We had an exciting year here at Bold Faith Type. New authors gave us the opportunity to write more posts on a wider array of topics, and our readership numbers continued to climb.
Here’s a round-up of some of our top posts from this past year. Feel free to remind us of your favorites in the comments.
In no particular order:
Working After Christmas? WWJD – Nick showed why Sens. DeMint and Kyl’s complaints about working the week after Christmas ring hollow, with responses from faith leaders.
Donahue defends Beck, but who’s the “phony”? – Beth explained why Catholic League President Bill Donohue’s defense of Glenn Beck’s anti-religious statements misrepresents Catholic teaching.
Faith leaders support Cordoba House, Denounce Anti-Muslim rhetoric – Dan featured the statement of over 40 diverse faith leaders in support of the Cordoba House project and against religious bigotry.
Misinformation in Action: Fox News and the TSA “Muslim Exemption” – Nick tracked down the myth that TSA was exempting Muslims from security screenings at airports.
Keeping our faith in our sights – Kristin highlighted a report from ABC Nightline news that a gun manufacturer was inscribing rifle sights for U.S. soldiers with Bible versus.
Faith Gets Better – Inspired by Gene Robinson’s “It Gets Better” video in response to the rash of LGBT teen suicides, we invited people of faith to submit their own videos to be featured.
Tea Party, Evangelicals and Race – Beth highlighted one of the American Values Survey’s most interesting (and troubling) findings: regressive racial attitudes are widespread among Tea Partiers.
The Real Stephen Colbert – Nick highlighted Stephen Colbert’s powerful testimony on Capitol Hill about his day working with migrant farm workers.
An authoritative analysis of the Senate health care bill’s abortion policy – Dan posted legal expert Tim Jost’s in-depth analysis of why claims that health reform would provide federal funding of abortion are untrue.
Post-Election Breakdown: Religious Voters, the Economy and Moral Values – John crunched the numbers on exit polls from the mid-term elections.
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Public Religion Research Institute released a post-election poll yesterday, which follows up on their American Values Survey released earlier this fall. The data on racial attitudes in the Tea Party and shifts in public opinion on gay rights have already made a splash in the blogosphere, but what jumped out at me was a finding suggesting that the distinction often drawn between “kitchen table” elections and “values voter” elections is a false dichotomy:
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of voters said that compared to previous elections, their faith or religious values played the same role this year in how they decided to vote. Nearly equal numbers of voters said that faith played a larger role this year (6%) as said it played a smaller role (8%).
Even in an election dominated by economic concerns (47% said the economy was their top concern, compared to 19 percent who said health care was most important), the role of faith didn’t diminish. This suggests that religion isn’t a compartmentalized influence only pertaining to social issues.
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Appearing on Face the Nation Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said
“People who supported us – political independents – want it repealed and replaced with something else. I think we owe it to them to try.”
As we noted last week, the interpretation of the election as a mandate to repeal health reform is dubious at best. According to the National Election Pool’s exit polls, 28 percent of midterm voters were independents, 56 percent of whom voted for Republican candidates. That equates to 15.7 percent of midterm voters being independents who cast their ballots for GOP House candidates. Meanwhile, 62 percent of voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the country, compared to 18 percent who said health care was the most important. (Of this 18 percent, 52 % voted for Democrats.)
Some crosstabs of the exit polls could settle this very clearly, but even without them, it’s really, really hard to make the case based on the data that we do have that independent voters want the GOP to repeal health care. Throughout the health care debate FPL, independent experts and faith leaders played a key role in fact-checking false claims about health care reform. Based on the claims made by anti-reform leaders in the wake of the election, our work on this front isn’t over.
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In a press conference touting his Faith and Freedom Coalition’s success in driving Christian conservatives to vote for Republicans in the mid-term election, Ralph Reed made a particular point of noting the work he and allies did to defeat pro-life Democrats like Kathy Dahlkemper, Steve Driehaus and others.
Reed justified working against these Members of Congress principally on the false claim that the health care reform bill they supported would lead to “unrestricted taxpayer funding for abortion.”
Though independent experts have consistently debunked this claim, Reed is so confident he’s right, his only explanation for why pro-life Congresspeople of good faith would disagree with him is that they are unprincipled puppets of their party leadership.
“If you claim to be a pro-life Democrat but you voted consistently with Nancy Pelosi…and against your pro-life convictions, you pay a price at the ballot box.”
In reality these representatives stood up for their pro-life principles when it mattered the most — when sticking to them would help save lives, even though it would also result in the steep political price of unrelenting false attacks from partisan operatives like Ralph Reed.
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It’s rare to find a politician these days who doesn’t lose his convictions and ability to inspire when he arrives in Washington. Rep. Tom Perriello, who was defeated on Tuesday night in a wave of voter dissatisfaction with the economy, is that rare breed. He leaves Congress holding his head high. A leader who has roots in the progressive faith community, Perriello co-founded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (where I worked for three years), helped launch Faithful America, co-founded Res Publica, a global civic advocacy group, and was a key player in starting Avaaz.org, an online advocacy community working on issues like global poverty, climate change and Middle East peace. Tom’s work with child soldiers and pro-democracy groups in Sierra Leone played a major role in the peace and reconciliation process that ended twelve years of violence in that country. He did all this before winning a House seat at the age of 34 in a district with decidedly conservative leanings. Now, if that doesn’t make you feel like a slacker, I’m not sure what does!
A lot of politicians pay lip service to values. Tom’s campaigns, and his brief tenure in Congress, reflected faith and values in action. He pledged 10 percent of his campaign staff time to tithing. Volunteer stops in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional district included visits to soup kitchens, domestic violence shelters, senior centers and Habitat for Humanity projects. Perriello’s Common Good Summer initiative mobilized hundreds of college students working on his campaigns to perform service in the community. Living out the social justice teachings of his Catholic faith, Tom believes political leadership is about right and wrong, not left or right. You can always tell more about a person in defeat than in victory. In an e-mail to supporters after the election, Tom showed the mix of grace and grit that won over so many:
I promised you I would have your back against the powerful interests in Washington, and last night, you had mine. Even though we fell short of reelection, we defied the pundits in the roughest of political years. Because I come out of faith-based justice work instead of politics, I can see last night as a victory for conviction and hard work for the idea that when you fight for the people, the people win…Because of our work together, we turned near-economic collapse into nine straight months of private sector job growth. Because of our work together, 1,800 homes in our district have been weatherized, putting people to work making $20 an hour. Because of our work together, over 20,000 young people in our district are getting more aid to afford college. Over 120 small business owners got the loans to live their American dream. And being a woman is no longer considered a pre-existing condition in this country…As I told the crowd last night, my father made me promise when I entered politics that I would always consider Judgement Day more important than election day, because doing what’s right is more important than winning elections. I believe he is smiling on us today, and that he is thankful for all of you who sacrificed so much to offer a better kind of politics in America.
You haven’t heard the last of Tom Perriello. Those of us who believe that faith, values and a commitment to the common good can restore a sense of higher purpose in politics will be watching his future closely. There is every reason to believe his best days await.
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