AP reports that the Bush administration has blocked $34 million in congressionally-approved funds for the U.N. Population Fund because of what Colin Powell says is the fund’s “connection” to forced abortions in China. But State’s own investigators concluded that there isn’t any connection. So what gives? AP doesn’t answer, and neither can we — but we can suggest a possible story for an enterprising reporter: Is the Bush administration talking tough about abortion abroad to appease pro-life supporters disturbed by how little Bush has done for the cause at home? If so, will pro-life advocates swallow the bait?

We briefly interrupt our display of Amy Sullivan‘s “Religious Men” to draw attention to one of the better pieces of campaign — and religion — journalism we’ve come across recently. It’s from a small paper in Amish country called The Lancaster New Era (free reg. required), and it’s by a columnist named Jack Brubaker. The “news” is in this quote:

Bush reportedly told [a group of Amish], ‘I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.’”

Had Bush uttered that line with big press around, it’d be the buzz for days. But, writes Brubaker, “this story has not been reported before. You might think an observant press follows the president everywhere, especially during a re-election campaign, but no reporter attended this meeting.”

This piece provides as much insight into religion on the campaign trail as anything The Revealer has commissioned. But there are smarts galore in our forum, too, so after you read Brubaker, return for Amy Sullivan’s excellent examination of how the press defines “religion”:“Religious Men.” (Thanks to Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire for the Lancaster link.)