Graham's Jewish comments: the commentaries are in
It looked like evangelist (and Christianity Today founder) Billy Graham was going to get a pass on his 1972 Oval Office statements about the Jewish "stranglehold" on America. For the first few days after the statements were revealed on tape, the only commentaries were Graham's apology, the Anti-Defamation League's calling the comments "chilling and frightening," and a column on a liberal site Weblog hadn't even heard of before.

Now mainstream outlets are weighing in. Thankfully, no one is calling Graham an anti-Semite; they're simply saying that he forgot his spiritual calling for a while. "Graham, the preeminent Christian preacher of the day, could have set the president straight and told him that his crude conspiracy theorizing about Jews was part of a paranoid style that might lead to his downfall someday (as it did)," a Boston Globe editorial said Tuesday.

Graham might even have suggested that the president, instead of stereotyping his critics in the media, might have turned the other cheek. But Graham did no such thing. … [The tapes] help explain why Nixon so long persisted in his dark dividing of the world into enemies and friends. He was encouraged to do so by a religious leader he had been friends with since he served as vice president in the 1950s. Given a chance to speak truth to power, Graham spoke garbage.

Columnist Cal Thomas similarly laments Graham's actions, then ties them into the case he made in his book Blinded by Might. "Graham is no bigot, although he sounds like one on the tape," he says in yesterday's column.

On the tapes, one hears Graham compromising his principles in order to please Nixon. … Graham gives in to the lower nature in us all, possibly fearful of offending the man whose company he enjoys keeping. … Had Graham spoken "truth to power" and said of Nixon's derogatory remarks about Jews, "Mr. President, those were wicked and sinful things to say about Jewish people," chances are excellent that Nixon would never again have granted the evangelist access. That's the way the game is played between politicians and clergy. And the clergy always lose in the end because it is their principles that must be sacrificed if their proximity to supposed power is to continue and their illusion of influence to be maintained. … The top-down approach of many faiths today has ruined whatever compelling message they might have once conveyed.

Is ABC caving to watchdog group complaints?
Religious groups like the American Family Association and Concerned Women for America have been targeting Disney-owned television network ABC for a while now, though their action intensified in January with the network's airing of the "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show." Now it looks like ABC may be cleaning up its act as a result. The Smoking Gun, a Web site specializing in publishing court documents, noted that Saturday night's airing of the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever had been digitally altered. "In scenes featuring Bond girl Plenty O'Toole, the ABC version magically added a black bra on the body of actress Lana Wood where one had not previously existed in the 1971 film," the site says. "It's unclear why the digital addition was done, since Wood's character shows nothing that would have even jeopardized the flick's original PG rating." Clearly someone at ABC thought the bra would help stave off complaints. The site offers screen captures from both the original film and the ABC version.

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David Brooks: Faith, not simple-mindedness, is key to Bush's decisions
In an article for The Weekly Standard's Web site, David Brooks attacks "the conventional explanation … that the president has been able to do so well precisely because he is simple-minded." He quotes a recent Time magazine profile that declared, "War has turned what many saw as Bush's liabilities—his distaste for detail, his cocky self-assurance, his sheer simplicity—into assets. Untroubled by doubt, uninterested in nuance, Bush has been relentlessly focused."

Nonsense, says Brooks. Bush isn't led by simplicity, he's led by his faith. "In the secular world of the media, and the hyper-secular world of the university, we have a poor understanding of how faith informs judgment. But this seems to be the key." Bush's belief that God has placed him where he is, his humility before the Almighty, his moral compass, and his almost biblical straightforwardness that rebels against the State Department's foggy diplomacy have guided his decisions for the better. Yes, for the better. "Bush has used the word "evil" repeatedly during this conflict, and many people have cited this as evidence of his simplistic view of the world," writes Brooks. "But where on earth does anybody get the idea that to call something evil is to make a simple statement? Evil is a complex concept, containing notions of sin, temptation, the possibility of redemption, and much else." To say otherwise is foolish—as are countless other idiotic things said by "a lot of intelligent and learned people" since September 11. "Meanwhile, George W. Bush, lacking both deep learning and wide experience, has made a series of smart decisions," Brooks concludes. "Maybe it's time we reconsidered what it means to be intelligent."

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More articles

Pat Robertson:

  • Faith in hate | Once again, the Rev. Pat Robertson is preaching hate (Editorial, The Boston Globe)

  • The recurring "they" and the truer "we" | Citing the Bible honestly makes it sound more like Robertson's version of the Qur'an than the simple story of a peaceful God and "us," God's peaceful people (Martin E. Marty, Sightings)


Sex & marriage:


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Church life:

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