With apparent criticism from evangelicals, Bush turns to Catholics
Remember back during the campaign when George Bush was accused of "Catholic bashing" simply for speaking at Bob Jones University? Apparently those days are long gone. These days, Bush is being criticized for too much courting Roman Catholics. "He's certainly met with more Catholics than evangelicals," Richard Cizik, vice president for government affairs for National Association of Evangelicals tells the Los Angeles Times. "It's probably hurt him with the religious right because they've felt ignored. … This could come back to bite him." Is Cizik serious? The religious right feels ignored by Bush? Granted, Bush has been spending a lot of time with Catholics lately; just yesterday he attended the dedication of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center and had invited several cardinals and bishops over to the East Room on Wednesday evening. But he's certainly met with evangelicals, too, and evangelical Protestants have been key players in forming and supporting (not just criticizing) Bush's faith-based initiative. Sounds like a strange accusation to Weblog.

Speaking of Bush's dedication of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, Bush used his speech there to praise the pope's opposition to abortion, saying John Paul II is "never more eloquent than when he speaks for a culture of life." "We must defend in love the innocent child waiting to be born," said the president. The $65 million papal museum, housed on the Catholic University of America campus, "combines solemn spirituality and high-tech entertainment," says The Washington Post. The tech aspect sounds pretty cool, and very interactive. And the religious aspect sounds, well, pretty evangelical. Visitors are encouraged to record their "testimony of faith" on computer, paper, or video (these will be vetted by museum staff and perhaps displayed in the main hall), and Cardinal Adam J. Maida, archbishop of Detroit and president of the private foundation that built the museum, told the Post he hopes it will be "an instrument of evangelization and … of sharing our faith with others." (In the next sentence, the paper seems to contradict this by saying he wants all who visit to feel "more affirmed and confirmed in their beliefs and have a sense of peace and joy." But Weblog will give Maida the benefit of the doubt.)

Defending the unborn
"This is not about abortion rights or Roe v. Wade," says U.S. Representative Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), sponsor of the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2001," which would punish criminals who injure the unborn during a violent crime. In most cases, "the punishment for that separate offense is the same as the punishment provided under Federal law for that conduct had that injury or death occurred to the unborn child's mother," the bill proposes, up to but not including the death penalty. Those who intentional kill or attempt to kill the unborn (except for doctors and abortionists) would be guilty of "intentionally killing or attempting to kill a human being." But Democrats worry that the bill would establish a fetus as a person. The bill made it through the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

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The David Seminar
"David was hardly the flawed-but-noble hero depicted in the Scriptures. He was more likely a ruthless, homicidal scoundrel whose legend was later embellished and sanitized to give a demoralized people a much needed folk hero." That's just one of the assertions scholars are saying about the biblical king, according to Jeffrey Sheler, religion writer for U.S. News and the author of a recent book on the reliability of Scripture. Among the other assertions: "If David existed at all (most scholars now think he did, based on recent archaeological finds), he was little more than a tribal chieftain, not the powerful military ruler described in the Bible; the same goes for his son and successor, the wise King Solomon." And "It was during the reign of David, and possibly of his successor, that much of the Old Testament was written, including the Torah, the first five books of the Bible and traditionally ascribed to Moses; the authors more than likely were priests of the royal court who sought to legitimize David's dynasty by foreshadowing it in Scripture." Sheler notes that "such revisionism is hotly contested," but that perhaps the most important change in the field is that scholars agree that David "is clearly a historical figure"—something doubted by minimalist scholars until a few years ago.

Condemn me baby one more time
David Kelly, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Kentwood, Louisiana, is worried about one of his parishioner's recent behavior. It just so happens that that member is singer Britney Spears. "The foundation of the church is about living life as Christ did," he tells Heat magazine. "Smoking and drinking isn't what Christ wanted. It is disobedient. If Britney does things which are not in accordance with the Scriptures God will chastise her." Still, Kelly says, he thinks she can be a role model for youth. "She is such a well-known person that we want her to continue being a good example of what it is to be a Baptist." Weblog would like to see an unedited transcript of the interview, but even if there isn't a Matthew 18 violation here, there's at least something not right about a pastor using the press to warn his most famous member about her spiritual life.

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