Religion Notes


Issue: "School vouchers debate," May 15, 1999

Flynt does Georgetown

Pornographer Larry Flynt, invited to speak on First Amendment rights by a student organization at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., bashed the Jesuit school's Catholic heritage. "The church has had its hand on our crotch for 2,000 years," he told more than 500 students in the college gym, "and the government is moving in that direction, figuring that if they can control our pleasure center, then they can control us." Archdiocesan Bishop William Lory called the Flynt invitation "indefensible" and "unbelievable." No Catholic university, he said, should provide "a platform which furthers the degradation of women, immoral behavior, and the anti-religious opinions Mr. Flynt represents." School officials said that although they disagreed with Mr. Flynt, they stood by the rights of faculty and students to invite speakers who are controversial. About 150 students protested the Flynt appearance and also the firing of four campus ministers, including both full-time Protestant chaplains who serve the school's 2,000 Protestant students, a popular Catholic priest, and a music minister. Their removal was announced shortly before the Flynt visit. Administrators blamed the cuts on a 10 percent budget cut in nonacademic departments. Part-time Protestant ministers will be employed instead, but a full-time Muslim chaplain will be added. Two rabbis will remain in place.

Zondervan's Catholic Bible

An agency of the national Catholic bishops' conference granted Zondervan Publishing House permission to use the New American Bible (NAB) text in its Catholic Serendipity Bible. The NAB is the official Bible version for U.S. Catholics. "Serendipity" refers to a popular series of publications for personal and small-group study developed by Lyman Coleman. He edited the Catholic edition's notes and comments. The Catholic Bible is a first for Zondervan, an evangelical firm founded in 1931. Now a division of HarperCollins, it owns the copyright to the best-selling New International Version of the Bible.

Lesbian evangelist lauded by PCUSA

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It took some infighting among leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) before Jane Spahr could be confirmed as one of three recipients of the denomination's Women of Faith award this year. Ms. Spahr works at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Rochester, N.Y., as a "lesbian evangelist" for That All May Freely Serve, a group dedicated to the ordination of homosexual Presbyterians as church officers. When a selection committee announced her as one of the choices, "a red flag" went up for Curtis A. Kearns, director of the National Ministries Division (NMD). Officially, the PCUSA holds that homosexual conduct is contrary to Scripture, and the church's constitution prohibits the ordination of people who defiantly engage in such behavior. Wouldn't the selection of someone whose main work is in opposition to those policies raise questions? Mr. Kearns took his concerns to the NMD Steering Committee, which voted to rescind the choice. A furious reaction against the Steering Committee's action erupted on the Internet, mostly by feminists and pro-homosexual lobbyists. The General Assembly Council executive committee then stepped in and by a vote of 9-2 reversed the NMD committee. In quintessential bureaucratic correctness, the executive committee said that both the selection committee and the NMD steering committee acted appropriately, and the root problem was "a flawed selection process" in many award programs. The other two women to receive the award are Jane Dempsey Douglass, a retired Princeton professor, and Letty Russell, a Yale professor and lesbian.


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