Southern Religion

Catholic abuse in England/Wales more fully revealed as Pope Benedict’s visit nears

Just in time for Pope Benedict’s visit the Guardian tells us:

More than half of the Catholic clergy jailed for paedophile activity in England and Wales remain in the priesthood – with several receiving financial support from church authorities, raising serious questions about depth of church commitment to child protection and overshadowing the start of the papal visit.

There are also claims the church has breached guidelines it agreed to in 2001 by not punishing offenders appropriately and that it has even relaxed some of the rules on how to treat them.

The allegations, shown on Channel 4 News, will fuel hostility towards a trip that is proving controversial on many levels and in many quarters.

Channel 4 News “trawled through the public records and double checked with court documents to put together a map of Catholic clerical abuse” — what they explain is necessarily a partial, but nonetheless illustrative interactive map. It is hair-raising.

Thirty-eight priests committed 331 offenses. But:

…even this is likely to fall short of the real numbers. In some cases claims have never come to court because the priest has died, is believed to have been too old to come to court or has simply absconded.

. . .

Unless the Church authorities open their files to full independent scrutiny we will never know the full extent of the scandal.

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, children, Crime, Pope Benedict XVI | | 1 Comment

What happens when an ideological echo chamber is created?

The peril of theologically filtered search engines, especially if mated with news services which have a steep ideological slant, is audience manipulation to create “false facts,” like the health reform death panels.

Conservative echo chamber Fox gets the Republicans

As Kevin Drum of Mother Jones observed:

In other words, Democrats and Independents have changed their viewing habits only slightly while Republicans have flocked to Fox and dropped both CNN and MSNBC in droves. Back in 2000, it turns out, the viewing habits of all three groups were pretty similar. Since then, as Fox has steadily amped up its conservative branding, conservatives have decided that’s all they want to hear.

[H/T: Andrew Sullivan]

September 14, 2010 Posted by | WWW | , | Comments Off on What happens when an ideological echo chamber is created?

Welcome to your [overwhelmed?] tailored-to-some-faith ‘search’ engine

Christian search engine SeekFind is down [as of this writing] due to persecution [“hacking attempts after our recent interview on NPR“]. They say. Or perhaps they asked for a larger audience and it was given in numbers their servers could not bear.

They were, after all, Slashdotted. Mention amid Slashdot’s “News for nerds’ has drowned many an unprepared server in curious geeks, and will drown more in the future.

Jewogle was mentioned in the same NPR story and seems to be clicking alone quite well, thank you.

Likewise the Muslim search engine I’mHalal.

There appears to be a market for theologically filtered search. According to NPR:

I’mHalal says that within the first year since its launch, it is already getting 10 million users a month. With that kind of traffic, these search engines are likely here to stay.

Yes, they can all expect competition.

September 14, 2010 Posted by | WWW | , | Comments Off on Welcome to your [overwhelmed?] tailored-to-some-faith ‘search’ engine

Counterfactual Richard Land Un-Mosqued

The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission doesn’t let the facts confuse his opposition to the Park51 Islamic center.

Richard Land made his lack of due concern for the facts clear in a recent interview with Ethics Daily. Brian Kaylor wrote:

Land began an interview with by quickly asserting that the site stands too close to Ground Zero and therefore is inappropriate for housing a mosque. Land argued the site is “at best two blocks away, depends on how you calculate it.” He proposed that moving it “four or five blocks” would make the site acceptable.

In reality, the proposed center would sit more than two blocks from the closest corner of the 16-acre World Trade Center complex that includes many buildings that survived the attack nearly nine years ago. The center actually would be about six blocks from the closest of the two main towers hit by airplanes. Such distance from the towers fits with Land’s desired distance, but he remains opposed to the site.

When Land complained during the interview that the site was within eyesight of Ground Zero, it was pointed out to him that there were actually tall buildings that prevented the site from being seen from Ground Zero. Yet, he still maintained that the site was too close.

Later on the radio program “Interfaith Voices,” Land took a different position that was more expansively confused:

There shouldn’t be one [a mosque] within, uh, eyeshot or earshot. And if it weren’t for the interference of buildings, this would be within the, what’s being proposed would be within eyesight.


Whatever he meant in that case, counterfactual positions aren’t new to Richard Land. He has also been persistently counterfactual on health reform. Indeed, he deserved an honorable mention for Sarah Palin’s PolitiFact Lie of the Year Award, which she received for elevating the fictitious “death panels” to a topic of frenzied national debate. Nor should it be forgotten that his false health reform/Holocaust comparisons were elevated to the level of international scandal.

Why expect a new and different Richard Land to step forward for Park51?

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , , , | 2 Comments

Prescott on CBFNC proposals: ‘No room for prophets’

At Mainstream Baptist, Bruce Prescott looks closely at the controversial proposed revisions in “foundational statements” by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of N.C. and finds a spiritual ossification which is, ironically, very much like the fundamentalist inflexibility of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is ironic because the CBF was founded in reaction to the SBC’s rigid fundamentalism.

The meat of his argument:

Fundamentalists redefined “priesthood of the believer” to mean “submission to pastoral authority.” Communitarians are redefining “priesthood of the believer” to mean “submission to the authority of your church.”

Both are weary of the conflict of interpretations that are inevitable when finite and fallible human beings are passionate about reading scripture and living faithfully in accord with a revelation whose meaning is inexhaustible.

Both believe they are authorized to replace the Holy Spirit in the mind and heart of the believer. Fundamentalists replace the Holy Spirit with the authority of the pastor. Communitarians replace the Holy Spirit with the authority of the community. Either the pastor or your community serves to legitimate or delegitimate interpretations of scripture.

Neither fundamentalists nor communitarians make allowances for human imperfections. In the real world, both pastors and church communities often oppose valid interpretations of scripture and legitimate movements of God’s Spirit.

Read his well-made, richly nuanced deconstruction of the proposed changes here.

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Churches, Religion | , | Comments Off on Prescott on CBFNC proposals: ‘No room for prophets’