Despite Supreme Court wins, evangelicals unhappy
Evangelicals want the courts out of social issues, says a Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday.

"Evangelical Protestant Republicans are far more likely than other groups to want courts to stay out of controversial social questions, suggesting that GOP criticism of 'activist judges' resonates with the party's core constituency," writes the Post's Charles Lane.

Respondents were asked, "Who do you trust more to deal with same-sex marriage, your state legislature or your state courts?" Almost seven of ten self-identified evangelical Protestant Republicans chose lawmakers, compared with only 45 percent of Americans in general. Asked about abortion, 66 percent of evangelical Protestant Republicans said they trusted state legislatures more than state courts, compared with 44 percent of Americans in general.

"Interviews with individual respondents showed that Republicans who describe themselves as evangelical Protestants object to what they see as the courts' denial of the public's right to make policy on 'moral' issues," Lane wrote.

It's worth noting that the wording in the poll asked those who had identified themselves as Christians, "Would you consider yourself a born-again or evangelical Christian, or not?" (44% said yes, 54% said no. The question was asked of 81% of the poll respondents: 47% had identified as Protestants, 23% as Catholics, 11% as non-Protestant Christians, 4% as non-Christians, and 14% as non-religious.)

The Post-ABC poll stayed on the state level and didn't ask about trustworthiness of federal courts vis a vis Congress. But a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll also released yesterday shows that opinion of the Supreme Court has dropped dramatically in the eyes of evangelicals. In January 2001, 73 percent of white evangelical Protestants said they had a favorable view of the Supreme Court. Today, that number is barely a majority: 51 percent.

"An analysis of the poll finds that Republicans who want the Court to take a tougher stand against abortion rights are more dissatisfied with the Court than Republicans who do not," says the Pew Center press release.

There's a significant problem in seeing abortion as the issue that has turned evangelicals and conservative Republicans against the Supreme Court over the last four years: During that period the Court, has only issued one major decision focusing on the abortion debate. And it went in favor of pro-lifers. (The Supreme Court's ruling that struck down Nebraska's partial-birth abortion ban happened in 2000.)

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Meanwhile, the Court has issued several opinions on religious freedom that evangelicals should love. Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001) said schools had to allow Christian clubs if they allowed other extracurricular activities. Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) said publicly funded school vouchers can be used to pay for religious schools. Watchtower Bible & Tract Society v Village Of Stratton (2002) said door-to-door evangelists don't need city permission to knock on neighbors' doors. Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow (2004), last year's famous Pledge of Allegiance case, was thrown out on issues of standing, but kids can still say "under God" in classrooms. In Cutter v. Wilkinson, just decided last month, the Court upheld the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 and said prisoners had the right to practice their religion, even if it put a burden on prison officials.

So evangelicals are upset with the Supreme Court why now? Because it threw out antisodomy laws? That's the Supreme Court decision that religious conservative leaders seem to be most upset about over the last four years (along with, perhaps, the Court's tossing of the Child Online Protection Act).

Conservative evangelicals might like legislatures more than courts now because they think they have enough political clout to control the legislative process. But that wouldn't necessarily correspond to such a dramatic drop in their opinion of the Supreme Court. So let the word go out: If you're a government official who wants evangelicals to like you, it doesn't matter what you do on religious freedom, just what you do about those pesky gays.

Is there another reason why, since 2001, evangelical respect for the Supreme Court has dropped?

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Billy Graham in NYC:

  • Graham says NYC revival probably his last | "In my mind, it is," he said. "I wouldn't like to say 'never.' Never is a bad word." (Associated Press)
  • Billy Graham biography | Vital facts (Associated Press)

Missions & ministry:

  • The dynamic bit of British Christianity | Nigerian Christianity on the rise in the U.K. (The Economist, sub. req'd.)
  • YMCA CEO quits post in dispute | Board opposed efforts to tout Christianity, man says (The Bakersfield Californian)

Church life:

  • The Protestant Church's impact The growing popularity of the Protestant Church in Latin America and its potential impact on the Catholic Church (The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS)
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  • Ultimate battle | Local church uses "War of the Worlds" movie to lead people back to God (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)
  • Plan realigns Anglican church | Proposal would set up conservative subgroup (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Church is monument to activism | Calls to action by Cesar Chavez and others once echoed in the structure, which is now designated a Los Angeles landmark (Los Angeles Times)
  • Lavish 'creation' | As the debate over our origin continues, the Crystal Cathedral stages an elaborate show merging religion and science (San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • Driven by purpose | As powerful as The Purpose-Driven Life has been for individual lives and churches, I think even more long-lasting change will come from congregations inculcating the principles taught in "The Purpose-Driven Church," Warren's 1995 guide to church leaders looking for new direction for the 21st Century (Dennis Logie, San Mateo County Times, Ca.)

Archbishop of Canterbury attacks 'lethal' media:

  • Archbishop hits out at web-based media 'nonsense' | The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has criticised the new web-based media for "paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent nonsense and dangerous bigotry". He described the atmosphere on the world wide web as a free-for-all that was "close to that of unpoliced conversation" (The Times, London)
  • Archbishop attacks 'lethal' media | The Archbishop of Canterbury last night launched a wide-ranging attack on the media, accusing journalists of distorting debate, contributing to a climate of national cynicism, and unjustly attacking institutions over their secretiveness (The Guardian, London)
  • Good news | In his lecture last night, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, set out not just to observe our faults, but to understand them: to see where they come from and how they might be righted (Editorial, The Guardian, London)
  • Apophatic or what? | The Archbishop of Canterbury last night attacked the media for practices that are "lethally damaging to it". He was right to do so, just as he was right to reject attempts to make the media a "scapegoat" for society's ills (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)
  • Full text: The Media: Public Interest and Common Good (Archbishop of Canterbury)


  • Evangelical hot topics | The author of 'The Beliefnet Guide to Evangelical Christianity' answers questions on hell, evolution, prayer in schools, & more (Beliefnet)
  • Was Bonhoeffer a martyr? | Dan Barnett reviews Craig J. Slane's Bonhoeffer As Martyr (Chico Enterprise-Record, Ca.)
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  • Truth and falsity in The Da Vinci Code | There is no evidence in the Gnostic Gospels, any more than there is in the canonical Gospels, to support the view that Jesus fathered a child. (Bernard Hamilton, Times Literary Supplement)

Media and pop culture:

  • Salem Communications preaches patience | Many on Wall Street have a message for religious radio broadcaster Salem Communications Corp.: Thou shalt not acquire (Associated Press)
  • Still asking, still telling | Michelle Shocked rises again with three new albums and a renewed path through roots, rights, and devotion (Los Angeles City Beat)
  • Christians turn down Big Brother | Young Christians have turned down a chance to stay in Germany's Big Brother village (Ananova)
  • Praying to play | Pistons' volunteer chaplain preaches faith before fight (Detroit Free Press)
  • 'Indianapolis Star' rejects 'religious discrimination' charges | "Editorial positions now, as in the past, often support Christian positions on public issues," said the paper. "Any reader of The Star can see stories, editorials, columns, letters to the editor and other items that clearly show respect for Christian views if not outright backing of those views" (Editor & Publisher)

Springer Opera:

  • Springer Opera legal bid rejected | A bid to bring judicial review proceedings against the BBC for its broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera has been rejected (BBC)
  • BBC's Jerry Springer Opera: Evangelicals' legal bid fails (PA, U.K.)

Terri Schiavo:

  • Schiavo autopsy renews debate on GOP actions | Republicans who strongly urged federal intervention are struggling to defend their argument to keep her alive (The New York Times)
  • Autopsy on the Schiavo tragedy | Terri Schiavo's autopsy results should embarrass all the opportunistic politicians and agenda-driven agitators who meddled in her right-to-die case (Editorial, The New York Times)
  • Schiavo's parents not swayed by autopsy | An autopsy that found Terri Schiavo suffered from severe and irreversible brain-damage has done nothing to sway her parents' position that she deserved to live and may have gotten better with therapy (Associated Press)
  • Frist: Schiavo autopsy results end case | Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a surgeon who had questioned Terri Schiavo's diagnosis during the intense national debate on whether to remove her feeding tube, said the autopsy documenting her severe brain damage brings "a very sad chapter to a close" (Associated Press)
  • Schiavo autopsy finds no evidence of abuse | Pro-family groups say the findings do not change the underlying moral issues (CitizenLink, Focus on the Family)
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Life ethics:

  • US scientists identify, grow brain stem cells | Scientists working in mice said they had found a way to identify master cells in the brain and grow them in large batches -- a potential way of helping patients grow their own brain tissue transplants (Reuters)
  • Life begins at "want a cigarette?" | The increasing absurdity of the stem-cell debates (Margaret Wertheim, LA Weekly)
  • The consciometer | What if scientists could precisely measure when life begins and ends? (David Dobbs, Slate)
  • The celestial fire of conscience — Refusing to deliver medical care | Physicians, nurses, and pharmacists are increasingly claiming a right to the autonomy not only to refuse to provide services they find objectionable, but even to refuse to refer patients to another provider and, more recently, to inform them of the existence of legal options for care (R. Alta Charo, J.D., The New England Journal of Medicine)
  • Frozen embryos focus in stem cell debate | Snowflakes have become the face of the movement against embryonic stem-cell research (Associated Press)
  • Petition drive targets stem cell law | Sign of frustration with lawmakers (The Boston Globe)

Religion & politics:

  • Christian right groups set sights on '08 | Leaders of conservative Christian organizations plan to jointly interview Republican contenders for the 2008 presidential nomination, perhaps even endorsing one of them — steps that could expand their already considerable political influence (USA Today)
  • Conservatives aim to rally around a candidate for '08 | Some activists already are looking ahead to next presidential race (The Baltimore Sun)
  • A powerhouse of the right flexes muscle | Roe v. Wade could be overturned within a decade, says the president of the Family Research Council. (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Hinshaw asks state investigation | Legislator renews charge against Christian Coalition (The Huntsville Times, Ala.)
  • Also: Lawkmaker asks AG if donation to Christian Coalition was legal (Associated Press)
  • Pelosi delivers speech at National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast | "Thank you for preaching the gospel through your work. After all, it is our faith that enables us to lift the work we do to a higher purpose," says House Democratic leader (press release)
  • Abortion bill is good for families | Why did Governor Rick Perry choose to sign abortion and anti-gay marriage legislation at a Fort Worth Christian school last week? (Jessie L. Bonner, The Lufkin Daily News, Tex.)
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  • Real religious intolerance | Archbishop Charles Chaput vs. America's "new blacklist." (Hugh Hewitt, The Weekly Standard)
  • Confessions of a white Christian Republican | If the Republican Party has become the "white, Christian party," as Dean charges, it's partly so because the Democratic Party has made white Christians feel so uncomfortable in its ranks (James P. Gannon, USA Today)
  • Shaping Lebanon's future | While post-Syrian, post-election Lebanon will be a different country, it won't be a 'new' country until it finds a new political format, where specific Christian and Muslim communities share power of governance and representation (Ghassan Rubeiz, The Christian Science Monitor)

Church & state:

  • Hostettler amendment will prevent use of federal funds county decalogue is removed | The office of Rep. John Hostettler announced Wednesday the passing of an amendment to a House bill authored by the Indiana congressman that would prevent federal funds from being used to remove of the Ten Commandments monument from the lawn of the Gibson County Courthouse (Princeton Daily Clarion, Ind.)
  • Rise of secularism to be examined | A new program at Trinity College, the Institute for the Study of Secularism and Culture, will begin in July to delve into the struggle between religious and secular values in society (The Hartford Courant, Ct.)
  • ACLU distorts our past and subverts our future | The ACLU and its affiliates have twisted the original intent of the First Amendment. They have taken words from Thomas Jefferson and wrenched them out of context (Douglas H. Wellman, Ft. Wayne, Ind.)


  • 'Evangelicals will curb unemployment' | Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday outlined his vision for a prosperous future for the region based on Christian tourism and improved road and rail infrastructure (The Jerusalem Post)
  • 'Evangelists will create jobs' | Christian Evangelical tourist center to be built in north will solve region's jobless woes, Bibi says (YNet, Israel)
  • Methodists may support Palestinians by divesting | Representatives for Virginia's more than 340,000 United Methodists called Wednesday for their denomination to consider divesting stock in companies whose dealings with Israel facilitate the seizure of Palestinian land or the destruction of Palestinian homes (The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.)
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Air Force Academy:

  • Air Force Academy tries to get handle on complaints of faith | As Air Force Academy officials await the findings of a Pentagon investigation, a civil liberties group says it continues to receive complaints of inappropriate Christian proselytizing at service academies (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Report expected next week on AFA's religious climate (The Denver Post)


  • Board adopts policy on plays | No obscenity in student shows (The Washington Post)
  • Evolution debate turns personal | Members of the State Board of Education spent an hour Wednesday morning attacking each other and rehashing their heartfelt opinions on how evolution should be taught to Kansas children (The Wichita Eagle, Kan.)
  • Also: Evolution debate in Kan. prompts attacks | A discussion about how evolution should be taught in public schools degenerated Wednesday into personal attacks among State Board of Education members (Associated Press)
  • Separation anxiety | Are church and state getting too close at Kirkland's Lake Washington High School? (The Stranger, Seattle)

Marriage & family:

  • Secret sin | Adultery in the church isn't just a man's problem (World)
  • Faith and fatherhood | Christian men -- to be more specific, devout evangelical Protestants -- make better fathers than the public perceives, says sociologist and author W. Bradford Wilcox (The Washington Times)
  • New dads want to be with baby | Almost four out of five working fathers of babies say they would be happy to stay at home and look after their child, according to research published amid fresh calls for better paternity pay and leave (The Guardian, London)
  • Different faiths, but one belief | Couple combines traditions to create religious harmony (South Bend Tribune, Ind.)
  • For Xtians, adoption legal only if recognised by custom | Christian customary law permits adoption; but for adoption to become legal there should be evidence to show that it was done in a recognised form, undergoing the formalities of adoption recognised by the community, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has held (, India)


  • Locker room trysts bedevil health clubs | The steam rooms, showers and saunas at health clubs continue to be meeting places for men seeking anonymous sexual activity, much as bathhouses in New York and other cities were before fear of AIDS prompted a widespread shutdown in the 1980's (The New York Times)
  • I'm not gay, anymore | Chad Thompson says he overcame his same-sex attractions, but is his "ex-gay" message a slap in the face to the LGBT community? (Cityview, Des Moines, Ia.)
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  • Spanish archbishop to protest gay marriage | The archbishop of Madrid and other senior Roman Catholics plan to attend a rally protesting a bill to legalize gay marriage, church officials said Thursday — their first display of anti-government activism in more than 20 years (Associated Press)
  • Romney to back plan to ban gay marriage | Gov. Mitt Romney said Thursday he will support a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Massachusetts, the only state where it is legal (Associated Press)
  • The gospel on gay marriage | Before dismissing the religious right, progressives may find it helpful to learn more about them -- particularly that group the media lump together as 'the evangelicals' (Letha Dawson Scanzoni, AlterNet)


  • Anti-polygamy group wants state to rethink priorities | Help little guys: They say big-name offenders get all the focus, to the detriment of many everyday victims (The Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Group urges more polygamy prosecutions | Tapestry Against Polygamy, which helps women escape polygamous homes with their children, said last week's felony indictment of Warren Jeffs underscored the gulf that leaves many other polygamy victims without the support of law enforcement (Associated Press)


  • Catholic bishops revise sex abuse policy | America's Roman Catholic bishops will keep their pledge to protect children from sexually abusive priests as they revise their discipline plan for offenders, a key prelate said at a national church meeting Thursday (Associated Press)
  • Rewards suggested to uncover abuse by U.S. priests | A group representing victims of the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. Catholic church said on Wednesday that church leaders should set up a reward fund to flush out priests who have so far escaped detection (Reuters)
  • Priest-abuse policy likely to stay as is | Catholic bishops meeting over 1-strike rule (Chicago Tribune)
  • Bishops consider changes | Sexual abuse policies to be discussed (The Courier & Press, Evansville, Ind.)


  • Religion Today: Catholicism's quick promotions | with a shortage of priests, young clergymen are being promoted much earlier and dioceses have begun training priests in business practices just as their careers are beginning — or even while they are still in the seminary (Associated Press)
  • City of God | Tom Monaghan's coming Catholic utopia (The Boston Phoenix)
  • Pope halts beatification of French priest | Vatican to probe anti-Semitic texts (The Washington Post)
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  • Pope: Search for unity 'irreversible' | He met with Samuel Kobia, the leader of the World Council of Churches (Associated Press)
  • Parish group asks bishop to intervene | The Council of Parishes sent a letter yesterday to Bishop William Skylstad, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking him to step into the conflict over church closures by the Archdiocese of Boston and to ''reaffirm the rights of parishes and parishioners under Canon Law" (The Boston Globe)
  • Diocese hiding assets, plaintiffs say | Defendant in molestation case says worth accurately reported (The Tennessean, Nashville)

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