As I await hurricane reports and loss of my DSL, let me pause to respond to a letter that gently accuses me of cynicism in my post yesterday on the separation of coven and state. Let's go straight to the comments section:
Could it be that tmatt is just trying to gin up a little spurious contoversy by waving some red meat at the right? And if so, then how does this fit into the stated purpose of this blog?
Also, another interesting question has been asked. How does the United States manage to have Baptist chaplains in the military, when Baptists are about as fragmented and "free church" as one can get?
Indeed, I thought of the Baptist analogy. That's why I used the "free church" analogy in the first place. But there are some Baptist structures at this point, some seminaries and powerful people with whom the state can negotiate. At this point, there is no similar pagan establishment of this kind.
And what does this whole topic have to do with the stated purpose of this blog?
That's easy. First of all, I really did want to praise the original source story. We are here to praise good work on the religion beat, as well as poke at the coverage that we think is lacking. Honest.
Second, this coven and state thing is not a joke. It is an emerging issue in church-state law. The government is not supposed to discriminate on the basis of religious points of view. You can look it up.
The political right will have to deal with that and will struggle to do so. Just as the cultural left stuggles with the same concept. On what basis does the state fund the work of, let's say, Episcopal institutions that sound neo-Unitarian, but not fund the work of charismatic Episcopal ministries that sound neo-Pentecostal?
And it is also true that the high court has truly knocked away key props that held up what used to known as Western thought. As Charles Colson noted, we can't have the "mystery of the universe" as a legal standard when it comes time to create stop signs and traffic laws. But where did that absolute standard come from, other than insurance costs and injuries?
This is a valid story. Just watch.
So I was sincere in the original post. The topic is not going away.
"Cosmo" also asked about the funding of this blog.
As I said back at the beginning, GetReligion was born as part of the wider journalism projects linked to my work as Senior Fellow for Journalism at the Council For Christian Colleges and Universities. In particular, you might want to check out the information at the Best Semester site about the Summer Institute for Journalism.