Dispatches > In Brief

Issue: "Unions: Dues and don'ts," Nov. 30, 2002

A little more conversation

The White House is trying to distance itself from widely reported public criticism of Islam by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Franklin Graham. On Nov. 13, President Bush told reporters: "Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans." Secretary of State Colin Powell the next day echoed the president's comments.

On Nov. 11, broadcaster Pat Robertson discussed Islam's antipathy toward Jews on a segment of The 700 Club TV show. He told how the Koran promotes hatred and killing of Jews, how these teachings are embedded in textbooks used by Muslim high school students (as disclosed in a Feb. 25 Washington Post article), and how Muslim schoolchildren are taught that Jews are descendants of apes and pigs. The news media reported several of his remarks but omitted the context and sources behind them. What the public heard: Mr. Robertson warned that Muslims are out to kill all Jews.

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Following President Bush's disclaimer, Mr. Robertson on Nov. 14 reaffirmed his support for the president and characterized the spat as "a minor disagreement among friends." He said most adherents of Islam in the United States are peaceful people, but the religion itself, especially in its purest forms, isn't peaceful.

Franklin Graham also responded on Nov. 14 by saying, "I fully support" the president, and agreeing that America's war is "against individuals whose hearts are filled with hate," not against Islam. As for his own public criticism of Islam, he said his comments "were shaped by years of relief and development work in Islamic regimes around the world." | Edward E. Plowman

AALE's evolution

Without backing off its six-day creationist position, upstart Patrick Henry College won "preaccreditation" from the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE), which six months ago denied the school credentials ("Give me accreditation," May 25). Patrick Henry slightly modified its Statement of Biblical Worldview to provide for discussion of dissenting opinions, but without changing its fundamental position. Preaccreditation is standard for new schools. President Michael Farris declared the reversal a victory: "We feel completely vindicated." He explained to WORLD that the AALE simply did not understand Patrick Henry's position and that the modification clarified things.

Other aspects of Patrick Henry's worldview statement--such as chapel services, bans on the opposite sex in dormitory rooms, and the requirement that students show "evidence of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ--remain unmodified. | Chris Stamper

Moore trouble

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore got his job two years ago as the result of widespread publicity for resolutely defending a display of the Ten Commandments on his courtroom wall when he was a county judge. It was only natural that he wanted to do something bigger when he became the state's head judge. So, he installed a 25 ton monument to the commandments right in the rotunda of the state judicial building. It's a block of granite topped by an etched copy of the decalogue. Quotes from historical figures and other documents also grace the monument.

Judge Moore, a Southern Baptist, installed the monument the night of July 31, 2001, after the building closed. He did it without informing other justices, state officials, or reporters. But he did tell Florida TV preacher D. James Kennedy in advance. A crew from the ministry filmed the installation and offered videotapes of it for $19. Judge Moore has been a frequent guest on Rev. Kennedy's program.

The monument received cheers and jeers. Its opponents took Judge Moore to federal court. On Nov. 18, U.S. district judge Myron Thompson gave Mr. Moore 30 days to remove the monument. He said it promotes religion. Judge Thompson said he doesn't believe all Ten Commandments displays in government buildings are illegal, but this one crossed the line "between the permissible and the impermissible." Judge Moore was expected to appeal. | Edward E. Plowman

Worth the paper it's printed on?

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders in Baltimore are treating the church's constitution with contempt--or, as Virginia lawyer Rolf Jensen put it, "as toilet paper." His criticism came after judicial officers of the Baltimore Presbytery this month declined to discipline Rev. Donald E. Stroud.

A minister in the PCUSA, Rev. Stroud, 53, declared publicly his homosexuality on the floor of the denomination's general assembly two years ago. He says he is involved in a "relationship" with another man. He calls "unjust and immoral" the denomination's standards of fidelity in marriage and chastity in singleness for its ministers and lay leaders, along with a prohibition against same-sex unions.

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