- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Changing his tune

“It’s been nearly two years since Colin Powell went on MTV preaching the secular gospel of ‘safe sex.’ … At the time, while appearing on a network known for condom ads in addition to various forms of raunchiness, Powell sang the praises of condoms … and called upon ‘the whole international community’ to rally behind his cause — to ‘forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas.’ …

“But sometime during the past couple years, the secretary of state seems to have changed his tune. …

“Now Powell says, ‘Abstinence works. We know it works … and it is a perfectly sensible strategy for young people.’ In fact, Powell says he joins his wife Alma — who heads the abstinence program Best Friends in Washington, D.C. — in speaking to teen girls, urging them to stay away from sex.

“Well, that’s more like it. Sure, there clearly are limits on how much high government officials can do to reverse destructive social trends. … But government officials can at least follow the Hippocratic Oath’s prescription: ‘First, do no harm.’”

Matt Kaufman, writing on “Sex in the Real World, Revisited,” Thursday in Boundless at www.boundless.org

Faith in the famous

“Some courts have declared that articles of Judeo-Christian faith such as the Ten Commandments can be acceptable in government venues, but only when co-mingled with symbols of other faiths. A creche may be okay if placed beside a Menorah. The implication, in accord with post-modern multiculturalism, is that all religions are equal, and all are subservient to the state. …

“Among the alternatives to ‘that Old Time Religion,’ psychologists now report, is ‘Celebrity Worship Syndrome,’ in which roughly one-third of people in Western societies vicariously devote and attach their self-identity, values, income and passion to the famous. …

“But some of today’s worshipped celebrities themselves have turned religion into mere style and kitsch. Madonna … claimed a commercial trademark right to her first name, the Roman Catholic Church notwithstanding. She used the crucifix as a fashion accessory and courted publicity by toying with the Jewish mystical teaching of the Kabbalah. …

“Madonna gives the term ‘cult of personality’ a whole new, shallower-than-ever meaning. But she has a practical excuse: It earns her millions. What do her hollow-headed worshippers see when they look in their mirrors? Is anybody home in there?”

Lowell Ponte, writing on “Tactics of Religious War,” Monday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Militant atheism

“[British scientist Richard] Dawkins is an atheist, a strenuous and militant and proud one. He thinks religious belief is a dangerous virus, and that it is a crime to infect the mind of a child with it. … He calls religions ‘dangerous collective delusions,’ and he thinks that they are sinks of falsehood. … He especially regrets their public influence. He is made apoplectic by the pontifications of religious ‘leaders’ on such questions as whether human clones would be fully human. …

“He thinks of religious belief as simply true or false, like other beliefs, and then overwhelmingly likely to be false, since they are either inconsistent with or unsupported by our best evidence about the way the world works. Religion is superstition, like astrology, alternative medicine, and the rest.”

Simon Blackburn, writing on “The Ethics of Belief,” in the Dec. 1 issue of the New Republic


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