Also sometimes referred to as secular, modern, or humanistic. This is an umbrella term for Protestant denominations, or churches within denominations, that view the Bible as the witness of God rather than the word of God, to be interpreted in its historical context through critical analysis. Examples include some churches within Anglican/Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ. There are more than 2,000 Protestant denominations offering a wide range of beliefs from extremely liberal to mainline to ultra-conservative and those that include characteristics on both ends.
|•||Belief in Deity |
Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty. Many believe God is incorporeal.
Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Some believe we are all sons and daughters of God and that Christ was exemplary, but not God.
|•||Origin of Universe and Life |
The Bible's account is symbolic. God created and controls the processes that account for the universe and life (e.g. evolution), as continually revealed by modern science.
|•||After Death |
Goodness will somehow be rewarded and evil punished after death, but what is most important is how you show your faith and conduct your life on earth.
|•||Why Evil? |
Most do not believe that humanity inherited original sin from Adam and Eve or that Satan actually exists. Most believe that God is good and made people inherently good, but also with free will and imperfect nature, which leads some to immoral behavior.
Various beliefs: Some believe all will go to heaven, as God is loving and forgiving. Others believe salvation lies in doing good works and no harm to others, regardless of faith. Some believe baptism is important. Some believe the concept of salvation after death is symbolic or nonexistent.
|•||Undeserved Suffering |
Most Liberal Christians do not believe that Satan causes suffering. Some believe suffering is part of God's plan, will, or design, even if we don't immediately understand it. Some don't believe in any spiritual reasons for suffering, and most take a humanistic approach to helping those in need.
|•||Contemporary Issues |
Most churches teach that abortion is morally wrong, but many ultimately support a woman's right to choose, usually accompanied by policies to provide counseling on alternatives. Many are accepting of homosexuality and gay rights.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
VATICAN CITY - Europe seems to be losing faith in its future, Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday, citing the continent’s population trends, which include generally low birth rates.
“One must unfortunately note that Europe seems to be going down a road which could lead it to take its leave from history,” the pontiff told a gathering of the continent’s bishops.
The bishops were in Rome for ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which marked the start of the Common Market, forerunner of today’s European Union.
Benedict did not elaborate on the population trends, but the continent’s demographics have been under intense scrutiny for decades.
In countries like Italy, where many married couples have one or no children, the population is expected to shrink dramatically in a generation or two unless the birth rate increases rapidly. Immigrant populations have generally kept the birth rates from decreasing even more.
‘Losing faith in its own future’
Benedict said Europe’s population trends, “besides putting economic growth at risk, can also cause enormous difficulties for social cohesion, and, above all, favor dangerous individualism, careless about the consequences for the future.”
“You could almost think that the European continent is in fact losing faith in its own future,” Benedict said.
The pontiff noted differences across the continent about Europe’s unification process, which, he said, gives the impression that “various chapters of the European project have been written without taking into adequate consideration the expectations of the citizens.”
Continuing a campaign by his predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict has been urging Europeans to keep alive Christian roots. The Vatican had campaigned vigorously to have those roots cited in the EU constitution, but drafters of the text rejected the idea. The constitution itself was voted down by referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005.
“You cannot think of constructing a common European ‘house,’ neglecting the very identity of the peoples of our continent,” said the German-born pontiff.
Benedict said Europe should be on guard against “that practical attitude, widely diffused today, which systematically justifies compromises on essential human values.”
Such an attitude could wind up “denying Christians the very right to intervene as such (Christians) in the public debate,” Benedict said. He urged Europe to safeguard rights of conscientious objectors, “whenever fundamental human rights are violated.”
Italian church leaders recently urged Catholics to declare themselves conscientious objectors if necessary to avoid any role in policies which contradict the Vatican, including abortion and proposed legislation to give many legal rights to unmarried couples, including same-sex ones.
‘Apostasy of itself’
Benedict also criticized the European Union for excluding a mention of God and Europe’s Christian roots in declarations marking the 50th anniversary of its founding.
In a toughly-worded speech to European bishops, Benedict said Europe was committing a form of “apostasy of itself” by forgetting God and its Christian roots and was thus doubting its own identity.
The pope, who like his predecessor John Paul II has often called for a mention of God and Christianity in the European Constitution, said leaders could not exclude values that helped forge the “very soul” of the continent.
“If on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome the governments of the Union want to get closer to their citizens, how can they exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity, in which the vast majority of its people continue to identify,” he said.
“It is no surprise that today’s Europe, while it purports to be a community of values, seems to increasingly contest the existence of absolute and universal values,” he said.
“Does not this unique form of apostasy of itself, even before God, lead it (Europe) to doubt its very identity?”
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Was Carol Lam Targeting The White House Prior To Her Firing?
Referring to the Bush administration’s purge of former San Diego-based U.S. attorney Carol Lam, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) questioned recently on the Senate floor whether she was let go because she was “about to investigate other people who were politically powerful.”
The media reports this morning that among Lam’s politically powerful targets were former CIA official Kyle “Dusty” Foggo and then-House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA). But there is evidence to believe that the White House may also have been on Lam’s target list. Here are the connections:
– Washington D.C. defense contractor Mitchell Wade pled guilty last February to paying then-California Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham more than $1 million in bribes.
– Wade’s company MZM Inc. received its first federal contract from the White House. The contract, which ran from July 15 to August 15, 2002, stipulated that Wade be paid $140,000 to “provide office furniture and computers for Vice President Dick Cheney.”
– Two weeks later, on August 30, 2002, Wade purchased a yacht for $140,000 for Duke Cunningham. The boat’s name was later changed to the “Duke-Stir.” Said one party to the sale: “I knew then that somebody was going to go to jail for that…Duke looked at the boat, and Wade bought it — all in one day. Then they got on the boat and floated away.”
– According to Cunningham’s sentencing memorandum, the purchase price of the boat had been negotiated through a third-party earlier that summer, around the same time the White House contract was signed.
To recap, the White House awarded a one-month, $140,000 contract to an individual who never held a federal contract. Two weeks after he got paid, that same contractor used a cashier’s check for exactly that amount to buy a boat for a now-imprisoned congressman at a price that the congressman had pre-negotiated.
That should raise questions about the White House’s involvement.
UPDATE: Perhaps this was the “real problem” Sampson was referring to:
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
|Bush Warns Dems to Take Offer in Firings|
|Mar 21 01:36 AM US/Eastern |
By LAURIE KELLMAN
Associated Press Writer
|WASHINGTON (AP) - A defiant President Bush warned Democrats Tuesday to accept his offer to have top aides testify about the firings of federal prosecutors only privately and not under oath or risk a constitutional showdown from which he would not back down. |
Democrats' response to his proposal was swift and firm: They said they would start authorizing subpoenas as soon as Wednesday for the White House aides.
"Testimony should be on the record and under oath. That's the formula for true accountability," said Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bush, in a late-afternoon statement at the White House, said, "We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants. ... I have proposed a reasonable way to avoid an impasse."
He added that federal prosecutors work for him and it is natural to consider replacing them. "There is no indication that anybody did anything improper," the president said.
Bush gave his embattled attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, a boost during an early morning call and ended the day with a public statement repeating it. "He's got support with me," Bush said.
The Senate, meanwhile, voted to strip Gonzales of his authority to fill U.S. attorney vacancies without Senate confirmation. Democrats contend the Justice Department and White House purged eight federal prosecutors, some of whom were leading political corruption investigations, after a change in the Patriot Act gave Gonzales the new authority.
Several Democrats, including presidential hopefuls Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barrack Obama, Joe Biden and John Edwards, have called for Gonzales' ouster or resignation. So have a handful of Republican lawmakers.
"What happened in this case sends a signal really through intimidation by purge: 'Don't quarrel with us any longer,'" said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a former U.S. attorney who spent much of Monday evening paging through 3,000 documents released by the Justice Department.
Bush said his White House counsel, Fred Fielding, told lawmakers they could interview presidential counselor Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and their deputies—but only on the president's terms: in private, "without the need for an oath" and without a transcript.
The president cast the offer as virtually unprecedented and a reasonable way for Congress to get all the information it needs about the matter.
"If the Democrats truly do want to move forward and find the right information, they ought to accept what I proposed," Bush said. "If scoring political points is the desire, then the rejection of this reasonable proposal will really be evident for the American people to see."
Bush said he would aggressively fight in court any attempt to subpoena White House aides.
"If the staff of a president operated in constant fear of being hauled before various committees to discuss internal deliberations, the president would not receive candid advice and the American people would be ill-served," he said. "I'm sorry the situation has gotten to where it's got, but that's Washington, D.C., for you. You know there's a lot of politics in this town."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is leading the Senate probe into the firings, spoke dismissively of the deal offered by the White House:
"It's sort of giving us the opportunity to talk to them, but not giving us the opportunity to get to the bottom of what really happened here."
Even without oaths, Bush aides would be legally required to tell the truth to Congress. But without a transcript of their comments, "it would be almost meaningless to say that they would be under some kind of legal sanction," Schumer complained.
Fielding's meeting on Capitol Hill came a few hours after Bush spoke with Gonzales in an early morning phone call—their first conversation since the president had acknowledged mistakes by his longtime friend and lawmakers of both parties had called for Gonzales' ouster.
The White House offered to arrange interviews with Rove, Miers, deputy White House counsel William Kelley and J. Scott Jennings, a deputy to White House political director Sara Taylor, who works for Rove.
"Such interviews would be private and conducted without the need for an oath, transcript, subsequent testimony or the subsequent issuance of subpoenas," Fielding said in a letter to the Senate and House Judiciary committees and their ranking Republicans.
He said documents released by the Justice Department "do not reflect that any U.S. attorney was replaced to interfere with a pending or future criminal investigation or for any other improper reason."
Associated Press writer Jennifer Loven contributed to this report.
The stupidity of the antiwar doomsayers.
04/21/2003, Volume 008, Issue 31
AREN'T YOU PROUD of us? For most of this past week, as an overwhelmingly successful, lightning-quick Anglo-American military assault liberated Iraq's capital city, and ordinary Baghdadis poured into the streets to kiss our GIs and stomp on pictures of Saddam Hussein, THE SCRAPBOOK has remained the soul of magnanimity and restraint.
Here in our office there's this giant archive of newsclips, transcripts, and Internet postings we collected in the months preceding the war, wherein a world community of jackasses confidently predicted that the events lately unfolding on our television screens could not and would not ever take place. And you can imagine the temptation, we're sure: A lesser SCRAPBOOK would throw open the file boxes and run through the streets with treasures like these, laughing hysterically.
"This invasion of Iraq, if it goes off, will join the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Desert One, Beirut, and Somalia in the history of military catastrophe. What will set it apart, distinguishing it for all time, is the immense--and transparent--political stupidity."
--Chris Matthews, San Francisco Chronicle, August 25, 2002
"Iraqis hate the United States government even more than they hate Saddam, and they are even more distrustful of America's intentions than Saddam's. . . . [I]f President Bush thinks our invasion and occupation will go smoothly because Iraqis will welcome us, then [he] is deluding himself."
--New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, October 4, 2002
But being the soul of magnanimity and restraint, we're not going to do any such thing. Instead, THE SCRAPBOOK is going to run through the streets, laughing hysterically at all the people who were so blinded by hatred of President Bush--or general anti-Americanism, or their own sheer foolishness--that they continued to prophesy doom even after the war had begun and was already being won. People like a certain former U.N. weapons inspector turned Baath party apologist turned peace-movement celebrity:
"The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated....We do not have the military means to take over Baghdad and for this reason I believe the defeat of the United States in this war is inevitable. . . . [W]e will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost."
--Scott Ritter, on a South African radio station, March 25, 2003
It takes all kinds, of course. You've got your late-career journalist gasbag, phoning it in from the dinner-party front lines:
"With every passing day, it is more evident that the allies made . . . gross military misjudgments. . . . The very term 'shock and awe' has a swagger to it, no doubt because it was intended to discourage Mr. Hussein and his circle. But it rings hollow now."
--New York Times "news analyst" R.W. Apple Jr., March 30, 2003
You've got your war novelist, phoning it in from his experiences in Vietnam, 30 years ago:
"Visions of cheering throngs welcoming them as liberators have vanished in the wake of a bloody engagement whose full casualties are still unknown. . . . Welcome to hell. Many of us lived it in another era. And don't expect it to get any better for a while."
--James Webb, in the New York Times, March 30, 2003
And you've got your usefully idiotic, broadcast-media war correspondent, phoning it in from wherever his Baath party minders want him to:
"The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. . . . Clearly the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces. And I personally do not understand how that happened, because I've been here many times and in my commentaries on television I would tell the Americans about the determination of the Iraqi forces. . . . But me, and others who felt the same way, were not listened to by the Bush administration."
--Peter Arnett on Iraqi state television, March 30, 2003
Then there are our "allies" in Old Europe, the governments of Germany and France. Mustn't forget them:
"Gruesome days for the German foreign minister: Every morning at nine, [Joschka Fischer's] staff briefs him on the situation in Iraq in the ministry's underground situation room. His worst fears are coming true: The U.S. military appears to be stuck in its tracks in the desert, and civilian casualties are multiplying. It has never been so painful to have been in the right, murmurs the foreign minister, with a worried look on his face. . . . President Chirac accuses the Americans of having made both a strategic and a political mistake: 'They thought they would be greeted as liberators and that the regime would collapse like a house of cards. But they underestimated Iraqi patriotism. They would have been better off listening to us.'"
--Der Spiegel, March 31, 2003
This man directs the "University of Texas Inequality Project," where "our work so far has emphasized the use of Thiel's T statistic to compute inequality indexes from industrial data." In his spare time, he foretells the near-term deaths of millions:
"If history is a guide, you cannot subdue a large and hostile city except by destroying it completely. Short of massacre, we will not inherit a pacified Iraq. . . . To support 'the groundwork' for this effort is to support a holocaust, quite soon, against Iraqi civilians and also against the troops on both sides. That is what victory means."
--James K. Galbraith on the American Prospect website, April 1, 2003
Did you know that your average Iraqi fellow would much rather watch his relatives be raped or eaten by dogs than have to shake hands with an American Marine on the sidewalk?
"Regardless of their political affiliations, patriotic Iraqis prefer to bear the yoke of Saddam's brutal and corrupt dictatorship than to suffer the humiliation of living in a conquered nation. . . . The thought of infidel troops marching through their cities, past their mosques, patting them down, ordering them around, disgusts them even more than Saddam's torture chambers."
--Cartoonist and conspiracy-theory book author Ted Rall, April 2, 2003
They don't call it "conventional wisdom" for nothing. Mere days before the fall of Baghdad, one of America's newsweeklies, the "hip" one, makes a fatuous blunder for the ages:
"Cheney [down arrow] Tells 'Meet the Press' just before war, 'We will be greeted as liberators.' An arrogant blunder for the ages."
--Newsweek, April 7, 2003 edition
Mere hours before the fall of Baghdad, an English fifth columnist in the grand old tradition files an "eyewitness" report:
"Vast areas of Baghdad--astonishing when you consider the American claim to be 'in the heart' of the city--remain under Saddam Hussein's control."
--Robert Fisk in London's Independent, April 9, 2003
And finally, there are these two spectacular embarrassments, both of which are still on the newsstands, even today:
"Al-Jazeera has had reporters inside Mosul, Baghdad and Nasiriya...and they have presented a much more detailed, more realistic account of what has befallen Baghdad and Basra, as well as showing the resistance and anger of the Iraqi population, dismissed by Western propaganda as a sullen bunch waiting to throw flowers at Clint Eastwood lookalikes. . . . The idea that Iraq's population would have welcomed American forces entering the country after a terrifying aerial bombardment was always utterly implausible."
--Edward Said in the April 17, 2003, London Review of Books
"Is Wolfowitz really so ignorant of history as to believe the Iraqis would welcome us as 'their hoped-for liberators'?"
--Eric Alterman in the April 21, 2003, issue of the Nation
Here, indeed, we are witnessing some of the worst wartime (self-)destruction ever recorded in human history.
|© Copyright 2007, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.|
Monday, March 19, 2007
Published: March 19 2007 02:00 | Last updated: March 19 2007 02:00
The Bush administration is again committing a blunder in the Middle East by supporting the Israeli government in its refusal to recognise a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas. This precludes any progress towards a peace settlement at a time when such progress could help avert conflagration in the greater Middle East.
The US and Israel seek to deal only with Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president. They hope new elections would deny Hamas the majority it has in the Palestinian legislative council. This is a hopeless strategy, because Hamas would boycott early elections and, even if their outcome resulted in Hamas's exclusion from the government, no peace agreement would hold without Hamas support.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is pursing a different path. In a February summit in Mecca between Mr Abbas and the Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, the Saudi government worked out an agreement between Hamas and Fatah, which have been clashing violently, to form a national unity government. Hamas agreed "to respect international resolutions and the agreements [with Israel] signed by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation", including the Oslo accords. The Saudis view this accord as the prelude to the offer of a peace settlement with Israel, to be guaranteed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. But no progress is possible as long as the Bush administration and Ehud Olmert's Israeli government refuse to recognise a unity government that includes Hamas.
Many causes of the current impasse go back to the decision by Ariel Sharon, former Israeli prime minister, to withdraw from the Gaza Strip unilaterally, without negotiating with the then Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority. This contributed to Hamas's electoral victory. Then Israel, with strong US backing, refused to recognise the democratically elected Hamas government and withheld payment of the millions in taxes collected by the Israelis on its behalf. This caused economic hardship and undermined the government's ability to function. But it did not reduce support for Hamas among Palestinians and it reinforced the position of Islamic and other extremists who oppose negotiations with Israel. The situation deteriorated to the point where Palestine no longer had an authority with which Israel could negotiate.
This is a blunder, because Hamas is not monolithic. Its inner structure is little known to outsiders but, according to some reports, it has a military wing, largely directed from Damascus and beholden to its Syrian and Iranian sponsors, and a political wing that is more responsive to the needs of the Palestinian population that elected it. If Israel had accepted the results of the election, that might have strengthened the more moderate political wing. Unfortunately, the ideology of the "war on terror" does not permit such subtle distinctions. Nevertheless, subsequent events provided some grounds for believing that Hamas has been divided between its different tendencies.
No sooner had Hamas agreed to enter into a government of national unity than the military wing engineered the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, which prevented such a government from being formed by provoking a heavy-handed Israeli military response. Hizbollah used the opportunity to stage an incursion from Lebanon, kidnapping more Israeli soldiers. Despite a disproportionate response by Israel, Hizbollah stood its ground, gaining the admiration of the Arab masses, whether Sunni or Shia. It was this dangerous state of affairs - including the breakdown of government in Palestine and fighting between Fatah and Hamas - that prompted the Saudi initiative.
Defenders of the current policy argue that Israel cannot afford to negotiate from a position of weakness. But Israel's position is unlikely to improve as long as it pursues its current course. Military escalation - not just an eye for an eye but roughly 10 Palestinian lives for every Israeli one - has reached its limit. After the Israeli Defence Force's retaliation against Lebanon's road system, airport and other infrastructure one must wonder what could be the next step. Iran poses a more potent danger to Israel than either Hamas or Hizbollah, which are Iran's clients. There is growing danger of a regional conflagration in which Israel and the US could be on the losing side. With Hizbollah's ability to withstand the Israeli onslaught and the rise of Iran as a prospective nuclear power, Israel's existence is more seriously endangered than at any time since its birth.
Both Israel and the US seem frozen in their unwillingness to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that includes Hamas. The sticking-point is Hamas's unwillingness to recognise the existence of Israel, but that could be made a condition for an eventual settlement rather than a precondition for negotiations. Demonstrating military superiority is not sufficient as a policy for dealing with the Palestinian problem. There is now the chance of a political solution with Hamas brought on board by Saudi Arabia. It would be tragic to miss out on that prospect because the Bush administration is mired in the ideology of the war on terror.
The writer is chairman of Soros Fund Management and chairman of the Open Society Institute. A longer version of this article appears in the New York Review of Books
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007