"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
Every Republican media manager should take note of what BuzzFeed just did to Rubio. Fool me twice….
He is referring to a new deal at Buzzfeed called “Buzzfeed Brews” – the inaugural installation being Rubio with Ben Smith.
I think that tweet is good advise for more than just Republican media managers. Those of religiously-motivated political action, which is something that Rubio might be considered, need to come up with some new media strategies – and fast. Particularly as the battles regarding same-sex marriage, and other related issues move from red- to white- hot. In the media, the die has successfully been cast that religiosity = bigotry and any discussion is going to begin with “Prove you are not a bigot.”
I have always found it instructive that Christ did not play Pontius Pilate’s game when on trial. When Pilate asked him, “Are you King of the Jews?” Christ simply responded, “So you say.” Jesus refused to let the Roman prelate frame the discussion about who he was and what he was about. Maybe Jesus was more media savvy than we realized.
This morning’s email newsletter from the NYTimes contained an “Op-Doc” (Opinion Documentary?) that led one to this video. (There is no capability to embed, you’ll have to follow the link.) It was presented with this written introduction:
The American evangelical movement in Africa does valuable work in helping the poor. But as you’ll see in this Op-Doc video, some of their efforts and money feed a dangerous ideology that seeks to demonize L.G.B.T. people and intensifies religious rhetoric until it results in violence. It is important for American congregations to hold their churches accountable for what their money does in Africa.
This is pure propaganda that fails to makes its case, but its effects and conclusions remain frightening. It deals almost entirely in anecdote, citing but a single statistic. (Uganda is 85% Christian.) It strings together a series of unrelated facts, leaving out one extraordinarily important fact, to build a case that Evangelicals are try to pass laws in Uganda to kill homosexuals. What are the facts it presents?
Now, I trust when it is laid out that way without the stirring music, passionate voice over, and impactful images that absolute absence of a causal relationship between these facts is obvious.
Its the missing fact that is really troubling to me. AIDS remains a virulent and massive killer in Africa. Uganda is one of only two nations on that continent where AIDS is on the rise. Now, while AIDS can be transmitted heterosexually, it remains primarily and overwhelmingly transmitted by homosexual contact. Further, while advanced and extraordinarily expensive medical treatment has greatly eased the AIDS issues in this nation and Western Europe, such is often not available in Africa. In a nation with the AIDS issues Uganda has, it could be argued that homosexual practice is an assault with intent to kill. Under such circumstances, a discussion of extraordinary penalty, rightly rejected by the democratic process, is not so out of bounds.
What is truly troubling is that in all this there are very real issues for Christians in Uganda and Evangelicals in America to face. How do we teach about the dangers, both moral and health related, of homosexual practice while keeping the conversation “in bounds?” How do American Evangelicals give their money which is much needed, and insure that it is not used wrongly? I could go on.
But reason is not the goal of this film maker. The condemnation of Christianity, and especially American Evangelicals seems to be the sole purpose of this video.
Let the record show that it is not the conservative Christian forces that are escalating the culture war.
Holding aloft ancient flags and young children, hundreds of thousands of people converged Sunday on the Eiffel Tower to protest the French president’s plan to legalize gay marriage and thus allow same-sex couples to adopt and conceive children.
That’s the French mind you – the French. The article only quotes native French, which I find fascinating. Serious Christian French are pretty hard to find. I’d love to know how much of the crowd was Islamic. But I think my basic point is it is pretty hard to make the case that such protests in Paris are religiously motivated. Heterosexual monogamy is one of the chief cornerstones of western civilization. The pro same-sex marriage crowd has trivialized something deeply fundamental. This could get interesting.
More than 150 evangelical leaders have renewed their calls for comprehensive immigration reform by signing on to the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), a relatively new initiative that unites, among others, unlikely partners such as Sojourners and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. According to CNN, a new video launched today will serve as the campaign’s “first concerted push on immigration, with the goal of getting meaningful immigration reform through Congress in 2013.”
I am grateful to see Christians of every political stripe united, on anything. What this really is an effort to bring compassion to the debate and compassion is a good thing. But this is an enormously complex issue involving not just immigration, but things like national defense and simply making sure that the law is respected. I agree, illegals that have been here and been productive members of our society are worthy of compassion, and perhaps salvation from the ultimate consequences of their actions. But all consequences? I am not so sure. By the way, no matter how carefully the laws and regulations are drafted, much injustice will occur because in the end it justice is administered by people in a most frustrating bureaucratic setting. If justice is the goal, the best thing Christians can do is make sure good, sound Christian people of intellect, compassion and good judgement are in the positions where the decisions are being made. Both in the drafting of the laws and regulations and in their administration.
British Airways violated the article of the European Convention on Human Rights that guarantees freedom of religion when it stopped employee Nadia Eweida from wearing her cross openly, the court said….
In its ruling, the court weighed Eweida’s desire to show her religious belief against the airline’s wish to project a certain corporate image….
However, the court found that three other British Christians who argued they’d been unfairly dismissed from their jobs had not been subjected to religious discrimination.
They are nurse Shirley Chaplin, who also wanted to wear a cross at work, registrar Lilian Ladele, who declined to register gay civil partnerships, and Gary MacFarlane, a relationship counselor who did not want to give sex therapy to same-sex couples.
In the case of Chaplin, the court ruled that the concerns of hospital managers for health and safety outweighed the nurse’s desire to wear a cross visibly in the workplace.
The cases of the registrar and the relationship counselor had been fairly considered in the national courts, the court said.
“Fascinating Captain.” The article does not present enough of the legal technicalities to form an opinion on the last two cases, and health and safety concerns are real. I have personally had to admonish people on the wearing of lose jewelery in machine settings. In the nurse’s case there are other concerns like lifting patients, cleanliness, etc. However, when I have done so, I have encouraged the employee to find a more safety suitable means of religious expression. Be curious about this case…
One of the most important lessons President Barack Obama and his minions must learn as they bask in political success is that humiliation follows hubris – sometimes quickly.
I am wondering if that is not the lesson for we conservative Republicans. I think it is clear we assumed the nation was with us and it was not. We took for granted that which we need to earn. Isn;t that a form of hubris?
3.) Religion reporting shouldn’t be an inside game. “We believe that understanding the role of faith in today’s world isn’t optional or nice to know,” we wrote in our inaugural Belief Blog post, in May 2010. “It’s need to know.” That was true again for many of 2012’s biggest stories, for which understanding forces of faith and faithlessness were crucial to understanding the nominees for president, reactions to July’s deadly Aurora, Colorado, shooting and Whitney Houston’s funeral. You don’t have to be religious to think religion stories matter; you just have to be curious about the way the world works. I believe that more now than I did when we launched the Belief Blog.
4.) The news media isn’t anti-religion. You hear that from some religious people, particularly those on the political right. Truth is, news organizations such as CNN are fascinated by religion because it yields stories brimming with meaning, controversy and powerful characters. But the religion beat can scare off reporters because it can be so daunting (if you’re a non-Mormon, try wrapping your mind around the Mormon practice of posthumous proxy baptism in time to meet a 5 o’clock deadline). And yet so many CNN Belief stories were born when CNNers across the organization asked basic questions such as, “Will the Catholic presidential candidates don ashes for an Ash Wednesday debate?” and “Why don’t we explain why some American Muslim women wear the hijab?” Many other religion stories came from CNNers who volunteered ideas from their own religious subcultures. CNN forces working against religion coverage? I never encountered any.
“Not an inside game,” and yet the questions that he praises in the very next point are questions that would only be asked by outsiders and for which insiders have ready answers. I’m a outsider to Mormonism, but I do not find proxy baptism that hard to understand. It is controversial only in an cross-religious aspect and then only when people of other faiths fail to understand that it is something substantively different than baptism is in other faiths. (For most Christians, baptism ushers someone into the faith, for Mormons, posthumous proxy baptism invites others to the faith – big, big difference.) There I did it in one parenthetical sentence.
The problem is that the perspective that Gilgoff is upholding here is one that treats religious folk as fundamentally different, even “weird.” It objectifies the religious as odd specimens for study rather than as people with a different, but worthy, perspective.
To bring this full circle, I think much of the animus towards the religious community felt by the LGBT community is because they have been objectified rather than humanized. That is a sin of the religious community. However, the corrective is not to return the favor.
“Do Something Disease” is a name I have heard given to the desire to act in the wake of a tragedy. In the end it is really a way of working off the emotional turmoil that results from something like Newtown. In many cases, I find it a sign of emotional ill health. Newtown is immensely and inconceivably tragic. But it also happened a continent away to people I have never met. Newtown is a stop on a train I have taken from time-to-time visiting clients in the area. While I certainly am deeply saddened at the loss and highly compassionate towards the survivors, this simply does not evoke enough emotion in me to feel like I HAVE to do something. Something is wrong in the identity department if one feels that strongly about events that removed.
OR, one may be an opportunist. That is to say, one may choose to whip up disproportionate emotion in an effort to cancel out reason and achieve some otherwise unattainable goal. That, it seems to me, is clearly what is behind all the gun control talk in the wake of Newtown. And with such agendas, come sub-agendas – which is precisely what I wonder about this Buzzfeed piece from our old friend McKay Coppins:
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting, a Mormon Church-owned company announced Tuesday night it was suspending all gun listings on its popular classifieds site.
In addition to removing gun listings, KSL.com — the online hub for Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate, which is operated by church-owned Deseret Digital Media — took down the “Firearms and Hunting” section from its website. A company statement that replaces the site’s gun section says they were “profoundly saddened” by the Newtown shooting.
Coppins spent the entire election cycle just begging for Romney’s religion to become a major media issue. He had positioned himself as the “go to” journalist on the matter and was bound and determined to see such bring him to journalistic prominence. To this day, I do not know if he was attempting to torpedo Romney’s chances or aid them in hopes of becoming the Mormon on the White House beat – but either way, I am not sure he “got it.”
This story is further evidence. We have already presented data showing that moderate Americans are leery of Mormons as somehow uber religious. In light of that, how helpful is it in these circumstances to tie that church to gun sales? Having been to Utah in deer hunting season, I find the fact the church is in the business terribly unsurprising. They do love their hunting there. The TV coverage of who bagged the biggest buck on opening day was enough to make me want to head to the gun store and get busy. But all this Coppins piece does is reinforce an image of the Mormon church as some sort of neanderthal organization. The piece is short and seems to have no purpose other than to emphasize that the church was in the gun business – well that and feed to gun control frenzy.
I was asked at a presentation a few weeks ago “If Mitt Romney is Al Smith, who will be Jack Kennedy?” If this is the kind of coverage the Mormon church is going to get – “nobody” is the answer.
I found this CNN clip striking. There’s so much to say about it — and we invite your comments — that I hardly know where to begin. Watch:
That Kyrsten Sinema, the liberal Democratic congresswoman-elect, is a bisexual former Mormon isn’t the point; it’s that she was elected in Arizona. The reporter, Miguel Marquez, who has a long MSM pedigree, seems to love listing examples of that state’s conservatism on hot-button issues, then pointing out how remarkable it is that Sinema was elected in Arizona — of all places! Marquez notes at the end of the piece, with what seems like optimism, that Sinema is “a new voice in a state that may be changing.”
The real significance here is the way Ms. Sinema’s election illustrates the country’s cultural divide. She was elected in Phoenix, the most urbanized area in Arizona, in a district described as composed of “parts of Phoenix and several suburbs, including an affluent town where [her opponent, Vernon Parker] was once mayor.” Meanwhile, in statewide voting, Jeff Flake was elected to Arizona’s open seat in the Senate — the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak senatorial election for the Republican Party. Jeff Flake is a conservative Republican and a committed Mormon — the first Mormon ever elected to the Senate from Arizona.
So you have a politically conservative active Mormon elected to the Senate, statewide; and a liberal Democrat, ex-Mormon, reportedly atheist, openly bisexual candidate elected to Congress from the big city in the same state. How much more perfectly can the cultural divide between middle America and the more culturally elite urban areas be exemplified?
I don’t have any profound thoughts to offer, but I think that in light of the same divide in the presidential election we all have a lot of thinking and acting ahead of us.
The divide between urban areas and non-urban areas has long been noted in political trends. There is a huge difference int he role church plays int he life of the urbanized individual and the non-urbanized individual, Mormon, traditional Christian or Buddhist. The sociology is fascinating, but too deep for comment this morning. I do have a few initial thoughts.
1) Energy. A lib in office emboldens other libs, and gives we conservatives a sense of defeat. We are getting out worked.
2) MSM. In addition to Lowell’s point about the liberal crowing in the report, where is the coverage of conservatives elected in, say, NYC? Where is the reporting on the overwhelming victory for parental notification in Montana? Reporting such as this aids and affects item 1).
3) Compromise. The key to our democracy lies in bridging the divide, not in one side or the other winning. But increasingly the other side is unwilling to ever compromise. Civil unions are not enough. “I won.” The HHS mandate. These are not compromise. Which leads me to…
4) Humility. This personal attribute is born uniquely in Christianity (in what other religion does the deity die for the sake of creation?) and is the key to Western Civilization and democracy. In humility, compromise can be born. In humility, service matters more than the office obtained. In humility is the simple understanding that there are other, valid points of view.
Politics must work in conjunction with other societal forces for our form of government to work well. Right now, I do not look to politics to resolve this kind of issue.