2012 election

How (Not) to Judge a Christian

Sign image via Shutterstock (http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-74805355/stock-phot
Sign image via Shutterstock (http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-74805355/stock-photo-faith-road-sign.html)

Graham's thinking is dangerous. What he has failed to realize is that he, like many, is guilty of having a biased, preconceived "kind" of Christian and “brand” of Christianity. Often, these preconceptions fall along partisan lines. This was seen clearly in his willingness to affirm the Christian faith of candidates that share his political viewpoint (Gingrich, Santorum), but open the door for speculation on those (Obama, Romney) who do not. We can never forget that Jesus never demanded a “one size fits all” kind of faith. We must always allow room for disagreement and live with the tension of multiple opinions.

Defining "Evangelical" and Other Unsolved Mysteries

Cathleen Falsani by Katrina Wittkamp.
Cathleen Falsani by Katrina Wittkamp.

As someone who self-identifies as an evangelical Christian, often I begin to feel like the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary, particularly in the midst of a heated presidential election cycle.

It’s Evangelical Week here on Discovery! Travel with us as our explorers track the elusive evangelical in its native habitats. Watch as evangelicals worship, work and play, all captured on film with the latest high definition technology. And follow our intrepid documentary team members as they bravely venture into the most dangerous of exotic evangelical locations — the voting booth!

I understand the interest in us evangelicals, I really do. The way much of the mainstream media covers our communities in the news can make us seem like a puzzling subspecies of the American population, not unlike the Rocky Mountain long-haired yeti. 

Are we really that difficult to comprehend?

In a word, yes.

The Afternoon News: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012

Huffington Post: An Interview with United States 39th President Jimmy Carter, Religion News Service: Romney’s Evangelical Problem Starts with Theology, Huffington Post: On Scripture: Mark 1:4-11: Does Baptism Make for Better Presidents?, Huffington Post: Obama Fails on Minimum Wage Pledge, Slate: NAACP Condemns Rick Santorum’s “Black People” Gaffe, TPM: Defense Secretary Panetta: Defense Cuts Come With ‘Additional But Acceptable Risk’, CNN: Controversial Catholic program for gays begins in Connecticut, CNN: What happens when candidates called by God drop out?

When Faith is Attacked

Religious prejudice has become a major campaign issue during the Republican primaries this fall. Not surprisingly, it’s the “M” word. Surprisingly, the M word in question is not “Muslim.” While Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain have both made remarks about the alleged dangers of sharia law in American courts, the M word making the most waves is “Mormon.” The issue is this: Will a key Republican voting bloc—conservative evangelical Christians—refuse to support the likely front-runner, Mitt Romney, a Mormon?

The biggest wave thus far was caused by Robert Jeffress, who introduced presidential hopeful Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit in October and then made the rounds of reporters declaring Mitt Romney’s religion a “cult” and saying “born-again followers of Christ should always prefer [a] competent Christian to a competent non-Christian like Mitt Romney.”

Watching the news coverage of this incident, I’ve been struck by two things. One, for the most part, the tone that the media appears to be taking regarding an issue of blatant religious prejudice is what I would call “descriptive/inquisitive.”

Cable news anchors ask questions such as, “Do you think Romney’s religion is going to cost him the election?” Replace the term “religion” with “economic plan,” and the tone would be the same. Now imagine if we replace Romney’s “religion” with Romney’s “race” or “gender.” The tone changes—it goes from descriptive/inquisitive to offended and outraged—and it should. That’s because our society has, again for the most part, recognized that counting someone’s race against her in a political election is an act of prejudice, and it’s bad. So why is counting someone’s religion against him any less an act of prejudice? Why has our media become enlightened enough to call out racism or sexism in political races, but when it comes to religious prejudice, the tone is, “Gee, look at that. Wonder how that faith is going to play?”

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Mitt Romney Uses KKK Catchphrase

The Washington Post reports:

Someone didn’t do his research.

On Tuesday, political commenters reported that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney has been using a catchphrase in his stump speeches that the Ku Klux Klan favored in the 1920s.

When the white supremacist group used “Keep America American,” it was to rally people against blacks American, gay people, Catholics and Jews. When Romney’s used it, as he did in this Los Angeles Times piece, it was to promise that as president he would “keep America American with the principles that made us the greatest nation on Earth.”

Romney’s isn’t the first campaign mishap that came out of a borrowed slogan. While a candidate’s political slogan can be key to an effective campaign — as President Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan was — many politicians have shown by example how precarious slogans can be if you don’t do your research.

Evangelical Consistency and the 2012 Elections

Unfortunately, many people who go to church on Sunday are more influenced by what they see on cable TV than by the Bible. I hear that lament from pastors all the time. Too many of their congregant’s political priorities are determined by a party or ideology – not the Word of God. Their identities are shaped by marketing and media campaigns that manufacture a view of the world in order to maximize their own power and profit.

The antidote is simple. Christians need to read their Bibles more. It makes a difference.

The Morning News: Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

Policy-Making Billionaires, Poverty In The Midst Of Plenty: Hunger Persists In The United States; The Religion Of An Increasingly Godless America (OPINION); Evangelicals Flocking Toward Newt Gingrich; Rev. Jackson Calls For New War On Poverty; Improving Social Justice Indicators Will Create A Better U.S. (OPINION); Is The Black Church The Answer To Liberal Prayers?; Catholic Charities' Human Trafficking Program Loses Federal Funds; Air Force Academy Adapts to Pagans, Druids, Witches and Wiccans.

Gang of Eight: GOP Candidates Debate o' the Week

GOP Presidential Candidates, image by DonkeyHotey via Wylio (http://bit.ly/uvSrq
GOP Presidential Candidates, image by DonkeyHotey via Wylio (http://bit.ly/uvSrqj)

Another week, another Republican Presidential Debate.

This time, eight of the GOP candidates for the nomination spent their evening putting forward their beliefs on the issues of foreign policy and national security. The topics ‘debated’ (out of respect for Debate teams around the country, I use inverted commas) were not surprising – Afghanistan, Iran, the Arab Spring, Israel, foreign aid, immigration.

But there were a few things that the candidates did say that caught my attention as I read through the transcript this morning – particularly in relation to foreign aid and immigration.

It was encouraging to hear at least one candidate come out and support the positive impact and geo-strategic importance that non-military development assistance is playing on the African continent (even if he did accidentally call Africa a "country.")

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