Laura Bush: "I don't think that Roe v. Wade should be overturned."
First Lady in Waiting Laura Bush said on NBC's Today show this morning that she believes the 1973 Supreme Court decision allowing abortion should stand. Are her views along the lines of Bill Clinton's statements that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare"? Perhaps. She went on to say, "I think that we should do what we can to limit the number of abortions, to try to reduce the number of abortions in a lot of ways, and, that is, by talking about responsibility with girls and boys, by teaching abstinence, having abstinence classes everywhere in schools and in churches and in Sunday school." Or perhaps her views are more similar to those of John Ashcroft, who said at his confirmation hearings, "I believe Roe v. Wade, as an original matter, was wrongly decided. I am personally opposed to abortion. But … I accept Roe and Casey as the settled law of the land." Likewise, George Bush has said that he won't try to overturn Roe unless there's a major change in public opinion. "I think most of us accept that position," agrees Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice. (See more on Laura Bush's comments from the Associated Press; Yahoo's full coverage area on abortion is likely to link to some follow-up stories as soon as they're written.)

Mark Noll responds to Alan Wolfe
In the January issue of First Things, historian Mark Noll responds to Alan Wolfe's October 2000 Atlantic Monthly cover story, "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind." Perhaps no one is better qualified to respond than Noll, who featured prominently in Wolfe's essay and wrote the similarly titled Scandal of the Evangelical Mind back in 1994. (But that's not to say he's the only qualified person to respond. See, for example, John Wilson's comments on our site.) After "bask[ing] for a moment in Wolfe's positive observations," Noll turns to Wolfe's criticisms. While finding the criticism of evangelical schools' statements of faith for the most part "not compelling," he does join Wolfe in worry over "the populism that pervades evangelicalism." Finally, he gives his own point of view on the opening of the evangelical mind. "I view signs of intellectual life among evangelical Protestants as the product of both energy and insight," Noll writes. "The energy continues to come from traditional evangelical sources—urgency about the gospel, dedication to the Scriptures, and seriousness about God's law, but also status anxiety about a fundamentalist past. The insight comes from new and serious appropriation of classical Christian traditions. … Evangelical intellectual life could not exist without both a distinctly evangelical religious energy and a broadly ecumenical appropriation of classical Christian resources from many traditions forgotten or suspected by modern evangelicalism."

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The sad story of Anna Climbie
The U.K. media have been obsessed lately with the horrible story of Anna Climbie, an 8-year-old girl sent from the Ivory Coast in search of a better life and who died of hypothermia in February 2000 with 128 scars on her body. Her great-aunt and great-aunt's boyfriend were found guilty of her murder last week and given life sentences. But in the midst of the court testimony, religious aspects of the abuse came out as well. The great-aunt tried to blame the child's injuries on demons, and had taken her to three London-area churches for exorcism: Joy Baptist Church in Harlesden, Mission of Christ Church, and a congregation of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. The last of these exorcisms took place two days before Anna's death. The London papers have since been eager to look into these churches, especially the Brazilian Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. "The Christian fundamentalist church which offered to exorcise Anna Climbie days before she died has made tens of millions of pounds by offering to rid devotees of demons across the world," began a report in The Daily Telegraph. The Evangelical Alliance has also commented on the case. "The Evangelical Alliance acknowledges the validity of biblically-based 'deliverance ministry', sometimes popularly known as exorcism," the organization said in a statement. "However, the Alliance also believes that great care must be taken by churches in exercising such ministries, as the afflicted person may be suffering physical or psychiatric problems rather than demon or spirit-oppression. The Alliance therefore strongly recommends that churches only initiate deliverance activities after the individual has been fully examined by a doctor. In the case of a child that examination should be carried out by a qualified pediatrician."

More stories of interest:

Religion and politics:

  • Unnatural allies | While liberals fight the Ashcroft nomination, tech leaders join the religious right to back Bush's choice for attorney general. (The Standard)
  • Disqualified by his religion? | Comparing reactions to Lieberman and Aschcroft (Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post)
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