Looking for love in all the wrong places?

October 16, 2007, 12:48 pm | Posted by

I’m not one to poke fun at people, but this ad for Family Research Council’s upcoming values voters summit is too clever by half:

If this month’s religion and politics news is anything near accurate, the religious right might find itself all dressed up with no place to go.

I will be live-blogging from FRC’s values voters summit this Friday! Stop by for my reports on the political courtship.

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On SCHIP: The Frost family speaking out

October 16, 2007, 3:21 am | Posted by

As you know, the right has been attacking the Frost family for both being too rich to receive and too poor to pay for health insurance and support their children in school. As others have noted, the bizarre logic lost on many is that making what used to be called a decent wage no longer allows a large family to protect a family from the exigencies of life. Here’s middle class Americana are in their own words:

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Family Research Council misrepresents Third Way

October 15, 2007, 9:17 am | Posted by

Some culture warriors just won’t come out of the trenches.

On Friday Tony Perkins sent Family Research Council email subscribers a newsletter titled “No Surrender,” which compared the culture wars to the Cold War and misrepresented Third Way’s “Come Let Us Reason Together” on multiple counts.

Referring to the supporters of paper, Perkins says “some people want to bring the ‘culture wars’ to an end by quitting the fight for core moral principles.”

None of the statements of support for the paper advocate abandonment of anyone’s core moral principles, nor does the paper itself. In fact, the papers’ authors and supporters repeatedly point out that the success of the paper rests on the fact that it honors the principles and values of both non-evangelical progressives and conservative evangelicals.

One of Perkins’ core moral principles is “the unalienable right to life of every unborn child,” and Come Let Us Reason Together describes and supports a comprehensive abortion reduction policy, which advances this principle. Yet for some reason, Perkins feels compelled to distort this fact using artful omission.

Let’s compare.


It also suggests uniting around the goal of reducing abortion by distributing contraception — even though abortion has skyrocketed in the years since the introduction of the birth control pill. [Note the specious logic.]

Third Way:

Among its central provisions, Ryan-DeLauro calls for sex education with an abstinence emphasis and medically accurate contraceptive information, better access to contraception for low-income women, after-school programs for kids, and help for parents on communicating their values to their teens. It also expands Medicaid coverage of pregnant women and S-CHIP coverage of children, addresses domestic violence against pregnant women, helps pregnant women and young mothers stay in school, and expands adoption assistance.

Speaks for itself.

He also takes some liberties interpreting the paper’s statement on sexuality issues.


It says that homosexuals deserve the same “public benefits” (i.e., marriage or civil unions) as others.

Third Way:

Protecting the human rights and dignity of all, even for those with whom one disagrees, is not only a consistent thing to do; it is a proud American tradition and a high moral and religious calling. America was founded on the principle that all have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and one of the deepest insights that is common to virtually all faith and moral traditions is that we should want for our brothers and sisters the same protections, public benefits, and opportunities we want for ourselves.

No legislation to protect the human dignity of gay and lesbian people should or need abridge the religious liberty of religious communities.

I don’t see any mention of gay marriage or civil unions in here, but I can see how Perkins might read it in between the lines. Note however that he didn’t ask the study’s authors, who are very accessible, what they meant, and note that he excluded the sentence in the report that follows the one he quotes, which directly addresses FRC and the religious right’s long-held objection to pretty much any legislation that does anything for homosexual Americans. Perkins’ assessment is more self-serving than thorough.

Perkins also has the temerity to say that “civil dialogue is possible” amidst this series of dubious assertions. Yet in addition to shading the truth about Third Way’s report, he takes a derisive tone by repeatedly using the word “progressive” in quotes, as if people who identify themselves as progressives use the word as some ruse, or as if the term itself is illegitimate.

Perkins proves himself a resolute culture warrior by attacking Third Way’s report, and in so doing shows why the culture wars are bound to produce nothing but division and mistrust. War is inherently destructive, and the metaphorical culture war is no exception.

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Friday news wrap

October 12, 2007, 3:21 pm | Posted by

One of my great pleasures here at Faith In Public Life is putting together the daily newsreel. It is a fun process, and it forces me to take a pretty wide view of what’s going in faith and politics news. On Fridays I like to take a look back at the way things unfolded over the course of the week. The week-in-review will become a regular Friday feature here, but next week I’ll instead be live-blogging the Family Research Council’s “Washington Briefing.” (That’s the artist formerly known as the Values Voters Summit.)

The past two weeks have been chock full of stories that pointed to seismic activity on the right. Ever since Salon.com’s Michael Scherer broke the story on September 30 that religious right leaders were threatening to back a third party candidate if Giuliani got the GOP nomination, stories about the Religious Right’s political future (or lack thereof) have surfaced every day, largely by design of Dobson, Perkins, et al. If I were so inclined (and allowed), I could spend an entire day clipping video of Religious Right leaders on cable news and Sunday morning shows.

But by the end of this week, The Great Right Rift started to feel more like a shift in the wind. Stories of the cataclysm that will inevitably follow Giuliani’s inevitable nomination shared space with news that the religious right was beginning to take a shine to Romney, and Giuliani agreed to show at the Family Research Council’s straw poll next weekend. Turmoil abounds, and a schism is definitely possible, but the situation’s beginning to look less like armageddon and more like politics.

As readers of this blog are well aware, there was this paper about “common ground” released this week by some groups called “Third Way” and “Faith In Public Life,” but a different story about common ground was my favorite news item of the week. As first reported in Time and Newsweek, 138 preeminent Muslim leaders and scholars sent a letter to Christian leaders appealing to interfaith harmony and peace. (Full text of the letter here.)

Why care? Because getting such a broad and prominent group to sign onto a single statement of peace shows that all that talk about Islam being a religion of peace isn’t just a bunch of politically correct nonsense. Says Time:

It points out that both religions are founded on goodwill, not violence, and that many of the fundamental truths that were revealed to Muhammad — such as the necessity for the total devotion to God, the rejection of false gods, and the love of fellow human beings — are the same ones that came to other Christian and Jewish prophets.

Because of this, the letter says, Muslims are duty-bound by the Koran to treat believers of other faiths with respect and friendship — and that Muslims expect the same in return. “As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them — as long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes.”

With Christians making up about 33% of the world’s population and Muslims making up around 22%, the letter says that finding common ground, “is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders.” It is, instead, essential for the survival of humanity.

The New York Times noted that no Wahhabist signed the letter, but that doesn’t invalidate this gesture of solidarity and peace. We can all hope that this bears greater fruit, but the statement is a blessing in and of itself.

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Perfectly unbelievable

October 12, 2007, 4:34 am | Posted by

In Ann Coulter’s latest book-hawking tour, she slips up and tells the world what the Christian Right really thinks of Jews. (And America has the right to believe that until they publicly distance themselves from her comments below.)

Trotting out old ideas of supersessionism (right after saying how tolerant her brand of Christianity is), pulling an old reverse discrimination trick (by appealing to a fictional Seinfeld episode), and equating Heaven with a rich, monochromatic, heavily guarded political convention — it’s clear that she really doesn’t believe it. She just sells it.

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