Friday, February 27, 2004

Almost Like Trying to Find a Needle in a Haystack

If you thought it was difficult to accurately quantify how many Catholic priests had committed acts of child sexual abuse, it's probably near impossible to find out how many Protestant clergy have committed such crimes.

Protestant numbers are tougher to get because cases are scattered among hundreds of denominations. Moreover, many Protestant cases aren't reported to headquarters and many local congregations are self-governing, accountable to no outside supervisors.

Besides that, abuse cases get media notice only if lawsuits are filed and James F. Cobble Jr., whose Christian Ministry Resources advises churches on legal and tax issues, says many Protestant cases never reach court.

Among the reasons: Catholic dioceses with group insurance coverage and deep pockets make inviting targets, while the typical Protestant congregation has 150 members or less, limited money and no insurance coverage for misconduct. Also, Protestants predominate in rural and small towns, where victims and lawyers prefer to settle quietly out of court.

All this "lowers the known number of Protestants dramatically" and obscures the extent of the problem, Cobble says.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

John F'n Kerry Possesses the Logic of a Tree Stump

In his most explicit remarks on the subject yet, Kerry told the Globe that he would support a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would prohibit gay marrriage so long as, while outlawing gay marriage, it also ensured that same-sex couples have access to all legal rights that married couples receive.
Because I'm Cheap and I Hate Crowds

Such are the reasons why I won't be seeing The Passion for at least another week and during the day when matinee prices are in effect. As a matter of curiosity, however, I have been looking at what some of our more conservative Evangelical/Fundamentalist brethren have been saying about the film. Although most seem to have liked it, many of the comments are peppered with maddeningly ignorant and untrue remarks. Loads of it can be found in this screed that provides five "reasons" for Evangelicals and Fundamentlaists to avoid seeing The Passion (e.g., Ash Wednesday is a Catholic holy day, Mel Gibson is a devout Roman Catholic who relied on Catholic scholars for the movie, the film was endorsed by JPII, etc.). Very sad stuff, but what's even sadder is that U.S. bishops are seemingly indifferent to the opportunity that this film presents in terms of mass religious instruction and evangelization. Then again, with people like Bishop McGrath and Cardinal Mahony, maybe this isn't such a bad thing.
Tolerance Does Not Apply to Christianity

Despite allowing displays by the Chess Club, Hispanic Club, and Sexual Deviancy Club, a high school in Portland denies the display of a Bible by the Bible Club.

On a related note, I heard liberal pundit Lawrence O'Donnell comment on MSNBC yesterday that he has never seen any evidence of anti-Christian bias in our culture or the media, and that he has no idea why groups like the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights continuously make such claims.

Talk about someone with his head up his a**.
Recall Fever, Baby

This time, Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Too Violent

That's what movie critics from the San Francisco Chronicle to the New York Times are basically saying about The Passion of the Christ. I wonder if they'd be saying this if the movie had been directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, who of course gave us the Oscar(tm) winning and critically acclaimed Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan (both of which have been shown on commercial television without editing).
State Money and Religious Studies

The SCOTUS rules that states can withhold scholarships from students who choose to study theology.

"Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the majority. "Indeed, majoring in devotional theology is akin to a religious calling as well as an academic pursuit."

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

AP reports the Bush administration had argued the state was wrong to yank the scholarship from former student Joshua Davey. Davey initially won a state Promise Scholarship, but the award was rescinded when the state found out he would be studying theology.

Update: The majority and dissenting opinions can be read here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Sounds About Right


You are Rule 8, the most laid back of all the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. While your forefather in the Federal Rules may have been a stickler for details and particularity, you have clearly rebelled by being pleasant and easy-going. Rule 8 only requires that a plaintiff provide a short and plain statement of a claim on which a court can grant relief. While there is much to be lauded in your approach, your good nature sometimes gets you in trouble, and you often have to rely on your good friend, Rule 56, to bail you out.

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, February 23, 2004

Spreading Like a Hostile Viral Disease

A "gay" couple in Florida is set to challenge that state's non-recognition of same-sex "marriages" and civil unions.
Religious Groups Fear Potential Loss of Tax Exempt Status

A few years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the IRS could constitutionally strip Bob Jones University of its tax exempt status because of the fundamentalist Christian school's practice of racial discrimination. Some religious groups think the same thing might eventually happen to them if government non-recognition of same sex "marriages" is constitutionally struck down.

"The issue of legalizing same-sex marriages in Massachusetts and California raises the question: Does this mean there will be cases brought against the Catholic Church for discrimination? I think it is the next step," said Flynn, who heads Your Catholic Voice, an activist group. "I don't think people will stop until the whole sacred institution of marriage crumbles."

Any threat to religious marriage between a man and a woman remains hypothetical today. But even homosexuals have acknowledged that the developments in Massachusetts and San Francisco arose quicker than they anticipated.


While supporters of traditional marriage fear erosion at the religious level, Eugene Volokh, a University of California at Los Angeles law professor, said those fears might be exaggerated.

He said churches could raise a "significant constitutional defense" to keeping their tax-exempt status. He noted, for instance, the Catholic Church has faced criticism for years because it doesn't ordain women as priests.

"Churches, quite clearly, have the right to marry or not marry whoever they please," Volokh said. "Maybe somebody could sue them for discrimination in marriage, but the churches will certainly win."