Tag Archives: evangelical Christians

Another Great Reason Religion And Politics Shouldn’t Mix

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image of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, even using causal values, is a terrible person. He has been accused of groping women, admitted to being a pervert, has been married several times, and has some nasty views about women and minorities. Why then is he still getting support from the paladins of virtue – the evangelical Christian community? It really isn’t that hard to see why.
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Pulpit Freedom Sunday Was A Failure Due To Bureaucracy

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image of the IRS logoAlliance Defending Freedom, which sponsored Pulpit Freedom Sunday on October 7th, claimed over a 1,000 pastors would be taking part in violating the tax laws prohibiting a tax exempt group, such as churches, from electioneering at the pulpit. If the law breaking pastors had done some basic research they would have seen that having a protest now was a waste of time. The IRS suspended investigations of churches in 2009 due to a federal law suit. Basically Pulpit Freedom Sunday was a failure.
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Pulpit Freedom Sunday Falsely Thinks Breaking The Law Is Freedom Of Speech

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clip art showing Preaching from the PulpitOn Sunday October 7th, Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative evangelical Christian group, will be promoting ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’. It’s an event where the ADF says it has 1,000 pastors pledged to violate Federal tax laws by preaching about the election, endorsing a candidate, and sending a video of their sermon to the IRS. Their stated point is that the tax law prohibiting endorsing specific candidates violates the pastor’s freedom of speech. Once again the religious right is wrong.
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Except for the silence, yes not all believers are wackos

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As usual there has been a lot of ink spilled over a book by an atheist who went undercover as an evangelical who came out the other side with some empathy for the common believer. Our church and state issues have never been about the average John and Jane Believer. The issues come up and the anger boils because John and Jane remain silent while their leaders stir things up and cause the problems.

As one conservative blog post noted:

Reading Welch’s interview makes you wonder if perhaps those “objective” media people who rain fire on evangelicals ought to immerse themselves a little more. Welch felt she learned a little about how evangelism doesn’t have to be hostile:

Evangelism seemed invasive to me. I thought of it as an imperialistic arrogance — that they wanted to overpower people. My experience with evangelism was something very different. They felt that they could do something about the eternal suffering of others. I came to see evangelism instead as a kind of empathy. That made me feel like there was something in it I could respect.

For her part, Time’s Olofsson seemed skeptical that Welch would actually find nice, sincere people in the “enemy” camp…

Atheist Author Laments Evangelicals Painted by Media as ‘Brainwashed, Simple-Minded, Angry’

So while noting that the atheist admitted she was wrong to paint with a large brush, the author of the blog post saw no reason to return the favor. At the end of the post they wrote this:

Welch clearly had a problem with “homophobia” in the church she investigated. It wasn’t explained how Jesus would have favored “gay marriage.”

We have once again seen where a public face of evangelical is at odds with the actual everyday evangelical in practice yet the average evangelical stays silent.

There might be more understanding and less hostility if angry evangelicals would go undercover in an atheist group and see how we aren’t all brainwashed and angry either.

Okay so NOW bringing religion into politics is wrong?

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Last week Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a speech to try and calm the evangelical Christian base of the party over his religious beliefs. Romney is a Mormon. To many evangelicals, that is the same as being a Pagan or worse – an atheist even though in actuality, Mormonism is a sect of Christianity.

Romney has pandered to the evangelicals on other occasions, like his flip flop on abortion, and with evangelical poster boy Mike Huckabee nipping at his heels, the speech was seen in similar light as one given by John F Kennedy during him campaign in 1960.

Of course Romney’s speech really wasn’t anything like Kennedy’s absolute separation of church and state speech.

My favorite reaction to the speech was a quote by Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, and now considered a GOP strategist (whatever that means):

“We have been conducting doctrinal frisks and theological GI-tract exams of our candidates and we have to remember that these candidates are not running for president of the seminary and they’re not running for pastor in chief. They’re running to be commander in chief at a time of global war on terrorism.”

Ralph Reed: Religion questions are getting invasive

The quote got the following comment when it was mentioned on the Yeas and Nays blog:

C-dog: There’s more to the job than being Commander-in-Chief Ralph! And since you started the whole “holier-than-thou” Religious Right movement: behold what you have bred…

For comments on Romney’s speech from a secular perspective check out the following links:

Gov. Romney’s Speech, “Faith in America”

Mitt Romney is No Jack Kennedy

Mitt Romney Under God

Candidates And Scripture: Bumping Into God On The Campaign Trail

Judge outlaws prison group’s Bible program

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A judge in Iowa ruled that a program for inmates in the Newton Correctional Facility was a Bible-based prison program that violated the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause by using state funds to promote Christianity to inmates.

Prison Fellowship Ministries was sued in 2003 by Americans United for Separation of Church and State led by Rev. Barry Lynn.

Lynn’s group accused Prison Fellowship Ministries of giving preferential treatment to inmates participating in the program. They were given special visitation rights, movie-watching privileges, access to computers and access to classes needed for early parole.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt called the perks “seemingly minor benefits” that constituted unfair treatment to those not in the religious program. Despite any claims of rehabilitating inmates, the program “impermissibly endorses religion,” Pratt wrote.

Judge outlaws prison group’s Bible program

Prison Fellowship was founded by convicted Watergate conspirator Charles Colson. Its mission, according to its website:

Prison Fellowship reaches out to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families both as an act of service to Jesus Christ and as a contribution to restoring peace to our cities and communities endangered by crime. For the best way to transform our communities is to transform the people within those communities—and truly restorative change comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The focus of our ministry includes fellowshipping with Jesus (including teaching others to live and look at life from a biblical perspective), visiting prisoners, and welcoming the children of prisoners.

About Prison Fellowship

From the text of the ruling – we find the reason why Prison Fellowship and its InterChange program in Iowa violated the 1st Amendment:

InnerChange was created to meet the needs of state or federal prisons for a private provider who could deliver a values-based12 prisoner rehabilitation program. InnerChange’s religious commitments mirror those of Prison Fellowship—the parties stipulated, in fact, that what is taught in the InnerChange inmate program does not contradict the Prison Fellowship Statement of Faith.

The InnerChange program is a faith-based program designed to transform prisoners into good citizens, to reduce the recidivism rate of current inmates, and to prepare inmates for their return to society by providing educational, ethical, and religious instruction. In its own words: This mission of InnerChange is to create and maintain a prison environment that fosters respect for God’s law and rights of others, and to encourage the spiritual and moral regeneration of prisoners. Therefore, they may develop responsible and productive relationships with their Creator, families and communities. Pls.’ Ex. 35 (InnerChange website, Sept. 9, 2005).

The InnerChange program meshes the Evangelical Christian religious message of its parent organization, Prison Fellowship, with a pre-release correctional model. This produces a unique approach to pre-release prison programming specific to InnerChange, which InnerChange refers to as a transformational, rather than a therapeutic, model. Rather than exclusively relying on and utilizing scientific and medical theories to address criminal behavior,

InnerChange incorporates a supernatural approach to an inmate’s recidivist behavior by locating that inmate’s problems in disobedience to God, or sin. The only remedy to the problem of sin, InnerChange maintains, is through a miraculous delivery by God—specifically, God in Christ.13

Again, as state actors, InnerChange and Prison Fellowship employees cloak themselves in the mantel of government. As providers of a state-funded treatment program, they are burdened with the same responsibilities of any state employee: to respect the civil rights of all persons, including the First Amendment’s prohibition on indoctrinating others in their form of religion. In the context of this case, the Defendants have no legitimate interest in the accommodation of their own religious beliefs, but just the opposite. As state actors, their interest in “avoiding an Establishment Clause violation ‘may be characterized as compelling.’”

There are many factors that drive the conclusion that the InnerChange program is pervasively sectarian. The program requires attendance at worship services, religious community meetings, and weekly revivals, and orders its participants to engage in daily religious devotional practice. Furthermore, participants are required to lead prayers and share, publically, a personal devotional at the weekly community meeting. InnerChange instructors and employees must sign the Prison Fellowship Statement of Faith. The curriculum is restricted and does not stray from the religious beliefs stated in the Statement of Faith. InnerChange teachers and counselors are allowed to teach only a pre-set, imposed religious curriculum authorized by InnerChange and Prison Fellowship. Though an inmate could, theoretically, graduate from InnerChange without converting to Christianity, the coercive nature of the program demands obedience to its dogmas and doctrines.

Americans United v. Prison Fellowship (2006)

Also check out the release from Americans United:

Federal Court Strikes Down Tax Funding of Iowa Prison Program