Morning Report, April 21, 2010: Campus Ministry Goes to Court, American Idolatry, Zondervan's "City," Botox Blues, Earth Day, Capitalism and the New Civility

Morning Report, April 21, 2010: Campus Ministry Goes to Court, American Idolatry, Zondervan's "City," Botox Blues, Earth Day, Capitalism and the New Civility April 21, 2010

Secular and religious news and commentary that one Christian found important or entertaining this morning

1.  SUPREME COURT ON CAMPUS MINISTRY.  GetReligion has a typically excellent post on the issue of Christian student groups requiring their leaders to affirm a faith statement — a faith statement which may include a belief that homosexual sex is wrong.  At issue is not excluding people according to their status or even their actions.  At issue is the ability of groups to exclude from officership those who do not uphold the essential beliefs of the group.  Can a Muslim group exclude from leadership a Christian evangelist?  Can a group devoted to abortion “rights” exclude from leadership 10 students who are pro-life and who want to change the course of the organization?  As I stated yesterday, what are the valid bases of discrimination and how are they weighed against the right of free association?  Does the right of free association mean anything if you cannot define your group (or at least its leadership) according to certain beliefs and purposes?

I believe that the Christian Legal Society will win this case.  I believe they should.

When this issue arose at Harvard College, the dean of the college wanted InterVarsity to remove the issue of homosexuality from its faith statement.  Better, thought Harry Lewis, to just let it happen tacitly that people who do not affirm the group’s position on the issue will not win elections to leadership.  In other words, keep the policy, just don’t write it down.  This seemed dishonest and unnecessary.  Groups, even those that do not share our viewpoints, even those with viewpoints we find distasteful, should be free to ask its leaders to affirm the beliefs around which the group is organized.

2.  THE MURALIST OF LIGHT.  My brother often liked to joke about how every Christian family had a Thomas Kinkade painting in their home.  Now the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has a massive Kinkade mural in its refurbished Billy Graham Library.

3.  AMERICAN IDOLATRY.  What do you think of this?: “Idol Gives Back – to Pro-Abortion Groups“.  In essence, American Idol gives money to Save the Children (in which Simon Cowell is very involved), and Save the Children gives money to many organizations, some of which provide abortion services.  Should Christians who are pro-life not give their money as a result?

4.  WE BUILT THIS CITY.  Zondervan created a software platform to help large churches manage their communication and community.  Apparently the early results are positive.  Learn more.

5.  WHAT’S THE FREQUENCY, KENNETH COPELAND?  Internet-only radio stations can be a substantial ministry.

6.  INEXPRESSIVE, UNFEELING.  If our feelings are processed and strengthened in the act of expressing them, does Botox — which inhibits the facial expression of emotions — dampen emotional life?  A new study suggests that it does.  As the report states:

“Botox, which is used by millions of people every year to reduce wrinkles and frown lines on the forehead, works by paralyzing the muscles involved in producing facial expressions. A study due to be published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that by doing so, it impairs the ability to process the emotional content of language, and may diminish the quality of emotional experiences.”

7.  FAT CAT TAX.  A global tax on banking profits and lavish compensation?  It’s hard not to like the idea.  But why do I like it?  Is it envy?  Is it greed?  Will it actually be a good thing for the global economy?  For the poor?  It might well be.  But let’s make sure we’re asking the right questions, and not merely reacting to the (very) attractive prospect of humbling the lords of the universe who made billions of dollars while crashing the economy for the rest of us.

8.  IT TAKES A BISHOP.  An African-American minister attempts to form a conservative counterweight to the Congressional Black Caucus.  Is it in the interest of the African-American community to be so heavily aligned with a single political party?

9.  TODAY’S TWO-SIDES.  Instead of the usual opposition, I am simply going to list some opinion pieces worth reading today.  First is Bjorn Lomborg, famous for being an environmental centrist.  I like Lomborg a lot, even when I disagree with him. Thomas Friedman writes on how Obama’s successful passage of health care reform improved the perception of him overseas as someone who could actually close a deal.  Whether or not the health care reform was good legislation, it is probably true that Obama was finally perceived to have shown some backbone.  Whether or not the Russians think they can push him around, they need to believe that he can get a treaty ratified by the Senate.  And John Stossel writes on Michael Medved’s new book in defense of the benefits of capitalism.  Finally, Victor Davis Hanson writes on the irony of many — who so recently slandered Bush in the worst possible ways — bemoaning the coarseness of political discourse now.

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