July 4, 2002 |
As soon as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its decision on the Pledge of Allegiance last week, the e-mail started pouring in. Most railed against the idea that a couple of judges could strike down the words under God, which Congress added to the pledge in 1954. But a few suggested that if I didn't like the decision, maybe I should try thinking about how I'd feel if Congress had inserted the words under no God instead - a sentiment echoed by the Ninth Circuit. In order to protect religious liberty, they implied, we have to make sure government divorces itself from any expression of religious belief.
December 11, 2002 |
DURING THE LAST several weeks, quite a few newspapers - including the Daily News - have been critical of the state legislature for passing the Religious Freedom Protection Act. Editorials have ranged from questioning why this bill was not simply redundant, to implying that there was an ulterior motive behind it, to making outright accusations that this legislation is a "scary proposal" that could be used to hide sexual abuse by clergy. The religious groups that supported the passage of the law have never made its intent a secret - the bill was originally introduced in the 1999-2000 session and reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
July 4, 2011 |
Two-hundred and thirty-five years ago, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence separating the American colonies from Great Britain. John Adams suggested that the occasion "ought to be celebrated as the day of deliverance with solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty from this time forward forever more. " Since then there has been a debate over whether the Founders envisioned the United States as a Christian nation. There is no easy answer. The Founders, like the American people, hailed from several religions, the majority being Protestant.
November 15, 1998 |
When Harvard economist Richard Freeman stumbled across data back in 1986 indicating that poor, inner-city youths who went to church were less likely to become delinquents, it was treated as, at most, a curiosity. "Almost nobody noticed," says Vanderbilt University criminologist Byron Johnson. Part of the reason was that it challenged the prevailing wisdom of the social-science community, which was that religion had little effect on behavior and that religiosity was mainly an indicator of low intellectual attainment, Johnson and others say. That view has changed dramatically.
April 10, 1986 |
The CBS program 60 Minutes recently devoted attention to the problem of teenage pregnancies. The narrator, Ed Bradley, stressed that although the program featured black promiscuity, the rise in white teenage pregnancies was very nearly as startling as among blacks. The protagonist of the documentary was a bright and articulate woman in her 30s. She and a black doctor had a well-developed thesis. It was as follows: a) Promiscuous teenage sexual activity in the United States is no greater than in Europe.
March 30, 1995 |
Don't let the white collar fool you. Tom Bosley on "The Father Dowling Mysteries" and Clifton Davis on "Amen" might have worn the ecclesiastical duds, but like most Hollywood creations, they at best only hinted at anything religious. Except for the scattered Christmas specials or TV movies about cults, television shies away most things theological. When "The Flying Nun" debutted in 1967, Sally Field was Gidget in a habit. When "Kung Fu," a show promoting such Buddhist concepts as "oneness of all things" aired in the early '70s, there wasn't an episode that didn't feature monk Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine)
December 9, 1987 |
The U.S. government's officially-declared war against drugs seems to have cooled down a bit. We still see the ads and lapel buttons urging us to "just say no", but the fervor has declined. I doubt that this is because civil libertarians have convinced the authorities that universal random drug testing is neither effective nor desirable. It could be due to preoccupation with other crises, such as the stock market. More likely , people have come to realize that this "just say no" campaign will never work.
May 7, 1997 |
Just after Christmas, a dozen sisters from the Order of the Precious Blood were called to Beijing to meet Communist officials of China's Catholic Church. Teachers and social workers, the nuns belong to an order founded 75 years ago by Italian missionaries. Over five days of meetings, cordial but pointed, they received three strong messages: Don't oppose the Communist Party. Don't oppose the future, Beijing-backed government of Hong Kong. And don't try to influence the Catholic Church in China.
March 22, 2011
The holiest day in Christendom approaches, and my little girl is anticipating coloring Easter eggs. She doesn't know from crucifixion or resurrection, and she has no clue of who Jesus, Judas, and Pilate were. That's because I never told her. I force vegetables, reading, and baths. But not God. As an agnostic, I haven't figured out what to say. Of course, if it's not cool to dictate faith, it's not cool to dictate nonbelief, either. Still, we religiously avoid church every Sunday.
July 17, 1987 |
"Salvation," a comedy starring Stephen McHattie, Dominique Davalos, Exene Cervenka and Viggo Mortensen. Directed by Beth B. Screenplay by Beth B and Tom Robinson. Running time: 80 minutes. A Circle Release. At the Roxy Screening Room. 'Salvation" is a strikingly charmless film, but you have to admit that it's a prescient one: Made well before the recent scandal involving Jim Bakker, Jessica Hahn and several hundred thousand dollars, it predicts those occurrences with remarkable accuracy.