Tag Archives: politics

Evangelicals and the GOP: Who’s Driving Whom?

According to the Citizen-Times of Ashville, NC:

A Billy Graham Evangelistic Association article labeling Mormonism a cult has been removed from the group’s website following the 93-year-old televangelist’s meeting with the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last week.

Graham pledged to do “all I can” to help Romney get elected during the meeting

The Citizen-Times at 4:56 p.m. on Thursday captured the article, which said cults are “Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.”

Graham met with Romney at his Montreat home just hours before. The article is not on the association’s Website today.

So, apparently, now that a Mormon is making a serious bid for the White House on the GOP ticket, The Latter Day Saints are totally kosher for evangelicalism. Funny how that works.

Look, I don’t care if Mitt Romney’s a Mormon. I don’t care if Barak Obama is a Muslim (like he was early in the 2008 campaign), or a Black Liberation Theologian (like he was later in that campaign). I don’t care if you’re a Hare Krishna, a Scientologist, an Atheist or a Baptimergent—if you’ll care for the poor and not drop as many bombs as the other guys would, then I’ll vote for you.

But I’m not the one saying that the POTUS should be an evangelical Christian and that Mormonism is a cult. It’s evangelicals who used to say that. Remember?

I like Billy Graham, I really do. And to be frank, the man is 93-years-old, has Parkinson’s and, as I understand it, has to have fluid drained off his brain every day. So he probably can’t be held responsible for most of the decisions made by the association. The fact that Graham’s association is literally willing to delete articles that constitue their doctrinal statement in order to relieve the cognitive dissonance of evangelicals considering voting for Romney is symptomatic of a much larger problem: Evangelicals have nuzzled up to the GOP for so long that it’s no longer their theological commitments driving them to support particular candidates, as I think it really was at the inception of the Moral Majority. Now, it seems, their unquestioned commitment to the GOP can actually drive an evangelical’s theological commitments.

Am I wrong?



Filed under Uncategorized

Now, here’s a conservative who gets it.

For the most part, I am not a political conservative, (though, it really depends on the issue). I think that society does have a moral responsibility to provide food, shelter and basic heathcare for those who cannot provide for themselves. I think that we—both as individuals and as a society—will be judged by the way we provide for those in need. (Or at least that’s what I read in an old book somewhere—something about sheep and goats, I can’t remember).

So it’s probably not surprising that I decry Romney’s language in the recently leaked video (above) that has stirred up such a media frenzy. I don’t even mind to take some heat for it. What is interesting is when conservatives, like David Brooks, notice the inconsistencies of the of atomistic, Nietzschean superman rhetoric that now pervades the Republican Party.

Here are just a few choice quotes from Brooks’ op-ed in the Times this week:

Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers.

But this dichotomy is just too constricting.

Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

What’s more, as Brooks ably points out, comments like this show that Romney really misunderstands his base.

The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees.

Or maybe he understands them all to well—counts on them to commit what psychologists call the fundamental attribution error: “I need these government aids because of my very special circumstance. It’s those other lazy bastards who are picking the tax payers’ pockets.”

And the insistence that people who go-it-alone are driven, while people who receive aid become dependent, fundamentally misunderstands the psychological and sociological nature of human motivation.

Ambition is fired by possibility, not by deprivation, as a tour through the world’s poorest regions makes clear.

But look, the bottom line is this:

There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.

Brooks gives Romney the benefit of that doubt, that he only

…says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater.

I wish I believed Brooks were right about that.

You can read the rest of his column here.


Filed under Uncategorized

Trippin’ Over Church & Marriage

Here’s Tripp Fuller over at Homebrewed Christianity on why we need to a robust distinction between the religious sacrament of marriage and what happens when you sign a State marriage license.

Here’s the other thing—and this, you may say, “Tripp, this sounds like you’re a leftist, gay-loving, radical, progressive, hoopla.” No, no, no. Let’s say you are a fundamentalist, you take the Bible literally…So let’s imagine you’re a fundamentalist and you not only talk about the Bible, but read it. You’re really into it. And you’ve read what Jesus thinks about divorce…So let’s say a couple comes to you and they’re on their third or fourth marriage—I don’t know, Rush Limbaugh, five, I don’t know—people who stand up for family values…and they come to you and want you to do their marriage. You go, “Look, we’re a Bible-believing church, and so while you as a straight couple could have legal status, we don’t see the ability to perform your wedding until all your ex-spouses have sent in a letter of reconciliation, affirming that y’all have reconciled the brokenness of your covenant before God, that y’all’ve [this is a word only a true Southerner can use] mutually forgiven each other and that we can then celebrate this new family that is being formed. Until then we’re not comfortable doing it, because it would be compromising our commitment to the scriptures.”

Now, right now, right, you have this expectation that you have to equate what the Church can do with what the State can do. So you’re going to do a wedding even if it’s someone’s third…fourth…fifth wedding. But here I’m saying: let’s do the justice argument for the State, but then let’s let each congregation—denomination (depending on how y’all roll hierarchy-wise)—decide who can and can’t be married in their congregation, and then you follow your Christian/religious convictions in your congregation. It seems to me that’d be a good compromise. Because then you’d get everybody saying: “Look, maybe the [State] should get out of the marriage business, but maybe they need legal unions.” And the Church can say “we think everybody should have equal rights there.” But then each congregation has to be faithful to its real theology of marriage in the congregation. So the people who get married there are those who understand what that congregation or tradition sees of marriage, are willingly and consciously entering into it, and are planning on staying engaged in a faith community so that, not only their own relationship is nourished by the faith, but the members that are born into the family or are adopted into the family are grafted into the vine of Christ.

It seems like a rather obvious compromise…unless you’re just a bigot who really does want to wield the State’s power against a minority group.

Check out the rest of Tripp and Bo’s conversation on the Theology Nerd Throw Down.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What does it mean to be pro-life?

I’m pro-life. Really, I am. But I tend to avoid that label for at least three reasons:

  1. The label “pro-life” doesn’t actually describe my position very accurately. Perhaps not surprisingly, I oppose abortion on theological grounds. But Christian theology does not hold that human life intrinsically should be valued above all else. The Church was built, after all, on the blood of the martyrs, who thought their own lives less valuable than telling the truth. Many early Christian martyrs would even take their children to the stake with them, rather than having them raised by their pagan executioners. So it seems to me that Christian opposition to abortion should instead be rooted in a biblical commitment to hospitality to the stranger. Pro-life Christians could make far more headway on the abortion issue if, instead of advocating for the recognition of certain rights (a decidedly untheological category), we would commit to raising unwanted babies and taking young, un-wed mothers into our homes.
  2. The label itself is polemical. It suggests that the other side is what? Anti-life? Pro-death? There’s already way too much screaming and (intentional?) misunderstanding on both sides of this debate. The last thing we need to do is give ourselves a label that alienates potential conversation partners.
  3. Frankly, I don’t want to be put in league with many who call themselves “pro-life.” While I agree with pro-lifers on the abortion issue, many of them have a rather inconsistent ethic. They call themselves “pro-life,” but they unquestioningly support America’s wars and capital punishment, decry even very reasonable attempts to restrict access to lethal weapons, and oppose attempts to extend access to affordable life-saving health care options. (I know I’m painting with a broad brush here. If you are a pro-life person with a consistent ethic of life—good for you!—please understand I am not talking about you). In fact, this discrepancy is so blatant that I’m forced to believe it’s not really an inconsistency at all, but that these folks consistently act on their highest value, namely towing the Republican party line, over against the value of human life. If I’m wrong about that, prove me wrong.

That’s why I was delighted to hear this story about pro-life Nebraska State Senator Mike Flood, who supported a bill to extend prenatal care to illegal immigrants. His reasoning?

If I’m going to stand up in the Legislature and protect babies at 20 weeks from abortion, and hordes of senators and citizens are going to stand behind me, and that’s pro-life, then I’m going to be pro-life when it’s tough, too.

That, it seems to me, is commitment to a value over a party line. And that’s all too rare these days. I don’t know anything about Sen. Flood’s other policy decisions, but this at least is a step toward a consistent ethic of life. To their credit, the Nebraska Right to Life Committee has also publically supported the bill. It was vetoed by Nebraska Governor, Dave Heineman.

Read or listen to the story here.


Filed under Uncategorized

Have Obama’s Policies Made the Economy Worse?

“The  President points out that he inherited an economic crisis. He did.  And  he promptly made it worse.” -Mitt Romney, GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, March 5, 2011

Has he?

The following charts posted without comment:

Unemployment since 2004 (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Dept. of Labor)

Gross Domestic Product since 2004 (from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, US Dept. of Commerce)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized