The Dalai Lama Gave Up His Political Role

posted May 31, 2011, 2:15 AM by Garrett Fogerlie

New Delhi (CNN) -- The Dalai Lama has formally relinquished his political and administrative powers, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The Tibetan spiritual leader approved amendments to the exiled constitution to enable him to devolve his political responsibilities into the community's elected leadership and judiciary, according to officials.

Lobsang Choedak, a spokesman for the exiled Tibetan government, said the changes were carried out during a three-day session of its parliament in the Himalayan town of Dharamsala, India. The Dalai Lama approved them Sunday.

The amendments came after a special assembly of Tibetans urged the Dalai Lama to reconsider his decision to cede his ceremonial powers, a plea he rejected, Choedak said.

Lobsang Sangay, who was elected head of Tibet's government-in-exile last month, now fills the shoes of the Dalai Lama as "head of state," Choedak said.

But the Dalai Lama remains the spiritual leader of the global Tibetan community. In March, the Dalai Lama announced his plan to retire as political head of the Tibetan exile movement, saying the community needed an elected leader "to whom I can devolve power."

"The essence of a democratic system is, in short, the assumption of political responsibility by elected leaders for the popular good," he said in his March message to Tibet's parliament-in-exile. "In order for our process of democratization to be complete, the time has come for me to devolve my formal authority to such an elected leadership."

The Dalai Lama fled China 52 years ago, on March 10, 1959, after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Shirley Phelps-Roper & Westboro Baptist Church Protest Memorial Day, 2011

posted May 30, 2011, 5:09 PM by Garrett Fogerlie

Washington (CNN) -- Protesting members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church were met with an unlikely group of counter-protesters Monday at Arlington Cemetery.

Hours before President Barack Obama led the nation's Memorial Day observances at the Tomb of the Unknowns, three members of the Westboro Baptist Church were challenged by others who disagreed with them -- including members claiming to be from the Ku Klux Klan.

The Kansas-based church has attracted nationwide attention for its angry, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military members.

Among those counter-protesting at the cemetery's main entrance: About 10 members of a group that claims to be a branch of the Ku Klux Klan from Virginia called the Knights of the Southern Cross. They were cordoned off separately in a nearby area, but drew little attention as they gave out small American flags behind a banner that read "POW-MIA."

They said they were there to object to the Westboro Baptist Church's anti-troop message.

"It's the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech," said Dennis LaBonte, the self-described "Imperial Wizard" of the KKK group that he said he formed several years ago.

"That's fine," said Abigail Phelps, the daughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps. "They have no moral authority on anything.

"People like them say it's white power ... white supremacy," Phelps said. "The Bible doesn't say anywhere that it's an abomination to be born of a certain gender or race."

LaBonte insisted he is not a racist nor a "hate-monger," but said he believes the white race is "slowly and most assuredly being denigrated."

Members of the group declined to say whether they were armed.

A larger group of about 70 protesters -- separate from the KKK -- located across the street waved pro-USA signs and took turns shouting down the Westboro Baptist Church group.

Some of the counter-protesters, including Malaika Elias, stood in front of the Westboro participants in an attempt to block them from street view.

"I think they're twisted and confused, and we're just here to show them there are people who think they're completely wrong," Elias said.

Many passersby shouted their thanks to the counter-protesters as they entered the cemetery on foot and in vehicles.

Several police officers, some on horseback, observed the proceedings.

Phelps said her trio was there to tell people they should not "idolize" the dead, especially those who died for an "unrighteous cause."

World Religion News

posted May 6, 2011, 10:22 AM by Viva Paco   [ updated May 22, 2011, 4:33 AM ]

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