Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

White House Petition set up on the 14th December, the same day as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, has become the most popular petition of all time, and currently stands at 262,708 signatures.

The petition reads thus:

Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

This group has been recognized as a hate group by organizations, such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, and has repeatedly displayed the actions typical of hate groups.

Their actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians. They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.

I must admit, if I were an US citizen, I’d sign it…..

UPDATE: It appears that following the success of the above petition somebody thought it a great idea to create a similar one pertaining to the Catholic Church:

Officially recognize the Roman Catholic Church as a hate group.

In his annual Christmas address to the College of Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI, the global leader of the Roman Catholic Church, demeaned and belittled homosexual people around the world. Using hateful language and discriminatory remarks, the Pope painted a portrait in which gay people are second-class global citizens. Pope Benedict said that gay people starting families are threatening to society, and that gay parents objectify and take away the dignity of children. The Pope also implied that gay families are sub-human, as they are not dignified in the eyes of God.

Upon these remarks, the Roman Catholic Church fits the definition of a hate group as defined by both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

This has garnered a whopping 93 signatures…..

Hillary Clinton has vanished

Did you see this over the weekend? A Hasidic newspaper photoshopped the Secretary of State out of the briefing room picture:

A big hat-tip to Failed Messiah (who gave a hat-tip to Critical Minyan) for breaking the news that an Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish newspaper, Der Tzitung, has determined that the photo of top U.S. leaders receiving an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden was too scandalous.

What was so offensive about the image? U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the photo and, based on good intel, the editor of Der Tzitung discovered that she is a woman. The Hasidic newspaper will not intentionally include any images of women in the paper because it could be considered sexually suggestive. The iconic photo shows President Obama, Vice President Biden, and members of the U.S. National Security Team in the Situation Room of the White House. Secretary of State Clinton, wearing a long-sleeved suit jacket, sits with her hand over her mouth. I’m not sure how Der Tzitung determined this was a racy photo. Perhaps they just don’t like the idea of a woman with that much political power.

Hasidic Newspaper Photoshops Hillary Clinton from Iconic Photo | The Jewish Week.

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I am now part of the official White House Record

What? Surely not me? But, yes, I am. The White House Press Secretary said,

“The only thing that would be archived other than what I produce is if you respond directly to me and only me,”

So….

They say that if you tweet @presssec it becomes part of the official WH Records 4ever, so, here it goes – I, Joel Watts, is the bomb 4ever (here)

This is going to be fun. Real fun.

Does the President Read my Blog?

This is only since June 1st, when I switched to self-hosting, but I have to wonder, does President Obama read my blog?

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Should Religious Groups be free from Anti-Discrimination Laws?

The Rev. Jim Wallis, a political voice in his own right, has responded to a recent action by religious leaders who have asked that the Attorney General remove protections for religious groups who discrimination in hiring. His basic answer is that theses religious groups should discriminate in providing services (note, that they groups are those who receive money from the ‘Faith-Based’ office in the White House (something I have been against since the last Administration created it.) but can hire to preserve religious identity.

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10 Most Important Obama Faith Moments

100 days are up….
Introduction

From expanding the White House’s faith-based office to opening his rallies with prayer, Barack Obama has embraced faith in a more visible way than any other president in recent memory. At the same time, Obama’s actions on a variety of fronts, from abortion policy to accepting a speaking invitation at Notre Dame—a prestigious Roman Catholic university—have outraged religious conservatives. The confluence of these two phenomena have made for an explosion of “faith moments” in the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency. Here are the 10 most important.—Dan Gilgoff

Obama Reaches out to Evangelicals

Here is an article on MSNBC.

I am opposed to congregations getting involved with politics on any level and indeed, people who use the name of Christ to get involved as well. What worries me is that the Constitution provides for a clear separation of Church and State, and while people bemoan and wail if the State was to encroach on the Church, they seem willing to allow the Church to encroach on the State.

In the past 2 elections, the Republicans have co-opted the ‘religious right’ while demonizing the ‘religious left’. Suddenly, the volcano of evangelical political power that had been building since the last 70’s, ebbing in the Reagan years, and again coming to the national scene with the election of the Clinton-Gore ticket, erupted when the evangelicals played an important part, even providing the deciding factor, in a presidential race. It was built with Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, and Kennedy, among others, writing books, building colleges, networks of media outlets, and disciples that promoted all things right-wing. The evangelical agenda explored to new heights, believe it or not, when congregations of various denominations all participated in the 40 Days of Purpose Driven Life programs. Suddenly, denominations were united on a different level and it was proved that pastors would yield their pulpits to an outside voice if that voice was backed by a furor from the public.

In 2004, in the midst of the campaign, I was taking a political science class at a university. The professor, a strong liberal, taught a class of 90% liberal democrats. Then there was the lone Republican and me. No one believed that the Evangelicals could vote for the Republicans again, because of the war, but when I begin to put it in terms of American support for Israel, it became clear that many evangelicals would vote for Bush because they saw the Iraqi war in eschatological terms. (Think LeHaye’s awful series, Left Behind).

Now, we see a mad rush by both candidates to reach out to Evangelicals, the religious center to right. The problem that I see, is that congregations, and the Church, should not be involved in politics. Paul told Timothy not to be entangled in the affairs of this world, and yet we see so many trying to sway politics. Can you really imagine Paul waging a campaign for a Roman Senator? Our mission on this planet is not to change the planet, or to pass laws, govern nations, or to enforce the morality of Christianity on the populace. Instead, we are told to reach the people, speak the truth, preach the word. We are to be soul winners, not political campaigners.

And may God have mercy on those that use the pulpit to campaign for any particular political party. Is it not the same as using the name of God to murder people? (Crusades, Iraqi War) How many things have been done in the name of God and Christ? For centuries, Rome maintained a nominal control over western Europe, while the great Seljuq Dynasty maintained control over a good deal fo the Middle East, reaching into Asia. Both seats of power ruled in the name of their God and both forced people to do things for religious reasons. Why? Because some thought it best to use the things that should be reserved for God for the things of this world.

I am not suggesting that either Senators McCain or Obama will attempt to ignite a new theocracy, but the picture is still startling. Why must you court the religious right? (Or religious left for that matter) Why should a presidential candidate court the pro-Israel lobby? Remember the young shepherd boy, David. who was tending sheep while the great king was in trouble with the Lord. Or even the twelve year old Jesus, who was about His Father’s business while the Jews planned a rebellion. His Father’s business, as we know, was to preach repentance.

We need to be about our Father’s business, if indeed God is our Father. If you live in the United States, then vote the issues that matter to you. Search the issues in the bible and see where it ranks with God. Abortion? Justice? Environment? War? Defense? So many issues that matter to Americans, but do what matters to God? Don’t confuse the two. (And don’t confuse this country with some divinely establish nation that is the sole greatest country on earth).

Take this also into account. In 2000 and 2004 the Evangelical leaders said some awful things about God (God is pro-war, Falwell) and drug His name into the basest mud. They drug Him out and had Him endorse George W. Bush as a Christian candidate. They made it the eleventh commandment to vote Republican. All on the promise that George Bush would end abortion. Yet, nothing.

Remember, Christ said to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s and politics is too unholy to be from God.

I would ask the candidates to stop these silly appeals to envangelicals and instead focus on real issues. Leave the things of God up to God, and God alone.