Family Research Council (FRC) recently released a new ad, saying that Christian leaders who are trying to protect poverty programs “well-meaning but misguided.” FRC's Faith Family Freedom Fund released radio ads in Ohio and Kentucky in response to a Sojourner-sponsored campaign. Sojourners' ad calls on Christians to join the Circle of Protection, a broad coalition of Christians that wants to reduce the debt without harming programs aimed at helping the poor.
Sojourners' ads hit the airwaves last week, targeting Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). The Sojourners ads feature local pastors calling for protection of the poor. The Ohio ad, for example, featured Pastor Nan Erbaugh (Lower Miami Church of the Brethren) who lives in Boehner's district. She said in the ad,
The Book of Proverbs teaches that “where there is no leadership, a nation falls” and “the poor are shunned, while the rich have many friends.” Sadly, Congress has failed to heed these Biblical warnings, and our own Rep. Boehner is risking the health of our economy if America defaults on its debts. All to protect tax cuts for the rich and powerful.
In budget debates, the rich have many political friends and lobbyists. The poor and needy do not. That's why thousands of pastors are joining a Circle of Protection to protect programs that keep the most vulnerable from going without food, shelter, and medicine.
Please join this growing chorus of faithful Americans by telling Representative Boehner not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. He is responsible to all of us, not just a few at the top. (listen to the Ohio ad)
The FRC countered the Sojourners ads with one of its own. The group said it was “countering an ad campaign by Sojourners opposing necessary cuts to government spending.” The FRC ad featured pastors who said government programs hurt the poor and get in the way of charity. The Ohio ad featured Pastor J.C. Church (Victory in Truth Ministries, Bucyrus, Ohio) and Bishop Harry Jackson (Hope Christian Church, Washington, D.C.):
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.
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.
Radio waves appear to be the conduit for Christian activism this summer. Christian organizations are running political ads "framing the issue as an urgent matter of Biblical morality," The Wall Street Journalreports.
The American Values Network spent nearly $200,000 placing radio ads advocating action against global warming, according to the report. Previous ads have described the effect of climate change and the need for "redemption."
The Wall Street Journal points out that at least one of the American Values ads supported by name the Waxman-Markey climate bill, which passed the House last week.
A mini politics and religion war continues in North Carolina after Sen. Elizabeth Dole's "Godless" ad about her challenger.
Democratic opponent Kay Hagan sued Dole and released her own television ad after Dole's campaign aired an earlier ad.
Hagan says in the ad that the campaign is about fixing the economy, "not bearing false witness against fellow Christians."
"Elizabeth Dole's attacks on my Christian faith are offensive," she says in the ad. "She even faked my voice in her TV ad to make you think I don't believe in God. Well, I believe in God. I taught Sunday School. My faith guides my life, and Sen. Dole knows it."
Dole's earlier ad said Hagan took "Godless money."
"A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser for Kay Hagan," the the first 30-second ad says. "Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money. What did Kay Hagan promise in return?"
The ad ends with an unknown woman's voice calling out, "There is no God."
A Christian group began airing a pro-Obama ad with former Congressman, pro-life Democrat Tony Hall today in Ohio.
The ad, paid for by the Matthew 25 Network, echoes biblical phrases in describing Barack Obama in an attempt to attract Bible-belt voters to his ticket. The ad states Obama "cares for the least of these," is a "Christian who believes God calls us to care for those in need," and will feed the hungry if elected.
The Matthew 25 Network is a Political Action Committee that raises support for political candidates it believes uphold biblical principles like promoting life, supporting families, environmental stewardship and working for peace and justice at home and abroad.
Matthew 25 in the Bible contains three parables: the story of the 10 virgins, the parable of the talents, and the story of the sheep and the goats separated on judgment day.
The ad, which emphasizes Obama's empathy with the poor and desire to help them, will air on 10 to 15 radio stations across Ohio.
Catholics United released a pro-life ad criticizing John McCain's policies on Wednesday.
The 30-second spot is directed at McCain and tells him "It's not enough to say you're pro-life – actions speak louder than words." The woman in the ad then cites McCain's voting record on the Iraq War, healthcare and care for pregnant women. Text at the end of the ad reads "Pro-life means ALL life."
Catholics United reports the ad will be running in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania through Friday, September 26.
Mara Vanderslice says a recent McCain ad is a dog whistle suggestion that Obama may be the Antichrist. For what it's worth, Hal Lindsey says the Antichrist "won’t be Barack Obama, but Obama’s world tour provided a foretaste of the reception he can expect to receive."
But that doesn't stop University of Pennsylvania anthropologist John L. Jackson Jr. from claiming that the ad is more than just an effort to paint Obama as the Antichrist -- it's an effort to paint him as Left Behind's Nicolae Carpathia.
Apocalyptic interpretations aside, Georgetown's Jacques Berlinerblau says the McCain ad is "is nothing less than an attempt to nuke Obama's religious appeal and credibility into oblivion."