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Archive of January 10, 2009

Survey shows many Americans wary of entertainment industry’s values

Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2009 (CNA) - The Anti-Defamation League has released the results of a survey of U.S. residents asking their view of how religious and moral values are reflected in Hollywood and in American life. The results show that most Americans think that television and movie companies do not share the values of most Americans and many believe Christian values are “under attack.”

Further, many believe Hollywood is weakening religious influence in an organized fashion.

The poll, conducted in October by the Marttilla Communications Group, reportedly questioned two demographically representative split samples in 500 interviews per group. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent on questions answered by all respondents.

The survey results were made public in the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) publication “American Attitudes on Religion, Moral Values and Hollywood.”

According to the results, about 61 percent of respondents agreed that religious values are “under attack” in the U.S. Another 63 percent thought that religion as a whole is losing influence, an increase of more than ten percent since 2005.

Fifty-nine percent agreed that those who run the television networks and the major movie studies do not share the religious and moral values of most Americans.           Seventy percent of those who attend church once a week or more agreed, while 63 percent of those who attend church once or twice a month agreed.

Among Catholics, 60 percent of those categorized as “Traditional Catholic” agreed while 55 percent of those in the “Moderate/Liberal” category agreed. Conservative Protestants were most likely to agree, at a rate of 68 percent, while about 45 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans agreed.

According to its web site, the Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” The ADL report did not include the categories “Jewish” or “Moderate/Liberal Protestant” in its questions.

Meanwhile, 43 percent of all respondents thought Hollywood and the national media are weakening the influence of religious values by means of an “organized campaign.” About 62 percent of those who attended church once a week or more agreed, while those who attend church once or twice a month agreed at a rate of around 54 percent.

Americans in all categories agreed at a rate of about 43 percent. Traditional Catholics, at a rate of 65 percent, comprised the group most likely to agree about the existence of an “organized campaign, while 56 percent of conservative Protestants and 41 percent of moderate or liberal Catholics agreed it exists. Those unaffiliated with a religion agreed at a rate of only 30 percent.

Respondents to the ADL survey were also asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement that the movie and the television industries are “pretty much run by Jews.”

Only 22 percent agreed with the statement, slightly fewer than those who agreed to the same question in 1992 and 1987. The year 2008 respondents disagreed by 63 percent, compared to the 55 percent who disagreed in 1992 and the 30 percent who disagreed in 1987.

In 1964, by contrast, 47 percent agreed with the statement, while only 21 percent disagreed.

About 59 percent of respondents agreed that Christian values are under attack, similar to the number of those who agreed religious values are under attack.

CNA contacted the ADL for comment on the reasons for commissioning the survery but did not receive a response by press time.

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Prop. 8 backers challenge harassment-enabling donor disclosure laws

Sacramento, Calif., Jan 10, 2009 (CNA) - Citing a “systematic attempt” of intimidation and harassment targeting their supporters, leading backers of Proposition 8 have filed federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s campaign finance laws which make donor names, addresses and employers public.

The ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8 committee filed the challenge on Thursday.

In a press release, the committee claims Proposition 8 supporters have suffered various acts of harassment and even death threats from opponents of the successful California ballot measure which overruled a court decision imposing same-sex “marriage” in the state.

“There has been a systematic attempt to intimidate, threaten and harass donors to the Proposition 8 campaign,” commented Ron Prentice, Chairman of ProtectMarriage.com. “This harassment is made possible because of California’s unconstitutional campaign finance disclosure rules as applied to ballot measure committees where even donors of as little as $100 must have their names, home addresses and employers listed on public documents. These disclosure rules violate the US constitution in numerous ways. We are standing up for our contributors to ensure that the harassment stops.”

The suit claims that anti-Proposition 8 groups such as Californians Against Hate exist for the primary purpose of identifying and taking action against supporters of Proposition 8.

The suit also cited numerous examples of threatening and harassing e-mails, phone calls and post cards targeting Proposition 8 supporters.

One such message read “Burn in hell.” Another reportedly said, “Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter.”

“I just wanted to call and let you know what a great picture that was of you and the other Nazi’s [sic] in the newspaper….Don’t worry though, we have plans for you and your friends,” yet another message read.

Acts of vandalism, property destruction, distribution of harassing flyers, and threats to ruin businesses employing Proposition 8 supporters are also detailed in the lawsuit.

“The United States Supreme Court has ruled that campaign disclosure laws can be invalidated if it subjects supporters to threats, harassment or reprisals from government, or private parties,” Prentice added. “That is exactly what has happened with supporters of Proposition 8.”

Among its claims that disclosure requirements of California’s Political Reform Act are unconstitutional, the suit argues that the right of campaign donors to exercise their First Amendment rights free from threats, harassment, and reprisals outweighs the state’s interest in compelling donor information to be disclosed.

The lawsuit also argues that the Political Reform Act’s requirement that political committees report all contributors of $100 is constitutionally overbroad. Likewise, the requirement that ballot measure committees file any reports after the election is argued to be unconstitutional because it is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.

Further, the lawsuit challenges the Act’s lack of a mechanism to purge all reports related to a ballot measure after the election has taken place.

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Caritas to help relieve ‘extreme international emergency’ in Zimbabwe

Rome, Italy, Jan 10, 2009 (CNA) - Following a Cholera outbreak and food shortages in Zimbabwe, Caritas Internationalis has launched a $7 million appeal to provide humanitarian assistance to the more than 250,000 people threatened by hunger and death.

Over the last five months, Cholera has killed over 1,700 people out of a reported 36,000 cases. Some five million people, half of Zimbabwe’s population, now rely on food aid to survive.

A Caritas survey of Zimbabwe in October and November 2008 showed that between 70 percent and 90 percent of families are barely managing to feed themselves. According to Caritas, the worst affected areas are Masvingo, Bulawayo and Hwange, followed by Gokwe, Mutare and Gweru, then Harare (the capital) and Chinhoyi.

In order to survive, members of many families are picking wild foods, selling their animals or household items, or engaging in prostitution.

Caritas plans to provide monthly food rations for 164,000 people, 88,000 midday meals for schoolchildren and farming training for 4,600 homes. The charity will also provide clean water access to 16,000 homes and will supply 5,000 people with basic health care.

About 200 cases of children fainting at school from lack of food have been reported.

Caritas relief will target the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe such as households headed by women or by children, as well as the sick and the elderly.

Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Lesley-Anne Knight commented on the crisis:

“People will die in Zimbabwe unless they receive urgent humanitarian assistance. At least five million people need food aid but many more are going hungry. The high mortality from Cholera indicates an extreme international emergency.

“Caritas will provide food aid to a quarter of a million of the most vulnerable people through this appeal. We will also provide homes with clean water to prevent the spread of Cholera.  The people of Zimbabwe desperately need our solidarity during this human tragedy.”

Deaths from hunger have been reported and the food crisis is expected to worsen during the peak of the hungry season from January to March.

Donations to Caritas can be made at http://www.caritas.org

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Martyred mother and four daughters role models for World Meeting of Families

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 10, 2009 (CNA) - Among the five families Pope Benedict XVI has chosen as role models for the upcoming Sixth World Meeting of Families is the family of Maria Teresa Ferragud Roig, who suffered martyrdom along with her four daughters during the Spanish Civil War.

According to the AVAN news agency, Maria Teresa, who was born in Algemesi, was 83 years old when on October 25, 1936, the feast of Christ the King, she asked to accompany her four daughters, all cloistered nuns, to their executions. She also asked their captors to be executed last in order to encourage each one her daughters to die courageously for the faith. The five women died that day in Alzira (Valencia) and were beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II, together with 229 other martyrs of the religious persecution of 1936.

Ramon Fita, an official from the diocesan commission for the causes of the saints, told the AVAN agency that the selection of the Ferragud family as a model of the Christian family by Benedict XVI is “a joy for our diocese and for the universal Church.”

The four daughters of Maria Teresa Ferragud had taken refuge at home once the Spanish Civil War broke out. Militants arrested the nuns, but the mother “wanted to follow them and not leave them abandoned,” telling the executors: ‘Wherever my daughters are going, I’m going too,’ Fita said.

Three of the nuns, Maria Jesus, Maria Felicidad and Maria Veronica were Poor Clares, while the fourth, Josefa, was a Discalced Augustinian.

The other four families selected to be role models for the World Meeting of Families include the Basilio and Emilia family, who lived in 4th century Turkey and had nine children, four of whom became saints; Senator Gordiano and his wife Silvia, the parents of Pope Gregory the Great, who lived in the 6th century; Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quaatrochi of the 20th century, the first married couple to be raised to the altar; and Blesseds Louis Martin and Marie Zelie Guerin, who lived during the 19th century and were the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux.

 The Sixth World Meeting of Families will be celebrated January 14-18 in Mexico City.

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