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Bible readingThis post is part of a series of Bible passages largely ignored these days in mainstream Christianity.  You can read past ‘forbidden verses’ here and here.

Today’s selection, Psalm 15, is taken from the New King James Version.

 

Psalm 15

A Psalm of David.

 1 LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
         Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
         
 2 He who walks uprightly,
         And works righteousness,
         And speaks the truth in his heart;
 3 He who does not backbite with his tongue,
         Nor does evil to his neighbor,
         Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
 4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
         But he honors those who fear the LORD;
         He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
 5 He who does not put out his money at usury,
         Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
         
         He who does these things shall never be moved. 

Who shall see the LORD and be with Him?  Those who ‘do the right thing’, to borrow a popular phrase.  It is the person who is sincere in his faith and just in his doings.  He speaks the truth at all times.  He deceives no one. He does not criticise someone else behind his back, nor does he insult or slander him.  He does not gossip.   He does no harm to his neighbour.  He honours his friendships.

Note the word ‘despised’ in verse 4.  Viewing it in a more positive light, one could say: ‘Keep all good company’.  Do not associate with those who slander, deceive or harm anyone. Instead, befriend and respect those who are in awe of God.  ‘Swearing to his own hurt’ means keeping one’s promises, even if it means material loss or lack of worldly prestige.

The man who shall see God does not take advantage of people when he lends money to them nor does he accept bribes, particularly against those who are righteous and unfairly charged with wrongdoing. 

The man who shall see God is like the Hill of Zion — the ‘holy hill’ referred to in verse 1: he shall be constant, unmoving, unyielding — at all times upholding God and His precepts.

You can read more here.

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.

Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right.

Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.

 — President Theodore Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star, May 7, 1918

If you missed Part 1 of this two-part series on England and the US, click here.

Obama chinAdding fuel to the fire in the US are questions and lawsuits about Obama‘s legitimacy as President, the latest being the State of New Hampshire investigating whether his name should have been on the 2008 ballot.  For more information on this and the state of the US today, please take four minutes to watch this compelling interview with the eloquent Alan Keyes, a lawyer, one-time Obama political opponent, devout Catholic and pro-life supporter. 

And, last week, a controversy erupted over ACORN employees giving advice about tax credits and housing underage girls from El Salvador working as prostitutes; this week, the organisation has apparently been relieved of their responsibility for taking the 2010 US census.  You can read more about the ACORN sting operation at Freedom’s Lighthouse, which also features a short news interview with one of the undercover reporters and another ACORN film about setting up a brothel in Brooklyn.  You will be amazed to find out how much the helpful ACORN ladies know about setting up prostitution rings! Click here to watch another short undercover film made at the ACORN office in San Bernardino, CA. And, if you’re an American, you’re financing this outfit!  Yet, American taxpayers have no choice but to fund this corrupt organisation, and they have been doing so with in excess of $16 million since 1997.  Why not visit the ACORN Housing site — be sure to check out the top banner. 

Fortunately, a Senate measure brought forward by Republicans is underway whereby ACORN Housing could be deprived of Housing and Urban Development grants.  This measure is scheduled to be passed this week. Before it becomes law, it must be reconciled with a companion House of Representatives measure that passed in July.  But, ACORN is a large group — housing is just a part of it.  And, they are getting a new name, supposedly: Community Organizations International.  Watch for it.

As for child prostitution and trafficking, it is a serious problem in the US, just ignored or covered up.  Here’s what action is being taken in Wichita, KS, as reported by KAKE-TV:

Wichita law enforcement and Via Christi Health Care workers unite through Healthcare Haven, a program designed to help victimized youth.

Within 48 hours of running away from home, statistics show one in three youth are lured into prostitution. Statistics also show the average age of entry into prostitution is 12. The statistics are startling, yet they apply to Wichita. 

‘In the Midwest, this is a big problem,’ said Kathy Gill-Hopple, Director of Healthcare Haven. ‘This is the third most profitable crime behind drug trafficking and arms trafficking.’

Then, as many have long suspected from Obama’s books, word emerges that he has extensive Marxist connections.  A New Zealand researcher, Trevor Loudon, who some say was instrumental in bringing about Van Jones’s recent resignation, expounded on the President’s past for The Post & Email (excerpts follow with subheads from me):

Loudon’s experience:

I have been researching communism since the 80s-when our own Moscow aligned Marxists turned New Zealand anti-nuclear and destroyed the ANZUS Alliance.

My special interest is the ability of the far left to infiltrate and manipulate ‘moderate’ political parties and institutions to influence public opinion and alter government policies.

I began studying the US communist movement after observing the strength of the Anti-Iraq war movement…

Communism and Chicago:

While hugely reduced in size the US communists and their allies in Democratic Socialists of America, Committees of Correspondence and the wider ‘progressive’ movement  have huge influence on the more than 70 strong Congressional Progressive Caucus, the AFL-CIO and several  large black and Latino organizations…

Vernon Jarrett was a prominent Chicago journalist who used his columns to promote Barack Obama during his 2004 Senate run (Jarrett died soon after).

In the later 40s Jarrett worked in at least three communist influenced or controlled organizations in common with Frank Marshall Davis — the two worked together on the publicity committee of a communist controlled Packing House Workers strike support committee in 1948…

The Jarretts were family friends with the Bowman family and Valerie Bowman became Valerie Jarrett through a five year marriage to Vernon Jarrett’s now deceased son.

Valerie’s mother Barbara Taylor Bowman runs the Erikson Institute in Chicago. Tom Ayers, father of  Weather Underground terrorist leader and Obama associate Bill Ayers served on the Erikson board as did Bill Ayers’ wife Bernardine Dohrn. Bill Ayers claims to be a friend  and Hyde park neighbor of Barbara Bowman, who incidentally is an adviser on early childhood education to the Secretary of Education.

Valerie Jarrett hired Michelle Obama for a Chicago City job in the 90s and became a close friend and advisor to both Michelle and Barack, leading to her current job in the White House.

Communism in Hawaii:

Frank Marshall Davis [Obama’s mentor] was a prominent Chicago journalist and poet in 1940s Chicago…

Davis left Chicago for Hawaii in 1948, where he worked on the Honolulu Record, a paper controlled by the  communist ‘owned’ International Longshoremen’s Worker Union.

Davis was an active, but still covert Party member in Hawaii and went underground with the Party in the mid 50s-after a Senate Inquiry  into communist activities on the islands…

Davis was marked by the FBI for immediate arrest in the event of war with the Soviet Union.

Like many of his comrades Davis was an official in the Hawaii Democratic Party.

In 1970 Davis was introduced to a 10 year old Barack Obama, by Obama’s grandfather-who was Davis’ friend and drinking buddy.

Obama’s associations as an adult:

It is important to note that Obama attended ‘socialist conferences’ at the Cooper Union while in New York.

Cooper Union was the usual venue of the annual Socialist Scholars Conference which was organized by Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) — the US’s largest socialist/Marxist grouping…

DSA endorsed Obama in his 1995 Illinois State senate run.

Obama joined the Chicago New Party at that time. The New Party was a coalition of ACORN, DSA, Committees of Correspondence and SEIU activists

Obama worked closely with several DSA members in Chicago, a well as with come cadre from Committees of Correspondence — a Communist Party splinter group.

Several of Obama’s close friends, neighbors and colleagues were involved with DSA …

Obama’s main documented links to the Chicago left were through DSA, Committees of Correspondence and the New Party.

Prominent CoC leader Manning Marable wrote in Britain’s Socialist Review of November 2008:

What makes Obama different is that he has also been a community organizer. He has read left literature, including my works, and he understands what socialism is. A lot of the people working with him are, indeed, socialists with backgrounds in the Communist Party or as independent Marxists. There are a lot of people like that in Chicago who have worked with him for years…

That said, both the Chicago Communist Party and Young Communist League campaigned for Obama in his 2004 Senate race and both organizations overtly campaigned for Obama in 2008

You can read the rest here.  Loudon explains the political ties some of Obama’s advisors and cabinet members have — breathtaking.

So, what sort of judgment are England and the US getting?  Of course, as Donald Rumsfeld famously once said, ‘We don’t know what we don’t know’. Holly Dye at The Cross Is All has a post entitled ‘Judgment or Revival’. It should be noted that her post may or may not tie in with what has been stated above — it may be a social comment rather than a political one. She says:

A few months ago, while in prayer, I kept hearing the words, ‘It’s coming’. I began to sense something coming upon this country. The only way I know how to describe it is to say it was like two different waves coming at the exact same time. One wave was terrible, horrifying judgment and the other was immense revival. They were of the same intensity.

I believe we can choose which wave will come upon us. Will it be judgment or revival?

It’s so hard to say.  I believe that God is giving both countries a taste of horrible socio-political situations that could come our way in triplicate if we refuse to turn unto Him.    

Back to Holly, who quotes R T Kendall’s article, ‘Judgment at the House of God’, which discusses five different possibilities of judgment, paraphrased below:

Retributive: no mercy — think Sodom and Gomorrah

Gracious: having mercy, intended to be a warning yet give hope — as in Jonah’s repentence after being swallowed by the whale

Redemptive: retribution with a promise — God’s punishment of the Israelites with poisonous snakes, followed by life for those who looked on the bronze snake He ordered Moses to make  

Natural: what you sow you shall reap — karma, in other words

Silent: a long period of God’s angry silence — He sees and does nothing.

Holly ends her post with several signs of revival, which we may see, if we are lucky.  But it depends on us and those around us. 

The first and fifth judgments described seem to be the worst.  What could happen?  Food shortages, less freedom, manufactured panic and government control.  The possibilities are endless.  Here’s just one recent example, which is about Oklahoma and the H1N1 vaccine as featured in a short YouTube film.  It explains some things you will want to know if you live in the state.  Here’s a related story, this time about the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Even if you don’t live in either of these states, you should be aware of what these items say about the direction America is headed today. 

If you don’t believe me, why not watch legendary comedian Jackie Mason explain it here?   He says if Americans accept dishonesty from their politicians, then their country really is becoming a ‘most immoral nation’.   Mason says that if you don’t accept dishonesty from your family or friends, why do you tolerate it from your President? 

The scariest part is that many people don’t even see what’s happening around them.  Many say, ‘Who cares?’ or ‘Go along to get along’. Whilst these sound like harmless responses, their apathy carries the potential for dangerous, unexpected outcomes.   

So, let’s do what we can through prayer, fellowship and a good example to bring others to Christ so they turn from apathy and ignorance to truth and light.   

And if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned— Jeremiah 18:8 (NIV)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children — Hosea 4:6 (KJV)

Hand of God leedsacukHave no doubt that the LORD will judge our vapid lifestyles, warped behaviours and fractured societal norms collectively, if He isn’t doing so already.   

God has blessed England and the United States in ways that no other nations can claim. Neither is a perfect country and, technically, England no longer officially exists, having been subsumed under the ‘United Kingdom’, although Scotland is considered a nation in its own right. (That’s another topic altogether.) However, one has to wonder how England will emerge from the transformation it has undergone over the past decade, including a descent into militant atheism and the struggle with demographic changes.  Socially, politically and ethnically this country (for many, no matter where they are in the world, still consider it to be one) is on a strange trajectory which no one seems to be able to fully define or defend, regardless of their political outlook.  It seems to be an EU experiment that gives worse results by the day.

One week ago, there were riots in northwest London. A few months ago they occurred in nearby Bedfordshire. Our families and children are in a desperate state. We now look likely to have multi-generational families dependent on the state. Teachers discourage schoolchildren from taking pride in their country. We can no longer speak of being Christian for fear of losing our jobs. Dr Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury, derisively known as ‘Beardy’, wants us to be open to accepting other forms of law, such as Sharia. The Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants us all to fast during Ramadan, forgetting that Christians fast during Lent and Jews do the same on Yom Kippur. We have fewer freedoms every day, thanks to Parliament and nationwide experts. The Conservative Party Leader David Cameron is ahead in the polls, and, heaven knows, we need a different party in charge, but can he effect change or will he rely on his PR background and appease everyone instead? It can be quite depressing opening up our favourite newspapers each day. 

Bp Michael Nazir-Ali freethinkercoukIn his final sermon on September 13, 2009, as the Anglican Bishop of Rochester (Kent), the Right Revd Michael Nazir-Ali (pictured at right), warned the congregation of a moral decline.  The Telegraph (UK) quotes him as saying:

‘We are facing a crisis about affirming the dignity of human purpose.

‘It may be at the earliest stage of life or as we are hearing more and more, at the later stages of life.’

He added: ‘It is obvious to many people that the weakening of family life is responsible for what we face on our streets, in our classrooms and in homes.

‘It would be irresponsible for a Christian leader not to point this out.’

Archbp of Canterbury at mosque Telegraph news-graphics-2008-_440983aSadly, he is one of the few who are speaking out.  We don’t hear nearly enough substantive thoughts from the Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured at left in 2008 at a mosque). He wants us to make nice with everyone, even to our peril — and his.  Frankly, it is hard to determine whose side he is on at times, although I did find this in Thinking Anglicans, from a ‘gathering’ he participated in at Canterbury Cathedral on September 11, 2009.  Read it and weep (my comments follow):

‘THE FOOT is still in the door, even if it is being squashed very painfully,’ the Archbishop of Canterbury said last weekend when he was asked about the Church’s participation in public debate. He did not think that the Church had yet ‘dropped off the radar’.  (And he’s barely keeping the ship afloat.)

Dr Williams was in dialogue with Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye and panellist on the BBC’s Have I Got News for You, at an event during ‘The Gathering’, a series of activities for all ages at Canterbury Cathedral.

Mr Hislop described the difficulty that Dr Williams faced with the media when people called for a moral lead from the Church. ‘When the Archbishop of Canterbury says anything, they say, “Shut up,’” he suggested.  (Ian is being far too charitable — must be doing penance for editing a satirical magazine and appearing on an irreverent news show.)

Dr Williams responded that ‘the leadership thing is a problem’. It was ‘a matter of trying to remember that when you’re speaking from the Church you’re trying to give some sort of critical perspective to try and show some­thing’. The Archbishop admitted that he was ‘not brilliant at sound-bites’…  (Yes, leadership is definitely a problem.  Time to get Dr Nazir-Ali in the post!)

Meanwhile, in the US, a massive Tea Party (Taxed Enough Already, but also an allusion to the Boston Tea Party’s ‘no taxation without representation’) took place in Washington, DC, on Saturday, September 12.  The Tea Parties have been a series of protests, this having been the largest to date with estimates of 1m people converging on the capital. Americans — traditional Democrats and Republicans — are angry over Obamacare, bailouts, progressive government, increased taxation and decreased transparency of the current administration.  You can see several photos here, thanks to Stealth Fusion.

Tomorrow: More on the US

Organising for Health CareSeptember is make or break time for leftist organisations and networks pushing Obamacare in the United States.  Some of these have church affiliations.

There is much to read for those who are interested in the networks and how they operate.  Brief highlights with links to blogs and documents follow. My sincere apologies for the formatting problems below.

But, first, please note the official Obamacare marque and the words ‘organising for’.  Who ‘organises for’ anything except a leftist?  The rest of us ‘organise’ things, like a sock drawer.  Now read on …

HotAir reports on ‘astroturfing churches’, ironic for an administration supported by people who believe in a separation of church and state.  Oh, well, when it comes to Obamacare, it’s all right for them to stick their secular noses into church but not okay for you to have a nativity scene at the courthouse come Christmastime. Ed Morrissey warns (emphasis mine):

If you attend church in Ohio on a regular basis, you may notice a subject creeping its way into your pastor’s sermons over the next two months. A Hot Air reader working at a non-profit received this RFP [Request for Proposals] from the Ohio chapter of UHCAN, the organization behind the Health Care for America Now counter-demonstrations at town-hall forums, where volunteers are trained to disrupt and shut down dissent.

In other words, UHCAN wants to pressure churches into transforming themselves into campaign rallies.  That kind of contact could risk their tax-exempt status (and should), but the moral problem goes beyond that.  Will pastors who agree to this disclose that they’ve been lobbied and pressured by ObamaCare advocates?  If they do, it would undermine the credibility of the sermons, but if they don’t, it undermines the credibility of the minister and the church itself.

I deliberately chose the word ‘creeping’ in the lead.  This is a rather creepy idea, one which essentially asks ministers to become tools of the state.  It’s one thing to ask ministers to join their cause, but another entirely to launch a lobbying campaign to astroturf their sermons.  It shows the level of desperation among ObamaCare organizers as Americans reject their radical agenda

It’s creepy because someone in the not-too-distant past also intimidated churches and demanded fealty from pastors. A Socialist masquerading as a Christian. Not sure who it was?  (Here’s a hint: Godwin’s Law.)

In California, PICO is pushing Obamacare.  PICO stands for Pacific Institute for Community Organising. It receives 6% of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development monies annually.  Stephanie Block, an investigative journalist, has more here in her article ‘How to Shoot Yourself’ (see page 3). She writes:

The California Right to Life was particularly disturbed by mobile health vans that travel around to different area dispensing health care services. As these vans are under the supervision of the County Public Health Department, they refer their clientele, including school children, to county agencies and non-profits such as Planned Parenthood that dispense birth control and abortion. Families without medical insurance are encouraged to sign up for Healthy Families, a California medical care program with options to cover such referrals.

The Contra Costa PICO affiliate was the primary promoter of the mobile medical van. In addition, PICO affiliates are the major source for lobbying in Sacramento for more school-based health clinics and government health care programs.

Even more insidious, individuals have become ‘application assistants’ within their church communities, trained and authorized to sign up fellow congregants with Healthy Families.

 

 That was a few years ago.  Now, California Catholic Daily examines PICO, the Sojourners and the Catholics in the Alliance for the Common Good in promoting Obamacare.  Gibbons J Cooney tells us:

 

How did pro-abortion Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez end up speaking in a Catholic Church? The ‘prayer vigil’ for healthcare was sponsored by the Orange County Congregation Community Organization. This group is an affiliate of the PICO National Network… Ten of the Orange County group’s 22-member congregations are Catholic churches. 

I have experience with one such group. In 2000, my parish signed up with the Bay Area Organizing Committee. They are an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, another Alinskyite umbrella organization. We held some meetings. Some other more active parishioners and I were invited. At the first meeting I asked the Bay Area Organizing Committee representative what we were going to try to accomplish. The answer was that we were going to join together for common action. But for what aim? I asked… 

I received no answer … because the technique of Alinskyite organizations is to avoid concrete issues whenever possible. Issues such as abortion or same sex-marriage are to be avoided because they are ‘divisive’, and divisiveness would inhibit the growth of the organization. For the Alinskyite organizer, as for any political organizer, growth equals power

PICO was founded in Chicago in 1972 by a Jesuit priest, Father John Baumann. It continues to receive much support from the Jesuits. One of this year’s Jesuit Foundation grants at the University of San Francisco will go to ‘training 50-75 USF students, faculty, and staff in the best approaches to community organizing’…

Right now PICO is running a national ad supporting ‘Health Insurance Reform’–the most divisive issue in recent memory. They are urging people to contact their representatives to express support…

Though ten of the Orange County affiliate’s 22-member churches are Catholic, in San Francisco, 22 Catholic churches are listed on the website of the San Francisco Organizing Project, and the archdiocese is listed as ‘a partner’. The San Francisco group is an affiliate … Go anywhere: in Denver, home of Archbishop Charles Chaput, it’s the Metro Organizations for People. Of the 17 churches belonging to the Denver group, nine are Catholic—Denver is an affiliate of PICO. Does this mean all those churches and bishops support the network’s lobbying for healthcare bills that include publicly funded abortion?

… because these prelates agreed with PICO on other issues, they tolerate it. And this policy has allowed the organizing committees to consolidate their power via Catholic parishes, using the parishioners’ own money

Alarming — please be sure to read the whole article.  There’s more on PICO, again in the California Catholic Daily, ‘Healthcare “Reform”‘, excerpted here:

PICO, in conjunction with the Sojourners, has provided a document it calls the ‘Health Care Tool Kit: A Guide to the Health-Care Reform Debate’.

… PICO’s position becomes even clearer: ‘Some people will try to twist the issue into a secret plan to socialize medicine or have a government takeover of the health-care system. This is not true, but some fear it excessively just the same.’

… note the unnamed ‘some people’ … demonized (‘secret plan’) and accused of wanting to ‘twist the issue’. Thus the spinning. 

 … For faithful Catholics, the issue of publicly funded abortion and conscience protection looms large. But in the section ‘A Role For the Faith Community’ PICO informs us there is nothing to worry about …

Once again a categorical, declarative statement asserting something PICO/the Sojourners cannot possibly know to be true. No evidence is offered, no citation given, no quote from any legislator.
   
This is the document discussed in the article — worth reading in full if you live in the US.

 

Back to Stephanie Block, who has three articles about Obamacare and the link to Alinsky community organising:

‘The Shenanigans of Alinskyian Organising’:

On Sunday, August 2, 2009, Sanchez spoke at St Callistus Catholic Church, Garden Grove, California as part of an event identified as a ‘Healthcare Prayer Vigil’ on the Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO) website.  

‘OCCCO is an Alinskyian community organization, affiliated with the PICO National Network.’

… Georgeann Lovett, Director of Respect Life, Justice and Peace for the Diocese of Orange, responded that ‘the event was an OCCCO event, not a Loretta Sanchez event or an exclusively Catholic event. OCCCO is an interfaith organizing group that works through various congregations and some of our parishes, including St. Callistus, are participants.’

‘Alinskyian Organising and Activism II: The IAF’ [Industrial Areas Foundation]:

Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) [an IAF local in Massachusetts] claims to have 70 institutional members though it actually only lists 59, most of which are churches and synagogues. Healthcare is an important issue for the group…

‘Exerting real political pressure’ makes GBIO a real political organization with a real political agenda… Real progressive political pressure, leveraged with the support of religious bodies, while vitiating their core moral values…now that’s Alinskyian organizing for you.

‘Alinskyian Health Care Push, Part III’:

With only a little more than a month to counter growing public sentiment against federal health care plans, many of the key players of the We Believe Together – Health Care for All coalition – PICO National Network, Sojourners, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Gamaliel among them – have begun a special campaign, 40 Days for Health Reform.

 To understand the work of We Believe Together – Health Care for All and 40 Days for Health Reform, one must understand that PICO and Gamaliel are community-organizing networks built on the theories of Saul Alinsky. They organize primarily among religious institutions …

In order to clothe health care ‘reforms’ in moral clothing, 40 Days for Health Reform sponsored a highly publicized conference call (Sojourners called it a national ‘call in’) between President Obama and the ‘people of faith’ within its networks to discuss the issue. It has also run a nationwide TV ad, featuring clergy, to support health care reform. It has prepared printed material that misapplies scripture verses, such as the Matthew 25’s warning that people will ‘be judged by how they treat the least of these’ as a spiritual mandate for health care reform

PICO is pushing this in several states: Alabama, Colorado, California, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont.

Apologies for the long post, but it’s important to be aware of the emotional blackmail which is likely to increase dramatically as September draws to a close.

 

When and where will it all end?  Yesterday, we looked at Faith in Public Life.  Today, we examine another leftist group calling itself Christian, the Sojourners.

And, yes, some Sojourners might be Christians, but what type?  In name only or misguided?

It’s useful to know what Sojourners is about, because they promote a progressive Christian viewpoint on various issues, including all today’s favourites — healthcare, abortion, poverty, social justice.

Sojourners started in 1971 at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ilinois, in response to the Vietnam War.  They set up a publication called The Post-American, which explored the relationship between faith and political issues of the day.  Four years later, the group moved to an inner-city neighbourhood in Washington, DC, to live and work in community.  The group and their magazine took the same name Sojourners.  As one of their website pages explains:

The biblical metaphor ‘sojourners’ identifies God’s people as pilgrims—fully present in the world but committed to a different order … The community also gave birth to a variety of ministries, including the Sojourners Neighborhood Center, which from the early ’80s through 2001 ran after-school and summer programs for local children

In 1995, they instituted a ‘Call for Renewal’, a programme which brought together the largest number of Christian organisations together in the fight against poverty.  The organisation evolved through the years to the point where it is today, working in partnership with other faith-based organisations:

Sojourners are Christians who follow Jesus, but who also sojourn with others in different faith traditions and all those who are on a spiritual journey. We are evangelicals, Catholics, Pentecostals and Protestants; progressives and conservatives; blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians; women and men; young and old. We reach into traditional churches but also out to those who can’t fit into them. Together we seek to discover the intersection of faith, politics, and culture

Jim Wallis is an Evangelical minister who was instrumental in founding the Sojourners.  He is also a good friend of President Obama, according to the New York Times.  Journalist Stephanie Block has researched Sojourners and recently wrote an editorial for Spero News entitled ‘Hubris before a fall: ending poverty as we know it’.  She explains (emphasis mine): 

… [In the 1980s] it shifted its focus to the political unrest of Central America, co-creating the Witness for Peace Tours to generate pro-Sandinista (Marxist) support in the United States. Delegates were taken to Nicaragua and treated to staged ‘pep rallies’, supposedly demonstrating popular enthusiasm for the Sandinistas. Meanwhile, the magazine wrote glowing articles about liberation theology’s inroads into the spiritual life of Latin Americans, portraying the US military and US Latin American foreign policy as ‘anti-Christ’, and claiming that US economic assistance went exclusively to countries that repress and torture their citizens … By contrast, one researcher observed that, as of 1983, Sojourners had not criticized one Marxist country for human rights violations.

Today, Block says that Sojourners, Faith in Public Life (with which Wallis has had some connection) and their partners:

helped to get Obama elected by crafting the media message that even if a religiously-minded citizen disagreed with a given candidate on this or that social issue (specifically abortion or homosexual ‘rights’), one had to take into account global warming, foreign policy, and the economy – which Wallis plainly felt trumped the rest.

Clearly, some issues count more than others.  Currently:

To the victor belongs the spoils – which in this case has awarded Wallis a very influential position on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. From that position, for instance, Rev. Wallis has presented the ‘moral case’ … for the Employee Free Choice Act.

He has dined with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. One of the President’s Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is a commitment to these UN goals.

Hmm.  The Employee Free Choice Act seems to be anything but.  It could open the door to union thuggery not only on employers but also on employees who do not wish to join a union.  And how do UN programmes gel with neighbourhood partnerships?  It’s all socialist and globalist.  How good can that be?  And who’s financing all this?  Is some of your church money being channelled — without your knowledge — to support these ’causes’?

Let’s look at some of their positions:

  • Abortion: ‘dramatically reduce the abortion rate’  (Agreed, but do they support the administration’s views on abortion and eugenics??)
  • Capital Punishment: ‘We should not take life to punish wrongful death.’ 
  • Family Values: ‘Strengthening families must become a personal and national priority without scapegoating gays and lesbians for the breakdown of the family.’
  • Gay marriage and same-sex relationships: ‘Pass anti-hate-crime legislation that prosecutes attacks on gays and lesbians’
  • Immigration: ‘Border enforcement and protection initiatives that are consistent with humanitarian values while allowing the authorities to enforce the law and implement American immigration policy.’

You can see the plausibility of the statements.  Who would disagree, right?  But, what lies underneath?

In closing, have a look at ‘A Christian Creed on Health-care Reform’, excerpts of which follow.  I’ve highlighted Alinskyite words and phrases below:

… Sign ‘A Christian Creed on Health-Care Reform’ and a copy of it will be sent to your members of Congress. In addition, after you sign you will be given a link to Sojourners’ free discussion guide about health-care reform, to help guide discussions in your congregation or small group.

‘As one of God’s children, I believe that protecting the health of each human being is a profoundly important personal and communal responsibility for people of faith.

‘I believe God created each person in the divine image to be spiritually and physically healthy. I feel the pain of sickness and disease in our broken world (Genesis 1:27, Romans 8:22)…

‘I believe, as taught by the Hebrew prophets and Jesus, that the measure of a society is seen in how it treats the most vulnerable. The current discussion about health-care reform is important for the United States to move toward a more just system of providing care to all people (Isaiah 1:16-17, Jeremiah 7:5-7, Matthew 25:31-45).

‘I believe that all people have a moral obligation to tell the truth. To serve the common good of our entire nation, all parties debating reform should tell the truth and refrain from distorting facts or using fear-based messaging (Leviticus 19:11; Ephesians 4:14-15, 25; Proverbs 6:16-19).

‘I believe that Christians should seek to bring health and well-being (shalom) to the society into which God has placed us, for a healthy society benefits all members (Jeremiah 29:7) …’

Yes, and just who will be paying for all this healthcare?  How long will it be before the percentage of tax-paying Americans drops below 50%?  Some say it could be in five to 10 years’ time.

These are highly radical perspectives meant to impoverish every American.  Wolves in sheep’s clothing

Is your church participating in Sojourners?  Find out by clicking here.

‘ … do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments … Moral rationalization is indispensable at all times of action whether to justify the selection or the use of ends or means.’ [Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, 10th Rule, p 43.]

Faith in Public Life logoFor better or worse, Churchmouse Campanologist returns to the late Saul Alinsky and his web of community-based organisations linked with Catholic and Protestant churches. (To read past entries, click here.) Over the next few posts, this blog will provide you with the latest updates particularly in light of Obamacare, gay rights and abortion.

Faith in Public Life is a group of leftist organisations which oppose traditional, conservative values using rhetoric and moral language (e.g. ‘for the common good’).  Faith in Public Life says these traditional positions represent the ‘radical right’, but, really, they are what most people in the West know as Judeo-Christian values.  To this end, Faith in Public Life’s affiliated groups ‘fight the right’ through ‘strategic partnerships’ and co-ordinated action.

This is what Faith in Public Life has to say about Obamacare under the not-so-subtle headline, ‘Religious right gets health care very wrong’.  I’ve highlighted certain Alinksyite words and rhetoric:

For those that scripture commands people of faith to care for — the poor, the sick, the powerless — our healthcare system doesn’t just have problems, it is a problem.

Not only is this new attack on as factually shaky ground as their previous charges, but their argument inverts the priorities of the Gospel by defending a system that works for the rich at the continued expense of the poor and breezily flouts of the common good. There’s certainly room for reasonable disagreement among people of good will on various aspects of reform, but it’s hard to make an honest, moral case that the status quo just needs a couple of tweaks.

Here’s what they have to say about immigration ‘reform’ in ‘Keeping immigration on the agenda’:

The faith community is pushing Members of Congress and the Obama administration to pass just and humane immigration reform this year. Fixing the broken system just can’t wait–children are torn from their parents because of an endless mess of red tape and wage theft is on the rise. We aren’t honoring the dignity and humanity of immigrant men, women, and children.

You get the idea.  A high school or at university student reading that would think, ‘Yeah, our government and right-wing Christians are awful!’  Christian youth workers and teachers must have a field day with this stuff.  You can easily use it in schools and in church youth groups.

Do check out the blogroll in the right-hand column of the pages cited above.  Note the words ‘progressive’, ‘religious’, ‘peaceful’, ‘revolution’ in the blog names. 

Please look at the Faith Map to see what organisations are affiliated with Faith in Public Life.  Not all of these are faith-based. Here are some examples by state:

  • California (225 in total): ACORN, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Catholic Charities, Dignity, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Fuller Theological Seminary, Network of Spiritual Progressives
  • Florida (244): ACORN, Catholic Charities, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Church Alliance, First Assembly of God, Methodist Federation for Social Action
  • Illinois (126): ACORN, Americans for Peace Now, Archdiocese of Chicago, Baptist General State Convention, Chicago Theological Seminary, Christian Community Development Association
  • Michigan (126): Catholic Charities, Catholics for the Common Good, Diocese of Grand Rapids (Roman Catholic), Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, United Methodist Church
  • Texas (130): ACORN, Catholic Relief Services, Lutherans Concerned, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Pax Christi, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Soulforce

In January 2009, Faith in Public Life adopted a ‘third way agenda’ (think Tony Blair’s communitarianism and Democratic Party rhetoric from the 1990s) to work alongside the new administration in the White House.  They called it the ‘Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda’ comprised of:

  • reducing abortions
  • supporting employment rights for LGBTs
  • renouncing torture
  • creating secure and comprehensive immigration reform

They’ve got a real odour of sanctity about them, wouldn’t you say?  Journalist Stephanie Block has been studying progressive faith-based groups for several years.  In an article entitled ‘The Third Way Is Really the Same Old Way’, she writes of evangelicals as targets:

… here’s Third Way, the organization – a 21st century Faith in Public Life missile aimed at evangelicals.

Want to ‘reduce abortion’? Download a Third Way fact sheet: ‘In anticipation of the President’s repeal of the Mexico City Policy, we have prepared a fact sheet with talking points that lays out the key facts demonstrating why the repeal is a life-affirming step.’ Really?

Want to protect homosexuals from unjust discrimination? Well, according to other Third Way materials, ‘Americans must be persuaded that moving forward on gay and lesbian rights represents progress for the nation. These insights, gained through both original qualitative and quantitative public opinion research, provide the framework for progressives to advance same-sex relationship recognition and make progress on other gay and lesbian issues.’ 

There’s no compromise about this – no ‘common ground’. This is the progressive agenda, plain and simple.

Block says in her article, ‘American Catholics and Faith in Public Life’:

  • Faith in Public Life is a propaganda vehicle that has allies in every state.
  • Faith in Public Life identifies official Catholic organizations – that is, organizations that are in good standing with their dioceses and operate under the authority of their local bishop – as part of their progressive network.
  • Faith in Public Life exists to fight any political attempt on the part of religious bodies (particularly the Catholic Church) to oppose abortion or homosexual ‘rights’.
  • Many Faith in Public Life member organizations and spokespeople are abortion or homosexual ‘rights’ advocates – that is, their sole political effort is to sustain legal abortion or obtain homosexual ‘equality’.
  • Some Faith in Public Life member organizations specifically target Catholic moral teaching about abortion and homosexuality, seeking to change it.
  • Note that she says the organisations are in good standing with their dioceses and operate under the bishop’s authoritySecond collection alert!

    And, there’s a Soros connection, too.  In March 2009, Block uncovered the money trail and a link to his support of John Podesta’s Center for American Progress (CAP).  Writing for Spero, she says (highlights mine):

    Faith in Public Life, which CAP also helped establish – according to, ahem, reliable sources (namely, my corrector, Jason Gedeik, Deputy Press Secretary of Jim Wallis’ Sojourners. But one also finds, independently of Gedeik, that the information was published in The Nation [Sarah Posner, ‘Democrats Chase Evangelical Votes’, 10-27-08, which says Faith in Public Life was ‘incubated’ at the Center for American Progress after the 2004 election]).

    … Censor, attack, and make it look as though God is on your side…you have to hand it to CAP …

    The target of all this activity, remember, are ‘faith communities’. CAP was founded on July 7, 2003 due in no small measure to the generosity of billionaire George Soros (also one of the major funders of the Democratic Alliance, with its ‘religious outreach’ component, including Faith in Public Life representation), who wanted to create a progressive think tank, able to respond quickly to conservative media ‘attacks’.

    CAP has over a dozen spokespeople to which are added Faith in Public Life’s capabilities, directed particularly to people of various religious traditions. CAP posts daily ‘Talking Points’ and a daily email newsletter, The Progress Report. It has several associated blogs, a youth outreach program, and a ‘sister advocacy organization’ – the Action Fund – a 501c-4 lobbying arm. Faith in Public Life also has daily ‘faith news’ emails – linked summaries of various media reports, usually with a progressive bent.

    What’s going on here? If you – the observant Protestant, Jew, or Catholic – feel a bit like a clay pigeon, there may be a very good reason for it. Big money has been spent to shoot you out of the heavens and into the progressive hunting pouch.

    Please take the time to read the articles in full and click the Faith Map.  You may be surprised at what you find!

    Confession motivator2609790

    Oh, dear.  The lack of confessions might be due not just to the priest lacking time, although the Vatican is trying to combat this in a practical and sensitive way, but to the laity’s changing attitude towards sin.

    I ran across a 2008 article from Zenit which states that increasing numbers of Catholics are dealing with sins in a morally relativistic fashion — what they want, when they want.  In other words, moralistic therapeutic deism, although the Bishop of Salto (Uruguay) calls it ‘privatised’ religion.  But it’s the same thing, really.

    Bishop Pablo Galimberti told Zenit (highlights mine) that:

    he believes confessions are less frequent because many Catholics leave aside the figure of the priest and choose religious rites according to personal convenience.

    ‘In general terms, with adjustments for each country and each tradition, I think this is a worldwide phenomenon and is seen in each country with different focuses, obviously,’ the bishop said.

    Bishop Galimberti holds the consumer society partially responsible:

    Sundays, he offered as an example, are good days for buying, for going out, for sports, for an agenda ever more packed full. ‘And Mass that is taken on the run, and remains a bit subordinated to other interests that also pressure the family.’ 

    He also notes a relativistic attitude towards sin among Catholics:

    He mentioned a young student who, after making a ‘nearly psychological’ analysis of his problems, did not point out errors in himself nor in others. ‘And this student doesn’t have a body, hasn’t sinned, is an angel?‘ he asked himself.

    Brilliant! Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when that conversation took place. I would love to meet this bishop.  We need more like him!

    Yet, he noted that priests must also shoulder some of the blame, rightly or wrongly: 

    He contended that many priests have distanced themselves from the sacrament to avoid ‘getting involved’avoiding problems that are or can become complex. And priests, too, the bishop added, also have their agendas more and more full and have less time for personal meetings with the faithful.

    We know they are busy, but … the good bishop confirms what I had suspected for some years — too many, as a matter of fact — that the parish priest doesn’t want to get involved at all.  I remember growing up in the 1970s and the word from the pastor of the brand new parish we belonged to said flat out during the announcements, ‘I won’t be coming around to bless your house, so please avoid disappointment by not asking.’  Blimey, there were only about 400 parishoners, including kids, at the time.  That would have meant at the time 150 homes, roughly. I’m sure most of those people had already had their houses blessed.  So, imagine priests dealing with post-divorce counselling, RCIA and all the rest of it!

    Well, one thing is true enough, there are generally enough Protestant pastors to go around.  And, yes, they do make house calls, even when you don’t want them to!  As they say in the North of England: ‘Owt’s better than nowt’ — something’s better than nothing at all.

    Bible croppedMore ‘forbidden’ Bible verses — the kind you rarely hear at church these days.

    Past entries include: Psalm 12, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-14.  

    Today’s reading comes from the English Standard Version.

    Romans 1:16-32

    The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

     16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’

    God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

     18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

     24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

     26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

     28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    St Paul was preaching to the pagans under Nero’s rule in 1st century Rome. This centre of the empire had people from many lands and all classes at any one time. Much like today’s postmodern world, they were embarrassed by the Gospel. This is why Paul makes a special point of announcing that he is ‘not ashamed’ of it.  He states that the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ.  (He is drawing on Old Testament references here, one of them being Habbakuk 2:4 also refers to faith which gives us life with God.)

    Paul’s ‘righteousness of God’ refers to a just God who will forgive transgressors.   

    In verse 18, Paul says that a man who lacks faith is subject to condemnation: he is ungodly and unrighteous.  Yet, even now that the pagans of Rome have the wherewithal to know God, they have resorted to their own notions of what worship entails and what He expects from them. 

    They did not honour and serve God the way they should and, as a result, corrupted themselves. Although they thought their ways were wise, they were, in fact, foolish.  They viewed Him in their own image, more like the things they knew instead of the Almighty. So, God saw that they held Him in contempt and passed judgment on them; they ended up following their lusts, however unnatural they were.  God saw that such desires were what the people deserved. (Sodomy was very popular in ancient Rome — it was seen as a normal, pleasurable act.  It was also perfectly legal.)

    God once again proved that man is an unrighteous being.  Man is never fully free from impulse and sin.  Once the Romans no longer disdained sin, they ran headlong into evil. They no longer cared about following Him.  They ended up taking pleasure in breaking taboos. They called evil good and cherished it.  Therefore, God, seeing that they wished to be reprobates, allowed them their way.  However, as long as they fell deeper and deeper into sin, they would distance themselves further from Him and from salvation.  They would die in body and soul.

    This is a ‘Repent, repent!’ passage.  Sounds awfully like some segments of Western society, I’m sorry to say. 

    You can read more here and here.

    Br Stephen O Cist four-wheelerBrother Stephen was once a practicing Episcopalian.  He is now a Brother in the Order of Cistercians and has his own blog, Sub Tuum

    On August 13, 2009, he wrote of his impressions one year after joining the Cistercians in ‘Lessons from One Year in the Cloister‘.  It’s excellent reading for anyone who believes they might have a calling to a religious vocation.  It’s also instructive for those who do not think that monastic living has a place in Christian life.

    Brother Stephen disabuses us of some commonly-held myths and also points out the many opportunities for spiritual growth within a religious community.  Excerpts follow, so please be sure to read the full entry (emphasis mine):

    Do not delay. If you think you have a vocation go now and try it. Don’t bury father or mother, wait until you wrap up a few things, or turn discernment into an end in itself. The longer you wait the harder it will be … Go while you still have plenty of psychic collagen for the stretching and reforming that the life requires.

    The monastery is not a place to run from unfinished business. Whatever you were dealing with in the world will come with you to your cell and here there is no job, television, or nights on the town with your friends to distract you …  The monastery is a place of radical honesty that offers hope for healing and integration, but expect some hard looks at yourself, some hard realizations, and some hard work. This is not a detour around your problems, it’s the scenic route right through them at low speed.

    There is no perfect house and you need a lot of work yourself. When you go through the cloister door and the newness and wonder wear off in five minutes or five weeks, cling to charity and trust that God is at work, just as the professed are doing the same for you (and to a greater extent than you probably will realize for quite some time) … Be grateful and be charitable in return, especially when you work yourself into one of those states where you are disillusioned and can see only the things that you believe should be different. The house has not been waiting since the day of its founding for you to walk through the door and set things aright.

    Your old identity is dying and a new one is forming. The death throes will be painful for you and you will probably kick and flail another person or two in the process. Let it happen. The traditional language for this is purgation … The imagery is of fire and burning away of impurities and it will often feel like it. Accept it with all of the grace and trust you can muster and pray to be given even more…

    Trust the process. Religious houses have had 1700 years to observe human nature and figure out what works. Swallow your pride and assume that the wisdom of the order is greater than your own wisdom.

    You’re a herd animal now or, at least a pack animal, behave like it. The old guides continually warn against the vice of singularity …  Your identity is now a group identity–you are part of a band of pilgrims on the road to God ...

    Monks are most often individualistic and mavericks. Most monks are type A personalities with a highly developed take on the world. Br. Adam likes to say that we are here because we need more help, not less … Our unity and fraternity come from charity, not similarity.

    Persist. Pray for grace, ask others to pray for grace for you, seek counsel when you’re discouraged, but persist. The life is full of moments of sweetness and joy and spiritual consolation and also of despair and doubt … 

    There is more, so please visit Brother Stephen’s site to read it all.  May God bless him in his vocation.

    Think about living in community — all the different personalities all day every day, not all of them agreeable. I spoke with an Anglican nun who said that it can be difficult running into another sister with whom one has a trying relationship day in and day out.  (I saw the older sister trying to antagonise her through ‘correction’ via gentle yet constant nit-picking.  Not very pleasant!)  Even monks say this. 

    There is also no staying in one’s jim-jams until noon on a Saturday because there are prayers to be said and work to be done.  No cocktails at seven or a relaxing cigar at weekends.

    The attraction to such a life comes in seeing documentaries or reading articles about people who go to monasteries or convents on retreat.  The joy of silence and the peace that comes with calm is so appealing.  But, we lay people can also engage in more monastic living and better developed prayer at home, both of which could surely bridge the gap.

    However, for those few with the faith and the mettle to answer the call to the religious life, Stephen advises, ‘Be ready to stretch and to be surprised.’   

    H/T: Haligweorc.

    j0177805In light of yesterday’s post on the Episcopalian nuns converting to — or being received into — the Roman Catholic Church come discussions such as this one on Damian Thompson’s blog about the Catholic Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

    I use the word ‘received’ in the case of the sisters, since one can be received from the Anglican Communion into the Roman Catholic Church and vice-versa.  The doctrines and traditions are close enough to make the process more straightforward.  The sisters were confirmed into the Catholic faith, although this is not generally necessary when one is received into the Anglican Communion. The candidate takes the confirmation course with the other participants. On the day of the confirmations, the bishop formally welcomes you in front of the congregation and says a short prayer and blessing over you at the time he confirms other candidates.

    Anyway, back to RCIA.  Damian’s post has several comments concerning RCIA, most of which, it seems, are from American correspondents.  Many RCIA courses are given by trained lay catechists, some of whom are converts themselves.  They also appear to do the bulk of the training of children wishing to make their First Holy Communion and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. 

    However, when it comes to RCIA, instruction becomes more complicated. In the old days when there were enough priests to go around, the potential convert took one-to-one instruction from the pastor or one of his ordained assistants.  These days, with the decline in vocations, it is less common.  This is by necessity.  Depending on the area, one priest might be running between two or three parishes.  He often has no other priests assigned to him as assistant pastors.  You can see the problem.

    The other issue is that, in our multifaith society, Catholic parishes may have non-Christians wishing to convert as well as agnostics or atheists.  However, there are also many Christians who convert from other denominations.  Each group has its own needs with regard to instruction.  Some people know little about the Bible or Christianity, others have made a 180-degree spiritual turnaround and many others have a good knowledge of Christ and Christian teachings.

    I have read that in some Catholic parishes in the UK, the RCIA catechist has his (or her!) hands full making the classes fit all three groups.  The result is that many new Catholic converts actually understand the Church to varying degrees, not all of them well. I have met many Catholics new to the faith who know next to nothing about it!  Minimal Church history and no real teachings other that one needs to go to Mass and receive Communion every Sunday! It is for this reason that many formerly practicing Protestants seek out a priest of whom they can ask difficult questions about doctrine and teaching.  How probable is it, therefore, to receive instruction from a priest? 

    Some — not all — Newman Centers on university campuses still have a priest in charge of RCIA classes.  Those interested can do a search on ‘Newman Centers’.  Here is a page from the Newman Center at Minnesota State University in Mankato.  The contact name is Fr Tim.  Those wishing to take RCIA from a priest should ask him if he is actually conducting the classes.  Note that the Newman Center at California State University in Fresno appears to have a layperson running RCIA.  Therefore, if this is important to you, verify what you need to before starting the course.  You can find out more about taking RCIA classes at Newman Centers here.

    I have noticed from reading comments from RCIA instructors on other blogs that much of what they say is promotional marketing for the Novus Ordo (New Order!) Mass and post-Vatican II travesties. They generally are not well-versed in Church history or traditions.  They also seem to know nothing about heresies. That isn’t necessarily their fault, but it seems that the Church doesn’t want people knowing too much nowadays. They’re happy for the numbers. If, as a convert, you like that sort of thing, fine.  However, will the RCIA instructor be able to discuss theological differences with a Presbyterian or a Baptist?  Dunno.

    Back to the original question.  If you ask your priest nicely, perhaps he will be able to accomodate you — the potential convert — for one-to-one instruction, the way it ought to be done.  If not, ask him if a priest from a nearby parish would be able to do so.  Explain why it is important to you.  You might not wish to share your life’s history with others in an RCIA class.  You might have sufficient knowledge of Christianity already and wish to discern whether you truly are making the correct decision in converting to Catholicism.  Your work schedule might prevent you from regular attendance at an RCIA class, although you would be flexible enough to make appointments with a priest.  

    You can read more about it here: ‘Becoming Catholic without RCIA’.

    Now, for those who have difficult personal circumstances which could be potential stumbling blocks in a straightforward RCIA course, Catholic Answers has a page of sensitive questions and answers for you. It’s a good read, even for cradle Catholics! 

    Here is a brief summary of selected questions, which I have also rephrased somewhat:

    I have had an abortion — may I still become a Catholic?  ‘You have nothing whatsoever to fear. The priest is there to absolve you of your sins—not to condemn you. That sin will be forgiven and nothing that you say during your reception of the sacrament of penance (as confession is formally called) can be revealed…’

    Why does the Catholic Church have RCIA?  When did it start? ‘RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) was developed after Vatican II (1962-1965) as a revival of the kind of initiation methods that were in use in the early centuries when the Church was extensively persecuted … Although this process is designed principally for those who have never been baptized, there are exceptions made for those who are baptized and catechized Christians. At the same time, in the United States the National Statutes for the Catechumenate call for a shorter period of instruction for those who already lead active Christian lives and thus do not need a full course of instruction.’

    I fell away from the Catholic Church after conversion because of family pressure.  Am I still a Catholic? ‘If you were received into the Catholic Church, then to rectify your situation all you need do is go to confession, explain what happened, and receive absolution. If there are any further issues that need to be dealt with, the priest will explain them. Incidentally, unless you defected from the Church by a formal act—such as officially joining (not just attending) another church—then you are still a Catholic. The Church welcomes you back with open arms.’

    Why are some in my RCIA class going to Confession before being received into the Church? ‘… It is probably people of this kind—baptized, catechized Christians who are being forced to sit through a full RCIA course—that are the ones who will be going to confession before they are received … The primary reason these people go to confession before being received into the Church is that they need to be in a state of grace for the licit reception of confirmation and Communion. Since they were baptized some time ago, they likely have committed mortal sins since then, and going to confession makes sure they are in a worthy state to receive the remaining sacraments of initiation.’

    I was baptised a Catholic but not raised as one.  If I wish to return to the Church, do I need to take RCIA classes?  ‘No, you do not. RCIA–the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults–is for those who have never been initiated into the Catholic Church. You have received your basic initiation by virtue of your Catholic baptism. What you need now is to learn the Church’s teachings (which you are already doing) and make your first confession and First Communion and to be confirmed … You must know, understand, and accept the Church’s teachings concerning confession and the Holy Eucharist. The person who teaches these to you does not need to be a priest or catechist, just someone who knows and will give you the straight story concerning the Church’s teachings on these sacraments as found, for example, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church … Because you will have learned and accepted the Church’s teaching concerning the Eucharist, you can begin going to Communion like any other Catholic. No special permission is necessary… To receive confirmation, which you should do as soon as possible (CIC 890-1), you will need more instruction. For this instruction your parish may put you in an RCIA class for the sake of convenience…Welcome back!’

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