All posts from “Governors”

January 20, 2011

Who is My Brother? Alabama Governor Apologizes for Remarks

Robert Bentley served as governor of Alabama for only a few hours before he stepped into controversy. Bentley spoke to an audience at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church following his inauguration Monday. He spoke on his responsibility as governor to serve all people in Alabama, regardless of race or party. Ironically, his comments resulted in misunderstanding and conflict, according to the Birmingham News:

There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit, but if you have been adopted in God's family like I have, and like you have if you're a Christian and if you're saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.

Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother.

Shortly after making his remarks, Bentley clarified his statement. His office released a statement that said, “The governor clearly stated that he will be the governor of all Alabamians - Democrat, Republican and Independent, young, old, black and white, rich and poor.”

His statement was theologically correct, said Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

"It shows a startling naivete," Land told Julia Duin. "If I were governor of a state, I'd never voluntarily say that."

Bentley did not retract his statement, but he did apologize if his words offended people of other faiths.

"I will never deny being a born-again Christian. I do have core beliefs and I will die with those core beliefs, but I do not want to be harmful to others. And I will die if I have to defend someone else's right to worship as they choose,” said Bentley.

Continue reading Who is My Brother? Alabama Governor Apologizes for Remarks...

December 30, 2010

Pro-life Efforts to Watch in 2011

Although November’s mid-term elections halved the number of pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, there are hopeful signs for pro-life legislation in the New Year.

January will mark the beginning of the arguably most pro-life House ever,” according to a statement released by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairman of the bi-partisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has stated that “he wants to be the most pro-life Speaker ever” and Americans United for Life chose Boehner for an award.

The House will likely tackle the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 5939) in the upcoming legislative session. Introduced by Smith and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) in July, Smith said the bill is designed to protect conscience clauses in health care nation-wide. Protecting existing conscience rights remains a high priority in 2011. The Alliance Defense Fundsays that the Obama administration “wants to dismantle” a rule passed by the Bush administration in 2008 that prohibited recipients of federal money from discriminating against healthcare professionals refusing to participate in procedures, such as abortion, for reasons of conscience.

Prohibiting the use of federal money to support abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, will also appear on the legislative agenda. The Title 10 Abortion Provider Prohibition Act (HR 614), co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), would prohibit all federal assistance to organizations performing abortions during the period of assistance. Pence said that the act would close the loopholes in the Hyde Amendment, which allows federally-funded organizations to perform abortions if such procedures are separately funded. In June,the Government Accountability Office foundthat over $1 billion in taxpayer money went to pro-abortion organizations in the past 8 years.

Various states are also expected to tackle pro-life issues in 2011. According to an unreleased NARAL Pro-Choice America analysispreviewed to Politico, the number of anti-abortion governors rose from 21 to 29 in the November election, and the number of states with governments where the governor and the majority legislature are both considered anti-abortion increased from 10 to 15.

In states ranging from Iowa to Tennessee, where anti-abortion legislation has often stalled in committee, anticipation is building that a change in leadership could change the prospects for pro-life legislation as well. Kansas provides one example, where current Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson vetoed a measure preventing the re-establishment of a late-term abortion clinic in the state (following the death of George Tiller and the subsequent closure of his clinic in Wichita). However, Parkinson’s replacement, Governor-elect Republican Sam Brownback, told supporters he would sign any pro-life bill that made it to his desk.

Following Nebraska’s lead—the state passed a late-term abortion ban this year based on the concept of fetal pain—pro-life organizations expect more states to challenge abortion laws by proposing restrictions related to fetus age. Several states, including Kansas, New Jersey, and South Carolina, considered bans on post-viability abortion (abortion past the age a fetus is considered able to live outside the womb) in 2010, according to Americans United for Life. Typically, the “post-viability” age is considered to be between 21 to 28 weeks (Roe v. Wade established viability as “about” 28 weeks); Nebraska’s ban sets the restriction back to 20 weeks. “[F]rom our perspective, if we aren't bucking up against Roe, we're not doing our job,” said Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Julie Schmit-Albin. "So we did our job in Nebraska and now it's time for the other states to do their job."

Other possible state legislation proposing abortion restrictions will likely include laws requiring an ultrasound to be shown to the patient prior to an abortion--such as the one passed by Oklahoma this year--and measures responding to this year’s federal health care reform that would ban insurance coverage of abortion at the state level.

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).

February 26, 2010

What to Watch: Sanfords to Divorce

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's divorce from his wife of 20 years will become final in mid-March, a judge ruled today. He and his wife Jenny Sanford have spoke openly of their Christian faith.

In a recent FocusFamilyINSIGHT from Glenn Stanton, he juxtaposed Jenny Sanford with Gayle Haggard, both of whom recently published best-selling books on their husbands' infidelity.

Given the shattered marriage covenants due to the husbands’ infidelities, both women have biblical grounds for divorce.

Is one’s decision more right, more virtuous than the other? Good question.

Both women have important, honorable and ultimately pro-marriage and family reasons for their very different decisions.

Gayle Haggard recently told Christianity Today her reason for staying,
“I stayed because I believe in the teachings of Jesus, that if we choose forgiveness and love, our relationships can heal. …I wasn't going to let the struggle that had been going on with him disqualify or undo the 30 years of life we had built together… I wasn't going to let this thing deny all of what we have spent our lives invested in.”

That is a remarkably beautiful statement of profound faith and commitment in the face of a very real and very broken situation. Jenny Sanford said publicly she was committed to and very much wanted to save her marriage. But she later concluded that would not be possible because her husband refused to end his adulterous relationship. She made the love-must-be-tough decision that both love and dignity required for herself, her four boys, even her husband.

Other items from the week's news:

-- The President met with congressional leaders yesterday for a health care summit. Tobin Grant rounds up reactions in his weekly Political Advocacy Tracker for CT.

-- A Texas tax appraisal district will begin exempting a $3.3 million jet owned by Kenneth Copeland Ministries from property taxes.

-- A group of Ohio ministers complained to the Internal Revenue Service that a house on C Street in D.C. connected to the Fellowship should no longer be granted a tax-exempt status granted to a church. Here's more from Laurie Goodstein at The New York Times.

Continue reading What to Watch: Sanfords to Divorce...

February 22, 2010

Dobson Endorses Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson today endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry for re-election, according to CNN.

Perry faces a primary battle against Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who was endorsed by former President George H.W. Bush in January.

"Over the years, Gov. Perry has established a record that is consistently pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-religious liberty," Dobson said in a statement. "No other candidate in this race measures up to the high standards established by Gov. Perry on these critical issues of our day."

In the 2008 election, Dobson endorsed former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the primaries and later endorsed Arizona Senator John McCain. Dobson retired from his role at Focus on the Family but announced he would begin his own radio show. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Dobson's show will begin February 26.

November 3, 2009

Republican Chris Christie Takes New Jersey

Chris Christie became the first Republican in several years to become New Jersey's governor in the Democratic-leaning state.

Christie.jpg

He joins Virginia governor-elect Bob McConnell as the second Republican Catholic to be voted into gubernatorial office today.

The Associated Press reports that with 75 percent of the precincts reporting, Christie leads with 50 percent of the vote over his Democratic opponent Gov. Jon Corzine, who is left with 44 percent of the vote. President Obama invested in the race, campaigning with Corzine five times on three visits.

During the campaign, Corzine targeted Christie in an ad criticizing Christie's support of a constitutional ban on abortion and opposition of funding stem cell research.

Continue reading Republican Chris Christie Takes New Jersey...

November 3, 2009

Republican Bob McDonnell Wins Virginia Governor's Race

mcdonnell.jpg

Republican Bob McDonnell won Virginia's governor race today, becoming the second Catholic governor of Virginia, the Associated Press reports. Outgoing Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine became the first.

The former state attorney general defeated Democratic candidate, R. Creigh Deeds, who attempted to slam McDonnell for his 1989 master’s thesis while attending Regent University. McDonnell had described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. Deeds's strategy didn't work, the Washington Post writes.

The strategy appeared to work for a time, as polls tightened. But McDonnell fought back with a series of TV spots featuring supportive testimonials from his daughter, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, and a gallery of professional women who had worked for him in the attorney general's office. Increasingly, voters said they saw Deeds's campaign as a largely negative one that failed to define his own vision for the state.

Continue reading Republican Bob McDonnell Wins Virginia Governor's Race ...

October 13, 2009

Conservative Issues Become Ammunition in Governor's Races

Virginia Democrat Creigh Deeds continues to slam Republican Bob McDonnell for a thesis he wrote 20 years ago while attending Regent University. In the thesis, McDonnell described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family, said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators," and called a Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples "illogical."

Deeds took the thesis and ran with it, using it to paint McDonnell as a "social crusader" during last night's debate and in at least four different TV ads. One ad features six women who question McDonnell's voting record. "What did this thesis say about women?" another ads asks. "A lot ... abortion should be outlawed and birth control should be restricted--even for married adults."

McDonnell responded with two ads. One features women who worked with him while he was state Attorney General, while the other is narrated by his daughter, Jeanine, who served as a platoon leader in Iraq. McDonnell, who is Catholic, has five children.

Another ad is being aired by the Virginia Values Voter PAC, tied to the Family Research Council; this one accuses Deeds of flip-flopping on the issues of same-sex marriage and partial-birth abortion.

Continue reading Conservative Issues Become Ammunition in Governor's Races...

January 9, 2009

Augustine on Blagojevich

The debate over the validity of Gov. Rod Blagojevish's appointment of Roland Burris as the next senator from illinois is ultimately a legal issue and not a moral one, according to Stanley Fish in today's New York Times. Fish, a professor of law at Florida International University, says the topic has been debated thoroughly already, by St. Augustine:

This debate was about the status of churchmen who had cooperated with the emperor Diocletian during the period when he was actively persecuting Christians. The Donatists argued that those who had betrayed their faith under pressure and then returned to the fold when the persecutions were over had lost the authority to perform their priestly offices, including the offices of administering the sacraments and making ecclesiastical appointments. In their view, priestly authority was a function of personal virtue, and when a new bishop was consecrated by someone they considered tainted, they rejected him and consecrated another.

Augustine, however, argued that authority was a function of one's office, not one's character: "It is the office that speaks, appoints and consecrates. Its legitimacy does not vary with personal qualities of the imperfect human being who is the temporary custodian of a power that at once exceeds and transforms him."

Here's guessing that another saint, one named Paul, would agree. The apostle urged obedience to the governing authorities, who happened to represent the Roman Empire, not known for its commitment to fairness. Said Paul:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

August 26, 2008

Who's on Tonight: Not Just Clinton

All of the buzz today is on Hillary Clinton's big speech tonight (and, to a lesser extent, Bill Clinton's speech tomorrow night).

But this is also a fascinating night at the Democratic podium for a several other reasons. First, this is the night of Bob Casey Jr.'s address. It's an important symbolic moment because of the decision in 1992 to deny then-Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey Sr. a speaking spot at the convention. Casey had wanted to talk about his opposition to abortion. Some suggest that the invitation to Casey Jr. demonstrates a Democratic Party that's more open to prolifers. Others say he's not as prolife as his father was.

It's unclear whether Casey will talk about abortion, but a few hours before his speech you'll almost certainly hear the subject come up as Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards addresses the convention. A big difference: Casey is speaking in prime time. Richards is on around 4 p.m. (Casey also has a much better slot than Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Casey's opponent in the tumultuous 2002 primary race for governor. Reckon that has more to do with Casey's strong support for Obama over Rendell's major backing of Clinton than it does with either's views on abortion.)

Another speech tonight that could be more conservative or more religious than usual: that of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. The United Methodist minister did very well among evangelicals in 2006.

Mara Vanderslice and Eric Sapp won't be speaking tonight, but their presence will be felt. Their old organization, Common Good Strategies, is credited with helping Strickland, Casey, Kansas Gov.Kathleen Sebelius, and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm -- all of whom are speaking tonight -- win election in 2006 by emphasizing their religious backgrounds. All the podium is missing is Sen. Sherrod Brown (Oh.) and Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.), but if they did that they'd probably have to make one of those video tributes to Vanderslice. (Vanderslice is now with the Matthew 25 Network. Sapp is at the Eleison Group.)