Now that’s ironic. President Barack Obama is a rock star in Africa, but many African countries—some of which are Muslim but many of which have large and conservative Christian populations—hold a biblical view of homosexuality. So Obama’s support for same-sex marriage has caused his popularity to take a hit in some of these countries. Senegal, the first stop on the president’s week-long Africa tour, is 95 percent Muslim, and homosexual behavior is illegal. The president didn’t want to talk about the subject, but in the wake of the Supreme Court rulings this week on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, he had to, since that’s just about all the reporters covering him were asking about. He appeared uncomfortable with the questions, and at one point said countries in Africa should reconsider their positions on homosexuality. Africans, with their long history of domination by Western powers, now bristle at being told what to do by America or Europe. To African ears, Obama’s comments smacked of colonialism, or worse. So it was ironic that the first African-American president in American history would lecture Africa on a moral issue, and not unexpected that Senegalese President Mackey Sall said through a translator that the U.S. should respect Africa’s cultural differences.
Return to form. After a rough start this year, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey this week pitched a two-hitter for his first complete game of the year. Dickey is clawing his way back to the .500 mark: He’s now 7-8, and his ERA—still mediocre at 4.72—is now at least within sight of the league average. Dickey retired 13 batters before James Loney grounded a single in the fifth inning. Yunel Escobar had a one-out single in the sixth, but he was erased when Matt Joyce hit a double-play grounder. So for Dickey, it was a dominating performance.
Be careful. Next week is the Independence Day holiday, and fireworks shops are already reporting brisk business. So this is perhaps a good time to note that those little sparklers and firecrackers are dangerous. I was in St. Louis this week for the International Christian Retail Show, a gathering of the Christian retail industry. When I travel, I make it a habit of reading the local paper. (Call it professional courtesy or enemy surveillance, as you will.) In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch I noted the story of 10-year-old Martinez Smith-Payne, who had a firecracker go off in his hand last Friday. He lost four fingers, has already had two surgeries, and likely will face more. Authorities said there was nothing special about this firecracker. It was a “consumer-grade one of the sort that could be purchased at a fireworks stand.”
Evangelicals and patriotism. The Independence Day holiday means ‘tis the season for patriotism, and when it comes to patriotic feelings, no one has them more intensely than white evangelicals. That according to a new poll by Public Religion Research Institute. About 68 percent of white evangelicals say they are extremely proud to be Americans. According to Religion News Service (RNS), who co-sponsored the poll, “that figure was markedly higher than for white mainline Protestants (56 percent), minority Christians (49 percent), Catholics (48 percent) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (39 percent).” According to RNS: “White evangelicals are also more likely than any other religious group surveyed to believe that God has granted the U.S. a special role in history (84 percent) and to say they will likely attend a public July 4th celebration (62 percent).”