And "Simon Says" is a totalitarian training exercise!
Opponents of Bill Simon, California's Republican gubernatorial candidate, are going to great lengths to paint him as some kind of religious extremist. On Sunday, two Bay-area papers had news articles suggesting he's some kind of theocrat. The San Francisco Chronicle assigned two reporters to cover Simon's appearance on the Trinity Broadcasting Network's Behind the Scenes show. "Simon made no controversial statements on the TBN broadcast," the Chronicle reported, but the news is that he appeared "on a controversial religious cable network that has featured flamboyant faith healers and showy ministers who promise to raise loved ones from the dead."
The candidate refused to play the game. "Simon, who is a vice chairman of PAX-TV said that he doesn't support all the teachings on the Trinity Broadcast Network or the controversial programming, or wasn't even aware of them," the Chronicle reported. But the paper keeps pushing. The article's subheads say it all: "TAPES OF SHOW SURFACE" (gotta love the word surface, as if internationally broadcast shows are kept secret), "'LUNATIC FRINGE,'" "STATE VOTERS MORE SECULAR," and "NETWORK'S WEALTH AND REACH."
"The question is not his religious beliefs; the question is the company he keeps," said Hoover Institution research fellow Bill Whalen. (Funny thing about Whalen: He's the dominant voice in the story, yet the fact that he was a media consultant for Richard J. Riordan, whom Simon beat in the Republican primary election, is never mentioned. He's just quoted as an independent scholar.)
The question apparently isn't just the company he keeps, but also the company of the company that his company keeps. The San Jose Mercury News reports, "In the late 1980s, the Republican candidate helped found Good Counsel, which runs five homes for unwed mothers in New York state." Sounds good so far, doesn't it? Keep reading:
But Good Counsel's executive directorwhom Simon has known for about 20 yearsis an outspoken abortion opponent who has long supported activists known to have violated some of the laws Simon pledges to uphold. The group's director is married to a central figure in the anti-abortion movement who has said that killing abortion doctors might be justified. And he hired a man with a long arrest record for blockading clinics who is now charged with killing an abortion doctor in a sniper attack.
Well, that practically makes Simon a murderer, then, doesn't it? Simon again said he never heard about Good Counsel's "connections to anti-abortion extremists and does not condone using confrontational tactics to protest abortion," nor did he ever hear of James Kopp, who worked for four months as Good Counsel's handyman before allegedly killing abortionist Barnett Slepian.
One last commentthough these charges against Simon are absolute poppycock, Simon's responses do leave a few questions. A PAX-TV vice chairman and former Christian television host never heard about wacky things over at TBN? A gubernatorial candidate in a race where abortion has been a major issue never heard about Kopp, who is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list?
Let Christian musicians sing, then let them go home
"You don't just walk up to a complete stranger and ask 'What's the biggest sin you've committed in your life?' or say 'I just found out I have cancer' or 'My son died last week,'" says Chris Rice. Actually, a lot of people do if the stranger is, like Rice, a Christian musician. The Dallas Morning News has an excellent article on how many fans want the musicians to be their pastor, therapist, boyfriend, husband, and God.
"If Jesus is savior of the world and healer of the heart, then why would anyone want to stop at a table and get someone's autograph?" says Christian speaker and head of sixsteps records Louie Giglio. "Whether the concert's Steven Curtis Chapman or Dave Matthews or whoever, for me I'm going to walk out [of] the lobby and say: 'Hey, that was great, but I'm going home now. I'm going home with God. I can't trump that.'"
- Say a little prayer for you | How the tale of a slave trader's salvation became a song for the ages (U.S. News & World Report)
- After singing together nearly 60 years, Blind Boys win Grammy and new fans | New CD, "Higher Ground," due out in September (Associated Press)
- The revelator | The further she migrates from the gospel formula, the closer Gillian Welch brings her listeners to God (Killing the Buddha)
- Where's the return fire in culture wars? | The Billboard charts are crammed full of the vulgar and violent these days, with lyrics celebrating every pathology under the sun, plus a couple of pathologies that apparently were hiding under bridges (David Segal, The Washington Post)
- At African monastery, convergence of cultures yields new religious music | At prayer every day, the white-robed monks of Keur Moussa, Senegal, lift their voices in centuries-old Gregorian chant, accompanied by the delicate strains of a traditional African harp (Associated Press)
- Bloomberg's gift | Mandatory abortion training arrives in NYC public hospitals (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online)
- Abortion and crime | Has abortion led to a dramatic decline in violent crime? (Law.com)
- Earlier: A Death Penalty Before the Crime | If "unwanted" children are destined for crime, can we make them wanted? (Editorial, Christianity Today, Oct. 4, 1999)
- Bishops express concern over Euro abortion report | Government puts bishops' minds at rest (The Times of Malta)
- Playing God | Bush's bioethics czar Leon Kass wants to criminalize lifesaving medical research as violating the natural order of things. Would he have opposed wiping out smallpox? (Scott Anderson, Salon.com)
- Earlier: Defender of Dignity | Leon Kass, head of the President's Council on Bioethics, hopes to thwart the powers of the business-biomedical agenda (Christianity Today)
- Prolifers force U.S. to slash Third World aid | International efforts to control population growth in the developing world could be fatally undermined following a decision by President Bush to slash millions of dollars of funding for a UN family planning program (The Observer, London)
- Dutch license floating abortion clinic | Anger as activists win right to offer abortion pill (The Guardian, London)
- Judge says executions violate Constitution | A U.S. district judge in New York ruled yesterday that the federal death penalty creates "undue risk" of executing innocent defendants (The Washington Post)
Billy Graham in Cincinnati:
- Graham mission breaks attendance records | Reverend asks crowd to come home to God (WLWT, Cincinnati)
- Graham: 'God bless Cincinnati' | Wrapping up his four-day crusade, Billy Graham urged Greater Cincinnatians Sunday night to repent their sins and "leave here with a new direction." (The Cincinnati Post)
- Crusade reaches 96% of financial goal | Group has already promised to make up shortfall (The Cincinnati Post)
- Pastors learn the Graham style at school | At the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, a week-long seminar that meets several times a year at locations throughout the country, the message is aimed squarely at the person standing at the pulpit: Lead your congregations through example (The Cincinnati Post)
- Graham's Cincinnati mission attracts thousands (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
- Graham frail but message strong | "It probably won't be too long for me," says evangelist (The Cincinnati Post)
- Graham's Ohio crusade inspires, prepares Dallas organizers | Evangelist plans next meeting in mid-October (The Dallas Morning News)
- Paul Getty gives £5m to help restore St Paul's Cathedral | Will repair moldering carving, rusted iron work, and rain and soot streaked stone (The Guardian, London)
- Fifth of clergy may resign over women bishops | Despite eight years passing since women priests were first ordained in England, 25 per cent of clergy and 17 per cent of laity believe that there "should not be any women bishops anywhere." (The Times, London)
- Changing church aims to be where community is | After a year of canvassing the neighborhood and inviting people to worship with them, leaders of Trinity United Methodist Church in northwest Flint are ready to go all-out to give the church vitality in the neighborhood (The Flint [Mich.] Journal)
- Brazilian church casts out demons and saves souls for a price | Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Japan (Asahi Shimbun News Service)
- Steering area toward a new path | East Baltimore residents replace abandoned homes with meditative labyrinth (The Baltimore Sun)
- A marriage made in heaven? | The Church of England and the British Methodist Church are flirting again (The Guardian, London)
- Bad service to blame for mass exodus | Boredom may be the biggest threat to the future of Christianity as its popularity continues to dwindle among the formerly faithful (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Hundreds get high on a cause | Canada Day finds Christians, cannabis together on Commons (The Daily News, Halifax, N.S., Canada)
Catholicism and Pope John Paul II:
- A doctor-spokesman attends to papal image | Nineteen years into his career as papal spokesman, Dr. Joaquín Navarro-Valls, now 65, still has occasional headaches with the centuries-old papal bureaucracy, the Roman Curia (The New York Times)
- Pope meets with Iranian Ayatollah | There are about 150,000 Christians in Iran, about 13,000 of whom are Catholic (Associated Press)
- Report: Pope will not retire | Vittorio Messori, who collaborated with Pope John Paul II on the best-selling book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, says pontiff will stay to his death (Associated Press)
- Woman secretly taped while confiding in her priest sues him alleging malpractice | The taping was legal in Mississippi, where, as in many states, any party to a conversation may record it surreptitiously. But whether a priest must disclose secret taping is an open legal question (The New York Times)
- Archbishop 'a virtual prisoner of Vatican' | So says Emmanuel Milingo's sister (The Guardian, London)
- Magic of World Youth Day cross brings city's Christians together | Some experience spiritual power from Pope's gift (The Toronto Star)
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