Art Angst—Again

The Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission (CLC) is raising concerns about the latest round of grants awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Specifically, the CLC is objecting to a $15,000 grant to self-described “lesbian performance artist” Holly Hughes for a work that will feature two 12-year-old girls analyzing “female sexuality.”

According to Hughes’s grant application, obtained by the CLC, the performance will investigate “the images of vampires as an expression of irrepressible sexuality within an oppressive social order” and will “research into non-western religious rituals such as voodoo and Sant[e]ría.” In a phone interview with the CLC, Hughes further admitted the work will also deal with lesbian themes.

“This grant validates our claim that Congress should have imposed content restrictions on the NEA last year,” said James Smith, CLC director of government relations. “This is another example of how the NEA and its grantees can flaunt their perverted agenda at taxpayers’ expense and expect to get away with it.”

High Court: Prayers And Protests

The Bush administration has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to allow prayers at public school graduations. Intervening in a case from Rhode Island, the Justice Department argued that such prayers are constitutional and that courts have gone too far in removing religion from public life. The Court has decided it will hear oral arguments in the case this fall.

In other action, the justices have accepted a case that asks whether federal courts can bar prolife activists from blocking access to abortion clinics. The Court will decide the constitutionality of a temporary injunction that prohibited Operation Rescue (OR) from blockading nine northern Virginia abortion clinics.

Similar injunctions are in place against OR in other states and the District of Columbia. At issue is whether the rescues violate women’s rights, both to abortion under Roe v. Wade and to interstate travel, because 20 to 30 percent of the clients at one of the clinics come from out of state.

Unnecessary Force

The Justice Department has apparently decided not to bring criminal charges against police accused of using unnecessary force in arresting OR protesters in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Los Angeles, and West Hartford, Connecticut. William Allen, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, had requested an official inquiry into the treatment of OR demonstrators. However, Pat Riley of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said that Deputy Attorney General William Barr told him the Justice Department “failed to uncover enough evidence for convictions.”

“This staggers the imagination,” said Dan Donehey of American Portrait Films, who, like Riley, has produced documentaries of the arrests.

Roe-Fully Uninformed

According to a new Gallup poll commissioned by Americans United for Life (AUL), a majority of Americans oppose abortions in the instances where it is most often performed in the U.S. and would support legislation to protect most unborn life. However, the survey also found that 90 percent of those interviewed could not accurately describe the current legal status of abortion in the nation. Roe and subsequent court decisions permit abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

“In many cases, it appears that people who consider themselves prochoice simply don’t know what they’re supporting,” said AUL vice-chairman Victor Rosenblum in releasing the poll at a Washington press conference last month.

Seventy-three percent of those surveyed said abortion should be illegal after the first three months of pregnancy except when the mother’s life is endangered. Eighty-eight percent disapprove of abortion even in the first three months if it is used as a “repeated means of birth control.”

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