Freedom of Civic Religion
(i.e., People Should Vote): Thousands of Ohio voters are at risk of not having their ballots counted on Election Day due to directives from Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. In September, Blackwell told election officials they cannot count provisional ballots from voters who go to the wrong polling location if they’ve moved, and with just days before Ohio’s voter registration deadline, Blackwell has resurrected an old law that would invalidate all registrations not printed on 80-pound paper stock. Wanna defend the faith?
Praying for the President
TONIGHT! Our friend David Miller‘s radio documentary about an evangelical Christian group in Des Moines that’s praying for the presidential election will air on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Airtimes vary city by city, but throughout most of the Northeast the piece will play at 5:36. Elsewhere, the piece will air at 36 minutes past an hour; which hour, we can’t say.
Following Thursday’s debates, North Carolina police were called to stop a fight between two UNC students arguing over which candidate Jesus would vote for.
The Era of Faith-Based Medicine
How do you define institutional conscience? Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodmanshudders to see new developments in “the era of faith-based medicine,” notably, the Bush administration’s announcement that federal employees are to be offered a Catholic health plan (defined as such for what it won’t provide: abortion, contraception, emergency contraception, sterilization, artificial insemination and most other fertility treatments). Goodman dismisses the defense that the Catholic plan is a choice, arguing that the choice is geographically pre-made for those parts of the country that only have Catholic hospitals (72% of which will not offer emergency contraception to rape victims). Goodman asks: “At some point doesn’t religious practice become medical malpractice?”
Not Another Two Churches Story
Fran Pendry thinks Bush’s Christianity is sincere and believes that God wants “‘godly people'” in office. George Mitchell think the war in Iraq violates every Christian principle he knows. Remember how this one goes? NPR’s Steve Inskeep jumps on the political-conflict-between-neighboring-churches, or the “divided nation” bandwagon, visiting a conservative and a liberal church in swingin’ Pennsylvania, in the first of a three-part series on religion in the campaign.
Seeing Rwanda
“I am afraid that moral condemnation, trade penalties and military efforts by African countries are simply not going to be enough to stop the killing [in Darfur] — not nearly enough. I know, because I’ve seen it all happen before.” Canadian General Roméo Dallaire, former head of the U.N. forces in Rwanda, made impotent against the genocidaires by international indifference, and author of Shake Hands with the Devil, would like the West to keep its word.
Last Days of Summer
Jeung San Do, a Korean religion created in the early 20th century, will gain exposure at this week’s Frankfurt Book Fair, where its bible, the Dojeon, will be offered in seven translations. Though the religion is sometimes dismissed for its similarities to New Age movements — and because the preface of the English Dojeon perplexingly states that “Jeung San Do is not a religion” –believers claim it is indeed a formal religion, organized on the concept that the universe undergoes four different, seasonal stages. We are now in late summer, when chaos and disease reign, but a new world order is due when the cosmic season changes into fall.
How to Keep a Presidential Prayer Tour Tax-Exempt
The Christian Defense Coalition is seeking “‘clarification'” from the IRS about whether or not churches can pray for President Bush’s re-election before they launch a two-week prayer tour in swing states Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Uganda’s Moral Values
Oh, this is the church they’ve joined. A radio station in Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal, has been fined and ordered to make a public apology for hosting gay guests on a talk show. The Information Minister, Nsaba Buturo, defended the fine as an effort to uphold “‘God’s moral values,'” and said that the show had committed a criminal offence by saying homosexuality was “‘an acceptable way of life.'”
Animal Welfare Sunday

Happy St. Francis of Assisi Day: The holder of the world’s first position in theology and animal welfare at the University of Oxford, Reverend Andrew Linzey, wrote a prayer service for the Anglican church, “Prayers in the Service for Animal Welfare,” which includes repentance for abuse of animals, blessings for individual animals, and prayers for the soul of the Sunday roast.