Ghost — sort of — in the SI swimsuit show

godgirl2.jpgFirst things first. Readers need to know that the three males involved in editorial work here at GetReligion decided that this was the best photo to accompany this post. It was the most modest photo and it was the wackiest one, as well.

I was going to say that the brief television career — as far as we know — of the born-again swimsuit superstar Shannon Hughes was an example of a reality-TV-era story that contained a religion ghost. Then I realized it wasn’t really a ghost. The religion angle is right there for all to see, especially in reporter Ed Bark’s rather restrained entertainment feature in The Dallas Morning News.

Here’s the basic plot. Hughes played the coveted role of Bible Belt babe on NBC’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search series. This was your basic “dream job” contest. Think The Apprentice with sun and way, way fewer clothes. Hughes lost out to a lass from Las Vegas. And that religion angle?

Ms. Hughes, a 2003 graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, had openly portrayed herself as a moral but free-spirited Christian throughout Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search. During the opening part of last week’s final Bora Bora photo shoot, she agreeably wore only a lei and micro bikini pants.

“You can still be a sexy Christian. I don’t think God’s gonna be against that,” Ms. Hughes said memorably.

She was philosophical during Wednesday’s phone interview. “Everything happens for a reason,” she said. “God just has better things for me ahead. Maybe he just thinks I can handle this disappointment better.”

So there you go.

After thinking this over for a few minutes, I wondered if there isn’t a really good Los Angeles Times Magazine cover story hiding in all of this. Last year, one of my best students down here at Palm Beach Atlantic University briefly flirted with the idea of accepting an invitation — she is an athlete, journalist, model and actress — to leap into the last round of competition to join a Survivor cast. She took a pass.

We talked about it and came to one conclusion: Reality television executives must love the idea of casting the innocent Christian who gets to look strange and, if the producers play their cards right, slides into temptation with plot-friendly results. I don’t watch these shows much, but I have read enough to know that this is an important feature in many post-Real World shows. There has to be demographic research behind this trend.

Meanwhile, what’s up with Shannon’s boots?

P.S. Here is a Baptist Press update on the Christian couple in the new Amazing Race on CBS. Anyone out there have a favorite religious believer in a reality TV role?

Dawn of the deed: Was the mistake fatal?

cartoonDawn.jpgMy first full-time job in journalism was on the copy desk at a daily in Champaign, Ill., so I have been on the other side the editing process. I would like to make three comments about the Dawn Eden affair, based on what we know so far. I have never met Dawn (the logo is from her blog) and I hope we can discuss this sooner, rather than later.

1. In the newspapers where I have worked, the changes she made would have been considered on the pushy side, but not fatal. They are right at the point where you should clear them with an editor, or the reporter, if you can. No way you get fired for this stuff. The blogging on company time issue is something else — a whole new source of tension between journalists and their bosses.

Of course, we are talking about abortion. There is a reason that almost all of the media-bias studies end up returning to questions about abortion coverage.

I could offer loads of case studies here. I once had the end cut off a story — I turned it in short, so a trim would not be needed — because the final quote was from a priest active in AIDS ministry. That was fine, but he linked his stand on that issue with his high-profile work as pro-life activist. This was a consistent, culture-of-life priest who was taking a controversial stand on two issues that he believed were connected by an ethic of life.

I warned the city editor at the Rocky Mountain News that someone in the editing process would be offended and try to cut that final quote. He said I was being paranoid. Then someone cut it off, without putting their initials on the page as required. Nothing was said, except that the city editor knew I had predicted it. That made him more sensitive to the issue.

2. During my religion-beat reporting days, I had copy editors add all kinds of things to my stories — often thinking they were correcting something. More than once, they edited in errors.

Here is an example. In a very sensitive story on Mormon theology, I quoted a leaked audiotape of the secret rites in Mormon temples. In an older version of the rite, a worshipper would vow to “suffer his life to be taken” for revealing temple secrets. A copy editor thought that sounded stuffy and changed it to say that Mormons “vowed to commit suicide.” Needless to say, we received more than a few calls from Mormons who disagreed with “my” interpretation of their theology. No punishment for the copy editor, however.

3. This is one case in which it really helps to remember that the New York Post is not a culturally conservative newspaper. It is a Libertarian newspaper. Once again, I think we are seeing evidence of the massive war still to come in the GOP in the next four years, as the moral and cultural conservatives — many of whom are old-fashioned Democrats — square off with the hard-core moral Libertarians. Jeremy can shed some light on this, I am sure, because he is a Catholic who works in one of the various Libertarian sanctuaries.

So Dawn Eden was the wrong brand of conservative. I always wondered: Why did the Post hate Bill Clinton so much? He seemed like their kind of guy, once you veered into the moral issues.

Not your father's Bob Jones University?

BobJonesWebcam.jpgMy Scripps Howard column today took me back into the faith-integration wars at Baylor University, my alma mater, and the growth of institutions that try to blend ancient Christian faith and modern learning, which required a reference to the Council for Christian Colleges and my work there.

As I said before here on the blog, I have refrained from writing much about the Baylor conflict because I have family ties and I have friends on both sides of the battle. Still, I wanted to try to explain how the Baylor conflict is linked to some larger issues in higher education, both secular and sacred. If the mood strikes you, take a look.

Writing the column reminded me of several recent pieces I have read about related topics. The first concerns a controversial new book called God on the Quad by journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley. Here is the top of a Wall Street Journal piece on her thesis, which focuses on a small circle of religious schools and the growth of the CCCU in general.

It’s not news in academia, although it may come as a surprise to the rest of us: America’s 700-plus religiously affiliated colleges and universities are enjoying an unprecedented surge of growth and a revival of interest. . . .

(The) number of students attending the 100 schools of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities — an organization of four-year liberal-arts schools dedicated to promoting the Christian faith — rose 60% between 1990 and 2002. In those same years the attendance at nonreligious public and private schools stayed essentially flat. The number of applications to the University of Notre Dame, the nation’s premier Catholic college, has risen steadily over the past decade, with a 23% jump last year alone.

But numbers don’t tell the whole story. Many religious schools, traditionally regarded as second-tier or worse, have improved the quality of their students and of their academic offerings, sometimes dramatically.

The Boston Globe recently dug into a related trend — the growth of traditional Christian ministries on a wide variety of campuses. To explore that angle, click here.

But the article that intrigued me the most was a Newsweek online exclusive, an interview with Stephen Jones, the next heir to the presidency of Bob Jones University (see webcam). This is one institution that fits almost any historian’s definition of “Christian fundamentalism.” Yet check out these exchanges with journalist Susannah Meadows:

NEWSWEEK: Why does your father feel the university needs a younger leader?

Stephen Jones: He said in the last two or three years he really doesn’t understand this generation, with all the dramatic changes socially and culturally our nation’s gone through. It just kind of creates a gap there.

Which changes specifically?

The inroads the culture has made even into the church. The MTV generation, pop culture, all of that has been significant and has really increased in intensity over the past 15 years. His whole generation has a hard time with it. Doesn’t understand. . . .

What do you see young people struggling with?

The philosophical view point that there is no absolute truth, that one person’s belief is just as good as another, that two different things can both be right. That’s a completely postmodern view of truth and one that’s insupportable by scripture. A student has to wrestle through that because it’s definitely not popular. It’s definitely not the message of the culture and the media. It’s one of the things I have to wrestle through, what will orient my life.

George Barna! Call your answering service. The raised-on-MTV students at Bob Jones University are struggling with postmodernism and the loss of transcendent moral absolutes?

Of course they are. Meet the new mall, same as the old mall.

Punches on the Darwinian front lines

DarwinBlackBox.gifI am shocked, shocked to discover a strong interest among GetReligion readers in the topic of mainstream media coverage of debates between defenders of Darwinian orthodoxy and their critics.

This quickly breaks down into two camps: those who see themselves as defenders of free speech and those who believe it is proper to lock people that they believe are non-scientists out of debates in science education. Non-scientists are those — such as Pope John Paul II — who criticize strictly naturalistic interpretations of the data gathered in traditional scientific research. To read the original post, click here.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has published a short piece by Dr. Michael J. Behe, a professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University, attempting to clarify what most advocates of “Intelligent Design” believe, as opposed to what they are often accused of believing. Behe is the author of a controversial volume titled Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. The Times piece is clearly addressed at people engaged in the public debate over science education, as opposed to the scientists themselves. For example:

(What) it isn’t: the theory of intelligent design is not a religiously based idea, even though devout people opposed to the teaching of evolution cite it in their arguments. For example, a critic recently caricatured intelligent design as the belief that if evolution occurred at all it could never be explained by Darwinian natural selection and could only have been directed at every stage by an omniscient creator. That’s misleading. Intelligent design proponents do question whether random mutation and natural selection completely explain the deep structure of life. But they do not doubt that evolution occurred. And intelligent design itself says nothing about the religious concept of a creator.

Behe has a way of finding simple ways of stating complex issues. For some, this makes him an effective apologist. For others, this makes him easy to mock. (More on that in a minute.) Here is a very typical sample of how Behe writes, when addressing readers in a daily newspaper:

. . . Unintelligent physical forces like plate tectonics and erosion seem quite sufficient to account for the origin of the Rocky Mountains. Yet they are not enough to explain Mount Rushmore. Of course, we know who is responsible for Mount Rushmore, but even someone who had never heard of the monument could recognize it as designed.

There is, of course, more to this than a single op-ed piece. For journalists, the key is that Behe is attempting to clarify what he believes and how he is defining his terms. The goal, in the end, is for Behe to be able to read coverage of this hot-button issue in a news report and then say: “Yes, that is what I said. Yes, that is what I meant.” The same standard, of course, applies to his critics. This will lead to news features that are packed with tension and disagreement. So be it.

Meanwhile, the folks at The Revealer have greeted with scorn Behe’s tiny footprint on the sacred pages of the Times. This is, I am afraid, par for the course. Here is the item as it ran. Doesn’t this have a kind of a Bill O’Reilly (in reverse) flair to it?

Michael J. Behe, a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, pleads the case of Intelligent Design in The New York Times, explaining I.D.’s “four linked claims,” and disingenuously describing the first two controversial assumptions as “uncontroversial.” It’s an exercise in anachronism, pointing mechanical metaphors backwards towards biology to prove that “life overwhelms us with the appearance of design.” Like this: we can see that Mount Rushmore isn’t a naturally occurring phenomenon, but designed. Likewise, clerics have described cell life as resembling man-made mechanics, like a watch, designed. And even Darwinists admit that life is complex, so let’s call that agreement with watch-theory. Don’t trouble your head about putting this in any sort of chronological order. Go with the flow. This is about motors and watches, not watchmakers. Resting on these supposedly shared presumptions, Behe leads to his “controversial” claims: 3, Darwinists haven’t recreated evolution in any studies, and 4, until they prove otherwise, it’s scientifically reasonable to believe in I.D., according to Behe’s final, binding scientific standard: “The Duck Song.”

Smells, bells, baseball and mainstream news

HighMass.jpgIn the midst of a very busy week (I mean, I haven’t even had a chance to blog on that New York Times sonogram story yet), I received a comment from a reader that I thought deserved a slot on the front page, so everyone has a chance to read it.

The letter came from reporter Jeffrey Weiss, who wrote to offer background information and commentary on my recent blog item about his short story focusing on a visit by Cardinal Francis Arinze to a liturgical conference in Dallas. The Dallas Morning News‘ mini-report focused on the Nigerian cardinal’s reluctance to discuss a number of issues, from his status as a candidate for the chair of St. Peter to the Communion status of Sen. John Kerry and those who share his views of Catholic moral theology.

I was not the only one who thought that this article was somewhat strange. Catholic uberblogger Amy Welborn read the report and commented:

. . . “Huh?” It told me nothing — about why the Cardinal was in Dallas, what he said, and the interview was pure boilerplate. . . . It was either one of the worst written or most severely edited articles I’ve run across. Edited into nothingness.

Soon after that, Weiss sent GetReligion a note offering his point of view. Here it is.

(1) The DMN is a secular publication that generally focuses on the specifics of denominational activity only when it is of sufficient importance or interest that it would be of interest to folks who aren’t a member of the denomination in question. That can be pretty broad but not infinitely so.

(2) We can’t be everywhere. At the moment, the normally 3-member DMN religion reporting staff is me. We are hiring, but at the moment, I’m dancing as fast as I can. The liturgical conference is something that I (or another DMN religion reporter) might have considered attending under other circumstances. But maybe not. Inside baseball is inside baseball.

(3) We were told the Cardinal was getting the award the night before. And that I might get a conversation with him. I’d met Cardinal Arinze in Dallas several years earlier and got about 4 words out of him. On the off-chance that I’d get more, I attended the award. He was extremely reluctant to talk to me. Just about every word he was willing to share — and certainly every question he was willing to answer — made it into the story. I would have been thrilled to have asked him some of your questions, Terry. But I was grateful to get the crumbs I got.

Frankly, given how articulate he is, I don’t understand Arinze’s reluctance to talk to reporters. As if Nolan Ryan didn’t want to throw the fastball . . . I didn’t get the chance to ask him about that, either. And now you know . . . the REST of the story . . . 1:-{)>

Point (2) is certainly valid. Everyone who has worked in daily journalism knows that that kind of crunch feels like.

Nevertheless, I do want to restate my main point. Weiss says that “inside baseball is inside baseball.” True, but there are many baseball fans in the greater Dallas area and it does help to cover their larger teams, whether Southern Baptist or Roman Catholic. As I said before, I have found that issues related to worship — from inclusive language to radical changes in musical styles — are extremely important to many readers of mainstream religion news.

I do not know if controversial issues such as this came up during the Dallas conference that featured Cardinal Arinze. That’s the point. If there was controversy, you sure would not read about it in the local Catholic newspaper. That’s why religion reporting by quality mainstream reporters — such as Weiss — is so important. News is news, even when shrouded in incense.

Newsweek takes a stab at Intelligent Design

DNA.jpgIt’s time for another one of those posts that begins with a disclaimer.

One of the hot Godbeat stories right now is the free speech controversy involving the science establishment and the rowdy band of intellectual rebels who promote what they call “Intelligent Design.” I have not written about this much because, for more than a decade, the patriarch of this movement — Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson — has been a friend. As a result, I have only written a few columns on the subject and then only in cases when the focus of the story was very narrow and I ran the ideas past my editor first.

As a rule, the mainstream press divides these “evolution” wars into two camps.

On one side are the real scientists in the evolution establishment. It is interesting to note that many in this camp call themselves “theistic” evolutionists, even though this implies some role for a God or gods in creation. Thus, they do not believe that, in a classic statement of Darwinian orthodoxy: “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process which did not have him in mind.” In a strict academic battle, the term “theistic evolution” is an oxymoron.

On the other side are “Creationists” who sell fake science. They range from true fundamentalists to, strangely enough, people who believe in the gradual evolution of species over time, but believe there is scientific evidence — the kind that can be studied in a lab — that this process was too complicated to be random. These people want to see reporters draw a line between “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design.”

On one level, this is a debate about a issue that has not been addressed in the Associated Press Stylebook, but may need to be. On another level, it is simply an issue of trying to offer fair and accurate coverage of two conflicting points of view in a complex and heated debate. It is hard to write news stories that warriors on both sides are going to embrace as accurate, as opposed to favorable. The goal is for leaders on both sides to be able to read a story and say, “My words and point of view were reported accurately.” The goal is a fair fight.

Reporter Jerry Adler’s “Doubting Darwin” feature in Newsweek gets many parts of this debate right. It contains lively quotes from the usual suspects who say the usual things. But major problems arise, right in the lead:

When Joshua Rowand, an 11th grader in Dover, Pa., looks out from his high school, he can see the United Church of Christ across the street and the hills beyond it, reminding him of what he’s been taught from childhood: that God’s perfect creation culminated on the sixth day with the making of man in his image. Inside the school, he is taught that Homo sapiens evolved over millions of years from a series of predecessor species in an unbroken line of descent stretching back to the origins of life. The apparent contradiction between that message and the one he hopes someday to spread as a Christian missionary doesn’t trouble him. The entire subject of evolution by natural selection is covered in two lessons in high-school biology. What kind of Christian would he be if his faith couldn’t survive 90 minutes of exposure to Darwin?

This is interesting for several reasons, not the least of which is that this local United Church of Christ must be a very, very unusual congregation in this most liberal of all oldline Protestant denominations. These are not churches that are known for cranking out young six-day Creationists, or even missionaries, for that matter.

This lead also gives the impression that leaders of the ID movement do not want schools to offer traditional lessons about evolution. This is not the case. If anything, the “teach the controversy” model advocated by Johnson and his associates want to see educators expand their lessons to include some of the hot and even bitter debates inside some of the various Darwinian camps. The goal is to discuss the kinds of gaps and puzzles that scientists get to talk about in places such as China, where no one has to be afraid of raising the God question at all.

This leads to another key point. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone inside the big ID tent — there are lively debates and disagreements inside this flock, as well — say that public schools should teach anything that is not rooted in open debate about the interpretation of traditional scientific research. Even if ID thinkers proved that the information contained in DNA codes was too complex to have been the product of a random, materialistic process, this would not prove in a scientific sense that any kind of higher power was involved. The goal is free speech about scientific issues in the public square.

Here is an example of a faith statement that cannot be proven in a lab: “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Of course, the televangelist who made that statement was Dr. Carl Sagan. Traditional religious believers have also been known to make similar statements that cannot be nailed down with data. This is not the stuff of public-school textbooks.

I could make a few more observations about Adler’s fascinating report, but let me conclude with this. Near the end, one parent is quoted as saying: “I don’t know what to believe. … I just want my child to go to heaven.” Adler writes: “Well, so does the pope, but the Vatican has said it finds no conflict between Christian faith and evolution.”

Once again, this raises questions. For, you see, that is not what Pope John Paul II said. Here are some of the crucial quotes from the pope on this issue:

“Rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution. On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the other, with the various philosophies on which it is based. Hence the existence of materialist, reductionist and spiritualist interpretations. …

“Theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. They are therefore unable to serve as the basis for the dignity of the human person.”

Note that the pope said theories — plural. There are conflicts within these theories. Most of all, John Paul clearly rejected the position that creation was the result of — to cite one wording — an “unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable, and natural process … that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.” This is a problem, since this is how the National Association of Biology Teachers has defined evolution.

A scientific theory, according to John Paul, only “proves its validity by the measure to which it can be verified. It is constantly being tested against the facts. When it can no longer explain these facts, it shows its limits and its lack of usefulness, and it must be revised.”

Amen. Journalists need to get their quotes right, if they are going to cover these debates. It is time to update some of our language and many of our stereotypes.

State of the "spot the code words" game

StateU.jpgAnd the man in the lighthouse said: What was that sound?

That sound you do not hear is the major media’s silence about evangelical “code words” in President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address. I’ve been watching and listening and, so far, all is quiet. Now, is that a story? If so, what is the story behind the silence?

It does help that Christianity Today, the flagship of evangelical media, has published an online commentary about the speech that notes the “values vote” themes that were present and raises interesting questions about the relative silence on others. The headline was instructive: “More Culture of Life, Please — We like what we heard, we just didn’t hear enough of it.”

In a way, argued CT, the dip in presidential Godtalk is healthy, especially on the global front.

Fortunately, the President is the commander in chief, not the theologian in chief. Political rhetoric aside, Christians know that human freedom cannot bring lasting peace and prosperity˜only the sovereign Lord of history can do that. Nor can freedom fill our greatest need, which is peace with God. That being said, we rejoice in the spread of political freedom around the world and pray it will lead not only to shalom with neighbor but increased opportunities for shalom with God.

Clearly, the two big ideas in this speech were Social Security and global freedom, round II. This may have left some of the president’s strongest supporters in evangelical pulpits and pews wondering about the relative absence of the cultural and moral issues that matter so much to them. Here is how CT addressed this:

Viewers who had to tuck their kids into bed may have missed the President’s brief remarks on life issues. . . . (In) an hour-long address, the President devoted but two short paragraphs to what we’d broadly call “life issues” (for lack of a better term). The words were good, but they were too few if he is really serious about building a “culture of life.” This brevity in the midst of the nation’s unfolding moral confusion is unsettling. Why is he bold and visionary on economic issues that may affect our children and grandchildren, but strangely reticent on the very definitions of human life and community? While “values voters” certainly care about Social Security, they didn’t return Bush to office on this basis.

Granted, the President is not the nation’s senior pastor. But his words and actions can set a tone that allows a culture of life to flourish.

It would be inaccurate to say that the president did not focus on the family at all. Far down in the body of the speech, he did briefly tip his hat — gently, ever so gently — toward the front lines of the culture wars. In what was probably both an allusion to his own wild past and to the Baby Boomers in general, the president noted:

So many of my generation, after a long journey, have come home to family and faith, and are determined to bring up responsible, moral children. Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them.

This was followed by a quick mention of the hottest of hot-button issues — the proposed constitutional amendment to lock in a traditional definition of marriage before “activist judges” can open the door to same-sex unions and other innovations. It would have been impossible to ignore this issue, after the ballot-box trends of election day. It is interesting that Bush did not weave any “code words” into this part of the speech.

Instead, he turned once again to “culture of life” language drawn from the work of Pope John Paul II, noting: “Because a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable, we must strive to build a culture of life.”

At some point, evangelicals and Catholics in the center of the political spectrum are going to start pleading with the president to follow this “culture of life” line of thought on a wide variety of economic and social issues, in addition to abortion and biotech research. This is the largely uncovered story that White House scribe Michael Gerson mentioned a few weeks ago, when he briefly said that one of the most important tensions in this administration is between those advocating a consistent Catholic approach to many issues in public life and those who favor a more Libertarian approach.

How does the “culture of life” apply to Social Security? To health care? To the environment? It would be interesting to hear the president and his team address some of these questions. Let me join the CT editorial in requesting more presidential feedback on such matters. Perhaps some of the White House staffers who file copies of papal encyclicals can pass them around to the skeptics.

Dr. James Dobson tries to lobby the press

Bansp_1Gosh, you go on the road for a few days out into slow dial-up territory and you get behind on your daily barrage email and, lo and behold, you miss something truly interesting like this epistle.

I did not even know that Dr. James Dobson had my home email address.

Thus, I am sure he will not mind me sharing this personal letter with GetReligion’s readers. This story may have legs, so to speak.

Dear Terry,

By now you’ve undoubtedly heard about the controversy surrounding statements I made recently in which I reportedly accused a cartoon character named SpongeBob SquarePants of being “gay.” Although I never made any such comment, the media has repeated the story incessantly, to the point that the truth of the matter has been completely obscured.

Here’s what actually happened. In an address to congressional leaders last month, I briefly took the time to express my concern over a video that is being distributed to elementary schools featuring not only SpongeBob, but more than 100 additional children’s characters including the Muppets, Barney the Dinosaur, Bob the Builder, and Winnie the Pooh. The video itself is relatively harmless and is devoid of any sexual content. However, it is being incorporated into a larger campaign, created by an organization called the We Are Family Foundation, to teach “tolerance” to young children. Unfortunately, rather than simply encouraging tolerance of those who come from different cultural, religious, or socio-economic backgrounds ˆ which we believe is a worthy objective ˆ the curriculum also contains material designed to encourage young children to celebrate homosexual behavior.

To complicate the issue further, soon after this story broke, the pro-homosexual resources to which we took offense were suddenly removed from the We Are Family Foundation’s Web site. However, despite the suspicious disappearance of this material and the public denials on the part of the foundation that it was promoting homosexuality, we have extensive and detailed documentation showing that my original statements are still valid. It should be obvious that my concern lies not with SpongeBob or Big Bird or any of the other characters in the video, but with the way the We Are Family Foundation is hijacking those childhood symbols to blatantly promote the teaching of homosexuality to children in elementary school.

The February edition of my monthly letter, which is being released a few days early, explains this situation in greater detail. It can be accessed on Focus on the Family’s Web site by clicking here. I hope you will take the time to read it and get a better understanding of what has transpired. This is especially important if you are a parent with children in public school. Now, more than ever, we must be vigilant in staying abreast of what our little ones are being taught in the classroom.

James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Founder and Chairman

Actually, this is not the first story in which embarrassing webpages have vanished once they have been sighted (or cited) by enemies on the other side of a cultural, theological or political fight. This raises an interesting question for journalists who cover the digital Culture Wars: What constitutes proof that these materials existed? If a webpage falls in the blogosphere and the mainstream press is not there, does it make a sound? I am not sure this metaphor makes any sense, but I know what I am trying to say.