As fight continues, so will media commentary
It may appear that the church vs. state battle in Alabama is over. Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument, moved yesterday from the state judicial building's rotunda, sits in a locked storage room. Alabama's attorney general says it will be removed from the grounds by the end of the week. In addition, a federal judge in Mobile has dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington.
But Moore says the fight isn't over. Protesters are still holding prayer vigils. Supporters wearing Ten Commandment shirts plan to stand where the monument was. James Dobson and Alan Keyes are expected to speak today at a noon rally on the building's steps. And the Christian Defense Coalition plans to refile its suit today, saying that the monument's removal violated freedom of religion.
There's also no indication that this issue is going to go away in the media anytime soon. It's hard to count all the headlines on the monument's removal yesterday. (But one thing you can count is the number of major articles quoting media darling Barry Lynn: Four.) Opinion pieces on Roy Moore's church and state battle may outnumber the news stories. And look for commentary on church/state matters to continue now that it is at the forefront of media attention.
Most editorials decry Moore's defiance and congratulate Alabama's stand against blurring church and state lines. Alabama papers Mobile Register and The Birmingham News seem relieved that the monument is gone and Moore is no longer standing in defiance. The News says, "The pivotal question in this dispute wasn't whether the monument was wrong or right, but whether Moore would obey a court's command. Moore failed the test."
The Misguided Editorial of the Week award goes to Eric Mink of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mink starts by noting that most of the protesters in Alabama are not from the state but have traveled in to support the fight. This, he says, is happening at the same time as Islamists are streaming into Iraq to wage holy war on the United States.
Mink admits that this is a bad comparison. "It would unwise, not to mention unfair, to compare too closely the radical Islamists, who have come to Iraq to kill and maim combatants and innocents, with the fundamentalist Christians of good conscience peacefully protesting in Montgomery."
But then he spends the rest of the column doing exactly that. He argues that both groups of "crusaders" believe that anyone holding different views are not mistaken but are simply infidels. While he argues that the spirit of tolerance and freedom of choice is not present in the Alabama protests, isn't that what the Christians there are arguing for?
In the Chicago Tribune, columnist Steve Chapman writes that if Alabama were really to enforce God's laws, there would be a lot of changes.
Most of the problems would be with breaking the First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me." Admiration for legendary coach Bear Bryant would be targeted first. In fact, "a systematic campaign of prosecution may be needed to rid the state of all basement shrines to Crimson Tide football, which apparently are considered as essential as indoor plumbing."
(See several other news and opinion articles on the Ten Commandments below.)
Charges dropped in ELCA youth retreat rape case
The tragic story of rape at a Lutheran youth retreat in Issaquah, Washington, just got even sadder. Prosecutors recently dismissed with prejudice charges against a 17-year-old accused of twice raping a 14-year-old Alaskan girl during the "Rainbow of Gifts" leadership conference attended by about 120 high school students.
"The prosecutors do not believe they could prove a crime was committed," Dan Donohoe, press secretary for the King County prosecuting attorney's office, told The Seattle Times. "Additional information" surfaced last week, he said. He didn't elaborate, but the boy's attorney said the girl recanted.
Donohoe noted that rape charges against two other teens still stand, but defense attorney Dennis McGuire, who represents one of the boys, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that there are "additional reasons to question the veracity of the girls' stories."
Indeed, with this girl's recantation, the other girls' stories are problematic. They said that they only came forward with their stories after they found out she was raped the second time.
Whether or not the rapes happened, these kids are facing great injustice. The question is: which kids?
- N.D. lawmaker wants investigation into Ten Commandments suit | State legislator objects to University of North Dakota's use of public funds for federal lawsuit against city of Fargo (Associated Press)
- Few blacks attend protests (Montgomery Advertiser)
- Chief justice may benefit | What is certain, said political and social science experts in Montgomery, is that there will be plenty of fallout from this monumental religious showdown. (Montgomery Advertiser)
- Sculptor finds his work at center of controversy | Richard Hahnemann is happy in his anonymity. (Mobile Register)
- Display removal irritates crowd | Supporters were puzzled and defiant when crews moved the Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda into a nearby side room. (Montgomery Advertiser)
- Protest peaceful as police stand guard (Montgomery Advertiser)
- Monument is now out of sight, but not out of mind | Moving crew hired from out of state, because no one in Alabama would do it. (The New York Times)
- Debate lingers as monument is removed from view | Commandments display put in storage in Ala. Courthouse. (The Washington Post)
- Christian conservatives defend Ten Commandments | Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's defiant stand over the Ten Commandments is only the latest skirmish in a running battle between Christian conservatives and civil libertarians that dates back to Cecil B. DeMille's 1950s Hollywood epic about Moses. (Reuters)
- Ten Commandments stalemate broken (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
- Jerry Falwell decries removal of Ten Commandments (The Chattanoogan)
- Struggle over 'the Rock' divides evangelical leaders | Some evangelical leaders were outraged. But others said Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore should not have defied a federal court order to remove it (USA Today)
- Commandments hauled away | The judge's effort to redraw the line between church and state has struck a responsive chord among evangelical Christians hungry for a champion in the nation's "culture war," but it was doomed, even conservative attorneys say (The Orlando Sentinel)
Ten Commandments opinion:
- Remembering what our society was based on | The Magna Carta Memorial does not mention God as Moore's courthouse memorial does but the document it honors vociferously does. (Michele Marr, The Independent,Huntington Beach, California)
- Time to reason together | We need now a renewed discussion among Bible-defenders as to whether we are living in a new Israel or a modern Babylon (Marvin Olasky)
- Moore's monument | Attacking the vehicle of freedom (The Star Tribune)
- The Inquisition in Alabama | Unlike some Americans today who applaud monuments of the Ten Commandments on state property that sanctify the Judeo-Christian tradition, James Madison was adamant that Christian religion deserved no privileged status whatsoever. (Susan Dunn, The Christian Science Monitor)
- Thou shalt not establish a theocracy | Advocates of using the Commandments for government would have more credibility if they, themselves, obeyed them (Geov Parrish, WorkingForChange.com)
- Linking God and government | Again, the vast reasonable middle can just shrug and watch. And what does that vast midsection of American opinion believe? (Mark Davis, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
- Roy Moore's 11th commandment is 'Thou shalt pander for votes' | The showdown in Alabama over the Ten Commandments monument is about one man's calculating politics (Frances Coleman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- House vote sanctifies religion | In essence, they voted 260-161 to block enforcement of the Constitution (Editorial, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Men behaving badly | It's well known what happens when your average spoiled child doesn't get his or her way. He'll scream, he'll cry, he'll slump to the pavement in a show of passive resistance designed to infuriate the parent even further. (Editorial, Chicago Tribune)
- Constitution gives power to Congress over courts | The Constitution grants Congress the authority to limit federal court jurisdiction, remove judges, set pay, even determine where the courts meet (John Hostettler, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Autistic boy's death in healing service:
- Minister charged with felony abuse in boy's death | Ray Hemphill could face up to 5 years in prison for role in fatal prayer service (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Boy's death ruled homicide | Church elder sat on child's chest, police say; charges uncertain (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Wis. boy's church death ruled a homicide (Associated Press)
- Earlier: Autistic boy dies at Wis. prayer service | An autistic 8-year-old boy died while wrapped in sheets during a prayer service held to exorcise the evil spirits that church members blamed for his condition (Associated Press)
- Leaders were trying to heal boy, pastor says | Church minister arrested after an 8-year-old stops breathing, dies during a prayer service (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Church expects clearance in death | Pastor says service was in accordance with Bible (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Anglican Church, post-gay bishop:
- Evangelicals poised to take over the Church | A new study suggests that, if current trends continue, evangelicals will make up more than half of all Church of England Sunday church worshippers in 10 years' time, up from about a third now (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Local Episcopalians try to come to terms with own schism | The Episcopal Church is dealing with a lot of negative and fearful thoughts these days. There is talk of abandonment, betrayal, and even apostasy. There is fear of schism. (David Waters, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)
- Who's responsible for church fires? | A priest in rural North Texas is no longer certain that hatred stoked two fires at his little Episcopal church (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
- Earlier: Backlash seen as cause to church fires | Priest says he's shocked, will wait for official word (Times Record)
- The last straw | The appointment of a homosexual bishop is not, I repeat, the worst thing that could happen in the church. But it will prove to be the last straw—the issue over which traditionalists finally tire of the liberal domination and the perversion of the faith which this has brought (Peter Mullen, The Wall Street Journal)
- Gay bishop strains Anglican-Catholic ties | A dialogue between the two denominations — already strained by the Church of England's 1992 decision to ordain women — will likely be stalled, if not set back, over the divisive issue of homosexuality, participants from both churches said (Associated Press)
- Kenyan bishops mull gay consecrations | "We shall be deliberating on various serious policy and episcopal issues, including that of the consecration of gay clergy in other branches of our church," said Mombasa Bishop Julius Kalu (Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg, South Africa)
- Also: Appointing gay priests cannot be condoned in Africa, says archbishop | Retired Kenyan Anglican Archbishop, Rt Rev Dr. David Gitari, has advised Anglican faithful to desist from preoccupying themselves "too much" with the raging homosexuality debate "as there are many things to tackle, including evangelism and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (African Church Information Service)
- Episcopal conservatives plan boycott | The Rev. David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, is embarking on a national campaign urging sympathetic church members to withhold funds from parishes and dioceses that supported the denomination's recent decision to confirm the election of an openly gay bishop (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Visiting Anglican bishop says Episcopalians will stand by their church, despite ordination of openly gay bishop | Forward in Faith includes Episcopal and Anglican churches that consider themselves "traditional" (The State, Columbia, S.C.)
- A church divided | Emotions in Episcopal parishes run high over gay bishop's election (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
- The evolving church | Homosexuality is not the first issue to divide churches (Editorial, Charlotte Observer)
- Jews, Jesus, and German cars | Why we should finally buy German cars and be happy with Mel Gibson (Micha Ghertner, Jewsweek)
- The Gospel according to Braveheart | Mel Gibson has been wrongly accused, and The Passion is a great work of art (Deal W. Hudson, The Spectator, U.K.)
- This battle is Christian, not Jewish | Stifling this film strikes one as wrongheaded and counterproductive. The best way to combat potential anti-Semitism here is to turn to our Christian friends (Editorial, The Jerusalem Post)
- 'Blasphemy' woman killed in jail | Naseem Bibi was beaten to death after allegedly burning a copy of the Koran (Associated Press)
- Losing his religion | Apostate Ibn Warraq campaigns for the right not to be a Muslim (The Boston Globe)
- Nigerian court postpones ruling in stoning case | Amina Lawal judgment rescheduled for next month (Reuters)
- Also: Nigerian woman's lawyers argue vs. death | A tearful 32-year-old woman cuddled and nursed her toddler in an Islamic appeals court Wednesday as lawyers pleaded she be spared death by stoning for having sex outside marriage (Associated Press)
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