Saturday, May 23, 2009

Home: No place for Bible study
County demands pastor obtain $10,000 permit to host friends

Posted: May 22, 2009
5:13 pm Eastern

By Drew Zahn


A San Diego pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a county official and warned they will face escalating fines if they continue to hold Bible studies in their home.

The couple, whose names are being withheld until a demand letter can be filed on their behalf, told their attorney a county government employee knocked on their door on Good Friday, asking a litany of questions about their Tuesday night Bible studies, which are attended by approximately 15 people.

"Do you have a regular weekly meeting in your home? Do you sing? Do you say 'amen'?" the official reportedly asked. "Do you say, 'Praise the Lord'?"

The pastor's wife answered yes.

She says she was then told, however, that she must stop holding "religious assemblies" until she and her husband obtain a Major Use Permit from the county, a permit that often involves traffic and environmental studies, compliance with parking and sidewalk regulations and costs that top tens of thousands of dollars.

And if they fail to pay for the MUP, the county official reportedly warned, the couple will be charged escalating fines beginning at $100, then $200, $500, $1000, "and then it will get ugly."

Remind the world who's really in charge with the "Worship GOD, not GOV" magnetic bumper sticker from WND.

Dean Broyles of the Western Center for Law & Policy, which has been retained to represent the couple, told WND the county's action not only violates religious land-use laws but also assaults both the First Amendment's freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.

"The First Amendment, in part, reads, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,'" Broyles said. "And that's the key part: 'prohibiting the free exercise.' We believe this is a substantial government burden on the free exercise of religion."

He continued, "If one's home is one's castle, certainly you would the think the free exercise of religion, of all places, could occur in the home."

Broyles confirmed the county official followed through on his threat. The pastor and his wife received a written warning ordering the couple to "cease/stop religious assembly on parcel or obtain a major use permit."

"The Western Center for Law and Policy is troubled by this draconian move to suppress home Bible studies," said the law center in a statement. "If the current trends in our nation continue, churches may be forced underground. If that happens, believers will once again be forced to meet in homes. If homes are already closed by the government to assembly and worship, where then will Christians meet?"

On a personal note, Broyles added, "I've been leading Bible studies in my home for 13 years in San Diego County, and I personally believe that home fellowship Bible studies are the past and future of the church. … If you look at China, the church grew from home Bible studies. I'm deeply concerned that if in the U.S. we are not able to meet in our homes and freely practice our religion, then we may be worse off than China."

Broyles also explained to WND that oppressive governments, such as communist China or Nazi Germany, worked to repress home fellowships, labeling them the "underground church" or "subversive groups," legally compelling Christians to meet only in sanctioned, government-controlled "official" churches.

"Therein lies my concern," Broyles said. "If people can't practice their religious beliefs in the privacy of their own homes with a few of their friends, that's an egregious First Amendment violation."

WND contacted a spokeswoman for San Diego County, who acknowledged the description of the incident seemed "bizarre," but who was unable to locate the details of the account. She simply could not provide comment yet, she said, until she could become familiar with the case.

Broyles said the WCLP is nearly ready to file a demand letter with the county to release the pastor and his wife from the requirement to obtain the expensive permit. If the county refuses, Broyles said, the WCLP will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

Broyles also told WND the pastor and his wife are continuing to hold the Bible study in their home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Outlawing opinion
Exclusive: Chuck Norris condemns movement toward restriction of free speech

Posted: May 18, 2009
1:00 am Eastern

By Chuck Norris


It greatly alarms me that Americans' constitutional right to freedom of speech is being squeezed out of our culture.

One of the genius actions of America's Founding Fathers was to provide and secure the firm foundation in the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Several years ago, I remember watching then "20/20" correspondent Diane Sawyer interview Saddam Hussein, dictator of Iraq. She was respectfully confronting him for atrocities and executions as punishments for people merely speaking a word against him, his rule or his politics. Surprisingly naïve of America's constitutional basis, Saddam asked, "Well, what happens to those who speak against your president?" (His rhetorical question was clearly expecting that such speech was also a crime in the U.S. and punishable by law.) Shocked by his sheer ignorance of the U.S., and somewhat at a loss of words herself, Diane quipped back in answering his question, "They host television talk shows!" Saddam's facial expression revealed that he was totally confused by her answer.

Sounds so far out, doesn't it? Offensive speech being punishable by law? But it might not be that far off for America, especially if the course of our right for freedom of speech continues on its present track – a path of progressive restrictions, both from our government and our culture.

For example, as I mentioned in last week's column, presently, bill S. 909 is on the fast track through Senate, poised under the guise of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. But in the end it could not only criminalize opinions (an unconstitutional act) but also provide elevated protection to pedophiles.

While the bill purports to target crimes of brutality, not speech, it could very easily end up (even inadvertently) restricting First Amendment rights to speak freely against any practices or beliefs with which we don't agree. As with other laws of this type, once enacted, local justices could easily expand its interpretive enforcement to encompass a wider meaning than originally conceived.

If our policy makers understood and followed the constitutional government our founders laid down for us, they never would advocate any so called hate-crime speech bill. As Rep. Ron Paul once stated:

Hate crime laws not only violate the First Amendment, they also violate the 10th Amendment. Under the United States Constitution, there are only three federal crimes: piracy, treason and counterfeiting. All other criminal matters are left to the individual states. Any federal legislation dealing with criminal matters not related to these three issues usurps state authority over criminal law and takes a step toward turning the states into mere administrative units of the federal government.
I again encourage Americans everywhere to join several hundred thousand Americans who have already voiced their opposition of the bill's passage. You can voice your opposition to all 100 senators by clicking here.

Limiting free speech is not just happening through legal ends, but through social avenues as well. It was tragic to watch this past week at the White House Correspondents' Dinner how the present administration provided the platform then laughed at a parade of mean-spirited, cruel jokes that made fun of Rush Limbaugh's history of addiction to painkillers, wished him kidney failure and suggested he might have been the 20th hijacker involved in 9/11. Is that even funny? Despite that I believe even this offensive language is protected by the First Amendment, is it the type of belittling humor we should expect at a White House function? When the Feds seek to silence their critics through intimidation and social demise, have they not failed to properly lead a blended nation and uphold the heart of the Constitution? Mark my words that the reinstitution of the "Fairness Doctrine," which will subject talk radio among other media to government regulation, is right around the corner.

Government isn't the only one restricting free speech. We recently witnessed many in our culture clamping down on the basic American right via the travesty of response to Miss California and Miss USA runner-up Carrie Prejean giving her honest opinion to a question during the Miss USA contest. As a result of her speaking freely about her personal convictions, she's been persecuted for her opinion and even received death threats from those who oppose her.

Whatever one believes about the boundaries of marriage or how one feels about scanty modeling photos is far secondary to Miss Prejean being culturally harassed and persecuted on account of her merely speaking her honest opinion about traditional marriage, especially in response to a question asked by a judge during a beauty pageant. As she said this last week in her press conference with Donald Trump, "This shouldn't happen in America!"

And, when she answered the pageant judge, it was even done with respect and kindness. But what if it were demeaning like the jokes at the White House Correspondents' Dinner? There seems to be a double-standard when it comes to free speech in society. Shall certain camps be expected not to offend while others are free to do so? If the First Amendment is not also there to protect anyone's offensive speech, then what type of speech is it protecting? And if it protects even unpleasant and distasteful speech as well, yet our culture remains intolerant of offensive speech, than have we not abandoned the First Amendment?

With millions of others, I commend Miss California for a host of things: for standing by her convictions and basic American right of free speech, for not bending to the politically correct and Left opinions, for not fearing public scrutiny, for not yielding her principles and, especially, for not valuing her crown more than the King of kings'. She's a model and beacon of free speech rights in the midst of a generation that often waffles in fear of truth, personal convictions, variant opinion and a tolerant proliferation. She's a reminder to us all of what the First Amendment is all about. And that is why I deem Carrie Prejean also "the Chuck Norris of free speech." (You can listen to Dr. Dobson's revealing two-part interview with Carrie at Focus on the Family's website)

I don't care what your cause is. I don't care what your mission is. I don't care what the issues. I don't care what your beliefs are. It is every American citizen's constitutional right to speak freely, without fear of repercussion. It's simply un-American and unconstitutional to impede, harass, threaten or persecute anyone who is guilty of nothing more than sharing their opinion or even exercising their right to vote. This is America – not Saddam's Iraq!

Our founders cry out from their graves and heaven for us to remember what they established – a nation free from tyranny and oppression. Thomas Jefferson was particularly passionate and eloquent at this point with these words that are now indelibly inscribed on the memorial in Washington named after him. Whether to the dominance of religious sectarianism or the prohibition of free speech, his words apply: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility toward any tyranny over the mind of men." So have I. Have you?

America, when free speech is restricted or punished, we can be certain that we've drifted from our roots. Isn't it time we returned home to the Constitution?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Morning Bell: The Costs and Benefits of Waxman-Markey

Posted By Conn Carroll On May 18, 2009 @ 9:28 am In Energy and Environment | 23 Comments

Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin a multi-day markup [1] on the Waxman-Markey energy tax bill. Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has been busy lobbying his own caucus for the necessary 30 votes to get the bill out of committee for weeks, but the bill’s fate is still in doubt. Considering that global warming legislation is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s agenda (he needs the tax revenues to fund his other big spending priorities) [2], why can’t the Obama administration convince their own party that their energy tax is a good deal for the American people?

First let’s look at the economic costs of Waxman-Markey. Waxman-Markey attempts to limit greenhouse gas emissions by making it more expensive for greenhouse gas emitters to operate. Instead of a direct tax on greenhouse emissions, Waxman-Markey issues permits (mostly for free but some at a price paid to the federal government) that allow businesses to emit greenhouse gasses. Businesses that fail to lobby the federal government for enough permits to cover their current emission levels will then have to buy them from either the federal government or other businesses that have better lobbyists in Washington, DC.

The net effect of these permits is higher costs for businesses and consumers that emit greenhouse gasses, the most prevalent being CO2. As then-candidate Barack Obama explained to the San Francisco Chronicle [3], this policy will cause electricity prices to “skyrocket.” Since everything you consume requires energy, the higher energy costs caused by Waxman-Markey will spread throughout the entire economy. The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis has crunched the numbers and found that by 2035, last week’s version of Waxman-Markey would: [4] 1) reduce aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) by $7.4 trillion; 2) destroy 844,000 jobs on average; and 3) raise an average family’s annual energy bill by $1,500. And this week’s version of the bill appears to have an even greater catastrophic effect on the economy.

That’s a pretty steep cost. So what do Americans get for being $7.4 trillion poorer in 2035? Other environmental legislation has helped reduce acid rain and slow the growth of asthma, so Waxman-Markey must offer some tangible benefits to the American people right? Wrong. Waxman-Markey is a truly unique piece of environmental legislation in that it does not offer a single tangible benefit to the American people.

Global warming is just that: global. The United States still has the largest economy in the world, but China is now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gasses. India also has a rapidly growing economy and neither they, nor China, have any plans to reduce their carbon emissions. So, using the left’s own global warming theory, how much would Waxman-Markey actually cool the earth? Climatologist Chip Knappenberger crunched the numbers [5] and found that even the strictest version of Waxman-Markey would reduce projected global temperatures by just 0.044ºC by 2050. That is less than one-tenth of one degree.

So as this week progresses, and you hear scary story after scary story of all the hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding that will occur because of global warming, remember this: according to the left’s own computer models Waxman-Markey would not prevent any of it.
'Truth and Transformation'
The Wisdom of Vishal Mangalwadi
Chuck Colson

From the outside looking in, an intelligent observer can see the signs of a once-great civilization in decline: rising corruption, sexual licentiousness, and the abandonment of once-cherished moral principles.

The once-great civilization is Western Christendom. And the outside observer is Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi. His new book, Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations shows how dearly the West is paying for abandoning the Christian worldview -- the very worldview that made its greatness and prosperity possible.

It is no coincidence, Mangalwadi argues, that reason, science, and advanced technology developed and thrived in the West. That's because Western man believed that God created an orderly universe that could be explored and understood -- and whose resources could be harnessed to benefit mankind.

And because they believed that man was created in the image of God, the American founders could write that all men "are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights." Such thinking would have been preposterous in Hindu India or Confucianist China.

Mangalwadi, who has spent years in rural India trying to help the poor escape poverty, knows firsthand the practical consequences of a false worldview.

He relates how a village of poor farmers has been unable to overcome the repeated catastrophic flooding of their fields. Why not? Because they worship the river that destroys their livelihood. They never would have thought to create channels to divert the water. Instead of establishing dominion over the river, they have let the river -- a god in their eyes -- establish dominion over them.

Many of Mangalwadi's efforts to help India's "untouchables" develop a sustainable livelihood have been thwarted by upper-caste Brahmins -- who feel they have a religious right to steal the fruits of the lower caste's labor. No wonder India, the world's largest democracy, still struggles with corruption and catastrophic poverty.

Thus Mangalwadi wonders why the West, rich in material and political blessings, would turn away from the source of its success -- the Christian worldview anchored in the Scriptures.

And turn away it has. We see the fruits of this rejection in the economy (where debt is embraced and "thou shalt not steal" is ignored). We see it in our courts. Mangalwadi actually predicts the collapse of the American judicial system within a generation. "As Americans cease fearing God," he writes, "they no longer keep their vows and promises." The result is "a costly litigious society . . . of godless people . . . unworthy of trust."

And every day we see the rejection of the Christian worldview in the media and in our universities -- where Mangalwadi notes, the totalitarian philosophy of naturalism demonizes anyone who dares to believe in God or the supernatural.

Mangalwadi says the West has a choice -- "either to seek the knowledge of God once again, or to slide into an abyss of pagan ignorance, corruption, and slavery."

What makes this book so important is that Mangalwadi views us from outside, looking in as an Indian. He sees what the Church must do to help the West make the right choice. That's why I urge you to read Truth and Transformation today.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stop ObamaCare
The Democrats' plan would displace tens of millions of happily insured Americans and exacerbate the worst elements of the current system.

by James C. Capretta & Yuval Levin
05/18/2009, Volume 014, Issue 33

President Obama and the Democratic leaders of Congress have made it clear that health care reform is their top legislative priority this year. The administration laid down some general markers in its budget, and the president has enunciated principles in several speeches. Key committees in both houses of Congress are now beginning the work of drafting a bill.

The program's basic shape seems likely to follow the outlines of Obama's campaign proposal. Employers would be required to provide health coverage or pay a fine, proceeds from which would support the creation of a new government-run insurance option. There would be a national insurance exchange through which those without access to employer-provided coverage could enroll in the public plan or one of a range of private plans that agree to certain conditions (including covering all comers, regardless of health status). And those below a certain income threshold (likely around 300 percent of the poverty line) would receive subsidies to purchase such coverage.

This is clearly intended to be transitory, rather than a final program. It would create incentives for employers to drop their health coverage plan (by making it cheaper to pay the fine than offer coverage) and would enable the new public insurance plan to undersell private insurers by imposing price controls similar to those employed in Medicare. A large number of workers finding themselves without their old employer-based coverage would "opt" for the public plan, creating, in effect, a massive new public health insurance program. Call it single payer by degrees.

The approach has been carefully designed to avoid the failings of the last major Democratic attempt at health care reform, the Clinton administration's effort in 1993 and 1994. By providing only an outline and leaving the detailed work to Congress, the administration avoids having the complexity of the plan hung around its neck before legislators even take it up. By creating the impression of choice and competition, they avoid some of the opposition of private insurers--who will play along if they think they will have a chance at participating in the new marketplace. And, by providing something of an out for employers with the fine, Democrats hope also to avoid the opposition of business groups.

But the Obama plan, whatever its tactical cleverness, will suffer from the key drawbacks of all government-financed and managed health insurance. It would make the government the gatekeeper--the controller of prices and the provider of coverage. Health care decisions would increasingly be made in Washington and subject to political pressures that take into account neither patient needs nor economic realities. The cost of the program would be such that the effort to pay for it would become the central concern of American politics--rendering essentially untenable any effort to roll back government spending or reform federal tax law. As we see around the world, health care is the key to public enmeshment in ballooning welfare states, and passage of ObamaCare would deal a heavy blow to the conservative enterprise in American politics.

The combination of a plan that obscures the flaws that killed HillaryCare and the daunting Democratic majority in both houses of Congress has left many Republicans fatalistic. GOP leaders in Congress seem to be looking for ways to compromise at the edges or to live with what emerges. They take the successful enactment of some version of ObamaCare almost for granted. And yet Obama's plan is enormously vulnerable. Its sheer size and ambition argue against any notion that it will easily pass, and certain features suggest specific weaknesses that ought to draw the attention of conservative opponents.

First, the public insurance option, which is a central feature of the plan, seriously threatens the fragile alliance between Democrats and health insurance providers. Insurers worry that the public option is designed to price them out of business. If it is not subject to the same state and federal regulatory limits that constrain their practices and if it can strong-arm providers with artificial price controls--which would only shift costs to private insurers and patients as they now do in Medicare--the playing field will be uneven. The public plan has so far been the most prominent vulnerability of the Democrats' proposal, with Senate moderates like Olympia Snowe, Ben Nelson, and Arlen Specter expressing concerns about it. But it is crucial to the logic of the Democrats' approach and will be difficult for Obama and congressional leaders to give up.

Second, the Obama plan would involve a profound displacement of currently insured Americans, who for the most part are happy with their coverage and will not appreciate being dumped into a program that could end up resembling Medicaid. A recent study by the Lewin Group estimates that almost 120 million Americans could be forced from employer-based coverage into government-run insurance by the kind of two-step strategy the Democrats envision. Americans with stable job-based insurance do not know this is what Democrats have in store for them, and they will not be happy about it. Last year the Kaiser Family Foundation found that well over 80 percent of insured Americans rated their health insurance as excellent or good. The standing inertia of the happily insured has been the greatest obstacle to any reform of American health care--be it liberal or conservative. It was crucial to stopping the Clinton plan 16 years ago, when the level of satisfaction with existing arrangements was significantly lower than today.

And then there's the plan's immense price tag. The basic aim of the Obama plan is to add another health care entitlement to the unaffordable ones we already have in Medicare and Medicaid. Most analysts expect the subsidies for expanded coverage to cost at least $150 billion per year. Even if phased in over several years, the ten-year price tag will easily exceed $1 trillion. No Democrat has yet come forward with a credible plan to pay for such an expensive program. Paying for their health care plan, or even credibly pretending to pay for it, will require new taxes and spending cuts on a scale that most Democrats so far seem afraid to discuss in public.

Beyond the direct costs of a new federal entitlement are general questions about rising health care costs. If the government intends to take these costs upon itself, it will have to show how they will cease to balloon in the future or else how they can be paid for. So far, the president and congressional Democrats have relied on vague promises to "bend the cost curve" and on minor tinkering like increased investment in health information technology, additional research into cost-effective products and practices, and more preventive care. Some of this agenda might actually be meritorious, but it is certainly modest. The contention that it would reverse a half-century of costs rising faster than income is ludicrous.

The cost estimates paint a very grim picture of the future of health care and federal budgets under the Democrats' plans, and the greatest vulnerability of ObamaCare is that it will inevitably lead to rationing of health care. This is something the public, rightly, fears above all else. There are really only two ways to keep costs under control: by building a real marketplace in which cost-conscious consumers make choices or by imposing arbitrary limits, determined by the government, on care. As the Democrats have rejected the first option they will quickly have no choice but to adopt the second.

The Obama team hopes that by enacting the expansions of coverage but not the needed cost-controls this year, they can create unalterable facts on the ground without having a real debate about rationing. Then in a year or two, they will come back, as all government health insurance programs do, and insist on stricter controls in the name of protecting the Treasury. It is clear they are already contemplating this next step, with growing talk of federal "effectiveness research" and Obama's recent musings in the New York Times Magazine about whether his own grandmother should have been allowed to have a hip replacement in her final months. Above all else, Republicans must make it clear to the electorate that if Obama prevails with his plan, the government will end up controlling when and where they can obtain care.

One key to highlighting these weaknesses is not simply to talk about them, but to offer a credible alternative that assures those with insurance they will not be forced out and offers an appealing way to control costs--to both consumers and to the government.

The core of such a reform would involve replacing the tax exemption for employer-based health coverage with a new federal tax credit for everyone. This would convert millions of passive insurance enrollees into cost-conscious consumers shopping in an insurance marketplace. But unlike past iterations of this approach, conservatives should propose to pursue it in stages, beginning with small businesses and the uninsured--groups with poor existing options and thus not averse to change.

Such a reform would allow small-business employees to select their insurance in organized, state-facilitated marketplaces in the same way that federal workers can choose their coverage today. Workers would be making the insurance selection, not firms, from a menu of competing offerings. Workers in medium and larger firms would maintain the same coverage they have today--although the switch to tax credits would add a new level of cost-consciousness to the design of existing employer plans--and as the individual insurance marketplace developed around workers in smaller firms, it would help reduce public anxiety about a gradual transition away from employer-based health care.

Such a Republican initiative would demonstrate that we can build on what is best (and well liked) about the current system--high quality care, doctor and patient control--while adding options onto the existing employer-based structure that encourage gradual and sensible moves toward a genuine individual insurance market.

Conservatives can make it clear they support reform. But they must make it even clearer that the Democrats' plan would displace tens of millions of happily insured Americans and exacerbate the worst elements of the current system: gross inefficiency, high costs, and bureaucracy. President Obama and his congressional allies are pursuing a mammoth, complex, hugely expensive, ill-designed reform that is not likely to be popular when understood. Conservatives have a very real chance at stopping it if they highlight its key weaknesses and supply a superior alternative.

James C. Capretta and Yuval Levin are fellows at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Capretta is also a consultant to private health insurers.
Saudis running U.S. policy?
Vexing decisions facing Obama administration

Posted: May 12, 2009
7:44 pm Eastern


Editor's Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

Parts of the United States' policy in the Middle East under the Obama administration may, in fact, be influenced by Saudi Arabia, which is worried over increasing overtures by the U.S. for a dialogue with Iran and may be leveraging the Pakistan situation to its advantage, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

The Saudi kingdom, the leader of Sunni Muslims worldwide, is concerned about U.S. interaction with Shiite Iran, and may be able to manipulate U.S. Middle East policy with the Pakistan issue and push the U.S. towards support in next month's parliamentary elections of Lebanese Sunnis, whom analysts have described as Saudi-backed Wahhabists.

Obama administration overtures already has begun toward the Saudis. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked them to help develop a political consensus in Pakistan to deal with the Taliban threat. While the Saudis also have considerable influence over the Pakistani government, they share the same influence over the Taliban.

The Saudis provide financial and ideological support to the Wahhabi Sunni Taliban. Initially beginning in 1996 when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries – all controlled by Sunni governments – which recognized the Taliban government. The other two were Pakistan which helped create the Taliban to extend what it perceives is its traditional sphere of influence in Afghanistan, and the United Arab Emirates. With the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Saudis continue to provide support for their efforts in Afghanistan, including the killing of U.S. soldiers.

Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.

In Lebanon, the Saudis back the Sunni March 14 coalition led by Saad Hariri, whose father, Rafiq Hariri, former Lebanese prime minister, was a Saudi favorite before his assassination in February 2005. The Saudis and the March 14 group blame the Syrians for his death.

The U.S. has been supporting the March 14 coalition against the March 8 group which is dominated by the Shiite Hezbollah. It's also comprised of Marionite Christians. The U.S., which has declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization, is very concerned that this Syrian and Iranian-supported Shiite group will take over the government in the upcoming June parliamentary elections. The U.S. has made veiled threats to curb assistance to the Lebanese government should Hezbollah take it over. In return, Hezbollah is almost certain to limit any interaction with the U.S. should it win. One complaint is that the U.S. seeks elections through a democratic process that, in this case, may favor Hezbollah. Yet, the U.S. cannot accept the results.

The British government, on the other hand, has dropped its opposition in recent weeks to meeting and working with the political wing of Hezbollah by distinguishing it from the group's military element.

The U.S. has been obliged to support Hariri's Sunni-led majority party, which has vowed to refuse joining the government should Hezbollah win. Hariri's group also opposes any dialogue with Syria, an approach also backed by the Obama administration. Because the Saudis believe the Syrians were behind the assassination of the senior Hariri, Riyadh has maintained chilly relations with Damascus. In fact, the Saudis are financing armed clashes of the Sunni March 14 opposition with the Syrian-backed Alawite minority and Shiites in northern Lebanon. The U.S. is providing training and equipment to March 14 militia groups, according to informed sources.

"The Saudis are supporting the Wahhabi Sunnis of Saad Hariri in Lebanon – and that's what they are, Wahabbists,” said one Middle East analyst.

Indeed, Wahhabism, an extreme form of Sunni Islamic teaching, is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida represents Wahhabism in its purist form. However, Saudi Arabia has propagated the Wahhabist form of Islam by supporting its teachings through madrassas and financed these learning centers through charities located in various countries, including the U.S.

In the U.S., these charities and madrassas have helped raise funds for al-Qaida and continue to provide funding for the Sunni Hamas to help finance their terrorist operations.
Girl Scouts exposed: Lessons in lesbianism
Communists, radical feminists cited as role models for troops

Posted: May 17, 2009
7:57 pm Eastern

By Chelsea Schilling


When many parents think of Girl Scouts, they imagine young girls in uniform selling Thin Mints and Tagalong cookies – not learning about stone labyrinths, world peace, global warming, yoga, avatars, smudging incense, Zen gardens and feminist, communist and lesbian role models.

But that's exactly what many of 2.7 million Girl Scouts will learn about with a new curriculum called "Journeys" released last year.

Patti Garibay spent nearly two decades in Girl Scouts – six years as a girl member and 13 years as a volunteer. She was also a recruiter, camp coordinator and area delegate winning outstanding leader and volunteer in both councils in which she served. In Garibay's words, she "bled green."

But in 1993 when Girl Scouts USA decided to make God optional in its program at the national convention in Minneapolis, an idea known as "Proposal 3: Flexibility in Spiritual Wording," Garibay chose to leave the organization.

"I had always used Girl Scouts as part of my life's ministry, modeling my faith while serving girls," she told WND. "However as this change became policy, mandates were made against Christmas caroling, praying at meetings and singing hymns. I had a true moral dilemma and felt that I could not uphold the GSUSA's rules and remain a Christian never denying my Lord."

In the Girl Scout curriculum, the organization's promise now includes an asterisk with the following disclaimer:

Girl Scouts of the USA makes no attempt to define or interpret the word "God" in the Girl Scout Promise. It looks to individual members to establish for themselves the nature of their spiritual beliefs. When making the Girl Scout Promise, individuals may substitute wording appropriate to their own spiritual beliefs for the word "God."

Garibay said it appears that Girl Scouts has taken a stance toward religion – the religion of the New Age – despite its proclaimed secular scouting program. WND asked Girl Scouts USA spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins if the organization is shifting its focus toward a New Age agenda.

Read how America is being sold unwittingly on embracing moral decline in "The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom"

"No, Girl Scouts isn't headed into a New Age direction," she said. "We're just looking for new ways to get through to girls."

WND reviewed the following books in the Girl Scouts' new "Journeys" curriculum:

'Amaze: The Twists and Turns of Getting Along'

In "Amaze: The Twists and Turns of Getting Along," girls from the sixth to the eighth grade will read a quote from Buddha and be encouraged to explore mazes and stone or dirt labyrinths – symbols rooted in pagan mythology and popular within the New Age movement as meditation tools.

They will be briefly introduced to Polish poet Anna Swir, known for her feminist and erotic poems, and Jane Addams, an ardent feminist and pacifist who received a Nobel Peace Prize.

The text features a quote from Harriet Woods, former president of the National Women's Political Caucus – a bipartisan group that endorses pro-abortion female candidates who run for public office.

To cope with bullying, girls as young as 11 are encouraged to "take a peace break," make a Zen garden, take martial arts, do yoga and visit a website to learn the sun salutation poses.

The book features a strong emphasis on feminism and world peace, concluding with the following message:

Life is a maze. Navigate its twists and turns and you'll find true friendships, meaningful relationships, and lots of confidence to boot. So, go ahead, enter the maze. The goal is peace – for you, your world, and the planet, too.

Garibay said, "Placing an asterisk by the word 'God' in the Girl Scout promise in an effort to be tolerant, yet promoting Eastern mysticism through Zen gardens and Buddha writings hardly seems tolerant to those who believe in Christianity."


In the next age group, for teens in the ninth and tenth grades, girls are taught about wage disparities between the sexes, and a lack of assets and senior management positions held by women.

"Girltopia" poses the questions, "When women don't earn enough, what happens to their children?" and "How could everyone help create a Girltopia?"

Asked what the purpose of including a message of inequality served in the Girl Scout curriculum, Tompkins explained:

It's to show girls what's going on in the country and have them be part of the dialogue. A lot of girls just aren't aware of what's going on. I think that specific topic might be new this year, but in the broader scheme of things, it's not that new. I'm sure it's something that came up in the 1920s as well. Girls Scouting has been around since before women had the right to vote, so I'm sure these discussions were always part of this.

The text praises Renaissance author Sir Thomas More for his book "Utopia," Mary Cavendish for her book "A New World: The Blazing World" about a utopian kingdom and 24-year Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood and feminist author Sheri S. Tepper for her novel, "The Gate to Women's Country."

"Girltopia" encourages girls to "let songs inspire you," and as some examples, it provides lyrics to songs such as "Independent Women, part 1" by Destiny's Child; "Hammer and a Nail" by the Indigo Girls – an "out" lesbian rock band; and "Imagine" by John Lennon. The curriculum also asks girls to create an avatar "to represent the ideal you in Girltopia" and features "Wild Geese," a short poem by lesbian poet Mary Oliver.

"This book was so depressing that I don't know what I would have done as a teen reading it," Garibay said. "The sense of hopelessness abounds in 'Girltopia.' The positivity, the enthusiasm and the vigor of youth is completely destroyed by data found to further the Girl Scout USA's feminist agenda. It plants seeds of despair and hopelessness in today's girls."

"Girltopia" also features a section on ethics and asks, "What are your ethical standards based on?" Girls must check all of the following answers that apply:

Whatever does the most good and least harm
Whatever treats everyone as fairly and equally as possible

Whatever is best for most people in the community

Whatever is consistent with your character

"Although not everyone shares the same sense of personal ethics, most people in the world have many ethical principles in common," it states.

"The hollow toll of moral relativism is throughout these books," Garibay said. "The girls are left up to their own 'feelings' in making decisions. This is not age appropriate for girls, nor is it what girls want to be forced to do. They want to know right from wrong."

'Your Voice Your World: The Power of Advocacy'

When teens reach their junior and senior years in high school, they begin a Girl Scouts curriculum called "Your Voice Your World: The Power of Advocacy." It encourages young women to begin "raising their voices as advocates" and follow the examples of other young people who are speaking out on causes such as global warming, universal health care, racism and child poverty.

One question asks, "What policies is our city putting in place to combat global warming?"

Teens are then asked to generate a list of causes they are passionate about. One example suggests girls "propose new environmental protection laws for waterways in your state."

The text encourages Girl Scouts to take their ideas and list steps necessary to accomplish goals on advocacy charts. It provides the following suggestion for a cause:

I worry about all the waste in using plastic bags and how their use in my community contributes to global warming. One example is the supermarket – do we really need to be using all those plastic bags?
Girls are encouraged to read the bottom of each page to discover a "Voice for Good," or female advocates who are meant to be role models. Of more than 50 women listed, only three are women who are known for their faith: Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Mother Teresa. Their religions are only briefly mentioned, if at all.

Many of the female role models mentioned are feminists, lesbians, existentialists, communists and Marxists. Examples include:

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: labor leader, activist, feminist, founding member of ACLU and chairwoman of the American Communist Party
Luisa Moreno: labor leader, social activist, member of the Communist Party, married to delegate of the Socialist Party of America

Simone de Beauvoir: existentialist, French author of feminist books including "The Second Sex," key player in France's women's liberation movement

Rigoberta Menchu: Guatemalan activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner who joined Marxist guerrilla movement

Emily Greene Balch: writer, feminist, recipient of Nobel Peace Prize, pacifist who campaigned against U.S. involvement in World War I, former editor of The Nation

Billie Jean King: retired tennis champion, sued for palimony by lesbian girlfriend while she was still married, first prominent professional athlete to come out as homosexual

Ethel Mary Smyth: English composer, lesbian, leader of the women's suffrage movement, member of Women's Social and Political Union

Jeanette Rankin: first woman elected to the House of Representatives, R-Montana, pacifist who voted against U.S. entry into World War I and World War II, founding vice-president of American Civil Liberties Union and founding member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Carrie Chapman Catt: feminist politician, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, founded the League of Women Voters, anti-war activist

Frances Perkins: teacher and U.S. secretary of labor from 1933 to 1945, first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet, helped write New Deal legislation including minimum-wage laws, allegedly had lesbian relationship with Mary Harriman Rumsey

Rachel Carson: marine biologist and nature writer, author of "Silent Spring" (1962), spurring a nationwide ban on DDT, inspiration from book led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, reported to have had lesbian relationship with Dorothy Freeman

Barbara Jordan: member of House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979, first black woman to deliver keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 1976, supported Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 requiring banks to lend to poor and minority communities. The Houston Chronicle reported Jordan had lesbian partner of more than 20 years named Nancy Earl

Martina Navratilova: former World No. 1 women's tennis champion from Czechoslovakia who fled communism, came out openly as a lesbian and admitted to having crushes on other female tennis players, spoke before the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, was 2000 recipient of National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign

Shirley Chisholm: member of the House of Representatives from 1969 to 1983, feminist, first black woman elected to Congress, first major-party black candidate for president of the United States, founding member of the National Organization of Women, helped pass Title IX, homosexual advocate

Pauli Murray: feminist, lawyer, writer, poet, teacher, ordained priest, author of the 1950 book "States' Laws on Race and Color," founder of the Women's Rights Law Reporter, co-founder of the National Organization for Women.

Betty Friedan: feminist writer on Girl Scouts' board of directors, best remembered for 1963 book "The Feminine Mystique," primary founder and first president of the National Organization for Women, founder of the National Women's Political Caucus, strong opponent of abortion laws, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League, or NARAL, active in Marxist circles, spoke in favor of homosexual "rights"

Dolores Huerta: co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chávez, directed the UFW's national grape boycott, serves on boards of People for the American Way and Feminist Majority Foundation, spoke in favor of "gay" and lesbian rights, marched in GLBT parades, served as Human Rights Campaign board member

Other "Voices for Good" include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – a former Brownie and Girl Scout – and TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

WND asked Tompkins why Girl Scouts USA has chosen to focus on lesbians, radical feminists and controversial figures as role models instead of other significant female pioneers.

"There was a council of people who worked on the 'Journeys.' They tried to figure out who would be profiled," she said. "It came out from lots of discussions. I think the change the world message has been part of Girl Scouts since the beginning. It's not a radical agenda at all."

She continued, "I think the concept of change is incredibly radical, but it's about making the world better and being conscious and respecting authority. There was a wide cross-section of women mentioned in the 'Journeys' that came about from the discussions."

Readers will find very few men in the book, with the exception of a brief mention of Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations.

"Men are not seen favorably but, rather a force to diminish and avoid," Garibay said. "It alarmed me that women of faith were only mentioned in these few cases despite their many contributions. Not one pro-life woman was mentioned, nor was a missionary or conservative public figure."

Tompkins said she doesn't know why there are only three women of faith mentioned, but she said, "Girl Scouts isn't a religious organization, so that could be part of it."

She continued, "I would imagine we keep everything open when it comes to faith. I know no doors are ever shut with us. It's sort of like the way that God can never be taken out of the Girl Scout promise and law – in writing."

"Your Voice Your World" finishes by encouraging teens who are bitten by the "advocacy bug" to pursue some of the following careers:

ambassador, congressperson, artist, filmmaker, labor union organizer, fund raiser/grant writer, lawyer, lobbyist, mediator, professor, public affairs officer, researcher, religious leader, senator, web master, blogger, journalist …
Tompkins told WND a new "Journeys" book will be arriving this month called "It's Your Planet, Love It." She said the text has a strong environmental focus.

Other controversy

As WND columnist Jane Chastain reported, at the 51st Girl Scout National Council Session and Convention last year, the organization did away with its traditional flag ceremony and the playing of the National Anthem. Flags of all nations were brought in to the tune of "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire.

The Girl Scouts also made headlines in recent years after it refused to adopt what it called "a discrimination policy" against homosexual leaders.

In a 2000 National Review Online editorial titled "The Cookie Crumbles," author Kathryn Jean Lopez cites the 1997 book "On My Honor: Lesbians Reflect on Their Scouting Experience." She said it is "filled with coming-of-age stories sparked by gay encounters in the Girl Scouts."

"On My Honor" includes an essay titled "All I Really Need to Know About Being a Lesbian I Learned at Girl Scout Camp." Lopez reported that "staffers writing in the book claim that roughly one in three of the Girls Scouts' paid professional staff is lesbian."

According to news reports, Planned Parenthood has also had some involvement with Girl Scouts in recent years.

In Waco, Texas in 2004, a Girl Scout council cosponsored a sex education program with Planned Parenthood and honored PP Executive Director Pam Smallwood.

On NBC's Today Show in 2004, Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girls Scouts USA, admitted that it "partners with Planned Parenthood across the country to bring information based sex education programs to girls."

In response to the interview, American Life League's STOPP International surveyed 350 councils to ask if they had any involvement with Planned Parenthood. While 80 percent refused to answer, 17 councils reportedly admitted to associating with Planned Parenthood, and 49 said they don't.

Garibay told WND Girl Scouts USA is not the same program most women remember.

"Originally scouting was about citizenship, service and life skills," she said. "The founder, Juliette Lowe, wanted girls to do their duty to God and their country. She encouraged girls to activate, not meditate. Now the Girl Scouts want to move into self-discovery and lobbyist training."

An alternative to Girl Scouts

Garibay said she had enough after she heard about sexuality camps for Girl Scouts.

"I realized it was no longer my mom's Girl Scouts," she said. "We thought we would have a little alternate scouting group for our daughters here in Cincinnati, Ohio. Word got out, and we started getting calls from across the nation from people asking to be a part of it."

Garibay founded a group called American Heritage Girls in 1995, and she has encouraging news for families who do not want to participate in the Girl Scouts' new direction:

"Do not despair. There are still some scouting organizations holding onto traditional values," she said.

Now the organization has 8,000 members and is growing rapidly – by more than 20 percent in the last year. American Heritage Girls has also started a Trailblazer program that allows girls who are not in troop areas to be members and work on establishing their own troops. American Heritage Girls has expanded internationally, with troops in Japan, Germany and Italy.

American Heritage Girls' mission is to build women of integrity through dedication to service, spiritual growth, servant leadership, goal setting through merit badge and advancement opportunities and teamwork through its outdoor program.

American Heritage Girls

Parents won't find an emphasis on New Age spirituality, radical feminism, homosexual role models and combatting global warming at American Heritage Girls. Garibay said she has a higher goal for her troops.

Instead, she said, "Girls in AHG learn about their God-given gifts, their identity in Christ and the importance of seeking His will for their life."
Bill Federer

Seward's Folly is what Alaska was called when it was first purchased from Russia, as it was thought to be of no value. Only when it was discovered to be rich in natural resources was appreciation shown to Secretary of State William Seward, who was born MAY 16, 1801. Serving under Abraham Lincoln, he was wounded by an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth the same night Lincoln was shot. Seward stated: "I do not believe human society...ever has attained, or ever can attain, a high state of intelligence, virtue, security, liberty, or happiness without the Holy Scriptures; even the whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever-growing influence of the Bible." As the vice-president of the American Bible Society, 1836, William Seward stated: "I know not how long a republican government can flourish among a great people who have not the Bible; the experiment has never been tried; but this I do know: that the existing government of this country never could have had existence but for the Bible." Seward concluded: "And, further, I...believe that if at every decade of years a copy of the Bible could be found in every family in the land its republican institutions would be perpetuated."
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