Pope gives sacrament to cancer patient

Religion News is reporting that Pope Francis recently gave the sacrament of confirmation to a Sicilian teenager suffering from cancer. The 16 year old boy, Giuseppe Chiolo, met with the pontiff at the Vatican where he received the sacrament.

Pope Francis is praised by many for being sensitive to the needs of the sick and disabled. He offered criticism at a mass in June of those who try to marginalize those who cannot “live the lifestyle held up by the culture of pleasure and entertainment.”

He added:

“In an age when care for one’s body has become an obsession and a big business, anything imperfect has to be hidden away, since it threatens the happiness and serenity of the privileged few and endangers the dominant model.”

While meeting with Giuseppe, he offered words of comfort to his parents and other relatives who accompanied the boy. In addition, Francis also met with a girl who suffers from paralysis from a gunshot wound.

No word as yet if His Holiness, or the recently canonized Mother Teresa, were able to conjure up a miracle of healing to cure any of these people, but the Vegas odds of that happening don’t look good.


The outrage on social media

I read a post recently over at Atheist Revolution in which the author wrote of how he’d decided to stop watching cable news back in December. He noted how this decision led him to feel less angry and he wondered if limiting his intake of social media might also be a benefit to his mood and wellbeing.

This got me to thinking about how angry people seem these days.  I wondered how much of a role social media plays, if any.

The reason I ask is because I recently had a conversation at a coffee shop with the owners where we discussed the election and politics in general. And, although we disagreed on a few points, it was a pleasant conversation. I listened to what they had to say, and learned some things that I’d never considered before.

Driving home I wondered, if this conversation had taken place on Facebook or in the comments section of a website, how soon would it have devolved into name calling and blocking? Probably pretty quickly.

And it’s not just politics that get us riled up either. If you were to go onto virtually any website that allow comments, you’ll find people becoming obnoxious rather quickly regardless of the topic.
Which makes me wonder whether our true nature is one that is combative and nasty or if the relative safety and anonymity of the Internet creates an environment of intolerance to different viewpoints and opinions.

As a side note, I realize the irony of this post seeing as how Winston can be acerbic and rude on social media.

In my personal life, I’ve removed myself from Facebook because there are more posts now that look to illicit a response. I see posts about religion, politics, guns, more religion, anti Obama, etc. And I know that were I to engage any of these people, it would only be a matter of time before the gloves came off, and the block party started.

So I put it to the readers: Are we humans nothing more than anger bombs waiting to go off or has social media caused us to become more isolated and tribal?

Does social media play a role in our being less tolerant of other opinions and views?


Liberty Counsel advises churches regarding Boy Scouts

 Liberty Counsel has received questions from churches which have chosen to maintain their association with Boy Scouts of America (BSA) regarding whether their continued involvement with the organization requires them to admit an openly homosexual scout master or youth member. Liberty Counsel has provided model language to ensure that all church programs or uses of property, including scout troops, remain consistent with God’s Word.
For boys, BSA’s January 2014 membership standards require that “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone” and state that “any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. The BSA is not endorsing homosexual conduct nor is it forcing religious chartered organizations to do so.” Therefore, churches may define and enforce behavior and advocacy in chartered scout troops consistent with biblical teaching.

For adult leaders, BSA will not prevent churches from selecting leaders consistent with their religious beliefs. BSA’s legal memo concludes that its right to grant charters to religious organizations is strongly protected under the law. However, when churches are challenged about use of their facilities for same-sex ceremonies, use of restrooms, and other LGBT issues, they hurt their legal defense by allowing the BSA as a recognized group. A better alternative to the BSA is Trail Life USA, which was formed in response to the change in the BSA policy. See www.traillifeusa.com.

“The once great Boy Scouts of America has taken a great fall when it changes the longstanding policy to allow homosexual scout leaders and members. This change in policy is fraught with danger. While there are ways for churches to protect their integrity and the safety of their young boys, the best alternative is to abandon the scouts because the scouts abandoned them. Trail Life USA is the best alternative to the failed BSA program,” said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “Liberty Counsel will continue to defend the right of churches to make employment and volunteer decisions based on church religious beliefs and the teachings of the Bible,” said Staver.


Religious sects forgo medical treatment for faith

According to a story from The Guardian, The Followers of Christ is a just one religious sect that relies on faith healing rather than modern medicine.

The story suggests that these groups seek out states, such as Idaho, that offer protection from prosecution due to religious practices.

It goes without saying that faith healing’s track record is abysmal, and that parents. According to the story:

The Followers of Christ’s cemetery is full of graves marking the deaths of children who lived a day, a week, a month.

What’s interesting is that the laws protecting such practices are holdovers from the Nixon administration. Due to some high-profile child abuse cases in the 60s, the administration pushed through the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act, which was influenced by John Erlichman and JR Haldeman, both Christian Scientists. They added to the act a provision that those who believe that prayer is the only way to cure illness would be exempt from the law.

Today is Christopher Hitchens’ birthday, and there’s no better story than this that demonstrates that religion poisons everything.


War on atheists declared in Bangladesh

According to a story on CNN, al Qaeda has declared war on atheists in Bangladesh after the most recent murder of secular blogger Nazimuddin Samad. The story says that attackers murdered Samad using machetes and guns.

Al Qaeda released a statement saying that Samad was an “enemy of Allah” and cited several Facebook posts by him as evidence of his insulting Islam.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman told CNN that “The bloggers, they should control their writing. Our country is a secular state… I want to say that people should be careful not to hurt anyone by writing anything — hurt any religion, any people’s beliefs, any religious leaders.”

So to recap – this has nothing to do with Islam and you’re free to say anything you want so long as it’s not offensive.