Hilary White

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Ann Coulter dumped as ‘hateful,’ but pro-infanticide Peter Singer ok?: Jesuit university

Hilary White
Hilary White
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Updated: Nov. 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM EST to include a statement from Dr. Charles Camosy, the organizer of the panel discussion featuring Peter Singer, and to include more information about the panel.

NEW YORK, November 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Days after popular American conservative pundit Ann Coulter was disinvited from Fordham university amidst accusations that she is too “hateful”, the world’s most notorious promoter of infanticide, Dr. Peter Singer, was welcomed at a conference at the university, the Jesuit order’s premier university on the east coast.

Fordham hosted Dr. Singer as the main attraction at a one-day conference titled, “Conference with Peter Singer: Christians and Other Animals, Moving the Conversation Forward.” In addition to Singer, the panel discussion featured R.R. Reno, a Professor of Theological Ethics at Creighton University, and editor of First Things, David Clough, Professor of Theological Ethics and Department Chair, University of Chester, and Eric Meyer, Fordham Doctoral Candidate in Theology.

The event stirred controversy, coming days after the university’s Republican group canceled a scheduled appearance with Ann Coulter in response to a scathing letter from Fordham’s president, Fr. Joseph McShane. In that letter the priest had called Coulter “hateful and needlessly provocative,” and described her work as “aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.”

Fr. McShane had said that Coulter’s appearance would only barely be tolerated by the university for the sake of “academic freedom.” When the College Republican group responded to the criticism by rescinding Coulter’s invitation, Fr. McShane wrote in response, “Allow me to give credit where it is due: the leadership of the College Republicans acted quickly, took responsibility for their decisions, and expressed their regrets sincerely and eloquently.

“Most gratifying, I believe, is that they framed their decision in light of Fordham’s mission and values.”

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In a post advertising the conference with Peter Singer, Fordham’s official blog described the Princeton philosopher as “most influential philosopher alive today” and “the intellectual heft behind the beginning of the animal rights movement in the 1970s.”

The moderator of the Singer conference, Dr. Charles Camosy, a Fordham theologian who describes himself as “a pro-life Christian ethicist,” defended his decision to invite Singer in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com, pointing out that the other members of the panel disagreed with Singer’s views.

“The conversation was fantastic, and a rich, prophetic Christian theology was on full display in a public setting in front of non-Christians in a beautiful and important way,” said Camosy.

Camosy has defended Singer in the past and invited him to lecture in his ethics classes. In an article titled, “Peter Singer is not the Antichrist,” Camosy compared Singer to the late Pope John Paul II. Camosy said he “likes” Singer personally. Though Singer is “pro-choice” on infanticide and “the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion,” and “attacks many of the vulnerable populations Christians are called to defend,” Camosy described him as “friendly and compassionate” and sounding “an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.”

“He is motivated by an admirable desire to respond to the suffering of human and non-human animals, and an equally admirable willingness to logically follow his arguments wherever they lead,” Camosy wrote. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI in his recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate to defend his collaborations with Singer, saying that Christians should engage in “fraternal collaboration” with non-believers. Camosy has written a book on Singer, “Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization,” which he says shows “that the disagreements between us are remarkably narrow”.

The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic student group that monitors the adherence to Catholic doctrine of the Church’s universities in the U.S., commented that Pope Benedict has never advocated “hosting an advocate of heinous acts on a Catholic campus for a conference seeming to celebrate his work.”

“There is also something quite disturbing about Camosy inviting a dangerous provocateur into the classroom to prey on students who may be unprepared for such dialogue. Better to engage Singer’s ideas with careful and moderated analysis in the light of Truth, and never a hint of respect for what Singer espouses,” the watchdog group said.

Camosy, however, said that pro-lifers should “look at the history of Christians engaging with those that think differently than we do,” citing Thomas Aquinas’ use of Aristotle, who Camosy pointed out also supported infanticide.  “To suggest that Christians should not support these kinds of academic discussions is precisely the kind of anti-intellectualism which keeps so many good people from taking the pro-life movement seriously, and this does serious damage to our ability to protect vulnerable prenatal (and postnatal) persons in our culture,” he said.

Camosy also said that “despite being the world’s most important expert on animal ethics, [Singer] was not paid by Fordham nor were his views promoted.”

In the pro-life world Singer is notorious for espousing some of the most extreme anti-life positions anywhere in academia. He is most famous for his rejection of the notion of inherent dignity, and therefore the personhood, of all human beings, and his promotion of abortion and infanticide at parents’ discretion and euthanasia of disabled people. His appearances in Europe are often interrupted by protests from disability rights groups.

His Preference Utilitarianism holds that the right to life is tied to a human being’s capacity to hold preferences, to experience pain and enjoy pleasure. He summarised his outlook in an editorial in The Scotsman, saying, “Membership of the species Homo sapiens is not enough to confer a right to life.”

As Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University, Singer has positioned himself as the leading light in modern secularist bioethics and was described by the New York Times as the “greatest living philosopher”. In 2004 he was recognized as the Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies, and in June 2012 was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for his services to philosophy and bioethics.

He strongly advocates euthanasia, particularly for people with dementia, and sterilizing most of the human race to save the environment. He has said that some great apes are more “persons” than human infants, believes that animals can give consent to having sex with humans, and complains that Christianity “discriminates” against animals. The media’s gentle handling of Singer is evidenced by the fact that despite his insistence that it is acceptable to murder infants, he is best known as the founder of the “animal rights” movement and for his book Animal Liberation which is the founding document for extremist animal rights groups like PETA.

The Cardinal Newman society noted in June this year that Singer offered a solution to the conflict over Catholic universities being forced to provide contraceptives for employees. He argued that President Obama’s contraceptive mandate “does not prevent Catholics from practicing their religion,” and suggested that Catholics simply close their universities. Catholicism, he said, “does not oblige its adherents to run hospitals and universities.”

Fordham was founded in the 1900s and was given over to the Jesuit order. It is now a private university governed by a lay board of trustees that describes it as being “in the Jesuit tradition.”

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To contact Fr. McShane with concerns:
Joseph M. McShane, S.J.,
President, Fordham University
Room 107, Administration Building
Rose Hill Campus
441 E. Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458

(718) 817-3000
President@fordham.edu

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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