Which Side Are You On?
Two recent Revealer items are driving a lot of conservative readers to The Revealer. They’re angry with what they consider bias. One item links readers to a piece by a Vancouver writer who accuses the U.S. of religious fascism; the other item, by Revealer writer Kathryn Joyce, raises what we think are legitimate questions about competing legal rights in the case of a pharmacist fired because he felt he couldn’t in good conscience fill a prescription for birth control. What’s interesting about the angry letters we’re receiving is that they seem to assume that because we linked to the Vancouver writer, and because we acknowledge that the current legal system actually exists, we are therefore anti-American and raving abortionists looking for babies to kill. That’d be one thing coming from a few “fringe” characters; but we’ve seen similar, if slightly more balanced responses from conservative writers we admire and respect: Kathy Shaidle,Mark Shea, and Bill Cork. So: What gives? It’d be easy to accuse them of overreacting, but we’re wondering if that’s really the case. Perhaps the “culture war,” which we’ve often suggested is a figment of media imagination, is real. Perhaps the old labor song, “Which Side Are You On?” is now more relevant than ever before. Perhaps Bush is right: If you’re not “with” someone, than you’re “against” them (though where this leaves Shaidle, a Canadian, we’re not exactly sure). Or perhaps it’s a case of hysteria. Not in the little, shrieky sense, but in the sense of a moral panic; a moment in the culture; a time when people fear enemies — communists, or Satanists, or Salem witches — everywhere. Well, if that’s the case, it’s a great day for writers! Now is our time. The Revealer‘s time, Shaidle’s time, Shea’s time. Now is when we abandon all allegiances and honor only the truth as best as we can perceive it. If it is indeed a culture war, then writers have no choice. They are either with us, or against us. Who’s the “us”? Everyone who lacks access to a media forum. Everyone who wants to know what’s going on but can’t afford to take off time to investigate. Everyone who prefers accuracy to being “right.” Everyone who thinks it’s time to ask tough questions and face the possibility of uncomfortable answers. What do you say? Can we get an Amen?

–Jeff Sharlet

Save Our City
New York magazine’s Franklin Foer went on a “prayer walk” with a group of young missionaries from Georgia, come to Hell’s Kitchen to win hearts for Jesus and tour the Big Apple — one of a number of missionary “vacation packages” organized by Scott Rourk, pastor of the newly opened “411 New York” church. Other missionary trips feature specific themes: “A Mission to Remember” for couples; a “father and son” mission to help free men from “ambiguous lifestyles.” But Rourk’s not just interested in appealing to the converts; a hip young pastor, he tells his missionaries that “the old fire and brimstone won’t sell in New York,” and instead is devising new ways to evangelize: with prayer walks that target individuals in New York’s sin-zones; by offering bottled water and prayer at actors’ auditions, quarters in laundromats, biscuits at dog runs, Krispy Kremes on the subway.
Islamic African Relief
A Sudan-based relief organization, the Islamic African Relief Agency, has had its assets blocked pending accusations from the Treasury Department that the group has helped finance Osama bin Laden.
Cheap and Tawdry
Lynne Cheney accused John Kerry of not being “‘a good man'” last night, saying that hismention of Mary Cheney‘s homosexuality was “‘a cheap and tawdry political trick‘” meant to hurt the Bush-Cheney ticket among religious conservatives.
Armies of Compassion
“‘You did that,'” said Senator Sam Brownback. “‘This wasn’t on anybody’s foreign policy agenda.'” He was speaking to the Christian Coalition, praising their lobbying efforts for international affairs, notably, taking action on Sudan — a conflict they, and Farah Stockman ofThe Boston Globe, think of as a Muslim-Christian war. Christian lobbyists have produced half a dozen successful bills recently, including a law that threatens Syria with sanctions for its involvement with Lebanon: a country with a large Christian minority; influence on Bush’s AIDS initiative, notably shaping his abstinence policy; a bill urging aid to North Korea, which is once again on the State Department’s “blacklist” for countries where religious freedom “does not exist,” and Christians suffer severe persecution. Harvard theologian David Little notes the secondary motive of spreading the gospel and gaining converts, after humanitarian concerns, that has raised complaints of promoting a particular religious point of view.
Global Anti-Semitism Review
The State Department opposes a bill passed by Congress last weekend, that would document attacks on Jews around the world, saying that it’s already engaged in fighting anti-Semitism and that separate reports on various religions or ethnicities were unwarranted. The Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, which also would set up an office in the department, would require annual reports on violence, vandalism and other aggression to Jewish institutions.
Kerry to Protestants: Bring it On!

Adam Becker writes: Kerry quoted James 2:14 last night in the debate — “There’s a great passage of the Bible that says, What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead.” This could be seen as a throwing of a scriptural gauntlet down to certain Protestants. It is not a coincidence that Martin Luther wanted to remove the Letter of James from the scriptural canon because of its overly “Jewish” focus on works. This was certainly a Catholic verse to quote.