Southern Religion

Today’s graph: Obama’s presidential success, measured

Obama has the highest presidential success rate of any president since Congressional Quarterly began scoring presidential success rates in Congress.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Comments Off on Today’s graph: Obama’s presidential success, measured

Sarah joins/quits the Orly Birther play group

Orly Birther, former Southern Baptist Convention Second Vice President Wiley Drake and others marched right off the deep end with the crusade to prove President Obama can’t produce a valid U.S. birth certificate.

While striving to ring the right-wing bells on behalf of her book, “Going Rogue,” Sarah Palin was asked by radio talk show host Rusty Humphries if she would “make the birth certificate an issue” if she ran for president. Palin responded by joining the Birthers:

I think the public, rightfully, is still making it an issue. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know if I would have to bother to make it an issue ’cause I think there are enough members of the electorate who still want answers.

Palin and Humphries elaborate together on her just-expressed belief that the Birthers are owed an answer. She said, for example:

I think it’s a fair question, just like I think past associations, past voting records, all of that is fair game.

Ever the social media maven, she used a Facebook Note entitled “Stupid Conspiracy Theories“, to withdraw from Orly Birth’s play group. Struggling and failing not to offend the Birthers on her way out, Palin said:

Voters have every right to ask candidates for information if they so choose. I’ve pointed out that it was seemingly fair game during the 2008 election for many on the left to badger my doctor and lawyer for proof that Trig is in fact my child. Conspiracy-minded reporters and voters had a right to ask … which they have repeatedly. But “at no point — not during the campaign, and not during recent interviews — have I asked the president to produce his birth certificate or suggested that he was not born in the United States.

Palinologists may already be digging through archives of twitter reaction to Palin’s Birther hucklebuck.

It’s clear that Pat Buchanan defended her — not necessarily a good thing if you consider whom else he has defended. But even Sister Toldja’s Why did you have to go there, Sarah? defense was a little backhanded.

Most importantly, she raised anew formerly quieted questions about herself. Andrew Sullivan observes that “Palin has never produced Trig’s birth certificate or a single piece of objective medical evidence that proves he is indeed her biological son.”

Sarah clearly needs a little help with her interview and row-back skills. Perhaps Southern Baptist Convention ethics chief Richard Land, who urged her selection as John McCain’s running mate and has a radio show, will volunteer to begin that reeducation with instruction in the art of unapology.

[H/T: Andrew Sullivan]

December 5, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Subtle racism’ deters black Catholic leadership

Bishop J. Terry Steib

Bishop J. Terry Steib

Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo greeted the remarks more favorably than many did former President Jimmy Carter’s declaration that President Barack Obama is besieged by racism. Note that other Catholic disagreement we found was civil in this important, widely overlooked moment in our long national debate over “racism” and its effects.

Black Catholic Bishop J. Terry Steib of the Diocese of Memphis reflected Saturday on the “subtle racism” which had resulted in “a relative dearth of black Catholic leadership” in 1984, when Black Catholic bishops issued their own pastoral letter: What We Have Seen and Heard [.pdf].

Keynote speaker at a symposium marking the silver jubilee of the landmark 1984 letter, he also said that despite a quarter of a century’s progress, that same racism recently caused a furor in Catholic circles over Notre Dame University’s award of an honorary degree to President Barack Obama. He told the audience at Philadelphia’s St. Raymond Church that other presidents have had disagreements with the positions of the Catholic Church in in war policies and capital punishment and the like, but have received honorary degrees without similar objection. That racism, he said, is doing the church ongoing harm.

Lou Baldwin of the Catholic Standard Times wrote:

It is the subtle racism that still exists which contributes to the lack of priestly vocations among young black men because “it leads to a mistrust of the Church among young black men and women,” he said. “Let’s acknowledge that.”
On the other hand, the African-American community “has contributed to some of the difficulties they are facing,” Bishop Steib said, quoting Obama on the collapse of the two-parent family in the black community and the failure of many black men to live up to responsibilities to their children.

The pastoral letter being celebrated dealt less with the effects of Catholic racism than with the special gifts, culture, and values shared African American Catholics bring to their church and their path in the faith.

Yet there was no possibility of omitting racism from the discussion while also being honest for racism an overarching characteristic of American life, not of denomination.

Speaking into the gale of uproar of Obama’s school speech black Southern Baptist pastor Dwight McKissic did not flinch from it either. Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press summarized McKissic’s view:

“Whenever a black man ascends to prominence and power, the political establishment tries to demonize that person,” McKissic said. He quoted the late Jerry Falwell, who in 1961 questioned “left-wing associations” of Martin Luther King. “They were accusing him of being a communist and a socialist like they accuse Barack Obama of being a communist and socialist.” … McKissic said many white preachers want God to judge America for abortion and gay marriage. McKissic said he feels strongly on both of those issues but believes that racism is also a sin, and God must judge America for that sin as well.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Churches, Cultural, Obama | , , , | 2 Comments

A prayer unanswered

The Washington Post’s “On Faith” panel of 19 writers discusse the “State of our Disunion” while lamenting how Rick Warren’s Inauguration Day prayer is far from being answered.

Warren prayed that Americans would “have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.”

Instead, note the Post’s Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham, “clarity, responsibility, humility and civility seem to have given way to self-righteousness, anger, resentment, and what columnist Kathleen Parker calls ‘a political era of uninhibited belligerence’ that is finding expression in sermons, at town hall meetings, on radio talk shows, even on the floor of Congress — especially when we differ.”

Susan Jacoby, whose entry has attracted about 400 comments, discusses how faith and hatred often co-exist. She says:

What we are seeing is the rage of a minority–we don’t know exactly how large, but we do know that it is almost entirely white and concentrated in the South and Southwest–at an African-American president who is considered not only wrong in his policies but illegitimate as the leader of our nation.

Jacoby also tells of a college student afraid to tell her parents she supports Obama for fear they’ll no longer pay her tuition and writes:

Many Americans spent a good deal of time last November patting themselves on the back for having elected an African-American president. What we are seeing now is the bitterness of an unreconciled minority that will never accept the legitimacy of that election.

Would it be that she were wrong but the full sweep of post-Civil War Southern history says she isn’t.

Still, we long for the day when Warren’s prayer is answered.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on A prayer unanswered

Presbyterian leader calls for review of post-9/11 interrogations

The chief ecclesiastical administrator of the Presbyterian Church(USA) General Assembly has called for President Obama to create a nonpartisan commission of inquiry into the Bush administration’s post-9/11 use of torture.

Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons based his April 23rd letter [.pdf] on the 217th General Assembly’s declaration that Congress should:

. . . convene an investigative body with the independence, stature, and broad investigative powers of the September 11th Commission to inquire into whether any official or officer of the United States government bears direct or command responsibility for having ordered or participated in violations of law in the mistreatment of persons detained by the government of the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib Prison, or elsewhere or in transporting persons into detention in nations with known records of brutality and torture; to publish its findings and, if appropriate, to recommend the appointment of a special prosecutor if one has not been previously appointed.

Parsons argues the necessity of public accountability before God and man, writing:

If those responsible are not held accountable, there is nothing beyond wishful thinking and admonitions to compel future leaders to resist the temptation to torture in times of fear or threat.

His position is rooted in the fundamental Presbyterian precept that “The Church is called to be Christ’s faithful evangelist . . . engaging in the struggle to free people from sin, fear, oppression, hunger, and injustice” (Book of Order, G-3.0300c(3)(c)).

The Stated Clerk is elected for four years and it is among his responsibilities to interpret General Assembly’s actions, as he has here. More generally, he is “responsible for the Office of the General Assembly, which conducts the ecclesiastical work of the church.”

In keeping with its history of support of human rights, the PC(USA) is a member of the National Religious Coalition Against Torture, whose online site offers visitors the opportunity to join in the call for a commission of inquiry.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Churches, PC(USA), Politics, Presbyterian, Religion | , , , , | Comments Off on Presbyterian leader calls for review of post-9/11 interrogations

URLs to support Notre Dame+Obama [Or Not]

Do you support Notre Dame and President Fr. John Jenkins in his decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at the 2009 graduation commencement?

It’s a project of Notre Dame Alums in Support of Fr. Jenkins, Faithful America, and Catholics United.

Or is the Cardinal Newman Society’s already well-known petition the one you yearn to sign?

Cry havoc and loose the dogs of Web petition.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Education, Religion | , , | Comments Off on URLs to support Notre Dame+Obama [Or Not]

Fact-fixing CNN on Notre Dame

One myth-besotted CNN paragraph preoccupied Mollie at GetReligion.

She was addressing the story of South Bend, Indiana Roman Catholic Bishop John D’Arcy’s boycott of the Notre Dame graduation ceremonies at which President Barack Obama will be honored.

Let her help you substitute legislative fact for fiction and filter spin out of science here.

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Religion, Science | , , | Comments Off on Fact-fixing CNN on Notre Dame

Honesty is also a Catholic value

Richard Viguerie brings a refreshing clarity to the Notre Dame uproar refreshingly by combining high dudgeon with fiction:

Barack Obama is a pro-abortion extremist. He supports elective abortion at any point during pregnancy, and even afterward; he opposes protecting children who survive abortions. He supports using U.S. taxpayers’ money to pay for elective abortions in our country and in other countries. He is working to strip medical professionals of their right not to perform abortions.

After the word “pro-abortion,” everything he said was a distortion and calculated to inflame his audience.

Viguerie echoes arguments made elsewhere and closely examined by Beth Dahlman.


Dan Gilgoff notes that Notre Dame’s president is unwavering in his defense of the invitation.

As for the student body, Notre Dame campus newspaper, the Observer, reported “in an Oct. 8, 2008 article that Obama led the student body with 52.6 percent of the vote in a mock election held by student government, in which 2,692 undergraduates and graduate students voted.”

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Churches, Religion | , , | Comments Off on Honesty is also a Catholic value

Fuss over Notre Dame’s invitation (accepted) to Obama

Nothing here to fight about and they’re fighting about it.

Yes. [Thanks to Mark Silk.]

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Politics, Religion | , | Comments Off on Fuss over Notre Dame’s invitation (accepted) to Obama


Focus on the Family says there’s Christian-leader disappointment over, well, mostly Obama doing things about abortion and stem cells that he talked of doing at campaign time. Surprise?

March 20, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion, Science | , , | Comments Off on Ok