U.S. Supreme Court won't hear case of discrimination against Boy Scouts
It looks like one decision on the Boy Scouts' sexual conduct requirements is enough for the U.S. Supreme Court. At least for now.

In 2000, the justices court ruled that requiring the Boy Scouts of America to admit homosexual scout leaders was an unconstitutional violation of the right of association, and would "significantly burden the organization's right to oppose or disfavor homosexual conduct."

But that same year the state of Connecticut said the Scouts' ban on homosexual leaders violated state antidiscrimination law, and booted it from a list of 900 charities that may receive contributions from a state employee payroll deduction plan. Lower federal courts said Connecticut was within its rights to exclude the Scouts, and yesterday the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case.

"Connecticut has not prevented the BSA from exercising its First Amendment rights," the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July 2003. "It has instead set up a regulatory scheme to achieve constitutionally valid ends under which, as it happens, the BSA pays a price for doing so."

In other words, lawyer George Davidson, who represented the Boy Scouts, told the Associated Press, "government is entitled to make an organization that exercises its First Amendment right pay a price for exercising that right." So much for "free" speech, says Davidson. "What if a church softball league wanted to get a permit to use a ballfield in the park for a couple of hours? The religious organizations to which most Americans belong have the same view of the morality of homosexual conduct as the Boy Scouts do. What happens to them?"

(See more coverage of yesterday's Supreme Court denial from USA Today, The Boston Globe, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Toledo Blade, and the Reuters and Bloomberg news services. Local reaction is available from the New Haven Register and Salt Lake Tribune.)

But the Supreme Court may not be avoiding the scouting issue; it may simply be waiting for another one of the many related cases to work their way through the court system. For example, a case in San Diego is really heating up, with the U.S. Department of Justice last week issuing a brief supporting the Scouts. In that case, San Diego residents sued the city, claiming that Scouts are a religious organization, and therefore scouts' use of public property is a violation of church and state. Unbelievably, the city bought the argument and booted the Scouts.

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"Quite simply, the Boy Scouts of America is not a church, and canoeing, kayaking and swimming are not religious activities," R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice department's Civil Rights Division, said in a press release. "Boy Scouts should not be prohibited from using public lands on an equal basis with other youth groups."

Nor should they be prohibited from inclusion in state employee payroll deduction plans. But for now, they can be.

Sandy Rios quits Concerned Women for America
Former radio talk show host Sandy Rios has unexpectedly resigned as president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative Christian political organization. The Illinois Leader, a conservative Christian publication, said she cited "'irreconcilable differences' concerning the administration of the organization."

The Leader also notes that Rios "is the third nationally known woman to have left [a leadership position at] Concerned Women for America … over the past few years."

A scan of the CWA web site did not turn up any information about the resignation or plans for Rios's replacement.

Mitch Albom more dangerous than Mel Gibson, says David Brooks
If Mel Gibson is a zealot, he's still not the biggest religious threat to America, says New York Times columnist David Brooks today. For the real danger, he says, look to Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

"I worry about Albom more, because while religious dogmatism is always a danger, it is less of a problem for us today than the soft-core spirituality that is its opposite," Brooks writes. "We do not live in Mel Gibson's fire-and-brimstone universe. Instead, we live in a psychobabble nation. We've got more to fear from the easygoing narcissism that is so much part of the atmosphere nobody even thinks to protest or get angry about it. … Americans in the 21st century are more likely to be divorced from any sense of a creedal order, ignorant of the moral traditions that have come down to us through the ages and detached from the sense that we all owe obligations to a higher authority."

Be sure also to read a similar commentary by David Kuo in the Los Angeles Times. "The biggest problem I have with The Passion, isn't the violence. It is with the protagonist," he writes. "The guy on the screen is nothing like that insipid, tunic-wearing, lamb-carrying, two-dimensional, felt-faced Jesus from Sunday school. That Jesus was easy. He could be molded and crafted like Play-Doh into anything I — or anyone else — wanted from him."

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More articles

The Passion:

  • 'The Passion' soars beyond $200 million | The movie is expected to top $300 million, said Bob Berney, president of Newmarket Films (Associated Press)
  • Mel Gibson forgives us for his sins | If you criticize Gibson's film and the Jew-baiting by which he promoted it, you are persecuting him — all the way to the bank (Frank Rich, The New York Times)
  • Churches give away Gibson tickets | Four English churches are offering free cinema tickets to see Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ in an attempt to boost their congregations (BBC)
  • 'Passion' for a pogrom? | Critics who say the film inspires violent feelings are faking it (Mark Steyn, The Washington Times)
  • A 'Passion' out of proportion | Some of us, in recent times, have come to respect, even welcome, religious enthusiasm—to welcome it in the public square as well as in church. But not if it were to take this form, exploiting violence, ferocity and sadism in the cause of religion. (Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Washington Post)
  • A touchstone of anti-Semitism | Hutton Gibson's comments must be answered (Nat Hentoff, The Washington Times)

Religion and politics:

Fire at historic Greek Orthodox monastery:

  • Fire hits 12th-Century monastery | The 25 monks who live on Mount Athos were able to save all the most valuable books, manuscripts and icons, some of which date back to the 12th Century (BBC)
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  • Helandari Monastery 50 percent gutted by fire | On the morrow of the fire that ravaged an 800-year-old monastery on Mount Athos, it emerged yesterday that the damage was considerably worse than initially estimated (Kathimerini, Athens)

Roy Moore:

  • The new face of lawlessness | Saboteurs in three-piece suits have been making mincemeat of the rule of law on a daily basis without so much as a shrug from the anti-Roy Moore watchdogs (Michelle Malkin, The Washington Times)
  • Invitation to run for president still open | Roy Moore for president? It could have been, had Moore accepted the invitation of the Constitution Party back in November (Steven Taylor, Mobile Register, Ala.)
  • A former justice with the law, and God, as his guide | Roy S. Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, talks about his fame and why he disagrees about the need for an amendment banning same-sex marriages (The New York Times)

Gene Robinson and ECUSA:

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Gay marriage in Seattle:

Gay marriage:

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  • A marriage made in history? | Rather than overextending marriage, society should find alternative ways to solemnize the wide variety of human relationships (Don Browning and Elizabeth Marquhardt, The New York Times)
  • Discrimination redefined | Are homosexuals the only Americans permitted to change the definition of marriage or do people with other sex orientations have that right as well? (Walter Williams, The Washington Times)
  • Gay marriage? How straight | Many gay men and lesbians like their status as couples living between the lines, free of all the societal expectations that marriage brings (Bob Morris, The New York Times)
  • Power of two | The president's stealth defense of gay marriage (Jonathan Rauch, The New York Times)
  • The road to gay marriage | Same-sex marriage seems destined to have the same trajectory as every other march of marginalized Americans into the mainstream: from being too outlandish to be taken seriously, to being branded offensive and lawless, to eventual acceptance (Editorial, The New York Times)

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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