One Zell of a misquote

If you missed Zell Miller's speech yesterday, here's a summary: Vote for Bush because he'll send us into war.

But Miller's speech wasn't all about promising that Bush will "grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go." It was also the convention's most direct in saying that Americans should vote for Bush because of his religion.

"I can identify with someone who has lived that line in 'Amazing Grace,' 'Was blind, but now I see,' and I like the fact that he's the same man on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning," Miller said. (Well, says a Beliefnet reprint of an Amy Sullivan blog posting, that's true in that he doesn't attend church at either time … )

But without a doubt, Miller's most shocking line was this:

I am moved by … the fact that he is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America.

Expect many pundits to make a comparison similar to that of Beliefnet editor Steven Waldman:

Kerry took a different approach in his speech by quoting Lincoln: 'I don't want to claim that God is on our side. 'As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side.'"

Yeah, but one might as well quote Bush, too. Weblog has never seen a quote from the president that says, "God is not indifferent to America." But he has seen Bush make the same Lincoln reference that Kerry made. Here's Bush at this year's National Day of Prayer:

It was Lincoln who called Americans "the almost chosen people." [And] that word, "almost," makes quite a difference. Americans do not presume to equate God's purposes with any purpose of our own. God's will is greater than any man, or any nation built by men. He works His will. He finds His children within every culture and every tribe. And while every human enterprise must end, His kingdom will have no end. Our part, our calling is to align our hearts and action with God's plan, in so far as we can know it. A humble heart is not an indifferent heart. We cannot be neutral in the face of injustice or cruelty or evil. God is not on the side of any nation, yet we know He is on the side of justice. And it is the deepest strength of America that from the hour of our founding, we have chosen justice as our goal. Our greatest failures as a nation have come when we lost sight of that goal: in slavery, in segregation, and in every wrong that has denied the value and dignity of life. Our finest moments have come when we have faithfully served the cause of justice for our own citizens, and for the people of other lands.
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Miller may have been trying to reference Bush's address to Congress after September 11, but what Bush actually said was:

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

Bush repeated the remarks in his Easter 2002 address:

Justice and cruelty have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. His purposes are often defied, but never defeated.

But surely Bush believes that God is with him on the war on terror? Not necessarily. Here's his response to that question from the Irish media:

I think that God—that my relationship with God is a very personal relationship. And I turn to the good Lord for strength. And I turn to the good Lord for guidance. I turn to the good Lord for forgiveness.
But the God I know is not one that—the God I know is one that promotes peace and freedom. But I get great sustenance from my personal relationship. That doesn't make me think I'm a better person than you are, by the way. Because one of the great admonitions in the Good Book is, don't try to take a speck out of your eye if I've got a log in my own.

One thing Bush does not do, however, is pray for his enemies. Time asked him, "Faith is important to you. Have you ever prayed for Saddam?"

Bush answered simply. "No."

"There is that challenge to pray for your enemies," Time prodded.

"Absolutely," Bush said. "But you asked me a personal question, Do I pray for him? No, I haven't. I pray for a lot of things. I pray for the safety of our troops, I pray for those whose hearts are broken because of the decisions I made, I pray for strength, I pray for wisdom. Maybe I will [pray for Saddam], now that you've asked the question."

Religious, nonreligious, or users of religion?

Also of interest in that Time interview is Bush's reiteration that terrorists aren't religious. "I don't think people who would believe in an Almighty God would slit somebody's throat, just like that," he said. "I believe that they use religion as a justification for their ideology. But I don't view killers as truly religious people."

That's not terribly different from what some on the religious left are saying about the religious right. Here's Riverside Church pastor James A. Forbes quoted in Newsweek yesterday: "You can claim to be religious, but if you don't care about justice or you don't implement policies to bring more justice to the poor, if you don't understand truth in politics, if you don't have a commitment to quality education for all people … that is not the Christianity I read about in the Holy Book. And we all read from the same book."

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The argument is essentially the same: our opponents are not bad practitioners of their religion, they are not followers of their religion.

We're all selfish hedonists

We're all selfish hedonists
Has anyone seen a full transcript of Senate candidate Alan Keyes's now famous interview on Sirius OutQ? Yes, the one where he says that homosexuality is "selfish hedonism," and that Mary Cheney is a "selfish hedonist." The most full quote Weblog has seen is this:

If we embrace homosexuality as a proper basis for marriage, we are saying that it's possible to have a marriage state that in principle excludes procreation and is based simply on the premise of selfish hedonism. … I have said that if you are actively engaging in homosexual relations, those relations are about selfish hedonism. If my daughter were a lesbian, I'd look at her and say, `That is a relationship that is based on selfish hedonism.' I would also tell my daughter that it's a sin, and she needs to pray to the Lord God to help her to deal with that sin.

A follow-up interview contained such insightful "questions" as this: "Many Republican leaders here today said that they think you need to stop talking about divisive social issues and start talking about real issues like jobs and the economy and health care." But one helpful follow-up question did get asked: Are heterosexual couples who marry with the intent of remaining childless also selfish hedonists? Keyes responded:

The interesting thing is that I phrase my statement quite carefully. When I said that you cannot include in the definition of marriage those who in principle cannot procreate, the 'in principle' is very important because it means that try as you might, we cannot imagine that Jack and Jim are going to procreate, that Mary and Jill are going to procreate. That means that the two of them cannot become one flesh in a new person. OK? And that being the case, you cannot change in principle the understanding of marriage. The incidental fact that some people who are heterosexuals do not wish to procreate, that others, through incidental fact of others through their own health, might not be able to procreate, this does not change what in principle marriage is about. But if you admit those who can't … procreate, then you have changed the understanding of marriage in principle.
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Several questions that didn't get asked would likely have illuminated some of the debate. (1) Is it possible to remove the biblical image of mate as helper and biblical commands for spouses to "submit to one another"—both of which imply selflessness, even without childbearing—from biblical descriptions of marriage as between one man and one woman? (2) Is there a difference between saying that actively engaging in homosexual relations is selfish hedonism and saying that it's based on selfish hedonism? (3) What is the difference between selfish hedonism and sin? Is it possible to sin without being selfish? (4) Is it possible not to be a selfish hedonist without God's deliverance? (5) Are you now, or have you ever been, a selfish hedonist?

London Times says Anglican breakup is coming

London Times says Anglican breakup is coming
Huge news in the London Times today, if it's true. "The Episcopal Church in the United States faces exclusion from the worldwide Anglican communion as punishment for ordaining a gay bishop," says Ruth Gledhill. "The draconian disciplinary measure is expected to be recommended by a commission set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to resolve the crisis over homosexuality."

The Episcopal Church will be suspended until it "repents" for electing a practicing homosexual as bishop, reports Gledhill, a top-notch reporter on such matters. She says the Episcopal Church would be allowed back in the Anglican Communion "when Bishop Robinson retired, or in the unlikely event that he was removed from his post, as long as ECUSA did not consecrate any more similar bishops, or commit the other "sin" of sanctioning rites for the blessings of gay unions." Similar measures may be taken against Canada's New Westminster diocese, she says.

This would be a dramatic win for orthodoxy, since it would essentially recognize that it's the Episcopal Church USA that has broken with the church (and the Church), not the other way around. The commission's report is due out in October.

Church files complaint with FCC against "family-friendly" PAX station

Church files complaint with FCC against "family-friendly" PAX station
A church complaining about child-unfriendly television? Not so much news. But when that church is complaining about PAX television, the "family-friendly" network that founder Bud Paxson said is intended to project a "God flavor" and to "glorify God by storytelling," that's news.

The Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ filed a petition yesterday with the FCC, asking it not to renew the license for PAX's D.C. station, WPXW, The Washington Post reports today. The church says the station is "clearly in violation" of the 1996 Children's Television Act guidelines, requiring at least three hours of children's educational programming each week. WPXW claims that its "Miracle Pets" show is educational. Here's what's on Saturday's episode:

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Rawhide An abused donkey, used for roping practice, learns to love again and is willing to lay his life on the line to protect his newfound buddy.
Hunter's Gone Fishing A lonely retired sailor befriends a lost dog. As they return home one cold evening, he slips and plunges off the dock into a potential icy grave - but not if Hunter can help it!
Star Treatment A savage coyote attack leaves Oliver the cat for dead. He is spared and sent to Bright haven, a last stop for animals considered by society to be "disposable." Here he meets Pepper, a blind and deaf dog, and a remarkable, healing relationship is born.
Stowaway A tiny kitten makes his way under a truck and hitches a ride into the hearts of a new family. He repays their friendship by displaying a miraculous life-saving sixth sense.
L'il Orphaned Hammies A despondent woman finds comfort and meaning in her life in the friendship of PJ, a pot-bellied pig. Upon his death she vows to champion the cause of all abused pigs, to honor his memory. Now, she and 150 pigs live at L'il Orphaned Hammies, a pig paradise right here on earth.

Since when is documenting a tiny kitten's sixth sense not educational? And if nothing else, you'll learn what Alan Thicke is up to these days.

More articles

Republicans & religion:

  • A faith-based morning | Bush to attend prayer service (Newsday)
  • Wheaton woman delivers prayer at GOP convention | Jean Austin is a music professor at Judson College (The Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs)
  • Risqué parties heat up NYC | The at-times-risqué entertainment at convention parties stands in contrast to the Republicans' image as the party of moral rectitude (The Hill)
  • The political fortunes of the radical right | As the Republican convention kicked off in Madison Square Garden, the party's influential conservative activists were holed up across the street—with a handful of reporters and a large bag of fortune cookies (Mother Jones)
  • Evangelicals for Bush | They love the president because he's one of them (Steven Waldman, National Review Online)
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Hiding Christians?

  • Hard right stays on convention sidelines | Moviemaker Michael Moore is the "anti-Christ." Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter is a selfish hedonist. Cultural wars need fighters from here to Oklahoma. These are the views of some of President Bush's political core here — delivered quietly and mostly offstage so GOP convention cameras don't see and swing voters don't hear (Associated Press)
  • Bush's Christian bloc strong at New York convention | No constituency has been more important to the White House, or closer to the president's own heart, than the religious conservatives who are well represented in Madison Square Garden (All Things Considered, NPR)
  • Religion kept away from limelight | Highly influential element of GOP base receives little prominence at convention (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
  • Behind the curtain | Political conventions showcase speakers who make a party marketable. Notably absent from the GOP cast are religious conservatives. There's more than one reason why they're backstage (Editorial, Houston Chronicle)
  • Christians see a GOP influenced by faith | Convention so far has been "fairly heavy" on moderates, but local observers don't mind (The News-Leader, Springfield, Mo.)

God & the GOP:

  • Gott mit uns: On Bush and Hitler's rhetoric | Both Bush and Hitler believe that they were chosen by God to lead their nations (Bob Fitrakis, The Free Press)
  • Talking point—God | It is tempting to write off American television evangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker as shonks and charlatans more interested in making money than spreading the message of their God. But to dismiss their ilk in this way is to underestimate the power and influence of the religious right lobby in the US, a power that since George Bush became President has been transmitted all the way to the Oval Office. (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • God is great, but not at the podium | (Jeffrey Simpson, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)

GOP & Jews:

  • GOP looks for more Jewish votes for Bush | At a Republican gathering in the heart of the nation's largest Jewish community, GOP strategists are trying to chip away at the long-standing bond between the Democratic Party and American Jews (Associated Press)
  • Jewish groups irked by cross on Republican podium | at this week's Republican convention make their remarks at a wooden podium that some Jewish groups find offensive because its decorative panels appear to form the shape of a Christian cross (Reuters)

Church & state:

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  • Islam critic sacked by British Council | The British Council sacked a senior officer yesterday after investigating allegations that he wrote articles in The Sunday Telegraph that criticized Islam (The Telegraph, London)
  • Battle of the Bible gets ugly | Both sides say there is far more at stake than the mere presence on public property of a rather ordinary Bible in a drab stone monument (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
  • Robin to file motion to rename Trinity Cross | Opposition Senator Robin Montano intends to file a motion in the Upper House to have the Trinity Cross renamed the Grand Medal of the Republic (Trinidad & Tobago Express)
  • Above it all | An Alabama congressman wants to give God an exemption from judicial review (Amy Sullivan, Legal Affairs)

Religion & politics:

  • The God gap | Republicans and Democrats talk about the religious gulf between the parties (Terry Eastland, The Weekly Standard)
  • Political victory: From here to maternity | Conservative, religiously minded Americans are putting far more of their genes into the future than their liberal, secular counterparts (The Washington Post)
  • Frist defends AIDS fund raising | Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist turned over six $500,000 checks to organizations fighting AIDS on Wednesday and defended his charitable fund-raising efforts (Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.)
  • At 80, Schlafly is still a conservative force | Longtime crusader Phyllis Schlafly knows what she wants. (The Boston Globe)
  • One churchman's view of a nation in crisis | There is a sense of despair among many people about the direction Australia is taking (Peter Watson, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

French headscarf ban & hostages:

  • French students encounter head scarf ban | Millions of French students returned to school Thursday as a new law that bans Islamic head scarves from classrooms went into effect amid demands by Islamic radicals holding two French hostages in Iraq that the law be scrapped (Associated Press)
  • French scarf ban comes into force | A law banning Islamic headscarves and other religious symbols from French state schools came into effect on Thursday, the first day of term (BBC, video)
  • Kidnapped French journalists' fate unknown | The managing editor of France's Le Figaro newspaper told a radio station Thursday that two French journalists held hostage in Iraq were still believed alive, even after militants' deadline passed for Paris to overturn a law banning Islamic head scarves or see the pair killed (Associated Press)
  • France presses on with Iraq hostage rescue efforts | France pressed on with efforts to save two French journalists held hostage in Iraq on Thursday after a deadline to rescind a law banning Muslim headscarves in state schools passed without word from the kidnappers (Reuters)
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  • Allied force | Orthodox Jews and conservative Christians still have some awkward moments (Noam Scheiber, The New Republic)
  • Faith matters | Nonpartisan interfaith prayer service turns into Bush-bashing session (The Jewish Week, New York)
  • Jews wary of Jews for Jesus | Leave me alone (David Harsanyi, The Denver Post)


  • Annan calls for more troops in Sudan | U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's demand for an expanded international force in Sudan's Darfur region got immediate support from the United States — and an unexpected positive reaction from the Sudanese government (Associated Press)
  • U.N. envoy urges Sudan to let peacekeepers in | Jan Pronk of the Netherlands told the Security Council in a report that Sudan has made "some progress" in disarming the militias and in increasing security for homeless Darfurians in some camps, a finding that diplomats said is likely to spare Khartoum from facing immediate Security Council sanctions (The Washington Post)
  • Annan says Sudan hasn't curbed militias; urges more monitors | Secretary General Kofi Annan said that Sudan had failed to keep commitments to rein in the militias terrorizing the Darfur region (The New York Times)
  • Deal to boost Darfur aid supplies | Sudan's government and rebels have agreed to give aid agencies better access to more than a million displaced people in the Darfur region (BBC, video)
  • In western Sudan, fear is the ever-growing enemy | The threat of violence remains so intense in Darfur that no one feels safe enough to return home (The New York Times)
  • Annan urges big increase in troops for Darfur | The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, called for a substantial and speedy expansion of the international forces in Darfur after reporting that the Sudanese government had failed to stop attacks on civilians (The Guardian, London)
  • Next steps on Darfur | The argument that Sudan's government is already making a good-faith effort to control the militia is unconvincing (Editorial, The Washington Post)


  • Alli raps Christians, Muslims over hypocrisy | Plateau State Administrator, Major General Chris Alli (RTD) has decried the hypocrisy among adherents of various religions whom he said were eager to have a good relationship with God but continue to nurse grudges against fellow Nigerians (Vanguard, Nigeria)
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  • Kenya has problem with stolen babies | Investigators are focusing on Kenya's main maternity hospital, police said Wednesday, following allegations that some parents were told their newborns had died but the babies were really stolen by an international child trafficking ring (Associated Press)

Same-sex marriage:

  • More to this bill than appeasing such a tiny minority | The opposition to the Civil Union Bill and its associated Omnibus Bill that is intended to redefine relationships will not go away (Garth George, The New Zealand Herald)
  • Romney defends traditional marriage | Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney last night defended traditional marriage, highlighting an issue that has remained largely unmentioned during the Republican National Convention (The Washington Times)
  • When I do becomes you can't | Jacqueline Tomlins petitioned the Family Court to have her legal Canadian marriage to her partner Sarah validated in Australia, but she didn't bank on the Government amending the law to prevent it. Now she wants to know why (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

Sex and marriage:

  • All sects and violence | According to yet another of the surveys that now punctuate our lives, 39% of Americans say their sexual behavior is influenced by religion, compared with 16% in Britain and a paltry 3% in France. I am not quite sure what this means (David McKie, The Guardian, London)
  • Bound by the Silver Ring to save sex for marriage | Three Belfast teenagers tell Judith Cole why they have pledged to remain celibate while they're single - and how they manage to go against the sexual trend (The Belfast Telegraph)
  • Churches answer teens' call for discussion and guidance on sex | A program, promoting abstinence, is designed to teach young Christians, "What is it OK to do?" (The Oregonian)
  • Clergy aim to reduce divorce rate in Wyoming | Michael McManus has developed a program, Marriage Savers, that he says has helped reduce divorce rates in cities that have implemented it (Associated Press)


  • Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 women a year –report | Nearly 70,000 women, almost half of them in Asia, die from unsafe abortions each year despite government pledges made a decade ago to improve human rights and reproductive health, researchers said Wednesday (Reuters)
  • Killing their young | The murder of a newborn by her mother is one of the most difficult crimes to fathom—and one of the hardest to prosecute successfully (Legal Affairs)
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  • Pastor files $2.5 million claims against state | A Tacoma pastor under fire for allegedly helping church members in her job as a public administrator filed two claims against the state yesterday, asserting that officials have conducted an improper investigation (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Police: Church fire was arson | An arson fire set at a Catholic church likely was a religious message against Christianity, Greenwood's police chief said (Daily Journal, Johnson County, Ind.)
  • Pagan predicament | Tucson's Wiccan community reels after a popular store and gathering place is vandalized (Tucson Weekly)


  • Attorney seeks to stop financial transfers involving San Diego diocese | lawyer for alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests alleged Wednesday that the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego used questionable financial tactics to secure a nearly $30 million bond to build three high schools (Associated Press)
  • Pope supports U.S. bishops' efforts to address sex abuse scandal | Pope John Paul II assured American bishops from the New England region Thursday that he supports their efforts to address the damage wrought by clerical sex abuse, acknowledging the scandal had ''cast a shadow'' on the Church (Associated Press)
  • Bothell priest who said he was molested quits | Archdiocese not given reason for sudden resignation (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Church life:

  • St. Albert's closes, but 'eternal vigil' lives on | Parishioners vow to keep up protest (The Boston Globe)
  • Douglasville man is the tie that binds 'emergent' church | If you could imagine a religious movement with no denomination, no property and no living charismatic figure, then you might grasp what drives young Mike Morrell, a postmodern Christian activist trolling in the lively headwaters of what has become known as the emergent church (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • A minimalist chapel opens in the Czech Republic | The Novy Dvur monastery will be dedicated Thursday and the public will have free access to it and its church for the first and only time (The New York Times)
  • Kirk minister trainees on the up | The number of people training to be Church of Scotland ministers has more than doubled over the past four years, the Kirk has said (BBC)
  • Divisions await new United Methodist bishop | The Rev. Michael J. Coyner began his tenure as Indiana's sixth United Methodist bishop today with a flock that's divided regionally and theologically (Associated Press)
  • Adults flock to Sunday school, but seldom at church | Across the nation, adult learners are seeking out the teachers they believe will help them find God (The Christian Science Monitor)
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Irish church/ship sinks:

  • Irish floating church sinks in flames | It was supposed to be Ireland's first floating church, a vessel for spreading the unique appeal of Ireland's faith-healing Tridentine Catholic bishop, Michael Cox (AAP, Australia)
  • Trawler runs aground on uninhabited island (RTE, Ireland)

Missions & ministry:

  • Hero worship | For men only, the Promise Keepers mix scripture with sports to find God (San Antonio Current, Tex.)
  • Spirituality on display at exhibit | A multimedia event at a Liberty City gallery pays tribute to the early black churches of the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean (The Miami Herald)
  • Prisons, profits, and prophets | Nation's largest private prison corporation joins forces with conservative faith-based ministries (Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange)
  • Making an impact - Christians get with the strength | Team Impact is a Christian group of 28 former athletes, wrestlers and footballers whose ministry last year converted 55,000 Americans and 22,000 people overseas (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

The Passion on DVD:

  • 'Passion' fans flock to buy it on DVD | The DVD and video release from Twentieth Century Fox was reportedly one of the largest of the year (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.)
  • Buyers exhibit a passion for controversial Gibson film | As with its theatrical release, anticipation among churchgoers and religious leaders for the video and DVD release of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" helped sell millions of copies nationally and easily thousands locally (The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.)
  • Pass on Passion of the Christ DVD | The phrase "preaching to the converted" has never had more impact in Hollywood than with Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ (Bruce Kirkland, The Winnipeg Sun)
  • Did 'The Passion' fulfill its promise? | They said the movie might convert millions, wreck Jewish-Christian relations, ruin Mel. Which predictions came true? (Beliefnet)
  • 'Passion' sells 4.1M copies in one day | The second coming of Mel Gibson's biblical epic "The Passion of the Christ" sold 4.1 million DVD copies by Wednesday after only one day in stores (Associated Press)


  • To hell with the devil | Can't figure out how Christian black metal could possibly exist? Read this fast, because FaithFest SC is here (Metro Active, San Jose, Ca.)
  • Superchick enters Christian world with own style | Matt Dally, bass player and vocalist for Superchick, says his group is unique in any form of music, with its blend of punk, hiphop, funk and disco (The Quad-City Times, Davenport, Ia.)
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  • Colleges offer 'Gambling 101' classes | As states — mostly through Indian tribes — turn to casinos for gambling revenues, public colleges nationwide are increasingly offering courses and majors on casinos and gambling (Associated Press)
  • In Silver Spring, a strong church and school spirit | After 54 years, St. Bernadette keeps thriving (The Washington Post)

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