Friday, August 27, 2004

Religious News Roundup for August 27

Before we dig into the links, a brief reflection: over the past day or so, I've been going back and forth with fellow Kossack galiel here over the Pew Poll. Though we're not totally in agreement, he's gotten me to see some ways that such polls leave out the rather large chunk of the populace who are unaffiliated, agnostic or atheists. I'll write more on this issue later, but for now, let me say this for myself and on behalf of fellow religious-minded Kossites: we are going through an internal battle within Christianity (and to a lesser extent Judaism and Islam) over which end of the political spectrum, if any, gets to define our faith. An unfortunate consequence of that debate is a bit of myopia; we sometimes forget that we're not the only folks out there in the American landscape. Accept our apologies, and know that as progressives, we are committed to some of the same overarching goals you have: defeating George W. Bush in November, and limiting the ability of hateful, narrow-minded people to dominate our civil and religious discourse.


Without further ado, here's today's categories:


(PS: be on the lookout for a great Johnny Cash graphic.)

Religion & Politics
Plenty to report in this category. More reactions to the Deal Hudson story here (and here and here and several other places, besides). More on the Pew Poll here, though you have to scroll pretty far down the page to find it.


Dick Cheney continues to be a thorn in the flesh of the Bush campaign, this time by expressing support for gay marriage. More links here. It's nice to take note that even Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition are having trouble choking down the Evil One's statements.


Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell is declaring himself "unashamed" of his endorsement of Pres. Bush. Granted, Pastor Dan is fairly outspoken about his support for John Kerry, but he never, ever lets that be linked to his position in the church. Mel Martinez and Johnnie Byrd are slugging it out in Florida for the title of "Scariest Right-Wing Christian," while both Bushes (W. and Jeb) silently pray that they'll go away quietly.


An unnamed group of nuns has "come out" against the FMA. Are there Maryknoll sisters?


RNR may have misjudged the new "Faith of George W. Bush" documentary slated for a media viewing on Aug. 30 at the RNC. Sure, it's still probably a hack-job biased thoroughly in favor of Dear Leader, but check out this paragraph from their news release:

Included in this documentary are public comments from journalists such as Susan Jacoby and Robert Sheer of the Los Angeles Times; Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner's Magazine; and activists like actor Richard Gere, political maverick Ralph Nader and Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State. On-camera interviews recalling private observations of President Bush are former Reagan Energy Secretary Don Hodel, President George H.W. Bush's Special Assistant Doug Wead, former Time correspondent David Aikman, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Catholic publisher Deal Hudson, Bush Bible-study teacher Donald Poage, civil-rights activist Robert Woodson, author Stephen Mansfield, and many others.


Now we're kinda curious to see the video, just to know what some of these folks have to say, and how badly out-of-context their statements are taken.


As has been widely reported, Sojourners Magazine will be placing an ad in the NYT at the beginning of the RNC, declaring that "God is not a Republican or a Democrat." See the ad here, and an explanatory article here. They included a cute graphic from a flash video in their e-mail announcement,



but the real deal is the protest "Johnny Cash is not a Republican or a Democrat." Jeanne D'Arc at Body and Soul throws in this classic pic in reporting the protest:



Click on Johnny for more details.


Church & State
Both the LA Times and the NYT are calling for William "My God is bigger than yours" Boykin's dismissal, in the wake of the Pentagon ruling against him. The Christianity Today weblog has a contrary opinion.


The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported last Friday that the borough of Paxtang has ruled in favor of a pro-life yard sign posted by a local couple. RNR is experiencing cognitive dissonance here: Cheers for freedom of speech, Jeers for the message, as one of our online friends would put it.


The church is fighting back against the state, it seems: a Houston-area Baptist minister was sentenced to two years in prison for biting a police officer during a traffic stop. Serves him right for acting as his own lawyer.


This 'n' That
This morning brings us a number of items that don't fit easily into any category.


Most important first: the BBC has a fistful of links on the apparent cease-fire in Najaf, and reports on a clock in Times Square that calculates the cost of the war in/on Iraq in real time.


Bartholomew's Notes on Religion has a post with more details of the expulsion of Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan. Bart's implication is that the Department of Homeland Security was manipulated into the action by some not-necessarily-disinterested groups.


There's an interesting--quite odd, actually--story in St. Louis' independent Riverfront Times about Archbishop Raymond Burke's time in LaCrosse, before coming down to the home of the Cardinals.


A press release from Minnesota declares that food pantry usage has skyrocketed in the land of 10,000 lakes. This, for non-churchy folks, is a "leading indicator" of need. It means that we haven't turned any economic corners lately, and probably won't for a while to come. If anyone has similar stories from other parts of the country, I'd be interested in seeing them.


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has dropped below 5 million members for the first time. An Op-Ed from the Daily Telegraph speculates that one of the reasons for the plummeting rates of participation in English churches is the wrangling over irrelevant points of doctrine, specifically the place of women as priests in the Church of England. To which RNR responds: you think?


And last but not least, today's, um, "Thought for Today," once again from the Sufi poet and mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi:

Christ is the population of the world,
and every object as well. There is no room
for hypocrisy. Why use bitter soup for healing
when sweet water is everywhere?

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