See for yourself. Americans today are more tolerant and open-minded than their parents. At least they say they are. They also say homosexuality, human cloning, pre-marital sex, and having a child out of wedlock are more acceptable today. It may therefore be no surprise that two-thirds also "think the country is heading in the wrong direction, 69 percent believe the country's values have deteriorated since the 1970s, and nearly half say values will further weaken over the next 10 years." These are the findings of The Atlantic/Aspen Institute American Values Survey. Both The Atlantic magazine and the Aspen Institute are liberal in their orientation, so both organizations put a liberal spin on the data. For example, they associate "heading in the wrong direction" with issues such as economic parity, and not with the decline in religious observance or the rise in "tolerance." Even so, the data are fascinating, and The Atlantic website has more than 20 charts and graphs that make them easy to digest. I commend them to you.
Behind the scenes. Jill Hanson is someone you've likely never heard of unless you operated at the senior levels of Republican politics. She was the quintessential inside player, a campaign professional who played strategic roles in several presidential campaigns, and in many congressional campaigns. Hanson died June 8 after a short battle with throat cancer. A memorial service was held for her on Friday at the Capitol Hill Club. Hanson had platinum blond hair and was usually impeccably dressed, every inch a professional in appearance. But she also had a loud, raspy voice, a devastating wit, and was not above using colorful language if it would help her make a point. Among Hanson's political positions: She served as national political director for the 1996 Dole-Kemp presidential campaign. Before that, she served as senior political advisor to the 1992 Bush-Quayle presidential campaign for the Great Lakes Region. Hanson also served as regional political director for the Great Lakes and Northeast Regions for the Republican National Committee.
Indian floods. My friend Taun Cortado of Gospel For Asia (GFA) tells me that on the evening of June 24, the Brahmaputra River, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, overflowed its banks and has so far affected at least 900,000 people. The river is now six-miles wide in some places, and at least 80,000 have lost their homes. "Most of the goats, cows, pigs, and chickens they depended on for food have been washed away," he said adding that 58 GFA supported churches have been "badly hit" by the flooding. Many of them have been totally washed away. According to Cortado, one pastor who was able to communicate with the outside world said that the relatively few believers in that part of India are "tired, wet and weak."
Hearst takes news stand. Newspaper titan William Randolph Hearst was not known for his Christian faith, though he was occasionally sympathetic toward Christian causes. He was impressed enough with Billy Graham that he famously told his editors to "puff Graham" and his 1949 Los Angeles crusades. The publicity from Hearst's papers made Graham a national figure. Today, Hearst's granddaughter has a cause of her own. Victoria Hearst is speaking out against the explicit content found in Hearst Magazines' Cosmopolitan. She has teamed up with former model Nicole Weider to petition the Federal Trade Commission that Cosmo be "brown-bagged" and sold to adults only. "About 11 years ago, I contacted Frank Bennack and the board of the Hearst Corporation and told them that what they are publishing in Cosmopolitan magazine was pornographic," Hearst said in a statement. "I had the support of two female psychologists and counselors who attest that this content hurts young girls. I also asked that the magazine be sold only to adults. I never received a reply from anyone at the Hearst Corporation, but I had peace because I delivered the message." But when Weider recently launched a campaign against Cosmopolitan, Hearst said, "I knew I needed to join in her mission." Their petition now has more than 33,000 signatures.
Blue light special. A short half-century ago today, the first Walmart store opened in Rogers, Ark. Love it or hate it (and I happen to love Walmart), you can't deny that the company has an amazing story and has come a tremendous distance since 1962. Today, from that first store, Walmart has grown to more than 8,500 locations in 15 countries. The retailer is the largest public corporation in the world according to revenue. It is also the largest private employer in the world, with more than 2 million employees. Walmart remains a family-owned business, with the Walton family still controlling 48 percent of the stock.