My letter to the State Department [based upon Greenpeace's petition]:
Why do you need to be told the following, and once told, why would you possibly ignore it other than for reasons of supporting hyper-greedy, stupid, destructive anti-environmentalists? It's a shame humanity finds itself in need of coercion, but...
There's almost no protection at all for the world's oceans. And it shows...
Companies like Chicken of the Sea are pushing some tuna and shark species to the brink of extinction in the Pacific Ocean with their destructive fishing practices.
Industrial fishing vessels are destroying the breathtaking coral habitats of the Bering Sea canyons and putting an entire ecosystem at risk.
Japanese, Icelandic and Norwegian whaling vessels continue to ignore international law and kill thousands of majestic whales from the Southern Ocean to the North Atlantic each year.
These challenges can be addressed together with a single solution — a network of fully protected marine reserves. So why is the State Department standing in the way?
It's time you take action to protect our oceans. I urge you to take the lead in establishing a network of marine reserves before it's too late.
Right now, less than one percent of the world's oceans are set aside as marine reserves. That's why we're working on a global agreement which would allow the international community to establish a network of marine reserves on the high seas. Unfortunately, the US government seems to be standing in the way of these efforts by refusing to join along with other countries who are in favor of developing a new agreement to create a network of marine reserves.
The high seas are like the Wild West at the moment. It might be good for the companies that are making billions off the destruction, but it is killing our oceans. If we don't start protecting and managing our oceans they aren't going to survive. Marine reserves are a proven and cost effective tool for protecting biodiversity, rebuilding fish populations, and enhancing fisheries in surrounding areas.
The best chance we have to get the international community on the right path toward creating a network of protected areas is this summer in Brazil. The US delegation is developing their position right now. We are paying attention.
A global network of fully protected marine reserves would benefit sea turtles, whales, tuna, seals, narwhals and any other creature (including humans) that you can think of.
The global oceans are facing an unprecedented crisis -- if we do not start protecting and managing them sustainably they are not going to survive. The high seas are currently like the Wild West, with many areas outside of law and enforcement. With over 99% of the high seas unprotected, they are the least protected part of the planet. An Oceans Rescue Plan that ends overfishing and creates a global network of marine reserves is urgently needed for a sustainable future for our oceans and the billions of people depending on them for food and income.
In June 2012 at the Rio+20 Summit, States could put an end to the Wild West in the high seas and kick start the Oceans Rescue Plan. A fundamental component of the Rescue Plan is a global agreement under the UN Convention on Law of the Sea that would enable governments to protect marine life in the high seas and act on their long-standing commitments to create a global network of marine reserves. An overwhelming majority of States support such an agreement and are willing to make the commitment in Rio, however a handful of States, in particular the US have been opposing progress.
We strongly urge the US government to stop standing in the way of high seas protection. The US is an undisputed global leader in both sustainable fisheries management and marine conservation within our own waters; The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act put US fisheries management at the forefront of science-driven sustainable fisheries management and is looked at as a model for fisheries reform around the world. The US is also one of the first nations to establish large scale Marine Reserves within our own EEZ. It is time for the US to now demonstrate this same strong leadership for marine conservation on the global stage.
The US must be part of building a solution for high seas protection at Rio that will safeguard our oceans now and for future generations.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)