Archive for the ‘discrimination’ Category

National Prayer Breakfast: Controversy For Obama Even Here

February 5, 2009

President Obama was at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning — but even in this arena the new president cannot escape controversy.

The new embroglio concerns the preident’s newly revamped Office of Faith Based Initiatives.  The office was created 8 years ago by President Bush and often faith or religion based organizations took government money even though they had a record of discrimination with respect to hiring.

Now separation-of-church-and-state advocates and human-rights organizations that say the government must constitutionally compel these organizations to follow nondiscrimination laws if they accept federal funding.

Say a prayer that this all works out….

President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast:
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/god-and-country/2009/
2/5/president-barack-obamas-speech-at-national-pray
er-breakfast.html?s_cid=rss:god-and-country:preside
nt-barack-obamas-speech-at-national-prayer-breakfast

CNN (Related):
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITI
CS/02/05/obama.faith.based/index.html

Related:
 House Stimulus Has Anti-Prayer, Religion Provisions?

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (2nd R) speaks at the ... 
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (2nd R) speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, February 5, 2009. From L-R are: first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. President Barack Obama, Blair and U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC).REUTERS/Larry Downing
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House Stimulus Has Anti-Prayer, Religion Provisions?

February 5, 2009

Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week.

The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow “religious worship.” It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools.

Fox News

According to the bill, which the Democratic-controlled House passed despite unanimous Republican opposition, funds are prohibited from being used for the “modernization, renovation, or repair” of facilities that allow “sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity.” 

Critics say that could include public schools that permit religious groups to meet on campus. The House provided $20 billion for the infrastructure improvements, of which $6 billion would go to higher education facilities where the limitations would be applied.

“What the government is doing is discriminating against religious viewpoints,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works to advance religious freedom.

“President Obama’s version of faith-based initiatives is to remove the faith from initiative,” said Staver, who believes Obama has “a completely different view on faith” from what he said during his presidential campaign. 

“He is not the infallible messiah that some thought he would be,” Staver said.

Civil liberty groups like the Americans United for Separation of Church and State vehemently defend the stimulus bill’s provision, arguing that it in no way violates the Constitution.

“This provision upholds constitutional standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court and in no way affects student groups that meet on public school campuses,” said the Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The American Civil Liberties Union also defends the constitutionality of the restriction, which they say has been the law since 1972.  

“It’s almost a restatement of what the Constitution requires so there’s nothing novel in what the House did in its restriction,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel to the ACLU. “For 37 years, the law of the land is that the government can’t pay for buildings that are used for religious purposes.”

Not so, says the Traditional Values Coalition, which issued a statement Wednesday charging that Obama is using his stimulus plan to restrict the exercise of religion in public facilities — a provision it says violates the right to free speech.

“The economic crisis is being used as a pretext to curb religious liberty at institutions of higher learning,” said Executive Director Andrea Lafferty.

“We are not asking that federal funding be used to construct a church, but if a campus ministry wants to hold a Bible study or Mass in the student activity building, we should be encouraging that — not punishing a college for permitting it,” she said.

According to some constitutional law experts, any complaint filed against the provision will gain little ground in court.

“Certainly the provision is treating the act of religious organizations differently from the activities of the school itself,” Harvard University constitutional law professor Mark Tushnet told FOXNews.com.

“It’s not frivolous to say there’s a constitutional problem with excluding religious facilities from these grants, but I think the way of the law is in the other direction,” he said.

Tushnet cited a 2004 Supreme Court case in which a Washington student lost a college scholarship awarded by the state after it was revealed that he planned to pursue a degree in pastoral ministries. Though the student argued that rescinding the money discriminated on the basis of religion, the court ruled in the state’s favor — declaring that the taxpayer-funded scholarship’s restriction is constitutional.

The White House said Wednesday that it plans to keep in place the basic structure of the faith-based initiative office established by former President George W. Bush.

Administration officials said the office is a substantial programming and policy arm of the federal government, which allows federal agencies to connect with local neighborhood and faith-based groups to deliver social services.

Gallup Poll: Obama Good on Gitmo, Bad on Abortion

February 3, 2009

The public is most supportive of his decisions to name special envoys to oversee the administration’s efforts in the Middle East, and Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to tighten rules on people working as lobbyists either before or after serving in his administration. Both of these moves are favored by 76% of Americans.

Americans are nearly as supportive of Obama’s actions to limit the interrogation methods that can be used on military prisoners — actions designed to ensure the United States does not resort to torture to find out information from prisoners. Seventy-four percent of Americans favor that decision, the same percentage who favor his executive order to institute higher fuel efficiency standards.

Two in three Americans approve of his signing a bill to make it easier for workers to sue for pay discrimination, the first legislation he has signed into law as president.

The public does not agree with everything Obama has done, however. For example, more Americans say they disapprove (50%) than approve (44%) of his decision to order the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist suspects in Cuba within a year.

Further, Obama’s decision to reverse the prohibition on funding for overseas family-planning providers may be the least popular thing he has done so far. This was an executive order that forbade federal government money from going to overseas family-planning groups that provide abortions or offer abortion counseling. Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s decision to lift this ban, while only 35% approve of it. The ban on federal funds to these groups was put in place by Ronald Reagan, but lifted by Bill Clinton. George W. Bush re-instituted the ban after taking office in 2001, but Obama has once again lifted it.

Read the rest on the Gallup Poll:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/114091/Ame
ricans-Approve-Obama-Actions-Date.aspx

Claims of discrimination renewed in Japan

January 21, 2009

As the United States welcomes its first African-American to its highest office, Japan is still dealing with prejudice that some say has kept this country from breaking ancient taboos and installing a minority as its leader.

Nearly a decade ago, seasoned politician Hiromu Nonaka was on the verge of becoming prime minister in a heated battle with the man who now holds the post, Taro Aso.

The issue took an ugly turn when Nonaka’s roots as a “burakumin,” or the descendent of former outcasts, was allegedly raised by Aso, the scion of a wealthy, establishment family.

By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Writer

The burakumin are the descendants of people who were considered under Buddhist beliefs to be unclean — butchers, tanners, undertakers — and were separated from the general population.

Though Japan did away with its caste system several years after the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery in 1865, discrimination against the burakumin remains strong, affecting employment, marriage and social interaction. Maps detailing the areas where the burakumin were once forced to live together in enclaves are still used to “out” people who don’t want their roots known.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009012
1/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_outcasts_2

Uproar: Vatican Opposing U.N. Declaration on Sexual Rights

December 9, 2008

Journalists and activist groups are blasting the Vatican for what they say is its “grotesque” opposition to a U.N. declaration on gay rights — even though only a small collection of countries has supported the measure.

The Roman Catholic Church is facing a barrage of protests and searing editorials for opposing a French-sponsored decree that calls for an end to discrimination based on sexual or gender identity. The U.N. hopes to abolish summary executions, arbitrary arrests and “the deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights” of gays.

By Joesph Abrams
Fox News


Above: Swiss Guard in their traditional uniform.
Not gay?

The Church’s opposition to the measure has enraged gay-rights activists, who are mobilizing nationwide protests at Catholic sites in Italy. Members of Italy’s largest gay-rights group, Arcigay, gathered inside the Vatican on Saturday, hanging nooses around their necks as they accused the Church of being an “accomplice in the martyrdom” of homosexuals.

At issue for the Church are a few phrases placed in the document by its French drafters and readily approved of by the European Union, which has unanimously sponsored it. Nations may add their signatures, but they cannot vote against it. There is no debate and no rewriting of the declaration.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,4
64245,00.html