Evangelicals

Study Says Gays Find Most U.S. Faiths Unfriendly

Photo courtesy RNS.
Ross Murray – Director of Religion, Faith & Values at GLAAD. Photo courtesy RNS.

Gay Americans are much less religious than the general U.S. population, and about 3-in-10 of them say they have felt unwelcome in a house of worship, a new study shows.

The Pew Research Center’s study, released Thursday, details how gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans view many of the country’s prominent faiths: in a word, unfriendly.

The vast majority said Islam (84 percent); the Mormon church (83 percent); the Roman Catholic Church (79 percent); and evangelical churches (73 percent) were unfriendly. Jews and nonevangelical Protestants drew a more mixed reaction, with more than 40 percent considering them either unfriendly or neutral about gays and lesbians.

Immigration Advocate Jenny Yang Overcomes Reluctance to Speak Up

Photo Courtesy RNS.
Jenny Yang, 33, is one of the leading voices behind the Evangelical Immigration Table. Photo Courtesy RNS.

On a recent Sunday morning, Jenny Yang stood beside a giant wooden cross and made a case for immigration reform to members of an evangelical church.

“As Americans, we have a responsibility when the laws are not working for the common good to change them,” she intoned from the pulpit.

The talk was part of a broader, cross-country effort to persuade evangelicals to back the bipartisan immigration bill that’s working its way through Congress.

4 Reasons Why Republicans are Rekindling Evangelical Outreach

Republican's recently hired its former South Carolina chairman to lead engagement with evangelicals, even though 79 percent of evangelicals voted for Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. The Washington Post lists four reasons why the GOP is continuning to reach out to evangelicals.

1. They need to - A lot of the faith community did not vote in the last election. This hurt the Republican party because 65 percent of evangelical voters identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party in 2008.

2. Mending fences - Republicans will have to communicate to the religious community a bit differently as the culture changes around hot button issues like same sex marriage and immigration.

3. New alliances - Republicans must unite economic conservatives, pro-defense hawks, anti-Washington libertarians and religious (mostly evangelical) conservatives to win elections.

4. Competition from Democrats - Democrats have put more effort into their faith outreach in the last two elections.

Read more here.

Do Republicans Have an Evangelical Problem?

Chad Connelly, the new outreach director to evangelicals and religious groups for the RNC. Photo courtesy RNS.

The vast majority of evangelicals have voted with the GOP in recent elections. In fact, despite some qualms about his Mormon faith, 79 percent of evangelicals voted for Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, the same percentage that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004.

So why would the party hire its former South Carolina chairman to lead engagement to a group that for a generation or more has been the reliable anchor of the party faithful? Here are four reasons.

Stop Telling Me What Is Anti-Christian

Starbucks cup, by EgoAnt / Flickr.com
Starbucks cup, by EgoAnt / Flickr.com

Anyone who listens to our Homebrewed Christianity CultureCast knows that we love Game of Thrones. The writing is complex and dramatic, and the characters are fascinating. What’s more, after the recent “Red Wedding” episode, we’re all too aware that no character, no matter how important or beloved, is safe.

The series, set in a fictitious medieval Europe, is also dark, exploitive, highly sexualized at times, and one has to stretch to glean any moral redemption from the episodes. As such, there’s a debate swirling online about whether Christians can or should watch such a show. Where’s the Gospel? How can we justify all the sex and bloodshed? Do we watch with the (possibly deluded) hope that things will incline toward virtue, even though the series creator has suggested no such intention?

Or should we just turn it off?

Now, there’s a constituency of evangelicals and Tea Partiers who claim that, since the coffee super-chain Starbucks supports same-sex partner benefits, drinking their coffee (and therefore inadvertently supporting gay rights, I suppose) is anti-Christian. So sorry, followers of Jesus, but that favorite frappuccino you look forward to every afternoon is off the menu. If you don’t want to make Jesus cry, at least.

Polls on 'Religious Influence' Say More About The Media Than Religion

A cross near RFK's grave. Many perceived religion to be in decline in the 1960s. Photo via John Kropewnicki/shutterstock.com

For over half a century, Gallup has been asking Americans whether they think the influence of religion is increasing or decreasing in the U.S., posing the intriguing question of what the results actually signify.

For starters, it’s worth bearing in mind that Western civilization is grounded in the belief that once upon a time, God was in his heaven and people went to church regularly. So at any given time, more Americans are likely to think the influence of religion is in decline than the other way around.

That said, what accounts for the rather striking ups and downs in the chart? In its latest release, Gallup emphasizes that these do not reflect changes in personal religiosity — and I’m inclined to agree, up to a point. Here’s the story I’d tell about the people’s perception of religion’s influence.

Rand Paul Courting Evangelicals

Rand Paul has used the last few months to aggressively court evangelicals through a CBN special, a trip to Israel, and appearances with pastors. This is a shift to take Paul from a tea-party hero to a mainstream political player. Paul refers to himself as a "“libertarian Republican” to distant himself from his father's strong libertarian beliefs. The Washington Post reports:

As he openly considers a run for president in 2016, Paul’s rebranding effort is a test of his political skills as well as the state of the Republican Party. For the senator, the question is whether he can win over the establishment without upsetting his tea party base.

Read more here.

(VIDEO) Evangelicals Take Immigration Reform to Hill: Say Amnesty v. Deportation a 'False Choice'

Evangelical Immigration Table leaders, Photo by Catherine Woodiwiss / Sojourners
Evangelical Immigration Table leaders, Photo by Catherine Woodiwiss / Sojourners

Hours after Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill dropped early Wednesday, evangelical leaders from across the country gathered at the Capitol to raise their voices for comprehensive immigration reform. 

In the last two years, evangelicals have been a growing voice in the debate over immigration reform, hoping their votes — traditionally a bastion of conservative politics but recently broadening their engagement to gun violence preventionpoverty, and climate change — hold clout on the Hill when it comes to immigration reform.

The Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of evangelical leaders from across the political spectrum, gathered hundreds of people from 25 states for a day of action on the Hill. At the morning press conference, the Table representatives did not explicitly endorse or critique the Senate’s new bill. Instead, leaders pledged to "come alongside" any bill that supported their unified set of principals, namely immigration reform that: protects the unity of the immediate family; respects the rule of law; guarantees national security borders; and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify.

A Prayer at the White House

A meeting today of faith leaders with the president on immigration reform opened and closed with prayer.

This was my prayer at the end:

Thank you Lord, for this circle of leaders around the table and how you have brought us together to help welcome the stranger in our midst — to fix this broken immigration system that breaks families and lives.

Thank you for the leadership of Barack Obama in making comprehensive immigration reform such a high priority in these critical months ahead. Guide and direct him to find a genuine bipartisan political path to accomplish something so important that has been needed for so long. We thank you for both the Republicans and Democrats who are coming together to make that possible.

[Continued]

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