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Southern Religion

Evangelical Protestants are in the declining minority on gay marriage

Religious Connections has the years of Pew Forum polling data and commentary.

July 31, 2012 Posted by | Politics, Poll | , | Comments Off on Evangelical Protestants are in the declining minority on gay marriage

The (irrational) politics of religion prevailed in South Carolina

A private gathering of 150 unnamed religious activists tried to throw the South Carolina evangelical vote to Santorum. That gathering was held at the ranch of a Southern Baptist Convention conservative takeover heavyweight – retired Texas Judge Paul Pressler. As Interfaith Alliance head Welton Gaddy said on the Jan. 21 broadcast, it had all the hallmarks of Pressler’s manipulations of the SBC:

The eventual victors touted the movement as the “conservative resurgence” and claim that it rescued the nation’s second-largest faith group from liberalism and decline. Gaddy, who was active in SBC leadership until the 1980s, said he called it “political fundamentalism,” which he defined as “a manipulation of theological issues and church loyalty to advance purposes latched on to interests in politics, money and power.”

The politics of religion still prevailed in South Carolina, albeit without being bent to Pressler’s will by handing the primary to Rick Santorum.

Mark Silk found that the evangelicals instead chose Catholic Newt Gingrich as their alternative to Mormon Mitt Romney:

The Mormon Gap killed Mitt Romney. Defined as the percentage-point difference between the evangelical and the non-evangelical vote for a given Mormon candidate in a Republican primary, it turned out to be 16 points; i.e. Romney won 38 percent of non-evangelicals but only 22 percent of evangelicals. By contrast, Newt Gingrich won 44 percent of evangelicals, as opposed to only 33 percent of non-evangelicals.

New York University Professor Jay Rosen parses Republican views as reality vs reality-denial. Similarly, an irrational anti-Mormon religious reflex may be seen as having had a determining effect in South Carolina. It may do so again in Florida.

January 24, 2012 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , | Comments Off on The (irrational) politics of religion prevailed in South Carolina

North Carolina marriage in what crosshairs?

Same sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina.

Even so, declaring themselves terrified that the courts may undo what the legislature hath wrought, the Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly imposed a May 8 referendum on whether to embed that stricture in the state constitution.

Rushing on from that contrived position, the Art Pope funded North Carolina Family Policy Council this week published an inflammatory image of marriage itself in the some phantom sniper’s crosshairs.

The image is rich in irony. Writing at Baptists Today, contributing editor Tony Cartledge notes:

Anyone who pays the least bit of attention has to be aware that the biggest threats to heterosexual marriage are the people who participate in them. People change. People make mistakes. People grow in different directions. People fail to communicate effectively. Heterosexual marriages end in divorce with uncomfortable frequency, but almost always with no assistance whatsoever from the possibility that the courts might one day overturn the state’s existing law against gay marriage.

Crosshairs image

N.C. Family Policy Council magazine marriage crosshairs image

A letter signed by hundreds of North Carolina faith leaders asserts that opposition to the amendment is as a matter of faith:

As people of faith, clergy and leaders in our faith traditions, we are mandated by God to demonstrate and protect love in all its forms and to stand for justice for all creation.

Supporters of the amendment, like Daniel L. Akin of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, say the opposite. Writing in the same magazine with the crosshairs image, he argues:

The Bible defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman in a monogamous covenant relationship intended to last for life.

Christians can first of all model what a healthy marriage looks like following the principles of Scripture. Again, we have often failed in this area and I believe that is one reason why we have so much confusion today with respect to marriage. In addition, Christians can take public stands and vote their conscience in seeking to promote the kind of marriages that are reflective in biblical truth. Christians should go to the ballot box with biblical principles and truth.

Whatever your view of marriage, if this amendment fails, same sex marriage will still be illegal in North Carolina and the status of marriage itself will not have been altered. Marriage isn’t in the crosshairs on May 8.

Assertions that it is inflame an inevitably overheated debate and contribute to the incivility the Rev. Mark Harris, head of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, says he is against.

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Politics | , , | Comments Off on North Carolina marriage in what crosshairs?

Civil marriage debate is owed balance and empirical evidence: Updated

The Charlotte Observer tells us that the Rev. Mark Harris, head of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, says he wants the a “civil” debate over same-sex marriage.

Yet they seem unsure about why he is leading a campaign to pass the proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Although he and the BSCNC made that clear to them back in November. When the BSCNC took its official stand in favor the amendment (.pdf).

The North Carolina Family Policy Council understands that the BSCNC intends to create a church-by-church political machine to get the “preservation of marriage” amendment approved and to promote the decidedly unscientific Southern Baptist view of homosexuality:

The resolution on the Marriage Protection Amendment was introduced at the meeting by Jim Jacumin, president of the BSCNC Board of Directors. It expresses the BSCNC’s official endorsement of the proposed State Constitutional amendment, which would define marriage in North Carolina as only between one man and one woman, and will be on the ballot before voters at the May 8, 2012 primary election. The resolution (.pdf) also encourages “the churches of the Baptist State Convention to vigorously organize a strong effort among their members to support passage of the Marriage Amendment in the first primary election of 2012.” In addition to encouraging its member churches to engage in “loving, redemptive ministry to homosexuals,” it also states that the “North Carolina Baptists commit ourselves to… preach and teach the truth concerning what the Bible says about the creation of and divine nature of the institution of marriage, and against any government action to accept, sanction, approve, protect or promote same-sex marriage or legal recognition of same-sex relationships.”

The CO manages to get through the entire call for “civil” debate, by the leader of one side of that debate, without mentioning the North Carolina Psychological Association. Its position on the matter (.pdf) is a model of civility. The NCPA deals with the empirical evidence, and without the least hint of a raised voice or harsh word, explain that the best empirical evidence offers no support for banning gay marriage or any other such discrimination.

That’s as civil as debate can get, and proponents of it should have found a place in the otherwise thin, lopsided CO story.

Update:

The Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families has responded:

We agree with Mark Harris’ assertion that we should keep the Amendment conversation factual – and do it in a civil way. Nevertheless, this type of discourse is something not seen in other states, especially from an industry willing to pit people’s religion – as well as gross misinformation – against families. We must be willing to honor the very real emotions, including pain and fear, that these types of discriminatory measures naturally evoke, especially when North Carolina’s particular Amendment is not only a permanent ban on marriage equality and civil unions – relationship recognitions that a majority of North Carolinians support – but also strips basic benefits and protections from loving couples, women, and children, and causes substantial economic harms to families, business and the perception of the state as a whole. No one of faith – or otherwise – will sit back while families lose their health insurance, domestic violence victims lose their protections, and loving couples lose their ability to see each other in the hospital. We can’t and we won’t let that happen. We will make sure that the families of NC are protected from this harmful, extreme amendment.

-Jeremy Kennedy, Campaign Manager, The Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families.

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Politics, SBC | , | 1 Comment

Calling Franklin Graham to Romney repentance

Franklin Graham (son of Billy), who got in a bit of a tangle over the “blessing” of Sarah Palin past presidential time around, has pronounced Republican hopeful Mitt Romney’s Mormonism a nonproblem. Graham said:

Yes, the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon doesn’t bother me. I think when we are voting for president we need to get the person who is absolutely the most qualified. You can have the nicest guy and he can be a Christian and just wonderful but have absolutely no clue as to how to run a country, you don’t want that.

With that view, Graham put himself opposite the head of the South Carolina Southern Baptist convention and strayed from the more commonplace Southern Baptist view.

Predictably, Graham was called to repent. The call came immediately from Pastor Steven Andrew of USA Christian Ministries. In brief, Andrew said:

“Graham is misleading Christians to vote against Scripture for Mormon Mitt Romney. God cannot bless us for betraying Jesus and voting for a non-Christian. No one comes to God except through Jesus-this includes the USA,” said Pastor Steven.

Pastors are concerned. Scripture forbids hosting false teachers in our homes and Graham wants one in the White House?

For Romney as for Palin, Graham may have had little political effect. Except on himself. as Charles W. Dunn, a professor of government at Regent University’s Robertson School of Government suggested to Chad Groening:

“We can understand the political nature of the statement; we can understand the constitutional nature of the statement,” he states. “But from a practical standpoint of his being a religious leader, that statement I think was unwise because he didn’t have to make it.”

With a Mormon and a twice-divorced Catholic leading the Republican field, this debate among conservative Christian activists seems destined to become more strenuous.

December 27, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , | Comments Off on Calling Franklin Graham to Romney repentance

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George backs away from gay pride/KKK comparison

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George is attempting to back away from his comparison of gay pride marchers to the KKK. According to ABC 7 Chicago, he said:

Obviously, it’s absurd to say the gay and lesbian community are the Ku Klux Klan, but if you organize a parade that looks like parades that we’ve had in our past because it stops us from worshipping God, well then that’s the comparison, but it’s not with people and people — it’s parade-parade.

He’s under fire, as Think Progress explains:

Change.org has released a petition calling for the resignation of Catholic Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, following comments the Cardinal made to FOX Chicago Sunday comparing the gay rights movement to the Klu Klux Klan’s anti-Catholicism. Equally Blessed, an umbrella group of pro-LGBT rights Catholic organizations, has reinforced the pushback by releasing a statement declaring in part that George, “has demeaned and demonized LGBT people in a manner unworthy of his office. In suggesting that the Catholic hierarchy has reason to fear LGBT people in the same way that blacks, Jews, Catholics and other minorities had reason to fear the murderous nightriders of the Ku Klux Klan, he has insulted the memory of the victims of the Klan’s violence and brutality.”

It was at best a historically uninformed comparison for him to make.

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Catholic, Politics | , | Comments Off on Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George backs away from gay pride/KKK comparison

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George on the gay pride parade

The money quote. Cardinal George said:

“You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.” he said on FOX Chicago Sunday .

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Catholic, Politics | , | 1 Comment

Training Army chaplains for the end of DADT (or departure)

Adelle M. Banks of Religion News Service seems to think the message is clear:

“The Chaplains Corps’ First Amendment freedoms and its duty to care for all will not change,” reads a slide in the PowerPoint presentation, released to Religion News Service Thursday. “Soldiers will continue to respect and serve with others who may hold different views and beliefs.”

Critics familiar with the Army presentation, however, say the military is essentially telling chaplains who are theologically conservative that they are not welcome.

U.S. Army now warning chaplains: If you don’t like the homosexual agenda, get out!” reads a headline on the website of Mass Resistance, an anti-gay group based in Waltham, Mass.

The Army doesn’t see it in such stark terms:

Lt. Col. Carleton Birch, a spokesman for the Army chief of chaplains, said about half of the military service’s 2,900 chaplains have received the training, which started in February and is likely to conclude in April.

“Our training is an opportunity for our senior chaplains to have an honest and open conversation about the repeal policy, its effects on them and their ministry,” Birch said. “And it’s going very well. … In no way are we giving the message, shape up or ship out.”

Birch said only one Army chaplain has left the service over the pending repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.

March 25, 2011 Posted by | Law, Politics, Religion | , , | Comments Off on Training Army chaplains for the end of DADT (or departure)

Obama, Romero and the politics of liberation

Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado wrote:

Obama’s visit to the tomb [of Oscar Romero] is being described as “extraordinary” by the Central American press, describing Romero as a Salvadoran martyr who was killed by the military. Roberto D’Aubuisson, the military officer who is suspected to have ordered Romero’s assassination, was trained in the United States and was permitted to observe US Special forces in action. D’Aubuisson is also the founder of ARENAS, the conservative political party that governed the country until 2009.

. . .

I see Obama’s visit as symbolic of a shift in US attitudes toward Central America. Gone I hope is the era of intervention and manipulation. The Central America of today is different from the one that saw Romero’s blood shed while saying mass. Some would argue that the crisis of gangs and drugs that is engulfing this region is leading to a crisis that will eclipse the civil wars of the 1980s and 1990s. And yet in spite of the growing violence, figures like Romero give us hope.

March 25, 2011 Posted by | Catholic, Obama, Politics | , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama, Romero and the politics of liberation

Richard Land, the culture warriors and DOMA (why they’ve lost)

While Southern Baptist Convention ethics czar Richard Land and others were laboring to organize a Defense of Marriage Act counterattack by the culture warriors, public opinion deserted them. Capping “a long-term shift in attitudes,” same-sex marriage enjoys 53 percent support in this country, the ABC News/Washington Post Poll found. Whereas only “Forty-four percent are opposed.”

The shift in public attitudes which led to this is rapid, unrelenting and across the board:

While younger adults and liberals remain at the forefront of support for gay marriage, the new results underscore its expansion. In an ABC/Post poll five and a half years ago, for example, under-30s were the sole age group to give majority support to gay marriage, at 57 percent. Today it’s 68 percent in that group – but also 65 percent among people in their 30s, up a remarkable 23 points from the 2005 level; and 52 percent among those in their 40s, up 17 points.

Adults 50 and older remain more skeptical, but even that’s seen change. Most notably, 33 percent of seniors now say gay marriage should be legal, up from 18 percent five years ago.

Trends among other groups are equally striking. Compared with five years ago support for gay marriage has grown by 10 points among women, but by 18 points among men; it’s now at parity. Support has grown by 17 points among Democrats, but also by 13 points among independents, to a clear majority, 58 percent, in the crucial political center. And it’s 63 percent among moderates, up 21 points.

As for religious groups for which opposition to same-sex marriage is doctrinaire — wherein one finds Land’s core support group and the choir to which he preaches — the shift in attitudes is equally unrelenting:

Support is up by a striking 23 points among white Catholics, often a swing group and one that’s been ready, in many cases, to disregard church positions on political or social issues. But they have company: Fifty-seven percent of non-evangelical white Protestants now also support gay marriage, up 16 points from its level five years ago. Evangelicals, as noted, remain very broadly opposed. But even in their ranks, support for gay marriage is up by a double-digit margin.

It is inopportune, Richard, to negotiate a truce in the culture war over same-sex marriage. Not however, as you and your allies argue, because a majority of Americans support fallback to the intolerance of a bygone era. They don’t and the trends suggest that you will see the time when a majority of your target audience doesn’t either.

March 18, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Religion, SBC | , , | Comments Off on Richard Land, the culture warriors and DOMA (why they’ve lost)