All posts from “April 2012”

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April 30, 2012

White House Releases Public/Private Guidelines for Faith-based Groups

The 50-page report was issued Friday.

A new White House report that offers guidance on public/private partnerships between the government and faith-based groups leaves critical questions unanswered and does not resolve the issue of religious groups' ability to discriminate in hiring and firing, church-state watchdogs said.
The 50-page report, issued Friday, comes 18 months after President Obama issued an executive order calling for more transparency as faith-based groups work with the government to meet social needs.
The report breaks little new ground, but reaffirms that:
-- A faith-based organization can provide federally funded social services without removing religious art, scriptures and symbols from their facilities.
-- Explicitly religious activities can't be supported by federal funds but are permitted if they are funded privately and occur at a separate time and location from programs that receive government money.
-- Beneficiaries who object to the religious character of a provider must be referred promptly to an alternative.
Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, called the guidance "an important step" in implementing the recommendations from a blue-ribbon advisory board.
"A diverse group of faith and nonprofit leaders proposed ways to strengthen the government's relationship with faith-based organizations in a manner that protects religious liberty and the separation of church and state, and we are glad to move these recommendations forward," he said.
The report includes detailed examples on separating federally funded programs from privately funded religious activities, including distinct web pages and careful reporting of travel and use of electronic equipment.

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April 16, 2012

Will Evangelicals Vote for a Mormon Candidate?

If past elections predict future results, many evangelicals will likely vote for Mitt Romney.

With Rick Santorum out of the Republican contest for the presidential nomination and Mitt Romney all but the official nominee, the political question of the moment is whether evangelicals will support Romney in the general election.

In the general election, most Republican evangelicals will likely vote for Romney, based on previous elections. Overall, around two-thirds of evangelical voters are expected to vote Romney in the general election. In head to head between Romney and President Obama, 72 percent of evangelicals would vote for Romney, compared to 25 percent who would vote for Obama, according to Pew. Just 21 percent of evangelicals approve of Obama, compared to 51 percent of Americans.

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Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told NPR that evangelical voters would support Romney, particularly when the opponent is President Obama.

“I think that people have to understand that being for Rick Santorum does not necessarily mean you're anti-Romney,” Land said. “And against Barack Obama, it will not be very difficult at all for Mr. Romney to garner the support of both the evangelicals, unless he were to do something catastrophic, like pick a pro-choice running mate, which I don't think he's going to do.”

Land also noted that evangelicals often supported Romney. While most of Rick Santorum's supporters were evangelical, most evangelicals did not vote for Santorum. The former Pennsylvania senator would have been doomed without the support of social conservatives. But most evangelicals voted for other candidates, including Romney.

Romney did very well among evangelicals in New England, but received less support in the South. In the battleground states like Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin, Romney received around 40 percent of the evangelical Republican vote.

Gary Bauer, president of American Values, was one of Santorum's supporters who told the New York Times said that he will now support Romney.

“Going to the general election, I will do everything I can for Governor Romney,” Bauer said. “But his campaign has got to make it easy for me to help them, and not make it hard by being tempted to pull back on conservative issues.”

But what may count most is the support of activists who run the phone banks, knock on doors, and give money. Ralph Reed told CNN that Romney may be able to count on votes, but he needs the grassroots support, too.

"Mitt Romney will win the support of evangelicals and conservatives because his opponent is Barack Obama. But he needs the grassroots enthusiasm of activists who are for him, not just against Obama," Reed said.

Mark DeMoss, an evangelical publicist and a senior advisor to the Romney campaign, told the Huffington Post that the campaign has already been contacted by evangelical political leaders and may convene a summit to discuss issues and build support for the general election.

"I'm optimistic that things are coming together nicely behind Mitt Romney and could do so fairly quickly," DeMoss said. Social conservatives will need to convince Romney that he needs their support. Many live in southern states where Romney should be able to win with or without their enthusiastic support. Social conservatives failed to show that they were capable of mobilizing voters in the Republican primary. Just before the South Carolina primary, leaders from political groups with evangelical constituencies met in Texas to coalesce around a candidate, picking Santorum. A week later, most evangelicals in South Carolina voted for Newt Gingrich.

April 10, 2012

Despite Pulling Much Evangelical Support, Santorum Jumps Out of Presidential Race

Evangelical leaders and voters rallied behind the candidate, but the former Pennsylvania senator dropped out today.

Rick Santorum announced today that he will no longer seek the Republican nomination for the presidency. The former Pennsylvania senator told campaign supporters in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania that it was time to end his bid for the White House, a departure that all but finalizes Romney as the Republican presidential nominee.

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“We made a decision over the weekend that, while this presidential race for us is over — for me — and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting,” Santorum said.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was one of the evangelical leaders who met in January to support Santorum (Land, however, does not endorse candidates). On Sunday, Land said on CBS's “Face the Nation” that Santorum should consider stepping aside.

“As his friend,” Land said, “I would say to him you know, you ought to seriously consider leaving the race now. In eight years he’ll be three years younger than Romney is now.”

Santorum was expected to stay on at least through the Pennsylvania primary, but recent events changed this decision. Politically, Santorum faced a greater threat in his home state than anticipated. A loss in the Keystone State would not only seal his fate as a candidate, it would impinge on his future prospects in politics.

Personally, Santorum faced the challenge of having a child with a serious medical condition. Santorum's daughter, Bella, was hospitalized due to pneumonia, which was potentially life-threatening because Bella suffers from Trisomy 18 (a rare genetic disorder). Bella was released from the hospital Monday evening, and Rick Santorum cancelled campaign events to be with his family.

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April 3, 2012

Republican Congressional Leaders Get Cold Feet on Marriage

Leaders are more focused on the economy ahead of the election.

Republican leaders in the House are avoiding legislation dealing with traditional marriage, Congressional Quarterly (CQ) and Politico report. The economy—not social issues—will be the focus of the congressional agenda.

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At the beginning of March, House conservatives introduced the Marriage Protection Act, which would kick all marriage cases from federal courts to states. A second bill would amend the Constitution to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Both pieces of legislation are now off the table.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) cosponsored the federal marriage amendment, but he acknowledged that the issue is not front-and-center on the agenda. “That’s not something we’re focused on now,” Gohmert told Politico.

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