Week End Update: News Roundup From Here And There

Some church-state tidbits you might have missed.

Let’s close out the week with a selection of updates and news tidbits that you might have missed:

  • On Monday, Americans United asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Liberty University, which used its student newspaper to intervene in a House of Delegates election in November. In response, Jerry Falwell Jr. asserted that AU will now have to report every university newspaper that endorses a candidate.

    Well, no. Most college newspapers are student-run, independent and funded by activity fees. LU’s paper, by contrast, is subject to review, censorship and control by university officials. That makes it an official university publication.

    Falwell’s legal mouthpiece, Mat Staver, has also threatened to sue AU for harassment. Of course he’s just blowing smoke. It would take a court about 15 seconds to dismiss such a lawsuit as frivolous.

  • Remember the kooky “Antichrist” bill that passed the Virginia House of Delegates? It’s dead, thankfully.
  • For months, Americans United has been working with the Enfield, Conn., School Board trying to dissuade its members from holding graduation ceremonies in a large, evangelical church. The board seemed to be leaning our way and even voted to hold graduation at the school. Recently, however, members reversed themselves and voted to seek a non-school venue for the event. A word to the wise: An outside venue is fine, but it shouldn’t be a house of worship.
  • Robert G. Marshall, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, said recently that disabled children are a punishment from God to women who have previously had abortions.

    “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically,” said the Manassas Republican. “Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There's a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

    Marshall’s ignorant babbling is not going over well. Nor should it.

  • A federal court in Delaware has ruled that a public school board can open its meetings with sectarian prayer. This is an incredibly misguided ruling, and it should be appealed.
  • Bishop Harry Jackson is all worked up because Washington, D.C.’s city council has legalized same-sex marriages – but he seems to be having trouble lining up support for his crusade among D.C. residents.

    Jackson, whose church is in Maryland and who owns homes in that state, rents an apartment in D.C. but is considered an interloper. His group, Stand for Marriage D.C., looks more and more like an Astroturf entity. Jackson has raised about $200,000 for the effort – but all of the money came from Jackson’s church or big Religious Right groups, not D.C. residents. Journalist Bill Berkowitz has the story.

  • Speaking of gay marriage, Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler has issued an opinion saying that the state may recognize same-sex unions performed in other states. The state’s Catholic bishops and the Religious Right are not pleased.
  • Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is whining because he has been disinvited to speak an at upcoming prayer luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The Chaplains’ Office had originally invited Perkins but dropped him after deciding that Perkins’ hard-line views on gays in the military might make some people feel uncomfortable.

    The big question is why anyone in the military thought an extremist like Perkins would have anything of value to say in the first place. Also, there’s a surefire way the military could avoid problems like in this in the future: Stop hosting prayer luncheons.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the weekend!