03 August 2004 Daily Links

CBC News reports that the Vatican is setting up a sports department “to move the Roman Catholic Church closer to a ‘nerve centre’ of modern life,” with the hope that sports can become a new avenue for evangelization. “The Vatican noted that there is an ugly side to sports without going into details,” CBC writes, “but said it wants sports to be ‘a school of virtue and an instrument of peace among peoples.'”

“Yes, Virginia, the Religious Right has more than one theocratic trick up its sleeve.” Maureen Farrell at BuzzFlash gives an exhaustive run-down on the legal tactics being employed in the name of culture war: the House of Representatives falling back on the obscure provisions of Article III, Section 2 (which mentions unspecified “exceptions” to the range of cases the Supreme Court may rule on — recently resuscitated to override court authority on issues like the gay marriage ban); and the “Constitution Restoration Act,” which was proposed this February and says that “the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over ‘any matter’ regarding public officials who acknowledge ‘God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'”

Addressing a group of devotees last week about the increased interest in religion, even in atheistic countries like China, the Dalai Lama said that people can generally be divided into three categories in terms of their spiritual inclination: those who see religion as negative and harming the society and do not want to do anything with it; those who see it as good irrespective of whether or not they know the reasons behind it; and those who are more interested in their own day-to-day existence and have no definite position on religion. “However, one thing common with people in all the three categories was that they desire happiness and shun suffering.” Read more.

The answer is…Islam? So says Rod Dreher in The Dallas Morning News. “Because we in the secular West have made God a mere hobby, we don’t comprehend how devout Muslims perceive reality. Our materialist-minded leaders prattle on about solving the “root causes” of terror – poverty, illiteracy, lack of democracy and so forth – because we cannot fathom the idea that hundreds of millions of people believe that obeying the God of the Quran is the most important thing in life.”

Yesterday, top Muslim clerics and political leaders from nearly every major Muslim group in Iraq — including the revered Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Muslim Scholars Association (a relatively moderate group with ties to the insurgency) and even rebel Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, whose militia is blamed for many of the attacks on Christian-owned liquor stores — condemned Sunday’s coordinated bomb attacks on five churches “as a dangerous escalation of the war and an assault on centuries of coexistence between Christians and Muslims here.” Ian Fisher of The New York Times reports that the number of Iraqi Christians has dropped markedly since the fall of the generally secular atmosphere of the Hussein government last year.

At a rally in Greeneville, Tennessee last Sunday, the Ten Commandments monument at the heart of the Alabama Supreme Court controversy made a stop on their national tour to be honored by a group including many veterans. Keynote speaker Jim Cabaniss, president of American Veterans In Domestic Defense (AVIDD), the group responsible for taking the monument on tour, told the veterans in the crowd that they were “‘still under oath'” to confront “‘domestic enemies loose in our country.'” The domestic enemies? You guessed it: Godless men. Cabaniss also said that as veterans they were uniquely equipped for this fight because they would be able to wage it “‘without criticism from the press.'” Besides taking the monument on tour, reports Tom Yancey in The Greeneville Sun, AVIDD is also promoting passage of U.S. House Bill 3799 and its twin, U.S. Senate Bill 2323, which he said would “tell federal judges they have no authority on religious issues in America.”

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