Intruding Upon the Constitution by the Religious Right

 

by WALTER BRASCH

 

Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky, of Peoria, Ill., ordered all parish priests in his diocese to read a letter to their congregations condemning Barack Obama. The letter, to be read the weekend before the election, declared that Obama and the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate had launched an “assault upon our religious freedom.”

He wasn’t the only priest who used the pulpit to attack the President. Bishop David Lauren of Green Bay, Wisc., told his congregations that voting for Obama and other candidates who were pro-choice or who believed in embryonic stem cell research or gay marriage could put their “soul in jeopardy.” Others, primarily from evangelical Protestant faiths, were even more adamant in their religious intolerance, declaring that voting for Obama would definitely condemn their souls to Hell.

Southern Baptist evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, said President Obama was “waving his fist before God” by supporting same-sex marriage and women’s abortion rights. In full-page newspaper ads, shortly before the election, the 94-year-old Billy Graham, whose words may have been written by his son, declared that Americans should vote for “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles.” Those principles, according to the ad, include opposition to same-sex marriage. A spokesman for the Grahams said that neither person endorses candidates. However, Billy Graham reportedly told Romney he would do “all I can to help you,” and removed Mormonism from a list of cults on one of their web pages. In February, Franklin Graham, who earns about $600,000 a year as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, declared that Obama had plans to create “a new nation without God or perhaps under many gods.”

The re-election of President Obama didn’t stop the attacks. The Rev. Jerry Priscano, a Catholic priest from Erie, Pa., said Obama was the anti-Christ. On his Facebook page, he declared, “It will only be a matter of time before our nation is completely destroyed,” and that Hurricane Sandy, apparently a sign from God to the liberal northeast, “was only the beginning.”

A Pew Forum study of the 2012 vote showed that white Catholics favored Romney (59%–40%), Hispanic Catholics overwhelming supported Obama (75–21). Romney also had the evangelical Christians (79–20), and other Protestants (57–42). Although Romney pandered to Jewish voters, claiming he would be Israel’s best friend, and that Obama couldn’t be trusted, Jews went for Obama (69–30). The Pew exit poll measured only persons who identified themselves as Jews or Christians.

Factoring into the vote against Barack Obama is religious bigotry that drips with the hatred of anything not Christian. About one-fourth of all White evangelical Protestants believe he is a Muslim, although the President goes to a Protestant church and has never held Muslim values or beliefs. In one of the great leaps of faith, evangelicals also believe Obama is a “godless socialist Muslim,” something much rarer than a Klan leader voting for a Black Jew for president. Overall, about one-sixth of Americans believe he is Muslim, according to a poll by Public Religion Research Institute. Ironically, most evangelical Protestants also believe Mormonism is a non-Christian cult and refused to support Mitt Romney in the primaries. Faced by a “Muslim” and a Mormon in the general election, the evangelicals supported the Mormon, who had flip-flopped from moderate to conservative to get the nomination and then tried tacking slightly to the center for the general election.

The right-wing believe that America is a Christian nation and should elect only like-minded Christians to office. Even many Christian religions, such as Unitarianism, are suspect in the eyes of those who absolutely believe they absolutely know God’s intent, and everyone else is wrong. They support Israel, far closer to being a socialist nation than the U.S. ever will be, as a Biblical necessity, but would be conflicted if a Jew should ever become a major party candidate for president.

The religious bigots claim the U.S. was founded by Christians and is a Christian nation—or, reluctantly, say it is a Judeo-Christian nation. But, no matter how much they screech, the facts don’t support their beliefs. George Washington declared, “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” John Adams and the Senate later ratified a treaty with those exact words.

Most of the Founding Fathers were primarily deists, not Christians, and specifically rejected many Christian beliefs, including the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus, and that the Bible was written by God. They also believed that God, having given mankind the power of reason, then stayed out of the lives of His people. Among the deists were Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Monroe. But they and the other Founding Fathers were explicit in their declaration, embedded into the First Amendment that established the principle that all people had a right to their own religious beliefs.

Several distinguished historians (including Drs. James McGregor Burns and Richard Hofstadter, each of whom won the Pulitzer Prize for history) have pointed out that in 1776 and much of the 19th century, as much as 90 percent of the population did not identify with the Christian church.

There is another aspect to the First Amendment, often overlooked by those who don’t know history or Constitutional law, yet believe they do. Jefferson, in his first year as president, in a letter to a Baptist congregation, referred to the intent of one of the five parts of the First Amendment as “building a wall of separation between church and state.” Numerous times, the Founding Fathers had reaffirmed this separation, creating what became known as the “establishment clause” in 1787. Several rulings by the Supreme Court reaffirmed this doctrine.

However, 28 percent of Americans, according to a Nate Silver poll in February, don’t believe there is a Constitutional separation of church and state. The Constitutionally-ignorant have established religious tests for persons seeking political office. It should make no difference if Mitt Romney is a Mormon. It should also make no difference if Barack Obama is or is not a Muslim, Protestant, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Pagan, Vodun, Vodouist, or even an atheist.

But it may be a Hindu, Gandhi, who has last the last word. Discussing his experience with missionaries in South Africa, he said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” He was specific in his dislike for some, but not all, Christians. He had never met the extreme right-wing.

 [Dr. Brasch is an award-winning syndicated columnist. His latest book is Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, which looks at religion, history, and social issues.]

           

 

 

 

Obama Is The Anti-christ

Hey! Don't blame nanobot. I'm just reporting:

Group Behind King James Bible Congressional Resolution Thinks Obama Might Be Antichrist

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/4539/group_behind_king_james_bible_congressional_resolution_thinks_obama_might_be_antichrist/

Alabama Republican Robert Aderholt and West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall have introduced a Congressional Resolution, . . . 

Perhaps, though, the Democratic Party would have some issues with one of its House members taking up the suggestion of a group that has promoted Obama-might-be-the-Antichrist conspiracy theories. In the 2010 video, Levesque noted that "God has given us a purposeful ambiguity around" the Antichrist, yet proceeded to offer what he apparently believes is evidence that Obama might be it -- or at least anti-Christian, or Antichrist-ish. Levesque claimed Obama "twist[s] the word of God" and "the Antichrist Quotient goes up above and beyond for someone who would so blatantly attack the word of God." He added, "This man offends me, this man offends my God."

 

 

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Around the World

News from across the globe impacting your world today.

Presidential Residence in Abidjan Captured. Forces loyal to the UN recognized President Alassane Ouattara have overrun the home of Laurent Gbagbo, the usurper and darling of the American Religious Right, in the Côte d'Ivoire. Sources in Paris suggest Mr Gbagbo was now attempting to negotiate his surrender. Mr Gbagbo has refused to relinquish power even though the Ivorian election commission declared him the loser of November's run-off vote, and the UN certified the result plunging the West African country, the world's largest cacao producer, into civil war. The latest on the situation in Abidjan from the BBC and All Africa. Meanwhile, Media Matters sheds more light on the relationship between the American Christian Right and African thuggery.

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Regrets? I have a few. The German news magazine Der Spiegel has a wide ranging interview with former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He also has a website, The Rumsfeld Papers, an archival site released in conjunction with his memoir, Known and Unknown.

Detained Chinese Artist Dissident Missing. The noted Chinese artist, activist, and philosopher Ai Weiwei has been detained in Beijing while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong. Chinese authorities have refused to comment on his detention and his whereabouts are unknown. The 53 year old world reknown artist has a wide following on Chinese social media, including Twitter, and had been vocal on social issues in China, including the collapse of sub-standard school buildings in the 2008 Szechuan earthquake. The United States has joined with the European Union and numerous human rights organizations in demanding his immediate release. More from The Economist.

Preliminary Results in Haitian Presidential Elections. Preliminary election results suggest that Michael Martelly, a singer and political novice, won 68 percent in the March 20th presidential run-off which pitted him against former First Lady Mirlande Manigath. Final results are due on 16 April at the earliest. The BBC offers a profile.

Moody's Downgrades Portugal Debt. Moody's Investors Service downgraded its rating on Portugal's bonds by one notch on Tuesday to Baa1 from A3 and warning that the small European country could suffer another cut soon because of political and economic uncertainties. A general election in Portugal is due on June 5. More from Al Jazeera.

Ocean Radiation in Japan Soars. The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it had found radioactive iodine at 7.5 million times the legal limit in a seawater sample taken near the facility, and government officials imposed a new health limit for radioactivity in fish. The story in the Los Angeles Times.

Around the World

News from across the globe impacting your world today.

Presidential Residence in Abidjan Captured. Forces loyal to the UN recognized President Alassane Ouattara have overrun the home of Laurent Gbagbo, the usurper and darling of the American Religious Right, in the Côte d'Ivoire. Sources in Paris suggest Mr Gbagbo was now attempting to negotiate his surrender. Mr Gbagbo has refused to relinquish power even though the Ivorian election commission declared him the loser of November's run-off vote, and the UN certified the result plunging the West African country, the world's largest cacao producer, into civil war. The latest on the situation in Abidjan from the BBC and All Africa. Meanwhile, Media Matters sheds more light on the relationship between the American Christian Right and African thuggery.

Crude Prices Top $121 A Barrel in London. Oil prices hovered near their highest levels since the summer of 2008 on Tuesday, with prices of Brent sweet crude just shy of $121 USD a barrel in London trading, as unrest in the Middle East and North Africa supported prices and on delays to elections in Nigeria. On Monday, the North Sea Brent crude for May delivery closed at $121.06 USD a barrel, the highest settlement since August 1, 2008. In the US, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the US benchmark crude oil, fell 41 cents to $108.05 USD a barrel, after settling at $108.47 USD a barrel on Monday, the highest settlement close since September 22, 2008.

Regrets? I have a few. The German news magazine Der Spiegel has a wide ranging interview with former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He also has a website, The Rumsfeld Papers, an archival site released in conjunction with his memoir, Known and Unknown.

Detained Chinese Artist Dissident Missing. The noted Chinese artist, activist, and philosopher Ai Weiwei has been detained in Beijing while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong. Chinese authorities have refused to comment on his detention and his whereabouts are unknown. The 53 year old world reknown artist has a wide following on Chinese social media, including Twitter, and had been vocal on social issues in China, including the collapse of sub-standard school buildings in the 2008 Szechuan earthquake. The United States has joined with the European Union and numerous human rights organizations in demanding his immediate release. More from The Economist.

Preliminary Results in Haitian Presidential Elections. Preliminary election results suggest that Michael Martelly, a singer and political novice, won 68 percent in the March 20th presidential run-off which pitted him against former First Lady Mirlande Manigath. Final results are due on 16 April at the earliest. The BBC offers a profile.

Moody's Downgrades Portugal Debt. Moody's Investors Service downgraded its rating on Portugal's bonds by one notch on Tuesday to Baa1 from A3 and warning that the small European country could suffer another cut soon because of political and economic uncertainties. A general election in Portugal is due on June 5. More from Al Jazeera.

Ocean Radiation in Japan Soars. The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it had found radioactive iodine at 7.5 million times the legal limit in a seawater sample taken near the facility, and government officials imposed a new health limit for radioactivity in fish. The story in the Los Angeles Times.

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