Christianity Today’s Steven Gertz draws attention to another bill currently before the Senate, overlooked as attention focused on the Federal Marriage Amendment. The measure calls for severe penalties against those committing crimes for religious reasons, and was swiftly condemned by conservatives who argued that the bill requires prosecutors to investigate “‘an offender’s overall philosophy or biases.’” What’s good for the goose

Karen Armstrong: ”‘In a society where warfare and violence becomes endemic, religion gets sucked into that. Religion comes from where our dreams come from, and our dreams become disturbed, everything about us becomes disturbed in times of war and destruction.’” At the opening of the annual Couchiching thinkers conference north of Toronto. This year’s theme is “God’s Back with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State.” Read more.

Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson — until yesterday, DNC religion advisor – caved in as a result of the ruckus raised by Catholic League President William Donohue, who accused Peterson of being too liberal and “anti-religion” because she supported Michael Newdow in the Pledge case. Peterson is the second DNC religion advisor to retreat from conservative invective, and yet Donohue, who has used identical language to attack other politicians he disagrees with, doesn’t seem like he’d vote Democratic under any circumstances. And yet he wields the club of a Catholic, traditionally Democratic base. How real is the threat?

Is Wal-Mart incompatable with God? The Catholic Church of Guelph, Ontario thinks so, and has raised opposition to the super-chain’s attempt to build a new store adjacent to their Ignatius Jesuit Centre, a rural property that includes a retreat house for people from all over the world. The centre’s director, Rev. James Profit, argues that the presence of Wal-Mart would interfere with both the spiritual nature of the retreat as well as its ability to serve as sanctuary for both people and wildlife. Profit, The London Free Press reports, “believes God is on the side of the Jesuits…’There is a greater power on our side.’”