The South is one of the only places where Ann Coulter doesn't get hassled. That's what the columnist told an audience at Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) in Charlotte, N.C., on May 10. The speaking engagement was Coulter's first public appearance in John Edwards' home state since she alluded to the Democratic presidential candidate as a "faggot" at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C., in March.
Coulter didn't verbally hassle Edwards in her remarks to more than 500 at the seminary, but she had plenty of acidic zingers for other liberals. Former President Bill Clinton is a "decadent buffoon," who is also "half-white, half-trash," Coulter said. Sen. Hillary Clinton backed down from a recent argument by "retreating on her chubby little legs," she added.
The audience, which applauded the caustic remarks, also applauded when Coulter described America as a "Christian nation," and when she spoke of her own Christian faith.
The Cornell graduate and former attorney also spoke persuasively about fighting Darwinism and abortion, and about the need to reign in activist judges. It's those messages that seminary officials had in mind when they invited Coulter to speak, according to Alex McFarland, president of SES, who told WORLD he was pleased with the event. She had "very substantive, really insightful comments," he said, but acknowledged that some Christians in the audience expressed concern about Coulter's tone and criticized the seminary for inviting her. In the current culture, McFarland said, "sometimes you have to shout loudly enough to be heard."
Francis Beckwith, 46, who resigned as president of the scholarly 4,300-member Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) May 5, has come full circle. He was raised a Catholic in Las Vegas but was converted as a teen through the "Jesus movement" and became a Protestant.
He went on to become a tall figure on the evangelical academic scene in social philosophy, ethics, church-and-state relations, apologetics, and theology. He taught at several schools, including Trinity International University, and currently is at Baylor University in Texas. He is known for his strong pro-life stands and advocacy of the right to teach intelligent design in public schools. Last November, his colleagues in the ETS elected him to a one-year term as president.
Like some other notable evangelicals, Beckwith in recent years sensed the Catholic Church was moving closer to evangelical positions on grace and justification, as witnessed by a joint Lutheran-Catholic statement and by writings of contemporary Catholic scholars. He also said he had found Christianity's roots to be "more Catholic than Protestant." Beckwith, with his wife, formally rejoined the Roman Catholic Church April 28.
Because Baylor has no doctrinal statement, he will retain his teaching post there.
-Edward E. Plowman
MINISTRY: D. James Kennedy, 76, stricken pastor of 10,000-member Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., seems to be on a comeback, according to updates posted this month on the minister's Coral Ridge Ministries website (crm.tv).
Kennedy, who has a wide radio and television ministry, suffered cardiac arrest Dec. 28, followed by severe complications, and has not been seen or heard in public since. He returned home May 5, according to a family statement, and "as of now he can walk with a walker and minimal assistance."
Kennedy was cognizant and able to respond approvingly when told of the selection of Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) for the annual Distinguished Christian Statesman award, a ministry offshoot. But the award almost didn't happen. Officials at Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) last month abruptly shut down the Center for Reclaiming America-known for its signature annual event in Washington for conservative activists-and the Center for Christian Statesmanship (CCS).
Offices in Ft. Lauderdale and Washington were closed; staffs were axed; the Akin award presentation was canceled. But two weeks later, on May 10, CCS suddenly came back to life as an affiliate of Evangelism Explosion, a separate Kennedy outreach ministry dating from the 1960s-just in time for Akin to receive his award.