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"The Da Vinci Code"

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Could the bestselling book "The Da Vinci Code" have any bearing on Sen. Sam Brownback's chances for the 2008 presidential nomination?Maybe, says [Bill Tammeus at the Kansas City Star.][1]Tammeus writes that probable candidates in the 2008 race -- and Brownback is widely believed to be considering a run -- will have their religion scrutinized very carefully."Several years ago Brownback converted from Methodism to Catholicism. ... Brownback became a Catholic through the guidance of an Opus Dei priest, the Rev. John McCloskey of Washington. Opus Dei ( www.opusdei.org ) is widely considered a strict, theologically conservative Catholic organization. "Didn't author Dan Brown paint Opus Dei as semi-evil in "The Da Vinci Code"? Yes, and its critics (such as church historian Michael Walsh in the 2004 version of his book, "Opus Dei" ) tend to be relentless, sometimes making good points about the group's secrecy and about recruiting methods some find manipulative. But don't judge Opus Dei only by its critics. It's one of several theological subjects Brown handled poorly in his novel."Brownback has refrained from talking to reporters about his conversion from the Methodist Church to the Catholic Church. And in fact, reporters might not be so interested in the topic except for one detail - Brownback's rise to national prominence has been built largely on his appeal to evangelical Christians. In this case, it's nearly impossible to separate the political person from the pious one.Tammeus writes that Opus Dei wouldn't unduly influence Brownback's political actions. But, he adds: "Media coverage of religion in politics can improve if candidates are candid about their faith and how it might affect public policy. So if Brownback runs, he should talk about Opus Dei."As for Brownback's presidential chances - well, he beat Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the first round of a nonscientific "Presidential March Madness" poll (a "race" between 64 prominent Republicans) at [surveysaintlouis.com,][2] 63.9 percent to 36.1 percent. He advances to the second round against Sen. Chuck Grassley in polling that begins March 22. The final nominee will be announced April 4.Other links:Sam Brownback links [(Los Angeles Times) L.A. Is a Den of Iranian Intrigue and Ambition:][3] Faced with the sudden prospect of relevance, (Iranian) exile activists are jockeying for recognition from U.S. policymakers. They are touting contacts with the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA. They boast of tete-a-tetes with members of Vice President Dick Cheney's staff, and drop the name "Elliott" - as in Elliott Abrams, Bush's deputy national security advisor. They prominently display Christmas cards from Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, an early backer of legislation that would provide financial support to the Iranian opposition. Pat Roberts links [(Washington Times) Intelligence chief's office faces changes:][4] When Ambassador John Negroponte returns from Iraq next month to seek confirmation as the nation's new intelligence chief, he will find Congress already threatening to tinker with last year's intelligence-reform act -- the law that established his office. ... Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, chairman of the intelligence committee, is reserved about whether legislative changes are necessary for Mr. Negroponte to succeed. Jim Ryun links [(AP) Bush Signs Bill That May Let Schiavo Live:][5] Now, he has had her feeding tube removed and sentenced her to a most excruciating death, citing Terri's own wishes as the rationale ...'' said Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan.Michael did not remember this supposed request until years after Terri's initial injuries when a cash settlement was awarded to her, a settlement he would stand to inherit.'' How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][6] [1]: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/living/religion/11172313.htm [2]: http://www.surveysaintlouis.com/marchmadness/Bracket.php [3]: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/valley/la-me-irangeles20mar20,1,3149475.story?coll=la-editions-valley [4]: http://washingtontimes.com/national/20050320-101810-9988r.htm [5]: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4880739,00.html [6]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed

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