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.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Wed May 16, 2007 8:25PM EDT
By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz refused on Wednesday to bow to heavy European pressure to resign as he sought to clear his name in negotiations with the bank's board over a possible exit strategy.
"Mr. Wolfowitz will not resign under this cloud and he will rather put this matter to a full (board) vote than to capitulate on his integrity," his lawyer Robert Bennett told Reuters.
Several European countries have said Wolfowitz should step down to salvage the bank's credibility, which they say has been damaged by his handling of a high-paying promotion for his companion, bank Middle East expert Shaha Riza.
The controversial former deputy U.S. defense secretary and architect of the Iraq war has insisted he acted in good faith on the advice of a board ethics committee in overseeing the promotion of Riza and has said he wants it to acknowledge its own failures.
A board panel found his efforts on her behalf broke bank rules and represented a conflict of interest.
Board sources said talks were launched on Wednesday over how to push the dispute to a close. Some members have suggested a resolution that would recognize the panel's findings and Wolfowitz's efforts to resolve the conflict of interest issues over Riza, but also acknowledge mistakes by the board.
However, the board adjourned until Thursday without a decision.
Under a contract he signed in June 2005 when he became World Bank president, Wolfowitz would receive a year's salary, or around $375,000, if his service were terminated by the board or if he resigned.
PRESSURE TO RESIGN
Pressure to resign intensified on Wednesday as European countries signaled they would resist a bid by the United States to keep Wolfowitz in the job.
Wolfowitz had been scheduled to attend a meeting of the Group of Eight finance ministers in Germany this weekend.
But German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said Wolfowitz was not welcome to take part in a two-day World Bank forum on development aid for Africa that starts on Monday in Berlin.
"He would do the bank and himself a great service if he resigned," Wieczorek-Zeul, one of Wolfowitz's strongest critics, told reporters in Berlin.
"It would be the best thing for all concerned."
European countries have had misgivings about Wolfowitz since his nomination by President George W. Bush in 2005, at the height of bitter tensions between the White House and Europeans over the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The White House publicly maintained its support for Wolfowitz on Wednesday.
"We stand by our support of Paul as the World Bank president," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.
Tensions increased after the U.S. administration tried to a cut a deal that would have separated consideration of Wolfowitz's ethics violations from a decision over whether he had the credibility to continue, but only Japan out of the G7 countries sided with the United States.
G7 sources said most board members wanted a quick resolution to the protracted dispute, which has paralyzed the bank for more than a month.
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul is an outspoken critic of Paul Wolfowitz
Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul is an outspoken critic of Paul Wolfowitz
German Development Minister Wieczorek-Zeul Wednesday stepped up pressure on disgraced World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz to resign, saying he would not be welcome at a forum the bank is holding next week in Berlin.
"He (Wolfowitz) would do the bank and himself a great service if he resigned," Wieczorek-Zeul told journalists on Wednesday in Berlin. "That would be the best thing for everybody involved."
Should he fail to quit his post, she advised him not to take part in a two-day World Bank forum on development aid for Africa which starts Monday in the German capital.
"I would not advise him to (take part) if he's still in office," she said, referring to Wolfowitz.
An internal World Bank report found Wolfowitz broke ethics rules and triggered a leadership crisis at the bank by arranging a hefty pay raise for his girlfriend Shaha Riza, a former World Bank employee, when she transferred to the US State Department.
Wolfowitz has denied any wrongdoingBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Wolfowitz has denied any wrongdoing
Wolfowitz, who is the former US deputy defense secretary, remained defiant on Tuesday as he appeared before the 24-nation World Bank board. He denied he broke ethics rules in arranging a hefty pay raise for his girlfriend after becoming the bank's president in June 2005.
"I respectfully submit, to criticize my actions or to find them as a basis for a loss of confidence would be grossly unfair and would be contrary to the evidence we have presented to you," Wolfowitz said in a statement to the board.
"Rather than fix blame for something that wasn't wrong, we
should all acknowledge our responsibility as I have acknowledged
mine," he said, conceding he made mistakes.
Wolfowitz's lawyer Robert Bennett told reporters: "We presented to them (the board) overpowering evidence that he (Wolfowitz) acted at all times in the best interests of the bank and in good faith."
The board was expected to deliberate Wednesday, extending an impasse that has pitted European governments outspokenly critical of Wolfowitz against US President George W Bush, who tapped the co- architect of the Iraq war to head the World Bank in 2005.
European nations decline to support Wolfowitz
Key European nations including France, Germany and the Netherlands have declined to support Wolfowitz since the furor reached a fever pitch last month.
The European Commission has said it is worried about the impact of the allegations on the World Bank's credibility as a key partner for European development actions in Africa and other parts of the world.
Will Wolfowitz have to leave the Wolrd Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.?Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Will Wolfowitz have to leave the Wolrd Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.?
"A strong World Bank president is needed to mobilize the money," Wieczorek-Zeul said after talks with European Union counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday. "We development-aid ministers know how to speak diplomatically and still get our message across."
"What we hope is that the integrity and the credibility of the bank can be preserved, that is to say re-established," Wieczorek-Zeul said, stressing that she was speaking on behalf of all EU development ministers who met for talks in Brussels.
A shift in the White House?
The EU is worried about the World Bank's credibility in the developing worldBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The EU is worried about the World Bank's credibility in the developing world
But the White House signaled a shift Tuesday that may point the way toward a settlement between the bank and Wolfowitz, who has vowed not to quit under "bogus charges" that he acted unethically.
Comments by US officials suggested that a deal could involve the board closing the ethics inquiry without demanding Wolfowitz's resignation.
Instead, the bank would open a broad review to decide whether Wolfowitz is still fit to lead the 185-nation development agency.
"At some point in the future there are going to be conversations about the proper stewardship of the World Bank," Bush's chief spokesman Tony Snow said on Tuesday. "In that sense ... all options are on the table."
He refused to speculate whether that includes Wolfowitz's removal at a later date.Wolfowitz "made mistakes" in handling his companion's promotion, but these were not "firing offences," Snow said.
A highly critical report
The White House has so far stood by the World Bank chiefBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The White House has so far stood by the World Bank chief
Pressure mounted for Wolfowitz to quit after the bank's investigating panel on Monday issued a highly critical, 52-page report.
The panel expressed concern that the scandal had hurt the bank's reputation, hampered its mission of fighting poverty and disease and undermined a global anti-corruption drive that Wolfowitz has made the hallmark of his tenure.
"Mr Wolfowitz saw himself as the outsider to whom the established rules and standards did not apply," it said. "It evidences questionable judgment and a preoccupation with self interest over institutional best interest."
European governments have led the public campaign to oust Wolfowitz, who has made widespread foes among bank staff and senior managers.
The US, which has chosen every World Bank president since the lender's founding in 1944, has stood by Bush's nominee.
Oh my, the little Jew wants to save face. Kick this piece of human garbage out of the World bank and send him to Israel
Wolfowitz to Resign This Afternoon?
May 16, 2007 12:42 PM
Brian Ross Reports:
World Bank officials say the bank's board is completing an "exit strategy" that will allow World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz to resign this afternoon and "still save some face" over the issue of his efforts to seek a promotion and pay raise for his girlfriend at the bank.
The officials say the bank's board will accept Wolfowitz's resignation but will also acknowledge that the World Bank's Ethics Committee bears "some responsibility" for giving him bad advice on the issue of his girlfriend.
The decision is likely today, officials say, because Wolfowitz had been scheduled to leave tonight for a European trip.
German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said yesterday, "He would do the bank and himself a great service if he resigned." The German said Wolfowitz would not be welcome at an Africa forum the bank is holding next week in Berlin should he refuse to resign.
Wolfowitz made an impassioned plea to the board last night to clear his name before leaving.
He said the inquiry into his conduct "has the potential to do greater long-term damage to the institution than the alleged underlying ethics issue that was, in point of fact, put to rest over a year ago."
ABC News was the first to report Tuesday the White House was beginning to change its stance on the Wolfowitz issue.
A senior White House official told ABC News that "all options are on the table" regarding Paul Wolfowitz's future and that "it is an open question" whether he should should remain as president of the World Bank.
The Guardian reports today that, according to the Wolfowitz/World Bank investigation, when Wolfie's senior staff objected to Shaha Riza's compensation package (and, where, once again, did she get her security clearance, I would like to know), Wolfie shouted, "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too!" I love this. Isn't Wolfowitz the guy who has been repeatedly commended for his humane outlook, his charitable drive, his general do-gooder (but in a conservative way of course) point of view? Yes, Wolfowitz got us into the horror of the Iraq war. Yes, he was the architect of the madness, but, you know, it was only out of an excess of good intentions. He wanted to save Iraq, not destroy it, and if the Iraqis have not allowed themselves to be saved, well, what can someone who is just a bureaucrat, and maybe, in fact, a little too good for this world, do about it? Not much. Certainly not apologize or commit any sort of honorable suicide.
Just as a little reminder of what Wolfie did in his last job, I quote another piece in the Guardian, from some weeks ago. The author is Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi columist and novelist who was no friend to Saddam. This is from the April 12 Guardian, and concerns the growing resistance by Iraqi women to the American presence:
It is important to recognise that the resistance was born not only of ideological, religious and patriotic convictions, but also as a response to the reality of the brutal actions of the occupation and its administration. It is a response to arbitrary break-ins, humiliating searches, arrests, detention and torture. According to the Red Cross, "the number of people arrested or interned by the multinational forces has increased by 40% since early 2006. The number of people held by the Iraqi authorities has also increased significantly."
Many of the security detainees are women who have been subjected to abuse and rape and who are often arrested as a means to force male relatives to confess to crimes they have not committed. According to the Iraqi MP Mohamed al-Dainey, there are 65 documented cases of women's rape in occupation detention centres in 2006. Four women currently face execution - the death penalty for women was outlawed in Iraq from 1965 until 2004 - for allegedly killing security force members. These are accusations they deny and Amnesty International has challenged.
That Wolfowitz apparently still thinks of himself as a good person, and, right now, a victim of a "smear campaign", after instigating the wreck that is Iraq is something that I simply cannot understand. Clearly Wolfowitz, Cheney, Perle, Rice, Hadley, Kristol, and all the other perps here are lacking in some innate human capacity of observation and understanding, though the fact that they carefully protect themselves from ever seeing what is actually going on in Iraq, in American army hospitals, or in the families of American soldiers indicates that there is, at least, some vestigial organ of fear and avoidance that is still active.
It would seem that our principal hope is that Wolfie will follow through on his threat, and really fuck whoever it is who might fuck him. And let that be the Bush administration, who are, right now, protecting him. I would like to think that we are approaching the deepest, brittlest nubbin of the Bush/Rove conspiracy to take over the US, and that when the inner circle begins to go, there will be less of a crumpling and more of an implosion, as every man and woman saves him -- or herself -- by outing the others. Tenet has begun, but I want a cascade effect. I want an avalanche that buries every single one of these people beyond rescue and beyond redemption. No memoirs, only depositions. No retirement activities, other than mopping floors at Walter Reed. No resurrections, a la Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rove, post-Nixon. Conservatives, read my lips: you own these people. If you want anything from us for the next three generations, get rid of them now.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Angry Wolfowitz in four-letter tiradeThis is so typical. People such as Wolfowitz have zero class, they are insecure little rag pickers. How obnoxious.
Richard Adams in Washington
Tuesday May 15, 2007
Paul Wolfowitz. Photograph: AP
Under fire for the lavish package given to Shaha Riza, a World Bank employee and Mr Wolfowitz's girlfriend when he became president, an official investigation into the controversy has found that Mr Wolfowitz broke bank rules and violated his own contract – setting off a struggle between US and European governments over Mr Wolfowitz's future.
Sounding more like a cast member of the Sopranos than an international leader, in testimony by one key witness Mr Wolfowitz declares: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."
The remarks were published in a report detailing the controversy that erupted last month after the size of Ms Riza's pay rises was revealed. The report slates Mr Wolfowitz for his "questionable judgment and a preoccupation with self-interest", saying: "Mr Wolfowitz saw himself as the outsider to whom the established rules and standards did not apply."
The report brushed off Mr Wolfowitz's defence that he thought he had been asked to arrange Ms Riza's pay package, observing that "the interpretation given by Mr Wolfowitz ... simply turns logic on its head".
The investigators have sent their completed report to the bank's governing board, containing a string of withering criticisms of Mr Wolfowitz's behaviour and casting doubt on his ability to continue running the bank, a multibillion-pound international agency with 12,000 staff based in Washington.
According to the report, Mr Wolfowitz's actions "had a dramatic negative effect on the reputation and credibility" of the bank.
It concluded that "the damage done to the reputation of the World Bank group" should lead the bank's board to "consider whether Mr Wolfowitz will be able to provide the leadership needed to ensure that the bank continues to operate to the fullest extent possible".
It also said: "Mr Wolfowitz's contract requiring that he adhere to the code of conduct for board officials and that he avoid any conflict of interest, real or apparent, [was] violated."
Despite the weeks of turmoil within the bank, Mr Wolfowitz may still keep his job if the US government is prepared to stick by him.
Mr Wolfowitz still enjoys support from the Bush administration, where he served as deputy defence secretary at the Pentagon during the invasion of Iraq.
Yesterday vice president Dick Cheney defended Mr Wolfowitz, saying: "Paul is one of the most able public servants I've ever known .... I think he's a very good president of the World Bank, and I hope he will be able to continue."
The US treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, was yesterday said to also be drumming up support for Mr Wolfowitz, while European governments increasingly despair of US intransigence in allowing Mr Wolfowitz to hang on.
The angry comments attributed to Mr Wolfowitz came from damning testimony by Xavier Coll, head of human resources at the bank, who provided investigators with his notes of a meeting with Mr Wolfowitz last year. The notes directly contradict Mr Wolfowitz's assertions that the details of Ms Riza's treatment were properly shared with senior bank officials.
In March last year, when a mention of Ms Riza's secondment outside the bank to avoid rules about partners was first published in the magazine US News & World Report, an angry Mr Wolfowitz accused Mr Coll of leaking the information.
According to Mr Coll's notes: "At the end of the conversation Mr Wolfowitz became increasingly agitated and said that he was 'tired of people ... attacking him' and 'you should get your friends to stop it'. Mr Wolfowitz said, 'If they fuck me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too'," naming several senior bank staff he felt were vulnerable.
Mr Wolfowitz appears before the bank's executive board today to make a final defence of his actions, with the board meeting tomorrow to consider the report and make a statement later in the week.
With Mr Wolfowitz so far refusing to step down, the board may need to take radical action to break the stalemate. Members have discussed a range of options, including sacking Mr Wolfowitz, issuing a vote of no confidence or reprimanding him. Some board members argue that a vote of no confidence would make it impossible for him to stay in the job.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Pope Benedict XVI has expressed concern about authoritarian governments and Marxist movements in some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. From Sao Paulo, VOA's Brian Wagner reports the pontiff asked bishops at a regional conference to address challenges to democracy and the church.
|Pope Benedict XVI at the inauguration ceremony of the V Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, 13 May 2007|
Latin America is home to nearly one half of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
Pope Benedict welcomed the spread of democracy in Latin America in recent years. But he said some countries in the Western Hemisphere are in danger of regressing to Marxism and authoritarian rule.
He said Marxist-ruled countries have a sad history of economic and environmental destruction, as well as the painful oppression of people's souls.
Pope Benedict called on bishops and other church leaders to stay out of politics, and said both Marxism and capitalism have failed to deliver on their promises of development and equality.
In Latin America, the Vatican has long struggled to maintain its distance from the leftist policies of liberation theology embraced by some priests in Brazil and other Latin American countries.
The pontiff said concerted efforts are needed to address poverty, drug abuse and other social problems across the hemisphere. And he said the church must work with business, political and social leaders to find solutions to inequality.
He said ecclesiastical groups should remind lay people of their responsibility and mission to bring the light of the Gospel into the public, cultural, economic and political sectors.
Pope Benedict also sought to reach out to indigenous and African-American communities that historically have been marginalized by the Roman Catholic church. He said church leaders should reach out to all communities, because each contributes to the rich culture of the Americas.
The meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean bishops conference is expected to last more than two weeks. Pope Benedict returns to Rome late Sunday, ending his first pastoral visit to the Western hemisphere.