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CULTURE DIGEST: Coulter crossed the line in Edwards homosexual reference; …

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Conservative pundit Ann Coulter crossed a line when she referred to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards by using a word meant to demean homosexuals, and some conservatives are starting to blow the whistle.

Known for her piercing quips aimed at liberals, Coulter has refused to show remorse for the comment she made during a speech at the American Conservative Union’s Political Action Conference March 2.

“I’m so ashamed, I can’t stop laughing,” Coulter said. “Come on, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that while Coulter has many right ideas and is an eloquent spokeswoman for conservative convictions, she has “lowered herself to embarrassing theatrics and crude humor.”

“Conservative institutions cannot afford any association with this kind of language or attack,” Mohler wrote on his blog at albertmohler.com March 5. “The issues are far too serious to be treated in this manner, and the very convictions Ann Coulter often defends are now sullied by association with her.”

Mohler defended the personal integrity of Edwards, whose nearly 30-year marriage to his wife, Elizabeth, not only survived the tragic death of their 16-year-old son but went on to produce two more children.

“John Edwards stood by his wife through her more recent fight with breast cancer, and there has never been a scandal associated with their long marriage,” Mohler wrote. “I oppose John Edwards’ political platform, but not John Edwards the man, husband, and father.”

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, the world’s largest ministry to people recovering from homosexual behavior, said Coulter’s type of political and social discourse is hurtful and should not be tolerated by conservatives.

“Used in any context, this hurtful word is used to demean an individual who is valuable to God,” Chambers said in a March 7 news release. “There is nothing to be gained by denigrating others with crude slurs. In doing so, we disgrace ourselves and discredit the truths we seek to publicly elevate.”

Three newspapers — The Mountain Press in Sevierville, Tenn., The Oakland Press in Mich., and the Lancaster New Era in Penn. — said they would stop running Coulter’s syndicated column because of the Edwards comment, Reuters reported March 7.

Coulter is author of the books “Godless: The Church of Liberalism” and “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter.”

44 STAFF MEMBERS LAID OFF AT NEW LIFE CHURCH — New Life Church, the Colorado Springs congregation Ted Haggard started in his home and saw grow to 14,000 members before he was forced to step down as pastor last fall, recently cut 44 staff members from its staff and has seen a 10 percent drop in revenue.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported March 5 that the church was consolidating some of its 350 part-time and fulltime staff positions and using volunteers in place of paid staff.

Ross Parsley, the church’s interim senior pastor, told The Gazette the church was not in a financial freefall but was simply overstaffed.

“We were kind of living on the edge,” Parsley said. “That’s good for everybody until a rainy day comes, and now we’re in the rain. We certainly can’t keep using money we don’t have.”

Associate pastor Rob Brendle told The Gazette the church was “committed to getting the house in order” before a new pastor is selected, and Parsley called the restructuring a “holy process” of ensuring that the church is a good steward of tithes and offerings.

Church leaders announced Feb. 18 that they would offer financial support to the Haggard family during the next year, and that figure would be roughly the equivalent of the $130,000 salary Haggard received as pastor, The Gazette reported.

“We recognize that Ted and Gayle’s contribution as our founder and as our senior pastor for over 20 years are immeasurable, even as Ted’s indiscretions are inexcusable,” Brendle said.

EMBATTLED NAVY CHAPLAIN DISMISSED — Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt, a chaplain in the U.S. Navy, was fired March 1 after more than a year of legal struggles that began with him praying in Jesus’ name while wearing his uniform at a White House rally for Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore.

Navy officials had planned to discharge Klingenschmitt Jan. 31, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asked that he remain on active duty until they could review his request for an injunction, the Navy Times reported.

In a statement released Feb. 27, the three-judge panel decided that Klingenschmitt “has not demonstrated the stringent standards required” for such an injunction, and that cleared the way for his dismissal.

Since Klingenschmitt had worn his uniform to the White House rally when the Navy had told him not to, he was court-martialed last year for disobeying a lawful order and sentenced to a suspended fine and a letter of reprimand.

He resigned from his endorser, the Evangelical Episcopal Church, and subsequently received the endorsement of the Dallas-based Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches. But the Navy refused to accept his new endorsement based on a review of his records, and a chaplain cannot serve without an endorsement from a religious organization, the Times said.

The Navy has since rescinded the regulation that Klingenschmitt was protesting in the first place, which restricted chaplains from conducting public worship outside of Sunday chapels.

“My sacrifice purchased their freedom,” Klingenschmitt said in a news release following his dismissal. “My conscience is clear, the fight was worth it, and I’d do it all again.”

WASH. POST SAYS MARRIAGE IS A LUXURY — According to a report by The Washington Post, marriage these days is mostly for the wealthy and well-educated.

“Punctuating a fundamental change in American family life, married couples with children now occupy fewer than one in every four households — a share that has been slashed in half since 1960 and is the lowest ever recorded by the census,” reporter Blaine Harden wrote for The Post March 4.

“As marriage with children becomes an exception rather than the norm, social scientists say it is also becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and the affluent,” the article continued. “The working class and the poor, meanwhile, increasingly steer away from marriage, while living together and bearing children out of wedlock.”

Isabel V. Sawhill, an expert on marriage and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told The Post that marriage has almost become a luxury item that only the well-educated and well-paid are interested in.

“The poor aren’t entering into marriage very much at all,” Pamela Smock, a University of Michigan sociology professor, told The Post. She added that young people from poor backgrounds often don’t think they can afford marriage, and many of them have endured the troubled marriages of their parents.

“For most Americans, cohabitation will continue to increase over the coming decades, and the percentage of children born outside of marriage is also going to increase,” Smock said.

To support the theory, Smock’s research found about a third of first births among white women come before marriage, compared with three-quarters among black women, The Post said. And 55 percent of blacks, 40 percent of Hispanics and 30 percent of whites spend some of their childhood with cohabiting parents.

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  • Erin Roach