The Robes of Church and State
A circuit court judge in the Alabama town of Andalusia, Ashley McKathan, has begun wearing a custom-made judicial robe, embroidered with the Ten Commandments on his chest, to court. “‘Certainly I wanted to make a point,'” said McKathan. “‘I think it is important to keep the issue before the people.'” The judge’s gold-lettered robe (ordered with fewer pleats to accomodate the needlework) has caused such a media stir that a lawyer trying a case before McKathan has objected that his client won’t get a fair trial and a defendent facing a DUI charge asked, “‘Why now, with my case before him?'” As though trials were what courts are for. Amateurs.
Try Again, Winston. How Many Fingers?
Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and James Dobson break down the Ukraine situation for us: Western individualism vs. Eastern totalitarianism, Western philosophy vs. communism, Christianity vs. atheism. It’s an “old-fashioned struggle” of “Christian ideology” vs. “old fashioned communism” bent on “eliminating… any Protestant” in Ukraine. Wait — isn’t the religious divide in Ukraine between Catholics and Orthodox believers? Haven’t both sides renounced communism? Nah.
All Over the Map
“Dismayed by Christianity’s diminishing influence in the postmodern world, 24-7 dreams of sparking a worldwide revival among the generation that is coming of age. Its goal: to turn the tide in youth culture from what Greig calls a ‘godless, materialistic, self-destructive force’ to a generation that loves and worships Jesus. “For centuries, Christians were among the major architects of culture,” Greig reminded 100 members of his flock at 24-7’s annual conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in September 2003. ‘Today,’ he challenges, ‘are we even on the map?'” Um, yeah, dude — you pretty much own it. Kimberley Sevcik swallows some youth ministry Kool-aid for Salon, but her report on raver missionaries in clubland is thorough and 
worth Salon‘s annoying mandatory pop-ups.
How Many Fingers, Winston?
Concerned Women of America hails death sentence for Scott Peterson as a victory for pro-life philosophy.
When I Was a Boy…
“Terrorism is the war of the poor. War is the terrorism of the rich.” Who said that? Noam? Zinn? Che? Of course — ultra-right, traditionalist Catholic Pat Buchanan, taking his cues from the pope. “We Catholics were raised, in days of yore, to ‘examine your conscience.’ Many Americans no longer do.” This, and more paleoconservative rumbling, at Godspy.
Bush & Gibson, Sittin’ in a Tree
Mel Gibson whomps George W. Bush by 11 points in the race for the Religion Newswriters Association “Religion Newsmaker of the Year.” But the RNA fixes the results, granting W. equal billing with Gibson’s Passion in the top slot of their top religion stories of 2004! Well, it’s more complicated than that, and the RNA has more integrity than certain Supreme Courts we could name. The organization of 260 voting-eligible religion newswriters asked members to rank their top 20 choices, and the results are not surprising. After W. and Mel in a tie comes gay marriage (that’s the way it happened; we’re just reporting the results), followed by communion-denying Catholic bishops, angstful Anglicans, the pledge case, etc., etc. The only selection we’re disappointed in is #12, which under the lede of anti-Christian persecution notes as a top religion story of the year the fact that “in Iraq, a four-person Southern Baptist humanitarian team is killed.” Terrible, indeed. We’ve heard that some other folks have had a bad time of it in Iraq, as well.
Just One More Christmas Closer to the Grave
Denver Post‘s Eric Gorski scores a holiday story we haven’t seen before: “Blue Christmas”church services for those who find the season sad. “At Heritage United Methodist Church… [t]he music minister will skip ‘Joy to the World’ in favor of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter,’ played softly on oboe and acoustic guitar.”
Some of His Best Friends Are Jews

The standard test for hard-to-detect bigotry is to ask yourself, “How would that sound if I replaced [X-ethnic, religious, social group] with ‘the Jews’?” But William Donohue, the influential leader of the Catholic League, has short-circuited that test by getting right to the point. “‘Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular,’ [Donohue] explained in a colloquy on the subject recently convened by Pat Buchanan on MSNBC. ‘It’s not a secret, O.K.?’ Mr. Donohue continued. ‘And I’m not afraid to say it. That’s why they hate [The Passion]. It’s about Jesus Christ, and it’s about truth.” After the show’s token (and conservative) Jewish panelist, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, pointed out that ‘Michael Moore is certainly not a Jew’ and that Scorsese, Coppola and Lucas are not ‘Jewish names,’ Mr. Donohue responded: ‘I like Harvey Weinstein. How’s that? Harvey Weinstein is my friend.'” Well, as the junior Klan wannabes I grew up with used to say, That’s mighty white of you, Bill. (Lest The Revealer be denounced as blind to other bigotries, it’s worth noting thatFrank Rich, author of the NYT piece in which this was quoted, continues to misunderstand The Passion and the reasons for its popularity.)