Person of the year: Pope Francis

He has put helping the poor, social justice, common decency and challenging income inequality back where they belong: on the front pages and center stage in our national and global dialogue.


Separation of church and state

The lobby in the building where I live is decorated annually with Christmas props that I wouldn’t have in my home. Some Jewish residents asked the building managers to add Hanukkah paraphernalia. I don't like that idea either. I wish folks of all religions would do their holiday homage privately.


Praying in public

There are few values in our Constitution that are not relativistic, especially in the Bill of Rights. Terms such as “cruel and unusual,” “due process of law," “unreasonable search and seizure,” or “excessive” fines or bail — concepts like these are inherently subject to interpretation and debate. 

But the Supreme Court’s venerable standard of a wall between church and state in the First Amendment is clear and definite: the two should be separate. Any incursion is like being a little pregnant: There ain’t no such thing.


Pope Francis clears Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII for sainthood

Pope Francis, the world's great voice for the poor and a major champion of financial reform, has cleared for sainthood Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII in a move that will thrill Catholics and many others around the world.

While commenting on sainthood is above my pay grade as a columnist, I join others in being thrilled about the honors Francis has granted to the two former popes and I applaud the reforms of the Vatican Bank that he is implementing.


Pope Benedict XVI accepts term limits

This is neither the time nor the place to discuss theology, but I want to offer a standing ovation to Pope Benedict on the matter of his resigning the papacy and putting the interests of his church, his faith and his parishioners above his own position and status.


The beginning of the end

It's funny, I woke up this morning with the thought of Armageddon and spent a while mentally composing my last memo to God — just in case. If the Mayans are wrong, I'll remain here to fight the cause of values and virtues that built this once-great nation. If they are right … then vaya con dios, to all my friends.

Well, Dec. 21, 2012 continues and we're still here, for now. However, the seeds are in place for the destruction of our society and our world as we know it today. The United States of America is the most powerful nation that the world has ever known and its military overthrow would be nearly impossible. It can, however, be destroyed financially, and morally.


Big-business religion, from the pulpit to the cemetery

Corporations and parishioners are increasingly coming together to spread the word of God and make money. All across the country, churches — once intimate places of spiritual interconnectedness — have been replaced by stadiums of worship that utilize advanced technological innovations to awe, edify and rip off those in attendance.

The jig goes something like this: Corporations underwrite the construction of vast religious complexes that awe people into regular attendance. The preacher's image is projected onto a big screen. His calm baritone is beamed out by state-of-the-art speakers. From all sides, his voice fills the room. The seats shake as he gives expression to the word of God.


In God we trust?

Isn't it interesting that almost all presidents end their speeches with the phrase “May God bless America”? Whenever there's a natural disaster or crisis in one's family or life, we always talk about the need to pray. However, when things are going well, we forget about God and we frequently forget about godly principles. It is interesting to note that during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, our nation was about to split apart due to political differences when the elder statesman Benjamin Franklin proposed a unique solution before the assembly.

He said, “Gentlemen, during the Revolutionary War every other phrase out of our mouths involved a request for God's help which we obviously received. Now we barely speak his name. We need to get down on our knees immediately and ask for God's guidance.” The entire assembly immediately knelt and prayed. When they arose, they put together a 16-and-one-third page document known as the Constitution of the United States.


The Mormon issue

One in six Americans believe the president is a Muslim, despite his repeated assertions that he is a Christian. And 36 percent of Americans do not believe Mormons are Christians. Pockets of the Deep South, where Obama is deeply unpopular, are home to some of the strongest anti-Mormon sentiment in the country. More than half the Republicans in Mississippi believe Mormonism is a cult. And you should hear what they say about President Obama.

Mitt Romney, who is running a risk-averse campaign with a real shot at winning the presidency, has chosen not to talk about his religion. So far, the Obama campaign has stayed away from the topic — this week, when Bill Maher called Mormonism a cult, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said attacking Romney's religion was "not fair game."


Government, fix God’s mistakes

Democrats take their complaints with God to the altar of government.

To say that it is not “fair” that someone live in poverty while others are wealthy, or, to use a more melodramatic example from Nancy Pelosi, that “women die on the floor,” is a complaint to God; it is to ask for a theodicy.