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Grassroots protest petition and letters halt Estonian homosexual civil unions bill

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By Hilary White

TALLINN, May 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A small group of family campaigners has for the moment turned back an internationally-backed effort to create “civil union” legislation in Estonia. In a surprising turnaround, within 24 hours of the launch of a petition the bill has been withdrawn for further consideration and is not expected to be reintroduced until the autumn. The signature drive was a re-play of a similar outcome a year ago when 38,000 people said no to a bill that proposed to create “gay marriage” in Estonia.

In April this year, a group of forty parliamentarians tried again, bringing forward their Civil Partnership Act, the most recent of several efforts since 2005, that proposed to confer legal recognition on homosexual relationships, establishing that children can have “two mothers” or “two fathers.” Its supporters argued both that the bill was not exclusively aimed at same-sex partners and that it was in no way a prelude to the introduction of “gay marriage.”

Opponents, however, said that the bill was specifically intended to “undermine the concept of family and the meaning of the basic values of our society.” They launched a website asking concerned Estonians to send an email to parliamentarians “categorically” rejecting the bill. Within 24 hours of its launch, the petition had “gone viral” throughout the country and collected over 44,000 signatures and by today has sent over 200,000 letters to all 101 members of Parliament.

The petition’s author told LifeSiteNews.com that the success this week built on last year’s. Varro Vooglaid, a pro-family activist in the capital Tallinn, said that when they were contacted the signatories from the last petition drive not only sent letters of protest to MPs, they added 6,000 more names who did the same.

Vooglaid is the director of Perekonna ja Traditsiooni Kaitseks (Foundation for the Defence of Life and Family). He said, “We sent an e-mail to people whose contacts we had from last year and suggested to them to send protest e-mails to all members of Parliamant. This is what they did and by now more than 215,938 protest emails have been sent.”

“There would be many more, but the parliament has now blocked these letters classifying them as spam. naturally, we strongly object and protest, stating that this goes against elementary principles of democracy.” He added that his group has also collected “thousands of protest cards on paper and will start delivering these pretty soon.”

Vooglaid added, “We started the protest campaign on 19 May and on that same day the first news came that the bill might not be passed before autumn. The message was repeated during the week.” The bill’s sponsors had originally intended to see the bill passed June 23 before Parliament’s summer break.

Responding to reports that some lawmakers were sending the emails directly to their trash files, Vooglaid said it is a “glimpse of the understanding of democracy of the kind of people who govern us. This is how much they actually care about the views and voice of the people.”

The letter read, “I categorically protest against the Civil Partnership Act!” It pointed to Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia that says lawmakers are obliged to “protect the institution of the family as the foundation of the preservation and growth of the nation and as the basis of society.”

“And the family, according to the meaning of constitution, is founded upon the union of a man and a woman. Therefore, all members of the parliament who have sworn fidelity to the constitutional order are obliged to protect the institution of the family from ideologically motivated attempts of subversion and radical redefinition.”

The letter warned parliamentarians that their support for changing the definition of the family would have political repercussions in upcoming elections. “Should parliament, however, decide to proceed with the Civil Partnership Act, it has to be put on a referendum, because adopting this law would mean the redefinition of the foundation of the society – something that only the people are entitled to do.”

A statement from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Estonian Orthodox Church supported the initiative, saying that instead of same-sex recognition parliament should enact legislation to support the “flagging institution of marriage and the traditional family." The Orthodox statement called for strong state guarantees to protect “the whole family, consisting of husband, wife and the family, with the children born.”

The Orthodox Plenary said they “think it is extremely unfortunate that our country’s laws will directly contradict the laws of God, which are based upon the revelation to mankind in the Ten Commandments.” 

“Really, our church does not see reason why the Estonian government needs to take such a step, which threatens to weaken our country and may cause us to lose respect for the country by a huge number of citizens.”

Vooglaid said that his group had communicated with the members of parliament “on numerous occasions the message that should they support the bill we will do all we can to mobilize tens of thousands of people not to vote for them.” Parliamentary elections are set for March 1, 2015.

This week, the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups held their annual meeting this year on a cruise ship making stops at Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. This year’s theme, the group said, is “Sailing with Hope,” taken from a popular Estonian myth of a “white ship” that “brings freedom or takes people away to a better land.” During the conference a representative of Geikristlaste Kogu (the Estonian Association of Gay Christians) gave a featured presentation on “our hopes for the future.”

Asked why such a group would take such an interest in tiny Estonia, with a population of only 1.2 million and very few active Christians, Vooglaid said that Estonia is seen as an ideal “gateway” to Eastern Europe by homosexualist activists.

“Due to its almost completely destroyed Christian culture,” he said, the formerly majority Lutheran Estonia will be the means of “breaking down Eastern European cultural resistance” to the homosexual and gender ideology.

Estonia is regularly described as one of the “least religious” countries in the world. The most recent statistics from the country found that 54 per cent of the population say they have no religion and 16.7 per cent are “unspecified.” 9.9 per cent are still Lutheran; 16.2 per cent of residents, mainly ethnic Russians, are Orthodox and 2.2 per cent are listed as “other Christian.”

“The homosexual movement knows that they have almost no chance whatsoever of succeeding in Poland, Lithuania or Latvia, and therefore they are trying to break a hole by attacking the moral foundations of the society in Estonia,” Vooglaid said.

A 2009 poll found that only 32 per cent of the population were supportive of same-sex “marriage”. 40 per cent of younger people approved, but only 6 per cent of their parents were in favor. By 2012 that number had dropped to 34 per cent overall. 51 per cent of ethnic Estonians and only 35 percent of Russians supported same-sex civil unions. Vooglaid confirmed that the homosexualist movement wants to create the impression of being a “grassroots movement.” “The reality, however, is that the homosexual movement has almost zero popular support in Estonia,” he said. “Everything they are able to do is because of extensive support and funding from the European Union, the Soros Foundation (Open Society Foundation) and other interest groups that originate from outside our country.”

He added that the movement did not expect such strong and ongoing popular resistance. At least five attempts have been made since 2005 to introduce some form of same-sex recognition and all have failed.  

Vooglaid pointed to the escalating crisis in Ukraine and the fact that Estonia’s second largest ethnic population group is Russian, sent as settlers during the Soviet era. He said that representatives of religious organizations have warned parliamentarians that giving a legal recognition to the homosexual lifestyle could “bring about a serious security risk to the country.” It would “alienate a huge portion of the society from our legal and political system” and prompt them to look towards a possible alliance with the Russian Federation, “where respect for family values is gradually being restored.”

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Pope Francis attacks ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics, dismisses condom ban as unimportant

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By John-Henry Westen

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- On the plane returning from his journey to Africa today Pope Francis made his clearest remarks in condemnation of ‘fundamentalist’ Catholics.

"Fundamentalism is a sickness that is in all religions," Francis said, as reported by the National Catholic Reporter’s Vatican correspondent, Joshua McElwee, and similarly by other journalists on the plane.  "We Catholics have some -- and not some, many -- who believe in the absolute truth and go ahead dirtying the other with calumny, with disinformation, and doing evil."

"They do evil," said the pope. "I say this because it is my church."

"We have to combat it," he said. "Religious fundamentalism is not religious, because it lacks God. It is idolatry, like the idolatry of money."

Turning to Islam, the pope spoke of his friendship with a Muslim, adding, “You cannot cancel out a religion because there are some groups, or many groups in a certain point of history, of fundamentalists.”

"Like everything, there are religious people with values and those without," he said. "But how many wars … have Christians made? The sacking of Rome was not done by Muslims, eh?"

STORY: Vatican’s liturgy chief contradicts Pope Francis on Communion for non-Catholics

On the same flight a journalist asked about the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS and if it was time for the Church to change its position.

The pope acknowledged that condoms are one method of prevention, saying that the Church was faced with a perplexity of whether to follow the fifth commandment (Thou shalt not kill) “or that sexual relations are open to life.” 

He dismissed this however as ‘not the problem’ and said it reminded him of the question asked Jesus, “Tell me, teacher, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Is it obligatory to heal?’

Catholic News Agency carries the fullest rendition of the pope’s quotes on the matter, relating his words thus:

“Let’s not talk about if one can use this type of patch or that for a small wound, the serious wound is social injustice, environmental injustice,” Pope Francis continued. “I don’t like to go down to reflections on such case studies when people die due to a lack of water, hunger, environment...when all are cured, when there aren’t these illnesses, tragedies, that man makes, whether for social injustice or to earn more money – I think of the trafficking of arms – when these problems are no longer there, I think we can ask the question ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’”

 “Because, if the trafficking of arms continues, wars are the biggest cause of mortality...I would say not to think about whether it’s lawful or not to heal on the Sabbath, I would say to humanity: ‘make justice,’ and when all are cured, when there is no more injustice, we can talk about the Sabbath.”

While in Africa the pope used very strong language to promote the climate change agreement at the Paris climate summit that started today. He said it would be a “catastrophe” if it did not achieve acceptance in Paris in the coming days and added that the decision came down to the choice “either to improve or to destroy the environment.”

Speaking at the United Nations center in Nairobi on November 26, Pope Francis said, “In a few days an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris, where the international community as such will once again confront these issues. It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.”

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Ben Carson on Colorado shooting: pro-lifers need to ‘tone down’ ‘hateful rhetoric’

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By Ben Johnson

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - After a string of verbal gaffes and controversies over the depth of his pro-life convictions, Dr. Ben Carson has implied that the pro-life movement needs to "tone down" its "hateful rhetoric" and "become more mature."

The doctor was asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" about abortion supporters' claims that pro-life speech led to Robert Lewis Dear's shooting inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, Right or Left, is something that is detrimental to our society," Dr. Carson said. "This has been a big problem."

"No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation," Carson affirmed.

Lamenting that social discourse had become less civil, he said modern political "rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive, and is not helpful."

“I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion," Dr. Carson said.

Pro-life leaders were quick to rebut his charges that they engage in extreme or immature rhetoric. (See related story.)

After briefly leading rival Donald Trump in a series of national polls, Carson's presidential hopes have crumpled amidst a series of misstatements and retractions that have led national commentators to question whether the political novice is ready to be president of the United States. Last Sunday, talk show host Rush Limbaugh told Fox News that Ben Carson is "probably not" fully "equipped to be president."

The statement apparently condemning pro-life rhetoric comes after Carson, a famed neurosurgeon, told a Florida reporter that attempts to save the life of Terri Schiavo were "much ado about nothing."

Dr. Carson told LifeSiteNews exclusively that his remarks had been taken out of context by a Tampa Bay Times reporter. The reporter later posted the full transcript of his question, and Dr. Carson's answer to provide context.

Full transcript of the "Face the Nation" segment:

Dickerson: OK. I would like to ask you about a domestic political event or what some people see has a political element to it, and that's the shooting at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs.

Some abortion rights supporters have said that the rhetoric has led to that kind of violence. What's your view on that?

Carson: There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, Right or Left, is something that is detrimental to our society.

This has been a big problem. Our strength in this country has traditionally been in our unity. And we are allowing all kinds of circumstances to divide us and make us hateful toward each other. And the rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive, and is not helpful.

When you have outside forces, global Islamic radical jihadists who want to destroy us, why would we be doing that to ourselves? We, at some point, have got to become more mature. No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation, and we should be doing all we can to engage an intelligence, civil discussion about our differences.

That's how we solve problems. We don't ever solve them with hateful rhetoric.

Dickerson: Should abortion rights -- excuse me -- should those who oppose abortion rights tone down their rhetoric?

Carson: I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion.

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Robert Lewis Dear
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Everything we know about the Planned Parenthood shooter

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By John Jalsevac
Robert Dear's shanty in North Carolina where he spent part of his time.

November 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Planned Parenthood, and supporters of abortion rights, have pointed to Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility as evidence that the pro-life movement is responsible for encouraging violence through its "hateful rhetoric." Planned Parenthood of Rocky Mountains has declared that the shooter himself "was motivated by opposition to Planned Parenthood and access to abortion," although police have not officially released any information about his motives.

Meanwhile, the picture emerging of the man who allegedly opened fire at a Planned Parenthood facility Friday is one of a deeply disturbed recluse who, though opposed to abortion, had little interest in and no known history of active involvement in the abortion debate, with a long spate of run-ins with the law and a pattern of bizarre behavior that left some of those who encountered him fearful for their safety, and many convinced that he wasn't in his right mind.

On Saturday morning Colorado Springs police identified Robert Lewis Dear, 57, of North Carolina, as the suspect in the shooting that left three dead, and another nine injured. Dear allegedly began shooting outside the Planned Parenthood facility just before noon, Mountain Time, Friday, before retreating into the facility for a five hour stand-off with police.

Planned Parenthood has confirmed that none of its staff were injured in the shooting. Both of the civilians killed were reportedly accompanying friends to appointments.

The New York Daily News reports that an online dating profile that appears to have been posted by Dear in the early 2000s has Dear asking for "discreet" sadomasochistic sex, as well as pot-smoking companions. Other posts on Cannabis.com by someone with a username associated with Dear, include what the Daily News describes as "paranoid Biblical rants."

Heavy.com reports that Dear was arrested and charged in 2002 on "animal cruelty," eavesdropping and "peeping tom" charges. He was acquitted of the animal cruelty charges after a bench trial, while the latter charges were dismissed.

The animal cruelty charge was apparently related to an incident in which Dear allegedly shot a neighbor's dog in the leg with a pellet gun.

USA Today reports that a 2004 police report shows Dear threatened to "do bodily harm" to a neighbor.

He also has numerous previous convictions for various traffic violations. These include seat belt violations, driver’s license violations, operating a vehicle in an unsafe mechanical condition and driving a non-registered vehicle.

ABC reports that Dear spent some of his time living in a cabin in the woods in North Carolina, without running water or electricity. Neighbors say he was a quiet man who seemed "off." They said that when he did speak, he tended to ramble on a disconnected series of topics.

One neighbor, James Russell, said that two topics they never heard Dear speak about were religion and abortion. Russell also said that Dear tended to avoid eye contact. "Nothing with him was very cognitive," said Russell about Dear.

RELATED: Police officer killed at Planned Parenthood was pro-life, Christian pastor

James Howie, who lived close to one of Dear's remote properties in North Carolina, told USA Today that Dear once asked him to do some foundation work on his shack. After accompanying Dear to the job site, Howie declined the job. "I was just glad to get home," he said about the experience, adding that in his view Dear seemed crazy, although not dangerous.

Another neighbor told the Washington Post that Dear "was the kind of person you had to watch out for. He was a very weird individual. It's hard to explain, but he had a weird look in his eye most of the time."

Another neighbor told the Post, "He complained about everything. He said he worked with the government, and everybody was out to get him, and he knew the secrets of the USA. He said, 'Nobody touch me, because I've got enough information to put the whole U.S. of A in danger.' It was very crazy."

Another neighbor said that she and her family "kept out of his way." "He wouldn't really speak to anybody, he wouldn't wave," Mallory Nicoletti, 29, told the Citizen-Times.

John Hood, another neighbor, told NBCNews that Dear rarely spoke with him, but when he did, it was to offer bizarre advice. On one occasion, said Hood, Dear urged him to get a metal roof installed on his house, so the US government couldn't spy on him. Hood also said he erected a fence between their properties, because Dear had a habit of skinny dipping. 

RELATED: This one shot from the latest PP sting video might be the most disturbing thing you see all year

Those living in the North Carolina community where Dear had his shack said they were frustrated by the fact that Dear would leave for days at a time, leaving behind two dogs with no food or water, who would start to get aggressive.

“We’re not isolationists,” one resident said. “You know how whenever someone goes crazy, the neighbors say he was so quiet and normal. That wasn’t the case here. He was weird. Everyone kept an eye on him.”

"He was really tightly wound," said another resident. "You could see that from the stress on his face, from the way he acted.”

Still another went even further, telling the Post, "He was just always saying, ‘I know the U.S. is trying to kill everybody’ and do this and do that. He [said he] was an undercover [agent]. Just craziness. Just pure, right-out craziness all the time.

“I’m kind of glad he’s put away now."

The Gateway Pundit also reports that, bizarrely, Dear was registered to vote as a woman, although it is unclear whether this is simply a clerical error or has any deeper significance. His party was listed as "unaffiliated."

One anonymous source, reportedly with the police, told the Washington Post that in a confusing rant following his arrest Dear did make mention of "baby body parts," suggesting some connection with the recent series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood staffers harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies.

However, the source added that this was but one topic among many mentioned by Dear in a speech that left investigators unclear as to his specific motivation.

Planned Parenthood has issued a statement saying that based upon eyewitnesses they believe Dear "was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion." 

Dear's ex-wife, Pamela Ross, told the New York Times he was a Bible-believing Christian, and that he opposed abortion, but that it "was never really a topic of conversation" in their house.

RELATED: Planned Parenthood shooting suspect surrenders, is in custody: police

Ross and Dear divorced in 2000. The picture that Ross paints of her ex-husband as a physically healthy man who lifted weights, took good care of himself, enjoyed listening to U2 and riding motorcycles, clashes markedly with the accounts of those who lived near him in the years since their parting. 

Ross said she was shocked at the man she saw on TV following his arrest this weekend.

“Something must have happened to him when he moved away, that’s all I know," she said. “Me and our whole family are extremely devastated and heartbroken by the victims of these families, and we have no words that can ever comfort them other than to say we’re sorry for what he did.”

However, Ross admits that she did call police on Dear in 1997, after a case of domestic violence. She didn't press charges at the time.

Dear reportedly brought several "items" with him into the Planned Parenthood facility, which police had said they were concerned could be explosives. Early Saturday morning police tweeted that those items have been "secured" and are "no longer a threat."

Subsequent reports have suggested those items were propane tanks that Dear may have been trying to shoot in order to cause an explosion.

After a five-hour standoff with police, during which Dear repeatedly exchanged gunfire with them, police were able to establish voice contact with the suspect by shouting. At that point they were able to convince him to surrender.

While some reports have indicated that the shooting actually began outside a nearby Chase Bank, and may have been related to a robbery, Springfield police spokeswoman Lt. Catherine Buckley said at a press conference Friday evening that the shooting appears to have begun at the Planned Parenthood. 

While Dear's motive is still unknown, pro-life groups have issued statements condemning the violence, and urging caution in jumping to conclusions.

"Information is very sketchy about the currently active shooting situation in Colorado Springs," said Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. "The Planned Parenthood was the address given in the initial call to the police, but we still do not know what connection, if any, the shooting has to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion."

"As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation."

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, also issued statements.

"Operation Rescue unequivocally deplores and denounces all violence at abortion clinics and has a long history of working through peaceful channels to advocate on behalf of women and their babies," said Newman. "We express deep concern for everyone involved and are praying for the safety of those at the Planned Parenthood office and for law enforcement personnel. We pray this tragic situation can be quickly resolved without further injury to anyone."

"Although we don't know the reasons for the shooting near the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs today, the pro-life movement is praying for the safety of all involved and as a movement we have always unequivocally condemned all forms of violence at abortion clinics. We must continually as a nation stand against violence on all levels," said Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, based in Washington, D.C.


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