All posts from “May 2011”

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May 27, 2011

Report: Wealthy Give Less to Religious Groups, More Sensitive to Tax Savings

A report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that proposed changes to the tax code could reduce charitable contributions. However, the CBO does not expect religious organizations to be affected because religious donors are less sensitive to the tax benefits of contributions. Instead, it is the charities favored by the rich—the arts, education, and healthcare—that are more likely to see lowered donations.

Congress is currently considering possible changes to the current tax code, which allows individuals to deduct their charitable contributions from their taxable income. President Obama has proposed a reduction in how much contributions would those making more than $250,000 a year. Rather than receiving a tax savings of 33 or 35 percent (the tax rate for the higher-income brackets), these income earners would receive a 28 percent tax savings.

This type of reduction is most likely to affect donations to large institutions such as colleges, hospitals, and foundations, not churches and smaller religious charities. Using data from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the CBO reports that those with the highest income give the least percentage of their donations to religious organizations.


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Continue reading Report: Wealthy Give Less to Religious Groups, More Sensitive to Tax Savings...

May 25, 2011

Palin, Pawlenty Stand to Gain with Others Dropping Out

Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich formally threw their hats in the ring for the Republican nomination for the 2012 election while Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels recently bowed out.

Daniels cited family concerns in his decision not to run. "On matters affecting us all, our family constitution gives a veto to the women’s caucus, and there is no override provision,” Daniels said. “Simply put, I find myself caught between two duties. I love my country; I love my family more."

Despite strong poll numbers, Huckabee’s victory in the Iowa caucuses in 2008, and calls for him to run, Huckabee said he could not run without confidence that he was doing it with “God's full blessing.”

"I don't expect everyone to understand this, but I am a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ. And that relationship is far more important to me than any political office. For me, the discussion and decision is not a political one, not a financial one. It's not even a practical one. It's a spiritual one,” Huckabee said.

Huckabee was polling well among GOP voters, particularly evangelicals and social conservatives who are key in early primary states like Iowa and South Carolina. A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press suggests that Sarah Palin would be the most likely to scoop up Huckabee's support, if she ran. In March, Pew asked GOP voters who they wanted in the presidential race. Huckabee received 20 percent support among Republican voters. He did even better (29 percent) among evangelicals in the GOP.

The Pew poll also asked who voters second pick was. By using Huckabee supporters second pick, the poll finds that support for Sarah Palin is the most likely to increase. With Huckabee out of the race, support for Palin could increase from 13 to 19 percent. Support for other candidates also increased but not more than the margin of error; the increases could be due to chance.

Palin's support increases even more among evangelicals. Originally, with Huckabee in the field of candidates, Palin was tied with Mitt Romney for second. Each received around 15 percent among these voters. With Huckabee gone, Palin is the top-choice among evangelicals in the GOP with 25 percent support and Romney's support barely increased. Palin did not receive the same support among mainline Protestants, where Huckabee's support spread evenly across all candidates. Because the number of evangelicals in the poll is small (182), the jump in support for Palin should be taken with some caution.

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Continue reading Palin, Pawlenty Stand to Gain with Others Dropping Out...

May 23, 2011

Obama's Israel Borders Speech Becomes Fodder in GOP Primary

President Obama's speech on the Middle East included a call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that should be negotiated around the 1967 borders. The new position (which may or may not be all that new) was quickly decried as anti-Israel by candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

In his speech, Obama said, “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves and reach their full potential in a sovereign and contiguous state.”

The reaction to the statement was swift among the GOP's presidential hopefuls. Mitt Romney said “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.” Tim Pawlenty called Obama's statement “a mistaken and very dangerous demand.”

But perhaps the quickest move came from possible nominee Michelle Bachman conducted 150,000 robocalls into Iowa and South Carolina and put out an internet campaign on twitter, Facebook, and ads linking to her website's petition to tell Obama, “You've Betrayed Israel.”

On her Facebook page, Bachmann said, “Today President Barack Obama has again indicated that his policy towards Israel is to blame Israel first…President Obama has initiated a policy which shows contempt for Israel’s concern and safety. In an era dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’ we have seen increased volatility in the Middle East region, and President Obama has only added to the heightened hostility by calling on Israel to return to the 1967 borders. I disagree with President Obama and I stand with our friend Israel 100 percent.”

Continue reading Obama's Israel Borders Speech Becomes Fodder in GOP Primary...

May 20, 2011

Obama's Middle East Speech Nods to Bush Doctrine?

President Obama delivered quite an important speech yesterday on the Middle East and North Africa. Here's one key idea:

"It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy."

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As I heard that and later read over the entire speech, I asked myself: Is there a single sentence in the entire speech that former President Bush would not have said? I struggled to find one. This means President Obama, when it comes to the Middle East and North Africa, is restating past US policy, including the so-called "Bush Doctrine."

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, makes this association powerfully in his commentary today interjecting quotes from the speech itself:

… Barack Obama openly, unreservedly and without a trace of irony or self-reflection [is adopting] the Bush Doctrine, which made the spread of democracy the key U.S. objective in the Middle East.

"Too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people's grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills."

Continue reading Obama's Middle East Speech Nods to Bush Doctrine?...

May 18, 2011

After Bin Laden, Stay in Afghanistan?

In the immediate aftermath of Osama Bin Laden's assassination, religious leaders debated whether the the military action was just and what the right response to such an event should be. For political activists, another question emerged: What does Bin Laden's death mean for U.S. foreign policy?  Most agreed that it is "a turning point," but there is less agreement over where exactly the U.S. should turn toward at this point.

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For Sojourners president Jim Wallis, the death of Osama Bin Laden should signal the end of the war in Afghanistan, a war he said “no longer has any justification.”

“The completion of the largest and most expensive manhunt in history for Osama bin Laden must be a turning point to completely rethink our response to terrorism,” Wallis said. “The threats of terrorists are still real, but it is now clear that full-scale military action is not the most effective response.”

David P. Gushee of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good echoed Wallis' view. Gushee said there is now the “opportunity … for the United States to reconsider the questionable moves we have made in the name of the war on terror. From our perspective, this includes … the expansion rather than ending of the ten-year-old war in Afghanistan.”

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Bin Laden's assassination was indeed a “turning point,” but one in the war on terrorism that he said included both Afghanistan and Iraq. He compared it to the battle of the Midway in World War II that began to put the Japanese on the defensive.

"We defeated [al-Qaeda] in Iraq. And we're doing the same thing in Afghanistan now. This is not the end of al-Qaeda, not the end of the Taliban," Land said.

Breakpoint's Chuck Colson also saw this as “a major turning point in the war against terrorism.”  But he said, “the real turning point could be in how we conduct this war hereafter.”

Continue reading After Bin Laden, Stay in Afghanistan?...

May 13, 2011

Did Jesus Endorse Mike Huckabee?

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Jesus Daily, a Facebook fan page devoted to Jesus with more than 5 million followers, plugged a new website for Mike Huckabee, encouraging his fans to pray for him as he decides whether to run for president.


"MY FAITH IS MY LIFE. IT DEFINES ME." --Mike Huckabee

LIKE/SHARE if you feel the same and visit http://www.prayforhuckabee.com/

*Jesus Daily invites all leaders to share their Christian values with us.

The former governor of Arkansas will announce tomorrow whether he will run for president, the New York Times is reporting.

“Governor Huckabee will announce tomorrow night on his program whether or not he intends to explore a presidential bid,” Woody Fraser, the executive producer of “Huckabee” said in a statement. “He has not told anyone at FOX News Channel his decision.”

Ed Rollins, who has served as Huckabee’s top political adviser, expressed doubts that Huckabee would run.

Mr. Rollins said that “there is a campaign that can be put together in a week. All of the pieces are there.” But he said that in the last two weeks Mr. Huckabee’s family expressed doubts about a run.

“They did not want him to run. I think that had a big impact,” Mr. Rollins said.

In addition, Mr. Rollins said that he did not think Fox News would allow Mr. Huckabee to use the platform of a news show on their network to make an announcement that he is running for president.

Family matters have played a large role leading up to some of the decision making as candidates decide to enter the 2012 race. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Representative Ron Paul both threw their hats into the ring this week.

On the front page of the New York Times this week, reports suggested Gingrich's wife will play a central role in his campaign (and has played a role in his Catholic conversion) and that Mitch Daniels' wife plays a key role in deciding whether the governor of Indiana might run. Daniels and his wife divorced and she left her four daughters with him and married a doctor. She divorced again and she and Daniels remarried in 1997. His family is widely seen as a key factor in his decision to run.

May 13, 2011

Is Same-Sex Marriage Legal Under Federal Law? Maybe. Sometimes.

The status of same-sex marriage is confusing enough with some states allowing it and most states expressly prohibiting it. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was supposed to define marriage under federal law as being between one man and one woman. What this means in practice is in flux and can change by the day.

One reason for the controversies is that the Department of Justice is opposed to the law. The opposition, however, only applies in certain jurisdictions. Contrary to headlines, the Department of Justice will defend DOMA in some courts. In February, Attorney General Eric Holder informed the Congress that the Department of Justice is opting out of defending DOMA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In other words, the DOJ will no longer defend the act if a gay couple appeals a decision in New York, Connecticut, or Vermont, but it will defend the act in other states.

Immigration cases, however, fall under a unique set of courts. Attorney General Holder recently vacated a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals, an administrative body that interprets immigration law.

A board decision can be vacated by the Attorney General, which Holder did in the case of Paul Wilson Dorman, an Irish immigrant who is in a civil union with a New Jersey man. The board ruled that the two men were not spouses because of DOMA. Holder vacated the ruling, asking what the ruling would be if DOMA did not exist.

In light of Holder's decision, an immigration judge in New Jersey ruled that Henry Velandia, a Venezuelan, could not be deported because he is married a man who is a U.S. citizen. The two were married in Connecticut.

Department of Justice spokesperson Tracy Schmaler told the New York Times that this does not mean that same-sex couples will now be treated as spouses. “As we have made clear, we will continue to enforce DOMA,” said Schmaler.

Continue reading Is Same-Sex Marriage Legal Under Federal Law? Maybe. Sometimes. ...

May 12, 2011

Bill Would Strengthen Role of Religious Freedom Envoy

New legislation proposed by a leading congressional watchdog would push the State Department to make international religious freedom a greater priority.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., introduced a bill on Wednesday that would boost the profile of the ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, require religious training for foreign service officers, and
reauthorize an independent panel that monitors restrictions placed on beliefs and practices abroad.

The bill would also require the State Department report to Congress about concrete measures it has taken toward countries that violate religious rights.

"Religious freedom, often referred to as the first freedom, is of central import to the American experiment," Wolf said on Wednesday. "As such it should feature prominently in U.S. foreign policy."

Wolf authored the 1998 bill that established the State Department's international religious freedom office, created an ambassador-at-large for the issue and founded a bipartisan commission to monitor foreign governments.

Continue reading Bill Would Strengthen Role of Religious Freedom Envoy ...

May 12, 2011

Obama Calls Immigration Reform a 'Moral Imperative' at National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast

President Obama continued his call for immigration reform at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast this morning, a similar call he made two years ago at the same breakfast.

Obama highlighted the work of faith leaders, including the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), on immigration.

That sense of connection, that sense of empathy, that moral compass, that conviction of what is right is what led the National Association of Evangelicals to shoot short films to help people grasp the challenges facing immigrants. It’s what led the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to launch a Justice for Immigrants campaign, and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition to advocate across religious lines. It’s what led all the Latino pastors at the Hispanic Prayer Breakfast to come together around reform.

Obama was likely referring to undocumented.tv, videos produced by World Relief, the relief and humanitarian arm of the NAE. He argued that immigration is not only an economic or security imperative.

It’s a moral imperative when kids are being denied the chance to go to college or serve their military because of the actions of their parents. It’s a moral imperative when millions of people live in the shadows and are made vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses or with nowhere to turn if they are wronged. It’s a moral imperative when simply enforcing the law may mean inflicting pain on families who are just trying to do the right thing by their children.

So, yes, immigration reform is a moral imperative, and so it’s worth seeking greater understanding from our faith. As it is written in the Book of Deuteronomy, “Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” To me, that verse is a call to show empathy to our brothers and our sisters; to try and recognize ourselves in one another.

The Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., president of Esperanza, the organization sponsoring the event, gave him a Bible before Obama's speech.

"I was told this will help improve my Spanish," Obama said to laughter. "And I said, 'I’ll pray on it.'"

May 10, 2011

Navy’s Same-Sex Marriage Allowance Draws Complaints

The Navy’s plan to allow chaplains to perform same-sex marriages in military chapels has led to opposition.

Last week, Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins tweeted, “Hearing Navy chaplains are now being trained to perform same sex weddings following [Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT)] changes. Major religious liberty implications.” Later, Perkins reported on the FRC website that the Navy had “jumped ship on DOMA.”

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The memo to Navy chaplains posted on the FRC website states that chaplains are not being trained on how to conduct marriages, nor will they be forced to conduct weddings. Instead, the training on DADT now allows chaplains to conduct same-sex weddings if the chaplain serves  in a state where same-sex marriages are legal. In addition, military facilities (that allow weddings on base) must be open to same-sex weddings.

“Call it what you will, but that's not a change to 'training'--that's a circumvention of U.S. law,” said FRC's Perkins.

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and 62 other Members of Congress also object to the new policy. They sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy accusing the Navy of violating federal law.

"We find it difficult to understand how the military is somehow exempt from abiding by federal law. Not only does this document imply recognition and support of same-sex marriage in opposition to DOMA, it also implies that the Navy will now perform these marriages so long as they do not violate state statutes,” Akin wrote.

The Navy has responded by saying that the new policy does not violate DOMA. Defense Department spokeswoman Eileen Lainez sent an e-mail stating that DOMA only defines federal marriage; it does not make any policy regarding religious ceremonies, which would include weddings.

Continue reading Navy’s Same-Sex Marriage Allowance Draws Complaints...

May 9, 2011

Sojourners Declines LGBT 'Welcome' Ad

Some progressive sites are criticizing Sojourners after it declined to run an advertisement urging mainline churches to welcome gay members.

Robert Chase took up the issue at Religion Dispatches where he noted that the ad came from Believe Out Loud, a mainline Protestant parachurch organization.

So, you can imagine our dismay when Sojourners refused to run our ads. In a written statement, Sojourners said, “I’m afraid we’ll have to decline. Sojourners position is to avoid taking sides on this issue. In that care [sic], the decision to accept advertising may give the appearance of taking sides.”

Taking sides? ... I can’t imagine Sojourners turning down an ad that called for welcome of poor children into our churches. So why is this boy different?

Jim Naughton at Episcopal Cafe says that Jim Wallis no longer speaks for progressives, if he ever did.

It would seem to me that if you can't bring yourself to say that LGBT people shouldn't be chased out of our churches you have no business passing yourself off as a progressive leader, Christian or otherwise. In fact, based on recent polling on the far more sensitive subject of same-sex marriage, you have no business passing yourself off as a moderate leader, either.

CT spoke with Sojourners founder Jim Wallis about advertising issues back in 2008.

Are you concerned, though, that taking advertising in Sojourners magazine from Human Rights Campaign [a gay-rights group] makes it seem that it is a bigger issue for you?

Advertising is always a difficult question. I had real mixed feelings about those ads. We probably wouldn't do it again, because when you take advertising it implies you might be sympathetic to the advertising. But we don't take a position on this except promoting dialogue. At Sojourners, we've decided to have a safe place for dialogue and even disagreement on our staff and in our constituency.

Update: Sojourners' communications director Tim King posted a blog post where he said he was encouraged by initiatives such as Believe Out Loud. He also posted the video of the ad and an editor's note at the end.

Sojourners stresses the importance of dialogue amongst those on all sides of these issues. It is our utmost hope that differing viewpoints are not silenced, but are lifted up in a display of Christian and often interfaith sisterhood and brotherhood. It is for this reason, that we wish to engage first and foremost in dialogue on difficult issues within our editorial pages and we typically do not sell display advertising relating to issues amongst people of faith that have unfortunately and too often been reduced to political wedge issues.

Another update: Wallis has posted a statement.

May 6, 2011

N.T. Wright Slams 'American Exceptionalism' in Osama bin Laden Mission

New Testament scholar calls President Obama out, alleging cowboy vigilantism.

Popular author and New Testament scholar N.T. Wright has accused the world of giving America a free pass for violating Pakistan's sovereignty and killing an unarmed man during the recent attack that killed Osama bin Laden.

The former bishop of Durham sent a short statement to The Times' religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill in which he pointed out that Americans would be "furious" if Great Britain's military had staged an unannounced raid against hypothetical Irish Republican Army terrorists and killed them, unarmed, in a Boston suburb.

The only difference, Wright says, is "American exceptionalism."

"America is allowed to do it, but the rest of us are not," said Wright, who is now the research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "By what right? Who says?"

President Obama, Wright says, has "enacted one of America’s most powerful myths," the vigilante hero going outside the law to execute "redemptive violence" against an enemy who has rendered the legitimate authorities impotent. "This is the plot of a thousand movies, comic-book strips, and TV shows: Captain America, the Lone Ranger, and (upgraded to hi-tech) Superman. The masked hero saves the world."

While this myth may have been a necessary dimension of life in the Wild West, Wright says, it also "legitimizes a form of vigilantism, of taking the law into one’s own hands, which provides ‘justice’ only of the crudest sort."

"What will we do when new superpowers arise and try the same trick on us?" he asks. "And what has any of this to do with something most Americans also believe, that the God of ultimate justice and truth was fully and finally revealed in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, who taught people to love their enemies, and warned that those who take the sword will perish by the sword?"

Wright, a prominent figure in the Church of England, has gained fame on both sides of the Atlantic for his academic and popular writings on the New Testament and the historical Jesus. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams also commented on bin Laden's death this week, admitting to "a very uncomfortable feeling" about reports that bin Laden wasn't armed when he was killed "because it doesn't look as if justice is seen to be done."

"When we are faced with someone who was manifestly a 'war criminal' as you might say in terms of the atrocities inflicted, it is important that justice is seen to be observed," Williams said.

May 6, 2011

Bipartisan Criticism Targets Department of Justice’s Adult Porn Enforcement

This week's congressional oversight hearings of the Department of Justice (DOJ) focused on issues of homeland security and the legal questions (re)ignited by the death Osama Bin Laden Sunday night. The hearings also addressed other issues, from online poker to how the NCAA conducts football championships. One criticism levied by both liberals and conservatives was the DOJ's handling of adult obscenity or illegal hard-core pornography.

Criticism of the DOJ's enforcement of adult obscenity has been simmering for years. Despite the ubiquity of pornography on the Internet, there have been few prosecutions of adult pornography.

One suspected reason was the prioritization of child pornography. These cases left few resources for the enforcement of adult obscenity laws. To fix this, the DOJ initiated the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, a special unit within the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS). In February, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer put an end to the task force by rolling it back into the CEOS.

DOJ spokeswoman Laura Sweeney told Politico the move “provides for increased collaboration among experienced attorneys and agents, and gives our prosecutors the most solid foundation possible for pursuing their mission.”

For anti-obscenity activists, the elimination of the task force was a sign that the DOJ was not taking illegal adult pornography seriously.

Social conservatives mobilized to put pressure on the DOJ. This effort was led by Porn Harms, a website that provides research on adult pornography. Porn Harms was founded by Patrick Trueman who is a former head of CEOS.

Earlier this week, Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink and other groups joined Porn Harms on a campaign to tell the DOJ to enforce obscenity laws. The DOJ responded by asking the company running the toll-free phone campaign to stop, which it did. Porn Harms quickly arranged another number for people to use.

On Capitol Hill, a bipartisan coalition in each chamber wrote Holder to ask about the DOJ's policing of adult obscenity.

Continue reading Bipartisan Criticism Targets Department of Justice’s Adult Porn Enforcement...

May 5, 2011

After Court Gives OK, Christians Mark National Day of Prayer

Supporters marked the 60th annual National Day of Prayer on Thursday, just weeks after a federal appeals court dismissed a suit that challenged the law creating the day as unconstitutional.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson spoke of the "poignant moment" for the annual gathering on Capitol Hill after a federal court last year had cast uncertainty about future observances.

"Millions of people prayed, and many of them here in this room, and God heard and answered prayer and here we are today!" said Dobson, husband of Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

Joining other events in churches, on military bases and at courthouse steps across the country, about 400 people prayed for relief from natural disasters and thanked God for the capture and death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

"We are blessed to have the best military and the most sophisticated weaponry in the world," Shirley Dobson said. "They put their lives on the line to assure that justice was done."

President Obama, who discontinued his predecessor's annual observances at the White House, nonetheless issued a proclamation under the 1988 law that says the president shall designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

Continue reading After Court Gives OK, Christians Mark National Day of Prayer ...

May 3, 2011

Bin Laden's Death Reignites Torture Debate

As more details of Osama Bin Laden’s death emerge, a debate about the value of torture to gain intelligence has been revived, Wednesday's front page of The New York Times suggests.

AFP reports that the U.S. has downplayed the role of torture in the bin Laden hunt. Former Bush aides suggested bin Laden's death "justifies" torture, The Guardian reports.

Surveillance, not waterboarding led to bin Laden, argues Spencer Ackerman of Wired. It seems possible harsh interrogation tactics could have been used, says Chris Good of The Atlantic. There isn't enough information to prove either side's point, Joshua Keating suggests at Foreign Policy.

Two issues related to ethics came from President George W. Bush's memoir last year. He said that seeing his mother's miscarried fetus shaped his philosophy of life. He also said he personally approved the use of waterboarding.

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.

A 2009 study suggested that evangelicals were the most likely religious group to justify torture. Around 60 percent of evangelicals said use of torture against suspected terrorists can often or sometimes be justified. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey found that 50 percent of Catholics 46 percent of white mainline Protestants said the same thing.

The same year, however, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said that waterboarding is torture and and "violates everything we stand for." In 2006, CT published a cover story on "5 Reasons Torture Is Always Wrong." In 2007, the National Association of Evangelicals board of directors affirmed the Evangelical Declaration Against Torture.

May 3, 2011

Gay Marriage Opponents Push Appeal of Prop 8 Judge, Iowa Court Impeachment

Activists seeking to overturn court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage are focusing on the judges. In the on-going court process over California's Prop 8, those opposing same-sex marriage filed an appeal last week claiming that federal judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself because he is in a long-term relationship with a man.

Alliance Defend Fund (ADF) lawyers representing ProtectMarriage.com (Proposition 8's sponsors) said that Walker's sexuality per se was not an issue. “It is important to emphasize at the outset that we are not suggesting that a gay or lesbian judge could not sit on this case,” said the appeal.

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Instead, the ADF and ProtectMarriage.com claimed that Walker would have benefited from the same-sex marriage California because he was in a long-term relationship with a man.

ADF lead attorney in the case, Andy Pugno, said in a statement, “The American people have a right to a fair judicial process, free from even the appearance of bias or prejudice. Judge Walker’s 10-year-long same-sex relationship creates the unavoidable impression that he was not the impartial judge the law requires.”

During the Proposition 8 trial, talk of Walker's sexuality were rumors. Earlier this month, however, Walker told reporters that he did not recuse himself because no one asked him too and because it did not think it was relevant.

“If you thought a judge’s sexuality, ethnicity, national origin (or) gender would prevent the judge from handling a case, that’s a very slippery slope. I don’t think it’s relevant,” Walker said.

In Iowa, freshmen legislators are also attacking the credibility of judges.

Continue reading Gay Marriage Opponents Push Appeal of Prop 8 Judge, Iowa Court Impeachment...

May 1, 2011

How Should Christians Respond to Osama bin Laden's Death?

President Obama announced tonight that Osama bin Laden, leader of the group responsible for the September 11 attacks, was killed during an operation in Pakistan.

“On nights like this one, we can say that justice has been done.’’ He emphasized Al Qaeda's distinctions from Islam. "The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam." Here's a transcript of the address.

It wasn't long before some Christians began tweeting about Rob Bell's ideas by wondering whether Osama bin Laden is in hell. Here's a sample of some other Christian pastors, bloggers, tweeters' reactions on Twitter along the themes of celebration/justice:

Derek Webb: don't celebrate death, celebrate justice

Jared Wilson "the LORD had made them rejoice over their enemies." (2 Chron. 20:27). #prooftextingiseasy #theologynotsomuch

Ed Stetzer: Now that bin Laden is gone, can we have our civil liberties back, send home the #TSA and restore the 4th Amendment?

Esther Fleece: What's up with Christians tweeting verses like they are fortune cookies? This is not a simple discussion.

Eugene Cho: May the world be united in pursuing peace. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Jordan Sekulow: Crank this up as you celebrate the termination of bin Laden http://t.co/N7K9X8u

Cameron Strang: I was with the president in the East Room 13 days ago with some Christian leaders. A tad less significant than what happened there tonight.

Caryn Rivadeneira: Proud to be an American. Proud of the US special forces. Glad to see justice served. Not a fan of the cheering crowds.

Abraham Piper: Osama Bin Laden is dead? I want to see the long-form death certificate.

Rachel Held Evans: Trying to keep in mind that how I respond to the death of my enemies says as much about me as it does about my enemies.

Mark Driscoll: The cheering crowds remind us that justice is glorious & comes ultimately through Jesus cross or hell. Justice wins http://ow.ly/4KUXP

Update:
Mark Tooley sent CT the following statement:

"All persons of good will can rejoice that the U.S. military has successfully ended Osama bin Laden's career of terror. Sadly, since 9-11, many church voices have insisted that Christianity mandates pacifism. Hopefully there will be greater appreciation for The Church's historic stance that God ordained the state to punish the wicked."

Justin Taylor: The Government’s Sword as an Instrument of God’s Wrath | “[A governing authority] not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” —Romans 13:4

CT did a cover story in 2002 on "Islam a religion of peace?"