Ben Johnson

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Catholic students protest Seattle archdiocese for firing vice principal in same-sex ‘marriage’

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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SEATTLE, January 7, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Students at Catholic schools in the Seattle area have protested against the archdiocese for encouraging a vice principal who entered a gay “marriage” to resign.

Mark Zmuda, 38, had been an administrator and swim coach at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Washington, for about 18 months when officials discovered he had “married” his boyfriend.

The school's president and CEO Sister Mary Tracy said that she met Zmuda, and “although he was disappointed, we reached an understanding that the correct action was for him to submit his resignation.” She added that Archbishop Peter Sartain personally “agreed with the decision.”

On December 19, Zmuda tendered his resignation, effective December 20. He then told his side of the story in an interview recorded alongside “husband” Dana Jergens inside Good Samaritan Episcopal Church.

“To set the record straight, I was terminated,” Zmuda said.

Sister Mary Tracy wrote in a statement that Zmuda's account had “contributed to confusion” on the matter, while citing the “confidentiality required in personnel matters.” An inquiry to Archdiocese of Seattle Communications Director Greg Magnoni was not immediately returned.

Zmuda told the student who interviewed him that his fellow Catholic “faculty stood behind me,” and “talked about different options to try to keep me. They talked about possibly reaching out to the Pope. 'Has the Pope heard about this?'”

He said the school offered to let him keep his job if he got “divorced.”

“Same-sex 'marriage' – they're against that. But I thought another teaching they were against is divorce,” he said. “They also offered for me to have a same-sex...commitment ceremony if I were willing to get a divorce.”

The Catholic Church teaches that the proper form for the Sacrament of Marriage must include a man and a woman, so no marriage exists between Zmuda and Jergens. Christianity also teaches that homosexuality is immoral.

When Zmuda announced the firing at a student assembly, students organized a mass demonstration asking the school to allow him to stay on.

“This is another example of people using the media to try and drum up public sentiments that the Catholic Church is anti-gay,” John Mulvey, policy analyst at the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, told LifeSiteNews. “The rights of religious institutions over employment decisions have been sustained by the Supreme Court. The Church has the right and responsibility to ensure that all of its employees practice the values that it teaches.”

Other experts agreed. “A contract is a contract, and Catholic is Catholic,” Patrick J. Reilly, who analyzes Catholic education trends as president of The Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeSiteNews.com. “It seems that Eastside has been most respectful and generous to Mr. Zmuda in how they handled the situation, but it would be ridiculous for a Catholic school to compromise clear Catholic teachings.”

Zmuda appears to have admitted he encouraged students to do that very thing. In his interview, he said students “were taught in our school Catholic values to love and respect, and to challenge the Catholic teachings.”

“There’s nothing admirable in encouraging students to challenge Catholic teaching,” Reilly told LifeSiteNews. “That’s encouraging them to deny truth – the very basis of our Catholic faith.”

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Local TV station KIRO obtained a recording of Zmuda telling students at an assembly that he knew that he had violated Catholic teachings but believed the minors were more accepting than their parents or their Church. “I just want to make one brief statement and that is to tell you that yes, I am gay. Yes, I did get 'married' this past summer and I know it is against the Catholic teaching,” he said. “I think a lot of you guys are raised in a generation that is more open and acceptable to things that are legal now in the state of Washington.”

His questioning of the traditional teaching on marriage appears to have worked. Caelan Colburn, a student who organized the outdoor protest on December 20, said, “The administration made it very clear that they care more about following the Archdiocese than doing the right thing,” according to a report by Al Jazeera America.

“The way [students] stand up for their beliefs is just amazing and fantastic,” Zmuda remarked after the rally. “I've very humbled by the fact that I feel this overwhelming what they call agape love” from the kids.

Seattle's mayor-elect, Ed Murray, criticized the school's faith-based decision at the event. Murray, a homosexual Catholic Democrat who “married” his boyfriend Michael Shiosaki at an Episcopal church last August, said Zmuda's firing violated “fairness in the workplace.”

A petition on the website of the far-Left group MoveOn.org calls on the school to “[d]isregard the Catholic Church's policy on gay marriage.”

“The churches [sic] stance on homosexuality is medieval,” the petition states.

Earlier last month, Holy Ghost Preparatory School in the Philadelphia area fired Michael Griffin after he entered a same-sex “marriage.” In February, the assistant principal of Cincinnati's Purcell Marian High School, Mike Moroski, was fired for publicly proclaiming his support for gay “marriage,” contradicting the Christian doctrine of marriage. In August, a California Catholic school fired an English teacher for getting “married” to another man.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a global homosexual pressure group funded in part by George Soros, said the fact that Catholic schools have fired 15 teachers in two years for violating the faith on homosexuality shows "a disturbing trend."

But Reilly said the First Amendment allows parochial schools to ask teachers to live up to their own religious teachings.

“A Catholic school cannot be Catholic if it doesn’t regard Catholic teaching to be true,” he said.

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A Planned Parenthood facility in Denver, Colorado
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Colorado judge tosses suit alleging Planned Parenthood used state funds to pay for abortions

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

Alliance Defending Freedom "will likely appeal" a Monday court decision dismissing their suit alleging Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains illegally used state funds to pay for abortions, an ADF lawyer told LifeSiteNews.

The ADF lawsuit claims that $1.4 million went from state government agencies to a Planned Parenthood abortion affiliate through Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Denver County District Court Judge Andrew McCallin dismissed the case on the basis that ADF could not prove the funds paid for abortions. But ADF maintains that funding an abortion facility is indirectly paying for abortions, which violates state law.

ADF senior counsel Michael Norton -- whose wife, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, filed the lawsuit – told LifeSiteNews that "no one is above the law, including Colorado politicians who are violating our state’s constitution by continuing to fund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business with state taxpayer dollars."

"The State of Colorado even acknowledges that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate. The Denver court seems to have agreed with that fact and yet granted motions to dismiss based on a technicality," said Norton.

According to Colorado law, "no public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion." There is a stipulation that allows for "the General Assembly, by specific bill, [to] authorize and appropriate funds to be used for those medical services necessary to prevent the death of either a pregnant woman or her unborn child under circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each."

According to court documents, the Colorado law was affirmed by state voters in 1984, with an appeal attempt rejected two years later. In 2001, an outside legal firm hired by Jane Norton -- who was lieutenant governor at the time -- found that Planned Parenthood was "subsidizing rent" and otherwise providing financial assistance to Planned Parenthood Services Corporation, an abortion affiliate. After the report came out, and Planned Parenthood refused to disassociate itself from the abortion affiliate, the state government stopped funding Planned Parenthood.

Since 2009, however, that has changed, which is why the lawsuit is filed against Planned Parenthood, and multiple government officials, including Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to ADF legal counsel Natalie Decker, the fact that Planned Parenthood sent funds to the abortion affiliate should have convinced McCallin of the merits of the case. "The State of Colorado and the Denver court acknowledged that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars, in addition to millions of 'federal' tax dollars, flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate," said Decker.

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"Without even having the facts of the case developed, the Denver court seems to have granted motions to dismiss filed by the State of Colorado and Planned Parenthood on grounds the term 'indirectly' could not mean what Ms. Norton and Governor Owens said it meant in 2002 when they defunded Planned Parenthood."

"That, of course, is the plain meaning of Colo. Const., Art. V, § 50 which was implemented by the citizens of Colorado, and the reason for Ms. Norton’s lawsuit."

Decker told LifeSiteNews that "Colorado law is very clear," and that the state law "prohibits Colorado tax dollars from being used to directly or indirectly pay for induced abortions."

She says her client "has been denied the opportunity to fully develop the facts of the case and demonstrate exactly what the Colorado tax dollars have been used for." Similarly, says Decker, it is not known "exactly what those funds were used for. At this time, there is simply no way to conclude that tax dollars have not been used to directly pay for abortions or abortion inducing drugs and devices."

"What we do know is that millions of Colorado tax dollars have flowed through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that those tax dollars are being used to indirectly pay for abortions."

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains did not return multiple requests for comment about the lawsuit.

The dismissal comes as Planned Parenthood fights an investigation by the state's Republican attorney general over a video by Live Action, as well as a lawsuit by a mother whose 13-year old daughter had an abortion in 2012 that she alleges was covered up by Planned Parenthood. The girl, who was being abused by her stepfather, was abused for months after the abortion.

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Courtesy of Online for Life
Steve Weatherbe

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Fledgling high-tech pro-life group marks 2,000 babies saved: 2-3 saved per day

Steve Weatherbe
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Online for Life, the Dallas-based pro-life marketing agency, saved its two-thousandth unborn baby earlier this year and is well on its way to saving its three thousandth by 2015.

“We are getting better all the time at what we do,” says founder Brian Fisher. “It used to be one baby saved every four to six weeks and now its two or three a day.”

But the most significant save? “It was the very first one,” he says, recalling the phone call from a crisis centre a month after OFL’s 2012 startup.  “And for me personally it was just a massive turning point … because [of] all the work and the money and testing and the volunteers and everything that led up to that moment. All the frustration of that was washed away in an instant because a child had been rescued that was about to be killed.”

Though increasing market savvy has led Online for Life to expand offline, the core of the non-profit, donor-financed operation remains SEO -- search engine optimization -- targeting young women who have just discovered they are pregnant and gone onto the Web to find the nearest abortion clinic.

Instead, they find the nearest crisis pregnancy center at the top of their results page. Since OFL went online it has linked with a network of 41 such centers, including two of its own it started this year, in a positive feedback loop that reinforces effective messaging first at the level of the Web, then at the first telephone call between the clinic and the pregnant woman, and finally at the first face-to-face meeting.

“Testing is crucial,” says Fisher. “We test everything we do.” Early on, Online for Life insisted the clinics it served have an ultrasound machine, because the prevailing wisdom in the prolife movement was that “once they saw their baby on ultrasound, they would drop the idea of having an abortion.” While the organization still insists on the ultrasound, its own testing and feedback from the CPCs indicates that three quarters of the women they see already have children. “They’ve already seen their own children on ultrasound and are still planning to abort.” So ultrasound images have lost their punch.

OFL has had to move offline to reach a significant minority who have neither computers, tablets, or cell phones.  Traditional electronic media spots as well as bus ads and billboards carry the message to them.

As well, says Fisher, “unwanted pregnancy used to be a high-school age problem; now that’s gone down in numbers and the average age of women seeking abortion has gone up to 24.” By that age, he says, they are “thoroughly conditioned by the abortion culture. Even before they got pregnant, they have already decided they would have an abortion if they did get pregnant.”

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What they need—and fast, in the first two minutes of the first phone call—is sympathy, support, and a complete absence of judgement. Online for Life is always gathering information from its network on what responses are most effective—and this can vary city to city. The organization offers training to clinic volunteers and staff that stresses a thorough knowledge of the services on tap. “Any major city has all sorts of services—housing, education, health—available,” says Fisher.

The problem that OFL was designed to address was the crisis pregnancy centers’ market penetration. Three percent of women with unwanted pregnancies were reaching out to the CPCs, and seven per cent of those who did reach out were having their babies. “So about 2.1 children were being saved for every 1,000 unwanted pregnancies,” says Fisher. “That’s not nearly enough.”

So Fisher and two fellow volunteers dreamed of applying online marketing techniques to the problem in 2009. Three years later Fisher was ready to leave his executive position at an online marketing agency to go full-time with the life-saving agency. Now they have 63 employees, most of them devoted to optimizing the penetration in each of the markets served by their participating crisis centers.

The results speak for themselves. Where OFL has applied its techniques, especially with its own clinics, as many as 15-18 percent of the targeted population of women seeking abortions get directed to nearby crisis pregnancy centers. “It depends on the centres’ budgets and on how many volunteers they have to be on the phones through the day and night,” he says. “But we are going to push it higher. We hope to save our 2,500th child by the end of the year.”

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

Shock: UK mom abandons disabled daughter, keeps healthy son after twin surrogacy

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By Pete Baklinski

A UK woman who is the biological mother of twins born from a surrogate mom, has allegedly abandoned one of the children because she was born with a severe muscular condition, while taking the girl's healthy sibling home with her.

The surrogate mother, also from the UK — referred to as "Jenny" to protect her identity — revealed to The Sun the phone conversation that took place between herself and the biological mother over the fate of the disabled girl.

“I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a f****** dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child,’” she said.

Jenny, who has children of her own, said she decided to become a surrogate to “help a mother who couldn’t have children.” She agreed to have two embryos implanted in her womb and to give birth for £12,000 ($20,000 USD).

With just six weeks to the due date, doctors told Jenny she needed an emergency caesarean to save the babies. It was not until a few weeks after the premature births that the twin girl was diagnosed with congenital myotonic dystrophy.

When Jenny phoned the biological mother to tell her of the girl’s condition, the mother rejected the girl.

Jenny has decided along with her partner to raise the girl. They have called her Amy.

“I was stunned when I heard her reject Amy,” Jenny said. “She had basically told me that she didn’t want a disabled child.”

Jenny said she felt “very angry” towards the girl’s biological parents. "I hate them for what they did.”

The twins are now legally separated. A Children and Family Court has awarded the healthy boy to the biological mother and the disabled girl to her surrogate.

The story comes about two weeks after an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son in Thailand after he was born with Down syndrome, while taking the healthy twin girl back with them to Australia.

Rickard Newman, director of Family Life, Pro-Life & Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Lake Charles, called the Australian story a “tragedy” that “results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.”

“Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation,” he said. 

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