Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Religious News Roundup for Wednesday, August 11

Jeers to broken coffee makers, as they say. If Pastor's typing is a bit jITteRy today, blame it on his backup: the espresso machine.

Church & State

A few admittedly minor links: a Houston judge has ordered a Bible to be removed from a monument outside the county courthouse so as "not [to] be seen as endorsing Christianity." In a (conceptually) related story, Roy Moore is taking another crack at getting himself reinstated to the Alabama Supreme Court. Here's hoping this phony will have a shelf-life briefer than Brittany Spears' panties.

Gary Bauer has issued a press release endorsing Mel Martinez's reelection campaign, proving that they're both...proving what we all knew about both of them before this. Ahem.

The Christianity Today weblog reports that the American Bar Association is considering guidelines that would prohibit judges from serving organizations that endorse discrimination based on sexual orientation.

On the one hand, I can see the ABA's legal point: judges cannot appear to be biased, particularly with a segment of the population that continues to grow in visibility. On the other hand, CT seems to raise a valid point in saying that these guidelines might hit organizations quite unevenly, barring judges from serving as Boy Scout troop leaders, for example, but not from being a National Guard reservist or even sending a check to Focus on the Family.

On the third hand, I can't help thinking that those contradictions and inconsistencies are the product of anti-gay discrimination, not the ABA's attempt to address that discrimination. Comments from lawyers?

Catholic News

The Catholic church remains dauntingly, maddeningly, complex. Rep. David Obey (D, Wisconsin) was one of the politicians barred from communion by Bishop Raymond Burke, before Burke moved to St. Louis. Obey's recently struck back with an article in America magazine, detailed here by Catholic News Service. The last few paragraphs of the article are killer:

He said some have compared Archbishop Burke's stand to that of the late Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel of New Orleans who in 1962 excommunicated three Catholics who opposed desegregation of schools.

"The difference is that Archbishop Rummel acted against three people who were trying to obstruct the implementing of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, which under our system is the law of the land," he wrote.

"Archbishop Burke is doing just the opposite," Obey added. "He is attempting to single me out because I will not take actions that I have considered to be subversive of federal court decisions that are still the law of the land that I have taken an oath to uphold, whether I like it or not."

I love David Obey. Brotherly Christian love, of course.

Meanwhile, the National Catholic Reporter has an editorial on the Vatican's letter on the "Collaboration of Men and Women." Best line? How's this: "Many would consider the Vatican writing about women nothing more than a late-night comedy sketch waiting to happen." Ouch.

Meanwhile meanwhile, CNS shows another side to Catholicism here, with a report on Catholic concern for those with little or no health care, and Religious News Service (via PBS) notes yet another side here, with the announcement by the Boston Archdiocese that it would close another 10 churches in its restructuring plan. That brings the total to 81, and the costs in finances and grief to a nearly incalculable amount.

Religion & Politics

If you didn't see it above, David Obey has an article in America magazine concerning Bishop Raymond Burke's ban on Obey's reception of communion.

Meanwhile, BeliefNet's God-o-Meter has the two tickets roughly tied, and leaning toward the "theocratic" side.(!) They're less certain about Kerry-Edwards' coherence on the religion thing, though. Also from BeliefNet, SwamiUptown takes a crack at the Swift Boat controversy. He absolutely demolishes his right-leaning counterpart's logic on the matter:

Let's try LC's logic: Swami was in New York City when the President came to town. A few months later, Swami gets headlines by claiming that he saw Bush drinking Red Bull-and-vodka in a gay bar. Obviously, this is a lie. But say Swami writes in the next day's blog, "Hey, Swami and Bush were on the same island at the same time." Then he's framed the line as something less than the total fib it is. You could--if you were a Republican apologist--almost say he's presented a rejoinder. And he has, if you assume his readers are morons--or capable of being stunned into abject stupefaction.

Brains are a many-splendored thing, are they not?

And just for my secular readers, the Revealer carries an article on religius coverage of the campaign from the Raving Atheist, whom they describe as "one of the most popular godless godbloggers on the web."

This 'n' That

A Fuller Seminary professor from Finland is the latest casualty of new Patriot Act immigration rules. The short version: to get a visa for international instructors, seminaries must be aligned with a single denomination. Since Fuller is interdenominational, the Finn got yanked. Summary here, and more details here and here. I gotta tell ya, if I was Tom Ridge, I'd be suspicious of those Pentecostal researchers, too.

I don't know if this last item fits under "Nice to Know" or "What the Dilly-O?". But in any case, the Greek Orthodox church will be praying that Greek athletes might not be lazy in the upcoming Olympics. Now, if they could only do the same thing for the leadership of our country...


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