Blessings of the Web

Posted: Aug 20, 2003 12:00 AM

I've often wondered what exactly Albert Gore envisioned when he was, um, "inventing" the Internet.

Did he see it as the ultimate book of lists? As the world's yellow pages? As the ultimate source of up-to-date sports statistics?

Seriously, it seems unlikely Gore or anyone else expected the Internet to turn out as it has. What began as a project of the Department of Defense to gather and organize national security information has become a powerful worldwide marketplace of ideas, products and information the likes of which – even 10 years ago – man could not fathom.

Considering its enormous potential to do good, what a shame, what a sad commentary on the human condition, that what have become its most popular two uses are low-level vices available centuries before its invention – gambling and pornography.

Thankfully, in most instances, the Internet is realizing its positive potential. The success of an independent newssite like WorldNetDaily and the powerful conservative, are two prime examples. For the very best in public policy research, I'm particularly proud of our own (personal bias proudly admitted!)

A fun newssite is run by that zany, wonderful radio character, Neal Boortz. His "Nealz Nuze" has a daily "reading assignment" that contains links to the best online commentary. It also features plenty of great "stuff" from the bubbly, charming, expert word-marksman himself.

There are also other lesser-known Internet treasures – sites and e-mail lists – that are amazing resources for accurate information on important issues of the day. Take for instance, two new favorites of mine: the site of the Alliance Defense Fund and its companion e-mail "newsletter," "The Alliance Alert." In the alert, you'll find – packaged in a way that Matt Drudge would find familiar – stories of interest to pro-family, pro-values, pro-morality Americans.

I give The Alliance Alert high marks for both ease of use and for being thorough. It covers everything from religious freedom issues to family values to the impact of the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision regarding homosexuality. It also has a rare tribute to those in the trenches working to preserve constitutional rights – A "Hall of Fame" for lawyers who log 450 hours or more of pro bono work on behalf of protecting the religious liberty and free speech rights of today's persecuted Christians.

The Alliance Alert is not merely an echo chamber for those who share a Christian perspective – it gives all sides of these sensitive issues. Take the fight over whether Alabama's top judge can display the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. He's been ordered by a federal judge to remove them, but the attorney general of Alabama – who himself has been nominated by President Bush for a federal judgeship – has been slow to push the matter because he sees nothing wrong with displaying the true guiding principles of America in a court of law.

The Alliance site not only gives the details of this story, it provides a link to a letter from Barry Lynn, president of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the attorney general demanding he enforce the federal judge's order. Yes, the hair does stand up on the back of my neck when I read such things. But having his exact letter available helps me understand where the other side is coming from. I'm a firm believer in knowing the arguments of the opposition.

The Alert also showcases lesser-known controversies. For instance, one recent story, from LaCrosse, Wis., tells how the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a private community organization, has been ordered to remove a monument with the Ten Commandments from land the organization owns that is surrounded by a city park. The American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington-based firm that works on behalf of Christian causes (which also has a terrific website) has asked the court to intervene on their behalf and to set aside its ruling since, after all, this is a privately owned monument on private land.

In short, the Alliance Alert chronicles the day-by-day battle to keep God from being expunged from society. It links to many of the nation's top writers, such as William F. Buckley, Maggie Gallagher and others. It carries what historians call primary documents – not descriptions of important written works, but the works themselves.

If you're busy but you want to keep up with what's happening with faith in America, you can automatically receive the Alliance Alert in your inbox just by signing up.