Southern Religion

Stimulus act anti-Religious in its impact on institutions of higher education?

Red meat for the religious right, that claim came recently from former Arkansas Gov. and Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee.

Tobin Grant of Southern Illinois University — Carbondale, writes:

In the final version of the stimulus bill, funds for higher education are included as part of the block grants to states. Not only does the bill state that these funds may be used to renovate facilities at private institutions, it also states that governors may not consider “the type or mission” of a college or university. The states must consider religious institutions along with public and other private colleges and universities.

The funds may not be used for facilities where admission is charged and the buildings must be religiously neutral in purpose. Thus neither football stadia nor chapels my be renovated using stimulus funds. No one should plan to renovate a department of divinity with them. Yet college and university student religious life is unaffected, as it has been in the half century that current law, as included in the stimulus bill, has been applied.

The restriction is on individual facilities, however. Funds may go to support religiously neutral structures at religiously affiliated colleges and universities.

Grant, who is coauthor of Expression vs. Equality: The Politics of Campaign Finance Reform and dozens of academic articles on politics and religion, explains in Christianity Today:

In the nearly four decades since [the 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court decision] Tilton v. Richardson, the constitutionality of federal funding for projects and programs at religious institutions has been upheld in the courts and supported by Congress. In the last Supreme Court case to consider public funds and religion at colleges, Rosenberger v. University of Virginia in 1995, the court found that as long as the purpose of a facility is religiously neutral, students have the right to use that facility for religious purposes, even at public universities. If a college allows students to use a conference room for any social function, it must allow them to use it even as a place to pray and study the Bible together.

Thus inclusion in the stimulus bill of the language over which Huckabee and others made such a fuss, ensured that there is no adverse impact on religion.

The entire uproar over that language was a canard.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Law, Politics, Religion | , , | 3 Comments

Are Driscoll and Fatica ‘Muscular Christian’ revivals, or continued decline?



Joseph Laycock of Boston University brings a broader, more balanced perspective to the issues of the Mark Driscoll controversy
which recently rolled through the Southern Baptist blog world. Driscoll and Justin Fatica, founder of the Catholic ministry group Hard as Nails, are in a sense both cultural heirs to the Victorian English tradition of “Muscular Christianity.”



He writes in the current Martin Marty Center Sightings:

“Muscular Christianity,” which emphasized an ideal of vigorous masculinity, first appeared in Victorian England. The term was coined to describe the writings of Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hughes, who felt that sports and athleticism would produce Christians who were more fit for civic duty. Hughes and Kingsley also shared a concern over the changes of industrialism and worried whether traditional morality would be able to adapt.

There is something more, however, and it is disturbing:

While Fatica encourages women to join the Hard as Nails ministry, Driscoll reminds his congregation that women must submit to their husbands and are forbidden from taking preaching roles. On his blog, Driscoll implied that Ted Haggard’s wife contributed to his downfall: “A wife who lets herself go is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.” These comments beg the question:
Is this hyper-muscular Christianity really a radical, transgressive approach to ministry? Or is it actually the death-throes of an outmoded patriarchy?

We hope the former emerges from their still-unfinished work, and recommend the entire, blissfully brief and coherent piece to you here.

[Thanks to @rebeccawoods for bringing this to our attention.]

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion | , | Comments Off on Are Driscoll and Fatica ‘Muscular Christian’ revivals, or continued decline?

Westboro B*ptist hits the British wall

Westboro B*ptist Church’s plan to picket (a favorite target) a production of The Laramie Project at Basingstoke, Hampshire, has been cripped at the British border.

“Homophobic American cleric” Fred Phelps, who heads Westboro Baptist Church, and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, had announced plans to lead protests against the play and have been banned from doing so by Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith. Other members of the family may be banned as well.

The UK Border Agency applied the British “exclusions policy,” targeted at “all those who seek to stir up tension and provoke others to violence regardless of their origins and beliefs.” They said, “Both these individuals have engaged in unacceptable behavior by inciting hatred against a number of communities.”

No mention was made of Phelps’ companion website God Hates the World, which this week stated: “God hates England. Your Queen is a whore. You’re going to hell.”

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Westboro B*ptist hits the British wall

Nothing as simple as a ‘belt’ of the Bible variety

Bible Belt is an often satirically intended term for the geographical concentration of Americans who tell pollsters religion is relatively important in their daily lives.

Relative importance or religion in American's lives

Relative importance or religion in American's lives

Unresolved competition among some 15 urban centers for “buckle” not withstanding, you might not want to wear this one for the same reasons that socially responsible habitation here is a problem-solving process.

Leading in poverty, AIDS infection rate, divorce rate, obesity, illiteracy, poverty, infant mortality, death penalty executions and some other unfortunate indexes of social wellbeing, the region calls those who can, and have a conscience. to help the others. Materially and toward the acquisition of revenue-generating skills.

Seen in worldwide perspective, the moniker takes on a different shading. USA Today reported, using Gallup data:

Baptists in Tuscaloosa and Muslims in Tehran might not seem to have much in common, but Alabama and Iran do agree on one thing: the importance of religion.

Nearly identical percentages of people in both locations — 82% of Alabamians and 83% of Iranians — say religion is an important part of their daily lives.

Yet no Bible Belt state matches the fervor of the most religious countries — those with 98% or more answering that religion is an important part of their daily lives: Egypt, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Congo.

Even the commonplace assumption that most of those questioned are fundamentalist Bible thumbers who echo the politics of Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission chief Richard Land are upon close examination false, assuming the recorded denominational diversity is real.

Bible Belt was always and remains a false generalization for a complex phenomenon, one too often used to mislead and manipulate us.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Religion, Science | Comments Off on Nothing as simple as a ‘belt’ of the Bible variety