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Southern Religion

Christian talk radio petitions vs. scientific polls

BP News made itself a stenographer for the National Center for Policy Analysis/ Salem Radio Network (SRN) health reform petitions stunt, which through theatrical delivery hours before Obama’s health-care speech labors to create the impression that there is massive opposition to health reform.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Conventions’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and an SRN host, said of the alleged 1.3-million signatures:

This petition is indicative of a spontaneous grass roots eruption of protest against a government takeover of the American health care system. Anyone who doubts the strength and vitality of this movement needs only have attended one of the thousands of town hall meetings to know that this is real.

Or perhaps those with doubts have read the available public opinion polls, which reveal no “grass roots eruption” or even majority opposition to health reform, except among the wealthy.

A new Gallup Poll, conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 2, Americans divided over how their representatives should vote. One quarter of those surveyed said they had not made a decision.

Gallup in its scientific poll found a majority against health care reform was found only among upper-income Americans — a direct contradiction of Land’s argument. Specifically:

A slight majority of upper-income Americans want their representative to vote against healthcare reform. Middle-income Americans are divided on the question while lower-income Americans are more supportive than opposed.

Moreover, Nate Silver today concluded that public option enjoys majority support in most Blue Dog Democrat districts.

Given the scientific polling data and expert analysis, it is unreasonable to accept professionally-promoted petitions which are “signed” online by clicking an eagle icon and filling out an online form as “a spontaneous grass roots eruption of protest.”

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Religion, SBC | , , | 2 Comments

Mis-outed anonyblogger

Had the New York Times been able to call in the Jacksonville, Fla., sheriff’s department to do the job, it would most assuredly not have mis-outed the anonymous author (or authors) of the NYTPicker blog.

They then compounded the error by deleting the offending blog entry, even though copies of the text had already traveled the online world an could not be recovered [Copy here].

Who cares? We do, although we mostly agree with Zachary M. Seward at Nieman Journalism Lab:

To be honest, I don’t really care who the NYTPicker is. The site’s Twitter feed has denied the Times’ aborted report, and they’ll no doubt have something to say about the ethics of pulling a post. I just think this is a lesson that removing content from the web is a futile task, particularly for big news sites. And if a story needs to be retracted, if that’s the case here (update: it is), then we need better ways to do it than just pulling content off the web.

There remains a lingering question:

Why did write the story at all?

The author does perform a service, although having your glaring errors regularly reported to the world may not feel like a services to those who err. Thus attempting to report the author’s identity has the scent of revenge about it. And basing the failed revelation on an anonymous source, without securing appropriate confirmation before reporting, is both overeager and bad reporting.

Bad as all that is for The Times’ reputation, it isn’t manipulation of a law enforcement agency and trampling of available legal standards to unmask a critic.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Publications, Religion, WWW | | Comments Off on Mis-outed anonyblogger

Lost and found

Hat tip to GetReligion.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Health, Help | Comments Off on Lost and found

Protesters picket Obama-hating radical pastor

An anti-violence protest group plans regular Sunday demonstrations outside the church of “Why I Hate Barack Obama [.mp3]” Pastor Steven Anderson’s independent Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ.

Anderson, among whose parishioners is Chris Broughton, who recently brought an AR-15 rifle and a handgun to an Arizona Obama rally, may be seen as part of an organized politics of hate. Frederick Clarkson chronicles the mix of theology and right-wing politics of which Anderson is apparently a part. In a June, Clarkson reports, Anderson spoke at a rally of the Constitution Party, which has a focus on theocratic governance [excerpts from party platform via the Southern Poverty Law Center].

Southern Baptist pastor Paul Brewster deals with important elements of the theology involved. For example, Brewster wrote in a LifeWay Viewpoints column:

According to the pastor’s church website, he prides himself on his commitment to soul-winning and on retaining a robust doctrine of hell. But of all people, soul-winners should live to see men delivered from judgment and not to condemn men to it. As one who believes I have escaped the wrath of God for my sins only because of the grace of God available by faith in Christ, I can take no delight in the thought of others who might perish. Beyond this, to think that we are in the position of pronouncing judgment over souls is to usurp authority that has not been delegated to us in this life. We are always called to warn people of the awful reality of hell, but with humility, tears, and aching hearts.

The protest group, People Against Clergy Who Preach Hate, responds to Anderson’s call for Obama’s death [.mp3] on its FaceBook page, saying in part:

This is the type of disgusting behavior which has destroyed and is continuing to destroy not only the democratic civilization of Arizona but of the United States of America as well. We ask that you please join us in publicly standing non-violently against these hate-mongering clergy who are liable to be the cause of the next act of American terrorism by the hateful brain washed people they are provoking to violence against our loved ones and our family.

Pastor and owner of Anderson Fire and Security Inc. Steve Anderson apparently didn’t fellowship with the roughly 125 People Against Clergy Who Preach Hate protesters Sunday, according reporter Stephen Lemons of Phoenix New Times:

It was a diverse crowd, with a smattering of Christian ministers, young girls strumming guitars, a faux monk, and Code Pink’s Liz Hourican offering free hugs. She wanted to offer Anderson a hug, but Anderson only briefly stuck his head out the front door of his church, declining to address the flock of press present. He did, however, reaffirm that he hated Obama, and that, “I’m not changing anything that I said.”

Lemons is the reporter whom Anderson called “a jerk” during an intense discussion of Anderson’s use of the same mailing address for the church [directions] and for his business, Anderson Fire and Security Incorporated, and of use of church facilities in association with that business. Anderson says in ABC15’s raw video of the extended, church-door conversation with Lemons, that his business pays the church rent for space in which to store equipment for the business.

Web pages and the YouTube site of Anderson Fire and Security Incorporated have apparently been deleted since Anderson’s conversation with Lemons. A screen shot of the former andfire.com credentials page with the business address is here. A screen shot of the former andyfire.com home page is here. A screen shot of the former YouTube page is here. Video of with images of the demonstration is below:

Anderson became a right-wing celebrity of sorts after being tasered by the Border Patrol in April of this year. A month ago, Yuma police said they charged Anderson with disorderly conduct after a group he was with confronted border patrol agents and a manager at a pizza restaurant. He’s a confrontational attention-seeker, and that’s one of the issues he raises.

Mark Silk at Spiritual Politics suggests we consider “how much attention to give, and how much significant to attach, to marginal characters like Broughton and Anderson.”

Certainly Brewster was right to make clear, gentle distinctions between Anderson and other evangelicals, specifically Southern Baptists. Given the rise of the militias documented by the SPLC, ignoring the problem is unwise. Rational, secular expressions of dissent from the rhetoric of violence have an important place as the phenomenon of which Anderson is a part manifests itself.

September 9, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | | Comments Off on Protesters picket Obama-hating radical pastor

When a German ‘traitor’ is a resistance hero whose fight for justice outlasts the war by decades …

Caught, tortured, sentenced to death …

September 9, 2009 Posted by | History, Law, torture | Comments Off on When a German ‘traitor’ is a resistance hero whose fight for justice outlasts the war by decades …