The Common Good

Election Commentary

College Student on Millennial Values

Zeenia Framroze, a student at Harvard University, spoke in April at Georgetown University Berkeley Center's Millennial Values Symposium.
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Poll: Mormons Excited About Romney’s Rise, But Wary of Media

Most Mormons in Utah believe that Mitt Romney’s rise to become the likely GOP presidential nominee is a good thing for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But many do not trust the media to cover the church fairly, according to a new poll released on June 25.

The study, conducted by Key Research and Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, is believed to be the first to gauge Mormons’ reaction to Romney’s barrier-breaking achievement. He is the first Mormon to clinch the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party.

More than eight in 10 Utah Mormons said they are “very excited” or “somewhat excited” about Romney’s feat. Nearly as many (77 percent) said his nomination is a good thing for the LDS church; just 2 percent told pollsters it was a negative development.

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1 in 5 Americans Would Not Vote for Mormon President

Nearly one in five Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon president, a percentage that has hardly budged since 1967, according to a new Gallup poll.

It is unclear how the anti-Mormon bias will affect Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, Gallup said, since just 57 percent of Americans know that he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“This suggests the possibility that as Romney's faith becomes better known this summer and fall, it could become more of a negative factor,” Gallup writes, “given that those who resist the idea of a Mormon president will in theory become more likely to realize that Romney is a Mormon as the campaign unfolds.”

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Evangelical Leaders Announce Immigration Table Launch

Church leaders today gathered in Washington, D.C., to announce the launch of the Evangelical Immigration Table – a broad coalition of organizations, churches and pastors from across the political and religious spectrum coming together to advance a cohesive immigration reform message.

The Immigration Table was launched at a press conference, with speakers including Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, Dr. Richard Land, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Association of Latino Evangelicals and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, setting out a common set of principles reflecting the common ground that all members of the Table have found on the issue of immigration.

Read on to view photos from the press conference.

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Evangelicals Stay Mum on Mitt Romney’s Mormonism

When Romney delivered his “Faith in America” speech in 2007, the Southern Baptist response was to label Mormonism a “theological cult” and “false religion.”

What's surprising in 2012 is the relative lack of anxiety on the other side, among evangelicals who for years considered Mormonism a "cult" that was to be feared, not embraced.

In fact, the relative ambivalence among prominent evangelicals about this new "Mormon moment" -- and the fact that Romney's campaign could mainstream Mormonism right into the Oval Office – could radically shift the dynamics on America's political and religious landscape.

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Florida: You Cannot Take Our Vote

Monday marked the 93rd anniversary of the congressional passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on June 4, 1919.

After 71 years of movement forward and pushes back, the proposed Amendment to guarantee every woman in the United States the right to vote prevailed in the Senate. But it still had 36 more hurdles to jump before ratification; 36 of the then 48 states had to pass the Amendment in their state legislatures. On August 18, 1920 Tennessee became the 36th state to pass the Amendment and on that day women’s suffrage became the law of the land.

Florida missed that boat. The sunshine state had never voted on the 19th Amendment before it was ratified. A year later, the Florida state legislature passed its own law guaranteeing the vote to all citizens, but Florida’s legislature didn’t actually ratify the 19th Amendment until it took a symbolic vote in 1969.

As a woman I am grateful for the fact that in 1969 someone thought it might be a good idea to at least symbolically say, “Yeah, man, we’re cool with the ladies voting. We can groove with that.” But the current news about Florida’s voter purge has me wondering what happened in the 43 years between Florida’s symbolic thumbs up for suffrage and today’s current voter suppression?

The answer: The year 2000 happened.

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With Nomination Clinched, Focus Turns to Romney’s Mormon Faith

Mitt Romney clinched the GOP presidential nomination on May 28, becoming the first Mormon selected by a major political party. But will his barrier-breaking faith be a boon or bane to his White House campaign?

The answer to that question could presage the next president, and two studies published in May come to contradictory conclusions.

In both studies people were given information about Romney and his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for him.

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Churches Tread Lightly on Politics in 2012 Election

With the 2012 election less than six months away, congregations are getting the message that Americans want religion out of politics. But that doesn’t mean they plan to keep mum in the public square.

Instead, they’re revamping how congregations mobilize voters by focusing on a broader set of issues than in the past. Preachers are largely avoiding the political fray, and hot-button social issues are relegated to simmer in low-profile church study groups.

Why? For one, Americans are growing impatient with religious politicking: 54 percent want houses of worship to keep out of politics (up from 52 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 1996), according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Churches seem to be responding.

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Barna Reports: Issues Matter More to Voters Than Anything Else

If you have read books like Drew Westen’s The Political Brain, you might be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at this headline. A large body of work has emerged over the past few years that suggest that we vote with our hearts, rather than our heads. Policies, this body of work says, matter far less than our gut reaction to a candidate, their character and the party we naturally align ourselves with.

So to those who agree with this research, the results of a new report from the Barna Group might be surprising. Across the board, a candidates’ position on issues is overwhelmingly more important than their character, their party affiliation or their religious faith.

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Polls: Obama's Same-Sex Marriage Endorsement Not Likely to Affect Election

President Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriage opened a torrent of speculation on what his newly enunciated position will mean politically, but the latest polls indicate the public largely backs his views and that his stance may not hurt him at the ballot box.

A Gallup poll in early May showed that by a 54-42 percent margin, American adults consider gay and lesbian relations “morally acceptable.” The level of approval has grown steadily since 2002, when it stood at 38 percent, so much so that Gallup considers the current situation “the new normal” in U.S. public opinion.

Another Gallup survey taken on May 10, a day after Obama announced his “evolution” in thinking on gay marriage, showed that 60 percent of Americans said it would make no difference in how they will vote in November, while 13 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for him and 26 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for him.

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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."
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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.
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A New Way of Being Christian in the Public Square

Three decades ago, the evangelical faithful was galvanized by public debates over abortion, the size of the federal government, the future of the traditional family, and religious liberty. Many responded by following divisive leaders into the culture wars with the promise that voting for "moral" leadership would end abortion, protect traditional marriage and put our country on the right track.

How did that work? Not so well, it turns out.

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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.
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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.
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The Idolatry of Politics and the Promise of the Common Good

Politics is a true American idol, and the 2012 presidential election will be a dramatic demonstration of that reality.

Simply put, we create an idol when we ascribe attributes or place hope in persons or things that should belong only to God. People of faith may be tempted to worship at the altar of politics, but make no mistake: The kingdom of God and the kingdoms of politics are never one and the same.

Our worship of God rightly should shape our engagement with politics, but when politics shapes our religion it distorts our service (and worship) of the One True God.

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Sojourners' Tim King Talks Politicians, Politics and Faith on CNN Radio

Today, Sojourners' Communications Director Tim King talks with CNN's Lisa Desjardins about politicians and God-talk in this 2012 presidential election season.

From CNN.com:

Is Washington a holy city? It might seem that way, with all the talk about religion and morality in the 2012 election.

But all that God talk may be rubbing voters the wrong way.

"It's getting ugly out there," said Tim King, an evangelical Christian who works for the progressive religious group Sojourners. "There are a lot of Christians who are using their faith as a political weapon, which it's never meant to be."

Listen to Tim's comments on CNN Radio inside the blog.

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Conservatives Go After ‘NASCAR Christian’ Vote

Back in John Kerry’s ill-fated 2004 presidential campaign, Democrats tried to attract so-called “NASCAR Dads” – white, working-class, mainly Southern fellows – to try to blunt George W. Bush’s re-election and show folks that Kerry was not a wealthy patrician who only appealed to “soccer moms.”

Now Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition is trying to corral what might be called “NASCAR Christians” in hopes that social conservatives will give Mitt Romney a crucial boost in November.

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Ryan Seeks To Defend Catholic Roots of GOP Budget

Speaking at Georgetown University, Rep. Paul Ryan—the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a possible vice-presidential candidate— seemed to seek to quell the debate. He called his budget a roadmap to avoid a debt crisis that will hurt the poor hardest of all.

And he seemed to soft peddle his defense of the document as consistent with Catholic teaching.

“The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it.  What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding to the problems of the day,” he told an audience composed mostly of students, faculty and staff.

 

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Gallup Poll: 'Very Religious' Support Romney, 'Moderate' and 'Non-Religious' Favor Obama

In the 2012 race for the presidency, religious voters will continue to be watched closely.
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Support Increasing for Gun Rights, Same-Sex Marriage

There is more support for both gun rights and gay marriage in this election cycle than in the previous two, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
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Arizona's Immigration Legislation Undermines Christian Values

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case about the constitutionality of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. It will be months before the case is decided but a broad spectrum of the Christian community already has their minds made up. 

This legislation is not just ethically bankrupt but undermines basic Christian values and American ideals. The court will decide whether it is legal, but it is already clear it isn’t moral.  

We are both evangelical Christians. One of us is white and one of us Hispanic. It is our common faith commitment, not the color of our skin, that unite us on the need for comprehensive immigration reform and in opposition to patchwork punitive legislation like we have seen in states like Arizona and Alabama. 

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Georgetown Faculty Challenge Ryan Budget

Rep. Paul Ryan is slated to speak at Georgetown University on Thursday morning. In the lead up, a group of professors and administrators is joining the chorus taking Ryan to task for claiming his budget proposal falls in line with Catholic teaching.

“Our problem with Representative Ryan is that he claims his budget is based on Catholic social teaching,” said Jesuit Father Thomas J. Reese, one of the organizers of the letter. “This is nonsense. As scholars, we want to join the Catholic bishops in pointing out that his budget has a devastating impact on programs for the poor.”

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Young Evangelicals and the 2012 Election

On Thursday, Sojourners launched its 2012 election campaign, Voting For Us, and the Public Religion Research Institute and Berkley Center released its “2012 Millennial Values Survey.” Young Christians, and particularly young evangelicals are a significant demographic to understand. They could be a large “persuadable” population in the run up to the November elections.

What do they believe? What are their priorities? How will they vote?

Young evangelicals are different from their parents and any generation that has preceded them. Their priorities are changing, their world view is shifting and their political engagement is becoming increasingly nuanced – going well beyond the narrow interests of the Religious Right that until now have been associated with evangelicalism in the United States.

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How Do We Engage Young Millennials?

As part of the rollout for "Millennial Values Survey" from Public Religion Research and the Berkley Center, I sat at Georgetown University and listened to a very long list of what pollsters think makes up college-age millennials. I’m in the right age bracket, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what a difference just a few years makes.

I’m part of the millennial generation, albeit at the high end of the spectrum. At 29, my attitudes and behaviors look completely different to those on the lower end. Part of it, of course, is phase of life. I’m a professional, married, with a few life experiences under my belt. Most of the respondents of the survey are in college or recently graduated—half live with their parents.

In discussing the survey results with a 23-year-old friend, we worked through both obvious and subtle differences. Some key characteristics of this cohort, and perhaps ways to engage them, surfaced. 

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