Church v. State, Israeli Style
“‘Even if the constitution includes the Ten Commandments, we will oppose it,'” said Israeli former Shas leader, Aryeh Deri, expressing the ultra-orthodox fear that an Israeli constitution could give the Supreme Court authority to change the religious status quo. Yuval Yoaz ofHaaretz reports on the compromises religious and secular parties have had to make to get the consitution this far: religious representatives must accept the inclusion of a “bill of human rights” legislating equality, banning discrimination, and ensuring freedom of and from religion. Secular representatives will have to accept a list of “‘core religious issues'” that will remain “‘free of the constitution,'” in the sense that courts will have no jurisdiction over them.
Astrologer of the Free World
Joyce Jillson, astrologer to the Reagans, has died at age 58.
Ten Commandments Watch
Ten Command- ments Watch: This time it’s six feet tall, outside a police station in Everett, Washington, challenged by a 21-year old agnostic, and defended by the town as secular. And this time it’s U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik who will deliberate on whether “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me,” is somehow, kinda religious.
In Search of the God Gene
80 years after the publishing of Siddhartha, Dean Hamer, molecular biologist and author of The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired Into Our Genes, confirms that hedonism is in fact a path to mysticism. Well, kind of. In his search for a link between genetics and spirituality (first, measure spirituality with the “self-transcendence scale” (STS); second, determine if spirituality is hereditary; third, compare STS scores with DNA patterns), Hamer finds that the stand-out gene, VMAT2, is linked to the same monoamines (brain-signaling chemicals) triggered by certain drugs that can bring about “mystical-like experiences” that “appear to influence spirituality by altering consciousness.” Attempting an explanation of the evolutionary purpose of these “God genes”, Hamer proposes that one of the trait’s most important roles may be to “provide human beings with an innate sense of optimism — the will to keep on living and procreating, despite the fact that death is ultimately inevitable.” Woah…buzz kill.
The Judiciary Strikes Back
A Louisiana “activist judge,” William A. Morvant, threw out the state’s three-week old amendment banning gay marriage yesterday, calling the amendment flawed for having the dual purposes of banning both gay marriage and civil unions. Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council in Washington, was, of course, outraged. “‘We have judges acting in arrogance to usurp the actions of the Legislature.'” It is tough to believe: one branch of the government interfering with the authority of another
Dalai Lama and the Revolution

The Dalai Lama spoke at Mexico’s National Cathedral on Monday, criticizing the manipulation of religion for economic or political ends as an emotionally destructive practice liable to “get out of control.” Chinese officials protested Mexico’s welcome of the Dalai Lama, saying the country should not allow him to spread his revolutionary messages.