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    • The Celibacy Wars: A Reason for Hope? August 9, 2014
      Quite suddenly, my news feeds are full of stories and opinion pieces on celibacy and gay Christians, from the evangelical Christian Charisma News and the like on the one hand, to the gay Advocate on the other. On the religious…Read more →
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      Terence Weldon
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    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
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      Obie Holmen
    • Email sent to my followers June 27, 2014
      Whew! It's time to catch my breath. Since the release of Queer Clergy in February, I've been on the road ... Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and California. I have been the guest of book clubs, adult forums, LGBT reconciling groups, the Pacific School of Religion, and I've been a guest preacher (always a treat for an old lawyer). I've mad […]
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    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
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    • James Foley: "Prayer was the Glue that Enabled My Freedom, An Inner Freedom" August 22, 2014
      "Prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom,an inner freedom . . ."Photojournalist James Foley wrote these words in 2011, when reflecting on the 44 days he and two others were held captive in Libya. He went on to say that prayer, in this instance, also enabled "the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incenti […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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    • Ferguson and Who Gets to Do What to Whom: One Day, Three Videos August 21, 2014
      I wrote yesterday that what we're talking about as we talk about Ferguson is, Who gets to build a pen and put other human beings there? And who gets to be penned?   Who gets the right to point guns at those in the pen, threatening to Mace them or tear-gas them if they try to leave their pen? Who gets to be penned?  Who gets to engage in these actions wh […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
    • "What Good Fortune for Those in Power That People Do Not Think": Religion (of a Sort) and Justification of Police Brutality August 21, 2014
      Several observations culled from my file of notes from books I've read over the course of many years, which have helped me to see more fully and to understand better. To my way of thinking, what both of these authors have to say could well powerfully gloss discussions we've had here of late about the role of religion in the world — and the quandary […]
      noreply@blogger.com (William D. Lindsey)
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    • The travails of young love July 30, 2014
      On a bit of a hiatus from blogging for the summer as I recollect my spirit, but I may have some reflections to share this weekend about the difficulties of young love. Been listening to tales of heartbreak from some of my young students. And young River Viiperi has broken from his partner of two years, Paris Hilton, so these must be difficult days for him as […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
    • Papa Francesco does it again July 14, 2014
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    • プロミスとアコムならどっちで借りるべきか? August 2, 2014
      借り入れまでの審査時間の短さで、キャッシング先を消費者金融にしようと決めた方もどこの消費者金融がよいのかで困っていませんか?消費者金融でもトップといってもよいプロミスとアコム、借りるならどっちを選ぶとよいのでしょうか。プロミスの最大の特徴は、金利の低さでしょう。プロミスの金利幅は、4.5%~17.8%の実質年率となっています。比較してアコムの金利幅は4.7%~18.0%となっています。(アコムカードローンでの金利となり、アコムクレジットカードでのキャッシング金利は違ってきます。)また、無利息サービスもプロミスは、プロミスポイントサービスにお申込された方が対象に行われています。一方のアコムでは、無利息は期間限定のサービスとなっています。いずれも無利息になるためには条件があるのですが、プロミスではポイントサービスへ […]
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    • Kidnapping August 22, 2014
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      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Bishop Jenky Gets the Coveted Coughie!

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Yes, it’s that time of the year, folks. It’s time for the presentation of the annual Coughlin Award.  The competition was stiff, but one Catholic Right mover and shaker stood out out from the crowd, head and shoulders above the rest.
 

The Coughlin Award — affectionately known as “The Coughie” — is our way of recognizing the person who has best exemplified an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith in the preceding year.  The award is named for Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious radio priest of the 1930s who is the role model for today’s Religious Right radio and television evangelists, and other conservative media personalities.

This year our judges had a small but distinguished field of candidates from which to choose. Of course there was last year’s winner, Catholic League head honcho Bill Donohue.  He,  along with 2011 honoree, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, used the occasion of the indictment of Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Finn for failing to report a priest of suspected pedophilia to launch a war of attrition against a victims’ advocacy group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).  For their efforts, the dynamic duo were awarded (dis)honorable mentions.

The winner of this years’ Coughlin Award is Bishop Daniel Jenky, of Peoria, Illinois for his outstanding achievements in fanning the flames of the culture wars.  But before we discuss the words and deeds that catapulted him over the dynamic due, a few words about the coveted Coughie itself are in order.

The award’s namesake, Catholic priest and anti-Semitic broadcaster Fr. Charles Coughlin is best known for his diatribes against FDR, Judaism and his open sympathy with the racist policies of Adolph Hitler.  Such advocacy was clearly antithetical the very definition of the word “catholic,” which, according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary means:

   

Catholic Cath”o*lic\ (k[a^]th”[-o]*[i^]k), a. [L. catholicus, Gr. kaqoliko`s, universal, general; kata` down, wholly + "o`los whole, probably akin to E. solid: cf. F. catholique.]

    1. Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.

    Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war. -Southey.

    Note: This epithet, which is applicable to the whole Christian church, or its faith, is claimed by Roman Catholics to belong especially to their church, and in popular usage is so limited.

    *Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.

    *Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.

In order to win a Coughie, a candidate must successfully complete three qualifying tasks: 1) Make the faith decisively less inclusive 2) Engage in incendiary behavior and 3) Thereby ultimately embarrass the Church.

Now let’s take a look back at the pugnacious Peorian’s 2012 award winning performance.

Hands down, Bishop Jenky did his darned best to make Catholicism less inclusive.  Last April in a homily-screed aimed at the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that religious employers provide women with insurance coverage that pays for contraception he compared with Judas Isacariot who betrayed Jesus to the Romans, American Catholics who disagree with the hierarchy on the issue

May God have mercy especially on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil.

He then claimed that President Obama is following in the footsteps of Hitler and Stalin.

Hitler and Stalin at their better moments would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care, in clear violation of our constitutional rights, president Obama with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.

Such language easily satisfies award-winning requirements two (“engages in incendiary behavior”) and three (“ultimately embarrasses the Church”).  As I noted at the time:

…comparing President Obama to Hitler and Stalin is not merely a violation of Godwin’s Law, it is hurtful to those suffered at the hands of two of the worst tyrants of the twentieth century, not to mention their descendants. It is hard to beat Adolf Hitler when it comes to unspeakably brutal religious intolerance. Not only did he direct the murder six million Jews, but also he also similarly persecuted other people of faith. Jehovah’s  Witnesses and Christians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe and Father Bronislaw Komorowski immediately come to mind. The Nazis destroyed untold numbers of Churches and synagogues.

On a smaller scale Stalin initiated his own ruthless  war on faith. The Soviet leader used the League of Militant Atheists as a mechanism to decimate churches, mosques and synagogues. Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders were often murdered or imprisoned in Siberian gulags.

And to these examples of barbarity Bishop Jenky equates President Obama’s health care policy?

Judas. Hitler. Stalin. Jenky is a master of the classics. But his comments didn’t play well in or out of Peoria.   “There are few, if any, parallels in history to the religious intolerance and anti-Semitism fostered in society by Stalin, and especially Hitler,”  the director of Chicago’s Anti-Defamation League responded, “who under his regime perpetuated the open persecution and ultimate genocide of Jews, Catholics and many other minorities.”  Americans United for Separation of Church filed a complaint with the IRS that the bishop’s comments violate the federal tax code provision that bars churches and other non-profits from intervening in campains for elected office.

These episodes alone might have clinched the Coughie, but Jenky was not done. After all, it was an election year.

On October 31, 2012 Bishop Jenky released a letter that he ordered read at all Masses within his diocese the weekend before Election Day.  Among other things he alleged, he claimed, “I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present” because “Neither the president of the United States nor the current majority of the Federal Senate have been willing to even consider the Catholic community’s grave objections to those HHS mandates that would require all Catholic institutions, exempting only our church buildings, to fund abortion, sterilization, and artificial contraception.”

Dennis Coday of The National Catholic Reporter dryly noted, “If I am reading this right, I think he is ordering all Catholics to vote.” And knowing to which political party both the president and “the current majority of the Federal Senate” belong, you don’t have to be Fellini to figure how he wanted his flock to vote!

Bradley University political science professor Emily Gil pointed out in thePeoria Star Journal;  “the Catholic Church can do whatever it wants to do with its own money, but not with the public’s money” — particularly when hospitals and other Church-affiliated agencies are using federal funds.

I give you the winner of this year’s Coughlin Award:  Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois.

And the Winner of this Year’s Coughie Award is…

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

It’s that time of year once again, to announce the recipient of the Coughlin Award —  presented annually to the person who best exemplifies an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith. The award is named for Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious radio priest of the 1930s who is the role model for today’s Religious Right radio and television evangelists and other conservative media personalities.

This year the bride’s maid finally takes his walk down the aisle. This Coughie is for you Bill Donohue!

But before we discuss this year’s winner, a few words about the award’s namesake.

The Coughlin Award (aka “the Coughie”) is named after the Catholic priest and anti-Semitic broadcaster  Fr. Charles Coughlin best known for his diatribes against FDR and Judaism and open sympathy with the racist policies of Adolph Hitler.  Such advocacy was clearly antithetical the very definition of the word “catholic,” which, according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary means:

Catholic Cath”o*lic\ (k[a^]th”[-o]*[i^]k), a. [L. catholicus, Gr. kaqoliko`s, universal, general; kata` down, wholly + "o`los whole, probably akin to E. solid: cf. F. catholique.]

1. Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.

Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war. –Southey.

Note: This epithet, which is applicable to the whole Christian church, or its faith, is claimed by Roman Catholics to belong especially to their church, and in popular usage is so limited.

*Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.

*Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.

In order to win a Coughie, a candidate must do something that complete three qualifying tasks:  1) Makes the faith decisively less inclusive 2) engages in incendiary behavior  and 3) thereby ultimately embarrasses the Church. This year’s winner — as usual — has risen to the challenge by completing all three tasks with breathtaking simplicity, snatching the victory from a determined field of tough competitors. Deserving winners all.

That’s why deciding upon this year’s Coughie Award winner was an unusually tough call. The judges argued long into the night before the dawning of the Day of Decision.

On the local level, the judges were leaning heavily towards Fr. Michael Gelfant, the Brooklyn pastor who managed to bring the culture war to (coincidentally) my parish of St. Finbar’s. Gelfant disparaged American Catholics and unilaterally took it upon himself to stand in for the Almighty regarding the eternal judgment of atheists (he was reported to have declared that they have no right to Heaven).

Another top contender was Vatican banker Ettore Gotti-Tedeschi for his dissembling of Keynesian economics.

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City/St. Joseph took a shot at the Coughie by failing to take immediate action against a priest who displayed alarming behavior around children.

But it was Donohue’s willingness to defend Finn’s seemingly indefensible behavior that earned him his first Coughie.

While Donohue has come strikingly close in the past to laying claim this richly deserved award, only to have been outdone only at the last minute.

Donohue’s record as an exclusionary Catholic speaks for itself.  As head of the the Catholic League — a vehicle that seems more intent on advancing movement conservatism than protecting the well being of individual Catholics — he has transformed the art of feigned outrage over imaginary acts of anti-Catholicism into a high art form (and at the same time, ignore truer incidents of bigotry). Indeed, many of the acts he deems as offensive are nothing more than the acts of more mainstream Catholics who speak out against the hypocrisy of many of today’s über-traditional hierarchs.

In one rant he attacked as anti-Catholic a PBS documentary on the Inquisition — a program that was produced with the Vatican’s cooperation. Donohue has exhibited a peculiar  obsession with homosexuality and anal sex.

Our Coughie honoree has also resorted to some un-subtle anti-Semitic commentary. For example, when defending Mel Gibson’s controversial filmPassion of the Christ from Jewish (and Catholic) criticism, Donohue bellowed, “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular” — an utterance worthy of  Coughlin himself.

And he did all this while scraping by on a compensation package worth about $400 Grand.

But it was Donohue’s defense of Kansas City bishop Robert Finn that put him over the top. As I recently noted:  “That these Catholic Right leaders seem to want to save Finn’s position as bishop at almost any cost, suggests that their goals for the Church as a bastion of religious and political authoritarianism, takes precedence over everything else — including the safety and well being of children.”

Donohue has been consistent over the years, and never added any nuance or balance to his repertoire of bombast and hyperbole while pursuing the agenda of  laissez-faire economics, social conservatism, and conservative Catholic orthodoxy — and enabling the cover-up of the acts of serial pedophiles.

I give you Bill Donohue: Winner of the 2011 Coughlin Award.

Is Bishop Rene Gracida Going for Another Coughie?

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

The new year is barely two weeks old, and the race is already on for the 2012 Coughie Award. It was just a few weeks ago that we said good bye to 2010 in awe as New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan swept up the 2010 Coughie in a dramatic, unexpected victory. The Coughie Award is, of course this column’s annual recognition of a fellow Catholic who epitomizes exclusionary, strident interpretations of Catholicism. The award is named for Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious radio priest of the 1930s who is the role model for today’s Religious Right radio and television evangelists and other conservative media personalities.

The competition has become so fierce that Bishop Rene Gracida, 2008’s award winner, is already making a bid to reclaim the coveted place as America’s Catholic Right demagogue. The retired bishop of Corpus Christi’s launched his campaign for the Coughie by injecting himself into the recent race for the Speaker of Texas House of Representatives by threatening Catholics who voted for one candidate with eternal damnation.

Longtime readers will not be surprised. Indeed, it was another such political attack during the 2008 Presidential Election that earned him the first Coughie ever awarded by this column:

This is Bishop Rene H. Gracida, reminding all Catholics that they must vote in this election with an informed conscience. A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate. Barack Hussein Obama is a pro-abortion candidate.

Bishop Gracida’s partisan attack was bad enough, but it was the gratuitous twist of anti-Arabism that clinched the award for him, emphasizing, as the far right was wont to do at the time, Mr. Obama’s middle name.

That press release was turned into a radio ad courtesy of radical anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, also known for using divisive, inflammatory rhetoric to advance his agenda; rhetoric that has even justified the murder of abortion provider George Tiller.

His Eminence has only become shriller in his political attacks since then.

A bona fide member of the Catholic Right, Gracida has since used his personal blog site, Abyssus Abysussum Invocat (Latin for “deep calls to the deep”), to rail against “dissident” Catholics; opposing a funeral Mass for Ted Kennedy; and of course to attack President Obama.

But it was the January 11, 2011 reelection of moderate, prochoice Republican Joe Straus as Speaker of the Texas House of Representative over two antiabortion Tea Party favorites that really raised Bishop Gracida’s ire and led him to threaten eternal damnation for the Speaker’s would be Catholic supporters.

In a December 31, 2010 press release, Gracida fumed more like a Tea Party activist than a retired prelate:

There can be no better example of how the Speaker of the House controls legislation than by citing the record of Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives in Congress during the past two years. Obamacare, the bailouts, the deficit spending, all the damage done to the United States in the past two years could not have been done without the exercise of raw power by Nancy Pelosi that we witnessed.

The potential for damage to the State of Texas by the Speaker of its House of Representatives may be limited in scale compared to that done by Nancy Pelosi, but it still too great to great to be risked. That is especially true with regard to respect for life issues.

This was then followed by a strong dose of fire and brimstone:

In 2007 Joe Straus co-authored House Bill 2707 that would have allowed the creation of living, human embryos by “any method other than fertilization” (human cloning) and would have required the destruction of embryos.

The re-election of Representative Joe Straus as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives would be a legislative and moral disaster for Texas.

I cannot believe that any Catholic member of the Texas House of Representatives could with a clear conscience vote for the election of Joe Straus as Speaker. And if a Catholic member of the Texas House of Representatives cannot vote for Joe Straus with a CLEAR conscience, that member would be committing a serious sin by casting a vote for Joe Straus.

Translation: Any Catholic member of the Texas House of Representatives who votes for Joe Straus risks eternal damnation.

Bishop Gracida’s abortion-only litmus test for political viability is troublingly reductionist — excluding all other social justice issues such as poverty, environmental stewardship and above all, religious freedom. This very last point pertains to Catholics such as myself who view abortion as a matter of conscience, one that be more subject to the grey areas of equity rather than stark pronouncements of blind obedience.

And what of the other faiths that do not share Gracida’s strident views on abortion? Are their beliefs to be subordinated to an orthodox Catholic point of view? That would seem to be the case in Bishop Gracida’s universe.

In light of the post-Tuscon discussion of rightwing rhetoric and the culture of violence it is worth highlighting that Gracida employs toxic language in the service of intimidation and demonization of those with whom he disagrees. And judging by his ongoing involvement with Randall Terry, he at least implicitly endorses those who applaud violence.

This can only serve to encourage those whose minds sit at the margins of sanity. Murdering elected officials who support pro-choice legislation no longer seems that far out of the question in light of the assassination of George Tiller and the attempted assassination of Representative Giffords. And I hear little reflection or reconsideration from any sector of the Religious Right for their incendiary contributions to the current political climate.

Meanwhile, there is a competition already underway, and Bishop Gracida has already got to be considered the front-runner for the Coughie. But its a long way to December, and I have no doubt that the competition will be fierce.

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