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Today's Top Five

1. Army of compassion of one
The Washington Post's Alan Cooperman notes that when the White House announced its appointment of Jay Hein as the new director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, it did so using the kind of timing it usually uses for bad news.

"It's part of a continuing story of ambivalence. It's hard to look at the evidence and see any real passion for the initiative from the White House," said David Kuo, former deputy director of the White House's faith-based office.

Hein says Bush is still eager to see progress on the faith-based initiative. "I had 30 minutes of Oval Office time with the president before I accepted the position, and that spoke loudly to me about his personal interest in seeing this initiative made successful and that it remains a high priority on his desk," Hein told the Post.

2. Read the poll, not the headlines
There are many news stories today about the new survey results from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. With so many subjects covered, it can be a Rorschach test for news outlets (e.g.: The New York Times goes with "In poll, GOP slips as a friend of religion," while The Washington Times runs "Few see Democrats as friendly to religion."). But if you like numbers, and if you really want to know what evangelicals think about contemporary political issues—as well as a number of religious issues—you can get lost in this for hours. A few notes:

  • Almost half of Americans say conservative Christians have gone too far in trying to impose their religious values on the country (up to 49% from 45% a year ago). But the percentage of Americans who have a favorable view of the conservative Christian movement has been relatively steady over the past half-decade. (The unfavorable rating has grown by a few points, pulling from those in earlier years who had no opinion.)

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August 2006

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