Southern Religion

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s new Copyright Watch

Copyright Watch is especially important to bloggers/journalists. Drop by. Stay informed. Lend a hand if you can, to help EFF keep apace of governmental and private copyright action:

It’s a real challenge to map all of these laws, and all of these changes. But it’s vital that we do so. Every shift in any of those countries might spread: whether it’s for good or ill, maximalist or reforming. Lawmakers eagerly look for track records in other nations, or are obliged to adopt another’s bad laws through treaty or trade agreement. Japan decides to model their new law’s exceptions on the United State’s broad fair use principles; politicians see France’s three strikes laws, and decide to import them wholesale. We’re hoping Copyright Watch will give the public as powerful a tool for monitoring the global copyright outlook as any private interest.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | WWW | | Comments Off on Electronic Frontier Foundation’s new Copyright Watch

Trojan Horse

The original Trojan Horse

[H\T: Bruce Schneier]

November 17, 2009 Posted by | WWW | Comments Off on Trojan Horse

Going Muslim?

Words matter and are doing grave harm in the wake the the Fort Hood killings. Daniel Martin Varisco, who is Professor of Anthropology and Director of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies at Hofstra University, explains:

The deeper issue here is the politics of blame fueled by fear. Despite several “going postal” episodes in recent years, we still go to our local post offices, and local postal workers have not quit en masse. It sometimes seems like hardly a month goes by without a disgruntled individual going on a shooting spree. To neologize the term “going Muslim” is an insult that would not be tolerated for any other group I know. Were the perpetrators of the Columbine school killings “going teenager”? If a fanatic fundamentalist Christian kills an abortion doctor, is he “going Christian,” or should an Israeli soldier who loses it be considered as “going Jewish”? As much as I hate the term “Islamism,” could Varadanjan not at least have come up with “going Islamist”?

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Cultural, Religion | , , | 1 Comment

Sweet Alabama Baptist hash tag & data desert

Alabama’s Southern Baptist state conventioneers seem to agree that #absc09 is the hash-tag du jour.

Please try it #absc09.

The resulting tweets are thus far cotton-candy sweet.

They suggest the most puddle-wonderful state convention, ever.

So you can’t tell what’s going on.

Except that it is so very, very nice, which probably means those filing the tweets are afraid to say anything informative.

The state Baptist newspaper there gives us a nice picture in which Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt appears to be killing a mosquito, with a few paragraphs and a note telling us to get the print edition. What to do. Buy a plane ticket?

Meanwhile, the state Baptist convention web server is overloaded or otherwise AWOL came back to life, without adding to what we know about the convention.


Our growing list of Discovered Baptist State Convention and Baptist-related twitter hashtags.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sweet Alabama Baptist hash tag & data desert

In wake of child sex abuse scandal, Irish priests become endangered species

Priests are an endangered species in Ireland, Irish Central reports. Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said:

We have 46 priests over 80 and only two less than 35 years of age. In a very short time we will just have the bare number of priests required to have one active priest for each of our 199 parishes. … priests over 70 years of age outnumbered priests under 40 by 10 to one.

Father Brendan Hoban, parish priest at St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, County Mayo, said “The difficult truth is that priests will have effectively disappeared in Ireland in two to three decades.”

Martin acknowledged that the massive child sex abuse scandal affected recruitment. Investigation revealed ‘epidemic’ rape and child sex abuse of Irish children in Catholic care. Full publication of the explosive clerical sex abuse report is being postponed, and could be delayed for years.

Archbishop Martin’s indication that the church must repent, when there is public foot-dragging on getting the full story told, seems less than comforting.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Crime | , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday’s briefly religious

That much-promoted hate crime ralley in front of the U.S. Department of Justice was a bust, but not busted as organizers seemed to hope they would be.

ACORN support and its end was the topic of a US Conference of Catholic Bishops report. Their Campaign for Human Development is under right-wing fire again this year.

Rifqa Bary’s Christian activist supporters rallied in front of the Columbus, Ohio, courthouse. She is in foster care in Ohio now and restricted so that she can no long hold cellphone prayer meetings or exchange email with supporters.

Public schools can still censor valedictory speeches, it seems, and the failed Brittany McComb attempt to detail her faith by departing from the approved valedictory text was denied U.S. Supreme Court review.

Students and their families are suing a Tennessee school for promoting the religion preferred by school officials. Of course most news reports subly nurture the ACLU-plot meme.

BBC said “no” to including non-religious speakers on a “Thought for the Day” radio show. It seems that “religious output and that it is a matter of editorial discretion for the BBC executive and its director general as editor-in-chief as to whether the BBC broadcasts a slot commenting on an issue of the day from a faith perspective.” Take that atheists, et al?

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on Tuesday’s briefly religious

Obama promoted religious freedom in China

Before Obama left, questions were raised about what he would do about religious freedom in China. And they have been answered:

Religious freedom advocates are pleased following President Barak Obama’s visit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, who spoke out about the need for religious freedom in China. President Obama also emphasized the importance of freedom of information in a question-and-answer session with college students in Shanghai.

He also criticized Chinese Internet censorship and “praised freedom of expression and political participation.”

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Obama | , | Comments Off on Obama promoted religious freedom in China

Today’s nominee for foregone conclusion which arrived

Will U.S. Attorney General Arrest Pastors for Violation of the Hate Crimes Law?

Er, did anyone actually believed he might?

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Law, Religion | | Comments Off on Today’s nominee for foregone conclusion which arrived

What can State Baptist pubs can expect from a Web pay wall?

It depends, as with other publications. The American Press Institute and ITZBelden surveyed 2,400 U.S. newspaper executives. Only 51% think pay walls will work and they have clear ideas about how many paying online subscribers [.pdf] (presentation slides [.pdf]) to expect:

Respondents report a wide range of online subscription charges (from $1 to $27.50 a month), yet they report surprisingly uniform levels of uptake on subscriptions, typically 1 percent to 3 percent of print circulation — regardless of price.

Even these survey results may be overly optimistic because, as Nieman Lab observes, “ITZ Publishing consults for Steve Brill’s pay-for-news firm Journalism Online, which just touted the results as an ‘API study’ without noting its business interest.”

The study certainly does not suggest that that small Baptist publications can readily benefit from throwing pay walls between Web users and content with which those users are already be underinspired.

Indeed, another recent survey found that just 5% of online users are willing to pay for content. Whereas “74 per cent of those surveyed said if their favourite news service started charging to access content online they would switch to a free alternative.”

For nonprofit publications which actually have special value to their readers, there is a half-step which has potential. The Texas Baptist Standard is almost trying it now and has some generalized, high-visibility support of the sort required to make the strategy work. Their E3 product offers enhanced content at a low price and could conceivably be promoted out of its doldrums. Buried in the marketing points for E3, there is already one example the kind of pitch which befits a nonprofit news product:

Gratitude: Online news is free to you, but not free to produce. An E3 subscription expresses user-supported gratitude for the value of online news.

Marketing an enhanced version of a news product to users as a way for them to support the good work, is a legitimate strategy. If the product is in the view of readers, good enough. Simply put, we believe the for-profit freemium model can be fruitfully adapted to nonprofit solicitation strategies.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Publications, SBC, WWW | , , , | Comments Off on What can State Baptist pubs can expect from a Web pay wall?

Woman-pastored church pushed out by Ga. Baptists

As expected, the Georgia Baptist Convention took the knife to its own throat by cutting out 148-year-old First Baptist Church of Decatur, Ga., because it chose Julie Pennington-Russel as pastor.

It was the formal conclusion of a process whose end was foreordained in February and driven by the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) descent to inquisitorial enforcement of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M).

Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson has warned:

The FORCED acceptance of the BFM 2000, by threatening to “disfellowship” from those churches who don’t agree with every single one of its tenets, is patently absurd. Those who push “disfellowship” from churches that disagree with a portion of the BFM 2000 will destroy our convention if they are allowed to succeed. The SBC will have to eventually disfellowship from over 25,000 Southern Baptist churches. That is the number of SBC churches, at least according to one seminary professor, that have expressed disagreement with the BFM 2000 in either church practice or church doctrine in areas other than women pastors.

The number of Southern Baptist women known to be ordained has grown from less than 200 in 1982-83 to more than 2,000 by the end of 2007, according to Baptist Women in Ministry [.pdf] (BWIM).

The SBC is breaking the threads connecting it to women in the pew. That will in time be the ultimate SBC divorce.


November 17, 2009 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , , , | Comments Off on Woman-pastored church pushed out by Ga. Baptists