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The Decline and Fall of America by Marvin Folkertsma

The Decline and Fall of America The Decline and Fall of America

by Marvin Folkertsma

 Nov 17, 2012

 
A few days after the election of 2012 the very talented Michael Ramirez published a political cartoon that perhaps conveyed a more profound meaning than he anticipated. He depicted a pair of hands extending from star-studded sleeves (presumably from a mendicant Uncle Sam), which were held in supplication, as though waiting for a handout or petitioning voters to relinquish more of their earnings to the federal government. There’s another way of interpreting this image, however; the hands appeared not only pathetic and a bit contemptible, but also aged and withered, as though belonging to an old man. In which case, this representation captured perfectly the situation of the United States as it enters the second decade of the 21st century: America is getting older and is entering a state of decline.

 

No one understood the dynamics of aging societies approaching decrepitude better than Mancur Olson, an economist who taught at the University of Maryland until his death in 1998. Olson’s crowning achievement was a book published in 1982 titled, “The Rise and Decline of Nations.” Olson argued that the proliferation of interest groups (collusions or distributional coalitions, in his terms) eventually spells doom for the societies they inhabit. And proliferate they have, from 6,000 in 1959 to 22,000 at the beginning of the 21st century, according to the Encyclopedia of Associations. Like it or not, every man, woman, and child in the country is represented by an interest group.

But when we say “interest group,” what exactly do we mean? America’s master political thinker, James Madison, said it best with his definition of “faction” in Federalist 10, as comprising “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community” (italics added). So much for our contemporary, naïve notions about how factions (interest groups) proclaim to represent some greater good.

It gets worse, especially considering three additional developments. First, America’s mammoth federal government constitutes an interest group itself, which means it does all the things other public and private groups do to protect itself. Second, about half of the population receives some form of aid from the federal government, according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Dependence on Government, and these recipients constitute perhaps the most behemoth group of them all. Third, close to one-half of the entire population does not pay federal-income taxes, a figure that climbed from 12 percent in 1969 to 34.1 percent at the beginning of the Bush administration to its current figure as President Obama starts his second term. The question is: What does all this mean for the destiny of America?

Prepare yourself for some very bad news. As societies age, they “tend to accumulate more collusions and organizations for collective action over time,” which in normal speak means that societies become infested with interest groups just like arteries become more rigid and clogged with body gunk as you get older—a phenomenon Jonathan Rauch referred to as “Demosclerosis.” Further, groups “reduce efficiency and aggregate income in the societies in which they operate and make political life more divisive.” Example: anyone read the healthcare bill lately? And the thousands of regulations in existence and forthcoming? And consider its huge increased costs?

The keystone of this argument is a passage that is terrifying in its implications and is worth quoting in full: “The typical organization for collective action [interest group] within a society will … have little or no incentive to make any significant sacrifices in the interest of the society” and “there is … no constraint on the social cost such an organization will find it expedient to impose on the society in the course of obtaining a larger share of the social output for itself” (italics in original). This means nothing less than it says: a group will kill its host, the American republic in this case, before relinquishing even a modicum of benefits for itself.

Nations die this way, empires collapse, societies atrophy, and countries implode (like the old USSR) or are conquered from without. In the United States, this phenomenon cannot be blamed exclusively on Democrats or Republicans; both parties represent coalitions of groups that all want something from the government. Indeed, if there is any difference between Republicans and Democrats in this regard it is that President Obama has accelerated this process over the last four years. But institutionalized selfishness was a going concern before he came along.

All of which is suicidal, right? Yes, it is. Can anything be done to arrest or reverse this process? Absent some kind of revolutionary demolishing of governmental interventions, no, there probably is not. What, then, might happen to America? Considering the current economic situation, some kind of collapse is of course possible. Most likely the United States will change into something else, into a “soft” totalitarian society envisioned by Alexis de Tocqueville, where its citizens are “cared for” but weighted down by mountains of rules and bereft of any dynamism, creativity, or imagination—subservient, socialist, and senile.

And we will have no one to blame for the fall of our country but ourselves.

On Election Eve, Catholics Unite to Protect Religious Freedom by Susan Berry

 

On Election Eve, Catholics Unite to Protect Religious Freedom

 

  

4 Nov 2012
 
This last Sunday before Election Day finds Catholics across the nation, and beyond, uniting in both prayer and advocacy to protect freedom of religion as provided in the Constitution. Interestingly, the emphasis on Catholic values and teachings, as a result of the recent defense of freedom of religion, may also end up strengthening religious faith among Catholics in general.

Since the announcement of what is now familiarly termed, “the HHS mandate,” Catholics and Christians of other denominations have denounced the ObamaCare provision that demands that most employers, including those associated with churches, grant free contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs to their employees through their health insurance plans. 

This coercion to violate faith beliefs in order to satisfy government requirements has led to a veritable onslaught of litigation by Catholic dioceses and institutions, the institutions of other Christian denominations, and individual business owners. As Barack Obama attempts to be elected to a second term, he is faced with 38 lawsuits and over 110 individuals from around the country who represent those whose religious liberty is being challenged by the mandate.

In the swing state of Colorado, a group of lay Catholics has placed a full-page ad in the Sunday edition of the Denver Post to drive home the significance of religious liberty in Tuesday’s election. Regarding the ad, J.D. Flynn, chancellor of the Denver archdiocese, said, “I think the folks who organized getting the ad together want to ensure everybody understands what’s at stake not only for the Church, but for the country, when religious liberty is compromised.”

The ad features the full text of a letter written by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila about religious freedom and the election. “I just think it speaks to the quality and commitment of the lay people in the Archdiocese of Denver that they want to support the archbishop in this way,” Flynn commented. “Our country is the product of religious liberty. When we undermine that for something as short-sighted as free contraception, everybody is in serious trouble.”

“As Americans we have a civic responsibility to vote and to participate in the political process,” Archbishop Aquila said. “As Catholics, we have a moral duty to vote with an informed conscience, and to pray for wisdom and guidance as we head to the voting booth.”

As a way to call Catholics to special prayer for religious liberty, Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception will expose the Blessed Sacrament for Eucharistic Adoration on Election Day, November 6th.

“Our founding fathers understood that without these freedoms, especially religious liberty, our democratic experiment would fail,” Aquila wrote. He added that religious liberty faces “an unprecedented threat” from the HHS mandate, which “undermines the promise of the First Amendment.”

Catholic parents, too, have taken more notice of what their children are being taught in schools, and some have voiced objections to government interference in their parochial schools. In Orleans, Ottawa, Canada, Catholic parents denounced a high school trip into the U.S. to Ohio when they discovered their students would be going door-to-door in support of President Obama’s re-election.

The trip, which was organized by civics teacher Scott Searle, a volunteer for the Obama for America campaign, was cancelled when parents called the school board, furious that it would permit a trip to assist a U.S. president who has disdain for the values of Catholics.

“Parents were complaining that students would be supporting a politician holding pro-abortion views,” said Theresa Pierre, president of Parents as First Educators. “I think it’s valuable to introduce children to the political process, but the choice of that kind of involvement has to be in line with church teachings,” said Pierre.

As Catholics vote to elect the next president, and join with all Americans to decide the future direction of the country, many are now keenly aware that religious liberty cannot be taken for granted. Reflection on the right to practice one’s beliefs is likely to cause some to seek greater understanding of their faith as well as a desire to share that faith with others. It is not surprising, then, that Pope Benedict XVI, has declared this year to be the “Year of Faith,” and has invited all Catholics to share in a new evangelization of that faith.

Vote Catholic Principles and American Values by Fr. George W. Rutler


FROM THE PASTOR
November 04, 2012
by Fr. George W. Rutler

It was a pleasure recently to perform the marriage rites of two of our fine parishioners at Old St. Mary’s Church in Philadelphia, which at the time of the American Revolution was the third-largest city in the British Empire. Members of the Continental Congress attended a celebration of the third anniversary of the Declaration of Independence there in the presence of George Washington himself. The priest chaplain of the French ambassador, Conrad Alexandre Gérard, sang a solemn Te Deum. Catholics were still a small minority in the new country, but the Founding Fathers were well aware that the Catholic Church had been the mother of western civilization before the discovery of the New World.

Washington showed his regard for the Catholic troops at Valley Forge and helped to support a Catholic church in Philadelphia. He kept a devotional image of the Virgin Mary in his dining room at Valley Forge. Generations later, based on inherited information and sentiment, St. Katherine Drexel was certain that he had become a Catholic on his deathbed. While there is no substantial evidence for that, Washington knew that the natural-law theory enshrined in the Declaration of Independence had roots older than the Founding Fathers, and he would not have blanched to hear the names of Augustine and Aquinas among them.   

On October 9, 1774, in Philadelphia, John Adams went church shopping with Washington and attended a service in a “Romish chapel,” which was either St. Joseph’s or St. Mary’s. He described in a letter to his wife Abigail what seemed to him exotic: “. . . the poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood; their pater nosters and ave Marias; their holy water; their crossing themselves perpetually; their bowing to the name of Jesus, whenever they hear it; their bowings, kneelings and genuflections before the altar.” There was nothing like that in his Puritan world, but he found it all “awful and affecting” —and awful then meant awesome. The sermon was “a good, short moral essay upon the duty of parents to their children, founded in justice and charity, to take care of their interests, temporal and spiritual,” and “the assembly chanted more sweetly and exquisitely.” He wondered how Luther ever “broke the spell.” Adams himself was enough under the spell to donate a generous gift to the building of Holy Cross Church in Boston in 1800. A Protestant friend of his said, “no circumstance has contributed more to the peace and good order of the town, than the establishment of a Catholic Church.”

The peace and good order of our whole nation hang on how we vote. Catholics can keep faith with the Fathers of the Church and the Founding Fathers of our Nation only by voting for those who defend the fundamental right to life and the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom.

 


 

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In 2012, Who Is for Hope and Change? by Patrick J. Buchanan

 
“Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”
 
So wrote John Jay in Federalist No. 2, wherein he describes Americans as a “band of brethren united to each other by the strongest ties.”
 
That “band of brethren united” no longer exists.
 
No longer are we “descended from the same ancestors.”
 
Indeed, as we are daily instructed, it is our “diversity” — our citizens can trace their ancestors to every member state of the United Nations — that “is our strength.” And this diversity makes us a stronger, better country than the America of Eisenhower and JFK.
 
No longer do we speak the same language. To tens of millions, Spanish is their language. Millions more do not use English in their homes. Nor are their children taught in English in the schools.
 
As for “professing the same religion,” the Christianity of Jay and the Founding Fathers has been purged from all public institutions. One in 5 Americans profess no religious faith. The mainline Protestant churches — the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian — have been losing congregants for a half-century. Secularism is the religion of the elites. It alone is promulgated in public schools.
 
Are we attached to “the same principles of government”?
 
Half the nation believes it is the duty of government to feed, house, educate and medicate the population and endlessly extract from the well-to-do whatever is required to make everybody more equal.
 
Egalitarianism has triumphed over freedom. Hierarchy, the natural concomitant of freedom, is seen as undemocratic.
 
Are we similar “in our manners and customs”? Are we agreed upon what is good or even tolerable in music, literature, art?
 
Do we all seek to live by the same moral code? Abortion, a felony in the 1950s, is now a constitutional right. Homosexual marriage, an absurdity not long ago, is the civil rights cause du jour.
 
Dissent from the intolerant new orthodoxy and you are a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, an enemy of women’s rights.
 
Recent wars — Vietnam, Iraq — have seen us not “fighting side by side” but fighting side against side.
 
Racially, morally, politically, culturally, socially, the America of Jay and the Federalist Papers is ancient history. Less and less do we have in common. And to listen to cable TV is to realize that Americans do not even like one another. If America did not exist as a nation, would these 50 disparate states surrender their sovereignty and independence to enter such a union as the United States of 2012?
 
Nor are we unique in sensing that we are no longer one. Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders maneuver to break free of the nations that contain their peoples. All over the world, peoples are disaggregating along the lines of creed, culture, tribe and faith.
 
What has this to do with the election of 2012? Everything.
 
For if America is to endure as a nation, her peoples are going to need the freedom to live differently and the space to live apart, according to their irreconcilable beliefs. Yet should Barack Obama win, the centralization of power and control will continue beyond the point of no return.
 
His replacement of any retiring Supreme Court justice with another judicial activist — a Sonia Sotomayor, an Elena Kagan — would negate a half-century of conservative labors and mean that abortion on demand — like slavery, a moral abomination to scores of millions — is forever law in all 50 states.
 
President Obama speaks now of a budget deal in which Democrats agree to $2.50 in spending cuts if the Republicans agree to $1 in tax increases. But given the character of his party — for whom Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, Head Start, earned income tax credits and Pell Grants are holy icons — any deal Obama cuts with Republicans in return for higher taxes will be like the deal Ronald Reagan eternally regretted.
 
The tax hikes become permanent; the budget cuts are never made.
 
In the first debate, Mitt Romney said that in crafting a budget that consumes a fourth of the economy, he would ask one question: “Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”
 
If a President Romney held to that rule, it would spell an end to any new wars of choice and all foreign aid and grants to global redistributionsts — such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It would entail a review of all U.S. alliances dating back to the Cold War, which have U.S. troops on every continent and in a hundred countries.
 
Obama offers more of the stalemate America has gone through for the past two years.
 
Romney alone offers a possibility of hope and change.
 
Published with permission of the author. Copyright 2012, Creators.com

Why Obama Chose to Let Them Die in Benghazi By Karin McQuillan

November 2, 2012

Why Obama Chose to Let Them Die in Benghazi

By Karin McQuillan

The burning question is why Obama didn’t give orders to defend our consulate and American lives in Benghazi.  The answer is becoming clearer each time President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta issue a denial or explanation of their inaction. 

To the president’s surprise, he chanced on an honest reporter during a local interview on the campaign trail in Denver.  On October 26, for the first time, Obama was asked directly about the explosive reports on CBS and Fox News, a week earlier, that the CIA and our military denied direct requests for help by the Americans fighting for their lives during the seven-hour battle in Benghazi.

Denver TV’s Kyle Clark twice tried to pin Obama down by asking the key question: “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?”

Obama’s answer is the proof of his guilt, and it gives us a clue as to the doctrine informing his decision to do nothing.  The most damaging part of Obama’s evasive answer is this:

… the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. … I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number-one priority making sure that people were safe.

This is the blatant lie that condemns the liar.  The president says here that immediately, “the minute I found out what was happening,” he gave the order to the military, the CIA, to everyone, to secure our personnel in Benghazi and do “whatever we need to.”

Yet the undeniable fact is that nothing was done.  We know that the CIA security agent in Benghazi, Tyrone Woods, asked for permission to rescue Ambassador Stevens when Stevens was still alive and in the safe room.  Woods was told twice by the CIA to stand down.  He then disobeyed direct orders and rescued the survivors at the consulate, but it was too late for Stevens and Sean Smith.

Secretary of Defense Panetta tells us the military had gunships and Special Forces less than two hours away in Sicily but felt it was too “risky” to send in reinforcements or air cover.  It would have been normal military procedure to pre-position air cover and assets from Sicily to Benghazi, but Panetta says this was not done.  The air support and FAST platoons, we are told, were left in Sicily.  All the U.S. military did was send two unarmed drones to observe the battle.

So if President Obama is not lying about his directives, he is saying that the CIA and the Defense Department and our military chain of command disobeyed the direct order of our commander in chief to do everything in their power to rescue our people under attack in Benghazi.  And that as commander in chief, Obama did nothing in response to their dereliction of duty.

That doesn’t happen.  No one believes that; the president is lying.  He did not issue directives to the CIA, our military, and State to “secure our personnel” and “do whatever we need to do.”

We know it was not the CIA on its own that made the decision to abandon Ambassador Stevens and the eight others with him in the consulate.  The CIA say they did not advise anyone in the administration to deny help to the Americans in Benghazi.  A CIA spokesman on October 27 issued this statement:

No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.

General Carter F. Ham, the combatant commander of Africa Command (AFRICOM), says he was never asked to send help

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, said that General Ham told him during a visit to Libya that he had never been asked to provide military support for the Americans under attack in Benghazi.

On October 18, General Ham resigned. 

Panetta explained why no help was sent on October 26, the same day Obama was telling the Denver reporter he had ordered the military to do “whatever we need to.”

Panetta admitted we did nothing.  He says the military had the readiness and capability to help.  He says the military responded quickly and deployed forces close to Benghazi, ready and capable of responding “to any contingency.”

We quickly responded, as General Dempsey said, in terms of deploying forces to the region.  We had FAST platoons in the region. We had ships that we had deployed off of Libya. We were prepared to respond to any contingency and certainly had forces in place to do that.

Panetta then tells us why the forces were never deployed.  He says the top leadership of our military didn’t want to send reinforcements, even air support, into harm’s way.  It was too risky.  Panetta does not indicate that he knew of Obama’s supposed directives to do “whatever we need to” to save the Americans trapped in the 9/11 attack. 

“[The] basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place,” Panetta told Pentagon reporters. “And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.

Note that General Ham had already told Congressman Chaffetz he was never asked to provide military support. 

Panetta’s statement that we didn’t have enough intelligence to risk sending air or combat support is not credible.  We had real-time information by video, radio, and e-mail.  We had laser targets painted on their mortar nest.  When else do you send reinforcements, if not into dangerous situations? 

Max Boot writes in Commentary:

Special Operations Forces and other military forces are used to acting on incomplete information, especially in a situation where Americans are under fire and in danger of being overrun. At that point, caution is normally thrown to the wind, and Quick Reaction Forces are launched.

We certainly could have saved the lives of CIA agents Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty if  President Obama had given orders to do so.  There were two drones and perhaps a gunship overhead.  The two men died because they painted laser targets on the jihadi mortar nests.  They were radioing for air cover, expecting that the target would be bombed and the jihadi attack ended.  This is what Navy SEALs do.  We have learned from experts that American Special Forces paint such laser targets only when air cover is immediately available, as it gives away your position to the enemy.  According to these experts, Woods and Doherty must have believed that air cover was immediately available.  Their calls for air support went unanswered, and they died.

If there weren’t a manned drone and a gunship sent out — it was now six hours into the battle — that indicates that Obama and Panetta did not direct the military to be ready to intervene if necessary.  If the drone was sent unarmed and the gunship never sent, it says the military never intended to help under any circumstances. 

Bing West, a distinguished combat correspondent and former assistant secretary of defense, has produced a timeline of the Benghazi attacks, which went on for most of the night, suggesting there was plenty of time for substantial U.S. forces to scramble from the U.S. base at Sigonella, Sicily, located almost exactly as far away from Benghazi as the Libyan capital of Tripoli, from whence a small, ill-armed quick-reaction force of 22 men was finally sent. “Stationed at Sigonella,” he notes, “were Special Operations Forces, transport aircraft, and attack aircraft – a much more formidable force than 22 men from the embassy.”

President Obama says, “I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to.”  It is clear that he did not issue such a directive, or else the CIA and the military defied him.

Why would our president not come to the defense of our consulate under attack?  This is an attack on American soil.  This was a 9/11 attack by an al-Qaeda branch in Libya.  Therein lies the answer.

Obama does not believe in using the military to defend our national security, which he sees as aggressive, Republican, and cowboy.  This was Obama’s 9/11, not Bush’s.  He did not see the attack on our embassy as a jihadi attack on American soil.  He saw a group of aggrieved Muslim citizens, with good reason to be angry — the spontaneous mob enraged by an offensive video.  He would follow a Democrat policy of promoting peace, not war, in which avoiding civilian casualties is the paramount goal. 

The other answer is directly political.  It would be damaging for Obama’s already weak record to admit that there was a 9/11 attack by al-Qaeda in one of the supposed successes of the Arab Spring.  Responding militarily would have made the weaknesses of Obama’s foreign policy all too evident.  An American military response would have undercut one of Obama’s main campaign slogans: “GM is alive and Osama is dead.”

Treating Benghazi as a spontaneous mob attack inflamed by an offensive, Islamophobic video was a flimsy story, but the liberal media was quite willing to accept it without question.  Our politically corrupt media not only went along with that nonsense, but so crucified Romney for daring to comment on what happened that Romney shut up.  The story of the offensive video played to Obama’s progressive base, which believes that there is no war on terror — just bad behavior by bigoted Americans that causes Muslims to attack us.

Obama’s ideology blinded him to the need to defend American lives under al-Qaeda attack on 9/11/12.  He put his ideology and his politics ahead of Americans lives.  He let four brave men serving our country fight without help and die. 

This decision will doom Obama’s chances of re-election if widely known.  That is why our politically corrupt media is censoring this news as hard as it can.  They do not want the majority of Americans to know.  But they cannot keep the lid on.  It is too big, and too awful.  The only question is one of time before Election Day.

 

 

Cardinal Dolan on the US Election, the Radical Abortion License, Religious Liberty, Marriage, Debt and Solidarity

Cardinal Dolan on the US Election, the Radical Abortion License, Religious Liberty, Marriage, Debt and Solidarity

 

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/7/2012

I am bothered that we are losing sight of voting as an exercise in moral judgment, in which certain priority issues-especially the life issues,

I am concerned about a culture that has become increasingly callous about the radical abortion license, and a legal system that affords more protection to endangered species of plants and animals than to unborn babies; that considers pregnancy a disease; that interprets “comprehensive health care” in such a way that it may be used to threaten the life of the baby in the womb (and, it should be noted, to exclude the undocumented immigrant as well).

 

NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) – On the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, one day before he headed for Rome to participate in the historic Synod on the New Evangelization, Cardinal Timothy Dolan authored another outstanding column. It was one in a series he regularly pens for the “Catholic New York”. The series is entitled “Lord, to Whom Shall We Go” and the article, entitled “Cherished Saint Brought Christ to World Around Him”, can be read in its entirety here

Our readers should be well aware of the leadership of this great Cardinal of the Church and the esteem with which he is held by this author. I write regularly about his courage and the clarity which he has brought to the leadership of the Conference of Bishops in the United States at this critical time in our history. You can click here to read the most recent of numerous articles I have written about the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. I have written many more and plan to continue the practice. He is one great gift to both Church and Nation.

However, though I share the Cardinal’s appreciation for St. Francis, the little poor man of Assisi, I was concerned that the title of the Cardinal’s recent column, dedicated to and written on the Feast of Francis, as well as its placement, might limit its readership. That would be tragic. The instruction and insights this column offers on the exercise of our faithful citizenship is simply too important! The concerns which the Cardinal shares must become the material out of which we approach this election and our own exercise of voting.

I offer below a portion of the Cardinals recent article for your serious and prayerful reflection as November 6, 2012 draws near.

*****
Timothy Cardinal Dolan

“Those Americans who have faith in God, and in His Son, Jesus, and venerate saints such as Francis, also find themselves in the middle of the world, and cherish our freedom to bring the teaching of Jesus, which we hear both in the Good News proclaimed in the Bible and in the life of Francis, to the public square and political process.”

“We’ve certainly been reminded of that these past 10 months, which have seen the religious community in the United States engaged in a major conflict with the administration over the first freedom-religious liberty, our “first and most cherished freedom.” I am deeply grateful to the Catholic people of the United States, to my brother bishops and priests, to men and women of all faiths or none at all, for accepting this challenge, and for rising to the defense of religious liberty in full.”

“In that defense, we stand for every man and woman of conscience; we seek no special favors, but we insist that the inalienable rights of religion be respected and honored in law and federal regulatory practice.”

“In the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” published by the bishops of the United States, we are reminded that, “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.” And so, as I leave for Rome, I want to share with you some of the concerns that I will bring with me to the tombs of the apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, and to Assisi, the town of St. Francis.”

“I am concerned about a culture that has become increasingly callous about the radical abortion license, and a legal system that affords more protection to endangered species of plants and animals than to unborn babies; that considers pregnancy a disease; that interprets “comprehensive health care” in such a way that it may be used to threaten the life of the baby in the womb (and, it should be noted, to exclude the undocumented immigrant as well).”

“I am concerned as well for the infirm and elderly who are nearing the end of life, that they will not be treated with the respect, dignity and compassion that is their due, but instead be encouraged to seek a hasty death before they can become, according to some, “a burden to society.”

“I am worried that we may be reducing religious freedom to a kind of privacy right to recreational activities, reducing the practice of religion to a Sabbath hobby, instead of a force that should guide our public actions, as Michelle Obama recently noted, Monday through Friday.

“I am bothered by the prospect of this generation leaving a mountain of unpayable debt to its children and grandchildren, whose economic futures will be blighted by the amounts of the federal budget absorbed by debt service.”

“I am anxious that calls for a fiscally responsible society are met with claims that those calls come from men and women who don’t care about the poor; that we may be tempted to write off the underprivileged as problems to be solved, or as budget woes, rather than treating them with respect and dignity as people with potential and creativity; that we’re at times more willing to cut programs to help the sick, our elders, the hungry and homeless, than expenditures on Drone missiles.

“I am concerned that our elections increasingly resemble reality TV shows rather than exercises in serious democratic conversation.”

“I am bothered that we are losing sight of voting as an exercise in moral judgment, in which certain priority issues-especially the life issues, with the protection of unborn life being the premier civil rights issue of the day-must weigh heavily on our consciences as we make our political decisions”.
“I am worried by attempts to redefine marriage, and to label as “bigots” those who uphold the traditional, God-given definition of marriage.”

“I am anxious that we cannot seem to have a rational debate over immigration policy, and that we cannot find a way to combine America’s splendid tradition of hospitality to the stranger with respect for the rule of law, always treating the immigrant as a child of God, and never purposefully dividing a family”.

“I am worried about the persecution of people of faith around the world, especially with the hatred of Christians on a perilous incline; and the preference for violent attacks upon innocents instead of dialogue as the path to world peace.”

“I expect that many of you share these concerns. In the words of “Faithful Citizenship,” how we should respond is clear. The document says, “Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.”

“As you consider these concerns, I will be praying for you in Rome that the humble, joyful Poverello of Assisi intercede for us, and that Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States and Star of the New Evangelization, will inspire in us wisdom, prudence, and courage.”
– – –

Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer Intentions for October 2012:

General Intention:New Evangelization. That the New Evangelization may progress in the oldest Christian countries.

Missionary Intention:World Mission Day.  That the celebration of World Mission Day may result in a renewed commitment to evangelization.

Keywords: Timothy Dolan,Cardinal Dolan,Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Faithful Citizenship, Catholic Vote, abortion, marriage, family, debt, solidarity, Romney, Ryan, Obama, Biden, Deacon Keith Fournier

1,200 pastors to flout IRS regulations, speak out on politics from the pulpit Sunday by Susanna Rose

1,200 pastors to flout IRS regulations, speak out on politics from the pulpit Sunday

by Susanna Rose

October 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Over 1,200 pastors from across the country have signed up to challenge IRS regulations that threaten churches with the loss of their tax-exempt status if they wade into politics by participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday this Sunday, October 7. The event, associated with the Pulpit Initiative, is being held by the Alliance Defending Freedom. 

Despite IRS regulations forbidding 501c3 organizations from endorsing political candidates, pastors participating in the event are encouraged to give biblical perspectives on topics relating to the election such as abortion and gay “marriage” from the pulpit, and then to mail these sermons to the IRS.

 Pastors will be represented from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.  Thirty-three pastors participated in the first Pulpit Freedom Sunday in 2008 and since then the numbers have skyrocketed. 

Pastors of America are “not instructing people about how the bible applies to the national life of the voting electorate,” says Pastor Jim Garlow in a video about Pulpit Freedom Sunday featured at iPledgeSunday, an event held last month by the Family Research Council in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Garlow, who has been involved in the event since its inception, is the pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, California.

Garlow notes that 40 years ago, everyone would have agreed that abortion is wrong and kills a baby inside the womb.  Ten years ago, no one would have argued that marriage is anything but between one man and one woman.  But now, says Garlow, when pastors speak out on these issues, their congregations say, “Pastor, you’re being too political.”

The IRS regulation in question, known as the Johnson Amendment, has become a popular tool of activist groups, who routinely threaten pastors who speak up on political issues with the loss of their tax exempt status. Recently one leftist organization, Americans United, sent 60,000 letters to churches nationwide urging them not to endorse political candidates this election season.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for submitting the Johnson Amendment in 1954.

In a statement on the website for the event, Alliance Defending Freedom explains, “The goal of Pulpit Freedom Sunday is simple: have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional – and once and for all remove the ability of the IRS to censor what a pastor says from the pulpit.”

“Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS,” said Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley.

Garlow says, “We will not see the spiritual awakening we all long for until the pulpit is unfettered and unmuzzled.”

For more information about Pulpit Freedom Sunday, go to http://www.pulpitfreedom.org

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