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Southern Religion

Creationism smuggled into Louisiana classrooms

Creationism stole a march on science via the Louisiana Science Education Act, which gives teachers license to use materials outside the curriculum specifically to teach “controversial” theories.

When state education officials translated legislation into policy that explicitly prohibited teaching intelligent design, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education pressured them into removing the language. The creationism-safe regulations were approved on Jan. 13, and the rest will almost inevitably end up on court.

Someone, says Barbara Forrest, a philosopher at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, will use Discovery Institute’s creationism-friendly book, Explore Evolution.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has already promised to file a lawsuit if Louisiana public schools start teaching religious concepts in biology classes.

That is the anti-evolutionist’s goal, argues Forest. They hope to find a more creationism-friendly federal judge and mount a better court case than in 1987 when Louisiana law mandating the equal-time teaching of creationism was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Religion, Science | , , , , | Comments Off on Creationism smuggled into Louisiana classrooms

Refusing to *what* on Sunday?

Refusing to work on Sunday can be an admirable matter of faith, unless twisted. Tom Steagld writes of his waitress daughter:

A group of six church-goers came in last night after their evening services and sat down, not in her area but in another server’s. When the girl came to greet them and take their drink order, one of them said, “We want to tell you up front that we will not be tipping you tonight because…”

Are you ready?

“…we do not believe in people working on Sunday.”

The rest is here

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion | , , , , , | Comments Off on Refusing to *what* on Sunday?

Vatican’s action may have inflamed anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism’s ugly flames were already flaring when Pope Benedict XVI extended his olive branch to a Holocaust-denier and three other right-wing bishops.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Since Dec. 27 some 60 cases of anti-Semitism – graffiti, four synagogues desecrated, and an attack on a Jewish youth – took place, according to Richard Prasquier of the Council of French Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF). Two Muslim youth were attacked by Jewish gangs.

In Germany Stephan J. Kramer, a leader of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, reported in Der Tagesspiegel:

The council, which represents Germany’s more than 100,000- member Jewish community, received about 40 percent more hate e- mail a week than usual during the recent conflict in Gaza . . . . A tenth of the 300 weekly messages were explicit death threats directed at council members, he was cited as saying.

In Turkey, according to Reuters:

Turkey’s centuries-old Jewish community says it is alarmed by anti-Semitism that emerged during protests at Israel’s Gaza assault, and is questioning how this reflects its status in the predominantly Muslim republic.

In Argentina, according to Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham H. Foxman:

An outburst of hateful rhetoric against Israel and in-your-face anti-Semitism has not been seen like this in Argentina for decades.

And on it goes, as David Rothkopf further documents in his blog at Foreign Policy magazine, citing both events abroad and personal experience.

These events involve various forms of harm to ordinary people, not high-level negotiations among variously outraged or apologetic faith leaders. People who should, we feel, have been more carefuly considered as “an internal affair” with such dramatic external effects was attended to by the Vatican.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion | , , | Comments Off on Vatican’s action may have inflamed anti-Semitism

‘Haggard scandal isn’t about gay sex’

Christa Brown at Stop Baptist Predators goes right to ethical core of the most recent Ted Haggard revelations when she writes:

It was about pastoral abuse and exploitation.

It was about a mega-church cover-up.

No one involved has any excuse for confusion about the real nature of the issues here. Decades of research and documentation of the psychiatric impact and ethical implications of the sexual exploitation of positions of power and trust, preceded everything that took place under fallen fundamentalist superstar Ted Haggard’s authority at New Life Church.

She’s simply being sraightforward when she writes:

The young man was in his early 20s. So he was of legal age. But here’s the thing. The young man was part of Haggard’s congregation.

Haggard was his “pastor.” That’s not just an empty word. A pastor occupies a position of high trust toward the members of his congregation.

That’s why what Haggard did was so abusive.

It wasn’t merely “inappropriate,” as the church describes it. Rather, Haggard’s conduct was abusive of another human being.

It is inherently manipulative for a minister to use a congregant — even an adult congregant — for his own sexual ends. In some states, such conduct might even be a felony, just as it would if a psychologist sexually exploited a client.

Truth came to the table in this case because the victim, Grant Haas, who had been paid to be quiet, stepped forward. Certainly knowing that he would be greeted with a blizzard of unfortunate implications.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Haggard scandal isn’t about gay sex’

Pope expresses ‘full and indisputable solidarity’ with the Jews

Responding to revulsion at the anti-Semitism of four traditionalist bishops whose excommunications were lifted Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed his “full and unquestionable solidarity with Jews.”

JTA reported:

The pope said in his angelus prayer at his public audience Wednesday: “While I renew with affection the expression of my full and unquestionable solidarity with our (Jewish) brothers, I hope the memory of the Shoah will induce humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of hate when it conquers the heart of man.”

Vatican Radio reported that speaking of the Holocaust (haShoa), the Pope “firmly said:”

While I renew my affection for and complete solidarity with our Brothers of the First Alliance, I urge that the memory of the Shoah lead humanity to reflect on the unforeseeable power of evil when it conquers the Human Heart. May the Shoah be a warning to all against oblivion, against denial or revisionism, because violence committed against any one single human being is violence against all humanity. No man is an island, a well known poet once wrote. The Shoah teaches both the new and older generations, that only the demanding journey of listening and dialogue, of love and forgiveness can lead the world’s peoples, cultures and religions towards the desired goal of brotherhood and peace in truth. Never again may violence humiliate the dignity of man!

In an unusual front-page editorial the Vatican’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, attempted to push back the appearanc of anti-Semitism apparent in restoration of the four bishops, said the gesture does not yet mean a return to “full communion” with the Church and moreover is a call to the “full acceptance of the Magisterium, obviously including the Second Vatican Council.” The editorial clearly addresses anti-Semitism in general and the Holocaust denial of Bishop Richard Williamson:

After noting that the declaration “Nostra aetate” deplores “the hatred, persecution and all manifestations of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews of any time and by any person” and that this is “a teaching for Catholics that is not open to opinion,” L’Osservatore Romano said that the recent statements of denial by the British bishop “contradict this teaching and are therefore seriously grave and lamentable. Made know before the document lifting the excommunication, they are thus—as we have written—unacceptable.”

Gently understating matters, E.Evans at GetReligion says:

Judging by the extensive coverage given here to church officials distancing themselves from William’s views, it appears that Catholic leaders do not now believe this to be solely an internal church matter, but one that has consequences for external relationships.

Indeed. The positions taken are clear, forceful. With both additional action to restore damage ties and absent further missteps, they may should heal the old but reopened wounds.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , , | 1 Comment