UMC Judicial Council: Investigative committee made "egregious error"
The United Methodist Church's Judicial Council, the church's supreme court, sent a case against an openly homosexual minister back to a lower church court, saying an "egregious error" was made in refusing to bring charges against her. The church's Book of Discipline clearly forbids churches from appointing ministers who are "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals."

"Where the agreed facts concede a practice which the Discipline declares to be incompatible with Christian teaching, reasonable grounds exist to bring a bill of charges and specifications, and it is an egregious error of church law not to bring such a bill of charges and specifications," the council said.

The case against Karen Dammann is one of a two such cases involving the same church. The other, over gay minister Mark Williams, was dismissed last year when the investigative committee found "insufficient evidence" for charges.

The Washington Post rightly notes that the case "is testing the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy toward gay clergy in the Methodist Church." Would that the denomination's own news service took as balanced a perspective as the Post. Instead, it casts the case as persecution over disclosure, with the headline, "Clergywoman accepts 'cost of being truthful' about sexuality."

Yeah, that's what orthodox Methodists have a problem with: Dammann's honesty.

New York Timesnotices evangelicals' human rights work. Again. Late. Again.
Weblog isn't complaining about the front page of Sunday's New York Times, which carried the headline "Evangelicals Sway White House on Human Rights Issues Abroad." The article was fair and accurate, and probably informed a lot of readers that evangelical politics isn't all about restoring the Ten Commandments to courthouses.

Well, Times readers who never read Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's May 2002 column, "The New Internationalists." Both pieces made the same point: evangelicals have been leading the charge against a variety of social ills. Among the most recent campaigns noted by the Times are those for peace in Sudan, religious liberty in all countries, freedom from sexual slavery, and AIDS in Africa.

It's good to note, but it's not really all that new, contrary to this sentence: "The religious dynamic at the White House reflects a larger change within American evangelicals themselves, and their interest over the last decade in moving beyond the divisive domestic issues that consumed them a generation ago — abortion, school prayer, homosexuality, pornography — into an international arena."

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Actually, evangelicals have been very interested in international human rights for centuries—or, depending on your historical perspective, millennia. As former U.S. ambassador Robert Seiple said back in 2002, "Christians began to understand globalization when a Nazareth carpenter said, 'Go ye into all the world.' That was the start of globalization, and there has been no letup in the last 2,000 years."

As far as American politics is concerned, Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals director Edith Blumhofer said in 2002, American evangelicals have been characterized by their interest in influencing international politics "at least since American foreign policy went international, and probably even before."

And a generation ago, evangelicals were extremely involved in international human rights. Only then there was a united major threat against human freedom: communism. One of the major reasons Billy Graham founded this magazine, in fact, was to help the church to fight communism.

But if the Times news editors can be faulted for not knowing their religious history, or even reading their own columnists, other newspaper editors who picked up the story deserve some mockery for not reading it before writing a headline. The story is clearly on international human rights, but some editors seem to think it was about the influence of evangelicals on the White House. The San Francisco Chronicle titled the story: Religious coalition walks the corridors of power: Groups an influence on foreign policy of Bush administration, officials say." Wow. That would be even less shocking news. Likewise, the International Herald Tribune heads the story, "Religious lobby finds a good friend in Bush." That paper gets extra bad marks since it's actually owned by the Times.

The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram sees the story as less on evangelicals' influence on Bush than the other way around: "Religious groups give high marks to Bush administration." (Now there's a reusable headline.)

But the award goes to The State of Columbia, South Carolina, which just gave up trying to make sense of the article and went with the jibberish, "Religious groups White House's ear."

More articles


  • Rebel priests held in Chinese crackdown | Twelve underground Roman Catholic priests and seminarians have been arrested in China in a crackdown prompted by government fears of a religious revival (The Daily Telegraph, London)

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  • The war over abortion moves to a smaller stage | The ban on the procedure that critics call partial-birth abortion may represent a kind of equilibrium in the national conflict over Roe v. Wade (The New York Times)

  • A firefight over abortion | In a dramatic move, Congress votes to ban 'partial birth' procedures, setting the stage for a judicial showdown (Newsweek)

  • Behind an antiabortion victory | By passing a measure that seems likely to be struck down by the current court, social conservatives are increasing pressure on the President to nominate a strongly antiabortion candidate for the next Supreme Court vacancy (Time)

  • Home abortions soar in Iraq as unwanted pregnancies rise | Women in Baghdad are turning to backstreet abortionists to avoid the risk of family honour killings (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • What's the value of a fetus? | With the Senate's passage last week of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, supporters of abortion rights face an increasingly conspicuous problem: they still don't know how to articulate the value of unborn human life (William Saletan, The New York Times)

  • More heat than light on abortion | Federal courts may well strike down the new law against such late-term abortions as unconstitutional. The sooner, the better (Editorial, The Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, Mass.)

  • Partial birth ban wailers | Faced with the undeniable reality, some abortion rights advocates are desperately trying to change the subject (Michael Fumento, The Washington Times)


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Minister says, "do better or get out":

  • You must do better, minister tells flock | In a rallying call to his 600 members, only a third of whom regularly attend services, the Rev Daniel Hawthorn has suggested that if they are not prepared to do better they may have to leave the church (The Daily Telegraph, London)

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