Media Watch

Prison Rehabilitation Through Prayer

THE ECONOMIST, Feb. 12-18 — A rigorous program of prayer, Scripture study, job training and family counseling has the prison population at a Houston area jail jumping for Jesus rather than jumping parole, the news weekly reported.

The program, called InnerChange, was founded in 1997. Since then, only 15 of the 120 prisoners who were released after going through its training have gone back to jail. For Texas as a whole, the recidivism rate is nearly 50%.

The magazine notes that “two of the main candidates in this year' s presidential race have taken up the argument for “faith-based” groups like InnerChange.

“Admirers claim that such organizations are better than the state at fighting drug addiction, illiteracy and poverty. They say that the enormous secular system built up to deal with such problems, much of it during Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, has produced 35 years of failure.”

Robert Woodson of the Washington-based National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise told The Economist: “A new Great Society can be built on the foundations of religious faith.”

Perplexed Protestant: Truth Is Up For Grabs

WASHINGTON TIMES WEEKLY EDITION, March 6-12 — Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong of Newark, N.J., told a crowd at Washington's National Cathedral that “perhaps the whole idea of redemption needs to be rethought if Christianity is to survive in the 21st century,” the newsweekly reported.

Spong, whose perplexing denial of many of the central claims of the Christian faith have made him a media celebrity, delivered his National Cathedral talk to cap off a 17-city book tour for his just-released autobiography, Here I Stand.

Dissenting from Spong's lecture was evangelical Methodist scholar William J. Abraham.

“The breakup of modern Protestantism is in the cards and the trip-wire is sex,” Abraham said, referring to the rise of homosexual rights and the dissolution of marriage in the West.

Early Show Provides Platform for Catholic Bashing

THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE, March 8 — CBS’ Early Show, hosted by Jane Clayson and Bryant Gumbel, became a platform for mocking Catholic Lenten discipline on the eve of Ash Wednesday, the Catholic League reported.

During the course of a conversation between the show's hosts and meteorologist Mark McEwen, Clayson and Gumbel admitted they were raised Catholic but were no longer practicing. “I was born Catholic and I got a problem with it,” McEwen said.

On an earlier show, on Jan. 31, co-host Julie Chen joined McEwen in jokes about Catholic guilt, nuns “ready to take you out,” “being scarred for life,” saying Hail Mary's, etc.

Said Catholic League president William Donohue, “besides showing their ignorance, Gumbel, Clayson, Chen and McEwen display a troubling double standard: they are ever so careful how they talk about other segments of society.”