School board reinstates student suspended for saying "God bless"
The top story in St. Louis today is that James Lord has been reinstated as the closed-circuit television reader of the daily bulletin at Dupo High School in nearby Dupo, Illinois. Lord's crime? Signing off his December 17 broadcast with "Have a safe and happy holiday, and God bless."

"The purpose of the [morning broadcast] is to read the daily bulletin," Principal Jonathan Heerboth had explained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We can't allow one person to use school time to express any personal religious beliefs … we're not going to turn loose our school forum."

School superintendent Michael Koebel agreed, saying Lord had no right to utter such a statement. "If you go off school grounds you're certainly welcome to use your First Amendment rights and stand on a box and say anything you'd like," he told television station KSDK (which has video of the initial broadcast and last night's board meeting).

After his suspension, which was set to end Sunday, Lord issued a news release, distributed more than 400 flyers asking community members to attend a school board meeting, and hired lawyers with the American Center for Law and Justice to plead his case. The case attracted national media attention.

ACLJ lawyer Francis Manion says the case wasn't really a matter of religious freedom. Saying "God bless" is "simply like saying Gesundheit," he said. "I mean it is not necessarily a religious statement."

Last night, the school board reinstated Lord to the "Tiger's Eye News."

"School Board President Brian Thompson said Lord has agreed to not make 'God bless' a staple of the show, but that the School Board doesn't have a problem with an occasional 'God bless' over the air," reports The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"I'm satisfied," Lord told the paper. "It shouldn't have been a big deal in the first place. I was kind of tired of dealing with all this, but I'm not doing it just for me, I'm doing it for everyone else."

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Religion and politics:

  • Knowing what candidates believe | Do you vote with a candidate's religious beliefs in mind, including how you think a candidate will approach others' beliefs? Religious leaders respond (Daily Pilot, Calif.)

  • The politics of prayer | As Democrats abandon traditional values and religion, their core voters are slipping away (Tony Quinn, Los Angeles Times)

  • The highest precinct | I expected the God Factor to appear in the presidential election, but I didn't expect it to arrive this early (Art Buchwald, The Washington Post)

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  • Guns, God, and gays | Where did Dean get this surefire attention-getter? (William Safire, The New York Times Magazine)

  • How will Dean's faith inform his judgment? | As a member of the UCC, Dean is not instructed what to think by a pope, bishops, or his own pastor, for we do not grant that power to anyone. (Nancy S. Taylor, The Boston Globe)

  • Mugabe faces the wrath of God, warns Archbishop Pius Ncube | Archbishop Pius Ncube has revealed that in the early 1980s, he was very close to President Robert Mugabe, the man he now castigates and calls a "big African crook" (Zimbabwe Standard)

  • Pope gives Cheney peace message | US Vice-President Dick Cheney has visited Pope John Paul II as part of a European tour seen as an attempt to mend fences after the Iraq war (BBC)

Secularism in France:

  • Chrirac faces opposition over scarf ban | Even some of his ideological allies have begun to express doubts about whether such a law would be workable and what might be the price. (Associated Press)

  • French Cabinet adopts Muslim scarf ban | French Cabinet ministers on Wednesday adopted a bill to ban conspicuous religious symbols in public schools — the first step to outlawing Islamic head scarves in the classroom (Associated Press)

  • Is France on the way to becoming an Islamic state? | Given current birth rates, it is not impossible that in 25 years France will have a Muslim majority. (Barbara Amiel, The Daily Telegraph, London)


  • Abortion trial wraps up in Portugal amid protests | Lawyers in a highly publicized trial in Portugal of seven women accused of having abortions made their final arguments with a verdict expected on February 17, as protestors gathered outside the courthouse. (AFP)

  • My late-term abortion | President Bush's attempt to ban partial-birth abortions threatens all late-term procedures. But in my case, everyone said it was the right thing to do — even my Catholic father and Republican father-in-law (The Boston Globe Magazine)

  • The unnewsworthy thousands | Once they were recognized as pro-life marchers. Today it's "abortion demonstrators"—if they're mentioned at all (George Neumayr, The American Spectator)

  • No abortion left behind | The pro-abortion fanatics have taken over the entire international forum. And to achieve the ability of any woman—at any place, for any reason—to have an abortion, they are willing to pay any price. (Editorial, The Weekly Standard)

  • Clark's choice | On abortion, he's in the mainstream of his party (Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review Online)

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Archbishop Burke:

  • Burke is installed as archbishop | In the seven weeks since Pope John Paul II named him to head the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Burke has exploded onto the national stage through a series of bold pronouncements that have captured the attention of the nation's media and have inadvertently knocked some other bishops on their heels (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • New archbishop calls on Catholics to deepen their faith | In his first Mass as archbishop, Raymond Leo Burke invited St. Louis Catholics to renew their relationship with Christ through a deeper devotion to Jesus' love (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • Burke installed as St. Louis archbishop (Associated Press/KDSK, video)

  • Communion and choice | Creating the sort of controversy that would follow an order to refuse Communion to Catholic officeholders in a region where support for abortion rights is widespread would do little to advance Catholic teachings, and much to isolate Morlino from the community he seeks to serve (Editorial, The Capital Times, Madison, Wis.)

Catholic/ Orthodox relations:

  • Vatican delegation to visit Moscow in February | After a long chill, a high-level Vatican delegation will meet in Moscow next month with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The delegation will include Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (Associated Press)

  • Russian church rules out meeting with Pope | The Russian Orthodox Church ruled out Tuesday any prospect of a meeting between its head and the Pope—something long-sought by the Catholic pontiff—just weeks before a Vatican envoy was due to visit Moscow. (Reuters)

  • The Orthodox Church warms the Russian | Over the past decade there had been an extraordinary mushrooming of religious institutions. Churches are back up to 24,000 and monasteries, seminaries and theological institutes are springing up everywhere (The Independent, London)

Salvation Army:

  • Salvation Army's Christian practice | I was intrigued by the perception that "religion is no longer as strong a component of the [the Salvation Army] mission" (Commissioner Linda Bond, Los Angeles Times)

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Homosexuality and gay marriage:


  • Single and paying for it | Amid all the heated discussion on both sides of the gay marriage debate, a broader point has somehow gotten lost: why should formally committed couples, straight or gay, enjoy special privileges in the first place? (Shari Motro, The New York Times)

  • Distractions and debates | All unions are not created equally — and they should not be treated equally (Deborah Simmons, The Washington Times)

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  • Pro-marriage bid faces obstacles | Getting unwed parents to marry, as the Bush administration would like to see happen with $1.5 billion in welfare funds, is going to be difficult, says a study of poor, unwed parents in Louisiana (The Washington Times)

  • Why good marriages matter | The president's proposal may not be entirely serious, but the state of marriage in America is. And when marriage is in trouble, the society is in trouble (William Raspberry, The Washington Post)

  • Programs try down-to-earth aid for marriages | Over the last decade, marriage education has mushroomed, in churches, community centers, colleges and even high schools (The New York Times)

  • Should this marriage be saved? | Conservatives just don't like the message being communicated, which is this: We don't want to get married (Laura Kipnis, The New York Times)

  • The power of the ring thing | Abstinence programs, and the organizations that promote them, are gaining momentum in the United States. An increasing number of teenagers are pledging themselves to no sex before marriage (BBC)


  • The strange rebirth of the family | The new fashion for making babies in fact upholds traditional values (Mary Kenny, The Guardian)

  • Do children need fathers? | As family life becomes ever more complex, Louisa Young and John Baker debate who are the best people to parent (The Guardian, London)

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