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Pope Watch: U.S. Catholics Weigh In On Vatican’s Handling of Clergy Sex Abuse

posted by Nicole Neroulias

A new CBS News/New York Times poll reports that U.S. Catholics think the Vatican has done a “poor job” handling the clergy sex abuse scandal, although Pope Benedict’s approval rating is up to 43 percent, compared to 27 percent in March.

The survey also found that 31 percent of Catholics said celibacy is a major factor leading to sexual abuse, only slightly more than the 30 percent who believe the same could be said for homosexuality. Only 17 percent said they believe the all-male priesthood is a major factor in the abuse problem.

For more detailed analysis, check out David Gibson’s column over at Politics Daily:

On the same topic, a Zogby poll slated to be released tomorrow reports that 16 percent of U.S. Catholics think Benedict should resign, compared to 64 percent who think he should remain pontiff. (The rest are in the don’t know/not sure category.)

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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Dan

posted May 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm


It doesn’t surprise me that Catholics aren’t abandoning the Pope. After all most of us know the statics are even worse in other places. – See the quote below. Although even one abuse case is too many, the Catholic Chruch’s zero-tolerance stand has reduced the number of case to only 6 in 2009. – See second link.
, in the authoritative work by Penn State professor Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests, it was determined that between .2 and 1.7 percent of priests are pedophiles. The figure among the Protestant clergy ranges between 2 and 3 percent.
http://www.catholicleague.org/research/abuse_in_social_context.htm
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=529896



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Robert C

posted May 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm


LOL A poll from the New York Times featured on Politics Daily? We couldn’t get more neutral, unbiased opinions unless of course we asked Maureen Dowd and the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), could we?



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David

posted May 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm


The percentage of of sex offending priests is not “.2 and 1.7″ — it is more like 5%. The people who choose to minimize this problem in this way are part of the ongoing problem.



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David

posted May 5, 2010 at 7:03 pm


…398 new victims came forward in 2009 with “credible allegations of sexual abuse” of a minor, down each year from 889 in 2004. They named 286 priests and deacons, 45 percent of whom had not been named before.
Last year, the U.S. church paid out $104 million, including $6.5 million for victims’ therapy, $10.9 million for offenders (including therapy and living expenses) and $28.7 million in lawyers’ fees.
Some advocates for abuse survivors called the survey a sham, noting it relies on data provided by church bodies and participation was not required. Dioceses, eparchies and religious orders were polled, and 15 percent did not complete the survey.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/23/AR2010032304040.html



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Jan Martin

posted May 6, 2010 at 9:06 am


If we, as a country, expressed a no toleration ethic, then when a religion or cult planned to kill hundreds of persons they paid an extreme penalty. We then would send hundreds of their faith back to their country because of safety for others. An extreme penalty that we do as protection of our citizens which our government has agreed to protect. No letting whoever runs across the border be a citizen. My mother which married my father during World War II and came to live in this country,from Australia, an alli and had to take classes to become a US Citizen and now anyone can run across the border with no penalty. IT IS A GRAVE ERROR IN WHICH OUR COUNTRY WILL NEVER RECOVER.!!!!!!! Lax immigration Standards!



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Goodguyex

posted May 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm


The percentage of true pediphiles in the U.S. Catholic priesthood from 1950- 2002 is about 0.3%. The rest of the abusers are homosexual ephebophiles (“hebephiles”) or attracted to teen girls (along with about 15% of the rest of the adult male population).
That being said, I hope that the Vatican deals with the religious orders more than the diocesan priests. That is where some of the worst problems have been. The Legion of Christ is a start. After some time I think the Vatican should take hold of the Jesuits. Reform the seminaries to at least raise the bar on homosexual seminarians. The other orders such as Dominicans and Benedictines can be last.



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Robert C

posted May 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm


“The people who choose to minimize this problem in this way are part of the ongoing problem”
Actually it’s the hateful agnostics who have exaggerated the issue in the MSM and elsewhere who are the real problem. Freedom of the Press does not mean license to attack anything you choose.



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David

posted May 6, 2010 at 6:58 pm


Why the does the age of the victim — whether a six-year-old or a 16-year-old — make any difference here? Sexual abuse is sexual abuse. Why do you choose to minimize that? Obsessing about the percentage of (SIC)”pedifiles” vs. “hebephiles” is pointless, and merely a mind game employed to ease your conscience.



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David

posted May 6, 2010 at 7:01 pm


@Robert C — If it weren’t for the press, and the victims, your children would be even more vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse. Show some damned gratitude.



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Goodguyex

posted May 7, 2010 at 1:01 am


David writes “Obsessing about the percentage of (SIC)”pedifiles” vs. “hebephiles” is pointless, and merely a mind game employed to ease your conscience.”
David, my “conscious” is clear on this issue. I have never had sex with anyone under 21 years old. My wife is 10 years younger than I am and since I am faithful, this is all I “get”.
Maybe your conscious is not clear. Hopefully you are not an active pediphile and therefore not destined for the big-house.
If you are a homosexual man with an attraction to teenage boys (a ephebophile/hebephile) you will probably never go to the big house if you are careful. Boys will be boys. If you are a hebephile attracted to teen girls you will get into trouble eventually if not immediately. However maybe there is some way you can try to combate these faults and fissures.
And in no case of pediphilia, or homosexual or heterosexual ephebophilia should you even remotely consider the Catholic priesthood right now if ever.



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Robert C

posted May 7, 2010 at 2:23 am


Gratitude? Are you serious, dumb or just sufficiently blind to ignore the New York Times piece that used tainted sources, employed an author/correspondent who had a pre-existing relationship with two of her souces and where the primary witness in the case, the canon judge, was never even asked for an interview. This is not an isolated incident. As far as the age of the victim, well there is a difference as to consent between an unknowing six year old and a 16 year old hockey player who may have consented to oral sex, but yet twenty five years later collects a cool million dollar settlement ( actual case ). I have no children. I am a gay man. But if I did I would be less likely to worry about the neighborhood priest than I would a family member, coach or the local scout leader. The people who choose to excessively hyperventilate about this issue are obviously operating with a different intent and a very sharp axe to grind.



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 11:21 am


@Robert C — you don’t understand the nature of sexual abuse. The ability to give consent doesn’t mean it’s not abusive. If a priest is having sex with a parishioner, it’s harmful and it’s abusive. Why does this have to be explained?



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 11:28 am


@Goodguyex — It’s “conscience”, not “conscious”, and it’s “pedophile”, not “pediphile”. Also, I am an advocate for sex abuse victims, not a lurking perp. My point is that just because a victim is pubescent or even older doesn’t mean it’s not abusive. In my state, it’s a CRIME for a pastor to have sex with an ADULT parishioner or counselee, no less than it would be for a therapist or a doctor.



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 11:38 am


@Robert C — yes, GRATITUDE. If it hadn’t been for the victims who came forward despite the rage and contempt show to them by “good Catholics”, and if it had not been for reporters who told their stories, child sex abuse would still be a popular pastime among Catholic clergy.



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Goodguyex

posted May 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm


David: Sexual abuse has not in our time been a popular pastime among Catholic or any clergy; that is a huge overstatement.
I have come to the conclusion that society as a whole is simply not very interested in the issue of the sexual abuse of minors. I think that since we are mainstreaming homosexuality we are more of less on the road to mainstreaming ephebophilia ( a la Socrates). There is just far too much of it to make a general witch hunt out of it. Adolescent boys today are as tall as I am. And remember 120 years ago people were often married at 16 years old. I do not like it but I think we are limited in what we can do.
True pedophiles have to be rooted out of almost all places but these people seem to have a uncanny way of hidding their affiction. So it is not easy. And since there is no “mark of the devil” that distinguishes pedophiles from the rest of us so sometimes some of us go into a witch hunt freenzy about it. The McMartin case is an exampe. And much of this priest-abuse thing has a certain whiff of witch-hunt to it. Maybe soon we will find some way to pre-identify these people so we can keep them away from children.



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm


it is not typical of homosexual adult men or women to prey on teenaged boys and girls, any more than it is typical of well-adjusted heterosexual adults to prey on teens, despite it’s significant presence in popular culture.
A “witch hunt” would involve a myth that is not credible or real. The sexual abuse of children, youth and adults by Catholic clergy and its cover-up is no myth — it’s credible, well-documented and very real. And what we have seen is the tip of an iceberg — one that you don’t seem very willing to acknowledge.



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Goodguyex

posted May 7, 2010 at 1:16 pm


David writes “it is not typical of homosexual adult men or women to prey on teenaged boys and girls, any more than it is typical of well-adjusted heterosexual adults to prey on teens, despite it’s significant presence in popular culture.”
I suppose it all depends upon what the definition of “typical” is.
Don’t worry David, the Catholic priethood is being renewed with a improved caliber of men at this time and the immediate future.
And you and I both know that the complaint that some Catholics make about there being so little interest or media attenton about sexual abuse in other parts of society and this disproportionate attention to priests prevents much being do to improve these other areas will go nowhere because there WILL BE NO IMPROVEMENT in reducing sexual abuse in these other areas (schools, police, sex-abuse ‘advocates’, etc).
But the Catholic Church is different and that is why it is so fascinating to many people, including yourself. It has been trough things like this before and will again.
BTW: a feature of a witch hunt is the presumption of guilt by simple association. And that is no myth.



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 1:38 pm


Ah yes — we should just ignore the cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church because it exists elsewhere in society. Who sounds like a guilty perp now?



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm


“the Catholic Church is different and that is why it is so fascinating to many people, including yourself. It has been trough things like this before and will again”
_______________________________
You’re right — train wrecks are fascinating. And unfortunately, they will continue to go through “things like this” again and again — because the church officials who are given such unquestioned power and influence are unethical, immoral and rotten to the core. Unlike you, I happen to agree with one of those hypocrites, Cardinal Levada: that the Catholic Church should be held to a higher standard.



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Robert C

posted May 7, 2010 at 4:46 pm


Ah Mr, David you mix a good dollop of gobbledygook in with your pabulum I see. First of all, it’s ‘through’ and not ‘trough’. But then again I dislike when someone is so anal retentive that they feel an inner psychological need to correct everyone in sight. Indicates a weak mind, so I’ll refrain. Secondly, if you are assisting the abused beyond the first year or two of their therapy you are not serving them well. Rather than have them wallow in perpetual psychic trauma, better to help guide them toward some resolution of their practiced “woundology”. I suggest reading Caroline Myss’s series of books on ‘woundology’ as a good place to start. You also engage in dialectic about consent. I can assure you that even as a 12 year old boy while attending a catholic summer camp, that it was my unbridled wish and passion to crawl between the legs of Brother Gene who had the sexiest pair of gams I’ve seen to this day. He, of course, never took me up on the quite visible flirtations. Nor did any other cleric in over 16 years of Catholic schooling and service as an altar boy. Then again, it doesn’t quite make itself fashionable in Liberalista-land to even think that there might be other causes, there might be other organizations, there might be a differing way to consider the circumstances. Please take your unrequited gratitude and stick it where the moon don’t shine. I cannot stand the self appointed moralizers who believe that the dawning of the age of abortion and American cultural insipidness warrants a full frontal attack on the Roman church for an all too human problem experienced by every phase of society. If you are not Catholic, the church has absolutely zilch in unquestioned power over you. However I do believe that the abusive money chasing lawyers, the distorting journalists, and the self appointed abuse maniacs are are themselves unethical, immoral and rotten beyond the core. They fail to see the preponderance of good priests and religious who have worked diligently for years for the greater good to no avail. They fail to consider the spiritual needs of common catholics who understand all to well the issues yet feel torn emotionally about how to respond to all the hurtful comments from the totally ignorant. They fail to consider the widespread ramifications of their distortions and money grubbing. Spare me you mock indignation. You and I will never agree on any facet of this issue and I really don’t care.



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 5:25 pm


@Robert C — that was ‘Goodguyex’ who spelled “trough”… which would Indicate *your* weak mind. I accept your apology.
Why do you assume that I’m a therapist? I’m not. Sounds like you’ve had problems with your therapists, but that’s not my fault. And when did it become “liberal” to confront and criticize the system of clergy sex abuse in the Church? Read Leon Podles’ book “Sacrilege” if you want a conservative Catholic’s point of view. There are many, many studies on the nature and the traumatic effects of sex abuse that with which you would do well to educate your antisocial mind. Some of them show that the effects on older children can be more severe and persistent than with small children.
The fact that there are good men and women who serve the Church should not excuse those who have abused children and young people, and it doesn’t exempt the Church from taking care of those they literally f****d up.
“Hurtful comments from the totally ignorant?” I am hardly ignorant, having spent seven unfortunate yet revealing years in Catholic seminaries. Those who feel that “hurt” are the same yahoos who defend their guilty pastors (mirroring their perp-protecting bishops and pastors), because their cowardice prevents them from confronting this disease in their Church — they are afraid that their pope, bishop or pastor will remove their favor with God. That’s the power they give the clergy. You sound suspiciously like the closeted, self-loathing, dysfunctional closet-cases-with-a-Roman-collar that I have known, and who are often sought out to defend the Church from the infidel sex abuse victims.



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm


“self appointed moralizers”
_______________________
…that would be Ratzinger and every other ordained arrogant religious fascist who preach with such glaring hypocrisy.



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David

posted May 7, 2010 at 7:34 pm


The only people who choose to defend the Church related to the sex abuse issue are (loser) clergy, the faithful too cowardly to object, or closeted (clergy) perps.



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Robert C

posted May 7, 2010 at 11:13 pm


There will be no apology to the dim. I never assumed you were a therapist, ( certainly in need of one ) only an opinionated busybody. Seven years and out sounds like a good definition of washing out, with lots of bitter bagage in tow. No wonder your so spiteful. No living Christ there. LMAO, hardly closeted. Very gay, very out, and very perceptive of the ignorant, and seven years in the seminary ( by your own assertions ) doesn’t make you any less so.



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Your Name

posted May 8, 2010 at 3:13 am


David writes “or closeted (clergy) perps.”
Yes, there are still far too many introverted emotionally immature ephebophilic homosexual priests, living a semi-closeted life. I suspect you correctly realized that you should not have gone in that direction, so I applaud your decision.
There are good homosexual priests, mostly in their 40’s and 50’s who are productive and hard-working, and actually tending to be conservative in the most creative way.
However, the homosexualization of the seminaries must and shall come to an end. Pope Benedict has set the direction of this and this will be enforced.



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David

posted May 8, 2010 at 8:44 am


Righhht… The Lead Homosexual, Pope Benedict, will cure the seminaries of The Gay and the Church will once again start acting like a Real Man. That’s harder to believe than the Virgin Birth.
FYI, I left the seminary many years ago to get married — and not to a teenager.



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Robert C

posted May 8, 2010 at 11:13 am


I pity your poor wife. She got the short end of the shitck.



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David

posted May 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm


He’s not a “wife”. He’s all man.



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Robert

posted May 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm


Well that explains it then. Just another bitter, disingenuous queen. Nuff said.



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David

posted May 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm


“Just another bitter, disingenuous queen”
______________________
Hmm, Is this how a “very out” gay man shows personal integrity and pride? No, I believe this is how a self-loathing, dysfunctional closet case maintains his tenuous balance. You’ve got problems.
Exactly how does acknowledging and advocating for clergy sex abuse victims make one a “bitter queen”?



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Robert C

posted May 10, 2010 at 3:06 pm


LMAO. Hardly a closet case. From my very real presence at Stonewall, to being one of the founder’s of one of the 1st gay liberation organizations, to activist roles as a democratic party operative I have been ‘very out’. I’ve learned over the years that attacking something doesn’t nearly serve you as well as productively working for change. You sound like an paper mache, armchair Internet pseudo-advocate blasting the church for past personal transgressions rather than an actual advocate for victims. It is rather disingenuous to me that someones sole modus operendi would be to exclusively vilify an entire hierarchy of a particular church over an issue that is much more widespread and deep seated than you are willing to acknowledge. Your cackling that its’ all the Pope’s fault is not only illogical, its rather puerile. I don’t believe you give two hoots about children or child abuse. Rather I believe you get your cookies off pillorying clerics who treated you badly in the seminary.



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David

posted May 10, 2010 at 6:40 pm


Hmm, an enlightened “gay liberationist” who’s reduced to insulting other gay men with misogynist put-downs. Classy!
I never blamed the Pope for anything. In addition, I acknowledged earlier in this threat that there are many good priests. At the same time, the clerical culture is part of the problem. To assert that there really *isn’t* a problem is ludicrous — kind of like your fantasy uber-gay credentials.



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David

posted May 10, 2010 at 7:01 pm


He he.. “threat”. That would be thread.



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David

posted May 11, 2010 at 5:45 pm


Sam Harris comments on the issue at hand:
Consider the ludicrous ideology that made it possible: The Catholic Church has spent two millennia demonizing human sexuality to a degree unmatched by any other institution, declaring the most basic, healthy, mature, and consensual behaviors taboo. Indeed, this organization still opposes the use of contraception, preferring, instead, that the poorest people on earth be blessed with the largest families and the shortest lives. As a consequence of this hallowed and incorrigible stupidity, the Church has condemned generations of decent people to shame and hypocrisy — or to Neolithic fecundity, poverty, and death by AIDS. Add to this inhumanity the artifice of cloistered celibacy, and you now have an institution — one of the wealthiest on earth — that preferentially attracts pederasts, pedophiles, and sexual sadists into its ranks, promotes them to positions of authority, and grants them privileged access to children. Finally, consider that vast numbers of children will be born out of wedlock, and their unwed mothers vilified, wherever Church teaching holds sway — leading boys and girls by the thousands to be abandoned to Church-run orphanages only to be raped and terrorized by the clergy. Here, in this ghoulish machinery set to whirling through the ages by the opposing winds of shame and sadism, we mortals can finally glimpse how strangely perfect are the ways of the Lord.
In 2009, The Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) investigated such of these events as occurred on Irish soil. Their report runs to 2,600 pages. Having read only an oppressive fraction of this document, I can say that when thinking about the ecclesiastical abuse of children, it is best not to imagine shades of ancient Athens and the blandishments of a “love that dare not speak its name.” Yes, there have surely been polite pederasts in the priesthood, expressing anguished affection for boys who would turn 18 the next morning. But behind these indiscretions there is a continuum of abuse that terminates in utter evil. The scandal in the Catholic Church — one might now safely say the scandal that is the Catholic Church — includes the systematic rape and torture of orphaned and disabled children. Its victims attest to being whipped with belts and sodomized until bloody — sometimes by multiple attackers — and then whipped again and threatened with death and hell fire if they breathed a word about their abuse. And yes, many of the children who were desperate or courageous enough to report these crimes were accused of lying and returned to their tormentors to be raped and tortured again.
The evidence suggests that the misery of these children was facilitated and concealed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church at every level, up to and including the prefrontal cortex of the current Pope. In his former capacity as Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict personally oversaw the Vatican’s response to reports of sexual abuse in the Church. What did this wise and compassionate man do upon learning that his employees were raping children by the thousands? Did he immediately alert the police and ensure that the victims would be protected from further torments? One still dares to imagine such an effulgence of basic human sanity might have been possible, even within the Church. On the contrary, repeated and increasingly desperate complaints of abuse were set aside, witnesses were pressured into silence, bishops were praised for their defiance of secular authority, and offending priests were relocated only to destroy fresh lives in unsuspecting parishes. It is no exaggeration to say that for decades (if not centuries) the Vatican has met the formal definition of a criminal organization, devoted not to gambling, prostitution, drugs, or any other venial sin, but to the sexual enslavement of children.



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Robert C

posted May 12, 2010 at 3:32 pm


Who cares what the self avowed atheist Harris thinks or says? He seeks to replace all religion with his own brand of secular humanism with himself adeptly enthroned as the “new” pope. He is an acknowledged drug abuser and a professional skeptic who is helping to create a vortex of intolerance. he is simply evil. It is inconceivable that the journalistically deprived HuffPo can foster such a opinion while formerly approving the practice of partial birth abortions in the US and then supporting a candidate such as Barack Obama who consistently voted in support of partial birth abortions while a state senator. Support of State sanctioned murder of a viable baby by decapitation places its supporters in a class with Islamic terrorists who decapitate their victims for political shock value. A 2007 article in The Boston Globe reported that, in response to the Supreme Court statute banning the practice, many abortion providers had adopted the alternative practice of injecting the fetus with lethal drugs before all late-term abortions. Typically, a concentrated salt solution is injected directly into the fetal heart using ultrasound to guide the needle. Even though these providers do not perform intact dilation and extraction procedures, they feel the broad wording of the ban compels them “to do all they can to protect themselves and their staff from the possibility of being accused”. These demented vigilantes against the church and all religion, utilize extreme hyperbole disguised as righteousness yet convieniently decompose their own moral compasses in support of policies that they themselves have deemed as acceptable or even desirable. You expect anyone to listen to the rantings of such insane provocateurs commenting on anything ethical or moral while debasing themselves in the disgusting shroud of immaculate moral incorruptability. How vile. I had decided not to comment further here since obviously you insist on continuing this loathsome tit for tat to enhance your own pathetic need for attention and self justification. Well the game is ended. You are evidently firmly ensconced in the camp of anti-religious terrorists where discussion has given way to diatribe. No need to continue to feed the troll.



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David

posted May 12, 2010 at 3:41 pm


@Robert C — You are evidently firmly ensconced in the criminal clergy camp of pro-child-rape, and God knows what else you’re up to. No self-respecting gay person would irrationally defend the Catholic Church as you have or express such hostility to child victims.



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David

posted May 12, 2010 at 3:43 pm


“Who cares what the self avowed atheist Harris thinks or says?”
_______________________
I do, and I’m hardly alone. He’s a successful, published author, and you’re not.



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