The President's State of the Union address only briefly touched on issues for which conservative evangelical groups have lobbied. The more than 5,000-word speech, which took nearly an hour to deliver, spent about 500 words discussing marriage, building a "culture of life," "activist judges," the faith-based initiative, and AIDS.

President Bush said,

So many of my generation, after a long journey, have come home to family and faith, and are determined to bring up responsible, moral children. Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them.
Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

He then addressed bioethical issues and, obliquely, abortion. "Because a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable, we must strive to build a culture of life," Bush said. "I will work with Congress to ensure that human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown for body parts, and that human life is never bought and sold as a commodity."

Faith-based community groups "bring hope to harsh places," the President said. He proposed an initiative to keep young men out of jails and gangs. And he urged focusing AIDS prevention efforts "on fellow citizens with the highest rates of new cases, African American men and women."

The issues the President spent most of his time on—Social Security, spreading democracy, and homeland security—have moral implications, and they are addressed in our editorial about the speech. However, evangelical political groups responded almost exclusively to the limited space the President gave to "moral values" issues.

James Dobson said Bush "was bold in his assertion that Congress must pass the Federal Marriage Amendment. … We especially appreciated that he reaffirmed his commitment to the culture of life and his refusal to back down on restoring order to the federal courts."

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, was pleased with the President's positions on marriage and judges. "President Bush is showing leadership with his support for a constitutional amendment to uphold traditional marriage and by recognizing the need to protect the institution of marriage from activist judges."

Perkins also encouraged the President to support adult stem-cell research. "I hope in the days ahead as the administration expands the culture of life, that they will educate the American people on the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells and further explain the importance of funding adult stem-cell research, which has yielded over 50 successful treatments as opposed to embryonic stem-cell research which has yet to yield a single treatment."

"President Bush made it clear that human life should be treated with dignity, from the unborn child in a late-term pregnancy to the human embryo, which is under the greatest attack. He also affirmed that ethics and morality must play a vital role in scientific advancement," said Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America's senior policy director. "From the man with the vision and courage to win liberty for the oppressed in Iraq, we hope that his vision to extend human rights to the youngest and smallest among us will come to life in the form of passing strong legislation."

More Articles

George W. Bush:

  • Bush attends prayer breakfast | President Bush followed his State of the Union address with prayer Thursday morning, saying that praying reminds the faithful to hear "the cry of the poor and the less fortunate." (Associated Press)
  • Bush tones down religious rhetoric | Even before George W. Bush began his State of the Union address, observers weren't asking if the president would mention his faith. For them, the only question was: How much? (Courier & Press, Ind.)
Article continues below
  • Christians give Bush ultimatum to ban gay marriage | In an indication of tension among Mr Bush's backers, a new coalition of powerful Christian groups issued their warning last week in a letter to Karl Rove, the President's chief adviser (The Telegraph, London)
  • The State of the Union | Bush, God and the Union (David Domke and Kevin Coe, Chicago Tribune)

Religion & politics:

  • Inside Politics | Since the November election, evangelical Christians have seen their political status soar. (second item, Greg Pierce, Washington Times)
  • Organizing God's army against equal rites | James Dobson, an evangelist preacher credited by many as a main force in the re-election of U.S. President George W. Bush, is turning his ministry's sights on Canada. His Focus on the Family group is mobilizing Canadians to fight the federal government's plan to legalize same-sex marriage. (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
  • Moral arbiters hard at work | The sooner the FCC returns to regulating media monopolies, the better. And the Department of Education might want to get back to, say, literacy (Joanne Ostrow, The Denver Post)
  • Diplomats must get grip on union of politics, religion | The mix of religion and politics is too volatile to be shunted off to one office. The State Department should integrate an understanding of religion into the training of each foreign service officer. (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)
  • Beyond right and left lies 'prophetic politics' | Some Christian folk offering a different spin on religion and politics in the United States are attracting increasing attention among politicians and media moguls (Leo Sandon, Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
  • One more 'moral value': Fighting poverty | Many religious leaders, including some evangelicals, think the current focus on moral values has created a platform to talk about other issues, especially poverty, as both political and moral concerns (The New York Times)
  • Faith-based groups oppose immigration bill | Groups say asylum law changes would hurt refugees fleeing religious persecution and should be debated in full committee hearings (Associated Press)
  • Bridging policy and the pulpit | Inauguration minister calls for end to fear (The Washington Post)
  • Anti-Bush criticism and the fixation on 'delusional' Christian fundamentalism | Perhaps you didn't know that Christian fundamentalists were running the United States, but then perhaps you weren't attending any upscale Manhattan parties over the holiday season (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)
  • Capital letters: Splits within the GOP; Dems get religion | Though he pushed it in his State of the Union address, Social Security isn't only issue on which President Bush has to convince a reluctant Congress. Free to split with the now-lame duck president after helping him win reelection, congressional Republicans are now openly airing their disagreements. (Time)
  • Study finds religious polarization in U.S. voters | Voters in last year's presidential election showed a new polarization within some religious faiths, a fact that may make it all the harder for Democrats to recapture the White House, according to a report released on Thursday. (Reuters)

Black Christians & politics:

  • GOP still wooing black Christians | any black Christian conservatives have turned to the GOP because of Mr. Bush's Bible-based philosophy (The Dallas Morning News)
  • Black clergy wooed for values fight | At an L.A. summit, 70 pastors are urged by the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon to join white evangelicals in fighting against gay marriage (Los Angeles Times)
  • Summit highlights GOP courtship of blacks | A group of conservative black pastors held a summit on the "protection of Biblical marriage," part of a growing list of church-based campaigns that Republicans hope will split a core Democratic constituency (Associated Press)
Article continues below
  • Politics on black Baptist agenda | Four historically black Baptist denominations that provided leadership in the U.S. civil-rights movement are uniting behind an agenda to end the war in Iraq and refocus the nation's attention on domestic issues (Al Swanson, UPI)
  • GOP sees a future in black churches | Social issues are binding the party with a group once firmly in the Democratic camp (Los Angeles Times)
  • Black ministers aim to counter popular culture | A national conference in L.A. focuses on resisting secularism and violence. Churches, some speakers say, must shed their own moral decay (Los Angeles Times)
  • Black Baptist leaders put demands to Bush | Groups unite on opposition agenda (Chicago Tribune)

Hillary Clinton:

  • As Clinton shifts themes, debate arises on her motives | The picture that conservative Republicans paint of Hillary Rodham Clinton is at odds with a side of herself she has lately displayed (The New York Times)
  • Senator Clinton's values lesson | The target of Mrs. Clinton's argument is not anti-abortion activists, but the broader public (Editorial, The New York Times)
  • Reinventing Hillary Clinton | Both Madonna and Hillary have made a lot of stops that women understand (Suzanne Fields, The Washington Times)
  • Abortion fandango | Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has given a speech on abortion that is befuddling the political class. Did she, in her speech last Monday to abortion-rights supporters, say what she has always said on abortion, or something new? (Terry Eastland, The Weekly Standard)

Abortion:

  • Teen abortion bill could have big impact | The abortion bill most likely to become federal law this year would affect a relatively small number of pregnant teens, yet its impact on them could be dramatic — sharply reducing the options for girls in many states who dread telling their parents of their plight (Associated Press)
  • Church groups turn to sonogram to turn women from abortions | Abortion opponents have started a major fund-raising campaign to outfit Christian crisis pregnancy centers with ultrasound equipment (The New York Times)

Abortion in Australia:

  • Australia plunges into new row over abortion | Australia was plunged into a fresh row over its abortion laws, after the new leader of the Labor opposition backed a pro-life coalition for the first time (AFP)
  • Abortion debate 'not a concern' for women | No woman in Australia should be concerned by the debate over abortion laws, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said today (The Australian)
  • Beazley enters abortion debate | Just months after the spotlight faded from abortion, opponents of the practice are again publicly campaigning against it (The World Today, Australian Broadcasting Corp.)
  • Politicians back abortion status quo Both major parties have entered the abortion debate, but there is no push to change the law (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Backyard abortion fears as debate intensifies | The acting Prime Minister yesterday gave his support to a national debate on abortion, as Government members raised concerns that a change in the status quo could mean women are forced to seek out illegal abortions (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • State, federal MPs clash over abortion (AAP)
  • Science shows why all unborn need protection: Primate | Abortion laws should offer better protection to unborn children, Australia's leading Anglican said yesterday (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • Stop meddling, abortion clinic doctor advises | One of the few doctors who performs late-term abortions in Australia has lashed out at conservative politicians, telling them to stop interfering in what he says should be a matter between a woman and her doctor (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
Article continues below

Pope John Paul II in hospital:

  • Pope's condition in hospital is called stable after health scare | Pope John Paul II was stable and working from his hospital bed on Wednesday, the Vatican said, after a scare that again raised questions about his failing health and the succession of leadership in the Roman Catholic Church. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Pope's health improves steadily | Pope John Paul is making a steady recovery from flu and breathing difficulties and should be able to leave hospital next week, the Vatican said on Thursday. (Reuters)
  • No alarm insists Vatican But Pope remains in hospital | Frail and laid low by flu, Pope John Paul will spend a few more days in the hospital after being rushed there with breathing problems. (Scotsman, UK)
  • Pope rushed to hospital with breathing problems | Pope John Paul was rushed to hospital with breathing difficulties on Tuesday night after a bout of influenza suddenly worsened. (Reuters)
  • Pope's condition is 'no cause for alarm' | Pope John Paul II had difficulty breathing as he battled the flu and will spend a few more days in the hospital, the Vatican confirmed Wednesday, but it said tests showed his heart was functioning normally and the pope had rested for several hours overnight. (Associated Press)
  • Pope's doctors on guard for complications | Pope John Paul II's doctors were on guard for complications Wednesday, a day after the frail, 84-year-old pontiff was hospitalized with the flu and breathing trouble. (Associated Press)
  • Pope to spend a few more days in hospital | Pope John Paul II had difficulty breathing as he battled the flu and will spend a few more days in the hospital, the Vatican confirmed Wednesday, but it said tests showed his heart was functioning normally and the pope had rested for several hours overnight. (Associated Press)
  • Pope is taken to hospital with flu | The pontiff is admitted after he has difficulty breathing. Vatican calls the move a precaution (Los Angeles Times)
  • Pope's condition is 'no cause for alarm' | Pope John Paul II had difficulty breathing as he battled the flu and will spend a few more days in the hospital, the Vatican confirmed Wednesday, but it said tests showed his heart was functioning normally and the pope had rested for several hours overnight (Associated Press)
  • Pope John Paul, 84, is hospitalized after days of illness, Vatican says | Pope John Paul II, suffering from fever and influenza for several days, was admitted to a hospital because of difficulty breathing (The New York Times)

Prayer for the Pope:

  • Poles pray for 'their' Pope's health | Hero of Polish democracy Lech Walesa said on Wednesday the ailing Pope might yet surprise the world with his longevity, as church-goers from across the Pontiff's homeland prayed and lit candles for his health (Reuters)
  • Faithful pray for ill Pope | About 2,000 Catholics gather at the L.A. cathedral to appeal for the pontiff's recovery. 'We need him,' one says. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Catholics around globe pray for Pope | Poles prayed for Pope John Paul II in the church where he was baptized. Australian pilgrims sang songs as they held vigil outside his hospital in Rome. Mexicans gathered in churches before dawn to light candles. (Associated Press)
  • Poles offer prayers for ailing Pope | People in Pope John Paul II's Polish hometown prayed Wednesday for their most famous son as coverage of his hospitalization dominated front pages and airwaves. (Associated Press)
  • American Catholics pray for ailing Pope | In the nation's cathedrals and local churches, through e-mail and at public events, Roman Catholics and national leaders joined in the prayers for a quick recovery for John Paul as he underwent treatment for the flu in an Italian hospital. (Associated Press)
Article continues below

At the Vatican:

  • Pope's spokesman says situation 'calm' | Pope John Paul II spent a restful night in hospital, Italian news reports said Wednesday, a day after he was rushed to a hospital with breathing difficulties. The 84-year-old pontiff had been battling the flu for several days. (Associated Press)
  • Vatican workings depend on bureacracy | With Pope John Paul II hospitalized Wednesday with the flu and breathing problems, most of the Vatican's day-to-day operations are handled by the Curia -- a well-oiled bureaucracy with centuries-old roots. (Associated Press)
  • Papal succession may be wide - open race | After 26 years in the papacy, Pope John Paul II has outlived many of the men once considered possible successors. Should he die, there would be no clear favorite, making the question of papal succession as unpredictable as any in recent history. (Associated Press)
  • Pope hospitalization raises talk of succession | The sudden hospitalization of Pope John Paul was another reminder, if any were needed, that one of the longest and most event-studded pontificates in history may be coming to a close. (Reuters)
  • Tourists at St Peter's sympathize with absent Pope | They may not agree with all his teachings, but Catholics united in St Peter's Square on Wednesday in sympathy for Pope John Paul as he lay in a hospital bed miles away. (Reuters)
  • Pope hospitalization raises talk of succession | The sudden hospitalization of Pope John Paul was another reminder, if any were needed, that one of the longest and most event-studded pontificates in history may be coming to a close (Reuters)

Vatican statements:

  • Pope's condition stabilizes in hospital, Vatican says | The pope has a light fever and will spend a few more days in the hospital, but "there is no cause for alarm," a spokesman said (The New York Times)
  • Vatican reassures faithful | While spokesman downplays pope's illness, some experts warn of dangers due to past health issues (Newsday, N.Y.)
  • Vatican says pope rallying | But experts say 'flu virus can be overwhelming' for patients in John Paul's weakened condition (Newsday, N.Y.)
  • Medical tests on pope satisfactory - - Vatican | Medical tests on Pope John Paul have given satisfactory results and the Pontiff is expected to stay in hospital for one week, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said on Thursday. (Reuters)
  • Pope's condition is improving, Vatican says | Pope John Paul II's condition is improving and he has not suffered any more breathing spasms, the Vatican said Thursday, adding that the 84-year-old pontiff spent a peaceful night in the hospital where he was rushed earlier this week with problems brought on by the flu. (Associated Press)
  • Pope's condition stabilizes, Vatican says | Pope John Paul's fragile health stabilized on Wednesday after urgent medical treatment overnight for severe breathing difficulties, but he will have to remain in hospital for the time being, the Vatican said (Reuters)

Pope John Paul II:

  • Key dates in life of Pope John Paul II | May 18, 1920: Karol Joseph Wojtyla born in Wadowice, Poland. (Associated Press)
  • Priests lash out at cult of the Pope | Catholic bishops have been accused of creating a damaging personality cult around Pope John Paul II and being out of touch with the lay people and priests they serve (The Australian)
  • The Pope and his legacy | James Carroll reviews John Cornwell's The Pontiff in Winter and John-Peter Pham's Heirs of the Fisherman (The Washington Post)
  • Pope loses battle with peace-symbol dove | Pope John Paul II shooed a dove — a symbol of peace — out his apartment window Sunday, chuckling with children who watched in delight as the bird flew back into his room overlooking St. Peter's Square (Associated Press)
Article continues below

SpongeBob:

  • Ministry celebrates Spongebob: Gay, happy, yellow, orange, whatever, he's welcome | After learning that a major leader of the US religious right had condemned cartoon character SpongeBob Squarepants as an "insidious" apologist for homosexuality, the United Church of Christ said they'd welcome him into their ministry with open arms. (National Business Review, New Zealand)
  • SpongeBob flap sends Dobson on media blitz | Focus on the Family founder says video's agenda is 'sinister' (Rocky Mountain News, Denver)
  • Local church shows SpongeBob solidarity | Evangelical United Church of Christ, 204 E Lockwood Ave., in Webster Groves, welcomed SpongeBob in its Jan. 30 service embracing diversity. (Journal, Mo.)

SpongeBob commentary:

  • Ready to throw in the sponge? | And as simultaneously laughable and scary as I find the uproar over an imaginary invertebrate, I also find myself identifying in part with such Dobsonian angst (Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post)
  • When politics, fear and funding cook a rabbit | First, they tell us SpongeBob's gay. Then, just when we think it's safe to go back in the water … (Bruce Kluger, USA Today)
  • Area church welcomes SpongeBob | Stepping out from his pineapple under the sea, SpongeBob SquarePants went to church Sunday morning. A large, yellow stuffed doll sat grinning his buck-toothed smile from a rocking chair near the altar at Evangelical United Church of Christ in Webster Groves (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Anti-SpongeBob Christians have their rights, too | The media want you to believe that Dobson is running his own Christian Gestapo—a group of men—women, especially feminists, need not apply!—dressed as deacons scouring America's heartland for gays and lesbians (Jessie Bonner, Lufkin Daily News, Tex.)
  • Spellings slashes, Dobson stews | New Education Secretary Margaret Spellings puts cartoon bunny & PBS on notice over episode featuring lesbian parents; Dobson mounts post-SpongeBob attack (Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange.com)
  • The shame of Buster and SpongeBob | We always knew the characters were annoying, with their cartoony voices and simple minds. What we didn't realize was that they were tearing at our nation's very fabric (Mike Cassidy, The Mercury News, San Jose, Ca.)
  • Tolerating James Dobson | Bob Smietana, giving Dobson the benefit of the doubt, finds a moral in L'Affaire SpongeBob (The Revealer)
  • Delusions of grandeur at "Focus on the Family" | The Three-Card Monte Players at Dr. James Dobson's "Focus On The Family" have reopened the can of worms that is SpongeBobGate, and have focused not on the family but on me, and in so doing embarrassed themselves and undermined the validity of their own concerns (Keith Olbermann, MSNBC)
  • SpongeBob brings radical idea of diversity to school children | There's nothing overtly queer about sponges as a species. They are not very active animals, and until the 18th century, naturalists considered them plants because they are so darn inactive. Yet a sponge has been the center of an odd media storm. SpongeBob SquarePants stands accused of promoting homosexuality. (Editorial, Journal, Mo.)

The Buster cartoon:

  • 'Buster' episode won't air here | A minor revolt among PBS affiliates over a lesbian couple featured on a children's show does not extend to the tri-state. (Cincinnati Post)
  • Christian fundamentalists take aim at Buster Rabbit | What the Department of Education is telling PBS - and PBS is accepting - is that law-abiding, tax-paying Vermont farmers raising children are not part of America's rich tapestry of diversity (Jane Ahlin, The Forum, Fargo, N.D.)
  • Children's TV fears a funding flap after 'Buster' | As Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is sworn in today in Washington, children's TV programmers and public television advocates wonder whether her protests last week signal a tough new attitude on values in children's programming (USA Today)
Article continues below
  • 'Postcards' from edge of morality war | Buster the talking rabbit has brought his video camera to film an Orthodox Jewish family in New York, a Muslim family in Chicago and Pentecostal Christians in North Carolina (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • 'Buster' episode to air tomorrow | At least 24 other PBS affiliates will air the episode tomorrow or in coming weeks (The Boston Globe)
  • Sweet 'Buster' is far from radical | The most incendiary thing about the controversial lesbian episode of the kid's show ''Postcards From Buster" may be the food. I mean really, who puts a pickle on a plate with maple syrup, shaved ice, and a plain donut? (Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe)
  • 'Boy, that's a lot of moms' | Watching the controversial 'Buster' episode with a 2-year-old (Chicago Tribune)


Related Elsewhere:

Suggest links and stories by sending e-mail to weblog@christianitytoday.com

What is Weblog?

Check out Books & Culture's weekly weblog, Content & Context, and the Christianity Today Movies weekly weblog, Reel News.

See our past Weblog updates:

January 31
January 28 | 27 | 26 | 25
January 19 | 18 | 17
January 14 | 13 | 12
Tsunami blog: Jan. 11 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4
January 7 | 6 | 5 | 4

Weblog
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.
Previous Weblog Columns: