Rank Something, Anyway
Wouldn’t you know – Richard Land is a man of the people. Or so he told NPR’s Terry Gross when she asked why he supported the war in Iraq when so many other religious leaders did not. Maybe, said Land, it’s “because I was democratically elected by my rank and file and the others weren’t.” Continuing with his might-makes-right philosophy, Land brings some “really bad news” to NPR listeners, which may not have picked up on these tidbits of wisdom: the next Republican candidate for president will look a lot like George W. Bush; socially moderate Republicans are “vestigial relics” that can’t win a primary west of the Hudson; and the debate over religion in the public square “is over.”
Open Letters
Leaders of Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical churches, including the leadership of the National Council of Churches, have taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times, urging President Bush to use his power to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which they describe as a threat to U.S. citizens as well as the source of ongoing suffering to Israelis and Palestinians. We have also today received another open letter to Bush from Prof. Abe W. Ata, a Palestinian Christian who gives a name to the solutions proposed by the likes of Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas): Ethnic cleansing.
Peggy Noonan, Here On Earth
Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter to both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, takes a swipe a Junior’s style. The music was “lame”: “modern megachurch hymms” that sounded like the boring middle of a children’s film. But worse was the address itself, which Noonan calls “startling” and unnuanced, and which left her “with a bad feeling, and reluctant disike.” The world isn’t heaven, writes Noonan, but Bush’s speech was “heavenish,” “God-drenched,” “somewhere between dreamy and disturbing,” and relentless (not in the good sense). What’s to be made of a Peggy Noonan suspicious of “a White House on a mission”? She, the mother of pronoun-less straight-talk speeches? Seems even the professional cheerleader occasionally yearns for some nuance.
Acehnese Amputees
Acehnese Muslim tsunami survivors suffering from gangrene are reluctant to submit to amputations, fearing a pre-tsunami perception that amputees are beggars, and also that being “physically incomplete” may prevent Muslims from entering paradise. A local Iman told The Telegraph he knew of the belief, but that it was completely wrong. “‘In the Koran it says Allah never looks at your beauty, Allah never looks at your body, but Allah looks at your soul and your heart.’”
Episcopal Church Apologizes
The U.S. House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church apologized for the hurt it caused the Anglican Communion by “certain actions,” unspoken but clearly the consecration of the openly gay bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson. The apology was requested by the Anglican Windsor report last year, which also advised the ECUSA not to consecrate any further candidates living in same-sex unions.
One Step Forward…

Catholic bishops in Spain have recanted on their statement this Tuesday, which allowed thatcondoms are useful in preventing the spread of AIDS, instead returning to the Vatican stance that condom use promotes immoral sexual conduct. No bishops’ conference has yet challenged the notion of papal infallibility by ignoring the Vatican’s ban on contraception, but the Spanish bishops’ statement was the second implicit challenge to the Vatican ban, the first coming from Beligian Cardinal Godfried Daneels, who told a Dutch Catholic broadcaster that condoms must be used by HIV-positive sex partners.