Julia Child's eclectic worldview

julia_and_paul_childIn the hundreds of obituaries and tributes published today about Julia Child (pictured with her late husband, Paul), there’s little indication about her beliefs, though The New York Times drops some hints:

Mrs. Child was a breast cancer survivor, a cat lover, a fervent advocate of Planned Parenthood and an unabashed sensualist with a sly sense of humor. One year she and her husband sent out Valentine’s cards with a photograph of them together in the bathtub in Paris. One of her last projects was to be a memoir of her years in France.

. . . To the end, Mrs. Child maintained her image as the ultimate bon vivant, a California girl with easy French tastes. Whenever she was asked what her guilty pleasures were, she responded: “I don’t have any guilt.”

Those details suggest a nominal Episcopalian, maybe a Unitarian who would prefer a sumptuous breakfast at home to another topical discussion at coffee hour.

But then, digging back to the June 2000 issue of Esquire, there’s this:

I hate organized religion. I think you have to love thy neighbor as thyself. I think you have to pick your own God and be true to him. I always say “him” rather than “her.” Maybe it’s because of my generation, but I don’t like the idea of a female God. I see God as a benevolent male. Tears mess up your makeup.

. . . I don’t believe in heaven. I think when we die we just go back to the great ball of energy that makes up the universe.

Hell only exists on earth, when you’ve made mistakes and you’re paying for them.

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A dose of cynicism at this blog? No way

As I await hurricane reports and loss of my DSL, let me pause to respond to a letter that gently accuses me of cynicism in my post yesterday on the separation of coven and state.

Let’s go straight to the comments section:

Could it be that tmatt is just trying to gin up a little spurious contoversy by waving some red meat at the right? And if so, then how does this fit into the stated purpose of this blog?

Also, another interesting question has been asked. How does the United States manage to have Baptist chaplains in the military, when Baptists are about as fragmented and “free church” as one can get?

Indeed, I thought of the Baptist analogy. That’s why I used the “free church” analogy in the first place. But there are some Baptist structures at this point, some seminaries and powerful people with whom the state can negotiate. At this point, there is no similar pagan establishment of this kind.

And what does this whole topic have to do with the stated purpose of this blog?

That’s easy. First of all, I really did want to praise the original source story. We are here to praise good work on the religion beat, as well as poke at the coverage that we think is lacking. Honest.

Second, this coven and state thing is not a joke. It is an emerging issue in church-state law. The government is not supposed to discriminate on the basis of religious points of view. You can look it up.

The political right will have to deal with that and will struggle to do so. Just as the cultural left stuggles with the same concept. On what basis does the state fund the work of, let’s say, Episcopal institutions that sound neo-Unitarian, but not fund the work of charismatic Episcopal ministries that sound neo-Pentecostal?

And it is also true that the high court has truly knocked away key props that held up what used to known as Western thought. As Charles Colson noted, we can’t have the “mystery of the universe” as a legal standard when it comes time to create stop signs and traffic laws. But where did that absolute standard come from, other than insurance costs and injuries?

This is a valid story. Just watch.

So I was sincere in the original post. The topic is not going away.

“Cosmo” also asked about the funding of this blog.

As I said back at the beginning, GetReligion was born as part of the wider journalism projects linked to my work as Senior Fellow for Journalism at the Council For Christian Colleges and Universities. In particular, you might want to check out the information at the Best Semester site about the Summer Institute for Journalism.

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Separation of coven and state? Wait just a minute

wiccanOK, let’s stop and think about this.

The U.S. Supreme Court — in its “mystery passage” in Planned Parenthood v. Casey — declared that at the “heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they found under the compulsion of the state.`

So if this is the case, what set of universal standards or laws might U.S. military officials cite in order to limit the religious rights of witches, druids, wizards and other pagan folk? I mean, if tax dollars can fund Episcopal chaplains, why not witches? Hey, why not witches who are also Episcopalians? Wait, that’s another story.

I bring this up because reporter Randy Myers of the Contra Costa Times is on to something with his story entitled “Wiccan servicepeople fight for freedom, for foreigners and within the military.” I find this especially interesting because of the ongoing struggles within the ranks of military chaplains to limit the free speech of born-again chaplains, Pentecostal chaplains and others who refuse to go along with the many-roads-to-one-god-or-gods approach to faith.

Yes, it’s that GetReligion.org favorite again — trying to do fair coverage of free speech that many find offensive. This story is just getting started. Myers sets the scene:

Wiccans represent a small fraction of the military, roughly 1,500 among 1.4 million active personnel, but the Pentagon wants to accommodate their faith. The military trains chaplains to meet the religious needs of all service members without compromising their own religious beliefs, said Col. Richard Hum, executive director of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board at the Defense Department. …

Wiccans said that some chaplains were trying to convert them and that commanding officers made it difficult to practice. … Wiccans also have been pressuring the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow a Wiccan emblem, most likely the pentacle, for armed forces burial headstones or markers. Mike Nacincik of Veterans Affairs, said the department authorizes 38 emblems, including one for atheists, but none for Wiccans.

Myers notes that Wiccans serve in nearly all military branches, with their leaders saying that some pagans are reaching the top ranks of the armed services. The Air Force attracts the most pagans in uniform, with 1,552. The Marines have 68. The Navy doesn’t report numbers and the Army — so far — claims to have no Wiccan soldiers.

The whole scene is very complicated and hard to handle, in terms of public relations.

The Air Force recognized the religious categories of Pagan, Gardnerian Wiccan, Seax Wiccan, Dianic Wiccan, Shaman and Druid in 2000. Many bases now have circles and hold services. Dog tags can also identify a serviceperson as Wiccan. Wiccans had their first chaplain-service in 1997 at the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas. … The department’s bureaucratic hurdles include a written request from the recognized head of the organization, a list of national officers and a membership tally.

See the problem? Military officials cannot figure out who is in charge. Pagans are, to put it in historic terms, a very “free church” flock of believers. It’s a freelance, free-flowing scene with no set creeds or hierarchies. Look at it this way: Where does the military turn to find trained, licensed Wiccan chaplains? What constitutes orthodoxy?

But it’s natural for this story to emerge, since we are in period of explosive growth for alternative forms of “spirituality,” as opposed to established, institutionalized religious traditions. It is also impossible for the highest courts — or even the principalities and powers in Hollywood — to suggest that one form of superstition is better or worse than another.

As I put it in a column a few years ago about a pagan-parenting leader named Kristin Madden:

In Hollywood, this is the age of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” “Practical Magic,” “Charmed” and “The Craft.” Oprah Winfrey is leading Middle America in prayers to the spirit of the universe and covens can be found in many liberal Christian seminaries. Pentagon debates about pagan chaplains, naked worship and sacred daggers offer the first glimpses of another constitutional issue — the separation of coven and state in the age of faith-based initiatives.

Remember this. We’re all out there together in uncharted legal territory, trying to define the mystery of the universe. And one more thing, there is only one certainty: Nothing is forbidden except to forbid.

So who is to say that tax-payer funds cannot be used to carve pentangles on grave stones in Arlington National Cemetery and other sacred civil religion sites?

This would make a really interesting question in a presidental debate this fall. You think?

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The amazing, nonpartisan adventures of Choice Chick

choice_chickFrom Newsweek‘s web exclusive interview with Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood:

What are your plans for the Republican National Convention?

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is nonpartisan and we have tried very hard the last few conventions to get some change in the Republican platform and have not been successful. . . . We’re not as interested in attacking George Bush as in appealing to broad public opinion at this point. He’s not going to change his mind. There are some groups that want to attack and we don’t see any benefit in that. We know and the American people know where George Bush stands.

Now consider the Choice Chick video, promoted on the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s mainpage, which uses campy cartoon humor to mock the “diabolical, dastardly and dogmatic” Bush (evil laugh included) and those whom Bush’s cartoon incarnation calls “A.G. Johnny” John Ashcroft, “Patty” Pat Robertson, a hydra-headed “Supreme Court Beastie” (Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas) and “Little Ricky” Santorum.

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What's monotheism got to do with it?

I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last words of Daniel Pearl
Edited by Judea and Ruth Pearl
Jewish Lights Publishing, 260 pages, $24.99

Daniel Pearl’s bravery will be recounted for generations to come, for this Wall Street Journal reporter affirmed his heritage at just the moment when it would cost him his life. When his Muslim terrorist kidnappers asked Pearl if he was a Jew, he responded, “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”

In a moving preface to I Am Jewish, Pearl’s father adds an intriguing detail about what the reporter said next: “Back in the town of Bnei Brak, there is a street named after my great-grandfather, Chayim Pearl, who was one of the founders of the town.”

Judea Pearl believes his son’s words were meant to assure his family that he was not defeated, but also to confront his captors with a moral challenge. He interprets Daniel’s reference as saying to the captors, “Look, guys! I come from a place where a person is judged by the towns that he builds, by the trees that he plants, and by the wells that he digs. Not by the death and destruction that he brings to the world. So come to your senses.”

Daniel Pearl’s parents both describe their Judaism more as a matter of cultural inheritance than as one of active faith in the God of historic Judaism. That is a striking theme throughout the pages of I Am Jewish: a surprising number of contributors begin their essays by saying they are Jews because one of their parents was Jewish.

Some contributors show a troubling hostility toward the notion that Judaism should retain even a patina of its bold affirmation that there is but one God. “The religious revival in America has marginalized those for whom being Jewish is a matter of secular cultural traditions,” writes Leon Botstein, president of Bard College. “For us, community membership in the synagogue should create the ideal place for rational and severe skepticism, innovation, debate, and learning, not superstition or blind adherence to tradition and ritual.”

Similarly, Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism wants to discourage his fellow Jews from believing that prayer involves communicating with anyone more powerful than themselves. “The holidays and ceremonies of the Jewish people do not honor mysterious powers that never seem available to help us when we need them. They celebrate the power of brave people to confront a dangerous world and to live their lives with justice and dignity.”

Many contributors describe their Judaism in terms of whether to eat kosher, knowing great jokes, and — sometimes for reasons beyond their understanding — choosing to remain part of the cultural stream in which they were born. Some describe their Judaism flat out as an “accident” of their birth.

Nevertheless, some contributors deliver worthwhile reflections on theology and on worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, who teaches at Naropa University, tells a heartening and funny story of participating in a panel discussion when Daniel Rufeisen, a Jew who became a Carmelite monk, applied to become a citizen of Israel. The rabbi, who was teaching at the University of Manitoba at the time, was joined on the panel by a city council member who was born Jewish and had become a Communist.

The rabbi writes:

When my turn came to make a statement, I said that Rabbi Joseph Albo, a greater teacher and author of the Sefer ha-Ikkarim (Book of Core Principles), wrote that to be a Jew it is necessary for a person to adhere to three things: belief in one God, belief that God cares what people do, and belief that God rewards and punishes people as an expression of divine care.

The councilor, I said, does not believe in those three principles, while Daniel Rufeisen does believe in them. Thus, according to Rabbi Joseph Albo, Daniel Rufeisen is more deserving to be recognized as a Jew than the councilor.

Everyone in the audience became furious at the suggestion that their beloved representative might not count as a Jew while the traitorous convert should be counted. Finally someone said, “But the councilor’s children will marry Jewish children.” The only thing I could say at that point was to promise them that the celibate monk’s children would also not marry any gentiles.

Samuel Freedman, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, writes one of the strongest essays, exploring why Daniel Pearl loved to play bluegrass music “in the great spirit of Jewish universalism.” Freedman says that during his college years, one friend coined the word Jew-grass to describe the phenomenon of Jewish people embracing “the music of rural Appalachians, of evangelical Protestants of Scots-Irish stock.”

He writes of Pearl: “Every fact I subsequently absorbed about him — that he was married to a French Buddhist, that he wrote about Persian rugs and child beauty pageants, that he enjoyed having tea with a certain contact in Tehran — made sense in the context of Jew-grass.”

There are a few other pleasant surprises and gems of insight scattered among the nearly 150 essays:

• Daniel Schorr of National Public Radio describes sitting on filmed interviews with Jewish refugees from Poland to ensure that thousands of other refugees could reach Israel without interference.

• Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tells of how the historic dÃ(c)cor in her office reminds her of her duties: “The command from Deuteronomy appears in artworks, in Hebrew letters, on three walls and a table in my chambers. ‘Zedek, zedek, tirdof,’ ‘Justice, Justice shalt thou pursue,’ these artworks proclaim; they are ever-present reminders to me of what judges must do ‘that they may thrive.’”

• Judea Pearl pays tribute to Alana Frey, an eighth-grade student in New York who first thought of collecting these essays as a way of comforting Daniel Pearl’s infant son as he grew up.

• Radio talk-show host Dennis Prager repeats a theme he explored so memorably in his book Why the Jews: The Reason for Anti-Semitism. “For some inexplicable reason, God chose the Jews to be His emissaries to mankind, to spread ethical monotheism, to live exemplary lives of ethics and holiness. The Jews, whether consciously or not, have focused humanity’s attention onto good and evil, just as the Jews’ state does today in its battle against those who want to destroy it. The Jews have suffered for thousands of years for giving humanity a morality-giving and morality-judging God and Bible.”

Larry King contributes an essay that’s every bit as discursive and self-indulgent as his longtime column in USA Today, but he does include one great detail: “I once asked a noted author, the late Harry Golden, if he ever regretted being Jewish. And he said no because when he dies there are only four possible leaders in the afterlife. They would be Moses, Christ, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. And they were all Jewish so he figured he was on the right team from the start.”

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Shyamalan caught selling tickets to the wrong niche

thevillagewallOK, I first spotted this a week or two ago and I have been watching ever since for another flash of this possible, maybe, kind of guilt-by-association, post-Passion ghost story.

Of course, we are used to reading about ghost stories involving the work of M. Night Shyamalan. But I am talking about an interesting thread that is woven through some of the essays about his latest movie. The best example of the genre is found in “Village Idiot: The case against M. Night Shyamalan” by Michael Agger, published at Slate.com.

It is always interesting, of course, to watch the tide turn in criticism of an artist who had previously been a critical darling. This is the whole “jump the shark” phenomenon, only being played for keeps in the mainstream media. Shyamalan has been one of the “it” directors for several years. But then he made a movie with, well, that Mel Gibson fellow. And it had a priest in it, and prayer, and that faith-friendly “did somebody save me?” dialogue in the final scene, and the cross symbol on the door and other problems, as well.

Maybe something was seriously wrong with Shyamalan. Pay close attention to this passage from Agger:

The Sixth Sense became one of top 10 grossing films of all time, and what does M. Night do with his newfound power? He stays put in Philadelphia, refusing to move to L.A. and play ball. He creates a local film industry around his productions. And most importantly, he begins the process of burnishing his legend. When a reporter asks him what he wanted his name to mean in the future, he replied, “Originality.” Access to his scripts in progress is extremely limited, lest anyone reveal their secrets.

OK, so far so good. It is interesting, of course, to note that the director is being lashed for the very qualities that previously led critics to praise him. This is one of those artists who wants to stand out and does not mind being honest about it. He holds prayer vigils at the start of his movies and things like … Wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here comes Agger again:

M. Night could not control the audience, however, and he was unhappy with the poor performance of his sophomore thriller, Unbreakable (2000). He vowed to inject more emotion (and box office) in his next effort. Again, Shyamalan made the talk show rounds, promising another twist ending and cultivating auteurish tics such as putting himself in the movie, just like Quentin, just like Hitchcock. The result was Signs (2002) and a teary Mel Gibson. It became a modest hit, but only after it was adopted by Christians as [a] movie about the power of faith.

Bingo! The spiritual imagery in “Signs” must have been so obvious that even people in the Red Theaters liked it and started buying tickets and spreading the good news about the movie, perhaps even in church publications. Here is how Roberto Rivera, a culture writer for Boundless.org and other similar venues, reacted to the anti-Shyamalan blitz at Slate.com:

The writers’ problems stem from the religious/spiritual core to M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. He’s so distracted by this that he commits howlers like ascribing “Signs” $450 million take to evangelicals. Evangelicals probably didn’t get much of “Signs,” what with its sacramental imagery.

And while we are at it, is a film that makes $227 million or so domestic and $400-plus at the global box office really a “modest” hit? Perhaps in comparison to “The Sixth Sense,” but the adjective still seems a little strained. As does the headline on the second Slate.com essay attacking “The Village.” Speaking of interesting adjectives, check out this headline: “Village of the Darned: More pious hokum from M. Night Shyamalan.”

I think Mr. Shyamalan has wandered into the “culture wars” minefield, whether he wanted to or not.

Now, I have not had a chance to see the film yet as I dash to get ready for a new semester after a wild summer of work, study and travel. But the word of mouth from friends is almost totally positive. The film is doing OK, but not rocketing out of the gate.

Has anyone else in GetReligion-land (a) seen the film as worthy of comment on these semi-political lines or (b) seen other essays and reviews that reflect this Slate.com onslaught?

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A challenge: Produce a "God's Official Party" quote

bush_nimbusMatea Gold of the Los Angeles Times has highlighted some of the lingering awkwardness as the Kerry campaign begins challenging Republicans’ strength among regular churchgoers. That initiative has led Kerry to talk more about his faith, even while saying he does not wear his faith on his sleeve — unlike, say, a certain Texan who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Gold’s story includes the standard-issue assertion that the Republican Party is not, as Kevin Eckstrom wrote recently for Religion News Service, “God’s Official Party”:

“It’s very simply important for Democrats to get out there and say, ‘We are people of faith, we are guided by spiritual values, and the Republicans don’t have an exclusive franchise when it comes to God,’” said Mike McCurry, Clinton’s onetime press secretary.

I need to ask this: Can anyone find a quote from even a state-level Republican leader claiming that believers would or should vote only for Republicans? (Granted, some preachers will suggest this, but usually not for reasons of blind party loyalty. Jerry Falwell recently challenged Jim Wallis on NPR’s Tavis Smiley Show. Falwell says prolife convictions should prompt a believer to vote for prolife presidential candidates; Wallis counters that Christians should base their votes on more than a candidate’s stance on abortion or gay marriage.)

But back to Gold’s article. Wallis cites a concern discussed earlier in several GetReligion posts: “Sometimes it seems as if Democrats have said, ‘I have faith, but don’t worry — it won’t affect anything.’”

The least predictable remarks come from a leader of a People of Faith for Kerry chapter in western Michigan. While starting with a shot at “fundamentalists,” this leader also is willing to identify the elephant in the Democrats’ front parlor:

Last month, the group — clad in light-blue Kerry T-shirts that read, “He Shares Our Values” — cleaned up the warehouse of a Grand Rapids charity organization. They’re planning similar community service projects.

“We have decided to try to make the point that people of faith have values besides the values of fundamentalists,” said Peter Vander Meulen, one of the group’s leaders.

But Vander Meulen frets that his group will not be able to persuade many of the area’s churchgoing voters to support Kerry. He said most of the people at his church backed Bush because of his antiabortion stance.

“If the Democrats want to make serious inroads into communities of faith, frankly, they’re going to have to do more than just put T-shirts on some of us,” he said. “They are going to have to make room in the party for those us of who are deeply uncomfortable with the party’s hard-core position on abortion.”

A different message comes from former Clinton spokesman McCurry:

McCurry said that after he gave a presentation to members of Congress about the need for Democrats to talk about faith more openly, several expressed wariness.

“They’re nervous about something that sounds overly evangelical,” he said. “You have to break that association.”

There are deep-seated differences out there, and both parties have committed themselves to certain worldview-based assumptions. It should be obvious to fans of politics that sincere Christians vote as Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians or any number of other parties. It’s a matter of where believers place their priorities, and there is considerable disagreement within churches about what those priorities should be.

No one should expect Kerry to out-evangelical Bush, or to develop sudden doubts about abortion rights or his opposition to school vouchers. But nor should anyone assume that when conservative evangelicals vote for a Republican, they insist that all right-thinking Americans (Christian or otherwise) vote likewise.

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New York Times visits Mizzoo red pews: And the blue?

save_marriageDavid D. Kirkpatrick is back, with another scary story on the “issues that moral conservatives argue about” beat at the New York Times.

This report — entitled “Churches See an Election Role and Spread the Word on Bush” — is an example of an interesting trend on this beat. This story includes no reaction whatsoever from voices on the religious and cultural left. You read that right, with one possible interesting exception, Kirkpatrick has built an entire report in the Times on voices from the right.

And what a frightening missive this is, centering on conservative flocks in the pivotal swing state called Missouri. Out there in the red pews, people even say things like this:

Susanne Jacobsmeyer, a member of the West County Assembly of God in a St. Louis suburb, voted for George W. Bush four years ago, but mostly out of loyalty as a Republican and not with much passion.

This year, Ms. Jacobsmeyer is a “team leader” in the Bush campaign’s effort to turn out conservative Christian voters. “This year I am voting for him as a man of faith,” she said over breakfast after an early morning service. “He has proven that he will do what is right, and he will look to God first.”

Jan Klarich, her friend and another team leader, agreed. “Don’t you feel it is a spiritual battle?” she asked to nods around the table.

Yes, lock up the “Fresh Air” coffee mugs! There are people out there in Middle America using their free speech rights to talk about “spiritual warfare” related to politics and moral disputes. The pastor of this church prays for the president — in the pulpit — every week and has even preached sermons in opposition to abortion, stem cell research and same-sex marriage. The congregation has formed a more than symbolic “moral action team” — with 12, count ‘em, 12 — members. This squad of disciples even registers voters.

These actions have had consequences, noted Kirkpatrick.

Before Missouri voted last week to add a ban on same-sex marriage to the state’s Constitution and keep in place a restriction on gambling, the church newsletter endorsed both measures so vigorously that the post office denied the church its usually discounted postal rate for engaging in political activity.

Now, there are all kinds of valid questions that can be asked at this point, because this story is build on a crucial church-state legal conflict that is not new. For years, lawyers on the lifestyle left have argued that the Roman Catholic Church has often blurred the line between legal advocacy on moral and cultural issues and improper advocacy of specific political candidates. Call any church-state think tank — left or right — and they will tell you this. Kirkpatrick mentions this issue, but does not call in a balanced squad of church-state authorities to update us on the status of this conflict.

Once again, the problem is that American political life these days is rooted in conflicts over moral issues such as legalized abortion and the redefinition of marriage. In other words, traditional/orthodox churches cannot be silent because there are 2,000 years of tradition out there that affect their beliefs on these issues. However, these issues also create political wars in an age in which the U.S. Supreme Court is pondering postmodern theories about the meaning of the universe and its impact on Constitutional law. (The Baptist Press photo with this post is from a Missouri rally on marriage.)

Here’s another question: Are these conflicts present in other churches? We can tell that Kirkpatrick knows about this conflict because he touches it, then drops it like a hot skillet.

Socially conservative pastors and priests are wrestling with their potentially pivotal role in the tight presidential race. In interviews with more than a dozen religious leaders in the St. Louis area, several said they felt a duty to speak up for what they consider biblical values like opposition to abortion and same sex-marriage. Some also mentioned the longstanding role of African-American pastors in encouraging their members to vote for Democrats.

This is an interesting issue. What are the facts here? Are there investigations of the tax-status of churches on the left as well as the right? What do the new religious activists at the Democratic Party have to say about all of this? Are these probes of conservative churches — I wonder if there are liberals monitoring and/or taping sermons out there — linked to political-action groups with ties to the Democrats? Just asking.

Finally, there is a chance that Kirkpatrick needs to head down to Nashville and Dallas and look up a good church historian to get some background on Southern Baptist history. You see, there are Southern Baptists on the left side of this conflict — think Bill Clinton and Al Gore — and when you quote them, it might help to remind New York Times readers of this reality. I mention this because of the following paragraph in the story, noting that some of the pastors were nervous about Iraq, tax cuts and other issues.

“I don’t see how a president could call on so many young men and women to sacrifice in our nation’s service and not call the rest of us to sacrifice financially as well,” said Rudy Pulido, pastor of Southwest Baptist Church, a member of the theologically conservative Southern Baptist Convention, and the president of the local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Now there is another group on the left that loves to be quoted and has tons of information — Americans United. Call them up. This is the rare New York Times story that lacks a left wing and urgently needs one.

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