Ayn Rand v. W.
It’s not often that we get to recommend Ayn Randian anything, much less the views of a Randian scholar on religion. But Chris Matthew Sciabarra breaks the mold, and his survey of contemporary religion and politics — particularly Bush’s religion and politics — seen through the historical lenses of pietism and the liturgical traditions is well worth a detour into the weird world of the “Randroids,” as Sciabarra himself sometimes calls Randian true believers.
Dobson in D.C.
“‘If you watch MTV today, you will see they are registering those kids who have been filled with propaganda.'” Focus on the Family’s James Dobson warns an audience of Christian conservatives attending last Friday’s “Mayday for Marriage” demonstration that people whose ideologies they disagree with are still allowed to vote.
Preacher Kerry?
The Washington Post’s Jim VandeHei describes the evolution of John Kerry’s religious persona from a reserved and private Catholic to a “Democratic preacher of sorts” who increasingly finds himself behind the pulpit: quoting “Amazing Grace,” preaching about the Good Samaritan, and criticizing President Bush over Social Security, unemployment and the killings in Darfur. Friends told VandeHei that Kerry has “gained a deeper appreciation of how voters in many of the battleground states — from Hispanic Catholics in New Mexico to evangelical Christians in rural Ohio — seek candidates of faith, or at least desire reassurance that their president shares most of their values.”
Westboro Baptists Do It Again
The Westboro Baptist Church spreads … something in Alabama outside Crossroads Church, site of the recent funeral of Scotty Joe Weaver, a 19-year old gay man who was beaten, stabbed and strangled by attackers and then set afire. Margie Phelps, daughter of Westboro founder and pastor, Fred Phelps Sr., said they were picketing Crossroads for failing to condemn Weaver at his funeral. Said Phelps, “‘They should have said unequivocally: Don’t live that way, and if you live that way you’ll die and end up in hell.'”
Sharia Law and Human Rights
“Sooner or later, we have to realize that the issue is not women’s rights, but human rights and it ought to be framed as such.” Leonard Pitts Jr., writing in The Miami Herald, reacts to the sentencing of two more Nigerian woman to death by stoning for adultery under Sharia law. He writes: “There’s always an excuse, isn’t there? Always a rationalization. The judges in Nigeria employed arguably the most common: God. He wants these women stoned for adultery. He wants the men they laid with to go free.”
Lambeth Commission
The Anglican Church’s 17-member Lambeth Commission, headed by Irish primate Robin Eames, has sharply criticized the U.S. Episcopal Church for consecrating V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire last November, and asked the church to apologize and refrain from promoting another clergyman living in a same-sex union. The report called on conservative bishops, including those from Africa, to desist from and apologize for forging relationships with Episcopal congregations; and it called on the 38 national churches in the Anglican Communion to sign a covenant supporting current Anglican teachings.
The Beelzebub Plan

More on religious dieting: The Boston Globe’s Rich Barlow asks whether spiritual leaders should remind their flocks that gluttony is a sin in a time when nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight. Barlow tallies religious edicts against over-eating — from the Book of Proverbs, Deuteronomy, the Koran, Buddha (Buddha?) — though he notes that the motivations for gorging are instrumental in determining sinfulness: if you’re starving or being social, it’s generally okay. If you’re bored when you approach the fridge, it’s a sin.