Hiding bias. Chelsea Clinton has been an outspoken supporter of gay “marriage.” In fact, she cut a video supporting the Washington state fight for same-sex “marriage” that she apparently planned to air on the internet. But Clinton is also a correspondent for NBC News, and when the network found out about the video, it squashed it. My question is, why? Is NBC afraid of being branded the “gay network”? Is it trying to maintain a thin façade of objectivity? That’s hard to know, since NBC is not talking about the incident. My recommendation to the major networks is that their correspondents should be able to have whatever political views they want, but they should disclose their party registrations and who they voted for in the most recent elections—in the same way that candidates have to disclose their finances. Somehow, though, I don’t think the networks will implement my recommendation any time soon.
Hoosier refunds. The federal government is dealing with record deficits. Most states are constitutionally required to have a balanced budget, but states such as California are struggling to get there. That’s why a press release hitting my desk from Indiana is so interesting. Gov. Mitch Daniels said last week that Hoosiers who file individual returns next year will receive a credit of $111 and joint filers will receive a credit of $222 because of the state’s automatic taxpayer refund (ATR). Indiana is running a budget surplus and closed the year with cash reserves of more than $2 billion, or about 15 percent of the state’s budget. Last year, the Indiana General Assembly approved a plan to pay out an automatic taxpayer refund if the state’s reserves exceeded 10 percent at the end of the budget year on June 30. In future years, the reserve threshold will be 12.5 percent. About $360 million will be used to strengthen state-controlled pension funds for judges, teachers, police officers, and others.
Chinese Calvinists. Andrew Brown, a blogger for the British newspaper The Guardian, had a fascinating post last week about Calvinism in China. Brown wrote, “The churches that follow Calvin are the third largest Christian grouping in the world. In China they hope to become the religion of the elite.” According to Brown, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches now claims at least 75 million members. He observed, “Although, Calvinism is shrinking in Western Europe and North America, it is experiencing an extraordinary success in China.” The post, as most mainstream media articles do, is fuzzy on theological subtlety. For example, it doesn’t differentiate between Reformed theology, which emphasizes God’s sovereignty and grace, from strict “Five Point” Calvinism. In saying that Calvinism is in decline in the United States, the article also ignores the many Southern Baptists and non-denominational Christians who profess Reformed theology, even if they’re not part of Reformed denominations. Despite these limitations, it’s a fascinating post, and I commend it to you.
No women bishops—for now. Because of a few courageous lay people who stood against both their clergy and their bishops, the Church of England will hold to biblical standards of leadership—at least for a while. For the church to have women bishops, three groups had to approve the decision with a supermajority vote. Clergy and bishops had done so, but enough laypeople said no to turn back the decision. The global Anglican Church, of which the Church of England is a part, claims 75 million members, though at least 25 million of them are nominal Brits and Americans. The real vibrancy in the church is in Africa and Asia, where the prospect of women bishops is unwelcome. In fact, everywhere women bishops now serve—the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Canada—the Anglican Church has gone into steep decline. It will be at least five years before the Church of England will be able to vote on this issue again.