Archive for Religion

Guns for Groceries a new twist on ineffective gun buybacks

shoprite-gun-buyback

The above event was held Saturday in Baltimore and Carrie Wells of The Baltimore Sun reported on it.

Here’s a quick summary of this post with the full details below it:

  • A gun buyback organized by UpLift Solutions was held this past weekend.
  • Most of the guns turned in were old and rusty guns turned in by law abiding citizens – so guns weren’t really taken off the street.
  • ShopRite gift cards worth $100 were given for each gun turned in.
  • UpLift Solutions is a nonprofit closely tied to ShopRite and funded by the owner of ShopRite stores in other states.
  • The local ShopRite owners and UpLift Solutions are building a new store in the neighborhood.
  • The new store received over $14 million in tax credits (total cost was $20 million) to build the store.
  • Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is anti-gun, sponsored the buyback and also lobbied for the store’s construction.
  • Marshall Klein, COO of local owner Klein’s ShopRite, is a political donor to anti-gun Democrats including Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Brian Frosh.

Here’s what Michael Basher, of UpLift Solutions, told Wells about the event:

This always gets a lot of guns off the streets and keeps the streets a little safer.

Wells only identified Basher as “director of a community development nonprofit connected to ShopRite.” I found the name of that nonprofit via Google and later WBAL-TV, which didn’t interview Basher, also identified the group in their report.

Radio station 92Q was broadcasting at the event, which was held at New All Saints Catholic Church.

Here’s a picture from the event from the WBAL story. Note the type of firearms shown.

gun-buyback

Carrie Wells noted that:

They came with .22-caliber rifles wrapped in trash bags, Saturday night special handguns, rusted shotguns handed down from grandparents. A crowd of dozens lined up by 10 a.m. Saturday at a Northwest Baltimore church parking lot, most with gray hair and some leaning on canes or using hearing aides.

[...]

Many were skeptical that the gun buyback event would achieve organizers’ goal of reducing city crime, though they were pleased to get something of value for guns that in many cases hadn’t been fired in years or decades.

Jakiba Henderson told Wells that she didn’t know what kind of gun she was trading in and that it belonged to her recently departed grandfather. Henderson also said:

“The people who are committing the crimes aren’t turning in their guns, and their guns are probably illegal,” she said. “It’s more people like us who have guns sitting around the house,” who are turning them in.

More from the Wells article in The Sun:

Willie Gregory, 70, said he bought his .22-caliber rifle about 40 years ago for his children to use for target practice. The gun hadn’t been used in about that long. “They weren’t interested,” Gregory said.

Richard McCormick, 72, also had a .22-caliber rifle he wasn’t using anymore, though he said he had other guns at home. He said he wasn’t worried about thieves breaking in and stealing the guns.

If you watch the video accompanying the Sun story, Marshall Klein (COO of Klein’s ShopRite) is interviewed and talks about how great the buyback is.

The Sun story also mentions that organizers ran off people outside who were trying to buy the guns to keep them from being destroyed. If those people were on public sidewalks, I have some concerns about that.

The WBAL-TV story quoted a police official:

“It’s good for the community. People have guns that they keep in their homes for a number of years and if they were to have a break-in or somebody were to find that gun, then that’s another gun on the street that we have to combat and guard the citizens against,” said Marc Partee, district commander of Northwest District.

There has been at least one gun buyback at New All Saints Catholic Church reported on in the past. What was missing in the past was ShopRite gift cards. Coincidentally enough, ShopRite is opening a new store in the neighborhood. Recent church bulletins have pointed out that the store was hiring and preference was being given to people in the neighborhood. (An aside for Catholic readers: there is no evidence of any sort of pro-life ministry at this parish via their bulletins, website, or a Google search. However, they do have liturgical dance, which is not allowed.)

A story in Tuesday’s edition of The Baltimore Sun noted that the construction of the store itself is a joint venture between UpLift Solutions and Klein’s ShopRite. The story also notes that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had been lobbying for a store in the neighborhood. The store will sell fresh produce and will also cater to Muslims in the area with halal-certified meat.

The store received tax credits equal to almost 2/3 of constructing and stocking it:

Tax credits played a major role in ShopRite’s move to Howard Park. The breaks helped fund the estimated $20 million cost of building and stocking the store.

The Reinvestment Fund, a national backer of low-income neighborhood projects, together with First National Bank contributed $14.65 million in capital through the federal New Markets Tax Credit program, which is designed to attract investors to low-income communities.

UpLift Solutions is headquartered in a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia. In fact, UpLift shares an address with Brown’s Super Stores, Inc. (the owner of Brown’s ShopRite – which is celebrating the end of Ramadan right now.)  The Chairman of the Board of UpLift Solutions is Jeffrey Brown, who is also the CEO of Brown’s Super Stores. His wife is also a board member. Other board members include developers, lawyers, bankers, and others.

Mike Basher, the Director of Community Development at UpLift quoted in the buyback article, is a career grocery executive who worked for Brown’s and was made the head of the nonprofit when it was launched. Among his duties, Basher oversees the “Guns for Goods” program in various locations.

UpLift’s’ total revenue for 2013 was over $1.3 million.  It would appear that a great deal of that revenue came from Brown’s. UpLift spent $1.1 million of that, including over $156,000  (around 14% of their total expenditures) in pay to Michael Basher. You can read UpLift Solutions’ Form 990 tax filings for yourself.

As noted above, Marshall Klein is the COO of Klein’s ShopRite which owns the Maryland locations for ShopRite. Klein has given political contributions to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Brian Frosh, both of whom are anti-gun. He also gave money to Mary Dulany-James, Liam Davis, Doug Duncan, and the failed gubernatorial campaign of David Craig and Jeannie Haddaway.

The public relations game and political gamesmanship detailed by all of the above shows that UpLift Solutions is a very poorly hidden arm of ShopRite itself and the new location going up in the area benefited greatly by government tax benefits while also helping push a pet political cause of its patrons in elected office.

PA children’s home approved to house immigrant children

umc-home

PennLive.com reports:

A local home for children has been asked by the federal government to prepare itself to take in unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who continue to cross over into the United States.

The United Methodist Home for Children in Mechanicsburg has not taken in any children from Central America yet, and it continues to assist children sent to it from the local county courts systems, the group’s Board of Trustees Chairwoman Karen Best said Monday. But the agency has been contacted to prepare itself to provide shelter and care for unaccompanied minors, she said.

The home has been approved to receive an Urgent and Compelling Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide temporary shelter services to unaccompanied children beginning in August, according to the home’s President and CEO David Reed.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is meeting with religious leaders to discuss housing some of the unaccompanied illegal immigrant children in Maryland (via WBAL Radio):

Among those expected at the meeting, officials from Catholic Charities who are asking the federal government for a grant to use St. Vincent’s Villa in Timonium to house 50 children.

The children and teens come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Baltimore County Delegate Wade Kach, who is running for the Baltimore County Council seat that includes Timonium, has written a letter to Archbishop Lori opposing the plan.

Last week, I wrote about the plan by Catholic Charities to house the immigrant children at St. Vincent’s Villa in Timonium, Maryland. I also previously wrote about CASA de Maryland wanting to house the unaccompanied minor immigrants in Maryland.

50 immigrant children could be housed by Catholic Charities in Baltimore

catholic-charities

Catholic Charities of Baltimore has applied to house 50 unaccompanied minors who have illegally entered the United States across the Mexican border. In January, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops estimated that 60,000 unaccompanied minors would cross the border in 2014.

From Catholic Review:

“The federal government has requested proposals from providers who could assist with providing shelter care and support to these youth, many of whom have experienced significant trauma along the way,” Catholic Charities Executive Director William J. McCarthy Jr. wrote in a July 16 letter to the organization’s employees. “With our expertise in providing services as well as residential and other programming for children and youth at St. Vincent’s Villa, we believe that we are well equipped to provide services for this critical need.”

Located in Timonium, St. Vincent’s Villa serves children and youths with emotional and behavioral challenges. McCarthy also pointed to the organization’s 50-year-old Esperanza Center in Fells Point – which provides services to immigrants, many of whom are Latino – as an example of Catholic Charities’ longstanding commitment to the immigrant community.

Esperanza serves more than 5,500 immigrants annually, and has provided assistance to more than 50 unaccompanied minors each month for the past several months, McCarthy said

.The reason given for the application:

In a conversation with the Catholic Review, McCarthy said that housing children in need is something the church has always done, comparing Catholic Charities’ current efforts to the orphanages Catholic organizations ran in the 19th and early 20th centuries for immigrant children, some of whom lost parents during their travel to the United States. 

More information:

Orioles’ Tommy Hunter discusses his Catholic faith

Tommy Hunter
An article in Catholic Review today discusses Tommy Hunter and his recent conversion to Catholicism. Hunter, who grew up a Methodist, recently received his First Communion and Confirmation from Auxiliary Bishop Denis Maden after taking RCIA classes at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Excerpts:

“I think it’s cool,” said the 260-pound, 6-foot-3 blond-haired baseball player as he relaxed in the Orioles dugout this spring. “You have something that you’re held accountable for and I think that’s something that’s benefiting me in my life.

“It’s a little more stability in my life,” he added.

[...]

Hunter met his wife, Ellen, an Ohio native who is Catholic, about three and a half years ago, and cites her for inspiring him to continue in his faith.

“My wife is definitely there to help me out and guide me along the way, which I couldn’t be more thankful for,” he said. “I was a hot mess before I met her.”

They attended Mass at the cathedral, where they connected with Monsignor J. Bruce Jarboe, the parish rector, who contacted Bishop Madden about confirming the baseball player.

Hunter’s wife, who works as an occupational therapist, served as his sponsor.

[...]

“I’ve got some guys on this team who are pretty big believers in faith so it’s easy to be real with people,” Hunter said. “The things we go through, not many other people have to go through, and it’s kind of a unique setting that you get to experience with other guys.”

OKC Civic Center hosting a Satanic Black Mass led by sex offender

okc-civic-center

A group called Dakhma of Angra Mainyu is holding a Black Mass at the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21. The permittee (see the permit at the bottom of this post) for the event is Adam Daniels, a registered sex offender. The Civic Center is owned by the city and funded by a foundation that includes a city government official and the head of a Catholic hospital on its board. The event has been condemned by the Archbishop of Oklahoma City. (I first read about this on Fr. Z’s Blog.)

From the Civic Center’s website:

okc-blackmass

Adam Daniels has connections to Lucien Greaves (a.k.a. Doug Mesner, a.k.a. Adam Misicko), the organizer of the planned Black Mass at Harvard University (which didn’t take place.)

Dawn Eden had more on that at the time:

Moreover, I am not encouraged by the fact that Greaves is close with registered sex offender Adam B. Daniels, who, along with his wife, run a Satanic worship center in Oklahoma. Here is a video interview in which they talk about why they personally submitted the application for Greaves’ Satanic Temple to build a monument to Satan at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Just this week, Daniels told an Oklahoma news stations of his “conversations” with Greaves.

Look up “Adam B. Daniels” in the national sex offender registry and you will see that he was convicted of sexual battery in 2009. The rap sheet notes that he has satanic tattoos all over his body. The court ruled that he had to remain on the registry for life.

In what appears to be some sort of sick joke, the website of Daniels’ Satanic “church” features a “rape awareness” page decorated with images of flowers.

Greaves too has committed criminal sexual activity. He was photographed last year exposing himself upon the grave site of the mother of the Westboro Baptist Church founder as part of what he called a “satanic ritual,” which you can read about here.

Daniels was previously “Dark Overlord” of the Church of the IV Majesties. That group had planned on holding a fake exorcism at the Civic Center in 2010, which Daniels tried to cancel after he was kicked out of that group. It’s not clear if that event ever took place. Here’s what James Hale, a co-founder of that group, said at the time: “We Satanists don’t deal with sex offenders.”

Earlier this year, The Catholic League was critical of the Civic Center for hosting a performance of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” last December.

The League noted:

When it opened in the East Village in New York in 1998, [William] Donohue said, “it sounds like a routine homosexual play: full-frontal male nudity, filthy language, discussions of body parts, butch lesbians, effeminate gay men, ranting about nature, damning God for AIDS, etc.” The play was a flop, never making it to Broadway. In December, the taxpayers, both nationally and in Oklahoma, paid for it.

If you live in Oklahoma City and you’re offended by this, you should contact the Civic Center and other officials and politely let them know about it. Also, if you’re a Catholic elsewhere who is offended you should make sure your opinion is heard.

The Public Information Officer for the Civic Center is Jennifer Lindsey-McClintock. You can email her here or call (405) 297-3882 to let her know your opinion on the matter. The main business office number for the Civic Center is (405) 297-2584. The Civic Center is also on Twitter – @okcciviccenter.

The Board of Directors includes City Councilwoman Meg Salyer of Ward 6. You can call her at (405) 297-2402. Her email address is ward6@okc.gov. She is on Twitter and her handle is @MegForWard6.

Another board member is Joe Hodges of St. Anthony Hospital. The hospital’s mission statement is: “Through our exceptional health care services, we reveal the healing presence of God.” St. Anthony Hospital is part of SSM Healthcare, a Catholic organization which was founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. Hodges is regional vice president for SSM.  You can contact SSM about Mr. Hodges role on the board of the Civic Center by calling (314) 994-7800 or emailing them here. You can also possibly contact Mr. Hodges directly at the hospital by calling (800) 227‑6964 or the main number at (405) 272‑7000.

The Mayor of Oklahoma City, Mick Cornett, might be another good person to contact to express your displeasure. You can reach the Mayor at (405) 297-2424 or email him at mayor@okc.gov. He is on Twitter at @mickcornett.

Read More…

11th Circuit grants injunction in EWTN’s HHS Mandate suit

ewtn

WBRC

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted EWTN a temporary injunction that bars the federal government from imposing a $35,000 a day fine on the network.

EWTN Global Catholic Network is facing either a $35,000 a day or $12 million a year fine for refusing to comply with the Affordable Care Act that mandates employers cover contraceptives for employees.

The deadline to comply with this ACA provision is midnight on Monday, June 30.

While WBRC claims it might not necessarily be related to today’s Supreme Court ruling, the actual order itself from the 11th Circuit (below) starts with the following phrase: “In light of the Supreme Court’s decision today…”

EWTN Injunction

Catholic Bishops’ statement on Hobby Lobby ruling

USCCB

Via USSCB.org:

June 30, 2014

Americans can follow faith in running closely held businesses
Court leaves open whether ‘accommodation’ violates RFRA

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties means “justice has prevailed,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. The Court ruled that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “preventive services” mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as applied to these employers to the extent that it would have forced them to provide insurance coverage for drugs and devices that violate their religious convictions on respect for human life. The statement follows:

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to recognize that Americans can continue to follow their faith when they run a family business. In this case, justice has prevailed, with the Court respecting the rights of the Green and Hahn families to continue to abide by their faith in how they seek their livelihood, without facing devastating fines. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom.

“The Court clearly did not decide whether the so-called ‘accommodation’ violates RFRA when applied to our charities, hospitals and schools, so many of which have challenged it as a burden on their religious exercise. We continue to hope that these great ministries of service, like the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others, will prevail in their cases as well.”

VIDEO: Musicians outside Baltimore Basilica

guitars
Last night, I attended the opening Mass of the 2014 Fortnight for Freedom at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption in downtown Baltimore. These musicians pictured above were playing and singing both before and after the Mass and I shot some video of them that’s embedded below. I’ll have more on the Mass itself later.

Here’s the first video I shot:

Here’s the second video:

Statue of Jesus at Catholic Church beheaded

statue

WCSC in Charleston, SC reports:

A 38-year-old Columbia man is behind bars after destroying the head of a Jesus statue at a church in downtown Charleston.

The Charleston Police Department charged Charles Jeffrey Short with malicious injury to real property.

Around 5:45 a.m. on Sunday, a police officer was flagged down in the area of Huger and King streets by two concerned citizens who reported that a man walking down the street had broken off the head of a statue at the Sacred Heart Catholic church on 888 King St

Short was seen leaving the general area police and they searched his backpack after he reportedly gave consent. Police reported finding a sledgehammer in his backpack and then read Short his rights before he allegedly admitted to it.

More details:

When the officer asked Short if he knew anything about the statue at the Sacred Heart church, Short said,”I think I used a sledge hammer to strike the statue about six or seven times, because the second or first commandment states to not make an image of a male or female to be on display to the public.”

The officer reported he went to the church, examined the statue and saw visible damage to the head.  A police report states that the head “was completely demolished off the statue.”

Interesting that he cites the Ten Commandments for beheading a statue of Jesus. Why wasn’t he going after every other statue in downtown Charleston?

Is this church ad over the line or just tacky?

tec-ad

The above ad appeared in the Charleston City Paper, an alternative weekly.

The text:

The Virgin Mary Followed by Bloody Marys

The ad then goes on to list several restaurants in the area (Hominy Grill, Fuel, Cafe Lana, & Five Loaves) along with mentioning Spoleto festival venues are nearby. The ad was placed by The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston, which bills itself as an “Anglo-Catholic Episcopal Church.”

Reactions I heard from various people who saw the ad ranged from “tacky” to “over the line” to “seriously pushing it” to laughter. I heard some say it was “way too hip” or “offensive.”  The ad is obviously an attempt to stay relevant and hip and possibly appeal to a younger target demographic. My first thought upon seeing the ad was that they must be struggling with attendance issues. I really wonder if this ad will be effective. The cuteness factor aside, what does the ad say about the “product” being marketed that would make people want to attend church there?

Some background information on the parish reveals that attendance issues may indeed be why the hipper ad was tried. This church is part of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TEC-SC), which remains a part of the The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Communion. There are 27 parishes listed on TEC-SC’s website along with three communities in formation. TEC-SC consists of the churches that remained in TEC after the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina became the fifth diocese to leave in 2012 and joined the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. The path to this departure included opposition to TEC’s decision to open “any ordained ministry” to individuals in same-sex relationships and a later decision that allowed the blessing of same-sex unions. The Episcopal Diocese of SC lists 55 parishes and missions on its website.

As a result of the events described above, Holy Communion had a priest depart and a significant number of parishioners followed him to the newly-formed Corpus Christi Community, which is an Anglican Use Roman Catholic Community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. That community meets at St. Mary of the Annunication Catholic Church, which was the first Catholic church in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia when it was established in 1789.

In addition to parishioners departing to become Catholic, Holy Communion lost a significant number parishioners to other Episcopal parishes. In some cases, it may be people who now attend other TEC-SC parishes who don’t like the Anglo-Catholic nature of Holy Communion. However, I’ve heard many who left, for reasons that might also include an aversion to the parish’s Anglo-Catholic nature, have moved on to churches that are in the Diocese of South Carolina.

My personal view is that the ad focuses too much on brunch and not enough on the Gospel. If the restaurants wanted to advertise in the paper or the church bulletin to try to drum up business, this might be one thing they could try. I’m not sure this is the proper ad for a church to run, but I’m sure others will disagree with me.

One other note: neither the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina nor The Episcopal Church in South Carolina includes the whole state. The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina covers the Midlands and the Upstate.

In contrast to that, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston includes the whole state of South Carolina. Some more back story for my friends reading this in Maryland - before the Diocese of Charleston was formed in 1820, the Catholic Church of the Carolinas and Georgia was part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

On another tangentially-related note, Church Marketing Sucks discussed the Episcopal Ad Project of 1979 in a past blog post.