- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2000

The Gospel of John

"Two new books on John Lennon claim that the ex-Beatle experienced a brief period as a born-again Christian during the 1970s. While living the life of a virtual recluse in New York's Dakota Building, Lennon became an avid viewer of American TV evangelists and, at some point during 1977, declared that he had been saved …

"Both writers have based their information on sources close to Lennon and on the singer's personal diaries, which circulated shortly after his death and were then retrieved by his widow, Yoko Ono… . Ono, whose first husband Anthony Cox, became an evangelical Christian in the 1970s, was displeased with Lennon's changed outlook. [Author Geoffrey] Giuliano claims that Lennon began to challenge her interest in the occult and was disappointed that she wouldn't join him in watching [evangelist Billy] Graham's telecasts.

" 'This dramatic conversion worried Yoko,' Giuliano writes. 'She feared that John's new faith would clash with her own ideas about spiritualism and threaten her iron hold over him.' In the end, Ono won. In his final years, the man best known for his lines 'Imagine there's no heaven/It's easy if you try' was living a life dictated by astrologers, numerologists, clairvoyants, psychics, herbalists and tarot card readers."

Steve Turner in "The Ballad of John and Jesus" in the June 12 Christianity Today

Don't worship here

"From Jacksonville, Ore., to Bellingham, Wash., to hundreds of points east, Christians, Jews, Muslims and almost every faith community are facing government hostility. If a 'church on every corner' represents our purple-majesty-and-amber-waves-of-grain past, then today's harsh reality is 'a church in every industrial park.' …

" 'It's a pervasive problem,' said Marc Stern, assistant executive director of the American Jewish Congress, based in New York City. 'There are parts of New Jersey in which no one has built a synagogue in years without facing a lawsuit. I know of Muslims and Mormons not being able to build. What people are saying through their elected officials is "not in my backyard." '

"[This] sentiment is pervasive across the country. Churches hoping to build near a residential area on land zoned for multiple uses can gird themselves for a battle with ad-hoc community groups who will raise a familiar litany of objections: Traffic impact. Noise. Lighting. Increased congestion. Nighttime use. Changing the character of the neighborhood …

"One reason city officials work against churches is that they do not pay property taxes, business fees or even sales tax. Those same officials often fail to appreciate how the very churches they are restricting save the government huge sums by reducing crime, spousal and child abuse, and otherwise inculcating good social attitudes in its members."

Mike Yorkey, writing on "Worship-Free Zones?" in the June issue of Citizen

National scam

"AmeriCorps, the 'national service' scam created in 1993, may be President Clinton's proudest achievement… . As always, reality and Bill Clinton move in opposite directions. In practice, AmeriCorps operates more like a federal relief program for nightclub comics.

"In San Diego, AmeriCorps recruits carried out the 'First Annual Undergarment Drive,' a high-profile campaign to collect used bras, panties and pantyhose for a local women's center. In Buffalo, N.Y., AmeriCorps members helped run a program that gave children $5 for each toy gun they brought in as well as a certificate praising their decision not to play with toy guns.

"In Lone Pine, Calif., AmeriCorps members put on a puppet show to warn 4-year-olds of the dangers of earthquakes. In Los Angeles, AmeriCorps recruits busied themselves sewing a quilt to send to victims of the Oklahoma City bombing but never bothered to finish the project."

James Bovard, writing on "AmeriCorps: Salvation Via Hand-holding," in the July/August American Spectator

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