On a mission from God?
After Bush's inaugural address, Rich Weaver slipped past security, entered a restricted area, and shook Bush's hand. He then gave the president a medallion and a blue card. On the card, Weaver says, was a message from God: "Your miracle election is to remind you to stand for Christ daily without political compromise. Keep Christ first and God will give you another miracle election in four years." What's absolutely crazy about the whole thing is that Weaver pulled the same trick off four years ago at Clinton's inauguration. And the Capitol Police were shown a video of that encounter so that Weaver could be identified if he tried it again. "The guards let me in like nobody's business," said the 55-year-old renegade minister. "It happens all the time. It's so funny, it's almost eerie. But this stuff is no big deal to God. God can close people's eyes so they don't see you." He tried to explain the same thing to the Secret Service. "It had nothing to do with you. God's bigger than all you guys," he told them. He later explained to The Washington Post, "It really encourages them [the Secret Service] when I tell them that." (I bet.) A former Secret Service agent says Weaver won't be charged with anything. (See also Weaver's interview with the Associated Press.)

Bush will start sending "charitable choice" proposals to Congress next week
As a first step to involving churches and religious organizations in governmental social programs, President Bush had dinner last night at the home of Theodore McCarrick, Washington's archbishop (who will be elevated to cardinal by Pope John Paul II). Before the meeting, Bush explained his plans are "all based upon what's called charitable choice, which is a constitutional provision which recognizes government will never fund religion but government should not fear funding programs that can change people's lives. Nor should government fear providing funding for an individual and allow that individual to choose a faith-based program so long as there's a secular alternative available." Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said, "It was a private dinner. There wasn't an agenda. Tonight was more social. It was really just a chance for [them to] get to know each other." But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer noted, "It's part of reach-out, part of faith-based solutions. He's been discussing that with leaders of a variety of religious backgrounds, and he's going to continue to do that." Fleischer also agreed that Bush's plans will be controversial. "Some people will raise church and state issues," he told reporters. "The president is prepared to take that on."

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Evangelicals voting more Republican
A much larger percentage of evangelicals voted for Bush than voted for Bob Dole four years ago, says a survey by political scientists John Green, Lyman Kellstedt, Corwin Smidt, and James Guth (who regularly study religious voting behavior). "The Bush vote was substantially an alliance of more observant white Christians (Protestant and Catholic), led by evangelical Protestants; they were joined by less observant white Protestants," the study says. "Together these groups made up about three-quarters of the Texas governor's total." And this alliance was stronger than usual, they say: "84 percent of more observant evangelicals voted for Bush. This figure was considerably higher than the comparable figure in 1996, when Bob Dole received 70 percent of their votes. Observant mainline Protestants were also strongly Republican, backing Bush with 65 percent, a margin that also grew from Dole's 58 percent in 1996. However, the most Republican religious group was the Mormons, 88 percent of whom voted for Bush, about the same level as four years earlier." Black Protestants were the strongest Democratic group, followed by Jews and secular voters.

Colson likes Liddy's theory that Watergate burglars were looking for prostitution photos
Admitting he "never thought the received wisdom—that is, that people were breaking in for political intelligence—made any sense at all," Watergate figure and Christianity Today columnist Charles Colson said he finds fellow Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy's theory that the Watergate burglars were looking for photos of prostitutes "one of the most plausible explanations" he's heard. Colson's comments were part of a 1996 videotaped deposition played in court Thursday in a defamation lawsuit filed by former DNC secretary Ida "Maxie" Wells against Liddy. The former FBI agent who helped plan the Watergate break-in says former White House counsel John Dean ordered the break-in to get photos—kept in Wells's desk—linking Dean's fiancee to a call-girl ring. Wells (and Dean) deny such photos existed.

As National Association of Evangelicals moves to California, a new vision
"Our location sends a huge signal as to what we see NAE becoming," Kevin W. Mannoia, NAE president, tells The Sun newspaper in Baltimore. The newspaper continues: "What it is becoming, says Mannoia … is a group that actively engages a culture and society that is increasingly multiethnic, globalized and urbanized, not one that shuns them as sinful and secular."

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Behold now behemoth
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer isn't the first media outlet to report on the strangely named "Church of God-Zillah." (See an Associated Press report from June, for example). But its reporting story is one of the best. The church, also known as the Christian Worship Center in Zillah, Washington, is a Church of God offshoot. And since it was regularly referred to as the Church of God, Zillah, members decided to have fun with it. There's a 10-foot metal dinosaur out front with 3,000 Christmas lights, a cross, and a sign that says "Jesus Saves." "He's not quite the monster of the movies," pastor Gary Conner. "We got him saved. He's been reformed." Okay. But when Mothra or the Smog Monster decide to take revenge and destroy this small town of 2,500 or so residents, who'll be laughing then?

More stories:

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Jesse Jackson:

Gay marriage in Canada:

Other stories of interest:

  1. Brutality behind bars | Savage prison gang rapes turn many run-of-the-mill prisoners into violent felons-in-waiting. Reformers say it's time to rein in jailhouse predators (World)
  2. Dalai Lama condemns Christians, Muslims | "Whether Hindu or Muslim or Christian, whoever tries to convert, it's wrong, not good," says Buddhist leader after Hindu calls for "dousing Islam" (CNN)
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  1. Christian tribals reconverted to Hinduism (The Times of India)
  2. Vatican radio site attacked after Pope's new media speech (Reuters/ZDNet)
  3. Between this world and the next | As Pope John Paul II creates what is probably his last batch of cardinals, the Roman Catholic church waits for change. Will it come? (The Economist)
  4. Tragedy unites Christian school (Cincinnati Post)
  5. Arson attack on Northern Ireland church (BBC)
  6. Bring back the ancient eunuchs - they're a cut above the rest (Philip Howard, The Times, London)
  7. The joy of not having sex yet (Rebecca Mead, The Guardian, London)
  8. Catholic college removes nun after she becomes Episcopal priest (Associated Press)
  9. Two men jailed for defaming a Cyprus Orthodox bishop | Said they had sex with him. (Ananova)
  10. Faith, music keeps gospel group evolving (The Boston Globe)

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