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News for Religion --Sat May 3 05:55:29 EST 1997

  • HOW ANXIETY ABOUT CATHOLICISM INFLUENCED MODERN AMERICAN
    It has been many years since the poet and essayist Peter Viereck called anti-Catholicism ``the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.'' For Roman Catholics who encounter hostility, condescension and (New York Times) (*)

  • THROUGH PRAYERS AND POLITICS, HANDFUL OF TEXANS PROTEST THE DEATH
    ARLINGTON, Texas—Standing at the altar, the Rev. Allan Hawkins offered a prayer and a protest last month as another Texas Death Row inmate was executed by lethal injection.  (*)

  • SEIN FINN WINS TWO SEATS IN BRITISH PARLIAMENT
    BELFAST, Northern Ireland—In its strongest showing ever in a British national election, Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, won two seats in the British Parliament, (New York Times) (*)

  • SCIENCE, WHILE WONDERFUL, CAN'T ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS@
    HENDERSONVILLE, N.C.—An Indian metaphor that Huston Smith often likes to use goes something like this: You are in a bungalow not far from the foot of the Himalaya Mountains. Once inside, you (New York Times) (*)

  • BRITAIN'S NEW PRIME MINISTER A BABY BOOMER WHO ONCE PLAYED IN ROCK
    LONDON—In the midst of the campaign he won so stunningly this week, Britain's new prime minister, Tony Blair, searched for a way to tell voters who he really is.  (*)

  • RELIGION COLUMN: RALPH REED MOVES ON
    You have to hand it to Ralph Reed. He knows what he's doing. After eight years as executive director of the Christian Coalition, Reed announced April 24 he is resigning in September to (New York Times) (*)

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    A2455 BC-GRAPHICS-BUDGET-NYT 452 18:44 U V (New York Times) (*)

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  • ZEROUAL ALLY FORMS PARTY AHEAD OF POLL



    HOW ANXIETY ABOUT CATHOLICISM INFLUENCED MODERN AMERICAN

    By PETER STEINFELS<

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<

    It has been many years since the poet and essayist Peter Viereck called anti-Catholicism ``the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.'' For Roman Catholics who encounter hostility, condescension and stereotypes among circles that consider themselves singularly free of prejudice, Viereck's quip remains the last word on the topic.

    But now a young Harvard historian has taken another look at the role that Catholicism has played in what he calls ``the American intellectual imagination.'' And his work helps explain some of the intense feelings that surround current issues like abortion and school vouchers, and why American Catholicism and liberalism have seldom been more than uneasy allies.

    In a 32-page article to be published in the June issue of The Journal of American History, Dr. John T. McGreevy argues that from 1928 to 1960, anxiety about `` Catholic power'' became a defining factor in the evolution of American liberalism, along with opposition to fascism, communism and racial segregation.

    McGreevy, the Dunwalke associate professor of American history at Harvard, recalls ``the most unusual best seller of the late 1940s,'' Paul Blanshard's ``American Freedom and Catholic Power.''

    ``The Catholic problem is still with us,'' Blanshard wrote. In his view, the church posed an international threat to democracy, a threat that, two years later in ``Communism, Democracy and Catholic Power,'' he put on the same plane as that of Soviet communism. Along the way, Blanshard characterized nuns as legacies from an era when women ``reveled in self-abasement'' and he held Catholicism responsible for producing most white criminals.

    Today most people might dismiss Blanshard's books and the fuss they provoked as more of an historical curiosity than a measure of ``the American intellectual imagination.'' But McGreevy also recalls that in 1949, John Dewey praised Blanshard for his ``exemplary scholarship, good judgment and tact.''

    McGeorge Bundy called the 1949 book ``very useful.'' Scholarly reviewers hailed its author's ``razor keen analysis'' as well as his ``restraint.'' Other distinguished intellectuals echoed Blanshard's parallel between Catholicism and Stalinism. For example, the Protestant theologian Henry Sloane Coffin called the two ``equally totalitarian.''

    Catholic writers have usually seen Blanshard and his sympathizers as genteel descendants of the 19th-century nativism that spawned convent burnings and the invisible ``No Catholics Need Apply'' sign outside the White House.

    But McGreevy suggests a more complex picture. He notes that in the 1920s, the newly emerged and self-consciously cosmopolitan class of American intellectuals opposed nativist restrictions on immigration and the upsurge of anti-Catholicism that greeted Al Smith's presidential campaign in 1928.

    This intelligentsia also entertained a vision of a renewed nation in which traditional religious authority would be set aside and open-ended scientific inquiry would solve social problems as well as probe nature.

    Catholic thinkers did not share these enthusiasms. They were caught up in a revival of Thomism and natural law philosophy that combined a buoyant confidence in human reason with an equally assertive conviction that modern secular thought, unguided by church teaching, had got things wrong. But most American intellectuals discounted these Catholic views as hopelessly outmoded.

    By the mid-1930s, the atmosphere had changed. One reason, McGreevy believes, was intellectuals' growing fascination with an anthropological notion of a ``culture'' that saw all the activities and attitudes of a healthy society as integrated into a single web of meaning.

    Catholics, with their own schools, hospitals, hierarchical forms of organization and theological and philosophical claims to authoritative truth, were stubbornly separatist. They resisted what intellectuals thought should be a uniform democratic culture in which religion was privatized, and a conception of individual autonomy—captured in the phrase ``thinking on one's own''—was prized.

    Other factors in the changed atmosphere of the 1930s, McGreevy says, were the Catholic Church's support for fascist movements and regimes in Europe, and the anti-Semitic belligerence of the popular radio priest Father Charles E. Coughlin and his followers in Boston and New York.

    In the 1920s, most intellectuals had defended Catholics' constitutional right to have their own schools. By the 1940s, people like Justice Felix Frankfurter of the Supreme Court began to have second thoughts.

    McGreevy's survey of the affinity of leading Supreme Court Justices for literature like Blanshard's suggests how much Court decisions on school aid and separation of church and state were influenced not just by First Amendment principles but fear of ``Catholic power.''

    These fears waned as the Cold War accelerated. Stalin, after all, had the atom bomb; Pope Pius XII did not. John F. Kennedy was elected. Catholicism changed dramatically after the Second Vatican Council.

    And some Catholics, while deploring the way that Blanshard and similar critics mustered their evidence, did not dismiss all the criticism out of hand. They rejected the demand that their church had to democratize its internal structures, emphasize individual conscience and moderate its claims to truth in order to qualify as ``American.''

    But they allowed that some of these ideas might actually open up broader perspectives on what is ``Catholic''—beyond embattled postures that often dated only from the last few centuries.

    Still, the conflict that McGreevy describes has left more than a few traces. Echoes of the old oratory are frequently heard in the debates over abortion and school vouchers. The old questions about individual autonomy, democracy and the legitimate role of religious bodies in public life are the stuff of contemporary debates among political libertarians, liberals, communitarians and conservatives.

    McGreevy's historical study does not pretend to resolve such arguments. It only shows how much Catholicism was once the ominous ``Other'' against which the dominant liberalism of American intellectuals defined itself.

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    THROUGH PRAYERS AND POLITICS, HANDFUL OF TEXANS PROTEST THE DEATH

    c.1997 Fort Worth Star-Telegram=

    ARLINGTON, Texas—Standing at the altar, the Rev. Allan Hawkins offered a prayer and a protest last month as another Texas Death Row inmate was executed by lethal injection.

    ``As of now Benjamin Herbert Boyle is dying at the hands of the state,'' the priest said during a Mass at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington late on an April afternoon. ``We dissociate ourselves from this act and pray for the person concerned, for his family, for his victims and for his executioners.''

    Hawkins, a Catholic priest, is part of a small but vocal group of Texans protesting a recent flurry of Texas executions. Eight inmates have been executed so far this year, including seven last month alone. The latest was Ernest O. Baldree, 55, who died by lethal injection Tuesday for killing a Navarro County couple nearly 11 years ago.

    Despite a Gallup Poll last year indicating that 79 percent of Americans favor the death penalty, an assertive minority contends that capital punishment is barbaric, does not deter crime and perpetuates a violent society.

    ``We believe the death penalty to be both futile and immoral,'' said Hawkins, a native of England, where the death penalty was abolished in the 1960s. ``We don't sympathize with the crime. We want people who do dangerous things to be punished and put out of harm's way, but not necessarily killed.''

    At each execution vigil that Hawkins holds at his church, he asks participants to sign a letter to the governor protesting the death penalty. He said about 12 people signed the letter at the most recent vigil.

    Prayer vigils also have been held in downtown Fort Worth during recent executions, sponsored by the Tarrant County chapter of Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace group.

    ``We march through the streets carrying signs against the death penalty, light candles and say prayers,'' said Jeff Griffin, a Pax Christi leader. He said the group has about 20 members but fewer than that join in the street protest. Lists of people scheduled for execution in Texas are obtained from Amnesty International or the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

    Pax Christi President Mark Sliter, who is coordinator for emergency assistance for Catholic Charities, said the group gets both cheers and jeers during the vigils.

    Griffin, a teacher at the Fort Worth school district's Metro Opportunity School, agreed. ``We've had everything from heckling to someone yelling `Kill them all,' to people giving us the thumbs-up sign of support. Last week we had a homeless man joining us in prayer on the steps of the Tarrant County Courthouse.''

    Sliter and Griffin said they believe the movement to abolish the death penalty is growing, partly accelerated by the attention given to the work of Sister Helen Prejean of New Orleans, an opponent of capital punishment who wrote the book ``Dead Man Walking,'' about her role as spiritual adviser to a killer facing execution in Louisiana.

    Before Hawkins began his prayer vigils, he showed the movie based on Prejean's book at his church. Fort Worth Pax Christi leaders have been corresponding with Prejean.

    It's not a popular cause, Griffin acknowledged.

    ``We live in a very violent society, going downhill every day, and people think capital punishment is the answer,'' he said.

    The anti-death penalty protests get a thumbs-down from relatives of the crime victims.

    ``It's easy to protest the death penalty when you are not directly affected,'' said Margaret Smith of Fort Worth, after she witnessed the execution of Boyle for the death of her sister. ``If they were to walk in my shoes, they'd change their minds.''

    Boyle, an Oklahoma truck driver, spent 11 years on Death Row after being convicted of the rape and strangulation of Gail Lenore Smith, who was found dead beside the highway after hitching a ride with Boyle from Fort Worth to Amarillo.

    Gail Smith's mother, Joyce Smith of Amarillo, also saw Boyle executed and said he offered no apology and seemed to die peacefully and without any fear.

    ``I'd like to see the law changed where they are executed in the same way that they killed their victims,'' she said.

    Complaints about death being too easy for the person executed is common among relatives of murder victims, Griffin said.

    ``The killing of another human being doesn't bring the kind of closure that families of the victims are looking for,'' Griffin said. ``They need to find their peace somewhere else.''

    J. Gordon Melton, an authority on American religion, said liberal mainline church groups usually oppose capital punishment while conservative groups either support it or are silent on the subject.

    Melton is the author of ``Capital Punishment: Official Statements From Religious Bodies and Ecumenical Organizations,'' published by Gale Research Inc.

    ``What is interesting is that the Catholic Church did a reversal of its position on the death penalty from the 1950s to the 1990s,'' said Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religions in Santa Barbara, Calif.

    The change came when the Vatican urged Catholics to be consistent on sanctity-of-life issues, he said. The church leadership now opposes abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. American bishops and Pope John Paul II frequently have spoken against capital punishment.

    Fundamentalist Christians often support the death penalty, said the Rev. W. N. Otwell of Nacogdoches, a former Fort Worth fundamentalist activist.

    ``I believe the Bible teaches capital punishment, but in this country I'm not a big supporter of it because if you are rich, you can buy your way out of it,'' he said.

    The Bible is used to both support and oppose capital punishment.

    Opponents often cite the New Testament story of Jesus dealing with calls to stone to death a prostitute and asking those without sin to cast the first stone.

    Supporters cite the Hebrew Scriptures' passage from Exodus that says anyone who kills a man should be put to death.

    Texas is one of 38 states where capital punishment is legal. Tim Vining, director of the Louisiana Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, who works with Prejean, said the practice reflects negatively on society.

    ``If the death penalty would bring someone back who has been murdered, I would support it,'' Vining said.

    A Burleson couple whose son has been on Texas' Death Row since 1982 for murder are among those calling for an end to the death penalty.

    Kenneth Robison said he believes his son, Larry Keith Robison, who was convicted of killing five people in the Fort Worth suburb of Azle, has a history of mental illness and should not be executed.

    Kenneth and Lois Robison are leaders of the state chapter of CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) and a related group, HOPE (Help Our Prisoners Exist).

    ``All of this hit us like a ton of bricks,'' the father said. ``We decided we could either crawl into a shell or try to make something good come out of it.''

    They cooperate with Pax Christi and also are members of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, which includes relatives of murder victims who are opposed to capital punishment.

    Robison also noted that there have been cases of people convicted of murder and later found to be innocent. One of the most famous members of the reconciliation organization is Sam Reese Sheppard, the son of Dr. Sam Sheppard who spent 10 years in prison for the 1954 murder of his wife and was later acquitted after a new trial, Robison said.

    A former supporter of the death penalty, Melton said he changed his mind while writing his book on the subject.

    ``I came away with the feeling that we are just perpetuating the cycle of violence,'' he said. ``I think the states should get out of the business of killing people.''

    _

    (Visit the Star-Telegram's online services on the World Wide Web: www.startext.net; www.arlington.net; and www.netarrant.net)

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    SEIN FINN WINS TWO SEATS IN BRITISH PARLIAMENT

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service=@

    BELFAST, Northern Ireland—In its strongest showing ever in a British national election, Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, won two seats in the British Parliament, according to results announced Friday from the voting on Thursday.

    Both Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, and the party's No. 2 official, Martin McGuinness, were elected from Northern Ireland. Their overwhelmingly Roman Catholic party took seats away from both the mainstream Catholic-dominated Social Democratic Labor party and the hard-line Protestant Democratic Unionist party.

    Before the election, Sinn Fein held no seats in the Westminster Parliament and had never won two seats in the House of Commons.

    Adams and McGuinness, who has been Sinn Fein's chief negotiator with British officials in the peace effort, will not actually occupy the seats, however, because Sinn Fein policy precludes them from taking the required loyalty oath to the British Crown, which the party considers an illegal occupier. But they said the party would open offices in London near the House of Commons and argue their positions from outside.

    The effects the results might have on efforts to end the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland were unclear. But experts said Sinn Fein was now in a stronger political position and better able to insist that it has a moral and political mandate.

    The largest Protestant party, the Ulster Unionist Party, was also strengthened, while the hard-line Protestant party of the Rev. Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist Party, was weakened.

    Overall, of the 18 seats from Northern Ireland, the mainstream Ulster Unionist Party, the largest political organization in the province, gained 1 seat and now holds 10; Paisley's party lost a seat and has 2; a smaller unionist party has 1, and the Social Democratic Labor Party, after losing a seat to Mr. Adams, has 3.

    The Social Democrats received 60 percent of the Catholic vote and Sinn Fein received 40 percent. Sinn Fein's total vote in this Protestant-dominated British province was 16.1 percent, the highest province-wide total ever.

    The question now is whether the new configuration will move the stengthened mainstream unionists toward accepting Sinn Fein at the negotiating table, and whether Sinn Fein's show of strength will produce an IRA cease-fire.

    Adams made it immediately clear that he would use his party's showing to argue that Sinn Fein should be invited to join the formal peace talks when they resume in Belfast on June 3 under the chairmanship of a former United States Senate majority leader, George J. Mitchell.

    The Irish and British goverments have said that Sinn Fein should be excluded from the talks until the IRA restores the 17-month cease-fire it broke in February 1996. Sinn Fein advocates a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but steadfastly refuses to condemn the IRA's campaign of violence.

    Friday, Adams said, ``I want to see an end to all armed actions,'' but he said nothing about trying to persuade the IRA to restore the cease-fire. His message for the Dublin and London governments, he said, was that his party's victory meant it deserved ``equality'' and ``inclusive negotiations.''

    The new British prime minister, Tony Blair, said little during his campaing about what his Northern Ireland policy would be. But in an article in The Irish Times in Dublin on Monday, he wrote: ``Perhaps Sinn Fein's ambivalence about violence reflects its small electoral base. But democracy requires that even the smallest party pursue its aims through methods that are exclusively peaceful. It is a lesson that Sinn Fein must learn before it will earn the right to sit and talk with other democratic parties in Northern Ireland.''

    Marjorie Mowlam, who is expected to be Labor's Northern Ireland secretary, said Friday in London that an IRA cease-fire was needed before she would talk to Adams or his party.

    John Hume, the leader of the Social Democrats, who was re-elected from the western part of the province, said he hoped that the Labor government would invite Sinn Fein when the peace talks resume. This implied, as Hume has repeatedly stated, that there would first be an IRA cease-fire. ``Let's keep spilling our sweat and not our blood,'' he added.

    While Hume and Adams are enemies in elections, they were together in initiating the current peace effort in 1993 and have said that, with the elections over, they will again cooperate to move the stalled peace effort forward.

    Most experts say that, in effect, Hume's cooperation with Adams in the peace effort helped elect Adams over Hume's Social Democratic colleague, Dr. Joe Hendron. Adams had won the seat twice, in 1983 and 1987, before Dr. Hendron defeated him in 1992 by 589 votes. This time, Adams won by 7,000 votes.

    McGuinness was elected from the Mid-Ulster district, defeating the incumbent of the hard-line Democratic Unionists, the Rev. Willie McCrea.

    Paisley, who was re-elected by a large majority, fairly shouted of the Sinn Fein gains: ``We are not going to give an inch. We are on the soil of Ulster, and we will keep this country under the union flag.''

    Paisley then refused to leave the stage of the meeting hall where he had been declared the victor until he had led his supporters in singing ``God Save Our Queen,'' the British anthem. An official of one of the losing nationalist Catholic parties tried to drown out the song by making a loud speech in Gaelic. The song prevailed.

    <

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    SCIENCE, WHILE WONDERFUL, CAN'T ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS@

    By SALLY COOK-ANDERSON<^(Hendersonville, N.C.) Times-News@=

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<

    HENDERSONVILLE, N.C.—An Indian metaphor that Huston Smith often likes to use goes something like this: You are in a bungalow not far from the foot of the Himalaya Mountains. Once inside, you can pull down a windowshade to just below eye level and all you will see is the ground around the bungalow. As close as you might be, no mountains are in sight.

    Science is the ground, he says, and although it can be awesome beyond belief, it's not the Himalayas.

    ``Accomplishments in the physical domain have focused our attention on that world,'' said the former MIT professor of religion, philosophy and the philosophy of religion.

    This attention has dissipated our confidence in other realms of reality—those realms where the human spirit abides, he said: ``The spirit exceeds the material.''

    Also a seeker and author, Smith, in his 80s, holds seven honorary degrees in addition to his earned doctorate from the University of Chicago. He was the subject in May 1996 of a five-part Bill Moyers PBS Special, ``The Wisdom of Faith with Huston Smith.''

    Recently, Smith spoke about ``What Does It Mean? What Does It Matter? Forgotten Truths and Elusive Wisdom in the Postmodern World'' at a seminar sponsored by the nonprofit organization Journey into Wholeness.

    While science as a discipline of observing nature has existed as long as have human beings, things changed with the introduction of the scientific experiment, the ``crux of modern science.'' Historically, he says, the church first had all the power ``and at times did not use it very well,'' even attempting at times to ``strangle'' the ``baby'' of modern science in the cradle.

    So for the past 400 years, the relationship between the two has been rocky, with science finally winning out in influence in the West. The result is an imbalance of power that exists between science and religion in the present Western world.

    Both realms are important, Smith contends, but each deals with different levels of reality.

    ``Before modern science, both religion and science were respected. There's no reason it can't be the same today.

    ``Now science has the power and is not behaving very well toward religion.''

    Smith reinforced that he has nothing against science—he himself has benefited from modern medicine in treating a brush with cancer, he points out—but today science not only has come to fill the space given it in the values of the culture, it takes up more than its share of the picture.

    ``I have had the extraordinary opportunity to share the platform with four prominent scientists,'' he said—one of them being the late Carl Sagan—``but no one was willing to grant to me that the scientific method is limited.'' The thinking, he says, is that science can answer all questions, given enough time and money.

    ``Scientists are selling their product—churches (once) did the same thing. It's human nature when people have power.''

    As far as meaning is concerned, he indicated, the point is that we as human beings are more than our bodies—we are more than what modern science can quantify.

    As a teacher of religion, he says, he feels an obligation to be ``a custodian of the human spirit.

    ``Our job is to nurture and protect the spirit,'' he said.

    And while universities grant a great deal of time and money to build up science departments, he points out, ``there is not one full-time religious-studies tenured professor'' that he knows about.

    ``We are `homo religiosus,''' he said. ``It's part of our makeup. We should not take to having the lid put on it.

    ``Life will not go well if it is simply secularist or consumerist.''

    This author of ``The World's Religions'' has traveled the globe seeking out what each of a variety of religious traditions has to share in the way of wisdom. He sees an incursion of multiculturalism in the American culture as a result of immigration and spiritual searching.

    The wisdom traditions of the world are like data banks of human experience, he says, and we are more and more looking to them to help us regain some of the turf lost to science—and recover our sense of wholeness.

    ``All that would help us get to the point where we could better discover a sense of purpose and meaning,'' he said.

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    BRITAIN'S NEW PRIME MINISTER A BABY BOOMER WHO ONCE PLAYED IN ROCK

    By CRAGG HINES

    c.1997 Houston Chronicle

    LONDON—In the midst of the campaign he won so stunningly this week, Britain's new prime minister, Tony Blair, searched for a way to tell voters who he really is.

    He was already popular nationally, a standing suggested by strong poll showings and confirmed by Thursday's landslide vote for the ``new'' Labor Party he fashioned.

    But Blair's reluctance to bring his personal life into the political debate made him seem remote to voters. Eventually, at the suggestion of Labor Party strategists, he began to lower the veil a bit.

    ``I am a modern man,'' Blair began tentatively one night last week at a rally in Stevenage, north of London. After that, he warmed to his assignment.

    ``I am part of the rock-and-roll generation,'' Blair declared. ``The Beatles. Color TV. That's the generation I come from.`` And with Blair's move Friday to the prime minister's official residence at No. 10 Downing St., along with his successful lawyer-wife and their three children, that is now the generation governing Britain.

    The United Kingdom joins the United States, one of its closest and oldest allies, in passing the torch of leadership to a baby boomer who used to play in a rock band.

    The Blairs plan to go the Clintons one better as a modern couple. Cherie Booth Blair plans to continue practicing law, since the prime minister's wife has less of a traditionally public role than the U.S. president's.

    Published reports estimate that she makes about $400,000 a year as a top barrister on employment issues. She also serves temporary stints as a judge.

    Her husband is eligible for the prime minister's annual pay of about $175,000 said he will take only about $133,000 to demonstrate his dedication to government austerity.

    Blair's victory outstripped even the rosiest projections of Labor strategists, as the party claimed its biggest margin ever in the House of Commons.

    Beyond the raw results lies a historic shift. At 43, Blair is the youngest British prime minister since 1812 and will be the first British leader in the last 50 years who will not have lived through the terror of the German blitz or the thrill of the Allies' D-day.

    ``We can barely understand what they went through,'' Blair has said of his parents' and grandparents' generations that fought the Depression and Hitler. But Blair does not dwell on history.

    ``I can't offer you a better past,'' Blair told campaign audiences, urging them to look ahead and reminding: ``This is the millenium election. ....

    Let the country rise up to the challenge before it.''

    Blair has already risen to the challenge of turning the Labor Party, formerly an old-line socialist alliance tied closely to trade unions, from its losing path in four previous national elections over 18 years.

    His boldest stroke was the repeal of Labor's pledge to ``the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.''

    The drive to strike the language from Labor's constitution illustrates what Blair intimates point to as a steely determination masked by an almost ever-present grin, which along with rather large ears, makes him resemble Mad magazine's Alfred E. Newman.

    Initially, Labor refused to go along with Blair's plan to scrap the call for nationalization of industry. So Blair organized a new membership drive that swelled the party's ranks and eventually approved his proposed changes in Labor's charter.

    ``Anyone who watched that extraordinary historic fight, and the meticulous way in which Tony oversaw every step of the organizing for it, cannot doubt that he has the stomach to keep on course in government,'' a Blair admirer high in the Labor hierarchy said.

    Blair replaced the old nationalization proviso with a new, values-laden declaration. An unauthorized biographer, Jon Sopel of the British Broadcasting Co., said the new chapter sprang from the ``communitarian Christianity'' Blair discovered as an undergraduate at Oxford University.

    Blair was confirmed in the Church of England at age 21 and is a high Anglican who regularly attends services. His wife is a Roman Catholic, and that is how their children—sons Euan, 13; Nicky, 11; and daughter, Kathryn, 9—are being raised.

    Pressed to discuss his religious beliefs last week on BBC's ``Question Time,'' Blair demurred. ``It becomes like America,'' he said, when politicians speak too freely about their faith.

    Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was born May 6, 1953, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and will see his 44th birthday at No. 10 on Tuesday. His grandfather was a Glasgow shipyard worker. His father was also a ship-rigger before studying law and becoming a successful lawyer.

    ``I wasn't born in the back streets. I don't pretend it,'' Blair told the Stevenage rally, commenting on an upbringing that is decidedly different from many older Labor leaders.

    ``My family was pretty much basically provincial middle class,'' he said on ``Question Time.'' He said he has never been unemployed, unlike John Major, the Conservative prime minister whom Blair defeated.

    Blair was a scholarship student at the well-regarded Fettes College, a prep school in Edinburgh, and then attended the even tonier St. John's College at Oxford. There, like the saxophone-playing Clinton, he became musically involved, helping form a long-haired rock band called Ugly Rumors.

    Blair currently keeps his wavy, sandy-colored hair well off his neck and above his ears.

    Conservative Party leaders enjoy tweaking Blair's upper-crust education and his decision to send his oldest child to a selective state-supported school, whose government grant could be eliminated if Labor follows its campaign pledge.

    ``I cannot stand the hypocrisy of a man who says he would deny choice in the education system and then opts for choice for his own children,'' Michael Heseltine, Major's deputy prime minister, said during the campaign.

    Critics contend that the education issue is not Blair's only inconsistency. For the ease with which he has changed positions, including his decision not to fight for repeal of tough anti-union laws adopted under 18 years of Conservative governments, Blair has gained the nickname ``Tony Blur.''

    In a mock election while at prep school, Blair once stood as a Conservative candidate. His father was campaigning as a Tory for Parliament when he suffered a debilitating stroke. The move to Labor came along with the renewed interest in religion at Oxford.

    For his political baptism, Blair stood as the hopeless Labor candidate for a strongly Conservative seat in a 1982 special election. The next year, he won the ultra-safe Labor seat of Sedgefield, a northeastern coal-mining region in County Durham.

    Blair's longtime election agent in Sedgefield remembers the night that the man who is now prime minister first knocked on his door.

    ``He was intelligent. He had fresh ideas,'' John Burton told the Financial Times. ``I felt it would take somebody like Tony Blair to make the party electable.''

    He was right.

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    RELIGION COLUMN: RALPH REED MOVES ON

    By CARY MCMULLEN<^Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger@=

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<

    You have to hand it to Ralph Reed. He knows what he's doing.

    After eight years as executive director of the Christian Coalition, Reed announced April 24 he is resigning in September to become an independent political consultant. Some might wonder why Reed would give up such a visible post as head of an organization that became a considerable force in American politics.

    But those who know him say they were not surprised. Michael Cromartie, director of the Evangelical Studies Project at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, told me by phone that Reed has been restless for some time. ``He has his own reputation and name now. He can go and work wherever he wants to. He's given the freedom to be in the back rooms.''

    Ah, yes, the proverbial back rooms, where deals are done and policies decided. Even though candidates regularly pay court to Reed and embrace the coalition's vision of family values, still Reed has been prevented from playing the role of an insider. A Federal Election Commission lawsuit against the coalition filed last fall was evidence that Reed had been trying to do what he clearly wanted to but by law could not: get the right people elected.

    Whether or not you agree with the general views of the Christian Coalition, Reed's ability to rally conservative Christians around a set of social issues and organize them into a legitimate political special-interest group has been remarkable.

    It is a caricature that the religious right is a monolith, an army of identically programmed automatons marching in lock step. In fact there is great diversity within the evangelical movement. Trying to get them to agree on anything, remarks Christianity Today News Editor Tim Morgan, is ``like trying to herd cats.''

    Not everyone in the coalition has been happy with Reed's tendency to temper principles with political realities. His failed attempt to broker a compromise on the divisive abortion issue between Bob Dole and Republican hard-liners at last fall's convention left some in his own group angry. But it could be seen as Reed's natural deal-making at work. As Morgan says, ``He has a unique ability to engage people in conversation.''

    More than that, Cromartie thinks Reed has broken new ground in the fertile soil of American politics. ``He has followed on the heels of others who made mistakes, like (Jerry) Falwell and (Pat) Robertson. He's been very careful to say conservatism does not mean racism, conservatism does not mean putting down women,'' he says. ``He has tried to put a human face on religious conservatism. The critics said, `They're just a bunch of bigots.' But Ralph Reed proved them wrong.''

    In the New York Times article which reported the resignation, Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State _ Reed's liberal nemesis—was quoted as saying that Reed is just making this move for the money: ``He's trying to cash in on the fame, or infamy, that he has now .... He is going back to his roots, which are as a political activist, not an evangelical.''

    But Lynn's abrasive comments are surely off base. I suspect that money is important to Reed only as a tool for advancing the political ambitions he has for himself and the religious right. Morgan says, ``Part of understanding Ralph Reed is that he is the fruit of Christian evangelism. He is typical of the best the religious right can put forward.''

    Freed from the restrictions of having to wear an officially neutral political strait-jacket, Cromartie predicts that Reed will be even more successful now that he can organize, consult and broker deals at will. Or, if rumor is to be believed, Reed will move to Atlanta and position himself for an eventual run at a congressional seat.

    But if Reed's future is bright, the Christian Coalition's future without Reed is uncertain. Morgan and Cromartie agree that his replacement will need to be someone with a high profile and with Reed's capacity to take a nuanced approach to issues. Finding someone with those traits, plus an ability to ``herd cats,'' won't be easy.

    As Cromartie says, ``Ralph Reed was the Christian Coalition.''

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    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service=

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    ART ADV.: Photos with LOWRIDERS-EMERGE and MUSIC-MERRYMAN and graphics with OUTD

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    NATIONAL GENERAL

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    INTERNAL POLITICAL INTRIGUE MARKS NRA CONVENTION

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    PRINCE VS. PROFESSOR IN A LEGAL BATTLE OVER A PAINTING

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    L.A. CITY ATTORNEY REFUSES TO FILE CHARGES IN PUG'S DEATH

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    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.: incoming president.

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    ANCHORING A FUTURE IN ATLANTIC CITY

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    BROOKLYN D.A. FORMS BUREAU FIGHTING CRIME ON CHILDREN

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    GREEN'S OPPONENT VOWS TO FINISH TERM IF ELECTED

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    COMPETITION INSPIRES NEW CALLS FOR EXPANSION OF JAVITS CENTER

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    SUFFOLK COUNTY HEALTH CHIEF BLAMES OUSTER ON POLITICS

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    PRICE OF RENT CONTROL COMPROMISE: NEGOTIABLE

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    ALBANY, N.Y.: pork-barrel projects.

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    SITE NEAR SARATOGA HISTORICAL PARK GAINS PROTECTION FROM DEVELOPERS

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    CHECKS AFTER A FATAL CRASH FIND FLAWS IN OTHER COPTERS

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    DONALD AND MARLA TRUMP HEADED FOR DIVESTITURE

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    D'AMATO WARNS OF AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROLLER SHORTAGE

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    THREE ARRESTED FOR PAINTING HATE MESSAGES

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    JURY IN FLORIDA TO DECIDE LANDMARK TOBACCO CASE

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    By LEAH GARCHIK

    c. SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

    KEEPING UP WITH THE DALAI LAMA

    The Dalai Lama of Tibet was a guest of honor at an Embassy Row Seder in Washington last week, at which the story of the Jews' deliverance from slavery was augmented by mention of the Tibetans' struggle against the Chinese.

    The Dalai Lama, who wore a skull cap for the event, pronounced the matzo very tasty, said the Washington Post, and asked about the sphere in his chicken soup, which was a matzo ball.

    At the end, he thanked the participants - Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer among them - for a very warm feeling and your sense of solidarity.

    P.S.: Michael Sack forwards an invitation from UC Santa Barbara to the June 2 opening lecture of the UCSB Endowment for Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies, to be delivered by the Dalai Lama.

    Contributions are sought in steps described in terms of the lotus, symbol of Tibetan Buddhism: The Silver Lotus is $1,000; Gold Lotus is $3,000; Crystal Lotus, $5,000; Diamond Lotus, $10,000. The invitation specifies that Lotus donors get to meet the Dalai Lama and have their names in the program.

    THE BEFUDDLED KISSER

    The New York Observer outs the father of Kathryn Harrison, whose memoir, The Kiss, describes a love affair between him and her as a young woman.

    Harrison's father, a Protestant minister who goes unnamed in the book and remains so in the Observer story, insists to reporter Warren St. John in a telephone interview that he's never heard of his daughter's best-selling book. You say that Kathryn has said that she had an affair with me? I guess if people want to believe that, golly.

    He said he hadn't seen his daughter on Dateline or the Today show. This is not New York, this is a little town, and I'm certainly glad it's not on the best-seller list (here). He said that while he thinks his daughter is an intelligent writer .... I don't really like Kathy's writing.

    Harrison thinks his daughter has chosen to gain success in a way that hurts me, but he is proud of her, and I wish her well. I hope she's a millionaire.

    GLOBAL EVENTS

    - A poll reported in the focus-on-Europe edition of the New Yorker found that 71 percent of Frenchmen named the banal steak-frites (steak and French fries) as their favorite dish.

    - Chris English believes he heard a CNN announcer last week saying that Ethiopian runner Fatuma Roba was the first African American winner of the Boston Marathon.

    - In 1996, a Tupperware demonstration started about every two seconds somewhere in the world.

    BRIGHT IDEAS

    - The British sign-making firm Bribex has proposed that street signs bear the names of commercial sponsors, reports the Earth Island Journal. We are not going to brewers or tobacco companies, a Bribex spokesman said. We are going for companies that will not cause offense.

    Among the proposed sponsors are Cadbury, Heinz, Lego, British Airways and McDonald's.

    - The latest House Beautiful pictures the library of an 1820 landmark townhouse in New York, in which half the shelves contain real books sealed solid with resin and painted a uniform white. The names of the books don't show, but that's all right, since they can't be opened away. DesignerAlison Sky calls them memories of the past.

    - The newsletter of the Pebble Beach Resorts advertises The Wedding of a Lifetime, but aren't they all supposed to be?

    And while we're over the top, David Prowler thinks that school-principal-for-a-Day Donald Trump needs grammar lessons. Ads for his latest apartments specify, Never before, and never again, have residences been available so high above Central Park West.

    - Mark Woodworth noticed that the latest issue of Via, magazine of the California State Auto Association, suggests that a certain place pictured in Bear Valley is just one of many places to drink in the wilderness.

    Sounds like we need a new law banning HUI (hiking under the influence), writes Woodworth.

    - New Scientist tells us that Mike Bugara, a conservationist and artist from Kenya, who has discovered a method for making paper from elephant dung.

    - Tuff Scent-ence is nail polish that matches the charm of grunge colors (Gangreen, cq Slime, Addiction, Wish) with appropriate scent. Wish smells like peppermint; Addiction smells like chocolate. No word on Slime or Gangreen. The smell lasts for 72 hours, says Vogue.

    (For use by clients of the New York Times News Service)

    [Return to Top]


    (c) FINANCIAL TIMES, SYNDICATION DAILY NEWS SERVICE.

    ZEROUAL ALLY FORMS PARTY AHEAD OF POLL

    By Roula Khalaf in London

    An ally of Algerian President Liamine Zeroual yesterday announced the formation of a political party ahead of legislative elections in May or June.

    Mr Abdelkader Bensalah, who heads the government-appointed National Transitional Council (CNT), said his new party, the National Democratic Rally, would draw support from union, veteran, peasant and women's associations. These organisations supported Mr Zeroual in 1995 presidential elections.

    Mr Bensalah stepped in to head the party after the murder last month of Mr Abdelhak Benhamouda, leader of Algeria's main union. Mr Benhamouda, also a Zeroual ally, had made public his plans to start a new party.

    The emergence of a ``presidential'' party is a clear sign of the disintegration of the National Liberation Front (FLN), the former ruling party which went into opposition in 1992, when elections the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) were about to win were cancelled by the army.

    The National Democratic Rally, by drawing on pro-Zeroual associations, aims to strip the FLN of much of its support.

    The FLN is already split between the pro-government leadership and the more respected anti-government reformist wing.

    The new party is also designed as a counter-weight to Hamas, the legal Islamist party which the government assumes will attract many former FIS supporters. The FIS, banned since 1992, is excluded from the upcoming elections.

    Hamas, considered a moderate Islamist party, has maintained an often cozy relationship with the army-backed government and is expected to emerge as a leading contender in the elections. Hamas' candidate won 25 per cent of the vote in the 1995 presidential elections, on the strength of FIS support.

    Hamas and Nahda, the other legal Islamist party, have been given two months to conform to Algeria's new laws, which aim to ban the use of religion in politics. The parties will have to strip any mention of religion from their titles and political programmes.

    After November's constitutional amendments diluted the powers of the next parliament, the CNT last week adopted a more restrictive law governing political parties and backed a voting system based on proportional representation.

    The measures are aimed at preventing a repeat of the first round of legislative elections in 1991 which saw the FIS poised to control the national assembly under the majority voting system. The army's cancellation of the second round of polling plunged the country into a cycle of violence which has claimed more than 50,000 lives.

    As the elections approach, the government has stepped up its campaign to root out Islamic militants. Criticised by Algerians for failing to prevent the recent wave of massacres and blasts blamed on FIS splinter groups, the army offensive has already led to 200 militants being killed this month, according to press reports.

    FINANCIAL TIMES

    END

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