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2 Men Shot Dead After Opening Fire Outside Muhammad Art Exhibit In Garland, Texas

by Adam Goldberg via HuffingtonPost.com

Two men have been shot dead after opening fire outside of an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in Garland, Texas, according to reports from WFAA andNBC 5 in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The two men fired towards the Curtis Culwell Center and hit security guard Bruce Joiner, who was shot in the lower leg and suffered non-life threatening injuries, per WFAA. NBC 5 reports that Joiner has already been released after being taken to a local hospital.

The Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest was organized by Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Islamic organization that is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The local CBS affiliate also notes the two suspects were shot dead.

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NBC 5 has more details on the Muhammad Art Exhibit:

The Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The group claims the event is an effort to stand up against violent intimidation.

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The exhibit, according to CBS DFW, was organized by Geller in response to a Muslim event held earlier this year at the same venue which was meant to combat Islamophobia. A representative of the local Council of American Islamic Relations chapter spoke to the CBS affiliate in February about Geller’s event:

Alia Salem of the DFW Chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations says supports free speech. “We should have free speech, and nobody’s stopping her from doing this, go ahead, maybe there’ll be some Muslims entering this, who knows.”

But Salem says she hopes the Muslim Community will ignore this event. “While it is her right, it’s not really in good taste to be honest because it’s just a shameless attempt to get a reaction out of the Muslim Community, that’s how we view it. It’s not any attempt to promote free speech.”

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) praised the police response to the shooting:

“Texas officials are actively investigating to determine the cause and scope of the senseless attack in Garland, Texas,” Abbott stated. “This is a crime that was quickly ended thanks to the swift action by Garland law enforcement. Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those affected tonight.”

MORE FROM THE AP:

GARLAND, Texas (AP) — Two gunmen were killed Sunday in Texas after opening fire on a security officer outside a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad, and a bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle as a precaution, authorities said.

The men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in the Dallas suburb of Garland as the event was scheduled to end and began shooting at the security officer, the City of Garland said in a statement. Garland police officers returned fire, killing the men.

Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was connected to the event inside, a contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

But he said at a late Sunday news conference that authorities were searching the gunmen’s vehicle for explosives, saying, “Because of the situation of what was going on today and the history of what we’ve been told has happened at other events like this, we are considering their car (is) possibly containing a bomb.”

Drawings such at the ones featured at the Texas event are deemed insulting to many followers of Islam and have sparked violence around the world. According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad — even a respectful one — is considered blasphemous.

The Curtis Culwell Center, a school-district owned public events space where the Texas event was held, was evacuated after the shooting, as were some surrounding businesses. The evacuation was lifted several hours later and police were not aware of any ongoing threat, but a large area around the center remained blocked off late into the night.

Police helicopters circled overhead as bomb squads worked on the car. Harn said the bodies of the gunmen, who had not yet been identified, were not immediately taken from the scene because they were too close to the car. He said they would be removed once the car was cleared.

The wounded security officer, who was unarmed, worked for the Garland Independent School District, Harn said. He was treated and released from a local hospital.

Harn said the district hires security for events at its facilities, but noted additional security also was in place for Sunday’s event. The sponsoring group has said it paid $10,000 for off-duty police officers and other private security.

Harn said the city had not received any credible threats before the shooting.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said state officials are investigating, and Dallas FBI spokeswoman Katherine Chaumont said that agency is providing investigative and bomb technician assistance.

The event featured speeches by American Freedom Defense Initiative president Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker known for his outspoken criticism of Islam. Wilders received several standing ovations from the crowd and left immediately after his speech.

Wilders, who has advocated closing Dutch doors to migrants from the Islamic world for a decade, has lived under round-the-clock police protection since 2004.

After the shooting, authorities escorted about 75 contest attendees to another room in the conference center, where a woman held up an American flag, and the crowd sang “God Bless America.”

The group was then taken to a separate location, where they were held for about two hours until being briefly questioned by FBI agents before being released.

Johnny Roby of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who was attending the contest, told the Associated Press he was outside the building when he heard around about 20 shots that appeared to be coming from the direction of a passing car.

Roby said he then heard two single shots. He said he heard officers yell that they had the car before he was sent inside the building.

Geller told the AP before Sunday’s event that she planned the contest to make a stand for free speech in response to outcries and violence over drawings of Muhammad. She said in a statement issued Sunday night that the shooting showed how “needed our event really was.”

In January, 12 people were killed by gunmen in an attack against the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had lampooned Islam and other religions and used depictions of Muhammad. Another deadly shooting occurred the following month at a free speech event in Copenhagen featuring an artist who had caricatured the prophet.

Tens of thousands of people rallied around the world to honor the victims and defend the freedom of expression following those shootings.

Geller’s group is known for mounting a campaign against the building of an Islamic center blocks from the World Trade Center site and for buying advertising space in cities across the U.S. criticizing Islam.

When a Chicago-based nonprofit held a January fundraiser in Garland designed to help Muslims combat negative depictions of their faith, Geller spearheaded about 1,000 picketers at the event. One chanted: “Go back to your own countries! We don’t want you here!” Others held signs with messages such as, “Insult those who behead others,” an apparent reference to recent beheadings by the militant group Islamic State.

Kresta in the Afternoon – May 4, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on May 4, 2015

 

4:00 – Kresta Comments: Transgendered Renée Richards and Regrets: A Cautionary Tale  

 

4:20 – Why the New Evangelization Needs a Focus on Fathers

So many problems in our society can be traced back to the lack of a solid father figure. Countless studies have shown that kids who grow up without a positive relationship with their dads are much more likely to drop out of school, be arrested, use drugs and experience other problems. Despite their importance, fathers are regularly mocked in our popular culture and advertisements. Steve Wood of Family Life Center International joins us to talk about the critical role of fathers in the New Evangelization.

 

5:00 – Kresta Comments: Does the Pope think Nature has Rights?

 

5:20 – When the Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers

How much do we really know about the early days of the Church? How do we know truths such as the concept of the Trinity if they don’t explicitly appear in Scripture? The answers lie in the lives of the early Church fathers. Marcellino d’Ambrosio joins us.

Workers of the World, Unite!

by Dr. Tom Neal via WordonFire.org

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Today’s Feast of St. Joseph the Worker was instituted in 1955 by Pope Pius XII as a Catholic liturgical response to the Communist version of the May Day celebration. But, celebrating work seems a bit oxymoronic, doesn’t it?  Didn’t work start after the Fall of Adam and Eve?

St. John Paul II, the Pope who emerged from within the Communist world, in his powerful encyclical, Laborem Exercens, argues that human labor is not in itself a punishment for sin, but rather our participation in God’s creating, governing and redeeming “labor.” This is why St. Paul calls us synergoi Theou, God’s co-workers (1 Cor. 3:9). In our work we are invited to participate in God’s labor that, in the beginning, brought the universe into existence; that sustains and orders the cosmos at every moment; and redeems us fallen creatures from the corruption of sin and death.

Work is not merely a means of achieving wealth and capital, but rather is good in itself when carried out in concert with the moral law in service to the authentic and common good of humanity, along with the due reverence required of us as stewards of the world’s limited natural resources.

In addition, work is a school of virtue that allows us to perfect our gifts to the glory of God and for the good of our neighbor. In this sense what is most important in my work is not what I produce and achieve, but who I become as I work and toil and make a living by the sweat of my brow. Here I recall Mother Teresa’s oft quoted words: “God calls us not to success, but only to faithfulness.” Success is outside of us, but “faithful” is who we are.

The effect of sin on work, as St. John Paul notes, is to make work into toil and drudgery.  Sin has dis-integrated our moral character, alienating us from work’s genuine goods and ends. Those alienations are many and varied. I think, for example, about the temptation to become enslaved to work, as the Hebrews were in Egypt. As slaves we can unjustly compromise and fail to attend to the goods of leisure, like worship, friendship, marriage or family life. Or I think of the temptation to complain endlessly about the hardships of work, and to miss the immensely valuable grace planted in the heart of our struggles and hardships. It’s only struggle that grows virtue and permits us to collaborate intimately in Jesus’ hard redemptive work.

In regard to this last point, it’s interesting to note that the vice of sloth is not simply to be equated with inactivity (which can sometimes be very good and necessary!). Rather, sloth is identified with avoidance of the difficult, arduous, tedious, laborious goods that our vocations so often demand of us. The slothful seek the path of least resistance, and so forsake both the small and great heroisms daily life can afford us. The best way to overthrow sloth, I’ve found, is simply to identify those things I like to do the least and then do them first, best, and most often. Such a first resolution, mixed up with divine grace, can do wonders in dismantling our pleasure-seeking ego’s tyranny over seed of divine charity that struggles to grow within our hearts.

Let me end with a final word on a subject dear to my heart, the lay vocation. The call of the lay faithful — those who have been baptized into Christ — is above all else to be fully engaged in the secular world, animating it with the spirit of the Gospel as salt, light, and leaven. Today, on this feast, I would add that it is principally by their labor in marriage and family life, in culture and in politics, in business and economics — in all the various arenas of human work — that the laity discover their way of perfection; their path to holiness; their journey to union with God laboring in Christ. Let me leave you with my favorite quote from the Second Vatican Council:

“For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them.

For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne—all these become “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.

Together with the offering of the Lord’s body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.”

So let’s celebrate today the gift of labor, and the saving power Jesus’ cross has infused into your thankless, tedious, and sweaty toil.

Remembering Number 84

by George Weigel via FirstThings.com

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He scored forty times in an eight-year NFL career, best known, now, for the touchdown he didn’t score, as the sun set over Yankee Stadium on Dec. 28, 1958. His wife of fifty-nine years, Joan, said that Jim Mutscheller, who died on April 10, wanted to be known as a man “who had led a good life,” for he was “quiet, humble, and so conservative that he’d eat crabs with a suit and tie on.”

And therein lies a tale—and a yardstick by which to measure pro sports then and now.

Born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania (as was Joe Namath, about as different a character as you can imagine), Mutscheller’s father was known locally as the “best bricklayer in Beaver County.” The son graduated from Notre Dame, having played offensive and defensive end on the 1949 national championship team in the days of single platoon football. He then spent a couple of years in the Marine Corps—including a stint in Korea that convinced Mutscheller, whose look “would bore a hole in a vault” (as one sportswriter put it), that getting knocked around on the football field wasn’t so bad a deal after all.

He was a tight end in the days when you could be six feet tall, weigh 190, and play that position, what with no 350-pound behemoths on the other side of the line. But he was also reasonably fleet afoot, he could block, he had those great hands, and there was . . . that look. All of which helped bring him and the Baltimore Colts to the Bronx on a bleak December afternoon in 1958, for what’s now known as The Greatest Game Ever Played. It wasn’t, in fact, all that great a game. But it had a lot of drama; it ended with the first (and thus far only) sudden-death overtime win in the history of NFL championships; and Jim Mutscheller was in the pivot of the action.

With strong men ready to collapse from exhaustion after four and a half quarters of play, the Colts, having driven to the Giants’ six-yard line, were poised for the game-winning touchdown. The immortal John Unitas brought the Colts out of the huddle, having called a running play for “The Horse,” Alan Ameche (who looked more like a tenor in a Verdi opera than a Heisman Trophy-winning fullback). Unitas, however, noticed, a chink in the Giants’ pass defense and checked off at the line of scrimmage, calling for Mutscheller to run an out pattern to the near corner of the end zone.

It was intended to be a touchdown pass, and would have been except that Unitas deliberately led Mutscheller a bit more to the outside than usual; Number eighty-four couldn’t get traction on the icy surface, slipping out of bounds at the one-yard line. On the next play, Ameche drove in for the winning score, with Mutscheller throwing a key block that took out Giants’ linebacker Cliff Livingston. Years after the game that changed the way America spends fall Sunday afternoons, Unitas would kid Mutscheller, saying, “Geez, Jim, I tried to make you the hero.” To which Mutscheller replied, “If I’d scored that touchdown, Ameche wouldn’t have been able to sell all those hamburgers.” (Extra credit for anyone who can remember the name of the double-stack burger at “Ameche’s.”)

They’re almost all gone, now, these Catholic sports heroes of my extreme youth: Ameche first, in 1988; Unitas in 2002; Artie Donovan in 2013; now Jim Mutscheller, whom I used to see at daily Mass, head bowed after receiving the Mystery. Only Gino Marchetti is left; and since it was “something inside Gino” that, according to Lenny Moore, held the Colts together, that is right and just. But I’ll think of them all during the parade of oversized young studs, oozing self-esteem and entitlement, who’ll walk across the stage to get their handshake/hug from Commissioner Roger Goodell on NFL draft day. And I’ll remember that, once upon a time, Catholic men from working class families could be sports idols—and role models as well.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Weigel’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver.

New GoFundMe rule makes it easy to kill Christian campaigns

By Valerie Richardson via WashingtonTimes.com

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GoFundMe’s old policy on crowdfunding may not have been enough to justify its decision last weekend to kill campaigns on behalf of a Christian-owned florist and bakery — but its new policy is.

The website quietly expanded its list of banned crowdfunding activities this week shortly after The Washington Times questioned GoFundMe’s reliance on its policy against campaigns in defense of “formal charges of heinous crimes” to pull fundraisers for Arlene’s Flowers and for Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

The new policy, which includes a ban on campaigns in defense of “claims of discriminatory acts,” would appear to make it more difficult to raise money on behalf of businesses facing crippling civil damages awards after refusing to provide services for gay weddings for religious reasons.

Travis Weber, a lawyer and director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, said GoFundMe’s revised policy “could exclude and discriminate against all types of fundraising.”

“Who will determine what a ‘discriminatory act’ is? Will the term be decided according to legal standards? If so, which standards?” Mr. Weber said. “Or will it be subject to the same arbitrary decision-making we’ve seen from GoFundMe so far?”

The previous policy barred “Campaigns in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.” The new policy bans “Campaigns in defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.”

The old policy was in place last weekend when the website removed the bakery and florist crowdfunding campaigns. Lawyers interviewed by The Times had challenged that policy, saying that it should have only applied to fundraising on behalf of those facing criminal charges.

Neither the Kleins, who own Sweet Cakes by Melissa, nor Arlene’s Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman have been charged with criminal offenses. In a series of messages starting Monday, The Times asked GoFundMe about the apparent discrepancy between its policy and its decision to remove the campaigns.

GoFundMe did not respond to The Times’ inquiries, but screenshots of the website’s policy show the wording was overhauled after the Klein and Stutzman pages were removed. A note on the terms and conditions page, which includes the list of prohibited campaigns, says it was updated Wednesday.

A message sent Thursday to GoFundMe asking for comment about the policy change was not immediately returned.

Mr. Weber accused GoFundMe of cobbling together an “ad hoc and hasty improvisation” to provide cover for its decision to remove the crowdfunding pages.

“GoFundMe may want to appear as if it has a neutral policy prohibiting funds from being raised for certain activities,” said Mr. Weber in an email. “But it is apparent that GoFundMe is seeking to slap several words onto their ‘policy’ merely to cover up the reality that they actually dropped the Kleins’ page because they were scared of cranky LGBT activists.”

Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom attorney representing Arlene’s Flowers, said in an interview Tuesday that GoFundMe’s decision to drop the page, even though Ms. Stutzman has not been charged with a crime, raises questions as to whether GoFundMe is discriminating on the basis of religion.

“We’re looking at legal options that she might have,” said Ms. Waggoner. “There have been other campaigns on GoFundMe that haven’t been shut down. To me, this may be discrimination based on religion.”

GoFundMe yanked the successful crowdfunding efforts under intense pressure from gay marriage supporters, who had complained to the company and urged others to do so on Facebook pages such as “Boycott Sweet Cakes by Melissa.”

“It’s really quite startling, the approach that GoFundMe has taken, because it’s clear that it’s not enough to have the government just redefine marriage or punish those who disagree, but they’re really trying to ruin every aspect of the lives of those who disagree,” Ms. Waggoner said.

The Klein campaign raised $109,000 in less than eight hours before being shut down Saturday, while Ms. Stutzman’s page had collected more than $174,000 before it was removed shortly thereafter.

GoFundMe has also said in statements that the Kleins and Ms. Stutzman will be able to keep the money raised at the time the campaigns were terminated. An Oregon administrative judge proposed Friday a $135,000 damages award against the Kleins.

After removing the Sweet Cakes by Melissa campaign, GoFundMe issued a statement explaining its decision and pointing to its list of campaigns “Not Allowed on GoFundMe,” which appears on its terms and conditions page.

The heading “Not Allowed on GoFundMe” has been changed to “What’s Not Allowed.” On that list of 35 banned activities, the only one that refers to “formal changes” is the prohibition on crowdfunding in defense of “heinous crimes” that was expanded this week to include “claims.”

The company has also broadened the disclaimer at the top of the page, which now says, “GoFundMe relies on its terms as a guideline in the decision-making process to arrive at its long-standing right to remove any campaign at any time for any reason. GoFundMe will continue to reserve the right to amend its terms as it deems necessary to support the wide and varied use-cases it encounters on its growing platform.”

5 Reasons I’m Glad My Parents Were Strict

 by Joy Pullmann via TheFederalist.com

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Buzzfeed is calling for all the kids who had strict, conservative, fundamendalist parents to grouse about how horrible it was to grow up guided by two strong pairs of hands. I guess they wouldn’t know it from, you know, observing other people, but perhaps the only thing worse than having strict parents is having lax parents.

1. Learning Self-Restraint Pays Off Big

Back when I was immature (cough), I had a close friend whose parents let everyone know they believed in “giving kids their space.” I was so jealous that “Nicki’s” parents bought her a car when she turned 16; my parents could have, but they made me buy my own and pay my own insurance and gas, to boot. They also let her run around ordering ketchup packets from fast-food restaurants at 2 a.m. and laughing uproariously at how annoying she was to tired minimum-wage workers. Probably they never knew she did this. It was just one small expression of her utterly unrestrained attitude. This also contributed to her underage and non-underage binge drinking, petty thievery of yard signs, and later dive into drugs, from which so far she has not recovered. It’s been almost a decade.

One of the major functions of parents is to restrain and direct their inherently rambunctious and barbaric offspring, gradually letting off external controls as these offspring develop internal controls. The parent who stops his kid from running around under the clothing racks at Target turns out a child who respects social boundaries. In that respect, this parent performs two public services: One short-term, where the child is not running into Target shoppers and being a tiny nuisance, and the other long-term, where that child grows up and doesn’t play his stereo so loud neighbors have to hear it booming inside their child’s bedroom every night as they’re trying to put the baby to sleep.

Kids who learn self control at an early age earn more money, achieve more in school, and have more satisfying marriages. These sorts of behaviors have all sorts of positive benefits not just for the individual, but for society. And they are largely a result of parenting.

2. Life Has Tradeoffs

Nicki could watch any movies and listen to any music she wanted. We were limited to classical and contemporary Christian music (the latter of which I now can’t stand because the content and musical quality are so terrible). It felt like a huge act of rebellion for my brother to turn the radio to the “latest hits” station when we were out shlepping around in our cars in high school. This largely accounts for my horrible lack of pop culture knowledge.

But I consider it a worthy trade to not know about Snoop Dogg (or whoever—celebs are largely interchangeable) while having used that time to learn to play piano classically and by ear at a moderately high level. For most kids, the knowledge ratio is reversed. Does anyone really believe that the type of person who knows more about Snoop Dogg than Beethoven has the rich life we all aspire for our children to have? Does anyone really think a child’s life is more enriched by having spent it checking out porn or playing “Call of Duty” until his eyes bled?

I especially consider my restricted upbringing a worthy trade because it meant I’ve never been groped by boys at drunken parties or had to retch out my innards afterward, because I never went to those parties. By the time I was in high school, however, I didn’t avoid such illustrious events because my parents had banned me. I didn’t have a curfew in high school, because my parents trusted me. And I didn’t abuse their trust. If I was going to be home after midnight, I told mom, and she left the door unlocked and went to sleep in peace. Our arrangement protected me and de-stressed my parents while giving me the freedom young adults crave.

In college, I partied just fine when I was too tired to study any more, at the sort of off-campus houses where young men walk a lady home for safety after giving her a drink or two of the best stuff they have in the house, because they care that she enjoys herself with them more than they care about using her body like toilet paper. It’s a real tragedy more young ladies have not had the opportunity to enjoy a party like that. We all know their current party options are more likely to end in date rape than enriched mental, male, and alcohol tastes.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means ‘I Love You’

The message parents who “don’t interfere” send their children is that they just don’t care. They don’t care enough to step in and teach that child how to live. Nicki certainly felt that way. She acted like a vagabond, in part because her parents treated her like one—not through direct physical abuse or neglect, as theirs was a warm, well-curated, middle-class home, but through boundary neglect. They attended to her physical needs but neglected her spiritual needs.

As I noted earlier, children are born barbarians. Just have one. You’ll find that out within the first 24 hours. They can’t even eat properly. You have to teach them. And sometimes teaching even a baby means telling him “no.” No, you can’t bite mommy, because that injures her, which means no milk for you. No, you can’t wake mommy up eight times a night just to cuddle, because that makes her a raging bitch in the morning, which is also bad for you.

It’s actually hard to think of anything more cruel for a child who enjoys an otherwise comfortable home than parents who refuse to tell him “no,” because it’s an utter abdication of their responsibility for his character. Children who do not control themselves are miserable, and they inflict that misery on everyone around them. Children who know the rules are happier because they do not have to live in emotional chaos.

4. Strict Parenting Reduced My Propensity for Addictions

My parents were sugar police. Candy was for holidays and grandma’s house. And they were screen police. We were lucky to watch two whole kids’ movies per week, and subject to serious limits on computer time once we finally got one.

When  I miraculously find a spare half hour for leisure and turn away from my Kindle towards something more productive or fulfilling, I thank my parents for setting my default programming to real life rather than virtual life. When I enjoy one little piece of cake but am quite satisfied to stop there, I thank my parents for setting my tastebuds to a wider range than the corn-syrup section. I never really developed a taste for or habit of gobbling sweets or escaping life through screens, thanks to my parents. So I actually have hobbies like gardening and crocheting and reading; I have a trim and healthy body. I feel like a multidimensional, capable person. What gifts!

5. I Enjoy Life More

When you watch just one movie per week, those weekends you get to binge watch Saturday morning cartoons at grandma’s are the bomb. It’s like having Lent before Easter: Saying no to sugar for 40 days makes Easter candy and cakes and pies super-delicious. Plus, then you get the joy of anticipation. Good things really are better when you wait for them. Just as pornography ruins people’s ability to enjoy or even respond to sex, gorging yourself on otherwise good things has diminishing returns.

In short, my upbringing meant I never lost out on anything worth having. In fact, my strict parents expanded my self-reliance and self-control, and allowed me to blossom slowly, without feeling wrenched from the bud. Every child deserves to have parents who love their kids enough to tell them, “No.” Those parents are entirely justified in then turning around and snickering when the kids predictably have a hissy fit and self-righteously proclaim, in the attitude of Buzzfeed, “you never let me do anything! You hate me!”

If you’re lucky, mom and dad, they’ll grow out of it. Maybe it will help if you limit their Buzzfeed intake.

Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist and an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute.

Kresta in the Afternoon – May 1, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on May 1, 2015

 

4:00 – Little Boy: A Film on Faith and Family

Little Boy is the story of a young boy who will do whatever it takes to end World War II and bring his father home. The indescribable love between father and son is the basis for a heartwarming tale. We speak with the film’s producer and director, Alejandro Monteverde

 

4:20 – Back to Basics: Forming Intentional Disciples

Consider the following statistics: Only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are still practicing. 10 percent of all American adults are ex-Catholics. Only 60 percent of Catholics believe in a personal God. As we’ve said before, we’re surrounded by Catholics who have been Sacramentalized but not Evangelized. A lot of people see this as a sign of the end, that the Church in the US is on the way out. Sherry Weddell sees it as an opportunity to regrow the Church on a solid foundation of committed, intentional Disciples of Christ. She joins us today.

 

5:00 – Kresta Comments: Charges Filed against Baltimore Police Officers

 

5:20 – Never Enough: One Lawyer’s True Story of how he Gambled his Career Away

Gambling addicts often say it’s the thrill of winning, not the money, that keeps them addicted. We ask Michael Burke if he agrees. Michael was a successful lawyer who spent over $1.6 million of his client’s trust account funds on gambling. He was eventually jailed for his actions. He joins us today to talk about how to identify and help people afflicted with gambling addiction.

In Praise of the Teen Summer Job

by Dave Shiflett via WSJ.com

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Among the signs of my advancing age is bafflement at hearing younger parents talk about what their teenagers are going to do over the summer. Some mention internships with documentary filmmakers. Others say that their offspring will spend the hot months building latrines in distant corners of the developing world. A few speak of expeditions to measure the disappearance of glaciers or a period of reflection at an ashram in Tamil Nadu.

What on Earth is an ashram? And when did teenagers start doing all these exotic things instead of working summer jobs?

I wish them well, of course, and hope that they build the finest latrines ever to grace the Guatemalan countryside. I should also acknowledge that I wish such opportunities had been available to me when I was growing up.

At the same time, there is value in recalling the grit and glory of traditional summer work, which has taught generations of teenagers important lessons about life, labor and even their place in the universe—which turned out to be nowhere as close to the center as we had imagined.

Most of these jobs were anything but glamorous. Newspaper delivery, for example, was the first rung on many an economic ladder. The paperboy (or girl) had to rise early, pull heavily laden wagons up and down dark streets, and later go door-to-door collecting money from customers. It was amazing how gruff some could be, especially if you had innocently thrown a morning post or two through a window.

Construction work was another staple of the summer circuit, and it taught the glories of digging holes, hauling bricks and watching a house or building slowly fill a hole in the landscape. These jobs also introduced many of us to the phenomenon known as workplace danger. Countless youngsters picked up their first work scars on a construction site.

So let’s leave behind, momentarily, the allure of ashrams, glaciers and humanitarian latrine work and travel back to the early 1970s. The British band Mungo Jerry had a hit with “In the Summertime,” which sang the praises of fishing, swimming and dining with the girl of your dreams: “If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal / If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel.” My girlfriend was a doctor’s daughter, so I needed to make as much money as possible. Which led me to a gray cinder-block opportunity zone called Pitzer Transfer and Storage.

Pitzer was a combination warehouse and furniture-moving company located near the then-festering Roanoke River in Roanoke, Va. This sprawling edifice (long ago razed) incubated few if any plutocrats, but it was an excellent showcase of Darwinian endurance. Among the more memorable tasks was the unloading of 100-pound bags of salt and sugar from railroad boxcars. In the summer, the boxcars became ovens—an effect enhanced by the forklifts that darted in and out to remove the loaded pallets. Some ran on natural gas, but others belched deep blue smoke reminiscent of fighter planes that had taken a stream of tracer bullets through the gas tank.

All of which worked wonders for a youngster’s self-esteem. Not only were we lifting and stacking bags fairly close to our body weight (I tipped the scales at around 135), but we were inhaling and exhaling the near equivalent of a forest fire and remaining upright. We often celebrated by using our 10-minute breaks to smoke a cigarette. If the surgeon general had happened by, he might have stroked out.

Another valuable part of the experience for a middle-class white kid was getting to know people from different backgrounds. Several co-workers were black; all were blue-collar. A few constantly radiated bourbon fumes, while one somewhat odd fellow seemed to be addicted to boiled eggs. This was our first close encounter with the melting pot—our version, perhaps, of joining the military, which had introduced wartime generations to the demographic rainbow of America. The older workers didn’t take us young bucks very seriously, but if we paid attention, we could learn a few things from them, including something about the dignity of common labor.

While prospects for job advancement were slim to none, many of the full-timers (lifers, as we called them) took pride in a job well done. And while you didn’t run into many prima donnas in that warehouse, there were world-class good people whose enthusiasm for life was as great as any king’s. I will never forget the day our foreman’s grandson graduated from high school—a first for his family, as memory serves. You would have thought the lad had found the cure for cancer and the common cold too. The foreman’s name was Percy. I assume he’s dead by now.

Perhaps he amuses himself, in some celestial bower, with recollections of how terribly his summer boys sometimes did their jobs—especially when we were allowed (for unknown reasons) to operate the forklifts. Among my most vivid memories is sending a set of forks through the picture tube of a large console television, which produced a magnificent explosion. Oil drums, foodstuffs—all were lanced, often fatally. I shudder to think what I could have accomplished if texting while driving had been possible back then.

Inanimate objects weren’t the only entities to suffer. Humans also took their licks. One day, while moving furniture, we rolled an upright piano over a co-worker, a seasoned professional who immediately sprang up and kept working. This was impressive, and no doubt reflected a desire not to be fired, which in those days seemed to be a common response to injury. The injured were not victims. They were liabilities.

I personally experienced this phenomenon after I had an unpleasant encounter with an arc welder. It all happened very quickly. An older guy (probably not my boss, but we respected our elders back then, which turns out not to be a uniformly wise policy) told me to weld together a broken hatch of some kind. I had absolutely no experience but went at it with youthful exuberance. Later that evening, I became aware of a sensation resembling having sand poured into my eyes, which I treated with cucumber slices. “Flash burns,” the boss noted when I returned a few days later, just before giving me the boot. I should add, on his behalf, he didn’t follow that with, “And good riddance!”

But what’s a little eye-roasting compared with being crushed by a tractor? That teaching moment occurred the summer before my senior year, on my second day of a brand-new farm job. The boss, who seemed to believe that city-raised teenagers instinctively knew how to handle farm equipment, sent us up to a plateau to discard some rain-ruined hay. On the way back down the hill, we lost control of the tractor. In the resulting crash (which I have no recollection of), both lungs were punctured by my ribs and began taking on blood. One filled completely. The other was edging that way when I arrived at the hospital. Some of the emergency-room team thought I was a goner.

But one doctor (my girlfriend’s father) saw a dim spark of life and helped revive me, which (after I regained consciousness) taught me once again the value of perseverance. There were other lessons as well. I carried from the incident a memory of looking down and watching the revival process. Perhaps a delusion, but perhaps one of those “near-death” experiences that have launched many a literary career and a cult or two.

Disaster, of course, is a very good teacher, so long as you survive the course. No one values their own heartbeat more than the person who has nearly had his slip away. Besides that, a close brush with death teaches you to be a bit more careful. There was another lesson as well: The doctor’s daughter dumped me, a reminder of the fleeting nature of love.

Those were far different days. We didn’t consider suing the farm owner, while today the first response might be to phone a lawyer before summoning the ambulance. Indeed, if I had hooked up with the right counselor during those early working years, I might today be living in the Taj Mahal. And while I wouldn’t trade these experiences for a year in an ashram with Elizabeth Taylor (circa 1970, please), I wouldn’t want my grandchildren spending their summers inhaling exhaust fumes.

Sadly, one of the biggest challenges facing today’s teenage worker is finding a job at all. A recent report by J.P. Morgan Chase says that only 46% of young people who applied for summer-employment programs were enrolled in 2014. “In the 14 major U.S. cities surveyed,” a release about the report added, “local officials also project that tens of thousands of economically disadvantaged youths looking for jobs will not be able to find them during the upcoming summer months.”

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor-force participation rate—that is, the proportion of a given population that is working or looking for work—for all youth last July was “17.0 percentage points below the peak rate for that month in 1989.” And the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis says that young workers “between 16 and 24 years of age constitute the demographic group that has experienced one of the most substantial declines in labor force participation”—though part of that change, this study noted, could be due to more youths spending summers on educational pursuits.

May the Force be with them, and may the older generation start doing as good a job supplying them with jobs as saddling them with debt. Meanwhile, today’s teens may find some comfort in knowing that plenty of free advice is floating around about how summer jobs are often the first step on the yellow brick road to success.

As a part-time musician and full-time geezer with delusions of musical grandeur, I am struck by how often this sort of story gets told by big-time performers of my generation. I got in touch with a few musicians who got rich and famous playing songs about White Rabbits and rocking ’n’ rolling all night but who earlier threw papers and cut grass. These days, they sing something of a different tune—one that might have set Dale Carnegie’s toes to tapping.

Gene Simmons, the bass player of the rock band Kiss (also famous for his anaconda-length tongue), was quick to respond to my query about his summer-job experiences. “I have done everything from delivering newspapers, scrubbing the fat off of a butcher’s block in a meat store, and being a secretary for hire,” he reported via email. Those were pre-Internet days, he added, when you had “roll up your sleeves and do it all yourself. You had to go to the newsstand. You had to buy your own newspaper. You had to look in the want ads columns. You had to pick up the phone and make your own appointment.”

But he didn’t have to travel far to find his blueprint for success. “The best life lesson and clarity of the capitalist business model I ever learned was from Junior Achievement,” he adds, referring to the youth-oriented program started in 1919 to teach financial literacy and entrepreneurship to students. “I would recommend young people do the same.”

Jorma Kaukonen, who grew up to play guitar for Jefferson Airplane (and now Hot Tuna), also delivered papers and learned to type his grandfather’s translations of Russian technical documents for the U.S. Department of Commerce, a skill he says still serves him well. The job also allowed him to dip his toe in the great melting pot. “I not only learned how to type,” he said, but “found myself surrounded by Russian émigrés. As a hot-rod-driving American kid, strangely enough, I found myself completely at home with these wonderful people from a different place and time—and also found them to be completely All-American.”

Like most other parents, he passed these values on to his children, including his son, who worked a food-prep job in a restaurant in the fancy Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Georgetown. “He called me when he got his first paycheck,” Mr. Kaukonen recalls. His son said, “I can’t believe how much they took out for taxes and Social Security”—to which Mr. Kaukonen recalls responding, “Welcome to my world!”

Mr. Kaukonen’s Jefferson Airplane bandmate Jack Casady, who also grew up in the D.C. area, remembers being a paper-delivering prodigy. “I started when I was 11 years old,” he said while waiting to play a recent gig in Florida. “On Sundays, I got up at 3 a.m. and delivered 400 papers.” He adds, “I made good money”—some of which he used to start the grass-cutting business that paid for his first musical instruments, including an amplifier kit he put together with help from his father.

“All of that taught me the thought process of setting your goal and then putting together the steps to reach that goal,” said Mr. Casady. “I learned that work was a means to independence and that if something you want is not available, you can make it yourself. There was no drudgery involved for me. Work was a means to freedom.”

His advice to young workers: Live and toil “with integrity,” and adopt a no-slacking attitude. “Luck and timing can make a big difference,” he said. “But Lord knows, prepare. If you prepare properly, you’re ready for luck and timing if they come your way.”

Besides sounding like candidates for higher office, including the presidency of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, all three of these guys ended up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—a source of pride and inspiration for the nation’s former paper carriers. In addition, those of us who drove forklifts and flirted with rogue tractors salute them—and are happy to still be around to welcome the new summer season.

A “War” between Science and Religion?

by Randall Smith via TheCatholicThing.org

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Someone told me a few days ago that something like ten percent of Catholics leave the Church because they think there’s a “war” between Catholicism and modern science. I don’t generally put much faith in such statistics because there are many variables. Whom did they ask? How dedicated to the Catholic faith are respondents? Were they pretty much already headed out the door anyway? People oftentimes like to “dress up” their loss of faith with some intellectual justification. The purported enmity between science and Catholicism is as good as any.

But let’s suppose for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that these numbers are roughly accurate. The thing that really bothers me about this news is this: there is no conflict between Catholicism and modern science. Catholicism has never denied the reality of what Thomas Aquinas used to call “secondary causality.” The Church has always affirmed that God can work in and through natural causes.

So, for example, there is no more problem for Catholics over evolution than there is over normal human reproduction. On the one hand, we say that God “intended” your existence from all eternity. And yet, Catholics have never denied that the proximate cause of your existence is father and mother, sperm and egg, meiosis and mitosis, and all the rest.

Besides, no serious historian of science takes seriously anymore the thesis that the relationship between science and Christianity is one of constant, irreconcilable “conflict.” The “conflict” thesis has been replaced by what is sometimes called the “complexity” thesis. Sometimesthere was a conflict, but at other times the Church was a key supporter of scientific development, and in other cases the two simply didn’t overlap.

So why are these people leaving?

I mean, let’s say that we found out that people were leaving the Church because they said that they didn’t want to be part of a Church that made use of albino assassins: “What? The Churchdoesn’t make use of albino assassins. That’s just silly.” We might suspect that the people in question had been reading Dan Brown’s idiotic book, The Da Vinci Code. And we’d probably say to ourselves: “They left the Church over that? They threw over a centuries-old tradition of worship and theological reflection, with all its amazing saints like Francis and Dominic and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and all the intellectual firepower of fathers and doctors of the Church like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil the Great, Athanasius, and so many others because a minor con man, trying to make a buck, told them that the Church makes use of albino assassins. Do they believe that there are sacred monkeys in the Vatican? People spread that rumor too.

There are all sorts of reasons why people decide to leave the Church. Catholicism can be hard. It asks a lot. And the rewards are not exactlymaterial: no new cars, large screen televisions, yachts, and the like. There’s an old reply to the saying, “You’ll get your reward in the next life” which goes: “You’d better, because there’s certainly no reward in this one.”

And then, of course, there’s the problem of evil, which is in fact a real problem, not a made up problem, like the “conflict” between science and Catholicism. People experience real suffering, real pain in the world, and they have every reason to ask: Where is the supposedly “all-good God” in the midst of all this?

When C. S. Lewis was an atheist and thought about this problem, he realized that he actually had no basis for complaint – not as an atheist. What had caused him to think that the universe should be “good” at all? Indeed, what right did he have, apart from a belief in some ultimate Goodness, to make any distinction between “good” and “evil”? Quite frankly, it’s only the rumor that there just might be something like an “all-good God” that produces the so-called “problem of pain” in the first place. Without a caring, loving God, anything is possible. And as Dostoyevsky famously said, “Without God . . . everything is permitted.”

Still, evil and suffering, pain and death: these are hard realities to bear. And it’s easy to get angry with God when you expected Him to treat you better. Like all good relationships, the one with God takes work.

But to leave the Church because of some supposed “conflict” between science and Catholicism? That’s like leaving your wife because some dubious character tells you he thinks she’s secretly a Russian spy. If it were true, no one would blame you for leaving. But if you just took someone’s word for it, and left your wife on that basis alone, I think we’d have to say you should have been a little more circumspect, that perhaps your beloved wife deserved a little something better from you: something like a little faith.

And yet, the reality remains: someone is filling young people’s heads with this false story. If you want to see an example of it, I suggest watching a little piece of anti-Catholic bigotry entitled “Galileo: On the Shoulders of Giants,” an “award-winning” after-school special for kids that has almost nothing to do with Galileo, and everything to do with instigating hatred of the Catholic Church. You might also take a look at two patently anti-Catholic tracts: John William Draper’s The History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science and Andrew Dickson White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. These are the geniuses who started the fairy tale about everyone believing the world was flat until Columbus proved it wasn’t.

The truth, of course, was that no one in Europe thought the world was flat (just read Dante). The story is absolutely false. It’s pure propaganda – just like the story about the “war” between science and religion.

Nigerian Bishop: Hillary Clinton’s Remarks About Religious Beliefs Show She “Thinks She Is a God”

by Diane Montagna via Aleteia.org

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ROME—In this far reaching, follow-up interview to a story Aleteia brought you in February, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, who serves as Director of Communications for the African Bishops, discusses with Aleteia the latest developments regarding Boko Haram, and his fellow Nigerian bishop’s claim that he had vision of Jesus Christ, who told him the terrorist organization would be defeated through the power of the rosary.
He also offers his perspective on Hillary Clinton’s statement last week that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” for the sake of giving women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth”; and calls the US administration’s recent appointment of its first “LGBT” envoy evidence of a growing “dictatorship of the minority”.

Your Excellency, let’s begin close to home. In our conversation in mid-February, you spoke at length about the nature and activities of Boko Haram. At the time, you stated that you wouldn’t be surprised if there would be an attempt made by the terrorists from different parts of the North of Africa and the Arab world — ISIS, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram — to link up, and that this needs to be prevented.

Since then, Boko Haram has in fact pledged allegiance to ISIS. What can you tell us about recent developments in the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria?

It all sounds like prophecy now, but it was quite easy for me to see at the time. Evil tends to find strength in other evil. I was sure that Boko Haram, ISIS, and Al Qaida were going to somehow try to link up resources and strength to do more harm than they’ve been doing, because they’re simply evil. I was wondering why that was so difficult for the powers that pretend to want to help us to see.

What I said in the February interview about the current US administration actually making aids and grants to Africa conditional on our accepting anti-life values seemed absurd to some ears at the time. But this is exactly what has been happening, and I think they are coming out even more in the open now.

I heard it in a radio discussion, and I agreed with it, although it sounded absurd. For some reason, a week after our interview, there were so many reports in the Nigerian newspapers and media that America was actually helping us technically. I don’t know who was behind it.

The hope we have now is that we have had our elections. Thank God, they were largely successful, and we are hoping that the approach will be different.

Six weeks before the elections, the government stepped up activities against Boko Haram. And the bombing and the killing has largely diminished. In many parts of the north of Nigeria where you couldn’t go before, now you can hear a pin drop. People are returning to their homes, and Boko Haram is largely consigned to the borders of Nigeria.

To what do you principally attribute the positive shift?

For one thing, the government that is outgoing needed to win elections, and needed to convince Nigerians that it could do what it had never been able to do for 6 years.

As the elections approached, the government communicated their desire to postpone them by 6 weeks. Of course, this met with great disapproval. One of the reasons the government gave for the postponement was to have time to rout Boko Haram and ensure safe elections.

There followed a massive build up of arms and alleged mercenaries fighting for the purpose.  Surprisingly it has been effective. The government managed to do in 6 weeks what it could not do in 6 years.

Secondly, I think that Boko Haram had caught the Nigerian government in bed, so to speak. For many years, the Nigerian army had not been actively engaged in combat. Corruption was a large part of the problem, and so it was an army that had obsolete equipment and undertrained officers. The army itself has admitted this several times. Therefore, it took time to prepare and obtain the necessary equipment.

Much has changed now. The Nigerian army recovered so much territory from Boko Haram, arrested so many and freed up so much space that people are able to continue activities in very many areas. In fact, in many areas where we thought elections could never be held, elections we successfully held.

Last week, for the first time in 6 years, the army actually entered into the dreaded Sambisa forest to confront Boko Haram, a feat considered unimaginable before now. So there is success against Boko Haram at the moment.

However, Boko Haram is not dead. And the danger is particularly acute given that ISIS has linked up with Boko Haram. In fact, it would seem that Boko Haram has modified its name now to relate to ISIS. However, I think that if the civilized world decides that terrorism is going to be eliminated, it can be eliminated, if there is sincerity and commitment.

One of your brother bishops — Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, Nigeria — recently revealed that he had a vision of Jesus Christ, who told him that Boko Haram would be defeated through the power of the rosary. Your thoughts?

Bishop Oliver in my view has not said anything completely extraordinary, for two reasons.

First, the rosary has always been the strength of Catholic spirituality. Throughout Church history, the rosary has played a great role not only in bringing people closer to God, but also in giving them strength to conquer many wars, also in times of combat. Now, if you sit here to discredit what happened at Lepantoand other battles many years ago, you’ll have trouble convincing anyone that you have good reason to do so.

In the Marian centers of the world which have been approved by the Church — like Fatima and Lourdes — the rosary has always been recommended. Messages were given to people at these places that battles —whether spiritual, physical, or military — can be conquered through the power of the rosary.

Bishop Oliver said he had a religious experience. Religious experience is legitimate and one doesn’t need to be against it. I think very many people question this kind of thing because they have really, actually stopped believing actively in God.

We call Jesus ‘Emmanuel’. If he is ‘with us’ all the time, why can’t he show himself to us? And the fact that I have not had that kind of vision does not mean that Bishop Oliver cannot.

Religious experience is sacred. I have spoken to Bishop Oliver on the phone. We are quite close. I’ve been close to him because he and his people are on the front lines, and we try to support them in whatever way we can. I spoke to him on the phone and he is convinced about what he saw.

I am particularly happy that when he said Jesus handed him a sword, this sword became a rosary. Thank God. Better the rosary than the sword. Christianity has always fought its battles by prayers, not by arms. And so what Bishop Oliver said is, I believe, very consonant with Catholic theology and Catholic practice.

I myself have contributed along with a religious organization in distributing about 1 million rosaries in Nigeria, and I believe that the rosary has the power to help change situations, and that includes the situation with Boko Haram.

Turning to other international issues: Last Thursday at the 6th annual Women in the World Summit, Hillary Clinton said: “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” for the sake of giving women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth.” Your Excellency, what are your thoughts — as a Catholic bishop and specifically a Catholic bishop of Africa — on the former US Secretary of State’s remarks?

My personal opinion of Hillary Clinton is: She is seeking election in America so you can expect that, like most politicians, she will say just about anything to pander to the thoughts of whatever audience she is speaking to.

So I really think that Hillary Clinton is just speaking for votes, rather than speaking for reason.

I believe there are three groups of people in this world: those who believe in God, those who do not believe in God, and those who think they are gods. Hillary Clinton I think is one of those who thinks she is a god. And I’m not obliged to believe that.

From the way she spoke, people like herself very clearly don’t want to hear anything about God. Even if they say they believe in God, they really don’t.

It’s evident even in her language: she talks about “deep seated cultural codes”. I feel she’s gotten too wrapped up in technology and has stopped realizing that there are values, there are things that are innate to people, that are not just “codes” that can be taken up and thrown out.

We talk about the dignity of life, the sanctity of life, etc. Is she saying they ought to be changed? Well, I don’t know what she is talking about. What are human beings going to change to?

We are saying that there is something innate in us as Africans that makes us Africans.

And I am saying that God, in His infinite wisdom — which I think might be a little bit more than Hillary Clinton’s — decided to create us in these forms to add to the beauty of his creation. So those who work to have one generalized, undifferentiated world certainly don’t know the meaning of beauty, which is found in variety, in color.

If these values are not precious to Hillary Clinton, I think she has no right at all to call for a change in religious values and religious beliefs.

She also called them “structural biases.” Again, that is a misuse of language. “Biases,” to many people, are the things that make them who they are.

So that’s as much importance as I attach to Hillary Clinton’s statement about cultural beliefs. It is my desire that the American people open their ears and their eyes and know exactly what kind of people are running to be the next President of the United States.

In February 2015 the Obama administration appointed Randy Berry as the first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of “LGBT” persons. What are your thoughts on the recent appointment, especially in light of your previous comments regarding a new “cultural imperialism” being carried out by the US administration in Africa?

I think the appointment of Randy [Berry] just shows how little the current US administration respects the democratic values it seems to preach, especially when they preach them abroad.

If the current American government is investing so much effort in appointing a special envoy to promote what it calls the “rights” of homosexuals and gays and the rest of it, as I have always said, I think there is a mix-up between what are actually “rights”, and what are behaviors. And human behaviors cannot be put on the same level as human rights.

We have a right to live. I do not think that homosexuals ought to be killed, by no means. Life is a basic human right. But the right to do things that are considered abnormal are not.

I do not think that homosexuals, as people, are evil people. But I do think that their activities are sinful and disordered. And if we invest so much money and effort into imposing the orientation of this minority — this particular minority — onto the entire world, then we are guilty of what I like to call a “dictatorship of the minority.” So where is democracy? How can America claim to be a champion of democracy in the world?

In any case, take for example something that is happening across the world in a different place. In recent months so many immigrants have been trying to get to Europe, to a better life, which by the way they have a right to, have been killed on the seas in Italy. Some have been killed in the desert, so many, tens of thousands.

Now, the United States and the countries of Europe have not felt any need to appoint a special envoy to help to protect the rights of these human beings who are dying just because they are looking for better opportunities. But the US administration is so concerned about imposing the “rights” of homosexuals on countries of the world that don’t consider these to be the values that they need.

Now if democracy is supposed to be a system that makes available the best for the most, without actually crushing the minority, then where is the meaning of democracy in America?

So I question that. And I say that people ought to open their eyes to the cultural imperialism that America is promoting, and promoting so blatantly.

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