Catholics to Get Crystal Cathedral
Weekly summary of world news
Norm Olson November 22, 2011
An Orange County bankruptcy judge ruled Thursday that the Crystal Cathedral, a monument to modernism in faith and architecture, will be sold for $57.5 million to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which plans to consecrate it as a Catholic cathedral, reports The Los Angeles Times. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Kwan issued his ruling shortly after 7 p.m. to the tears of members of the cathedral’s congregation, who had sat through the long day in court. The ruling was also a blow to nearby Chapman University, which had fought bitterly down to the final moments of the bankruptcy case for the right to buy the property as a satellite campus. It also marked the end of a chapter in the history of American Christianity, one that was written in glass and steel by the Crystal Cathedral’s founder and guiding light, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller. In the end, Schuller himself gave his blessing to what once would have seemed unthinkable: the conversion of his sleekly modern masterpiece in Garden Grove, Calif., a place where fresh breezes blow through open walls and church services feature talk-show-style interviews, into a Catholic cathedral redolent of incense and ancient ritual. In a letter to the court, the 85-year-old minister said he could not abide the thought that Chapman might someday use the cathedral for nonreligious purposes.
- The so-called democratic revolution in Egypt, reports WorldNetDaily, has Christians in the cross-hairs of the Islamic-leaning military that now controls the country more and more, according to members of the nation’s Coptic Christian community. Ayman Naoum, an Egyptian Coptic spokesman, describes the dangerous situation as very volatile. “The situation is unstable now because of the lack of security,” Naoum said. International Christian Concern’s Aidan Clay agrees, and said the army is stepping up its anti-Christian activity with encouragement from the Egyptian radicals. “Some Egyptians, both Christian and Muslim, believe that the Egyptian military is not only encouraging, but even initiating attacks against civilians in order to further divide the country down sectarian lines, mainly Muslim versus Christian,” Clay said. The comments come in the wake of thrown stones and bottles that injured 25 Christians this week during a march by Coptic Christians in Cairo to protest the October attack by soldiers that left another 25 Christians dead. Meanwhile, Rasmussen Reports finds that most U.S. voters don’t view the political changes in countries like Egypt during this year’s so-called Arab Spring as good for the United States, and even fewer expect any of those countries to become U.S. allies.
- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) joined 86 members of the House of Representatives in signing a letter urging the Senate to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting same-sex marriages in military facilities, reports The Christian Post. “This clear and deliberate violation of established U.S. law sets a dangerous precedent,” the letter states. “[The Defense of Marriage Act] makes it clear that for purposes of the federal government, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. The use of federal property or federal employees to perform anything but opposite-sex ceremonies is a clear contravention of the law.” Following the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Department of Defense said it would allow military chaplains to marry gay couples on a “sexual orientation-neutral basis.” However, many conservative chaplains and members of Congress were upset at the wording of the memo. Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) is the author of the letter and said in a statement, “Unfortunately, this current administration is now directing the Department of Defense to ignore this law and perform gay marriages on military bases. I think that is wrong, which is why I offered an amendment to the House-passed defense bill making it clear that DOMA applies to the DOD. This letter calls for the Senate to add a similar amendment to their version of the bill. The Department of Defense should not be allowed to simply ignore laws they do not like.” The issue of DOMA has been a huge sticking point in light of the Defense Department’s decision to repeal DADT. DOMA defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and if strictly enforced, would run contrary to allowing gay soldiers to marry.
- Christian health care providers were given the opportunity to express their concerns to Congress on Wednesday regarding a mandate that forces them to provide their insurers with contraception coverage. The rule was passed last year as part of President Obama’s controversial health care overhaul. It is scheduled to go into effect next August. The overhaul package includes numerous components designed to improve women’s health. However, religious health care providers say that by mandating they provide contraception coverage, Congress is infringing on their religious rights. “I think some members (of Congress) were generally receptive to our message. However, others were very opposed to it. The opposition believes that government should provide contraceptives and sterilization methods to citizens. This violates our religious beliefs,” William Cox, CEO of Alliance of Catholic Health Care, told The Christian Post. Cox, David Stevens of the Christian Medical Association, and Jane Belford, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, testified in front of Congress in favor of conscience protection. The Catholic Church and other Christian organizations are morally opposed to artificial contraception. In the past, religious organizations have been able to skirt around federal mandates such as these because the rule has always provided for a “religious exception” clause. However, this bill does not do so. The exception clause is so strict that it pertains only to churches and no other religious organizations like universities and hospitals. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic hospitals account for one of every six admissions in the United States. “Until now, federal law has never prevented religious employers, like the Archdiocese of Washington, from providing for the needs of their employees with a health plan that is consistent with the church’s moral teachings,” said Belford. The Republicans present hammered the Obama administration for passing a rule that infringes on religious freedom. “Groups who have for centuries cared for the sick and poor will now be forced to violate their religious beliefs if they want to continue to serve their communities,” said Rep. Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa.), a Protestant who chairs the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
- The re-election campaign of President Barack Obama has hired an activist who formerly worked for one of the top pro-abortion groups to head up a new women’s outreach effort for the presidential election, reports LifeNews.com. Obama’s campaign is bringing in Heather Colburn, who worked for both Emily’s List as well as the Planned Parenthood abortion business to lead his “Women for Obama” campaign, a new outreach effort designed to reach women’s votes. “Women have always been the heart of the Obama organization and they will play a crucial role in ensuring the President has four more years to protect and continue the progress we’ve made,” Colburn told US News. “I’m honored to be on board, and look forward to working alongside the thousands of women across the country who are already dedicating themselves and their time to help deliver the women’s vote.” President Obama has a longstanding relationship with Emily’s List and Planned Parenthood and they held a fund-raiser for him this Fall, including First Lady Michelle Obama and, in her first appearance for Obama, pro-abortion activist Gloria Steinem.
- One Christian left his native Somalia 10 years ago and another fled as Muslim extremists were bombing his house earlier this year, but both Somali converts from Islam feel they are still in danger in Kenya. In February, Islamic extremists from the al Shabaab militia fighting for control of Somalia reduced Mohammed Abdi Mose’s house in Mogadishu to ashes as he evacuated his family, the 54-year-old father of seven told Compass Direct News. His head bears a scar where shrapnel struck, and he requires medicine to limit the injury’s damage to his memory. “It was midnight, and it was raining,” he said. “No moonlight; no light; I said, ‘We are moving.’ Amid the bullets and mortar shells, I had four kids on me, and my wife had three kids on her, with the older boy and girl walking—the smaller ones were on us.” About 150 people died that night in military fighting, but Mose said it was no accident that his house was targeted. Earlier that month the Muslim extremists, who had suspected he was a convert to Christianity as he had worked for Christian Non-Governmental Organizations, confirmed that he had come to faith in Christ and was therefore worthy of death. They tied his hands behind him and began hitting him with sticks and metallic objects, he said. He sustained a deep cut on his heel. They stomped on his stomach, damaging his urinary system, he said. Neighbors who heard his cries came out in large numbers, forcing the attackers to flee. Mose said he knew then it was time to relocate. In other news, Compass reports that a gang of men attacked leaders of a Baptist house church network near Hanoi, Vietnam, on Sunday, Nov. 13, leaving one pastor unconscious and seriously injuring several others, including women and teenage children.
- The only abortion business in Santa Fe, the state capital of New Mexico, will be closing down next month, reports LifeNews.com. Operation Rescue indicates abortion practitioner Lucia Ceis will retire from doing abortions on Dec. 23, according to an advertisement placed in The New Mexican newspaper telling patients she will no longer be in practice and explaining to them where to obtain their medical records. The last day abortions will be done is Dec. 16. “Ceis admits to having done thousands of abortions over her 35 years of business,” the pro-life group indicates. “That closure will leave Santa Fe abortion-free and will reduce the number of abortion clinics in New Mexico to five. Cies’ abortion business offered abortions to 18 weeks at a cost of $500–$1,200. She also conducted abortions at St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe.” “Abortion clinics continue to close as Americans become more and more pro-life,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “The number of surgical abortion clinics has dropped from 2,200 in 1991 to only about 675 today. That is quantifiable evidence that we are winning the hearts and minds of the American people. Abortion is a human rights abuse that will soon be rejected and relegated to the ash heap of history.” The good news comes as women are being victimized by botched abortions in Albuquerque, a much larger city with multiple abortion facilities.
- The California Supreme Court decided last Thursday that the sponsors of Proposition 8 and other ballot measures are entitled to defend them in court, a ruling likely to spur federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans, reports The Los Angeles Times. The state high court’s decision, a defeat for gay rights groups, sets the stage for a federal ruling—which could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court—that would affect marriage bans outside California.
- A pro-family attorney says officials of one California school district were biased when they wouldn’t allow a parent to be involved in her child’s education. The Pacific Justice Institute filed legal briefs with the California Court of Appeal, arguing that San Jose Unified School District officials broke the law by refusing to acknowledge Norina Mooney’s request to make changes to a pro-LGBT event at her daughter’s school. The lawsuit stems from a “Rainbow Day” event at Castillero Middle School that addressed the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender bullying. Mooney asked the school district to place a request on the agenda that would recognize other minorities who are affected by bullying, but the superintendent and board president refused. PJI filed suit in June to protect parents’ rights to participate in such decisions, but a Santa Clara County judge rejected the case without comment, prompting appeal. Charles LiMandri, director of the Thomas More Law Center’s West Coast regional office, told OneNewsNow that officials were biased to only apply protection against bullying to LGBT students. “Fact is, bullying is a problem in schools, but it’s by no means limited to this relatively small percentage of student population,” he points out. “So it’s a perfectly reasonable and legitimate request.”
- The firing of broadcaster Damian Goddard, who was let go from Sportsnet six months ago, is turning into a test case about religious freedom in Canada and the right to declare those views in public, reports nationalpost.com. Goddard lost his job after he wrote on Twitter only marriage between a man and a woman is a “true” marriage. “I do not hate homosexuals,” the devout Roman Catholic said in an interview this week. “But if I remain silent I am consenting to something I don’t believe in. I have 2,000 years of Christian history backing me up on this. I’m good with that.” On Wednesday, it was announced Goddard had been hired as a spokesman for the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, a wing of the National Organization for Marriage, which is working to stop legalizing same-gender marriage in the United States.
- Republican Sen. Marco Rubio says he wants the U.S. congressional deficit-reduction super committee to come to an agreement by Wednesday “because so much is at stake,” but he says President Barack Obama is playing politics with the negotiations, reports newsmax.com. “We knew this day was coming, and we know what lies ahead,” the Florida freshman said today on ABC’s This Week. “We need to look no further than Europe to understand what lies ahead unless we take these issues seriously.” Political strategy is at play, Rubio said, adding that he believes Obama “would like to run against a do-nothing Congress” in .
- Two Occupy Wall Street protesters, one a key leader of the movement, stayed at a swanky, $700-per-night New York City hotel while their fellow protesters camped out in Zuccotti Park, reports conservativebyte.com and The New York Post. Peter Dutro, a member of Occupy Wall Street’s finance committee, and Brad Spitzer, a California-based analyst who attended demonstrations during a business trip, both stayed in the W New York Downtown Hotel last week, with Spitzer reportedly opening his room up to other protesters as well. According to its website, the W calls itself “the ultimate urban extravagance” with a state-of the-art entertainment system, 350-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, goose-down comforters. It even invites guests to unleash their “inner Gordon Gekko” in the fitness center, a reference to Michael Douglas’ character in Wall Street.
- Dr. John Whitcomb, longtime creationist and theologian, is now a member of the master faculty of the Institute for Creation Research’s online School of Biblical Apologetics, reports Whitcomb Ministries, Inc. The Institute for Creation Research School of Biblical Apologetics provides graduate-level training in Biblical education and apologetics. SOBA’s foundation is Scripture, which the school and its faculty hold as inerrant, accurate, and authoritative. Biblical creation, with an emphasis on Genesis 1—11, is a significant focus of all SOBA degrees, majors, and minors, which sets ICR’s program apart from other graduate level apologetic programs.” SOBA, established by ICR in 2009 on its Dallas campus, is also now online. In other news, Faith Baptist Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, has announced the formation of the John C. Whitcomb Scholarship for Excellence in Bible Exposition. This scholarship, funded by donations from supporters, friends, former students, and colleagues of Dr. Whitcomb, will enable Faith seminary students to continue their theological education and preparation for ministry.
- A top House Republican is threatening to enforce a subpoena for criminal immigrant information “to the fullest extent” of the law, after claiming the Obama administration stonewalled his request, reports conservativebyte.com. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith for months has been seeking a comprehensive list of names and other information for the thousands of immigrants who are flagged, but not taken into custody or deported through a program known as Secure Communities. Earlier this month, a subcommittee on his panel subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security for the information, claiming it was “not acting in good faith.” It was the first subpoena issued by the committee since it came under GOP control.
- A Christian school in Illinois reported its glass entry door being smashed by bricks with hateful messages on them recently, reports Godfather Politics and The Christian Post. The vandalism, recorded by Christian Liberty Academy’s security cameras, came on the eve of a banquet being hosted by the academy, a school run by the Church of Christian Liberty in Arlington Heights. The event, planned by Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, was designed to discuss the homosexual activist agenda, and to honor pro-family activist and author of The Pink Swastika, Dr. Scott Lively. AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera, Church of Christian Liberty Pastor Calvin Lindstrom, and the Chicago Independent Media Center received an e-mail from the perpetrators of the attack a few hours after the incident. The email reads, “If this event is not shut down, and the homophobic day trainings do not end, the Christian Liberty Academy will continue to be under constant attack.” LaBarbera said Monday to The Christian Post he has never seen such a statement issued and its “unprecedented in this area where there have been attacks before.” Despite the vandalism, organizers of the banquet held the event later that evening without any further serious disturbances. Lindstrom, however, noted “there were protestors,” about 30, outside repeating slanderous things against Dr. Lively during the banquet. Police are investigating the incident, and Lindstrom says the church has “not heard from the police at this point, [but] Dr. Lively believes this should be pursued as a hate crime.” The senior pastor said he’s not in favor of the “hate crime mentality,” but rather is waiting to see how things play out with the police. LaBarbera noted there have always been protestors when the church held AFTAH events, but they have “really demonized Scott Lively. It looks like they are creating a climate of hate against Christians.” The AFTAH president agreed with Lindstrom saying he wasn’t a fan of hate crimes, but “this would qualify. I hope it’s not just dismissed as vandals.” He said the church and organizers of the event are asking to get the same treatment if it were the other way around, with an attack on a homosexual event.