GOP

Image via RNS/Reuters/Mike Segar

Americans voted largely along the lines of race, education, and party identification. Nonwhites strongly preferred Clinton, while whites decisively chose Trump. Compared with past Republicans, the businessman received a stunning surge of votes from non-college-educated white voters.

None of this is surprising.

And yet the result upends so much conventional wisdom. 

Image via RNS/Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election has few parallels in the history of contemporary politics in the Western world.

But the closest one is familiar to me: Silvio Berlusconi, the media tycoon who was elected prime minister of Italy — my homeland — for the first time on March 27, 1994 and who served four stints as prime minister until 2011.

Image via RNS/Election Day Communion 2016

The idea for an Election Day church service came to the pastor as he was pouring juice into little plastic cups.

Mark Schloneger was preparing for Communion that day in 2008, in the kitchen of Waynesboro Mennonite Church in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The phone rang. It was a robocall from Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee that year. She was imploring Christians to go to the polls, vote for her party, and take back the country.

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The incident seems like a straightforward hate crime: Swastikas sprayed in and around the New Jersey home of an Indian-American running for Congress earlier this month.

But the vandalism is steeped in religious and ethnic irony.

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A report released on Oct. 19 by the Anti-Defamation League does not directly indict Trump for this upswing in anti-Semitism. But it explicitly connects some of his supporters to the hate speech.

“The spike in hate we’ve seen online this election season is extremely troubling and unlike anything we have seen in modern politics,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

8-23-2016

Should Donald Trump’s racist comments, since the inception of his campaign, be morally disqualifying for him to become the president of the United States?

the Web Editors 4-28-2016
House GOP / Flickr

Photo via House GOP / Flickr

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner visited Stanford on April 27 to chat about his time in Washington, D.C., but the conversation quickly turned to what he thinks of the current Republican presidential candidates.

Donald Trump, who loves to call others “losers,” is a big one himself in a new survey of U.S. Protestant pastors.

When LifeWay Research, an evangelical polling group, asked Republican pastors in mid-January who their pick would be if they were voting that very day, Trump was named by only 5 percent.

“Undecided” was the big winner with more than a third of GOP pastors (39 percent) in the survey. Indeed, 48 percent overall said they had no top choice in this “bizarre election season,” said LifeWay Research executive director Ed Stetzer.

Wesley Walker 1-19-2016
Donald Trump

Donald Trump at the Republican debate Dec. 14. in Las Vegas, Nev.  Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”-Martin Luther King Jr.

This week at Liberty University, Donald Trump was given a platform to address evangelicals. Much has been written on why Donald Trump is patently unqualified to be speaking on a day where we celebrate the lasting impact of Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against oppression. His racist and xenophobic policy proposals include mass deportations, barring Muslims from travelling to the United States, and creating a registry to monitor Muslims in America. Lending legitimacy to him is entirely contradictory to the life and mission of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Only seven contenders will be on the main stage for Fox Business News’ broadcast of the sixth GOP 2016 presidential debate Jan. 14 — almost all well-known for taking strong stands on faith in hopes for a boost from devoted viewers. The December debate was the third-most-watched one in debate tracking history, according to CNN. The theme of this week’s debate will be economic policy, with managing editor for business news Neil Cavuto and global markets editor Maria Bartiromo asking questions.

David Gushee 12-16-2015

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Many people are mystified by “evangelicals.” It’s a word the average nonreligious person doesn’t often hear in the U.S. — except for when it is time to nominate another GOP presidential candidate. Then we hear about who those millions of “evangelicals” are supporting, always under the assumption that all evangelicals are into politics and all will support a Republican.

As an evangelical myself, this is just one of the many misunderstandings of evangelicals that drive me up the wall. It’s a problem I’ve tried to address in several of my books, most recently Evangelical Ethics (Westminster John Knox Press).

Let me take another brief crack at it here. I want to propose that there are four different kinds of evangelicals, or evangelicalism, yielding four very different results.

the Web Editors 11-20-2015

The GOP leadership really doesn’t want refugees to come to the United States. And Stephen Colbert has a few things to say about that.

Republican leaders in Congress approved a bill Nov. 19 requiring “our nation’s top security officials” to certify that each refugee poses no threat, despite the United States’ already stringent immigration guidelines. Under the guise of “security,” the bill practically functions to severely restrict the number of Syrian refugees able to enter the United States.

Ryan Hammill 11-19-2015

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French president François Hollande announced on Nov. 18 that France will continue to resettle refugees.

Over the next two years, Hollande said that France would welcome 30,000 refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, among others. This is even more than his September commitment of 24,000.

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The head of a national Republican Jewish activist group predicted on Nov. 10 that dissatisfaction with the Iran nuclear deal will increase the GOP's share of the Jewish vote in 2016. His Democratic counterpart argued that Jewish Americans, who overwhelmingly vote for his party, are divided over the deal and prioritize other issues.

The debate took place at one of the largest annual gatherings of Jewish activists in the world — the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America — just hours before an address to the group by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I say it with a broken heart and a lot of sadness,” said Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks on what he alleged is flagging Democratic support for Israel in recent years.

Image via Lucy Nicholson / REUTERS / RNS

Oct. 28 is the third debate for the Republicans, and since their last stage appearance, several have been ringing the religious liberty bell from one primary state to the next.

CNBC, which is hosting this debate, says the focus will be on economic issues when the mikes turn on at Coors Events Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

But that doesn’t mean God talk will be muted. Didn’t Pope Francis just sweep through, telling U.S. leaders about the moral dimensions of public policy?

Rabbi James Rubin 8-24-2015

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God’s role in our political system was prominently mentioned during the recent Republican debate, even more than the economy. Some presidential wannabes, sounding more like candidates for preacher-in-chief instead of commander-in-chief, believe God supports the Grand Old Party and their campaigns for the White House.

The debate forced me to seek the views of four famous religious leaders who grappled with the relationship between religion and society: Dorothy Day (1897-1980), a Catholic social activist and a candidate for sainthood; Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), a philosopher, rabbi and physician; Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), a Protestant theologian and champion of “Christian Realism;” and Stephen Wise (1874-1949), a prominent, politically active rabbi.

Lee Davidson 4-08-2015
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and conference goers sing in Salt Lake City, April 4

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and conference goers sing in Salt Lake City, April 4, 2015. Image via RNS/Reuters/George Frey.

Mormons lean more heavily toward the Republican Party than any other major demographic group — whether clustered by race, age, gender, educational attainment, or religion.

So says a study released April 7 by the Pew Research Center, based on more than 25,000 survey interviews conducted nationwide in 2014.

The survey shows that 70 percent of Mormons lean Republican, compared with just 22 percent who tilt Democratic. That 48-point gap is greater for the GOP than margins provided by any other single group.

Behind Mormons in GOP support are white evangelical Protestants, who give the party a 46-point edge; white Southerners, a 21-point GOP advantage; white men with some college education or less, also 21 points; whites, 9 points; and the “silent generation,” ages 69 to 86, 4 points.

Groups that lean Democratic most heavily are blacks, who give that party a 69-point edge; Asians, a 42-point margin; religiously unaffiliated, 36 points; post-graduate women, 35 points; Jews, 30 percent; Hispanics, 30 points; and the millennial generation, ages 18 to 33, 16 points.

“Obviously, Mormons are one of the strongest groups for Republicans, right on par with white evangelicals. Both groups are about three times as likely to lean towards the Republican Party,” Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of the Pew Research Center, said.

“That’s been the case for a long time.”

Tom Ehrich 3-03-2015
Photo via American Spirit / Shutterstock.com / RNS

The People's Church in South Bend, Ind. Photo via American Spirit / Shutterstock.com / RNS

A recent survey found that 57 percent of Republicans agreed that Christianity should be established as the United States’ national religion.

Not only would this violate the clear wording of the Constitution and the intention of the founders to keep religion and government separate, it also raises a difficult quandary.

Whose Christianity?

Of the estimated 1,500-plus Christian denominations in the U.S., which flavor of Christianity would emerge as the national standard?

Would it be conservative Christianity or liberal Christianity? Would it be Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or nondenominational? Would it be church-centered Christianity or a more personal flavor, such as house communion? Would it be the 1950s-style neighborhood-church Christianity that many older churchgoers yearn for, or a contemporary megachurch?

Kaeley McEvoy 2-10-2015
Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com

Homeland Security police car in Washington, D.C., in Decmeber. Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com

In November, President Obama issued an executive action that would protect nearly five million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Yet, since Congress returned in January, many questions linger regarding the implementation of executive action and the status of comprehensive immigration reform.

Last week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hosted a hearing regarding “Deferred Action on Immigration: Implications and Unanswered Questions.” The purpose of the hearing according to Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was to “obtain a more complete understanding of the logistical, financial, and national security implications of these [executive action] policies.” Yet, many questions still remain.

Among other things, Obama’s November action expanded the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and provided legal reprieve to the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have resided in the country for at least five years. It protects a small number of the 11 million aspiring Americans who are living and working in the United States without documentation. At it is root, Obama’s executive action considers the people, not the politics that create division.

The GOP majority in Congress is attempting to oppose executive action by threatening to defund the Department of Homeland Security.

Chad Connelly is director of faith engagement for the Republican National Committee. Photo courtesy of the RNC.

The Republican National Committee on Friday launched its first web-based effort to rally conservative believers behind the party, a sign of how crucial voter turnout will be in this fall’s close-fought midterm elections and an indication that the GOP cannot take its evangelical Christian base for granted.

“This shouldn’t be outreach, this should be who we are — it is who we are,” said Chad Connelly, director of faith engagement for the Republican National Committee and the force behind this new initiative, GOPfaith.com.

Evangelicals, Connelly said, “are our biggest, most reliable voting bloc.”

The problem, however, is that even though evangelicals identify more closely than ever with the GOP, they have not been turning out at the polls in sufficient numbers to carry Republican candidates to victory.

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