On September 29, 1995, a Washington jury ordered the Cult Awareness Network and three of its leading members (including its leading spokesman and “deprogrammer” Rick Ross) to pay $4,875,000 in damages to a member of a Pentecostal church who suffered a failed violent deprogramming by Ross in 1991. The court found that in kidnapping then 18-year-old Jason Scott and holding him for five days against his will in an effort to force him to leave his church, the defendents had violated Scott’s civil rights to freedom of religion. The client’s attorney, Kendrick Moxon, believes that the decision will help curb future violent attacks against other religious minorities.
Bruce Babbitt, secretary of the interior, has been making repeated ill-informed attacks on the “Judeo-Christian tradition” and the Catholic Church for being “silent on our moral obligation to nature.” This silence, Babbitt charges, “implicitly sanctioned the prevailing view of the earth as something to be used and disposed however we saw fit, without any higher obligation.” Babbitt, who is Catholic, credits North American “priests of the snake clan” for awakening his respect for the environment. As William Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights bluntly puts it, Babbitt “ought to avail himself of a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.” Were Babbitt to familiarize himself as thoroughly with the section on the Seventh Commandment as he has with the teachings of the snake clan, he might find the following: “Use of mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings created by the Creator is not absolute.”
As ill-advised as Babbitt’s comments were, they appear positively sage when one considers advice columnist Ann Landers’s recent description of His Holiness Pope John Paul II as an “anti-woman” Polack. Although she later apologized, one wonders what got into her tea that morning.
The Midwest G. K. Chesterton Society sponsors an annual conference to both promote and discuss the writings of the great Catholic apologist, novelist, and truth-teller. Past conferences have featured talks by Robert Royal and Father James V. Schall—no strangers to CRISIS readers—among many other luminaries. This year’s meeting will take place June 27-29 in Milwaukee’s Cousins Center. For further information, contact Mr. John Peterson, 740 Spruce Road, Barrington, Ill. 60010, 708-381-4584.
The International Catholic Correspondence Organization seeks to facilitate contact, friendship, and understanding among Catholics across the globe through the establishment of a network of penpals. Founded in the rubble of post-World War II Europe with the immediate object of reconciling France and Germany, ICCO has expanded to include overseas contact as well. Few Americans currently participate, a problem the group’s founder Adolf Lang is seeking to redress. Those interested in additional information should write ICCO at D-66798 Wallerfangen, Veilchenweg 2, Germany.
A true success story: Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network, launched in 1981 from a prosaic garage studio at Our Lady of the Angels Franciscan Monastery in Irondale, Alabama, originally reached 3,000 cable-equipped homes. Fifteen years later, EWTN reaches 37 million homes in the U.S. alone, every day, all day!
The Vatican Museums received nearly 3 million visitors in 1995, setting a record for attendance. The museums have produced a series of CD-ROMs that will allow even greater access to their riches in the near future. While the experience of a CD-ROM is not the same thing as, well, being there, the refined technology of the computer will allow closer and more relaxed viewing, providing the Vatican with an opportunity to explain the significance—both religious and artistic—of the various masterworks in its possession. The disks will be available in America soon, perhaps as soon as Easter.
The federally funded Legal Services Corporation (LSC), under fire from congressional Republicans, will have its $400 million budget cut for 1996, perhaps by as much as one third. House Budget Chairman John Kasich (R-Ohio) would like to go further, and phase out all funds for the controversial agency over three years. LSC funds 323 private groups whose mission, ostensibly, is to provide legal help for poor individuals in civil, noncriminal cases. Sadly, too many of the grantees are highly ideological and litigate on behalf of a panoply of political and social causes, including pro-abortion and radical gay rights agendas. As Peter Flaherty, president of the Washington-based National Legal and Policy Center, stresses, “It is unfair to tax Catholics and other believers to pay lawyers to file lawsuits to challenge their beliefs. If antifamily activists want to promote their agenda in the courts, they should pay for the litigation themselves.” NLPC has a significant amount of material on LSC efforts to undermine the family. Contact them at 8321 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 270, Vienna, Va. 22182, 703-847-3088.
New City Press has published the latest in its series of newly translated texts by St. Augustine, Arianism and Other Heresies. For more information call 1-800-462-5980.