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An update on our Web site comment system

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Visiting these pages over the past couple of years you may have noticed something unique about NCR: We let virtually anyone comment on our online stories. We don't require registration to post a comment on our Web pages and, as best we can, we only moderate out comments that present personal attacks or are simply inappropriate for a public forum.

We do this to encourage conversation, to provide a tiny (but growing every day) corner of the web where people can come to engage one another in thoughtful discourse about issues facing the church and society as a whole.

By and large this experiment works. We receive many comments that are obviously well reasoned. We also receive many that reflect deep personal feelings and convictions which add substantively to the conversation.

Separating church and state

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Yesterday, Sept. 12, was the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's speech to a meeting of the Greater Houston Ministerial Alliance. The speech, in which he addresses his faith and the need to separate church and state, has become the template to measure politican's private faith and public service.

NCR, ran an analysis of current religion-political relations that used Kennedy's speech as a starting point: JFK and the cafeteria bishops: 50 years after Kennedy asserted independence from the pope, tide has turned.

Now read this story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Santorum injecting faith into presidential discussion

Of rifts and the right wing

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There was much whining and gnashing of teeth this weekend over the lost of unity surrounding commemorations of the 9/11 tragedy. The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times ran front page stories about the new divisive tone.

The implication is that no one gets along in America anymore -- and that things have gotten much worse since a new president took office a bit more than a year and a half ago.

Can we shove that aside for moment and talk frankly about something few seem willing to address? This kind of "incivility" is what usually happens when a Democrat takes over and the right-wing finds itself really really unhappy.

The economy of conflict

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What do the micro-chips in our cellphones have to do with the recently reported rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC)? Apparently,quite a bit. The perpetrators of the rapes get much of their funds from the extraction and illicit trade of minerals used in technology products worldwide, including cellphones, laptops, and camcorders.

Memo to Terry Jones: Take a look at the New Testament

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When I first heard the news that Rev. Terry Jones, a minister at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. was planning a “Burn the Qur’an Day” on September 11, I wondered if I had been transported back in time several centuries.

When I checked the history of book burning, I discovered that it is long and nefarious -- dating back to early Chinese emperors who set fire to works of philosophy that did not comply with state dogma. It includes the destruction of the magnificent ancient library of Alexandria, many burnings of the Torah and Talmud, and, at the time of the Reformation, Protestants burning Catholic books and Catholics burning Protestant books. In fact, the Spanish Inquisition was an equal opportunity arsonist; inquisitors burned Protestant books, Jewish books and even the Qur’an itself. In recent times, the Nazis conducted public book burnings that included the works of many Jewish intellectuals.

Sex abuse by clergy in Belgium led to suicides

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A disturbing report from The Huffington Post this afternoon links clergy sex abuse in Belgium to at least 13 suicides.

A snippet from the piece:

BRUSSELS — Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, a special commission said Friday.

Professor Peter Adriaenssens, chairman of the commission, said the abuse in Belgium may have been even more rampant than the 200-page report suggests.

"Reality is worse than what we present here today because not everyone shares such things automatically in a first contact with the commission," he told reporters.

Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist who has worked with trauma victims for 23 years, said nothing had prepared him for the stories of abuse that blighted the lives of victims.

U.S., Vietnam, in nuclear power talks

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The Obama administration is negotiating with Vietnam over a deal to allow the purchase of nuclear fuel, as well as American nuclear technology and reactors, several media outlets have reported. The most detailed account was published in the Wall Street Journal on August 3.

Based on the comments of a top US official, the Journal explained that Washington is in “advanced negotiations” with Hanoi over an agreement to share nuclear fuel and technology with Vietnam. The deal would allow Vietnam to enrich its own uranium to produce fuel for its power reactors, subject to monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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