Is Richard Land the new leader of the religious right?
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, "considered trading preaching for politics, until he found a way to blend them as one mission," reports the Associated Press. "Land's ability to mix preaching and politics is what pushed him to the forefront of the Southern Baptist Convention—and the religious right."

But he's a new kind of religious right leader, says David Key, director of Baptist studies at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. His "low-key, contemplative approach" appeals to conservatives tired of "charismatic, inflammatory" figures "such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson." "He's not flashy," Key tells the AP. "He uses his educational background [which includes a D.Phil. from Oxford] to project a very thoughtful perspective on his agenda, and yet he represents a group that is not thoughtful at all when it comes to their positions on certain issues. He's a great person to represent them in Washington because of that." The Southern Baptist Convention is "not thoughtful at all when it comes to their positions on certain issues"? Weblog is sure the SBC isn't pleased about that description.

Karl Rove tells Family Research Council Bush will continue to nominate conservative judges
Presidential adviser Karl Rove says the Senate Judiciary Committee made a mistake in rejecting the nomination of Charles Pickering for an appellate court position. "This is not about a good man, Charles Pickering," he told 250 so people at the Family Research Council (FRC). "This is about the future. This is about the U.S. Supreme Court. And this is about sending George W. Bush a message that 'You send us somebody that is a strong conservative, you're not going to get him.' Guess what? They sent the wrong message to the wrong guy."

According to The Washington Post, Rove told the FRC that Bush would continue to nominate conservatives to federal benches, as well as promote marriage in welfare reform plans, support crisis pregnancy centers, and oppose human cloning. "There'll be some times you in this room and we over at the White House will find ourselves in agreement, and there'll be the occasion when we don't," he said. "But we will share a heck of a lot more in common than we don't. And we'll win if we work together far more often than the other side wants us to."

Inauthentic preaching
What a week it has been for honesty in the pulpit. First, Edward Mullins was accused of plagiarizing sermons and was suspended from his duties as rector of Christ Church Cranbrook, an Episcopal church outside Detroit. "Along with other questionable actions he has taken during the past five years, the plagiarism of his spiritual messages causes us seriously to doubt his fitness for the ordained ministry," said a letter from parishioners. "How can a priest of the church lay claim to a defense of such dubious morality as 'everybody does it' and 'I paid to use those materials?'" Mullins has his defenders in the congregation—and at The New York Times. "A congregation doesn't come to church on Sunday morning needing to believe that what they hear will be authentically delivered from the original pen of their minister," writes Verlyn Klinkenborg. "They need to believe that whatever he or she has to say to them will be true and full of solace, applicable to the days and weeks ahead." Besides, notes the Associated Press, "The point where research becomes plagiarism is murky for ministers and rabbis." Others disagree. See past articles on sermon stealing from Christianity Today, our sister publication Leadership Journal (which also gave tips on how to credit sources) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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But some preachers aren't just padding their sermons—they're also padding their rÉsumÉs. William Taylor was forced to resign as the Dean of Portsmouth's Anglican Cathedral in the U.K. after someone notified the bishop that he'd never earned the doctorate from Cambridge University he said he had. "This has been a difficult time for all concerned but I would like to pay tribute to William's integrity in dealing honorably with this situation," said Bishop Kenneth Stevenson. "I wish him well in his future ministry. This matter is now closed." Taylor reportedly claimed a Ph.D. in Arabic churches even though all he had completed was a Master of Theology degree. The diocese says it will now demand proof of academic qualifications.

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Church attack in Pakistan:

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Church & state:

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  • Earlier: N.Y. Prolifers See Partial Victory | New York attorney general withdraws subpoenas targeting crisis pregnancy centers. (Christianity Today, Mar. 1, 2002)

  • Bakersfield to put its trust in God | After a spirited church-state debate, council votes to post the U.S. motto. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Another Tennessee county votes to display Commandments (The Tennessean)

  • Whose commandments? | Nurturing individual autonomy and the rights of groups that reject the autonomy principle is a difficult balancing act. (E. J. Dionne Jr, The Washington Post)

  • State-imposed faith won't make U.S. stronger | Keeping the government from promoting religion is actually good for religion. (Charles Haynes, Freedom Forum)

  • No permission required | Government must avoid infringing on the right of citizens to express peaceably their religious or political views, even when one person's peaceful expression happens to be another person's pain in the neck. (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)

  • Bus driver's removal explained | She was removed for swearing and violating rules, not praying, say administrators (Carroll County Times, Westminster, Md.)

  • It's easy to forget how Christian Canada is | Canada would be better served by church leaders openly admitting that when it comes to the relationship between politics and religion, they occupy a position not of victimhood but conspicuous and long-standing privilege. (Andy Lamey, National Post)

  • Cleric wants assembly to enact prayer day law | As the country prepares for elections billed for next year, the National Assembly has been enjoined to enact a law making it mandatory for Nigerians to observe a yearly three-day national prayer to avert any impending disaster. (This Day, Lagos, Nigeria)


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Billy Graham:


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  • Father knows worst | We have turned a light on these cloistered, arrogant fraternities and they can no longer justify themselves. (Maureen Dowd, The New York Times)

  • The systematic corruption of the Catholic Church | This is about a massively powerful institution using its power to conceal and effectively perpetuate crimes (and sins) of the most evil nature against the most innocent and vulnerable of the souls who trusted the church. (Michael Kelly, The Washington Post)

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