All posts from “November 2011”

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November 30, 2011

For Herman Cain, Alleged Affair Could Prove More Damaging than Harassment Claims

Cain campaign says questions about ‘private sexual life’ are out of bounds.

GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain is “reassessing” his candidacy in light of an allegation that he had a 13-year-long extramarital affair. Many social conservatives are reassessing their support for the Cain campaign since Atlanta businesswoman Ginger White told a Fox News affiliate that she was involved in a “very inappropriate situation, relationship” with Cain.

Cain campaign suggested that such an extramarital affair would be private and not a legitimate topic for public scrutiny. The allegation of an extended affair comes on the heels of claims of sexual harassment during Cain's time as president of the National Restaurant Association. Cain has denied both the affair with White and the harassment charges.

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When Cain faced harassment charges, many conservatives came to the candidate's defense. The charges were simply that—allegations. Cain was considered innocent until proven guilty. Newt Gingrich, one of Cain's rivals for the Republican nomination, told NBC on November 11, “Up to now [Cain] seems to have satisfied most people that the [harassment] allegations aren't proven, and that having people who hold press conferences isn't the same as a conviction. So I think people are giving him the benefit of the doubt.”

According to a poll of likely Iowa Republican voters, born-again Christians and cable news watchers became more supportive of Cain after the harassment allegations.

A poll began a week before the November 7 press conference by women claiming harassment allegations against Cain and ran for another week after. While the average voter grew slightly less supportive of Cain after the press conference, those who watched cable news saw Cain as more intelligent, more trustworthy, and a stronger leader after the allegations than they did before the press conference.

“The effect of the scandal on perceptions of Cain depends on where people are getting their information,” said Dave Peterson, interim director of the Harkin Institute of Public Policy. "Those who tune in to the major networks react as one might expect: they view him more negatively. Cable news watchers, in contrast, report more positive assessments, suggesting that they are rallying behind Cain.”

Among likely Republican caucus goers, there was a drop in the support for Cain among Catholics and Mainline Protestants (those who did not say they are “born again”). Among evangelical, born-again voters, however, there was an increase in support for Cain after the harassment claims, according to data Peterson provided to Christianity Today.

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November 22, 2011

Poll: Romney's Mormon Faith Not a General Election Issue for Republican Evangelicals

Republican evangelicals are less likely than other religious voters to support Mitt Romney in the primary elections, but they are more likely vote for him over President Obama in the general election, a new poll suggests.

Among Republican voters, just 8 percent say Romney’s religion makes them less likely to vote for him and 44 percent say it would not make a difference. Among white evangelical Republican voters, however, 15 percent say Romney’s religion would make them less likely to support him.

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Still, voters could find themselves voting for Romney if he wins the GOP nomination, according to the poll released Wednesday from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. About 90 percent of white evangelical Republican voters say they would back Romney over Obama in a general election matchup.

In the general election, those who say they attend religious services at least once
a week were more likely to vote for Romney over Obama (55% to 41%). "Overall, white evangelicals would be among the strongest Romney supporters if he is the GOP nominee challenging Obama next fall," the survey suggests.

White evangelical Protestant voters appear to have mixed opinions about Romney; 46 percent of them expressed favorable views compared to 40 percent of those who suggested unfavorable views. Romney would likely find weakest support among white evangelical Republicans who agree with the Tea Party where just 11 percent of these voters support Romney for the GOP nomination compared to 39 percent who said they would back Herman Cain.

In the poll, conducted November 9-14, Cain led Romney (17% to (26%) among white evangelical Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Romney was running nearly neck-and-neck with Cain among white Catholic Republican voters (26% and 23%). Cain's standing in the polls has dropped since some women accused him of sexually harassing them. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich's numbers have been up recently, and 19 percent of evangelical voters suggested they support the former House speaker.

Continue reading Poll: Romney's Mormon Faith Not a General Election Issue for Republican Evangelicals...

November 22, 2011

Congress Protects Hunger Programs from Budget Cuts

Religious groups lobbying for hunger programs were pleasantly surprised last week when President Obama signed the agriculture appropriations act. The law unexpectedly protected—and even expanded—programs aimed at reducing hunger both in the United States and around the globe.

When Congress considered spending reductions this summer, a broad coalition of religious leaders and international aid organizations mobilized to keep funding for hunger programs. Evangelical and other Christian groups formed the Circle of Protection, a coalition that lobbied the president and congressional leaders not to cut back on aid to vulnerable populations.

World Vision president Richard Stearns wrote an open letter to Congress last month, calling for the protection of humanitarian programs. “The United States’ global humanitarian programs are some of the most cost-effective programs within the federal budget,” Stearns said. “Together, they amount to $50 per American per year, just 14 cents per American per day. There are very few places within the federal budget where such a small amount of money can directly save so many lives.”

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November 18, 2011

Iowa Poll Shows Religious Breakdown in GOP Race

Those who will likely vote in Iowa’s presidential caucuses remain undecided, a new poll suggests. Those that did report an opinion in the poll admitted that they could still be persuaded to change their vote.

Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney are leading the pack among likely caucus goers, according to a poll conducted by Iowa State University, The Gazette, and KCRG of 1,256 of registered Iowa voters. Other candidates received single-digit support in the Hawkeye State.

Herman Cain received the most votes among Catholics (35 percent) and Protestant/born-again (25 percent), but he has very little support among secular voters (10 percent). Secular voters represent a small portion of caucus voters, but they are the most unified with six-in-ten of them backing Ron Paul.

Among religious voters, born-again Protestants are the least supportive of Mitt Romney. Only one-in-eight born-again voters support the former governor of Massachusetts, compared to nearly one-in-four support among other Protestants. Evangelicals are twice as likely to support Rick Perry compared to other religious voters.

Michele Bachmann is also trailing in the poll, partly due to her lack of support (0 percent in the poll) among Catholics. Bachmann's former membership in a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran church in Stillwater, Minnesota, previously drew some attention earlier this year because the Synod suggests that the Catholic Papacy is the Antichrist.

The poll found a high level of fluidity among voters. Dave Peterson of Iowa State said that the race in Iowa is still up for grabs.

“My take away from these results is that voters are still really unsure of whom they will support. Over half of the people are still trying to decide, and another third are merely leaning toward a candidate,” said Peterson, who is interim director of the Harkin Institute of Public Policy. “When asked, people will express a preference for one candidate, but that they will also admit that this is a weak attitude. This is anyone's race at this point.”

Religious voters appear fairly undecided.

“Religious voters are particularly fluid at this time," Peterson said. "While only around 16 percent of all voters say they have made up their mind, the rate is even lower amongst voters of faith. 37 percent of secular voters say that they have made up their mind, but less than 10 percent of voters who identify as either Catholic or Protestant have made a firm choice.”
Iowans cast votes for the GOP nomination on January 3.

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November 17, 2011

What Evangelical Women Want: The Political Gender Gap

Michele Bachmann and Beverly LaHaye appear to be the exception, not the rule, in conservative politics. A recent “Battleground Poll” conducted by Politico and George Washington University suggests that there is a gap between male and female evangelicals.

The November poll interviewed 1,000 likely voters about their plans for the upcoming election, their views of current events, and their evaluations of government. Among those interviewed, evangelical men were some of the most conservative.

Evangelical men in the survey preferred a generic Republican to Obama by a two-to-one margin. Two-thirds of evangelical men said they would vote for the Republican candidate next year. Only 27 percent of these men (including African Americans and other minorities) said they would support Obama.

Evangelical women, however, were almost evenly split, with around 44 percent favoring Obama and 43 percent supporting the Republican, about the same as men who are not evangelical.

Women who are not evangelical are the most supportive of Obama with a majority reporting they will vote for him next fall. A majority of these women (58%) also identify themselves as Democrats. In contrast, 64 percent of evangelical men say that they are Republicans. For evangelical women and men who are not evangelical, there is an even split between Republicans and Democrats.

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November 14, 2011

Tony Perkins: Obama Is Hostile, Disdainful of Christianity

Family Research Council recently elevated the criticism of President Obama, saying the President disrespects Christianity and is creating an environment “hostile” to Christianity.

During last week’s broadcast of Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, FRC president Tony Perkins joined a discussion over the Air Force Academy’s apology for promoting participation in the Operation Christmas Child program conducted by Samaritan's Purse. Host James Dobson said he suspected that the Obama administration influenced the apology (though he suggested he had no proof of this). Perkins said the President disrespected Christianity:

I have no doubt, as you look back over the last two and a half of years of this administration, that the President has used his bully pulpit—he has done public policy but beyond the public policy that he’s pushed for—that it's created an atmosphere that is hostile toward Christianity. And we’re seeing this played out all across this culture. And the courts have been emboldened by this. And now you see the military doing it as well. There’s no end to this as long as you have someone who is the Commander-in-Chief, who is the president of this country that has a disdain for Christianity.

Alliance Defense Fund president Alan Sears and American Values president Gary Bauer joined Perkins on Dobson's show.

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November 9, 2011

National Association of Evangelicals Calls for Nuclear Cutbacks

The National Association of Evangelicals on Tuesday (Nov. 8) called for greater precautions with nuclear weapons and a renewed effort toward disarmament.

"The rules have changed in the past 25 years," NAE President Leith Anderson said. "Nuclear weapons don't serve as a deterrent to the dangers of our post-Cold War era, which include rogue nations and terrorist groups."

The resolution calls for taking a second look at the Cold War doctrine of deterrence in light of shifting global politics, and challenges the U.S. to pursue new negotiations with Russia and other nuclear countries.

It does not, however, call for unilateral disarmament.

The resolution also challenges the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, which would create significant impediments for countries to develop new, usable nuclear weapons. The U.S. is one of only nine remaining nations that must ratify the treaty for it to come into force.

The board of directors of NAE, which represents more than 45,000 churches from over 40 evangelical denominations, approved the resolution at its semiannual meeting in October.

Anderson said nuclear stockpiles should be "a matter of national attention" because "one of the greatest terrorist threats would be a dirty bomb or some rogue nation that used a nuclear weapon."

With the nation's current attention focused almost exclusively on the economy, NAE Vice President Galen Carey said a nuclear attack would cause tremendous economic devastation.

"Over time, if we're able to negotiate a multilateral reduction to nuclear weapons, it may also lead to some savings in the national budget," said Carey.

November 7, 2011

Air Force Academy Apologizes for Promoting Franklin Graham's Operation Christmas Child

Officials at the Air Force Academy have issued an apology to its cadets for an e-mail encouraging them to support Operation Christmas Child.

Last week, Academy cadets received an e-mail encouraging them to support the Christian-affiliated toy drive, which is sponsored by Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. The e-mail, which was sent by cadets, should have been sent through the Chaplain Corps, as it is “responsible for advertising faith-based programs and events,” the Academy stated in a press release.

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"This was an oversight by me that has been addressed and forwarded through the proper channels," Brig. Gen. Richard Clark said. "The cadets had nothing but good intentions, but this was something that should have started with the Chaplains, not the Cadet Wing. That doesn't mean the cadets can't volunteer for the Christmas toy drive; they can participate through the Cadet Chaplain Corps.”

By November 2, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) had been contacted by more than 130 cadets and faculty members about the e-mail, the majority of whom were Protestants or Catholics, said MRFF president Michael Weinstein. Weinstein filed a complaint on behalf of those who had contacted him, and the following evening, the Air Force issued an apology.

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November 2, 2011

Obama Spokesman on Jobs: Bible Phrase Is 'The Lord Helps Those Who Helps Themselves'

President Barack Obama noted in speech today that the House ignored his jobs bill but passed legislation yesterday affirming that “In God We Trust” is the U.S. national motto.

“That’s not putting people back to work,” the president said in Virginia today. “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.”

As a follow-up to his speech, press secretary Jay Carney was asked by a reporter, “Isn’t it a bit much to bring God into the jobs debate?”

“Well, I believe the phrase from the Bible is, 'The Lord helps those who help themselves,’” Carney said at the White House daily news briefing. "And I think the point the President is making is that we should — we have it within our capacity to do the things to help the American people."

The White House noted later in the transcript "The Lord helps those who help themselves" is a "common phrase" and does not appear in the Bible. Many Christians cringe at the saying, suggesting that it diminishes the idea of grace. One's need for salvation rests on his or her dependence on God, evangelical theologians would likely argue.

Obama raised the issue of jobs when he met with members of the National Association of Evangelicals executive board last month. A source close to the president sent CT the following statement:

"The President was likely making the simple point that Congress should focus on helping those in need and putting people back to work; he’s done more to engage people of faith than any Democrat in recent memory. Those making hay out of this are just attempting to rile the faith community, they don’t genuinely think the Administration was being disrespectful."

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