From the Kerry war room, on the uses and abuses of scriptural metaphor.

Melanie Hunter of CNSNews reports the story of a Reuters editor, Todd Eastham, who sent a critical email response to a press release issued by the National Right to Life Committee. The anti-abortion group questioned the editor’s “journalistic integrity,” and said “‘We can only wonder at how such vehement opinions may color Mr. Eastham’s reporting or editing on subjects such as abortion and the Bush administration.'” Hunter’s report featured text from Eastham’s email, from Reuter’s editorial policy, and numerous quotes from NRLC director Douglas Johnson, though apparently she was unable to contact Eastham directly. (Also of interest is Robert B. Bluey CNSNews article, “Fox News Viewers Are Stupid, Protesters Say,” which examines the “harsh” incivility of the media protesters who think that “millions of viewers who tune in every day to the cable news channel are mostly stupid Republicans from middle America” and who “‘don’t like it when an opposing view is presented.'”)

Yesterday’s NYTimes reported on a closed rally held by the Bush campaign at the Waldorf-Astoria for Christian conservative delegates, at which Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas declared “culture war.” But, apparently, it’s also a stealth war; the Bush campaign, eager to maintain the press’s accomodating focus on the war overseas rather than the one at home, denounced theTimes‘ coverage as “not professional or appropriate.” And former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed summed up the secret message by quoting an early Bush attempt at evangelicalism: “‘If I have to explain it to you, then you don’t understand it.'” That’s funny — we hadn’t realized the Gospel was an insider thing. Read more…

Chechnya’s top pro-Russian Muslim cleric condemned the militants who have seized a school in North Ossetia, a Russian region bordering Chechnya. “‘The terrorist criminals who have seized the school and children have once again shown their savage face,'” Akhmed-Haji Shamayev, mufti of Chechnya, told Interfax. “‘They are people without faith, they are no Muslims…Those who know a few things about Muslim religion will know that the words “Islam” and “terror” cannot be used together.'”

The pixelated Dorian Gray: The New York Times’s Stephen Totilo reports on video game designer Peter Molyneux’s new creation, Fable, a role-playing game in which the player guides a boy as he becomes a hero. What hero he becomes though, depends on the player’s choices: “Were they kind or cruel? Had they married? If so, how many times? Had they courted fame or skulked in shadows?” “The player’s moral decisions affect the fate and appearance of the hero,” Totilo writes. “Those who live a mean-spirited lifestyle will grow horns and attract flies, while the good will gradually develop glowing skin and be mobbed by available lovers.”

“‘My desire to be at the RNC was this goal that I have to support the candidate that I believe has the most faith,'” actor and recently born-again Christian Stephen Baldwin told an interviewer on Tuesday. “‘I think it’s kind of freaky, man.'” Um, yeah.

Several Jewish groups are offended by the podium and adjacent gavel stand being used at the Republican convention because they bear images of crosses, reports Reuters. “‘This wooden cross must be at least three feet (one meter) tall, and it sends a signal of exclusivity loudly and clearly,'” said Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Concil. Convention spokespeople declined to comment, but Karl Rove told CNN he didn’t see the likeness. “‘My God, where do they come up with this stuff? Does it look to you like it’s a cross? I don’t think so.'”

Jeff Sharlet: I was in Herald Square in Manhattan when Sen. Zell Miller gave his cross-dressing convention speech, and the word on the street — or, at least, over the cell phones of friends calling in for reports — was that Miller had just sealed the deal for Bush. But now, looking at the press reports, I’m getting a different story, easily summarized with one word: snarl. Love Miller or hate him, that seems like a fair assesment of a speech that included an approving reference to strangulation. But what I’m not seeing anywhere yet is comment on the fact that Miller took religious nationalism considerably further than Bush has ever been willing to do: “I am moved by… the fact that [Bush] is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America.” That’s news. Until now, Bush has kept his God-handicapping limited to the notion that God approves of freedom, and so does America, so we’re on the same side. But just as it took a Republican like Nixon to go to China, it took a Democrat like Miller to declare that God likes America best.