Monday, June 30, 2014

American Businesses Can Opt Out of Obamacare's Contraceptive Mandate

Thanks be to God.  A narrow, very narrow victory for freedom:

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5-4: Americans Don’t Surrender Their Freedom When They Open a Family Business

The 5-4 opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, says the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of
But President Obama's Health and Human Services Department, in issuing the contraceptive mandate would have required the families who own Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel to "engage in conduct that seriously violates their sincere religious belief that life begins at conception.
"If they and their companies refuse to provide contraceptive coverage, they face severe economic consequences: about $475 million per year for Hobby Lobby, $33 million per year for Conestoga, and $15 million per year for Mardel. And if they drop coverage altogether, they could face penalties of roughly $26 million for Hobby Lobby,
$1.8 million for Conestoga, and $800,000 for Mardel," the opinion says.
The government failed to show that "it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion."
In a concurring opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the government could choose to pay for contraception coverage itself, if it is so determined for women to have such coverage.
The conservative Family Research Council (FRC) called the ruling "one of the most significant victories for religious freedom in our generation."
The government "went too far by mandating that family businesses owners must violate their consciences under threat of crippling fines," said FRC President Tony Perkins in a statement.
"All Americans can be thankful that the Court reaffirmed that freedom of conscience is a long-held American tradition and that the government cannot impose a law on American men and women that forces them to violate their beliefs in order to hold a job, own a business, or purchase health insurance.
"The unfair HHS mandate gave family businesses two non-choices: either violate your deeply held moral beliefs and comply by paying for drugs and services to which you object, or pay crippling fines of up to $100 per day, per employee, for non-compliance. This mandate threatened the jobs, livelihood and healthcare of millions of Americans and forced those who stood up for their conscience, like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, to either comply or be punished.
Sen. David Vitter was among the many Americans hailing the U.S. Supreme Court for reaffirming "the most basic principle upon which our country was founded -- the free exercise of religion."
“This is truly a great day in America," said the Louisiana Republican on Monday, moments after the Supreme Court issued its 5-4 ruling, saying that closely held for-profit companies -- those controlled by a small number of individuals -- do not have to provide contraceptives, sterilization or abortifacients to their employees as required by the Obama administration.
"Obamacare's contraceptive mandate was always unconstitutional, and I'm glad the Supreme Court defended this most fundamental freedom today," said Vitter, who -- along with three other Republican senators -- filed a friend-of-the-court brief challenging the mandate.Perkins expressed the hope that the lower courts will follow the Supreme Court's lead and protect non-profits from the contraception mandate.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the ruling "another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives." Boehner said the Democrats' health care law "remains an unworkable mess and a drag on our economy," and he once again called for its repeal.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Obamacare "the single worst piece of legislation to pass in the last 50 years," and he said he was glad to see the Supreme Court rule that the regulation requiring free birth control violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pope Says: Church is essential for faith; there are no 'free agents'

Some prominent highlights of his address:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians are not made in a laboratory, but in a community called the church, Pope Francis said.

At his weekly general audience June 25, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the church, telling an estimated 33,000 people that there is no such thing as "do-it-yourself" Christians or "free agents" when it comes to faith.

In the Old Testament, the pope said, God called Abraham and began to form a people that would become a blessing for the world. "With great patience -- and God has a lot of it -- he prepared the people of the ancient covenant and in Jesus Christ constituted them as a sign and instrument of the union of humanity with God and unity with one another."

Pope Francis described as "dangerous" the temptation to believe that one can have "a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the church."

Remember: being Christian means belonging to the church. If your first name is Christian, your last name is Member of the Church." (The pope moved the needle on the funny meter with this one)

At the end of his talk, the pope asked people to join him in praying that they would never "give into the temptation of thinking you can do without others, without the church, that you can save yourself, of thinking you can be a laboratory Christian."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Modern Catholic Church Design Dismantling Its Own Religion

Modern Catholic parish councils are designing, approving, funding, and constructing brand new multimillion dollar conference halls for use as temples of worship.  These structures are neither inspiring to the already dwindling masses of Churchgoers nor do they serve as landmarks where Churchgoers can bring potential converts and bring them to the share in our full Catholic heritage and authentic Catholic identity with Christian pride.  Modern parish councils and planners are somehow rationalizing the building of multimillion dollar conference halls even while Catholic Church attendance is in a rapid downspiral with no end in sight.  But what is even more shameful is the waste of our donation dollars to rationalize funding an unnecessary structure that replaces a slightly older, but already perfectly well designed, authentically Catholic, spiritually inspiring, and glorious temple fit for the worship of God, that not only does God the honor, but serves as a rock solid testament to our Faith.  The same people are simultaneously dismantling already constructed beautiful architectural masterpieces to replace them with expensive modern, secular designs that resemble conference halls or banks.  Case in point, the modern idea of Form Follows Function discussed in Randall Smith's article:

The principles of "form follows function" and "functionalism" were, of course, two of the most basic principles of modernist architecture. 

. . . modernist churches tend not to be "functional" in terms of the practical requirements of the liturgy 

. . . Indeed, one of the most characteristic features of modernist architecture is that it obliterated the differences among building "types." Whereas we used to recognize a building from what it "looked like," and we gave it a name because of its form — we called a certain building a "church" because it had the recognizable form of a church, another a "bank" because it had the form of a bank — now if we take the "bank" sign off the bank and put the "church" sign on it, then it becomes a church. In fact, often, if not for the sign, it would be hard to tell the difference.

He then adds:

Far from looking back on the past with scorn and disdain as something passé ("architecture," insisted Le Corbusier, "is stifled by custom"11), medieval and Renaissance architects looked upon the tradition of which they were a part with a sense of both pride and humility as something to be emulated and imitated.

. . . Indeed, the modernists, rather than seeing themselves as part of a tradition, sought to throw off all those "chains" of the past and create architecture anew — from the ground up — much as Descartes had attempted to re-create philosophy by methodically doubting everything that had come before him. 

With modernist "functionalism," however, we are often left with church buildings that make few, if any, references to the iconic heritage or architectural traditions of the Catholic Church. How exactly, then, are the common, working people of the parish supposed to recognize and understand their own building when it is not speaking their own language of form?

And for those elite few who do understand the "meaning" of the building, what can they say to the pious, hardworking churchgoers whose tithes have gone to pay for the building? That it was the goal of modernists to sweep away all the traditions of the past in order to make way for an architecture that would not only "represent," but in fact help to create, the new industrial, technological man of the future? 
How would the non-elite, working-class Catholics for whom most of these churches are built reconcile all this — the elitism, the rejection of tradition and authority, the revision of values — with their faith in a Church based on centuries of tradition and authority? Was the new "technological man" of the modernist architects the sort of human person their Church was trying to inspire them to become? How, in other words, do you function in a building where the philosophy of the designers involves rejecting everything you hold dear?

and he ends with:

What is clear, moreover, is that forcing modernist principles of building design upon unwilling church congregations and passing them off as if they were principles of the Council simply must stop.

And stop it must.  A study by the Institute of Sacred Architecture concluded the following:

the modern design parish's primary emphasis on user-friendly design and communality may have facilitated relationships among church members, but not to a greater extent than the traditional catholic church design.  Moreover, it appears that the modern design did not facilitate a personal or communal relationship with God and the mystical body of the church as much as the design of the traditional church.  The modern church's diffuse placement of sacramental design features throughout the church might encourage congregants to focus on other parishioners and not as much on the character of divine sacrifice and otherworldliness found in the Eucharistic celebration.  Overall, this study seems to indicate that traditional churches designed to house God may well foster communion with God and, in turn, other congregants. 

If future empirical research studies indicate similar findings, then leaders within the Roman Catholic Church could benefit from a reassessment of what they ultimately intend their churches to communicate and what kinds of designs may strengthen or weaken parishioners’ religious place attachment towards their church.  Seemingly harmless alterations like the placement of a tabernacle or removal of iconography to limit “distractions” could influence congregants’ perceptions of the Eucharist, and, therefore, the foundation of Catholic ideology and identity. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dinesh D'Souza on Obama's Pledge of "Fundamentally Transforming America"

"President  has ideology that sees America as the bad guys"

Watch video HERE.

Obama: "We are five days away from 'fundamentally transforming' the United States of America."

Those words are ominously being implemented as we see the systematic dismantling of our nation before our eyes.  A "change" from the noble standard of our nation's ideals held by our forefathers and described in the book written by Tom Brokaw as The Greatest Generation, to something so perverse and obscene that we cannot even ascribe words for it.  Obama's Generation is defined by gay marriage, marijuana, a collapsing economy, an idolization of the environment, aggrandizing abortion, the destruction of the family, and a disdain for our core values of freedom, God, and country.

The Greatest Generation is defined in its hardcover as:

"This generation was united not only by a common purpose, but also by common values--duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Catholicism and its Architecture: A Testament of Her Faith

A good article was written by Wayne Laugesen of the National Catholic Register who noted the importance in faith formation when constructing churches.  The following excerpt captures the struggles we face in expressing our Faith thanks to deconstructionist modernist liberal "Catholics".

modern architecture short-sells human beauty and Catholic imagery to indulge the imaginations of self-aggrandizing architects . . . Some feature nondescript altars, stained-glass nature scenes and rounded pews that focus Catholics on one another instead of the altar and the Eucharist.

Catholic modernists dismiss the notion that in Catholicism it has always been a goal to teach the Faith in every way we can express it, including our architecture.  Using not only our architecture, but also our music, our paintings, our sculptures, our dress, our words, our actions, and everything that we have at our disposal to evangelize the world has been a laudable act of charity in telling the world: THIS is our expression of Faith, come join us!

Read the rest of the article HERE.