All posts from “November 2010”

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November 30, 2010

Rick Warren & Bush Talk Politics, Book

Former President George W. Bush and pastor Rick Warren said they hope the tax cuts continue under President Obama's administration, among several comments made last night at Saddleback's Civil Leadership Forum.

"We'd like to see those continue," Warren responded. "Yeah, I would too," Bush said.

The tax cuts will expire at the end of the year, and Congress is debating whether to extend them.

Warren and Bush joked like old friends, giving each other a high five and fist bumping at one point. "I have known this man for some time, and he has a wicked wit," Warren said.

Bush talked about some of the struggles he refers to in his new memoir Decision Points. "My love for alcohol was replacing my love for a lot of things, my love for my family, my love for my God," he said.

Bush spoke about the impact of prayer during his time in office and how it made the White House "joyous." "One of the biggest surprise if not the biggest surprise was the power of prayer of strangers and friends," Bush said, as a protester appeared to yell in the background. "You think you got it tough? Imagine the risen Lord, how he felt."

Bush reads voraciously (including the Bible every morning) and said he doesn't watch television except for the occasional sports game.

"I think religion is discipline," he said. I think you have to be disciplined, particularly when you’re being bombarded with stuff."

 

November 29, 2010

Pew: Half of Evangelicals Oppose Gays Serving Openly in the Military

Most Americans (58 percent) say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Twenty-seven percent of Americans oppose homosexuals to serve openly.

About half (48 percent) of white evangelical Protestants oppose letting gays serve openly in the military, while 34 percent support a reversal of status quo. Among all Protestants, 34 percent oppose the idea while 49 percent favor it.

A few weeks ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would release a study of the effects of a "don't ask, don't tell" repeal tomorrow. The Washington Post reported earlier that the study concludes the military can lift the ban with only minimal risk. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said yesterday that leaders are nowhere 'near' votes to repeal "don’t ask, don’t tell."

November 23, 2010

Barbara Bush: Housekeeper Kept Fetus in a Jar

President George W. Bush's mother is disputing her son's account that she showed him a fetus in a jar.

"No, the truth is I didn't put it in the jar. ... Paula put it in the jar," she said, referring to the Bushes' housekeeper, Paula Rendon, according to Rachel Slajda of Talking Points Memo.

"I was shocked when she gave it to him," she told Larry King on CNN. "Memories dim a little bit." She said she gave permission to her son to use the anecdote in the book.

"You had different views on pro-life?" King asked. "I don't remember," she said.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Barbara Bush suggested that the Republican Party should drop an anti-abortion plank from its national platform. Earlier this year, Laura Bush reiterated her position that abortion should remain legal.

November 19, 2010

Huckabee, Palin Mull White House Run

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee considering running for president again in 2012.

"I'm not ruling it out. And that's not a yes, but it's definitely not a no," Huckabee said.

"The honest answer is: I'm keeping it open as an option; I'm looking at whether or not there's a pathway to victory," he added. "As I've told several people, I'm not jumping into a pool when there's no water in it."

Sunday’s New York Times magazine suggests that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is also considering the 2012 race. Asked whether she’s weighing a run, Palin said, “I am. I’m engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here.”

She also told Barbara Walters that she thinks she could beat President Obama.

November 17, 2010

Obama Signs Order to Reform Faith-based Office

President Obama signed an executive order today that reforms the White House's faith-based office in a bid to improve transparency and clarify rules for religious groups that receive
federal grants.

The nine-page order reflects numerous recommendations made more than six months ago by a blue-ribbon advisory council charged with streamlining and reforming the office created under former President George W. Bush.

"The recommendations that they've put forth make really concrete and tangible improvements to the government's relationship with faith-based organizations," said Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The executive order, however, does not address controversial questions of whether grant recipients can hire and fire based on religion. Administration officials have said those questions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

DuBois and others said the new order gives better legal footing to public-private partnerships. "It ... clarifies that decisions about financial awards must be free from political interference or the
appearance thereof," DuBois said.

In particular, the order reflects the council's special concern about the treatment of people who receive social services from a religious group receiving federal funding.

"The government has a responsibility to give a referral to a nonreligious program if the beneficiary objects to the religious program they're in," DuBois said in explaining the order.

Melissa Rogers, who chaired the advisory council, said the order both continues and changes the work begun under Bush. For example, grant recipients may continue offering services in buildings containing religious symbols, but will be required to provide beneficiaries with written information about their rights.

"In the case of social service beneficiaries, that's been a real worry for many of us, that they might not know what their rights are," Rogers said.

Responding to recommendations for greater transparency, the order calls for agencies to post rules affecting religious organizations online, as well as lists of federal grant recipients.

Continue reading Obama Signs Order to Reform Faith-based Office ...

November 9, 2010

In Bush Memoir, Faith a Small but Constant Factor

Former President George W. Bush made no secret that his politics were tinged by his religious faith, but now says he never would have made it to the White House without a fateful -- and faith-filled -- decision to quit drinking in 1986.

"I could not have quit drinking without faith," Bush writes in his memoir, "Decision Points," released Tuesday (Nov. 9). "I also don't think my faith would be as strong if I hadn't quit drinking."

Across 497 pages, Bush recounts the ways religious faith shaped his life and his politics. While religion is not a central thrust of the book, it's nonetheless a constant theme.

Attending Presbyterian and Methodist churches in Midland, Texas, Bush writes that "religion had always been a part of my life, but I really wasn't a believer."

That changed with his decision to quit drinking a year after evangelist Billy Graham visited the Bush vacation home in Maine in 1985.

At that time, Bush said, he was an occasional reader of the Bible, which he viewed as "a kind of self-improvement course." During that well-known walk with Graham, the evangelist said the point of the Scriptures was to follow Christ, not just to improve himself.

"Billy had planted a seed," Bush wrote.

Months after returning to Texas, Bush joined a weekly Bible study. He soon started reading the Bible every morning, a practice he continued throughout his time at the White House.

While Graham helped Bush overcome alcohol, it was a Texas pastor who inspired him to pursue the presidency. At a service to mark his second inauguration as Texas governor, Bush heard the Rev. Mark Craig, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Austin, recount the biblical story of a once-hesitant Moses leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.

"We have the opportunity, each and every one of us, to do the right thing, and for the right reason," Bush recalled Craig preaching. At the other end of the pew, Barbara Bush mouthed to her son, "He is talking to you."

Once in the White House, Bush's faith played a role in both presidential and personal decisions. His push for global AIDS relief was fueled by his visit to a Ugandan clinic, where he left feeling challenged by the biblical admonition: "To whom much is given, much is required." When he knelt at the casket of Pope John Paul II in 2005, he prayed for ailing ABC anchorman Peter Jennings.

Continue reading In Bush Memoir, Faith a Small but Constant Factor ...

November 8, 2010

Bush: Seeing Mother's Miscarried Fetus Shaped Philosophy of Life

President George W. Bush writes in his new memoir, Decision Points, that Bush’s mother showed him a fetus in a jar, according to the New York Post.

After Barbara Bush had a miscarriage, she saved the fetus in a jar and she "said to her teenage kid, 'Here's the fetus,' " Bush is expected to tell NBC’s Matt Lauer in an interview airing this evening

The episode contributed to Bush’s pro-life stance. “There's no question that affected me, a philosophy that we should respect life,” Bush said.

"There was a human life, a little brother or sister," Bush told the "Today" host during the sit-down to promote his tome, which hits stores tomorrow.
Bush said his mother gave him special permission to recount the private story in print.
But "the purpose of the story wasn't to try show the evolution of a pro-life point of view," Bush insisted to Lauer.
"It was really to show how my mom and I developed a relationship."

Last week, the Washington Post reported that Bush said he personally approved waterboarding as a technique.

In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique (waterboarding) against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

In his book, titled “Decision Points,” Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was “Damn right” and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives.

“Former President Bush should be ashamed of his decision to torture detainees,” said Rev. Richard L. Killmer, executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. “His decision to allow the use of torture was both illegal and immoral. And his excuse that the use of waterboarding ’saved lives’ is wholly inadequate and unjustifiable. U.S.-sponsored torture has cost innumerable lives of both American soldiers and civilians, because it has inspired extremists to commit acts of terror against us. It has cost us dearly. Torture does not make us safer; it makes us more of a target.”

The interview with Lauer will be shown on tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

November 3, 2010

More Pro-Life Dems Axed

Democrats lose over half of their pro-life members.

For pro-life Democrats, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad election day.

When Bart Stupak (D-MI) and his coalition of pro-life Democrats cast their vote for the final health care bill in the House, they were called turncoats by some, profiles in courage by others. Today, most of them have a new label: unemployed.

All told, three out of five members of the Stupak coalition will not return in January. Stupak and four others opted not to run for reelection. Alan Mollohan (WV-1) was defeated in the primary. Another sixteen lost in the general election yesterday.

The ones that retained their seats did so because they faced little serious opposition. Sanford Bishop (D, GA-2) was one exception. In August and early October, Bishop was viewed as fairly secure. Recent polls, however, had showed him trailing his opponent by five points. Bishop hung on last night, winning his south Georgia district.

Pro-life groups took aim at several of Stupak's coalition. The efforts paid off. Steve Driehaus(D, OH-1) and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D, PA-3) lost, as expected. James Oberstar (D, MN-8) was thought to be a stronger candidate, but he also lost. Jim Oberstar (D, MN-8) was the rare member of the Stupak coalition to win despite active campaigning against him by pro-life and pro-family groups such as CitizenLink.

But the losses of pro-life Democrats was sometimes unrelated to the health care vote. In fact, Democrats with rock solid pro-life voting records who also opposed the health care bill did worse than those in the Stupak coalition.

Such causalities from yesterday include:

-- Bobby Bright (D, AL-2)
-- James Marshall (D, GA-8)
-- Ike Skelton (D, MO-4)
-- Travis Childers (D, MS-1)
-- Gene Taylor (D, MS-4)
-- Lincoln Davis (D, TN-4)

In addition, Charles Melancon (D, LA-3) opted not to run. The pro-life Democrats remaining in the House after the election are

-- Daniel Lipinski (D, IL-3),
-- Douglas McIntyre (D, NC-7)
-- Heath Shuler (D, NC-11)
-- David Boren (D, OK-2)

In the Democratic caucus, there were (at most) 50 pro-life members, members who would be willing to cosponsor and vote for many pro-life bills. Starting in January, that number will be just 20. And of these, only a handful would be considered pro-life by national pro-life organizations.

Editor's note: See more details in the story posted on our website today.
This post has been updated to reflect that Charles Melancon is from Louisiana.

November 3, 2010

Have Democrats Lost Faith in Faith-Based Outreach?

As Democrats conduct a grim postmortem on Tuesday's (Nov. 2) elections, some liberal leaders say one diagnosis is already clear: the party's outreach to religious voters was lifeless from the
start.

Democrats took control of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 in part because they wrested Catholics and some white Protestants from Republicans' tight grip. Gains among those voters helped elect Democrats in rural and suburban areas that had long been GOP
strongholds.

But in 2010, progressive leaders say, Democrats largely retreated to the same-old wonky language to explain their policies, and same-old political strategies to drum up voters -- with predictable results.

"One of the ironies is that we had huge success with (faith outreach)," said Eric Sapp, a partner at Eleison Group, a consulting firm that worked on religious outreach for dozens of Democratic campaigns in 2006 and 2008 -- but none this year.

"It's part of why we are in power. It's been rough to see us go back to that pre-2004 strategy that had kept us in the minority."

Democrats, at least in the House, will again be in the minority, and their party's hard-won gains among religious voters are largely gone. Sixty percent of weekly churchgoers voted for House GOP candidates on Tuesday, according to exit polls. Nearly seven in 10 white Protestants punched their ballot for the GOP, a six-percent surge from 2008, and up eight points from 2006.

Catholics swung even harder toward the GOP, according to the exit polls, with 54 percent voting for House Republicans, compared to 42 percent in 2008, and 44 percent in 2006. Catholics and Protestants combined to make up nearly 80 percent of the electorate on Tuesday.

Lackluster commitment from party leaders, a failure to connect their policies with moral values, and the dire economy all explain Democrats' lack of success with religious voters, according to politicos and faith leaders.

"The God gap doesn't explain these election results," said Mike McCurry, a White House press secretary under Bill Clinton who has encouraged Democrats' faith-based outreach. "It was driven by real anxiety people feel about the economy and their future -- but there are moral and ethical components to that, too."

In previous elections, the Democratic National Committee hired staffers for Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, and evangelical outreach. This year, those jobs are not filled, said the Rev. Regena Thomas, the DNC's director of faith and constituent outreach.

Thomas, a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, said she organized conference calls and events on religion with black women, state party chairs, and college Democrats. In some areas, however, religion was subsumed within other programs -- such as Hispanic and gay outreach, Thomas said.

"Staff responsible for constituencies were responsible for adding faith outreach to that," she said.

But McCurry said religion "is not something you tack on to the end of your game plan. It's fundamentally at the heart of how you connect with voters, who clearly drifted from the Democratic Party last night."

Sapp said party leaders spent little money on religious outreach, signaling to rank-and-file Democrats that they shouldn't either.

"A lot of campaigns we worked on in the past wanted to do this stuff, but they didn't have the funding," he said. "And they worried if they spent a lot of money on this they wouldn't get support from the national committees."

Continue reading Have Democrats Lost Faith in Faith-Based Outreach? ...

November 3, 2010

3 Justices Booted in Iowa after Same-sex Marriage Ruling

In Iowa, voters spoke on gay marriage, but not through a ballot measure. Iowa voters ousted three Supreme Court members who legalized gay marriage in 2009. Chief justice Marsha Ternus and justices David Baker and Michael Streit lost their bids to stay on the state's highest court.

Conservative groups rallied Iowa voters to vote the judges out of their seats this year in response to their decision last year. “Kicking out those three justices would be a warning shot across the judiciary's bow,” said Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford.

Iowa is one of a dozen states that uses the "Missouri Plan" for judicial selection. Justices are nominated by a nonpartisan commission based on merit. The Governor then makes an appointment. However, the justices seek reelection at the end of their terms to retain their place on the bench. They do not face an opponent. It is an up or down vote on the justice.

Justices in states with a Missouri Plan rarely face defeat. But in this election, the retention vote was a referendum on the Court's marriage ruling. Tonight, Iowa voters gave the justices a thumbs down.

November 3, 2010

California Rejects Marijuana Initiative

Marijuana appeared on many ballots this year. Arizona and South Dakota appeared ready to reject ballots legalizing marijuana for medical use, declining to join the 13 other states that have done so.

California considered but rejected the most radical measure with the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act (Proposition 19), which would allow adults 21 and over to grow, possess, and privately consume up to an ounce of pot.

Supporters often push legalized marijuana as a fresh source of tax revenue for cash-strapped states. "No matter what happens (with Prop 19), it's now undeniable that national public sentiment is increasingly turning against the idea that responsible adults should be criminalized for using a substance less harmful than alcohol," said Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project. Critics note that states where medical marijuana is legalized often experience a glut of dispensaries (marijuana dispensaries now outnumber Starbucks stores in Denver and Los Angeles) and questionable prescriptions for everything from cancer to a headache. Others warn that legalizing marijuana for medical use leads down a slippery slope to de-criminalizing pot completely, using California as an example.

Oregon voters were considering an expansion to existing marijuana laws this year: Voters decided whether to authorize state-licensed dispensaries for medical marijuana. Meanwhile, in Colorado, the medical marijuana industry provided generous contributions to favorable candidates and there is already evidence of campaigns for a vote to expand its use to be included in the 2012 election. The expanding consensus toward legalizing marijuana for various uses indicates “the increasingly relativistic tone that our country is adopting,” according to Billy Atwell, coordinator for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Atwell also points toward research finding that the only legitimate use of medical marijuana is in pill form.

November 3, 2010

Mixed Night for Women Candidates

We were noticing on the women's blog the number of female candidates running for election this year, but many of them received mixed results.

Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid defeated Republican candidate Sharron Angle (Nev.).
Democrat Barbara Boxer defeated Republican candidate Carly Fiorina (Calif. Senate).
Republican Michele Bachmann defeated Democrat Tarryl Clark (Minn. House) (and will run for Republican leadership in the House).
Democratic candidate Jerry Brown defeated Republican Meg Whitman (Calif. governor).
Republican Nikki Haley defeated Sen. Vincent Sheheen (S.C. governor).
Democrat Christopher Coons defeated Christine O'Donnell (Del. Senate).

Weigh in with any others.

November 2, 2010

States Vote on Health Care Measures

Three states voted on healthcare measures, indicating the ongoing effects of the health care reform bill.

Voters in Arizona (Prop 106), Colorado (Amendment 63) and Oklahoma (Question 756) decided whether they wanted to be able to opt-out of the federal insurance mandate. Oklahoma voted to opt out of the insurance. On the other hand, the Denver Post was reporting that with tallies still coming in, Colorado was against the amendment.

Similar measures have already passed in Missouri, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, and Virginia. Some believe the cumulative effect of these state decisions could “embolden legislative action to repeal or defund legislative provisions" of the federal health law, according to Robert Alt, deputy director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation.

November 2, 2010

Colorado Rejects Personhood Amendment

Colorado voters weighed the legal definition of “personhood,” voting on an amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would define the term “person” as applying "from the beginning of the biological development of that human being." The Denver Post reports that the measure was failing by a 3-to-1 margin, the same as the 2008 vote on a similar amendment.

1102DoStateLaws_L.jpg

The measure has drawn both support and criticism from unusual sources. Amendment 62 is endorsed by Pam Tebow, the mother of famously pro-life football star Tim, but opposed by the Colorado Eagle Forum as a threat to “all pro-life laws enacted in the last 40 years, including the Hyde Amendment.”

Colorado defeated a similar measure in 2008 with 73 percent voting against an amendment defining the term “person” to begin at “the moment of fertilization.” CT asked thinkers and leaders to weigh in on personhood amendments here.

November 2, 2010

Pro-Life Democrats Continue to Falter

We’re focusing on Democrats who supported a ban on abortion funding in the health care reform law but voted for the final bill. There were 32 of these Democrats running for re-election. About half of the candidates faced tough fights for reelection.

Where They’re Losing

Ohio and Pennsylvania were not kind to the Democrats we’re tracking.

In Pennsylvania, Christopher Carney (D, PA 10), Kathleen Dahlkemper (D, PA 3), and Paul Kanjorski (D, PA 11) went down in defeat. Dahlkemper had a strong pro-life record, but her vote on health care raised the ire of pro-life groups, targeted by both CitizenLink and the Susan B. Anthony List.

Ohio voters called home similar Democrats where Charles Wilson (D, OH 6) and John Boccieri (D, OH 16) were also defeated. Steve Driehaus (D, OH 1) is likely to be defeated, too. Driehaus made headlines when he filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission over a campaign billboard by the Susan B. Anthony List. The billboard said Driehaus supported federal funding of abortion. Driehaus said the billboard was false. The case was not decided before the election.

In West Virginia, two of the three representatives were pro-life Democrats. One, however, never made it past the Democratic primaries. Alan Mollohan (D, WV 1) was defeated by Mike Oiverio, who is also pro-life. This race is still too close to call.

In the 3rd District, Nick Rahall defeated his Republican opponent Elliott Maynard. Rahall has a long pro-life voting record, but he upset pro-life groups when he backed the final version of the health care bill. As a result, West Virginia Right to Life and National Right to Life endorsed his opponent.

The pro-life Democrats did not do better further south.

Jim Marshall (D, GA 8) is one of two Georgia pro-life Democrats packing up his office. Unlike the other Democrats we're watching tonight, he had a 100 percent vote record on pro-life issues, according to Americans United for Life Action. He lost to Republican Austin Scott. Sanford Biship (D, GA 2) also lost. His pro-life record is weaker than some of the other Democrats we're watching, but he did vote for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to eliminate federal funding of abortion in the health care bill.

Incumbent Bob Etheridge may lose his seat in North Carolina's 2nd District in an election that proved to be much closer race than expected. However, Heath Shuler (D, NC 11) who had a near-perfect pro-life record, according to Americans United for Life Action (including opposition to the final health care law) won handily.

Where They’re Winning

The election did indicate that Democrats who cast pro-life votes can win. One of the places they were safer were in districts with higher Catholic or urban populations. Democrats kept seats in New England such as Richard Neal (D, MA-2), Michael Michaud (D, ME 2), and James Langevin (D, RI 2). Pro-life voting Democrats held by Silvestre Reyes (D, TX-16), Timothy Ryan (D, OH-17), Michael Doyle (D, PA-14), Marcy Kaptur (D, OH-9), Jim Cooper (D, TN-5), and Jerry Costello (D, IL-12). Democrats are also expected to keep pro-life leaning districts in California.

Where They’re Waiting

With races still close to call, we’re still waiting for final results from a number of races. Most of these, however, appear to be going against the Democrats.

Bob Etheridge (D, NC-2)
Christopher Carney (D, PA-10)
Ciro Rodriguez (D, TX-23)
Dale Kildee (D, MI-5)
Henry Cuellar (D, TX-28)
James Oberstar (D, MN-8)
John Boccieri (D, OH-16)
John Salazar (D, CO-3)
John Spratt (D, SC-5)
Paul Kanjorski (D, PA-11)
Solomon Ortiz (D, TX-27)
Steve Driehaus (D, OH-1)

Hopefully, we’ll know more by daybreak.

November 2, 2010

Nikki Haley, Sam Brownback Win Gov. Races

Republican Nikki Haley won the gubernatorial race in South Carolina, AP is reporting. Her conversion to Christianity from Sikhism caused a stir earlier in the election.

Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, who gave up his seat, won the Kansas gubernatorial race. See previous CT interviews.

The AP projects that Mary Fallin will become Oklahoma's first female governor (Wiki says she belongs to the Church of God denomination).

November 2, 2010

Pro-life Democrats See Cuts

We're keeping a close eye on races involving pro-life Democrats. If the results go as expected, the number of pro-life votes from Democrats could be cut in half. We're particularly interested in the election outcomes of those who supported the final version of the health care law.

There are 33 House races involving Democrats who voted for the original Stupak-Pitts Amendment (which would have banned abortion funding in the health care bill) and final passage of the health care bill (which did not include the Stupak-Pitts amendment). About half of these are facing tough fights tonight.

Two of the first districts with results may prove to be bellwethers for these pro-life Democrats. Joe Donnelly (D, IN-2) narrowly won his bid for reelection despite being the target of pro-life groups, including CitizenLink. The district, which includes South Bend, was targeted because it was a close district that could go Republican. Further south, Indiana's 9th district proved to be a easier ground for the GOP. Republican Todd Young defeated incumbent Democrat Baron Hill who has represented the district for five terms.

Other results coming in are in districts that were leaning strongly toward the Republicans. In 2008, Tom Perriello (D, VA-5) won the district by less than one thousand votes. In this midterm election, the former human rights lawyer did not pull out another squeaker. Robert Hurt, the Republican, easily won the 5th District back for the GOP.

There are still a dozen close races yet to be called. Votes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other eastern states should be counted soon.

November 2, 2010

Christine O'Donnell, Charlie Crist Defeated

Christine O'Donnell, who received more media coverage than any other candidate this election, was defeated by her opponent Democrat Christopher Coons in the Delaware Senate race today.

Before the election she told CBN's David Brody, "God is the reason I'm running." Alicia Cohn wrote about O'Donnell in the women's blog round-up of this year's female candidates.

Reminiscent of Sarah Palin, who endorsed her, O’Donnell is the type of woman who has many fellow conservatives racing to disassociate themselves. O’Donnell hits a lot of strong points and is an outspoken Christian. But she also has made flamboyant statements — about witchcraft, masturbation, teaching evolution in schools, and the separation of church and state — that have raised eyebrows and set off “airhead” alerts across media.

Republican Marco Rubio defeated Gov. Charlie Crist to win Florida's Senate seat. Earlier this year, Crist vetoed legislation that would have required a woman to get an ultrasound test before an abortion and bar federal funding for abortion, and he said he was open to gay adoption.

November 2, 2010

Rand Paul, Dan Coats Take Senate Seats

Republicans scored two early victories in an election that is supposed to create turnover for the House and the Senate.

Kentucky Senate/tea party candidate Rand Paul won Kentucky's Senate race while former Indiana Senator Dan Coats beat Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth, reclaiming his old seat.

During the campaign, Paul chastised his opponent state Attorney General Jack Conway for an ad referencing Paul's time as a student at Baylor University, asking whether he was a member of a secret society.

"I believe that those who stoop to the level of attacking a man's religious beliefs to gain higher office," Paul said during a debate. "I believe that they should remember that it does not profit a man to gain the world if he loses his soul in the process."

Right before the election, a new ad paid for by a group that opposed Paul accused him of mocking Jesus Christ and Christians.

CT spoke with Coats, a graduate of Wheaton College, back when he first retired from the Senate.

November 2, 2010

FRC Takes Aim at Republican Rep. on Gay Rights

josephcao.jpg

Family Research Council Action PAC launched a late radio ad campaign against Republican Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao of New Orleans for his support of gay rights legislation.

Tony Perkins, a former Louisiana legislator who leads the organization, told the Times-Picayune that Cao was the only Republican candidate targeted with an FRC attack ad this fall. The ad ends with the tag line, "Washington doesn't need more liberal Republicans. Stop Joe Cao on Election Day."

"Who is Rep. Joseph Cao representing in Washington?" the FRC ad asks. "Cao has repeatedly voted for extra protections for homosexuals at the cost of religious liberty. Cao voted to use the military to advance the radical social agendas of homosexual activists and he voted for a so-called hate crimes bill that places your personal liberties at jeopardy."

Cao co-sponsored both the Hate Crimes Protection Act of 2009 and House legislation to repeal the policy that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces, known as "don't ask, don't tell."

"I believe it is a human rights violation to impose government-sanctioned penalties on a group of people just because of their sexual orientation, just as it would be a human rights violation to impose penalties on a group because of its religious affiliation or race," Cao said. "I will continue to fight for the protection of human rights for all people."


Cao told the newspaper, "As a former Jesuit seminarian and practicing Catholic, it is ridiculous to say that I have ever taken a position against religious liberties. I am, however, a champion of human rights and justice for all."

Cao faces Democratic state Rep. Cedric Richmond and Perkin's preference, independent candidate Anthony Marquize. In 2008, FRC endorsed Cao and Tony Perkins included Cao in his column, "The Good News on November 4."

In the 2nd congressional district Anh "Joseph" Cao defeated the ethically challenged Congressman William Jefferson. Jefferson has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, laundering money and misusing his congressional office. The pro-life Cao won despite running in a district that is 28 points more Democrat than the national average.

November 1, 2010

Court: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Remains

A federal appeals court decided today to allow the military to continue to enforce its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Politico reports.

An earlier District Court judge’s ruling found that the ban on openly gay military members was unconstitutional. The panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit voted 2-1 today to extend a stay, lifting the lower judge’s order that kept the military from enforcing the policy.

Josh Gerstein reports that the ruling means the statute will likely to remain in place for months or years for another appeal, unless President Obama convinces Congress to repeal the law. In September, the Republican Party blocked a vote in the Senate to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” blocking a defense authorization bill.


November 1, 2010

Report: Federal Health Care Could Provide Free Contraception

A panel of experts will meet in November to consider the kinds of preventive care for women should be covered under the new health care law, according to the Associated Press.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., author of the women's health amendment, says the clear intent was to include family planning.

But is birth control preventive medicine?

Conflicting answers frame what could be the next clash over moral values and a health law that passed only after a difficult compromise restricting the use of public money for abortions.

U.S. Catholic bishops opposes a requirement to cover contraceptives or sterilization as preventive care, the AP reports.

So far, most other religious conservatives have stayed out of the debate, though that could change. Some say they are concerned about any requirement that might include the morning-after pill. The Food and Drug Administration classifies it as birth control; some religious conservatives see it as an abortion drug.

Jeanne Monahan, a health policy expert at the conservative Family Research Council, said her group would oppose any mandate that lacks a conscience exemption for moral and religious reasons. She said there's "great suspicion" that a major abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, is leading the push for free birth control.

As recently as the 1990s, many health insurance plans didn't even cover birth control. Protests, court cases, and new state laws led to dramatic changes. Today, almost all plans now cover prescription contraceptives. So does Medicaid, the health care program for low-income people.

The department must make a decision by next August.