Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "The audacity of real change," Aug. 23, 2008

God on trial

Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers, 38, has filed suit against God for causing "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants." He claims the litigation is meant to make a serious point about equal access to the court system. But the senator's past criticism of Christians and regular habit of skipping morning prayers during the legislative session suggest that other forces are at work.

The court has threatened to dismiss the lawsuit due to its inability to serve God with notice. But Chambers argues that courts routinely acknowledge God's omniscience and omnipresence while swearing in witnesses and therefore should recognize that God is already aware of the proceedings and will be present for all hearings.

Odd couple

Former Christian Coalition president Ralph Reed announced plans to appear at a fundraiser with Sen. John McCain in Atlanta Aug. 18. Reed once worked for former lobbyist Jack Abramoff to win support from Christians for anti-gambling projects that benefited the gambling interests of Abramoff's Indian tribal clients in other states. McCain spearheaded the Senate Indian Affairs investigation that led to Abramoff's arrest in 2005 on felony charges of conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion related to his lobbying work. Abramoff pleaded guilty in 2006. Reed was never accused of illegal activity, but he lost a 2006 bid for Georgia lieutenant governor after facing criticism for his connections to Abramoff.

Core controversy

Attorneys for Calvary Chapel Christian School (CCCS) in Murietta, Calif., filed an appeal Aug. 8 with the 9th Circuit just after a judge threw out the school's lawsuit charging the University of California (UC) with anti-Christian viewpoint discrimination. The university system requires that incoming freshmen complete core high-school courses to meet acceptance criteria. But the university in recent years has refused to approve more than 150 courses to be taught by Christian, Catholic, and Jewish high schools, citing "biased" content. UC is a public agency and "is required to remain neutral when it comes to religion, politics, or other philosophical viewpoints," said CCCS attorney Robert Tyler. "Instead of remaining neutral . . . UC is discriminating against our clients' viewpoints merely because they are religiously based."

Language barrier

Democrats looking to woo evangelical voters rolled out a new strategy ahead of the party's convention in Denver this month: changing the Democratic platform on abortion to assert that the party "strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child," and offering assistance to women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland Church in Orlando, helped write the new language and told reporters that he was pleased: "Pro-life voters of either party can now support Sen. Obama on the basis that more lives will be saved than if they had just taken a moral stand hoping to overturn Roe v. Wade."

But Obama has voted in favor of pro-abortion legislation in Congress, including an amendment to nullify federal policy prohibiting funds for overseas groups that promote or perform abortions. Hunter told WORLD he shares evangelicals' concerns over those votes, but he said: "I'm just speaking to one issue at a time here."

Other evangelicals may balk at the section's first paragraph: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."

Too racey for safety

Random House yanked a $100,000, two-book deal because the first installment gave a racy portrayal of Muhammad's child bride, Aisha. The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones was scheduled for an Aug. 12 publication, but Random House feared the book "could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

Not special

After months of denials, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards admitted on Aug. 8 to committing adultery with a campaign worker in 2006. The National Enquirer first reported the affair with Rielle Hunter, a 44-year-old videographer hired by the Edwards campaign to document his 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Edwards released a statement saying he made a "serious error in judgment," adding: "In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic."

Edwards said he wouldn't attend the Democratic National Convention, where he was originally expected to deliver a primetime speech.

Three's not a charm

SpaceX, a private space transportation service that has contracts with NASA and companies in Canada and Sweden, lost control of its unmanned Falcon 1 rocket on Aug. 2-for the third time in a row. Communication with the 90-foot rocket blinked out about two and a half minutes after liftoff from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, when, after the planned separation of Falcon 1's two stages, the first stage engine accelerated unexpectedly and bumped into the upper stage. The first Falcon 1 launch in 2006 resulted in an engine fire attributed to a faulty aluminum nut. A 2007 flight was lost when the second stage rocket began to roll and experience a fuel slosh problem.

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