Yesterday, on the day after the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Boulder’s Sacred Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church invited the press to a mass burial of the ashes of 300-500 fetuses which had been aborted at a nearby clinic. Since 1996, the church has collected the remains of aborted fetuses from a mortuary contracted to cremate and bury the them in its own plot, unbeknownst to both the clinic and the women whose fetuses were aborted. Anticipating the anger of abortion-rights advocates, anti-abortion organizers supporting the church pointed to Colorado law, which strictly regulates the burial of “human remains” but permits the interrment of “human medical waste” without legal obstacles. The church would likely be in violation of the law if the fetuses were declared “human.” See where this one’s going? But until someone takes the bait and sues to the detriment of their own foot, one Sacred Heart parishioner has broader hopes for the symbolic burials themselves, speculating that, though the p.r. event may have cost the church its supply of Colorado ashes, the publicity might bring more remains in “‘from out of state.’”
Don’t Play with Sri Lanka
Evangelical relief workers have reached Sri Lanka, which has been a hotbed of religious contention since long before the tsunami. Christian missionaries there claim persecution at the hands of the Buddhist majority, citing the more than 100 churches which have been attacked by Buddhist extremists; and Buddhists charge that Christians are converting children and the suffering from their traditional religions through coercive means and have attempted to pass anti-conversion laws. Walking blithely into this fight are a dozen Texans from the Antioch Community Church who claim to be a “‘plain vanilla NGO that does aid work,’” but have staged plays about Jesus, had children draw pictures of him, and held prayer groups to try to heal injured Sri Lankans. Their efforts are angering local Christian leaders who say that the proselytizing might well cause a backlash against Sri Lankan Christians and worsen the existing situation.
Holocaust Denial in Slovakia
Religion and Society points to an AP report on a proposal from Slovakia’s Justice Ministry to decriminalize Holocaust denial by repealing a 2001 law. The country’s Jewish community protested the proposal last Friday, imploring legislators “‘not to help legalize neo-Nazi activities.’” Since 2001, Holocaust revisionism has been a large part of political struggles in Slovakia between neo-fascist right-wing extremists and liberal groups.
The evolution debate goes on, with The New York Times and The Washington Post both printing anti-”Intelligent Design” editorials in the past two days (The Times arguing that “If evolution is derided as ‘only a theory,’ intelligent design needs to be recognized as ‘not even a theory’ or ‘not yet a theory,’” and the Post recalling the tin specter of Sputnik, and warning that American kids will soon fall behind). At Dover High School, the Pennsylvania school where biology classes must now discuss evolution alternatives, science teachers have refused to read a statement criticizing evolution and suggesting “Intelligent Design” as an alternative, and so an administrator will read it instead.
Alberta What’s On Your Mind?
In Alberta, one of five provinces left in Canada that has not legalized same-sex marriage, 500 protesters gathered outside the legislature to pray for God’s intercession in keeping the unions illegal.
Washington Times Plans Minstrel Show
The Washington Times wins the cultural sensitivity award with Richard S. Ehrlich’sreport on “superstitious Thailand,” where Thais are “spooked” by the spirits of tsunami victims, refuse to eat fish because of angry sea creatures eating human remains, and probably won’t vacation at the old, destroyed resorts next year for fear of wandering ghosts. How does Ehrlich know this? He chatted with a cabby, who told him the resorts might be viewed as “bad luck,” retold some ghost stories being spread by “Thais and foreigners,” and recounts the experience of a Thai relief worker who was startled to hear a moan from a dead baby as gas exited its body. What’s so wrong with filing a puff piece with a little local flavor? Substitute “superstitious blacks” for “superstitious Thais,” “9/11″ for “tsunami,” and then mock survivors who refer to their dead kin as angels or ghosts, and see whether the story — or the response it generates — still seems like light fun.
Ergo, the Divorce Rate
Public Agenda, a non-profit public opinion research organization, has released the results of anew survey and finds that Americans are increasingly curmudgeonly, stubborn old mules who won’t compromise on anything. Well, not anything, but anything that seems closely tied to religious faith. Respondents’ support for compromise on “issues that involve religious principles” (survey definition restricted to abortion, same-sex marriage and teaching evolution in schools) has dropped dramatically since 2000, most notably among respondents who attended a religious service at least once a week.