Sunday, October 05, 2008

'Bride,' 'groom' can't marry in California

'We thought we couldn't go any lower. We discovered actually we can'

A man and woman have had to go to court in California because they want to be recognized as married after officials rejected their marriage license because it listed "bride" and "groom" instead of "Party A" and "Party B."

After the state Supreme Court in May expanded the rights enumerated in the state constitution and found same-sex couples couldn't be denied marriage rights, "Many thought we couldn't go any lower," said Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working on the case. "We discovered actually we can."

Gideon Codding and Rachel Bird recently were married in Placer County, near Sacramento. However, surprised by new marriage license forms created by state bureaucrats with "Party A" and "Party B," they jotted an explanatory "Groom" and "Bride' next to "party" designations. The couple soon discovered the strength of the pro-homosexual lobby in the state: The application was returned to Pastor Doug Bird, who officiated, with a form letter stating the license "does not comply with California State registration laws."

The couple now is filing a lawsuit in Placer County asking the court to order county officials to process the license, since without the form's registration, "the Coddings are not legally married and have been prevented from accessing the many benefits available to married couples." "Being labeled by the state as 'Party A' and 'Party B" is demeaning," said PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider. "It's shocking that we have to litigate over whether newlyweds can call themselves a bride and groom."

Said Dacus, "Already, we are seeing the negative effects of gay marriage in California, as the state is changing centuries-old traditions to accommodate homosexuals. Unless the Protect Marriage Initiative, Proposition 8, is approved in November, we expect a tidal wave of new restraints and limitations to be imposed on people of faith."

Dacus told WND the right for a one-man, one-woman couple to be married "was in no way invalidated by the state Supreme Court's ruling respecting homosexual marriage." "This is an outright act of hostility towards the established rights of people to be married as husband and wife, bride and groom," he said. "It's one thing for the state Supreme Court to cram homosexual marriage down the throats of people who voted for Proposition 22, it's quite another for the state of California then to go so far as to make it impossible for a man and woman to be married as husband and wife in the state of California," Dacus continued.

Bird, pastor of Abundant Life Fellowship in Roseville, said he was told by officials in the county office that "Bride" and "Groom" amounted to "unacceptable alteration" to the form. "What's next?" Bird wrote in a Sept. 4 letter. "Will the State of California force [ministers] to use the terms "Party A" and "Party B" in the ceremony itself?"

The state Supreme Court in May, in a 4-3 decision, declared that legal definitions of marriage as a union between a man and a woman were unconstitutional. Since the ruling, the generic designations were added by bureaucrats to legal documents.

Voters several years ago under Proposition 22 approved limiting marriage to one man and one woman. But the measure was a statute, which the Supreme Court simply disregarded. The Proposition 8 proposal would establish the definition in the state constitution, putting it beyond the reach of judicial activism.


Prosperity Gospel helps bankrupt America?

These Leftist theological amateurs show the usual Leftist ignorance of history. The prosperity gospel goes all the way back to Calvin, one of the founders of Protestantism. Instead of being destructive, it was instrumental in helping to create the modern world. Peter Berger has some in-depth commentary

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants - and hence, victims - of the current financial crisis? That's what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity's central promise - that God would "make a way" for poor people to enjoy the better things in life - had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe "God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house." The results, he says, "were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers."

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, "The pastor's not gonna say 'go down to Wachovia and get a loan' but I have heard, 'even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you - if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you'll get that house, or that car or that apartment.'" Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma, "It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, 'if you give this offering, God will give you a house. And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy." If so, the situation offers a look at how an native-born faith built partially on American econoic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

Although a type of Pentecostalism, Prosperity theology adds a distinctive layer of supernatural positive thinking. Adherents will reap rewards if they prove their faith to God by contributing heavily to their churches, remaining mentally and verbally upbeat, and concentrating on divine promises of worldly bounty supposedly strewn throughout the bible. Critics call it a thinly disguised pastor-enrichment scam. Other experts, like Walton, note that for all its faults, it can empower people who have been taught to see themselves as financially or even culturally useless to feel they are "worthy of having more and doing more and being more." In some cases the philosophy has matured with its practitioners, encouraging good financial habits and entrepreneurship.

But Walton suggests that a decade's worth of ever-easier credit acted like drug in Prosperity's bloodstream. "The economic boom 90's and financial over-extensions of the new millennium contributed to the success of the prosperity message," he wrote recently. And not positively. "Narratives of how 'God blessed me with my first house despite my credit' were common. Sermons declaring 'it's your season to overflow' supplanted messages of economic sobriety," and "little attention was paid to.. the dangers of using one's home equity as an ATM to subsidize cars, clothes and vacations."

With the bubble burst, Walton and Butler assume that prosperity congregants have taken a disproportionate hit, and are curious as to how their churches will respond. Butler thinks that some of the flashier ministries will shrink along with their congregants' fortunes. Says Walton, "You would think that the current economic conditions would undercut their theology." But he predicts they will perservere, since God's earthly largesse is just as attractive when one is behind the economic eight ball.

A recently posted testimony by a congregant at the Brownsville Assembly of God near Pensacola, Fla., seems to confirm his intuition. Brownsville is not even a classic Prosperity congregation - it relies more on the anointing of its pastors than on scriptural promises of God. But the believer's note to his minister illustrates how magical thinking can prevail even after the mortgage blade has dropped. "Last Sunday," it read, "You said if anyone needed a miracle to come up. So I did. I was receiving foreclosure papers, so I asked you to anoint a picture of my home and you did and your wife joined with you in prayer as I cried. I went home feeling something good was going to happen. On Friday the 5th of September I got a phone call from my mortgage company and they came up with a new payment for the next 3 months of only $200. My mortgage is usually $1020. Praise God for his Mercy & Grace."

And pray that the credit market doesn't tighten any further.


Nine-year-old Muslim girl in Britain rescued from forced marriage

The disclosure comes as official figures show that nearly 60 children aged 15 or under have been rescued by the Government's Forced Marriage Unit in the past four years. The cases are feared to be the tip of the iceberg. They will fuel concerns, first raised earlier this year, that large numbers of children are disappearing from British schools to be forced into wedlock overseas.

A charity which runs a national helpline on forced marriage and "honour"-based crimes, Karma Nirvana, revealed that in one incident a nine-year-old girl from a Pakistani family in the east Midlands was taken into council care after her parents told her she was to wed. Jasvinder Sanghera, director of Karma Nirvana, said that on average four children a month aged under 16 have contacted its helpline since it launched in April. "The youngest child we have dealt with was nine years old," she said. "The girl told her teacher she was going to be forced to marry someone and initially she was not believed. "Ultimately, with the help of the Forced Marriage Unit, she was dealt with through child protection procedures. She was assessed and, thankfully, taken into foster care."

Ms Sanghera called on ministers to make sure primary school children are taught about forced marriage and given advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.

The Forced Marriage Unit has helped rescue 58 underage children since it was set up in January 2005, including 11 under-16s so far this year. The youngest victim this year was 13, one was 14 and nine were 15. The unit deals with 5,000 inquiries and 300 cases of forced marriage a year. A third of inquiries come from under 18s. The youngest victim repatriated by the unit, which is jointly funded by the Home Office and the Foreign Office, was an 11-year-old girl who was flown back to Britain from Dhaka, Bangladesh, last year after her parents had agreed to marry her to a local man.

Ms Sanghera, who herself fled home after being threatened with forced marriage at the age of 15, said: "I currently have cases involving four children aged 11 to 14 who were forced to marry or were at risk, and have now been made wards of court. "You don't just get forced into a marriage at 16 or 17; this is happening to very young children. We certainly have had cases of minors being sexually abused. "If you are forced into marriage as a minor you will be multiple-raped, because as a child you are legally unable to give consent. "But we have no idea how many children under 16 are at risk, and this is compounded by a reluctance of schools to engage with the issue. Many schools shy away due to supposed cultural sensitivities." She went on: "There will be children sitting in our classrooms this week who have already had identified for them a husband or a wife. "These marriages can be prevented by identifying the signs in school or teachers believing pupils when they raise it."

The problem is particularly prevalent in Pakistani communities, where betrothing offspring to their first cousins is common practice, said Ms Sanghera. "It happens across all races but there is a disproportionate number of cases within the Pakistani community, and we need to recognise that," she said. "At Karma Nirvana we have noticed a significant trend of young people aged 14, 15 and 16 coming forward for our services. "We need reassurance from schools, especially headteachers, that existing Department for Children, Schools and Families posters giving advice about forced marriage are displayed in primary and secondary schools. "We also believe there should be proper headcounts of pupils after the summer holidays, so that steps can be taken if any children have disappeared from the register. I think what the schools discover will alarm them." She estimated there could be a dozen cases a year in some medium-sized comprehensive schools with significant numbers of Asian children.

A nine-month study by Karma Nirvana in 2006 followed the fortunes of 15 girls aged 10 to 18 in Derby, where the charity is based. By the end of the study, four had been taken abroad including a 17-year-old who had subsequently returned to the UK after being wed to a 35-year-old man.

Earlier this year a report by the Commons' all-party Home Affairs Select Committee said 2,089 pupils were unaccounted for in just 14 local council areas of England and Wales. A proportion of these are believed to have been children removed from education and forced into marriages overseas.


A courageous Australian broadcaster

A law that puts the interests of pedophiles ahead of protecting the community is sheer madness

DERRYN Hinch was defiant after being told by police he would be charged for publicly identifying two sex offenders. The man known as the Human Headline expects to be charged with five counts of breaching a suppression order - three times on his website and twice at a crime victims' rally on the steps of Parliament in June. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 12 months' jail and a $12,000 fine.

It is not the first time Hinch has faced the prospect of jail for naming sex monsters. In 1985, Hinch was jailed for identifying a pedophile priest on criminal charges. Hinch told the Herald Sun yesterday news of the latest charges came as no surprise. On air during his afternoon radio program, he went further, maintaining serious sex offenders should be named after their release from jail.

"Six months ago, I launched a campaign to have a law overturned. A law which thousands of people think is a bad law," he said. "It actually helps sex offenders hide their identities after they are released back into society. "There's a postscript concerning that law and my campaign to have it repealed. A short time ago, I was told by police I would be served a summons to appear in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on five criminal charges for allegedly breaching County Court suppression orders by identifying two offenders. "I've been asked did I think I was morally and legally in the right? My answer is I know I was morally right. Whether or not I was legally right is for the courts to decide."

In 1985, he was convicted of contempt of court for identifying pedophile priest Michael Charles Glennon, who was on criminal charges at the time. Hinch was jailed for 12 days and fined $15,000. "I felt I had a bigger responsibility to the community at large than I did to Father Glennon," Hinch said during that contempt hearing."



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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