Faith-based bill holdup, part 421
Political wrangling has held up Bush's faith-based initiative in Congress for years. As the bill was stripped down, and one of its main points (leveling the playing field and allowing religious organizations to compete for government social service contracts without compromising their religious identity) was abandoned, many conservatives urged support. "Half a loaf is better than none," they said (several slices ago). Finally, this year, both the House and Senate passed nearly identical bills that, while not doing much about government grants, would encourage greater individual giving to charity.

"These provisions will have a very positive effect, so loud huzzahs!" said Stanley Carlson-Thies, fellow at the Center for Public Justice. "The faith-based initiative has always been about increasing private support for charities. But it has never been only about increasing private support."

Hold those huzzahs. The bills are nearly identical, but not fully so. The Senate bill has several riders attached, including tax breaks for Alaskan whaling captains and people who sell land for conservation purposes, and a tax exemption for blood-collecting organizations. The Washington Times today says that "at least 34 groups, including Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservative Union and the American Association of Christian Schools" are complaining about the riders, saying they favor conservation organizations over faith-based social services.

Settling such differences in bills are usually the work of a conference committee, but Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nv.), is refusing to let the bill go to the committee. "Conferences haven't worked very well in this Congress," he said Friday.

If this were a real "half a loaf," it'd be pretty moldy by now.

Prominent D.C. clergyman faces off against church on sex accusations
After two women accused Edwon D. Brown, pastor of D.C.'s Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, of sexual misconduct, the deacon board voted to suspend him until the end of the year (maintaining his $90,000 a year salary). But on Sunday, reports The Washington Post, Brown refused to recognize the board's decision.

"I'm still the pastor," he told the packed congregation. "No one is going to remove me."

Not even the police, it seems. They were called in by deacon board chairman Morris Lucas, and one officer even approached the pulpit to ask Brown, who is accused of an extramarital affair by one woman and of harassment by another, to step down. He didn't, and went on with the service.

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Brown's pulpit is larger than just the one at Mt. Sinai. He's also the chairman of the mayor's Interfaith Council.

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General William G. Boykin Controversy

  • General apologizes for talk of God, war | An Army general who has stirred a storm of criticism by framing U.S. battles against Islamic militants in religious terms said yesterday that he was "not anti-Islam or any other religion" and apologized to "those who have been offended by my statements." (Washington Post)

  • General apologizes for remarks on Islam, says he's no 'zealot' | Official said comments likening the war on terrorism to Islam fighting Christianity were misconstrued (Los Angeles Times)

  • U.S.: Comments raise specter of religious clash within terror war | Since 11 September 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush has insisted the war against terrorism is not a struggle between Judeo-Christian society and the Islamic world. Yet, one of his top defense officials has cast the war in just those terms. (Radio Free Europe)

  • Rice: U.S. does not consider war on terror a war on Islam | President Bush's national security adviser insisted Sunday that the U.S. fight against terrorism is not a war between Christianity and Islam, despite a top general's comments that seemed to say it is. (Associated Press)

  • Muzzling the wrong dog | Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, a much decorated soldier, was wounded by the political correctness movement last week over comments he made comparing the war against militant Islam to a battle against Satan. Boykin, who is deputy undersecretary of Defense, had told evangelical Christian audiences that radical Islam threatens to destroy America "because we're a Christian nation." (Cal Thomas)

  • Bare Boykin and Bush's divine place | Lt. General William Boykin, whose title is under secretary of defense for intelligence and war-fighting support, is a rightwing evangelical Christian. (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive)

Mother Teresa

  • Her legacy: acceptance and doubts of a miracle | Several thousand miles away from the Vatican ceremony where Mother Teresa was beatified on Sunday, nuns and volunteers celebrated in her adopted homeland and vowed to continue her work of caring for "the poorest of the poor." (New York Times)

  • Before throngs, Pope leads Mother Teresa closer to sainthood | Seeming ever more frail, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta on Sunday as an "icon of the Good Samaritan," declaring her close to sainthood before tens of thousands of worshipers in St. Peter's Square. (New York Times)

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  • In Rome, the selling of blessed Mother Teresa | In the days before Pope John Paul II presides on Sunday over the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the city of Rome seems to be competing with its own history of ecclesiastical excess to ensure that the ceremony proceeds with the maximum spiritual, spectacular — and commercial — effect. (New York Times)

  • Mother Teresa beatified | Pilgrims applaud, weep as ailing Pope presides at ceremony (Washington Post)

  • Spiritually, even Mother Teresa suffered | Letters, Recollections Reveal Periods When Missionary Felt Abandoned by God (AP)

  • Mother Teresa's legacy lives on | Six years after her death and as she is beatified in Rome, Mother Teresa's spirit remains vibrant in Kolkata, the east Indian city where, for decades, she gave dignity to the dying, compassion to the poor and a home to abandoned and handicapped children. (Asia Times Online, Hong Kong)

  • Legendary nun given elite status | Royalty prayed alongside the poor, and Indian dancers shared stage with the world's most eminent prelates, as Pope John Paul II on Sunday beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta, giving the famous nun an elite status one step short of sainthood just six years after her death. (Contra Costa Times, CA)

  • 'I am Mother Theresa's miracle' | Monica Besra says she is living proof that Mother Teresa performed a miracle from heaven and deserves to become a saint. (The Star, Africa)

  • Pope beatifies 'servant of the least' | 300,000 worshippers flock to St Peter's Square to see Mother Teresa come closer to sainthood (The Guardian)

  • Mother Teresa hid doubts | As beatification nears, colleagues say she often felt abandoned by God (AP)

  • Joyous pope beatifies Mother Teresa | Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II, struggling to celebrate Mass but looking joyous, beatified Mother Teresa during a ceremony Sunday in St. Peter's Square — bestowing one of his church's highest honors on the nun who cared for society's downtrodden. (AP)

  • Pope beatifies Mother Teresa before huge crowd | An ailing Pope John Paul (news - web sites) beatified Mother Teresa before a crowd of 300,000 Sunday, calling her an icon of charity and launching her on the fast track to sainthood. (Reuters)

  • Poor to watch Mother Teresa beatification | The poor and the powerful will have VIP seats in St. Peter's Square on Sunday when Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II leads a long ceremony to beatify Mother Teresa, further testing his frail health to honor the nun he so greatly admired. (AP)

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Pope John Paul II

  • The Pope's plan: keep working | Despite deepening concerns about his health, an ailing Pope John Paul II told cardinals and bishops gathered at the Vatican on Saturday that he would remain in office for "as long as God wants." (New York Times)

  • Outfitted with placards and prayer | Students from VA.'s new Patrick Henry College planting political seeds (Washington Post)

  • Pope John Paul II | Exceptional Leadership But Singular Intransigence, Too. (New London Day, CT)

  • The 25 years of John Paul II merit reflection | His slumped posture and slurred words and his inability to walk or stand at the altar or to read all of his sermon made it apparent that the health of the 83-year-old pontiff continues to deteriorate and that the reign of this great—and greatly controversial—Pope is nearing its end. (Yale Daily News)

  • Pope asks cardinals to pray for him to fulfill mission | Again brushing aside any suggestion he might retire, Pope John Paul II asked cardinals on Saturday to pray for him so he could fulfill his mission "as long as the Lord wishes." (AP)

  • John Paul II: The Superpope | Twenty-five years ago he was the action man Pope - an athlete, a skier and a tireless missionary for the Roman Catholic Church. Now he is the wheelchair Pope, barely able to speak, too frail to move. But while the flesh is weak, he rules with a will of iron (Independent, UK)

  • For 25 years, Pope has not wavered | The fundamental contradictions of John Paul II's papacy: An instinctively political man, he resists political classification. A leader with a great instinct for freedom, he mistrusts any movement based on man. And, finally, although a deeply cultured European intellectual, he has consistently moved the Roman Catholic Church toward its ecstatic and medieval roots. (Hampshire Gazette, MA)

  • Pope celebrates 25-year milestone surrounded by Catholic hierarchy | Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II, courageously clinging to the vestiges of a once-robust health, received a rapturous welcome from prelates and pilgrims alike as he celebrated a milestone 25th anniversary of his election. (AFP)


  • Bishop tours diocese to learn issues, embrace flock | While his predecessor, Bishop Sean O'Malley, made a splashy entry when he took charge of the Boston Archdiocese and quickly mediated an $85 million settlement with hundreds of youthful victims of abuse by priests, Barbarito is stepping gingerly into his new job. (Palm Beach Post, FL)

  • Roman Catholic bishops accuse BBC of Bias | A Roman Catholic bishops group accused the British Broadcasting Corp. on Friday of having an anti-Catholic bias, pointing to recent programs on contraception, abortion and clergy sex abuse. (AP)

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  • Cardinals muse on challenges to Church | Cardinals who gathered for the pope's 25th anniversary have outlined some of the major challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church in the 21st century — and offered hints about who among them might be the best to confront them as a successor to Pope John Paul II. (AP)

  • Losing a Church, keeping the faith | The church has gone beyond its doctrinal opposition to emotional or sexual relationships between gay men and lesbians to an outspoken and increasingly shrill campaign against them. (Andrew Sullivan, New York Times)


  • French examine selves with Muslim crisis | Today, battle lines are being drawn over another religious emblem, the Islamic head scarf, which some French see as a threat to their nation's core values and unity. (AP)

  • New Afghan constitution juggles Koran and Democracy | The question now facing Afghans is: how to devise a constitution that combines the country's deep-rooted Islamic traditions and its aspirations for democracy? (New York Times)

  • A warning from dial-a-fatwa | According to an e-mail from an American Muslim group, I've received fatwa ruling number 2/882, writes Raheel Raza (Toronto Star)

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