This Week

Issue: "Welfare Reform on Trial," May 3, 1997

The smoking gun

For the past month and a half, WORLD has been trying to get a straight answer to a simple question: Are Zondervan Publishing House and the International Bible Society planning to publish a &quotgender-accurate" (to use Zondervan's term) New International Version Bible in the United States like that published by Hodder & Stoughton in England? Zondervan spokesmen have dodged big time (see the April 19 WORLD). In both Zondervan's and the International Bible Society's &quotFrequently Asked Questions" postings on the Zondervan website, the answer is murky. Zondervan's FAQ asks, &quotIs Zondervan planning to publish an 'inclusive-language' or 'gender-neutral' Bible?" Good question, but no answer: &quotTerms such as 'inclusive-language,' 'unisex language' and 'gender-neutral' are seen by many as negative and politically charged," the response began. After nearly 100 words the company had still not given a yes or a no. The International Bible Society's FAQ asks a similarly clear question, and also gives a similarly unclear answer: &quotTerms such as 'gender-neutral,' 'unisex' or 'inclusive-language' tend to carry a negative slant." After nearly 100 words, IBS too had failed to answer. And Committee on Bible Translation Secretary Ken Barker, who had spoken frankly to WORLD about his commitment to the inclusive version, seemed to change his story and wrote in a statement posted on Zondervan's web site: &quotIn the U.S. and Canada, however, neither Zondervan Publishing House nor International Bible Society has made a final decision yet as to whether to publish an inclusive NIV for North America." But at long last WORLD finally received a clear answer from an unlikely source: the most recent issue of Priscilla Papers, the quarterly publication of Christians for Biblical Equality. IBS International President Lars Dunberg writes: &quotI'm happy to break the 'silence' and solve this mystery.... Zondervan and IBS will publish an inclusive version of the NIV in the American market." Interestingly, that letter is dated Jan. 9, 1997. But nearly three months later, Jonathan Petersen, Zondervan's director of corporate affairs, was saying: &quotNo decision has been made to publish an edition of the NIV like the Hodder & Stoughton.... No decision has been made to publish such a Bible." Oops. When asked about Mr. Dunberg's letter, IBS refused to comment further unless it could get questions put in writing. That's probably a good idea. Here's the first question: Does Mr. Dunberg, international president of IBS, speak for IBS?

Toxic politics

After carrying water for President Clinton by delivering enough Republican votes on April 24 to ratify a controversial chemical weapons pact unpopular with conservatives, Senate leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) challenged the president to &quotshow similar courage" and defy his party's base to reach agreement on a balanced budget plan. &quotI've done it and I'm going to take a lot of flak for it," Mr. Lott said. Less than half of the 164 nations that have pledged support have actually ratified the treaty, which would ban the use, development, production, or stockpiling of all chemical warfare agents and require the destruction of existing stockpiles over the next decade. Conservatives argued against the pact on the grounds that it is unverifiable and would open the United States to danger from nations such as Libya, North Korea, and Iraq that refuse to sign the agreement. Mr. Lott denied he swapped his support for the chemical weapons treaty &quoton a quid pro quo basis" to earn the president's support for a budget deal favorable to Republicans. But he warned that if the White House refused to reach an agreement, &quotthere's going to be trench warfare from here on out, and I don't want that."

Taking a gamble

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One day after he pledged his organization's &quotstrong and steadfast opposition" to President Clinton's appointees to the federal gambling commission if they do not meet certain conditions, Ralph Reed announced on April 23 he was leaving the Christian Coalition. Mr. Reed, who led the organization out of obscurity and into mainstream Republicanism, said he planned to start his own political consulting firm, Century Strategies. Much as he did with the Christian Coalition, Mr. Reed said his firm's focus &quotwill be on building a 'farm team' of hundreds of state legislative, school board, and local candidates across the country."

A grander grand jury

The Little Rock grand jury investigating Whitewater crimes will be on the job into November. A federal judge extended the panel's duty-it was set to expire May 7-after independent counsel Kenneth Starr on April 22 said he had uncovered &quotextensive evidence" of possible obstruction of justice. Mr. Starr wants to bring witnesses and evidence before the grand jury to help answer questions in three new areas: * Did lawyers for the White House or the president seek to exert improper influence over James and Susan McDougal during their 1996 trial? White House officials acknowledge Mr. Starr's staff has inquired about conversations between presidential counselor Bruce Lindsey and Arkansas lawyer Jim Blair. Documents show Mr. Blair was in touch with Mr. McDougal and his lawyer to urge an end to Mr. McDougal's criticism of the Clintons' financial dealings. An unnamed White House official denied any conversations between Mr. Blair and Mr. Lindsey regarding the Whitewater trial in 1995 and 1996. * Did political allies of President Clinton intimidate Whitewater witnesses? The Starr probe is looking into the cases of Harry Don Denton and William Watt, two men who provided Whitewater testimony and who lost their jobs at the hands of politically appointed Arkansas officials. * Did President Clinton commit perjury during the McDougals' trial when he denied knowledge of a fraudulent loan given to Mrs. McDougal? At the heart of this question is the testimony of David Hale, the man who granted the illegal loan-he has testified Mr. Clinton as governor pressured him to make the loan-and now Mr. McDougal's testimony supporting Mr. Hale's story.

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