Reagan staffer named president of Focus
Focus on the Family announced on Friday the appointment of Don Hodel to an unpaid position as president and CEO. A former Christian Coalition president and CEO, Hodel has been a Focus board member since 1995 and served as interim executive vice president in 1996. In the '80s, he was a member of President Reagan's administration as U.S. Undersecretary of the Interior, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and U.S. Secretary of Energy.
Much of Hodel's background is in energy and natural resources. He is the founder and managing director of the Summit Energy Group, a consortium of consulting companies. He has served on the boards of the Electrical Power Research Institute, American Electrical Power, Columbia Gas, MAPCO, Taylor Energy Company, and Texon Corporation. He was also administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration and president of the National Electric Reliability Council.
Hodel joined the Christian Coalition as president and CEO without salary in 1997 and resigned in 1999 to return to retirement. He is a current board member of Salem Communications. His appointment at Focus is effective May 15. According to a press release, James Dobson will continue to lead Focus as chairman of the board but not deal in day-to-day management.
Was Rod Paige clear in his Baptist Press comments?
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen writes today that the biggest problem with Secretary of Education Rod Paige's much-debated statements about Christian values is that his point wasn't clear.
Cohen writes that Paige has a history of making confusing and ambiguous statements. He even says that Paige "has been asked at congressional hearings to repeat himself just so his questioners could understand what he means."
In a Baptist Press interview, Paige said, "All things being equal, I'd prefer to have a child in a school where there's a strong appreciation for values, the kinds of values that I think are associated with the Christian communities, so that this child can be brought up in an environment that teaches them to have strong faith and to understand that there is a force greater than them personally."
Cohen's reaction: 'Huh?'
He writes: "My "huh?" comes from the ambiguity of the statement. It is not clear whether this secretary of education—this secretary of public education—is saying that he prefers kids to be in Christian schools, in which case he is in the wrong job, or that the public schools ought to teach Christian values, in which case he is also in the wrong job."
Weblog doesn't think Paige's point is confusing. And its meaning doesn't fit either of Cohen's suggestions. The secretary didn't say he prefers kids to be in Christian schools or that he prefers Christian values to be in public schools. Instead, Paige is saying he would prefer that his own children attend a school with Christian values. That hardly makes him unfit for his job.
On WorldNetDaily today, attorney and author David Limbaugh writes that criticisms like Cohen's are misleading and unfair. Among the misconceptions: Paige wasn't talking about kindergarten to high-school education. He was speaking about colleges.
There is a disturbing trend in this country toward the view that religion and religious expression, particularly of the Christian variety, ought to be privatized. Increasingly, despite America's Christian heritage, Christian expression from the mouths of public officials is met with borderline hysteria. But as Paige noted, you can't take the private religion out of the public man. "My faith in God is not a separate part of me," said Paige. "I can't do that. I know clearly that where I am and what I do is not so much a product of my work, but a product of God's grace."
War in Iraq:
- How churches played into Iraq's hands | At a time when Christendom should have acted, Tariq Aziz's papal audience sent out the wrong message (Gerard Henderson, Sydney Morning Herald)
- Clergy rightly mum about war | The first question we asked ourselves was: What should be our objective? Should it be to comfort—or to advocate? (Gerald L. Zelizer, USA Today)
- War seen as in line with Christian view | The Bush administration's decision to minimize civilian casualties in the war in Iraq shows that the conflict is being fought in accordance with Christian principles (The Washington Times)
- Onward Christian soldiers | Conservative fundamentalists with close ties to President Bush are planning a new missionary push in Iraq—and they might already be converting U.S. troops to their cause. (Max Blumenthal, Salon.com)
- Catholic group blames coalition forces for looting in Baghdad | The federation strongly criticized the incident, describing it as "a crime against humanity, culture, history and civilization." (Daily Star, Lebanon)
- For a church's Latino faithful, a new home | In the months ahead, workers will literally combine the altars of the two historic churches, and the merger of their parishes will be complete. (The New York Times)
- Church is taking a stand on faith | A former drive-up photo booth now delivers prayers for those in a hurry. 'Like a fast-food place for God,' a visitor says. (Los Angeles Times)
- Evangelicals move to heal rift with Williams | The Archbishop of Canterbury will risk upsetting liberals in the Church by opening a landmark evangelical conference. (The Church of England Newspaper)
- Vatican moves emperor near beatification | Charles I was a man of "moral integrity and solid faith." (Associated Press)
- Pop love songs banned from weddings | Catholic leaders in Kerry have banned popular love songs from being played at ceremonies. (Ananova)
- Catholics celebrate Palm Sunday | Prayers held for world peace, reconciliation (Daily Star, Lebanon)
- Wine to water | Religions vary widely over what 'the cup' should hold (Deseret News)
Other religions and interfaith relations:
- Sikhs mark New Year, fight post-Sept. 11 bias | Facing rise in threats, temples plan education campaigns, lobby for new hate-crime laws. (Los Angeles Times)
- Muslims debate the proper response to war | Is this war the beginning of the clash of civilizations that will lead to the end of days? (Boston Globe)
- Mexican villagers stone 'witch' to death | Domingo Shilon Shilon was hacked with machetes Sunday by the crowd in San Juan Chamula, a majority Catholic township on the outskirts of the colonial city of San Cristobal. (CNN)
- Robertson taking message to temple | He spoke on why Americans - including Christian evangelicals - should support Israel (Boston Globe)
- Death penalty goes nowhere in Maryland session | Seldom in the quarter-century since Maryland reinstated capital punishment has this deeply contentious issue presented lawmakers with as much conflict as it did during the just-ended General Assembly. (The Washington Post)
- Court awards damages to disabled child for having been born | For the first time in the Netherlands, a court has awarded damages to a severely disabled girl for the fact that she was born a so called "wrongful life" judgment. (BMJ.com)
- UK couple die at suicide clinic | A British couple suffering from chronic illnesses have died at a Swiss clinic, following an apparent suicide pact. (BBC)
- Also: Euthanasia for British couple with non-terminal illness (The Guardian, London)
Missions and ministry:
- Sister Nicole fights the good fight as financier | Sister Nicole Rielle created two ethical investment funds that handle the investments of 80 French religious orders. (The New York Times)
- Jesus in Baghdad | Why we should keep Franklin Graham out of Iraq. (Steven Waldman, Slate.com)
- Churches see that families of troops not overlooked | Thanks to the efforts of churches and volunteer organizers across the country, the families of soldiers and sailors fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom are getting support and assistance. (ChurchCentral.com)
- A faith-based initiative | Steve Weaver is an emergency-management consultant for the Church World Service, with which he will shortly cross the border between Jordan and Iraq. (CNN)
Other stories of interest:
- Half of Britain believes in Resurrection | The findings challenge the widespread view that an increasingly secular society sees Easter as little more than an opportunity to indulge a taste for chocolate. (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Rapture Index inventor tracks end of time | A profile of Todd Strandberg, the founder of the online, end-of-time radar gun. (The Salt Lake Tribune)
- Earlier: The Iraq War Has Little Effect on the Rapture Index | The founder of an online end times "speedometer" says that other current events are more connected to biblical prophecy. (Christianity Today)
- West's farmers are praying for drought relief | Region needs rain in biblical proportions to make up for four dry years, scientists say. Recent storms have made little difference. (Los Angeles Times)
- Moment of silence | From across the spectrum of America's religions, they pray. (Photo essay by Gueorgui Pinkhassov, The New York Times)
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