark is true, surely the whole purpose of discrimination law is to protect minorities? In any event, the number of civil partnerships in 2007 - 8,728 - is also `vanishingly small' compared to the number of marriages - 275,140 (7).

Part of the hysterical overreaction to the Ladelle case arises from a profound theological illiteracy in modern society and a refusal to recognise that there is a distinction between discriminating against someone because of their actions and being morally complicit in those actions. For example, Ben Summerskill, the national director of the gay rights campaign, Stonewall, suggested on BBC News that because of the Ladelle case, Christian firefighters might refuse to rescue gay people trapped in a burning building. In a recent BMA general meeting it was suggested that Muslim doctors might refuse to treat alcoholics. In neither of these hypothetical situations would a Christian or Muslim have any theological, or legal, basis for refusing their services because in neither case would they be morally complicit in the actions of the people they were assisting.

If a gay couple is trapped in a fire, then a firefighter who saves them is passing no moral judgement on them or their sexual activities nor is he morally complicit in them. However, a registrar who `marries' them is morally complicit. Similarly, a Muslim doctor who treats an alcoholic is not morally complicit in their alcohol drinking, but a Muslim shop assistant who sells alcohol is. This failure to recognise the concept of moral complicity lies at the heart of the problem that the Roman Catholic adoption agencies face since being required to abide by the Sexual Orientation Regulations. If an adoption agency places a child for adoption with a gay couple then it is, in effect, giving moral approval to that relationship and is thereby morally complicit in it. There is no explicit scope for conscientious objection and the giving of a child for adoption is treated on the same legal basis as the selling of a beef burger.

Several commentators on the Ladelle case have suggested that, because Lillian was engaged in a secular employment, her religious views should have no relevance. I have some sympathy with that view. However, if we are to have a division between secular and sacred then that division cannot just be one way. If religious belief should stay out of secular employment and services, then surely discrimination law should similarly stay out of religion services and employment, but that is not the way the law works. In 2007, the Bishop of Hereford was taken to an employment tribunal over his decision that the diocese should not employ a gay youth worker (8). The Christian views on sexual morality were not regarded as relevant by the tribunal.

By extending anti-discrimination laws to cover sexual orientation and religious belief, the law has, in effect, entered the area of personal conscience to an extent not seen in this country since the repeal of the Anti-Catholic Test Acts in 1829. Today, the descendents of Torquemada and the Inquisition no longer work for the Church - they have instead become diversity officers mercilessly enforcing the new orthodoxy and relentlessly hounding those, like Lillian Ladelle, who are the heretics of the new age.


India Learns from Uganda: New AIDS Strategy Rejects Failed UN Approach - Will Focus on Abstinence, Fidelity

The decision accords with Indian traditions but, coming from the world's second most populated nation, it could have far-reaching effect

One of the only national programs ever to effectively combat HIV/AIDS was the Ugandan ABC program, which focused on abstinence and being faithful to one partner. Now the Indian national AIDS committee is adopting this same approach in their effort to curb HIV/AIDS rates. A spokesperson for India's National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) told the media yesterday that sex-education taught to students will focus on abstinence and fidelity, not condoms and 'safer sex.'

This announcement came after a meeting involving officials from NCERT and the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), who, under the guidance of director-general Sujatha Rao, have advocated fighting AIDS with values, not condoms. "There will be no mention of condom or safe sex in the revised module on life-skill education program. But we will be focusing on the aspirations of the youngsters and will also talk about being faithful to one's partner and abstinence. There should be no hypocrisy on the subject," said Rao, as reported by the Indian press. "The youngsters need to get the right information. The children are growing in an unsafe environment," she added.

Originally a module was created to introduce sex-education into Indian schools to fight the spread of AIDS that promoted condoms and 'safer sex' techniques. The module, however, which included a flipchart with graphic illustrations of the human anatomy, was met with a nationwide uproar that led to seven states and many educationalists rejecting it. The module was formulated under the direction of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), which is known for dumping condoms into developing nations as a means of fighting AIDS, despite hard data that shows no country has ever significantly reduced their AIDS rate using this method.

Before the new module receives final revisions, which are slated for October, secretaries of state, NGOs, as well as teachers and parents will be given a chance to review its contents and provide feedback.

The Indian decision, rejecting the usual intense pressures to adopt failed UN and other international agency strategies, could have major international repercussions on AIDS programs in other nations. Eventually expected to surpass China as the most populated nation in the world and with an economy that is also rapidly becoming one of the world's largest, India's international influence on AIDS and many other issues is becoming substantial.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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