Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clergy Demand Apology from Missouri Lawmaker; Rep. Akin Said "Hatred of God" Key to Liberalism

The Huffington Post website reports today (June 30, 2011) that religious leaders in Missouri are calling on Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) to apologize for claiming a "hatred of God" informs liberal beliefs, and to reconsider his moral priorities.

During a radio interview last week, Akin said he believes that "at the heart of liberalism, really, is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God."

The religious leaders wrote in a statement: "Such insulting pronouncements degrade our nation's political dialogue and are unworthy of a public servant who claims to represent the interests of all of his constituents."

The statement added: "We call on you to apologize, and we pray that you are moved to act in a spirit of civility, compassion, and justice in the future."

Pope Sees Catholic--Orthodox Harmony; Says Meeting with Orthodox Clergy Brings Joy

Pope Benedict XVI stated that the theological differences between the Catholic and Orthodox churches are sometimes exaggerated, as he met this week with a group of Orthodox prelates representing Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the Catholic Culture website reports today (June 30, 2011).

The Pope thanked the Orthodox delegation -- led by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France -- for coming to Rome to join in celebrations of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

"The spiritual intimacy we experience each time we meet causes me profound joy and a sense of gratitude towards God," the Pontiff said.

It was almost 1,000 years ago when the Christian Church became split into two major divisions -- Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox -- in what is called the Great Schism of 1054.

Obama Praises Gays at White House Gathering; Sees Himself as Most Pro-Homosexual President

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (June 30,2011) that President Barack Obama praised gays in his speech at the White House yesterday, while celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) "Pride Month."

"We've got community leaders here. We've got grassroots organizers," Obama told the gathering in the East Room of the White House.

"You're fighting for the idea that everyone ought to be treated equally, and everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see fit," the president added.

Obama -- who portrays himself as the most pro-homosexual president in American history -- supports civil unions of gays, but has not endorsed same-sex marriage. He has said that his views on same-sex marriage are "evolving."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

COMMENTARY: Vatican Should Defrock Rev. Rydzyk of Poland

This week, several Jewish groups around the world became upset, after a Polish Catholic priest conveyed that Jews hold excessive power in Poland, and that Polish Jews are "not real Poles" with Polish interests at heart.

In fact, some Jewish groups became so enraged by the comments of Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk that they called on the Vatican to reprimand him -- even going so far as to demand that he be defrocked.

Rydzyk made his comments at the European Parliament -- just days before Poland is scheduled to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU).

Rydzyk -- who runs a Catholic radio station and a TV channel in Poland -- also caused an uproar in Poland by calling his country a totalitarian state that "hasn't been ruled by Poles since 1939." (It was September 1, 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, thus beginning World War II. Also, Poland was a satellite country of the Soviet Union from 1945 until 1991.)

Rydzyk, then, is implying that although Poland became an independent nation in 1991 -- due to the collapse of the Soviet Union -- Poland is still a totalitarian nation because it is controlled by Jews. In other words, Rydzyk believes that only Roman Catholic Poles are "real Poles."

This defamation of Polish Jews and the nation of Poland is not the kind of message that a Christian priest should be conveying to his people. Consequently, the Vatican needs to scrutinize Rydzyk's speeches and his views towards Jews and Poland, and take appropriate action.

We believe it would behoove the Vatican -- and Poland itself -- if Rydzyk were defrocked.

City Council in Oregon Belittles Pledge to Flag; One Compares Pledge to "The Communist Manifesto"

The Fox News website reports today (June 29, 2011) that the City Council in Eugene, Oregon has voted down a proposal to say the Pledge of Allegiance before each council meeting.

Instead, the council approved a compromise measure that allows the pledge to be recited at only four council meetings a year: those closest to the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Flag Day.

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy -- who opposed reciting the pledge -- said, "If there's one thing the flag stands for, it's that people don't have to be compelled to say the Pledge of Allegiance or anything else."

Councilwoman Betty Taylor -- another pledge opponent -- compared saying the Pledge of Allegiance to reading from "The Communist Manifesto."

VA Dept. in Houston Censoring Religious Speech; Tells Veterans Groups Stop Using the Word "God"

The Houston (Texas) Chronicle website reports today (June 29, 2011) that local veterans and volunteer groups say officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs are censoring their religious speech -- including the word "God" -- at Houston National Cemetery.

In one example -- cited in documents filed this week in federal court -- cemetery director Arleen Ocasio reportedly told volunteers who attend veterans' funerals to stop telling families "God bless you."

The volunteers say they also were told to remove the words "God bless" from condolence cards.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jewish Groups Ask Pope to Punish Polish Priest; Rev. Rydzyk Feels Polish Jews "Not Real Poles"

International Jewish groups have called on the Vatican to sanction a prominent Polish priest who they say uses his media empire to foment anti-Semitism, the Associated Press website reports today (June 28, 2011).

The Jewish groups acted after the Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk -- who runs a Catholic radio station and a TV channel -- caused uproar in Poland by calling his country a totalitarian state that "hasn't been ruled by Poles since 1939."

Although he did not mention Jews by name, his language echoed that of anti-Semites who claim that Jews hold excessive power in Poland, and that Polish Jews are "not real Poles" with Polish interests at heart.

Rydzyk made the comments last week at the European Parliament -- just days before Poland takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU).

Man Pleads Guilty to Bilking Catholic School; Michael Hlady Stole $360,000 in Worcester, MA

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 28, 2011) that a fundraiser -- accused of bilking a Massachusetts school run by an order of Catholic nuns out of more than $360,000 -- has pleaded guilty to theft and has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Michael Hlady pleaded guilty to stealing the money from Venerini Academy in Worcester and to misleading the Venerini Sisters into believing that a well-known philanthropist was preparing to make a multimillion-dollar donation.

Superior Court Judge James Lemire also ordered 37-year-old Hlady to make full restitution to the school and to undergo counseling for gambling addiction.

Hlady defrauded the school until he was arrested in March 2010.

Three Church Groups Launch Historic Document; Document Outlines Ethical Mandates of the Gospel

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) reports that it, along with the World Council of Churches (WCC), and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID), have released an historic document today (June 28, 2011) on the Ethics of Christian mission.

Titled "Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct," the document is in part a response to criticisms leveled at Christians by some religious communities in what they perceived to be a use of unethical methods.

This document not only identifies the biblical call to evangelism, but it also outlines the ethical mandates related to the Gospel. Indeed, it is the first document of its kind in the entire history of the Christian Church.

The WEA will translate the document and distribute it to the national, regional, and local alliances, as well as to seminaries, universities, and colleges worldwide.

Monday, June 27, 2011

EP Bartholomew: Greece Has Had Worse Times; Asserts Greece Will Overcome Its Current Crisis

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew today (June 27, 2011) said in Athens -- where he is visiting for the Special Olympics -- that Greece will overcome its current financial crisis, during a meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou.

"As a nation, we have been through worse times, under more difficult conditions, but we managed. I hope that this time, too, with national unanimity, under the leadership of your government, it will be able to 'cross over the river,' as the saying goes. We will always be at your side, with our prayer," said the Ecumenical Patriarch.

"We are at your side, and your presence here in Greece gives us the strength we need for Greece to get out of the crisis and for Greek people to be able to prosper," Papandreou told the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Immediately after the meeting, Patriarch Bartholomew and Papandreou went to parliament, where they addressed a special session devoted to the Special Olympics, which are being hosted in Athens.

Republican Rep. Bachmann to Run for President; Backs Federal Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

The Christian Post website reports that Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann -- who officially announced her run for U.S. president today (June 27, 2011) -- said that if she were elected president, she would support a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, thereby overturning New York's new law legalizing gay marriage.

The Minnesota congresswoman said the "federal law will trump state law on this issue."

"States have, under the 10th Amendment, the right to pass any law they like. Also, federal officials at the federal level have the right to also put forth a constitutional amendment," said Bachmann.

International Court Orders the Arrest of Gadhafi; Libyan Leader Wanted for Murdering Civilians

International judges at The Hague, Netherlands ordered the arrest of Moammar Gadhafi today (June 27, 2011) for murdering civilians, as world leaders stepped up calls for the Libyan leader to end his four-decade rule, according to the Associated Press website.

The International Criminal Court said Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi are wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest, and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple Gadhafi from power, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes.

The warrants from the court in The Hague turn the three men into internationally wanted suspects.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Muslims Rally Outside Church Const. in Egypt; Three Muslims Are Shot, One Christian Is Stabbed

The RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports that several people were wounded in inter-religious clashes today (June 26,2011) in the southern Egyptian village of Awlad Khalaf.

A local security chief said Muslim residents of the village rallied outside Christian-owned land where construction of a church was under way.

Christians fired gunshots and the two sides scuffled. Three Muslims were shot, including one in serious condition. A Christian man was stabbed.

Muslim-Christian clashes often break out in Egypt, as a result of a church being built, and love relationships occurring between Coptic Orthodox Christians and Muslims.

Women Still Not Allowed to Drive in Saudi Arabia; About 60 Women Defied Driving Ban on June 17

The Global Post website reports today (June 26, 2011) that a week-old campaign by women in Saudi Arabia to overturn the country's ban on female drivers has been moving at a slow pace -- hampered by female apathy, conservative opposition, lukewarm government support, and the priorities of summer vacation plans.

Nearly 60 women responded to the call by women's rights activists to collectively defy the driving ban on June 17.

The small number -- and a weak turn-out of women drivers since then -- has disappointed many women.

Nonetheless, campaign organizers are calling the June 17 event a success, because no women were arrested for driving.

PETA Urges Pope to Get Leather-Free Popemobile; Says Leather Production Is "Toxic, Hell for Cows"

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (June 26, 2011) that an animal rights group has urged Pope Benedict XVI to "truly go green" and insist that the next popemobile is made without leather.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said it has written to the pope with the request following the Vatican's confirmation on June 22 that Germany's Mercedes-Benz auto company is making a study of a hybrid, energy-saving popemobile.

PETA spokeswoman Ashley Gonzalez said leather production is not only "toxic to the environment, it's also hell for cows."

The letter -- dated June 22 -- said PETA counts many Catholics among its members and suggested that a leather-free car could "help the environment and prevent animal suffering."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

COMMENTARY: Delta's Saudi Arabian "No Jew Policy" Is Anti-American

Delta Air Lines this week made an agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines to ban Jews and holders of Israeli passports from boarding flights in the United States bound for Saudi Arabia.

Why would Delta even dream of making such a prejudicial agreement? Because Saudi Arabia has a policy that opposes having Jews land at its airports.

Consequently, Delta had to make one of two choices: Reject Jewish passengers, or don't fly to Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, Delta made the wrong choice by deciding to reject Jewish passengers on its flights to Saudi Arabia. Making money, then, appears to be more important to Delta than violating a religious group's human rights.

In addition to finding the Delta-Saudi Arabia agreement shocking, many American organizations plan to take legal action against Delta for this discriminating policy.

The U.S. State Department, Congress, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are also scrutinizing the legality of Delta's "no Jew policy," as it is now being called.

By agreeing to this policy with Saudi Arabia, Delta has opened up "a can of worms." If other Mideast countries implement such a policy, will Delta agree to it? Does Israel have the right to prevent Muslims from landing at its airports? The beat goes on...

The fact is that Delta should know better than to agree to such a policy -- even if refusing to agree to it means making less money.

Besides discriminating against Jews, Delta's agreement with Saudi Arabia violates the democratic principles upon which America was founded. It also shows disrespect for America's armed forces, as many thousands of American troops -- including Jewish troops -- lost their lives, in order to defend the freedom and equality of our great nation.

Indeed, it is imperative for America and its relentless tradition for human rights that Delta changes its decision of preventing Jews from flying to Saudi Arabia -- even if doing so means that Saudi Arabia will not allow Delta Air Lines to fly to that nation.

Abercrombie & Fitch Sued Over Headscarf Firing; Muslim Woman Fired for Not Removing Headscarf

The Huffington Post website reports today (June 25, 2011) that a San Mateo, California woman is suing Abercrombie & Fitch, because she was allegedly fired from her job at the company's Hillsdale Shopping Center outlet for not removing her headscarf.

The woman -- who has not been identified -- is a Muslim, and "she was told that her headscarf, though worn based on a religious mandate, was not in compliance with the company's 'look policy,'" said those representing her in the lawsuit.

Her case has been taken up by the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco--Employment Law Center, a group that works to defend the rights of the socially disadvantaged.

The Legal Aid Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are filing the suit on Monday morning, June 27, in San Francisco.

German Interior Minister Seeks to End Militancy; Urges Muslim Leaders Deter Boys from Radicalism

The Deutsche Welle (German) website reports today (June 25, 2011) that German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich urged the country's Muslim community yesterday to do more to prevent the spread of radicalization among its youth.

He told Muslim leaders at a three-hour meeting in Berlin that families must act early to prevent young boys from turning into jihadists.

"Neither the security authorities nor ordinary Muslim citizens can do much to help," when youths radicalize, he said. "It is up to the parents and the rest of the family to be observant about what their children are up to and how they are changing."

Friedrich added, "We want to stand up to the radicalization and misuse of religion together. All citizens of the country... must take on the fight against radicalism and terror."

Delta Air Lines to Ban Jews in Its Saudi Flights; Watchdog Head to Sue Delta, Calls Move Illegal

The World Net Daily website reports today (June 25, 2011) that several American legal organizations are considering taking legal action against Delta Air Lines for its agreement this week with Saudi Arabian Airlines to ban Jews and holders of Israeli passports from boarding flights from the U.S. bound for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said he wrote to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) leader J. Randolph Babbit requesting an investigation to determine "whether Delta violated American law."

Larry Klayman -- founder of the government watchdog Freedom Watch USA -- said "I, for one, will sue Delta Air Lines. This is outrageous, repugnant, and illegal."

Klayman added, Delta has joined President Obama in "kowtowing to nefarious Muslims."

Friday, June 24, 2011

UGCC Head Calls for Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue; Encourages Meeting with Pope and Patriarch Kirill

The Religious Information Service of Ukraine website, in an exclusive report, states that at a press conference in Lviv, Ukraine today (June 24, 2011), Patriarch Sviatoslav -- the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) -- said his church is ready to become a member of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue and to organize a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

Patriarch Sviatoslav also talked about the mission of the UGCC, which he sees for today as becoming a full-fledged partner in the dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholics.

"We are a national church, and so we are ready to be not only a bridge of understanding between the Catholic and Orthodox churches and to organize a meeting between the pope and Patriarch Kirill, but also to become a full-fledged member of the dialogue," the head of the UGCC said.

College in NC Breaks Ground for Pregnancy Home; To Be First College-Based Maternity Center in U.S.

The Catholic News website reports today (June 24, 2011) that Belmont Abby College in Belmont, North Carolina broke ground on June 20 on a campus pregnancy and aftercare maternity home called Room at the Inn.

The project's organizers say the center is the first college-based maternity center in the United States.

The 10,000-square-foot maternity home will be located on four acres donated by the Benedictine monks at Belmont Abbey College.

The facility is adjacent to Belmont Abbey monastery and the campus of Belmont Abbey College.

Lesbian Minister Is Suspended for Next 20 Days; Rev. Amy DeLong Performed Same-Sex Ceremony

A lesbian minister was suspended from her church duties yesterday (June 23, 2011) and ordered to spend the next 20 days as a time for spiritual discernment, according to the Christian Post website.

On a 12 to 1 vote, a jury of 13 United Methodist clergy convicted the Rev. Amy DeLong on a charge of performing a same-sex union, which is in violation of church law.

The jury voted 9 to 4 to suspend the pastor beginning in July.

The same jury found DeLong not guilty in a unanimous decision of the charge of being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Franklin Graham to Hold L.A. Bilingual Festival; Expected to Reach 5 Million Area Spanish Speakers

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 23, 2011) that thousands of Spanish-speaking California residents are expected to gather in Los Angeles this weekend for the Franklin Graham "Festival de Esperanza."

The gathering -- to be held June 25-26 at the Home Depot Center arena, is Graham's first bilingual event in the U.S.

"Our hope is that anyone who is struggling with questions about life or would like a new beginning will watch this Festival of Hope," said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse.

Festival organizers say their goal is to reach more than 4.7 million native Spanish speakers in the area. Rev. Billy Graham -- Franklin Graham's father -- held his 1949 Crusade in Los Angeles, and returned 55 years later to preach at the Rose Bowl.

Patriarch Kirill Seeks to Revive Christianity; Urges European Rel. Leaders to Make Joint Efforts

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia today (June 23, 2011) urged European religious leaders to make collective efforts to pursue the revival of Christianity within the continent, according to the Orthodox Church Info blog.

"The Russian Orthodox Church proposes that European Christian communities unite to become partners of the states and European civil community in pursuing the revival of tangible connection between the human rights concept and the pan-European spiritual heritage," the Patriarch said at the Moscow meeting of the European Council of Religious Leaders.

Patriarch Kirill expressed hope that the European Council of Religious Leaders will make its contribution to "intellectual enrichment of the European community with traditional religious values, which have for centuries encouraged Europeans to seek justice and life under ethical norms generated by this tradition."

Dutch Court Acquits Wilders of Inciting Hatred; Rules Comparing Islam with Nazism Not Inciting

The Washington Post website reports today (June 23, 2011)that a Dutch court has acquitted politician Geert Wilders of inciting hatred against Muslims, when he compared Islam with Nazism and called for a ban on the Quran.

The ruling did lay down a clear limit: Calls for violence remain out of bounds.

Wilders -- who has lived under constant police protection due to death threats since 2004 -- has never called for violence or endorsed it.

Presiding Judge Marcel van Oosten said some of Wilders' comments -- such as saying foreign influences are "breeding" in the Netherlands and threatening to overrun Dutch culture -- may be "crude and degenerated." But he said they did not amount to inciting hatred.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

COMMENTARY: FYROM Cannot Change the Facts of History

This week, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) erected a 24-meter-high bronze equestrian statue of Alexander the Great in the central square of Skopje -- the capital of FYROM -- leading Greece to accuse FYROM of trying to steal Greece's ancient heritage by claiming the ancient world conqueror as its own.

The statue was made in Italy and cost FYROM -- one of the poorest nations in Europe -- about $13 million.

Alexander the Great was born in the town of Pella in the section of northern Greece that at that time was called -- and is still called today -- Macedonia. FYROM -- which also calls itself Macedonia for short -- became an independent nation in 1991 with the breakup of Yugoslavia. It borders the northern Greek territory of Macedonia, so Greece has been emphatic that FYROM must change its name.

Greece and FYROM have been trying for 20 years to reach a compromise in agreeing to a new name for FYROM, but this dilemma has still not been resolved.

Greece is adamant about changing FYROM's name, because it believes that FYROM has territorial ambitions over Greece's neighboring northern province of Macedonia.

Greece has retaliated against FYROM for failing to change its name by successfully blocking FYROM's attempts to join both NATO and the European Union (EU).

In fact, the EU recently warned Macedonia that -- as a candidate country for EU membership -- it should not disrespect its neighbor. "Macedonia can lose its candidate status if it continues to make moves that Greece perceives as provocation," EU commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fule said.

Indeed, FYROM has been arrogant, provocative, and in a state of historical denial by displaying a huge statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje.

Nonetheless, this statue -- or even a plethora of additional statues throughout FYROM -- will never be able to change the well-documented historical fact that Alexander the Great was born in the northern Greece territory of Macedonia.

Pope Speaks to 10,000 Today at Weekly Gathering; Refers to Psalms as "Prayer Book Par Excellence"

Pope Benedict XVI referred to the Psalms as the "prayer book par excellence," as he spoke at his weekly general audience today (June 22, 2011), the Catholic Culture website reports.

The 150 Psalms "express all human experience," the Pope told the 10,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square for his Wednesday audience.

He said their diverse content can be reduced to two basic categories: petition (or lamentation) and praise.

These two categories -- the Pope said -- "intertwine and fuse together in a single song which celebrates the eternal grace of the Lord as He bows down to our frailty." He pointed out that Jesus used the Psalms in His own prayers.

Council of Religious Leaders Meeting in Moscow; Focuses on "Human Rights and Values in Europe"

The Orthodoxie (French) website reports today (June 22, 2011) that the European Council of Religious Leaders is taking place in Moscow from June 21 to June 23.

With the proposal of the Russian Orthodox Church -- the host country gets to pick the main topic for discussion -- the forum will focus on the topic "the human rights and the traditional values in Europe."

The European Council of Religious Leaders -- whose members include Christian, Islamic, Jewish, and other religions -- is based on the principles of respect of human dignity and the right to life in peace.

The organization -- founded in Oslo, Norway in 2002 -- is comprised of 45 members.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Methodist Trial of Lesbian Minister Begins Today; She Could Be Defrocked for Lesbian Relationship

United Methodists today (June 21, 2011) began a trial against a Wisconsin minister who is accused of breaking church rules by celebrating a same-sex marriage and being in a lesbian relationship, according to the Ethics Daily website.

The Rev. Amy DeLong, 44, of Osceola, Wisconsin, could be defrocked if the 13-member jury composed of local clergy finds her guilty of either charge.

A minister for 14 years, DeLong agreed to officiate at a same-sex ceremony in 2009 -- the same year she and her partner registered as a couple under Wisconsin's domestic partnership law -- according to United Methodist News Service.

The United Methodist Church -- which has about 11 million members -- calls homosexual activity "incompatible with Christian teaching."

Pakistani Muslim Militants Kidnap Girl, 8 Yrs. Old; Forced Her to Wear Suicide Vest to Attack Enemy

An eight-year-old Pakistani girl was kidnapped by Islamist militants who forced her to wear a suicide vest to attack security forces, the Reuters website reports today (June 21, 2011).

Police produced the girl -- identified as Sohana Javaid -- before a news conference broadcast on Pakistani television channels.

The girl recalled how she was kidnapped from her hometown of Peshawar and brought to the Lower Dir district in the northwest.

She said she was forced to wear a suicide vest and driven to a security check post. She added, "I threw away the vest and started shouting (for help) as I came close to the checkpost and they (security forces) took me into custody."

St. Paul's Cathedral Celebrates Its 300th Anniv.; Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip Among Celebrants

The Washington Post website reports that St. Paul's Cathedral in London celebrated its 300th anniversary and the completion of a 15-year restoration project today (June 21, 2011), with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip among the congregation.

The cathedral has been the setting for many great occasions -- including the funerals of Adm. Horatio Nelson and Winston Churchill, and the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Restoration workers cleaned the church's structure and repaired damage left over from German bombing during World War II, at a cost of $65 million.

"This great building is now in a sound state, and probably looks better than at any time since its completion in 1711," said Martin Stancliffe, who holds the title of Surveyor to the Fabric.

Monday, June 20, 2011

NY Times: Obama May Endorse Same-Sex Marriage; His Strategists Studying Effects of Endorsement

President Barack Obama -- who told the U.S. Justice Department last February to stop defending DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) in the courts -- is now considering the idea of endorsing same-sex marriage, the New York Times website reports today (June 20, 2011).

A Democratic strategist told the Times that high-ranking White House officials "are looking at the tactics of how this might be done if the president chose to do it."

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) -- who is openly gay -- said he was asked by an Obama official, "What would be the effect if he came out for same-sex marriage?"

Obama is the prime attraction at a Gala with the Gay Community fundraiser in New York City this week. He also will hold a gay pride at the White House on June 29, the Times reports.

NBC Dumps "Under God" from Pledge at US Open; Viewer: "I'm Going to Boycott NBC, Advertisers"

The World Net Daily website reports today (June 20, 2011) that NBC's opening of the U.S. Open Golf Championship yesterday included two readings of the Pledge of Allegiance by children, but on both occasions -- and most likely with the insistence of NBC -- the children omitted the phrase "under God" both times.

The omission did not go unnoticed by viewers. In fact, NBC was flooded with complaints because -- later in the broadcast -- announcer Dan Hicks apologized on behalf of the network, claiming the omission had no malicious intent.

Keith Hendrick -- one viewer of the Golf Championship who commented on the omission -- said, "There is no question these executives at NBC who hate God...pushed this message through."

Mark Sass -- another viewer -- said, "I changed the channel... and I'm going to begin boycotting NBC and their advertisers, both nationally and locally."

Dutch Group Issues Report on Priest Victims; Victim Compensation Can Reach 100,000 Euros

The Dutch News website reports that the Lindenbergh Commission -- which was set up in The Netherlands to advise sexual abuse victims of Catholic priests of the levels of compensation -- said in a report published today (June 20, 2011) that these victims should be paid compensation up to 25,000 Euros. In exceptional cases, the figure could reach 100,000 Euros.

The commission -- led by private law professor Siewert Lindenbergh -- estimates that about a quarter of the 2,000 victims who have claimed compensation will receive a pay-out because of the strict qualification demands.

Compensation will be calculated on the basis of the seriousness of the abuse, the commission said.

It will range from 5,000 Euros for remarks and behavior of a sexual nature to 25,000 Euros for rape. The 100,000 Euros will be paid in exceptionally severe cases, such as gang rape.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

COMMENTARY: Time for Saudi Arabia to Allow Women to Drive

On June 17, 2011, several women in Saudi Arabia challenged the ban on women driving in the kingdom known for its strict restrictions on the rights of women.

A campaign of civil disobedience -- called "Women2drive" -- urged women to get behind the wheel throughout Saudi Arabia. No arrests were reported.

It is accepted in Saudi Arabia that women are subservient to men. Most Saudi women are chauffer-driven, although some husbands drive their wives everywhere they go.

Some Muslim leaders fear that if women are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, they might turn that freedom into activities that could result into unfaithfulness to their husbands.

As a result of the plethora of turmoil for democracy that has pervaded several Middle Eastern Islamic nations during the past several months, the Saudi royalty now appears to be more willing to let women drive than it previously had.

The fact is that women should be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, just as men are. Indeed, Saudi Arabia must end its ban on women drivers -- now!

Principal Who Spanked Students in Iowa Resigns; Spanked Students in His Office on Their Birthdays

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (June 19, 2011) that an elementary school principal in Mount Vernon, Iowa -- who admitted to spanking students on their birthday -- has resigned.

Washington Elementary principal Terry Eisenbarth submitted his resignation on June 17.

Parents complained after learning Eisenbarth would call students to his office on their birthday for spankings.

Eisenbarth admitted to the spankings in a May letter to parents and provided a photo of the padded stick he used to give the spankings.

Anglican Church Allows Gay Clergy to Be Bishops; Says Decision Was Determined by the Equality Act

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (June 19, 2011) that the Church of England is using the Equality Act as a "smokescreen" for allowing gay clergymen to become bishops.

Guidance due to be published tomorrow (June 20) was expected to pave the way for homosexual clerics in civil partnerships to become bishops -- provided they remained celibate.

The document -- published in response to last year's Equality Act -- will be sent to the General Synod before it meets in York next month.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

WCC to Hold Conference on Christians in Mideast; To Be Held in Volos, Greece from June 20 to 22

The Ekklesia website reports today (June 18, 2011) that the current volatile and precarious situation of Christians in the Middle East will be highlighted in an upcoming conference to be held in Volos, Greece from June 20-22, 2011.

The reality for the Christian community in the Middle East is quite stark as more and more stories in the public media tell of Christians fleeing the region, according to the World Council of Churches (WCC).

At the conference in Greece, the WCC central committee will explore the situation from a theological, ecumenical, cultural, and political perspective.

Christian churches in the Middle East have been showing signs of decline in recent years, despite their historical presence in different countries, where many of them embody a heritage of ancient patriarchal jurisdictions.

NY Times: Clarence Thomas' Ethics Are in Question; Et Tu Clarence?

The New York Times website reports today (June 18, 2011) that a multimillion-dollar project to preserve a seafood cannery in Pin Point, Georgia highlights an unusual -- and ethically sensitive -- friendship between the Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, and Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and a major contributor to conservative causes.

Moreover, the New York Times reports that since the two men met, Mr. Crow has done many favors for Justice Thomas and his wife, Virginia, thus adding fuel to a debate about Supreme Court ethics.

The Times also states that Mr. Crow's financing of the cannery museum -- his largest and previously unreported act of generosity -- raises the most serious questions yet about Justice Thomas' extrajudicial activities and the code of conduct.

Although the Supreme Court is not bound by the code, justices have said that they adhere to it.

Thomas was also the focus of an ethics investigation in 1991, after then-President George H.W. Bush nominated him as a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. Anita Hill, a co-worker of Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at that time, accused Thomas of having made several unwelcome sexual comments to her while they were at work. Hill's accusations almost derailed Thomas' confirmation to the Supreme Court, as the U.S. Senate -- after a bitter debate -- confirmed his nomination to the high court by a very close 52 to 48 vote.

Famous TV Priest John Corapi Ends Priesthood; Still Denies Charges of Former Female Employee

Father John Corapi -- the famous television priest who was placed on administrative leave by the Catholic Church last March as a result of sexual misconduct leveled against him by a former female employee -- today (June 18, 2011) announced on his personal website: "I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer."

While shocking many Catholic worshipers in deciding to give up the priesthood, Corapi wrote on his website: "The present complaint that you have heard about is, as far as I know, from the one person that I can honestly say I did more to help and support than any human being in my entire life."

He added: "I forgive her and hope only good things for her. I am not going to get into a back and forth or argument with the Church or anyone else about this matter."

Corapi indicated on his website that his autobiography -- titled "The Black Sheep Dog" -- is almost ready for publication. He also wrote that he would use the title "The Black Sheep Dog" on radio broadcasts and writings that he planned to pursue shortly. He emphasized that these broadcasts and writings would focus not only on religion, but also on all important matters confronting society.

Retaining a sense of humor and the charisma that helped him gain world fame on his TV programs, Corapi ended his message by signing it: "John Corapi (once called 'father,' now 'The Black Sheep Dog')."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Churches in Holy Land Blast Israel's Tax Plans; Israel Wants to Start Taxing Churches' Real Estate

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (June 17, 2011) that the heads of several Christian Churches in the Holy Land have expressed their deep concern on new changes being considered by Israel aimed at taxing churches' real estate.

Although former changes failed to be implemented, Israel has not hidden its intention of taxing various churches' real estate.

A statement by "Church Heads of Holy Land of Jerusalem" -- a group of Christian Churches officially recognized by Israel -- warned of serious consequences if Israel implements its plan.

Among heads of churches in Jerusalem are Armenian Patriarch, Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Latin Patriarch, and others.

Terry Jones' March Cut Short in Dearborn, Mich.; Six Protesters Arrested for Blocking Jones' Way

The Huffington Post website reports that Florida pastor Terry Jones -- famous for burning a Quran -- took part in a demonstration in Dearborn, Michigan this afternoon (June 17, 2011) that was cut short, after a mob rushed him on his way to the Arab International Festival.

Jones' original plan was to march down Schaefer Road to speak at the Arab International Festival after he and several of his supporters spoke at Dearborn City Hall.

That plan ended when Jones' march was met in the streets with dozens of hostile protesters led by the activist group BAMN -- By Any Means Necessary.

Dearborn police worked to quell the unrest -- they made six arrests -- and pushed Jones and his supporters into a police vehicle. Jones canceled the remainder of his protest, at the advice of the police.

Southern Baptists in Support of Illegal Immigrants; Approve Resolution Backing Path to Legal Status

The Politico website reports today (June 17, 2011) that the Southern Baptist Convention -- America's largest Protestant denomination -- approved a resolution backing a path to legal status for illegal immigrants at its annual meeting in Phoenix this week.

The resolution calls on the government to make border security a priority and to hold businesses accountable for their hiring.

It also asks government officials to support "a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country."

Finally, the resolution says, "Any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Hookup Culture" Pervades US College Campuses; Is Often Fueled by Alcohol Use, Sexual Activity

The Catholic Culture website reports today (June 16, 2011) that -- based on a new study from the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) -- a "hookup culture" of casual encounters has "become the dominant script of sexual and romantic relationships on Catholic and secular campuses."

The study by Anne Hendershott and Nicholas Dunn -- sponsored by the CNS Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education -- found that the "hookup culture" is often fueled by heavy alcohol use, and facilitated by residence-hall administrators who take a laissez-faire attitude toward students' activities.

The report found that the problems of excessive drinking and recreational sexual activity are particularly acute in coed dorms.

The CNS report appears just one week after John Garvey -- the president of Catholic University of America (CUA) -- announced that CUA would return to housing all resident students in single-sex dorms, beginning in September 2011.

Vt. High School Grad Says His Speech Censored; Wanted to Talk on How Jesus Changed His Life

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 17, 2011) that the valedictorian of a Vermont high school says his graduation speech was censored by school officials.

Kyle Gearwar -- valedictorian of Fair Haven Union High School -- wanted to talk about how Jesus and the Bible changed his life, but he told the audience that he was allowed to deliver only half his speech.

"This was the message God gave me, and I'm not allowed to share it with you," he said, holding up the pages of his speech.

Brett Blanchar -- the school's principal -- told the "Burlington Free Press" that public schools have to be careful about letting religion be preached at a school-sanctioned event.

Saudi Women Plan to Defy Ban, Drive Tomorrow; Saudi Women Still in Prison from Past Defiance

Unshaken by the danger of arrest, Saudi activists announced that tomorrow (June 17, 2011) they would challenge the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, according to the Asia News website.

The "campaign" of civil disobedience -- which aims at getting a royal decree allowing women to drive a car -- was launched on Facebook.

The new campaign -- dubbed Women2drive -- urges women to get behind a wheel everywhere in Saudi Arabia tomorrow.

About 10 Saudi women are still in prison for breaking the ban on women driving in the past, including the best-known -- 32-year-old Manal Sherif.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

COMMENTARY: Praying Online Does Not Compare to Praying in Church

A company in Romania has implemented a new Internet idea for a fee; namely, to allow believers to submit their prayers online to priests who will read the prayers out during church services.

The online fee for this service ranges from $1.44 per day to $34.00 per month.

Although some Romanian Orthodox Christians are excited about being able to pray online -- instead of attending church services -- the Romanian Church is not so impressed, and has warned that this practice could lead to laziness.

But there is something more serious than laziness involved in praying online, instead of in a church. It is a lack of respect for God, by failing to attend church services, and attempting to fulfill this church attendance commitment via the Internet at home.

In other words, a person who prefers to complete his Sunday prayers online -- rather than attend church services -- does not want to take the time and effort of getting ready and driving to church, in order to attend services for an hour or so.

Indeed, online praying conveys a selfishness on the part of man -- a selfishness in which man prefers to be more involved with his own personal preferences on a Sunday morning than he is with thanking God for everything He has given us.

This is a sad attitude -- one of selfishness and indifference -- that pervades the Christian Church by man today. Nonetheless, while man has been showing much neglect toward the Christian Church in recent years, man will never destroy the Body of Christ.

Greeks Speak Out Against New Statue in Skopje; Claim FYROM Trying to Steal Alexander's Heritage

The Balkan Insight website reports today (June 15, 2011) that Greek officials have spoken out, after the parts of a large equestrian statue of Alexander the Great arrived yesterday in Skopje -- capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) -- to be assembled there in the next few days. (FYROM became an independent nation in 1991 with the breakup of Yugoslavia.)

The monument was "an attempt to usurp Greek history," Greek Foreign Minister spokesman Gregory Delavekouras said in a statement. (Alexander the Great was born in the northern Greek territory called Macedon at that time.)

Delavekouras said in light of the ongoing dispute between FYROM's name -- Greece has a northern province that is also called Macedonia -- the "provocative statue undermines our bilateral relations and hampers the negotiations under the UN" aimed at reaching a compromise solution in changing FYROM's name.

In 2008, Greece prevented FYROM's accession to NATO over the unresolved name dispute. In 2009, Greece also blocked FYROM accession talks to join the European Union(EU).

The bronze equestrian statue of Alexander the Great -- the parts of which are now in FYROM's capital -- will be some 24 meters high when it is erected this month in Skopje's central square.

Believers Can Now Submit Their Prayers Online; Romanian Company Begins Service for $1.44 a Day

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (June 15, 2011) that a Romanian company has developed a novel solution: For a fee, believers can now submit their prayers online to priests who will read the prayers out during church services.

The service costs $1.44 per day or $34 online per month.

While Romanian Orthodox Christians -- used to writing down their prayers in church -- are pleased at the added convenience of praying remotely, the Romanian Orthodox Church is less impressed. It cautions that praying online -- instead of attending church services -- could lead to laziness.

What do YOU think about this "modern-day" prayer idea? Readers of this blog would like to read your comments on it...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Relic of St. Anthony Is Stolen from Calif. Church; Adorers Pray for Its Return to St. Anthony Church

The Huffington Post website reports today (June 14, 2011) that a 780-year-old religious relic of St. Anthony of Padua was stolen yesterday, and parishioners at a Southern California Catholic church are praying to the patron saint of lost items and missing persons for its speedy return.

The relic was stolen from inside a cabinet beside the altar at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Long Beach on June 13 -- the feast day of the church's namesake.

The Rev. Jose Magana said he decided to bring out the relic this year -- on the 780th anniversary of the death of St. Anthony -- because many of his parishioners have lost hope in the rough economy.

"It is our history, so it is irreplaceable," Magana said. "It belongs to the church, not just the church here in Long Beach, but the entire Catholic church."

Calif. Permits Prisoners to Maintain Their Beards; All Faiths Can Keep Beards for Religious Reasons

The Worldwide Religious News website reports today (June 14, 2011) that California has agreed to allow prisoners in the state to keep unshorn beards in accordance with their faith.

The change follows settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Sikh Coalition against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on behalf of Singh Basra, a Sikh inmate.

The settlement protects inmates of all faiths -- not just Sikhs -- who maintain religiously-mandated beards.

Under the settlement's terms, CDCR will repeal a rule prohibiting inmates from growing facial hair more than a half inch in length.

France's Parliament Rejects a Gay Marriage Bill; Lower House Votes 293 to 222 to Block the Bill

The Yahoo News website reports that France's lower house of parliament today (June 14, 2011) rejected a bill that would have allowed gays to marry in France.

The house -- dominated by the ruling right-wing UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party -- voted by 293 votes to 222 to block the bill, with most left-wing lawmakers backing it and most of the right opposed.

Socialist Part lawmaker Patrick Bloche had called the bill a measure to end a form of discrimination and "pass to a new stage in equality of rights."

Several of France's fellow European Union member states -- including Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands -- have legalized homosexual and lesbian marriages.

Monday, June 13, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Nevada Ethics Law; People Cannot Vote in Conflict of Interest Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court today (June 13, 2011) upheld a Nevada ethics law that governs when lawmakers should refrain from voting on official business because they might have a conflict of interest, according to the Cybercast News Service website.

The court ruled unanimously in upholding the application of the law against a city council member who voted on a casino project near Reno -- even though his campaign manager served as a project consultant.

The Nevada Supreme Court had struck down the law, saying it violated the council member's free speech rights.

The ethics law lays out various relationships that should disqualify an official from voting, including the official's relatives and business associates.

Pope: Pentecost Marks "Baptism of the Church;" Church Unites Mankind in Proclamation of God

Pentecost marks the "baptism of the Church," Pope Benedict XVI told a midday audience on the feast day, June 12, according to the Catholic Culture website.

At Pentecost, the Pope said, God gave the Church His law of love, "writing by means of the Holy Spirit, not upon tablets of stone, but in the hearts of the apostles."

From the outset, the Holy Father said, the Church was universal, because the Holy Spirit is universal.

Thus, he added, the Church "embraces the entire world, crossing frontiers of race, class, and nation, breaking down barriers and uniting mankind in the proclamation of the One and Triune God."

Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing 57 in Fire; Was "Payback" to Husband for Getting 2nd Wife

The Agence France Presse (AFP) website reports that Kuwait's supreme court yesterday (June 12, 2011) upheld a woman's death sentence for setting ablaze her husband's wedding tent, killing 57 women and children.

Nasra Yussef Mohammed al-Enezi, 24, was condemned to death for revenge against her husband for taking a second wife.

Under Islamic laws, men in Kuwait can take up to four wives at a time.

Death sentences in the oil-rich Gulf state are carried out by hanging.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Muslim Woman Weightlifter Wants to Wear Hijab; To Compete in US Nationals Tournament in July

The Big News Network website reports today (June 12, 2011) that a Muslim civil rights organization has urged the American Olympics Committee to grant a female Pakistani-American Muslim weightlifter the right to wear a hijab.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Kulsoom Abdullah -- the athlete -- should be allowed to compete in the US Weightlifting Senior Nationals tournament this July in Council Bluffs, Iowa, pending the outcome of a formal hearing on her request to wear a hijab.

Abdullah, 35, told CAIR that US Weightlifting had prevented her from participating in the American Open in December 2010 due to her desire to wear a hijab.

Control of Water Is a New Catholic Issue in Italy; Church Seeks to Revoke Decree of Private Control

The Catholic News Service website reports today (June 12, 2011) that Italians are going to the polls on June 12 and 13 to decide whether to revoke a decree that imposed the privatization of water resources.

The issue has stirred an intense debate in Italy, with church leaders arguing that water is the archetypal "gift from God" that should not be polluted by the profit motive.

On June 9, a group of more than 100 missionary priests and nuns fasted and prayed in St. Peter's Square to underline their support for the referendum.

Some 25 Italian dioceses have signed an appeal asking for a "yes" vote to preserve water as a universally shared resource.

COMMENTARY: Archbishop of Canterbury Should Stay Out of Politics

Last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was extremely critical of the recent economic, criminal justice, and healthcare reforms proposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Williams made his critical attack on the government in The New Statesman weekly journal's June 9th edition. Among his criticisms, he said Britain's coalition government is forcing through "radical policies for which no one voted."

We believe that Williams -- by his critical statements of the government -- has crossed the line of separation of church and state.

Moreover, the Archbishop of Canterbury -- the spiritual leader of more than 80 million members of the worldwide Anglican community -- has more than enough ecclesiastical problems on which he must concentrate and try to resolve.

Among these problems are the acceptance of gay clergy, women clergy, and other radical and un-Christian policies that have disgraced the Anglican Church in recent years.

The fact is that many Anglicans (called Episcopalians in the United States) became so disgusted with these radical changes that they abandoned the Anglican Church altogether. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI -- realizing the discontent of a plethora of Anglicans -- eased the process by which Anglicans could convert to Roman Catholicism in 2009. Thousands of Anglicans have converted to Catholicism during the past few years, and thousands more are expected to do so in the next few years.

So just as the Archbishop of Canterbury would consider it improper for Prime Minister Cameron to criticize the Anglican Church for having all of these liabilities, it is improper for the Archbishop of Canterbury to criticize the British government for its political preferences.

It is best for the people of England, then, if the Archbishop of Canterbury does not address political matters, and the prime minister does not address religious matters.

When combined, politics and religion tend to develop into a combustible reaction with long-term negative effects.

Indeed, abiding by the separation of church and state in England will result in a harmonious win-win situation for its people.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

NY Tells Pet Cemeteries to Stop Taking in Humans; Bronx Woman: I Consider My Pets My Children

The Huffington Post website reports today (June 11, 2011) that a state agency has told New York's animal cemeteries to stop burying the ashes of pet owners alongside their beloved cats, dogs, and parakeets.

The ruling has blocked burials at the 115-year-old Hartsdale Pet Cemetery -- which claims to be the nation's oldest pet cemetery -- and has upset a woman who had prearranged to have her ashes interred there along with five pets.

"Suddenly, I'm not at peace anymore," Rhona Levy, 61, of the Bronx said yesterday.

Levy added, "You want to be with the people you are closest with, your true loved ones. The only loved ones I have in my life right now are my pets, which I consider my children."

Sou. Baptist Baptisms at Lowest Level in 60 Years; Pastor: Report Breaks Heart of Every Sou. Baptist

The Christian Post website reports today (June 11, 2011) that the number of baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention fell in 2010 by 4.98 percent -- making it their lowest level in 60 years.

Southern Baptist churches reported 332,321 baptisms in 2010, down from 349,737 in 2009, as shown in the recently released Annual Church Profile compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in cooperation with Baptist state conventions.

Total membership also declined by 0.15 percent from 2009, making it the fourth straight year of decline.

Pastor Ted Traylor -- from Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida -- lamented the numbers, saying, "This report should break the heart of every Southern Baptist... We need freshness. We need repentance. We need revival."

Mental Health Worker in London Is Fired; Passed Booklet on Abortion Risks to Colleagues

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (June 11, 2011) that a Christian mental health worker in London has been fired for passing colleagues a booklet last November, warning of physical and psychological damage some women suffer after an abortion.

Margaret Forrester -- a psychological well-being practitioner at Central North West London Mental Health Trust -- discussed the booklet with family planning staff at the health center because she felt that the NHS (national health service) was failing to give patients information about the risks and other options to terminating a pregnancy.

But after a six-month disciplinary process, Forrester was found guilty of "gross professional misconduct" and fired.

Forrester, 40, was worried that women seeking medical advice for a "crisis pregnancy" were routinely offered abortions without consideration of other options, and with no discussion of the risks.

Abp. of Canterbury Blasts Reforms in Britain; Says Reforms Proposed by PM Cameron Lack Support

The Ecumenical News International website reports today (June 11, 2011) that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, this week criticized the recent economic, criminal justice, and healthcare reforms proposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Williams -- launching his attack as guest editor of The New Statesman weekly journal -- said Britain's coalition government is forcing through "radical policies for which no one voted."

He questioned whether democratic legitimacy existed for flagship policies on welfare, health, and education, which he said were causing "anxiety and anger."

He also condemned what he described as punitive action against alleged abuses of the benefit system.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Terror Attack Suspect Is Found Guilty in Chicago; Planned Attack to Kill Journalists in Copenhagen

The Copenhagen Post website reports that Chicago businessman Tahawuur Hussain Rana was found guilty yesterday (June 9, 2011) of helping to plan an attack on the Copenhagen offices of Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

The Pakistan-Canadian was convicted in Chicago of aiding childhood friend David Headley -- a member of militant Islamist organization Lashkar-e-Talba -- in planning the attack on the Danish newspaper in reprisal for the 2005 publication drawings sarcastically depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

Documents presented during the cases against both Headley and Rana revealed that the attack on the Jyllands-Posten offices would have seen several journalists killed and decapitated.

Headley -- who pleaded guilty in March 2010 -- also revealed the attack would target all Danes at the paper due to the belief that "all Danes were guilty."

Lady Gaga to Perform in Rome Gay Pride Parade; Donates Free Performance to Support LGBT Cause

The Life In Italy website reports that Lady Gaga will take part in the gay rights parade EuroPride 2011 in Rome on June 11, 2011.

The American rock star -- famous for her outlandish costumes and erotic performances -- will also sing one of her hits to cap the event, which celebrates a rainbow of sexuality marginalized by mainstream society, commonly referred to as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals).

Lady Gaga enjoys 37 million fans on Facebook, and her videos on YouTube have enjoyed hundreds of millions of viewings.

She is donating her presence free of charge to support the LGBT cause.

Arkansas Atheists Sue Over Placing Ads on Buses; Atheists Required to Pay $36,000 Insurance Fee

The Reuters website reports today (June 10, 2011) that a coalition of atheists is accusing Little Rock's city bus line of violating their rights to free speech in a fight to place ads on public buses praising a God-free lifestyle.

The Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason claimed in a lawsuit that the Central Arkansas Transit Authority and its advertising agency are discriminating against the group, because they are being required to pay tens of thousands of dollars to put $5,000 worth of ads on 18 buses.

The ads would read: "Are you good without God? Millions are."

Other groups -- including churches -- have not been required to pay the fee, which amounts to $36,000 in insurance in case of an attack on the buses by angry Christians, according to the lawsuit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

VA School System Will Repost 10 Commandments; Had Removed Them in Dec. Due to ACLU Threats

A southwest Virginia school system has decided to repost copies of the Ten Commandments in its schools as part of a display of historical documents, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (June 9, 2011).

Giles County Schools removed the displays in December 2010, after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) threatened legal action.

The ACLU says that posting copies of the Ten Commandments violates the separation of church and state, and that it will file a lawsuit.

Nonetheless, the Giles County School Board voted 3 to 2 to put the commandments and other documents back up.

Faith Healing Parents Guilty of Mistreatment; Couple Did Not See Doctor for Daughter's Tumor

The Huffington Post website reports today (June 9, 2011) that two members of a faith-healing church in Oregon City, Oregon were found guilty on June 7 of felony criminal mistreatment for not seeking medical care for their daughter.

Timothy and Rebecca Wyland face up to five years in prison when they will be sentenced on June 24.

The couple's daughter, Alayna, was born in December 2009 with a birthmark above her left eye that developed into an abnormal growth of blood vessels, known as hemangioma.

The growth slowly engulfed her left eye, but the Wylands never consulted a doctor. The Wylands are members of Oregon City's Followers of Christ Church, which considers medical treatment a rejection of religious faith.

Hitler's 1919 Letter Shows Jewish Genocide Plan; Letter to Be Exhibited at LA's Wiesenthal Center

The Jewish Week website reports today (June 9, 2011) that a 1919 letter written by Adolf Hitler conveys the first time that he presented his idea to eradicate Germany's Jews.

Starting in July 2011, the letter will be exhibited at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

In the letter -- written at the age of 30 and well before his rise to power in Germany -- Hitler wrote... "The final goal must be the removal of the Jews. To accomplish these goals, only a government of national power is capable and never a government of national weakness."

The Wiesenthal Center recently bought the letter for $150,000, after experts confirmed it was legitimate. An American soldier found the letter in a Nazi archive near Nuremberg in 1945.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

COMMENTARY: Time for Christians to Recognize Christian Values

Pope Benedict XVI was correct this week when he denounced the "disintegration" of family life in Europe.

The pope called on couples to make a commitment to marry and have children -- and not just live together -- in reaffirming traditional Catholic family values. He also voiced the Vatican's opposition to abortion.

The pope asserted these Catholic values last Sunday before some 300,000 people in Croatia -- an independent Balkan nation that is 90 percent Catholic, and a former province of Yugoslavia.

Of course, Pope Benedict's assertions on Christian living were directed not only to Croatia, but to all the nations of Europe. The fact is that Europe -- which has been a continent of predominantly Christian nations for nearly 2,000 years -- has become extremely secular during the past two decades or so.

Many Europeans no longer attend church on Sundays. In fact, there has been a significant growth in the number of atheists now pervading Europe.

Many thousands of former Catholics in Austria -- as well as other European nations -- have left the church altogether. Many did so because of the plethora of child abuse cases against Catholic priests, and the failure of the Catholic Church to take appropriate action to correct this problem.

There is also another important reason for the lack of Christian values by Catholics in Europe; namely, the emphasis that is now being placed on material possessions and a pleasure-oriented lifestyle.

Many Europeans -- and Americans can be included in this category -- have had as their ultimate goal in recent years possessing the best, the most expensive, and the most prestigious items possible. This includes everything from a home and motor vehicle to a boat, a second and even third home, and exclusive vacations around the world.

Sadly, as most Christians -- and not just Catholics -- have become mesmerized by materialism, they have completely neglected Christian values and God, who has provided them with everything they possess.

Indeed, this has become a sad turn of events for Christianity -- and one that must be quickly reversed, in order to save the virtue of humanity.

Dutch Workers Need Not Perform Gay Weddings; Many Workers Refuse Due to Religious Views

The Dutch News website reports that minister for emancipation Marja van Bijsterveldt told members of parliament (MPs) today (June 8, 2011) that civil servants in the Netherlands who have religious objections to gay marriage can refuse to marry same-sex couples.

The exception was worked into the legislation sanctioning same-sex weddings when it came into effect 10 years ago and continues to be the case, Bijsterveldt said.

Vera Bergkamp -- head of the gay rights lobby COC (Center for Culture) -- said the minister's position showed "some people are more equal than others."

According to COC research, 58 local councils employ a total of 102 registrars who refuse to marry same-sex couples. Nearly all are orthodox Christians.

Group of Pastors Launch Evangelical Network; ICEC Will Seek Return to Conservative Values

The Christian Post website reports today (June 8, 2011) that a group of pastors launched a new evangelical network yesterday, in an effort to reach American churches that have fallen into liberal ideology and to encourage a full return back to conservative values and principles.

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and six other clergy members -- in an attempt to reclaim misled churches -- have created the International Communion of Evangelical Churches (ICEC), aimed at forming "an army of churches" that would set the moral high ground for American churches and the nation.

ICEC will recruit churches and Christian groups -- both in the U.S. and abroad.

In the coming months, ICEC members will begin their main mission: Evangelizing five million new believers and building 5,000 churches within the next 10 years.

Rector of Theology Institute in Russia Is Killed; Shot Near His Home in Muslim Caucasus Region

The RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports that the rector of a theology institute -- located in Russia's mainly-Muslim Dagestan republic -- was shot to death yesterday (June 7, 2011) by unknown assailants near his home.

Rector Maksad Ibnugadzharovich Sadikov was one of the founders of the first academic institutions in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region to offer both secular and religious teachings.

Sadikov -- and his nephew who was with him -- were shot by the entrance of his home, after they got out of a car.

Sadikov had been rector of the Institute of Theology and International Relations in Makhachkala -- the capital of Dagestan -- since 2003, and tried to promote education as the greatest weapon in the fight against religious extremism.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lady Gaga's Newest Album Is Seized in Lebanon; "Born This Way" Viewed as Offensive to Christians

The Worldwide Religious News website reports today (June 7, 2011) that Lebanese authorities late last week intercepted and impounded boxes filled with Lady Gaga's newest album "Born this Way" at Beirut's international airport, because the album may be offensive to the country's Christian population.

Despite having sold millions of copies worldwide, Lady Gaga's album is not for sale in Lebanese music stores. Instead, cartons of the new release are stacked in police offices.

Lady Gaga -- who received a traditional Catholic upbringing -- is infamous for her provocative music, drawing on themes of religion and sexuality.

The video above is for one of the album's songs, "Judas," which was banned from Lebanese radio stations last April.

Episcopal Parish in MD to Join Catholic Church; Church to Be Under Archdiocese in Washington

An Episcopal parish in Maryland announced yesterday (June 6, 2011) that it will become the first parish in the U.S. to join the Roman Catholic Church under a Vatican process designed to bring disgruntled Anglicans and Episcopalians into its fold.

According to today's Huffington Post website, St. Luke's Episcopal parish in Bladensburg, Maryland will become part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. within the next few months.

It will sever ties with its liberal bishop, who has spoken out in favor of same-sex marriage and other controversial issues.

John Bryson Chane -- the bishop -- said in a statement yesterday that he approved the separation.

Pakistan: Muslim Extremists Seek to Ban Bible; Claim Bible Is "Blasphemous" and "Pornographic"

The Europe News website reports today (June 7, 2011) that Muslim extremists in Pakistan have demanded the Bible be banned, and called on Pakistan's supreme court to investigate "blasphemous" and "pornographic" passages.

At a press conference, party leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi called for the Bible to be banned and complained about passages in which prophets are described carrying out "a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures."

Farooqi said that his lawyers were "preparing to ask the court to ban the book."

Muslim extremists have referred to Biblical heroes such as David, who coveted a man's wife and so sent him to face certain death on the battle front lines.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Abp. Says He Has Proof of Injuries at School; Three Students Needed Hospital Care from Paddling

The Ethics Daily website reports today (June 6, 2011) that Archbishop Gregory Aymond says he has firsthand accounts from students who said they were injured by paddling at a Catholic high school in New Orleans, challenging school supporters who have filed suit over the claims.

Aymond's disclosure came as parents and alumni of St. Augustine High School challenged the accuracy of a 2009 report from consultant Monica Applewhite, who was asked to investigate the school's disciplinary policy.

Applewhite's report found that at least three students sought hospital treatment after paddling, that some were paddled "day after day," and that some had been paddled "more than six times a day."

Supporters of the school -- the last Catholic school in the country to employ corporal punishment -- dismissed those findings. In multiple lawsuits, supporters have sued Applewhite and charged her with fabricating her report to Aymond.

First Russian Church Is Built in Arabian Peninsula; Orthodox Compound Houses Cultural, Ed Center

The Interfax-Religion website reports today (June 6, 2011) that the domes of the Russian Orthodox Church of Philip the Apostle in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, have been crowned with golden crosses.

It is the only Russian church to have been built in the United Arab Emirates and in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, and the only one to have been crowned with golden crosses, the Moscow Patriarchate said on its website.

The crosses were sanctified by the senior priest of the Russian Orthodox parish, Father Alexander Zarkeshev.

The Orthodox church compound encompasses -- besides the pentagonal church -- a three-storied building which houses a cultural and educational center.

Egypt Military Chief Sends Wishes to Coptic Pope; Shenouda Is Being Treated in Cleveland Hospital

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (June 6, 2011) that the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, expressed his wishes for a speedy recovery for the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, who is currently in the U.S. for medical treatment.

Tantawi's message was delivered by the military attache at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Mohamed al-Kashky, who paid a visit to Cleveland Clinic hospital in Ohio, where Pope Shenouda is receiving his treatment.

Shenouda, 87, left Egypt on May 22 to undergo medical treatment following health trouble. He has had kidney and back problems in the past.

The hospital -- which did not indicate any specific medical problem of Shenouda -- said it has not yet set a date for his release and return to Egypt. It did say he needs follow-up care and further tests.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

NY-Born Twin Friars Die on Same Day at Age 92; Worked for Six Decades at St. Bonaventure Univ.

The Yahoo News website reports today (June 5, 2011) that identical twins Julian and Adrian Riester -- who were born seconds apart 92 years ago -- died hours apart on June 1, 2011.

The Buffalo-born brothers were also brothers in the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor. Professed friars for 65 years, they spent much of that time working together at St. Bonaventure University in western New York state, doing carpentry work, gardening, and driving visitors to and from the airport and around town.

They both died on June 1 at St. Anthony Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida -- Brother Julian in the morning and Brother Adrian in the evening. The inseparable twins had lived in St. Petersburg since moving there from western New York in 2008.

"It really is almost a poetic ending to the remarkable story of their lives," St. Bonaventure spokesman Tom Missel said. He added, "Stunning when you hear it, but hardly surprising given that they did almost everything together."

Pope Rips "Disintegration" of Europe Families; Calls for Couples to Marry and Have Children

The Associated Press website reports that Pope Benedict XVI today (June 5, 2011) denounced the "disintegration" of family life in Europe, and called for couples to make a commitment to marry and have children -- not just to live together -- as he reaffirmed traditional Catholic family values during his second and final day in Croatia.

Benedict also voiced the Vatican's opposition to abortion at an open-air Mass today at Zagreb's hippodrome -- the highlight of his trip to mark the local church's national day of families. Tens of thousands of people -- waving small plastic Croatian and Vatican flags -- began arriving before dawn at the field muddled by overnight thunderstorms.

The sun shone through the clouds as Benedict arrived for the Mass in his white bulletproof "popemobile," waving to the crowd as he looped around the field, which has a capacity of some 300,000 and appeared nearly full, with faithful from across Croatia and neighboring countries.

This is Benedict's first visit as pope to Croatia -- a Balkan nation that is 90 percent Catholic -- which is expected to join the European Union (EU) soon. The Vatican has strongly supported Croatia's bid to join the EU, as it is eager to see another country that is predominantly Catholic join the 27-member bloc.

COMMENTARY: Dr. Kevorkian's Death Triggers Debate of His Actions

Last week's death of Dr. Jack Kevorkian -- who gained world notoriety in the 1990s for assisting more than 130 people to commit suicide -- has resulted in much current dialogue of his actions. Does man have the right to assist his fellowman to kill himself?

We believe that the answer to that controversial question is no. The fact is that God gave us life here on earth and God alone should determine when we will die.

Assisting a person to commit suicide -- in fact suicide itself -- is forbidden in the Christian religion.

Although we do not usually criticize a person -- or his lifestyle -- after he has died, we feel that there is a justification for doing so in this instance, due to Dr. Kevorkian's arrogance, stubbornness, and un-Christian actions.

While he was fortunate to have been found not guilty of murder several times in Michigan courts from 1990 to 1998 -- mainly because Michigan had no law forbidding assisted suicides -- Dr. Kevorkian's luck ran out in 1999 when he was found guilty of second-degree murder, and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison.

His guilty finding in 1999 was primarily due to a law passed by the state of Michigan in 1998 that made assisting in a suicide a crime punishable by prison and a $10,000 fine.

It was also due to Dr. Kevorkian's arrogance, as he had the audacity to encourage the "60 Minutes" TV program to film and broadcast one of his assisted suicides he conducted in 1998. The prosecutors used this film in the court case in 1999 to help to ensure Dr. Kevorkian's guilt.

It is interesting that Dr. Kevorkian did not seek any assistance for himself -- assistance that he advocated so emphatically for others -- during his own illness and final days of his life. Until his death, Dr. Kevorkian still believed that suicide with the help of a medical professional was a person's "civil right."

This illogical belief is where Dr. Kevorkian was seriously wrong. Assisted suicide is not a "civil right" any more than abortion is. The major difference is that abortion is murder while an unborn infant is still in a mother's womb, and has not been given the opportunity to enjoy life; assisted suicide is helping to murder an individual who no longer wants to live, usually because he is ill or is unhappy with life.

In the final analysis, then, assisted suicide as well as abortion must be considered as nothing less than murder!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pope Backs Croatia's EU Bid Upon Visit to Zagreb; Celebrates Croatian Church's National Family Day

The Associated Press website reports that Pope Benedict XVI today (June 4, 2011) arrived in Croatia -- an independent nation and former province of Yugoslavia -- and gave strong backing to Croatia's bid to join the European Union (EU) soon.

In Zagreb -- the capital of Croatia -- the pontiff also expressed the Vatican's long-running concern that Europe needs to be reminded of its Christian roots.

Benedict is spending the weekend in Croatia -- which is 90 percent Catholic -- to mark the Croatian church's national family day, and to boost the country's efforts to finalize its EU accession negotiations.

Croatia -- which received its independence with the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991 -- is expected to learn by next month if negotiations to join the 27-member EU bloc can be concluded, with membership expected in 2012 or 2013.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mladic Makes His First Hague Court Appearance; Says He Was Only Defending His People, Country

Former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic made his first appearance at the UN Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands today (June 3, 2011), the Dutch News website reports.

During the brief hearing, Mladic said the charges against him are "monstrous" and "obnoxious," and that he had only been defending his people and his country.

Mladic, 69, is charged with a number of atrocities during the 1992-95 Bosnian War -- including organizing the massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica.

At today's hearing, Mladic said he is "gravely ill." He was arrested last week in Serbia and extradited to the Netherlands to stand trial.

New Poll: Most Americans Still Believe in God; 18 to 29-Year -Olds Least Likely to Believe in God

The Christian Post website reports today (June 3, 2011) that more than 9 in 10 Americans still say they believe in God, according to a new poll.

The Gallup poll -- released today -- was conducted May 5-8 among more than 1,000 adults.

It found that nonbelief has risen from one percent in 1944 to seven percent today.

Those least likely to believe in God are 18 to 29-year-olds. Only 84 percent agreed that they believe in God compared to 94 percent of older Americans.

Jack Kevorkian Dies at 83 -- Without Assistance! "Assisted Suicide Doctor" Helped 130 People to Die

The Associated Press website reports today (June 3, 2011) that Dr. Jack Kevorkian -- the "assisted suicide doctor" who helped some 130 gravely ill people commit suicide -- died today at a Michigan hospital without seeking the kind of assistance he had given so often in the 1990s.

Kevorkian, 83, died at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, where he had been hospitalized since May 18 with pneumonia and kidney problems. He believed -- right up until his death -- that suicide with the help of a medical professional was a "civil right."

Kevorkian's court trials -- on assisted suicide charges -- in the early and mid-1990s resulted in his acquittal, because Michigan had no law against assisted suicides.

Consequently, the Michigan legislature passed such a law, and in a 1999 trial, Kevorkian was convicted of assisted suicide charges and sent to prison for eight years.

Belgians File Lawsuit Against Vatican on Abuse; Accuse Church of Neglect, Inaction toward Priests

Lawyers for more than 80 Belgians -- who claim they were abused by priests in the Catholic Church -- announced yesterday (June 2, 2011) that they are filing a class action suit against the Holy See, according to the Christian Today website.

They accuse the Catholic Church of harmful neglect for failing to take action when suspected cases of abuse were brought to its attention.

Christine Mussche -- a lawyer for the group -- told reporters: "There were instructions from the pope that said those things had to be kept secret and silent."

About 500 suspected cases of abuse by Catholic priests have been registered in Belgium in the past year.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rabbi Guilty of Sending Charity Money to Israel; Saul Kassin Nabbed in NJ's Worst Corruption Bust

The Jewish Week website reports today (June 2, 2011) that Rabbi Saul Kassin -- a spiritual leader of the Syrian Jewish community in America -- was sentenced to two years of probation for illegally sending money to Israel through a charity he operated.

Kassin's sentencing yesterday culminated a legal saga that dates back to the summer of 2009, when more than 46 individuals -- including Kassin, the chief rabbi of Congregation Shaare Zion in Brooklyn; two rabbis from the Syrian Jewish enclave of Deal, NJ; and a string of high-ranking elected officials and civil servants -- were brought down in a federal sting.

Citing the rabbi's age, U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano did not give jail time to Kassin, 89, although he fined him $36,750.

The sum is in addition to the nearly $370,000 Kassin agreed to give up when he was nabbed in the sting -- the largest-ever corruption bust in New Jersey history.

Judge Forbids Prayer at High School Graduation; Agnostic Parents of Texas Senior Filed Lawsuit

The Renew America website reports today (June 2, 2011) that a federal judge in San Antonio, Texas has banned prayer at a high school graduation ceremony, after the agnostic parents of a senior went to court.

The ruling from Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery came as Medina Valley High School in Castroville, Texas prepares for Saturday's graduation.

Biery's order was in response to a lawsuit filed by Christa and Danny Schultz on behalf of their son, Corwin, to block use of prayer. The judge said speakers cannot call on audience members to bow their heads, join in prayer, or say "amen."

Assistant Superintendent Chris Martinez said school officials will follow the order against public prayer.

Survey Finds BBC Tends to Be Anti-Christian; Suggests BBC Treats Minority Religions Better

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (June 2, 2011) that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) -- based on its own research -- uses "derogatory stereotypes" to portray Christians.

Many people believe that the BBC retains a politically left-wing or "liberal bias" and that religions other than Christianity were sometimes better represented, according to the survey.

The report -- based on the poll results -- concluded: "In terms of religion, there were many who perceived the BBC to be anti-Christian and as such misrepresenting Christianity."

It added: "Christians are specifically mentioned as being badly treated, with a suggestion that more minority religions are better represented, despite Christianity being the most widely observed religion within Britain."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

COMMENTARY: Muslim Woman Should Not Have Been Stoned to Death for Entering Beauty Contest

A 19-year-old Ukrainian Muslim woman was stoned to death by three Muslim young men last week. Why? Because she entered a beauty contest in Ukraine.

That's right -- killed just for entering a beauty contest! The three Muslim youths believe they were justified in killing her, because Sharia (Islamic) Law states that a woman who commits adultery can be stoned to death. But this was not adultery.

Nonetheless, the Muslim youths perceived her participation in the beauty contest as being similar to committing adultery. They felt that her appearance at the beauty contest in a bathing suit was in violation of Islamic tradition of women's bodies being covered in public from head to toe.

The sad fact is that Katya Koren's body was found by police in the Crimea region of Ukraine where she lived. Police have arrested one Muslim youth for her murder, who admitted he stoned her to death -- and said he was justified in doing so -- because she took part in the beauty contest. Police are still searching for two other suspects.

To stone a woman to death for having committed adultery is itself a barbaric penalty to pay for a sin. To stone a woman to death for entering a beauty contest is totally unjustified and should never have even been considered as a punishment. In fact, Katya Koren should not have been punished at all.

In Christianity, Jesus opposed the stoning of a woman to death for having committed adultery. Jesus' opposition is described in the Bible when He was asked by several men if they should stone a woman to death for having committed adultery. Jesus answered, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." --John 8:7

Upon hearing Jesus' words, all of the men -- realizing that every one of them had committed sins -- walked away without casting a single stone...

Obama Proclaims June as the LGBT Pride Month; Says LGBT Group Allows a More Perfect Union

The Christian Post website reports today (June 1, 2011) that President Obama yesterday declared June as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) month. He has issued similar proclamations each year he has been in office.

The proclamation reads in part, "The story of America's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors who continue the task of making our country a more perfect Union."

According to a study released in April of this year, an estimated 3.5 percent of adults in the United States identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and an estimated 0.3 percent of adults as transgender.

International Journalist Murdered in Pakistan; Saleem Shahzad Got Threats from Intel. Agency

The Spero Forum website reports today (June 1, 2011) that a journalist -- who worked for an international news service based in Italy -- was murdered in Pakistan on May 29.

The body of investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad, 40, was recovered from Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab province, in Pakistan on May 30.

Police said there were clear signs of torture on his body. His ribs were also broken.

A fellow journalist, Omar Waraich, said, "Shahzad had recently complained he was receiving threats from the leading agency ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) for writing articles on the agency's activities. Pakistani police are investigating the matter and are probing the involvement of the ISI.

Mladic to Appear in War Crimes Court This Friday; Accused of Leading Massacre of 7500 Muslims

The Dutch News website reports today (June 1, 2011) that former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic will appear before the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague on Friday, June 3.

Mladic, 69, arrived in the Netherlands by plane on May 31. He is being held in Scheveningen prison.

Mladic -- who was arrested on May 26 following 16 years on the run -- faces genocide charges over the 1992-95 Bosnian War.

The general is accused of being behind the massacre of at least 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995. The enclave was under the protection of Dutch troops at the time.