Signs and Wonders
A pro-nudity protester at San Francisco's City Hall
Associated Press/Photo by Jeff Chiu
A pro-nudity protester at San Francisco's City Hall

Signs and Wonders 11.21

Newsworthy

Put your clothes on! Some stories are so ridiculous you almost don’t know where to start in pointing out its ridiculousness. Here’s one: On Tuesday, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted six to five to approve a ban on public nudity. First of all, I’m surprised that public nudity wasn’t already banned, as it is in almost every city in California and (for that matter) the rest of the nation. Secondly, why wasn’t the vote 11-0?  Thirdly, why now? Apparently because nudity had become a real problem in San Francisco’s parks. People were not only sunbathing in the nude, they were riding the subway naked. According to board member Scott Wiener, “The nudity situation in the Castro [a part of town known for its high homosexual population] has become extreme.” After the vote, a crowd gathered in City Hall erupted in protest. Several tore off their clothes and booed in the buff. Sheriff’s deputies were prepared: They draped naked nay-sayers in blue blankets and led them out of the room.

Fighting a bad law. The conservative legal group Liberty Counsel is challenging California’s new law banning any counseling to diminish or eliminate same-sex sexual attractions. “This law places the state between the client and the counselor,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “This law intrudes on the fundamental right of self-determination to seek counseling that aligns with the client’s religious and moral values. This law forces counselors to overrule their clients who choose to prioritize their religious or moral values above unwanted same-sex sexual attractions.” Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit against California's SB 1172 in October. “This law is an astounding violation of the right to free speech and religious liberty,” Staver said. If Staver and the Liberty Counsel are not successful in their suit, SB 1172 becomes law on Jan. 1, 2013. A hearing is scheduled for next week.

Decline of the mainline. You may have heard that the Diocese of South Carolina wants to secede from The Episcopal Church over that church’s liberal theological positions. Not surprisingly, The Episcopal Church has said it cannot. But what caught my attention in that story is the number of news outlets that reported The Episcopal Church’s membership as 2.1 million. This number, and the media’s unquestioning acceptance of it, is an example of using statistics as propaganda. Here’s the real story: The Episcopal Church is so bureaucratic, it can’t get real-time numbers. This 2.1 million number is the latest available, but it is from 2010. Since the church has been declining at a rate of about 3 percent per year, it’s likely that The Episcopal Church now has less than 2 million members for the first time in at least 50 years. Secondly, average Sunday attendance in The Episcopal Church was just 657,831, according to the church’s own records. And that number declined nearly 4 percent from the year before. In short, The Episcopal Church is in complete free fall. From my point of view, that decline could not be happening to a more deserving group.

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Quality vs. quality control. I was in our nation’s capitol last weekend and noticed a story in the Sunday Washington Post titled “Quality controls lacking for D.C. schools accepting federal vouchers.” Notice this headline says “quality controls” are lacking. It doesn’t say that actual quality is lacking. The truth is that the “quality controls” put in place by the education bureaucracy often do little to produce real quality. Non-voucher schools in the District of Columbia have the “quality controls” that The Washington Post appears to love, but the quality of these schools is terrible. According to the Cato Institute, D.C. schools spend almost $30,000 per student, and barely half of the students graduate on time. D.C.’s voucher program is not perfect, but it has allowed nearly 1,600 kids in the past year to escape an obviously failed public school system. At a cost of $8,000 per elementary school kid and $12,000 per high school student, it’s a good deal for all concerned—student and taxpayer alike.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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