Category: Religion

Kentucky lets clerk deny marriage licenses to gay couples despite court order


Karen Roberts and April Miller, denied marriage license by religious bigotAP/Timothy D. Easley

A gay couple was denied a marriage license for the third time in Kentucky on Thursday, after a Rowan county clerk refused to obey a federal court order telling her to comply with the law.

James Yates and William Smith Jr said that officials at Rowan County courthouse, led by clerk Kim Davis, refused to provide the couple with the paperwork for a marriage license on Thursday.

“It’s just making us want to press more,” Yates told the Courier-Journal. “She can’t get away with this.”

One of Smith’s deputies told the couple that the county clerk believes she can refuse to issue licenses until 31 August. The couple plans to return to the office the next day.

Same-sex marriage became legal nationwide on 26 June, but Davis is one of a handful of people who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She did not come out of her office and declined to comment to reporters…

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling ordering Davis to issue marriages for gay couples and denied her request for a stay while courts heard her appeals

Two same-sex couples and two straight couples sued Davis in July. A US district judge then ordered her to issue marriage licenses, but delayed his order so she could appeal against the decision with the US sixth circuit court of appeals. The court on Wednesday denied her request to stay the district judge’s decision.

Theocratic dolts who hold office founded on the US Constitution – and refuse to uphold constitutional rights, decisions made binding by the ultimate constitutional court in the land – should be removed from office.

I don’t really care if the excuses they offer for violating their oath of office are based on religion, racism or what the tooth fairy whispered into their tiny brain last night. Either they lied when they took office, required to meet public standards of conduct – or they have since decided to reject the Constitution of the United States and civil law. Whatever. They should be launched into the ranks of Kentucky’s unemployed and left to find an honest job.

Wall Street VP, Evangelical Baptist minister – just the thief you can trust, eh?


Korchevsky’s Sunday gig, Wall Street during the week, full-time crook

A federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., has ordered that Vitaly Korchevsky, a former Morgan Stanley vice president arrested for allegedly trading on confidential corporate information stolen by hackers in Ukraine, be released on $2 million bond.

Mr. Korchevsky, 50 years old, also will be required to pay a $200,000 cash deposit, surrender his and his family’s passports, wear an ankle bracelet for location monitoring and restrict his movements to certain parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

Prosecutors had pressed for the judge to keep Mr. Korchevsky detained in federal custody. They alleged that Mr. Korchevsky was one of the biggest beneficiaries of an elaborate scheme in which overseas hackers stole nonpublic corporate information stored in newswires’ systems and gave it to financial traders, who used the press releases to make lucrative bets.

Mr. Korchevsky alone made more than $17 million in profits from the insider-trading scheme, prosecutors allege, and $10 million of that already has been frozen by the government…Charges…include securities fraud and money-laundering conspiracy…

Mr. Korchevsky has been a Baptist pastor for decades, and dozens of his friends, family and congregants came to support him at Wednesday’s hearing—an estimated 80 to 90 people, according to Mr. Korchevsky’s lawyer Steven Brill. So many people packed into the Brooklyn federal courthouse that an overflow room had to be set up, which is unusual for a routine bail hearing. Some showed up from as far away as Spokane, Wash…

“If you don’t play ball, you’re going to disappoint a lot of people,” Judge Dearie said to Mr. Korchevsky, citing “the faith that hundreds of people have placed in him.”

Mr. Korchevsky is one of five defendants arrested in the U.S. for the alleged scheme. Criminal charges also have been filed against four others who are still at large in Ukraine. International warrants have been issued for their arrest.

Gotta love Korchevsky’s lawyer who claimed he was no flight risk because if he fled back to Ukraine he’d be leaving his wife and children behind in the US. Given the list of crimes he’s charged with, the “ethics” he ignored both on Wall Street and as a pastor, why presume he’s not above walking out on his family?

He’s handing over $200K to guarantee his presence at trial. Gee, that only leaves him with $7 million or so to take with him if he skips out on his family.

Religions still try to impose ideology on employees — courts say NO!

Four Roman Catholic nonprofits in New York must allow employees access to contraception, a federal appeals court panel ruled on Friday, reversing a decision by a lower court that allowed the organizations to get around a requirement in the Affordable Care Act.

Six other circuit courts around the country deciding on similar arguments involving religious groups have come to similar conclusions, the unanimous three-judge panel noted in its decision, which was written by Judge Rosemary S. Pooler for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York…

Under the Affordable Care Act, religious nonprofits that object on religious grounds to providing contraception can opt out by completing a one-page form. Then, a third party, either an insurance company or a health insurance administrator, takes over providing and coordinating payments for the employees’ contraceptives.

The four New York groups — a Catholic high school in the Bronx and another on Staten Island, as well as two Catholic health care systems — argued that the opt-out sheet imposed a “substantial burden” on their religious freedom. Either they had to offer “access to products and services they find objectionable,” as Judge Pooler summarized it, or they faced high fines…

…Judge Pooler wrote that the opt-out form was, in fact, “a modicum of paperwork” that “relieves, rather than imposes, any substantial burden” on the plaintiffs’ religious freedom.

“Eligible organizations are provided the opportunity to freely express their religious objection to such coverage as well as to extricate themselves from its provision,” she wrote. “At the same time, insured individuals are not deprived of the benefits of contraceptive coverage.”

As an alternative to the opt-out form, which is sent to the federal Labor Department, religious groups may send a letter to the federal Department of Health and Human Services “detailing their religious objections in their own words,” and the government would then notify insurance administrators…

Brigitte Amiri, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief in the case, said: “It’s a huge victory for all the female employees who work at the organizations. The scorecard is really 7-0 in the Courts of Appeals on this issue.”

It’s also another victory for Americans who believe that our Constitution even in early days was a document that guaranteed freedom from religions interfering with civil rights, individually and collectively. Although a few generations of cowards and opportunist politicians in Congress and the White House have diminished the strength of those freedoms – obviously, there are individuals with integrity still within the judicial portion of our government.

Certainly, we run the continued risk of conservative ideologues – and demagogues – trying to defeat that protection through political maneuvering. Again, via Congress and the White House. As limited as we may be by the device of an institutionalized 2-party political system, the electoral college and state-based limitations on voting rights, we must utilize every avenue available to us to protect our rights.

Fortunately, my personal convictions do not include treating my right to vote as a religion. I need not and do not limit that activity to standards of purity. It’s as limited as so many aspects of our life by the choices we have available. That includes the limits of an ignorant, lazy-ass body politic.

Catholic leaders ask GOP to join pope on climate, income inequality


AP/Charlie Neibergall

Bishop Martin Amos of the Diocese of Davenport, speaks during a news conference in Ankeny, Iowa. Roman Catholic leaders in Iowa are calling for presidential candidates to focus on the environment and income inequality in 2016.

Roman Catholic leaders in the early voting state of Iowa implored candidates for president Thursday to take up Pope Francis’ call for “profound political courage” by focusing their campaigns as much on improving the environment and income inequality as they have on opposing gay marriage and abortion in past elections.

The vocal pivot from such traditional social issues marks the first time U.S. Catholic bishops have publicly asked those seeking the White House to heed the admonitions of Francis’ June encyclical, said Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines.

In Francis’ major teaching document, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics called for a “sweeping revolution” to correct a “structurally perverse” economic system that allows the rich to exploit the poor and has turned the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

“These are going to be difficult decisions that have to be made,” said the Rev. Bud Grant of Davenport, joined at a news conference by bishops from central and eastern Iowa. “Politicians have to have the courage to do the right thing, and not necessarily the politically expedient thing.”

The push from bishops threatens to disrupt the historically reliable alliance of evangelical Christians and conservative Roman Catholic voters, putting pressure on Republicans who have leaned on their religious faith to guide them on social issues.

It will also focus attention on how the six Roman Catholics seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will wrestle with a pope’s teachings on economics and climate change that clash with traditional Republican ideology.

While Francis has condemned abortion and upheld marriage as the union of a man and a woman, he has not done so with anything approaching the frequency of his two predecessors. Instead, Francis has urged church leaders to talk less about such social issues and more about mercy and compassion, so that wayward Catholics would feel welcome to return to the church.

Should be fun when Pope Francis addresses the papier mache politicians in Congress. I wonder if any of the Tea Party idjits will shout out “you lie”?

Setting aside my reflexive wryness, the Roman Catholic church remains the only significant world religion with unified – even codified – administration and leadership. As much as some of the fundamentalist sects of Protestantism in the United States work at convincing themselves they are the only true voice of their deity, any socially, politically, reasonable leader of any of these has to respect the strength of a global religious body.

The Roman Catholic church may share all of the same fears of modern times; but, the latest pope seems to have learned something about not appearing like a complete idiot in the face of reality. The question remains – will our fundamentalists learn the same lesson? Will they then rap the knuckles of their pet political party and suggest a jot of progress is more sustaining than lockstep obedience to anachronistic dogma?

Archbishop John Nienstedt quits after archdiocese charged with cover-up

nienstedt

Pope Francis has started making good on his promise to not let even the most senior churchmen get away with sex abuse or cover-up.

On Monday, he accepted the resignation of the embattled archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and his deputy bishop after prosecutors there charged the archdiocese with having failed to protect children from unspeakable harm from a pedophile priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys.

Separately, the Vatican indicted its own former ambassador to the Dominican Republic with sexually abusing minors in the Caribbean country — the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to stand trial for a sex crime.

The developments came days after Francis approved the creation of a new tribunal inside the Vatican to specifically hear cases of bishops accused of failing to protect minors, answering years of criticism that top-ranked churchmen have long been immune to punishment for ignoring or covering up for priests who rape and molest children

Earlier this month, prosecutors charged the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as a corporation of having “turned a blind eye” to repeated reports of inappropriate behavior by a priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys. No individual was named in the complaint.

The charges came two years after diocesan canon lawyer-turned-whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger alleged widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the archdiocese, saying archbishops and their top staff lied to the public and ignored the U.S. bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse…

With Monday’s resignations, there have been 18 bishops who have resigned after being publicly criticized for covering up for abusers, according to Anne Barrett Doyle of the online resource BishopAccountability.org…

The criminal charges against the archdiocese stem from its handling of Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for molesting two boys and faces prosecution involving a third boy in Wisconsin.

Prosecutors say church leaders failed to respond to “numerous and repeated reports of troubling conduct” by Wehmeyer from the time he entered seminary until he was removed from the priesthood in 2015. The criminal complaint says many people — including parishioners, fellow priests and parish staff — reported issues with Wehmeyer, and many of those claims were discounted.

Another one bites the dust.

When the dust settles will the Roman Catholic Church have become a force for good, seeking progress and a better life for all their flock? Or does the opportunity still exist among reactionaries, the self-concerned still in hierarchal positions of trust and power, to outlast the term of this Pope and resume “business as usual”?

Billy Graham’s son pulls his million$ from Wells Fargo over same-sex family advert

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and president and CEO of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, urged Christians to boycott Wells Fargo bank after the company featured an advertisement with a same-sex couple.

Graham, 62, said he was disturbed the bank was using shareholder’s money to run ads during a televised golf tournament that focused on a lesbian couple. He said he will be moving the association’s millions to Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T.

On the conservative Christian radio show “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” Graham said, “I’m not going to do business with a business promoting sin. As Christians, we don’t have to do business with Starbucks, with Nike, with Wells Fargo, with Tiffany’s that are promoting a gay lifestyle.”

The ad features two women learning sign language to meet their new daughter, who is presumably deaf. In response to Graham’s decision, BB&T said the bank “embraces diversity and inclusion for our associates and in all aspects of our business,” but has declined to take a formal position on gay rights. BB&T is a sponsor for the Miami Beach Gay Pride annual festival.

Graham manages millions of dollars in a tax-free front. Dollar$ he and his organization inherited from Daddy’s decades of telling fundamentalist Christians to send in your money. Presumably to do good.

Invading other nations ain’t a sin according to Graham – either generation – and his peers. Years of racist bigotry has never been a sin. Especially if you judge their righteousness by what they do with their lives and donor’s money.

I find no redeemable good in many religion hustlers. And that includes charities that do little more than provide high-dollar paychecks for folks who inherited a job.

As an American who enjoys the constitutional rights that haven’t yet been completely diminished by Congressional hypocrites and theocrats – I don’t have to do business with folks who are homophobes and bigots. I own enough shares in Wells Fargo to buy a pizza at dividend time. And, now, I can feel proud about that.

Malaysian state official blames nude tourists for earthquake

Seismologists say it is hard to predict earthquakes, but a senior official in the Malaysian state of Sabah claims he had a premonition that “something was not well” a day before the earth shook beneath Mount Kinabalu.

Friday’s 6.0-magnitude quake near one of South East Asia’s highest peaks on Borneo island killed 16 climbers, including several school children. Rescue crews are still looking for two more bodies.

Sabah’s deputy chief minister, Joseph Pairin Kitingan, says this tragedy is connected to a group of Western tourists who recently posed nude on the peak and allegedly cursed at a local guide for trying to prevent them from stripping.

Pictures of the half-dressed group have been widely circulated online. Mr Pairin says the tourists made the spirits of the mountain angry.

“The quake can be taken as a confirmation of what we feared could be the consequence of their actions,” he told local reporters.

“We have to take this tragedy as a reminder that local beliefs and customs cannot be disrespected.”

The day before the quake struck, he said he saw a flock of birds circling for half an hour and took it as a bad sign.

I take governments run by superstitious fools as a bad sign — and generally refrain from vacationing in places run by obnoxious True Believers.

I agree that going out of your way to offend local customs is impolite, not recommended. Still, I’m not about to fear for my life because I offended someone’s imaginary spirit deity.

Hate group forgot to renew domain name — guess what happened?

When homophobic Pastor Randy Bryson of the Open Door Baptist Church in Easley, S.C. forgot to renew his hate group’s domain name, a gay rights activist swooped in to purchase it.

Bryson and his clan have a reputation in South Carolina for picketing gay-friendly events, college campuses, and gay rights rallies with signs damning “unclean” homosexuals to hell. They’re sort of like a slightly less crazy version of the Westboro Baptist Church…

Warningsofwrath.com used to direct people to the Open Door Baptist Church’s webpage. Now, thanks to one clever man, visitors of the website are redirected to a very, very NSFW hardcore gay XXX site called scaryfuckers.com that depicts videos of tattooed skinheads pounding each other from behind, engaging in cream pie orgies, and inserting icepicks into their urethras, among other things.

If you’re gonna pay to play – better get the rules straight.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Judge orders parishioners to vacate church they’ve occupied for 11 years

Mary Fernandes inside Mother Cabrini church
Click to enlargeDina Rudick/Boston GLOBE Staff

Mary Fernandes, parishioners, continue to occupy their church

A Massachusetts judge ordered St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church be vacated as parishioners continue to keep an around-the-clock vigil in the shuttered church that has lasted more than a decade.

Judge Edward P. Leibensperger ordered parishioners out of the Roman Catholic church that was closed by the Archdiocese of Boston in 2004 as part of a downsizing plan. But church members, calling themselves The Friends of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, said they have no plans to end their 11-year occupation, instead opting to appeal Leibensperger’s ruling.

Jon Rogers, a leader and founder of the nonprofit group, said the archdiocese’s decision to close the church was solely based on money. The church needs money to pay off clergy sex abuse scandals, he said. The church sits on 30 acres of ocean-view land worth some $4 million.

“Here’s the crux of the matter — we are sitting on one of the most valuable of pieces of property in Boston. And they need the money,” he said. “You don’t get to hurt children and then steal our church to pay off your crimes…”

The occupation has been ongoing, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since the church closed. Parishoners have been working in shifts, sleeping on floors and pews and holding Sunday services with consecrated bread and wine for the Eucharist secretly provided by area priests.

Anyone see anything about this courageous act on national TV? Any family values hustlers helping out?