Wednesday, February 29, 2012

COMMENTARY: Penn. Judge Who Dismissed Assault Case Needs to Be Terminated

A Pennsylvania judge -- who is a convert to Islam -- recently dismissed an assault case involving a Muslim man who attacked an atheist for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

The judge's decision to dismiss the case has outraged a plethora of freedom of speech proponents, legal experts, and others -- many of whom are calling for the judge to be fired.

Some legal experts also believe that this case demonstrates how Sharia (Islamic law) is beginning to creep into the United States' legal system.

The incident occurred last year in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania when an atheist -- dressed as "Zombie Muhammad" for a halloween parade -- was attacked by the Muslim man.

The Muslim man said he felt he had to do something because of the insult to his religion. He was arrested and charged with assault by police.

In dismissing the case, the judge said the Muslim was simply defending his "culture." Moreover, the judge said the Muslim was "obligated to attack the victim because of his culture and religion."

The fact is that the Islamic judge in this case was allowing his own personal religious preference to prevail over the American system of justice. Indeed, his decision to dismiss the case was based more on Sharia than on American constitutional law.

In the United States, our justice system does not justify an "obligated assault" on an individual for insulting a religion, although this may well be the case in a predominantly Islamic nation.

Consequently, it is our sincere belief that this judge must be terminated, because of his inability -- or his refusal -- to be objective and to abide by the American process of jurisprudence.

Republican Congress Candidate Denies Holocaust; Says It's "an Intl. Extortion Racket by the Jews"

The Huffington Post website reports today (February 29, 2012) that a congressional candidate -- running as a Republican in the upcoming Illinois primary -- says "the Holocaust never happened."

Arthur Jones, 64, a Lyons, Illinois insurance salesman who organizes family-friendly neo-Nazi events around Adolf Hitler's birthday, hopes to be the Republican candidate chosen to run against Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski in Illinois' 3rd Congressional District.

"As far as I'm concerned, the Holocaust is nothing more than an international extortion racket by the Jews," Jones said.

He added, "It's the blackest lie in history. Millions of dollars are being made by Jews telling this tale of woe and misfortune in books, movies, plays, and TV."

US Mosques Increase by 74 % in Past Decade; Growth Reflects Better Fin. Status of US Muslims

The Mercury News (California) website reports today (February 29, 2012) that the number of American mosques grew by 74 percent in the past decade -- with a large number being built in the suburbs -- according to a national survey of a coalition of Muslim groups.

The 2011 U.S. Mosque Survey counted 2,106 mosques in the United States, with 246 of them in California.

"The building boom is indicative of the growing financial resources of the Muslim community, as many Muslims have lived in the U.S. for many decades now, and their financial resources have improved," wrote study author Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky.

Although the Muslim population in America has increased in recent years, it remains a small fraction of the total population. Valid research indicates that there are about two million Muslims -- or about 0.5 percent of America's total population -- who live in the U.S.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Israel Will Attack Iran without Warning the US; Knows US Would Try to Discourage Attack on Iran

The Newser website reports today (February 28, 2012) that when Israel attacks Iran -- and it does plan to attack Iran within the next few months -- it will not warn the United States first, according to an American intelligence official.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been quietly telling every American official who has recently visited Israel that the U.S. will not be told of an Israeli attack.

The U.S. is desperately -- but unsuccessfully -- trying to talk Israel out of such an attack, arguing it would only amount to little more than a temporary setback for Iran's nuclear ambitions.

On the other hand, Israel believes that such an attack will have a significant impact in destroying Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel is also convinced that if it gives the U.S. advanced warning of an attack on Iran, the U.S. will do everything it can to discourage it.

Some political analysts believe that the real reason that the U.S. is discouraging an attack on a nuclear-threatening Iran is because such an attack by Israel -- America's closest ally in the Middle East -- could result in a Mideast war and a loss of many votes for President Obama in his bid to be re-elected president this year.

Several Call for Penn. Muslim Judge to Be Fired; Mark Martin Threw Out Assault Case against Muslim

The One News Now website reports today (February 28, 2012) that a legal expert, a former Navy chaplain, and a pro-family leader are among many people who agree that Pennsylvania judge Mark Martin -- a convert to Islam -- should be removed from the bench for throwing out an assault case lodged against a Muslim who attacked an atheist dressed as a zombie Mohammad at a halloween parade last year.

The incident -- recorded on video -- occurred on October 11, 2011 at the Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania Halloween Parade. Ernie Pierce -- an atheist -- was attacked by Talaag Elbayomy, because of Pierce's costume.

Judge Martin threw out video evidence of the assault, dismissed the testimony of an eyewitness officer, and then lectured the atheist victim about the sensitivities of the Muslim culture.

In fact, Judge Martin stated in court that as a Muslim, Elbayomy was "obligated to attack the victim because of his culture and religion."

Study: Rich People More Unethical Than Poor People; Result of Upper-Class People's Tolerance of Greed

The Global Post website reports today (February 28, 2012) that -- based on the findings of a new study -- rich people are more unethical and likely to cheat, break the law, and behave badly towards other people.

Researchers from the universities of California and Toronto found that wealthier people are more apt to behave unethically than those who had less money.

The study contradicted the notion that poor people are more likely to act unethically out of financial necessity.

The authors of the study said that the differences in ethical behavior could be explained -- at least in part -- by the upper-class participants' more favorable attitude toward greed. A well-known example of the desire for greed is the modus operandi used by ponzi scheme operator Bernie Madoff -- now in prison with no possible parole -- who cheated scores of people out of more than a billion dollars.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Two Terror Suspects Arrested by FBI in Kentucky; Plotted to Ship Weapons and Money to Al-Qaida

The Daily Mail (British) website reports today (February 27, 2012) that a terror suspect -- who settled in Kentucky as a refugee -- bragged about his insurgent past, as he plotted to ship weapons and money to Al-Qaida in Baghdad, according to the FBI.

A search warrant application detailed how 24-year-old Mohanad Hammadi and co-conspirator 30-year-old Waad Alwan schemed with an informant from late 2009 through early summer 2011 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The document showed how the two Muslim men acquired what they thought were working weapons -- including rocket-propelled grenade launchers, C4 explosives, and Russian-made surface-to-air missiles -- and allegedly plotted to ship them and financial aid to Al-Qaida in Iraq.

Hammadi faces 12 charges, including perjury and attempting to send material support to a known terrorist organization. Alwan pleaded guilty to 23 terrorism-related charges in December and is to be sentenced April 3.

Austrian Worshipers Place Ad in Paper for Priest; Diocese Has No Replacement for Departing Priest

The Austrian Times website reports today (February 27, 2012) that frustrated churchgoers in an Austrian town have put an advertisement in a paper for a new Catholic priest, after the Linz diocese failed to find a replacement for the current priest who is moving to another area.

The ad says that people in Scharding, Austria are looking for a qualified priest to manage the 3,600 souls in the community, and duties include spiritual management, and holding mass.

The ad was placed by villager Christoph Crepaz in the job section of the local newspaper and includes mention of the very good financial position of the community.

Linz diocese spokesman Martin Fureder said it was the first time that a job ad for a priest had been placed in a newspaper. But he praised the fact that locals felt strongly enough about the matter to try to encourage and aid the search for a replacement.

Today Is 1st Day of Lent for Orthodox Christians; To Concentrate on Spiritual Life for Next 40 Days

The Voice of Russia website reports that today (February 27, 2012) is the first day of Lent for Orthodox Christians, who will concentrate on spiritual life for the next 40 days, as they prepare themselves for Easter.

Jesus Christ is known to have gone to a desert after baptizing and fasted there for seven weeks.

The period of fasting is the time for repenting, thinking, and praying, as well as the time when some foods -- such as meats and dairy products -- are not eaten, and all vicious habits and merry-making are given up, while the Lord is asked to cleanse away our sins.

Lent ends when Easter comes -- this year on April 15. The Greek Orthodox Easter will be celebrated one week after the Roman Catholic and Protestant Easter, which is being celebrated on April 8 this year.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tufts Univ. to Offer an Africana Studies Major; Harvard, Northeastern, Brandeis Already Offer It

The Boston Globe website reports today (February 26, 2012) that Tufts University -- located in Medford, Massachusetts -- is designing an Africana studies major for the first time, and opening a center devoted to the study of race and democracy amid a broader push to integrate diversity into the school's academic fabric.

It is an endeavor long overdue -- according to Tufts students and professors -- coming decades after some peer Boston area institutions began granting similar degrees, and having centers of research.

Students have been pushing for an Africana studies program for two years, saying it was unacceptable for Tufts -- one of the country's top research universities -- to lag behind its peers in having a comprehensive course of study on race, gender, and class.

The Africana studies major could be introduced as early as September 2012, putting Tufts in the company of other Boston-area prestigious schools, such as Harvard, Northeastern, and Brandeis universities.

Chicago Cardinal George to Snub Irish PM's Visit; Rejects Irish Club's St. Pat's Eve Dinner Invite

The Irish Central website reports today (February 26, 2012) that Cardinal Francis George, 74, of Chicago has turned down an invitation to the Irish Fellowship Club's St. Patrick Day dinner, apparently because Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is the main speaker.

Kenny lashed out at the Vatican in a widely reported attack last year over its refusal to cooperate in the inquiry into child sexual abuse in the diocese of Cloyne in Cork, Ireland.

Then -- late last year -- the Irish government closed down its Vatican Embassy in a move seen as related to the strong criticism of the Vatican role in the sex abuse scandals.

Now, Cardinal George -- a conservative who is very close to Pope Benedict -- has refused an invitation to the prestigious St. Patrick's eve event on March 16th run by an organization with deep Catholic roots and a major donor to Catholic charities.

Pope: Stay Close to Jesus to Conquer Temptations; Cites Christ's 40 Days in the Desert as Example

The Catholic News Agency website reports that Pope Benedict XVI said today (February 26, 2012) that Christ's 40 days in the desert teaches Christians that temptations can be overcome in life if we stay close to Jesus.

"Man is never wholly free from the temptation...but with patience and true humility we become stronger than an enemy," the Pope said in his Sunday Angelus address.

The Pope addressed thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on the first Sunday of Lent, giving a reflection of St. Mark's Gospel account of Christ's 40 days in the desert when He was tempted by Satan.

Pope Benedict added that Jesus "willingly suffered the attack of the tempter to defend us with His help and to teach us by His example."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

COMMENTARY: Lesbian Judge in Texas Needs to Change Her Priorities

This week, it was revealed that a lesbian judge in Texas is refusing to wed opposite sex couples until same sex couples can also be wed in that state.

Judge Tonya Parker -- the first openly gay African-American elected a county judge in Texas -- said she does not perform opposite sex weddings because it is not an equal application of the law.

Although she does not perform marriage ceremonies, Judge Parker passes them on to other judges so the ceremonies can be completed.

The fact is that Texas has changed its constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman; therefore, two women or two men cannot have a bona fide marriage ceremony in Texas under the law.

We believe that Judge Parker is acting rather childish -- and even selfish -- in refusing to perform marriage ceremonies for opposite sex couples, just because Texas law forbids her from having a marriage ceremony with her lesbian lover.

Moreover, Judge Parker needs to realize that the paramount purpose of her role as a Texas judge is to serve the citizens of Texas, and not herself.

As long as she continues to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for opposite sex couples, then, Judge Parker is doing a grave injustice to the state of Texas, to its citizens -- and to herself.

Brazil Makes Advances for Becoming World Leader; Only Behind US as Christian Missionary Exporter

The Christian Today website reports today (February 25, 2012) that Brazil is sending the second highest number of missionaries to the rest of the world, according to the director of a Global Christianity study organization.

Of 400,000 global missionaries that were sent to foreign countries in 2010, Brazil sent 34,000 -- second behind the United States, which sent 127,000.

The statistics were presented by Todd Johnson -- director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Beaten only by the United States, Brazil has the second largest Protestant population in the world. Brazil also has more Catholics who live in it than any other country in the world.

Jerusalem Church Defaced with Hateful Graffiti; Vandals Spray "Death to Christianity," Other Slurs

Unknown assailants spray painted blasphemous graffiti on a church building that's home to several Christian congregations in downtown Jerusalem, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (February 25, 2012).

Vandals sprayed messages of hate -- slurs against Jesus including, "We'll Crucify You" and "Death to Christianity" -- in Hebrew on the walls of the Baptist House.

Dr. Al Nucciarone -- senior pastor of the Jerusalem Baptist Church -- said, "Obviously people don't like Christians being here and don't like Jesus."

Police are investigating whether the vandalism is connected to earlier attacks this month on a Jerusalem monastery and mosque.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg Defends NYPD Spying on Muslims; Says It Is Legal, Necessary to Prevent Terrorism

The New York Daily News website reports today (February 24, 2012) that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg vigorously defended the police department's spying on Muslims in the city -- as well as across the river in Newark -- as necessary in a post 9/11 world.

"Everything the NYPD has done is legal, it is appropriate, it is constitutional," the mayor said. "They are permitted to travel beyond the border of New York City to investigate cases."

He added, "The NYPD is trying to stop terrorism in the entire region."

Bloomberg launched his defense of surveillance a day after the NYPD defended itself against accusations that it violated the law by spying on Muslims not only in New York, but also in New Jersey.

Lesbian Judge in Texas Refuses to Wed Couples; Won't Do So Until Same Sex TX Couples Can Marry

The Raw Story website reports today (February 24, 2012) that a lesbian judge in Texas is refusing to wed opposite sex couples until same sex couples can be married as well.

"I do not perform them because it is not an equal application of the law. Period," Judge Tonya Parker said.

Parker -- the first openly LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) African-American elected officially in the state's history -- explained why she refuses to perform marriages.

She said, "It's kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can't be performed for me, so I'm not going to do it."

Twelve Killed Today in Quran-Burning Protests; Eight Killed Yesterday Despite Obama's Apology

The Daily Beast website reports that at least 12 more people were killed today (February 24, 2012) in Afghanistan, as the outrage over the burning of Qurans in that country by American troops continues.

Protesters gathered in Kabul today for the fourth day, with hundreds marching to the palace of President Hamid Karzai.

The rallies turned violent yesterday, leaving at least eight people dead, including two U.S. soldiers.

President Obama apologized to the Afghan people in a letter yesterday, but crowds of Afghans are unconvinced, as protests have spread across the country.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maryland Lawmakers Approve Same-Sex Marriage; Md. Governor O'Malley Will Sign Bill into Law

The Voice of America website reports today (February 23, 2012) that the state of Maryland is about to join seven other states and the District of Columbia that currently legalize same-sex marriage.

The Maryland state Senate today approved a gay marriage bill by a vote of 25-22, days after the measure passed in the state assembly.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley -- a Democrat who sponsored the bill -- has pledged to sign it into law.

Gay marriage is legal in Washington state, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

Defense of Marriage Act Ruled Unconstitutional; Wife of Lesbian Fed. Court Employee Gets Benefits

The Washington Times website reports today (February 23, 2012) that a judge yesterday declared the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, and ordered the federal government to ignore the statute and provide health benefits to the wife of a lesbian federal court employee.

The ruling -- by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White -- was the first since the Obama administration announced a year ago that it would no longer defend the law because it considered DOMA to be discriminatory against gays and lesbians.

White ordered the federal Office of Personnel Management to enroll the wife of Karen Golinski -- an attorney for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- in the health benefits program available to other employees of the federal judiciary.

DOMA prohibits the extension of federal benefits to same-sex spouses, and Amy Cunninghis -- Golinski's wife -- had been repeatedly denied coverage since the couple "married" in 2008.

Catholic Priest Fired in Ill. for Changing Mass; Refused to Follow New Translation in Cath. Mass

An Illinois bishop confirmed today (February 23, 2012) that a Roman Catholic priest was fired because he "simply would not and could not pray the prayers of the Mass" under a new translation that went into effect last year, according to the Religion News website.

Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Illinois -- in a rare letter of explanation about an internal personnel dispute -- responded to the firing of the Rev. William Rowe, who has been pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Carmel, Ill. for 18 years.

Braxton said several parishioners of St. Mary's had brought audio and video evidence to him, "which showed the many changes and omissions Fr. Rowe makes in the Mass."

According to Catholic liturgical practice, priests are required to use the prayers laid out in the Missal -- the book of prayers, chants, and responses used during the Mass.

Abp. in Poland Rips Secularist Attack on the Church; Infuriates Many Poles with His "Language of Hate"

The Catholic Culture website reports today (February 23, 2012) that an archbishop in Poland has plunged himself in controversy with a claim that the country is "witnessing a systematic attack on the Church from various libertine, atheist, and Masonic spheres."

Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemyskl -- who made the remark in a Lenten message -- immediately came under fire from political leaders who charged that he was aggravating divisions in society.

Media spokesmen angrily denied the archbishop's claim that Catholic voices are being excluded from public discussions.

Tadeusz Bartos -- a former cleric in Poland -- responded harshly to Archbishop Michalik's statement, saying: It was a "language of hate." He added, "It showed ingratitude towards the state which favors the Church."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

COMMENTARY: Turkey's New Constitution Must Promote Equal Rights, Religious Freedom

This week, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew -- the spiritual leader of more than 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide -- met with members of a parliamentary subcommittee in Istanbul, Turkey that is seeking consensus for a new constitution for that predominantly Islamic country.

Patriarch Bartholomew told the subcommittee members that he favors a constitution that promotes equal rights and religious freedoms for minorities living in Turkey. He also said that he would like Turkey to reopen the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary that it closed down in 1971.

The Ecumenical Patriarch also stated that religious and ethnic minorities were not able to participate fully in Turkey as judges and prosecutors through a silent exclusion. He said that Turkey should end this discriminatory practice.

We believe that Turkey's new constitution must ensure that all of Turkey's citizens -- Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc. -- are treated equally under the law, and are given equal consideration in the selection of governmental and other positions within the republic.

Indeed, these are critical democratic and non-discriminatory recommendations for Turkey to include in its new constitution -- recommendations that Turkey must be proud to implement, if it expects to follow a path that will make it a world leader in the 21st century.

Most Women Under 30 Giving Birth Are Not Married; Many Won't Marry Due to Failure of Their Parents

The Catholic California Daily website reports today (February 22, 2012) that -- for the first time in American history -- more than half of all births to American women under 30 are occurring outside of marriage.

That's what Child Trends -- analyzing data from the National Center for Health Statistics -- found out. The New York Times reported last weekend, "It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal."

Researchers have found that children born to married couples -- on the average -- "experience better education, social, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes" than others.

Many of these unwed mothers say they refuse to get married because they don't want to repeat the failures of their parents' marriages. Many of their parents' marriages ended as a result of their fathers abandoning their mothers to be involved with other women.

Israel's Top Court Rejects Orthodox Draft Law; Means Ultra-Orthodox Jews Need Not Serve in Mil.

Israel's highest court today (February 22, 2012) struck down a law designed to encourage ultra-Orthodox Jews to join the military and the workforce -- saying it had backfired by "entrenching" their blanket draft exemptions and protracted seminary studies -- according to the Reuters website.

The 2002 "Service Deferred Law" offered the ultra-Orthodox Jews -- who make up 10 percent of Israel's population and are often dependent on welfare to live -- a choice upon reaching draft age between studying in seminaries or working. The latter option required first enlisting in the military.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the Supreme Court declared that the law was unconstitutional.

The court also said that the law failed to achieve its objectives -- and even "entrenched" ultra-Orthodox Jews into their traditional lifestyle -- as it resulted in low military enlistments.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bartholomew Urges Turkey to Allow More Rel. Freedom; Wants Turkey to Reopen Greek Orthodox Seminary

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (February 21, 2012) that the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians says Turkey's new constitution should grant more religious freedom to the Islamic country's minority groups.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met on February 20 with members of a parliamentary subcommittee seeking an all-party consensus for a new constitution, which will replace the one ratified in 1982 while Turkey was under military rule.

Bartholomew said he favors a constitution that promotes equal rights and religious freedoms, including the reopening of the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary that Turkey closed down in 1971. Turkey has promised it will allow the Halki Seminary to reopen -- on several occasions -- during the past five years, but has not kept any of its promises.

Bartholomew -- who is based in Istanbul (formerly called Constantinople) -- is the spiritual leader of more than 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.

Catholics Celebrate Beginning of Lent Tomorrow; Ash Wed. Symbolizes Dust before Birth,after Death

The Rome Reports website states that tomorrow (February 22, 2012) marks the beginning of Lent -- often referred to as Ash Wednesday -- when Catholics bare the tradition cross of ashes on their forehead, as a sign of penance.

This year, Pope Benedict XVI will receive ashes from Cardinal Joseph Tomko, who will recite "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."

For about 1200 years, tradition marks that the Pope usually leaves the Vatican on Ash Wednesday, to celebrate the date in one of Rome's basilicas.

For decades, the ceremony has taken place at the Basilica of San Anselmo in Rome's Avventino Hill. The Pope then celebrates a procession that ends at the Basilica of Santa Sabina. The uphill procession symbolizes the effort Catholics make to be Holy.

Quran-Burning at US Afghan Base Sparks Protests; Qurans Were Mistakenly Thrown Out with the Trash

The ABC News website reports today (February 21, 2012) that U.S. troops on Afghanistan's largest military base inadvertently burned Qurans and other religious materials last night -- triggering angry protests and fears of larger demonstrations -- as news of the burning spreads.

The Qurans were mistakenly thrown out with the trash at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, and were on a burn pile before Afghan laborers intervened around 11 p.m. last night.

The workers doused the flames with their jackets and mineral water before marching out of Bagram in a fury, carrying with them charred remains.

By this morning, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside of Bagram and on the outskirts of Kabul. Some shot bullets into the air, some threw rocks at the Bagram gate, and others yelled, "Die, die foreigners."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Russian Orthodox Church Rips Reports on Patriarch; Claim Kirill Made Billions of $ in the 1990s

The Notes from the Underground (NFTU) blog reports today (February 20, 2012) that the Russian Orthodox Church has flatly denied media publications stating that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia traded in tax-free tobacco and oil in the 1990s -- and made billions of dollars on it.

The synodal information department said in a news release -- issued today -- that such publications "are false and deliberately defame the Holy Patriarch and the Russian Orthodox Church in general."

Today's news release also states that these allegations are based on "rumors and speculation, unchecked statements, and biased opinions."

The reports state that Patriarch Kirill was the leader in the 1990s in the profitable business of duty-free tobacco and oil trade, the license for which was given to the Russian Orthodox Church. They also allege that Kirill -- a metropolitan at the time -- was an informer for the KGB (Russian secret police). Kirill -- who was nicknamed "the Tobacco Metropolitan" because of his acumen in the trade -- has denied the allegations.

Children in Quebec, Canada Must Take Rel. Class; Can. Supreme Court Won't Listen to Parental Appeal

The Big News Network website reports today (February 20, 2012) that Canada's Supreme Court -- by refusing to hear an appeal -- ruled on February 17 that children in the province of Quebec cannot opt out of a public school religion class, even if their parents take issue with the curriculum.

The case was filed by two Catholic parents who took issue with their child being enrolled in Quebec's Ethics and Religious Culture program.

This course teaches about the many religions in Canada and their contributions to the nation's culture.

Although the parents argued that the mandatory course would interfere with their ability to pass their faith onto their children, the Supreme Court rejected that argument and refused to hear the case.

Atheists Raise $40K for RI High School Student; Sued Cranston School to Remove Christian Banner

An atheist group has raised more than $40,000 as a "scholarship" fund for Jessica Ahlquist -- a 16-year-old student from Rhode Island who sued her public school and got a 50-year-old Christian prayer banner removed from its walls -- the Christian Post website reports today (February 20, 2012).

Atheist Hemant Mehta is running an online scholarship fundraising campaign for Ahlquist -- who attends Cranston High School West -- on his blog.

Mehta -- who is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in a Chicago suburb -- says he will end the fundraiser for Ahlquist on March 1.

A federal court ruled last month that the Christian mural had to be removed. The Cranston school board voted last week not to appeal the court ruling, due to its inability to meet the legal costs of an appeal.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Exclusive:Whitney's Daughter High After Funeral; Disappeared Many Hours in Hotel Room, Got High

The Daily Beast website reports exclusively today (February 19, 2012) that Bobbi Kristina Brown -- Whitney Houston's daughter -- disappeared for several hours after her mother's funeral yesterday, and was found using drugs, according to two sources close to the family.

As Houston's body was set to be transported to the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey for burial Sunday morning, her family was in full panic mode trying to find Houston's 18-year-old daughter. Ms. Cissy Houston -- Whitney's mother -- was beside herself, a family friend said.

"Cissy and others won't admit it out loud that Bobbi Kristina has a drug problem," said the family friend. "But they know it and have been trying to keep her straight even before Whitney passed."

Several hours after the funeral, Bobbi Kristina was found at a hotel "getting high," according to the family friend. Those close to the family say Bobby Kristina will be flown to a California rehab facility today or tomorrow.

Santorum: Obama's Views Based on "Phony Theology;" Rips Obama for Imposing His Values on the Church

The Christian Post website reports today (February 19, 2012) that Rick Santorum -- who many believe will be the Republican presidential nominee -- blasted President Obama's policies yesterday, saying they are based on some "phony theology" and not on the Bible.

Obama's policies are "not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology," the former Pennsylvania senator told a group of Americans in Columbus, Ohio.

Santorum added that Obama was imposing his values on the church, in an obvious reference to the president's recent birth control mandate.

Obama's campaign took Santorum's allegation seriously, calling it "the latest low in a Republican primary campaign."

Cleric Warns Russia to Be Ready for World War; Says World's Econ. and Soc. Problems to Cause War

The Eurasion Review website reports today (February 19, 2012) that a top Russian Orthodox Church cleric -- speaking on matters beyond the realm of the spiritual -- said Russia must play a greater role in responding to ongoing global events that could deteriorate into a world war.

"There are many processes occurring in the world in which Russia should play a much more active role," Vsevolod Chaplin -- a highly-placed cleric in the Russian Orthodox Church -- said today.

He added, "The economic and social contradictions that have cropped up in the world are so powerful that they are sure to blow up into serious military operations."

Chaplin also said, "In order to ensure that these military operations do not unfold on our territory -- or in the vicinity of our borders -- we need to keep our armed forces combat ready."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

COMMENTARY: Alabama Supreme Court Ruling Should Be a Prelude to End of Legal Abortion

A critical unanimous ruling from the state Supreme Court in Alabama today (February 18, 2012) may serve as the beginning of the end for the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, which legalized abortion in the United States.

The Alabama court stated that "An unborn child is a unique and individual human being from conception, and, therefore, he or she is entitled to the full protection of law at every stage of development." In other words, performing an abortion of an unborn child can be compared to killing a human being, because an unborn child -- from the time of conception -- is entitled to the full protection of the law.

In its unanimous ruling, the Alabama court -- in referring to the Roe v. Wade ruling -- stated that Roe is out of step with every other area of the law in which many state legislatures and courts have recognized the rights of the unborn child in wills and estates, tort or criminal law, and more.

The Alabama court ruling stems from a case in which Amy Hamilton filed suit against several doctors and a medical group for the wrongful death of her unborn child. She claimed that the lack of proper medical intervention resulted in the child's death.

Indeed, the Alabama supreme court ruling -- along with its critical ramifications regarding an unborn child -- is good news for true Christians and others who are opposed to abortion.

The fact is that the U.S. Supreme Court was wrong in its 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the United States. It was wrong not only from a legal perspective, but also from a moral and religious perspective, because, in effect, it justified the murder of an unborn child.

The present U.S. Supreme Court, then, must soon overrule the Roe v. Wade ruling, because it is now a known fact that abortion -- at any stage of a woman's pregnancy -- is the murder of an unborn human life. That's right, murder!

State Supreme Court Says "Roe" Must Be Overruled; Rules Unborn Child Entitled to Protection of Law

The World Net Daily website reports today (February 18, 2012) that a stunning ruling from the state Supreme Court in Alabama is suggesting that states simply "reject" the concept of pre-viability abortion-at-will that comes from Roe v. Wade until the U.S. Supreme Court overrules the precedent. The ruling in Alabama was based on a case in which a woman -- who lost her unborn child -- sued doctors for medical negligence.

In the Alabama ruling, Justice Tom Parker said, "Since Roe was decided in 1973, advances in medical technology have greatly expanded our knowledge of prenatal life."

He added, "An unborn child is a unique and individual human being from conception, and, therefore, he or she is entitled to the full protection of law at every stage of development."

Justice Parker concluded, "For these reasons, Roe's viability rule is neither controlling nor persuasive here and should be rejected by other states until the day it is overruled by the United States Supreme Court."

Pope Inducts 22 Men to Become Catholic Cardinals; Cardinal Dolan of NY May Become 1st American Pope

Pope Benedict XVI -- putting his mark on his Church's future -- today (February 18, 2012) inducted 22 men into the exclusive group of cardinals who will one day elect one of their own to succeed him as leader of the world's 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, according to the Reuters website.

New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan -- who is already being mentioned by some Vatican experts as a possible future candidate to become the first American pope -- was among the most prominent in the group.

Benedict -- who turns 85 in April and is showing difficulty in walking and other signs of his age -- elevated the men to the highest Church rank below himself at the ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica known as a consistory.

"Cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love of God, love of Church, an absolute and unconditional love for brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood if necessary," the pope told the new cardinals before giving them their rings and red birettas (hats).

Friday, February 17, 2012

MA City Vows to Defy Indefinite Detention Law; Says NDAA Violates a Person's Right to a Trial

The Raw Story website reports today (February 17, 2012) that the city of Northampton in Massachusetts passed a strong-worded resolution yesterday to "opt out" of a federal law that allows the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without a trial.

The resolution protests provisions of the federal government's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The resolution states: "Whereas, the indefinite detention of any person without trial violates the 5th and 6th amendments of the Constitution of the United States, Article III of the Constitution of the United States, and the Posse Comitatus Act."

William Newman -- the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Western Massachusetts -- was at yesterday's meeting to support the resolution. He said, "This law is an absolute affront to those principles that make America a free nation."

Feds Arrest Man Preparing to Blow Up US Capitol; He Thought FBI Agents Were Al Qaeda Associates

Federal authorities today (February 17, 2012) arrested and charged a Virginia man on his way to the U.S. Capitol for what he thought would be a suicide attack on one of the nation's most symbolic landmarks, according to the Fox News website.

The man -- a Moroccan citizen who has lived in the United States for over a dozen years -- was identified as Amine El Khalifi, 29. He was nabbed following a lengthy investigation by the FBI, after he expressed interest in conducting an attack.

The suspect has been in the U.S. illegally since 1999. He entered the U.S. that year on a tourist visa, which expired and was never renewed.

The man thought undercover FBI agents assisting him in his plot were associates of Al Qaeda. He was arrested today while carrying a vest that he had been led to believe was packed with explosives, but the material inside the vest was not dangerous.

White Supremacist Pat Buchanan Fired by MSNBC; Wrote "Suicide of a Superpower," a Hateful Book

The Alter Net website reports today (February 17, 2012) that MSNBC has finally fired white supremacist Pat Buchanan.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin said Buchanan -- who has been off the air since October -- was fired after the publication of his latest book, "Suicide of a Superpower," which contains a chapter called "The End of White America."

The book is alarmingly hateful, with passages that warn for race war and blame minorities for racism against them.

Buchanan retaliated against his former employer of 10 years on his personal website, writing that MSNBC caves in to organizations like the African-American advocacy group, Color of Change; LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Human Rights Campaign; Jewish advocates at The Anti-Defamation League; and progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Six Pro-Lifers Arrested in Front of White House; Held Prayer Vigil to Protest Obama's B.C. Mandate

The Life Site News website reports that six pro-life activists -- including a Catholic priest -- were arrested today (February 16, 2012) in front of the White House, while holding a peaceful prayer vigil in protest against the Obama administration's birth control mandate.

They were released shortly thereafter, but only after each one paid a $100 fine.

Fr. Denis Wilde -- the Associate Director of Priests for Life -- said the protesters hoped to send a "wake-up call" to President Obama that opposition to his mandate is not going away.

The six were arrested on a charge of "disobeying a lawful order." Protesters are not allowed to remain stationary in front of the White House -- even if they kneel down and pray.

MA Parents Sue to Remove "Under God" from Pledge; Say "Under God" Discriminates Against Atheists

The Washington Times website reports today (February 16, 2012) that an Acton, Massachusetts school district is being sued by parents over the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance, which they say discriminates against atheists.

The anonymous parents of three children in two Acton schools -- filing as John and Jane Doe -- are suing the district to have the words "under God" removed from the pledge, saying it is discriminatory against their children who are being raised as atheists.

David Niose -- the attorney for the parents -- said: "That suggests that people who don't believe in God are less patriotic than others, and that's just not the truth."

He added, "humanists and atheists are citizens, they pay their taxes, they get good grades."

Houston's Funeral to Be Broadcast on Internet; Service on Sat. in Newark Church Where She Sang

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (February 16, 2012) that Whitney Houston's funeral -- to be held in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday (February 18) -- will be private, but the ceremony will be live-streamed on the Internet so her fans can pay their respects and grieve for the singing star.

The funeral will be shown on the Livestream website on Saturday, and will also be available on some satellite TV services.

Houston died in Beverly Hills, California last Saturday -- presumably from accidentally taking too many drugs -- at the age of 48. The service will be held at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where Houston sang in the choir during her childhood and teenage years.

Bobby Brown -- Houston's ex-husband who many blame for her drug addiction -- has been asked to stay away from her funeral; however, for the sake of the couple's 18-year-old daughter, family members said he will not be turned away from the private service.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

COMMENTARY: US Must Ignore Threats by Egypt to End Its Peace Pact with Israel

Essam El-Erian -- a high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker -- said this week that if the United States cuts its aid to Egypt, the Brotherhood will consider changing the terms of Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Congress last December approved $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt for fiscal year 2012. That assistance, however, is contingent upon Egypt "supporting the transition to civilian government, including holding free and fair elections, implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law."

Egypt's current military government -- which has ruled Egypt since the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 -- has failed to set up a democracy in Egypt. In fact, Egyptians have fewer rights under the military government than they had under Mubarak.

If Egypt's military government continues to deny Egypt's citizens the rights they deserve, the U.S. should stop its military aid to that nation.

Threats from a Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker or other Egyptians to end Egypt's peace agreement with Israel should have no effect on the U.S. decision to stop its aid.

The United States has never been blackmailed by a nation to change its foreign policy -- and it certainly will not be blackmailed by Egypt today.

Deputy Who Arrested Mel Gibson Settles Lawsuit; Supervisors Made Him Delete Anti-Semitic Comments

The Big News Network website reports today (February 15, 2012) that the deputy who arrested Mel Gibson for drunk driving has settled his lawsuit -- which claimed that he suffered religious discrimination at work -- with the Sheriff's Department.

Attorneys for James Mee -- who arrested Gibson -- said a $50,000 settlement was reached and must be approved by a county claims board. A trial scheduled to begin this week was canceled.

Mee -- who is Jewish -- claimed his superiors discriminated against him after he arrested Gibson. However, the Sheriff's Department acknowledged no wrongdoing in the settlement.

Mee -- who pulled over Gibson for drunken driving in Malibu, California in 2006 -- claimed his superiors forced him to remove anti-Semitic comments from his police report that the actor made at the time of his arrest. Mee also claimed he later received negative performance reviews and was denied promotions, as a result of his arrest of Gibson.

Muslim Refugees Are Housed in a Swiss Brothel; Men Housed Near 7 Women at the Erotic Hotel Venus

The Europe News website reports today (February 15, 2012) that 11 Muslim refugees have been housed by Swiss Social Services in a brothel in Thurgau in northeastern Switzerland.

On the ground floor of the Erotic Hotel Venus, seven Romanian and Hungarian women serve guests with drinks at the bar, or entertain them in the strip bar. If the men want additional services, the women take them to rooms on the first floor.

But sitting on the second floor -- drinking tea and trying to make plans for their future -- are 11 Muslim asylum seekers.

Beat Schlierenzauer -- the man who placed the 11 men in the brothel -- says he did not know when he first looked at the rooms that they were in a brothel. Having discovered what the rest of the building was being used for, he has avoided housing women and children in it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Abp. of Canterbury to Meet with Pope Next Month; Will Pray Together at San Gregorio al Celio Church

The Clerical Whispers website reports today (February 14, 2012) that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams -- who heads the Anglican Church -- will meet with Pope Benedict XVI next month in Rome.

Loss of support for the Anglican Church in recent years by a plethora of its worshipers -- due primarily to its acceptance of gay clergy and women priests -- resulted in Pope Benedict's decision in 2009 to ease the process by which Anglicans could convert to Catholicism. Pope Benedict's ruling also allows married Anglican priests to become Catholic priests.

The Anglican Church broke away from the Catholic Church in 1534 when King Henry VIII could not convince Pope Clement VII to grant him an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Benedict and Williams are expected to pray together at the Church of San Gregorio al Celio, located in front of the Palatine Hill -- once the residential neighborhood of ancient Roman rulers.

Egypt Muslim Leader Warns US Not to Cut Its Aid; Says Doing So Can Affect Peace Treaty with Israel

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (February 14, 2012) that a top Muslim Brotherhood (MB) official has warned the United States that any cuts in U.S. aid to Egypt could affect Cairo's peace treaty with Israel.

MB lawmaker Essam el-Erian said if the U.S. cuts aid to Egypt, the MB would consider changing the terms of the peace treaty.

U.S. legislation -- signed into law last December -- ties the provision of $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt in fiscal year 2012 to certification that the government in Cairo "is supporting the transition to civilian government, including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law."

The U.S. has been urging Egypt to initiate a genuine democracy, but the military government -- which has ruled Egypt since the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak last February -- has become more autocratic than Mubarak had been during his 30-year dictatorial reign of Egypt.

Czech Police Respond to Neo-Nazi Women's Group; Arrest 15 Members of Resistance Women Unity Org.

The Prague Daily Monitor website reports today (February 14, 2012) that Czech police have started criminal proceedings against 15 women believed to be part of a women's neo-Nazi organization.

Police said the women -- aged between 21 and 32 -- participated in the ideas of the neo-Nazi Resistance Women Unity (RWU) movement, which is the non-registered women's offshoot of the Nazi group National Resistance.

Some of the RWU's actions were aimed at providing help to neo-Nazi members who have already been jailed.

If the 15 women are found guilty, they could face up to eight years in prison, police said.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Marine General Apologizes for Nazi Flag Photo; Marines Posed in Front of SS Flag in Afghanistan

The photo of U.S. Marine snipers in Afghanistan -- who posed in front of a Nazi flag last week -- has prompted the top Marine officer to start a review of sniper protocol and training, the Christian Science Monitor website reports today (February 13, 2012).

Gen. James Amos also issued an apology "to all offended by this regrettable incident."

A Marine Corps spokesman said the snipers were not aware of the flag, and thought the SS on the flag referred to "sniper scouts." (The SS -- or Schutzstaffel -- was the notoriously murderous arm of the Nazi party.)

Members of the SS pledged an oath of loyalty to Adolph Hitler and carried out many crimes -- including torture and murder -- against Jews, gypsies, and others during World War II.

Netanyahu Blames Iran for Today's Two Attacks; Israeli Embassy Cars Hit in New Delhi, Tbilisi

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran today (February 13, 2012) for twin attempts to bomb people affiliated with the Israeli embassies in New Delhi, India and Tbilisi, Georgia, according to the Washington Post website.

The wife of an Israeli official in New Delhi and her driver were injured and hospitalized today in a blast from explosives slapped on their car by a passing motorcyclist. Around the same time, a grenade-type device was found duct-taped to the bottom of a car affiliated with the embassy in Tbilisi. It was defused without anyone being injured.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the incidents. But Netanyahu pointed a finger at Iran, which has vowed revenge against Israel for recent assassinations of scientists involved in its nuclear program.

Iran denied it had anything to do with either one of today's attacks.

Turkey PM Erdogan's Comment Sparks Furor of MPs; Told Parl. "We Want to Raise a Religious Youth"

The Europe News website reports today (February 13, 2012) that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comment that government wants to "raise a religious youth" has touched a nerve in society by fueling debates over an alleged "hidden agenda" to Islamize secular Turkey.

"We want to raise a religious youth," said Erdogan, during a parliamentary address last week, which has been criticized by several members of parliament (MPs).

Erdogan's remarks also angered the staunchly secular Republican People's Party -- founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk -- with its leader calling the prime minister a "religion-monger."

"It's a sin to garner votes over religion. You are not religious but a religion-monger," said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, accusing Erdogan of polarizing the country by touching its faultlines.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nevada Judge Halts New Menu for Kosher Inmates; Kosher Menu Would Cost an Added $1.5M a Year

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (February 12, 2012) that a federal judge in Nevada has ordered that the state's Department of Corrections refrain from serving a new menu to inmates who keep kosher, thus saving the state about $1.5 million a year.

In an injunction on February 10, Judge Gloria Navarro prevented the department from serving a new "common fare" menu to inmate Howard Ackerman, 51, an Orthodox Jew.

Ackerman -- who is serving a life sentence for kidnapping -- said in a lawsuit that the meals will not be kosher, which violates his First Amendment right of religious freedom.

Jacob Hafter -- Ackerman's attorney who is also an Orthodox Jew -- said the new menu includes sausage, which renders it non-kosher. The judge set a hearing date on the case for April 18.

Christians Around World Pay Tribute to Houston; Whitney Remembered for Singing Praises of Jesus

The Christian Today website reports that Christians around the world today (February 12, 2012) are paying tribute to renowned singer Whitney Houston, who died last night at the age of 48.

Al Sharpton -- civil rights campaigner and former presidential candidate -- led prayers for Houston during today's Sunday service at the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

Houston was the daughter of Gospel singer Cissy Houston and grew up singing in church.

In a tribute to Houston, pastor Joe Carter of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey -- where Houston sang in the choir as a teenager -- said, "What I remember best is her singing the praises of Jesus Christ."

Teenage Tibetan Nun Sets Self on Fire in China; Did So to Protest China's Policies toward Tibet

An 18-year-old Tibetan nun set herself on fire in western China in the latest such protest against Beijing's handling of the vast ethnic Tibetan regions it rules, the Associated Press website reports today (February 12, 2012).

Free Tibet -- an overseas activist group -- said in a statement that the nun had died after setting herself ablaze yesterday.

The young woman -- identified as Tenzin Choedon -- was a nun at the Mamae Nunnery in Sichuan province's Aba prefecture, Free Tibet said.

At least 18 monks, nuns, and ordinary Tibetans -- in protest against China's policies toward Tibet -- have set themselves on fire over the past year, and 12 have died from their injuries.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

COMMENTARY: President Obama Must Trash His Contraceptive Coverage Rules

President Barack Obama was subject to much criticism this week -- especially by Christian clergy -- as a result of his recent ruling to force religious institutions to pay for contraceptive coverage, including birth control, the morning-after pill, and other services to people who work for them.

New York Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan -- obviously infuriated by Obama's ecclesiastical ruling -- went so far as to tell Obama to back out of "intruding into the internal life of a church."

House Speaker John Boehner was also angry at Obama's "religious ruling," and said that the House of Representatives will end this ruling if Obama does not cancel it.

In America's traditional separation of church and state, it is clear that the federal government must not interfere in church affairs and that the church must not interfere in American politics.

But Obama's "religious ruling" unquestionably violates this church-state covenant. One would expect President Obama to know better -- he does have a law degree from Harvard Law School -- because in such a ruling, the federal government is overstepping its authority by formulating ecclesiastical policy that it is ordering the church to follow. This federal government intrusion on the church can be compared to the church having the right to order the federal government to stop subsidizing abortions.

As a result of the plethora of criticism he has received regarding his "religious ruling," Obama has now attempted to "soften the blow" of it by providing a compromise, which would require the insurance companies to pay for workers' contraceptive coverage, rather than the religious institutions themselves.

This compromise has only outraged Christian clergy and others all the more so, as they believe that it just adds insult to injury.

In the final analysis, Obama must trash his entire contraceptive coverage rules -- or indeed Congress or the courts will trash them for him.

Victoria's Secret Model Quits to "Honor the Lord;" Says New Mission Is to Honor Christian Beliefs

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (February 11, 2012) that Kylie Bisutti -- who was chosen in 2009 over 10,000 other women to be a model for Victoria's Secret -- said yesterday that she has decided to leave the lingerie company, in order to honor the Lord.

The 21-year-old model said showing off her body left her feeling convicted.

"I'm definitely going to pursue modeling; I just want to be more wholesome about it," Bisutti said.

In 2009, Bisutti was a newlywed and just beginning to grow in her Christian faith. She said she is now on a new mission to honor her Christian beliefs and be a good example to others.

Abp. Dolan to Obama:Don't Intrude on Church Life; Boehner: Obama Reverses Church Rule or House Will

The Washington Times website reports today (February 11, 2012) that New York Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan said this week: "The federal government should do what it has traditionally done since July 4, 1776; namely, back out of intruding into the internal life of a church."

Dolan made the comment in reference to President Barack Obama's recent ruling to force Catholic institutions to pay for birth control, the morning-after pill, and other services to people who work for them.

Dolan received the support of House Speaker John Boehner, who said either Obama reverses the policy or the House will.

"The federal government has drifted dangerously beyond its constitutional boundaries. The attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand and will not stand," Boehner said.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wash. State Legislature Approves Gay "Marriage;" State's Catholic Governor to Sign Bill into Law

The New American website reports today (February 10, 2012) that the state of Washington is one step away from legalization of homosexual marriage, following passage of legislation in the state house of representatives on February 8 by a 54-43 vote.

The same-sex marriage bill -- which had been aggressively promoted by Governor Christine Gregoire -- passed the senate on February 1 by a 28-21 vote margin, and with Gregoire's expected signature on the bill early next week, Washington will become the seventh state to legalize same-sex partnerships as "marriage," joining New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa, as well as the District of Columbia.

"This is truly a historic day in Washington state, and one where I couldn't be more proud," Gregoire said. She added, "With today's vote, we tell the nation that Washington state will no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love. We tell every child of same-sex couples that their family is every bit as equal and important as all other families in our state."

Gregoire -- who identifies herself as a Roman Catholic -- apparently has chosen to disregard what the Catholic Church teaches about homosexuality.

Putin Favors Compulsory Rel. Classes in Russia; Says They Must Be Taught by Priests, Theologians

The RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports today (February 10, 2012) that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this week came out in favor of robust religion and secular ethics classes in Russian schools, saying they should be taught by theology specialists or priests.

Banned during the Soviet communist era -- from 1917 to 1991 -- religion classes returned to middle schools in selected Russian regions in 2009.

Under Putin's plan, students would choose to study the history of one of the four traditional religions -- Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism -- or more general courses such as "basics of secular ethics."

Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov proposed making religion classes compulsory in all of Russia as of September 2012.

UN Human Rights Head: Send Syrian Leaders to ICC; Over 5,000 Syrians Killed in 11 Months of Protests

The United Nations human rights office said today (February 10, 2012) that Syrian officials -- who are suspected of committing or ordering crimes against humanity -- should face prosecution in the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to the Reuters website.

"This would give a very, very strong message to those running the show (in Syria)," said a spokesman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

Pillay will address the UN General Assembly session on Syria being held in New York on February 13.

The UN has stopped issuing a death toll for Syria, because the large number of people killed recently has made it impossible to provide a reliable figure. The UN did say that more than 5,000 people had been killed in Syria as of December 12, 2011, as a result of the 11-month uprising calling for the removal of Bashar al-Assad as president of Syria.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

EWTN Files Suit to Block Contraception Mandate; Asks Court to Declare the Federal Rule Unconst.

The National Catholic Register website reports that the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) filed a lawsuit today (February 9, 2012) in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Alabama, seeking to halt the federal government's imposition of its contraception mandate and to have the court declare the federal rule unconstitutional.

The lawsuit names Kathleen Sebelius -- the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) -- and other federal agencies as defendants.

EWTN is the first lay Catholic organization to challenge the constitutionality of the HHS final rule, approved by the Obama administration on January 20. North Carolina's Belmont Abbey College and Colorado Christian University -- based in Denver -- have both filed suit.

All three are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty -- a public-interest law firm. Becket is representing EWTN free of charge.

Austrian Altruist Opens His Brothel to Homeless; Offers 10 People Free Rooms Due to Extreme Cold

The Austrian Times website reports today (February 9, 2012) that homeless people are lining up for rooms in an Austrian brothel, after owner Peter Laskaris said it would be unfair not to do everything he could during the current cold spell.

Laskaris -- owner of the Red Rooms Laufhaus in the Austrian capital Vienna -- has opened his door to the homeless as temperatures of 20 degrees below zero hit the city.

He is offering 10 people a night a bed in his brothel for free, including a hot shower and a hot meal. Laskaris also said each homeless guest will get clean bedding and fresh towels each day.

But he added: "Other services are not included."

FBI Releases File on Apple Cofounder Steve Jobs; Took Illegal Drugs, Twisted Truth to Attain Goals

The Mercury News website reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a file today (February 9, 2012) that it kept on Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, in which interview subjects -- who were contacted for a background check on Jobs -- discussed his drug use and tendency to "twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals."

Several of the interview subjects told the FBI agents that Jobs' ethics could bend depending on the situation. One subject described Jobs as "a deceptive individual who is not completely forthright and honest; two former Apple employees said, "Jobs has integrity as long as he gets his way."

In an FBI interview with Jobs, he told agents that he "experimented with marijuana, hashish, and LSD" from 1970 to 1974.

The FBI released its documents on Jobs today because the Freedom of Information Act -- which allows the FBI to make its files public after a person's death -- was used by a reporter to gain access to Jobs' files.

Jobs died October 5, 2011 at the age of 56 as a result of a long battle with cancer.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

COMMENTARY: Gisele Bundchen's Unkind Words Come Back to Haunt Her

Last Sunday night -- following the New England Patriots 21-17 loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl -- Gisele Bundchen, the Brazilian supermodel and wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, acted unprofessionally.

As she was leaving the stadium after the game, some Giants' fans were belittling her husband, because of the Patriots' loss. Bundchen replied to them, "You need to catch the ball when you're supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot [expletive deleted] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can't believe they dropped the ball so many times."

Several people in the Patriots organization said that Bundchen's remarks were out of line and violated a "code of brotherhood" by bashing Brady's teammates.

Although she was annoyed by the Giants' fans bad-mouthing her husband, Bundchen would have been wiser if she just ignored them, and left the stadium without responding to them.

By responding to them -- and especially since she used the "F" word in doing so -- Bundchen lost the respect of many of her former followers. Moreover, she was out of line in blaming Patriots' receivers for the Patriots' loss.

On Tuesday -- two days after the Super Bowl -- New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs told reporters that Bundchen "just needs to continue to stay cute and shut up."

While we do not agree with Jacobs' crude choice of words regarding Bundchen, we do believe that it would behoove Bundchen if she kept her opinions to herself in the future, instead of being critical of Patriots players.

Then and only then will Bundchen be able to regain the plethora of respect that she has lost, as a result of her unrefined and unprofessional words after the Super Bowl.

PA Vending Machine Provides "Morning-After" Pill; Shippensburg Univ. Has the Only One in the Nation

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (February 8, 2012) that students at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania can get the "morning-after" pill by sliding $25 into a vending machine -- an idea that has drawn the attention of federal regulators and raised questions of how accessible emergency contraception should be.

The student health center at Shippensburg -- a secluded public institution of 8,300 students tucked between mountain ridges in the Cumberland Valley -- provides the Plan B One Step emergency contraceptive in the vending machine along with condoms and pregnancy tests.

"I think it's great that the school is giving us this option," junior Chelsea Wehking said yesterday.

Shippensburg's vending machine is believed to be the only one in the United States to dispense the "morning-after" pill, which can prevent a woman from becoming pregnant if she takes it soon after having intercourse.

Hasidic Jew Admits Setting Neighbor on Fire; Did So Because Man Wasn't Praying with Community

The Huffington Post website reports today (February 8, 2012) that a Hasidic Jewish man from New York state pleaded guilty to assault yesterday for setting a Jewish neighbor on fire -- leaving the man badly burned -- because he wasn't praying with the rest of the community.

Shaul Spitzer, 18, of New Square, New York, admitted to lighting Aron Rottenberg ablaze after learning that he had disobeyed a prayer order by the Grand Rebbe of the Hasidic enclave about 35 miles north of New York City.

Spitzer -- who worked for Grande Rebbe David Twersky at the time of the incident -- admitted in court that he used a heavy-duty propane lighter to set Rottenberg on fire in May 2011. Rottenberg spent more than a month in the hospital recovering from severe burns.

Spitzer -- who will be sentenced in April -- faces up to 10 years in prison. Rottenberg also has a pending civil lawsuit against Spitzer and Twersky -- as a result of the incident -- in which he is asking for $2 million.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Conn. Catholic School Bans Skirts from Uniform; Parents Upset Girls Must Now Wear Khaki Pants

The Shine Yahoo website reports today (February 7, 2012) that St. Bernadette Catholic School in New Haven, Connecticut will be updating the girls' uniforms next fall.

After many female students have been rolling up their plaid skirts to make them shorter, the school has decided to ban their current skirts and jumpers, and replace them with khaki pants. Parents are upset that they'll have to shell out more money for new uniforms, but they're also angry that their daughters will look less feminine.

Principal Sherry Steines recently wrote a letter to parents claiming the new dress code is the result of "many conversations and input from the school survey." Some parents said they never took any such survey and were not consulted about the dress code. Consequently, about 20 parents signed a petition to meet with the principal about the changes, but they were turned down.

Parent Brenda Abel said tuition is costly enough and she would prefer not having to buy new uniforms. Her daughter, Jessica, is in the sixth grade and keeps her skirt at the required knee length.

France Inaugurates 1st Municipal Muslim Cemetery; Muslim Head:"Historic" Moment for French Muslims

The Europe News website reports today (February 7, 2012) that France inaugurated its first municipal Muslim cemetery in the city of Strasbourg yesterday -- a move hailed by Islamic leaders as a step in recognizing one of the country's largest minority groups.

Local officials and Muslim leaders attended a ceremony in the northeastern French city to launch the cemetery, which has space for about 1,000 graves.

Mohammed Moussaoui -- head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith -- hailed the ceremony's opening as a "historic" moment for Muslims in France.

France has more Muslims -- over 6,200,000 Muslims -- than any other country in all of Europe.

More New Women Priests Than Men for First Time; Church of England Ordained More Women in 2010

The Telegraph (British) website reports today (February 7, 2012) that more female priests have joined the Church of England than male priests for the first time.

Official figures show that 290 women were ordained in 2010 -- the most recent year for which figures are available. By contrast, only 273 men entered the priesthood.

The new figures have become available less than 20 years since the Church of England first allowed women to be priests.

Overall, there were still more than twice as many ordained men (8,087) as women (3,535) in 2010. The figures also reveal that most of the women priests are "self-supporting" rather than having full-time clergy jobs.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Judge to Rule on Slavery Protection for Whales; PETA Claims They Are Forced to Live Like Slaves

A federal judge -- for the first time in U.S. history -- heard arguments today (February 6, 2012) in a case that could determine whether animals enjoy the same constitutional protection against slavery as human beings, the Associated Press website reports.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller called the hearing in San Diego after Sea World asked the court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that names five orcas as plaintiffs in the case.

PETA claims the captured whales are treated like slaves, in that they are forced to live in tanks and perform daily tasks at Sea World's parks in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida.

Jeffrey Kerr -- PETA's attorney -- said, "this case is on the next frontier of civil rights." Theodore Shaw -- Sea World's attorney -- said animals "were not included in 'We the people' ... when the Constitution was adopted."

Brady's Wife Rips Receivers for Patriots SB Loss; Patriots Org.:She Violated "Code of Brotherhood"

The New York Post website reports today (February 6, 2012) that Gisele Bundchen -- the Brazilian supermodel -- ripped into the Patriots' receivers for failing to catch the ball on several occasions when it was thrown to them by her quarterback husband Tom Brady at last night's Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

After the game, fans could be heard yelling to Bundchen "Eli owns your husband" as she was leaving the stadium, following the Patriots' 21-17 loss to the Giants. The fans were referring to Giants' quarterback Eli Manning, who was named the most valuable player of last night's game.

Bundchen answered back to the fans: "You need to catch the ball when you're supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot [expletive deleted] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can't believe they dropped the ball so many times."

Several people within the Patriots organization said today that Bundchen was out of line and violated a "code of brotherhood" by bashing Brady's teammates.

Norway Killer Demands Medal at Court Hearing; Killed 77 People in Norway's Worst Massacre

The right-wing extremist -- who has admitted killing 77 people in Norway's worst peacetime massacre -- told a court today (February 6, 2012) that he deserves a medal of honor for the bloodshed and demanded to be set free, according to the Associated Press website.

Anders Behring Breivik smirked as he was led into the Oslo district court -- handcuffed and dressed in a dark suit -- for his last scheduled detention hearing before his trial begins in April.

He stretched out his arms in what his lawyer Geir Lippestad called "some kind of right-wing extremist greeting."

Reading from prepared marks, the 32-year-old Norwegian told the court that the July 22 massacre -- carried out with a bomb, a rifle, and a handgun -- was a strike against "traitors" who are embracing immigration to promote "an Islamic colonization of Norway."

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Eight Sailors Discharged by Navy for Hazing; Assaulted, Choked Sailor in an Initiation Rite

The Global Post website reports today (February 5, 2012) that eight sailors have been discharged from the Navy over a hazing incident aboard a San Diego-based amphibious assault ship.

A Navy spokesman said that the eight allegedly assaulted and choked a fellow sailor aboard the Bonhomme Richard on January 17 as part of an initiation rite.

The assault was videotaped and the victim treated for injuries, Lt. Commander David McKinney said.

The sailors -- all from junior ranks -- received general discharges following a "captain's mast" proceeding held by the ship's commander, Capt. J.L. Harnden.

File Sharing Recognized as a Religion in Sweden; Church of Kopimism Info, Copying Viewed as Holy

The Swedish Wire website reports today (February 5, 2012) that Swedish authorities have granted official religious status to the Church of Kopimism -- which considers CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) to be sacred symbols -- and agreed that information is holy and copying is a sacrament.

Isak Gerson -- the self-appointed spiritual leader of the movement -- said the church's religious roots go back to 2010 and that it formalized a community of file sharers that already has been "well spread" for a long time.

Gerson added, "The community of kopimi (pronounced "copy me") requires no formal membership. You just have to feel a calling to worship what is the holiest of the holiest information and copy."

Church services consist of "kopyactings," whereby the "kopimists" share information with each other through copying and remixing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

COMMENTARY: Man Must Not Deceive His Fellow Man in Order to Acquire Money

This week, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi from Maryland pleaded guilty in federal court to mail and wire fraud -- subjecting him to a prison sentence of up to 40 years -- because he made up stories of having unique Torahs that date back to the Holocaust, and sold them to innocent believers for more than $862,000.

Rabbi Menachem Youlus, 50, made up some fantastic, dramatic stories to prospective customers, saying that he had gone to Auschwitz, Poland and other parts of Europe to obtain invaluable Torahs. The fact is that Youlus had never even gone to Europe.

Many of those who purchased the Torahs from Youlus were children and grandchildren of some of the six million Jews who had been killed during the Holocaust in the 1940s. Youlus, however, felt no shame in deceiving these innocent believers: His only concern was to get as much money from them as he could.

What makes this scenario even more frightening and incredible is that Youlus was a rabbi -- and an Orthodox Jewish rabbi no less -- when he committed these heartless, selfish, and disgusting crimes.

Somehow, we feel that Youlus' deception of his fellow Jews can be closely associated with Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Judas -- one of the 12 Jewish apostles of Jesus -- betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas betrayed Jesus despite the fact that the Jews were God's chosen people.

Judas betrayed Jesus for the silver bribe by identifying Him with a kiss -- often referred to as the kiss of Judas -- to arresting soldiers of the High Priest Caiaphas, who then turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate's soldiers, resulting in Jesus' crucifixion.

In both the Judas and Youlus situations, an obsession for money was the primary reason for their inhumane and disgusting actions.

It was nearly 2,000 years ago when Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Today, the Youlus scenario conveys that man has still not changed his priorities to respect the life and integrity of his fellow man, instead of deceiving him to attain money.

Indeed, it is now time for man to show more respect toward his fellow man -- a respect in which love, kindness, and integrity transcend any selfish desire an individual might have to illegally amass money by deceiving someone.

Church Cancels Night Services Due to Super Bowl; Megachurch in S.C. Is a Victim of Football Game

The Christian Post website reports today (February 4, 2012) that New Spring Church -- a five-campus megachurch in Anderson, South Carolina -- is canceling its Sunday night services on February 5, so that its parishioners can stay home and watch the Super Bowl football game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants on television.

Lead pastor Perry Noble said, "I've been in church work for over 20 years and the one thing I can say is that attendance on Super Bowl Sunday night in church has always been awful."

The megachurch's two Sunday morning worship services are still being held.

Apologist Chris Rosebrough told the Christian Post, "Scripture teaches that the job of a pastor is to preach the Word. That doesn't matter if God sends two or 3,000 people -- the job of the pastor is the same."

Head of Greek Church Says Austerity Is Deadly; Warns PM Greece Is on Verge of "Social Explosion"

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (February 4, 2012) that Archbishop Ieronymos -- the head of the Orthodox Church of Greece -- has taken the rare step of writing to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos to express serious concerns about the effectiveness of the government's fiscal policy and the effect it is having on Greek people.

In his letter, Ieronymos raises doubts on whether Greece should agree to further austerity measures to receive its next bailout by the European Union, suggesting that they are "large doses of medicine that is proving deadly."

Ieronymos also expresses concern about the impact of the economic crisis -- including a rise in suicides, homelessness, and unemployment -- and the desperate state in which an increasing number of Greeks find themselves.

He warned the prime minister that this was creating a dangerous situation in Greece, and that the possibility of a "social explosion" cannot be ignored.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Milwaukee Archdiocese Faces 550 Abuse Claims; Has Already Paid $30M for Clergy Sexual Abuse

About 550 people have filed claims for restitution for alleged sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the Associated Press website reports today (February 3, 2012).

The Milwaukee Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection last year, saying pending sex-abuse lawsuits could leave it with debts it could not afford.

The archdiocese has already paid more than $30 million in settlements and other court costs related to clergy abuse.

Peter Isely -- the Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- said the number of filings was "extraordinary tragic." He added that it represented only a small portion of people abused by Catholic clergy.

Family Group Opposes Retailer's Lesbian Choice; Asks J.C. Penney to Replace DeGeneres as Spokesman

The One News Now website reports today (February 3, 2012) that One Million Moms -- an American Family Association's advocacy group -- is challenging J.C. Penney's efforts to improve its sales by hiring a lesbian as its spokesperson.

J.C. Penney has hired lesbian Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. The comedian and talk-show host is slated to appear in five commercials in an ad campaign starting this spring.

Ron Johnson -- new CEO at J.C. Penney -- said his company is going with DeGeneres because "Ellen is someone we all trust. She's lovable, likabale, honest, and funny."

On the other hand, Monica Cole -- director of One Million Moms -- said hiring DeGeneres might backfire, since only an estimated 1.7 percent of the American population is homosexual. She added that One Million Moms is asking people to call J.C. Penney to politely ask that DeGeneres be replaced as its spokesperson.

MD Rabbi Pleads Guilty to Fraud in Torah Trick; Rabbi Youlus Sold "Holocaust Torahs" to Believers

The Washington Post website reports today (February 3, 2012) that an Orthodox rabbi and owner of a Jewish bookstore in Wheaton, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in New York to mail and wire fraud, as a result of making up dramatic stories of rescuing Torahs lost during the Holocaust, and selling them to believers for more than $862,000.

Rabbi Menachem Youlus, 50, had solicited donations to his nonprofit organization -- the Save a Torah Foundation -- by fabricating fantastic adventures of saving the sacred scrolls, and using the stories to inflate the value of old Torahs.

Youlus told Judge Colleen McMahon that "between 2004 and 2010, I falsely represented that I personally obtained vintage Torah scrolls from Europe and Israel," including sacred fragments in a metal box buried in Auschwitz. He admitted that he had never been to Europe and that he defrauded scores of victims, including private equity billionaire David Rubenstein.

Each of the two counts against Youlus carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Judge McMahon scheduled sentencing for June 21.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Obama: "My Policies Are an Extension of My Faith;" Wanting Wealthy to Pay More Taxes Reflects Jesus

President Barack Obama said today (February 2, 2012) that his Christian faith is a driving force behind his economic policies -- from Wall Street reform to his calls for the wealthy to pay higher taxes -- the Associated Press website reports.

Obama's remarks at today's National Prayer Breakfast -- held at the Washington Hilton's International Ballroom -- were his most explicit account of how his personal religious beliefs factor into his decision-making on the nation's pressing problems.

Speaking to more than 3,000 people at the annual breakfast, Obama said "faith and values" should play as much of a role in tackling the nation's challenges as sound decision-making and smart policies.

He said, for example, that his own call for fairness in the tax code -- in which wealthy Americans would be required to pay more taxes -- is both economically sound and consistent with the teachings of Jesus. In the Bible, Jesus tells His disciples, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." - Matthew 19:24

Church of Scientology Convicted of Fraud in France; Church Fined $800,000, Five Members Also Fined

The Voice of America website reports today (February 2, 2012) that a Paris court has fined the Church of Scientology in France for fraud, and handed five of its members fines and suspended sentences.

The appeals court ruling confirms a 2009 fraud charge that the Church of Scientology in France pressured its members to pay for books, courses, and so-called "purification remedies" or questionable medical treatments. It fined the church and its bookshop a total of 600,000 euros or nearly $800,000.

The five Scientologists fined and given suspended sentences included Alain Rosenberg -- the head of the French church -- who received a two-year suspended sentence and a fine of nearly $40,000.

Founded in the United States nearly 60 years ago, the Church of Scientology is legally a religion in the United States, Sweden, and Spain. But in France, Belgium, and Germany, Scientology is considered a sect or cult.

Its members include American actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

COMMENTARY: There Is No Justification for Murder in Our Society

Last week, a jury in Ontario, Canada found an Afghan father, his wife, and their son guilty of killing three teenage sisters and a co-wife in what the judge called a "twisted concept of honor."

The three sisters -- aged 19, 17, and 13 -- were killed because they "violated Islamic rules of dress, dating, and socializing." The co-wife was killed because of fear that Canadian authorities might discover the husband's polygamous relationship, and force his family to leave Canada.

The fact that the parents did not kill their 21-year-old son in this scenario conveys a double standard: Young Islamic women must not socialize with others, but it is all right for young men to socialize.

If the parents wanted to punish their three teenage daughters for living an anti-Islamic lifestyle, they could have done so by taking less severe action, such as not allowing them to socialize with others.

In the final analysis, the parents and son of these murders need to realize that in a civilized society there is no justification for murdering people -- even if the reason for murder may be sparked by a desire to support religious teachings.

US Abp.: Catholic Pop. in Iraq Has Collapsed; It Fell from 800,000 in 2003 to 150,000 Today

The California Catholic Daily website reports today (February 1, 2012) that Archbishop Timothy Broglio -- the U.S. Archbishop for Military Services -- said the collapse of Iraq's Christian population is among the legacies of America's invasion in 2003.

Archbishop Broglio made his comments only one month after the final pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq, where they remained following the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

Aid agencies estimate that over the course of eight years, the Catholic population of Iraq fell from more than 800,000 in 2003 to fewer than 150,000 today.

Archbishop Broglio said he believes Catholicism suffered after the U.S. invasion because of a perceived closeness to its previous ruler. He added that Saddam Hussein tended "to trust Catholics, and gave them positions of responsibility."

John Piper:God Gave Christians a "Masculine Feel;" Evangelist Says God Did So for Humans to Flourish

The Christian Post website reports today (February 1, 2012) that evangelist John Piper -- in his address to the Desiring God Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis yesterday -- said, "God revealed Himself in the Bible pervasively as king not queen; father not mother."

He also said, "Second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give the name man, the name of the male."

Piper continued, "God appoints all the priests in the Old Testament to be men; the Son of God came into the world to be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed that the overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they taught that the husband should be the head."

Piper concluded that God has given Christianity a "masculine feel" for our maximum flourishing -- both male and female.