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God's Politics

The latest news on faith and politics, congressional scandal, Darfur, Amish funerals, Lebanon, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, and select op-eds.

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Full news summary:

Faith and politics. GOP’s Hold on Evangelicals Weakening– “In 2004, white evangelical or born-again Christians made up a quarter of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted Republican, according to exit polls. But some pollsters believe that evangelical support for the GOP peaked two years ago and that what has been called the “God gap” in politics is shrinking.” Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers – “Despite their packed megachurches, their political clout and their increasing visibility on the national stage, evangelical Christian leaders are warning one another that their teenagers are abandoning the faith in droves.”

Pentecostal and Charismatic Groups Growing – “A survey of Pentecostal and charismatic Christians in 10 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas shows they are gaining converts and are more politically engaged than experts had thought.” Pentecostals OK religion in politics – “A majority of Pentecostals and charismatic Christians think religion should find a place in politics, according to a poll released yesterday. In nine of the 10 countries surveyed, a majority of Pentecostals and charismatics, together called renewalists, said religious groups should not stay out of political matters,” The full report from the Pew Forum.

Congressional scandal. Inquiry To Look At House, Not Foley – “The House ethics committee launched a wide-ranging investigation into Congress’s handling of information about a Florida lawmaker and teenage pages, as Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) vowed to keep his job, saying, “I haven’t done anything wrong.” House Republicans Move to Back Hastert – “Republicans are calculating that the smartest way to survive the Mark Foley sex scandal is to rally around House Speaker Hastert and hope that no new evidence surfaces before Election Day…” Hastert, a Political Survivor, Vows to Overcome Scandal – “…Hastert, who was installed as House speaker eight years ago through backroom maneuvering in a moment of crisis for his party, has no distinct power base in Congress, not much of a national reputation and, in an age of television politics, little polish in front of the camera. But Mr. Hastert has survived and survived to become the longest-serving Republican speaker.”

Darfur. Sudan Escalates Stand Against U.N. Mission for Darfur – “Sudan stepped up opposition to a U.N. peacekeeping mission for Darfur, warning that it would consider any country’s pledge to supply police or troops to a U.N. force “a hostile act” and a “prelude to an invasion” of the Islamic country.” Sudan tries intimidation, US says, to bar peacekeeping force – “The United States demanded that the UN Security Council respond to Sudan’s warning that any nation pledging UN troops for Darfur was committing a “hostile act” and a “prelude to an invasion.” U.N. Troops Would Be Seen as ‘Hostile,’ Sudan Letter Warns – “Darfur is edging closer to catastrophe, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, as the Sudanese government warned that countries sending troops for a U.N. peacekeeping force there would be committing “a hostile act.” U.S. urges response to Sudan warning – “The United States demanded an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over a letter in which Sudan’s government said it would view any troop commitments to a future peacekeeping force in Darfur as a “hostile act” and a “prelude to an invasion,”

Amish schoolgirls funerals. An Old World Close to a New World Horror – “As is customary in Amish tradition, guests brought food, not flowers. A hymn was read in 16th-century German, but there was no singing. The dead were laid in simple pine coffins and dressed in homemade white dresses, symbolizing purity. Two sermons were given, both in Pennsylvania Dutch.” A Plain and Profound Farewell – “The train of wagons passed through town three times on the same grim errand. And still they were not done burying the girls.” Laid to rest – “As funerals begin, details emerge of girls’ schoolhouse bravery… Thirteen-year-old Marian Fisher implored Charles Carl Roberts IV to shoot her first, hoping the gunman would spare the younger girls.”

Lebanon. Israeli Bomblets Plague Lebanon – “Since the war between Israel and Hezbollah ended in August, nearly three people have been wounded or killed each day by cluster bombs Israel dropped in the waning days of the war, and officials now say it will take more than a year to clear the region of them.”

Iran. World Powers to Meet On Iran Sanctions – “Months of intense negotiations with Iran about its nuclear program have failed and the United States and its diplomatic partners will meet in London to discuss which punitive actions to include in a
new U.N. resolution,” World leaders to discuss Iran’s nuclear program – “The United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia will confer today in London to assess Iran’s defiant refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. They are expected to refer the nuclear case to the UN Security Council for talks next week on possible sanctions,”

North Korea. U.S. Weighs Sanctions Against North Korea – “The Bush administration is developing an extensive list of possible new sanctions against North Korea in the event that it carries through with its threat to conduct a nuclear test…”

Afghanistan. NATO Takes Security Helm – “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Thursday took command of U.S. troops fighting insurgents in eastern Afghanistan, putting the Western alliance in charge of security across the country amid an increase in fighting.”

Iraq. Release of Iraq Report Sought –“The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee accused the Bush administration of suppressing a classified intelligence report that paints a “grim” picture of the situation in Iraq.”

Commentary.

Hastert must go (Chicago Tribune editorial) – “Dennis Hastert should resign as speaker of the House of Representatives. Not necessarily because he failed to act quickly when shown evidence suggesting that Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) was abusing his power with teenagers — not all the details are known, though the ones that are don’t look good. No, the Illinois Republican should resign because he’s an unimaginative politician and an uninspired legislator. Unfortunately, these days that just makes him a typical congressional Republican.”

How the Democrats Can Step Up (David Ignatius, Washington Post)- “It’s too late for the Democrats to forge coherent positions on Iraq or tax policy before the November elections. But fortune has presented them with a mission that can be summed up in a simple sentence: They must be the party of accountability and reform.”

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