Under-covered stories of the week

Posted: Dec 18, 2003 12:00 AM

Now that I'm blogging many times during the day (www.worldmagblog.com), I run across lots of provocative and evocative stories that have received some news coverage, but -- often for ideological reasons -- not what they deserve. Here are my top five tales of the past week in reverse order of under-coverage:

5) Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich advising Democrats to make evangelical Christians the issue in next year's presidential campaign: "Democrats should hold evangelicals accountable for what they're trying to do in our nation's schools -- promoting the teaching of creationism, demanding school prayer, pushing ‘abstinence until marriage' programs and opposing sex education. This is all about imposing their religious views on our children."

Hmmm. Which worldview dominates the nation's schools? One reason evangelicals are active is that educational lobbies have already imposed the teaching of macro-evolution and situational ethics. Reich went on to say that abortion is about "religious liberty." Don't abortions deprive unborn children of any opportunity to gain liberty or pursue happiness?

4) While we're fretting about evangelicals imposing their views on children, how about the story (told by education expert Joanne Jacobs) of Robert Wright, a San Jose middle school teacher, who found in his school's dumpster "a discarded copy of C.S. Lewis' 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.' It's a nice hardbound copy. ... Inside, it is stamped with this message: 'This book has been replaced for one or more of the following reasons: Material is inaccurate. Does not meet district standards. Stereotypes gender or culture.'"

Hmmm. Was the material inaccurate because its description of Narnia's geography did not accord with AAA maps? Did it not rise to the level of Dick and Jane (or Jane and Jane) readers? Or was the book tossed because it stereotyped witches.

3) President Bush, in Tuesday's ABC interview with Diane Sawyer, voiced support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but such a move is still being portrayed as an entry of religion into politics, rather than a defense of limited government. What's being missed is that strong marriages are our only bulwark against bigger government. Women raising children outside of marriage look to government for help, and a compassionate culture cannot say no.

2) Fuller Theological Seminary has received a federal Department of Justice grant of $1 million to develop an interfaith code of ethics that would prohibit proselytizing for two years and ask Christians and Muslims not to say things that would offend each other. Curious: Why is an evangelical seminary pushing for Christians not to evangelize? If Christians say that Islam treats women as second-class citizens, is that offensive?

Also, why are federal funds being used to establish a religious code? Why is a new code needed, anyway? Last May, the Institute for Religion and Democracy, a broad Christian group, published "Guidelines for Christian-Muslim Dialogue." The guidelines emphasize rights of evangelism that some evangelicals are apparently willing to concede. IRD understands that Christians will "give testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it is our duty to do so. Ultimately, Christ himself is the greatest blessing that we could offer to our Muslim interlocutors."

1) Amid the excitement surrounding Saddam's capture, one important story did not get much attention in the United States. The (London) Telegraph headline told the tale: "Terrorist behind September 11 strike was trained by Saddam." The gist: Iraq's coalition government has uncovered documentary proof that Saddam was kept informed of the progress of Mohammed Atta, the Al Qaeda mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States.

Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, sent Saddam a handwritten memo on July 1, 2001, that summarized the "work programme" Atta had undertaken in Baghdad and noted that Atta's " extraordinary effort" demonstrated his ability to lead the team that would be "responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy."

Smoking gun, yes?