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Tag: evangelicals

Get Thee Vaccinated, Evangelical Friends

Sometimes, I wonder if I'm ever going to get over how some humans have behaved during this pandemic.

First, the good news: As of this week, more than 65 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Millions more are well on their way.

Now, the pull-out-your-hair news: A Pew Research study reports that, of the 41 million white evangelical adults in the U.S., a whopping 45 percent of them said in late February they don't plan to get vaccinated.

From The New York Times: "'If we can't get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,' said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois."

See what I mean?

Humans.

Also from that Times story: "Lauri Armstrong, a Bible-believing nutritionist outside of Dallas, said she did not need the vaccine because God designed the body to heal itself, if given the right nutrients. More than that, she said, 'It would be God's will if I am here or if I am not here.'"

See, this is where I stop and say out loud to our dogs, "I did not just read that."

I read it again to make sure I understand Lauri. She did not improve upon closer acquaintance.

I'm related to many evangelicals, and some of them I love, but we are at an impasse here. Listing all the reasons to get vaccinated is like reading a restaurant menu to a giraffe. They are smart and attentive, but we're not speaking the same language. If I hear one more person tell me, "It's in God's hands ... "

When did white preachers stop telling the helicopter story?

I grew up with various versions of this story, in our family and at church. Whenever our pastor was winding up to tell it, Mom would shoot that look at me from the choir that meant this was exactly the story I needed to be hearing, young lady.

My mom's version, sort of:

A town's river has overflowed. Floodwaters are headed for the home of a woman — let's call her Laurie, with an "e" — whose faith in God is unflappable, she'll have you know.

A police officer knocks on Laurie's door. "Ma'am," she says, "Your house will soon be underwater. Come with us, please."

"Oh, no, thank you," Laurie says. "God will save me."

An hour later, water is starting to seep into Laurie's second-floor hallway. Emergency workers paddle a boat up to her bedroom window and yell, "Ma'am, you're going to drown. Get in the boat, please."

Not our Laurie. "God will save me," she tells them, waving goodbye.

An hour later, Laurie is sitting on her roof. A helicopter hovers overhead, dangling a rope ladder within her reach. "Ma'am!" a man yells over the chuff-chuff-chuff of the helicopter blades. "This is your last chance! Climb. Up. The rope!"

Laurie cups her hands around her mouth and yells, "God. Will. Save. Me!"

Minutes later, our Laurie drowns.

She arrives at heaven's gate, and she is in a mood. "Why?" she yells at God. "Why did you let me drown?"

God looks as Laurie always thought he would look, with adjustments. Think Santa if he were on a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Lean and bright-eyed, with great skin.

God pulls his hand out of the pocket of his robe and starts counting on his fingers as he answers Laurie. "I sent you a police car. I sent you a boat. I sent you a hel-i-cop-ter."

I learned about God from my mother, a devout Christian who insisted that we're called to love everybody because that's what God does, no exceptions. I once told Mom I was pretty sure God didn't expect me to love — and here I made air quotes with my fingers — "everybody."

"Think again," she said, marching me up to my bedroom to spend the next hour doing just that. God's soldier, that woman.

I've been trying to figure out how Mom, a nurse's aide and thus a believer in science, might have convinced the beloved evangelicals in her life to get this vaccine. She was so patient and kind — and always at the ready with examples from Jesus, her favorite activist.

Then again, even Mom had her limits. More than once, I heard her say, "If you want to die stupid, God will let you." (I may be paraphrasing.)

Get in that boat, my evangelical friends. Grab that rope ladder, and get yourselves vaccinated so that we can keep disagreeing for years to come.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University's school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including "...and His Lovely Wife," which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. She is also the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Daughters of Erietown. To find out more about Connie Schultz (schultz.connie@gmail.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

Trump Asks Evangelical Pastors For Help With… Utah?

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump acknowledged on Thursday that his campaign was struggling in Utah, a usually rock-solid Republican state, on a day in which he briefly set aside his self-confidence for a rare display of doubt.

Trump made the comment in urging conservative Christian evangelicals to organize support for him in several key states where the Nov. 8 election is likely to be decided, such as Ohio, Florida and Virginia.

The wealthy New York businessman has suffered a number of self-inflicted wounds in recent days that have given the advantage in the campaign to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“We’re having a tremendous problem in Utah,” Trump told a conference room filled with evangelical pastors, blaming a “false narrative” that has been built up around his candidacy. He has repeatedly blamed the news media for dishonest tactics.

A SurveyUSA opinion poll conducted for the Salt Lake Tribune in June showed Clinton and Trump tied. Other polls have given Trump a lead but not the type of advantage that previous Republican nominees have enjoyed in the state.

The normally confident Trump never apologizes and is loathe to admit that he might face difficulties. But in talking to the National Association of Home Builders earlier in Miami Beach, Trump admitted his past years before he became a politician could be causing him problems now.

“If I had planned for it, I wouldn’t have had such a rocky path,” he said. “I wouldn’t have spoken to Howard so much.”

That was a reference to his many appearances on the “Howard Stern Show” radio program. He has been estimated to have appeared on the show more than two dozen times over 20 years, and the conversation frequently turned ribald.

Trump, who is trailing Clinton in Virginia, a formerly Republican state that Democratic President Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012, urged evangelicals to help him in that state as well.

In doing so, Trump pledged to rewrite the so-called Johnson Amendment, the 1954 change in the U.S. tax code that prohibits church leaders from using the pulpit for political purposes.

“If we get those people to vote, we’re going to win in Virginia,” he said. “If they don’t vote, it’s not going to happen.”

Trump also said “we need help in Ohio,” the state where he held his Republican National Convention last month.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who lost to Trump in the Republican primary race, has refused to endorse Trump.

“We’re very close in Ohio, but we need help,” Trump said.

Trump has seen a steady stream of moderate Republicans vow not to support him, such as U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and 50 Republican national security experts signed a letter opposing him.

All this is evidence of fissures in the party over the bellicose rhetoric and positions of Trump, who on Wednesday called Obama “the founder of ISIS,” the acronym for Islamic State, and Clinton “the co-founder.”

Trump joked that winning the White House and doing a good job as president might be his only way to salvation.

“So go out and spread the words and once I get in, I will do the thing that I do very well,” said Trump with a smile. “I figure it’s probably maybe the only way I’m going to get to heaven, so I better do a good job.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Photo: Attendees pray after Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke at an American Renewal Project event at the Orlando Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, August 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

New ‘Democracy Corps’ Poll: GOP Civil War Is An Opportunity For Democrats

A new poll from Democracy Corps, a Democratic non-profit political polling and consulting firm run by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, reveals that Donald Trump’s supposedly universal support among the Republican base might have quite a few holes in it, especially among more centrist voters.

The poll looked at likely Republican voters as they belonged to one of four groups: the Tea Party, observant Catholics, moderates, and Evangelicals.

Asked to describe their feelings towards various political figures by assigning them a number, likely Tea Party and Evangelical voters favored Donald Trump +40 and +16, respectively, while observant Catholics and moderates responded, on average, -26 and -25.

Only 45 percent of moderates and 65 percent of observant Catholics said they would vote for Donald Trump in a hypothetical general election match up against Hillary Clinton, compared to 81 percent of Evangelicals and 81 percent of Tea Partiers. 9 percent of moderates and 5 percent of observant Catholic respondents said they would vote for Hillary Clinton in such a scenario.

Moderate respondents were especially resistant, when asked, to the tone and character of the Trump campaign thus far. If the New York billionaire continues at his current pace, he will almost certainly be the Republican nominee.

“Moderates form 31 percent of the Republican Party base, and they are solidly pro-choice on abortion and hostile to pro-life groups. About one in five are poised to defect from the party,” stated a press release that accompanied the poll.

“The strongest attacks that we tested centered on [Trump’s] character and leadership qualities: that he is an ego-maniac at the expense of the country, that he is disrespectful towards women, and that he cannot be trusted to keep the country safe and handle our nuclear weapons.”

Photo: Donald Trump reacts to supporters as he arrives to a campaign event in Radford, Virginia February 29, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane

Trump’s Conversation With God

By Carl Hiaasen, Tribune Content Agency

An absolutely true news item: In an interview with CNN, Donald Trump said, “I have a very great relationship with God.”

___

God responds: What relationship? I haven’t heard from you in, like, 40 years.

Trump: Look, I’ve been busy becoming fabulously successful. Making business deals, banking billions of dollars, hosting my top-rated reality show, buying and selling beauty pageants, marrying and divorcing amazingly gorgeous women.

My life’s fantastic, almost as good as Yours!

God: And now you’re running for president of the United States.

Trump: That’s right, and I’m totally killing it in the polls! Everybody loves me, especially the evangelicals.

God: You have got to be kidding.

Trump: Don’t act so shocked. Who else could these people vote for? Huckabee’s a total zero, Cruz is a nasty Canadian, Jeb is a low-energy loser, and Rubio’s a punk.

They’re pathetic, and I say that with all due respect.

God: And this is how you think a devout Christian talks?

Trump: Hey, I’m a great, great Christian. Got a Bible and everything!

God: Yeah, I heard. The one your mother supposedly gave you.

Trump: I carry it everywhere. Actually, somebody on my staff carries it for me. But it’s an unbelievably great, great Bible. I spend all my spare time on the jet reading it.

God: I saw the YouTube clip from Liberty University. ‘Two Corinthians’? Really?

Trump: Two Corinthians, Second Corinthians, what’s the big deal? Those kids knew what I meant.

God: They were laughing, Donald.

Trump: Sure, because they love me. Everybody loves me. Have you seen the crowds at my rallies? Unbelievable! Ten thousand people showed up in Pensacola!

God: Ten thousand white people. I was there.

Trump: Look, we ran out of tickets for the others. It happens.

That doesn’t mean African-Americans don’t love me. Hispanics love me, too. Even Muslims love me, and by that I mean the good Muslims, which I assume some of them are.

God: I’m just curious. Are you remotely familiar with the concept of tolerance? Compassion? Humility?

Trump: That’s the problem.

We’re too nice. Why do you think America is such a disaster? We’ve gotta stop being so nice. The rest of the world thinks we’re weak.

Your son Jesus, with all due respect — he was way too nice.

God: Excuse me?

Trump: In one of those gospel blogs, I forget which, they quote Jesus saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Seriously? Because, frankly, my neighbors in Palm Beach are a pain in the a–. And, even if they weren’t, I couldn’t love anybody as much as I love myself.

God: That was Matthew, FYI.

Trump: McConaughey? Where? He’s amazing. Did you see “The Dallas Buyer’s Club?”

God: No, I’m talking about the disciple Matthew. That’s the gospel you were citing. He was one of the original evangelicals.

Trump: I knew that. Everybody knows that. Matthew was a great, great disciple. He would have been absolutely fantastic on The Apprentice.

God: Know what? We’re done here.

Trump: What I was saying before? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge, huge fan of Jesus. An incredible guy, and a helluva carpenter.

If he ever comes back, I’d hire him in a heartbeat. Tell him I said so.

God: I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

Trump: But, frankly, all that stuff he preached about turning the other cheek, not hating your enemies — it didn’t work out so great for him, did it?

That’s my point. Being nice doesn’t cut it. Being nice gets you crucified.

God: Do me a favor, Donald — quit dropping my name in your speeches and interviews. Just knock it off.

Trump: I will, I will. Right after the South Carolina primary.

God: No, stop it right now.

Trump: But what about Iowa? And New Hampshire? Please, Lord — can I call you Lord? — I really need that Christian vote.

God: I still can’t believe they’re buying this lame act.

Trump: Oh, they’re totally eating it up. Amazing, right?

God: The Bible’s not supposed to be a political prop. Put it away.

Trump: Oh, come on. You know how long it took my staff to even find that thing? How many of my warehouses they had to search?

I’ll make you a deal. If You let me keep using the Bible in my campaign appearances, just for a few more weeks, I promise not to quote from it.

No more Corinthians. No more McConaugheys.

God (sighing): See you in church, Donald. You can Google the directions.

(Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132.)

Photo: Donald Trump trying to be pious. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

John Kasich And Matthew 25, Revisited

This is Republican Gov. John Kasich explaining in March why he expanded coverage for Ohio’s Medicaid recipients:

The conservative movement — a big chunk of which is faith-based — seems to have never read Matthew 25. … There’s so much we have to do to clean ourselves up. … So instead of getting into the judgment, why don’t we get into the feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and helping the imprisoned and helping the lonely? That’s what we’re commanded to do.

This is Republican presidential candidate John Kasich explaining on Tuesday why he has joined more than two dozen governors who say they’ll refuse to accept any of the 10,000 Syrian refugees, many of them widows and children, to arrive in the U.S. in the next fiscal year:

“We understand these people are in trouble, but think about … us putting somebody on our street, in our town or in our country who (means) us harm. … We just got to be very careful for our friends, our neighbors, our families and our country. … Until we get a handle on where we are, we need to stop. And once we have a rational program and we can determine who it is that’s coming, then it’s another story. But for this point in time, in light of what we’re seeing in the world, it’s reasonable to stop.”

What happened to Matthew 25?

Pfft. So pre-primary.

I listen to these governors — all of whom know they have no power to defy the president and close their borders — and marvel at how readily they pander to the worst among us. I don’t know what version of the Bible they’re thumping, but I sure would like a cloud-side seat on that storied day when they try to explain themselves to you-know-who.

For me, the joking ends here.

Just a few short weeks ago, we reeled at the sight of a little boy named Aylan Kurdi. The 3-year-old Syrian Kurd tried to flee with his family from Turkey to Europe. Their boat capsized, and Aylan’s lifeless body washed ashore. His 5-year-old brother and mother drowned, too, but it is Aylan we remember because of the photographs of him that were published online and in newspapers around the world.

In the pictures, he is wearing a red shirt and shorts, lying on his stomach. His face is turned ever so slightly to his left, his arms resting palms up by his side. His was the universal pose of a busy little boy surrendering to a nap. Maybe that’s why he got to us. He was every child we’ve ever known.

On the same day that Kasich said Syrian refugees are not welcome in the state he has abandoned for his presidential race, he announced his nifty idea to fight the Islamic State group: a new agency to impose “the core Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share.” He would target China, Iran, Russia, and the Middle East.

“We need to beam messages around the world about what it means to have a Western ethic,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “It means freedom. It means opportunity. It means respect for women.”

Let’s stop right there.

Respect for women? This, from the governor who has championed some of the harshest abortion restrictions in the country.

And what about this notion of a universal set of Judeo-Christian values in the Western world?

On Wednesday, I spoke to Colin Swearingen, an assistant professor of political science at John Carroll University, near Cleveland, to talk about Kasich’s theory that we’re all just one big freedom-loving family in the West.

“The Declaration of Independence centered on liberty,” Swearingen said. “A lot of Western civilization focuses more on equality. This is a significant difference in how you set up government.”

So what does he make of Kasich’s idea?

“Well, the establishment clause certainly jumps out at you,” he said. “Was it a slip-up, or is he trying to reach out to the Iowa caucuses? In 2012, 57 percent of them were evangelicals. Maybe this is some sort of coherent strategy where Kasich sees an opening in Iowa.”

I have searched and searched my Bible, and I cannot find any holy dispensation for presidential candidates who turn away widows and orphans to help their poll numbers with people who like that sort of thing. I did, however, find last month’s Quinnipiac poll that showed Kasich trailing far behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson in his own state.

Overall, we’re seeing some interesting timing from Kasich, don’t you think?

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this new interpretation of Matthew 25 works out for him.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. She is the author of two books, including …and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

White Evangelicals: Early Influence On GOP Race, But Prospects Then Get Shakier

By David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — White evangelical Christians are well-positioned to have a strong say in early 2016 Republican primaries and caucuses, a new analysis by Geoffrey Skelley of Sabato’s Crystal Ball found Thursday. But they could face trouble later in the campaign season.

Voting starts Feb. 1 in Iowa, where in 2012 exit poll data showed 56 percent of caucus voters were white evangelicals. Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, had a strong appeal to those voters, and inched out a win.

Skelley, using data from exit polls in 2008 and 2012, as well as information from the Census Bureau and the Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Atlas, found that 64 percent of total delegates in states with primaries or caucuses prior to March 8 will come from states with likely white evangelical majorities. South Carolina votes later in February, and on March 1, states with primaries or caucuses, and sizable evangelical populations, include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Three more such states, Kentucky, Louisiana and Kansas, vote March 5.

That means that candidates with special appeal to those groups could get an early boost, but it doesn’t mean that will last. A majority of convention delegates will be chosen after March 8.
“All this is to say that white evangelical Christians are going to impact the 2016 Republican nomination contest, just as they have in previous cycles,” Skelley found.

But because early delegates will be awarded proportionately, it will be hard for any single candidate in a multi-candidate field to get a huge early lead. And after March 15, some states will have winner take all primaries. And more states with smaller evangelical communities, such as Florida and Ohio, will be voting.

“This is not to say that a white evangelical-oriented outsider candidate won’t win the Republican nomination,” Skelley said. “But many states with large numbers of conservative born-again Christians will vote when many candidates may still be in the race, possibly splintering their delegate hauls.

“Nonetheless, if the white evangelical Iowa lane of the field winnows a great deal between now and March 1, it’s possible that someone could take advantage and rack up a solid delegate take. Only time will tell, but there’s little question that white evangelical Christians are going to be an important factor in determining the GOP nominee, particularly in the early going.”

So far, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has attracted a strong evangelical following. Also in the mix are real estate mogul Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and 2008 Iowa caucus winner; and Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 winner in Iowa.

Photo: Ben Carson has a strong evangelical following. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

This Week In Crazy: What Will You Say ‘When Daddy Comes Home’?

Summer is winding down, and sanity is in short supply. It’s “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Dick and Liz Cheney

Dick CheneyThe ex-veep and his daughter have been making the rounds on the media circuit to promote the new book they co-authored, Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America, a magical-realist romp that explores how President Obama has brought ignominy and ruin upon our country, while also defending the Iraq War and America’s use of torture.

One of the misconceptions the Cheneys are striving to correct is this hysterical notion that “torture” is “bad.” Using “advanced interrogation techniques,” such as waterboarding, “wasn’t torture,” according to the book. It was, Dick said on CBS Sunday Morning, “the most significant source of intelligence for us that we absolutely had to have.”

Another enduring myth the book hopes to snuff out is that Dick Cheney is one of the most loathed politicians in American history. To quote Liz Cheney: “The gratitude as Americans that we feel is matched only by our love for him.”

In fact, she’s right. The amount of gratitude and amount of love Americans have for Old Vice are about equal — at a miserable nadir.

Next: Chris Christie

4. Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor and Republican candidate for president Chris Christie speaks at an education summit in Londonderry

Before Citizen Trump stole his thunder, Chris Christie was expected to be the braggart of note in this election cycle. It didn’t work out that way, but don’t worry. To compensate for some of that good old Christie blowharding we’ve been missing, here’s a lovely video of the Garden State guv getting into a shouting match with himself.

At a New Hampshire event last week, Christie fielded a question from a woman asking him to clarify his comments from August 4 that “breathing causes climate change.” Christie claimed that he didn’t say that, then demanded his microphone back.

“The first thing you need to do is not be wrong and not quote me incorrectly.” Christie told the questioner.

“Does human activity contribute [to climate change]?” the Chris Christie of mere weeks ago asked. “Of course it does. We all contribute to it, one way or the other. By breathing we contribute to it.”

“I never said that humans contribute to climate change by breathing,” the Chris Christie of now asserted. “You heard that? You need to clean out your ears, young lady… Ridiculous statement. I never said that.”

Confused? Well, this is nothing new. The supposedly tell-it-like-it-is, straight-shooting Christie has never exactly shot straight, or even twice in the same place, on the issue of climate change. He’s weaseled and wobbled like a Red Oak in unseasonable hurricane-force winds, appeasing whichever segment of Republican voters he thinks he needs to charm at any given time.

In this video assembled by NextGen Climate, you can see the swirling cyclone of confusion rattling in Christie’s brain.


Via Huffington Post

Next: Glenn Beck

3. Glenn Beck

GlennBeckI’d say Glenn Beck is at his wits’ end over the nuclear deal with Iran, but I’m not sure he was ever at his wits’ kickoff.

“I’ve given you every possible political solution that I could think of” to save the country from the deal, a bewildered Beck blubbered on his show recently. And he really has gone more than a little ballistic of late, proclaiming, “I’m not apocalyptic! We are suicidal and all I’m doing is telling you.”

Beck promised listeners that he was going to speak at a rally on Capitol Hill next Wednesday. “What will save this country is us standing.”  The deal being basically in the bag, with the required number of Senate votes, Beck clarified that he didn’t expect to actually effect any political change. “I’m not there to speak to you; I’m not there to speak to Congress,” he said.

Beck claimed that he is going to the Capitol to speak to God. Apparently provincial prayers get lost in the static, and The Man Upstairs doesn’t hear you unless you ride a bus down to the National Mall.

Inviting listeners on a tour of the Freudian haunted house that is his brain, Beck elaborated: “I am there so I am standing before God Almighty so that He sees me doing what I’m supposed to do because when Daddy comes home,” Beck growled, “I don’t want Him asking, ‘Did you do all the things I asked you to do?‘”


Via Right Wing Watch

Next: Fox News

2. Fox News

The coldblooded murder of an Illinois police officer this week has detonated a chain of recrimination from the pundits at Fox News, who have come out in one voice to lay the blame  — not on the culprits who are still at large and whose motives are unknown — but squarely on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Some hosts — like Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Bill O’Reilly, and Geraldo Rivera — have gone as far as to call the organization a hate group and a “murder movement.”

O’Reilly clarified: “I wouldn’t say they’re terrorists. I think they’re a hate group. They hate police officers. […] They hate them. They want them dead.”

Media Matters has put together a video highlighting the hypocrisy at work here, showcasing instances when these same pundits have legitimized and defended real hate groups, among them the Family Research Council and American Family Association, giving them a platform for rhetoric that has actually incited violence.

Via Media Matters 

Next: Mike Huckabee

1. Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee. Photo via Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Among the Bible-thumping bullies angling for the Republican nomination, it’s no easy task to hold the title as the most extreme conservative. But former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is putting in a valiant effort. He’s been making the rounds this week, ticking off the social issues, such as marriage equality and abortion, establishing his credentials as the biggest, loudest candidate-for-Christ.

He’s been slinging stone tablets this week in defense of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who had refused to do her job as a public official, citing her conscience and “God’s authority.”

In addition to praising her “courage” and “conviction,” and personally offering her his “prayers and support,” Huck’s been rolling out the stale, specious arguments about how “Government is not God” and “American[s] of faith [are] under attack by Washington elites who have nothing but disdain for us, our faith and the Constitution.”

Witness the rancid cocktail of Huck’s ignorance of jurisprudence combined with his Christian persecution complex in the following video, courtesy of Packet and Gazette News:

(After refusing a court order to resume her duties, Davis was held in contempt of court and jailed Thursday. So her Christian martyr status is pretty much secured.)

His crusade didn’t stop at marriage equality. In a recent Google hangout, Huck said that he would ban abortion even if it meant severe, violent repercussions for society — like riots.

He promised that if he were elected president, he would appoint an attorney general to criminally prosecute Planned Parenthood “for selling body parts,” while also unleashing an IRS audit on them. The Baptist minister reiterated his promise to extend Constitutional rights to zygotes, vowing that his campaign to obliterate legal abortion would not be deterred by “lawsuits” or other “extraordinary pushback — goodness, perhaps even riots in the street.”

If that sounds to you like a theocratic dictatorship… well, you’re probably just paranoid. But it’s hardly an original observation to note that Huck’s single-minded determination to impose his narrow dogma on the entire country and his callow disregard for the rule of law invites some rather unwelcome comparisons.

Via Right Wing Watch and The New Civil Rights Movement

Illustration above: DonkeyHotey

GOP Candidates Court Southern Evangelicals

By Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (TNS)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Evangelicals across the South say they are feeling alienated, even under siege, as they see the nation’s politics tilting toward the left. And there were few places where those fears echoed more loudly than a conference here Tuesday that attracted more than 13,000 would-be missionaries.

In speeches, forums and interviews at the convention, more than a dozen evangelical leaders and rank-and-file supporters cast the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriage and failed efforts to outlaw abortion as a magnet that will draw more social conservatives to the polls.

They were echoed by two leading GOP presidential candidates who emphasized their faiths and promised to protect “religious liberty” proposals at the Send North America Conference, a two-day meeting of mostly Southern Baptist evangelicals aimed at inspiring the crowd toward embracing missionary work.

Both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio cast themselves as vigorous defenders of religious liberty and pledged to fight for threatened Christian communities overseas, even if it meant committing more ground troops to combat the Islamic State’s spread in Syria and Iraq.

“We need to stand up for people who are under attack like this,” Bush said to applause from the crowd in the sold-out arena. “Who in the world considers this a value worth fighting for other than the United States?”

About 1 in 4 Americans identifies himself or herself as an evangelical Christian. The powerful bloc helped fuel George W. Bush’s victories, but many Christian conservatives never warmed up in the same way to John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

Several of the 17 announced Republican candidates are jockeying to become the favorite of the evangelicals, who play an outsize role in the early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina. Yet the possibility of a fractured vote splintering their voice has grown with so many political candidates trying to curry favor with them.

Among their potential favorites: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the winner of Georgia’s GOP presidential primary in 2008; former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a hero to some social conservatives in the 2012 race; and Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose combative rhetoric has made him a favorite of the crowd this year.

None of those candidates took the stage in Nashville, though. The rest of the GOP field, along with Democrat Hillary Clinton, either cited scheduling conflicts or were not invited to the event because of low polling numbers.

Both Bush and Rubio sought to appeal to the crowds with stories about the role of faith in their personal lives. Bush earned wild applause when he said the government should withdraw all funding for groups or clinics that offer abortions.

“Abortion should not be funded by the government — any government, in my mind,” he said.

And Rubio, who spoke in a prerecorded interview, earned applause when he promised to fight “extremists” who want to expand abortion rights and a legal system that could punish those who refuse to participate in gay weddings.

“We’ve now entered a very tenuous moment in the relationship between church and state in this country,” Rubio said. “We’re now on the water’s edge of an argument that some have begun that if you do not agree with same-sex marriage or whatever, that you’re actually discriminating against people.”

Bush and Rubio appeared before the conference two days ahead of the first Republican presidential debate and three days before they and eight other GOP candidates head to Atlanta for the RedState Gathering, which is also aimed at the trove of social conservatives in Georgia and the South.

The conference, held in the same arena where the NHL’s Predators take the ice, featured glossy video presentations and flashy Christian rock bands strumming gospel tunes as the crowd sang along. Influential preachers led prayer services to swooning worshippers. Ex-NFL head coach Tony Dungy talked about the role of faith in his life.

Politics was a constant undertone throughout the event, which will feature a third day of activities on Wednesday designed for pastors who hope to get more involved in electoral activism.

Many were glued to their phones on Monday tracking the Republican-backed effort to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the women’s health group facing questions about the group’s use of tissue from aborted fetuses. Preachers warned of a coming new phase in the culture war and talked of the faithful facing renewed persecution for their beliefs.

“No one saw Rome falling. And it fell,” warned Al Mohler, who heads the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He then urged the crowd not to be lulled into a false sense of security about the political muscle of Christian conservatives.

“There are folks right now who think we are in control,” he said. “Folks, they’ve got same-sex marriage in Oklahoma right now. And in Utah. And if you’re not safe in Utah, where are you safe?”

There was much discussion and debate urging the pious not to withdraw from the political process in frustration. Jessica Caspers of Thomaston, Ga., said she had many friends who retreated in 2012 — citing Jesus’ line that “My kingdom is not of this world” — but were emboldened to plunge back into politics.

“We aren’t going to get that candidate, the one we can get behind — unless we get involved,” Caspers said. “I’m not a fan of playing the victim. We have to keep saying we believe what’s in our heart is right, and we have to do that unapologetically.”

(c)2015 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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