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.
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."
- Christian school in Pak to close after attack | Will close for at least a year, then reopen elsewhere in southeast Asia (AFP)
- Murree school closes (Dawn, Karachi, Pakistan)
- Detained terrorists reveal Pak Christian massacre plot | Four groups assigned to attack U.S. and British-run Christian institutions (AFP)
- Worship, etc., on grand scale | Mega-churches: A recent trend in U.S. religion is vast buildings with huge congregations and non-traditional amenities (The Baltimore Sun)
- Standoff at Pa. parish reflects Episcopal rift | Traditionalist rector risks being deposed if he refuses to abide by church law (The Baltimore Sun)
- Parish faithful shaken by auditor's findings | At least $1 million missing from coffers (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland)
- Church's skate park idea nixed by city | Pastor claims law mandating 5 acres of land for play areas limits ministry (The Bay City [Mich.] Times)
- As churches close, ethnic groups worry about loss | Shrinking community, low funds among reasons for closures (Associated Press)
- Church members' suit called 'unbiblical' | Members of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church may be kicked out for filing a lawsuit over alleged financial mismanagement (Chicago Sun-Times)
- MP flays health minister over slighting Christian leaders | Suleiman Franjieh said some Mount Lebanon pastors are "crazy" with an "insatiable thirst for power" (The Daily Star, Lebanon)
- Meet the missing link (wink, wink) | Piltdown taught science a lesson, sort of (U.S. News & World Report)
- 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)
Other stories of interest:
- Calvin Thielman, Presbyterian pastor and friend of Billy Graham, dies at 72 | Was pastor emeritus of Montreat Presbyterian Church (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Roadwork may move a righteous messenger | Brother Walter, the guy with a different-colored "Jesus Saves" T-shirt each day, will have to hand out his religious pamphlets somewhere else (The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Self-proclaimed Messiah draws crowds in Siberia | Thousands of pilgrims have converged on the hamlet of Petropavlovka, deep in Siberia, to hear the annual sermon today by a 41-year-old former traffic policeman who they believe to be Jesus (Sunday Telegraph, London)
- Flash, flourish, and faith | Ladies and gentlemen, from the theme park capital of the world, behold: the Scriptorium, Bible study like you've never seen it before (The Orlando Sentinel)
- Academia and the ministry | In 10 years at Yale, the Rev. Jerry Streets has extended his reach. (The Hartford [Conn.] Courant)
- A turf battle between nonbelievers | Two unorthodox groups, Godless Americans and advocates of a 'polyamory' lifestyle, struggle with boundaries (The New York Times)
- Fans remember Elvis in their prayers | The vigil, which sprang up impromptu in 1978, the year after Elvis died, has since been ritualized and is the most obvious moment when fandom takes on the trappings of a secular religion (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Catholic radio host enjoys talk life | Al Kresta says he looks at life through Christian eyes (The Ann Arbor [Mich.] News)
- Chasing Aimee | The evangelist was tried for a tall tale (U.S. News & World Report)
- Suddenly, there's a sense of the sacramental again | For all its secularism, the West has lately seen an outpouring of musical works that are deeply rooted in the power of traditional religious (and mostly Christian) rituals, symbols, and narratives (The Boston Globe)
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