Philocrites : Scrapbook : June 2007 Archive

Saturday, June 30, 2007

High school scholar hands Bush anti-torture letter

Quoted 06.30.07:

Usually, the high school seniors who win the federal government's highest honor just go to the White House, pick up their Presidential Scholars medal, and get their picture taken for posterity with the president.

Mari Oye had other ideas.

In the Georgetown University dormitory the night before the big moment, the newly minted Wellesley High graduate persuaded 49 of her 140 fellow scholars to sign a letter she and a dozen others had drafted and she had just written longhand on notebook paper, calling on President Bush to reject torture and treat terrorism suspects humanely.

Claire Cummings, Boston Globe 6.30.07; letter to the president

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Uh oh: Americans trust military, distrust church

Quoted 06.28.07:

Americans trust the military and the police force significantly more than the church and organized religion, a new Gallup Poll says.

Only 46 percent of respondents said they had either a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the church, compared with 69 percent who said they trusted the military and 54 percent who trust police officers. . . .

But while confidence is waning for organized religion, the numbers are even bleaker for other American institutions. Just 25 percent expressed confidence in the presidency, while a mere 14 percent say they trust Congress.

Michelle Rindels [RNS], Beliefnet 6.26.07

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Postal rate hike threatens small religious magazines

Quoted 06.27.07:

Last month, the cost of mailing a letter rose 2 cents, to 41 cents for first class. That's an increase of more than 5 percent, a cost many Americans chalk up to the price of doing business.

But on July 15, religious-oriented publications will face increases of at least 11 percent, and some as high as 20 percent or more. That's a cost many small magazines say could put them out of business.

"There will be church publications that close, publications that will have to become monthly or quarterly," said Bob Terry, editor and president of the Birmingham-based Alabama Baptist newspaper. "We're nickel and diming already, and now I'm going to have to come up with $100,000 more per year for postal costs."

Philip Turner [RNS], Washington Post 6.2.07; Stamp out the rate hike: Save small, independent magazines (Free Press)

Young American voters shift to the left

Quoted 06.27.07:

More than half of Americans between 17 and 29 years old — 54 percent — say they intend to vote for a Democrat for president in 2008. . . .

[Y]oung Americans appear to lean slightly more to the left than the general population: 28 percent described themselves as liberal, compared with 20 percent of the nation at large. And 27 percent called themselves conservative, compared with 32 percent of the general public. . . .

Many have a bleak view about their own future and the direction the country is heading: 70 percent said the country is on the wrong track, while 48 percent said they fear that their generation will be worse off than their parents But the survey also found that this generation of Americans is not cynical: 77 percent said they thought the votes of their generation would have a great bearing on who becomes the next president.

Adam Nagourney and Megan C. Thee, New York Times 6.26.07, reg req'd; thanks, Kinsi!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Obama speaks at United Church of Christ convention

Quoted 06.24.07:

Addressing the 50th anniversary convention of his own denomination, the United Church of Christ, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois said Saturday that the religious right had "hijacked" faith and divided the country by exploiting issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and school prayer.

But Mr. Obama said that religion has a rightful role to play in American politics, and he praised people of faith who he said are now using their influence to try to unite Americans against problems like poverty, AIDS, the health care crisis and the violence in Darfur.

Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 6.24.07, reg req'd

Friday, June 15, 2007

Episcopal Executive Council declines Primates' demands

Quoted 06.15.07:

The Episcopal Church's Executive Council told the Anglican Communion June 14 that no governing body other than General Convention can interpret Convention resolutions or agree to deny "future decisions by dioceses or General Convention."

The Council declined to participate in a plan put forward by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in February for dealing with some disaffected Episcopal Church dioceses. . . .

The Council . . . said that the "requests of the Primates are of a nature that can only be responded to by our General Convention." The Convention next meets in the summer of 2009.

Mary Frances Schjonberg [ENS], Episcopal Life Online 6.14.07; more coverage

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mass. amendment banning gay marriage hangs by thread

Quoted 06.14.07:

With the Constitutional Convention just hours away, a proposal to allow voters to decide the future of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts was hanging by a thread in the Legislature last night.

By all accounts, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, and Governor Deval Patrick, all strong supporters of gay marriage, were within one or two votes of blocking the proposal from reaching the 2008 ballot.

Frank Phillips, Boston Globe 6.14.07, reg req'd; on the other hand, supporters of the ban are chafing at pressure from powerful Dems (David Bernstein, Boston Phoenix 6.7.07)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Young Americans' increasingly libertarian views of marriage

Quoted 06.12.07:

When I came out with a book making the case for same-sex marriage a few years ago, I expected to spend time selling gay marriage to straight people and marriage to gay people. The surprise was how much time I spent selling marriage to straight people. . . .

Audiences received my gay-marriage pitch in predictably varied ways. What consistently surprised me, however, was how few people thought of marriage as anything more than a private contract. Particularly among groups of younger people, the standard view was that marriage is just an individual lifestyle choice. If chosen, great. If not chosen, great. I would leave such encounters with a troubling thought: Perhaps straights were becoming receptive to gay marriage partly because they had devalued marriage itself.

Jonathan Rauch, Democracy (Summer 2007); buy Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America by Jonathan Rauch (; via Debitage

Why Massachusetts's most powerful pols might not block gay marriage ban

Quoted 06.12.07:

[T]he most powerful people on Beacon Hill . . . are working actively to change votes, say those close to the action, in a serious effort to drive a stake through the heart of this latest attempt to write homophobia into the state constitution. To pull it off, they're focusing on just a handful of legislators who they believe could tip the balance in their favor.

Yet it's looking increasingly unlikely that they'll succeed. The sense on Beacon Hill these days is that the amendment still has more than the 50 votes needed to put the issue on the ballot in November 2008. And the list of possible vote-switchers is shrinking, say close Beacon Hill observers.

David S. Bernstein, Boston Phoenix 6.7.07

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sojourners forum explored faith, politics, but not their intersection

Quoted 06.09.07:

These conversations were about faith. They were about politics. They just weren't conversations about faith and politics.

Think of questions that could have explored that "and."

What does the Bible or any other religious source tell you about fighting poverty — and what doesnt it tell you? Likewise for writing tax legislation or extending health care.

Does your faith dictate any absolute principles, ones you would never compromise, for using military force? For interrogating prisoners? For making peace in the Middle East? For legal provision of abortion? For recognizing gay marriage?

Peter Steinfels, New York Times 6.9.07, reg req'd

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Sojourners forum begs question, What is 'religious left'?

Quoted 06.06.07:

What is the religious left, really? Is it a movement? Is it a demographic cleavage that has no political significance? Is it organized? Does it have a core? What are its priorities? How does it reconcile church with state? Does it have aspirations to attain client status along with other Democratic interest groups?

That Sojournors founder Rev. Jim Wallis is influential is not in dispute. The forum was proof enough of that. That the Democratic candidates are attentive to religion and values is evident from how often the frontrunners talk about it. But there was no real clarity to last night's forum. Wallis told the audience that he wanted the forum to focus on poverty — its motto was "Vote Out Poverty," he said — but only two of the roughly 20 questions touched on the issue.

Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic Online 6.5.07; see also Democratic candidates talk faith, Nedra Picker [AP], Washington Post 6.4.07

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How to kill your church: Sue vicar for proposing new toilets

Quoted 06.05.07:

"Love thy neighbour" is all very well, but when a vicar unveiled plans for new loos at a church in Trumpington disgruntled parishioners decided he had gone a step too far. . . .

Now, after members of the congregation and church council demanded action from the Bishop of Ely, he is facing an ecclesiastical tribunal over allegations there has been a pastoral breakdown in the parish. . . .

Mr de Bruyne said: "The lavatories proved an innovation too far. Tom insisted a modern church with an ageing congregation needed lavatories and went to the heritage experts for advice.

"Parish meetings became heated over where the loos should go. Never have I witnessed such vitriolic abuse and shouting from the old guard directed at their new vicar — and now he is in the firing line."

Cambridge [UK] Evening News 5.21.07; via Anglicans Online

Sojourners sponsors Dem faith forum with Clinton, Edwards, Obama

Quoted 06.05.07:

One presidential hopeful described how prayer helped him survive his son's death and his wife's cancer diagnosis. Another spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of faith in forgiving those who treat others unjustly. A third said of her husband's infidelity, "I'm not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith." . . .

[O]n Monday night, the three leading Democratic presidential hopefuls — former Senator John Edwards and Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton — opened up at an unusual televised forum about their faiths, the role of prayer in their public and private lives and the ways that religion informs their views on policy and government.

Patrick Healy and Michael Luo, New York Times 6.5.07, reg req'd