Tag Archives: election

American Secular Census Looks To Count Secular Americans

Posted on by

logo of American Secular CensusA new group looks to complete a census of secular Americans who are usually under-counted by religious-centric demographic surveys. American Secular Census is an independent national registry of demographic and viewpoint data recorded from secular adult Americans covering those who are skeptical of supernatural claims. One reason such a census is needed and why secular Americans should participate is what happens in a Washington D.C. that is overly influenced by the religious right.
Continue reading

Yes, we know about Obama and Rev Wright but what about McCain, Hagee, and Parsley

Posted on by

The mainstream media (MSM) sure have been in a tizzy about Democrat candidate for President Barrack Obama and his relationship with the pastor of his church Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Even after Obama strongly rejected Wright’s comments and Wright is no longer associated with the campaign, the MSM just can’t let it go.

Not only that but it is one sided. They have said nothing about the GOP candidate John McCain and the endorsement and close relationship with Pastor John Hagee and Rev Rod Parsley.

As I wrote about earlier today, John McCain yesterday happily received an endorsement from, and then expressed lavish gratitude towards, one of the most hateful and radical evangelical ministers in the country, Pastor John Hagee. As documented in that post, Hagee has a history of making some of the most extreme and twisted statements of any religious figure in the country towards multiple groups of Americans.

[Catholic League’s President, Bill] Donohue contrasted McCain’s embrace of such a hateful and radical figure with Obama’s denunciation earlier this week of Louis Farrakhan: “Obama did the right thing. You’ve got to throw overboard the people who are the bigots even if they’ve done good work here and there. This is the problem I have with McCain.” And he added that Hagee’s bigotry is hardly confined to Catholics, noting that a “prominent rabbi” had contacted him earlier today to ask that they issue a joint denunciation of Hagee/McCain, as the rabbi was deeply concerned that “too many Jews have also been mislead by Hagee.”

Interview with Bill Donohue: Catholic League denounces McCain

And there is Rod Parsley:

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a “war” against the “false religion” of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with the Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, a supersize Pentecostal institution that features a 5,200-seat sanctuary, a television studio (where Parsley tapes a weekly show), and a 122,000-square-foot Ministry Activity Center. That day, a week before the Ohio primary, Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a “strong, true, consistent conservative.”

John McCain’s “Spiritual Guide” Calls For Destruction Of Islam

Hagee is also leader of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) which is a radical pro-Israel group that feels supporting Israel will bring about the rapture. I wrote about the group in the entry Christian Zionism and Politics – a deadly mix

It is clear that when it comes to religious bigotry, the press gives the GOP a pass.

Religious Right Grasping at Straws

Posted on by

On October 4th, Dr James Dobson wrote in an op/ed article in the New York Times that “if neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate.”

This was a shot across the bow of the GOP because the current front runner – Rudi Giuliani – failed the so-called “value voters” litmus test.

But why not support one of the other GOP candidates. One who seems up their religious alley is Mike Huckabee. He agrees with their views on abortion and gay marriage and he was one of the few GOP’ers who said he didn’t believe in Evolution.

Evolution is a complex issue. It’s a complex issue to discuss the origins of life. And that’s really the question as I interpreted it and understood it. What are the origins of life? Do you believe that life is the result of some metaphysical accident that happened eons ago and there has been this ongoing process of mutation and random selection that has resulted in life as we now know it? And if so, then it’s probably going to keep changing, and who knows where, how and when. And that’s fine, people can certainly believe that.

There are others of us whose basic premise of the origins of life is that there is a God and that he is the dynamic behind it – that there is a prime mover, as some of the ancient philosophers used to speak. I subscribe to that. And as I said last night, for me, it’s as simple as “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.”

A science book that I read today is dramatically different from the science book I would have found in the school classroom 50 years ago or 100 years ago. But the origin of life as it is expressed in the Scripture is consistent and has been now for several thousand years. I can embrace that, and to me it is not a conflict with science; it can be compatible with science.

Whither Social Conservatives? A Conversation with GOP Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee

So why don’t people like Dobson get behind Huckabee?

Because in one recent poll Huckabee is 6th among GOP contenders.

Would the religious right want to hitch their wagons to someone who probably won’t win the nomination? If the guy lost then their supposed “power” would be suspect.

However if they could get a front runner to change their attitude and court them and then they end up losing to the Democrat then the right can say they caused that person to lose because they were being taken for granted. They can spin how powerless they really are.

See how politics works.

See also For a Trusty Voting Bloc, a Faith Shaken

Religion comes up in CNN/YouTube debate

Posted on by

The Democratic candidates for President of the US held a debate that was hosted by CNN and YouTube. Of interest to those who support the separation of church and state, is one of the questions about religion and government:


COOPER: In our remaining few minutes, the questions turn to two subjects — God and guns. First question.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Zenne Abraham in Oakland, California. The cathedral behind me is the perfect backdrop for this question. This quarter reads “United States of America.” And when I turn it over, you find that it reads “liberty, in God we trust.” What do those words mean to you? Thank you.

COOPER: Senator Biden.

BIDEN: Religion informs my values.

BIDEN: My reason dictates outcomes. My religion taught me about abuse of power. That’s why I moved to write the Violence Against Women Act. That’s why I take the position I take on Darfur. It came about as a consequence of the reasoning that we’re able to do it.

You know, look, I don’t think they’re inconsistent. I don’t find anything inconsistent about my deep, religious beliefs and my ability to use reason. I think the coin’s got it just right. I think I have it in perspective.

COOPER: Here’s a question from the other side of the coin.

QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Stephen Marsh of Thousand Oaks, California, proud citizen of the United States of America that does not believe in God. However, the former President Bush said this statement was an oxymoron.

Now, I am worried about the amount of time given to evangelical concerns while secular voters are more or less getting a snubbed — the faith and politics forum.

So my question is this: Am I wrong in fearing a Democratic administration that may be lip service to the extremely religious as much as the current one? And if so, why? Thank you for your time.

COOPER: Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: As president of the United States, we will embrace and lift up all Americans, whatever their faith beliefs or whether they have no faith beliefs, as Stephen just spoke about. That’s what America is.

Now, my faith is enormously important to me personally. It’s gotten me through some hard times, as I’m sure that’s true of a lot of the candidates who are on this stage.

But it is crucial that the American people know that as president it will not be my job — and I believe it would be wrong — for me to impose my personal faith beliefs on the American people or to decide any kind of decision, policy decision, that will affect America on the basis of my personal faith beliefs.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I am proud of my Christian faith. And it informs what I do. And I don’t think that people of any faith background should be prohibited from debating in the public square.

OBAMA: But I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state, and I think that we’ve got to translate…

(APPLAUSE)

By the way, I support it not just for the state but also for the church, because that maintains our religious independence and that’s why we have such a thriving religious life.

But what I also think is that we are under obligation in public life to translate our religious values into moral terms that all people can share, including those who are not believers. And that is how our democracy’s functioning, will continue to function. That’s what the founding fathers intended.

Part II: CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate transcript


To me Senator Edwards came out the strongest in support of separation of church and state while Biden and Obama were less definite. YMMV.

Republicans get their turn with this format on September 17th.

Your voice to be heard in historic debates

Obama says Democrats need to woo evangelicals

Posted on by

There was an interesting story on CNN on Wednesday. It seems that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) wants his fellow Democrats to court the votes of Christian Evangelicals – who seem to be in the pocket of Republicans more often than not. Such talk causes me to pause because I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. What exactly does Obama mean when he said “Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation. Context matters…”

I happen to agree that not every mention of God in public is a breach of the wall, however I take a more narrow view of what is appropriate. Obama notes:

“Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith: the politician who shows up at a black church around election time and claps — off rhythm — to the gospel choir.”

It is just as transparent as a politician going to county fairs and kissing babies or showing up at a shopping mall and buying a pair of socks. In order to be elected a politician has to look like they are “one of the people” even if they really aren’t. A politician who goes to a church, any church, with the press in tow and poses for photos with the minister afterward is transparent but it is an appropriate public expression of the politician’s religious views.

However it is walking a fine line and in some cases dangerous when a politician says that God told him how to act or a religious leader held more sway over them than an adviser with more expertise in whatever the issue was about.

Obama also said:

“It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase `under God’…”

Obama to Democrats: Woo evangelicals

But that isn’t the reason for the argument against the phrase. It is that school children are a captive audience and need extra protection from overt religion sponsored by agents of the state. Does Obama really think that school children have a real choice not to say it? Who wants the negative attention from being singled out for not saying the phrase? The worst thing in the child’s mind is to be thought of as different.

I would also challenge Obama to prove to me that a child knows what all the words in the pledge mean in the first place. I would bet that the only words they know is ‘under God’. The rest they might have a vague idea at that is all.

Obama also makes the mistake of thinking secularists want to rid religion from “the public square.” We don’t. We just want our elected officials to govern based on the laws on the books rather than their bible.

The whole CNN article bothered me because it would seem that Obama was suggesting that Democrats try to be more like Republicans – so I visited his website and read the full text of the speech. The context was one I could agree with overall. He said:

While I’ve already laid out some of the work that progressives need to do on this, I that the conservative leaders of the Religious Right will need to acknowledge a few things as well.

For one, they need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice. That during our founding, it was not the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of this separation; it was the persecuted religious minorities, Baptists like John Leland, who were most concerned that any state-sponsored religion might hinder their ability to practice their faith.

Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

This may be difficult for those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of the possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It insists on the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime; to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.

We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded.

Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God’s test of devotion.

But it’s fair to say that if any of us saw a twenty-first century Abraham raising the knife on the roof of his apartment building, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that are possible for all of us to know, be it common laws or basic reason.

‘Call to Renewal’ Keynote Address

I may not agree with some of his statements in the speech but the overall message – that government policy should be as universal as possible – is something I agree with.

Rev Johnson sent Blackwell video link to church staff

Posted on by

I had an e-mail land in my box today that could be one of the smoking guns that proves Rev. Russell Johnson of the Fairfield Christian Church and Ohio Restoration Project is electioneering for Ken Blackwell, who is running for Governor and hopes to be the Republican nominee this fall.

To refresh your memory, Johnson and Rev Rod Parsley, pastor of the World Harvest Church, had a complaint filed against them with the Internal Revenue Service, by 31 other Central Ohio pastors. The complaint alleges that Johnson and Parsley, through their churches and the Ohio Restoration Project, have endorsed and provided direct support for the Blackwell campaign in violation of their non-profit status. The IRS is investigating.

For more on the complaint see these past posts:

New Orleans Mayor says God is mad and some clergy complain about church politicking

Blackwell, Johnson, Parsley hit back at IRS complaint

Rev. Rod Parsley comes outside his lush estate to give his side in IRS electioneering complaint

Ken Blackwell had 27 contacts with Revs Johnson and Parsley in past 2 years

The e-mail I got today is an e-mail train that had Rev Johnson sending a link to a Blackwell campaign video to his church e-mail list and to the staff at Fairfield Christian Church.

Here is the text of Johnson’s e-mail:

Folks,

Life, Marriage, and Traditional Family Values are not Republican or Democratic Issues… these are Biblical Issues. Below is a web link that needs 2.42 minutes. I pray that in the days to come there will be Democrats and Republicans who will lead with the caliber of courage and the depth of conviction about standing for the truth of God in the public square. Pray that ministers and Christians in America will repent of cowardice in the face of the enemy by allowing our nation to be taken hostage to secular myths. Pray with me that the Body of Christ will get a backbone in our lifetime and stand for what the Bible teaches as important.

In His Service, Russell

The web link he included in an otherwise neutral e-mail note was a note from Jeff Ledbetter, who is fund-raising coordinator for Blackwell’s campaign.

Ledbetter’s note specifically acknowledges the fine line being walked by sending an e-mail to Johnson. Ledbetter writes:

Russell / Bill ­

We are in the final stretch, as you well know. We are also on the verge of history and it feels really good. But today isn’t the time to rest, even if it is Good Friday.

I am writing to you as private citizens, away from your responsibilities at Fairfield Christian and the Ohio Restoration Project.

Below I have copied a sample message that contains a link to a 2½ minute video on Ken and his issues. Perhaps you have already received the link and watched the video. I think it is very good.

We need to get this video out into circulation. Just as with the DVDs, this video helps people understand who Ken Blackwell is. While you can’t use the Patriot Pastors list to circulate it, I am hopeful you will use your personal network to get it around.

Thanks for your continued prayers and steadfast support.

Jeff Ledbetter
Ohioans for Blackwell

Unfortunately, Johnson’s personal network seemed to be his church and staff. If he wanted to keep his political endorsement separate from his church he should not have sent it to the staff, used a church e-mail address, or included Ledbetter’s e-mail.

Sure he could come back and say that he never mentioned Blackwell by name – but such an argument would be a lame attempt since he included the entire note from Ledbetter and the video is a Blackwell campaign video. The subject of the note says “FW: Blackwell video”. In case your are interested in seeing it here is the link: Blackwell video

Basically it is an appeal to people of faith to vote for Blackwell.

The person who sent me the e-mail also sent it to some press outlets so we’ll see if the story pops up in media here in central Ohio.

Update 4/19/2006

The Columbus Dispatch ran a story about the e-mail on the front page today. It claimed two experts said the note from the Blackwell campaign was worded to keep Johnson from getting into more trouble with the IRS. One of those experts was from the The Rutherford Institute – which is a conservative group.