As the election season rapidly ramps-up, we are likely to see a lot of posts about the religious right, pols and electoral politics. This week, they started to emerge -- and I suspect that it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Howard Friedman reports on the
Continuing the high profile of religious leaders in Ohio's gubernatorial race, the Associated Press reports that an inter-racial group of ministers from around the country, Clergy for Blackwell, will hold news conferences on Monday in Columbus and Cincinnati. Acting in their individual capacities, the clergymen will endorse conservative Republican candidate Blackwell. Clergy in the group include the director of the Memphis-based Coalition of African-American Pastors, Bishop George McKinney of St. Stephen's Cathedral Church of God in Christ San Diego and Bishop Harry Jackson, chairman and CEO of the Maryland-based High Impact Leadership Coalition.
Blackwell's opponent, Democrat Ted Strickland-- who is a Methodist minister-- says that clergy have the right to endorse candidates in their personal capacity. However, he says, "certain clergy have allowed Mr. Blackwell to become so identified with their church and their religious work in the minds of the public they are indistinguishable."
Blog from the Capital
Don Byrd reports
US Senate Republican candidate Katherine Harris (yes, that Katherine Harris). Among other things she says that "God chooses our leaders" and (my emphasis):
The Bible says we are to be salt and light. And salt and light means not just in the church and not just as a teacher or as a pastor or a banker or a lawyer, but in government and we have to have elected officials in government and we have to have the faithful in government and over time, that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong.
Chuck Currie has more on Harris and calls out the Florida Baptist Convention for opposing the Constitution of the United States:
Take a look at the Florida Baptist Witness 2006 Primary Election Special Report and read the questions they asked all the candidates for governor and senate:
What is your personal religious faith?
Are you a part of a local place of worship, a local church?
....at some point in time we're going to stand before God and give an account. When you are in that position are your confident that you're going to spend eternity with God in Heaven?
Someday when you die, if God asks you, "Why should I let you in My Heaven?" What would your answer be?
These sound like religious tests for public office. Clearly, Florida Baptists have a right to judge candidates using any criteria they like. They can even ask questions like the ones above. But what does their candidate survey show?
The Florida Baptist State Convention rejects the values embodied in American constitutional democracy.
Wall of Separation
Rob Boston has an excellent analysis of the once mighty Christian Coaltion's latest bad news: the defection of its Alabama chapter, following closely on the heels of chapter losses in Ohio and Iowa.
What happened? Political analysts agree that the Coalition never recovered after Ralph Reed, its first executive director, departed in 1997. Leaders came and went in the post-Reed era, and the group went into a tailspin. Late in 2001, TV preacher Pat Robertson, who built the organization from the remains of his presidential run in 1988, set it adrift. Robertson had been keeping the Coalition afloat with his personal fortune and apparently decided that it was no longer a wise investment. The group is now reportedly $1 million in debt.
The Coalition is currently run by Roberta Combs, a long-time Robertson associate, from offices in Charleston, S.C. Although it maintains an operative in Washington, D.C., the organization is no longer considered influential. Reporters will occasionally print the claim that the Coalition has two million members, but those numbers are obviously untrue. Using postal records, Americans United was able to prove that even at its height in the mid 1990s, the Coalition never had more than 500,000 members. Today, the figure is far lower....
From AU's perspective, the Coalition's slow march into irrelevance is welcome, but no one should confuse it with the demise of the Religious Right. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and as soon as the Coalition began to decline, other far-right fundamentalist organizations jumped in to take its place.
The Coalition isn't holding a national conference in Washington this year just before the elections, but the Family Research Council is. The Coalition might produce some biased "voter guides," this year, but many more will be issued by Focus on the Family affiliates. The Coalition does not have the resources to target Senate races in eight states with tight contests - but Focus does.
And Jeremy Leaming reports that
Televangelist Jerry Falwell's law school aspires to produce lawyers committed to wrecking the First Amendment principle of church-state separation.
We Unite Ohio
My Life as a Dog has details on how to catch the streaming audio of author Michelle Goldberg's public "dialog" with Cincinatti Christian Right activist Phil Burress on August 29th.
Theoconia: A Central Ohio Theocon Report
Marley Greiner has details on the Ohio Christian Coalition's (now called Ohio Christian Alliance) breakaway from the national organization, and lots of useful background on Ohio politics and the religious right.
Bartholomew's Notes on Religion
Bartholomew reports on the unsavory links between Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church in Japan -- and the prospective Japanese prime minister.
Talk to Action
Moiv has part II of her exposeof the covert plans by antiabortion "Crisis Pregancy Centers" to recover from the devastaing report by Rep. Henry Waxman, regarding fraudulent and medically inappropriate practices in many such agencies. Moiv reveals that the standard tactic of using ultrasound technology for extended periods to show women the fetus, is a dangerous and medically unjustifiable tactic; an abuse of medical technology for political purposes.
Troubling studies have repeatedly demonstrated that prolonged exposure to ultrasound can produce damaging effects upon the tissues of the developing human fetus.
A 1993 study published in the Lancet cautioned that it was "plausible" that multiple ultrasound scans were responsible for retarded fetal growth. In a 1990 article, Dr. Kenneth J.W. Taylor -- Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and Chief of the Ultrasound Section at Yale University School of Medicine -- said, "I would not let anybody get near my infant's head with a transducer unless I knew what the output was."
Good advice, since a 2001 Mayo Foundation study found that prenatal ultrasounds expose a fetus to sound levels registering at 100 decibels, as loud as "a subway train coming into a station." And University of Calgary researchers concluded that "[a]n association between prenatal ultrasonography exposure and delayed speech was found."
Now new research strongly suggests that overexposure to ultrasound affects fetal brain development, contributing to disorders ranging from "mental retardation and childhood epilepsy to developmental dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia." The researchers' conclusion is that "ultrasound ... exposure should be kept low and unregulated uses should be avoided."
Dr. Joshua Copel, president-elect of the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine, states it plainly: "Anytime we're doing an ultrasound, we have to think of risk vs. benefit. What clinical question are we trying to answer?"
Carlos flags one Christian Rightist's view of "The Ten Best Things Happening in the Western World." You might be surprised to learn what he thinks they are. It is a remarkable window on a world view.
Mainstream Baptist discusses the decision by an Oklahoma state judge to OK a courthouse Ten Commandments monument: Judge White's Canticle to American Theocracy
Jonathan Hutson reports that some Christians are so angry about the controversial but not yet released video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, that they are threatening a boycott of the publishing company that owns the rights to the Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye, on which the game is based and branded. The company is Tyndale house, a major evangelical publisher of Bibles.
It is unprecedented, and to date unheralded by the mainstream media. But it is happening. It is sparking, sputtering, glowing and growing like a prairie fire. There is a growing movement among conservative and progressive Christians alike to boycott Tyndale House, the Christian publishing house that publishes the Living Bible and Tim LaHaye's Left Behind novels and also licenses the controversial videogame Left Behind: Eternal Forces, along with any chain stores or megachurches that plan to distribute the game.
And I report on the proposal by longtime conservative movement strategist Richard Viguerie, for conservatives unhappy with the direction of the GOP to pull back this year.