Christopher Hale came to FPL after interning at the White House and on Capitol Hill. He is a 2011 graduate of Xavier University, where he studied in the Philosophy, Politics and the Public (PPP) Honors program.
A state-by-state, nation-wide repeal of the death penalty once seemed impossible, but now that movement is steadily gaining momentum across the United States.
A year ago, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn signed legislation banning the death penalty in Illinois. Reflecting on that decision, Charles W. Hoffman, assistant defender in the Office of the Illinois State Appellate Defender wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times affirming it as the right move:
The rightness of that decision is more clear than ever. Violent crime rates have not climbed. The public is no less safe. And the pursuit of justice has been served, not undermined.
Our system of capital punishment was abolished because it was broken beyond repair, infected with racism and inherently arbitrary and prone to mistakes. There is no doubt we’re better off without the death penalty, both morally and fiscally. The first anniversary of the abolition of that barbaric practice in Illinois is a joyous, and yet somber, occasion, which gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the profound fact that we, as a sovereign state, no longer kill people to show that killing people is wrong.
Illinois’s efforts are providing an example now for other states. Earlier this month in California, a group of policymakers who originally drafted the state’s death penalty law [deleted comma] abruptly changed their position and are now advocating for the repeal of the state’s costly capital punishment system.
Strengthened efforts are also underway in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina.
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Despite Rush Limbaugh’s attempted apology over the weekend, the faith community’s criticism of his profane comments regarding Sandra Fluke continue unabated.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan—the Archbishop of New York—weighed in on the issue after Mass on Sunday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral:
“Whatever we do, and however strongly we feel, we do it charitably, we do it civilly. We don’t judge the motives of other people. We just try, in a confident, peaceful, inviting way, to make our position felt, to invite other people to respect it.”
Over at the Washington Post’s On Faith blog, renowned Christian theologian Susan Thistlethwaite condemned Limbaugh’s remarks and credited the public’s defense of Sandra Fluke:
[T]his time the attacks on women’s authority in the public square through sexual shaming didn’t work. The advent of new media, and especially social media, means women’s voices can retain and even gain authority in the face of attack.
The push back against Limbaugh is working: nine advertisers have fled The Rush Limbaugh Show, including AOL on Monday.
Faithful America is hoping to increase that number to ten. Their petition asking the Christian dating service eHarmony to sever its tie to Limbaugh’s show has nearly 14,000 signatures.
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Despite the hawkish rhetoric that has dominated Washington the past few days, Pope Benedict and the American bishops have drawn a clear line in the sand against any preemptive war in the Middle East.
In a strongly-worded letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bishop Richard Pate of Des Moines–the Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace–articulated the Church’s displeasure regarding possible military action:
“Iran’s bellicose statements, its failure to be transparent about its nuclear program and its possible acquisition of nuclear weapons are serious matters, but in themselves they do not justify military action. Discussing or promoting military options at this time is unwise and may be counterproductive. Actual or threatened military strikes are likely to strengthen the regime in power in Iran and would further marginalize those in Iran who want to abide by international norms. And, as the experience in Iraq teaches, the use of force can have many unintended consequences.”
This language matches the record of Pope Benedict XVI who throughout his pontificate has implored world leaders to avoid unnecessary conflict in Iran, most notably in separate meetings with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2006.
It is notable that Benedict’s predecessor, Blessed John Paul II also spoke out often against unnecessary military strikes, including the war in Iraq, a prophetic message that was sadly unheeded by American politicians.,
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Friday was a busy day for faith leaders across the country as they stepped up to fight the misinformation put forth by Fox News and the revolting hate rhetoric by Rush Limbaugh against Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke—who testified in favor of the HHS mandate last week.
At Georgetown University—a Jesuit, Catholic university in Washington, DC—President John DeGioia sent a message to the University community condemning Rush Limbaugh’s “misogynistic [and] vitriolic” attacks. In his letter, he lamented how a “respectful [and] sincere” student who provided a “model of civil discourse” during her testimony before Congress could be treated with such “coarseness, anger [and] even hatred” by Limbaugh and others.
He was joined in his criticism of Limbaugh by Faithful America, which has launched a petition asking eHarmony (a Christian dating site) to stop advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Show. The petition states:
Rush Limbaugh is using “religious freedom” as a fig leaf for vile rhetoric about women who use birth control. eHarmony has built its business on Christian customers, and they must stop advertising on Limbaugh’s show immediately.
As of 6:00 PM EST, less than two hours after it went public, the petition has already garnered 5100 signatories.
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Following Franklin Graham’s unfair attack on the President’s faith last week, Tim King of Sojourners called ’foul’ in a BBC debate with Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio.
While Fischer once more defended Graham’s attack on President Obama, Tim called out Graham’s duplicity:
When Graham was asked about the President’s faith, he said he didn’t know. But when he was asked about Santorum and Gingrich, he could answer with certainty what he thought was in their hearts and whether or not they were Christians. [T]he standard was for Democrats: “well, maybe you’re a Christian, maybe not?” But if you’re a Republican, then “yes, [you’re a Christian.]“
In an article featured Wednesday on CNN’s Belief Blog, Tim further articulated how this partisan hypocrisy by the Religious Right is driving young people away from religion altogether.
When Franklin Graham sets up double standards of faith for Republicans and Democrats, when Pat Robertson intones about a coming “secular atheist dictatorship,” when the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins goes off about the dangers of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and other “anti-family, anti-religious, anti-Christian policies,” when the great test for the next President of our country is who has “real” theology and who has “phony” theology, it might make for good sound bites.
But it’s bad faith [and]…it’s hastening the decline of Christianity for an entire generation.
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