Archive for December 26th, 2006

Gay Wedding Industry Booming

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Romans 1:26-27
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Leviticus 18:22:
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

How much more clear can the Bible be? Homosexuality is wrong.

RICHMOND, Va. — He’s no celebrity, but when Phillip McKee III tied the knot in September, he did it with all the pomp and circumstance of an A-lister: Custom-designed gold rings, a $2,000 kilt and a caviar-and-crepe reception at a five-star hotel. McKee, 34, sank some $60,000 into his Scottish-themed nuptials, worth it he says for the chance to stand before a minister and be pronounced husband _ and husband.

Even as lawmakers across the nation debate legislation banning same-sex marriage, couples are uniting in weddings both miniature and massive, fueling a growing industry peddling everything from pink triangle invitations to same-sex cake toppers.

Veronica Hoff, right, and her partner, Forest Kairos of Mt. Laurel, N.J., smile during a ceremonial bill signing by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, of civil unions legislation in Trenton, N.J., Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006. The new civil unions law giving gay couples all the rights and responsibilities, but not the title, of marriage, makes New Jersey the third in the nation to institute civil unions and the fifth to offer same-sex couples some version of marriage. Vendors say attention to the marriage issue has encouraged more gay couples to recognize their relationships, though in most states, the ceremonies are purely sentimental.

“For the longest time, there was so much shame and privacy around it that people didn’t really give themselves permission to have ceremonies like this,” said Kathryn Hamm, an Arlington-based wedding consultant who planned McKee’s marriage to partner Nopadon Woods. “(Now) the market is growing as the headlines remain out there.”

Unlike the multibillion dollar traditional wedding industry, experts say the gay wedding business is harder to track. Some estimates place its value at up to $1 billion.

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First Muslim Congressman Tells Group to “Have Faith in Allah”

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Speaking in Dearborn late Sunday night, the first Muslim elected to Congress told a cheering crowd of Muslims they should remain steadfast in their faith and push for justice.

“You can’t back down. You can’t chicken out. You can’t be afraid. You got to have faith in Allah, and you’ve got to stand up and be a real Muslim,” Detroit native Keith Ellison said to loud applause.

Many in the crowd replied “Allahu akbar” — God is great.

Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat elected to the U.S. House in November, has been the center of a national debate in recent weeks over Islam and its role in politics. Ellison has said he would take his oath of office on the Quran, the Muslim holy book, igniting a storm of criticism from some commentators.

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Pelosi to Seat Democrat though Republican won?

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

As usual, Democrats and their arrogance.

The certified winner of an office in the U.S. House of Representatives may not be seated with other members of Congress by incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi next week for one reason.

He’s a Republican.

In an extremely close race in Florida’s 13th District, Republican Vern Buchanan defeated Democrat Christine Jennings by 369 votes. But ongoing legal challenges by Democrats are putting Buchanan’s claim to the seat in jeopardy, now that the party in control of the majority has shifted away from the GOP.

“The bottom line here is that nothing’s off the table,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The paper reports Pelosi has refused to shut the door on Jennings, until all audits, lawsuits and a House investigation are completed.

Aides for Buchanan say the Republican will be in the nation’s capital next month despite the threat from Pelosi’s office.

“Historical precedent is that when there’s a contested race the certified winner be seated,” said Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts. “Therefore, we fully expect Vern Buchanan to be seated on Jan. 4.”

But Pelosi’s office says seating a certified victor is more of a Republican interpretation and not a concrete rule. For instance, in 1984, a Democrat-controlled House refused to seat Republican Richard McIntyre, the certified winner by 418 votes after a state-ordered recount.

Two weeks ago, national Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Buchanan should “absolutely not” be seated Jan. 4.

But not all Democrats appear to be jumping on the bandwagon to keep out the Republican.

“At most, he should be seated provisionally,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a close ally of Jennings. “In my mind, I can’t really justify leaving the constituents of the 13th District without representation during the House Administration and the court’s review.”

At this point, neither a state audit of the touch-screen voting machines nor lawsuits by Jennings and voting groups have produced any evidence to suggest malfunction on Election Day.

The contested election is now in the political realm as Jennings has taken her challenge to Congress, filing a contest with the House Administration Committee seeking an investigation and, possibly, a new election.

Such a move could take months to resolve.

If Buchanan is indeed seated next week, history would be on his side for keeping it. Out of 105 contests filed since 1933, only twice has someone been unseated, with the last occurrence in 1967.

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Queen Modifies Christmas Message Tradition

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

More appeasement from the U.K.

(CBS/AP) British Queen Elizabeth II delivered her annual Christmas message Monday, calling for mutual respect between young and old and greater religious tolerance.

“The wisdom and experience of the great religions point to the need to nurture and guide the young, and to encourage respect for the elderly,” the queen said in a prerecorded message filmed at Southwark Cathedral in London.

She added that the pressures of modern life sometimes seemed to weaken family ties and that ignorance and misunderstanding led to the danger of a real divide opening up between the generations.

It’s tradition in Britain that Christmas dinner stops for the Queen’s message, reports CBS News correspondent Larry Miller (audio).

In the speech broadcast to Britain and its former colonies, the queen’s Christmas broadcast featured for the first time ever footage of Muslims praying in a mosque.

Britain’s 1.5 million Muslims have been at the center of a number of controversies over the past year, from the continued focus on the threat of Islamist terrorism to a particularly heated debate on the full veil worn by some women.

“It is very easy to concentrate on the differences between the religious faiths and to forget what they have in common — people of different faiths are bound together by the need to help the younger generation to become considerate and active citizens,” the monarch stressed.

People of different faiths were bound together by the need to help the young become considerate citizens and all religious communities encouraged the bridging of the generation gap, she said.

There were also scenes of the opening of Europe’s largest Hindu temple the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) in central England and from a reception attended by the queen and Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

The queen chooses a different theme for each annual address, the one occasion in the year when she pens her own speech without government advice. In last year’s address, she focussed on tragedy following the July 7 London transit bombings and the tsunami that ripped through southeast Asia on Dec. 26, 2004.

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King Abdullah: Israel Not as Strong as We Thought

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

It is just a matter time before the Arab countries decide to attack Israel. They may want to hold back though, since most likely God will take a personal interest in what happens to His chosen people.

Jordanian king tells Japanese newspaper ‘The perception in the Middle East is that Israel lost Lebanon war’; adds: More and more countries in the region will now believe that the only way to get Israel to listen is through force and not negotiations.

Jordan’s King Abdullah said during an interview with Tokyo-based newspaper The Daily Yomiuri that “The (Lebanon ) war last summer showed that Israel is not as strong as we had previously thought, and, justifiably or not, the perception in the Middle East is that Israel lost.”

Abdullah, who is currently visiting Japan, added that “More and more countries in the region will now believe that the only way to get Israel to listen is through force and not negotiations. Israel will have to take a significant step in the right direction that will lead to calm in the region.”

The Jordanian king stressed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the main source of Mideast tension. “Until we deal with this issue, which can be easily resolved, the Middle East will be forever cursed, as will the entire Muslim world,” he said.

Abdallah said that in light of the current situation Israel must decide whether or not it wishes to remain isolated.

“The Arab countries are very interested in moving the peace process along, and this conveys a message to the Israelis: If we advance the peace process and implement a two-state solution, all the Arab and Muslim countries will agree to establish (diplomatic) relations with Israel,” he said.

‘Must change policy in Middle East’
During the Interview Abdullah warned of the rise in extremism in the Middle East, which, according to him, may lead to the weakening of the peace camp and the moderate elements.

“Therefore, we must change the policy in the Middle East, or else people will only here extremist views,” he said. “In the past, there were 8 to 10 year intervals between conflicts, but now this has dropped to 10 to 12 months, and may I remind you that we are expecting three civil wars in 2007 (in the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Lebanon).

Turning his attention to the Iranian threat, the Jordanian king said, “There is no doubt that Iran is a major player in the region and should be incorporated into the process.

“If we advance the process in one arena, we will be able to do the same in other arenas as well,” he said. “Today the Arab street is drawn more the extremists and extremist rhetoric and less to moderates speaking of peace and co-existence.”

Abdullah summed up the interview by saying that the only way to fight the radicalization in the region is through education.

“The next step is to get to the streets, the schools, the homes. This is not a process that could take place over night. In certain places this process could take 15-20 years, but eventually the moderate majority must decide – does it want to sit quietly, or does it plan to act against the horrible crimes committed in the name of religion?”

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US Urged to Impose Sanctions Against Religious Freedom Violators

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Continue to pray for people who live in countries who do not offer the same religious rights our country does.

( – A statutory body that advises the administration on international religious freedom issues pressed the State Department Thursday to impose sanctions against a group of countries where the right to worship freely is restricted.

In doing so, the U.S. will show the eight countries that it takes the issue of religious freedom seriously, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chairwoman Felice Gaer said during a hearing of the House International Relations Committee.

The commission was set up under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which provides for the State Department to designate as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) nations with especially egregious records on religious freedom.

The current list comprises Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan, a newcomer added last month. At the same time, Vietnam was removed from the list – a move Gaer called disappointing on Thursday.

“There are problems [in Vietnam] and they remain,” Gaer told the hearing. “This was too soon.”

“Forced renunciations of faith continue in some areas, and in the last year, the commission has received credible information that a dozen new arrests have been made and prominent leaders remain under house arrest,” she said. “Even those recently released remain under intense government surveillance.”

But the State Department defended the decision, citing “progress” it said Hanoi had made in the area of religious freedom.

“Vietnam no longer meets the legal criteria set out in the International Religious Freedom Act, so was not designated a CPC this year,” Stephen Liston, director of the department’s office of religious freedom, told committee vice-chairman, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.).

“Today, the government of Vietnam can no longer be identified as a severe violator of religious freedom, marking the first time that a country has made sufficient progress as a result of diplomatic engagement to be removed from the CPC list,” he said.

Liston said removal from the list did not mean conditions of religious freedom had been fully achieved.

“But the government of Vietnam has addressed the central issues that constituted severe violations of religious freedom, and the decision not to re-designate Vietnam is an important signal that our purpose is to improve conditions for religious believers – and that we will recognize progress when it occurs,” he added.

‘All citizens must be Muslims’

Turning to other countries among the 197 the department assesses in its annual report, Liston said that in many cases “we are pleased to be able to document efforts by governments to protect religious freedom.”

“In others, we hope that, when the report brings to light abuses, this will spur governments to uphold their international commitments to provide for full freedom of religion,” Liston said.

“Although we make every effort to work with governments to advance religious freedom, a number of countries not only fall far short of international standards but demonstrate little improvement,” he added.

Saudi Arabia is another country that has long exercised the USCIRF. It first asked for the kingdom to be designated a CPC in 2001, but the State Department only complied in 2004, despite its own annual assessment that “freedom of religion does not exist” in Saudi Arabia.

Gaer said Thursday that Saudi authorities had in the past “made statements regarding religious freedom reforms but did not act on them.”

The commission urged the State Department to “continue to press the Saudi government on the specific steps that it will take to implement these policies and report publicly to Congress every 120 days on what the Saudis have done or not done in that regard.”

In his testimony, Liston reported that religious freedom in the kingdom “is not really recognized as a right, nor is it protected for either citizens or guest workers.”

“All citizens must be Muslims, and basic religious freedoms are limited to all but those who adhere to the state sanctioned version of Sunni Islam,” Liston said.

But, he added, “we are seeing indications that the Saudi government takes seriously the issue of increasing religious freedom as part of its broader efforts to combat extremism.”

Gaer commended the State Department for including Uzbekistan on the CPC list this year and said the commission would like to see both Pakistan and Turkmenistan similarly designated.

“We find the exclusion of Turkmenistan especially disturbing,” she said. “They have continued to escape the CPC designation so clearly earned.

“Turkmenistan, among the most repressive states in the world today, allows virtually no independent religious activity. Severe government restrictions that effectively leave most, if not all, religious activity under strict and often arbitrary-state control,” Gaer said.

But Liston said of Turkmenistan: “We don’t think it rises to the level of a CPC.”

The Central Asian republic’s dictatorial ruler, Saparmurat Niyazov, died unexpectedly early Thursday.

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