election 2012

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivered his highly-anticipated benediction Thursday night to close out the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Dolan will do the same for the Democrats next week in Charlotte, so this blessing seemed less like an imprimatur for the GOP than it would have had President Obama not taken the cardinal up on his offer to give the closing prayer after he accepts his party’s nomination.

Moreover, Cardinal Dolan’s four-minute prayer clearly had something for everyone – or, rather, something to cheer and challenge everyone in the hall.

He mentioned the importance of protecting the unborn, but also welcoming immigrants. His riff on religious freedom was a swipe at the birth control mandate, but he also mentioned the importance of “solidarity” and the “common good,” two bedrock principles of Catholic social teaching that the Republican platform – and especially Paul Ryan’s budget plans – are seen as undermining.

Obama, Biden, Romney, Ryan.

Obama, Biden, Romney, Ryan.

As the Republicans leave Tampa and the Democrats prepare to gather in Charlotte, one dynamic is immediately clear in both parties: For the first time since Abraham Lincoln ran in 1860, no white Protestant will be on the ticket of either major party.

Mitt Romney, the newly minted Republican nominee for the White House, is a Mormon, though he clearly does not want to talk publicly about how his faith shapes his identity and personal values. Paul Ryan, his running mate, is a Catholic, a fact Romney made sure to mention in the vice presidential rollout ceremony. Indeed, Romney’s two closest rivals in the GOP presidential primaries were also Catholics: Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

On the Democratic side, President Obama is an African-American Protestant despite the fetid conspiratorial screams that the president is a crypto-Muslim. Finally, Vice President Joe Biden, like Ryan, is an Irish-American Catholic. 


the Web Editors 08-29-2012

Jim Wallis appeared via Skype on HuffPo Live to talk about poverty and the 2012 election.

Sojourners' CEO, the Rev. Jim Wallis, was a guest on Arianna Huffington's new online news channel, HuffPo Live, today to talk about the face of poverty in this heated election season and what has changed (or not) since the 2004 presidential election.

"More children than ever are poor," Wallis said. "From a religious point of view, that should be a top election issue. The highest poverty rate in half a century should be a fundamental moral issue."

"More and more of our friends are in poverty," Wallis told HuffPo Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, "in the pews, in our workplaces, because so much is happening to so many people — through no fault of their own — and they are slipping below the poverty level."

There is a whole new wave of "suburban poverty," and many more of us know people who are poor than we did an election cycle ago, he said. There is a new "face" of poverty.

Watch the video of Wallis' appearance inside the blog...

Thomas Burr 08-23-2012
Maria Dryfhout / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Mitt Romney campaign rally at Holland State Park, June 19 in Holland, Mich. Maria Dryfhout / Shutterstock.com

Mitt Romney says in a new interview that one of the reasons he’s distressed about disclosing his tax returns is that everyone sees how much money he and his wife, Ann, have donated to his Mormon church, and that’s a number he wants to keep private.

“Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given,” Romney tells Parade magazine in an edition due out on Aug. 26. “This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”

Romney has released his 2010 tax returns in his White House campaign and, so far, a summary of last year’s tax information. But despite pressure from Republican opponents in the primaries and President Obama’s re-election campaign, Romney has refused to disclose more.

While it may not be a major reason, Romney says disclosing his charitable donations isn’t something he wants to do.

Chris Lisee 08-15-2012
RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended his invitation of President Obama to the annual Al Smith Dinner in October, saying he is trying to encourage civility and dialogue amid a bitter battle with the White House over abortion rights and access to contraception.

Dolan has received “stacks of mail protesting the invitation to President Obama,” he wrote in an Aug. 14 blog post. At issue are Obama’s new health care regulations, which require employers to provide insurance plans that cover contraceptive services for women.

Conservatives and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – of which Dolan is president – have criticized the regulations, which they say abridge the religious freedom and conscience rights of faith-based employers.

But the nonpartisan charity dinner is a time for civility, engagement, and dialogue, Dolan wrote.

“Those who started the dinner 67 years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them,” Dolan wrote.

QR Blog Editor 08-03-2012

Eboo Patel on Millennials and the 2012 Presidential Election

Tom Getman 08-02-2012
Daniel in the Lion's Den, Nicku / Shutterstock.com

Daniel in the Lion's Den, Nicku / Shutterstock.com

I have so often pondered what might have happened if the media had covered more honestly the stifling of protest that Nakba Day in 1999 and as a result the local officials and the world community had heard the cry?  Could the disaster have passed and peace with justice been advanced.

Today the media is much more candid. One wonders if we have received a rare gift of unaltered reality in this period of deepening crisis in the Holy Land and overheated atmosphere in the American presidential campaign. For this week it is being reported clearly that we have a presidential candidate, and probably millions of likeminded uninformed voters, who are apparently oblivious or uncaring about the explosive oppression of Palestinians.  

Brian E. Konkol 07-30-2012

One of the common ditches that political candidates fall into is the temptation of a “concrete” character. 

Among other things, one who is concrete holds to views that are supposedly unchanging and non-negotiable, and thus they possess an inability to compromise with those who may have diverse perspectives. A concrete character is often grounded in the belief that she/he “knows” who she/he is, and because of these unbreakable principles will not waver in her/his understanding regardless of the setting and potential consequences. 

In other words, a person with a concrete character is immovable, solid, and resolute, and as a result, nearly impossible to bend or twist. While there is much to be admired in those who display the concrete character, there is also much to be criticized. 

For example, while concrete may be strong and resolute, it is also fixed in time, stiff, and inflexible, and is thus unable to change regardless of conditions, societal advances, and circumstances. Thus, concrete — sooner or later — will crack. 

As the current generation experiences cultural and technological change at a rate far greater than any era before it, those who refuse to be changed by unfolding knowledge and wisdom allow life to pass by while remaining trapped in one place. Therefore, while the concrete character may appear to be one of strength, it is ultimately weak, vulnerable, and unsustainable.  

For the second time in less than a year, the Gallup poll reports that a majority of Americans would vote for an atheist for president.

The latest survey, from June, found that 54 percent of those asked said they would vote a “well- qualified” atheist into the Oval Office — the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 1958, when only 18 percent said they would back a nonbeliever.

On the other hand, the survey showed that those who do not believe in God still come in behind every other group polled for, including gays and lesbians (68 percent) and Muslims (58 percent).

Still, an imaginary atheist candidate passed the 50 percent threshold for the first time when Gallup asked the question in August 2011, so the trend is upward.

“We have seen an enormous change over time in the willingness to vote for an atheist,” said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, which reports the numbers in its current newsletter.

“But I think the numbers also remind us that this is a deeply religious country. That doesn’t mean we are all going to church on Sunday, but that having religion in your life is valuable to most Americans and I think that explains the resistance.”

Daniel Burke 07-27-2012
Elder Steven E. Snow© 2012 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Elder Steven E. Snow© 2012 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. Via LDS Newsroom.

WASHINGTON — As he competes against a Mormon in the presidential election, President Obama has appointed the first Mormon member of his White House faith-based council.

Elder Steven Snow now serves as the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints official historian.

He is also a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a priesthood order of teachers and administrators.  

“The faith-based office is made up of leaders of religions from across our great country, and Elder Snow’s appointment ensures that the LDS faith will have a seat at the table,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Like Snow, Hatch is Mormon. 

Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, is also a member of the LDS church.

Daniel Burke 07-27-2012

Most Americans who know that Mitt Romney is Mormon say the presumptive GOP nominee’s faith doesn’t concern them. But a new poll indicates there may be an “enthusiasm gap” for Romney among white evangelicals, a crucial GOP constituency.

Sixty percent of Americans know that Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a survey released Thursday (July 26) by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. That number has barely budged since March, despite intense media focus on Romney’s faith.

Interestingly, more Americans know that Romney is Mormon than can correctly identify President Obama as Christian (49 percent). 

Although most Americans say it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs, party affiliation -- rather than religion -- drives voter preferences, Pew found.

Dr. Michael Traylor 07-19-2012

“There can be no high civility without a deep morality" ~ R.W. Emerson

“Why can’t we all just get along?” ~ Rodney King

Some of the most heated conversations I have ever participated have been with other people of faith whom I sincerely believe want the same things I want, worship the same God that I worship, and labor as hard as I do to promote human flourishing.

During this election time, we have come to expect the rhetoric to replace reason and civility is a term that has no place in our discourses. Our disagreements are often not cognitive disagreements, but differences in morality and decency. This is why they take a personal tone that is easily offended and strongly defended.

It is interesting that modern psychologists have demonstrated that our understanding of morality is actually not as easy as “right or wrong,” but rather based on five different axes or foundations. According to Psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham, each foundation contributes to our formation of how “right” or “wrong” an action is.

QR Blog Editor 07-06-2012

The Associated Press reports:

"A majority of economists in the latest Associated Press Economy Survey expect the national unemployment rate to stay above 6 percent — the upper bounds of what's considered healthy — for at least four more years. If the economists are correct, the job market will still be unhealthy seven years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That would be the longest stretch of high unemployment since the end of World War II.

The election isn't going to be a miracle cure for the unemployment rate — that's for sure," says Sean Snaith, an economics professor at the University of Central Florida. He thinks unemployment, which is 8.2 percent now, won't drop back to 6 percent until after 2016.
Economists consider a "normal" level to be between 5 percent and 6 percent.
The economists surveyed by the AP foresee an unemployment rate of 8 percent on Election Day. That would be the highest rate any postwar president running for re-election has faced."
Learn more here


Daniel Burke 06-25-2012
 Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Mitt Romney speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Conference. Gerardo Mora/Getty Image

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.

Twenty years ago, who would have predicted the 2012 U.S. presidential race would pit a black incumbent against a white Mormon?

"I’ve been black my whole life and a Mormon for 30 years and never thought either of these (candidacies) would happen in my lifetime," says Utah attorney Keith Hamilton.

"This is a day that all Americans should take some solace in — that things are changing. Regardless of who wins, this sends a message to our children."