Philocrites : Scrapbook : September 2006 Archive

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Want to reduce abortion? Then support birth control

Quoted 09.30.06:

How do you stop abortions without restricting them? One way is to persuade women to complete their pregnancies instead of terminating them. The other is to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place. And there's the rub -- or, in this case, the rubber. The two House bills used to be one proposal, backed by an alliance of antiabortion lawmakers and organizations. The alliance split because one faction wanted to fund contraception and the other didn't. . . .

[Rep. Timothy J. Ryan (D-Ohio) is] tired of pious slogans and symbolic bills crafted to save more congressional seats than babies. He has had enough of the debate between life and choice. He wants a new abortion debate. "You're either for reducing the number, or you're not," he says.

William Saletan, Washington Post 10.1.06, reg req'd

Too few pulpits for Protestant M.Div.'s

Quoted 09.30.06:

Adair Lummis, a professor at the Hartford Seminary's Institute for Religion Research in Connecticut, said studies "suggest that in mainline Protestantism, a growing proportion of seminary graduates can't find jobs."

"Many of them," Lummis said, "are women."

Only about 50 to 65 percent of the approximately 8,000 new theology school graduates with masters of divinity degrees "are finding positions in congregational ministry," said Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools [ATS] in the United States and Canada.

Frank Bentayou [RNS], Washington Post 9.30.06, reg req'd

Monday, September 25, 2006

Benedict's offense

Quoted 09.25.06:

Benedict properly affirms the rationality of faith, and the corollary that faith should be spread by reasoned argument and not by violent coercion. But he does so as a way of positing Christian superiority to other faiths.

That was the point of the passing comparison with Islam — which, supposedly, is irrational and therefore intrinsically violent, unlike Christianity which is rational and intrinsically eschews coercion. . . .

Benedict seems to have forgotten that the European rejection of violent coercion in religion came about not through religion but through the secular impulses of the Enlightenment.

The separation of church and state, in defense of the primacy of individual conscience, was the sine qua non of that rejection of religious coercion — an idea that the Catholic Church fought into the 20th century.

James Carroll, Boston Globe 9.25.06, reg req'd

Sunday, September 24, 2006

US spy agencies: Iraq war made terror threat worse

Quoted 09.24.06:

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe. . . .

The report "says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," said one American intelligence official.

Mark Mazzetti, New York Times 9.24.06, reg req'd

Friday, September 22, 2006

All Saints refuses to comply with IRS investigation

Quoted 09.22.06:

At a news conference attended by 50 cheering supporters gathered before the marble altar at All Saints Episcopal Church, the Rev. Ed Bacon said his 3,500-member congregation did not violate tax regulations barring tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates when a former rector, George F. Regas, criticized the Bush administration two days before the 2004 presidential election. . . .

Joined by members of other faiths, he added, "We are also not here for ourselves alone but to defend the freedom of pulpits in faith communities throughout our land."

Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times 9.22.06, reg req'd

IRS renews investigation into antiwar Episcopal sermon

Quoted 09.22.06:

A liberal Pasadena church facing an IRS investigation over alleged politicking sounded a defiant note Sunday, with its leaders and many congregants saying the probe amounted to an assault on their constitutional rights and that they were inclined to defy the agency's request for documents. . . .

All Saints came under IRS scrutiny shortly after [the Rev. George F.] Regas, the church's former rector, delivered a sermon that depicted Jesus in a mock debate with then-presidential candidates George W. Bush and John F. Kerry. The sermon did not endorse either candidate.

Regas' suggestion that Jesus would have told Bush his preemptive war strategy in Iraq "has led to disaster" prompted a letter from the IRS in June 2005 stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be a tax-exempt church."

Scott Glover and Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times 9.18.06, reg req'd; background

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

America's four gods

Quoted 09.12.06:

A new survey of religion in the USA finds four very different images of God . . .

The Authoritarian God (31.4% of Americans overall, 43.3% in the South) is angry at humanity's sins and engaged in every creature's life and world affairs. . . .

The Benevolent God (23% overall, 28.7% in the Midwest) still sets absolute standards for mankind in the Bible. . . .

The Critical God (16% overall, 21.3% in the East) has his judgmental eye on the world, but he's not going to intervene, either to punish or to comfort. . . .

The Distant God (24.4% overall, 30.3% in the West) is . . . a cosmic force that launched the world, then left it spinning on its own.

Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today 9.11.06

Monday, September 11, 2006

Meet the 9/11 conspiracy theorists

Quoted 09.11.06:

Debunking 9/11 MythsThe loose agglomeration known as the "9/11 Truth Movement" has stopped looking for truth from the government. As cacophonous and free-range a bunch of conspiracists anywhere this side of Guy Fawkes, they produce hip-hop inflected documentaries and scholarly conferences. The Web is their mother lode. Every citizen is a researcher. There's nothing like a triple, Google-fed epiphany lighting up the laptop at 2:44 a.m.

Michael Powell, Washington Post 9.8.06, reg req'd; see also The Ground Zero grassy knoll (Mark Jacobson, New York 3.27.06), 9/11: Debunking the myths (Popular Mechanics 3.05); buy Debunking the 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts from Amazon.com

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Perceptions of Democrats' faith-friendliness still getting worse

Quoted 09.02.06:

The Pew Research Center's annual poll on religion and politics [pdf], released last week, shows that while 85 percent of voters say religion is important to them, only 26 percent of Americans think the Democratic Party is "friendly" to religion. That's down from 40 percent in the summer of 2004 and 42 percent the year before that — in other words, a 16-point plunge over three years. The decline is especially troubling because it cuts across the political and religious spectra, encompassing liberals and conservatives, white and black evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. . . .

Two years ago, half of Democrats thought that their party was friendly to religion. Now that number has dropped to 39.6 percent, with a 12-point decline among respondents who aren't affiliated with a religious tradition. These Democrats view the party's interest in talking to religious voters as a sure betrayal of the party's principles.

Amy Sullivan, Slate 8.29.06