CULTURE DIGEST: Rosie takes on conservative Hasselbeck on ‘The View’; Mich. & Ohio reject Intelligent Design; ...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--During her short tenure on the ABC talk show “The View,” Rosie O’Donnell has made several comments that are offensive to conservatives, including her highly publicized assertion that “radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam.”

But O’Donnell has a counterpart on the four-woman panel who is a professed Christian conservative and who, though years younger and less famous than O’Donnell, is beginning to stand her ground when the attacks start flying.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck joined the show in 2003 after appearing in the second season of the reality show “Survivor,” and during an interview with Today’s Christian magazine that appeared in the July/August issue this year, Hasselbeck made clear that her faith plays a significant role in her life.

Hasselbeck is a graduate of Boston College and worked briefly as a shoe designer for Puma. She is married to Tim Hasselbeck, a backup quarterback for the New York Giants.

Though the interview with Today’s Christian was before O’Donnell joined The View, Hasselbeck indicated the controversial topics that arise on the show can be challenging.

“I know some subjects are going to be a battle,” she said. “Every time a heavy subject comes up, I can feel my body temperature rise and my blood pressure probably goes through the roof. Sometimes it takes me a little while to vocalize what I'm trying to get at. But you're either a warrior or a coward. Sometimes you back down and sometimes you fight with all your might.”

A collection of offensive comments made by O’Donnell is archived at www.newsbusters.org, a site that exposes liberal media bias, including one of the more recent exchanges with Hasselbeck in which O’Donnell asserts that no one should own a gun.

“So you can’t -- you can't take away the right to, to bear arms,” Hasselbeck said.

“Well, it’s not really a right. There’s debate as to what that --” O’Donnell said.

“It is a right. It’s in our Constitution. It’s the Second Amendment,” Hasselback said.

During another episode of The View, O’Donnell blamed President Bush for Hugo Chavez’ comments at the United Nations in which the Venezuelan president called Bush the devil. O’Donnell said Bush started the name-calling when he referred to “evildoers” in his speeches.

Hasselbeck has denied a New York Daily News report that said she is frequently brought to tears on the set because of O’Donnell’s liberal tirades.

“She is crying every day,” the Daily News reported. “No one can control Rosie, and Elisabeth can't contain her feelings. She gets so upset all the time.”

2 STATES REJECT INTELLIGENT DESIGN -- Michigan and Ohio are the latest states to bypass the teaching of Intelligent Design in science curriculum for their public schools, opting instead to teach evolution unchallenged.

In Michigan, the state board of education unanimously ruled Oct. 10 that high school teachers are expected to teach evolution in science classes but not Intelligent Design. They also removed ambiguous language that could lead some to question the validity of evolution, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Though the eight-member board of education in Michigan sets expectations for what should be taught in classrooms, the Free Press noted that it’s up to local schools and educators to implement those recommendations. Therefore, “it’s conceivable a teacher could decide to teach intelligent design anyway, as long as the course expectations are met,” the Free Press said.

Intelligent Design has become an issue in the race for governor in Michigan, with the Republican candidate, a conservative Christian, saying he approves of Intelligent Design being taught alongside evolution in science classes, and the Democrat, an incumbent, saying Intelligent Design should only be taught in current events or comparative religion classes.

In Ohio, the state school board voted 14-3 Oct. 10 to end its debate over teaching guidelines that would leave room for the introduction of Intelligent Design in science classrooms when students are taught to critically analyze evolution.

The board had voted in February to remove the guidelines, according to the Associated Press, but then they referred the issue to a committee for further review. The most recent vote halted the committee’s work, and as it stands, Intelligent Design is not part of the curriculum.

“Chalk up another pyrrhic victory for the Darwin lobby,” John West, associate director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, wrote on a blog Oct. 12.

“Darwinists seem oblivious to the fact that every time they try to censor open discussion on Darwinism (and now on other issues as well), they expose for all to see the bankruptcy of their position,” West stated. “If Darwinists really believed that the evidence for Darwin's theory is overwhelming, they wouldn't act so petrified every time someone suggests that students and teachers ought to be able to discuss different scientific views. Darwinists are apparently so insecure that they now believe the only way to preserve their theory is through one-sided indoctrination enforced by the state. We've come a long way from John Scopes, baby.”

NEW CHURCH GIVING REPORT RELEASED -- A report released by empty tomb, inc. Oct. 13 examined the giving trends of church members in the United States in 2004 and determined that financial contributions to churches were down as a percent of income for a second consecutive year when compared with previous years. Church members gave 2.56 percent of their income, down from 3.11 percent in 1968.

The Illinois-based Christian research organization found that giving to benevolent causes -- activities focused outside the congregation -- as a portion of income increased slightly in 2004 from the 2003 level. The levels for 2003 and 2004 both rounded to 0.38 percent, the lowest in the 37-year period empty tomb has tracked such numbers.

Empty tomb reported the rate of giving to congregational finances -- the funding of internal operations of the congregation -- began to recover in 1993 but was down in 2003 and 2004. The portion of income given to congregational finances declined more than activities focused on benevolences, the study found.

For each dollar donated to a congregation, denominations spent 2 cents on overseas missions in 2004, down from 7 cents in the 1920s. The study’s authors, John and Sylvia Ronsvalle, said evangelical Christians could complete the task of global evangelization for 7 cents per member per day.

“Had giving been at an average of 10 percent in 2004 rather than 2.56 percent, there would have been at least an additional $164 billion available for the overseas and domestic mission work of churches,” the authors noted.

Using statistics published by the Southern Baptist Convention for 2004, empty tomb determined that 1 cent of each dollar given to an SBC church ultimately makes it way to the International Mission Board to support missionaries.

Additional data is available through the empty tomb website, www.emptytomb.org, and the entire report is available in a book called “The State of Church Giving through 2004.”


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