Casey Schoeneberger, Faith in Public Life’s Media Relations Assistant, came to FPL from NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby’s Associate Program after studying economics at Saint Joseph’s University. She blogs about tax and budget issues on Bold Faith Type.
Echoing a CBS poll released last month, new polling from Gallup out this week finds that support for the death penalty fell to a 39 year low. While the majority of American’s (61%) continue to approve of the use of the death penalty, support is at its lowest point since 1972. Republicans maintained widespread support (73%) of the practice while approval among Democrats and people under 30 continues to falter.
The poll comes on the heels of the highly publicized execution of Troy Davis despite doubt about his guilt–the execution prompted widespread protest including a letter from over 300 Catholic theologians and scholars signed a petition calling for an end to capital punishment in general. In light of the theologians’ statement, consistent polling, and intense public outrage surrounding recent executions, the tide continues to turn in opposition to state-sanctioned executions.
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If repetition is the key to success, Herman Cain succeeded by mentioning his “9-9-9″ economic plan 24 times at Tuesday’s GOP Presidential Debate. No matter the question, Cain’s “9-9-9″ economic plan was the answer. But political brand awareness doesn’t tell us anything about the actual feasibility of the plan or the moral impact it would have on struggling Americans. Unfortunately for Cain, the results of those analyses are in and they don’t look good.
Eliminating the existing tax code in favor of a 9 percent flat tax on corporate income, 9 percent personal income tax and 9 percent national sales tax, Cain’s plan radically shifts the tax code in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor — harming the most vulnerable by creating new taxes on basic goods like groceries and clothing, while delivering savings to the wealthiest by abolishing the capital gains tax and rescinding progressive tax rates. Cain defended his attack on the poor during an interview Wednesday morning with George Stephanopoulos:
Like Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal, Cain’s “9-9-9″ plan is yet another thinly veiled attempt to favor wealthy individuals and corporations while further destroying the economic well-being of working and middle-class Americans. Despite Cain’s assertion that people will support “9-9-9″, consistent polling finds broad support for progressive taxes and opposition to tax plans that favor a small portion of privileged Americans.
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David Gibson’s Religion News Service story this week highlights a petition that Faith in Public Life shared with reporters. The petition, signed by over 250 Catholic theologians, calls for an end to the death penalty in the wake the recent executions of Troy Davis and Lawrence Brewer. Their effort was especially timely in light of the Catholic bishops’ message for October’s “Respect Life Month” campaign, which failed to include capital punishment among the key issues highlighted.
“Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, who wrote the message, focused tightly on the bishops’ increasingly fierce fight with President Obama over mandated contraception coverage, allegations of growing discrimination against believers, concerns about excess embryos from fertility treatments and long-term care of the infirm.
Conspicuously absent from the letter was any mention of the death penalty.
That struck more than a few Catholics as odd, especially in the wake of the controversial execution of Troy Davis in Georgia and because DiNardo’s own governor, Rick Perry, has unapologetically defended his state’s record of leading the nation in executions as he campaigns for the White House.
Vincent Miller, a Catholic theologian at the University of Dayton, called the omission “troubling.”
“If contraception is a life issue,” he said, “surely state-sponsored execution is one.”
Miller was one of 256 — and counting — Catholic scholars and activists who have signed a petition calling for the abolition of the death penalty in the wake of the Sept. 21 executions of Davis and Texas white supremacist Lawrence Brewer. The petition cites church teaching, as well as legal authorities and the latest research, to argue the capital punishment is racially unjust as well as immoral.”
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Further proving how much influence Tea Party members yield over the Republican Presidential field, new polling this week conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service suggests there are large divisions between the beliefs of Tea Party members and the general public on climate change. While “nearly 7-in-10 Americans say that there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades”, only 4-in-10 Americans who identify as Tea Party members agree.
Defying the majority of scientifically-supported research, Tea Party members have radically influenced Republican candidates on climate change. Not only do Tea Party members reject that man-made climate change exists, but as Ezra Klein aptly pointed out,
“…Tea Partiers are also by far the most confident in their beliefs — more likely to say they are “very well informed” and that they “do not need any more information about global warming.” Note that this dovetails with earlier research finding that when you give those dismissive of global warming more information, it only serves to harden their doubts.”
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At last week’s Religion News Writers Conference, John Green of the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life and the University of Akron, along with Laura Olson of Clemson University, talked at a panel about “Religion and the 2012 Elections.”
One of Green’s most interesting points came in response to a recent study claiming that the Catholic Bishops’ Faithful Citizenship guide held “no influence” over Catholics in the pews. Green disputed the belief that Catholic Bishops may have a waning influence on voters in the coming election, saying that it may not matter if Catholics even take a look at the guide. What matters is what Green referred to as an “existing cognitive framework”. That framework allows for Catholic Social Teaching to remain couched in Catholic voters’ brains long after they have left the pews or read their last voting guide.
Co-panelist Laura Olson of Clemson University focused her remarks on the religious middle and their enormous influence in the 2012 Election. Both Democrats and Republicans will claim the “budget is a moral document”, but it is not clear yet whether the religious middle will be attracted to a continually shrinking federal budget, or a budget that shows justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable.
Photo: John Green & Laura Olson
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