Rev. Richard Cizik on the “War on Religion”

March 13, 2012, 10:28 am | Posted by

At the Huffington Post, Rev. Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good weighs in on the “war on religion” rhetoric emanating from religious opponents of the HHS contraception regulation:

The fierce backlash from some evangelical Christian leaders to President Obama’s sensible decision to cover contraception services under the health care reform law brings to mind Groucho Marx’s definition of politics: “The art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.”

Christian mega-pastor Rick Warren is willing to engage in civil disobedience. The National Association of Evangelicals is reportedly considering asking pastors of every evangelical denomination to read an open letter to their congregations calling the requirement to make birth control for women available without co-pays an attack on religious liberty — despite an exemption for religious institutions affiliated with faiths that forbid contraception. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, insists there is “no compromise.”

As an evangelical leader, I’ve been involved in defending religious freedom for three decades. Compromise is not always a moral failure in a pluralistic society. In an election year, we must also distinguish between real attacks on faith and cheap demagoguery to score political points. GOP presidential candidates who have been assailing President Obama’s supposed “war on religion” should be ashamed of themselves. This irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric makes a mockery of the victims of real wars and unconscionable religious persecution around the world.

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Same split, different state

March 8, 2012, 2:15 pm | Posted by

The exit polls from Tuesday’s tightly contested Ohio Republican primary closely resemble Michigan’s from last week, with Santorum and Romney’s supporters clearly breaking along religious, ideological and class divides.

Once again, Santorum won white evangelicals (47%, compared to Romney’s 30%), and Romney won Catholics (44%, compared to Santorum’s 31%).

Once again, Romney cleaned up with high-income voters. He beat Santorum by 14 percentage points among those who make over $100K/year and a whopping 29 percentage points among those who make over $200K/year.

Once again, Santorum was the right-wing favorite. He won 48% of “very conservative” voters, compared to Romney’s 30%. Santorum also beat Romney by 9 percentage points among voters who “strongly support” the Tea Party.

Once again, Santorum dominated among anti-abortion voters. Two-thirds of those who say abortion is the most important issue voted for Santorum, and he beat Romney by  16 percentage points among voters who think abortion should always be illegal.

What we have here is a clear divide between the well-heeled establishment and the staunchly conservative base. With Romney now a near-lock to win the nomination, it will be interesting to see if he can broaden his appeal beyond the wealthiest Americans and connect not only with social conservatives, but also with middle- and working-class voters. Given the pitched culture-war battles going on right now, that’s an awfully tall order.

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King: Religious Right’s Hypocrisy is Wrong and Hastening Decline of American Christianity

March 1, 2012, 1:00 pm | Posted by

Tim King

Following Franklin Graham’s unfair attack on the President’s faith last week, Tim King of Sojourners called ’foul’ in a BBC debate with Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio.

While Fischer once more defended Graham’s attack on President Obama, Tim called out Graham’s duplicity:

When Graham was asked about the President’s faith, he said he didn’t know. But when he was asked about Santorum and Gingrich, he could answer with certainty what he thought was in their hearts and whether or not they were Christians. [T]he standard was for Democrats: “well, maybe you’re a Christian, maybe not?” But if you’re a Republican, then “yes, [you’re a Christian.]“

In an article featured Wednesday on CNN’s Belief Blog, Tim further articulated how this partisan hypocrisy by the Religious Right is driving young people away from religion altogether.

When Franklin Graham sets up double standards of faith for Republicans and Democrats, when Pat Robertson intones about a coming “secular atheist dictatorship,” when the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins goes off about the dangers of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and other “anti-family, anti-religious, anti-Christian policies,” when the great test for the next President of our country is who has “real” theology and who has “phony” theology, it might make for good sound bites.

But it’s bad faith [and]…it’s hastening the decline of Christianity for an entire generation.

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Religious Right Attacks Fellow Evangelicals for Protecting Children From Mercury Poisoning

February 21, 2012, 12:41 pm | Posted by

Evangelical Environmental NetworkThe Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has been an outspoken and prophetic advocate for common-sense environmental regulations, especially measures that would curb toxic mercury emissions which can be extremely harmful to a developing fetus.

They’ve been running a major campaign to urge Members of Congress to support these regulations as a way of protecting both God’s creation and human lives. According to Alexei Laushkin of EEN, “We believe protecting the unborn from mercury poisoning is a consistent pro-life position.”

Unfortunately, some on the Religious Right would rather stand with partisans decrying “big government” than stand up for children and pregnant women when it comes to mercury emissions. According to The Hill, several dozen Religious Right organizations are challenging EEN’s campaign, saying “most environmental causes promoted as pro-life involve little threat to human life itself, and no intent to kill anyone.”

The article goes on to point out that “mercury harms the nervous systems of children exposed in the womb and can impair learning and early development, among other harms associated with emissions of the toxic substance, according to EPA.”

It’s sadly all too predictable to see Religious Right figures clamoring to defend conservative ideology and score partisan points, even at the expense of the lives they claim to defend.  I’m glad to see EEN standing strong in the face of this cynical criticism.

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Prominent National Faith Leaders Celebrate White House’s Common-Ground Solution on Contraception Coverage

February 10, 2012, 2:49 pm | Posted by

Today, national faith leaders and organizations are celebrating the White House’s announcement of a common-sense, common-ground solution to religious liberty concerns around contraception coverage that protects women’s access to important preventive health care. The regulation expands religious exemptions within the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that contraceptive services be covered without copayment in health insurance plans, while guaranteeing that employees of religious institutions can obtain family planning and other preventive health services directly from their insurance providers. Below is a statement from Catholic and Protestant leaders celebrating the decision as “major victory for religious liberty and women’s health.”

Today the Obama administration announced an important regulation that will protect the conscience rights of religious organizations and ensure that all women have access to contraception without a co-payment. We applaud the White House for listening carefully to the concerns raised by religious leaders on an issue that has provoked heated and often misinformed debate. This ruling is a major victory for religious liberty and women’s health. President Obama has demonstrated that these core values do not have to be in conflict.

Specifically, this new regulation guarantees that no religiously affiliated institution will have to pay for services that violate its moral beliefs or even refer employees for this coverage. Instead, if a woman’s employer is an objecting university, hospital or other religious institution, her insurer will be required to offer her coverage at no cost. This is a sensible, common-ground solution.

In recent days, sound bites and divisive rhetoric have too often pitted the faith community against sound science and public health.The previous regulations caused an unnecessary conflict between the administration, the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. We are encouraged that the Obama administration has developed a substantive solution that addresses the concerns of the many constituencies involved. We look forward to bringing the same level of passion displayed in this debate to other pressing moral issues that face our nation.

Sister Simone Campbell
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Institute Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Douglas W. Kmiec
United States Amb. (ret)
Chair, Constitutional and Human Rights Law, Pepperdine University

Terrence W. Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology Chair, Theology Department
Fordham University

Nicholas P. Cafardi
Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law
Duquesne University School of Law

Vincent J. Miller
Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
University of Dayton

Kristin Heyer
Associate Professor, Religious Studies
Santa Clara University

Gerald J. Beyer
Associate Professor of Theology
Saint Joseph’s University

Stephen Schneck
Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies
Catholic University of America

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza
Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, MA

John Inglis
Chair and Professor of Philosophy
Cross-appointed to Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Bradford E. Hinze
Professor of Theology
Fordham University
Bronx, NY

David DeCosse
Director of Campus Ethics Programs
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
Santa Clara UniversitY

Todd Whitmore
Associate Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Sr. Paulette Skiba
Professor of Religious Studies
Clarke University

Michael E. Lee
Associate Professor of Theology
Fordham University

Tobias Winright
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Saint Louis University

Richard R. Gaillardetz
McCarthy Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology
Boston College

Christopher Pramuk
Assistant Professor of Theology
Xavier University

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Professor of Theology
Chicago Theological Seminary

The Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin
Immediate Past President
National Council of Churches

 

Lisa Sharon Harper
Director of Mobilizing
Sojourners

Rev. Anne Howard
Executive Director
The Beatitudes Society

Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo
United Church of Christ
Justice and Witness Ministries

Rev. Richard Cizik
President
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Dr. David Gushee
Board Chair and Co-Founder
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

Rev. Alexander Sharp
Executive Director
Protestants for the Common Good

Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston
Director
Disciples Justice Action Network (DJAN)

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner
President
Skinner Leadership Institute

Linda Bales Todd
Director of Women’s Advocacy
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

Jim Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

*Organizations listed for identification purposes only

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