Rand Paul: “Stop the killing of Christians!”

June 14, 2013

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has become the first public figure to openly declare what Christians have been  bemoaning for the last generation, that there is a war against Christianity.

Speaking this afternoon before a gathering of the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington D.C., Senator Paul said, “There is a war on Christianity, not just from liberal elites here at home, but worldwide.”

Said Paul, “It saddens me to see countries that are supposedly our allies persecute Christians.”

Catholics and born again Christians have talked about the danger for years.  In the 1990′s, during my stint in the White House, as special assistant to the president, I was constantly called on to help Christians who were thrown into prisons or slated for execution all over the world.

Meanwhile, Christian ministries in the USA visited the White House complaining that they had been targeted by the IRS, a fact that the agency actually confirmed to us at the time, without shame.  When we tried to find an Evangelical Christian who worked in a top position at the agency who could help us understand the nature of the complaints we learned that there was only one known, born again Christian in the top 300 positions at the IRS.  At the time 38% of the nation claimed to be born again.

It turns out that the token “born again” Christian at the IRS was a regional director in the non-profit division and a Catholic Charismatic by personal faith.  He tried to help the agency understand that it could not dictate doctrine or discriminate against groups based on their faith.  We had two meetings with him at the White House and kept the president apprised.  I think back to that moment as I now try to grasp the fact that top IRS officials visited the White House more than 300 times under Barack Obama and supposedly never discussed with the president their illegal bias against conservative groups including their questions of what applicants said in their prayers

In his speech Senator Paul offered a litany of abuses by American allies.

“In Pakistan, Asia Bibi, a Christian, sits on death row. Her crime, according to her, is that she dared to drink from a glass that belonged to a Muslim co-worker.

“Recently, in Pakistan, a 12-year-old with Down syndrome was imprisoned and charged with a death penalty crime for burning the Koran.

“After weeks she was released after a local Imam was accused of actually sprinkling pages from an Arabic book into a fire near the little girl.”

Senator Paul is the first public official to suggest a legislative solution.  “My bill said that Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan would get no more foreign aid from the US taxpayer unless they turned over the assassins that killed our ambassador, pledged and verified that they CAN and WILL protect our embassies, and in the case of Pakistan they must release Dr. Afridi.”

Afridi is the man who helped us identify Osama Bin Laden.  He was tortured and in chains for a year without being charged and is even now in prison in Pakistan.

As obvious as it may be to stand up for Christians (25% of the USA are Catholic, 48% claim to be born again Christians) Senator Paul is practically alone in his work.  90% of the Senate voted against his bill that would have placed restrictions on foreign aid to nations that execute Christians.

“It angers me to see my tax dollars supporting regimes that put Christians to death,” he said today.  “And your government, or more correctly, you, the taxpayer, are funding it.”

Senator Rand Paul warned against a foreign policy that sometimes has good intentions that backfire.

“Before the Arab Spring, Christianity flourished in small outposts, like the Coptic Christians in Egypt. I had hoped that the Arab Spring would bring freedom to long-oppressed people throughout the Middle East, but I fear the Arab Spring is becoming an Arab winter.

“Today, Christians in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria are on the run—persecuted or under fire—and yet, we continue to send aid to the folks chasing them.

“The new leader of Egypt is Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Recently, he stood by when a radical cleric said a prayer for the destruction of Israel and her supporters in his presence.

“Actually, it is worse, he did not just stand by, he was seen to mouth the word ‘Amen’ as the cleric said these words of hatred.

“How does your government respond?

“The bipartisan consensus in Washington vows to increase Egypt’s funding. The President is currently requesting a billion dollar increase in aid to Egypt.  This is an outrage!”

Senator Paul admitted that his bold stand had made him unpopular in Washington and while his famous filibuster and other stands on civil liberties have given him exposure that his father never had, his concern about the torture and execution of Christians in allied nations has been panned by the media.

Says Paul, “It is clear that American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East and I believe that must end.”

Back in February 2011 Doug Wead warns about the Arab Spring, “Not so fast.”


Anti-Romney Revolt at Liberty University

April 21, 2012

Keep your Romney, give us Ron Paul !

The John McCain, eh sorry, the Mitt Romney campaign replayed a scene from past failed Republican candidates yesterday.  They announced in the morning that Governor Romney would be the commencement speaker at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  The school founded, by Jerry Falwell, is touted as the largest Christian University in the world.  And in the afternoon they announced that openly gay, Richard Grenell, would be Romney’s new national security and foreign policy spokesman.

Students at Liberty were in an uproar.  Not over Grenell, but over the University choosing Romney instead of their beloved Ron Paul.  The firestorm began on the University’s own website, where the thread hit 700 comments in a couple of hours.  The discussion was promptly censored and then shut down proving that the University is not very aptly named.  But the discussion moved onto Facebook where it continues to spread.

(You can also join the discussion here.)  http://www.facebook.com/DougWeadOfficial

Ron Paul has a large support base on campuses in general, all campuses, Christian or otherwise.   According to Braedon Wilkerson, Ron Paul district coordinator, he carried the city of Lynchburg by a 51-49% margin and the newly created Liberty University precinct 60-40%.  “The campus and the city belong to Ron Paul.”

Maybe not.  It turns out that the campus resides on the Carter Glass’ estate.  This is the same Senator Glass of the famous Glass-Owen act which established the Federal Reserve.  There is even a plaque erected to him on campus, honoring the central bank.   Mark DeMoss, who is the evangelical liaison for Mitt Romney, is on the Liberty board of directors.

Meanwhile, the Richard Grenell appointment sparked a fury of emails from prominent Newt Gingrich evangelicals who see the betrayal of their movement as imminent.  As a former congressman wrote to me, “once again evangelicals get hind tit (sic).”

Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer and “the Policy boys” of Family Research Council get most of the criticism.

A common suspicion of prominent evangelicals is that they sold the evangelical vote to Senator Rick Santorum in exchange for money to their nonprofit corporations even though Newt Gingrich was the more viable candidate.  Indeed, the Iowa FRC leader Bob Vander Platts was reportedly asking Santorum for a million dollars.  He eventually supported Santorum.  Presumably, a national endorsement would be worth more.

A leader says, “They split the evangelical vote last time by dividing the Huckabee vote with Fred Thompson, giving us McCain as a result. ”  And now the charge is that they have divided the vote again, giving Santorum a temporary boost, draining Gingrich, and giving Romney the nomination.

True to the 2008 cycle, Mitt Romney, like John McCain, refused to meet or seek evangelical support early enough.  A visit to Liberty now, with the national elections only six months away shows very poor planning.  The Romney evangelical meet and greets, which have to be done, should have been done a year ago, when he was planning the elevator for his car garage.

To announce it on the same day as the Richard Grenell announcement is a clumsy attempt to show respect to both the evangelical and gay communities.  Instead it shows that the Romney campaign understands neither one.

Meanwhile, the Ron Paul campaign continues to chug along.  The congressman raised almost as much money as Romney this quarter.  He is the only candidate who beats Obama in the recent Rasmussen poll and his television commercials are on the air in Texas where lovers of liberty will appropriately make their last stand.

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated:  “Ron Paul visited the Liberty University campus in 2008 but he was very poorly treated.  He was given a small venue which could not hold the crowd.  When he moved outside to speak to the young people who had missed him, the campus police showed up and “escorted” him off campus.”

This was how it was related to me by a RP staffer who must have remembered it wrong.  Several people have pointed out that this version is incorrect.  That, in fact, he was given a large venue.

Thanks everybody, keep me honest.  Here is one of the corrections:

I do have to make a correction to just one piece of this article. I was a State Coordinator for the Ron Paul 2008 campaign and a former Professor at Liberty University. I arranged Ron Paul’s visit to Liberty in 2008. The venue was the Vines Center, which seats c. 10,000. Ron Paul did not have a small venue and did not have to move outside (except to leave). The place was packed, although it was easy to observe that most of those in the audience of 10,000 had been “prepped” to view Ron Paul negatively. Nevertheless it was a polite “coldness”. The “prepping” of the audience beforehand (a couple of days prior I was advised), was the only negative treatment given to Ron Paul during his visit in 2008. I was quite aware that the “leadership” of Liberty University did not support Ron Paul or at least some of his ideas (divided as they were between Huckabee, McCain, and Romney). The only campus police I saw (and remember, I was with Rep. Paul the whole time) were those who escorted us into the Vines Center and then later out. I too am very disappointed to see Liberty University jump on this latest “mainstream Republican” bandwagon. And I am happy to see the tremendous support for Ron Paul today at Liberty University and in Lynchburg, Virginia (where I lived 24 years). I just wanted to correct the “urban legend” regarding his 2008 visit.

Kevin L. Clauson, M.A., J.D.
Former State Coordinator, Ron Paul 2008
Former Chair/Professor of Government, Liberty University (’85-’07)
Professor/Director, Center for Law & Public Policy, Bryan College


Ron Paul to Obama and Romney: “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”

April 14, 2012

Ron Paul to Obama and Romney: “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.  Get over it.”

News is now leaking out about a private meeting between evangelical leaders and presidential candidate Ron Paul which took place last Wednesday night.  The leaders asked Dr. Paul about an Executive Order moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  “The real issue here is not what America wants but what Israel wants.  We have no right to chose their capital,” Dr. Paul said, “If they say it is Jerusalem, then it is Jerusalem.”

The Barack Obama administration has consistently rejected this idea and Governor Mitt Romney steadfastly refuses to make a commitment on the issue.

The meeting held last Wednesday night in Ft. Worth, Texas, had two representatives of evangelicals presenting Dr. Paul with a list of questions they had received from denominational leaders, pastors and television evangelists.  In the wake of Senator Rick Santorum’s departure from the presidential race, many evangelical leaders are turning to Ron Paul.

The question to Dr. Paul was posed by Rev. Brian Jacobs, one of the evangelical participants.  Jacobs, a former consultant to the Billy Graham Association and a pastor of the Ft. Worth Metroplex Church asked the question at the beginning of the meeting. According to Jacobs, Dr. Paul asked, “How would we feel if some other nation told us that we would have to make our capital in New York and they refused to build their embassy in Washington, D.C.  It is none of our business.”

Paul’s answer even surprised some of his own staff.

In earlier interviews Dr. Paul has stated that we should stop being Israel’s master and start being her friend and trading partner.  In 1981, Dr. Paul was the only public figure who defended Israel’s military action when she took out the Iraqi nuclear facilities.  He, alone, in the U.S. Congress, refused to condemn the action saying that Israel has the right to defend herself without approval of the United States.

Dr. Paul, nevertheless, has been the target of vitriolic attacks from evangelical leader, Gary Bauer, who issued a fund raising letter criticizing the Texas congressman for wanting to “cut off foreign aid to Israel.”  Bauer’s letter failed to mention that Dr. Paul is calling for the end of all foreign aid, which not only includes the $3 billion the United States gives to Israel but also the $12 billion it gives to Israel’s avowed enemies, including Palestinians, who publicly proclaim that they will drive her into the sea.  Dr. Paul points to America’s practice of borrowing money from China to give to Pakistan as foolish.

Ron Paul campaign officials have long complained that their man is so intellectually honest and so committed to a constitutional form of government he is easily tripped up by issues taken out of context by a demagogue.

On December 29, 2011, the Israeli Mossad Chief, Tamir Pardo, told 100 ambassadors gathered in Jerusalem that a “nuclear Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel.”  When Dr. Paul said something similar in a debate the next week, insisting that we should not go to war with Iran on a presidential executive decision but only by consultation with the congress, he was heavily criticized and ridiculed.

In a GOP debate on January 9, 2012, Ron Paul said that, anyway, Iran was not on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon.  This statement too, was heavily criticized and called “dangerous” by media pundits.  When Secretary of Defense, Leon Paneta said the same thing three days later on the CBS program Face the Nation no one apologized to Dr. Paul.

In the meeting with evangelicals Dr. Paul was asked questions about his personal faith.  The Ron Paul campaign issued a statement of faith at the beginning of the campaign with Dr. Paul declaring “I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and I endeavor every day to follow Him in all I do and in every position I advocate.”  But the congressman admitted that his faith is very much a private matter.

Justin Machacek, an Emmy Award winning Christian television producer, asked Dr. Paul how his faith shaped his worldview.

Dr. Paul said, “I am not big on public displays and marches. I would not want a theocracy.”  But as to how his faith shaped his character and his worldview?  “You know I’ve been married 55 years,” he laughed, “So it is pretty obvious.  It is how I live my life.”

Mr. Machacek said he was deeply moved by the meeting and wants other Christian leaders to meet with Dr. Paul themselves. “I’m drafting an email for a Christian leader who is a coordinator for a 10 denomination coalition.  He will forward the idea about a meeting with church leaders.”


City finds way to tax churches and non profits

March 16, 2012

While the Federal government and the Catholic Church wrestle over healthcare provided contraception and abortions, City and County governments may have found a rather unique method of backdoor taxation on non profits.  They simply double the water bill for all churches and schools.  In a court case that is being carefully watched by churches and non profits across the nation, an Oregon judge will soon decide if the practice is valid.

One of the 600 plus ordinances for the city of Canyonville, Oregon states that “churches, schools, and non-profits like our local YMCA and a non-profit senior residence will be charged double the normal water rates and substantially elevated sewage fees.”  One of the current ordinances explains that the surcharges are to be paid “in lieu of taxes.”   Non-profits and churches do not pay property taxes.

Meanwhile, a sign, proudly posted in the city building tells Canyonville residents that they pay less on their water bills than neighboring towns.  The non-profits, who are paying double, say that their surcharge is the reason.

Canyonville Christian Academy, founded in 1924, stumbled onto the double billing, finding that the extra surcharges date back three decades and may total close to $200,000.  Said the school headmaster, Cathy Lovato, “We offered to settle this for a very modest amount last  Christmas but the city said no.”  The school, which operates on a modest budget, once voted to shut its doors in 1995.  Alumni and friends donated money to help the school rebound.

Although the ordinances are written to broadly cover all non-profit water users, CCA believes that the city regulations have principally targeted ten churches and four Christian schools with the biggest bill going to the Canyonville Christian Academy.

Last June CCA notified the city government that it had discovered the improper billing but according to the Academy nothing has been done to fix the problem.  According to CCA, the city has held four executive/closed council meetings with their legal counsel present.

School officials say that the school has consulted with the Oregon Attorney General, a state legislator, multiple mayors of other cities, and multiple law firms.  According to Ms. Lovato, “To my knowledge, no one has advised CCA that the double charges on churches and church schools is legal.  Many seem to believe that this is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

On October 19, 2011 CCA offered to resolve the issue by taking a small fraction of the amount of overcharges of the last six years in the form of credits on future bills.  Of course, the school also asked that the city desist in the double charges.  According to Ms. Lovato, the city notified the school on December 13, 2011 that their offer was rejected.  Meanwhile, the surcharges on nonprofits by the city continues and is reflected in the most recent water bill mailed to CCA this month.

According to Ms. Lovato, “One of our school staff asked a senior city official a year ago about the rationale and legality of the surcharges, and why they were doing this and he replied, ‘We do it because we can.’”  Canyonville is a small town in Southern Oregon with a population of 1,700.  CCA has appealed to the Douglas County Circuit Court in Roseburg, Oregon to give a ruling on the issue.  If the Court upholds the City Government, it may provide other city and county governments with a backdoor method of taxation on churches and non-profits.  The case is likely to be carefully monitored by churches and non-profit lawyers nationwide.

Note: The Canyonville City Ordinances which declare the double rate are published and available publicly.  Ordinance number 593, Section 1. “Inside the City.”  In paragraph G and H. It states that Schools / Churches shall pay $57.10 per month for the first 1,200. cubic feet, plus $.03214 per cubic foot over the base of 1,200 cubic feet. In addition, schools / churches shall pay $11.04 per month in lieu of taxes.



Romney’s Mistake

October 19, 2011

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is making a big mistake by prolonging the discussion about his faith. Worse still, he and his staff don’t see it. Last week, Romney, a member of the Latter-Day Saints or Mormon Church, answered back the Rev. Robert Jeffress whose off camera comments apparently labeled Mormon’s a cult. Romney kept the issue alive in the Las Vegas debate. He would help himself much more by ignoring it all and letting others defend him.

For the moment it appears that the incident is a major plus for Romney and it must surely feel that way inside his campaign. Romney has been lovingly embraced by the national media who has risen up to condemn the Southern Baptist preacher. In general, the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the world, is not very popular with the media. (Who can forget Christiane Armanpour’s documentary “God’s Warriors,” which likens religious right youth to Islamic terrorists, and is now watched on computers in the dorms of Christian Universities to howls of laughter.)

This defense of Romney must surely be a “feel good” moment for Latter Day Saints, who are too often targets of the very bigotry that the Jeffrey moment seemed to imply. But not so fast. The Saints should not break out the bottles of cranberry juice just yet.

Here is the rub. Romney doesn’t need the national media to win the nomination or the presidency. Reagan and both Bushes won without it. And it’s a good thing. Romney won’t get it no matter how many undeserved wounds he incurs in the internecine GOP contest. The national media had its best opportunity to be truly non partisan when their favorite John McCain won the GOP nomination last time. But McCain had no chance against the historic tide and media extravaganza of electing an African American president. So Romney’s moment will also be short lived. And his unwillingness to understand that speaks to his ongoing misunderstanding of evangelical numbers.

Here’s a short way to put it. He won a moment with the media, which he didn’t need and will be all forgotten in the general election and he lost a chance to win points with evangelical leaders of influence who only need to hesitate, not oppose him, just hesitate, to cost him the White House.

While the media continues to attack Jeffress, his fellow Southern Baptists cry foul. Pastor Jeffress moment of infamy, they say, was a little more complicated than it seems. Jeffress was baited by a journalist questioning him offstage. He was asked what most pastors think and he answered, as the messenger. The very next day the Washington Post ran a story about a poll of 1,000 pastors. 67% in the survey called Mormonism a cult. No one took the Washington Post to task, even though they too, like Jeffress were the messenger.

So what should Mitt Romney have done?

He should have remained silent, transcendent, Reaganesque, above the fray. Like Jesus before Pilate. As the Proverbs say, “It is an honor to overlook an insult.” It is what Barack Obama does daily. Romney should have let others in the evangelical movement come to his rescue.

It is very obvious what happened? Governor Romney must be exasperated with his slow acceptance in the evangelical community. His staff, who remember are on his payroll, probably encouraged him. “Answer back. Stand up. It will be a good moment. There is one thing that trumps religious doctrine with the American people and that’s leadership. It will be your Reagan moment. ‘I paid for this microphone Mr. Green.’ Or like George H. W. Bush standing up to Dan Rather. Jeffress will be Perry’s Jeremiah Wright.”

Bad advice.

Mark DeMoss, Romney’s evangelical adviser would know better but he may be so outnumbered that he is worn down or his counsel is outvoted, even discredited, by the inner circle. DeMoss is now trying play to the media stereotype. What can he do?

Privately, he surely told the Romney staff the truth. He would have said, “Look, the object is to get the nomination, not win points with the media.

“And as for any comfort to the Latter-Day Saints? If they think this hurts, wait until the general election, when Governor Romney faces the media’s beloved Obama. The journalists who champion the Governor today, will give his faith a baptism of fire. Remember Proposition 8? When LDS Churches were vandalized and the book of Mormon burned? Where was the ‘tolerant’ media then? You saw some hints of what the media will do in the New York Times last cycle.

“And don’t even think that this is a Jeremiah Wright moment? In the first place Rick Perry doesn’t go to Pastor Jeffress church. And in the second place, that church is First Baptist in Dallas, Texas. That’s the Vatican to the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the world. And 90% of those Southern Baptists live in 14 electoral southern states, the richest electoral region of the nation.

“Just look at the math. 2% of the country are LDS. 12.6% are African-American. And 48% of the nation claim to be born again Christians.”

“It’s not that high,” Romney staffers will shoot back. “Our pollster says that only 26% of the population is evangelical.”

“But our pollsters are asking the wrong question,” DeMoss will try to point out. “Asking someone if they are evangelical” is like asking if they are phlegmatic. They may be, but you are going to get a skewed answer because some won’t know what you are talking about but won’t want to admit it. All they know is that they go to the Nazarene church, or Hillsdale Community Church down the street. But if you ask them if they are ‘born again’ they will say yes.”

The eyes of the Romney staffers will glaze over.

Abraham Lincoln once said that if he could find a general who could do the math he could win the war. He was so frustrated. How can you argue with numbers? The North had the industry and the population. They would win if they would just fight. In the political game, the born again Christians have the numbers. It doesn’t pay to dis them. Ask President Colin Powell, who for years could win any general election match up but not the GOP nomination because of one ill advised attack on evangelicals in a Barbara Walters interview.

It took many losses for the patrician, Episcopalian Bush family to figure out the political math of the born again numbers in this country. No matter how distasteful, you can’t win an election without them. But when the Bush family finally figured it out, they produced two governors and two presidents.

Romney’s fight with Jeffress shows that he and his staff haven’t yet gotten the math.


Ron Paul Wins Value Voters Poll

October 8, 2011

Filed 10-8-11

Romney, Perry and Bachman were there. So was Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. But Ron Paul stole the show at today’s Value Voters Summit. He quoted from the Bible effortlessly moving in and out of scriptural texts to make his points. The speech was constantly interrupted by standing ovations.

Paul’s victory underscores his near statistical tie with Michelle Bachman in the Iowa Straw Poll last August in Ames. 60% of the caucus goers in Iowa are born again Christians. If Paul can win with this crowd he can win in Iowa.

This author is a born again Christian. Many of us are moving to Ron Paul because we realize that the best way to protect our religious liberties is to get back to the Constitution and protect everybody else’s liberties as well.

While Herman Cain’s much ballyhooed Florida victory won him headlines and major media attention last week it is not likely that this event will get much media play. Ron Paul’s first place victory only days before in California, a much bigger state than Florida, was virtually ignored. Paul’s exposure of the Federal Reserve and its interest free loans to elitist companies and insider billionaires has not won him any friends among the executives of the television networks. But you can be sure that they are deeply worried by the events of this day.

If Ron Paul has resonance among born again Christians, who make up 48% of the nation’s population, then the GOP nomination is finally a possibility and the recent Rasmussen poll showing him beating Barack Obama in a head to head contest is suddenly relevant.

Here are the final results as reported only minutes ago.

Ron Paul 37%
Cain 23%
Santorum 16%
Perry 8%
Bachmann 8%
Romney 4%
Gingrich 3%
Huntsman 0%
Undecided 1%


Bachman-Perry: Who is God’s Anointed?

August 24, 2011

“He who says that religion and politics don’t mix, understands neither one.”  - Gandhi

The race between Congresswoman Michelle Bachman and Governor Rick Perry is coming down to an old fashioned, Christian, church-goin, doctrinal dog fight.  One that favors Bachman in the short run in Iowa and Rick Perry in the long run across the rest of the South, that is, provided the Texas governor suvives the vetting process of the next few months.

Now you aren’t going to get this play by play anywhere else boys and girls so play close attention.  And it may take more than one post to accomplish this.  The national media prides itself in its ignorance of religion and both the Bachman and Perry camps have good political reasons to feint in different directions about all of this.  But if you stay with me, the journey will be worth it, believe me.

Here’s how it shakes out.  Rick Perry is the candidate of  what I will call “Classical Evangelicals,” that is, born again Christians who oppose the doctrines of the Charismatics who believe in the so called gifts of the Holy Spirit such as healing and speaking in tongues.

Some Classical Evangelicals trace their lineage back to the Fundamentalist Movement of the 19th century.  Jerry Falwell comes to mind.  But most resent the comparisons.  Gallup shows that only 4% of today’s born againers would identify themselves as “Fundamentalists.”   Others have emerged from the Holiness Movement which was big in the 19th century.  They are today conservative Methodists and Nazarenes.  But most  of what I am calling “Classical Evangelicals” are Southern Baptists.

The organizers of the big Rick Perry day of fasting and prayer in Houston, Texas were “Classical Evangelicals.”  Paige Patterson is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the heart and soul of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.  James Dobson and his wife are Nazarene.  Penny Nance of Concerned Woman of America is a graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Tom Minnery is a Methodist.  Tony Perkins is a Baptist.  Don Wildmon, the man who paid for it all and who has the mammoth mailing list to end all mailing lists is Methodist.  And the behind the scenes organizer, David Lane, is also a Southern Baptist.  Rick Perry, himself, is a Methodist who attends Lake Hills Church in Austin, which dropped “Baptist” from its name to attract a wider crowd.

Now, keep in mind, according to Barna fully 51% of born again Christians are Charismatic.  Most of the top ten Christian television preachers are Charismatic.  But Rick Perry’s big prayer and fasting rally had just one token Charismatic on its  organizing board.  And that was Bishop Harry Jackson.  Who also happened to be African American and not likely a player in the GOP nominating process.

On the other side of this doctrinal divide are the Charismatics, who believe in the so called gifts (charismata) of the Holy Spirit. These include Pentecostals, such as the Assemblies of God, who as their “Classical Evangelical” Nazarene and Methodist counterparts trace their lineage back to the Holiness Movement and the modern neo-pentcostals which include  Catholics and other traditional Protestants, such as Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians who began embracing charismatic doctrines in the 1960′s.  This is where Bachamn hails.  She has a Lutheran heritage but ended up at Oral Roberts University, a school founded by a Pentecostal.  It was a red flag to the “Classical Evangelicals.”

Okay, so if 51% of born againers are Charismatic, Michelle Bachman wins, right?

Not so fast.  Now, this gets really, really complicated.  First, many Charismatics are African American.  Count them out.  they will vote for Obama if unemployment rises to 50%.   And keep in mind that generally speaking, “Classical Evangelicals” don’t like Charismatics.  Only one generation ago they believed that Pentecostals were demon possessed.  They probably thought that the Newsweek cover of Michelle Bachman and the goofy eyes was fully appropriate.  But Charismatics have no problem voting or supporting a Classical Evangelical.

The Classical Evangelicals have been frustrated for some time.  They have been casting about for a candidate for years.  They liked Reagan who irritated them by picking a Charismatic as his religious liasion.  Bush, Senior did the same.  The younger, George W. Bush read their books and picked a Classical Evangelical to run his shop but he was playing them.  After he left office he humiliated them with an interview on ABC’s Nightline where he announced that the Bible was not really true afterall.

By 2010 the Classical Evangelicals were already in a serious hunt for a candidate.  They had rejected Sarah Palin as a Charismatic.  She had switched to one of their own Bible Churches, but they could see through that.  She and her family had been Assemblies of God in Wasilla, time enough to become demon possessed.  They begged for Huckabee to come back, even though they had split with him over some past squabble last time. It had been their best chance to have a “Classical Evangelical” in the White House and a former Southern Baptist pastor at that.  The Charismatics had helped him pull an upset win for him in Iowa but his own Classical Evangelicals sat on their hands in South Carolina.

At one point they were entertaining the idea of supporting Newt Gingrich.  Yes, married four times but at least he didn’t speak in tongues.  And then sun rose on Michelle Bachman.  And they knew she could win it all and drag all of their churchgoers along with her.  And they had to act fast.  And that is when David Lane found Rick Perry.  And came to him with money and churches and support on a tray.

Stay tuned for the rest….


Mitt Romney and the age of the Mormons

May 9, 2011

Mormons are big news now, with possibly two presidential candidates.

Recent polls show former Massachusetts Gov., Mitt Romney, beating Barack Obama. And now former Utah governor and ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, is flirting with his own run for the presidency.

Both stories put the subject of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the spotlight. Both men are Mormons. And both men are Republicans. And the Republican Party is chocked full of born again, evangelical Christians who have been known to be hostile to Mormons.


But the fact is that the GOP landscape is changing. And that’s why Romney is the front-runner and Huntsman is willing to spend some time and money to take a look. It is not so much that evangelicals are receding, if anything there is a further coalescing of their numbers within the GOP.

The Democratic Party is now losing the few, liberal, white born-again voters it had. The change is in the attitude of evangelicals toward Mormons.

Mark DeMoss, Ralph Reed, and other evangelical leaders are showing the way as many are finally coming to appreciate the Mormon ethic. How can you ignore the fact that Utah, which is 70 percent Mormon is annually declared the best place to raise a child in the country?

It has the lowest child poverty rate. And while it has the highest birth rate it has the lowest number of teen pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births. Comparing Utah to the rest of the nation is like comparing the United States to the Third World. Outside of Utah, 33 percent of all children in America are now born to unmarried parents. Utah is an island of American traditional values in practice.

While the American educational system continues in free fall, the high school graduation rates in Utah are astronomical. Utah spends a larger percentage of state dollars on education than any other in the nation.

Likewise, Self magazine labels Provo, Utah as the No. 1 healthiest city in for women. Stats on married members of the Latter Day Saints show that the divorce rate is 13 percent for any couple married for five years.  Two of the other Republican candidates for president, favored by many evangelical leaders, have eight marriages between them.

Nor is Utah bad for men. It has the nation’s lowest rates of cancer and heart disease. It has the lowest amount of work days missed. It has the lowest per capita rate of people in prison. And it is highest in the nation in charitable giving by the wealthy. According to Newsweek, Utah is first in the U.S. in households with personal computers.

The biggest surprise in Mormon-evangelical rapprochement has been theological and the shared “born again” experience. Now, 56.7 percent of all members describe themselves as “born again Christians.” It is almost the exact number of Baptists.

There are big differences to be sure. Romney is having to take anti-Mormon bias into his plans.

The Salt Lake City convention bureau still says no to large evangelical Christian conventions regardless of the money they would bring to the city. But the climate is ready for a Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman to win.

The great Democrat alliances of the 1940s forced establishment Protestants to take in Irish and Italian Catholics, most of them immigrants. The differences were deep, with language and food as well as religion helping to create the wedge. But the alliance was made and the political maps were forever redrawn because if it.

The Republican challenge is to unite the electoral rich South, with its evangelical base, with the West, where small but powerful Mormons are organized. On paper it should be an easy task. And if it is effectively concluded it will provide the base that the Republicans need.

To win they must take Ohio or Missouri or Pennsylvania or other border states. But even then, they cannot afford to see Nevada or Arizona or another “Mormon” state slip away behind their back.

Evangelicals and Mormons are learning to their dismay, that they cannot win without the other. They must do more than get along. They must work together or kiss their “traditional values” and their way of life good-bye.

YouTube below: Calling the Huckabee surge in Iowa in 2008

Sources: http://www.adherents.com/largecom/lds_dem.html


Mitt Romney: Frontrunner?

May 6, 2011
Mitt Romney: Frontrunner ?
        By all accounts this should have been Mitt Romney’s turn to win the Republican nomination and the presidency.  In a survey last week he was the only Republican who topped Barack Obama in national polls.  Now, post Bin Laden, one has to wonder.
What still makes Romney strong?
        First there is the money.  Insiders have told me that Karl Rove has been advising the campaign and some insist that he is the mastermind behind this new formidable fundraising juggernaut for Romney.  Of course, fundraising was never a problem for Romney.   Not to mention the personal funds the former governor has at the ready.   This time Romney has multiple state political action committees, raising the limit, with Obama’s lawyers crying foul.
        Then there are all the ways that the money can be spent.  It means that Romney can compete in every state.  It means his campaign can endure early loses and still be a factor.  He will be able to advertise in the big wholesale state contests.  He will be able to use that money to support local candidates who can return the favor by delivering their influence at the state conventions where the bulk of the delegates are still chosen.
        In the endorsement contest Romney again stands tall.  And that, again, is partly because of the money, including large amounts yet to be doled out.  But also because most of the establishment figures in the GOP now believe that he would make the best president.  My former boss, George Herbert Walker Bush is among those, although he is savvy enough to know that endorsements can hurt as well as help a candidate.
        Winning the “Insiders Primary” has brought great advantages to the Romney campaign.  The GOP has moved some of the early contests into Mormon territory.  And there are multiple contests there, allowing for him to recover from an early Iowa defeat should he be ambushed again about his religion as he was in 2008.
        Evangelical insiders tell me that Romney is tapping public relations guru Mark DeMoss to help with the evangelical Christian voters.  DeMoss was Jerry Falwell’s right hand man.  And the same sources insist that big money is being given to Ralph Reed who has worked closely with Karl Rove and speaks to evangelical voters through mailing lists, Richard Viguerie style.  It did not work for George W. Bush in 2000.  Bush told Iowa voters that his favorite “philosopher” was “Christ because he changed my heart.”  But the mailings and evangelical voter i.d. program did very poorly.
        Evangelical turnout was dismal and Bush won the general election only with the help of the Supreme Court.  Ralph Reed worked closely with Pat Robertson and was the central figure in organizing the Christian Coalition.
        The greatest Romney advantage in the refigured GOP nomination process is the decision to allow for proportional delegate assignments from the state primaries.  No more “winner take all.”  Most see this as helping Romney who can use his money to pick up delegates from every region.  Even if he gets beat in some of the primaries and regions such as the South, he will keep adding to his aggregate total.
        Romney has challenges to be sure.  There is Romney-care, his Obama-like health care program for Massachusetts, which Romney championed as governor.  It will dog him in the primaries.  And his change of positions on some of the issues.  What it took to get elected governor in the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts won’t do in most Republican primaries.  But the most controversial issue, his faith as a Latter Day Saint, seems to have been resolved in his favor within the GOP.  He took his lumps last time around and most conservative evangelical fears on that subject seems to have passed.
        Even more promising for Romney are signs of a growing rapprochement between conservative Mormons and evangelicals.  The Mormon’s are coming to understand that they can’t win a national election without those 48% of Americans who claim to be born again Christians.  And they certainly can’t see one of their own win the GOP nomination.
        In 2008 I warned of an evangelical reaction and a  Romney collapse in Iowa. (See YouTube below.)  But this time things are different.  Romney has lowered the expectations in Iowa to zero.  And he has good showings likely in Nevada and Arizona and New Hampshire as backups.  His fundraising prowess, which speaks well of him as an executive, guarantees he will be in the fight for California, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, New York and other expensive campaign states.  Being the establishment candidate has made the nominating process as friendly as he can expect.
        The Obama campaign recognizes all of this.  As demonstrated by their lawyers at work trying to block the fundraising of Romney’s state pacs. Most of all, they read that poll last week, showing that if an election were held then, Mitt Romney would have beaten Barack Obama.    If Romney wins the nomination expect a shrill and bitter battle, with the mighty elitist new media in top form, doing their best to influence the outcome.   And be assured that nothing, including both candidates religious views, will be off limits.
        

Gays battle over quality of Kagan nomination: Evangelical Christians shut out again.

May 11, 2010

Pundits are in an uproar probing Ms. Kagan’s sexual orientation, with some gay activists depressed that whatever her private life may be, it is still private and thus Obama failed to appoint an openly gay nominee such as Kathleen Sullivan or Pam Karlan.  But while some Gay and Lesbian activists bemoan the “quality” of this appointments evangelicals in America continue to be shut out.  Diversity means Black, Hispanics, women and gays, no one else need apply.

If she is confirmed, Elena Kagan will be the 112th Supreme Court Justice in American history and still not one evangelical Christian among them.  Gallup statistics on the numbers of evangelicals in America range from 44%-49%.

To give you an idea of how exclusively power is concentrated in two tiny segments of the two national parties, the Democrats not only appoint liberals, they can’t even find an American outside of New York City.  Bill Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, born in Brooklyn, Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor, who grew up in the Bronx.  And now the nominee of Elena Kagan, who has lived on both the East and West sides of Manhattan and whose mournful, senior college thesis was on the “decline of socialism in New York in the 20th Century.”  (She must be feeling much better about that nowadays.)

We can say that women are increasingly represented on the court.  Reagan appointed the first one. Now there are three.  And thankfully we are not anti-Semitic, with Kagan there will now be two Jews. And we are certainly pro Catholic.  Sonia Sotomayor became the sixth Catholic currently sitting on the Supreme Court.  There are only three who are not Catholic.

The spat among Gay and Lesbian bloggers is reminiscent of the conservative battle over the Harriet Mier’s nomination.  Miers was an evangelical Christian nominated by George W. Bush.  The name was floated to the politically incompetent James Dobson who wouldn’t even endorse one of his own.  Meanwhile, conservative Catholic commentators came to their senses, recognized that they were being outflanked by the White House and had a public fit.  Bill Bennett was appalled by the nomination.  Ann Coulter raged. Ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sam Brownback, was stunned.  “Who is she? I don’t know her.”  And all of them Catholic, were hosted on national television by Catholics, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, who urged the president to withdraw the “born again” Harriet Miers and replace her with a true conservative, presumably one that regularly attends the  G. K. Chesterton Association meetings with Ed Feulner.  The White House dutifully obeyed, withdrew Miers and submitted the Catholic, Samuel Alito to follow the Bush Catholic nominee, John Roberts.

Evangelicals are not the only group to be excluded from the high court.  There has not been a Mormon nominated.  But evangelicals surely comprise the largest block of Americana to be excluded.  Liberals are quick to point out that there should be no “religious test” for government office and indeed that is the point that evangelicals make.  If no such test existed how have they been excluded?

As to Ms. Kagan? Gay and Lesbians would be wise learn the lesson of Harriet Miers and to leave the process alone.  George W. Bush was trying to do his own supporters a favor, if they had been smart enough to recognize it and Barack Obama may be doing the same now for one of his constituencies.  “Trust me,” was the signal Bush was sending to Dobson.  But the evangelicals are so unused to power that they couldn’t grasp it and so lost their moment.  Gay and Lesbians should learn a lesson and leave the Kagan nomination on track.

Note: For a better understanding of the differences between the “born again” vote and the “evangelical vote” see “The History of the Evangelical Vote in Presidential Elections.”



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