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TBC NewsWatch



Evolutionnews.org, 3/28/2011: Jerry Coyne's Blacklist of ID [Intelligent Design] Scientists [excerpts]—Prominent evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne recently has made this remarkable assertion: "Adherence to ID (which, after all, claims to be a nonreligious theory) should be absolute grounds for not hiring a science professor."

Notwithstanding Coyne's absolute assertion that scientists who "adhere" to ID are unemployable, Coyne actually claims that his professional exclusion of scientists who endorse ID is not anti-religious bigotry: "...I abhor discrimination against hiring simply because of someone's religion...."

Yet Coyne has called for the resignation of Dr. Francis Collins, an esteemed scientist who is the director of the National Institutes of Health and who is an opponent of ID. Coyne demands Collins' resignation merely because Collins has publicly expressed his Christian views.

Coyne: "Collins gets away with this kind of stuff [i.e. speaking publicly about the compatibility between science and his belief in God] only because, in America, Christianity is a socially sanctioned superstition. He's the chief government scientist, but he won't stop conflating science and faith. He had his chance, and he blew it. He should step down."

What "chance" did Collins "blow"? Collins blew his chance to pass the atheist litmus test by keeping his mouth shut about his belief in God. Coyne's religious discrimination is explicit and undeniable.

And Coyne goes further. He asserts that mere adherence to ID, whether held by a scientist with religious views or by a scientist with no religious views, absolutely precludes employment.... Coyne's blacklist extends to all areas of science, not just to evolutionary biology or even to biology [and] would apply to oceanographers and chemists and meteorologists as well.


CBNNEWS.com, 5/17/2011: Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck announced plans for a rally in Jerusalem in August, which he's calling "Restore Courage." The Jerusalem rally will take place one year after Beck organized a rally in Washington, D.C., called "Restoring Honor," which drew an estimated 500,000 people.

"Last summer, we set out to restore honor in Washington, D.C. This summer, it's time to restore courage," he said. "It is time for us to courageously stand with Israel."

Beck made the announcement on his radio show on Monday, warning that Jerusalem, the "center of our faith," is in danger. "They are going to attack the center of our faith, our common faith, and that is Jerusalem. And it won't be with bullets or bombs. It will be with a two-state solution that cuts off Jerusalem, the OldCity, to the rest of the world," he said.

Beck then issued a call to action to Christians around the globe: "I ask you to join me...to take this to every corner of the earth.... This is not an American solution. This is a people of faith solution."

[TBC: We applaud Beck's support of Israel, but we reject his Mormon belief that Joseph Smith was the prophesied son of the Israelite patriarch Joseph.]


USAToday, 5/20/2011: Obama rebuffed by Netanyahu on land-for-peace deal [excerpts]—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed President Obama today over using the 1967 Israeli-Palestinian borders as a basis for a peace agreement.

Speaking after an Oval Office meeting that went nearly two hours longer than scheduled, Netanyahu said any deal "cannot go back to the 1967 lines, because these lines are indefensible, because they don't take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground."

Between 1948 and 1967, Netanyahu said, "These were not the boundaries of peace. They were the boundaries of repeated wars."

His comments represented a setback for Obama, who proposed in a speech Thursday that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resume with the 1967 lines—plus agreed-upon "swaps"—forming the basis for a deal. Less than 24 hours later, the leader of Israel had rejected the U.S. president's proposal.

"Obviously, there are some differences between us, the precise formulations and language," Obama said. "That's going to happen between friends."

Netanyahu told reporters after nearly 2 1/2 hours of private talks that Obama's vision wouldn't create a lasting peace: "Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality," he said.

Netanyahu said [that] three conditions—no 1967 lines, no acceptance of Palestinian refugees and no alignment between Abbas' Fatah party and Hamas—must be met for Israel to move forward with peace talks.

"We don't have a lot of margin for error," the prime minister said. "History will not give the Jewish people another chance."

Obama did get one endorsement for his policy prescription today. The Middle East Quartet—representing the United Nations, European Union and Russia, in addition to the United States-applauded his initiative.


NYTIMES.com, 5/10/2011: Presbyterians Approve Ordination of Gay People [excerpts]—After 33 years of debate, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to change its constitution and allow openly gay people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons.

The outcome is a reversal from only two years ago, when a majority of the church's regions, known as presbyteries, voted against ordaining openly gay candidates....

"All of us are surprised," said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the church's stated clerk, its highest elected official. He attributed the turnabout in the votes to both the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the larger culture, and to church members simply wearying of the conflict. We've been having this conversation for 33 years, and some people are ready to get to the other side of this decision," he said. "I hope that going forward we can stay together and be faithful witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ," he said.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) now joins a growing bloc of historic, mainline Protestant churches that have voted to accept gay clergy members and church leaders—a bloc that includes the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church. (The largest mainline Protestant denomination, the United Methodist Church, is still fighting over the issue).

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has about two million members. The Presbyterian Church in America, a much smaller and more conservative denomination, prohibits the ordination of women and openly gay candidates.

Longtime advocates of gay equality in the Presbyterian Church savored the day. The Rev. Heidi Vardeman, senior minister of MacalasterPlymouthUnitedChurch in St. Paul and a spokeswoman for a pro-gay church group called More Light Presbyterians, said in an interview, "Finally, the denomination has seen the error of its ways and it will repent.... I've had young people who have been exemplary, obviously good candidates for the ministry," she said, "but then you have to have this weird conversation in which you say that, umm, because they might be gay or lesbian, it's not going to work. But now we're free! We can endorse and propose and assist and elect those whom God has called."

In the next few months, the denomination will gauge the reaction from its more theologically conservative members, who believe that ordaining sexually active gay people is inconsistent with the Bible. Some have already departed. The Presbyterian News Service estimates that approximately 100 congregations have left the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the last five years. Several were large congregations, which could help explain why the vote in some presbyteries switched from 2009.

Paul Detterman, executive director of Presbyterians for Renewal, an alliance of conservative Presbyterians, said: "We see this as a bit of a crisis of conscience for us. The book that we hold up as holy is saying one thing, and now the church is behaving differently."