CULTURE DIGEST: AFA suspends Ford boycott; Smithsonian compromises on ID film; Dean calls GOP 'white Christian party'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The American Family Association has suspended its boycott of Ford Motor Company, allowing dealers time to communicate directly with Ford officials regarding AFA's concern over the company's support for the homosexual “marriage” movement.

AFA launched the boycott May 31, citing disappointment with Ford's promotion of the "gay rights" agenda in business practices.

"From redefining family to include homosexual marriage, to giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to support homosexual groups and their agenda, to forcing managers to attend diversity training on how to promote the acceptance of homosexuality, to sponsoring a 'commitment (marriage) ceremony,' to sponsoring Gay Pride Parades, Ford leads the way," AFA Chairman Don Wildmon had said.

But in a meeting with AFA held after the boycott started, a group of Ford dealers requested time to see if the concerns could be addressed without the necessity of a boycott.

"We believe the dealers were making a good faith effort and agreed to accept their request," Wildmon said in a June 6 news release. "Therefore, we accepted the suspension request and will work with the dealers in attempting to resolve our differences.

"We urge those supporting the boycott to disregard the boycott until Dec. 1, 2005, and on or about that date, we will notify our supporters as to the status of the boycott," he said.

AFA had established a website devoted to the endeavor, www.boycottford.com, and within a week more than 110,000 people had signed a pledge to take part in the campaign. AFA, with 2.2 million online supporters, recently ended a nine-year boycott of Walt Disney Co., which also was started because of beyond-the-norm support of the homosexual agenda.

SMITHSONIAN BACKS UP ON INTELLIGENT DESIGN FILM -- The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History is distancing itself from a documentary based on intelligent design after agreeing to let the film be screened in one of its theaters and then facing criticism over the controversial decision.

The film, called "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe," is co-sponsored by the Discovery Institute and is scheduled for an invitation-only national premiere June 23 in the Baird Auditorium of the Natural History Museum in Washington. Each film shown at the Smithsonian is customarily co-sponsored by the institution.

"Upon further review we have determined that the content of the film is not consistent with the mission of the Smithsonian Institution's scientific research,” a statement from the museum's press office said June 1. “Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the National Museum of Natural History supports or endorses the views of the Discovery Institute or the film 'The Privileged Planet.' Given that the Discovery Institute has already issued invitations, we will honor the commitment made to provide space for the event, but will not participate or accept a donation for it."

The museum often rents out its theaters as long as the content of the material screened is not religious or political, according to The Washington Post, and an agreed-upon donation is usually expected. In this case, it was $16,000.

"We're disappointed," Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, told The Post. "We met all their conditions -- screening the film for them, agreeing [to list the Smithsonian] director's name on the invitation and so forth -- and then some mention of this in the media, and now they want to backtrack to some degree, and we don't get it."

Supporters of intelligent design contend that some features of the natural world are best explained as the products of an intelligent cause rather than naturalistic evolution. Opponents say the theory is simply creationism in disguise.

DEAN CALLS REPUBLICANS 'WHITE CHRISTIAN PARTY' -- Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean continues to make what many consider outrageous remarks that alienate many Republicans and have even led to key Democrats distancing themselves from the former presidential candidate.

His latest headline-catching comment came June 6 when Dean told a forum of journalists and minority leaders in San Francisco that Republicans are "not very friendly to different kinds of people. They are a pretty monolithic party. Pretty much, they all behave the same, and they all look the same.... It's pretty much a white Christian party."

During an interview on NBC's Today Show June 8, Dean defended his remarks by saying, "unfortunately, by and large, it is. And they have the agenda of the conservative Christians." The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is far more diverse and open to all sorts of perspectives, he said.

Chief Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor, R.-Va., urged his Democratic colleagues in Congress to ask Dean to apologize for his "hateful and misguided statements."

"I'm disappointed that the leader of the Democrat party finds it necessary to divide Americans by race and faith," Cantor, who is Jewish, said in a statement June 8. "America's families want to know how we can create the best jobs, give children the best education, and secure our nation from terrorists. They have no interest in playing Howard Dean's games of division and hate."

Just days earlier, Dean spouted off another stereotype of the party he opposes. In discussing the issue of Americans standing in long lines to vote, he said, "Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."

Such comments, in addition to one in March implying he would use the Terri Schiavo case later on as a campaign issue, have led top Democrats such as Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina to back away from the lightning-rod leader.

"He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric, and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats," Biden said June 5.

NO BIBLE DURING RECESS? -- A federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a Knoxville, Tenn., student who allegedly was told he could not hold an informal Bible club during recess. The suit was filed June 1 by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of 10-year-old student Luke Whitson, a fourth-grader at Karns Elementary School.

"The Constitution says 'yes' to Bible reading and discussion outside of class time," ADF attorney Nate Kellum said in a news release. "Recess is non-instructional time regardless of how the school system tries to characterize it after the fact."

The Alliance Defense Fund said it was unable to resolve the issue with school officials, forcing the lawsuit. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

School officials have said recess is not "free time" and that Bible study is allowed "outside the classroom environment," according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.


Michael Foust contributed to this report.

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