Archive for September 25, 2011
1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Jaycee Dugard’s lawsuit shows how court-appointed psychologists, parole and prison officials repeatedly missed opportunities to arrest her abductor, Phillip Garrido, and shorten or even avoid her 18-year imprisonment.
Court documents supporting Dugard’s lawsuit against the federal government reveal Garrido evaded the judicial system three times.
In 1972, Garrido was arrested for drugging and raping a 14-year-old girl. The case was dropped when the victim refused to testify.
He escaped conviction again in June 1976 after luring a 19-year-old woman into his car and then handcuffing and raping her.
Garrido was arrested five months later after he abducted a Tahoe woman in November 1976. He kept her bound and handcuffed in a Reno, Nev., storage unit specially prepared with drugs, alcohol and pornography. Garrido repeatedly raped the victim for six hours before a suspicious police officer uncovered the hideaway.
He was tried and convicted of kidnapping and rape charges in 1977. Garrido was sentenced to serve two consecutive terms of a 50-year federal sentence and five years to life in Nevada.
Despite this ruling, Garrido was released from prison after serving less than 11 years in prison. Had Garrido served his full sentence, Dugard would have never been kidnapped in 1991.
Garrido and his wife, Nancy, abducted Dugard when she was 11 years old. They subdued her with a stun gun while she waited for the school bus.
Almost immediately, Dugard was subjected to perform lewd acts with Garrido. In her book, A Stolen Life, Dugard said the first night he stripped her of clothes and forced her to shower with him. The sexual acts soon escalated to the point where he was raping her nearly every day and using her to fulfill his perverse fantasies, which involved drugs, dress up and various lewd sexual acts.
Dugard was held captive by the Garridos for nearly two decades and gave birth to her two daughters, Angel and Starlet, in their makeshift backyard compound. The two daughters are also named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Court documents show that parole officers missed several opportunities to arrest Garrido and possibly put an end to Dugard’s suffering.
Despite having a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol abuse during parole, officers repeatedly ignored Garrido’s failed drug tests. They also disregarded complaints filed by Garrido’s female coworkers who said he harassed them with unwanted attention.
Garrido was arrested once in 1993 for violating his parole. He spent five months in prison. During that time, Dugard recalled that Nancy Garrido continued to hold her captive until her husband returned.
Parole officers also neglected their duties to conduct monthly home visits. Federal parole officers failed to make a single visit to Phillip Garrido’s resident during three of the 10 years he was under federal parole supervision. Those years included 1990, the year before Dugard was kidnapped; 1992, the year after she had been kidnapped; and 1994, the year Dugard gave birth to her first child fathered by Garrido.
In the decade that Garrido was under federal parole watch, the officers who supervised his case visited his residence less than a dozen times, attorney Dale Kinsella summed. None of those visits included an inspection of the backyard compound where Dugard was held captive.
Dugard recalled in her book having been present during some of the parole visits. The Garridos claimed that Dugard and her daughters were their children. No one questioned Dugard about her relationship to the Garridos.
Phillip Garrido’s court-appointed psychologists, counselors and therapists also failed to uncover his deception. One psychologist reported that Garrido was sincere in his claims that he tested positive for speed because “someone spiked his drink.”
Another counselor reported on November 13, 1997, that Garrido’s progress was “excellent” and that he is no longer “at risk for violence.” Ironically, this assessment was made the same day Dugard gave birth to her second child fathered through Garrido’s repeated rapes.
Dugard and her daughters were eventually freed after University of California Berkeley police officers called Garrido in for questioning. He was later found guilty and was sentenced to 431 years in prison.
Dugard and her attorney are seeking general and special damages in the lawsuit.
A broad based group of pro-life leaders and organizations, who formed a coalition to help pass the Personhood Amendment, says it’s gaining significant political traction to give constitutional rights to fertilized human eggs, or zygotes.
(Photo: Reuters/Jim Young)A pro-life supporter kneels down to pray in front of crosses planted on the front lawn of Parliament Hill at a rally.
Mississippi pro-life groups have rallied for more than two years for the passage of a ballot measure this November that would redefine the word “person” in the state constitution to include undeveloped embryos.
Christian medical groups are now weighing in to endorse the amendments even though some medical professionals raise concerns that the amendment could have negative implications for women, such as banning certain kinds of birth control or in vitro fertilization.
Endorsements in favor of the Mississippi Personhood Amendment came in this week from the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.
“The Christian Medical and Dental Associations recognize fertilization or ‘the functional equivalent thereof.’ Its purpose is to protect life, regardless of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction,” said a statement issued by the organization this week.
The association said that it “supports Personhood based on undeniable scientific and medical evidence as well as on clear recognition that God is the creator of life.”
“Our stand for Personhood, in solidarity with mothers, fathers, and pre-born children, provides a beacon to guide other medical groups seeking to find their voices on this crucial issue,” said Robert P.N. Shearin, a retired thoracic surgeon in Mississippi.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Measure No. 26, the Personhood Amendment, did not violate the state constitutional rules governing citizen initiatives.
The court thus rejected a challenge by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights to keep the Personhood Amendment off the ballot, claiming that it was an improper attempt to modify the Bill of Rights.
Personhood USA co-founder Cal Zastrow said, “We must create enabling legislation to criminalize surgical and chemical abortion – every drug, every surgery designed to murder.”
Mississippi’s top attorney has also endorsed the Mississippi Personhood Amendment and announced his intention to defend the measure in court.
“I have defended every pro-life bill that has been adopted by the Mississippi Legislature. I have assisted our lawmakers with pro-life legislation and will continue to do so. I support the Mississippi Personhood Amendment, and if adopted, will defend it if challenged.”
Hood’s endorsement is another in a long list of prominent political supporters, including GOP gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Governor Phil Bryant, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, U.S. Representatives Alan Nunnelee, Greg Harper, and Steven Palazzo.
“This is the most pro-life amendment Mississippi has ever seen,” said Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA. “Science and reason tell us that all human beings are people, and all people have the right to live. We know that Mississippi voters agree that unborn children have human rights, so we expect victory in November.”
Mississippians are set to vote on the measure on Nov. 8. Amendment 26 will define the terms “person” and “persons” as used in the Mississippi Constitution to “include every human being from the moment of fertilization.”
Prominent atheist Rob Sherman has filed a contempt of court motion in a federal court against the city of Zion, Ill., for using an old and banned version of the city seal that contains a cross.
Sherman swung to action after an ad in Lake County News-Sun last week featured the earlier city seal containing a cross, a dove, and the phrase “God Reigns.” The ad also had a picture of Commissioner Shantal Taylor inviting readers to a community forum at City Hall.
In 1991, a U.S. appellate court held that the city seal violated the principle of separation of church and state and that the Christian symbols must be removed. The ruling concerned a 1987 lawsuit against the seal by the Illinois chapter of American Atheists, which was then led by Sherman, a Buffalo Grove resident.
“I want them held in contempt of court for using the old city seal despite the permanent injunction against them from ever using that city seal again,” Daily Herald quoted Sherman as saying. “Shantal needs to resign.”
Federal Judge James Zagel will hear the case Wednesday. Zagel is the same judge who settled the American Atheist lawsuit in a U.S. Court of Appeals. The motion is to ask the city and Commissioner Taylor to explain why they should not be held in contempt for violating the court ruling.
Sherman has other objections, too. Referring to the text of the newspaper ad, “Zion is calling you to a higher place of service … help be the change you are hoping for in your city,” he said, “That’s a very religious phrase.” If Commissioner Taylor resigns quickly, he added, he might remove the motion to show cause.
“We don’t know if it was City Hall or she did it on behalf of City Hall,” Sherman said, warning that it could cost the city “lots and lots of money.”
Zion city attorney Scott Puma was quoted as saying that he was yet to find out who placed the ad or paid for it.
After the 1991 ban, the city changed the phrase “God reigns” to “In God We Trust” in the seal.
Sherman, 58, became an atheist when he was nine after a teacher failed to answer a classmate’s question on the evidence of God’s existence. He is also influenced by American Atheists founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
Angel Food Ministries, which said earlier this month that it would not be able to distribute its discounted food for the month of September, announced this week plans to shut down for good.
“Angel Food Ministries has considered many options regarding our future,” reads a message posted on the ministry’s website. “At this time we regret to inform you that we have not found a solution that will allow Angel Food Ministries to continue to distribute food on a monthly basis and have decided to cease operations.”
AFM is a Georgia-based nonprofit that was founded in 1994 by Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo to provide discounted food items to the poor and needy. Approximately 500,000 families a month purchased from the organization prior to its shutdown.
The message on the ministry’s website claims 98 percent of its customers that placed an order for September have already received a full refund. AFM says that it has been able to return $24 million to church host sites and other partner organizations. And AFM intends to work with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide refunds to the remaining 59 customers who used SNAP benefits to place their orders.
Though the economy may have had an impact on the organization, The Christian Post reported Sept. 12 that the charity has also found itself in questionable legal and financial situations involving the Wingos. The FBI in 2009 opened an investigation into the Wingos that is ongoing.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday that AFM has laid off all 90 of its full-time staff members and put its headquarters up for sale. In order to save money on energy costs, the ministry also got rid of food in its cold storage facility by either returning it to its vendors or by donating it to food banks and charities.
Though no charges have yet been filed against the Wingos, an anonymous spokesman for Angel Food told the AJC that the ongoing FBI investigation hurt the ministry’s image and its relationships with both churches and its customers. The spokesman also said the investigation resulted in “considerable legal expense” for the organization.
The question now remains what will the ministry’s host sites do to provide for the needs of local AFM customers who have come to depend on the discounted food program.
“Right now we just don’t have an option available to us for anything real immediate,” said Kevin Davis, senior pastor of First Assembly of God in Farmington, Mo., in an interview with The Christian Post on Friday.
Davis says his church has been a host site for AFM for nearly eight years, and served between 50 and 60 families per month leading up to this week’s announcement. Davis has heard of other ministries similar to AFM’s, but doesn’t expect to begin a new program before the beginning of 2012.
“We’re definitely saddened by the fact that that has happened, but right now we’re just kind of re-evaluating things for the future,” he said.
Juan Villalobos, pastor of the Hispanic ministry at Triangle Christian Church in Raleigh, N.C., ran an AFM host site but did not hear about the ministry’s shut down until The Christian Post contacted him.
“Sad. Very, very, very sad. This news is disappointing in many ways,” Villalobos said when he heard the news.
Villalobos says he’s been working with AFM for about two years, and the number of families his host site feeds varies between 35 and 60 per month. Going forward, he says, his plan is to start by “knocking on doors,” going to local supermarkets to ask for donations, or possibly even starting a food bank.
“It’s hard, but we have to do it. We have to. If we want to help people, if we want to…show the community we love her and we are taking care of them in the way that we can, we have to do it.”
Rise up, O God, and judge the earth,
for all the nations belong to
Where is God’s country? Plenty of people can answer that question, because
they think they live in God’s country. I’ve heard people in Montana, New Mexico,
California, and Texas refer to the place they live as God’s country. Usually,
what they mean is that the area where they live is filled with natural beauty,
unspoiled by civilization.
We can also think of our own country as somehow God’s country. Many Americans
freely apply Old Testament language for Israel to the United States, believing
that this country is uniquely chosen and blessed by God. But citizens of other
nations naturally think of their countries as divinely favored.
The truth, according to Psalm 82, is that all countries are God’s countries.
Every last one. Verse 8 reads, “Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the
nations belong to you.” The Hebrew word translated here as
“nations” is goyim , a word that often means “Gentiles.” It is used by Jewish people to
identify non-Jews in particular. How striking to see that the Jewish author of
Psalm 82 recognizes that all nations, all goyim , including but not
limited to Israel, ultimately belong to God. For this reason, God has the right
to judge the whole earth.
Recognizing that all nations belong to the Lord does not mean we value our
own homeland any less. We can still love our country or the place we live. And
we can still think of it as God’s country because, indeed, it is. But we must
remember that any other person in the whole world could rightly make this same
claim. God is King of kings, the ultimate sovereign over all nations. He uses
all peoples and countries for his purposes and glory. Thus, even as we esteem
the places we live and feel patriotic toward our own country, we do not discount
other places or nations. We acknowledge, with the psalmist, that “all nations
belong to God.”
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What difference might it
make in your life if, indeed, all nations belong to God? How might this impact
the way you think about the place you live, your workplace, your country, and
the broader world?
PRAYER: King of kings and Lord of lords, today I remember
that you are God of all nations. All belong ultimately to you. All exist for
your purposes. All are meant for your glory.
In that vein, I pray today for
my country. I offer thanks for all the ways this country reflects your goodness
and justice. I pray for all the ways we fall short. Help us, dear Lord, to be a
nation that honors you.
It that vein, I pray for my leaders, for those who serve in national, state,
county, and city government. May they seek you and your ways. May their
decisions be guided by your wisdom. May they be passionate for your justice and
All praise be to you, King of kings and Lord of lords.