All posts from “October 2009”

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October 28, 2009

House to Unveil Health Care Plan

Rep. Stupak, who has fought to keep federally-funded abortion out of health care reform, says he would probably vote for the bill at the end of the day.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to unveil a health care plan Thursday morning that could be up for a vote on the House floor next week.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D.-Michigan) said Speaker Pelosi is not pleased with his effort to remove abortion from being funded through healthcare reform. "I'm comfortable with where I'm at," he said on CSPAN. "This is who I am. It's reflective of my district. If it costs me my seat, so be it."

Christianity Today posted an article last week that outlined how the issue is dividing Democrats. Focus on the Family Action is spending $400,000 to fight President Obama's health care proposals, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Update: Stupak says in a video released today by the Heritage Foundation blog that he would probably still vote for the health care at the end of the day.

“I offered an amendment that says no public funding for abortion; that’s been the law of the land for many many decades, and we lose that vote. Let’s say we lose that vote–we need 218 to win–let’s say we get 217, and we lose. Would I vote against health care? If I had a chance to vote my conscience on it, I probably would not. I probably would still vote for the health care bill at the end of the day.”

A man in the audience voiced his concern before Stupak defended his position again.

"If everything I want [is] in the final bill, I like everything in the bill except you have public funding for abortion, and we had a chance to run our amendment and we lost. OK, I voted my conscience, stayed true to my principles, stayed true to the beliefs of this district, could I vote for healthcare? Yes I still could."

In other news:

--President Obama signed the hate crimes legislation "to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are."

Continue reading House to Unveil Health Care Plan...

October 22, 2009

Senate Passes Hate Crimes Bill

The Senate approved legislation today that broadened the definition of federal hate crimes to include attacks based on sexual orientation. The Senate voted 68-29 to approve the measure attached to a $680 billion defense bill.

The bill has frustrated several conservative Christian groups who feared that pastors would see repercussions from the law. The latest version of the bill included new language that explicitly protected an excused person’s free exercise of religion.

Scholars and activists have disagreed over whether a minister could be prosecuted, if he or she preached against homosexuality and a parishioner would later commit a hate crime against someone for being gay.

Continue reading Senate Passes Hate Crimes Bill...

October 22, 2009

Senate Democrats Push Health Care, Climate Change on Moral Grounds

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats framed their health care and climate bills with moral appeals and complained about Republican roadblocks during a roundtable discussion with reporters Wednesday.

"I want to get this off my chest," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is continuing to head up work on a health care plan this week. "We're trying to move forward to do something to take care of Medicaid. There are dozens of things they've held us up on and they're doing that because they're betting on our failure."

Reid was joined by senators including Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Ben Cardin (Maryland) and Bob Casey (Penn.).

Failure to reform health care will create a heavier burden for the faith community to care for the poor, sick and elderly, said Sen. Ben Cardin.

"The faith community is being called upon to provide more resources and do more things that should be in our system collectively," Cardin said.

Continue reading Senate Democrats Push Health Care, Climate Change on Moral Grounds...

October 20, 2009

Conservapedia's Bible Removes Passages

It's easy to ignore the Conservative Bible Project when there are so many Bibles out there tailored to your specific need. Last week, you could've had President Obama on your Bible cover (the website took the offer down).

But while The Green Bible highlights earth-friendly passages in green, The Tennessean finds that the Conservative Bible Project takes translation to a new level, taking out two sections.

One is the long ending of Mark's Gospel, which includes verses about snake handling and the story of the woman caught in adultery. Neither is found in most of the oldest Greek manuscripts used to translate the Bible. Schlafly says that adultery story, in which Jesus says, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her," should be cut because it portrays Jesus as being soft on sin.

"It's a liberal addition, put in by people who wanted to undermine the reality of hell and judgment," he said.

The story of the woman caught in adultery, known as the "Pericope Adulterae" and found in John 7:53-8:1, has troubled scholars for some time. Most Greek manuscripts have the story but not the oldest manuscripts. St. Jerome included it in his Greek New Testament, which was used as the basis for the King James Version of the Bible. Modern translators put a footnote or bracket around the story, pointing out the questions about its origins. But none removed the text.

Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert and Salon take a few jabs at the project. Colbert's fans inserted "In the beginning, Stephen Colbert created the heaven and the earth," which was edited back out.

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October 19, 2009

Huckabee, Romney Lead Early GOP Field

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee comes in first among likely Republican voters for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll released today.

And even though former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s forthcoming autobiography has topped Amazon book charts for weeks, she trails (18 percent) Huckabee (29 percent) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (24 percent). In July, voters placed Romney (25 percent) and Palin (24 percent) in a close tie while Huckabee finished a close third at 22 percent.

This time around among evangelicals, Huckabee leads Palin by 17 percent while Palin beats Romney by 14 percent.

In other news:

Continue reading Huckabee, Romney Lead Early GOP Field...

October 13, 2009

Conservative Issues Become Ammunition in Governor's Races

Virginia Democrat Creigh Deeds continues to slam Republican Bob McDonnell for a thesis he wrote 20 years ago while attending Regent University. In the thesis, McDonnell described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family, said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators," and called a Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples "illogical."

Deeds took the thesis and ran with it, using it to paint McDonnell as a "social crusader" during last night's debate and in at least four different TV ads. One ad features six women who question McDonnell's voting record. "What did this thesis say about women?" another ads asks. "A lot ... abortion should be outlawed and birth control should be restricted--even for married adults."

McDonnell responded with two ads. One features women who worked with him while he was state Attorney General, while the other is narrated by his daughter, Jeanine, who served as a platoon leader in Iraq. McDonnell, who is Catholic, has five children.

Another ad is being aired by the Virginia Values Voter PAC, tied to the Family Research Council; this one accuses Deeds of flip-flopping on the issues of same-sex marriage and partial-birth abortion.

Continue reading Conservative Issues Become Ammunition in Governor's Races...

October 12, 2009

Gay Rights Activity Escalates in Washington

Sexual orientation is on the brink of being added to the list of federally prosecuted hate crimes, after the House approved the Matthew Shepard Act last week. Fifteen Democrats and 131 Republicans opposed the act, which was attached to a $680 billion defense bill. The Senate is expected to approve the bill this week.

President Obama, who has promised his approval, also renewed his pledge to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy while speaking to the nation's largest gay advocacy group Saturday night.

The flurry of gay rights activity in Washington last week started with a decision by the D.C. City Council to consider allowing gay marriage in the district. If approved, Washington will become the first city below the Mason-Dixon line to allow gay marriage.

Continue reading Gay Rights Activity Escalates in Washington...

October 12, 2009

The Obamas Attend a Church in D.C.

The first family listened to a sermon on how Christianity has consequences.

President Obama attended St. John's Church with his family in D.C. yesterday, an Episcopal church close to the White House.

An administration official told CT that the Obamas have not settled on a new permanent church. Obama attended the same church on Easter Sunday and Inauguration Day, but it's unclear whether there was a particular reason they visited St. John's yesterday.

The Associated Press caught video of Obama and his wife Michelle talking with the Rev. Luis León before leaving the church with Joshua Dubois, the director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships:

Mike Angell, a seminarian of the church, posted a rough version of the sermon he gave on his blog:

We do not walk alone. Take a moment and look around this sanctuary. None of us walks this way alone. Christianity has consequences, and none of us can face those consequences alone. There is a danger to read the story of the rich man individualistically. We can make it a story about a man who has to individually choose whether or not he will follow Jesus. When Jesus invited the rich man to follow him, he invited him to join a community, a community boldly living life together in a new way. These followers of the way were later called Christians. Jesus walks beside us, and we walk beside our sisters and brothers, the body of Christ. Christianity has consequences, and none of us can face them alone. So I am excited to be here with you at St. John’s for the next couple of years. I am excited to walk with you and to boldly face, together, the consequences of our Christianity.

Continue reading The Obamas Attend a Church in D.C....

October 9, 2009

Obama's Peace Prize

President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” especially his efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.

The surprise move was praised by National Association of Evangelical President Leith Anderson and megachurch pastor Joel Hunter.

Leith Anderson

“I first heard the call for a world free of nuclear weapons from President Ronald Reagan when he addressed the National Association of Evangelicals over twenty-five years ago. The Nobel prize for President Obama acknowledges and perpetuates the Reagan vision.”

Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland—A Church Distributed

“The ambition to free future generations from the fear of indiscriminate destruction is a truly nonpartisan ambition that resonates with our deepest moral convictions. President Obama is to be congratulated for setting a course so that the generation that had school drills to hide under our desks in case of nuclear attack should be the source of a permanent recess from fear for our grandchildren.”

Continue reading Obama's Peace Prize...

October 8, 2009

Sarah Palin's Memoir

Getting upset at the right things, and ignoring the things that God can handle.

Will Sarah Palin include as much about her faith as Barack Obama did in The Audacity of Hope? I expore this question and more over on Her.meneutics.

October 6, 2009

Religious Commitment as a Sign of Mild Dementia?

The New York Times writes about science and faith in a profile of the new National Institutes of Health head Francis Collins, author of The Language of God: 'A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

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Collins resigned in August from from the BioLogos Foundation, the foundation he started as a way to reconcile faith and science. At the time, he noted concerns people had about his outspoken faith. Here's The Times' take:

First, there is the God issue. Dr. Collins believes in him. Passionately. And he preaches about his belief in churches and a best-selling book. For some presidential appointees, that might not be a problem, but many scientists view such outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia.

And the Wall Street Journal strikes back:

It seems unlikely that scientists think religious commitment is literally a symptom of dementia. What the Times is really saying is that "many scientists"--how many is not specified--are prejudiced against religious people. It's one of the few prejudices the Times would discuss so glibly.

Continue reading Religious Commitment as a Sign of Mild Dementia?...

October 5, 2009

Supreme Court Rejects Cases on 'Choose Life' Plates, Church Property Fight, Catholic Abuse Papers

The Supreme Court announced today that it will not hear cases involving ‘Choose Life’ license plates in Illinois, a church property dispute in California, and an appeal to keep sexual abuse case documents sealed in Connecticut.

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The court rejected a free-speech claim from Choose Life Illinois Inc., which gathered more than 25,000 signatures from people who wanted a "Choose Life" plate.

State officials refused to create the plate, saying the state did not want to appear to be taking a position on abortion.
According to the Tribune, 24 states offer "Choose Life" license plates, and there are efforts to gain approval in 14 more states.

The high court also declined to hear an appeal from St. James Anglican Church, which split from the Episcopal Church in 2004 and is now aligned with with the conservative Anglican Church of North America. California's Supreme Court had ruled that St. James could not take its property.

Finally, the court rejected a request by a Connecticut diocese to delay the release of court documents related to sexually abusive clergy. Four newspapers sued for access to court records and depositions, which Connecticut courts have ruled should be open to the public. The diocese released a statement, saying the court order threatens all churches' First Amendment rights.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear Salazar v. Buono regarding a cross in the Mojave National Preserve in California.

October 5, 2009

Poll: 18 Percent of Evangelicals Support Health Care Bills Before Congress

Americans appear nearly divided over the health care proposals before Congress, according to a September 2009 Pew Research Center poll. Forty-two percent of Americans favor the proposals before Congress while 44 percent who oppose them.

A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life analysis reports that just 18 percent of white evangelicals favor the bills before Congress to reform health care.

A March 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center polling found 48 percent of white evangelicals favored a government guarantee of health insurance for all citizens, even if it would mean raising taxes. The survey found that 55 percent of Catholics, 56 percent of mainline Protestants, and 72 percent of religiously unaffiliated said the same thing.

The Pew Forum compares two coalitions of religious groups have staked out opposing positions on the issue: the Faith for Health, a progressive group that backs President Barack Obama, and the Freedom Federation, a conservative group that strongly opposes what it calls “the federalization of the health care industry.”

What do you think? Do you find hope in any of the health care bills before Congress?

October 1, 2009

Study: Support for Abortion Dips

A new survey suggests that fewer Americans support abortion than in recent years, and the country appears evenly divided on the issue.

The survey (pdf) found that 47 percent say abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 44 percent believe it should be illegal all or most of the time. Surveys in previous years showed that 54 percent of Americans supported legal abortion while 40 percent thought abortion should be illegal.

68 percent of white evangelical Protestants who attend church on a weekly basis cited religious beliefs as the main influence on their opinions about abortion. For those who support legalized abortion, 11 percent cited religious as the primary influence for their stance while 53 percent of Americans who say abortion cited religion.

Other findings include:
--An increase in Americans favor reducing abortion, from 59 percent in 2005 to 65 percent this year.

--The abortion debate has declined in importance for liberals while opposing abortion has grown more important for conservatives.

--One of the largest declines in support for abortion were among Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly.

--Support for abortion went down nine points among Democratic men but did not change among Democratic women.

--About three-in-ten Americans think that President Obama will handle the abortion issue well, while four-in-ten are unaware of his position. About two-in-ten are concerned that Obama will go too far in supporting legalized abortion.

The survey of 4,013 adults was conducted from August 11-27 by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

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