Commentary & News Briefs
June 12, 2006
Compiled by Jenni Parker

...Morality in Media president Robert Peters is applauding the June 7 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to increase the maximum fines the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can impose for broadcast indecency law violations from $32,500 to $325,000. Peters says broadcasting today is dominated by media giants for whom a $32,500 fine can be treated, "like corporate parking tickets," as an easily affordable cost of doing business. Once signed into law by President Bush, the FCC would be able to levy penalties up to ten times that amount. "That," notes Peters, "will hopefully get the attention of both corporate executives and shareholders." Of course, Peters says, the potential for large fines will only help if federal regulators continue to enforce broadcast indecency laws. Also, he remarks, Congress needs to address the problem of indecent programming on non-premium cable and satellite TV channels. Although "there is undoubtedly a market for sex and vulgarity," the Morality in Media spokesman observes, "opinion polls indicate that most Americans are offended by and concerned about the glut of sex and vulgarity on TV. While Americans cherish their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and press, most also want to live and raise children in a safe and decent society." In any case, Peters points out, the Supreme Court has already ruled that enforcement of indecency laws does not constitution impermissible censorship. "Imposing the maximum fine poses no threat to freedom of speech," he says, "because the First Amendment was not intended to provide a license to pollute public spaces with indecent talk and pictures." [Jenni Parker]

...Is the Episcopal Church still a member in good standing of the World Anglican Communion, despite its consecration of an openly homosexual bishop three years ago? That could depend on the actions of Episcopal bishops and laity at their General Convention, which starts Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. Church leaders are to consider an Anglican appeal for a moratorium on choosing homosexual bishops and blessing same-sex couples. New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson told Religion and Ethics Newsweekly that he does not regret his consecration, although he is sorry it has divided Episcopalians and Anglicans worldwide. He and other church leaders hope that is enough to stop conservative Episcopalians and congregations from leaving the denomination or seeking a separate alignment with Anglicans abroad. [AP]

...West Virginia Methodists have rejected a resolution that would have required a discussion of their bishops' opposition to the Iraq war during Sunday school classes. On the final day of West Virginia United Methodists' annual meeting, members said they rejected the resolution because it would dishonor U.S. forces fighting in Iraq. More than half the denomination's bishops had called the war an "unjust and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq." West Virginia Methodists also rejected a resolution calling for open membership in the church. The vote was prompted by a church court decision that pastors can decide whether someone seeking membership is worthy. The ruling upheld the authority of a Virginia pastor who denied membership to an unrepentant homosexual man. [AP]

...Today in Sacramento, California, thousands of concerned parents and children are planning a rally to try to stop a push for mandatory sexual indoctrination materials in the state's public schools. A lesbian legislator has been successful thus far in her bid to force California schools to use material that puts deviant sexual behavior in a positive light. Several bills are working their way through the state legislature, including AB 606, which would force education authorities to develop new curricula that supports transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality in all its forms. The same bill would also authorize the California superintendent of public instruction to arbitrarily withhold state funds from any district that refuses to use such material. The pro-family groups sponsoring today's rally at the Capitol in Sacramento believe the key to stopping these bills is the veto power of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Organizers are calling on the governor to use the veto to protect California's children and families. [Fred Jackson]

...Prison ministries, which proponents argue have done more than any other type of program to reduce the number of repeat offenders, is being threatened by a secularist organization's lawsuit. Barry Lynn and his group, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, have won an Iowa lawsuit, the ultimate outcome of which may threaten all U.S. prison ministries. Mark Earley of Prison Fellowship says the judge ruled in the Americans United case against PF's Innerchange Freedom Initiative "that the program is unconstitutional because it is a Christ-centered program and only operates from a Christian perspective, even though it's voluntary." However, Earley notes, an appeal of that ruling is planned. "It's a very unfortunate decision," the Prison Fellowship spokesman asserts, "and it really strikes a blow at religious liberty, not simply for prisoners but really for all Americans." Under this ruling, Earley says, "people of faith, faith-based groups and churches cannot operate on a level playing field in providing services to people who have volunteered for them." (See earlier story) [Bill Fancher]

...Retired U.S. Army Colonel Al Rodriguez, the Hispanic American founder of a coalition called "You Don't Speak for Me," says his group represents the view of a majority of U.S. Hispanics in opposing their country's "invasion" by illegal immigrants. Rodriguez, an advocate for immigration reform and stronger border enforcement, says Mexico has been working hard to prevent America from stemming the tide of illegal immigration into the U.S., and he feels it is foolish for anyone to suppose President Vicente Fox and his corrupt government are friendly to America's interests. "If you really study the history of Mexico and U.S. relations," the colonel notes, "they never have been a friend of the United States of America. They're a friend of corruption. They're a friend of whatever they can take from the people." There is much history that people fail to understand, especially President George W. Bush, Rodriguez contends. "I cannot believe that [Bush] believes Fox and Mexico are friends. Maybe they are friendly to him -- and they would be." The border control advocate points out that Mexico is one of the richest countries in the world. "I think it's the fourth or fifth major oil producer, and yet their population is starving," he says, "and consequently, what they're trying to do is export all these people so they won't have a revolution in Mexico. That's what they're afraid of." If Mexico were really a friend of the U.S., Rodriguez contends, then Mexico would use its wealth to take care of its own people instead of pawning them off on the U.S. [Chad Groening]

...A supporter of the war on terror claims the recent arrests of Canadians allegedly plotting terrorist attacks against the U.S. was predictable. William Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition says he was not surprised by the number of Canadians involved in the terrorist ring, because "Canada has opened up its border and invited in enemies of the United States during the time that the Liberal government led there." Canada did this, Murray contends, with "an 'in-your-face' attitude," and even threatened the United States at one point because the U.S. refused to allow those with Islamist-terrorists ties to come into the United States on Canadian passports. The Religious Freedom Coalition spokesman says these recent terrorist arrests indicate the need for more serious anti-terrorist action, beginning with keeping a close eye on every Islamic organization operating in the U.S., even those that seem harmless. "We're dealing with an Islamist cause which is totally opposed to Western values and sworn to their destructions," Murray insists. "We need to use every tool at our command in order to meet, resist, and defeat this threat." Meanwhile, he adds, Canada has made its bed and must now lie in it. [Bill Fancher]

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