[Insert Pun Here]

The International Herald Tribune plays host today to a pair of interesting editorials. I value the website primarily for its usefulness as an opinion clearinghouse rather than as a news source. The essays on view today illustrate why.

Beginning with the seemingly ridiculous, witness this interesting editorial on "The Ethics of Face Transplants." Surprisingly, it's thoughtfully considered, except for a couple of silly paragraphs that indulge in the bioethicist's cliché of choice: concern over "designer bodies." But skip the penultimate paragraph and you'll have an excellent example of the genre.

Passing to the seemingly sublime, IHT hosts a New York Times editorial with the title "Mocking Honest Clergy." Of three paragraphs, two are devoted to the state of affairs in the legislative branch. It is not until the final graph that we learn what mocks the honest clergy (other than the New York Times, every chance it gets): a rider on a bit of legislation that would enact a three-strikes rule for "churches that venture too zealously into politics." I suspect that by "zealously" is meant "conservatively."

While most of the political speech I've heard coming from the pulpit has been, to be generous, mediocre, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of silencing political speech in any forum. There are moments when one's religious beliefs are relevant to political issues. Clergy should be free to express these views, even as part of a religious service. Their congregations will guide them as to how much of it they will tolerate.

Posted by Doug Brown
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