Christmas in April
We just got done celebrating Easter, and it's still three months until those annoying "Christmas in July" sales, but Weblog is sure that some stores are already selling ornaments for Christmas 2001. In any case, Christmas came early this year—for Christmas itself. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of a Cleveland attorney who argued that allowing Christmas as a state holiday violated the First Amendment. In 1999, you may remember, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott ruled against the case as well—in rhyme. It read, in part:

We are all better for Santa
The Easter Bunny too
And maybe the great pumpkin
To name just a few!
An extra day off
Is hardly high treason
It may be spent as you wish
Regardless of reason.

There is room in this country
And in all our hearts too
For different convictions
And a day off too!

(The full poem is available at the end of this 1999 Cincinnati Post article.) The lawyer, Richard Ganulin, said he was disappointed with the decision not to hear the case, but the Cincinnati Posteditorialized that it was the right way to go, calling his efforts "persistent, conscientious—and alas, misguided." "Giving people the day off work does not impose Christian beliefs on people of other faiths," the editorial said. "It merely shows a practical acceptance of existing culture."

Unitarians split, saying church is "extremely intolerant" of those who actually want to talk about God
Of all the things you could possibly call a Unitarian Universalist, "extremely intolerant" would be just about the worst. But at least two dozen dissidents who are leaving the church say that's exactly what it is. So they're leaving, and forming the American Unitarian Association. "An organization that believes in everything really in effect believes nothing," says David Burton, one of the founders. Most of the new members of the AUA, he says, are Unitarian Christians. "Jesus is central to their religion. In most UU congregations, if you got up and started talking about Jesus, you'd be run out on a rail. … The UUA [Unitarian Universalist Association] is extremely intolerant." Chief among Burton's other complaints is that the UUA is largely full of atheists and "almost devoid of religious content." Whether or not the UUA is "extremely intolerant," they're not letting the AUA form without a fight. "They're trying to steal our identity," UUA president John Buehrens tells The Boston Globe, "and they're not going to get away with it."

"You will be a vegetable"
"Imagine Luther Vandross jacked up on 10 espressos and dressed as a giant vegetable, and you have some sense of what we're dealing with here." That's Baltimore Sun columnist Kevin Cowherd's description of Kenny Carter, a.k.a. Peppy the Pepper at Rosedale Super Fresh. "He's a whirlwind of activity, cruising the aisles at warp speed, greeting customers, hugging old ladies, even singing to them." Carter, apparently, used to be a drug dealer and pimp until the day he heard God at church. "It was a very powerful worship," he tells Cowherd.

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I was crying out in the middle of church: "Oh, God! Oh, God!" And suddenly I heard an audible male voice that said: "You will be a vegetable." … I looked around, thought I was going crazy! I began to worship again. I said: "Lord, speak to me." And I heard it again: "You will be a vegetable." I turned to my wife Paula and said: "I just heard from God." She said: "You did? What did he say?" I said: "I'm going to be a vegetable." And she just cracked up right there.

Yeah, you laugh. But if God told you to be a vegetable, would you have a bell pepper costume made, get a job at the supermarket, and sing "I'm Peppy the Pepper, how do you do? Welcome to Super Fresh, we love you!" to everyone who walked in the door?

Faith-based initiative:

  • Faith-based battle on Capitol Hill | When President Bush decided to build a T-ball field on the White House lawn, he handed the job to his office on faith-based programs. Not that T-ball has anything to do with religion, but aides figured that a staff battered by criticism could use a unifying diversion. (Associated Press)
  • Religion battle fires up in Washington | Congress began wading through the tricky details of sending tax dollars to religious groups this week, as supporters and opponents of the plan stepped up their lobbying efforts. (Associated Press)
  • Church-based projects lack data on results | There is little reliable research proving the effectiveness of religious programs, and scant evidence showing which religious programs show the best results and how they stack up against secular programs. (The New York Times)
  • Bush faith initiative praised, criticized | Republicans in Congress Tuesday praised President Bush´s faith-based initiative as needed welfare reform while Democrats, in the first hearing on the plan, criticized it as a back-door effort to undermine civil rights. (The Washington Times)

Black church:

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Church life:

  • Native Americans blend cultural ancestry, Christian beliefs | Along with the drum and flute music, the Tribe of Christ members connect to their claims of Native American ancestry through jewelry, such as turquoise bracelets, feathered earrings and beaded necklaces. (Religion News Service/Fort Worth Star- Telegram)
  • Lutheran bishops 'reminded' of their responsibilities | As St. Paul church readies to ordain lesbian pastor, church officials tell active and retired bishops they are to act "in conformity" with church laws. (Religion News Service/Fort Worth Star- Telegram)

Peru missionaries:

Philadelphia minister shot:

Missions and ministry:

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Naked Jesus painting at JFK airport raises concerns:

  • Blushing, then brushing, artist covers nude Christ | Several strokes of paint in the form of a loincloth have quieted the latest furor over controversial religious art in New York, this time in a new terminal at Kennedy International Airport. (The New York Times)
  • Emergency Y-fronts flown in for X-rated Christ | New York fell victim to an outbreak of political correctness this week when an artist responsible for a giant painted relief in a soon-to-be-opened arrivals terminal at John F Kennedy Airport agreed to paint a white loincloth over a previously nude Jesus Christ. (The Independent, London)

Popular culture:


Life ethics:


  • When will we act on Sudan's slave trade? | Millions of Americans have been made unknowing partners to the slave trade in Sudan because mutual funds or pension funds they hold contain Talisman stock. (Charles Jacobs, The Boston Globe)
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Kaiser report:



Other articles of interest:

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Related Elsewhere

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