Netherlands becomes first country to fully legalize euthanasia
The headlines of two Associated Press stories today summarize the story best: "Dutch Law Ends Euthanasia Debate," "Dutch Euthanasia Law Still Debated." With a 46-28 vote last night, the Dutch Senate passed a law allowing those "suffering unbearabl[y]" with "no prospect of improvement" to commit suicide, and making doctors who help with the procedure immune from prosecution. There are a number of "ifs" and "buts" in the law, but many are worried that these will be ignored—just as many doctors have for years ignored Dutch laws prohibiting assisted suicide (more than half of Dutch doctors say they've been involved in a "mercy killing"). "About 10,000 euthanasia opponents surrounded the building, praying, singing hymns, and quoting from the Bible" during the vote, reports the Associated Press. As The Guardian notes, that wasn't enough: only 8 percent of the Dutch population is fiercely opposed to euthanasia. Still, there are signs of hope. An editorial in the Amsterdam daily newspaper Trouw noted that public opinion still hadn't reached a consensus, and that being the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia "is nothing to be proud of." (For more of Christianity Today's perspective, see our earlier editorial about euthanasia's gains, and Weblog's earlier coverage of the Netherlands' euthanasia bill. For the latest news and opinion about the bill, see Yahoo's full coverage area on assisted suicide.)

Three-quarters of Americans support Bush's faith-based initiative. Or do they?
"While the public expresses strong support for the idea of faith-based groups receiving government funding to provide social services, in practice, it has many reservations." So reports a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Asked for an overall impression of the concept of allowing religious organizations and churches to compete for government funding of social services, a whopping 75 percent offered support, while only 21 percent were opposed. But later questions showed that those same supporters wouldn't want mosques or Buddhist temples to receive such funds. Asked if evangelical churches should be able to compete for such funds, only 52 percent said yes. And an overwhelming 78 percent said that government-funded religious organizations shouldn't be able to hire only people of the same faith. "The poll suggests people support the concept of faith-based funding, but they have lots of reservations that might undermine that general support," Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, tells the Associated Press. No doubt.

Article continues below

It seems to Weblog that the 75 percent support is the result of years of promotion; in the 2000 campaign, both Bush and Gore made it a key part of their platforms. Turning the other numbers around will require a similar public promotion and information strategy. John DiIulio is doing just that right now (with all of his speaking engagements, has he even had time to stop by the White House?), but he'll need help. He'll get it. The Washington Post reports (at the very end of its article on the survey) that 25 conservative organizations are forming a Coalition for Compassion today to support and promote Bush's faith-based initiative. The organizations listed include the National Association of Evangelicals, the Family Research Council, the Eagle Forum, the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, the Free Congress Foundation, and the Independent Women's Forum. Kinda puts a nail in the coffin of the rumor that white evangelicals don't support the initiative, doesn't it? If that doesn't, check out this finding from the Pew survey: "White evangelicals are more enthusiastic than other conservatives and moderate Republicans. Among Democrats, a bare majority of white liberals favor the idea, while black Democrats embrace it as strongly as Republican evangelicals." (The New York Times, Reuters, and other publications also have articles on the survey, which is available online.)

More on Bush's Faith-based initiative:

Article continues below
  • DiIulio's faith-based challenge | Sharp comments to the National Association of Evangelicals should be read as an attack not on Christian conservatives but on all of us who do too little for—and think too little about—the very poor. (E. J. Dionne Jr., The Washington Post)
  • Blair puts his faith in religious partners | Prime minister stresses moral values and asks for help in promoting health and welfare (The Guardian, London)
  • You make the call | Should Washington discriminate against religious groups? (Marvin Olasky, World)

Other stories:

God and sports:

  • Coach criticizes Knick chapel in article | In an interview with New York magazine, Jeff Van Gundy said he would like to limit the time that the team chaplain, Pastor John Love, spends with the players before games. (The New York Times)
  • Also: Smile and you lose | The driven, intense son of another driven, intense coach, Jeff Van Gundy believes that the two worst things to happen to the NBA are God and golf. Why? They sap players' intensity. But imagine what the game would look like if his players were as intense as he is. (New York)
  • Pell in broadside at footballers, pop stars | Departing Catholic archbishop of Melbourne says three-quarters of pop stars and footballers are "crooks." (The Age, Melbourne)
  • Nothing's sacred when money is god. … except the footie | Churches oppose rugby on Good Friday (Paul Sheehan, The Sydney Morning Herald)



  • Yahoo's search for profit leads to pornography | Yahoo Inc., struggling for profit amid a shaky dot-com marketplace, has become the first top-tier Internet company to embrace the porn industry, opening an online store stocked with thousands of hard-core DVDs and video tapes. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Christians clear prostitutes' cards from phone boxes | Theologian Mark Greene has begun a one-man crusade to rid the nation's phone boxes of what he calls "pornography in a public space." Now the Evangelical Alliance is backing him and calling for others to do the same (The Independent, London)
Article continues below
  • Also: 'Adopt' a phone box to fight tart cards | Westminster council today appealed for residents to "adopt a phone box" and band together to tear down explicit prostitute cards. (The Daily Mail, London)

The Bible:

  • Flora Biblia | Why is growing a garden of plants of the Bible such a difficult task? Bible translators were no botanists. Now, modern botanists debate what some of the plants really are. (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Also: Mislabeled in translation | Did Eve really offer Adam an apricot? A list of what modern botanists think some of the plants mentioned in the Bible really are. (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Where is it written? Right here | The Bible in English, two writers maintain, shaped the language, politics and culture of Britain and America. (The New York Times Book Review)
  • Holy Shtick | A search for the historical Bible yields little; but the making of the King James Version is one of the greatest stories ever told. (New York)

Popular culture:

Other articles of interest:

Related Elsewhere

See our past Weblog updates:
April 10 | 9

April 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2

March 30 | 29 | 28 | 27 | 26

March 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19

March 16 | 15 | 13 | 12

March 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5

March 2 | 1 | February 28 | 27 | 26

February 23 | 22 | 21 | 20 | 19