March 28, 2008
March 31, 2008

March 29-30, 2008, weekend


In Texas there's a struggle over how to teach about the Bible in public schools starting next year, this report says. I'm convinced it's possible to teach this subject without violating constitutional standards and that some basic biblical literacy is important in our culture. But it's crucial to do it right so that it doesn't turn into a stealth evangelism effort at taxpayer expense.

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A new poll offers depressing evidence of the gullibility -- or appalling know-nothing ignorance -- of some Americans in showing that 10 percent of us think Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim. This must come as a special surprise to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Get a grip, people.

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It was 126 years ago Saturday that the Knights of Columbus was founded. The first chapter of this Roman Catholic lay fraternal society was chartered in New Haven, Conn. So the K of C has spent this past year celebrating its 125th anniversary.

KofcIf the K of C history and present interest you, you can surf around on the two links I've given to find out more about this 1.7-million-member organization, which has long been a promoter of the interests of the Catholic Church.

I want to use the anniversary of the founding of this group to raise the question of what role what I might call para-religious organizations play today. Well, para-religious may not be the right term. That term -- or para-church -- often is applied to independent religious groups such as Youth for Christ.

But nearly every Christian denomination and many other religions have created various organizations that wind up being, in effect, satellite groups.

In the Jewish tradition, for instance, there's Hadassah, which calls itself the women's Zionist organization of America. Similarly, an old Presbyterian group was known as the Mariners but today is called Presbyterian Families.

What's your experience with such groups? Do they serve a useful function or are they in some way competition for the time and energy of adherents of this or that religion?

My own guess is that these organizations tend to be positive -- not negative -- adjuncts to religions but may from time to time adopt positions or get into activities that are seen to be in tension with the religions that spawned them. An example might be Opus Dei, the Catholic group that got so much bad press because of the way Dan Brown portrayed it in his novel The DaVinci Code.

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P.S.: The annual AIDS Walk in Kansas City to raise funds for local AIDS service organizations now is less than a month away. I'll be walking in it. If you'd like to help, click on the "AIDS Walk 2008" link under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page and make a pledge. Lots of needy people will be grateful to you.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My Saturday column this weekend is about marital infidelity and what religion has to say about it.)


Joe Barone

In some ways, the Jeremiah Wright thing was not as big a thing as everyone made it out to be. People thought everybody knew about it. If I have my polls right, the same poll cited above showed a sizable number of people who didn't have any idea what Obama's religious preference was. Not everybody watches CNN or Fox or listens to Rush Limbaugh 24 hours a day.

Joe Barone

I was raised in a Roman Catholic family. My father was in the Knights of Columbus. I was told (not by my father, but by others) that the Knights of Columbus were a response to the anti-Catholic bias of the Masons. I'm not saying I know the Masons have (or had) anti-Catholic bias. I'm just saying that's what I was told. That whole series of events made me decide never to be a part of non-transparent organizations. I had no trouble with a Mormon running for president, but I am suspicious of any group with secret rituals or beliefs. Before I would have voted for Romney, I would have checked into that about present-day Mormonism. Isn't it interesting how we keep our "past" with us everywhere we go?


The stats on people who think that Obama is a Muslim probably represent a combination of both ignorance and gullibility. But it's also important to note that it is the result of a powerful and well-funded propaganda machine with an agenda. That agenda is to destroy Obama and get a Republican elected by whatever means it takes. While the machine is proclaiming itself the voice of "Great Americans", it gives mostly a white male perspective and has been actively creating more division between the races.


I don't see most fraternal orders as offering any kind of competition for religion. In fact, I think you see the reverse. Knights use their membership to support their Catholicism. Mason use their membership to support their Protestant Christianity.

The Freemasons began as a means to find, through the Biblical Solomon's Temple, mystical, religious, and mysterious elements in their daily freemasonry labors, I think that it probably did at times become anti-Catholic. Conservative Catholics certainly believe that they were responsible for breaking Catholic church/government control in Mexico and elsewhere.

Others will say that the oaths of secrecy, combined with meetings, simply allowed politically unhappy individuals to generate energy against oppressive governments and organizations, including the Catholic Church. There seems to be some truth in this assertion, too.

Dolores Lear

Back when I went to church at a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, you could not belong to the Masons. I think they thought they had religious teachings that did not agree with our religion. Only a One God, not a Trinity God maybe.

Later another Luthern Church Synod accept Masons, and I had cousins that changed Synods, on my father's side to belong

On my mother's side, a girl cousin's father was a Mason, and she joined the Rainbow part for girls. She and her mother were active, but we did not talk about it very much either.

My husbands two brothers joined, after they were both in business. Their wives did not get involved in the woman's part.

Are there many masons that read this Blog? Does this help in your Christian Lifestyle? I know they do a lot of charity work. One brother-in-law had a minature motercycle and rode in their parades.


Mr. Tammeus' column this week reflects teachings of Jesus Christ and His followers quite accurately. There are rules for obeying God, but the hope of forgiveness is the only real hope that exists. Coming into God's presence for eternity cannot rest solely on the good deeds that someone claims, or on their ability to keep God's rules. We know that as human beings we'll fail at both of these. If that was our only hope, then we'd be left asking exactly how many good things we need to do, or how well we need to keep the rules in order to be acceptable to God. It would be like scoring exams and drawing a line below which people are damned. Nothing could wreak more of injustice or offer less hope.

Jesus offers forgiveness through repentance and faith. Those who are big enough to face their sins and repent can be forgiven. That does not mean an empty repentance, but one backed by faith, which requires action as proof. The evidence of forgiveness and faith will be increased faithfulness to the rules of God. Repentance for sins against others is seen in loving attempts to make amends. Maybe it's as simple as an apology, and maybe it requires much more. Those who are not big enough to admit to sins are living a lie, and it is impossible for someone who lives in denial of their sin to find God. This is analogous to the spouse who never apologizes or admits to their selfish and hurtful things: forgiveness doesn't come easily to someone who won't acknowledge their sin and even if it did, it would mean nothing to someone who believes they don't need to be forgiven. God is looking for a contrite heart.


The Knights of Columbus was founded in response to a bias against Catholics in the late 19th century. It was founded to help those left behind when the bread winner dies leaving a family.

The KofC fully stands behind the Bishops and the Holy Father as solid Catholics.

As for secret rituals, the only thing that is to be kept secret are the degree ceremonies, which any priest can observe, ensuring nothing funny happens. And since the individual councils are non-profits, the books are open.


The now infamous Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, released FITNA, a new movie critical of Muslim fanaticism and violence. It was apparently released on LiveLeak a few days ago, but now has been pulled by LiveLeak because of death threats. It is sad to witness the actions of some weak Muslims whose faith is so rattled by such things that they feel it is necessary to make death threats, especially when most people don't agree with the movie. They're only proving Wilders' claims instead of defeating them. Wilders is already under an Al Qaida fatwa calling for his assassination. He and his associates will be running from the Al Qaida fatwa for the rest of their lives, one way or the other.
------- LiveLeak
Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly lead to the harm of some of our staff, has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.

This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else. We would like to thank the thousands of people, from all backgrounds and religions, who gave us their support. They realised is a vehicle for many opinions and not just for the support of one.

Perhaps there is still hope that this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one anothers culture.

We stood for what we believe in, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high


It appears that you are fond of the sensationalism circulation through wrong-wing blogs, Jean.

LiveLeak also just pulled a pretty funny piece with the following title and description, "Gay Scientists Isolate Christianity Gene: According to a new report, gay scientists have discovered that Christianity is in our genes. Once and for all, theories that Christianity is a lifestyle choice can be put to rest."

It seems that LiveLeak is every bit as afraid of the wrath of American Christians as they are the revenge of Muslim fanatics.


I'm puzzled by your objections to very real facts. Muslim fatwa is serious, especially when it comes from Al Qaida.

You must, of course, be aware of the Al Qaida fatwa declared against Geert Wilders who produced the FITNA movie. You aren't foolish enough not to take fatwa seriously, are you? Those who support Wilders are in danger when it comes to fatwa.

Don't you take the threats that staff members at LiveLeak have received, or do you not believe LiveLeak when they say that they have received these threats?

Which fact exactly do you dispute or feel that should not be taken seriously?

Joe Barone

In a world where Christian politicians feel the need to interfere with scientific matters such as stem cell research, why wouldn't they feel the need to interfere with how the Bible is taught in public schools? That matter is probably equally important to them. I agree that, ideally, the Bible as literature could be taught in schools even in a religiously conservative state like Missouri, but practically, I doubt it.


Oh, I know what you are disputing. It is not the fact that Greers is under Al Qaida fatwa or that LiveLeak has cause to take their threats seriously because they post Greers' movie. These are givens.

No, you are bother when I say: It is sad to witness the actions of some weak Muslims whose faith is so rattled by such things that they feel it is necessary to make death threats, especially when most people don't agree with the movie. They're only proving Wilders' claims instead of defeating them.


What disturbs me, Jean, is that this story is being used as an inflated propaganda piece in an ongoing campaign by wrong-wing blogs against Muslims. Thus far on those blogs (one of which is run by a syndicated columnist in The Star), I've not seen a hard news story regarding the threats to LiveLeak. That means that we have no idea if there is one anonymous web threat or exactly how authorities assess the problem. There is LiveLeak's statement and a lot of fear mongering. This story is running with detailed opinion pieces on why Obama is "really" a Muslim and why he is a Muslim sympathizer.

The point that I was trying to make is that LiveLeak is quick to pull a video with even a hint of problems. Having had an acquaintance, Theo Van Gogh, killed by Muslims who were angered by his film, I am aware that there are radicals who do not tolerate free speech rights. I condemn those actions.


Even though I think that the Bible is tremendously important to Western literacy, it does not bode well that the TX Board refuses to set standards for. That is like holding up a big sign that says, "Teach it any 'ol way y'all want."

It also doesn't set well with me that it isn't a "world religious lit" course, because right now Qu'ran study should be tremendously important, as well as certain pagan texts that informed the Bible and Buddhist and Hindu work.

Dolores Lear

The certain pagan texts, Buddhist, Hindu, Hebrew, Christian, Qu'ran, or Mormon scriptures, and, Myth, all have some writings about supernatural Gods.

Humans, 100 years ago, did not have our Supernatural High Tech Science Knowledge.

We do have Humans that fly up in the air, and out into Space in fiery chariots. And do many medical miracles, that would have been called supernatural in the past.

We need to use today's Supernatural Knowledge, to translate old writings on tablets and buildings, along with Hand-me-down religious writings.

The Gods and Angels that walked and talked to Humans face to face, and made Humans in their Image, should do away with all the mysteries of the Gods of All religions.

But the mystery of the GOD that make the Elements that make Life as we Know it, will still remain a mystery.

But GOD is not the Gods that visited Earth in Human or Spirit form. GOD does not have any form that we could identify with our High Tech Science.

The GOD that made the Elements cannot be made of the Elements we know about.

It is important for Humans to Know, with High Tech Science that they either keep GODs elements in Balance, or they will destroy us.

Or, at least keep High Tech Spaceships on hand, to escape the dying Planet, Sun, Galaxy or Universe.

High Tech Science Birth and 'regeneration', is the Only Way to have Eternal Physical Life After Birth.

Praying in temples made by Human Hands has not worked to overcome Death, for 6000 years. And Earth does not have another 6000 years.

How does having our Planet covered with Nuclear Bombs contribute to Life on Earth?

Why are Humans the Killers, instead of the Caretkaers of GODs Life?

Joe Barone

Patrica, I agree with you about the need to teach a range of sacred Scriptures. Muslims now outnumber Roman Catholics (according to the Vatican). We live in a world where there are many influential religions. To function in that world, we need to know more about all of them and all their sacred Scriptures. And that applies not just to students, but to people like me too.

Dolores Lear

I wonder what knowing about all the different religions will do, to make Humans stop Killing their Brothers/Sisters and our Planet's Eco System?

All religions do is divide Humans more every day. Especially Protestants. Living to die, and go to Heaven does not Take Care of our Home Planet.

Should Humans Love Each Other and Share Equally for Today, or Kill Each Other, while waiting for Life After Death? What is Life After Death?

Are Humans our Enemies, instead of Family? Studing religions has still not answered why Humans Kill. Are we all Blood Related from our Ancestors, Adam and Eve?

Saying because we have Sinned, does not excuse Killing and destroying our Home.

Killing has not Solved anything, except to make all kinds of weapons for protection, now including Nuclear Bombs.

Do weapons protect, or Kill?

Most religions have been studied for ages, and nothing has been solved, about how Humans are to Live on their Home Planet After Birth. They keep on Killing all Life.

Is the Human Species the Highest form of Life on Earth. If So, why do we act like animals? Is that what Humans are basically? Why? Or were we Higher than the animals?

If Humans are not the Caretakers of their Planet who Is? God? Is this how God runs a Planet? Why did he put Humans in Charge?

Will there be any Humans Alive after the nuclear war? When they are all in Heaven, After Death, then what happens to our Home Planet?

Hope we find some answers soon, for Peaceful Life After Birth.

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