Should Catholic high schools honor Planned Parenthood board members? 4

By Jenifer Bowen

Bishop Pates was right to meet with Loretta Sieman over her support for Planned Parenthood.  Catholic Schools should not champion people who work for and financially support an abortion business, which kills thousands of Iowans each year. (See Rekha Basu column, Des Moines Register, August 31, 2011.)

Dr. Andrea McGuire (whom Basu fails to mention is also a significant Planned Parenthood of the Heartland supporter) said that Sieman’s opponents, “care about less than 2 percent of the work of one organization she’s involved with.”

That less than 2% adds up to an average of 13 children killed every day in Iowa by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood aborts close to the equivalent of FOUR Dowling High Schools EACH YEAR.

The only reason Planned Parenthood calls abortion “less than 2 percent of its services” is that the organization counts every free condom it gives out as a “service.”

Planned Parenthood claims its primary goal is prevention and reducing abortions in Iowa.  They must not be doing a good job-because Planned Parenthood’s abortions in Iowa are increasing (from 2,898 in 2002 to 4,792 in 2009) and Planned Parenthood has more abortion processing centers in Iowa than all the surrounding states combined.

Basu misleads when she says Sieman was on the Planned Parenthood Board for 2004-2005.  According to Planned Parenthood’s annual reports, Sieman was on the Board from a least 2003-2006 and possibly before.

Loretta Sieman and her husband Bob also make significant financial contributions to Planned Parenthood.  The couple gave between $500-999 to Planned Parenthood in Iowa each year in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  Which is less than Dr. Andrea McGuire and her husband, Daniel contribute.  The McGuires gave between $1,000-4,999 to Planned Parenthood each year in 2007, 2008 and 2009.  Dr. Andrea McGuire also hosts Planned Parenthood fundraisers in her home.

Abortion hurts women and the Catholic Church is right to oppose it.

[Jenifer Bowen is Executive Director of Iowa Right to Life]


Des Moines’ shrill side strikes back 3

by Tom Quiner

As the title of this blogpost, I have borrowed a headline that appeared in today’s Des Moines Register on their op-ed page.

It is the headline used for a column written by Rekha Basu. In her piece, Ms. Basu attacks Dowling Catholic High School for allowing an alum to withdraw her name from consideration in receiving a “distinguished alumni” award.

The candidate was Loretta Sieman, a graduate from Dowling’s female counterpart, St. Joseph Academy, some fifty years ago. By all accounts, Ms. Sieman is a great human being.

She has been intensely involved in our community, serving on city councils, boards and lending a hand to numerous charitable causes.

This is good stuff. This is the type of public service promoted by the Catholic Church in their schools and churches.

Here’s the rub: it came to light that Ms. Sieman served on the board of Planned Parenthood in 2004-2005.

Let us pause for a moment and reflect on the respective value systems of the Catholic Church vs. Planned Parenthood.

The Catholic Church believes human life is sacred and begins at conception.

Planned Parenthood believes human life is disposable and begins only at birth.

The Catholic Church believes creation is good and flows from God.

Planned Parenthood believes that creation is problematic and needs to be controlled by man.

Ms. Sieman did the honorable thing and withdrew her name from consideration when her Planned Parenthood association came to light to the Bishop and the President of Dowling Catholic.

Ms. Basu was livid.

She thought Dowling should have formed a “task force” to bring people together seeking common ground on issues.

I might have taken Ms. Basu a little more seriously if she had made the same recommendation a few years ago when a similar situation came up. Only then, it was Roosevelt High School, my alma mater, that disinvited Dr. Alveda King from speaking. Evidently, a couple of parents came forward who didn’t like Ms. King’s pro life views and her religion.

That’s all it took, a couple of parents, and the rug was pulled out from under Ms. King.

Where was Ms. Basu then? I don’t recall any column demanding a task force to help us understand each other better.

For the record, religion wasn’t hidden when I attended Roosevelt, a public high school. They allowed The Fellowship of Christian Athletes to send athletes to talk about their faith, like the great pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Jim Kaat.

But the shrill voices from the Left prevailed, and all vestige of religion was driven from our schools.

Today, those shrill voices work hard at keeping a pro life perspective out of the schools, as they did at Roosevelt.

Ms. Basu suggests that Dowling should have looked at the big picture when it came to Ms. Sieman, and honor her for everything else. After all, asserts Ms. Basu, abortion is a small part of Planned Parenthood’s business model.

That is not true, according to Abby Johnson who used to work at Planned Parenthood in Texas. It’s a huge part of their business model and profit center. But the percentage isn’t the issue.

Ms. Sieman made a statement by being on Planned Parenthood’s board, that she rejects the church’s foundational principals regarding abortion and birth control. She not only rejected them, she publicly worked against them.

Planned Parenthood is at work as I write this trying to strip away conscience protections for Catholic doctors and pharmacists who refuse to aid and abet abortion. How on earth could Dowling Catholic honor someone who so publicly denies her Church’s beliefs?

Ms. Sieman blasted Catholics “hiding behind email, nasty banners and painful words and hit lists.”

In other words, she is angry at Catholics fighting Planned Parenthood’s culture of death. Why is it okay for pro-borts to be politically engaged, but not Catholics who practice their faith?

For the record, I have participated in many life chains and have prayed outside of Planned Parenthood in both Des Moines and Urbandale. The signs and placards on display I hold and I’ve seen held by others convey a positive message. These are seldom seen in the media, since the Register seldom provides news coverage for pro life events.

Ms. Sieman laments that we are not listening to the needs of the people. I don’t see how aborting children in the womb is listening to their needs, do you? And for the record, no organization in the world does more for the the needy than Catholic Charities.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta really puts it in perspective:

“We cannot fight credibly against other social and moral evils, including poverty and violence, while we tolerate mass killings by abortion.”

The Catholic Church would lose credibility in promoting social justice if it honors people who promote abortion.

They can’t be cowed by the shrill voices from the Planned Parenthood mob.




More intolerance from the Thought Police 1

By Tom Quiner

The words “inclusion” and “tolerance” drip from the lips of liberals like they were honey.

These words are the standard of a civilized society in their value system. Or so they say.

They don’t mean it.

They, in fact, despise diversity.

They, in fact, have no interest in inclusion.

Dr. Frank Turek

The latest victim of the Thought Police of the Left is Dr. Frank Turek. He was fired by Bank of America for espousing politically incorrect views. He is the author of Correct, Not Politically Correct:  How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone.

Before we talk about his firing, here is the essence of the dilemma, in Mr Turek’s own words:

[Advocates of gay marriage equate] “my opposition to a behavior as prejudice toward people who engage in that behavior. That’s the central fallacy in virtually every argument for homosexuality—if you don’t agree with homosexual behavior, you are somehow bigoted against people who want to engage in that behavior. How does that follow? If conservatives and Christians are “bigots” for opposing homosexual behavior, then why aren’t homosexual activists bigots for opposing Christian behavior? And if we are bigots for opposing same-sex marriage, then why aren’t homosexual activists bigots for opposing polygamous or incestuous marriage?”

In other words, Dr. Turek views same-sex marriage as being detrimental to society. He wrote a book about it. He makes his case.

It so happens that Dr. Turek is a highly regarded trainer in the fields of leadership and team building.

Bank of America has been his client since 1995. He was invited to speak at  one of their recent meetings. His presentation was titled: “Why can’t you be normal just like me?”

His presentation trains participants on how to work more effectively with diverse personalities on the job.

His presentation was all about increasing productivity through the power of inclusion and diversity.

His views on same-sex marriage was not part of his presentation.

His political views were not part of his presentation.

His religious views were not part of his presentation.

They were separate from his training profession, as they always had been in his professional dealings with Bank of America.

Nonetheless, a woman in their human resource department Googled Dr. Turek and discovered his views on same-sex unions.

Bank of America canned him three days before their meeting.

So much for diversity.

So much for inclusion.

So much for religious freedom.

Dr. Turek’s approach has always been to treat people with respect, whether he agrees with them or not.

Can the same be said for the Thought Police at Bank of America?

Here is what Bank of America is saying:

Jews who believe in traditional marriage because of their religious views are not welcome at Bank of America.

Catholics who believe in traditional marriage because of their religious views are not welcome at Bank of America.

Fundamentalist Christians who believe in traditional marriage because of their religious views are not welcome at Bank of America.

Baptists who believe in traditional marriage because of their religious views are not welcome at Bank of America.

Muslims who believe in traditional marriage because of their religious views are not welcome at Bank of America.

You get the idea.

Bank of America has bought into the intolerance of the Thought Police on the political left, as has America’s president who refuses to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

Let us put this into context.

Suppose Dr. Turek had written a book waxing eloquent on the beauty of same-sex marriage, and Wal-Mart had canned him by disinviting him to their meeting.

Would Bank of America been upset?

Would the Thought Police on the Left been upset?

Would the President of the United States been upset?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

They’d be screaming.

Free speech means nothing to this crowd. Religious freedom means nothing. “Inclusion” and “diversity” mean nothing, unless it is according to their definition.

Let me leave you with a little of Dr. Turek’s clear-thinking:

“Everyone puts limits on marriage—if marriage had no definition it wouldn’t be anything. Recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman is not bigotry, but common sense rooted in the biological facts of nature. That’s why the state recognizes marriage to begin with—not because two people love one another but because only heterosexual unions can procreate and best nurture the next generation.

Everyone also puts limits on behaviors. But opposing behavior is not the same as opposing or “hating” people. In fact, to really love people, we often have to oppose what they do! Parents know this, and all former children know it as well.”

We’ve come to a point in American culture where this kind of value system is a source of economic martyrdom.

Ask Dr. Turek.

An American in India 1

By John Bishop

America is a developed country.

To take a crack at this term’s meaning I would propose that in a developed country the starting point, nuts and bolts of society, have been cultivated in such a way so as to produce a more advanced way of living.  Ideally, these societal advances help individuals live more meaningful lives.

Technological advances for example can allow for more efficient work which then allows for more leisure and recreation.  While such advances can bring about genuine good, my experience in India has heightened my awareness of a potential danger faced by citizens of developed countries.

I worry that many citizens in developed countries have lost sight of the nuts and bolts, the fabric that makes up human society.  To explain this point, I think architecture provides an accurate corollary.  Taking a walk through any major American city one comes into close contact with the marvels of modern architecture.  Our sparkling 100-story buildings literally scrape the sky.  These buildings were constructed through the application of physical principles which governed every phase of their formation.  Architects study for years to learn the intricacies of these principles and their application.  Just like our society, I’m sure architecture is becoming an ever more complex thing.  As this study becomes more complex, I’m sure architects study smaller, more specialized fields.

What if modern architects, in their specialization, were to forget about basic principles such as gravity?

I worry that our society might be facing a similar problem.

In a way, everything in India is simple.

The simplicity of Indian society exposes the basic fabric which makes up human civilizations, both advanced and non-advanced.  The Kolkata street markets provide a perfect example.  Most everything a person needs to survive can be purchased within the space of a few city blocks.  Such products as meat and vegetables are hauled in from villages every morning and sold in the city throughout the day.  The economics lay bare before everyone’s eyes: things are simple.

The same can be said for families.  Kolkata sidewalks are littered with makeshift leantos, often made with a few strings and large plastic tarps.  A look inside many of these haphazard tents will reveal a mother sitting cross-legged on the pavement tending to her children.  A basic building block of society, the family, is literally put on the streets for all to see.

Have western, developed countries lost sight of the importance of the family?

In addition to basic economics and the family, there is one other building block which we have maybe overlooked.  After spending a five weeks walking the streets of Kolkata, I don’t think anyone would deny the religious nature of the Indian people.  Religion is everywhere.  Nearly every other block has at least one small mosque or Hindu temple wedged in-between the various small shops.  Every couple of hours the Islamic call to prayer sounds.  Sikh men walk around with Turbans on their heads, and crosses adorn the necks of the occasional Christian.  It was this religious atmosphere which prompted Dominique Lapierre to remark in The City of Joy that, “Indian people have a deep sense of the sacred.”

Though this sense is expressed in many different religions, it is present everywhere in Kolkata.  Not only do Indians have a deep sense of the sacred, their religious nature is expressed in their most beautiful buildings.  The temples, mosques, and churches are undeniably among the most beautiful constructions on the city’s streets (Kolkata’s shopping malls pale in comparison).  These places of worship  sit at the heart of Indian society.  Though it might be expressed in different religions, the “sense of the sacred” has a central influence upon Indian society.

I think that the average poor Indian’s willingness to express their “sense of the sacred” might have a lot do with their acute perception of life’s transience.  The slums force one to realize that life is fragile.

I have had the blessing of picking up many dying men and women from Howrah train station and transporting them to the Missionaries of Charity “Home for the Dying.”  These people know that life is utterly out of their hands.  In contrast to luxurious amenities such as air conditioning which often cultivate an insular sense of autonomy, those who live and die in gutters have only the change in the weather.  The poor seem to realize their dependence on things out of their own hands: their dependence on God.

In their poverty, many Indians readily express the interior impulses of their heart.  The people of the slums are simple and perhaps less given to masking basic emotions.  They’re just people, just human.  They get hungry, thirsty, frightened, make families, and worship God.  Such things seem to provide the fabric of Indian society.  And whether we realize it or not, they may serve as the foundation of our western culture as well.


A Geeky footnote for the philosophically minded person: Several years back I read a couple of Richard Dawkin’s books including The God Delusion.  At one point in this book Dawkin mentions this feeling of the divine, of some transcendent influence upon which humans are at least somewhat dependant.  If I recall correctly, Dawkins gives several evolutionary explanations for this feeling.  For all I know he’s probably right in regards to the biology; but for anyone who thinks the way I do, I would like to point out what I believe is an unwarranted conclusion.  After giving sufficient evolutionary explanation, I have heard people argue that this “sense of the sacred” is disconnected from reality (in other words, in reality there is no God, we just have a biologically built-in sense that proved advantageous).  If this argument’s conclusion were true then the reasonable person would disregard this intuitional sense.  But here I would like to point out that the biological explanation neither affirms nor denies the corresponding metaphysical reality.  Is it not plausible to think that perhaps God created this sense through the instrument of evolution?  Given independant reasons for believing in God and providential human evolutionary development, it would actually follow that this sense of the sacred actually makes sense.  If this sense does correspond to something that is real, would it not then command more respect in cultures who have strayed from, and even laughed at this intuition?  Please do not interpret the last part of this reflection as a criticism of an intellectual study of God; all things have their place.

[Thanks to John Bishop for his guest contribution to Quiner’s Diner. Mr. Bishop, a college student, just returned from India where volunteered at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying.]

Is the media looking for dirt on Rick Perry? 2

By Tom Quiner

The folks at NewsBusted get off some more great zingers at the expense of the media and President Obama. I especially enjoy the joke about the disconnect between the media’s interest in finding dirt on Rick Perry. How much time did they spend on scrutinizing Barack Obama’s past?

Take a few minutes to enjoy some conservative humor to start your week.