But even after a weekend spent huddling in Manhattan plotting strategy, a crucial question for the Republican nominee was whether this latest outrage would finally repel conservative Christians who are key to the GOP’s hopes for recapturing the White House.
So far the verdict appears mixed.
Is Christian Zionism good for the Jews?
Not every Jew thinks so.
In fact, Christian Zionists make many Jews crazy.
Worry No. 1: Christian Zionists believe all Jews need to be back in the land of Israel before Jesus can return.
Except it’s not true.
I once asked Ralph Reed, the prominent conservative activist and founder of the Christian Coalition, about this.
“Rabbi, I’ve been in church every Sunday of my life and I have never heard such a thing,” he said.
If you've ever seen or heard Kristin Chenoweth sing, you know she is a pint-sized ray of sunshine. She oozes joy and grace and love for her audience from every pore of her 4-foot-11-inch frame. Plus, girlfriend has a spot-on, finely calibrated sense of comic timing. (I dare you to watch her perform and not at least crack a smile. She is enchanting, her natural ebullience utterly infectious.)
What you may not know is that Chenoweth, 44, is a Christian. Born and raised in the Southern Baptist tradition where she accepted Jesus into her heart at the tender age of 8, "Cheno," as she is known to her legion devoted fans, now describes herself as a nondenominational "non-judgmental, liberal Christian." Her devotion to Jesus and His Way is something she's never been shy about, both before and after she took Broadway by storm in her early 20s.
“I'm sick of people who've never been to church telling me that church is full of hypocrites, and people who've never read the Bible telling me that it's baloney," she wrote in her 2009 memoir, A Little Bit Wicked. "I'm a very controversial figure in the Christian world. I don't believe if you're gay or you have a drink or you dance, you're going to hell. I don't think that's the kind of God we have. The Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of the world are scary. I want to be a Christian like Christ — loving and accepting of other people."
I’m a little bit worried that the solar flare storms either are affecting my personal judgment or the rest of the world. Given the logic of Occam’s Razor, I suppose I’m screwed.
First this week, I wrote a piece about how I agreed largely with the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson about decriminalizing marijuana. And as if that wasn’t enough to send me questioning the orientation of the universe, now I find myself with a growing modicum of respect for fear-monger pastor and end-times prophet, Harold Camping.
Famous for wrongly predicting the end of the world twice – and for bringing scads of followers and their life savings along with him – Camping has become both the butt of late night talk show monologues and the object lesson for the hubris of trying to ascertain the “mind of God.”
Those who choose to get in a knot about such things already have the Mayan calendar to blame for the current frenzy about end times, which is predicted to take place according to this ancient calendar later this year. In response to those who use such predictions to grab attention and scare believers, I wrote a piece recently that places the whole Armageddon thing in perspective for me.
Basically, my son’s school told him to sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite, but also not to be surprised if he awoke to a smoldering void instead of his home planet the next day, given that the French were about to ramp up their supercollider. So of course, he wanted to know if he still had to do his homework.
I love that kid.
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. A million monkeys typing for a million years would eventually produce Shakespeare.
And once in a blue moon, Televangelist and 700 Club head Pat Robertson and I agree on something.
When asked about his position on the decriminalization of marijuana, Robertson said the following:
“I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.”
Umm, can I get an “Amen?”
Stephen Colbert takes Pat Robertson's challenge to America and prays at full volume, file sharing considered "religious expression," Harrison Ford watches Indiana Jones for the first time, Gary Busey and Ted Haggard on Wife Swap, facebook plans networking offline, part two of Jimmy Kimmel's Christmas trick, and — our of the mouths of babes —a Christian version of the Black Eyed Peas song "My Humps."
The Rev. Pat Robertson. Bless his heart.
In an appearance on his 700 Club program Tuesday, while Iowans were heading to their caucuses, Robertson, the 1988 Iowa Caucus runner up, told viewers that he had a long conversation with the Almighty recently about the 2012 presidential election and the state of affairs in these United States of America (God bless it) in general.
Apparently, God told Robertson, 81, who the 45th President of the United States will be. But it's a secret.
Today, Pat Robertson stated that if the GOP candidates embrace positions on the extreme far-right, they will be unelectable.
When I applied for a job at CNN in the 90s, and told the interviewer that I had interned with an evangelical magazine called Christianity Today, his response was, "If it's Christian, it isn't journalism."
Over the years that expanded to, "If it's evangelical, it's Republican. Or Jerry Falwell. Pat Robertson. The Tea Party. Wrapped in a Patriotic Flag. White People. Derivative, cheesy music. Big Money. Big Hair." Fill in the rest of the blanks.
Are those labels a distortion of what it means to be an evangelical? Of course they are. Yet they are how evangelicals are perceived, rightly or wrongly (I personally think it's a mixture of both), in our society.
Most of my friends knew evangelicalism only through the big, bellicose voices of TV preachers and religio-political activists such as Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell and James Dobson. Not surprisingly, my friends hadn't experienced an evangelicalism that sounded particularly loving, accepting or open-minded.
After eschewing the descriptor because I hadn't wanted to be associated with a faith tradition known more for harsh judgmentalism and fearmongering than the revolutionary love and freedom that Jesus taught, I began publicly referring to myself again as an evangelical. By speaking up, I hoped I might help reclaim "evangelical" for what it is supposed to mean.
"Do you think God sent Hurricane Irene?" a young man asked me with a curious look in his eyes that was as innocent as it was pensive.
My mind flashed back to a headline I remembered reading yesterday about Glenn Beck pronouncing the hurricane as "a blessing" from God.
As I heard the kid's question, my heart sunk, as I thought of all the rhetoric that has made God out to be a monster, or at least a punitive judge on a throne ready to zap folks with lightening bolts or hurricanes
When our ideas about nature come primarily from Sierra Club calendars or selected snippets from Thoreau, an east coast earthquake and monster hurricane (in the same week) are powerful wake-up calls.
We modern urban dwellers and suburbanites like our nature contained and manageable: a nice hike in the woods; a pretty sunset on the drive home; a lush, green lawn (chemically-induced, alas)
Sometimes we like nature so much we decide to worship it -- or to make it the medium for our worship of God or the "higher power" we think might be up there, out there, presiding over it all. We've been wounded by organized religion, perhaps, disgusted by its hierarchies and hypocrisies. "I can worship God on a mountaintop," we decide. (Or -- conveniently, happily -- on the golf course).
I want to beat televangelist Pat Robertson to the jump on yesterday's East Coast earthquake.
Robertson is genius at knowing the mind of God when it comes to natural disasters. He blamed the Haiti earthquake on a God-offending "pact with the devil." Hurricane Katrina was God's pay-back for abortion in America.
Having spent some time with the Lord recently, I feel there is a message for President Obama: It is God's wrath that shook the White House yesterday. This was a 5.8 wake-up call.
Why is God all wrought up this time? What is it that God wants President Obama to do? Well, my friends, the issue is climate change. Global warming. Specifically, the Keystone XL "Dirty Oil" pipeline.