All posts from “June 2010”

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June 30, 2010

Station Pulls Out over Wallis

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Lifest 2010, a Christian music and preaching festival, has one less sponsor today. A Christian radio station felt the need to pull out because the festival featured Sojourners founder Jim Wallis on its slate of speakers.

The festival, scheduled for July 7-11 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, boasts more than 150 Christian artists, speakers, and comedians. Wallis will be Friday night’s keynote speaker. Over 15,000 people are expected to attend.

But this morning, the Oshkosh Northwestern reported that radio station Q90-FM had pulled its sponsorship because of “fundamental disagreement on the wisdom of bringing Mr. Wallis to Lifest.”

Q90-FM posted a statement on their website explaining that the station’s leadership felt Wallis’ political views, particularly those regarding social justice, to be “humanistic” and that Wallis and Sojourners are “seeking an unholy alliance between the Church and Government.”

“We agree with what is commanded through Paul in 1 Timothy 5, that it is our responsibility to take care of ‘widows and orphans’ and any who are unable to care for themselves,” the statement read. “We recognize that individually and as the Body of Christ we are not doing all we could as Jesus taught us to. But we do not believe the solution is the church partnering with the government in this endeavor” (emphasis in the original).

Wallis, who served on the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009, has worked with Presidents Bush and Obama since 2000 on partnering faith-based initiatives with government programs.

“I was an early supporter of the initiative because I believed that partnerships between the faith community and government in alleviating poverty were both necessary and appropriate within the framework of the Constitution,” he wrote for the Huffington Post in 2008.

Q90-FM says that government involvement in faith groups and private charitable initiatives could inhibit faith groups from their primary mission.

“The movement in our nation toward the forced redistribution of wealth through taxation ensures this—when the government controls where the money goes, freedom to express the gospel of Jesus Christ will eventually be eliminated legally, as it has with every Church and State merger since 371 AD,” the statement read.

Continue reading Station Pulls Out over Wallis...

June 16, 2010

S.C. Gov. Race Heats Up over Haley's Religion

GOP front-runner Nikki Haley's conversion to Christianity from Sikhism is causing a stir in the primary race for governor of South Carolina.

CNN reports that her ties to the Sikh tradition have left some evangelicals in the state uneasy. She has said that she regularly attends a Methodist church but occasionally visits a Sikh temple in honor of her family.

Haley, who faces a runoff against her opponent on June 22, recently launched an ad with an appeal to her faith. "I am a woman that understands, through the Grace of God, with him all things are possible," she says at the end.

Gina Smith of The State reports that Haley's conversion came after her marriage.

Haley’s campaign has said in recent weeks that, since her 1997 conversion to Christianity, she consistently has attended a Methodist church and occasionally attended Sikh services at her parents’ request. Haley and one of her brothers converted to Christianity as adults; her parents and two other siblings are Sikhs.

Haley’s conversion at the age of 24 was influenced by her husband, Michael, raised as a Methodist.

The two married in 1996 in two ceremonies, one Methodist and one Sikh.

“(Religion) was something (husband Michael and I) talked about a lot,” Haley said Monday. “He was brought up Methodist, Christian, and I was brought up Sikh, and so you talk about the similarities and you talk about the differences, and even more so when you’re getting married and you’re going to have kids, it becomes a very real thing on how you want to raise your kids.”

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The photo on the right was posted on Haley's website before Easter. "This is a wonderful time to remember the greatness of God’s love and His sacrifice for us while we are surrounded by the ones we love," she said.

Republican state Sen. Jake Knotts apologized but refused to resign over calling Haley a “raghead.”

Update: Gerald McDermott, religion professor at Roanoke College and author of God’s Rivals, spoke with CT by e-mail about some of Sikhism's defining traits.

They combine teachings of Hindu bhakti (devotion to a personal god) and Muslim mysticism (direct communion with the divine in Sufism).

Sikhs are monotheists who reject Hindu idolatry and the caste system. Unlike Muslims, they believe there was new revelation after the completion of the Qur’an—particularly to their founder Guru Nanak (b. AD 1469).

They are known for the five k’s: kesa (uncut hair), kangha (a comb to show they have not renounced the world), kara (a steel bracelet), kachh (short breeches to show cleansing), and kirpan (a sword for protection, but often just an outline etched in the comb).

Continue reading S.C. Gov. Race Heats Up over Haley's Religion...

June 15, 2010

Obama Nominates Cook for Religious Freedom Ambassador

Obama also intends to nominate Felice D. Gaer and William J. Shaw as members to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

President Barack Obama announced today that he plans to nominate Suzan Johnson Cook for ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.

Religious freedom advocates had criticized Obama for not filling the position until now.

Update: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement welcoming Johnson Cook as someone who serve as a principal advisor on religious freedom to Obama and Clinton.

Dr. Johnson Cook is an experienced religious leader with a passion for human rights and an impressive record of public service. President Obama could not have found a more fitting choice for this important position. I look forward to working with Dr. Johnson Cook, if she is confirmed, to bring greater focus to international efforts to ensure that people everywhere enjoy the global standards of religious freedom enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein floated Johnson Cook's name in January.

Meanwhile, no one is confirming the main name buzzing out there - Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, a very prominent New York City pastor with a powerful resume, including: being past president of the conference representing all historically black denominations, developing some faith-related policy for President Clinton, former chaplain of the New York City police department, faculty member at Harvard.

Missing, say religious freedom advocates, is any work related to religious freedom or foreign policy. Not to mention that Cook's office denied she had been named to the job, but then hasn't returned my calls or e-mails when I asked whether she had even been offered it.

Johnson Cook founded Wisdom Worldwide Center and owns Charisma Speakers since 2008. Before that, she was co-Partner/Owner of Jonco Productions from 1994 to 2009. She also served as a professor at the New York Theological Seminary from 1988 to 1996.

The New York Times profiled her in 2002, calling her "Billy Graham and Oprah rolled into one." Johnson Cook participated in the prayer service the day after Obama's inauguration.

Continue reading Obama Nominates Cook for Religious Freedom Ambassador...

June 9, 2010

Haley Faces Runoff, Lincoln Hangs On in Primaries

Several women held the spotlight Tuesday as 12 states held primary elections.

South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley will face a runoff on June 22 against her nearest competitor, Rep. Gresham Barrett. Haley, who is fighting to succeed outgoing Gov. Mark Sanford, fought allegations from two men who said they had an affair with her.

She also made an effort to highlight her Christian faith. Before the primary, CBN’s David Brody reported that Haley still visits a Sikh temple once or twice a year in respect to her family. Haley converted to Christianity when she was 24 and attends a Methodist church.

State Sen. Jake Knotts apologized for calling Haley a “raghead” on an Internet political talk show before the race. “We already got one raghead in the White House,” Knotts said. “We don’t need another in the Governor’s Mansion.”

Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas won the Democratic primary, beating the more liberal Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. In Nevada, Republican Sharron Angle will take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November.

California Republican voters chose former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to face Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown for governor, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will take on Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

June 2, 2010

Pelosi Aims to be a Speaker of the Word

"We have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word," Speaker says.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) surprised many when she told the Catholic Community Conference that she feels compelled to “give voice” through public policy to “the Word made Flesh,” CNS News reported Tuesday.

“My favorite word is the Word,” Pelosi, a lifelong Catholic, said to the May 6 conference on Capitol Hill. “And that is everything. It says it all for us. And you know the Gospel reference of the Word. And that Word is, we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word.”

“Fill it in with anything you want,” she said. “But, of course, we know it means: ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.’ And that’s the great mystery of our faith. … So, we have to make sure we’re prepared to answer in this life, or otherwise, as to how we have measured up.”

Commentators of all stripes had something to say about Pelosi’s revelation. Some, remembering how she voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion in 2003, suggested that Pelosi does not in fact, listen to the Word.

“That perfect pro-abortion record must be getting to her,” wrote Jim Hoft on First Things’s “Gateway Pundit” blog. “Because if this San Francisco radical leftist thinks she can dupe Americans into believing she’s some kind of Bible-thumpin, verse-quoting revival minister, she’s really lost it.”

Coming from the other end, political commentator Taylor Marsh accused Pelosi of “religious groveling.”

“It’s stunning that leading politicians continue to be so clueless of the harm traditional religions do to women across the globe, but also the harrowing message they continue to send to American women, circa the 21st century,” Marsh wrote.

If groveling it was, Sarah Posner believes that it will not do any good: voters, she wrote, are more interested in virtuous policy than verbal piety.

“I have serious doubts,” Posner wrote, “about whether a politician talking “authentically” (as the political consultants like to say) about their faith is actually seen as “authentic” by voters (particularly since it’s political consultants who have sold their services to help with that “authentic” talk). Voters want to see action, don’t they?”

FoxNews.com reports that Pelosi did urge her fellow Catholics toward action in the area of immigration reform, and that she said it was not “practical” to tell the millions living in America illegally to ““go back to wherever you came from or go to jail.”

“The cardinals, the archbishops, the bishops that come to me and say, ‘We want you to pass immigration reform,’ and I said, ‘I want you to speak about it from the pulpit…’ you have to tell them that this is a manifestation of our living the gospels,” she said.

It’s a beautiful thing to listen to different points of view,” she told the conference, which was sponsored by the National Catholic Reporter and Pelosi’s alma mater, Trinity Washington University. “From a religious perspective we come from a similar Catholic background but sometimes we have to come to a different conclusion about how we translate that into public policy.”

Elizabeth Scalia, of First Things’s Anchoress blog, urged readers to pray for the Speaker of the House.

“It takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to speak fervently of the Word Made Flesh, and to understand that by his Incarnation God has ennobled all mortal flesh with a sanctity and a holiness relative to his own, and yet to consistently vote–as Nancy Pelosi did in 2003–against legislation that would have banned the most savage of abortion procedures.”

June 1, 2010

Al and Tipper Gore Separating

Former Vice President Al Gore is separating from his wife, Tipper, just two weeks after celebrating their 40th anniversary.

In an e-mail obtained by the Associated Press and Politico, the Gores said it was "a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration." The Gores met at a high-school graduation dance, were married on May 19, 1970, and have four children. In 2002, Al and Tipper Gore wrote two books on family values: Joined at the Heart and Spirit of Family.

CT profiled Al Gore as a presidential candidate in 2000, before he eventually lost to Republican George W. Bush. CT also covered some of his environmental work, advocacy that eventually led to the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.