The Common Good

Quick Read - Faith & Politics

Banning Atheists from Public Office

A fascinating visual from the wonderful blog ‘I Love Charts’ caught some attention on the inter-webs yesterday, highlighting a little known fact from the statute books of some of the nation’s states:

There are seven states in the union which ban atheists from holding public office.

And by association, ban atheists from running for public office, unless a ‘Road To Damascus’ moment fortuitously occurs on the campaign trail.

The constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all have provisions that require public office holders to adhere to a religious faith.

In Tennessee for example,

"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."

In Arkansas, atheism also appears to deny you the ability to testify in court:

"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court." 

There’s probably an important lesson to learn from this revelation:

People looking to run for office should make sure they know their state’s constitution very well before they inadvertently break the law!

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Legal Action Brings Tennessee Mosque Construction to Standstill

CNN reports:

The long-running battle between a Tennessee Muslim community and its critics over a new mosque took a dramatic turn when a judge ruled that construction had to halt. 

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has existed for more than a decade, but the fight erupted in May 2010, when planning commissioners approved the center's plans to build a 52,960-square-foot building for a new mosque on Veals Road.

The backlash was stinging and included intimidation, lawsuits and an August 2010 fire that destroyed construction equipment and damaged vehicles at the construction site for the mosque. Police said it was arson.
 
A sign announcing the mosque was spray-painted with the words "Not Welcome."
 
Read the full story here
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Elections in Egypt Raise Questions for Christians

For Christianity TodayJayson Casper writes:

Since the revolution began in January 2011, Egyptian Christians have attempted many new forms of political engagement. Many supported the campaign of Abdel Munim Abul Futuh, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood whose centrist campaign sought to bridge the gap between Islamists and liberals. His final share of the tally, however, came up short at 17 percent.

 
Read more about the Egyptian elections here

 

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The Electorate – Who Are We?

Take Part on Tuesday has created to great infographic that shows who actually votes in America.

Some of the highlights:

  • Married people are more likely to vote than widowers, divorcees or those who have never been married.
  • The higher the level of education you have received, the more likely you are to vote.
  • More than 9-in-10 people with an annual family income of over $100,000 vote, compared with just 5-in-10 whose income falls below $20,000.
  • Our busy lives are the number one reason why we don’t vote.
  • Congratulations to Minnesotans – your state tops state-by-state voter turnout with 75%
  • Must do better: Hawaii - only half of Hawaiians voted in the 2008 election.
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Learning From Rep. John Lewis

The Huffington Post's Senior Religion Editor, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, interviews civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis. Lewis says:

The church should be out front leading the way, and be a headlight rather than a taillight. If you are going to live up to the teachings of the Great Teacher, and follow in the tradition of the great leaders of faith, you have to be out there, shining the light, preaching the Good News and living the Good News. You have to make it real.

Read the full interview here

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Host of Catholic Groups Sue Over Contraception Mandate

As reported by Alan Duke for the CNN Belief Blog:

The University of Notre Dame and "a diverse group of plaintiffs" filed lawsuits Monday challenging the federal mandate that religious employers offer health insurance that includes coverage of contraceptives and birth control services, Notre Dame spokeswoman Shannon Chapla said. The Notre Dame suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Northern Indiana, is one of a dozen filed Monday by 43 separate Catholic institutions in different federal courts around the United States, Chapla said.

Read the full story here

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In the Presidential Election, Two Different Views Of God

Writing for The Washington PostLisa Miller writes:

People always ask, “What would Jesus do?,” but in America today, it’s impossible to know. And that’s because there are (at least) two prevailing views of God at work in our public and political conversation. It would not be an exaggeration to say that when you pull the lever this November, you will not just be voting for president. You will be saying what you believe about God.

Read her full article here

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Report: Issues Matter More to Voters Than Anything Else

According to a new report from the Barna Group:

A national sample of likely voters interviewed by Barna indicated that of all the different factors they will consider when choosing our next president, each candidate’s positions on important issues will be the single most important component in their candidate choice. More than four out of five likely voters (83%) said that positions on the issues are the most important factor in their decision of which candidate to support on Election Day.

See the full results of the report here

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Poisoning The Common Good

Writing for Religion News Service and featured in The Washington PostTom Ehrich has some strong words for the culture of fear and distortion he sees in politics:

When people make grandiose claims about “God’s will” and “American values” and demonize others who hold different views, we haven’t just channeled a tragic yesterday and its wars and pogroms. We have poisoned the well of community on which our nation depends today and made a mockery of God and faith.

Read his full article here.

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Transcript: Romney's Liberty University Speech

Mitt Romney on Saturday delivered the commencement speech at Liberty University. The Los Angeles Times has video and the full transcript of the speech. 

Read full transcript HERE.

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How Congress Can Hinder a Presidential Campaign

From yesterday's New York Times

"There is nothing a presidential campaign likes less than to be forced to answer for someone else’s actions. And yet President Obama and Mitt Romney are likely to face that challenge repeatedly during this election season as their allies and adversaries in Congress pursue agendas that do not always make things easy on the campaign trail."

Read the full story here

 

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Why Religion Will Continue to Shape the 2012 Election

Dan Gilgoff and other religion reporters examine why social issues will continue to shape the narrative of the 2012 election:

"Everyone knows the 2012 presidential race is about jobs and the economy. As likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney said a couple weeks ago: “It’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid.” But have you noticed how the culture wars keep intruding into this it’s-all-about-the-economy election?"
 

Learn more here

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The Democrat-Evangelical Disconnect

In yesterday's New York Times, professor and author T.M. Luhrmann examined how Democrats can speak to evangelicals more effectively:

To be sure, they won’t connect to every evangelical. But the good news for secular liberals is that evangelicals are smarter and more varied than many liberals realize. I met doctors, scientists and professors at the churches where I studied. They cared about social justice. They cared about the poor. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many of them got into their cars and drove to New Orleans. This is a reachable population, and back in 2008, a quarter of white evangelicals voted for Mr. Obama. Democrats could speak to evangelicals more effectively if they talked about how we could develop our moral character together as we work to rebuild our country.

Read the rest of his article here

 

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The Challenge

Glenn Kessler, writer of the Washington Post Factchecker column, issues a challenge to President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney:

"With the presidential election looming in exactly six months, I would like to issue a challenge to you both: Give at least one campaign speech, on a substantive policy issue, lasting at least 15 minutes, that does not contain a single factual error or misstatement. That means no sugar-coating of your record, no exaggerated claims about your opponent’s record, and no assertions that are technically true but lack crucial context."

I’m not holding my breath for the challenge to be accepted.

 

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Time to Raise Minimum Wage?

Over at The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann asks whether it is time to raise the minimum wage:

One of the harshest realities of America's slow economic recovery -- and there are many -- is the fact in spite of modest job growth, pay for workers is falling. Year over year, average inflation adjusted wages have dropped by 0.6 percent for all private sector employees. They're down a full 1 percent for non-supervisors -- your retail salespeople, your shop floor factory workers, your cashiers. In other words, even as the overall employment picture has improved in fits and starts, the working poor are getting poorer. 

Read the full article here

 

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