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Monday, July 31, 2006

Why can't people in Connecticut get ahead?

I think I know.

A discouraging report from Americans For Tax Reform reveals that people in Connecticut need longer than anyone to pay for the cost of government. Apparently the average American worked 193 days (until July 12) "this year to pay for all levels of government." The report says:

The highest state Cost of Government Day by far is in Connecticut. The day there falls 18 days later than the rest of the country, coming on July 30th. This is 3 days later than Cost of Government Day for the second highest state, New York, which has been increasing over the past few years.

I think the "by far" part is kind of twisting the knife a bit, don't you?

When you consider the number of people who likely pay no taxes at all, this is truly astounding - or should be. Have we lost the capacity to care about these things? You might have missed this piece in the Courant, letting us know that Connecticut enjoyed a budget surplus of some $940 million. Of this sum, some $455 million will go into the Rainy Day Fund. Governor Rell said:

"Our Rainy Day Fund had been seriously depleted in recent years, but we now have a nice fiscal cushion in place," Rell said in a statement. "That cushion will come in handy should we experience any future bumps in the economic road."

In a State with three and a half million people, a $940 million surplus is a lot of money. Other than a bit of relief relating to the high cost of gasoline, I haven't heard any serious discussion of letting the people who sent that money into the coffers get any bit of it back. In fact, we have at least one candidate for higher office, Mr. Malloy, who says he's of a mind to raise the income tax.

So it seems ironic to me that just a few days ago Governor Rell issued a press release calling upon oil companies to give back some of their their "obscene" profits.

Citing the $10.36 billion in second quarter profits reported by Exxon Mobil Corp. today, Governor M. Jodi Rell urged Exxon and other major oil companies to return a portion of their record profits back to consumers by immediately lowering prices at the pumps.

Exxon’s profits are up 36 percent in the quarter. This represents the second largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company.

In addition, London-based BP PLC has reported net income of $7.3 billion, up 30 percent, while Houston-based ConocoPhillips’ profits are up 65 percent to $5.18 billion.

“These oil companies’ profits of 30 percent and up are, quite frankly, obscene,” Governor Rell said. “Connecticut residents are beyond angry. They are livid, and so am I after seeing these numbers today. We want answers, we want accountability and we want to see some semblance of decency from these companies.

I'm sure that many of our readers pay literally thousands of dollars in State and local taxes every year. At what point would it be acceptable, to use the Governor's words, to become "livid" with anger? It would seem to me that we could get a "portion" of the State's "profits" returned.

Why talk about this here? I think we need to question the morality of confiscatory taxes. It's common to speak of raising taxes to address the needs of the poor, and this is done on moral grounds, or by citing biblical injunctions to care for the poor. But not everyone in Connecticut lives in Greenwich, Darien or Avon and can afford such a crushing tax burden. And certainly not all those who live in wealthy towns are wealthy, of course.

So what is the moral justification for making people work until the beginning of August to meet the needs of "government?" I'd like to know.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Father Hollywood speaks out

"Father Hollywood"

I read a remarkable post from a Lutheran pastor from New Orleans called "Father Hollywood," called "Orthodox Christianity is Hated." His real name is Rev. Larry Beane, and he's not rolling over and playing dead:

It has been a long time since the days of persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, when the faithful were crucified, tortured in the arena, and martyred for refusing to bend the knee to the false god Caesar. But the time of ease for the Church is at an end, and in fact, it is long since past in many places of the world where the Church is under physical duress. Christians are still arrested, tortured, and martyred in places like Sudan and China.

But in "civilized" countries, we see the hostility against the Church take a different tack. It is what our suffering brethren in Sweden call a "gray martyrdom." No-one is being sent to the arena or burned at the stake in Scandinavia for preaching the Christian faith - but we do see a marginalization of Christians, a social and political apartheid, and even charges of "hate speech" for proclaiming Christian truth as revealed in Scripture that conflicts with the Official Party Line of the Government.

Once again, the Christians are told to burn just a wee bit of incense before the false god of Government. Be patriotic. Be good citizens.

In the U.S., we don't even have the "gray martyrdom" of Sweden - not yet. What we have instead is an Orwellian redefinition of right and wrong, a reordering of morality that conflicts with the built-in sense of propriety that has been shared by civilized people for centuries.

Rev. Beane is one of many who are giving voice and definition to a movement of those who are now consciously facing "gray martyrdom" - a useful expression if ever there was one.

Read the whole post.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Intolerance of another kind

Usually when you hear about intolerance, it's directed at you-know-who... Christians, at least those of the Evangelical or Charismatic variety. So I was a little surprised to read about the mainstream press actually noticing alleged intolerance by homosexuals in Massachusetts against heterosexuals. I wonder if the legal machinery of discrimination will be sued against homosexuals. That would be an interesting twist. From the excellent site Agape Press:

A Massachusetts pro-family activist says he is not surprised by recent reports of homosexuals directing hate speech against heterosexuals in one Cape Cod community.

Police in Provincetown told the Boston Globe that, over the July 4 weekend, they received numerous complaints of homosexuals calling heterosexual people "breeders." The paper also says Jamaican workers reported being the target of racial slurs, and a woman was verbally accosted after signing a petition that opposed same-sex "marriage."

Brian Camenker, who heads the conservative pro-family group Article 8 Alliance, says such behavior illustrates the militancy of the homosexual activist movement. "This whole business of 'breeders' and everything else, I guess that's sort of new, for them to do it publicly," he says, "but I'm going to tell you, that is the nature of the homosexual movement."

I haven't been able to find the Globe's article yet. Continue to pray for Massachusetts and the pro-family efforts there and in Connecticut.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

ApologetiX in Concert, July 29

Wintonbury Extreme Youth (WEY), a ministry of Wintonbury Baptist Church, will be hosting the band ApologetiX in concert Saturday, July 29th at 7:00 pm, at the House of Restoration Church, 1665 Main Street, Hartford. (Google map here.)

ApologetiX is a Christian parody band that takes music from the last 3 decades and puts Christian words to the music. The House of Restoration is a 1,500 seat, brand-new, state-of-the-art church facility.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $12 at the door, and VIP tickets are $25 (includes dinner with the band, preferred seating and preferred parking). Rock the Sound, Connecticut’s Christian concert promoter, is promoting the event. Tickets can be purchased at This is a great way for the Church of Greater Hartford to get together and fellowship. The band will also make a Gospel presentation. This promises to be a great family night.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Arrest in juice tampering case

A Stamford man has been arrested and may also face federal charges in connection with an incident in which Communion juice was tampered with, sickening some 40 people. From the Norwalk Advocate:

Wendell Woodroffe, 28, of Stamford was charged with 22 counts of second-degree assault of a victim 60 or older and 22 counts of second-degree assault, said Darien Lt. Ron Bussell. Woodroffe was being held on $50,000 bond and was expected to be arraigned Tuesday in Stamford Superior Court....

More than 40 people became ill during a communion service at Calvary Baptist Church [in Darien] on Feb. 5 and five were sent to the hospital with nausea and vomiting. Nobody was seriously injured.

People who drank the juice reported a burning sensation in their throats. Pastor Anthony Gibson has said it tasted like detergent.

This is actually one of a series of church and cemetery attacks or vandalism events within Connecticut in 2006.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Connecticut Senate race picking up more national attention

Imagine my surprise to visit a pro-Ned Lamont blog and see a video posted from The 700 Club, analyzing the Connecticut Senate race. They seemed a little surprised that a Christian outlet could supply good reporting and in-depth analysis. The story is quite good and you can watch it below. Please be sure to pray for the upcoming primaries and the general election.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Marriage Suit Fails

Superior Court Judge Patty Jenkins Pittman has ruled against eight same-sex couples who sought the right to marry after they were denied marriage licenses. Undoubtedly these couples will appeal and ultimately seek to have their case determined by the State Supreme Court.

We haven't been able to see a copy of the opinion yet, and although the State Judicial Department website is excellent, it does not typically post copies of opinions, only "docket sheets" which show a list of motions and how they were decided.

The only quotes we have seen have been from the AP service story which, interestingly, seems to have been edited in Connecticut news websites. The Boston Globe has the most extensive story we've seen on this.

"Civil union and marriage in Connecticut now share the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law," Judge Patty Jenkins Pittman in New Haven wrote. "The Connecticut Constitution requires that there be equal protection and due process of law, not that there be equivalent nomenclature for such protection and process...."

Jenkins Pittman, who noted how the legislature took "the courageous and historic step" of passing civil unions legislation, said lawmakers created an identical set of rights for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. She said the plaintiffs' claims that civil unions are a form of separate-but-equal segregation that aren't recognized in other jurisdictions don't rise to the "level of legal harm" required to rule in their favor.

She also dismissed claims that the term "civil unions" is inherently offensive.

"Though they argue that separate is never equal, they have been subjected to no tangible separation at all; and the court rejects the argument that the rhetorical separation of marriage versus civil union is enough to invoke an equal protection or due process analysis," the judge wrote.

Jenkins Pittman said it's up to the legislature to change the terminology.

While this is good news for traditional family advocates, it's still disturbing. Judge Jenkins Pittman recognizes something that the radicals pretend isn't so: that civil unions are the equivalent of marriage in all but name. Let's continue to pray for marriage in our State. The next stop is the Appellate Court; the Supreme Court does, however, likely have the ability to take the case if it so chooses once any appeal is filed.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Is Sunday still the Lord's Day?

I must be getting old because I can remember when folks didn't do a whole lot on Sunday. In ancient times (the 1960's) there was a time or maybe two when I ran down the church steps and then down the sidewalk with my father on Sunday to buy the newspaper before the store closed. And on Saturday nights, it wasn't uncommon to fill up your tank for the day ahead. Buying gas on a Sunday morning in prehistoric Danbury, Connecticut could be an iffy proposition. It only cost $3.00 to fill up a VW Beetle, but that is a topic for another post.

With the trend towards all-week-long sports and shopping being what it is, I was truly surprised and heartened to see the clergy of another one of my former dwellingplaces, Watertown, Conn. stand together against Sunday sports.

Citing quality family time that has dwindled over the years, the Watertown-Oakville Ecumenical Council and Watertown-Oakville Clergy Association issued a joint statement Thursday saying residents should "pause and consider" the ramifications of extending sports activities into the Sunday morning hours that previously offered no competition to church services or other family endeavors.

The Parks and Recreation Commission voted March 16 not to prohibit the issuance of field permits by the recreation department any time the parks are legally open, including Sundays. A policy of not handing out permits for Sunday morning games at sites such as Veterans Memorial Park and Deland Field had been adhered to by the department for years....

"Is holding on to four or five hours of a Sunday morning such a bad thing?" the two group's statement asked. "Do we really need to offer up to the gods of chaos any more of our precious time?"
Bravo, Watertown clergy. Read the rest here.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Jesusfest 2006 coming up this weekend

JesusFest returns this Saturday to the Tolland Agricultural Center (TAC) grounds, Route 30 in Vernon, CT.

JesusFest is a Christian country fair sponsored by area churches from a wide variety of denominations and fellowships. Connecituct House of Prayer - Hartford is again setting up Prayer Tents at the festival, their 4th year doing it. There will be 2 Prayer Needs Tents, one at each end of the festival grounds. Volunteers will offer to pray for the needs of all those attending the festival. There will also be a 12 hour Intercessory Prayer Tent located at the front of the TAC grounds, behind the offices and in front of the Coffee House.

Not only will prayer be offered for the success of the festival and the needs of the attendees, but also for Revival and Transformation of the state of Connecticut and for New England! Intercessors are needed especially in the later hours, from 5-7pm and 7-9pm. Come and join us!

More information available on the JesusFest site. (Thanks to Audrey McIntyre for the report.)

DIRECTIONS: From Hartford take Route 84 east to exit 67. Take a left off the exit, go to the 2nd light to Route 30. JesusFest is one block down on the right. You can park at the Rockville United Methodist church on the corner of Route 30 and Route 31 at the second light. Shuttles are provided at the church to take you to the TAC grounds.

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