IT has recently managed to upset gays, Jews and even Mickey Mouse in the name of the Lord. And now the nation's largest Protestant church organisation is gunning for nothing less than half of the population. If this was the 1960s, the Southern Baptist church would have an extreme case of bra-burning on its hands. But in 1998, women across the nation have been left virtually speechless by the latest antics of the church's elders. At its annual convention, the 16 million-strong church amended its statement of beliefs to declare that a wife should 'graciously submit herself to the leadership of her husband' and 'serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation'. The changes, which the Baptists admit are a conscious return to the somewhat anachronistic family-values recipes of Scripture, reflect the growing influence of the body's more conservative wing. But it is hard to see how it fits in with the church's drive to expand its numbers. The Southern Baptists have been involved in much controversy in recent years. They angered Jews by adopting a programme of trying to evangelise within the Jewish community and also called on their members to boycott the Disney company because of the alleged promotion of homosexual rights in some movies it partly produced. And while this literally biblical reappraisal of the women's place in the home might secretly appeal to males of every colour and creed, not even staunch anti-feminist women are happy at being called upon to submit to anyone - especially their husbands. How the average females of the Baptist flock will take to this sudden moving of the marital goalposts remains to be seen - but we bet that there are a number of extremely famous members of the church who will have a great deal of trouble convincing their wives of the virtues of submission: step forward President Bill Clinton, Vice-president Al Gore and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Southern Baptists to a man. White House spokesman Mike McCurry painted the sort of picture one could easily imagine, saying: 'The President noted with wry amusement the [news] this morning and thought about how he might call it to the attention of the First Lady.' Submission jokes about Monica Lewinsky are, of course, already in full circulation. Having one's trousers fall to the floor in front of the leader of the free world is by anyone's reckoning a diplomatic incident straight out of the Benny Hill jokebook. But America's politically-correct media had no problem keeping a straight face. The media has undergone yet another of its regular attacks of self-analysis after a bizarrely comic incident at the state dinner for Korean President Kim Dae-jung, when one guest unwittingly did to Mr Clinton what he (allegedly) once did to Paula Jones. Pak Nam-june, a Korean artist, was shaking hands with Mr Clinton at the dinner when his trousers fell down - revealing in all his glory a man who likes to go au naturel underneath. Complicating coverage of the incident was the fact Mr Pak had suffered from a stroke and was usually confined to a wheelchair. That was enough for every TV station which, apart from Fox News - which digitised out the offending body parts - decided that to give any coverage to the matter would be distasteful. While unfortunate the involuntary flashing might have been, not carrying the news brought some channels even as much angst as if they had gone ahead. C-Span, the public service channel which carries congressional proceedings and other Washington events, always shows state dinners in full. But in the few hours it had between taping the dinner and broadcasting, it cut the incident out. That inspired some hand-wringing from executives, who later said they had betrayed C-Span's duty of always providing uncensored coverage. True to form, the famously-PC Washington Post gave the incident a brief mention in a story on the dinner, then ran a much longer article the day after, virtually apologising for it. Ironically, the National Organisation on Disability entered the debate by saying they did not think Mr Pak's embarrassment should have been spared - regardless of his handicap. 'If anyone's pants fall down in front of the President, I can't imagine the Post not covering it,' said an official. 'And I don't think we want special treatment as a disabled group.' The old adage, 'Be careful what you wish for - you might get it' is especially true in politics. Which is why conservatives are wringing their hands over an unwanted side-effect of the welfare reform laws they helped get enacted. Studies show that in some of the 20 states that have enacted a family cap provision, there has been a corresponding rise in the number of abortions. The family cap, which denies further welfare handouts to recipients who keep having more children, was supposed to end the dependency culture among certain members of the proletariat. But instead of stopping getting pregnant, a large number of welfare mothers are simply terminating new pregnancies with an abortion. This goes against the national trend, which has seen a decrease in terminations. In one state, New Jersey, the abortion statistics have caused such a political furore that the state government now claims they were unscientifically compiled. But that has not stopped a coalition of conservative groups, headed by a Catholic organisation, from trying to challenge the state's family cap in court.