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NEWS BRIEFS: MSNBC host discusses Bell interview; anti-bullying summit criticized

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The MSNBC host who drew praise from evangelicals for his hard-hitting interview of well-known pastor Rob Bell says he himself is a “committed Christian” but that his interview with Bell was no different than any other interview.

The host, Martin Bashir, is known for asking tough questions, and his seven-minute interview of Bell — the author of the new book “Love Wins” — has been viewed more than 190,000 times on YouTube. In his new book, Bell denies a literal hell and affirms a form of universalism.

At one point in the interview Bashir said to Bell, “What you’ve done is you’re amending the Gospel — the Christian message — so that it’s palatable to contemporary people who find, for example, the idea of hell and heaven very difficult to stomach…. That’s why you’ve done it, isn’t it?” He also asked Bell if it is “irrelevant” for someone to follow Christ in this life if — as Bell argues — non-Christians will be saved anyway.

“My personal faith for the purpose of that interview was entirely irrelevant, because whenever I do an interview I try my very best to understand the issues at stake,” Bashir said during a 30-minute radio interview on “The Paul Edwards Program,” a Christian talk show out of Detroit.

After some prodding from Edwards, Bashir said he attends New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, where Tim Keller — a popular evangelical author — is pastor.

“I would hate for people to think that because of that, I am therefore aligned with a particular denominational attack on Rob Bell,” Bashir said. “That is why I am reluctant to discuss my personal faith. … [The interview] had everything to do with the fact that when I read the book and I saw what I believe … is an egregious disregard for history and the treatment of biblical texts in the most selective and perfunctory manner — that was what drove my interview with Rob Bell. It has nothing to do with what church I attend.”

The interview with Bashir can be heard online at http://bit.ly/faz9uI. The video of Bashir interviewing Bell can be viewed at http://bit.ly/fGPBzm.

ANTI-BULLYING SUMMIT A PLATFORM FOR GAY ACTIVISTS — Groups of just about every political stripe want to put an end to bullying. The Obama administration, however, apparently wants to use the crisis to promote homosexual curriculum, some say.

The White House Conference of Bullying Prevention, which took place March 10, provided a platform for homosexual activists and their allies to promote their agenda — which increasingly is being pushed into the classroom.

Ellen Kahn, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Family Project, was more than happy to have the president’s ear. At the summit, she was working to get HRC’s “Welcoming Schools” campaign into more elementary schools. The curriculum addresses “family diversity, gender stereotyping and name-calling in K-5 learning environments.”

Included in the curriculum is a video called “That’s a Family!” which depicts 9- and 10-year-olds lauding the benefits of living with two moms or two dads — and has elicited protests from parents across the country. The video has an accompanying teachers’ handbook that features a crossword puzzle for students that uses words such as “transgender.”

The home page of the government’s official website on the issue addresses just two types of bullying: cyberbullying and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying. The site, which links directly to HRC’s “Welcoming Schools” program, barely mentions other children at high risk of being targeted, including those with disabilities and those struggling with obesity.

“That’s the problem with allowing this issue to become politicized by special-interest groups: It sends the wrong message to our children,” said Candi Cushman, education analyst at CitizenLink. “Do we really want to send the message that they’re only worth protecting based on what political category they belong to or their sexual identity? No. What we should be teaching them is that they have innate dignity and worth because they are a sacred creation of God, no matter how they identify.”

The taxpayer-funded government website also directs students to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

GRACE CARD IN 28 NEW THEATERS — The church-made film “Grace Card” will open in 28 new theaters this weekend, most of them in new cities. It opened in 17 news cities last weekend. The movie — which had an impressive opening weekend Feb. 25-27 — spotlights the racial tension between a white cop and a black cop. The full list of theaters is available at at http://TheGraceCardMovie.com/theaters.

It was made largely by volunteers from Calvary Church, a Nazarene congregation in Memphis. The director, David Evans, was inspired to make the film after watching the 2008 church-made hit “Fireproof.”

It has received positive reviews from Baptist Press, Focus on the Family’s PluggedinOnline.com, and Christianity Today. Variety — a mainstream website — said Grace Card was “blessed with fine performances, credible dialogue and slick production values” and “ranks among the better religious-themed indies released in recent years.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. The White House anti-bullying item is from WORLD News Service.

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