Add one more to the table of Democratic contenders for president in 2016. On June 3 Lincoln Chafee, the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat who served as both governor and senator of Rhode Island, announced he is in the running. Here are five faith facts about this very dark horse (who used to horseshoe for a living).
1. He’s Episcopalian.
Chafee was raised in the church and his positions on many of the issues largely mirror that of many Episcopalians, one of the more liberal Christian denominations. Chafee supports marriage equality, embryonic stem-cell research, and reproductive choice for women, and he opposes the death penalty.
WASHINGTON — Rhode Island on May 2 became the 10th state to approve same-sex marriage, and the Delaware Legislature holds a key vote on May 9 on the same issue. But Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, denies there is a national tide in support of marriage rights for gay couples.
“I don’t know that I would say Rhode Island is a trend,” Brown said, also questioning victories for supporters of gay marriage initiatives in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state last November.
“Again, we’re talking about states that are not necessarily indicative of the rest of the country. These are pretty deep-blue, liberal states we’re talking about.”
Even so, Brown, the head of the leading national organization opposing same-sex marriage, finds himself playing defense as more Americans support same-sex marriage and more state legislatures debate measures authorizing it.
It is unclear how the adjective employed to describe a coniferous tree intended as public celebratory display became a “slap in the face” to the Christian community. It’s especially curious considering that the use of the fir tree around the winter solstice is commonly traced back to Germanic pagan traditions, not Christian ones.
The display of a Christmas tree, a nativity (or manger, or crèche) or any other “stuff” on public property is made central to the celebration of Christ’s birth. Suddenly the profound and unique Christian mystery of the Incarnation — the profound truth of Emmanuel, God with us — is reduced to a set of cultural traditions and a demand for public officials to sponsor and endorse their particular brand of celebration.
When that happens, it’s no longer clear what the difference is between a Christmas tree, a golden calf or a two-story blow-up polyurethane Frosty the Snowman.