Ben Johnson

Judge’s ruling puts polygamy on the way to legal recognition

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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SALT LAKE CITY, December 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge may have put polygamy on its first step to legal recognition, striking down part of a Utah law that criminalized plural marriage.

The lawsuit was brought by Kody Brown, star of the TLC reality series Sister Wives. Brown lives with Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, and their brood of 17 children. However, he is legally married only to Meri.

Utah, a majority Mormon state that had to outlaw polygamy before being admitted to the union in 1896, deems living together in the manner of a polygamous couple a felony.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled on Friday that the state could continue to ban polygamy “in the literal sense – the fraudulent or otherwise impermissible possession of two purportedly valid marriage licenses.” But it could not arrest people who voluntarily choose to live together in a common law plural marriage.

Waddoups cited the legal precedents that led to same-sex “marriage” and abortion-on-demand in his 91-page ruling in Brown v. Buhman.

Waddoups cited Lawrence vs. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that ruled a Texas anti-sodomy law “unconstitutional.” The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, cited foreign law in its legal reasoning and played a large role in two Supreme Court cases this summer striking down bans on gay “marriage.”

The judge also used the legal framework that granted a constitutional “right” to abortion-on-demand, saying polygamy in all but name fell under the couple's right to privacy.

Waddoups said legal precedent since courts outlawed polygamy have resulted in “a significant strengthening of numerous provisions of the Bill of Rights, and a practical and morally defensible identification of 'penumbral' rights 'of privacy and repose' emanating from those key provisions of the Bill of Rights.” The “penumbral” quotation is taken from Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court precedent that created the “right to privacy” later employed as the basis for a constitutional “right” to abortion in Roe v. Wade.

In essence, he said, the couples had the right to arrange their sexual life as they wished, as long as they did not hold more than one marriage license at a time.

Critics said the ruling eroded legal protections given to children and significantly harmed society.

“This ruling confuses the private desires of individuals with the institution of marriage as a whole,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute told LifeSiteNews.com. “I have no doubt that these individual women and Mr. Brown are living this plural marriage lifestyle voluntarily. What I dispute is that they are the only ones affected by changing the law to permit plural cohabitation or plural marriage.”

“Polygamous societies look very different from monogamous societies,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews. “In polygamous societies, wealthy men are at a huge competitive advantage over men of average means. The wealthy men, in effect, take more than their share of women. This triggers a whole series of reactions. The society begins to sanction the marriage of younger and younger women, sometimes no more than girls, to satisfy the demand for brides. The men grow more and more possessive and treat women more like possessions and less like people.”

“I challenge the advocates of legalized plural marriage to find an example of a polygamous society in which these things have not happened,” she said.

Following this summer's setbacks on gay “marriage,” family advocates say society is increasingly putting adults' libidos ahead of children's health.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, asked, “Can we as a society any longer even define marriage coherently?”

"Throughout history, marriage has been future-oriented, focused on the next generation and the best interests of children. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad,” he said. “However, redefining marriage to fulfill the desires of same-sex couples or polygamists only moves society away from this vital public interest and creates social chaos.”

Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), agreed.

“This is what happens when marriage becomes about the emotional and sexual wants of adults, divorced from the needs of children for a mother and a father committed to each other for life,” he said. “Polygamy was outlawed in this country because it was demonstrated, again and again, to hurt women and children.”

“Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing,” he added.

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Polygamy advocates rejoiced at the decision.

"Now that we're no longer felons, that's a huge relief," Anne Wilde, the co-founder of the pro-polygamy group Principle Voices told The Associated Press. "This decision will hopefully take away the stigma of living a principle that's a strongly held religious belief."

Brown, who belongs to a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot known as the Apostolic United Brethren Church, also said his case had been founded on religious liberty.

“While we know that many people do not approve of plural families, it is our family and based on our beliefs,” Brown said in a statement. “Just as we respect the personal and religious choices of other families, we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs.”

Moore responded, “When reality TV scenarios drive our judicial decisions, we’ve truly reached a strange time in American life.”

Conservatives said the decision vindicated their longstanding argument that, if gay “marriage” were legalized, there would be no way to continue to forbid polygamy, or perhaps incest.

Rick Santorum said on Twitter, “Some times I hate it when what I predict comes true.” Santorum said in 2003 the Lawrence decision would lead to polygamy.

“We have warned of this slippery slope for years,” said Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Same-sex 'marriage' is the abolition of marriage and will destroy the most basic foundation of family and civil society.”

Aside from pro-family groups, the shocking decision made few waves at the national level.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, made a far more restrained response, saying today that he had not yet read the decision but would “much rather see decisions on social issues” made by elected legislators instead of unelected judges.

But opponents of the ruling say it is the substance, rather than the process, of legitimizing polygamy that concerns them.

“No one is taking responsibility for the systemic changes to marriage,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews, nor thinking about “how a change in the laws that seems to protect individuals turns out to have long-term, systemic affects that harm lots of people.”

Waddoups, a well-respected private attorney, was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2008 without any previous judicial experience.  

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, speaks to Thomas McKenna of Catholic Action Insight. Catholic Action Insight
Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Catholics shouldn’t sue one another: Cardinal Burke comments on Fr. Rosica’s lawsuit against blogger

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

ROME, March 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Citing Scripture, Cardinal Raymond Burke told an interviewer this week that Catholics should not sue each other: “Our Lord in the Gospel and St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians instruct us not to take our disputes to the civil forum, that we should be able, as Catholics, to resolve these matters among ourselves.”

The cardinal’s comments to the Traditionalist Catholic website Rorate Caeli follow an uproar in the Catholic media world last week when it was revealed that Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica has threatened to sue a Canadian blogger for defamation in the civil courts.

Cardinal Burke, who served under Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis as the head of the Vatican’s highest court, is a noted expert on canon law. He told Rorate Caeli, “Unless the blogger has committed a calumny on someone's good name unjustly, I certainly don't think that that's the way we as Catholics should deal with these matters.”

“I think contact should be made. I presume that the Catholic blogger is in good faith, and if there’s someone in the hierarchy who is upset with him, the way to deal with it would be first to approach the person directly and try to resolve the matter in that way,” Burke added.

Fr. Rosica, a Canadian Basilian, is the English language press officer for the Vatican and founder of the Toronto-based Salt and Light Television network.

He sent the legal letter to David Domet, a Toronto music composer and part-time Catholic blogger who has long criticized what he says are Fr. Rosica’s departures from Catholic orthodoxy. The priest’s lawyer told Domet to remove nine separate items from his blog and apologize, but added that this would not necessarily remove the threat of the civil action.

The conflict was covered in a feature by Michael Voris’ Church Militant TV, and the internet’s Catholic blogger world exploded with indignation. So furious was the backlash that it got coverage by the US conservative news site, Breitbart. This followed dozens of blog posts, nearly unanimously calling the threatened legal action of a well-placed priest against a lay pensioner a “PR disaster” for Rosica. 

The uproar has launched Domet’s small blog, Vox Cantoris, into the international limelight, and has earned Fr. Rosica an avalanche of criticism. “Though Rosica publicly defends the right to freedom of speech and press, he is attempting to silence the blogger who has criticized him,” Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, wrote for Breitbart.

Among Domet’s criticisms of Fr. Rosica is his apparent support for the proposal by Cardinal Walter Kasper to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and others in “irregular” sexual unions, to receive Holy Communion.

Fr. Rosica has also recently come under fire for comments he made a year ago, in a lecture in Windsor, Ontario, in which he argued that Catholic doctrine could change. (See video below. Quotes can be found at 48:12.)

“Will this Pope re-write controversial Church doctrines?” Fr. Rosica said in the lecture, which was posted to Youtube. “No. But that isn't how doctrine changes. Doctrine changes when pastoral contexts shift and new insights emerge such that particularly doctrinal formulations no longer mediate the saving message of God's transforming love.”

Fr. Rosica continued: “Doctrine changes when the Church has leaders and teachers who are not afraid to take note of new contexts and emerging insights. It changes when the Church has pastors who do what Francis has been insisting: leave the securities of your chanceries, of your rectories, of your safe places, of your episcopal residences go set aside the small-minded rules that often keep you locked up and shielded from the world.”

In the Rorate Caeli interview, Cardinal Burke refuted the idea that the Church can change its “pastoral practice” without changing doctrine.

“I think it’s very important to address a false dichotomy that's been drawn by some who say, ‘Oh no, we’re just changing disciplines. We’re not touching the Church's doctrine.’ But if you change the Church’s discipline with regard to access to Holy Communion by those who are living in adultery, then surely you are changing the Church's doctrine on adultery.”

“You’re saying that, in some circumstances, adultery is permissible and even good, if people can live in adultery and still receive the sacraments. That is a very serious matter, and Catholics have to insist that the Church’s discipline not be changed in some way which would, in fact, weaken our teaching on one of the most fundamental truths, the truth about marriage and the family,” Cardinal Burke said.

Fr. Rosica recently criticized Cardinal Burke on his Twitter account by posting an article by Washington, DC’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl on “dissent” in the hierarchy, saying, “Cardinal Wuerl’s response to Burke (and dissenters).”

The priest has also had a confrontational relationship with the pro-life movement for years.

In 1996, Fr. Rosica called the police on pro-life advocates who were leafletting in protest at a lecture by famous dissident Gregory Baum at the University of Toronto’s Newman Centre.

In 2009, Fr. Rosica wrote against objections to the lavish Catholic funeral for US Senator Ted Kennedy’s in Boston. He excoriated the pro-life movement for what he called their lack of “civility.”

“Civility, charity, mercy and politeness seem to have dropped out of the pro-life lexicon,” Fr. Rosica wrote. “To recognize and bring out the sin in others means also recognizing one’s self as a sinner and in need of God’s boundless mercy.

“Let us pray that we will become more and more a people, a church and a community overflowing with mercy.”

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Greg Rohrbough, J.D.

Duck Commander Phil Robertson’s CPAC speech was viral in so many ways

Greg Rohrbough, J.D.
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Last week, the winner of the 2015 Citizens United/CPAC Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award was “Duck Commander” Phil Robertson, paterfamilias of the Duck Dynasty Robertson family. In doing so, they were giving Phil the CPAC stage for a speech, knowing that he would speak his unvarnished thoughts. One doubts they expected his topic.

After bringing out his heavily-duct-taped Bible and telling politicians to keep theirs with them, Phil went on the offensive – against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). He quoted the federal Centers for Disease Control, which estimates that more than 100 million Americans now have a sexually transmitted infection.

“I don’t want you to become ill. I don’t want you to come down with a debilitating disease. I don’t want you to die early,” Robertson said.

Phil’s solution? One older than Christianity, as old as common sense itself. “If you’re disease-free, if she’s disease-free, you marry. You keep your sex right there. You won’t get sick from a sexually-transmitted disease!”

Logic and mathematics would seem to agree. According to Robertson, his goal was to show love to the listeners. But several left-wing websites didn’t see it that way.

“He certainly used his speech to hate very well. I guess that's the criteria. Who can say the sickest, most vile things about center-left Americans wins!” according to John Amato of Crooks & Liars.

The Huffington Post took offense at his attributing the rise in STDs to the beatniks and hippies.

To their credit, MSNBC acknowledged Phil’s numbers, saying, “For the record, Robertson’s [sic] has his numbers correct. A CDC report from February of 2013 estimated more than 110 [million] cases of sexually transmitted infections in America with about 20 billion [sic, MSNBC’s number] new infections each year at a cost of ‘nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs.’”

The network site then blasted him for comparing ISIS to the Nazis, Communists, and Imperial Japanese.

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Robertson clearly didn’t care what MSNBC thought, though. “You want a Godly, Biblical, medically safe option? One man, one woman, married, for life,” he said.

“What do you call the 110 million people who have sexually transmitted illnesses?” he continued. “It’s the revenge of the hippies! Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll have come back to haunt us in a bad way!”

But the big question is – is Phil right or wrong? According to the CDC’s website, “Almost every sexually active person will acquire HPV [Human Papillomavirus] at some point in their lives.”

“Sexually active” would seem to indicate activity with new or multiple partners, rather than this Duck Doctor Phil’s Prescription.

But still – “Almost every…person.” That’s quite a few – the website also says, “about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year.” While it is the most prevalent venereal disease, HPV is only one of many.

Generally, HPV’s symptoms are more a painful nuisance than life-threatening – genital warts, often only appearing years after the initial infection. But there are also life-threatening illnesses such as cervical cancer, which HPV causes.

Much more frightening, however, is the specter of HIV/AIDS. According to the CDC, there are about 1.2 million people currently living with HIV, and as many as 50,000 new cases a year, with 63 to 66 percent of those being “MSM,” or “Men who have Sex with Men.” Sadly, the lion’s share of new HIV infections is found in the 13-24 age group; despite being 16 percent of the nation’s population, they account for 26 percent of all new infections, with 72 percent of those being young MSM. While HIV is treatable, there is still no cure.

Although HIV, as well as the current increase in syphilis and hepatitis, are primarily targeting homosexual males, heterosexuals with multiple partners are by no means off the hook. As well as HPV, herpes, drug-resistant gonorrhea and chlamydia are on the rise, as well. The year 2013 saw 1.4 million cases of chlamydia and 820,000 new cases of gonorrhea, and the CDC estimates that one person in every six in the U.S. between the ages of 14 and 49 has herpes.

Criticize Phil all you like, folks – he doesn’t mind. He’s only saying this because he cares.

Listen to him again: “I don’t want you to become ill. I don’t want you to come down with a debilitating disease. I don’t want you to die early.”

“And if you hate me because I told you that,” he said, “I told you, my love for you is not contingent on how you feel about me. I love you anyway. I don’t want you to see you die early or get sick. I’m trying to help you, for cryin’ out loud! America, if I didn’t care about you, why would I bring this up?”

From this CPAC attendee’s perspective, Phil’s speech was not only important from a physical health perspective, it also, along with that duct-taped Bible of his, reminds us of the words of Charles Spurgeon: “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

Greg Rohrbough, J.D., has been director of government relations for the Meredith Advocacy Group since 2006.

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Steve Weatherbe

Former abortionist who failed to kill unborn baby hit with $1 million lawsuit: baby was born with hole in heart

Steve Weatherbe
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OTTAWA, March 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Ontario mother of a baby born by mistake is suing the former doctor who botched her abortion for $1 million for his “gross negligence” and “medical malpractice.”

Tania Brown already had four children when she went to Dr. Michel Prevost in Almonte, Ontario in early 2011 for a medical (or pharmaceutical) abortion to prevent a fifth, which her doctor had advised might have birth defects. Several months later she suspected Prevost’s one-two punch of methotrexate (a poison to kill the baby) and misoprostol (to expel the corpse a week later) had not worked. An ultrasound confirmed a beating heart.

Too late for an abortion now, she gave birth, in May, to a baby with “a smaller brain; he had a hole in his heart; he had something wrong with his palate.” She gave him up for adoption.

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Dr. Prevost relinquished his medical licence earlier this month with the certainty that if he didn’t, the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons would expel him after an investigation found him “incompetent in his practice of obstetrics and gynecology.”  They looked into 28 abortion cases, two so badly “botched” that the babies survived.

Small wonder the whole business sent Brown into a “debilitating depression,” but her lawyer Ralph Lee told the CBC the case “brings up larger issues…the issue of a woman’s access to abortion.”

Basically, Prevost couldn’t get the dosages right. Methotrexate, MedicineNet.com warns, “has infrequently caused serious (sometimes fatal) side effects.” These include severe azotemia (too much blood urea nitrogen), severe blood infection, stomach and intestinal bleeding, and perforation.

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