Goodbye to a radical Baptist patriarch

The old Southern preacher had walked through many airport security gates using his cherry-wood cane and was surprised -- especially years before 9/11 -- when a guard ordered him to send it through the X-ray scanner.After that rite, the Rev. Will Campbell asked the guard to bring him the cane. The guard, somewhat miffed, asked if he could walk through the scanner without it. The preacher, somewhat vexed, said that was a question for his doctor.Facing a nervous crowd, the guard ordered … [Read more...]

The fall and the strange rise of liberal religion

The most recent Jewish Community Study of New York held few surprises for those who have followed the sobering Jewish trends of recent decades.Yes, the 1.5 million or so Jews living in New York City and surrounding counties included a rising tide of people living in interfaith relationships and some had even begun calling themselves "partially Jewish." Participation in liberal Jewish congregations declined, again. Jews who said it was "very important" to affiliate with Jewish institutions … [Read more...]

Voices of unbelievers, in pulpits

On Sunday mornings, you will find him leading hymns in one of the independent Church of Christ congregations somewhere in South Carolina.Call him "Adam." He is a church administrator, a "worship minister" and a self-proclaimed "atheist agnostic." That last detail is a secret. After all, his wife and teen-aged children are devout believers and he needs to stay employed."Here's how I'm handling my job. ... I see it as playacting. I kind of see myself as taking on a role of a believer in a … [Read more...]

Gov. Sarah Palin, Antichrist

The punch line rocketed around the World Wide Web, inspiring smiles in pews friendly to Sen. Barack Obama.The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners saw a campaign button based on this one liner and, on the "Interfaith Voices" public radio show, said it was a fine response to Gov. Sarah Palin's jab at the work of "community organizers."Donna Brazile -- who ran Al Gore's 2000 White House campaign -- saw the same gag and, on CNN, quickly linked it to the Bible's message that "to whom much is given, much is … [Read more...]

Pullman vs. the Magisterium

Those values viewers in the heartland are at it again, clicking "forward" on yet another wave of hot emails about sin, evil, magic and Hollywood.Here's the news, as harvested on the Internet by experts at, a giant website dedicated to researching urban legends."Hi! I just wanted to inform you what I just learned about a movie that is coming out December 7, during the Christmas season, which is entitled 'The Golden Compass.' ... What is disturbing to me is that this movie is based on … [Read more...]

Vast right-wing media conspiracy

When it comes to covering religion news, the mainstream American press is a vast right-wing conspiracy that consistently commits sins of omission against religious liberals.No, wait, honest. Stop laughing. The leaders of a liberal advocacy group called Media Matters for America recently released a study entitled "Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media" that says journalists consistently dedicate more ink to covering conservative leaders than to those on the left … [Read more...]

Sinners on the counterattack

The panic may strike in the shelter of a Starbucks, when a customer realizes that a quote from evangelical superstar Rick "The Purpose Driven Life" Warren is printed on some of coffee cups.This would cause any latte-sipping liberal to mutter "Oh my goddess" and worry about legions of Focus on the Family donors invading Wiccan book clubs in Unitarian sanctuaries from sea to shining sea.Does thinking about this give you sweaty palms? If so, writer Robert Lanham of New York City believes you may be … [Read more...]

Call it church-state espionage

Call it church-state espionage.Unitarians and other activists on the religious left have been slipping into evangelical pews to endure altar calls, praise songs and sermons against gay marriage. The Kansas-based Mainstream Coalition has a simple reason for doing this. If preachers openly endorse President Bush, its agents can report these crimes to the IRS.Reacting to these watchdogs on the left, the Religious Freedom Action Coalition promptly launched Big Brother Church Watch -- … [Read more...]