From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved

    This file is attached to from “Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.

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7/1/2020 Ban lifted on religious schooling aid by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court delivered a major victory Tuesday to parents seeking state aid for their children’s religious school education.
    The court’s conservative majority ruled 5-4 that states offering scholarships to students in private schools cannot exclude religious schools from such programs.    The decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined liberal justices in three other major rulings this month.
    The court stopped short of requiring states to fund religious education, ruling only that programs cannot differentiate between religious and secular private schools.
    “A state need not subsidize private education.    But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts said.
    It was a decision long sought by proponents of school choice and vehemently opposed by teachers’ unions, who fear it could drain needed tax dollars from public schools.
    The case was brought by three mothers of religious school students from Montana who sought $500 tuition scholarships funded by a state tax credit program.    The state’s highest court struck down the program, citing the separation of church and state.    In response, the state ended the program.
    The Supreme Court’s liberal justices seized on that point in three separate dissents.    They said Montana solved the discrimination by ending the program.
    “Petitioners may still send their children to a religious school,” Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.    “There simply are no scholarship funds to be had.”
    But Roberts and other conservative justices said the policy had its roots in constitutional amendments in 37 states, many rooted in 19th-century anti-Catholic sentiment, that barred public funding of religious schools.
    “The Blaine Amendment was ‘born of bigotry’ and ‘arose at a time of pervasive hostility to the Catholic Church and to Catholics in general,’” Roberts wrote.    “Many of its state counterparts have a similarly ‘shameful pedigree.’”    The court’s ruling brought together four Catholic justices with Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic but attends an Episcopal church.    Dissenting were three Jewish justices and one Catholic, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.     Kendra Espinoza, the lead plaintiff, called it a “historic moment.”    The court, she said, gave her and other parents and students “an ability to exercise our religion as we see fit.”
    Lawyers at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group that represented Espinoza, said the impact will be felt across several states, including Maine, Vermont, Missouri, Idaho and South Dakota.
    Teachers unions and civil rights groups warned that if the floodgates open for religious school funding, public schools that educate about 90% of students will suffer.
    “Never in more than two centuries of American history has the free exercise clause of the First Amendment been wielded as a weapon to defund and dismantle public education,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

7/1/2020 Religious schools can get public funding - Supreme Court rules states can’t discriminate by Richard Wolf USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court delivered a major victory Tuesday to parents seeking state aid for their children’s religious school education.
    The court’s conservative majority ruled 5-4 that states offering scholarships to students in private schools cannot exclude religious schools from such programs.    The decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who has joined the liberal justices in three other major rulings this month.
    The court stopped short of requiring states to fund religious education, ruling only that programs cannot differentiate between religious and secular private schools.
    “A state need not subsidize private education.    But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts said.
    It was a decision long sought by proponents of school choice and vehemently opposed by teachers’ unions, who fear it could drain needed tax dollars from struggling public schools.
    The case was brought by three mothers of religious school students from Montana who sought $500 tuition scholarships funded by a state tax credit program. The state’s highest court struck down the program, citing the separation of church and state.    In response, state officials ended the entire program.
    The Supreme Court’s liberal justices seized on that point in three separate dissents.    They said Montana solved the discrimination by ending the program.
    “Petitioners may still send their children to a religious school,” Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.    “There simply are no scholarship funds to be had.”
    But Roberts and other conservative justices said the no-aid policy had its roots in constitutional amendments in 37 states, many rooted in 19th-century anti-Catholic sentiment, that blocked religious schools from receiving public funds.
    “The Blaine Amendment was ‘born of bigotry’ and ‘arose at a time of pervasive hostility to the Catholic Church and to Catholics in general,’” he wrote.    “Many of its state counterparts have a similarly ‘shameful pedigree.’”    The court’s ruling brought together four Catholic justices with Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic but attends an Episcopal church. Dissenting were three Jewish justices and one Catholic, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
    Kendra Espinoza, the lead plaintiff, called it a “historic moment.”    The court, she said in a conference call, gave her and other parents and students “an ability to exercise our religion as we see fit.”
    Lawyers at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group that represented Espinoza, said the immediate impact will be felt in several states including Maine, Vermont, Missouri, Idaho and South Dakota.
    Conservative groups had flooded the high court with arguments supporting Espinoza and her fellow Montana parents’ cause.    Having long sought legislative backing for school voucher and tax credit programs, they saw the case as a judicial promised land.
The weight that this monumental decision carries is immense, as it’s an extraordinary victory for student achievement, parental control, equality in educational opportunities, and First Amendment rights,” said Jeanne Allen, founder of the Center for Education Reform.
    Teachers unions and civil rights groups warned that if the floodgates open for religious school funding, public schools that educate about 90% of students will suffer.
    “Never in more than two centuries of American history has the free exercise clause of the First Amendment been wielded as a weapon to defund and dismantle public education,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
    The decision also was denounced by groups advocating the separation of church and state.     “Let’s be clear about what just happened: The Supreme Court has decided that atheist taxpayers are now required to fund religious schools,” said Robyn Blumner, president of the Center for Inquiry.    “Members of non-Christian faiths are now required to fund Christian education.”
    Nationwide, tax credits and vouchers help about 500,000 students attend religious schools.    But 17 states specifically block religious school choice programs.    The Trump administration had sided with the parents.    President Donald Trump has long championed prayer in schools, and January’s oral argument in the case was attended by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a longtime proponent of religious schools.
    “The Trump administration believes that school choice is a civil rights issue and that no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.    The president, she said, “will fight for school choice, and he will always defend our first freedom: the free exercise of religion.”
    The ruling was another in a long line of Supreme Court decisions upholding religious freedom.    In recent years, the justices have upheld public prayer at government meetings and exempted some religious objectors from laws regarding insurance coverage for contraception and participation in same-sex marriages.
    Last year, the court ruled 7-2 that a mammoth Latin cross on government land in Bladensburg, Maryland, does not have to be moved or altered in the name of church-state separation.
    And in a 2017 case cited by conservative justices as paving the way for the school choice decision, the justices ruled 7-2 that a Lutheran church in Missouri was eligible for public funds to resurface its playground.    Roberts called the state’s exclusion of the church “odious to our Constitution.”
    Civil rights groups and teachers unions had cited a different 7-2 decision from the high court in 2004 when the justices upheld a public scholarship program that excluded students pursuing theology degrees.    But Roberts said that was different because the funds would have helped train a student for the ministry.
    The high court is expected to announce two other major cases on religious freedom in the coming days.    In one, religious nonprofits such as charities and universities want to be exempted from a government policy requiring that employers offer free insurance coverage for contraceptives. In the other, religious employers want to be free to make hiring and firing decisions without being bound by employment discrimination laws.

7/4/2020 LGBT Pride activists protest in Paris against racial injustice
People attend Paris' LGBT march despite social distancing restrictions forbidding
gatherings of more than 10 people in Paris, France, July 4, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
    PARIS (Reuters) – A pared-down LGBT Pride march drew thousands of people to the streets of Paris on Saturday, without the colourful trucks blasting out techno music but with powerful slogans demanding racial equality and protesting against police violence.
    The French capital’s official Pride parade was postponed to November because of the coronavirus epidemic, but organisers decided to hold a march they said should be more politically driven and support the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
    “Because of COVID, the normal Pride parade had to be cancelled, but we managed to organise a Pride that is more political,” a drag king and illustrator who gave her name as Saint Eugene told Reuters TV.
    Marchers, who chanted slogans such as “Everyone hates the police”, made their way peacefully from the Moulin Rouge cabaret in the Pigalle neighbourhood to Place de la Republique on the city’s Right Bank, many of them wearing face masks.
    Some waved “Black Lives Matter” placards in support of protests ignited by the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose death in police custody in Minneapolis in the United States triggered worldwide protests.
    More than 200 LGBT rights marches have been postponed or cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus, according to the European Pride Organisers Association, which estimates that up to 22 million people attend at least one Pride in Europe every year.
    “It’s not just a month of Pride, we have to fight every day, it’s a battle every day, to get across a message around the world,” said teacher Ahmed Madkouri.
(Reporting by Yiming Woo; Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Edmund Blair)

7/6/2020 Ahead of run-off vote, Polish president proposes constitutional ban on LGBT adoption
FILE PHOTO: Election posters of presidential candidates Warsaw's mayor Rafal Trzaskowski and Poland's President Andrzej Duda are seen during the election campaign, in Piaseczno, Poland June 22, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s President Andrzej Duda on Monday proposed changing the constitution to ban LGBT couples from adopting children ahead of Sunday’s presidential run-off in which the candidates are polling neck-and-neck.
    The opposition centrist Civic Platform (PO) candidate, Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, said this weekend that he is also against the adoption of children by LGBT couples.
    Duda is an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS), which dismisses LGBT rights as an invasive foreign influence undermining Poland’s traditional values.
    A majority amounting to two-thirds of the lower house of parliament is needed to change the constitution.    After an election in October, PiS rules with a slim majority and does not hold enough seats to carry out such changes.
    Duda said he hoped he could garner broader support for his proposal from some members of PO, the agrarian PSL grouping and from the far-right Confederation party.
    “I am convinced that, thanks to this, children’s safety and concern for the good of children will be ensured to a much greater extent,” Duda said at an event in Warsaw.
    The constitutional change would specify that only married heterosexual couples would be able to adopt children, he said.    Courts would have the right to check on couples to ensure they fit into the definition.
    A spokesman for PO said the party was against the constitutional change proposed by Duda.
    Trzaskowski has previously said he is in favour of civil partnerships for gay people and proposed a sexual education programme in Warsaw that would teach children about LGBT issues.
    Duda’s comments come after he said LGBT ideology was worse than communism in a campaign stop last month and vowed to ban teaching about LGBT issues in schools in an effort to protect what he sees as the traditional family.
    Poland was this year ranked the worst country in the European Union for LGBT rights in a poll by Brussels-based NGO ILGA-Europe.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Alison Williams)
[This is why Trump is backing Duda because he is doing what is right in the eyes of God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.].

7/6/2020 Russian church leader says calls to turn Hagia Sophia into mosque threaten Christianity
FILE PHOTO: Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is seen before the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow,
Russia June 24, 2020. The military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, was
scheduled for May 9 but postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Patriarch Kirill, the leader of Russia’s Orthodox Church, said on Monday that calls to convert Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque posed a threat to Christianity.
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, an ancient building at the heart of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now one of Turkey’s most visited monuments.
    The proposal has been criticised by several religious and political leaders, including the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch, spirtual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, as well as Greece, France and the United States.
    “A threat against Hagia Sophia is a threat to all of Christian civilization, meaning (a threat to) our spirituality and history,” Patriarch Kirill said in a statement.
    “What could happen to Hagia Sophia will cause deep pain among the Russian people.”
    The Kremlin said on Monday it hoped Turkish authorities would take into account Hagia Sophia’s status as a World Heritage Site.
    “This is a beloved world masterpiece for tourists from all countries who visit Turkey, including for tourists from Russia, for whom Hagia Sophia, in additional to its tourism value, has an very deep sacred spiritual value,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
    Erdogan said last week that criticism over the possible conversion of the monument – known in Turkish as Ayasofya – was an attack on Turkey’s sovereignty.    Many Turks argue that mosque status would better reflect the identity of Turkey as an overwhelmingly Muslim country, and polls show most Turks support a change.
    Hagia Sophia was an important place of worship for Orthodox Christians for centuries until Istanbul, then known as Constantinople, fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.    They turned the building into a mosque but after the creation of the modern secular Turkish republic under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk it became a museum in 1934.
    Many Christians were comfortable with Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum because this effectively created a neutral space which respected both the Christian and Muslim heritage of the ancient building, which dates back to the sixth century.
    A Turkish court last week heard a case aimed at converting the building back into a mosque and will announce its verdict later this month.
    The court case, brought by an NGO for preserving historic monuments, disputes the legality of the 1934 decision.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; additional reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

7/8/2020 Gay rights: the taboo subject in Singapore’s election by John Geddie
FILE PHOTO: Participants shield themselves from the sun under a rainbow-coloured umbrella before taking part in the forming of
a giant pink dot at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 28, 2014. The annual Pink Dot Sg event promotes an
acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore, according to organisers. REUTERS/Edgar Su
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Among a record eleven parties set to contest Singapore’s election on Friday, there has been virtual silence on one of the conservative city-state’s most controversial issues, gay rights.
    Advocacy groups have stepped up awareness campaigns with scorecards for politicians and online rallies in recent weeks over what they see as everyday discrimination that stems from a rarely-used, colonial-era law banning sex between men.
    But for some gay Singaporeans, casting their vote in the mandatory July 10 ballot will serve as a reminder that they have few political allies on one of the issues that matters most to them.
    “It’s a non-topic with the parties, the choices we have,” said Victor Ong, a 44-year-old Singaporean who lives with his British husband Harry, whom he married four years ago in London, and their amber-coloured cat Whisky.
    “As much as I want to make my decision based on their stance on that, there isn’t any material to work with.”
    Ong’s marriage is not recognised in Singapore, meaning the couple are not eligible for some benefits like housing and tax.    They also say they avoid public displays of affection due to worries about social norms shaped by the 377A law which effectively criminalises them.
    Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has previously called the law an “uneasy compromise” as society “is not that liberal on these matters.”
    There is no mention of gay rights or 377A in the manifesto of his People’s Action Party, which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965 and is widely-expected to be returned to power, or that of any other party in the election.
    Of the four main parties contesting, only the new Progress Singapore Party responded to a request for comment.    A spokesman said it did not object to removing criminal punishment for homosexuals but the debate over 377A was a “proxy combat zone” for other issues like family structures and marriage.
    Political analyst Loke Hoe Yeong said the issue was considered “political suicide” for parties who feel they will be punished by either conservative or liberal voters.
    Yet advocacy groups do sense a growing awareness around the issue, especially after India repealed a similar law in 2018.
    “That tacit acceptance of the status quo is giving way to a sense of frustration amongst the younger voters,” said Clement Tan of Pink Dot SG, which hosted an online rally last month for Singapore’s LGBT community.
    An ally has also emerged in Lee Hsien Yang, the prime minister’s estranged brother and son of the city-state’s modern day founder Lee Kuan Yew, who has become an increasingly vocal critic of the government in the run up to the vote.
    “The tidal wave against discrimination on sexual orientation has swept across the world,” Lee, whose son is gay and married overseas, told Reuters.
    “The British, from whom we ‘inherited’ 377A, have repealed it decades ago.    A repeal merely decriminalises and ends this discrimination.”
    Nearly 70 countries around the world criminalise gay sex, mainly in Africa and the Middle East.
    Another rights group Sayoni changed tack ahead of this election. With parties mum on the issue, they decided to score individual politicians on their LGBT stance by reviewing public comments they had made and ranking them from A to F.
    Ong says he will vote on Friday based on “basic needs” but he hopes that the future will bring change from a younger generation more supportive of gay rights.
    “We are sons and daughters of Singapore, whether we are gay or straight, and to vote, I think it should be accounted for.”
(Reporting by John Geddie; Additional reporting by Joseph Campbell and Fathin Ungku; Editing by Kim Coghill)

7/8/2020 Supreme Court rules in favor of religious liberty in 2 landmark cases by OAN Newsroom
Tom Alexander holds a cross as he prays prior to rulings outside the Supreme Court
on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 8, 2020.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    The Supreme Court handed down a series of wins for the Trump administration in two major rulings this week.
    On Wednesday, the court ruled in favor of the president’s attempt to lessen the impact of the Obama era Affordable Care Act (ACA).    In a 7-2 decision, the nation’s highest court stated certain organizations, such as religious businesses, do not have to provide birth control for employees on the grounds of religious liberty.
    This case predominantly concerned the catholic organization Little Sisters of the Poor, which argued the ACA mandate runs contrary to their pro-life beliefs.
    “They don’t have any objection if their employees receive those services from some other means,” explained attorney Paul Clement.     “Their objection essentially is to having their plans hijacked and being forced to provide the services through their own plan, their own plan infrastructure.”
    In the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said groups like Little Sisters of the Poor should not be forced to comply with the ACA against their religious convictions.
    On the same day, the Supreme Court also issued a second landmark ruling in favor of two catholic schools in Los Angeles, California.    In another 7-2 decision, the court ruled two former teachers could not sue the schools for discrimination.
    The justices claimed the schools fell into the category of “ministerial exception,” which allows religious organizations to be exempt from some discrimination suits.
    Justice Samuel Alito authored the majority opinion.    He contended that religious schools should be able to hire employees that they believe will adequately present their doctrines to students.

7/9/2020 Justices rule twice for religious liberty by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court gave advocates for religious freedom two victories Wednesday.
    The court ruled that employers with religious or moral objections do not have to help provide insurance coverage for contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act and that religious schools are exempt from most employment discrimination claims, doubling down on the autonomy religious employers enjoy to choose their leaders.
    In the first case, the ruling seeks to end a long-standing fight by the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups that wanted no role in providing birth control coverage.
    It upholds a Trump administration policy allowing for religious and moral exemptions. The decision was written by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and joined by the court’s other conservatives.    Associate Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer agreed with the result but warned that the legal fight might not be over. Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
    “For over 150 years, the Little Sisters have engaged in faithful service and sacrifice, motivated by a religious calling to surrender all for the sake of their brother,” Thomas said.    “But for the past seven years, they – like many other religious objectors who have participated in the litigation and rulemakings leading up to today’s decision – have had to fight for the ability to continue in their noble work without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
    Ginsburg issued a harsh rebuke to the court’s ruling.
    “Today, for the first time, the court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” she said.    “This court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer’s insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets.”
    In the second case, the court ruled 7-2 regarding two disputes between Catholic schools in California and the teachers they fired.    Under a ministerial exception, religious employers are given autonomy over their workers that is not available to other employers.    Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s majority opinion.
    Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented.
    “The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” Alito wrote.    “Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”
    The first case, which had confounded the justices for several years, represented the latest but not the last challenge to the Affordable Care Act a decade after its passage.    The high court has upheld the law twice and will hear a third challenge in the fall – one in which the Trump administration recommended the entire law be struck down.
Tom Alexander holds a cross as he prays before rulings outside the
Supreme Court on Wednesday PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP

7/9/2020 Religious schools are exempt from bias suits by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that religious schools are exempt from most employment discrimination claims, doubling down on the autonomy religious employers enjoy to choose their leaders.
    The 7-2 ruling came in two disputes between Catholic schools in California and the teachers they fired.    Under a so-called ministerial exception, religious employers are given autonomy over their workers that is not available to other employers.
    Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s majority opinion. Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.
    “The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” Alito wrote.    “Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”
    Sotomayor argued that the school’s opinion regarding the teachers’ religious role should not be the final word.    “That simplistic approach has no basis in law and strips thousands of school teachers of their legal protections,” she said.    Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the high court’s unanimous opinion in 2012 that allowed religious organizations to choose leaders regardless of federal job discrimination laws.    The latest question was whether the fired teachers performed enough religious duties to be considered “ministers” exempt from those laws.
    Fifth grade teacher Kristen Biel was let go from St. James Catholic School after developing breast cancer and seeking leave to undergo chemotherapy.    She sued successfully under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the school>     Biel lost her battle with the disease last year, leaving her husband, Darryl, to carry on her challenge.
    The other teacher, Agnes Morrissey- Berru, who is not a practicing Catholic, taught for 16 years at Our Lady of Guadalupe School but was let go, the school said, based on her performance. She claimed age discrimination.
    The schools relied on the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled the teachers deserved their day in court. The Trump administration took the schools’ side.
Little Sisters of the Poor nuns at Supreme Court in 2016, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

7/10/2020 Louisville theologians tackle modern Christianity by Savannah Eadens, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Two new books about modern Christianity written from vastly different perspectives are set to publish this summer from two Louisville-based theologians.
    Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, a progressive Christian writer and activist and the Rev. R. Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of several books, have both written books that address Christianity and its place in modern society.
    Mohler is a leading and influential voice on conservative Christianity in the United States.    His newest book, “The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church,” was released in late June and addresses the spread of secularism throughout civilization.
    On the opposite end of the political spectrum is Graves-Fitzsimmons, who for almost a decade has worked in faithbased public policy advocacy.    In addition to founding The Resistance Prays— a daily, online Christian newsletter — he’s a frequent commentator on religion and politics for a variety of national news outlets.    His book, “Just Faith: Reclaiming progressive Christianity,” will be released in September.
    The Courier Journal talked to both theologians and authors about their new books, their take on Christianity and its role in modern faith.
‘Just Faith: Reclaiming progressive Christianity’
    Author: Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons. “Just Faith” is available for preorder online for $26.99 and scheduled to publish Sept. 15.
    In “Just Faith,” progressive Christian activist and writer Graves-Fitzsimmons explains how a strong religious left has accompanied every major progressive advance in our society, and he resurrects the “long but forgotten history of progressive Christianity in the United States that can and must link arms with progressive Muslims and Jews to make the moral case for pluralism, human dignity, and the common good,” according to the book’s description.    Graves-Fitzsimmons “creates a rallying cry for a bold progressive Christianity that unapologetically fights for its values to impact the biggest political battles of our time — from immigration and economic fairness to LGBTQ+ rights and abortion rights,” it states.
Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, a Louisville Christian writer and activist, launched The Resistance Prays. ALTON STRUPP/COURIER JOURNAL
    What can you tell us about ‘Just Faith’?
    Graves-Fitzsimmons: “Just Faith” is my love letter to progressive Christians.    As I’ve traveled across the country, I’ve met so many Christians who say a version of “I’m a Christian, but not that kind.”    We are so tired of conservatives betraying the message of love and radical inclusion that Jesus preached.    My book offers a word of encouragement by reminding us of our bold tradition, explaining how we ended up in such a bad situation, and offering a hopeful vision of “Christianity” not being synonymous with “conservative” any longer.
What compelled you to write this book?
    Graves-Fitzsimmons: Progressive Christians across our country feel erased from our culture, which wrongly associates our faith with conservative values.    Yet I’ve met so many wonderful Christian activists who are putting their faith into action for equality and dignity for all.    I wrote this book to encourage all of my fellow followers of Jesus who are working for social and economic justice.    Let’s not let all the haters, who do great injustice to the name of Jesus, deter us from our work.    My prayer is that we feel less alone and are assured that we are surrounded by many co-laborers for the common good.
    Why do you believe it’s important to release now?
    Graves-Fitzsimmons: The 2016 election made me despair for my country and my Christian faith.    I knew so many Christians who would never even consider voting for President Donald Trump, yet our national discourse around the election focused on conservative Christians going along with his campaign. Let’s have a different discussion this year.    Yes, there are conservative Christians who use the faith as a (disguise) for their hate and bigotry.    But there are also millions of progressive Christians who are active in American politics and inspired by our faith.
‘The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church’
    Author: Dr. R. Albert Mohler.    “The Gathering Storm” is available as an Ebook on Amazon for $14.99, and a hardcover copy from Barnes & Noble is $26.99.
    The latest book from the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary addresses the spread of secularism throughout civilization and offers Christians “hope, confidence, and conviction amidst this present crisis.”    In “The Gathering Storm,” Mohler discusses “harmful ideologies, policies, and world views commonly discussed among intellectual leaders, the political class and schools,” and offers solutions to protect the Christian faith under such circumstances.    Mohler discusses religious liberty, ethics and sexuality issues, particularly on issues of abortion and “attacks on the sacredness of human life,” according to the book’s description.
    What compelled you to write this book?
    Mohler: It came to me last year.    In 2019, it became clear to me that a lot of the issues of public discussion and of conversations that I was having had a common theme.    I felt a sense of urgency in addressing those issues.    And those issues have continued into 2020 with greater intensity.    They’ve been conversations about human sexuality, and LGBTQ issues and the Supreme Court.    Even in the last two weeks, we’ve had a graphic illustration of how relevant that is.    But I also wanted to look at the larger questions, like the place of the Christian church in Western civilization.
    Why do you believe it’s important to release now?
    Mohler: Just about all of us as Christians recognize that we are living in a hinge moment of history, that society is turning, and the changes appear to be accelerating.    I think Christians are looking for a way to understand what’s going on as a whole.
    What’s your hope for how this book might be received by readers?
    Mohler: An author’s hope, of course, is that a book will have influence and find it helpful, and in some cases, spark conversations.    It’s definitely addressed to Christians, but I hope others will read it out of sheer interest.    The book is about protecting the rights of not only Christians but all persons and religious groups, on the ability to freely exercise their faith.    The title of the book is borrowed from Winston Churchill, and he was writing about the storm that he saw gathering over Western civilization in the 20th century and I have borrowed his title as a way of honoring Churchill’s vision and I’m trying to provide something of the same vision of what’s going on in culture in the 21st century.
R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary PROVIDED
Savannah Eadens is a Culture & Diversity reporter for the Courier Journal.    Reach Savannah at, 502-381-9498 or on Twitter at @savannaheadens. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:

7/10/2020 Russian LGBT Activist Fined For ‘Gay Propaganda’ Family Drawings by Maria Vasilyeva
Yulia Tsvetkova, a Russian artist promoting body positivism, LGBTQ rights and sex education, poses for a photo outside a
court building in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia July 10, 2020. Tsvetkova faces charges of "spreading pornography" and "promoting
non-traditional sexual relationships among minors" over the sharing her artwork on social media. REUTERS/Stringer
    MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian LGBT activist said she was fined 75,000 roubles ($1,000) on Friday on charges of spreading “gay propaganda” among minors by publishing drawings of same-sex couples with children online.
    Yulia Tsvetkova and her lawyer said she was prosecuted over a series of colourful pictures, some showing two men or two women, holding babies or standing with young children, sometimes surrounded by rainbow-coloured love hearts.
    The court in the eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur confirmed the 27-year-old had been fined under a 2013 law that bans disseminating “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” among young Russians – legislation condemned by rights groups.
    “Today I was fined for posts about discrimination and how to fight it, for posts that family is where love is,” Tsvetkova told Reuters.
    Her lawyer Alexei Bushmakov said Tsvetkova was also awaiting trial on separate charges of producing and disseminating pornography – offences punishable with up to six years in jail.    He said investigators had told her not to discuss that case.
    Homosexuality in Russia, where the influence of the socially conservative Orthodox Church has grown in recent years, was a criminal offence until 1993, and classed as a mental illness until 1999.
    Gay marriage is not recognised and only heterosexual couples can legally adopt children in Russia.
    President Vladimir Putin has said he is not prejudiced against gay people, but that he finds a Western willingness to embrace homosexuality and gender fluidity out of step with traditional Russian values.
    Tsvetkova has built up an online following with her colourful drawings that she says promote LGBT rights and celebrate the female body.    Many are published on Facebook and the Russian social media site Vkontakte.
    Her prosecution has sparked a wave of support among activists and artists in Russia and abroad.    Dozens of women were arrested in Moscow last month at a protest against her trial.
    Russian LGBT Network, the country’s most prominent gay rights campaign group, called charges against Tsvetkova “nonsense.”
    “Russian homophobia… is largely an outcome of authorities’ homophobic policies,” said Svetlana Zakharova, one of the group’s board members.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Additional reporting by Anastasia Adasheva; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

7/10/2020 Pope Appoints Ex-ECB Boss Draghi To Prestigious Academy Of Social Sciences
FILE PHOTO: Then European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reacts during a news conference on the outcome of
the meeting of the Governing Council, in Frankfurt, Germany, October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has appointed former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Vatican said on Friday.
    The Academy, a think tank established in 1994 as a sister body to the older Pontifical Academy of Sciences, holds regular international symposiums on subjects of social concern such as human trafficking, modern slavery and debt relief.
    They are attended by world luminaries in their fields and produce reports which the pope can use to guide him on non-religious issues.
    As a member, Draghi, who during his tenure as ECB president was widely credited with saving the euro, will play key roles in choosing topics for conferences and deciding who to invite.
    The Academy held a conference in February that brought together more than 25 government officials, religious authorities and economists, including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
    The February conference, on the theme of new forms of solidarity, facilitated talks between Georgieva and Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman on the Latin American country’s debt crisis.
    Stiglitz is also one of the Academy’s more than 20 members.
    The symposiums are held in the Casina Pio IV, a building nestled in the Vatican Gardens that was built in 1561 as a summer residence for Pope Pius IV.
    Draghi, an Italian who once headed the Bank of Italy, stepped down from the ECB last October after an eight-year mandate.
(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; editing by Philip Pullella and Susan Fenton)

7/12/2020 Poles Vote In Presidential Election That Highlights Country’s Deep Divisions by Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz
Polish President Andrzej Duda with his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda and daughter Kinga Duda attends
his election rally in Rzeszow, Poland July 10, 2020. Patryk Ogorzalek/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Poles were voting on Sunday in a knife-edge presidential election that has highlighted the country’s deep political divisions and may shape its future relations with the European Union.
    Incumbent Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS), takes on liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski after a campaign that has shown sharply contrasting visions for the future.
    Duda’s re-election is crucial if PiS is to deepen judicial reforms that the European Union has criticised as increasing political control over the courts.
    The president holds the power of veto and Trzaskowski, who has said he is seeking a more open Poland, has promised that if he wins he will block legislation that he believes would undermine democratic norms.
    “(This election) is important because it will be crucial for the next 30 years in Poland,” said Przemyslaw Bochenski, a 60-year-old doctor, at a polling station in northern Warsaw.
    “If we do not take the right direction now I am afraid that Polish democracy and Poland, everything we have built, will collapse.”
    Given that Poland’s president holds few executive powers, it is unlikely Trzaskowski could bring about significant change if he won.    But with the presidency as well as the upper house of parliament in opposition hands, PiS’s ability to implement its agenda would be hampered.
    Polling stations in the election, a run-off after a first round on June 28, close at 1900 GMT, at which point the results of an exit poll will be announced.
    Duda has painted himself as a defender of Poland’s Catholic values and the generous social benefit programmes that have transformed life for many, especially in the poorer rural regions of the country, the EU’s largest post-communist member.
    “I believe we can build the Poland we dream of, a fair Poland, a rich Poland, a strong Poland… a Poland that can protect the weak and doesn’t have to fear the strong,” he told supporters on Friday.
    However, while Duda vows to stand with the weak, critics say his campaign has also drawn on homophobia and anti-Semitism.
    He has compared what he calls LGBT “ideology” to Soviet-era communist indoctrination, while state TV, the mouthpiece of the government, has used the sensitive issue of Jewish property restitution to attack Trzaskowski.
    Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw since 2018, became a target for religious conservatives for promoting gay rights after he took part in pride marches and pledged to introduce sex education classes in the city’s schools in line with WHO standards.
    Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of PiS and Poland’s de-facto ruler, told Catholic television station TV Trwam on Thursday that Trzaskowski was at the centre of attempts to allow minorities to “terrorise” the rest of society.
    Trzaskowski says he seeks a more tolerant Poland and has criticised PiS’s rhetoric, while vowing to abolish state news channel TVP Info.
    “Have you ever heard such homophobia, such anti-Semitism, such attacks on everybody who is brave enough to say ‘we have had enough’,” he asked supporters on Friday, contrasting PiS’s use of language with that of opposition politicians.
    But while vowing to block PiS’s judicial reforms and condemning attacks on minorities, Trzaskowski has stressed that he would leave PiS’s popular social benefit programmes intact and not seek to raise the retirement age.
    Trzaskowski has tried to portray himself as someone who can unite a divided nation, but many observers say a period of bitter conflict between the PiS-dominated parliament and the presidential palace awaits if he wins.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz, Alicja Ptak, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Anna Koper; Editing by Frances Kerry)

7/12/2020 Pope ‘Very Pained’ By Decision To Turn Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum Into Mosque
FILE PHOTO: Police officers walk in front of Hagia Sophia, or Ayasofya-i
Kebir Camii, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 11, 2020. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Sunday he was hurt by Turkey’s decision to make Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum a mosque, the latest religious leader to condemn the move.
    “My thoughts go to Istanbul.    I think of Santa Sophia and I am very pained,” he said during his weekly blessing in St. Peter’s Square.
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said the first prayers would be held in Hagia Sophia on July 24, after declaring the ancient monument was once again a mosque following a court ruling revoking its status as a museum.
    The World Council of Churches has called on Erdogan to reverse his decision and Patriarch Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, called it disappointing.
    Erdogan said the nearly 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia, which was once a Christian cathedral, would remain open to Muslims, Christians and foreigners.
    He added that Turkey had exercised its sovereign right in converting it to a mosque and would interpret criticism of the move as an attack on its independence.
    Greece has condemned the move and UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status and that Turkey’s decision raised questions about the impact on its universal value as a site of importance transcending borders and generations.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

7/12/2020 Hamburg Sex Workers Demand Germany’s Brothels Reopen by Fabian Bimmer
Prostitutes wearing masks hold signs reading "One Europe - One Law", "We attract your tourists, dear Germany",
"Without us, more women and children will be violated" and "Livelihoods depend on sex work too", during a rally
of prostitutes demanding the reopening of Germany's brothels, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19), in the famous red light district Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany July 11, 2020. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer
    HAMBURG (Reuters) – Prostitutes demonstrated in Hamburg’s red light district late on Saturday evening demanding that Germany’s brothels be allowed to reopen after months of closure to curb the spread of coronavirus.
    With shops, restaurants and bars all open again in Germany, where prostitution is legal, sex workers say they are being singled out and deprived of their livelihoods despite not posing a greater health risk.
    “The oldest profession needs your help,” read a notice held up by one woman in a brothel window in the Herbertstrasse, which was flooded with red light after being dark since March.
    Some protesters wore theatrical masks while one played folk songs on a violin in the street just around the corner from the Reeperbahn, famous for its nightlife.
    The Association of Sex Workers, which organised the protest, says the continued closure of licensed premises is forcing some prostitutes onto the streets, which is illegal and a far more dangerous and unhygienic way of working.
    It said brothels could easily incorporate pandemic safety measures adopted by other industries, including face masks, ventilating premises and recording visitors’ contact details.
    “Prostitution does not carry a greater risk of infection than other close-to-body services, like massages, cosmetics or even dancing or contact sports,” the association said in a statement.    “Hygiene is part of the business in prostitution.”
(Reporting by Fabian Bimmmer in Hamburg, Writing by Thomas Escritt, Editing by Catherine Evans)

7/13/2020 Polish Conservative Duda Re-Elected President, Deeper EU Rifts Likely by Joanna Plucinska and Marcin Goclowski
Polish President Andrzej Duda attends a meeting with local residents following his victory in a
presidential election in Odrzywol, Poland July 13, 2020. Marcin Kucewicz/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish President Andrzej Duda has won five more years in power on a socially conservative, religious platform in a closely fought election that makes renewed confrontation with the European Union’s executive likely.
    Final results from Sunday’s presidential election runoff showed Duda, 48, won with 51.03% of the vote, the National Election Commission said.
    Liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski got 48.97%.
    Duda is allied with the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, and his victory reinforces the government’s mandate to pursue reforms of the judiciary and media which the European Commission says subvert democratic standards.
    “To a large extent, the policy of Brussels, or rather Berlin, had focused on supporting the opposition,” PiS lawmaker Arkadiusz Mularczyk told Reuters.
    “Polish society is not accepting this.”
    Duda has painted himself as a guardian of traditional values and the generous PiS welfare programmes that have transformed life for many poorer Poles.
    However, he ran an acrimonious campaign laced with homophobic language, attacks on private media and accusations that Trzaskowski serves foreign interests.
    Since polls closed, he has struck a more conciliatory tone in the deeply polarised country.    “Hold back as much as you can from unnecessary words … because words can hurt,” he told supporters.    “Please, help me put Poland back together again.”
    Trzaskowski, who had said he would repair Poland’s relations with Europe and use the presidential veto to block any legislation eroding democratic norms, said he thought the PiS would not change direction.
    “Unfortunately, it seems like the other side has not learned lessons,” Trzaskowski said.    “That is why we hear statements that the process of politicizing the courts will be completed… Unfortunately those in power do not want to reach out their hand to us.”
    Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro suggested on Sunday that the PiS could push on quickly with its ambition to change private media ownership toward outlets more favourable to its policies.
    The PiS and EU have been divided on climate change and migration, in addition to democracy issues.
    Rifts are likely to be evident this week when EU leaders discuss the bloc’s long-term budget, with Brussels facing growing calls for funding to be made conditional on respect for the rule of law.
    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Duda on Twitter on Monday.
    Hungary, another right-wing nationalist voice in central Europe, swiftly welcomed Duda’s re-election.
    “The international liberal mainstream once again tried everything but the central European right wing is up 3:0,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Facebook, referring to recent conservative triumphs in Croatia, which is an EU member state, and Serbia, which is not in the EU.
    Trzaskowski had said that, if elected, he would seek a more tolerant Poland and abolish state news channel TVP Info, which critics say gave overt support to Duda.
    “The public broadcaster was used as a campaign tool for the incumbent,” said Thomas Boserup, head of an assessment mission from European election watchdog the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).    “This is the clearest misuse of public resources we have seen in this election.”
    To many religious conservatives in predominantly Catholic Poland, Trzaskowski came to represent the threats facing traditional values when he pledged to introduce education about LGBT rights in Warsaw schools.
    Many members of the LGBT community fear discrimination under a second Duda term.
    “We feel powerless,” said Dawid Mycek, 35, a LGBT activist and Youtuber.    “This is the first presidential campaign I know, which was based on hate, hate speech and dividing Poles.”
(Additional reporting Alicja Ptak and Kacper Pempel; Writing by Justyna Pawlak and Alan Charlish; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Heinrich)

7/14/2020 U.S. Ambassador Sanctioned By China Over Defense Of Religious Freedom by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this April 12, 2020, file photo, a woman prays while wearing a face mask before speaking at an Easter
drive-in service at the International Church of Las Vegas, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
    China is targeting U.S. officials over their support for religious freedom.    The Monday announcement of sanctions enacted by the Chinese regime against Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz and congressman Chris Smith, also included action against an American Ambassador Sam Brownback.
    Brownback is U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom and was nominated for the position by President Trump in July 2017 as part of the administration’s push to emphasize the defense of religious rights worldwide within U.S. foreign policy.
    This policy focus led to President Trump headlining a United Nations event on religious freedom in 2019, which made him the first American president in history to convene a UN meeting on the>     We are standing up for persecuted Christians and religious minorities all around the world like nobody has ever done,” stated the president.
    Ambassador Brownback, who previously served as governor of Kansas, was instrumental in arranging the meeting.    Since being confirmed to his current position, he has led a diverse portfolio focused on applying U.S. soft power to combating global threats to people’s freedom to worship.
    He has also been sharply critical of China’s treatment of religious institutions, which for years have suffered under suppressive policies in Mainland China.    On part of this, the Chinese regime’s recent sanctions against him are not particularly surprising, according to analysts.
    “There is no nation on the Earth that pushes human rights of religious freedom any more than the United States or than the Trump Administration does,” Brownback stated.    “And you can’t come up with a single name of anybody else that does, this is true.”
    Religious institutions in Mainland China are required to express allegiance to the principles of the Communist Party.    Churches that fail to do so are declared illegal institutions and suffer destruction at the hands of the state.
    Crosses and other religious symbols have been burned, and translations of the Bible have to be approved by the state before publication to the point of having their text altered to fit Communist Party ideology.
    With the enactment of a new national security law, Hong Kong Christians are expressing fears suppression is coming to one of the last refuges of religious freedom on Chinese territory.
    Of particular concern to Hong Kong Catholics is a provision in the new law that condemns dealing with foreign institutions.    Since the church is headquartered in Rome, the Chinese regime considers it a foreign institution and is demanding all episcopal appointments receive approval from the state before proceeding all in the name of “national unity.”
    “Now, I really find myself in difficulty to understand what is this unity because if that means to be subservient to the government and to applaud this law, it’s against my conscience,” said Joseph Cardinal Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.    “Because this law is taking away all the freedoms; not only religious freedom, but simply the freedom.”
    The Trump administration has condemned these acts of suppression in no uncertain terms and vowed to work against all attempts at curtailing inalienable human rights, including by enacting sanctions against Chinese officials who partake in these measures.    This prompted China’s recent attempts at retaliation.

7/15/2020 South being transformed by LGBTQ people of color - Barriers include violence, laws and unemployment by Susan Miller, USA TODAY
    For the LGBTQ community, the South is known as a region that often hangs an unwelcome sign on its door.
    A report out Tuesday reveals an eye-opening fact: Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ people, or 32%, call the South their home.    And the area is transforming, led by LGBTQ Southerners of color who are devising unique ways to build communities and uplift lives.
    The report by the Movement Advancement Project, the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Equality Federation documents the striking numbers – 93% of LGBTQ Southerners live in states with low or negative equality rankings – with the work of groups navigating around rigid policies, entrenched attitudes and scant statewide protections.
    “There are issues of urgent need,” said Logan Casey, MAP policy researcher.    “Economic insecurity, health issues, access to health care, housing …. Basic human needs that can’t always wait for the government process.    In many cases, these are LGBTQ people of color taking care of each other.    It’s not surprising they will take care of one another when government doesn’t.”
    Among the data:
    About 3.6 million LGBTQ adults, including over 525,000 transgender adults, live in the South, more than any other region in the U.S.
    More than 40% of LGBTQ people in the South are people of color: 22% are Black; 16% are Latino.
    The report shows that “LGBTQ people are everywhere.    They permeate the American fabric and that includes the South,” MAP Executive Director Ineke Mushovic said.    “LGBTQ Southerners have shown extra resilience. They are thinking differently about how to make change happen.”
    The barriers LGBTQ people face in the South are well-documented in the report: There are higher rates of harassment, violence and unemployment.
    Eight Southern states have targeted religious exemption laws that allow businesses and service providers to refuse to serve people if doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs.
    LGBTQ people of color can face layered barbs of bias. For example, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely as white LGBTQ people to experience discrimination because of their identity when interacting with police, the report>     While 23% of all LGBTQ Southerners have personally experienced physical violence related to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, that number rises to 33% among Black LGBTQ Southerners.
    “It is a microcosm of what we are seeing in America as a whole.    Racism is real, LGBTQ discrimination is real,” Mushovic said.    "If you are an LGBTQ person of color you are living in two ways that allow people to discriminate against you."
    That is where the work of groups led by activists of color comes into play, Casey said: “They are inherently doing work that is racial justice work and LGBTQ equality work.”
    Zakia McKensey is the founder and executive director of one of those groups, the Nationz Foundation in Richmond, Virginia, which targets HIV prevention and health and wellness issues for the LGBTQ community.
    “Our clients face discrimination in housing, some are near homelessness, some have substance abuse or mental health issues,” McKensey said.    “You are dealing with all of these things, and if you aren’t affirmed in your identity, how can you take responsibility for your health?    We are trying to deal with the small things so they can be healthier and sustain themselves.”
    There are an array of programs, from support groups for transgender people and people living with HIV, to a text line service and a computer lab.
    McKensey is especially proud of a mobile testing unit and pantry, which travels the region offering food, free HIV testing and other health materials.
    The group is also working to erase stigmas still haunting those with HIV, she said, by reaching out to pastors and ministers.
    “When we think of folks who are African American, messages out of church shape the way people think,” McKensey said.    “When that narrative changes, it changes that stigma.”
    McKensey, a Richmond native and longtime activist, has been lobbying for years before Virginia’s General Assembly.    Those efforts along with others came to fruition this spring with the passage of a state law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, public accommodations and credit applications.
    “To see these laws passed was like a holiday,” she said.    “I felt recharged.”
    Casey said it could be easy to chalk up this first for the South as a partisan victory.    “But it’s the result of long years of work” by LGBTQ Southerners, particularly those of color.    “They organized for years and built coalitions.”
    Kayla Gore, co-founder of My Sistah’s House in Memphis, Tennessee, recently launched a GoFundMe campaign called “20 Tiny Homes” for     Black and brown transgender women.    The idea, Gore said, was born in the desperation of the coronavirus pandemic when so many transgender women seeking services were testing positive and had few options for quarantines.
    Memphis has no shelters with dedicated spaces for LGBTQ people, and temporary space at My Sistah’s House, which provides housing and other services for trans and gender non-conforming people, was “at capacity,” she said.    “It made us think: What can we do if this were to happen again? How can we be ready?
    The transgender housing campaign started with $400, but within a few days, it hit $17,000.    Now, the fund is at $259,000 and still growing.
    The homes, each 400 to 500 square feet, are being built on 30 acres and will provide occupants permanent ownership.    The first three are expected to be completed by December
Protesters gather at My Sistah’s House in Memphis, Tenn., during Pride Month. COURTESTY OF TC CALDWELL

7/16/2020 Wyoming prosecutors won’t pursue retired-bishop abuse case
    CASPER, Wyo. – Prosecutors in Wyoming have again decided not to pursue sexual abuse charges against retired Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart, who was accused of abusing boys over decades.    They felt they couldn’t successfully prosecute him after reviewing a police investigation, Natrona County Assistant District Attorney Michael Schafer said Tuesday.
    Hart, 88, was among the highest-ranking church officials around the world facing prosecution and other sanctions for alleged sex abuse.    There was a two-year investigation into Hart.

7/16/2020 Bolivian Sex Workers Bet On See-Through ‘Biosecurity’ Raincoats To Reduce Contagion Risk by Monica Machicao
A sex worker wearing a protective face mask, a face shield and gloves poses for a picture at the club where she works, amid the
outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in El Alto outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia, July 15, 2020. REUTERS/David Mercado
    LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivian sex workers in the capital La Paz are preparing for life in the age of the coronavirus with new equipment, including bottles of bleach, gloves and see-through raincoats, all of which they say will help them resume work safely.
    The thigh-skimming “biosecurity suits” are among a number of recommendations in a 30-page coronavirus security manual drawn up by the Organization of Night Workers of Bolivia (OTN).
    The group is pushing authorities to lift the day-time business restrictions put in place during the lockdowns, even if a strict nighttime curfew still impedes their more habitual evening work.
    Lily Cortes, a representative of Bolivia’s sex workers union, told Reuters in March that some women may have no option but to work on the streets if they could not work in cooperative-run brothels.    Prostitution is legal in Bolivia, but procuring it is not.
    One sex worker, Antonieta, showed Reuters late last week how, in addition to donning a thong, a sequined eye-mask and a sheer, crotch-height dress for work, she could layer on top a paper face mask, plastic visor, gloves and a>     She gave a demonstration of how she sprays a bleach solution on the pole she uses to dance for clients at the brothel that she operates with several other women.
    “The biosecurity suit will allow us to work and protect ourselves,” she said.
    Perched on a heart-shaped leather bed in a nearby room another woman, Vanesa, a single mother to two children, said she had to work to be able to fund their studies.
    She said she felt confident the proposed changes would keep everyone happy.    “Our clients respect the issue of safety, that we are taking these measures for our security, but also for theirs,” she said.
    Bolivia has 48,187 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 1,807 deaths, but as one of the countries where the fewest number of tests are being carried out, medical experts say the real numbers of those infected could be many times higher.
    The World Health Organization has said that, based on the current evidence, the coronavirus cannot be sexually transmitted.
(Reporting by Monica Machicao; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

7/16/2020 Vatican Handbook On Sex Abuse Cases Urges Reporting To Authorities by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: A general view of Saint Peter's Square and the city of Rome is seen from the
cupola of Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Paul Hanna/File Photo
    (Reuters) – The Vatican is advising bishops to report cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests to civil authorities even if they are not obliged to by local law, toughening its official guidance on an issue that has rocked the Catholic Church in recent years.
    The advice is contained in a new 20-page “vademecum,” or guidebook, issued on Thursday by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.    It contains some of the clearest language on reporting sexual abuse ever in a Vatican document.
    Previous Vatican documents required clerics to report any cases of abuse to Church superiors but said they should follow local law on whether they are obliged to report alleged sexual abuse to civil authorities.
    “Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts,” the handbook says.
    While the provision does not have the full force of Church law and gives bishops some discretion, the language appeared to be a significant step in response to demands by victims groups.
    Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, number two at the Vatican doctrinal office, highlighted the novelty of the reporting issue in an interview with the official Vatican News website.
    The handbook, a step-by-step guide and mostly a compilation of existing laws, was devised after a request from bishops at a Vatican summit on abuse in February last year.
    It is intended to help local churches get through what the Vatican’s doctrinal chief, Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria, called “a dense forest of norms and procedures.”
    The guidelines will be sent to all dioceses, even those who already had them.
    For the past two decades Roman Catholic churches around the world have been hit by a raft of sexual abuse cases and have spent billions of dollars in settlements, expenses that in many cases have led to the closing of parishes and schools.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)

7/17/2020 Polish ‘LGBT-Free’ Town Weighs Risk Of Losing EU Funds by Alicja Ptak
A general view shows a town square in Konskowola, Poland July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel
    KONSKOWOLA, Poland (Reuters) – Surrounded by fields of roses and lavender in tranquil eastern Poland, some residents of the village of Konskowola feel the European Union may be trying to blackmail them.
    Like about a hundred other municipalities across rural Poland, the local council has declared Konskowola to be free of “LGBT ideology,” reflecting a backlash against gay rights throughout the conservative, largely Catholic nation.
    This has raised eyebrows in Brussels, with the European Commission signalling to regional authorities, including Konskowola, that it may curb EU aid to areas that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
    Some residents, such as Radoslaw Gabriel Barzenc, the Konskowola council head, are angry over what they see as unjustified interference by Europe’s liberal west in the town’s beliefs.
    “The restrictions could be implemented because people have an opinion.    Isn’t this discrimination? Is this what European tolerance is about?    I don’t think so,” he told Reuters.
    “I cannot imagine we would yield to blackmail.”
    Gay rights have become a hot-button issue in Poland since the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) came to power five years ago pledging to defend traditional family values.
    In the run-up to last Sunday’s presidential election, the incumbent Andrzej Duda, allied with PiS, pledged to ensure gay couples would not be able to adopt children and to prevent education about gay rights in public schools.
    He won a second five-year term with a margin of 51% against a liberal challenger, amid mounting polarisation in Poland over the role religious values should play in public life.
    PiS and Duda have long disagreed with Europe over Warsaw’s adherence to democratic norms, and the issue was on the agenda at a European Union summit which started in Brussels on Friday.
    Some want to freeze payouts for EU countries said to be undermining democratic values, such as Poland, although Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a right-wing ally of Warsaw’s conservative government, has threatened a veto.
    On the eve of the summit, Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s gay prime minister, expressed outrage.
    “If we accept that you condemn a sexual minority, tomorrow it will be religion, the day after it will be race,” he told Reuters.
    A Polish rights organisation has also petitioned the European anti-fraud office OLAF to investigate whether EU funds disbursed in     Poland are being misused by “LGBT-free” communities.    OLAF declined to comment.
    In Konskowola, in Poland’s conservative heartland, some 70% of residents voted for Duda, a devout Catholic.
    “The EU should not withdraw its funds,” said Urszula Nowak, a 76-year-old pensioner who has lived her entire life in the village.    “It would mean the EU was against our faith.    The majority of Poles are Christian after all.”
    Konskowola authorities say their aim is not to discriminate against any individuals.
    In a 2019 declaration, the council said it opposed any public activity aimed at “promoting the ideology of the LGBT movement,” and declared it would protect its school and its families from anything that would contradict Christian values.
    “We will not allow any administrative pressure in support of political correctness, rightfully called ‘homopropaganda’,” the declaration read.
    But dissent in Konskowola, which has a population of just over 2,000, is brewing.
    Mayor Stanislaw Golebiowski, who is not a member of the local council, says it should have never taken up the issue and should reconsider. He feels too much is at stake.
    He wants EU cash to modernise irrigation systems – made more urgent by falling groundwater levels – for the town’s prize rose fields and other flowers it grows.
    Like thousands of towns and villages across Poland, which joined the EU in 2004 and has since received some 36 billion euros ($41 billion) in aid, Konskowola has spent the cash on projects to improve living standards after the ravages of World War Two and four decades of communism.
    Honorata Sadurska, 26, a bisexual veterinarian from Konskowola, believes homophobia is on the rise.
    “It’s happened that I was pushed on the bus or that someone has yelled something not nice to me. Is it because of the council’s declaration?,” she told Reuters.    “I don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg.”
    But she opposes funding cuts for Konskowola.    “It will only isolate such places further.”
(Additional reporting by Aleksandra Smigiel and Joanna Plucinska; Additional reporting by John Chalmers; Writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Giles Elgood)

7/20/2020 Poland Will Not Let EU ‘Force’ It Into Allowing Gay Marriages, Says Justice Minister by Marcin Goclowski
FILE PHOTO: Zbigniew Ziobro signs documents after being designated as Minister of Justice,
at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s justice minister said on Monday the European Union may be in a position to force Warsaw to legalize gay marriage if EU leaders make financial aid conditional on upholding democratic norms, and warned that this was unacceptable.
    At talks in Brussels on the next EU budget and an economic recovery plan, some leaders have demanded that payouts be blocked to member states which the executive European Commission (EC) deems to be undermining democratic values.
    Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said this would give Brussels the possibility of “arbitrarily” blocking payments worth billions of euros.
    “There is a real risk that we may find ourselves in a situation where the EC will effectively force us to introduce the so-called homosexual marriages with the right to adopt children,” he told a news conference.
    “Well, we cannot agree to this under any circumstances.”
    The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) came to power five years ago on a pledge to defend traditional family values.    Gay marriages are illegal in Poland and President Andrzej Duda was re-elected this month after saying he would not allow adoptions by gay couples or permit classes on gay rights in state schools.
    Gay rights activist Alicja Sienkiewicz of the Lublin Equality March Association, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said members of the LGBT community were being portrayed as enemies of the state.
    “This is bizarre.    If you want to get these (EU) funds, you should automatically accept how the EU expects them to be spent, because adhering to the rule of law means adhering to basic human rights and it is about respecting them,” she said.
    Poland is at loggerheads with the European Commission over several issues, including judicial reforms which Brussels says undermine the independence of the judiciary.    The government says the reforms are needed to overhaul the communist-era system.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; additional reporting by Alicja Ptak; Editing by Timothy Heritage)
[The lawless ones continue to attack the laws of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and is watching this stay strong Poland and I hope the United States will comply and as it is viewed above the European Union political and religious leaders and countries who comply to it have put themselves on the list as well as the sinners who commit those sins as the Scarlet Woman revels in their actions.].

7/21/2020 Houses of worship can be ‘dangerous environment’ by Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
    At a church in Sacramento, California, that has been closed for in-person services since March, congregants occasionally still stop by to pray outside and try to capture a sense of fellowship they dearly>     In Nashville, Tennessee, the pastor of an Anglican church has been handing out Communion in the parking lot for weeks.
    South of Atlanta, the animated pastor of a 3,000-member congregation tries to summon every ounce of enthusiasm in his body to deliver a lively, music- filled service in front of a live audience of no one, hoping his message and spirit come through on various technology platforms.
    None of those are ideal options, but they beat becoming the source of an outbreak of COVID-19.
    Almost 40 places of worship and religious events have been linked to more than 650 cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to tracking by The New York Times.    Along with the nationwide surge in infections that has followed the loosening of restrictions aimed at combating the virus, outbreaks connected to churches have sprouted at several spots.
    Those include a Pentecostal church in northeastern Oregon tied to at least 236 positive tests; five flareups linked to churches in West Virginia, the largest one resulting in 51 infections; more than 50 cases stemming from an evangelical.
Worshippers keep their distance while attending Mass at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on June 7 in Los Angeles. DAMIAN DOVARGANES/ AP
[But liquor stores, bars, supermarkets, gas stations, etc. etc. are okay as the antichrist ignored.].

7/24/2020 Greek Church Bells Toll For Hagia Sofia, PM Calls Turkey A ‘Troublemaker’
FILE PHOTO: Volcanic islets are seen behind a Greek Orthodox church built on the edge of the caldera
at the volcanic island of Santorini March 15, 2012. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis/File Photo
    ATHENS (Reuters) – Church bells across Greece tolled in mourning on Friday as the first Islamic prayers in nine decades were held at Hagia Sophia in Turkey, marking the monument’s conversion into a mosque.
    Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan joined huge crowds in Istanbul for prayers at Hagia Sophia, sealing his ambition to restore Muslim worship at the ancient site which most Greeks consider as central to their Orthodox Christian religion.
    Greek criticism of the conversion has been scathing, underscoring often tense relations between Greece and Turkey.
    In a message marking Greece’s 46th anniversary of the restoration of democracy on Friday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Turkey a ‘troublemaker’, and the Hagia Sophia conversion an ‘affront to civilisation of the 21st century’.
    “What is unfolding in Constantinople today is not a demonstration of strength, but proof of weakness,” Mitsotakis said, referring to Istanbul by the old name of the city used by Greeks.
    Greece and Turkey disagree on a range of issues from airspace to maritime zones and ethnically split Cyprus.    Tensions upped a notch this week with verbal jousting over the delimitation of their continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean, an area thought to be rich in natural resources.
    From Crete to small Greek islands lying just off the Turkish coast, church bells tolled and in some areas flags flew at half mast.
    “We thought someone had died but we were told it was for Hagia Sophia.    It’s very sad, very sad,” said Katerina, 40, a shop owner on the island of Astypalea.
(Reporting By Renee Maltezou, Angeliki Koutantou, Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

7/25/2020 Thai LGBT Activists Raise Pride Flag In Anti-Government Rally by Juarawee Kittisilpa
Members of the LGBT community gesture during a protest demanding the resignation of Thailand's
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, in Bangkok, Thailand, July 25, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
    BANGKOK (Reuters) – Hundreds of Thai LGBT activists and allies raised rainbow flags on Saturday evening as they called for democracy and equal rights, the latest in a series of youth protests calling for the government to step down.
    Several youth-led demonstrations have sprung up across the country since last week, when thousands of Thai activists defied a coronavirus ban on gatherings and staged one of the largest street rallies since a 2014 military coup.
    The activists on Saturday danced and sang and performed stand-up comedy sketches making jabs at the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army chief who ousted an elected government six years ago.    Pride flags were waved against the backdrop of Bangkok’s Democracy Monument.
    “We’re here today mainly to call for democracy.    Once we achieve democracy, equal rights will follow,” said a 21-year-old activist who went by a made-up name, Viktorious Nighttime.
    “The LGBT group do not yet have equal rights in society, so we’re calling for both democracy and equality,” added Viktorious, who was wearing a glittery tiara and a face mask.
    The calls came after Thailand’s cabinet backed a civil partnership bill earlier this month that would recognise same-sex unions with almost the same rights as married couples.
    Saturday’s gathering was the latest in a series of protests under the Free Youth movement, which has issued three demands: the dissolution of parliament, an end to harassment of government critics, and amendments to the military-written constitution.
    “Even if they don’t step down from power today, we want to let them know that we won’t go anywhere, we will be here,” said a 21-year-old protestor who gave her name as Yaya.    “Even if they get rid of us, our ideology will never die, we will pass this on to the next generation.”
(Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat)

7/28/2020 Pastor says 40 infected after church revival by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    STRAWBERRY, Ala. – More than 40 people were infected with the coronavirus after attending a multiday revival event at a north Alabama Baptist church, according to the pastor.
    “The whole church has got it, just about,” pastor Daryl Ross of Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Marshall County told
    The pastor said the churchgoers, including himself, tested positive after the congregation held a series of religious services featuring a guest pastor over several days last week.
    Ross said the services were shut down by Friday after it was learned that one of the members had tested positive for the virus.    The member presented no symptoms but got tested when several of his co-workers received positive tests, according to the pastor.     Over the weekend, dozens more fell ill, Ross said.
    “We knew what we were getting into,” he said.
    Ross said only two members’ cases were serious, and as of Sunday, none had been hospitalized, though many had reported having fevers, headaches and respiratory issues.

7/29/2020 Thai Students Rally Over Gender Rights, Uniforms And Haircut Rules by Jiraporn Kuhakan
Members of a youth pride student group hold an LGBT flag during a rally for gender rights
in Bangkok, Thailand July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
    BANGKOK (Reuters) – Dozens of students rallied in Thailand on Wednesday to demand from the government greater gender rights and an end to what they called outdated curriculum and discriminatory rules on uniforms and haircuts.
    Onlookers in Bangkok cheered and applauded as students of mixed ages carrying placards and banners and rainbow flags, fans and umbrellas marched to the education ministry in protest at a school system they said was far behind the times. The group included secondary school pupils and some older students.
    They took aim in particular at rules that prescribe specific hair length and styles for male and female students.
    “What about students of other genders?    This is something the ministry needs to consider because it is normal to be diverse,” said Panupong Suwannahong, 19, a protest organiser.
    “The school uniform segregates the students’ genders.”
    The demonstration comes amid an increase in student-led political protests in Thailand in recent weeks.    The group, however, said it had no ties to an anti-government movement.
    On the steps of the ministry and in front of its permanent secretary, student Pimchanok Nongnual, 19, shaved her hair with electric clippers in protest at “suffocating” gender rules.
    “What about gender fluid or non-binary students?” said Pimchanok.
    Although it is a largely conservative Buddhist society, Thailand has a reputation for openness and free-wheeling attitudes and has a vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) social scene.
    Its cabinet backed a civil partnership bill on July 8 to recognise same-sex unions with almost the same legal rights as married couples, in one of Thailand’s most liberal moves yet.
    However, activists say its education system is reluctant to respond to changing attitudes.    Nattapat Satavelarot, 17, tore up a textbook on health and hygiene, rejecting what he called a discriminatory curriculum.
    “I want teachers to be educated about LBGTQ rights and they need to understand that students consisting of many genders is not a taboo,” Nattapat said.
(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Peter Graff)

7/31/2020 Haj Pilgrims Keep Distance At Usually Crowded Stone The Devil Ritual
Muslim pilgrims, keeping social distance and wearing face masks, cast stones at pillars symbolizing Satan
during the annual Haj pilgrimage amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Mina, near the
holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 31, 2020. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS
    RIYADH (Reuters) – Muslim pilgrims in Saudi Arabia took part in a symbolic stoning of the devil on Friday, but maintained social distancing in a ritual that usually brings millions of worshippers from all over the world shoulder to shoulder.
    The ritual, at which pilgrims must hurl pebbles at a giant wall, has in the past been the scene of several deadly crowd accidents.     In 2015, hundreds died in a crush at an intersection leading up to the site.
    Clad in white robes denoting a state of purity and face masks, men and women cast their stones, closely monitored by health professionals.    The pilgrims stood apart on yellow markers marking a safe social distance.
    They will return over the next two days for more stoning before going back to Mecca to pray at the Grand Mosque at the end of haj.
    In previous year, some 3 million white-clad pilgrims from across the world flocked to Islam’s holiest sites to attend haj.
    But with large gatherings impossible given the pandemic, only a few thousand pilgrims – Saudis and foreign residents living in the country- are gathering this year.
    Although no official figure has been given, local media report there are around 10,000 pilgrims.    The Haj minister in June said pilgrims would number 1,000.
    Saudi Arabia stakes its reputation on its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina and its peaceful organisation of haj, which has been marred in the past by deadly stampedes, fires and riots.
    This year it faces the challenge of keeping haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it and a major source of income for the government, safe from COVID-19.
    Late on Thursday, a health ministry spokesman said that there were no Covid-19 infections, nor any other major diseases among pilgrims so far.
(Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Writing by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

8/5/2020 TELEVISION - Actors call for more LGBTQ roles, directors by Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
    Wilson Cruz has specific evidence of how far TV has come in its depiction of LGBTQ characters since his groundbreaking portrayal of a gay teen in the memorable 1990s series, “My So-Called Life.”    He sees a kinship between his Rickie Vasquez and the lead character of Hulu’s “Love, Victor.”
    “People ask me all the time, when was the first time I saw myself on television?    And I always say, ‘When I saw myself on television.’ … I understood how much I wanted and needed to see myself and my lived experience represented in some way,” Cruz said during “LGBTQ Characters on Television – What’s Next?,” a virtual Comic-Con@Home discussion that also featured actors Tatiana Maslany and Anthony Rapp.
    Cruz, who stars alongside Rapp in CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery,” recognizes the honor and responsibility that comes with being “a first” and a role model for young LGBTQ people of color with his turn on “My So-Called Life.”
    But he’s pleased that there are now more roles that cover a broader range of experiences.
    “What’s exciting to me about where we are now is the fact that we have something like ‘Love, Victor,’ which takes Rickie and expands on that story in a lot of ways,” Cruz says of the coming- of-age comedy that focuses on a gay teen, newly arrived in Atlanta, who’s coming to terms with his sexuality as he navigates high school.
    “That show looks at a queer Puerto Rican boy and his family and how he navigates that.    And it’s incredibly moving and fresh on my mind because I spent the whole night bingeing the entire series in a bucket of my own tears.”
Maslany, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of several clone characters on “Orphan,” realized how important the clone Cosima was to fans when she attended Comic-Con in San Diego after the first season.
    “Being able to go to Comic-Con and connect to fans who were finally seeing themselves on screen in Cosima … was really eye-opening to me,” said Maslany, who now stars in HBO’s “Perry Mason.”
    Returning to set for Season 2, she said, “We felt this immense pride and responsibility and protectiveness over the LGBTQ community and our Clone Club, who were majority LGBTQ.”
    The actors acknowledged substantial progress since the pre-”Will & Grace” days of Rickie Vasquez, but said much work remains to be done.
    Rapp suggested more stories focusing on non-binary characters and LGBTQ characters of color and Smith hopes for “more queer representation in fantasy and action movies (and) not just the sidekick.    I want them to be the lead.”
    Greater representation must take place off-screen, too, Cruz said: “We have to have more LGBTQ (people), especially trans people behind the camera – producers, directors, writers.    That’s how we’re going to see more diversity.”
    Jamie Clayton, known for portraying the trans woman Nomi in “Sense8,” would like to have the same opportunities as cisgender actors.
    “It’s always been my goal to be given the same opportunities that any cisgender actor and actor who identifies as cisgender is given.    I want to be able to audition for all kinds of roles,” said Clayton, who now guest stars on “Roswell: New Mexico.”    “For so long, actors who identified as trans, we have only been allowed to audition for parts that are trans. … I want to see non-binary and trans- identified people playing all kinds of characters and not just (be) there to talk about their gender or their transition or their surgeries.”
In “Star Trek: Discovery,” Anthony Rapp, right, plays Lt. Paul Stamets,
the first openly gay character in the franchise. Wilson Cruz plays his partner. CBS

8/5/2020 Students, Community Protect Cross On Ore. College Campus From Antifa Threats by OAN Newsroom
    A Christian college in Oregon is standing up to radical protesters after they threatened to tear down a cross that has been on the campus for decades.
    On Friday, students and staff at New Hope Christian College in Eugene stood guard and prayed for God to protect the cross.    They said it’s a symbol of God’s unconditional love.
    Antifa activists have claimed the structure is a symbol of racism because it had previously stood in an area where the KKK burned crosses in the 20s.
    According to reports, a number of people from the community and police also came to defend the cross.
    “So, we decided we’re going to pray, we’re going to praise, we’re going to pray for the protesters,” stated Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, President of New Hope Christian College.    “And we heard a report that a bus load or two of protesters were coming down from Portland and the police turned them away, so we are very grateful for the cooperation of our law enforcement.”
    The college said the cross wasn’t built on the campus until 1964 and claimed it’s in no way related to the KKK.

8/6/2020 ‘Sheep Without A Shepherd’: Hong Kong Churches Torn By Politics by Yanni Chow
Ricky Wong Wai-hung, 54, Pastor-in-charge of Trinity Theological Baptist Church, poses
after an interview with Reuters in Hong Kong, China July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
    HONG KONG (Reuters) – When Hong Kong’s largely peaceful pro-democracy protests turned violent last summer, it drove a wedge through every section of society, dividing friends, families and also worshippers at its more than 1,500 churches.
    The majority of people in Hong Kong follow some form of Buddhist, Taoist or other traditional Chinese religion, but the former     British colony has about 900,000 practicing Christians, about 12% of the population according to government figures, split almost evenly between Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths.    There is no consensus among them about the protests or China’s tightening grip on the city.
    Canaan Wong, Blesson Chan and Kristy Chan, all in their mid-20s, are part of a group of about 40 people who in late June quit their positions as mentors and teachers at the evangelical Tung Fook Church, because they said they felt pressure from senior church leaders to keep quiet about political matters.
    They said several pastors were told by church leaders to remove their names from public statements opposing a bill last year that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, the issue which sparked the protests.    The bill was eventually withdrawn.    The three said they did not know which church leaders, or how many, were telling pastors to remove their names.
    “It sends chills down our spine with such self-censoring,” said Wong.    “This shows that in this church, politics clearly overrides religion and truth.”
    The group wants the church to speak up on political issues, such as the new national security law enacted by China on June 30, which makes anything that Beijing regards as subversion or promoting independence punishable by life in prison.
    “We are not asking for a yellow church,” said Blesson Chan, using the local shorthand for pro-democracy.    “We just feel that church is a part of the society and should not be hiding up in an ivory tower.”
    The group is set to have talks with leaders of the church, which is located next to the headquarters of China’s new national security agency in Hong Kong, about how to resolve their issues.    A representative for Tung Fook church said it wanted to “enhance communication and eliminate misunderstanding” with the group.
    If the church does not take a stand, the three said they feared it will end up resembling the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a Protestant organization in mainland China that is closely controlled by the state and whose leaders staunchly support the Chinese Communist Party.
    The National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China declined to comment.
    Although China is an officially atheist state, it does allow certain state-supervised religious organizations, such as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, to operate.    However, Beijing has closed down many so-called underground or house churches outside the state-controlled system and has imprisoned worshippers on the grounds that they are more loyal to their religion than to the Chinese state.
    Chinese authorities did not respond to a request for comment.
    On the other side of the divide is a 49-year-old police officer, who said he left the Christian and Missionary Alliance Tak Tsuen Church after 14 years last June, when he was abused by fellow worshippers who told him the police deserved to be attacked by protesters.
    “As Christians, seeing the police bleed and wounded, how can you think it’s good and we deserve it?” said Sing, who asked to be identified by only one name. The church did not reply to a request for comment.
    Shortly after, the policeman joined Trinity Theology Baptist Church, set up by former police officer Ricky Wong, 54, as a refuge for police who felt unwelcome elsewhere.
    “I want to minimize my brothers’ and sisters’ hatred towards the yellow camp,” Wong told Reuters, referring to the general opposition among police officers to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
    “When (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” said Wong, quoting a passage from the Bible.    “These people are also lambs.”
    Wong said the 120 or so members of his church, which include many members of the uniformed services plus some doctors and teachers, pray at secret locations for fear of being targeted by pro-democracy activists.
    Despite his concern about the yellow camp, Wong said he did not identify as blue, or pro-Beijing.    Instead, he described his congregation as “Team Jesus.”
    When China took back control of Hong Kong in 1997, it adopted the principle of “one country, two systems” and agreed to uphold the territory’s Basic Law, its de facto constitution, which includes the freedom of speech and religion.
    That principle is now seen to be under threat after China imposed the new national security law, which supporters say will bring stability to the financial hub, but critics say will crush all forms of freedom.
    Hong Kong’s government did not reply to a request for comment. It has said previously the new security law preserves “the basic rights and freedom lawfully enjoyed by law-abiding citizens.”    The law makes no mention of religious groups.
    Nevertheless, church leaders are treading cautiously.
    A day before the law was imposed, Lo Hing-choi, president of the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong, the umbrella group for the city’s 164 Baptist congregations, posted a message critical of the law on the convention’s website, but took it down a day later.
    “We expect the government to enact just laws to make society harmonious and stable,” said Lo in the withdrawn post, arguing that the new security law could not achieve long-term stability and that only a truly democratic system would lead to prosperity.
    Lo, 68, told Reuters he was unnerved by an anonymous caller who accused him of encouraging violence.
    Ta Kung Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper controlled by the Chinese state, singled out Lo for what it called “hijacking the churches.”    The newspaper did not reply to a request for comment.
    “In churches now, different people, different political stances are constantly fighting,” said Wong.    “Right now, I don’t think the rift in our society can be mended.”
(Reporting By Yanni Chow in Hong Kong; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Bill Rigby)

8/6/2020 Canadian Preacher Jailed In Myanmar For Holding Services During Virus Ban by Shoon Naing
    YANGON (Reuters) – A Myanmar court on Thursday sentenced a Canadian preacher who said Christians were immune to the novel coronavirus to jail with hard labour for three months for holding church services in defiance of a ban on gatherings during the outbreak.
    David Lah, a Canadian of Burmese origin, and another man, Myanmar national Wai Tun, were detained under a disaster management law over services they held in the city of Yangon in April.
    A ban on public gatherings in the commercial capital took effect in mid-March.
    Judge Moe Swe told reporters both men had been convicted of breaking administrative rules.
    The lawyer for both men, Aung Kyi Win, confirmed that both of them had been jailed for three months.    He did not elaborate.
    In a sermon posted online in late March, Lah had told followers: “If you hear the sermon of God, the virus will never come to you.    I declare it with the soul of Jesus Christ.”
    About 20 people who took part in Lah’s gatherings in April, including Lah himself, later tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said at the time.
    This led to a cluster of 67 cases, according to Thar Tun Kyaw, a spokesman for the health ministry.    The cluster was one of the largest in Myanmar, which has only reported 357 cases and six deaths related to the virus.
    Religious gatherings across the world have at times been triggers for the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 18 million people globally and killed nearly 700,000.
    Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist though it has small Christian communities.
(Reporting by Shoon Naing; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel)

8/6/2020 Polish Opposition Shows Rainbow LGBT Solidarity At President’s Swearing-In
Members of parliament wearing rainbow-themed masks, representing the LGBT symbol, pose for a picture after the swearing-in
ceremony of Andrzej Duda as Polish President in Warsaw, Poland August 6, 2020. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS

8/6/2020 President Trump: Biden Against God, Guns by OAN Newsroom
President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the Whirlpool Corporation
Manufacturing Plant, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Clyde, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
    President Trump recently claimed he is in position to win Ohio again this November.    While addressing a crowd in Cleveland this week, he slammed presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden and his record on protecting U.S. jobs.
    According to the president, Biden supports policies that have put American workers at risk and will raise taxes.
    He warned the former vice president would follow a radical agenda if elected.
    “(He will) take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment.    No religion, no anything.    He’s against God, he’s against guns…I don’t think he’s going to do too well in Ohio.” – Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States
    He added he is leading in Ohio polls and expects a bigger victory than in 2016.
[Trump is right that he is against God because Biden who is supposedly a Catholic which is a church who is also promoting a party that believes in LBGT sins, promotes and still is part of child molestation by bishops, etc. and a Pope who is riding on the back of the Globalist World Government entities as well as Biden so I rest my case and a party that is trying to take away our 1st and 2nd Amendments which could force us to be controlled by the fore mentioned by it and a socialist agenda.].

8/6/2020 In Big Shift, Pope Names Six Women To Vatican Financial Oversight Body by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Ruth May Kelly, who has been newly appointed by Pope Francis to the council that oversees Vatican finances, is
shown when she was Britain's Secretary of State for Transport, in London, May 20, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has appointed six women, including the former treasurer for Britain’s Prince Charles, to the council that oversees Vatican finances, naming them in one fell swoop to some of the most senior roles.
    The appointments to one of the Holy See’s most important offices marked the latest attempt by the pope to keep promises to improve gender balance made years ago but which women’s groups have said were too slow in being realised.
    Francis has already appointed women as deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums, and deputy head of the Vatican Press Office, as well as four women as councillors to the Synod of Bishops, which prepares major meetings.
    Still, Thursday’s new appointments marked the largest number of women named at one time to Vatican posts.
    The previously all-male Council for the Economy consists of 15 posts.    One cardinal is the coordinator and the 14 other posts are divided evenly among members of the clergy and lay people.
    The seven-member lay portion now consists of six women and one man.    Of the six women, two each are from Britain, Spain and Germany.    The sole male lay member is Italian.
    One of the Britons, Leslie Jane Ferrar, was treasurer to Prince Charles from 2015 to 2017 and now holds a number of non-executive and trustee roles, the Vatican said.
    The other, Ruth May Kelly, served as secretary of state for education and for transport, and as minister for women and equality, in Britain’s former Labour government from 2004-2008.
    The other four women have backgrounds in business, banking and academia.
    Francis established the Council for the Economy, which oversees budgets and sets policy, in 2014 as an international body to oversee often-troubled Vatican>     The new council is starting its work as the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Vatican’s finances hard, forcing it to dip into reserve funds and implement some of the toughest cost control measures ever in the tiny city state.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

8/7/2020 Protesters Try To Block Detention Of Polish LGBT Activist by Alicja Ptak
LGBT supporters protest in Warsaw, Poland August 7, 2020. A Polish LGBT+ protestor could be jailed for hanging rainbow flags on statues in the capital,
Warsaw, her lawyer said on Thursday, as gay rights divide the eastern European country. Adam Stepien/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters surrounded a police van on Friday in central Warsaw to try to block it from driving away after officers detained an activist who hung LGBT flags on statues in the city last week.
    The protesters shouted “Shame, disgrace!” before the police pushed the protesters away and the van sped off, a Reuters witness said.     An ambulance arrived at the scene soon afterwards, but the nature of any injuries was not immediately clear.
    Activists from anti-homophobia group “Stop Bzdurom” who claimed responsibility for the flag campaign said it was part of a fight in honour of LGBT rights, an issue thrust into the heart of public debate in Poland during last month’s presidential election.
    Earlier this week, the activists, including the one detained on Friday, were held for around 40 hours in connection with the flag campaign before being freed, a police spokesman said.
    But the spokesman said the decision to detain the activist, under which she would be held for two months pending further investigations, was not tied to the statue campaign but related to another incident.
    “There was damaged property, damage to health and an illegal gathering,” Warsaw police spokesman Sylwester Marczak said.
    A protest in solidarity with the activists and with LGBT people is being organised in Warsaw on Saturday.
    Government figures from the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party condemned the activists after the flag stunt, with some supporting their detention.
    PiS has argued that LGBT rights are part of an invasive foreign ideology that undermines Polish values and the traditional family.
    “This is the strong nation in all its glory.    Why fight with exclusion and coronavirus when you can fight with the rainbow and human rights defenders.    Shame!” tweeted Magda Biejat, a member of parliament allied with the opposition Left group.
(Reporting by Alicja Ptak and Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Alison Williams)

8/8/2020 Polish Police Detain 48 People After LGBT Protest
LGBT supporters protest in Warsaw, Poland August 7, 2020. Adam Stepien/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Police said they detained 48 people after protesters tried to stop them arresting an LGBT activist accused of hanging rainbow flags over statues in Warsaw and damaging a pro-life campaigner’s van.
    Crowds of protesters shouting “Shame, disgrace!” surrounded a police vehicle in the centre of the capital on Friday to try and stop it driving away with the activist inside.
    “Due to yesterday’s active gathering, 48 people were detained,” the Warsaw police force said on its Twitter account on Saturday.
    Members of the anti-homophobia group “Stop Bzdurom” have said they hung flag on statues of Jesus and other figures last week as part of a fight for LGBT rights, an issue thrust into the heart of public debate in Poland during last month’s presidential election.
    The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has said LGBT rights are part of what it calls an invasive foreign ideology that undermines Polish values and the traditional family.
    Government spokesman Piotr Muller said he would not comment on police actions.
    Stop Bzdurom and other groups have called for a protest in Warsaw on Saturday in solidarity with LGBT people.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; additional reporting by Alicja Ptak; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

8/8/2020 Thousands Protest In Poland Demanding Release Of LGBT Activist by Alicja Ptak and Marcin Goclowski
People take part in a rally in support of the LGBT community in Krakow, Poland August 8, 2020. Jakub Wlodek/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Several thousand people waving rainbow flags protested on Saturday in the centre of Warsaw to demand the release of an LGBT activist accused of hanging rainbow banners over statues and damaging an anti-abortion campaigner’s van.
    Crowds chanted “Give us Margot back!” and “Rainbow does not insult you!” outside Warsaw’s Palace of Culture.
    The peaceful gathering applauded activists hanging another rainbow flag on a statue in front of the Palace, while police officers filmed the performance and the protest leaders.
    On Friday the police detained 48 people, who were trying to stop the authorities from jailing Margot, the activist accused of hanging flags on statues of Jesus and others and destroying a the van of an anti-abortionist.
    “We are here to protest against the fact that these people were detained by the police,” Mateusz Wojtowicz, 24, a payroll specialist, told Reuters.
    The police started releasing detained protesters on Saturday, but not Margot.
    She is a member of the activist group “Stop Bzdurom.”    The group have said they hung flags on statues last week as part of a fight for LGBT rights, an issue thrust into the heart of public debate in Poland during last month’s presidential election.
    The commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, a rights watchdog, called for the immediate release of the activist.
    “Order to detain her for 2 months sends very chilling signal for freedom of speech and LGBT rights in Poland,” Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic tweeted.
    The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party says LGBT rights are part of what it calls an invasive foreign ideology that undermines Polish values and the traditional family.
    Condemning Friday’s protest, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said authorities had to act or face “even more violent” attacks by activists.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Gareth Jones)

8/9/2020 Pew Poll: 79% Of Americans Believe Houses Of Worship Should Practice Social Distancing by OAN Newsroom
Catholic priest Fr. Ian Espartero walks past empty pews as he prepares to distribute communion to a few parishioners as a measure to prevent
the spread of COVID-19 at the Our Lady of Consolation Parish on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Quezon city, Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
    According to new poll, the vast majority of Americans believe houses of worship should follow the same pandemic guidelines as other businesses and organizations.    The poll, which was released by Pew on Friday, revealed nearly eight in 10 Americans agree with this line of thinking.
    Nearly 3/4 of Christians surveyed said churches synagogues, mosques and others should be required to practice social distancing.
    The poll also found both sides of the aisle seemed to come together on this issue.    63% of Republicans and an overwhelming 93% of Democrats agreed the guidelines are important.
    “It’s vital that to control the spread of the virus, anytime people get together, including for religious services, everyone wear masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands, and while indoors make sure there’s good ventilation and airflow,” explained Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio).
    The results came from the responses of more than 10,000 adults and has a 1.5% margin of error.

8/10/2020 Arrest of Polish LGBT activist leads to scuffle with police
    WARSAW, Poland – LGBT rights activists scuffled with police Friday in Warsaw after the arrest of an an activist.    According to Polish media reports, the activist was held in a police car in central Warsaw when other protesters surrounded the police car, and one person climbed on top of it.    The incident comes amid deepening tensions in Poland between those supporting greater legal protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people and a conservative government that has been denouncing the LGBT rights movement.

8/10/2020 Franciscan Monks Test Positive For Coronavirus In Assisi
FILE PHOTO: St. Francis Basilica is seen in Assisi, Italy, December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo
    ROME (Reuters) – Ten Franciscan monks and eight trainees in Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, have tested positive for coronavirus and gone into isolation, the Catholic order said on Monday.
    Father Enzo Fortunato, a spokesman, said the 18 were not in the main convent complex, which includes the basilica where the saint is buried, but housed in a separate structure for trainee monks, known as novices, and their immediate superiors.
    The newly-arrived novices were from France, Malta and Croatia, Fortunato said, adding that they were all in good condition and the outbreak was not affecting visits by pilgrims and tourists to the basilica and main convent.
    Visits take place with social distancing and masks.
    Umbria, the central region where Assisi is located, has been one of the areas of Italy least hit by the coronavirus, counting for fewer than 100 of more than 35,000 deaths in the country.
    The coronavirus has hit a number of places in Italy where nuns or priests live in close quarters.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

8/13/2020 Kentucky Catholic schools ignore Beshear, will hold in-person classes by Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Catholic schools in the Louisville area will ignore Gov. Andy Beshear’s recommendation and start in-person classes as soon as next week amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Archdiocese of Louisville said Wednesday.
    The decision from the archdiocese comes after Beshear requested Monday that Kentucky schools postpone in-person learning until Sept. 28 — a request that has drawn sharp criticism from several districts that accused the governor of trying to undermine their authority.
    Three other Roman Catholic dioceses in Kentucky also will follow their initial plans to start the year with in-person instruction, officials said.
    “After consulting with Archbishop (Joseph) Kurtz — who also spoke with the other bishops in the Commonwealth of Kentucky … we have decided that we Continued from will stay on course for the 2020-2021 school year and begin opening our schools for in-person instruction next week,” Leisa Schulz, the superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Louisville, told school leaders in a letter Wednesday morning.
    The Archdiocese of Louisville includes 48 schools that serve preschoolers through seniors in seven counties.
    “We are all concerned about this COVID- 19 pandemic and share a commitment to the common good,” Schulz said.    “There are many ‘goods’ to balance as we make this decision.”
    Beshear argued again Wednesday that it simply isn’t safe for students to be at school as Kentucky and the country see a “significant” rise in the infection rate among children.
    He pointed to schools in Indiana and Georgia that have seen outbreaks of COVID- 19 among students and staff since resuming in-person classes.
    Beshear said Wednesday that the state set a single-day record of 1,163 new COVID-19 cases, 39 of which were children under the age of 5, and seven new deaths.
    Kentucky now has seen 36,945 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 790 total deaths.
    “This is where we are.    And the idea that we would take this step at a time when we are at our peak is simply not a smart move to make,” Beshear said of resuming in-person classes.
Several schools defy Beshear’s plea to wait
    All schools in Kentucky stopped holding in-person classes in March after the first cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in the Bluegrass State.
    The state’s two largest districts, in Jefferson and Fayette counties, already have made plans to start the fall with nontraditional instruction, or remote learning.
    Since Monday, numerous superintendents throughout the state have said they will follow Beshear’s recommendation and only host virtual classes until at least Sept. 28.
    But leaders of some schools in places such as Williamstown, Danville and Somerset have said they are forging ahead with plans to hold in-person classes starting in August.
    Interim Kentucky Education Commissioner Kevin Brown told the state’s superintendents on a webcast Wednesday he would plan a conference call with officials at schools that ignore Beshear’s recommendation and continue with in person classes.    If the districts still decide to push ahead with in-person plans, then Brown said “there will be consequences” possible under various statutes.
    State and local agencies, including the governor’s office, health departments and the Kentucky Board of Education, could use emergency executive powers to close schools that see COVID- 19 cases, Brown said.
    During Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Beshear said he will refrain from using executive powers to shut down schools that go against his request, unless they “have a massive outbreak, and they’re not doing the right things and the local health department doesn’t do it.”
    As for the Catholic schools resuming in-person classes this month, Beshear said he does not believe “it is a responsible decision” and hopes “they will reconsider.”
    Republican lawmakers take aim at Beshear Several Republican state senators criticized Beshear in an op-ed Tuesday, saying he “unilaterally moved the goalposts” with his latest recommendation.
    The group – Sens. Max Wise, Robert Stivers, David Givens, Damon Thayer, Julie Raque Adams and Mike Wilson – noted that Beshear had previously recommended that schools postpone in person classes until the third week of August.
    “One of the most frustrating scenarios is that over 100 local school districts were not given a chance to see if their in-person model may work,” the GOP senators said.    “Surveys were taken, input was provided and plans were developed only to see a ‘recommendation’ basically corner those superintendents into a box.”
    The Republican lawmakers said they have “full confidence in Kentucky’s education professionals” and that the state “cannot apply a one size fits all model for our school districts.”
Catholic schools favor in-person classes
    Catholic schools not just in Kentucky but around the country have decided in recent weeks to start the year with in person instruction.    “Most are trying to do in-person,” Kathy Mears, the CEO of the National Catholic Education Association, told The     National Catholic Reporter.    “It’s what most people want, keeping in mind however that everybody understands that the safety of children comes first, and the safety of teachers comes first.”
    A reopening plan that the archdiocese released in late July was developed based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky Department of Public Health, Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, Archdiocese of Louisville staff, Catholic school leaders and the Kentucky Department of Education.
    Those guidelines include daily temperature checks of students, staff and visitors; modified classroom layouts that encourage social distancing; face mask requirements for staff and students in the first grade and up, with exceptions for those with medical waivers; and frequent, daily cleaning and disinfection of buildings and school buses.
    Schulz said she “considered several factors” in deciding to continue with in class learning, including the “hard work and planning” from leaders “over the last several months in creating a safe space for students to learn and thrive.”

8/14/2020 Chinese LGBT Group ShanghaiPRIDE Halts Work To ‘Protect Safety’
FILE PHOTO: Participants take part in a Pride Run during the Shanghai Pride festival, in Shanghai, following
the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, China June 14, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
    SHANGHAI (Reuters) – ShanghaiPRIDE, one of China’s longest running gay pride groups, said it was cancelling all activities and events for the foreseeable future, citing the need to protect the “safety” of its people and prompting a chorus of regret on social media.
    Homosexuality is legal in China, which until 2001 had classified it as a mental disorder.    However same-sex marriage is not recognized and concerns over stigma still dissuades people from coming out to their families.
    “ShanghaiPRIDE regrets to announce that we are cancelling all upcoming activities and taking a break from scheduling any future events,” it said late on Thursday in a statement on its official WeChat account.
    ShanghaiPRIDE gave no reason for the decision.    Social distancing restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic have largely been lifted in Shanghai after a sharp drop in cases nationwide.
    The group’s co-founder Charlene Liu said in a separate statement posted on Facebook that “the decision was difficult to make but we have to protect the safety of all involved,” without providing further details.
    The group began in 2009 and over the past decade has staged forums, parties and events aimed at increasing public awareness about China’s LGBT community.    It held its annual Pride festival in June, which included a run in which over a 100 people participated.
    ShanghaiPRIDE’s announcement was widely discussed on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, with the topic viewed over 17 million times.
    “I feel regret, sadness, anger and helplessness,” said one user.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Engen Tham; Editing by Gareth Jones)

8/16/2020 Polish Nationalists And LGBT Activists Face Off In Warsaw
A pro-LGBT demonstrator waves a rainbow flag as Polish nationalists gather to protest against what they call
"LGBT aggression" on Polish society, in Warsaw, Poland August 16, 2020. Kuba Atys/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Hundreds of Polish nationalists and defenders of LGBT rights faced off against each other on opposite sides of a street in central Warsaw on Sunday.
    The nationalists burnt a rainbow flag, while the LGBT activists painted one on the street.    The groups shouted abuse at each other, separated by a line of several police vans and dozens of policemen.
    The nationalists’ gathering was organised by a far-right movement All-Poland Youth, whose former leader, Krzysztof Bosak, won nearly 7% in the first round of a presidential election in June.
    “This is a toxic ideology, dangerous, revolutionary and radical,” Bosak said in a speech during the gathering.
    Gay rights were part of the most recent election campaign in Poland, a staunchly Catholic country, and the issue is still divisive.
    President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, won re-election in July.    During the campaign he had compared what he called LGBT “ideology” to communist doctrine, sparking criticism at home and abroad.
    Since then there have been numerous protests by LGBT activists in Warsaw, including a massive one earlier this month when several thousand people demanded the release of an LGBT activist accused of hanging rainbow banners over statues and damaging an anti-abortion campaigner’s van.
(Reporting by Anna Koper and Kacper Pempel; Writing by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Frances Kerry)
[In the following Biblical verses this is what the angels of GOD can do as they did in Sodom, so you who are promoting homosexuality, etc. the following is what can happen to you in the near future.
    Genesis 19 KJV 6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.
10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.
11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.].

8/18/2020 Lexington diocese releases list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse by Lucas Aulbach, Louisville Courier Journal | USA TODAY NETWORK
    Allegations of sexual abuse against 20 priests who served in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington have been substantiated or found to be credible, according to the diocese.
    The list, released last week after a nearly 20-month review, is a part of an independent investigation being prepared by attorneys Allison Connelly and Andrew Sparks, according to a letter from Bishop John Stowe released in conjunction with the list.    It was released Friday, with the full report to be released later.
    Claims against one priest were unsubstantiated, the release said.
    Of the claims against the other 20 priests on the list, 10 allegations were substantiated, four allegations were credible, six allegations were credible but involved minors outside the Diocese of Lexington.    There are no pending allegations against any active priests, the report says.
    Stowe said two of the priests are accused of abuse that occurred since the Diocese of Lexington was formed in 1988.
    “I, along with every priest in the Diocese of Lexington, am very sorry for what this report describes and apologize to every person who has ever been accused or injured in any way by one who was ordained to represent Christ and minister Christ’s sacramental and healing presence to his flock,” Stowe wrote.    “It is an indescribable horror to so misrepresent Jesus who laid his life down for the sheep.”
    A substantiated allegation means there is “reasonable certainty” that the allegation occurred, while a credible accusation means the allegation “is capable of being believed; it is more likely true than not.”
    The allegation against William Poole, who died in December 2018, was unsubstantiated, according to the release.
    Meanwhile, allegations against Raymond Chappa, William Fedders, James Fritsch, Stephen Gallenstein, Carroll Howlin, Anthony Jablonowski, Balthasar Modica, Joseph Muench, Leonard Nienaber and Joseph Pilger were substantiated. Howlin, Nienaber and Pilger are no longer living.
    Credible allegations were levied toward Raymond Broering, Robert Klein, Carl Schaffer and Patrick Walsh by minors within the diocese.    All four are dead.
    Credible allegations from minors outside the diocese were levied against six other priests.
Lucas Aulbach can be reached at, 502-582-4649 or on Twitter @LucasAul bach.    Support strong local journalism and subscribe:

8/17/2020 Abortion Advocates Hopeful Biden Lifts Hyde Amendment by OAN Newsroom
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden joined by his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris,
D-Calif., speaks at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    Pro-choice advocates are looking to Joe Biden to restore federal funding for abortions.    According to recent reports, abortion advocates are hopeful he will take down the Hyde Amendment if elected president.
    The measure currently blocks the use of federal funding to pay for abortions unless in the case of incest, rape or if the woman’s life is deemed at risk.    While the former vice president has supported the policy for more than 40-years, just last year he reversed his position.
    If elected president Biden will need major gains in the Senate to lift the ban.    Some pro-life Democrats have said Biden’s extreme stance on the matter may alienate religious groups within the party.
    “I have supported the Hyde Amendment like many, many other have because there was sufficient monies and circumstances where woman were able to exercise that right — women of color, poor women, women who are not able to have access — and it was not under attack as it was then as it is now, but circumstances have changed,” he stated.
    It’s important to note that Biden is endorsed by Planned Parenthood, which is the nations largest abortion provider.

8/18/2020 Polish ‘LGBT-Free’ Town Gets State Financing After EU Funds Cut
FILE PHOTO: Pro-LGBT demonstrators hold a banner reading "We are humans" as Polish nationalists gather to protest against
what they call "LGBT aggression" on Polish society, in Warsaw, Poland August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) – A Polish town that lost European Union funding after it set up a zone free of “LGBT ideology” will receive government financial support, Poland’s justice minister said on Tuesday.
    The ruling nationalists’ position against gay rights has become a flash-point in a culture war pitting the religious right against more liberal-minded Poles.
    Critics, including the European Union, have accused the Law and Justice (PiS) government of backtracking on womens’ and LGBT rights and running a campaign laced with homophobic rhetoric in the run-up to last month’s presidential election.
    “We are supporting a municipality that has a pro-family agenda, promotes support for well-functioning families, and fights against the imposed ideology of LGBT and gender, which is being pushed by the European Commission,” Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told a news conference.
    The town of Tuchow in southern Poland will now receive 250,000 zlotys ($67,800) from the ministry’s Justice Fund.
    Tuchow had its application for a European twinning programme rejected after it passed a motion rejecting “LGBT ideology.”    Under the programme the town could have applied for a grant of up to 25,000 euros.
    EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli had said six town-twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted “LGBTI free zones” or “family rights” resolutions were rejected.
    “We tried find out if there are any other municipalities mentioned by Commissioner Dalli.    If we find any, we will reach out to them,” Ziobro said.
    Since the European Parliament elections last year, about d 100 municipalities across Poland have signed declarations saying they are free of “LGBT ideology.”    These have fuelled concern in Brussels, although they appear not to have been followed by legislation to discriminate against gay residents.
    On Monday, figures from the arts including Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk, director Pedro Almodovar and writer Margaret Atwood signed a letter to the European Union calling on Poland’s government to stop targeting the LGBT community.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz and Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

8/19/2020 Pope Warns Rich Countries Against Coronavirus Vaccine Nationalism by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis speaks during the weekly general audience, held virtually due to COVID-19 at the Vatican
August 12, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    (Reuters) – Rich countries should not hoard a coronavirus vaccine and should only give pandemic-related bailouts to companies committed to protecting the environment, helping the most needy and the ‘common good’, Pope Francis said on Wednesday.
    “It would be sad if the rich are given priority for the Covid-19 vaccine.    It would be sad if the vaccine becomes property of this or that nation, if it is not universal and for everyone,” Francis said at his weekly general audience.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that any nation which hoards possible COVID-19 vaccines while excluding others would deepen the pandemic.
    WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has warned against “vaccine nationalism,” urged countries to join a global pact by an Aug. 31 deadline to share vaccine hopefuls with developing countries.
    More than 150 vaccines are in development, about two dozen are in human studies and a handful are in late-stage trials.
    Francis also said it would be a “scandal” if governments doled out pandemic-related bail-out money to only select industries.
    He said the criteria for companies to receive public aid should be if they “contribute to the inclusion of people who are normally excluded (from society), to helping the most needy, to the common good and to caring for the environment.”
    More than 21.9 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 772,647 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
    “The pandemic is a crisis and one never exits from a crisis returning to the way it was before,” Francis said.
    “Either we leave better, or we leave worse. We have to leave better in order to tackle social injustices and environmental degradation.”
    The pope’s audiences are still being held virtually from his official library inside the Vatican because of the pandemic instead of St. Peter’s Square, previously packed with tens of thousands of people.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

8/20/2020 Hungary’s Orban Calls For Central Europe To Unite Around Christian Roots by Anita Komuves
    BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Central European nations should unite to preserve their Christian roots as western Europe experiments with same-sex families, immigration and atheism, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday.
    Orban, a nationalist who has been in power for more than a decade, was speaking at an event to inaugurate a monument commemorating the Treaty of Trianon, which was signed after World War One and led to Europe’s maps being re-drawn.
    “Western Europe had given up on … a Christian Europe, and instead experiments with a godless cosmos, rainbow families, migration and open societies,” Orban said in a speech.
    He said the monument, a 100-metre long and 4-metre wide ramp carved into a street near Budapest’s parliament building, was a call to central European nations to strengthen their alliance and rally around what he called the “Polish flagship.”
    In Poland, Hungary’s main ally in central Europe, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has pursued a socially conservative platform since coming to power in 2015 and made opposing “LGBT ideology” a key plank of its electoral strategy.
    In Hungary, rights groups say hostility to LGBT+ people has increased since Orban won a third term in 2018.
    Orban himself had rarely criticised rainbow, or same-sex families, but Parliament’s speaker – a long-time ally of Orban – had equated gay adoption with paedophilia.
    Last weekend, two rainbow flags were torn down from municipals buildings in Budapest, prompting a warning from the U.S. Embassy that neo-Nazi groups should not be tolerated.
    Many Hungarians still view the Treaty of Trianon as a national trauma because it took away two-thirds of the country’s territory and left millions of ethnic Hungarians living in what are now Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Austria and Ukraine.
    On the walls of the monument, visitors can read the names of more than 12,000 villages and towns that were part of Hungary before the treaty.    A granite block split into several parts encloses a flame.
    Orban has granted citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living beyond the country’s borders and also the right to vote in elections as part of his efforts to restore a battered sense of national pride.    Their votes helped Orban secure a strong majority in parliamentary elections.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Alex Richardson)

8/21/2020 Enforcement of LGBTQ rights case has been uneven by Kate Sosin
    The 19th
    For Chris Sanders, June 15 changed everything.
    That day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protected LGBTQ people against work discrimination.
    “We would not be able to get a piece of legislation through our general assembly that does the same thing,” said Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, a statewide LGBTQ rights organization.
    But though it was the final word for many, the landmark national ruling could be a hollow win for LGBTQ people facing workplace hostility, according to advocates.    The Trump administration has been uneven in its enforcement of the Bostock v. Clayton decision.     This imprecision could leave an estimated 3.6 million workers unclear on their rights when they are fired or denied job opportunities for being gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.
    The Justice Department traditionally enforces new laws by issuing nonbinding guidance aimed at alerting the public and other agencies to their rights and responsibilities.    Federal agencies such as the Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education then take those instructions and craft their own.    But so far, the DOJ has not withdrawn guidance no longer in compliance with the law and issued a new one.    The department did not respond to a request from The 19th to comment.
    In 2017, the DOJ argued that Title VII, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex, does not cover gay or transgender people because Congress has not passed specific LGBTQ protections.    The department submitted a brief to the Supreme Court last year arguing the same in the cases that ultimately secured LGBTQ workplace protections.    Its 2017 memo regarding transgender workers has not been withdrawn.
    “That memo should be rescinded immediately,” said LGBTQ law group Lambda Legal’s Omar Gonzalez-Pagan.
    On July 16, Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Women’s Law Center and other advocacy organizations sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr, urging him to direct agencies to release guidance on the law.
    “The Department of Justice is not only appropriately positioned to coordinate implementation of the Bostock decision across the federal government, but has historically undertaken this role,” the letter said.
    Other federal agencies could craft their own guidance without waiting for the Justice Department.    The Labor Department issues annual posters alerting workers to their rights.
    Edwin Nieves, a spokesman for the Department of Labor, expressed confusion over the suggestion that his agency would have a role in enforcing the law.
    “Bostock v. Clayton County was a Supreme Court ruling which is DOJ,” Nieves said in an email.
    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued its own guidance in the wake of the ruling, stating that a woman cannot be legally fired for being married to a woman if a man would not be fired for the same reason.    The EEOC website also uses the example of a boss firing “an employee because that person was identified as male at birth, but uses feminine pronouns and identifies as a female.”
    Pagan still wants other agencies to correct what he says is now incorrect guidance.    He cites a series of rollbacks transgender protections under the Department of Education starting in 2017 that rest on the argument that sex discrimination excludes gender identity.
    Democractic members of Congress say the Trump administration has hinged nearly all of its anti-LGBTQ policy on the claim that Title VII protections don’t include sexual orientation and gender identity.
    On July 9, more than 100 House and Senate members called on President Donald Trump to direct federal agencies to “review of all regulations, executive orders and agency policies that implicate legal protections for LGBTQ individuals under federal civil rights laws.”
    Data suggests that LGBTQ Americans have been particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.    According to the Human Rights Campaign, one in five LGBTQ people lived in poverty as of 2018, and more than twice the number of LGBTQ people work in the particularly hard-hit restaurant industry (15%) as the general population (6%).
    This story is published in partnership with The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics and policy.

8/21/2020 Church At Centre Of South Korea Coronavirus Outbreak Says Government Fabricating Tests by Sangmi Cha, Hyun Young Yi and Josh Smith
The Sarang Jeil Church, which has become a new cluster of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
infections, is seen in Seoul, South Korea, August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
    SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s battle to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus has been complicated by a political and religious fight between President Moon Jae-in’s administration and some of his fiercest critics.
    Sarang Jeil Church is the second religious group at the centre of a major coronavirus outbreak in South Korea.
    The government accuses the church of obstruction by not providing complete lists of its members and spreading fake news that is hindering anti-virus efforts, while church members they are victims of a politically motivated witch hunt.
    When the first infections were reported among church members on August 12, the government says the group flouted social distancing instructions, with the church’s leader and others attending a massive anti-Moon rally in downtown Seoul on August 15.
    Speaking at the rally, Rev. Jun Kwang-hun said Moon had “terrorised our church with the Wuhan virus.”
    Jun, an outspoken government critic, later tested positive for the virus.    As of Thursday, at least 739 people affiliated with the church have tested positive, out of 3,415 tested, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
FABRICATED RESULTS?     The health ministry said on Sunday it had filed a complaint against Jun for violating self-isolation rules by participating in the rally, and for obstructing a medical investigation into the outbreak.
    Peter Ko, an attorney for Jun, said the church followed social distancing guidelines and Jun was only at the rally for about 15 minutes.
    Some Sarang Jeil members say the government is fabricating the test results as part of a plot to persecute them.
    Ko said when a person identifies themselves as a church member to clinic staff, their results are more likely to come back positive.
    “When we go get tested elsewhere and do not mention that we are a member of the congregation, we’d test negative,” he said.    “I would say there is a fabrication.”
    One of the church’s pastors, Lee Hae-suk, said she was initially told her test was negative, but the next day she received a message saying she had tested positive.
    “I can think of no other reason than that this is a plot to kill Sarang Jeil Church by increasing the number of confirmed cases,” she said.    When asked who she thinks is behind the plot, she said: “Moon Jae-in.”
    Another theory advanced by some members is that the outbreak is a “terror attack,” possibly spread by tainted bottles of hand sanitizer.
    Yang Dong-sook, another pastor, said at one point the church received bottles of what looked like hand sanitizer that smelled more like chemicals.
    “We ignored it then, but now that I see so many infections, I think it could be true,” she said.
    Moon on Friday called for legal penalties for anyone obstructing anti-virus measures, including those conducting “all-out misinformation campaigns
    Vice health minister Kim Gang-lip said the government was simply trying to protect public health.
    “Do not put credibility in the false news and rumours that are spreading at a fast rate,” he told a briefing on Friday.
    Kwon Yon-gyong, dean of the Graduate School of Christian Studies at Seoul’s Soongsil University, said Sarang Jeil Church was closer to a political organisation than a religious community.
    “Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon is a political figure – a far right political icon.    He is a pastor, but has earned exposure through the far-right political movement.”
    Another controversial religious group, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, was involved with South Korea’s first major outbreak, accounting for almost a third of the country’s total 16,670 cases.
    Its leader was arrested after being accused of hindering the virus response by hiding information about the church’s members and gatherings, which he denies.
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha, Hyun Young Yi and Josh Smith in Seoul; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

8/22/2020 Dr. Birx: Okay For Churches To Meet Inside If Members Wear Masks by OAN Newsroom
Dr. Deborah Birx, President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus adviser, speaks at a news conference at
the state Capitol Complex, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Charleston, W.Va. (AP Photo/John Raby)
    According to coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx, it’s safe to go to church in person as long as attendees take precautions.    During a recent interview, she said she doesn’t see why places of worship can’t meet indoors.
    Birx added she’s met with many people inside and noted that wearing a face mask is what churchgoers should do, since the precaution works to slow the virus’ spread.
    The doctor went on to suggest certain states, including California, don’t need to restrict services to only outdoors as long as health measures are enforced.
    “Well, if the same officials are having meetings because they have to discuss what to do with the virus, if people are meeting and socially distancing in federal or state buildings, then you can bring that same safety to any American,” stated Dr. Birx.    “But you need to really be rigid about wearing a mask and socially distancing.”
    She went on to say she also doesn’t see an issue with voting in person for the 2020 elections.    She pointed out going to a Starbucks in areas with high infection rates wouldn’t be much different than going to the polls.

8/23/2020 City to take Christian photographer to trial by Andrew Wolfson, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Louisville Metro Government will continue to enforce the Fairness Ordinance to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation, despite a federal judge’s preliminary ruling last week blocking punishment of a Christian photographer who says she will shoot only heterosexual weddings.
    Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell said Tuesday the ruling applies only to Chelsey Nelson, and the city will try to prove at trial its “compelling interest in preventing invidious discrimination against its LGBTQ citizens.”    “The Fairness Ordinance remains alive and well,” O’Connell said in an email.    The city could have immediately appealed U.S. District Judge Justin Walker’s preliminary injunction prohibiting potential enforcement of the law against Nelson for turning away gay couples or advertising that she won’t serve them.    Walker agreed with Nelson that photography is speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
    Sam Marcosson, a professor at University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law, said in an email that Walker failed to consider the compelling interest that underlies anti-discrimination laws.
    “In effect, he treated her rights as nearly absolute instead of subject to government actions that are necessary to serve the critical goal of fighting discrimination,” he said.
    Corey Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which filed a brief in the case, called the decision disappointing.
    “Our laws have long said that businesses that are open to the public ... can’t pick and choose who they will serve based on who the customer is,” he said.    Kenneth Upton, senior litigation counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he believes Walker, who has been confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, “was reaching to make new law because he knows he not going to be on the district court much longer.”
    Upton noted that the preliminary injunction is not binding on any other court or case.
    Nelson’s lawyer, Jon Scruggs, hailed the Aug. 14 ruling, saying “photographers and writers like Chelsey should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment by the government.”
    But O’Connell said in his email that the Fairness Ordinance is neutral toward religion.    Quoting former Justice     Anthony Kennedy in the Supreme Court’s 2017 Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, O’Connell said that while sincerely held religious beliefs are entitled to consideration by the courts, this must not come at the cost of “subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
    In that case the court passed on the First Amendment question of whether a baker had the right to turn down a same-sex couple.
    Marcosson said Nelson’s dispute with the city “could be the kind of case where the court might consider how to balance expressive and religious rights against anti- discrimination rules.”    However, he said the fact that Louisville never enforced the ordinance against her could weigh against it taking the case.


    2 Thess 2:3 ...."and then the man of rebellion will come--the son of hell."    4 "He will defy every god there is, and tear down every other object of adoration and worship.    He will go in and sit as God in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God."    5 "Don't you remember that I told you this when I was with you?"    6 "And you know what is keeping him from being here already; for he can come only when his time is ready."    7 "As for the works this man of rebellion and hell will do when he comes, it is already going on (the mystery of lawlessness is already at work), but he himself will not come until the one holding him back steps out of the way."    8 "Then the wicked one will appear, whom the Lord Jesus will burn up with his breath of his mouth and destroy by presence when he returns."    9 "This man of sin will come as Satan's tool, full of satanic power, and will trick everyone with strange demonstrations, and will do great miracles."    10 "He will completely fool those who are on their way to hell because they have said 'no' to the Truth;..."
    1 John 2:18: "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared.    This is how we know that it is the last hour."
    Romans 1:21: "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

8/23/2020 ‘Save Our City’ Protest Takes Place Outside New York City Hall by OAN Newsroom
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives to New Bridges Elementary School to observe pandemic-related safety
procedures, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    Hundreds of residents in New York City have called for Mayor Bill de Blasio to step down.    “Save Our City” demonstrations took place outside of City Hall on Saturday, where some 300 protesters gathered to speak out against the mayor’s actions during his time in office.
    Several key speakers made appearances, including the Police Benevolence Association Vice President Vinny Vallelong and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.
    According to Vallelong, de Blasio has gone through three police commissioners, while murders, burglaries and instances of grand larceny have skyrocketed in the area.    He claimed the mayor still has failed to take any effective action.
    Meanwhile, Malliotakis alleged the city is being torn apart both by de Blasio’s actions and his lack thereof.
    “It breaks my heart to see what our mayor is doing on every front,” she said.    “He puts more and more money into the budget, he raises your property taxes, and yet, everything is getting worse.”
Screengrab via FreedomNewsTV.
    She went on to slam the mayor’s inaction on reopening restaurants and other businesses, which she called an attack on America’s values.
    The anarchy, the lawlessness, the attacks on job creators: this is an attempt to bring socialism to our nation,” added Malliotakis.    “We reject it.”
    Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated there will be no deadline for reopening businesses, such as indoor dining, until the city sees major improvements.
    His comments came after New York City restaurant owners demanded the city reopen in-person dining to keep businesses afloat.

8/23/2020 President Trump: Democrats Left Out Key Phrases In Pledge Of Allegiance During Caucus by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Aug. 17, 2020, file image from video, grandchildren of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden,
including Finnegan Biden, Hunter Biden, Natalie Biden, Naomi Biden and Maisy Biden, lead the Pledge of Allegiance
during the first night of the Democratic National Convention. (Democratic National Convention via AP, File)
    President Trump recently weighed in on several Democrats’ omission of a key phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance during their national convention.    During several livestreamed events last week, multiple speakers in caucus events omitted the phrase “under God” from their pledges.
    On Twitter, the president admitted he first thought Democrats did it by mistake.    He went on to say he now believes it was actually done on purpose.
    President Trump slammed the DNC’s choice to remove the phrase and stated America “still wants God.”    He called on supporters to keep this in mind when voting in November.

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Mariotti Building Products, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Old Forge, Pa. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    In a separate tweet, the president took a moment to honor Poland’s Warsaw Uprising, where he notably invoked Christianity.
    “We can still hear those voices that echo through history, their message is as true today as ever,” he said.    “The people of Poland, the people of America and the people of Europe still cry out, ‘We want God.’

8/26/2020 Pope To Readmit Faithful To General Audiences From Next Week: Vatican
Pope Francis speaks during the weekly general audience, held virtually due to COVID-19 at the Vatican
August 12, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The faithful will be readmitted to Pope Francis’ weekly general audiences from Sept. 2, a Vatican statement said on Wednesday, as the Holy See slowly lift restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic
    Thousands of people traditionally attend the weekly Wednesday gatherings, but the Vatican shut out the public in March, following the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, with the pope instead making his address via a video link.
    The Vatican said that from next week he would hold the audience in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, adding that anyone could attend.
    In the summer months the audiences are normally held in the much larger St. Peter’s Square, in front of the main basilica. However, with far few foreigners travelling to Rome because of the coronavirus, smaller crowds are expected.
    In his video address on Wednesday, the pope said the pandemic had aggravated social inequalities, with some children seeing their education interrupted and poorer nations lacking the resources to help them deal with the crisis.
    “It is a virus that comes from a sick economy,” Pope Francis said.    “In today’s world, a few rich people possess more than all the rest of humanity … This is an injustice that cries out to heaven.”
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Alex Richardson)

8/28/2020 Church Protests, COVID-19 Test Montenegro’s Long-Ruling Party In Sunday Vote
A man carries a cross during a church-led rally ahead of general election, in Podgorica, Montenegro, August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic
    PODGORICA (Reuters) – The tiny Adriatic republic of Montenegro goes to the polls on Sunday riven by tensions over a religious communities law resisted by the powerful Orthodox Church and grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.
    At stake in the parliamentary election is the long rule of President Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists, who led Montenegro through the 1990s break-up of federal Yugoslavia and the 2006 dissolution of its state union with Serbia.
    The DPS was also instrumental in Montenegro’s accession to NATO in 2017 and has overseen its ongoing efforts to qualify for membership of the European Union.
    The vote pits the DPS against the opposition, mainly Serb nationalist For the Future of Montenegro alliance, which seeks closer relations with Serbia and Russia and has the backing of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
    Montenegrins who identify as Serbs account for about a third of the 620,000 population.    Most Montenegrins and Serbs share language and the Orthodox faith, and many Serbian citizens have roots and families in Montenegro.
    An Aug. 13 poll by the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) put the DPS at an estimated 32-38% of the vote, with For the Future of Montenegro at 22-27%.    The DPS now has a bare majority of 42 deputies in the 81-seat parliament.
    If it wins on Sunday, the DPS may have to seek more partners for a viable majority, said CEDEM director Milena Besic.    “There will have to be concessions to potential partners,” she said.
    Opposition leaders and democracy and rights watchdogs have long accused Djukanovic, who faces re-election in 2023, and the DPS of running Montenegro as their own corrupt fiefdom and of ties with organised crime.    They deny this.
    But the biggest, fresher hot-button issue in the campaign has been a law adopted late last year that allows the state to seize some religious assets if historical ownership cannot be proven.
    The law has yet to be enforced largely due to months of protests led by the Serbian Orthodox Church, Montenegro’s largest and backed by pro-Serbian parties.
    Last week Metropolitan Amfilohije, the church’s top cleric in Montenegro, called on people to vote against the ruling coalition.    “The church…rejoices in those who are against this lawless (religion) law,” he said in a sermon.
    At a campaign rally on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said he was confident in a DPS victory and that the Orthodox Church was Montenegro’s main adversary.
    “After elections, the…church and its priests will return to churches… They will no longer be at political rallies … where they curse our forefathers, us and our children.”
    Djukanovic has repeatedly accused Serbia and Russia of using the church to undermine the independence of the mountainous, Adriatic coast republic.
    The dispute will influence the election outcome, said Besic.        “Many people see this as a foremost political issue.”
    Montenegro has also been dealing with a coronavirus outbreak that has sickened over 4,500 people, with 89 deaths, so far.    The pandemic has gutted revenues from Adriatic tourism seen as crucial to Montenegro’s budget.
(Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

9/2/2020 Ruling for abortion rights lifts opponents - As court fights continue, lawyers on both sides say a trend could emerge. Laws that impose restrictions on clinics, doctors and patients could see more lenient treatment than tougher bans aimed at outlawing abortions at various stages of pregnancy. By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down a Louisiana restriction on abortion clinics is giving abortion opponents an unlikely opportunity in other states.
    Officials in Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Oklahoma have in recent weeks argued that the high court’s 5-4 ruling actually bolsters their defense of anti-abortion laws, even though the justices ruled against Louisiana.
    The states’ arguments coincide with a federal appeals court decision last month reinstating several abortion restrictions in Arkansas, which was based in part on the Supreme Court’s seemingly pro-choice ruling.    The flurry of activity in federal and state courts is largely a result of Chief Justice John Roberts’ concurring opinion in the Louisiana case – one that doomed the state’s restrictions on abortion clinics and doctors but rebutted the standard used by the court’s four liberal justices.
    The main opinion by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer said the Louisiana law, which required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, posed a “substantial obstacle” to women seeking abortions without “significant healthrelated benefits.”    Roberts, providing the crucial fifth vote, rejected the use of a balancing test and said the law should fall simply because of a 2016 Supreme Court precedent.
    The court, he said, must “treat like cases alike.    The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago invalidating a nearly identical Texas law.”
    Abortion opponents have argued in cases this summer that the five justices agreed only on the need to determine a law’s burdens.    That was the standard used by the high court in a 1992 Pennsylvania case that upheld abortion rights as well as reasonable state limits.
    Those defending abortion rights have responded that the balancing test standard from 2016 remains intact, giving them the ability to win if a restriction has little or no benefit to mothers or their fetuses.
    What’s clear for now is that the Supreme Court’s latest abortion ruling “has led to more litigation rather than less,” said Julie Rikelman, senior director at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who represented the Louisiana clinic at oral argument in March.
    University of Virginia School of Law professor Richard Re, a scholar on court rulings, said those arguments are likely to persist.     “This is the latest round of debate about what counts as precedent and how you evaluate precedent,” Re said.    “The debate will rage on.”
‘Strange world indeed’
    The Supreme Court’s ruling June 29 in June Medical Services v. Russo came as a surprise to abortion opponents.    The court had struck down a similar restriction on clinics in Texas in 2016, but Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who provided the fifth vote, later retired and was replaced by the more conservative Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
    Roberts, however, proved again to be a stickler for process and precedent.    He had dissented in the Texas case but said it should be followed in Louisiana.
    Still, his separate opinion has opened the door for proponents of other restrictions – such as requirements for ultrasound tests, waiting periods and parental notification, as well as bans on the most common type of second-trimester abortions – to argue that Roberts’ opinion helps their cause.
    “The chief justice’s opinion controls, because it announces the only legal proposition on which a majority of justices voting for reversal agreed: substantially burdensome laws may be unconstitutional,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.    Ohio is seeking to stop abortions sought at least in part because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.
    Similarly, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron urged the same appeals court to reconsider its decision striking down a ban on the second-trimester abortion method known as dilation and evacuation.    “Although (the Supreme Court ruling) has six different opinions, the reasoning of Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion governs because it has the only rationale on which the five justices who voted for reversal agreed,” Cameron’s office said.
    Abortion rights advocates are fighting back against that argument.    While acknowledging that Roberts rejected the liberal justices’ test of balancing burdens and benefits, they said he did not erase prior high court rulings embracing that standard.    They pointed to recent court decisions in Maryland and Texas, where judges ruled in their favor.
    “It would be a strange world indeed if a single justice could overrule a prior binding decision issued by a majority of the court,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s reproductive freedom project.
‘Cutting their losses’
    Federal district and appeals court judges have been weighing in on both sides.    In Maryland, federal district Judge Theodore Chuang said Roberts did not single-handedly overrule the balancing test, which he then applied in striking down a federal requirement that women visit medical facilities to get abortion medication.    Chuang ruled that in-person visits provide no significant benefit and declared them unnecessary in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.    The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to block that ruling.
    In Texas, a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals panel denied the state’s effort to block a 2017 lower court ruling that struck down the state’s ban on dilation and evacuation, the common secondtrimester procedure.    President Donald Trump’s nominee on the panel, Judge Don Willett, dissented.
    But the 8th Circuit ruling in Arkansas has given abortion opponents hope, as well as the decision by Planned Parenthood to drop its challenge to an Indiana law requiring women to get ultrasound tests at least 18 hours before an abortion procedure.    That decision was due, at least in part, to an increased availability of ultrasound tests.
    “It seems clear that the positions taken by abortion advocates demonstrate an understanding that their cases have become much harder,” said Steven Aden, chief legal officer at Americans United for Life.
    Responds Rikelman: “The other side is trying to use every means necessary to continue to restrict abortion” as part of a “coordinated national strategy.”
    Planned Parenthood isn’t giving up on a separate challenge to Indiana’s parental notice requirement.    The two sides in that fight recently returned to court, where Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said Roberts had the “controlling opinion” in the Louisiana case.    ACLU lawyers said the 2016 Texas decision that used a balancing test “continues to provide the governing undueburden standard.”    One thing is clear in the wake of the Supreme Court’s latest split decision: Battles over abortion restrictions in lower courts will be forced to address it.
    As the court fights continue, lawyers on both sides say a potential trend could emerge.    Laws that impose restrictions on clinics, doctors and patients could receive more lenient treatment than tougher bans aimed at outlawing abortions at various stages of pregnancy.
    The question, Aden said, is “where does the chief justice draw the line?

9/2/2020 Australian Media Agree To Joint Trial For Pell Sex Abuse Case Reporting by Sonali Paul
FILE PHOTO: Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell is surrounded by Australian police as he
leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court in Australia, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Dadswell
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian media outlets have dropped their opposition to a joint trial on charges they breached a gag order on reporting ex-Vatican treasurer George Pell’s conviction in 2018 on child sex abuse, according to a submission discussed in court on Wednesday.     Pell’s conviction was overturned by Australia’s High Court in April, but the case against the media organisations and reporters remains active.
    There are 30 defendants, comprising 19 journalists and 11 news outlets, in the matter before the Supreme Court of Victoria.    The media had sought separate trials on the range of issues raised, but acknowledged it would be too costly for the court to run.
    The state prosecutor is seeking fines and jail terms for breaches of the suppression order on the Pell verdict and aiding and abetting contempt of court by overseas media.
    Lawyers in the case, first launched in April 2019, are still working out issues around how to proceed with the trial, tentatively scheduled to begin in November.
    At a procedural hearing held remotely on Wednesday, most of the debate was around what information, such as emails between reporters and their editors, the state prosecutor would be allowed to seek from media outlets.
    Pell was found guilty by a jury in December 2018 of sexually assaulting two choirboys, but reporting on the trial and conviction in Australia was prohibited by the County Court of Victoria so as not to prejudice another trial Pell was due to face on separate child sex abuse charges.
    After the verdict, some Australian media said that an unnamed high-profile person had been convicted of a serious crime that could not be reported, while some overseas media named Pell and the charges.
    The suppression order on reporting Pell’s conviction was only lifted in February 2019 when the second case was dropped.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

9/5/2020 Pope To Travel Outside Rome For First Time Since Coronavirus Pandemic
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds the first weekly general audience to readmit the public since the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the San Damaso courtyard, at the Vatican, September 2, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis will next month visit the Italian town of Assisi, his first trip out of Rome since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in February, and will sign a new encyclical, a spokesman for the Assisi Basilica said on Saturday.
    The encyclical, which is the highest form of papal writing, is expected to focus on what Francis believes the post-pandemic world should look like, and will be called “Brothers All….”
    Father Enzo Fortunato said in a statement that the pope would travel to Assisi on Oct. 3, the day before the Feast of St. Francis, who was born in the small Umbrian hill town in the centre of Italy.
    “The visit will take place in private, without the participation of the faithful,” Fortunato said.
    Pope Francis this week held his weekly general audience in public for the first time in six months as the Vatican slowly looks to return to normal following the prolonged coronavirus lockdown.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Ros Russell)

9/6/2020 Mexico’s Transgender Community In Fear After Second Murder by Jose Luis Gonzalez
Relatives react near a crime scene where unknown assailants murdered a member of the LGBT
community, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico September 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
    CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) – The gruesome killing on Saturday of a second transgender woman in northern Mexico has unnerved the local transgender community and amplified calls for greater protections in the Latin American nation.
    The murder of Leslie Rocha in the border city of Ciudad Juarez came days after a transgender civil society group staged a protest there to demand greater protection.
    Those demands were sparked by the murder late of Ciudad Juarez-born transgender activist Mireya Rodriguez Lemus, whose body was found earlier this week in Aquiles Serdan, a town in the northern Chihuahua state.
    A transgender woman in Ciudad Juarez, who declined to give her name, said people are “a little scared, a little terrified” to go out on the streets.
    “We don’t know what to do anymore because there are so many hate crimes against the trans population.”
    Deborah Alvarez, a transgender activist who spoke to Reuters earlier in the week, described a community beset by worries about its safety.
    “You can’t imagine what all us trans people have lived through to arrive here, for us still to see that we haven’t been defended,” she said.
    Police in Ciudad Juarez did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
    Last year 117 people from the LGBT+ community were killed in Mexico, up almost a third compared from 2018 and the highest since 2015, according to local advocacy group Letra S.
    “They’re torturing them, they’re killing them horribly,” said Rocha’s aunt, Leticia Sanchez.
    “Justice must be had because they deserve respect even if they aren’t women – they deserve support,” she said.    “Why are they doing this?
(This story corrects name of town where activist was murdered in paragraph 3.)
(Reporting by Jose Luis Gonzalez; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by William Mallard)

9/6/2020 Pope Says Gossiping Is A ‘Worse Plague’ Than Coronavirus
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis arrives for the first weekly general audience to readmit the public since the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) outbreak in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican, September 2, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis urged the faithful on Sunday to steer clear of gossip, calling it worse than the coronavirus and saying it could be used to divide the Roman Catholic Church.
    “Please, brothers and sisters, let’s make an effort not to gossip.    Gossiping is a worse plague than COVID,” the pope said during his weekly address from a window above St. Peter’s Square.
    “The devil is the great gossip.    He is always saying bad things about others because he is the liar who tries to split the Church,” Francis added in the off-the-cuff comments.
    The pope has regularly warned of the risks of gossiping and has also railed against Internet trolls.
    “If something goes wrong, offer silence and prayer for the brother or sister who make a mistake, but never gossip,” he said on Sunday.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Frances Kerry)

9/7/2020 Councilman pushes for ‘conversion therapy’ ban - Efforts to change sexual orientation are targeted by Emma Austin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    An ordinance filed with the Louisville Metro Council last week seeks to place a citywide ban on so-called conversion therapy, a discredited practice that tries to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
    The proposal was filed Aug. 31 by Louisville Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9th, and follows a recent push for a statewide ban on the practice.    A bill proposing a ban had been filed in the state legislature this year but did not receive a hearing.    However, a committee met last month in Frankfort to hear from supporters and opponents of legislation.
    “I think it’s important to note this practice is banned already in 20 states,” Hollander said.    “I counted over 70 cities and five countries, and it’s time that we join that list.”
    Covington is the only city in Kentucky with such a ban.
    The proposed Louisville ordinance would make it illegal for any licensed provider to use sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts with a minor.    It also would prevent public funds from going toward any entity, organization or individual that provides “conversion therapy” to a minor.
    The proposal cites the American Psychological Association’s conclusion in 2009 that efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity are “unlikely to produce anticipated outcomes and can pose unintended harmful side effects to participants.”
    The possible side effects include decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, depression, increased substance abuse and suicidality, among others.
    The ordinance points to additional research that shows the practice has a harmful impact on LGBTQ youth.    The Trevor Project in 2019 found 5% of 34,000 surveyed LGBTQ youth had undergone “conversion therapy,” and 42% of those respondents had reported a suicide attempt in the past year, more than twice the rate of their LGBTQ peers who did not undergo the practice.
    The American Medical Association last year stated its support for federal legislation banning “conversion therapy” on children and adults because of its harm to LGBTQ people.
    While the legislation would prevent the practice on minors, anyone aware of “conversion therapy” happening in Louisville by a licensed professional would be able to file a complaint to the Human Relations Commission.
Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, said the ordinance will send a message to both therapists and parents.
    “Even though you may have good intentions, you must know this is not just a discredited practice — it is deadly to send your child to any conversion therapist, whether they’re licensed or not,” Hartman said.
    Unlicensed therapists would still be allowed to practice under the legislation, but “if you send your child there, you’re potentially sending them into a death trap,” Hartman said.
    Hartman said dozens of practicing conversion therapists have been identified in Kentucky, including some in Jefferson County.
    “I don’t want to create the impression that conversion therapy is widespread ... but there are enough,” he said.
    This is the first time such a ban has been proposed to the Louisville Metro Council, Hollander said.    The ordinance is cosponsored by Councilwoman Jessica Green, D-9th, Councilwoman Nicole George, D-21st, and Councilman Brandon Coan, D-8th.
    It’s been assigned to the Community Affairs, Health, and Education Committee, where it will likely be considered on Wednesday or Sept. 23, according to a news release.
    Reach Emma Austin at or on Twitter at @emmacaustin.    Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: subscribe.

9/7/2020 Tokyo Highlights LGBTQ Rights Before Olympics With Pride House by Jack Tarrant
FILE PHOTO: Workers prepare to carry the giant Olympic rings, which are being temporarily removed for maintenance, amid the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) outbreak, at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
    TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo will open Pride House, Japan’s first permanent such center, next month to raise awareness of LGBTQ rights before and during the rearranged Olympic Games in 2021.
    Although there have been similar initiatives before previous Games, organizers said Pride House Tokyo, which will open its doors on International Coming Out Day on October 11, is the first to get official International Olympic Committee backing.
    “Pride House Tokyo aims to educate the world and also Japan of the difficulties the LGBTQ community has playing and enjoying sports … while helping create a safe space for the community too,” Pride House Tokyo said in a statement on Monday.
    It is traditional for most nations competing at the Olympics to have a hospitality ‘house’, where they promote their country and hold parties for winning athletes.
    Gon Matsunaka, the head of Good Ageing Yells, one of the organizations supporting the project, said Japan lags behind many other developed nations when it comes to LGBTQ rights.
    “Many people might think that Japan is a human rights defender, but actually there are no laws to protect LGBTQ people,” Matsunaka told Reuters via email.
    “Society is filled with prejudice, discrimination and harassment towards LGBTQ community.”
    “While we have to change the sports arena, we also hope Pride House Legacy can help change society as a whole as well.”
    Gay marriage is illegal in Japan and although about two dozen cities, towns and wards issue same-sex partnership certificates, they lack legal standing and prejudice persists.
    Fumino Sugiyama, a former fencer for the Japanese national team who now identifies as a man, said little had changed in 15 years since retiring from professional sport.
    “Even now looking around, there are few LGBTQ athletes that live their lives openly and that is the reality here in Japan,” Sugiyama told a news briefing to launch Pride House Tokyo.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Alexander Smith)

9/9/2020 Pope Wears Mask, Warns Against Political Exploitation Of Coronavirus by Philip Pullella
Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience, in the San Damaso courtyard, at the Vatican September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, seen wearing a mask for the first time in public, said on Wednesday no one should seek political gain from the coronavirus and that vaccine developers should not see it as a chance to make a profit.
    At his second weekly general audience with public participation after six months of virtual audiences, the pope was seen wearing a white mask as he entered and left his car and using sanitizer occasionally squirted onto his hands by an aide.
    He asked about 500 people in the Vatican’s San Damaso courtyard to remain in their seats to keep social distancing and told them in the address that the pandemic should spur everyone to work for the common good.
    “Unfortunately, we are witnessing the emergence of partisan interests.    For example, there are those who want to appropriate possible solutions for themselves, such as (developing) vaccines and then selling them to others,” he said.
    “Some are taking advantage of the situation to foment divisions, to create economic or political advantages, to start or intensify conflict,” he said, without specifying.
    The pandemic and the quest for a vaccine have become hot-button issues in the U.S. presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
    Trump wants to fast-track a vaccine, which he has said is coming “very, very soon”    The virus has killed more than 186,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs.
    Biden has charged that Trump is politicizing the issue to help his re-election and has called for any vaccine to be produced and distributed following established scientific standards without outside political interference.
    The pope called people who turn their backs on the suffering coronavirus had caused “devotees of Pontius Pilate who simply wash their hands of it,” referring to the ancient Roman governor of Judea who ordered Jesus’ crucifixion but refused to take responsibility for it.
    Francis said while “politics often does not have a good reputation,” there had been many politicians in the course of history “who were saints”    He did not name any.
(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

9/11/2020 Citywide ‘conversion therapy’ ban moves forward by Ben Tobin, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    A proposed citywide ban on “conversion therapy” took a step forward to becoming a reality Wednesday, as a Louisville Metro Council committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposed ordinance.     The proposed ban will now move forward for a vote by the full Metro Council on Sept. 17.
    Following a recent but unfruitful push for a statewide ban on the discredited practice that tries to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, Councilman Bill Hollander, D-9th District, filed a proposed ordinance last week would prohibit licensed providers from using sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts with a minor.
    During a meeting of the Metro Council’s Community Affairs, Health and Education Committee, Hollander pointed to data of kids subjected to “conversion therapy” facing increased rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide.
    “In this National Suicide Prevention Month, surely we can agree to join states and cities across the country in banning a practice that doesn’t work and leads to higher suicide rates for children,” Hollander said.
    When asked by a fellow council member if the practice is considered dangerous, Hollander said the answer is “unequivocally yes.”
    “It hurt kids in a very, very severe way,” Hollander said.    “And that’s why I think all mainstream medical organizations have indicated it should be banned.”
    The proposed ordinance would prevent public funds from going toward any entity, organization or individual that provides “conversion therapy” to a minor.
    Six members of the committee voted to recommend approval.    Councilman Stuart Benson, R-20th District, voted to abstain.
    “To me, I don’t have enough facts,” Benson said when explaining his decision to vote to abstain.    “... I don’t want to legislate morality to anybody.    But I also want to think about things.    Today, I’ve learned a little bit more than I did before.”
    Louisville would be the second city in Kentucky to ban conversion therapy.    Covington passed an ordinance doing so earlier this year.
    Twenty states have passed bans on “conversion therapy” so far.    In Frankfort, a bill proposing a ban with bipartisan support was filed during this past legislative session, but it did not receive a hearing.    However, a state legislature committee met last month to hear from supporters and opponents of legislation.
    The American Psychological Association has stated that “conversion therapy.” is not supported by any reliable evidence and can lead to increased risk of depression, anxiety, suicide and substance abuse.
    Contact Ben Tobin at and 502-377-5675 or follow on Twitter @TobinBen.

9/11/2020 Fight for religious liberty continues
    When U.S. District Judge Gregory Tatenhove placed a temporary restraining order on Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s unconstitutional attempt to halt in-person worship during the COVID-19 pandemic, he did so with the following moving language: “The Constitution will endure.    It would be easy to put it on the shelf in times like this, to be pulled down and dusted off when more convenient.    But that is not our tradition.    Its enduring quality requires that it be respected even when it is hard.”
    His decision in Tabernacle Baptist Church v. Beshear was a major win for religious liberty. But despite the clear victory in the Tabernacle case, religious liberty remains under threat in Kentucky and across the nation.    Far too many governors and local elected officials continue to flex their power by restricting religious worship, including by preventing private, religious schools from opening.
    But Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron seems to respect the autonomy of these religious institutions.    He recently issued a thorough opinion defending religious schools from state and local officials attempting to prevent them from reopening. Referencing Tatenhove’s opinion and other precedents, Cameron argued that the law governing religious liberty prohibits the government from closing religious schools that choose to offer in-person instruction this fall.    Part of the freedom to practice one’s faith is the freedom to be free from governmental interference in the internal governance of religious organizations, including schools.    That is no less true in the midst of a pandemic.
    After all, as the Supreme Court recently affirmed in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, faith-based schools exist primarily to communicate their faith to the young.    For the government to interfere in how these schools carry out their central mission necessarily intrudes upon the First Amendment’s guarantee to the free exercise of religion.
    Cameron’s opinion is timely.    Across the country, overzealous government officials are continuing to restrict the First Amendment rights of religious organizations, sometimes even in opposition to public health recommendations.    In Montgomery County, Maryland, local officials initially issued a directive prohibiting private, religious schools from conducting on-campus learning until at least Oct. 1.    Within days, Governor Larry Hogan issued an emergency order removing the authority of local health agencies to shut down private, religious schools.
    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sought to blunt attempts by local officials in his state to close private, religious schools by issuing clear guidance weeks before the start of school making it clear that local officials don’t have the authority to do so.    That did not stop them from trying.    Local officials in Cameron County, Texas ignored the Attorney General’s guidance, dismissing it as “nothing more than an opinion” and ordering the closure of the county’s religious schools until they declared they could open.    First Liberty Institute stepped in to remind them of the law.
    And, in California’s Santa Cruz County, local officials are preventing “in-person instruction” in schools despite allowing the schools to act as day camps and childcare centers.    In fact, California allows small groups of children to gather for a variety of purposes, including for childcare, preschool, daycare, day camps, and recreation programs.    Incredibly, for most of the state who live in counties on the COVID-19 monitoring list, children may still gather in these small groups as long as they aren’t learning.
    All of us, including schools, should consider the advice of experts and their evidence-based health and safety guidance.    We should all do what we can to promote a safe reopening. Nonetheless, a pandemic does not grant government officials the authority to ignore the Constitution and the freedoms it has guarded for 200-plus years.
    As Attorney General Cameron said, “The law prohibits the state from mandating the closure of religiously affiliated schools that are complying with recommended health guidelines.    Our courts have consistently held, throughout this pandemic, that religious entities are protected by our Constitution.”
    Let’s hope the Governor and local officials in Kentucky – and across the nation – heed those words.
    Jeremy Dys (@JeremyDys) is Special Counsel for Litigation and Communications for First Liberty Institute, a non-profit law firm dedicated to defending religious freedom for all Americans. Read more at
Jeremy Dys guest columnist, Your Turn

9/14/2020 Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Changing Calif. Sex Offender Law by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Sept. 18, 2019, file photo, Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
    California’s governor signed a bill allowing judges to decide on whether to add someone to the sex offender registry for engaging in sexual acts with a minor. Democrat Gavin Newsom signed the legislation Friday.
    The measure does not apply to minors under the age of 14 with an age gap larger than 10 years or when the sex was not consensual.    As critics have pointed out, this could allow a 24-year-old having sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old to avoid having to register as a sex offender.
    Although the bill is backed by civil rights groups, including the California District Attorneys Association, critics were quick to blast the measure as the legalization of pedophilia.
    I cannot in my mind as a mother understand how sex between a 24-year-old and a 14-year-old could ever be consensual, how it could ever not be a registrable offense,” said California State Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez.
    Originally introduced by San Francisco Democrat state Sen. Scott Wiener, the bill was touted as bringing fairness and equality to LGBTQ defendants.
    While some see this as a win for the LGBTQ community, others view the bill as discriminatory.
    “This distinction and the law is irrational and discriminatory towards LGBT youth as it treats these acts as more egregious of a crime than statutory rape,” said California State Assembly member Sydney Kamlager.
    The California Police Chiefs Association, also backing the legislation, pushed back on criticisms in a tweet Friday.    It argued, the bill does not legalize any crime against a child and still maintains criminal punishments under current law.

9/14/2020 Pope Gives Green Light For Extension Of Accord With Beijing by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience, in the San Damaso courtyard, at the Vatican September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has signed off on a two-year extension of a deal with China on the appointment of bishops that critics have condemned as a sell-out to the communist government, a senior Vatican source said on Monday.
    The two-year provisional deal, which gives the pope the final say on the appointment of bishops, took effect on Oct. 22, 2018 and, if the Chinese side agrees – seen as virtually a given – will be extended without any changes, the source said.
    “We think it is prudent to extend it for another two years,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    Some Catholics in Asia had feared China would pressure the Vatican to include Hong Kong, following the imposition of a new national security law that significantly expanded Beijing’s reach into the city, but the source said it would not.
    “There are no changes,” he said of the accord, whose text is still secret.    Church officials involved with the deal proposed that it be renewed and the pope gave the green light, he said.
    Last week in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian indicated that China was also eager to renew, saying “the two sides will continue to maintain close communication and consultation and improve bilateral relations.”
    On Monday, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and top diplomat, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told reporters “I think and I hope” that Beijing wanted to renew.
    Catholics in China are emerging from more than half a century of division that saw them split between a state-backed “official” Church and a “non-official” underground Church that remained loyal to Rome.
    Both sides now recognise the pope as supreme leader of the Catholic Church.
    “It’s not easy dealing with a communist, atheist regime that sees religion as interference, but what we have is better than no accord at all,” the source said.
    China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, but in recent years the government has tightened restrictions on religions seen as a challenge to the authority of the ruling Communist Party.
    Critics say this has made the deal a farce.    The Vatican says no deal would have risked causing a schism in the Church in China.
    One of the most outspoken critics has been Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former archbishop of Hong Kong, who has accused the Vatican of selling out and offending the memory of persecuted Catholics.
    Beijing has been following a policy of “Sinicisation” of religion, trying to root out foreign influences and enforce obedience to the Communist Party, which has ruled China since winning a civil war in 1949.
    “It is understandable for the Vatican to want to renew because after 1949 there was no dialogue. Now the Vatican at least has this thread, albeit a very weak one,” said Father Bernardo Cerverllera, head of the Rome-based AsiaNews agency, which monitors China.
    “But it has borne very little fruit so far and I hope the Vatican demands more from the Chinese,” he said.
    Many see the deal as precursor to re-establishing diplomatic relations after a rupture of more than 70 years.
    To do so, the Vatican would have to break full relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a wayward province.    The Vatican is the only state in Europe to still recognise Taipei.
    “The path to diplomatic normalisation will be very, very long,” the Vatican source said.
(Additional reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing and Greg Torode in Taipei; Editing by Alex Richardson)

9/15/2020 Taiwan Says It Has Vatican Assurances On China Accord
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis arrives for the first weekly general audience to readmit the public since the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican, September 2, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    TAIPEI (Reuters) – The Vatican has asked Taiwan not to worry about the extension of a deal between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops as it was a religious matter and not a diplomatic one, the island’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
    Pope Francis has signed off on a two-year extension of the agreement that critics have condemned as a sell-out to the communist government, a senior Vatican source said on Monday.
    The Vatican is Chinese-claimed Taiwan’s sole European diplomatically and the government has watched with concern as the Pope has moved to improve relations with China. Taiwan has formal ties with only 15 countries, largely due to Chinese pressure.     Taiwan was playing close attention to the Vatican’s interactions with China and was in close touch it, Taiwan foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said, adding that Taiwan and the Vatican had “smooth” communications.
    “Our side has continued to receive assurances from the Vatican, that the bishops agreement with China is religious, not about diplomatic relations, and asked us not to worry,” Ou told reporters.
    Taiwan hoped the agreement can help improve religious freedom in China, but since it was signed two years ago repression had actually worsened, with believers jailed and churches torn down, Ou said.
    China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, but in recent years the government has tightened restrictions on religions seen as a challenge to the authority of the ruling Communist Party.
    Critics say this has made the deal a farce.    The Vatican says no deal would have risked causing a schism in the Church in China.
    The two-year provisional deal, which gives the pope the final say on the appointment of bishops, took effect on Oct. 22, 2018 and, if the Chinese side agrees, which is seen as virtually a given, it will be extended without any changes, the Vatican source said.
    Catholics in China are split between a state-backed “official” Church and a “non-official” underground Church that remains loyal to Rome.    Both sides now recognise the pope as supreme leader of the Catholic Church.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

9/16/2020 No Place For ‘LGBT-Free Zones’ In EU, Chief Executive Says by Gabriela Baczynska
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives her first State of the Union speech during
a plenary session of European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium September 16, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s chief executive lashed out against homophobic policies of the nationalist government in Warsaw in saying on Wednesday there was “no place” in the bloc for districts proclaimed “LGBT-free zones” in Poland.
    “LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones.    And they have no place in our (European) Union,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told her annual policy speech to the European Parliament.
    “Breaches of the rule of law cannot be tolerated,” she said.
    Last month, Poland’s justice minister said a town that had lost EU funding over dubbing itself a zone free of “LGBT ideology” would receive government financial support.
    Von der Leyen said the bloc’s executive will soon present “a strategy to strenghten LGBTQI rights” in the bloc, as well as pushing for mutual recognition of family relations in the EU.
    “If you are parent in one country, you are parent in every country,” she said.
    Currently, some countries in the bloc recognise same sex marriage and parenthood, but others do not.
    That leads to situations in which, for example, two women recognised as mothers of their children in Belgium would not be treated the same way in Poland, meaning they would not have the same rights vis-a-vis their children depending on where in the EU they are.
    The Law and Justice (PiS) government in Poland – as well as its eurosceptic ally, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban – have long been at loggerheads with the EU over undercutting democratic standards.
    While both post-communist state benefit from generous EU handouts, their rulers have come under pressure for putting courts and judges, media and academics, non-government organisations and rights groups under direct government control.
    The bloc’s 27 EU affairs ministers will discuss the matter again in Brussels next Tuesday, though no decisions are expected and the bloc has so far all but failed to prevent Warsaw or Budapest from backsliding on the rule of law.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska)

9/16/2020 Polish Ruling Party Faces Internal Struggle Over LGBT, Women’s Rights by Joanna Plucinska
FILE PHOTO: Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks during a news conference at a summit of the Visegrad
Group (V4) countries in Warsaw, Poland July 3, 2020. Dawid Zuchowicz/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS/File Photo
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is resisting efforts by ultra-conservatives in the ruling coalition to step up a government crackdown on LGBT and women’s rights, wary of further hurting ties with the European Union, government sources say.
    The Law and Justice (PiS) government angered Brussels by using language during the campaign for a presidential election in July which critics said fomented homophobia.
    That worsened already deep tensions with the European Commission over government policies which the EU executive says subvert democracy, including attempts to curb the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
    With no election due for three years, the coalition wants to use the period to expand its ageing voter base.    But, at a time of economic difficulties exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, it is divided over how to do so, senior officials say.
    How the debate is resolved will help determine whether the nationalist coalition can avoid more open confrontation with the European Commission, which would risk Poland facing potential penalties.
    PiS’ head Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the final arbiter of government policy, says Western values, and specifically “LGBT ideology,” should be avoided in Poland to preserve its traditional, Christian culture.
    One wing of the coalition wants those beliefs to be defended through more specific actions.    More moderate forces want to avoid antagonising Brussels.
    Officials close to Morawiecki say Poland should be more pragmatic about relations with its EU partners as it faces pressure and possible loss of funds over its adherence to the rule of law.
    “We don’t need another front,” one coalition official said.
    At the heart of internal coalition tensions is Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, the architect of government reforms of the judiciary which the EU says politicise courts, the government sources said.
    Ziobro, who heads a small ultra-conservative party allied with PiS, has said gay marriage should be banned outright and that Poland should leave the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women, the government sources said.
    At Ziobro’s request, a Polish town that declared itself free of “LGBT ideology,” prompting the EU to reject a town-twinning application, received compensation for the loss of EU funds it would have received if the project had gone ahead.
    Since an election to the European Parliament in May last year, about 100 Polish municipalities have signed similar declarations.    This has fuelled concern in Brussels although they appear not to have been followed by legislation to discriminate against LGBT residents.
    For Ziobro, governing based on identity politics is the only way to maintain a steady support base.
    An official in Ziobro’s United Poland grouping rejected the more liberal path taken by governing parties in Europe such as Germany’s Christian Democrat Union which “has nothing to do with conservatism anymore and is unacceptable.”
    “We want to go on our central European path that protects, not only defensively, but offensively builds the strength of the family, strengthens our national traditions,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen laid out the risks of such a stance on Wednesday in a speech to the European Parliament.
    “LGBTQI-free zones are humanity-free zones.    And they have no place in our (European) Union,” she said, using the abbreviation for LGBT, questioning or intersex people.
    Morawiecki has blocked Ziobro’s call to leave the Istanbul Convention, and some officials are reluctant to back other moves that might antagonise Brussels such as limiting foreign ownership in the media sector, the government sources said.
    Divisions in the coalition could come more out into the open in the coming weeks, when the government is expected to release details of its new strategy and legislative programme including reducing the number of ministries.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska, Editing by Justyna Pawlak and Timothy Heritage)

9/16/2020 CatholicVote Launches $9.7M Campaign Against Joe Biden by OAN Newsroom
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden walks on a tarmac before boarding a plane at Tampa International
Airport in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Biden is en route to Kissimmee, Fla., for a campaign event. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    A group of Catholic voters launched a $9.7 million campaign against Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden.
    In a statement on Tuesday, the group CatholicVote called out Biden’s record on religious issues by stating it’s clear he will not protect their values.    The group specifically cited the former vice president’s stance in favor of abortion as well as his record on education and religious liberty.
    As part of its effort against Biden’s campaign, CatholicVote is launching a digital ad campaign in swing states ahead of November’s election.    This includes the states of Pennsylvania and Michigan.
    Meanwhile, the group reportedly plans to send out a summary of Biden’s anti-Catholic agenda to 5 million potential voters in the coming months.
[It looks like some of the Catholics have WOKE up to the sins that the Democrats are promoting for our future and I applaud them for seeing the truth.].

9/22/2020 Vatican Officials Defend Accord With China After Pompeo Criticism by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: The Chinese national flag flies in front of a Catholic church in the village of Huangtugang, Hebei province, China, September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Vatican officials have defended their intention to renew an accord with Beijing that gives the pope say over the appointment of Chinese bishops, following a highly unusual public call from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to abandon it.
    In a series of Tweets and an editorial in a conservative U.S. Catholic journal published on Saturday, Pompeo said the Vatican should not renew the agreement, which was signed two years ago and expires next month.
    “The Vatican endangers its moral authority, should it renew the deal,” Pompeo Tweeted.
    Three senior Vatican officials who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity said the Holy See was taken aback by the comments by Pompeo, who is due to visit the Vatican at the end of this month.
    Pope Francis has signed off on a two-year extension of the agreement with Beijing, which allows the pope final say over the appointment of bishops in China and also permits Chinese Catholics to recognise him as leader of the universal Church.
    Before the deal, the state-backed official Catholic Church in China was barred from recognising the authority of Rome, while an underground, unofficial Church continued to do so.
    Some conservative critics have condemned the deal as a sell-out to the communist government.    President Donald Trump, who faces re-election in November, has campaigned on his willingness to take a tough line with China, and also has support among conservative Christians who have clashed with the pope.
    In a Tweet, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia, criticised Pompeo’s comments as an “attempt to pressgang the Holy See into a questionable domestic political/electoral agenda playing itself out on the international stage.”
    Pompeo said that since the Vatican’s deal with Beijing was reached, the conditions for Christians in China had worsened.
    “Now, more than ever, the Chinese people need the Vatican’s moral witness and authority in support of China’s religious believers,” he said in an editorial in First Things journal.
    In a clear comparison between Francis and Pope John Paul II, a hero to conservatives, Pompeo said the Church had inspired movements in Communist Eastern Europe that helped bring down the Berlin Wall in 1989.
    “That same power of moral witness should be deployed today with respect to the Chinese Communist Party.”
    One of the senior Vatican sources said the Holy See was “surprised” about Pompeo’s intervention, given his coming visit.
    “This is not a normal way to go about setting an agenda.    Normally between ministries you have confidential exchanges to determine what is going to be on the agenda.”
    The Vatican had spoken to U.S. officials about the comments but was not planning to make a public comment about it, one of the sources said.
    The journal in which the editorial appeared has been highly critical of Pope Francis.    Last year, its editor wrote a long commentary titled “A Failing Papacy.”br>     The three Vatican officials said the China deal was not perfect but gives the Vatican a direct channel for dialogue with Beijing after a break of nearly 70 years.
    “Maintaining dialogue is one of the few, if not the only, tool of maintaining direct relations with China,” one said.
    In response to Pompeo’s suggestion that the Vatican should take a tougher line, another one of the officials said: “We can make grandiose statements, but there is no indication that it will have any effect, except possibly making the situation worse for our Catholics on the ground.”
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Peter Graff)

9/24/2020 EU Chief Executive Decries ‘LGBT-Free Zones’ In Swipe At Poland by Gabriela Baczynska
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen walks during her first State of the Union address at a plenary
session of European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium September 16, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s chief executive said on Wednesday there was no place in the bloc for so-called “LGBT-free zones,” a pointed criticism of Poland’s nationalist government pushing to curb the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
    “LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones. And they have no place in our (European) Union,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told her annual policy speech to the European Parliament.
Breaches of the rule of law cannot be tolerated,” she said.
    Last month, Poland’s justice minister said a town that had lost EU funding after dubbing itself a zone free of “LGBT ideology” would receive government financial support.
    Von der Leyen said the bloc’s executive will soon present “a strategy to strengthen LGBTQI rights” in the bloc, as well as pushing for mutual recognition of family relations in the EU.
    “If you are parent in one country, you are parent in every country,” she said.     That leads to situations in which, for example, two women recognised as mothers of their children in France would not be treated the same way in Poland, meaning they would not have the same rights depending on where in the EU they are.
    The Law and Justice (PiS) government in Poland – as well as its eurosceptic ally, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban – have long been at loggerheads with the EU over undercutting democratic standards.
    While both post-communist states benefit from generous EU handouts, their rulers have come under pressure for putting courts and judges, media and academics, non-government organisations and rights groups under direct government control.
    The bloc’s 27 EU affairs ministers will discuss the matter again in Brussels next Tuesday, though no decisions are expected and the bloc has so far all but failed to prevent Warsaw or Budapest from backsliding on the rule of law.
    The bloc’s one-trillion euro next joint budget for 2021-27, and a linked new economic recovery fund worth a further 750 bilion euros to help repair economic damage done by coronavirus, will make access to EU money conditional on democratic values.
    However, the exact details of any such new scheme are not yet clear, with the European Parliament pushing for tough conditions while     Warsaw and Budapest threaten to veto anything that would threaten their benefits.
    The question is set to dominate this autumn’s political agenda in the bloc, which needs an agreement on the money-for-democracy mechanism if it is to unlock hundreds of billions worth of spending as sought by those EU countries like Spain and Italy that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
    Von der Leyen also criticised the appearance of anti-Semitic carnival effigies, a regular occurrence in places like Belgium, where the renowned Aalst parade has faced withdrawal from the United Nation’s list of recognized cultural events over accusations of racism and anti-Semitism.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by William Maclean)

9/24/2020 Key Vatican Cardinal Caught Up In Real Estate Scandal Resigns Suddenly by Philip Pullella
FILE PHOTO: New cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu of Italy is seen during a consistory ceremony to install
14 new cardinals in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, June 28 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A powerful Vatican cardinal caught up in a real estate scandal resigned suddenly on Thursday and gave up his right to take part in an eventual conclave to elect a pope, in one of the most mysterious episodes to hit the Holy See in years.
    A brief statement, issued unusually in the evening, said that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, head of the department that decides who will be the saints of the Roman Catholic Church.
    But perhaps more significantly, the statement said the Becciu, 72, had “given up the rights associated with being a cardinal
    The one-line statement gave no details but the most important right of Roman Catholic cardinals under 80, as is Becciu, is to take part in a conclave to elect a new pope after the current pope dies or>     The relinquishing of that right indicated that the reason for Becciu’s resignation was particularly serious.
    The last cardinal to give up that right was Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland, who resigned over a sex scandal in 2013.
    Becciu was until 2018 deputy secretary of state, one of the most powerful positions in the Vatican.
    During his tenure in that office the Vatican became embroiled in a controversial deal in which the Secretariat of State used Church money to purchase a luxury building in London as an investment.
    That investigation led to the suspension last year of five Vatican employees, the resignation of the Vatican’s police chief and the departure of the former head of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF).
    Becciu has denied all wrongdoing in the London property deal and defended the purchase, saying the property has increased in value.
    In June, Vatican police arrested Gianluigi Torzi, an Italian middleman who was part of a controversial deal, and charged him with extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and money laundering, the Vatican press office said in a statement.
    He was later released but the investigation is continuing.    Vatican sources said they expected Vatican magistrates to hand down indictments soon.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

9/25/2020 Poor Should Get Covid-19 Vaccine First, Pope Francis Says
FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis greets faithful as he leaves after the weekly general audience at the Vatican, September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The poor and weakest members of society should get preferential treatment when a vaccine for the coronavirus is ready, Pope Francis told the United Nations on Friday.
    Speaking from the Vatican in a video address to the U.N. General Assembly, Francis said the worldwide pandemic had highlighted the urgent need to promote public health and ensure access to vaccines.
    “If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources,” he said.
    Francis has said rich countries should not hoard a coronavirus vaccine and the World Health Organization has warned against “vaccine nationalism”, urging countries to join a global pact to share vaccine hopefuls with developing countries.     More than 150 vaccines are in development, about two dozen are in human studies and a handful are in late-stage trials.     In other parts of his address, he repeated calls for rich countries to reduce or forgive debts that are burdening poor countries.
    He called for changes in economic and financial institutions so they can better “respond to the rapidly growing inequality between the super-rich and the permanently poor.”
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

9/25/2020 Fired Cardinal Denies Wrongdoing, Says Ready To Give Life For Pope by Philip Pullella
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who has been caught up in a real estate scandal, speaks to the media a day after he resigned suddenly and gave up his right
to take part in an eventual conclave to elect a pope, near the Vatican, in Rome, Italy, September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – An Italian cardinal fired from his powerful Vatican post said on Friday Pope Francis had accused him of embezzlement and nepotism, but he denied wrongdoing and said he was still ready to lay down his life for the pontiff.
    Speaking to reporters the day after his shock ousting, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, a key mover and shaker in the Vatican hierarchy, said he had had a “surreal” meeting with the pope on Thursday night when he was sacked.
    “I was white in the face. Certainly it was not a good moment.    It was like a bolt out of the blue,” Becciu said.    “He (the pope) was suffering when he told me.”
    He was also told he would have to give up his rights as cardinal, including participation in an eventual conclave to elect a new pope.
    Becciu said the pope had told him “I no longer have trust in you
    Becciu has also been caught up in a Vatican scandal about using Church money to invest in a luxury building in London but said that was not the reason he was ordered to resign.
    He acknowledged that in his previous role as deputy secretary of state, which ended in 2018, he had sent 100,000 euros from Peter’s Pence, a fund used for charity, to a diocese in his native Sardinia to be used by a group that helps immigrants and is headed by his brother.
    He also facilitated a contribution of about 300,000 euros from Italy’s bishops conference for the same purpose.     Becciu said he was also accused of nepotism in his previous posts when he was Vatican ambassador in Angola and Cuba.     He said he used the services of another brother, who runs a carpentry business, to do restoration work in both embassies because it was difficult to find qualified workers and good material in those places. He said he had not tried to enrich his family.
    “I am stunned. This is all surreal to me.    This is a misunderstanding.    I am ready to explain everything to the pope.    I have not done anything wrong,” he said.
    During his tenure as deputy secretary of state, the Secretariat of State, Vatican purchased a luxury building in London as an investment.
    An investigation into that deal, which involved several middlemen, led to the suspension last year of five Vatican employees, the resignation of the Vatican’s police chief and the departure of the former head of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF).
    Becciu has denied all wrongdoing in the deal and defended the purchase, saying the property has increased in value.
    In June, Vatican police arrested Gianluigi Torzi, an Italian middleman who was part of the London property deal and charged him with extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and money laundering.    He was later released but the investigation is continuing.
(Editing by William Maclean)

9/26/2020 Thousands Gather In Washington, D.C. For Prayer March 2020 by OAN Newsroom
    On Saturday, thousands of conservatives and evangelicals marched on Capitol Hill.    They are calling for a spiritual awakening within the United States.
    The 2020 Prayer March was organized by Reverend Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham.    He encouraged spiritual healing across country in the wake of the recent national unrest.
    Vice President Mike Pence even made an appearance at the beginning of the march.    He praised those who joined in prayer and urged attendees to continue this “great American tradition.”
    “Since the founding of our nation, the American people and our leaders have gone to prayer in challenging times,” he stated.    “President Donald Trump has observed many times that America is a nation of believers, and you’ve proved that again today.”
    The two-hour march was slated to stop and pray at seven spots around Washington, D.C.    It will reportedly end on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
    Organizers have said this march is not meant to be political and noted they are only asking for God to heal the country.

9/28/2020 Transgender inmates housed by identity - Calif. governor signs laws related to LGBTQ issues by Adam Beam, Associated Press
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Saturday requiring California to house transgender inmates in prisons based on their gender identity – but only if the state does not have “management or security concerns.”
    The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation houses men and women in separate facilities.    Transgender inmates are often housed based on their sex assigned at birth. Advocates say this is dangerous, particularly for transgender women housed in facilities for men.
    The law Newsom signed Saturday says officers must ask inmates privately if they identify as transgender, nonbinary or intersex. Those inmates can then request to be placed in a facility that houses either men or women.
    The law says the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation cannot deny those requests solely because of inmates’ anatomy, sexual orientation or “a factor present” among other inmates at the facility.
    But the state can deny those requests if it has “management or security concerns.”    If a request is denied, the state must give the inmate a written statement explaining the decision and give the inmate a “meaningful opportunity” to object.
    Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who authored the bill, said he doesn’t expect that exception to be used very often.
    “It’s just a false narrative about transgender people and about transgender women in particular that they’re somehow not really women and are just trying to scam their way into women’s bathrooms or facilities in order to do bad things,” Wiener said.
    “Overwhelmingly the people who are being victimized are trans people.”
    “It means a lot to me and my sisters,” said Michelle Calvin, a transgender woman incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison who recently called in to a news conference about the bill.    “I’ve been in for 15 years.    I’ve been through the abuse, I’ve been through the disrespect of staff not addressing me for who I am because I am a woman.”
    Connecticut passed a similar law in 2018.    Rhode Island, New York City and Massachusetts have also housed inmates based on their gender identity.
    The law also requires officers to address transgender inmates based on the pronouns of their choice.    And it requires officers to search inmates based on the search policy of their gender identity.
    The law was one of several LGBTQ related laws Newsom signed on Saturday.    He signed a law requiring public health officers to better track how diseases are affecting the LGBTQ community and one to ban life and disability insurance companies from denying coverage because someone is HIV positive.
    And Newsom signed a law that sets up a Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund to provide grants to organizations that back the transgender community.
A new Caiifornia law requires prisons, including San Quentin State Prison,
to house transgender inmates based on their gender identity. ERIC RISBERG/AP

9/30/2020 Secy. Pompeo Visits Italy To Discuss Defense Of International Religious Freedom by OAN Newsroom
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers his speech during the “Advancing and Defending International Religious
Freedom Through Diplomacy” symposium, in Rome, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Pool Photo via AP)
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Italy to discuss the defense of international religious freedom.    He delivered remarks during the Holy See Symposium at the U.S. Embassy Wednesday.
    While addressing those in attendance, the secretary called on all leaders of faith to confront religious persecution, especially in Iraq, North Korea and Cuba.
    Pompeo went on to urge the Vatican, once again, to scrap its two-year bilateral pact with China and warned about the looming communist threat.
    “Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today,” he stated.    “That’s because as with all communist regimes, the Chinese Communist Party deems itself the ultimate moral authority and the increasingly repressive CCP (Chinese Communist Party), frightened by its own lack of democratic legitimacy, works day and night to snuff out the lamp of freedom, especially religious freedom, on a horrifying scale.”
    Pompeo is set to speak with his Italian counterpart at the Vatican on Thursday.

9/30/2020 Pompeo, In Rome, Pushes Criticism Of Religious Freedom In China
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks at Holy See Symposium on Advancing and Defending
Religious Freedom through Diplomacy, in Rome, Italy, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/Pool
    ROME (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attacked China’s record on religious freedom on Wednesday, during a visit to Rome that has been overshadowed by his criticism of the Vatican for pursuing closer ties with Beijing.
    “Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than in China,” Pompeo told a symposium hosted by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, saying the Chinese Communist Party was looking to “to snuff out the lamp of freedom … on a horrifying scale.”
    Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who has portrayed himself as a champion of religious rights, denounced Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority, and said all religious groups faced repression.
    The Chinese Communist Party has battered every religious community in China, Protestant house churches, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees and more.    Nor of course have Catholics been spared this wave of repression,” he said.
    China has consistently defended its human rights record and has denied any mistreatment of Uighurs.
    Vatican officials expressed surprise last week when, ahead of his planned visit to Rome, Pompeo published an essay in a conservative Catholic magazine that sharply criticised the Holy See for plans to renew a two-year-old agreement with Beijing.
    Pompeo said the deal, which gives the pope some say over the appointment of Chinese bishops, endangers the Vatican’s moral authority.    Vatican officials say that while the arrangement is not perfect, it is an improvement after decades during which Chinese Catholics who recognise the pope were forced underground.
    The administration of President Donald Trump has made its hard line on China a central issue in the campaign for the Nov. 3 presidential election.    Trump is also strongly aligned with conservative Protestant and Catholic movements, including some that are openly critical of Pope Francis.
    Pompeo is due to hold talks on Thursday with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s top diplomat.    Pope Francis saw Pompeo when he came to Italy last year but no such meeting is scheduled this time around.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Peter Graff)
[Of course the Pope is going with the European Union and Globalist and they do not want to piss off the Chinese.].

9/30/2020 Ex-Vatican Treasurer Pell Heads Back To Rome From Australia
Former Vatican treasurer George Pell arrives after travelling for first time since he was acquitted of child
sex abuse charges in Australia, at Rome's Fiumicino Airport, September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Former Vatican treasurer George Pell is traveling to Rome this week for the first time since he was acquitted of child sex abuse charges in Australia, a Catholic church spokeswoman confirmed on Monday.
    Pell left Rome in July 2017 to face charges for sexually assaulting two choirboys in the late 1990s.    He was convicted in December 2018 and served just over a year in jail before Australia’s High Court overturned the conviction in April.
    The 79-year-old cardinal has been living in Sydney since his release.
    “He always intended to return to Rome,” said Katrina Lee, Pell’s close friend who is an executive adviser to the Archdiocese of Sydney.
    She confirmed a report in the Herald Sun newspaper which said Pell was flying to Rome on Tuesday, but said she did not know how long he was going for or the aim of the trip.
    When he left Rome in 2017, Pell was head of the Vatican’s Secretariat of the Economy which was working on cleaning up the church’s vast finances and eliminating abuse.
    His trip to Rome comes just days after a powerful Vatican cardinal, Giovanni Becciu, was fired after Pope Francis accused him of embezzlement and nepotism.
    Pell and Becciu were at odds over reform of the Vatican’s accounts.
    In a statement sent to the Catholic News Agency on Sept 26, Pell said: “The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances. He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments.”
    “I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria,” Pell said.    He was charged with child sex abuse in the Australian state of Victoria.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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