(Bad) Signs of the Times

The Moonie-owned Washington Times (Jan. 18, 2005) reports rumors that Ralph Reed’s plan to run for the Georgia lieutenant governorship signals what friends say is the former Christian Coalition executive director’s ultimate ambition–1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” Reed was a top Bush campaign adviser courting the faith-based vote.

Some subscribers to the Colorado Springs Gazette were dismayed over the promotional giveaway delivered with their Sunday newspaper in late December–New Testaments. The International Bible Society, using donations from businesses, paid for the distribution of 100,000 copies.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.), one of the seven new Republicans elected to the Senate, has called for executing doctors who perform abortions.

Self-appointed “king maker” James C. Dobson, of the Focus on the Family empire, sent a letter in early January to his million supporters threatening that six Democratic senators will be in the “bulls’ eye” if they block conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. Targeted: Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Dayton (Minn.), Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), and Bill Nelson (Fla.), all up for reelection in 2006. Fully 204 judicial appointments moved forward in Bush’s first term.

Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker, “fed up with people who argue that somehow the concept of the creator wasn’t central to how the Founding Fathers understood America,” has published a 19-page “Walking Tour of God in Washington, D.C.”

The American Family Association claims tot favorite SpongeBob Squarepants is part of “the homosexual agenda.” A music video promoting tolerance and diversity to be sent to 61,000 U.S. schools in March by the We Are Family Foundation features SpongeBob, along with Barney, Bob the Builder, Rugrats and other nefarious cartoon characters.

An 18-year-old honor student attending the Dallas-area Trinity Christian Academy, who is a varsity athlete, winner of service and citizenship awards, yearbook editor (and bible study tutor), was asked to leave the school or face expulsion in December after officials learned he was gay. The student has transferred to a public high school in Plano. (Source: Dallas Morning News, Dec. 21, 2004)

The Texas State Board of Education in November approved a new health textbook for middle- and high-school students defining marriage as a union between a husband and a wife only.

Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll conducted by Cornell University and released in December. Republicans and those describing themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslim liberties than were Democrats or less religious Americans.

The FBI is subpoenaing documents from the Greater Alabama Council of Boy Scouts of America to see if membership numbers have been inflated. The investigation, which relates to the $8.1 million allocated in the past decade by United Way of Central Alabama based on membership levels, follows a two-year mail fraud probe in the Dallas area. A Boy Scout chapter there claimed it had about 20,000 more members than it did, resulting in a funding cut by the local United Way. Similar investigations are ongoing in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Illinois, according to the Birmingham News.

Roman Catholic authorities protested three art exhibits in Buenos Aires at the end of the year, succeeding in shutting down two of them, calling them insults to Christianity.

Covington County Judge Ashley McKathan of Alabama has a copy of the Ten Commandments embroidered in gold on the front of his judicial robes. A criminal attorney who unsuccessfully objected to the robe in late December may make the decalog’s presence a part of his criminal appeal.

At a fundraising dinner on Jan. 19 for a Boston group promoting “faith-based solutions to social problems,” U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, said: “There is no contradiction between support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles.” She chided a “false division” between faith-based agencies and respect for the separation of church and state, and “invoked God more than half a dozen times, at one point declaring, ‘I’ve always been a praying person,’ ” according to The Boston Globe, Jan. 20, 2005.

Freedom From Religion Foundation