Religion Archives

Should Politics Be Discussed in Church?

Michelle Obama thinks so.

There is no better place than church to talk about political issues because they are ultimately moral issues, First Lady Michelle Obama told a church gathering on Thursday.

“To anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues, you tell them there is no place better – no place better,” Obama told the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s 49th general conference, held in in Nashville, Tenn.

“Because ultimately, these are not just political issues – they are moral issues,” she said. “They’re issues that have to do with human dignity and human potential, and the future we want for our kids and our grandkids.”

When the political and the moral intersect, I agree that churches should not be afraid to take a stand on an issue (and shouldn’t lose it’s tax-exempt status when doing so). So I’m glad to hear Mrs. Obama talk about this.

But does anyone want to guess what the "separation of church and state" crowd would have done if Laura Bush had said the same thing? I think we all know what reaction they would have had. So bookmark that page for when they get their voice back. (They’ve been rather quite for, oh, about 4 years now.)

Is Mormonism Christianity?

When assign categories to my posts (see the Categories box over there?), I put Mormonism in the Christianity category because, while it may be considered to have many serious errors according to most Christian denominations, I figured it was the best place to put it since they use the Christian Old and New Testaments (or at least their version of them) as one of their foundational scriptures. Justin Taylor, however, pointed out a New York Times opinion piece by a devout Mormon who insists that he is “emphatically not a Christian”.

Now, what the writer means by “Christian” varies between a theological definition and a cultural one. Taylor deals with some of the points in the article, but then goes on to describe some of the key differences between Mormonism and historic Christianity. I think it’s a good start at understanding the religion of the likely Republican nominee for President.

And as clarification, while I think that a candidate’s religion is fair game for scrutiny during an election, it is mostly as a gauge to understand how he may act politically. I’m not electing a national pastor; I’m electing a political leader. To the degree that his religion affects his politics and policies, I think it’s worth understanding. However, this particular examination of the Mormonism is for the purposes of understanding it as a religion; disassociated from politics. Just an FYI.

Friday Link Wrap-up

“I would not have you exchange the gold of individual Christianity for the base metal of Christian Socialism.” – Charles Spurgeon. He had quite a bit to say on economic and political issues of the day, applicable to that day and this.

For those still blaming Bush for our economic situation, Paul Mirengoff reminds us that the housing  market collapse was the main cause of it, and the Bush administration tried to keep it from happening. Democrats would have none of that.

"The New York Police Department, the mayor and the city’s top prosecutors on Monday endorsed a proposal to decriminalize the open possession of small amounts of marijuana…." But the real scourge, Big Gulps, will not be tolerated.

A cautionary tale about hyper-partisanship.

Remember those advertisers that left the Limbaugh show after his remarks about Sandra Fluke? One big one tried to come crawling back, and Limbaugh just said No.

The Obama administration is against voter ID laws, but Michelle Obama herself required IDs to get a book signed. Irony. Meter. Pegging.

Austerity works, when it’s actually implemented. Just ask the European country who’s economy outpaced the average growth in the euro-zone by 500%, and has the only budget surplus there.

Obama actually was a member of a socialist political party while in Chicago. Stanley Kurtz of National Review has the documentation. Where was the mainstream media on this 4 years ago?

In case you heard otherwise, no, the Boy Scouts are not changing their policy on gay scouts and scout leaders.

"Strangely Silent"

One person can’t comment on every idea, or every person expressing an idea, which sometimes causes others (who’s particular axe to grind wasn’t touched on by a particular blogger) to say that someone is "strangely silent" on the matter. Sometimes that charge is warranted, especially when the target has been vociferously vocal on the subject in general.

I recently participated in a blog comment thread noting that the same Democrats and pundits, who have been extremely vocal about a supposed Republican "war on women", have been silent on the actual war on women that goes on worldwide, usually in Islamic countries. As I’ve said many times, for the Left, it’s always political. Principle, when it shows up, usually takes a back seat.

Today, however, I want to publicly state that a particular opinion, expressed by a Baptist pastor, is most certainly not what I believe, and am totally against this expression even though I suspect my opinion on the overarching topic is the same as this pastor. I can’t catch every situation like this, but this particular expression has gone viral and needs to be addressed.

A North Carolina pastor’s supposedly vehement anti-gay sermon is making its way around the blogosphere. According to a YouTube description, the man depicted in the clip is named Charles L. Worley and he is the faith leader at Providence Road Baptist Church in the town of Maiden. In his address, the faith leader discussed, among other themes, “a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers.”

In the two-minute video, which appears to be a portion taken from a longer sermon, Worley condemns Obama’s recent endorsement of gay marriage, and makes a shocking statement about homosexuals — that they should be placed inside of an electrified pen until they die off. Call his words mere hyperbole or pure hate — at the least, taken in the minimal context they’re presented in, they are stunning.

“Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there,” he said in the sermon, which was allegedly filmed on May 13. “Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out…do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”

While both Pastor Worley and I likely have the same view of homosexuality (i.e. that God considers such acts a sin), this is awful, mean-spirited, and unbecoming of a Pastor, let alone a Christian. I find it completely against the idea that we should love the sinner, even if we hate the sin. How does this build up the kingdom of God?

It doesn’t, and should be condemned. I do condemn it.

Is the Pope Republican?

Chris Matthews, a Catholic Democrat, isn’t sure, at least about the bishops, and neither was Sister Simone Campbell, executive director at the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. While discussing the requirements that the Catholic Church must provide insurance for contraception (against its teachings), Matthews asked if the bishops were all aligned with a certain political party, based on their views on this.

MATTHEWS: Do you think they’re all Republican, the bishops?

CAMPBELL: I don’t know if they’re all Republican, but it sure seems that they’re speaking from the, the playbook, sort of possibly as surrogates for the Republican Party, I don’t know. But they certainly are engaged in politics that seem much more aligned with the Right.

Noel Sheppard, covering this for NewsBusters, comes up with the numbers regarding Catholics and political party.

Catholics in this country historically have been solidly Democratic, although this has waned in recent years.

As EWTN News reported in February, a 2011 Pew study found 48 percent of Catholics surveyed said they were Democrat or Democrat-leaning compared to 43 percent claiming to be Republican or Republican-leaning.

As such, it seems absurd to think all Catholic bishops are Republican.

So no, the Pope isn’t necessarily Republican, but he is Catholic. Matthews ought to know that. But for the Left, everything is political. Even religion.

From CNS News, the gauntlet has been thrown down.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, and 42 other Catholic dioceses and organizations around the country announced on Monday that they are suing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for violating their freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The dioceses and organizations, in different combinations, are filing 12 different lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country.

The suits focus on the regulation that Sebelius announced last August and finalized in January that requires virtually all health-care plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including those that can cause abortions.

The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong and that Catholics should not be involved in them. Thus, the regulation would require faithful Catholics and Catholic organizations to act against their consciences and violate the teachings of their faith.

Earlier, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had called the regulation an "unprecedented attack on religious liberty" and asked the Obama administration to rescind it.

“We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress–and we’ll keep at it–but there’s still no fix," Cardinal Dolan, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement released by the conference this morning.

Obama, Religion, and Same-Sex Marriage

Four days later, and this item is old news, but Obama coming out of the closet and no longer hiding (what we all knew was) his stance on same-sex marriage is going to have political ramifications. I daresay that was the intent. But his religious reasons for his view seem to me to be very flimsy, more of a fig leaf to try to keep goodwill with the majority of Christians and Jews who believe this is wrong.

Here are some of his reasons:

[Michelle and I] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.

"Christ sacrificed Himself. We should treat others the way we want to be treated. Therefore, same-sex marriage is good." With that sort of "deep" theological thought, one could rationalize any number of behaviors that the Bible is rather clear on. But once more for emphasis:

Genesis 2:24 – For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Pretty clear to me. And again, as I have noted before,

  • Every time the Bible mentions homosexuality, it is speaking against it.
  • Every time the Bible mentions marriage, it is heterosexual.
  • Thousands of years of Christian and Jewish thought understand this.

But for Mr. Obama, personal experience trumps all of that.

“I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word ‘marriage’ was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.

“But I have to tell you that over the course of several years, as I’ve talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in in­cred­ibly committed monogamous same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together. When I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrained even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone because they’re not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

"Some of my best friends are gay. Therefore, same-sex marriage is a good thing." I’m sorry, but quoting the Bible is not the same as following it, especially when it says things in the most definite of terms that are diametrically opposed to what you are suggesting it says.

This may be helping Obama in the short term (he got a surge of donations soon after the pronouncement), but in the long term, this may hurt him with African-American and Latino voters. It’s time to take notice of the actual values of the man you may be voting for.

Friday Link Wrap-up

The Southern Poverty Law Center, who (supposedly) goes after hate groups, admit, “We’re not really set up to cover the extreme Left.” Once again, it’s all political with the Left. Hate is only hate if it’s right-wing hate.

Life is wasted without Jesus. That’s a pretty benign Christian aphorism. You can agree or disagree, but is it hate speech? It is in Canada.

The Post Office, supposedly, allegedly privatized, is going to cost the taxpayers $34 billion dollars. It could cut costs, but Congress won’t let it.

A 20+ year study proves conclusively that outlawing abortion does not lead to "coat hanger deaths". Bonus: NARAL co-founder admits they made up numbers to garner sympathy for their cause.

Foiled bomb plots: Occupy Wall Street – 1, Tea Party – 0. The same goes for dozens of incidents (enumerated at the link) that, had they happened at a Tea Party rally, would have headlined national news for day. (I know this because charges of racial epithets with no actual proof did just that.)

VP Joe Biden lauds NBC for moving American towards same-sex marriage. How? “I think ‘Will & Grace’ probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far.” The next time someone tells you "It’s just a TV show" or "Just change the channel" for complaining about TV show content, ask them to get a new writer. The old script is a lie.

And speaking of same-sex marriage, Nancy Pelosi seems to think that her religion provides the reason why she must act against her religion on the matter.

For what it’s worth, "An official from Iran has refuted claims of plans to execute imprisoned pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned for almost three years on accusations of apostasy, a crime where one disaffiliates themselves from a religion." This from a country not even holding to its own laws regarding the case.

Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for Julia.

Extremists? I don’t think that word means what you think it means. And here’s an article I wrote in 1996 regarding another right-wing extremist you’re sure to know.

Looks like Mitt Romney’s school days will be vetted by the media more than Obama’s ever was. Too bad their first attempt failed so badly.

And finally, the recent European elections in perspective. (Click for a larger image.)

The North Carolina Marriage Amendment

For all of my Christian friends who will be voting on this amendment today, defining marriage as one man and one woman, a couple of verses.

Genesis 2:24 (NIV) – That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Proverbs 14:34 (NIV) – Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.

Righteousness and sinfulness are indeed both personal and corporate. Please consider this.

Friday Link Wrap-up

"The nation’s Social Security and Medicare programs are sliding closer to insolvency, the federal government warned Monday in a new report underscoring the fiscal challenges facing the two mammoth retirement programs as baby boomers begin to retire." (And some think that making Medicare required for everyone is the solution. Only in Washington is failing on an even larger scale considered success.)

What is sin?
Being out of alignment with my values.
What happens if you have sin in your life?
I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.
(What brand of Christianity does this represent?  Honestly, I have no idea. Read the whole interview.)

“Nice work, occupiers,” tweeted Jeremy Tooker, owner of the popular Four Barrel Coffee. “You made me leave my sick kid at home to go clean paint bombs off my windows. That’ll show Wall Street, fellas.” (More May Day Occupy Wall Street madness at

"For activists and Christians opposed to the so-called Israeli occupation, two key votes by the United Methodists will certainly serve as a discouragement. On Wed., May 2, the denomination twice voted to reject resolutions that called for a divestment from companies accused of assisting Israel in the ongoing dispute over Middle Eastern lands." (The UMC cares for both the Jews and the Palestinians, and won’t blame one side for violence from both. Good for them.) (Oh, and on May 1st, "A Qassam rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip and exploded in an open area in Ashkelon Coast Regional Council.")

And finally, Economics 101, from Chuck Asay. (Click for a larger version.)

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