Evangelicals are the new internationalists, says The New York Times' Kristof
"America's evangelicals have become the newest internationalists," says Nicholas D. Kristof in today's New York Times. "The old religious right … [which tried] to battle Satan with school prayers and right-to-life amendments, is on the ropes. It is being succeeded by evangelicals who are using their growing clout to skewer China and North Korea, to support Israel, to fight sexual trafficking in Eastern Europe and slavery in Sudan, and, increasingly, to battle AIDS in Africa."
Kristof, a Times columnist who regularly writes on foreign affairs, likes what he sees. "While the old religious right was destructive when it launched the cultural wars, the new internationalists are saving lives in some of the most forgotten parts of the world." He laments that "a simple-minded moralistic streak often leads them toward sanctions that would hurt precisely the people they aim to help," and says evangelicals are wrong for trying to freeze the U.N.'s population fund. But at the end of the day, he says, "this new constituency for foreign affairs in Middle America" is a good thing. "I've lost my cynicism about evangelical groups partly because I've seen them at work abroad."
It's an interesting article that's likely to be forwarded around a lot of evangelical organizations today, but it's important to realize just how limited Kristof's view is. Many evangelicals and those who watch them would likely question his assertions that the old religious right is on the ropes, that there's that much of a difference between the domestically minded and internationalist evangelicals (see, for example, the story of Gary Bauer), and that Christian aid and relief organizations and Christian advocacy organizations are so closely tied together.
Still, this column raises a significant issue. Are American evangelicals thinking more globally? Are Christian culture warriors moving the battle abroad? Researchers, go forth.
Sydney's Catholic archbishop refuses communion to protesting homosexuals
Gays and lesbians protesting Roman Catholic teachings on homosexuality showed up at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney Sunday morning to be denied communion. The group, known as the Rainbow Sash, had done at least 10 times in Melbourne when George Pell was archbishop there, but now they've followed him to Sydney. "We're here to break the code of silence and invisibility that the church has imposed on gay and lesbian people as their price for involvement in the church for so many centuries," a group spokesman said after the service.
But Archbishop Pell was steadfast, refusing to offer the group communion, and spelling out church teaching in a brief address before the final prayer. "While I accept that people may hold views on the appropriate expression of their sexual life and identity which differ from the church's teachings, I deeply regret that such people—who profess the Catholic faith—would choose to mount an ideological demonstration during Mass, and especially at communion," he said.
Receiving the sacrament is the ultimate expression of our Catholic faith, an intensely personal matter between communicant and God. An unworthy communion, willfully made, is a serious matter. It's not a question of refusing homosexuals or someone who is homosexually oriented. Sexual orientation is morally irrelevant. The rule is the same for all Catholics.
A person who publicly defines himself at any given time as supporting or practicing activities contrary to church teaching in a serious matter is not entitled to receive Holy Communion. This would apply, for example, to a married person openly living in or advocating adultery. Similarly, persons who openly declare that active homosexuals should be able to receive communion take a position which is contrary to the teaching and discipline of the universal church. …
We have had these protests before. Probably they will be with us for quite a time yet. I will pray for the protesters. I do not promise to speak publicly on the theme at every protest. But the protesters must realize that the church's teaching on this matter cannot, will not, change.
EEOC threatens to sue NEA over religious discrimination
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it will sue the National Education Association if the teachers union doesn't stop harassing religious educators, reports The Washington Times. Critics say the union promotes "pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality positions and policies that interfere with parental rights," but teachers who don't want their dues to fund such initiatives find themselves the subject of a harassing investigation. The main case brought to the EEOC was that of Ohio teacher Dennis Robey, represented by the National Right to Work Foundation. "During the 1999-2000 school year, union officials rebuffed his longstanding objection and demanded that every year he must describe, in detail, his deeply held religious views, fill out a lengthy and invasive form, and file it with the union," a foundation press release says. "On the form, union officials asked probing personal questions about his relationship with God, his 'religious affiliation,' and required him to obtain a signature from a 'religious official' attesting to the validity of his beliefs."
Stefan Gleason, vice president of the foundation, says the NEA is trying "to force teachers of faith to shut up and pay up. The EEOC's action further underscores that the nation's largest teacher union is systematically persecuting people of faith."
The NEA said it was waiting to read the EEOC ruling before issuing a comment.
- Religious tensions in asylum camps | Christians and others in Australia's immigration detention centers are being persecuted and physically assaulted by Muslim asylum seekers, according to Amnesty International (BBC)
- Also: Australia warned on asylum camps | The Catholic Church says government could be sued for negligence for failing to protect young asylum seekers held in detention camps (BBC)
- U.S. Catholic bishops ask Bush to intercede with Putin for Russian church | President will likely meet with Catholic bishop in Russia (The Washington Post)
- Over 100 Korean missionaries detained in China | China is detaining more than 100 South Korean missionaries on charges of supporting North Korean defectors and engaging in religious activities in China (The Korea Times)
- Saudis deport men for owning Bible | 2 Filipinos also caught with Christian music CDs (WorldNetDaily)
- Danforth stays as US envoy to Sudan (Associated Press)
- Prejudicial journalism | The media has gotten it wrong lately about slave redemption in the Sudan (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)
- Priests tell Gloria: Probe deeper to solve Abu problem | Senior church leaders say military solution isn't working (The Philippine Inquirer)
- Pakistan's blasphemy law: Words fail me | Musharraf should consider the Koranic verse that says, "There is no compulsion in religion." (Akbar S. Ahmed, The Washington Post)
Pope John Paul II:
- Pope leaves Wednesday for 5-day trip | Visit to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria intended to improve relations with Muslims and Orthodox Christians (Associated Press)
- Healing old wounds | Bulgarians hope the Pope's trip will finally absolve them of suspicion in the 1981 assassination attempt (Time Europe)
- Bush won't raise Catholic sex abuse scandal in meeting with Pope (Associated Press)
- Pope appears weaker on birthday | Following days of intense speculation about his possible resignation due to poor health, Pope John Paul II today let a priest read his response to birthday greetings in an apparent effort to save his strength. (The Washington Post)
Church & state:
- Faith program challenged over use of taxpayer funds | The 5th U.S. Court of Appeals has sent the case back to federal district court to determine whether $8,000 awarded to the Jobs Partnership of Washington County (Texas) must be repaid to taxpayers. (Houston Chronicle)
- Monument battle heats up | American Center for Law and Justice offers free legal defense to keep Ten Commandments monument in public park (The Frederick [Md.] News-Post)
- An unholy link | A proposed federal law by a Tar Heel congressman would endanger the freedoms in church-state separation. (Editorial, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Church lawsuits aim to sidestep local zoning rules | At least seven institutions in California go to court using a federal law to overturn building restrictions. (Los Angeles Times)
- Bush signs clergy tax break bill | Measure protects the "parsonage exemption," a 1921 provision challenged in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Associated Press)
- Evolution supporters, foes say law is on their side | At issue is one sentence in report accompanying new education reform act (Associated Press)
- Dancer, church reach accord | Christina Silvas will stop stripping for three weeks as daughter graduates from kindergarten (The Sacramento [Calif.] Bee)
- Also: They'll know we're Christians by our exotic dancing | A single mother condemned by her church for her job is holier than it is. (Salon.com)
- Calvin College clarifies policy requiring faculty to send their children to Christian schools | Exceptions spelled out (The Grand Rapids [Mich.] Press)
- Law's explanation finds some skeptics, some believers | Critics predict letter will only worsen crisis (The Boston Globe)
- Tough policies on priests stir some dissension in the pews | Some Roman Catholic parishioners are protesting that new zero-tolerance rules on sexual abuse enacted by dioceses amount to a witch hunt. (The New York Times)
- Another ugly turn | The burgeoning sexual abuse scandal seems to be without end (Editorial, The Washington Post)
- After accused priest's suicide, shock and second thoughts | The life of the Rev. Alfred J. Bietighofer, a tall, slim, blunt-spoken man, was full of apparent contradictions, right to the end. (The New York Times)
- A Vatican lawyer says bishops should not reveal abuse claims | The article in the magazine Civilta Cattolica by the Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, dean of the canon law faculty at Gregorian University in Rome, is the second indication in recent weeks that inside the Vatican, influential church officials may disapprove of the response of American bishops to the abuse scandal. (The New York Times)
- Church panels' role under review | Md. Priest's Shooting Focuses Attention on Advisory Groups (The Washington Post)
- Abuse policy has roots in Middle Ages | Process Set Up to Prevent Arbitrary Dismissals (The Washington Post)
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