Here’s a new category that I thought you might get a kick out of. Each Thursday I’ll write about a bizarre news story that took place in my local area (Washington State) and you counter that news with a story from your state!
A couple months ago, at approximately 11:30 pm, a Seattle area man woke up his six and four year old daughters, put them in the backseat of the car, and told them they were taking a trip to The Dollar Store for some toys.
Driving at a high rate of speed – and hopped up on meth – he proceeded to hit a few cars along the way on one of the main North/South freeways, I-5. When his car finally came to a stop, having crashed into a barrier, other drivers pulled over to provide help. Seeing that two young girls were in the back seat, those who came to the assist yelled at the driver to unlock the doors. The driver initially refused. When he finally allowed access to the vehicle, the girls were removed, and although they had several seat belt bruises across their torsos, they appeared to be okay.
When the Good Samaritans gained access to the driver’s side of the vehicle in an effort to help the methed out driver, they discovered he was wearing a woman’s blouse with prosthetic breasts strapped to his chest. Oh, one other detail: he was naked from the waist down, and had a full bag of urine at his feet.
He is being held on $250,000 bail. His arraignment hearing is scheduled for July 1st.
How about news in your neck of the woods? Anything even half as unbelievable occur near you? The news story you submit doesn’t have to be icky like the one I provided, it can be too stupid to believe as well – as a matter of fact, that’s preferred.
It’s happening again. Churches are being encouraged to get involved in politics by using their worship space as the venue in which worshipers can sign petitions that speak out for, or against, certain governmental policies.
In April 2012, prior to November’s General Election, the Roman Catholic Church in Washington State, and other statewide mainline Christian denominations, held petition signings during their worship services in an attempt to shoot down Referendum 74 which was drafted to acknowledge marriage equality between men and women who chose to marry someone of their own gender. Politics invaded that worship space, thus blurring or obliterating the line that separates spiritual church practices from government policy.
Earlier this week, a local Seattle area church capped off their worship service by offering Letters to the President for church members to sign supporting restrictions regarding gun control. Today, President Obama announced the formation of a commission on gun control and encouraged the American people to help change the current gun laws in an effort to reign in gun violence, and to focus on improving access to mental health services. You’ll hear no argument from me on that effort – I might sign any worthwhile and well-thought out petition that is not being promoted by any religious leader and not being made available in any church organization’s worship space. In today’s statement, however, the President asked for the help of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, Pastors, and the like, to be a part of this effort because he can not do it by himself. It is my hope, however, that these efforts will not be cloaked in the trappings of religious beliefs or precepts. Standing at the pulpit trying to persuade church attendees to support more rigorous gun control measures – or to not support such measures – is an abuse of the pulpit.
Surely there are other non-pastoral men and women who can provide the same well-thought out petition signing opportunities centered around gun control and mental health issues in more public and civic settings.
Retail locations, libraries, city and county government offices, and – dare I say it – school campuses – come to mind as more appropriate locations for such efforts. Those close to me know that I am a well-read, spiritually sensitive, and globally aware human being. I’m outspoken and painstakingly fair in what I believe and in what I support, but on this issue I can not back down: anything politically motivated must be separate from all that is housed within the walls of ones worship space. You don’t have to believe as I do, that’s your right. I am simply, yet passionately, proposing that any efforts such as were introduced today, not be cloaked in the vestments of religion.
My local newspaper ran an investigative report about the Adult Family Home (AFH) industry in Washington State. Depending upon where you live, a similar assisted living home may be called a Group Home.
In Washington State, no more than 6 residents can live in an Adult Family Home. These “businesses” popped up all over Washington State over the past several years as entrepreneurs realized how much money they could make taking in residents and charging thousands for rent and resident care. At this writing, there are close to 2,900 AFHs in the state. Since 2010, 446 of those were cited for violations of health or safety standards. Caveat: there are many Adult Family Homes that are doing an extraordinary job, but it’s the bad ones that make the Headlines and that’s the way it should be.
June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. I thought it appropriate to provide Michael Berens’ series, “Seniors for Sale” in six parts this week, but I provide it with a warning that this Pulitzer Prize winning expose can be very difficult to read, and watch. Nevertheless, awareness is key, so I hope all will benefit from his extensive work on this piece. Whether you live in the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, or elsewhere globally, abuse occurs world-wide and it’s the vulnerable adults in this world who are its targets.
Seniors for Sale – I provide this link to Part 1 of the series – “Ann.”