Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

What Is It All About?

Posted by: John Schroeder at 05:44 am, June 25th 2008     —    Comment on this post »

Obama Keeps Swinging

A while back, our friend John Mark Reynolds said:

Like the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, this election turns on whether the public, sick of the party in power, will trust the office of President of the United States to the sort of politician they would normally reject. Whatever John McCain does, this election is about Senator Obama.

That is a reasonable analysis, and that is why Obama keeps swinging for the religious/value/Evangelical vote.

“I predict that Sen. Obama will win 35 percent to 36 percent of the Evangelical vote,” said Tony Campolo, a sociology professor at Eastern University, a Christian college in Pennsylvania. Campolo is also author of “Red Letter Christians.”

His prediction, he said, is based on the changing dynamic of Evangelical voters.

That about matches Bill Clinton’s numbers so it is certainly within reason, but it is the second paragraph that the real issue lies.  The dynamic of Evangelical voters is indeed shifting, primarily on generational lines.  But that also means that as a bloc Evangelicals are less important than they used to be.

I wonder what that bodes for next time?

Lowell:  My guess is that Evangelicals will at least remain in the spoiler role within the GOP.  Unless they can learn to be happy in a coalition, I don’t think they’ll be kingmakers.

About The IRS . . .

We looked Monday at the effort of pastors to challenge the IRS prohibitions against “political speech.”  I said then:

I have never concerned myself with it too much because while I think we should be free to engage in such speech, I think it is a bad idea actually to do it.

Which brings us to an old “friend:

Bill Keller, an evangelist based in Florida, runs “Liveprayer.com,” an Internet call-in program. Because he receives a government tax exemption, he is prohibited by law from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.

But during the Republican primary battle, Mr. Keller proclaimed to his followers and the news media that “a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for Satan.”

Now Mr. Keller says he is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service for involvement in partisan politics.

He asserts that his denunciations of Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who is a Mormon, were religious and not political.

Boy, talk about a difficult situation to comment on!  On the one hand, Keller is an idiot and he definitely crossed the line on the current IRS rule (if that “Satan” crack is not an endorsement, I do not know what is) but again, the rule limits speech in ways I have questions that the constitution intended.

It’s a shame someone cannot be prosecuted for being a jerk.

Lowell:   Funny thing about the First Amendment:  It’s always people like Keller who force changes in the law by pushing the envelope.  (Think of the obscenity cases over the years.)  Without a Keller type to walk so close to the line (or cross it), the existing IRS restrictions on non-profit organizations would just sit there, unchanged, without fanfare or controversy.  Trouble is, Keller may end up hurting the ability of lots of individuals of good will to do good works via their religious non-profits.  If that happens, then yes, he ought to be put in the dock on charges of extreme jerkhood.

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