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- -02-14-09 Obama Outlines His Faith-Based Initiative (U.S. News)
"President Obama has signed an executive order establishing a new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships"
"The Office's top priority will be making community groups an integral part of our economic recovery and poverty a burden fewer have to bear when recovery is complete." 10-07
- -02-19-09 Catholic Crusade Against a Mythical Abortion Bill (Time.com)
"The U.S. Catholic Church's crusade against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has all the hallmarks of a well-oiled lobbying campaign. A national postcard campaign is flooding the White House and congressional offices with messages opposing FOCA, and the Catholic bishops have made defeating the abortion rights legislation a top priority."
"There is only one hitch. Congress isn't about to pass the Freedom of Choice Act because no such bill has been introduced." 02-09
- -10-16-07 Moderate Muslims Speak to Christians (Christian Science Monitor)
"The open letter from 138 prominent Muslims – including imams, ayatollahs, grand muftis, sheikhs, and scholars – said 'the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians,' urgent language indicating a concern that tensions between the two faiths are in danger of spiraling out of control."
"The Muslim signatories are authoritative, representing all major schools of Islamic thought, as well as influential at the grass-roots level, say scholars of Islam."
"With its call for finding common ground in the foundational principles shared by the two faiths, the letter presents a significant counterweight to the voices of radical Islam on the global stage and is being heralded by Christian clergy and scholars as of historic import." 10-07
- -10-23-07 Alabama Approves Textbook on the Bible (Time.com)
"Alabama has became the first state in the union to approve a textbook for a course about the Bible in its public schools, and its surprisingly uncontroversial decision may prove to be a model for others." 10-07
- -Editorial: Evangelical Leaders Pushing Politics Are Losing Credibility (Time.com)
"If Giuliani captures the nomination [for president in 2008] despite the threat of an evangelical revolt [by evangelical leaders], it will be a long time before Republican strategists pay attention to the demands of conservative Christian leaders again."
"For the first time in many years, white evangelical identification with the Republican Party has dipped below 50 percent, with the sharpest falloff again among the young, according to John C. Green, a senior fellow at Pew and an expert on religion and politics. (The defectors by and large say they’ve become independents, not Democrats, according to the polls.)" 10-07
- Study: Churchgoers More Likely to See Torture as Justifiable (CBS News)
"A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey released last week found that those who attend weekly church services are more likely than those who rarely or never attend services to say the use of torture on suspected terrorists is justifiable." 05-09
- "Islamophobia" Five Years After 9-11 (ABC News)
"Five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Muslims and Arab Americans say they still feel the sting of discrimination and fear in America." 09-06.
- -11-05-04 "Values" Message Wins Ohio for GOP (MSNBC News)
"While the two campaigns slugged it out on big-city TV stations with commercials about the war and the economy, Bush's Ohio campaign used targeted mailings, phone calls and doorstep visits to talk about values, said John C. Green, a University of Akron professor who studies religion and politics. Green described one piece of mail from the Bush campaign that featured a beautiful church and a traditional nuclear family. It was headlined, 'George W. Bush shares your values. Marriage. Life. Faith.' "
"It could not have been clearer if it had quoted from the Bible," Green said." 11-04
- -Editorial: Have We Evolved to Be Religious? (Time.com)
"We humans have many varieties of religious experience. One of the most common is self-transcendence — a feeling becoming part of something larger, grander and nobler. Most people experience this at least a few times in their lives. When the self thins out and melts away, it not only feels good but can be thrilling."
"It’s as though our minds contain a secret staircase taking us from an ordinary life up to something sacred and deeply interconnected, and the door to that staircase opens only on rare occasions. The world’s many religions have found a variety of ways to help people find and climb the staircase. Some religions employ meditation. Others use spinning, dancing and repetitive movements in combination with music. Some use natural drugs. Many secular people have used these methods too — think of the popularity of rave parties, which combine most of these techniques to produce feelings of “peace, love, unity and respect.” As the great French sociologist Emile Durkheim put it, we are “homo duplex,” or a two-level man." 03-12
- -Editorial: Is the U.S. a "Christian Nation?" (CBS News)
"President Obama, as part of an effort to reach out to the Muslim world, explicitly rejected the formulation in Turkey last week."
" 'We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation,' he said. 'We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.' "
"Ultimately, the question of whether America is a 'Christian nation' depends in large part on how you define the phrase." 04-09
- -Editorial: The Politics of Religion (New York Times)
"Islamists, even if they are learned professionals, appear to us primarily as frustrated, irrational representatives of frustrated, irrational societies, nothing more. We live, so to speak, on the other shore. When we observe those on the opposite bank, we are puzzled, since we have only a distant memory of what it was like to think as they do. We all face the same questions of political existence, yet their way of answering them has become alien to us. On one shore, political institutions are conceived in terms of divine authority and spiritual redemption; on the other they are not. And that, as Robert Frost might have put it, makes all the difference."
"Understanding this difference is the most urgent intellectual and political task of the present time." 08-07
- -Editorial: Was Clerk Davis's Denying Marriage Licenses Patriotic? (Time.com)
"There are about 35 major Christian denominations in the U.S. Various denominations don’t always agree with each other on what the proper moral action is in the same situation. Then we add in all the other religions and belief systems in our country—all protected by the Constitution—and we see why we don’t go to any one religion to decide what should be legal. The Orthodox Jewish clerk at the DMV cannot deny you a driver’s license because you eat ham. The Muslim clerk at the Social Security office can’t deny you benefits because you drink liquor. The Christian Scientist clerk at the IRS cannot audit your taxes because you chose medical help. Practice your religion in freedom; just don’t make everyone else practice your religion."
"When politicians support Davis in defying the U.S. Supreme Court, they are making it clear why they should never be elected to any office, let alone the Presidency of the United States where they would take the oath to 'support and defend the Constitution' since they are emphatically telling America that they wouldn’t support and defend it. They have announced that if you sincerely disagree with the Constitution, feel free to ignore it. And not just ignore it, make sure to use your position so that others are barred from following it." 09-15
- Billy Graham and President Obama Meet (Time.com)
"I know Ruth has now entered that heavenly home, and that some day soon I will join her. This gives me great comfort." 02-08
- Billy Graham: Friend to Presidents (ABC News)
"He's preached to every president since Harry Truman. It is one of the most unique series of friendships in modern politics, counseling these leaders under the tremendous stresses of war, politics and personal scandals. But evangelist Billy Graham simply refers to the last 11 presidents as his 'friends.' " 08-07
- Clerk Jailed for Failing to Issue Wedding License (New York Times)
"A federal judge here on Thursday ordered a defiant county clerk jailed for contempt because of her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on her religious beliefs, despite a Supreme Court ruling against her." 09-15
- Editorial: Bush and Religion (MSNBC News - Johnson)
Johnson describes President Bush's distinctive approach to gaining votes from religious conservatives.
"Americans have heard the president speak of God and the nation’s destiny many times. But they have rarely heard him speak of his own faith in specific terms. In fact, Bush appears never to have said publicly that he is an evangelical. While he has dropped many clues, they do not constitute a definitive statement of his faith."
"The ambiguity offers advantages and disadvantages, never more so than in the current campaign, when the president's strategists have made conservative white evangelical voters — 4 million of whom they believe failed to go to the polls in 2000 — their No. 1 target."
"Working with Kevin Coe, David S. Domke of the University of Washington analyzed inaugural and State of the Union messages by every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Historically, they found, presidents have spoken of God from the position of a petitioner, asking for His guidance or blessing, with two exceptions: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Their message comes from a prophetic stance, as though describing God’s intentions from a position of knowledge." 9-04
- Editorial: David Kuo: Christian Political Leaders Have Been Seduced by Power (MSNBC News)
"I have no doubt that Christian political leaders have gotten involved for all the right reasons. I just think over time it becomes harder and harder to stand up against that ring of power and the White House, to say no and walk away."
"The Christian political leaders have been seduced." 10-06
- Editorial: Gingrich's Claim of a "War on Religion" (Time.com)
"As ever, Newt Gingrich minced no words. 'I understand that there’s a war against religion,' Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody last week, 'and I am prepared to actually fight back.' In the same conversation, Gingrich claimed that most journalists simply could not understand people of faith given the media’s purported secularism. And so Gingrich’s 'war' goes on."
"The nonbelieving, not the believing, are the ones who should feel outnumbered. According to Gallup, 78% of American adults identify with some form of Christian religion. Jews make up less than 2%; Muslims form 1%; and 15% say their 'religious preference' is 'none/atheist/agnostic.' Ninety-five percent of Americans who say they are religious are thus Christians. The President of the United States routinely invokes God’s blessing on the nation. Washington and state and county and city buildings throughout the country use religious imagery. We open our congressional sessions and our inaugurations with prayers; chaplains receive publicly funded salaries. The pagans, therefore, are not exactly at the gates."
"It is true that traditional Christianity is losing some of its appeal among Americans, but that is a religious, not political, matter. It is worth remembering that the Jeffersonian 'wall of separation' between church and state has always been intended to protect the church from the state as much as the state from the church. And evangelism is about winning souls more than it is about winning votes. For many serious believers, that’s the real war. And it’s not the one Gingrich thinks is unfolding." 02-12
- Editorial: Morals Without God? (New York Times)
"No one doubts the superiority of our intellect [compared to other animals], but we have no basic wants or needs that are not also present in our close relatives. I interact on a daily basis with monkeys and apes, which just like us strive for power, enjoy sex, want security and affection, kill over territory, and value trust and cooperation. Yes, we use cell phones and fly airplanes, but our psychological make-up remains that of a social primate. Even the posturing and deal-making among the alpha males in Washington is nothing out of the ordinary."
"It is not only humans who are capable of genuine altruism; other animals are, too. I see it every day."
"A typical example is how chimpanzees console distressed parties, hugging and kissing them, which behavior is so predictable that scientists have analyzed thousands of cases. Mammals are sensitive to each other’s emotions, and react to others in need. The whole reason people fill their homes with furry carnivores and not with, say, iguanas and turtles, is because mammals offer something no reptile ever will. They give affection, they want affection, and respond to our emotions the way we do to theirs."
"On the other hand, what would happen if we were able to excise religion from society? I doubt that science and the naturalistic worldview could fill the void and become an inspiration for the good. Any framework we develop to advocate a certain moral outlook is bound to produce its own list of principles, its own prophets, and attract its own devoted followers, so that it will soon look like any old religion." 10-10
- Editorial: One Country, Two Moralities (AlterNet.org - Cooperman)
Provides a progressive view of the divisions in the nation revealed by voting preferences for the president.
"There are indeed sides, but the dividing line is not morality. It is the ability to tolerate uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, unknowability, relativity."
"And this tolerance is less a matter of brainpower than of temperament."
"The asymmetry occasionally perturbs me, because I can appreciate their tastes far more readily than they can appreciate mine. But I would wager that our differences have even more to do with genes than they do with upbringing or education. Desire for novelty and risk aversion are both hardwired."
"So I must abandon the solace of thinking my political opponents benighted, uneducated and cognitively impaired."
"But I refuse to think them more moral."
"There are as many moral values at stake in opposing the slaughter of innocent Iraqi children as there are in opposing the abortion of innocent unborn children. As much moral sensitivity in defending the world's wilderness from exploitation as in defending our ... er ... homeland security. And as much moral courage in supporting the rights of people of all sexual orientations as in supporting traditional marriage."
"How does one participate in a democracy in which more than half the people want righteous certainty at any cost – and a significant minority despises this certainty as ignorance, bigotry and cruelty?" 09-13
- Editorial: Our Role in Fundamentalist Wars (CommonDreams.org - Moyers)
"To save the American Dream, 'we desperately need to reaffirm the principle that it is possible to carry out an analysis of social life which rational human beings will recognize as being true, regardless of whether they happen to be women or men, whites or black, straights or gays, employers or employees, Jews or born-again Christians. The alternative is to stand by helplessly as special interest groups tear the United States apart in the name of their "separate realities" or to wait until one of them grows strong enough to force its irrational and subjective brand of reality on all the rest.' "
"That was written 25 years ago, just as the radical Christian right was setting out on their long march to political supremacy. The forces [Marvin Harris] warned against have gained strength ever since and now control much of the United States government and are on the verge of having it all."
"It has to be said that their success has come in no small part because of our acquiescence and timidity." 9-05
- Editorial: The Polarizing Role of Churches (CNN News)
"The figures underlie a striking change in the characteristics of American churches of all denominations: in the '60s, those showing up in church on Sunday might have represented a cross-section of American viewpoints; today, they are more likely to reflect traditionalist views, further driving modernists away from religion altogether - and intensifying what some have called the 'devotional divide' in American politics."
"The difference in viewpoints between traditionalists and modernists is profound - and has dramatic effects on today’s culture wars." 05-10
- Editorial: Why No Prayers for the Accusers? (CNN News)
"Long before Focus on the Family, the 700 Club or even the Bible, there was a basic spiritual hunger: A hunger to know where we came from, a hunger to know what happens when we leave, a hunger to know if there is a God."
"And somewhere along the line, that hunger was spun into religion, and soon the desire to find God became mutated by the desire to protect a particular belief system about God. Religion became monetized, politicized and militarized as the hunger to know the meaning of life slowly was replaced by rules by which we are to live our lives."
"Now don't get me wrong, I am not anti-religion. In fact, I love my church."
"Again, we don't know if what they say is true, but if you look at the example of Christ's life as it is illustrated in the Bible, when it comes to showing compassion, that's irrelevant. And any church that cares so little about people who might be victims of sexual coercion, regardless of the nature of that coercion, should probably re-evaluate its mission statement." 10-10
- Employees Have Few Rights in Religious Organizations (New York Times)
"Legislators and regulators are not the only people in government who have drafted special rules for religious organizations. Judges, too, have carved out or preserved safe havens that shield religious employers of all faiths from most employee lawsuits, from laws protecting pensions and providing unemployment benefits, and from laws that give employees the right to form unions to negotiate with their employers." 10-06
- Eyes Picture Increases Honesty? (Newcastle University - Bateson)
"Scientists have found a way of making people behave more honestly in an experiment that could aid strategies for tackling anti-social behaviour." 09-06
- Faith-Based Environmentalism (EMagazine)
"One factor in the resurgence of faith-based environmentalism is the 1993 founding of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) by a former radio talk show host and spokesperson for New York City’s Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine named Paul Gorman (see sidebar interview). NRPE quickly proved its effectiveness by joining together and helping educate such disparate and mainstream bodies as the U.S. Catholic Conference (the policy agency for all Catholic bishops, clergy and parishes), the National Council of Churches of Christ (a federation of Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and African-American denominations), the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL, an alliance across all four Jewish movements) and the Evangelical Environmental Network (a coalition of evangelical Christian agencies and institutions)." 5-03
- Faith-Based Initiative Challenged in Supreme Court (Christian Science Monitor)
"If you follow the normal rules that you have to be injured in some direct way before you can complain about what the government has done, the [prohibition against the] establishment [of religion] clause would never get enforced in the courts, Lupu says. "The government would put up crčches and crosses and menorahs and would spend money on religion, and nobody could challenge it because nobody is hurt in obvious ways by those kinds of activities.' "
"Had the courts consistently enforced the rule on standing, establishment-clause cases filed by ordinary Americans would be rare to nonexistent. But in 1968 the Supreme Court carved out an exception that allows taxpayers to file establishment-clause lawsuits challenging congressional spending that benefits religion."
"It is that 1968 exception that is at the center of Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation. The Hein in the case is Jay Hein, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives." 03-07
- Poll: Fewer Than Four in Ten Believe in Evolution (U.S. News)
"Charles Darwin would have been 200 tomorrow, an event that Gallup is marking with a new poll showing that 39 percent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution. A quarter say they don't believe in evolution, and 36 percent say they have no opinion."
"The strongest predictor of respondents' views on evolution? Church attendance."
"In fact, Gallup's analysis says religiosity outweighs educational level in shaping views on evolution, even though those with the most education are far more likely to support evolution than those with the least. Just 21 percent of respondents who had up to a high school level of education believe in evolution, compared with 74 percent of those with postgraduate degrees." 10-07
- Poll: Voters Divided Over Religion (BBC News)
"Religion - rather than class, ethnic origin or education - has become the key determinant of voting in the 2004 presidential race, according to an exit poll conducted by the Associated Press news agency."
"And moral issues were more important for voters than Iraq, the war on terrorism, or the economy."
"According to the exit poll, 22% of the electorate said 'moral values' was the issue that mattered most in how they voted - compared to 20% who cited the economy, 19% who cited terrorism, and just 15% who said Iraq was the key issue." 11-04
- Polls: Church and State (PollingPoint.com)
Shows results of surveys on the role of the "religious right" in politics. On the question, "Do you think the religious right plays a positive influence on American culture?" Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided. 12-05
- Religion and Politics (Christian Science Monitor)
"America, despite its signature wall of separation between church-state, is also a place where religion and politics are often deeply entwined - a phenomenon rarely more in evidence than in the current election cycle." (June 25, 2004) 06-06
- Satirical Cartoons Still Center of Controversy (BBC News)
"Islamic tradition explicitly prohibits any depiction of Allah and the Prophet [Muhammad]."
"European papers have defended their decisions to publish [satirical cartoons of Muhammad] on free speech grounds." Also transliterated Mohammad, Mohammed, Muhammed, and sometimes Mahomet. Sometimes misspelled by visitors as Mohamad, Mohamed, Muhamad, or Muhamed.
- Study: American Views of God and Policy (USA Today)
"In the USA, God — or the idea of a God — permeates daily life. Our views of God have been fundamental to the nation's past, help explain many of the conflicts in our society and worldwide, and could offer a hint of what the future holds." 10-10
- Supreme Court: Some Religious Displays OK (MSNBC News)
"What do the two apparently contradictory decisions on displays of the Ten Commandments announced Monday by the Supreme Court mean for religious expression in America?"
"In a nutshell, the effect of the court’s two rulings was to say, 'Old religious displays are OK, new ones are not.' ” 6-05
- Survey: Evangelical Views of Moral Values (ChristiansUnite.com)
"A March 2004 poll for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and U.S. News & World Report indicates that Evangelical Christians in America agree on some important issues that help to bind them as a unified constituency. But the survey also reveals that, although U.S. Evangelicals have gained a secure footing in mainstream America over the years, they are not completely comfortable with their society and are much more diverse than that society often perceives them to be."
"The poll found a number of uniting factors. For instance, the overwhelming majority of Evangelicals agree that personal faith in Christ is the only way to salvation, as compared with only 56 percent of non-evangelical Protestants and 38 percent of Catholics. Also, a strong majority (72 percent) of evangelical Americans believe the mass media are hostile to their moral and spiritual values; three-fourths of this group feel they have to fight to be heard in their society; and nearly half feel that evangelical Christians are looked down on by most other Americans."
"In addition, the survey found that despite Evangelicals' involvement in global issues such as human rights and religious freedom, they rank military strength, controlling weapons of mass destruction, and fighting terrorism as much more important than international relief efforts or foreign aid for improving living standards in less developed countries." 11-04
- Court Cases on Religion (Time Magazine)
"The never-ending march of court cases about church and state sometimes seems so rapid that they blur together. But Peter Irons, a longtime professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, and a member of the Supreme Court bar, has slowed down time to take in-depth looks at several highly symbolic disputes in his new book God on Trial: Dispatches from America's Religious Battlefields (Viking $26.95)." 05-07