Southern Religion

Unending culture wars

All you really need to keep it going is the abortion issue, says David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University. To wit:

This week the question is whether President Obama should speak at Notre Dame. Last week it was whether Kathleen Sebelius should become the Health and Human Services secretary. The week before that it was over health-care workers’ rights to refuse to offer services they consider immoral. Next week it will be over … something else. There’s always something else.

It’s his conclusion that is both obvious and inescapable:

Let’s just say that my mail demonstrates quite amply that respectful dialogue and the quest for common ground even amidst unresolved differences is not popular with culture warriors.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, History, Religion | , , | Comments Off on Unending culture wars

Does Satan exist?

The ABC News video of last night’s debate at Mars Hill Church is online.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Religion | | Comments Off on Does Satan exist?

Catholic University of America student newspaper endorses Obama at Notre Dame

The Tower, the student newspaper at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., wrote Friday:

If Notre Dame has done their job right, students will already be sound in their Catholic beliefs. It should not be an issue where the President stands on his ideas of life. He is coming to speak to students about their role in the world, what they will face when they embark on the next chapter of their lives. More than anything, it is the students’ first test of maintaining a Catholic identity in light of someone who does not share some of their beliefs. There is a way to still maintain a Catholic identity, to reconcile faith, and still listen to the Commander-in-Chief of this great nation.

Read the entire piece here.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Cultural, Education | , , , | 2 Comments

Sneaking Creationism into Florida classrooms

Creationism lost a march in Texas while it was trying to quietly steal one in Florida.

Florida state Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, introduced legislation which the Florida Academy of Science says “leaves the door open for the introduction in the public school curriculum of nonscientific and covertly religious doctrines.”

Standard Creationist strategy these days.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Education, Religion, Science | , , | Comments Off on Sneaking Creationism into Florida classrooms

Science ambiguously prevails in Texas education


Creationism failed when social conservatives brought “strengths and weaknesses” back to the table today. A “compromise” prevailed in a 13-2 vote.

The adopted compromise says:

In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.

Although that language seems clear, this decades-long battle has a way of knotting itself back up into lawsuits.

Evens so, the “strengths and weaknesses” charade is at this level over. Everything appears to be about implementation now.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Education, Religion, Science | , , , | Comments Off on Science ambiguously prevails in Texas education

Pope’s revised (again) but not actually ‘corrected’ condom remarks

Commonweal tells us the Vatican has brought the written record of the Popes comments on condoms back into line with events.

It did so after spawning an international uproar over the original post-facto editing of the Papal words. The Pope told reporters that distribution of condoms to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic “even aggravates the problems.” The Vatican published an official record which said condoms merely “risked” aggravating the problem.

The rollback to “aggravates” does not nullify The Lancet’s suggestion that “the Vatican’s attempts to tweak the Pope’s words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward.” It underlines the Vatican’s problem.

Surviving ink-stained wretches, creatures of newspaper newsrooms, know corrections must be published with attendant apologies, not circumvented. The Vatican has merely made another “tweak,” lacking acknowledgment of and repentance for the original error. We all know that if we sweep enough things under the rug, our audience’s faith in our integrity will go there as well.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Health, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pope’s revised (again) but not actually ‘corrected’ condom remarks

[Update] Texas school board anti-evolutionists lose (again)

Social conservatives failed Thursday to add key creationism-friendly requirements back into the Texas standards for public school science classes and textbooks.

The last-gasp effort died on a deadlocked 7-7 vote of the Texas State Board of Education. The lost motion would have restored a 20-year-old requirement that science classes discuss the so-called weaknesses in the theory of evolution.


Social conservatives did make less important amendments, but the basic teaching of evolution as accepted science will now be written into science textbooks.

The final decision, expected today, is of overarching importance because the size of the Texas textbook market gives it sweeping, national impact on the way school science textbooks in general are written.


Today’s vote is expected to reaffirm yesterday’s, since a board member who was absent yesterday will participate today. She has indicated that she opposes the changes pressed by social conservatives.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Education, Science | , , , | 1 Comment

The Lancet asks: ‘Redemption for the Pope?’

The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, calls for Pope Benedict XVI to retract his science-distorting statement that condoms may “increase” the HIV/AIDS problem.

Concluding, it said [registration required]:

Whether the Pope’s error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear. But the comment still stands and the Vatican’s attempts to tweak the Pope’s words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.

The unusually strong position indicates how badly the post-facto attempt to rewrite the Pope’s statement backfired, and how attempts to generate a scientific argument in his favor have failed.


Dr. Kalpana Sabapathy, HIV advisor for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) explains the medical value of condoms:

Condoms are the key to safe sex. They not only prevent HIV, but many sexually transmitted infections. And they prevent unwanted pregnancies. Sexual intercourse is a reality of the human condition. Promoting ONLY abstinence to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a naïve and unrealistic approach. A more attainable goal is to ensure that people behave in a safe way.


Pharyngula applauds, of course.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Health, Medical Care, Religion, Science | , , , , , | Comments Off on The Lancet asks: ‘Redemption for the Pope?’

URLs to support Notre Dame+Obama [Or Not]

Do you support Notre Dame and President Fr. John Jenkins in his decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at the 2009 graduation commencement?

It’s a project of Notre Dame Alums in Support of Fr. Jenkins, Faithful America, and Catholics United.

Or is the Cardinal Newman Society’s already well-known petition the one you yearn to sign?

Cry havoc and loose the dogs of Web petition.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Education, Religion | , , | Comments Off on URLs to support Notre Dame+Obama [Or Not]

Fact-fixing CNN on Notre Dame

One myth-besotted CNN paragraph preoccupied Mollie at GetReligion.

She was addressing the story of South Bend, Indiana Roman Catholic Bishop John D’Arcy’s boycott of the Notre Dame graduation ceremonies at which President Barack Obama will be honored.

Let her help you substitute legislative fact for fiction and filter spin out of science here.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Religion, Science | , , | Comments Off on Fact-fixing CNN on Notre Dame