Four arrested over petition against Miami-Dade's gay rights law
Four representatives of Take Back Miami-Dade, an effort largely tied to the Miami-Dade Christian Coalition aimed at repealing the county's extending of anti-discrimination laws to sexual orientation, have been arrested.

The arrested include Anthony Verdugo, chairman of the Miami-Dade Christian Coalition, a 17-year-old volunteer, and two notaries public. The charges stem from Take Back Miami-Dade's collection of 50,000 signatures for a referendum to repeal the sexual-orientation part of the anti-discrimination law.

Verdugo and the teen, Christian Montoya, are charged with falsely swearing to having witnessed signatures, a third-degree felony. The two notaries public, Nayibe Busse and Ralph Patterson, are charged with illegally notarizing their own signatures, also a third-degree felony.

Special prosecutor John Aguero told The Miami Herald there's evidence that at least some of the signatures were faked, but he wouldn't file forgery charges because he doesn't know who forged them. "All a handwriting expert will tell you is that the person whose name on it is not the one who signed," he said. "These are people who certainly committed a fraud on the public. That's why they are being prosecuted."

SAVE Dade, an organization working to keep the anti-discrimination law, claims as many as 2,500 petition signatures are fake, says the Herald.

"This is the work of the homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual mafia that wants to destroy our families and take away the right of every Dade County citizen to vote," said the defendants' lawyer, Rosa Armesto de González.

The Miami-Dade Christian Coalition makes a similar argument on its website. "Homosexualists are using the State Attorney's Office to brazenly sabotage democracy and the Rule of Law in Miami-Dade," Take Back Miami-Dade Cochairman Nathaniel J. Wilcox says on the site. "If decent, law-abiding citizens fail to unite against [these] corrupt elements, Miami-Dade County will become a cesspool of poverty and decay."

"The extremists behind these arrests are truly enemies of the people and of democracy," says a message on the site. "It's that clear and simple!"

SAVE Dade's site doesn't have anything about the arrests, but apparently hasn't been updated for months.

Elections Supervisor David Leahy told the Herald that the arrests won't keep the referendum off the September 10 ballot.

But what effect will the arrests have on the vote? "The fact is that the head of the Christian Coalition in this community was arrested and I don't think that will go unnoticed by voters," says SAVE Dade cochair Heddy Peña. Take Back Miami Dade, meanwhile, says the arrests are only helping its cause.

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Don't put that hymn in your mouth! You don't know where it's been!
"If you call the Christian parody band ApologetiX a novelty act, you're about five centuries behind the times," said a Los Angeles Times article Saturday about a band that changes the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann" to "Baa, We're Lambs" and the Village People's "YMCA" to "YHWH." "Martin Luther, the 16th century church reformer, was the 'Weird Al' Yankovic of his day—minus the humor. The father of the Reformation took scores of popular songs and rewrote the lyrics to reflect biblical themes. His goal: to create hymns that Protestant congregations could sing lustily from the pews, something not done in the Catholic Church at the time."

You've probably heard this about Martin Luther before, but be careful what you say about John and Charles Wesley. "There is a widespread misconception, and I heard it at conferences everywhere this summer, that the Wesleys used drinking songs," Dean McIntyre, a United Methodist Church music officer tells today's Washington Times. "That is a myth. It just is not true. … There's a little more wiggle room with Luther. The Wesleys would have never thought of such a thing."

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  • Keep religion out of science education | Just as we can help to create a more moral society without teaching religion in public schools, so can we help to create a more logical citizenry if we can get everyone to park their religion in the designated area (Beverly Carol Lucey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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