Sermon on Bill sparks a schism

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The Independent Online
Differences between the Doles and the Clintons are running deeper than temporal politics. Bob Dole, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, and his wife, Elizabeth, no longer worship at the same Washington church as Bill and Hillary Clinton because the pastor is too liberal.

"The Doles have been attending several evangelical churches in the Washington area that more accurately reflect their Christian belief," a friend of the couple says.

Friends say Mr Clinton, a Southern Baptist, goes to the Foundry United Methodist Church twice a month because he respects the Rev J Philip Wogaman. He also enjoys attending church with his wife and daughter Chelsea, who are Methodists.

In his sermons, Mr Wogaman, a former professor of Christian ethics, relates faith to public issues and strikes a liberal, internationalist chord with the Clintons. He often asks the congregation to pray for the President as he makes ''awesome and sometimes very lonely'' decisions.

A syndicated columnist, Cal Thomas, was recently critical of Mr Wogaman's "theological and political liberalism", which, he asserted, offered "moral nurture" for the Clintons' political views. Mr Wogaman said the article distorted his views and seemed to be using the Clintons' religion "as a way to oppose their politics".

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George Bush is also abandoning a former focus of worship. He has given up his lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association over its references to federal agents as "jack-booted government thugs".

"Your broadside against federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honour,'' the former president wrote, ''and it offends my concept of service to country."

The NRA, which lobbies against any regulation it considers an infringement of Americans' constitutional right to bear arms, made the offending remarks in a fund-raising letter to members. It followed the Oklahoma City bombing, apparently carried out to protest against perceived curtailment of personal freedom. Among the offices in the bombed government building was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which had carried out the raid on the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, in 1993.

"To attack Secret Service agents or ATF people or any government law- enforcement people as 'wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm- trooper uniforms' wanting to 'attack law-abiding citizens' is a vicious slander on good people," Mr Bush wrote.

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I have reached the critical age for marriage in my family", says Dom Duarte de Braganza, and so the 49-year-old pretender to the Portuguese throne will wed Isabel de Heredia, a 29-year-old aristocrat, tomorrow. Dom Duarte, who has been the butt of jokes about his lack of an heir, says his grandfather and great-grandfather both married when they were nearly 50.

The ceremony, at the 16th- century Jeronimos monastery in Lisbon, will be witnessed by 1,700 guests. Republican politicians, including President Mario Soares (nicknamed "O Rei", the King), will outnumber minor European royals.

The last wedding of an heir to the throne on Portuguese soil was in 1886. Portugal overthrew its monarchy in 1910, but Dom Duarte, a mustachioed former fighter-pilot, claims to see a groundswell of support for its restoration. "The King is the human face of the country," he says. A recent poll showed only 14.3 per cent support for the idea.