News & Reviews

Issue: "On Earth Peace?," Dec. 25, 1999

Hawaii's Supreme court abides by new amendment
Annulling gay marriage
Thanks to a 1998 amendment to the Hawaiian constitution, Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled last week that state legislators have the authority to ban homosexual marriage. For more than five years, Hawaii had been at the forefront of the debate over homosexual marriage. In 1993, the state's high court ruled that the state's failure to recognize gay marriages amounted to gender discrimination. Other states worried that the Hawaiian Supreme Court would legalize homosexual marriage-forcing them to recognize gay marriages performed in Hawaii-and more than two dozen of them, along with the U.S. Congress, passed defense-of-marriage acts. But in 1998, Hawaii's citizens spoke: By a larger than 2-to-1 margin, they voted to amend the state constitution to allow legislators to ban gay marriage. Last week's ruling recognizes this authority. Gay-rights activists vowed not to quit until their sexual preference receives government approval. "No one victory and no one defeat is going to end our advance," said Evan Wolfson, an attorney for the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, a gay-rights organization. "We will win the freedom to marry. The only question is when." Now Vermont is the battleground on the issue of gay marriage. Three couples there sued for the right to marry in 1997, but a Superior Court judge dismissed the case. The couples appealed. "Contrary to pro-homosexuality activists' rhetoric, marriage is not a construct of man that can be retooled and manipulated, but an institution established by God and protected through 6,000 years of human history," said Robert Knight of the Family Research Council in Washington. baby in controversial photo is born
Picture perfect
Samuel Armas, the premature infant who caused headaches for TV producers and abortion supporters even before he was born, arrived "screaming his head off" on Dec. 2, according to happy parents Julie and Alex Armas. It was Samuel's first baby picture-snapped during in-utero surgery to correct spina bifida abnormalities-that cost Internet columnist Matt Drudge his job with Fox TV. During the surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Samuel reached up through his mother's abdominal incision and wrapped one tiny hand around the surgeon's finger. At that instant, a photographer snapped a breathtaking photo. When the pro-life Mr. Drudge let Fox producers know that he intended to show the photo on his Saturday news show, they refused to allow it. Mr. Drudge walked off the set that day; a couple of days later, Fox fired him. But it's Samuel and his parents who are having the last laugh. The Armas's medical team is optimistic about Samuel's condition; the baby began physical therapy last week, and Mr. and Mrs. Armas said: "We're positive the Lord worked in all of this." Court rejects voucher appeal
No right to a subsidy
If a state creates a school-voucher program including private schools, it does not have to include religious schools. The U.S. Supreme Court last week, without comment, rejected an appeal in which parents of religious-school students argued that Vermont violates their religious freedom by denying them the same financial help given to parents whose children attend private, nonreligious schools. Baker markets mormon artist
Faithful expressions?
Baker Book House, which is receiving criticism from evangelicals for its decision to publish a book pushing "open theology"-the idea that God doesn't know what comes next-is pushing against Christian theology in another way as well. Baker's new Expressions of Faith coffee table book, which combines works by Christian writers and religious artwork by Greg Olsen, is available on Christian merchandise websites such as, Christian Book Distributors' online home, and Family Christian Stores' But those particularly intrigued by Mr. Olsen's paintings could skip the evangelical retailers and go straight to the source:, Your Online LDS Superstore, where limited, signed editions of Mr. Olsen's paintings are offered for sale by the Latter Day Saints website. Each of the five paintings on the page devoted to the Mormon artist is featured in the evangelical publisher's Expressions of Faith, including the distinctly Mormon "Sacred Grove." "Look closely," beckons's promotional blurb for "Sacred Grove," "and you can see Joseph Smith kneeling in the background, illuminated by the light from the heavens." Look even more closely and you can see the initials J.S. carved into one of the trees. Baker Book House president Dwight Baker explained to WORLD that Mr. Olsen's paintings are very popular among Christian bookstore buyers and that the book as a whole is "exclusively Christian in terms of text." What of the painting of LDS founder Smith? Consider the context in which the painting appears, Mr. Baker argued, and the artwork represents "man and trees and sunshine" in the context of God's "general revelation." If a reader finds the book "enriching or uplifting or enhancing his Christian life, I'm glad the book can participate in that," Mr. Baker said. "If it does not serve that purpose, it would not be appropriate for me to try to convince him otherwise." The No-Comment Zone

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