Showing posts with label religion and politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion and politics. Show all posts

Mosteller supports Bachmann candidacy?

Earlier this week, Republican party activists at Michele Bachmann's Charleston-area presidential campaign were stunned to see former Republican Cyndi Mosteller in Bachmann's entourage at the event.

Mosteller actively working with a GOP candidate would be a strange turn-around for someone who was drummed out of the GOP after taking a lead role in the so-called Truth In Politics group, a front group which has made it's sole mission to augment Democratic attacks on Governor Haley while hiding its sources of support.

We hope Bachmann doesn't find a knife in her back one day. With Mosteller, those kinds of things have been known to happen.

Responding to Pat Robertson

In watching the unfolding disaster in Haiti, it's amazing that somewhere so close to the United States could go through such a disaster. For some, it's bound to make us wonder if we could face the same thing here. Especially since the Charleston metropolitian area is seismic ground zero for the eastern half of the United States, with the grim calamity of the Great Charleston Quake of the late 1800s as proof of what could happen.

A lot of us hope and pray that it's not as bad as it seems, but when even the Presidential palace and Parliament building have collapsed, the dead includes people as prominent as the nation's Catholic Archbishop, it's hard to imagine that it's not going to be as bad as initial reports are suggesting. In addition to the massive loss of life, the nation of Haiti may have, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist as a functioning nation or society for the forseeable future. This will likely have major long-lasting consequences for those in Haiti, as well as through the rest of the region.

Then we get Pat Robertson, who blamed gay and lesbian Americans as one of the reasons for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, offers his own thoughts about what happened and why. According to CNN:

Robertson, the host of the "700 Club," blamed the tragedy on something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it."

The Haitians "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever," Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. "And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "

As someone who was raised Baptist, but later crossed over to become Catholic, I respect Protestants. including Evangelicals and Fundamentialists, even if I have come to see faith a little differently. I have no doubt that many are as puzzled as I am about what was said.

I have to thank a friend of mine for sharing a blog posting that looks at what was said, and expresses his own view of faith. Part of it stood out, as it is some of how my faith works for me:

Faith in Christ, for me, is similar. It’s intimate. I’m more comfortable giving quiet prayers, intimate prayers. Often alone, in fact. I speak of faith the way I speak of personal matters. Of course there is a time for proclamations, but that’s the key, isn’t it? There’s a time. And a prayer isn’t a proclamation, it’s a prayer! It’s sometimes annoying to hear a prayer that is actually a sermon disguised as a prayer. I always picture God standing there listening, confused, asking the guy praying whether he was talking to Him or somebody else.

These seem to be good things to keep in mind. As we head into the weekend, let us keep the people of Haiti - and each other - in our thoughts and prayers, private, personal, and otherwise.

Christianity and Western Civilization - Faith and Human Liberty

Jurgen Habermas is a well-noted scholar in the field of communication and the last of the philosophers of the renowned Frankfurt School in Germany. Joseph Ratzinger, also a noted German philosopher, formerly the head theologian of the Roman Catholic Church, is presently employed as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome. But most know him as Pope Benedict.

"The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion", these two scholars present parallel essays which discuss the roles of reason and faith in contemporary Western democratic societies.

In the last two centuries, philosophers have been eager to proclaim that God is dead and that He has no role in contemporary society. Not surprisingly, this has gone hand-in-an attack on the belief in natural law - the guiding principles of democratic reforms which argue that rights are God-given and that governments exist to serve people, not to control and distribute power and money. Eager radicals such as Hitler and Lenin rushed in to fill the void with totalitarian societies in which the killing of millions in their quests for what they saw as the ideal. It was interesting to see even Habermas, a self-described "methodical atheist", who argued that "philosophy has good reasons to be willing to learn from religious traditions", admit that the trend of secularization reversing course:

There is an increasing consensus that certain phases of the "modernization of the public consciousness" involve the assimilation and the reflexive transformation of both religious and secular mentalities.

While Habermas recognized that Christian philosophical outlooks have a valuable role in contemporary society, he failed to explain how the guarantees of human liberty which are central to the beliefs of natural law can be replaced with equally-effective secular safeguards.

In response, Benedict's essay makes a number of points, beginning by pointing out that a free society had room for those without faith, but that a free society could not exist without faith and the philosophical foundations of natural law. In other words, Christians may not need athetists, but atheists need Christians.

The book is under 100 pages so it's something you can easily cover over a weekend, but packed with some very deep thinking that can make for some profound reading. It's well worth a read.

Christianity and Western Civilization - Dinesh D'Souza

We did a little holiday reading, including a recent essay by Dinesh D'Souza, who argues that Christianity has contributed much to Western civilization. He sees faith as inseparable, and warns of the potential harm in the growing secularization taking place in contemporary society:

(T)here has arisen a new atheism that represents a direct attack on Western Christianity. Books such as Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great, and Sam Harris’ The End of Faith, all contend that Western society would be better off if we could eradicate from it the last vestiges of Christianity. But Christianity is largely responsible for many of the principles and institutions that even secular people cherish—chief among them equality and liberty.

For those of you who care about issues more philosophical in nature than the pissing matches which are the norm for discussion of South Carolina politics, we think it's an essay worth reading - so go check it out.

Religion and politics - my Priest sounds off

Some thinking from my priest on his blog, Byzantine Ramblings, where he sounds off on what he believes should be the proper role of clergy in the realm of politics. We certainly find ourselves confronted with these questions with the religious leaders, such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson, who have announced their support for various GOP Presidential candidates:

I would certainly agree that it is highly improper for a religious leader to endorse or oppose particular candidates. Even when such opinions are expressed as personal opinions there remains potential for a perception of an institutional endorsement. What's more, taking such specific public positions risks linking the religious institution to one or the other party or candidate, and thus potentially alienating members of its own flock who might support the other side.

However, it is irrational to suppose that religious institutions and religious leaders should be silent regarding all things political. Indeed, it is impossible. While it would be immoral (if not illegal) for a religious institution to endorse particular candidates or parties, it would be hypocritical for a religion to proclaim certain values and then remain silent in the face of political issues that directly relate to those values. This is decidedly different from supporting or opposing candidates and political parties. To argue otherwise is ipso facto to deny to religion the right to a voice in the public sphere and the right to integrity in what it proclaims.

There's a lot more on this subject over on his blog, so I encourage all of you to go check it out. If you've got something to say, I encourage you to take a minute to go over to his blog and say it.

Family Feudin': The religious divide within the GOP

While Protestants make up the bulk of GOP voters and party activists, there are growing numbers of Catholics who vote for the GOP, not to mention the strong support from Mormons, which has much to do with Utah being one of the most Republican states in the nation.

There exists a usually-quiet divide among GOP ranks between evangelical Protestant Christian activists and non-Protestant Christians. Some of it is theologically based, as Catholics and Mormons and Evangelicals are about as far apart as any two groups can be while still calling themselves Christian. Some of it is political, as many Catholics are more politically moderate than evangelicals.

These tensions get drug into the political realm, often by attacks from evangelicals seeking to split hairs and attempt to drive away support for opponents. One such attempt to drag religion into the 2008 Presidential race was reported on by Lee Bandy of
The State, who writes about Saturday's stunt by Cyndi Mosteller, the chair of the Charleston County Republican Party, and long-time social conservative activist, in the middle of a visit to the state GOP's monthly executive committee meeting:

Romney, a possible Republican candidate for president in 2008, was in town to address the state executive committee.

Cyndi Mosteller, chairwoman of the Charleston County Republican Party, one of the largest GOP organizations in the state, came armed with a bunch of material — and questions — about the Mormon church.

The incident only underlines what could become an uncomfortable debate over Romney’s faith if he runs for the White House. The issue will be on the table in South Carolina’s early primary contest, where roughly 35 percent of GOP voters are evangelical Christians, many of whom view Mormonism with skepticism.

Welcome to the GOP's hidden family feud: Evangelicals versus non-Protestant Christians.

This divide is also pointed out in recent coverage over the immigation reform issue, in the Honolulu Advertiser and Boston Globe. The Honolulu Advertiser reports:

While Catholic bishops and many Republican politicians share opposition to abortion, they're often split over the specifics of immigration reform. Church leaders are challenging — and in some cases even vowing to defy — the tougher enforcement proposals by GOP lawmakers.

The issue highlights the roadblocks that the Catholic worldview creates for Republicans and Democrats. Catholics generally are conservative on personal issues such as marriage, but they tend to be liberal on social-justice issues, limiting the appeal of both major parties and leaving Catholics "politically homeless."
That's something to think about, for Republicans and Democrats alike: don't court the votes unless you want the voters.

Personally, I doubt the McCain campaign had anything to do with the attack by Mosteller, who was a McCain backer in 2000, and according to one person I talked to who there, had McCain materials at the meeting (take that report for what it's worth, but I take this person at his word). However, they should reconsider having the active support of loose cannons who drag religious differences into the political arena, as any campaign should.

How Romney's faith is attacked, or respected, will say a lot about how much the GOP base really welcomes non-Protestants into the fold. If the GOP really wants them on board, and is not just paying lip service to win their votes, then their Presidential candidates had better avoid incidents like the one that took place Saturday.

If you'd like to know what others think ... there's more discussion of this issue by Faith in the South, Laurin Line, and Palmetto Republican.