Jean McCarthy

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‘Get in line’ or ‘resign’ Admiral tells military chaplain

Jean McCarthy
By Jean McCarthy
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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Although the U.S. Military fight and die to uphold freedom, high-level military chaplains report they are increasingly being denied freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. There is also alarm about the negative effects on troop morale over the undoing of the 237-years’ practice of providing traditional religious support for U.S. soldiers.

“We were promised that we would see no change - very little change,” says Col. Ron Crews, alluding to a two-star officer’s assurance that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal would not impede the ministry of military chaplains. That promise, he says, has not been kept.

Col. Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, was speaking at a panel along with military chaplains and religious freedom activists during the 2012 National Religious Freedom Conference in Washington D.C on May 24. 

The panelists agreed that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and other policies have made it difficult, if not a punishable offense, for military chaplains to read passages of Leviticus, pray aloud in the name of God at a soldier’s funeral, or preside over traditional services. 

Col. Crews recounted an interchange in 2010 between Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a military chaplain.  While Adm. Mullen was briefing the troops on what the repeal might look like, the chaplain asked if those with “biblical views that homosexuality is a sin [would] still be protected to express those views?”

Adm. Mullen reportedly responded, “Chaplain, if you can’t get in line with this policy, resign your commission.” 

Another chaplain’s promotion was unexpectedly rescinded, said the colonel. The reason: forwarding an email sent by a fellow chaplain that was critical of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. Due to this action he was told he would need to be “more closely supervised.”

Yet another chaplain wished for his chapel to be considered “sacred space” and not used to officiate same-sex marriages. He was told that despite his wishes, his chapel would be “sexual neutral territory.” 

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After Chaplain (Major General) Douglas Carver, the U.S. Army’s Chief Chaplain, called for a day of prayer and fasting “in keeping with your religious traditions,” the Military Religious Foundation (MRF) “wanted him fired,” said Col. Jacob Goldstein, a panelist and senior U.S. Army Jewish chaplain.  He added that despite the MRF’s claims that this was offensive to Jewish people, “this fasting follows in our tradition.” 

Chaplains are not the only ones feeling pressure. Veteran’s Affairs officials told veteran honor guards that mentioning God in prayer was not acceptable. It took a Temporary Restraining Order from U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes and four months of litigation for the name of God to again be permissible.

Four months was not soon enough to prevent heartbreak to the widows of the fallen.  Lisa Ward, the widow of a war veteran, made a promise to her husband - in the event of his death, he would receive the full burial ritual.  But arriving to bury her husband and fulfill her promise, she was told the full burial ritual was against federal government regulations. The ritual mentioned God. 

“I can’t redo my husband’s funeral,” she said with tears in her eyes. 

One federal official, speaking on behalf of the Houston National Cemetery, said that prayers must be “inclusive.”  Another asked a veteran to submit his public prayers in writing for approval. Finally, a judge ruled, “In this country, we don’t tell our pastors how to pray.”

But these legal victories do little to reassure believers.  Kelly Shackelford, a panelist at the National Religious Freedom Conference and president and CEO of Liberty Institute, said, “The speed at which we are falling is much quicker than I have ever seen,” referring to the amount of religious freedom complaints that his office receives. 

Shackelford’s office is the largest non-profit law firm in America, which deals solely with defending religious liberty. Still, there are too many cases for his office to handle. Over a period of ten years, he says he has experienced the most change in the past year and a half. 

More religious freedom complaints are piling up.  But Shackelford said that his office can’t provide any help unless people are willing to take a stand and work through a litigation process. He ended his talk declaring, “We need to stand in a Christ-like manner, but whether we stand or not is not an option.”

Military chaplains have received a stipend for their military duties since the U.S. military’s founding.  General George Washington commenting on this practice said, “It is necessary that we provide them [the military] with a spiritual substance.”

For 237 years it has been considered essential to provide U.S. troops with moral and spiritual counsel. Gen. Major Carver sought to demonstrate this importance by recounting of a soldier’s experience. 

A young private was aboard the torpedo-hit USAT Dorchester on February 3, 1943.  Surrounded by the dead and debris, the vessel sinking lower, he later said of the event, “I could hear the chaplains preaching courage, their voices were the only thing that gave me hope and kept me going.”

See C-Span video of entire session, Freedom for U.S. Soldiers and Veterans from Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Religious Freedom Conference.

A DVD of the 1 hr. 23 min. session or a download of the audio can be ordered from C-Span by going here.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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