After weeks of intense criticism and media coverage surrounding the Diocese of Oakland's new "morals" code in its teacher contracts, Bishop Michael Barber now says he may revise the controversial language. But if he does, it won't be until next year, for the 2015-16 contracts. As we reported earlier this month, Barber has faced intense backlash for requiring teachers to sign a new clause saying they agree to "model and promote" Catholic faith and morals in their personal lives. Some teachers have refused to sign, arguing that officials could use this contractual language to fire employees for a wide range of troubling reasons — including for being LGBT or non-Catholic. Officials from the diocese have responded that the bishop has no intention of targeting certain employees or behaviors — and spokesperson Mike Brown told me today the language could change for 2015-16, but that nothing has been finalized.
Last week, I wrote about a brewing controversy at Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley regarding the dismissal of two beloved priests — one who has spoken openly about being gay. The concern from some parishioners at the progressive Catholic church was that Michael Barber, the new bishop of the Oakland Diocese, had a more conservative agenda and was seeking greater control of Newman Hall.
When I was working on the story, an Oakland Diocese spokesperson said that Barber was away on a retreat and unavailable for comment. The bishop, however, also had not offered any public statements to parishioners about the dismissals — and had not responded to the letters of concern some had sent to his office. Today, more than three weeks after the parish first learned of the dismissals, the Diocese of Oakland sent out a press release officially announcing the two replacement priests, with direct commentary from the bishop.
Two conservative nonprofits, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, have poured almost $60 million into TV ads to influence the presidential race so far, outgunning all Super PACs put together, new spending estimates show. These nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s or c4s for their section of the tax code, don't have to disclose their donors to the public.
Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, who, you may remember, helped conceive, fund, and organize the same-sex marriage ban Proposition 8, is headed to San Francisco — you know, that bastion of anti-gay rights — to replace retiring Archbishop George Niederauer. Does that make any sense?
It was odd enough when Cordileone was chosen to lead the diocese in Oakland — a progressive city with a sizable LGBT population — in March 2009, just months after helping Prop 8 to victory. Cordileone, who is currently chairman of the Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has never been shy about his stance against same-sex marriage. (Read our 2009 cover story on him here.) In fact, this is what he recently said at a news conference, according to ABC 7 News: "Marriage is the union between a man and a woman because children can only come about through the embrace of a man and a woman." Which really makes you wonder why the Catholic Church would put him in a city where 75 percent of voters were against Prop 8.
In a recent memo, Oakland's Treasury Manager Katano Kasaine advises that the city council approve a negotiating effort to terminate Oakland's costly interest rate swap deal with Goldman Sachs no later than the end of the next fiscal year. The swap currently costs Oakland taxpayers about $4 million per year and has put serious pressure on the city's budget. As such, Kasaine is recommending that the city attempt to terminate the swap "at a below market value cost."
Watch this before going to bed tonight:
So, guys. The Rapture. In case you missed it, it's coming soon. Like, really soon. Tomorrow soon, at least according to Oakland's very own Harold Camping, his Family Radio broadcast network — also based in Oakland — and those ominous billboards you've undoubtedly seen all over everywhere in recent months. We know sixteen hours isn't much time to dispose of all your earthly goods, say bye to your loved ones, and work on a cute icebreaker for when you finally meet God, but we invite you to take a break and read Katy St. Clair's amazing, in-depth cover story about Camping, published in the Express way back in 2003.
So, all of you who expressed consternation about the forthcoming *Rapture* and various iterations thereof, consider yourselves validated. Yes, it turns out Family Radio host and self-stylized Rapture prophesizer Harold Camping isn't just a local Cassandra, he's also profiting immensely from this whole imbroglio. As Matthias Gafni reported today in the Contra Costa Times, Family Radio has seen a huge increase in $cash money$ as the day of Judgment approaches. According to tax returns, the non-profit Christian broadcast station raised more than $7 million over the past 7 years, and was worth more than $72 million in 2009, the Coco Times reports. That's not to mention the fact that its ever-expanding empire includes 66 radio stations internationally. Those 5,000 Judgment Day Billboards may have cost millions of dollars to produce, but they appear to be generating new revenue streams for the company.
Lest you've been comatose for the last month or so, let's fill you in on the biggest news story of the last —oh— two thousand years: The Rapture is coming. Like, Saturday. The saved will ascend to heaven, the graves will unleash their dead, and the rest of us will be left to walk among corpses and zombies. Sounds like an opportune moment for a little looting, right?
Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger do not have to defend Prop 8 in federal court, a state appellate court ruled today, according to AP. The state court denied a motion by a conservative legal group that sought to force California’s attorney general and governor to defend the anti-gay-marriage law in a federal appellate case. The conservative group had argued that Brown and Schwarzenegger have no right to pick and choose what state laws to uphold. Both men have said they believe Prop 8 violates the US Constitution.