All posts from “September 2010”

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September 21, 2010

GOP Stalls 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal

The Republican Party blocked a vote in the Senate to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” earlier today. The Senate could not close debate on the issue due to a filibuster, which blocked the defense authorization bill.

Several moderate Republicans have said they would vote to end DADT after they review a Pentagon study of the policy, the Washington Post reports.

In 1993, President Clinton signed the law that says if openly gay military personnel will be discharged. The reversal has been a rallying point for many conservative groups.

Senate Democrats were also considering an amendment that would lift restrictions on abortions at military hospitals, according to the Washington Times.

Republicans have a lot riding on Tuesday, said Charles Colson, a longtime evangelical activist.

"The Republican leadership would be pretty stupid if they didn't fight this issue," Mr. Colson said. Should the GOP fail to filibuster the plan, he said, "I think it would turn [social and religious conservatives] off from the Republican Party."


During his first State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama pledged to work with Congress to overturn DADT. The Post reports that advocates for a DADT repeal want another vote in December after the election.

September 19, 2010

Obama Makes Rare Church Appearance

President Obama and his family attended St. John's Episcopal Church today, a rare appearance for the President who said earlier this year that his family has decided to not join a church because they are disruptive.

The Chicago Sun-Times says this visit is his sixth in D.C. since taking office. The church visit comes after the Pew Forum and others released polls that suggested that at least 18 percent of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim.

The White House released the following pool report about today's church visit.

The first family left the White House on foot this morning for the 9am choral holy eucharist service and sermon at St John's Church Lafayette Square.

The Obamas walked out of the residence at 8.49am and crossed the park to the nearby Episcopal church.

The president was wearing a dark suit and held Sasha Obama's hand. She was wearing a blue dress and cream cardigan. Michelle and Malia Obama were wearing cream-colored dresses. (Check photos for accuracy of descriptions. It's sunny and pool was at a distance.)

The service sheet doesn't indicate what the sermon is on but the gospel is Luke 16:1-13, which ends 'You cannot serve God and wealth.'

Update: The White House also released another pool report:

The sermon also included some reflections on the story as an example of how "Jesus has a sense of humor... he also likes to shock us" and the extent to which "everyone has cut a corner or two."

Revd. Leon said that for him, an example was accepting a good citizenship award and $50 from the DAR in Rome, Georgia, when he was graduating high school there. "Now the problem was, I wasn't a citizen," he said, prompting laughter from the congregation.

Revd. Leon also referenced "The Help", which he said he'd just finished reading, as an instance where three women in the 1960s south rise above what is expected of them by breaking the rules.

All four members of the family took communion when they went up to the altar.

Sitting with the first family was Joshua Dubois, head of the White House faith and neighborhood partnerships office.

POTUS appeared to share a joke with the rector while leaving the church.

Clothing clarification: First lady was wearing a white dress with flowered pattern and light-colored jacket over it. Malia Obama was wearing a blue dress with flowered pattern and light-colored jacket over it.

September 16, 2010

Poll: Glenn Beck the Wrong Leader to Lead Religious Movement

Glenn Beck's recent "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington focused more on faith than politics, but most Americans don't consider the conservative broadcaster the right person to lead a religious movement -- or even know what religion he follows, according to a new poll.

Fewer than one in five Americans (17 percent) believe Beck is the right person to helm a religious movement, according to a PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll released Thursday by Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service.

Half of respondents say he's the wrong person; the rest either don't know or declined to answer.

Beck was only correctly identified as a Mormon by 17 percent of respondents -- the same number who think he is either Protestant or Catholic.

This confusion may work to Beck's advantage as an aspiring religious leader, however, since the poll also found that two-thirds of respondent think Mormons have beliefs different from their own, including 41 percent who consider them "very different."

"Perceptions of the Mormon religion have a strong impact on views of Glenn Beck, but only among the relatively small contingent who are aware of his religious affiliation," said Daniel Cox, director of research for PRRI, a nonpartisan research firm in Washington.

Put another way, when people know Beck is Mormon, their views about the Mormon faith directly impact their views about him. People who see affinity with Mormons have a higher regard for him than those who find differences with the Mormon faith.

The results are consistent with other studies about the fast-growing faith's role in public life, including polls about 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron.

"Because other surveys show that Mormons are not especially popular with Americans, as a rule, then it's likely that if more people found out Glenn Beck's religious background, that would inhibit them following him," Green said.

Among the small number of respondents who knew of Beck's faith, 37 percent said he is the right person to lead a religious movement -- an approval rating that's double the general response, Cox explained, because this cohort already includes many of Beck's fans.

For those who know that Beck is Mormon and also believe that Mormons have different views than their own, the number drops to 28 percent who said he should be a religious leader.

When Beck is correctly identified as a Mormon, his general approval rating also depends on what Americans think of Mormons: Among people who know Beck is Mormon and believe Mormons have religious beliefs different than their own, 42 percent had a negative opinion of him, significantly higher than the 27 percent of the general population.

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