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CULTURE DIGEST: Darwin draws celebration on ‘Evolution Sunday’; Black literature increasingly immoral, author says

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Under the banner of “Evolution Sunday,” several hundred churches nationwide marked the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin Feb. 12 by expressing their support for the theory that made him famous. Pastors, largely from mainline Protestant denominations, preached sermons on the importance of strictly teaching evolution without mention of Intelligent Design.

Evolution Sunday was derived from the Clergy Letter Project, which scholars and ministers in Wisconsin initiated last year in response to attempts to teach the controversy surrounding evolution, specifically by introducing Intelligent Design in classrooms, The New York Times recounted Feb. 13.

“There was a growing need to demonstrate that the loud, shrill voices of fundamentalists claiming that Christians had to choose between modern science and religion were presenting a false dichotomy,” Michael Zimmerman, dean of the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and leader of the letter project, told The Times.

Clergy Letter Project leaders said 441 congregations in 48 states and the District of Columbia were participating in Evolution Sunday, but The Times noted that such a claim could not be independently verified and at least a couple were advertised to be celebrating the day but were in fact not.

Bruce Chapman, president of Discovery Institute, a leading think tank researching scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution, called Evolution Sunday “the height of hypocrisy.”

“Our view is not that pastors should speak out against evolution, but that the Darwinists are hypocrites for claiming — falsely — that opposition to Darwinism is merely faith based, and then turning around and trying to make the case that Darwinism itself is faith based,” he said.

Chapman also said the only time religion is introduced in arguments over evolution is when its defenders falsely charge that anyone who opposes it must be religiously motivated.

“We maintain a list of hundreds of scientists who are skeptical of Darwinian evolution because of the unresolved scientific problems with the theory, not because of any so-called religious motivation,” Chapman said. “This isn’t science versus religion. It’s science versus science. It’s a standard part of science to raise evidence critical of an existing scientific theory or paradigm.

“That’s what good science is about — analyzing evidence and asking tough questions. Scientists have a duty to raise critical questions about existing scientific theories.”

Rev. Patricia Templeton of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church north of Atlanta told her congregation, “A faith that requires you to close your mind in order to believe is not much of a faith at all,” The Times reported.

But The Times also mentioned that mainline Protestant churches have declined sharply over the past three decades while membership in evangelical churches, which hold to a higher view of biblical authority, has risen.

AUTHOR SAYS BLACK LITERATURE INCREASINGLY IMMORAL — Nick Chiles, an award-winning black author, gave a shocking assessment of the state of African American literature and expressed his fears for its future in a New York Times column, saying what he saw in a local Borders bookstore “thoroughly embarrassed and disgusted” him.

“To my surprise, it had one of the largest collections of books by black authors that I’ve ever seen outside an independent black bookstore, rows and rows of bookcases,” Chiles wrote last month.

But what he found in the “African-American Literature” section was not what he expected.

“On shelf after shelf, in bookcase after bookcase, all that I could see was lurid book jackets displaying all forms of brown flesh, usually half-naked and in some erotic pose, often accompanied by guns and other symbols of criminal life,” he recounted. “I felt as if I was walking into a pornography shop, except in this case the smut is being produced by and for my people, and it is called ‘literature.’”

Chiles said he had been aware of the sexualization and degradation of black fiction and the number of novels meant to “appeal exclusively to our most prurient natures,” but what upsets him is that such books are no longer relegated to seedy street vendors in New York City — they’re also popping up in chains like Barnes & Noble and B. Dalton.

“The genre has been described by different names; ‘ghetto fiction’ and ‘street lit’ are two I’ve heard most often,” Chiles wrote. “Apparently, what we are now seeing is the crossover of this genre to mainstream bookstores.”

Young black women are considered the target audience of such publications, and the lists of bestsellers at black bookstores are now dominated by street lit, Chiles said, “driving out serious writers.”

“As I stood there in Borders, I had two sensations: I was ashamed and mortified to see my books sitting on the same shelves as these titles; and secondly, as someone who makes a living as a writer I felt I had no way to compete with these purveyors of crassness.”

JUDGE DISMISSES ‘PROVE JESUS’ LAWSUIT — An Italian judge who at one point entertained the idea of having court-appointed technical experts review historical data in order to prove whether Jesus really existed has now thrown out the case entirely.

Luigi Cascioli, a lifelong atheist, filed a lawsuit in 2002 alleging that Rev. Enrico Righi violated two Italian laws — “abuse of popular belief,” in which someone intentionally deceives people, and “impersonation,” in which someone makes gains by attributing a false name to someone, the Associated Press said, when he claimed in a church bulletin that Jesus was born of a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth.

But Judge Gaetano Mautone released a ruling Feb. 9 saying Cascioli had no case and should be investigated for possible slander.

“This is not surprising but it doesn’t mean it all ends here,” Cascioli said in response to the ruling, adding that he may take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

MEL GIBSON BUILDING EXCLUSIVE CHURCHES — Mel Gibson is building churches with the money he earned from his blockbuster “The Passion of The Christ,” but the kind of churches he is building may surprise some who had assessed him as a more mainstream Roman Catholic.

Roger Friedman, reporting for FoxNews.com, said Feb. 13 that over the weekend he visited Holy Family Catholic Church, a multi-million-dollar compound built by Gibson along a secluded highway near Malibu, Calif.

“One look at Holy Family’s chapel confirms that the great joys of churchgoing are such that inclusion is not paramount in Gibson’s clubhouse,” Friedman wrote. “Parishioners, from what I could tell, are few. They sit on what looked like uncomfortable stiff chairs. The millions put out by Gibson were not for luxury, that’s for sure.

“There were three pieces of paper taped to the windows of the main chapel doors, which were locked. One of the papers warned about using cameras; another described how one could get communion; and the third explained that women had to have their heads covered at all times when inside the chapel,” he added.

Friedman’s snooping was stopped by a young man believed to be Gibson’s son, who drove up and told him he was on private property.

But it seems, Friedman said, that Gibson is building this and a similar church in Pennsylvania for so-called retro-Catholics, those who reject Vatican II, which in 1965, among other things, absolved Jews of Christ’s death.

    About the Author

  • Erin Curry Roach