The God Debates of '08
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Today's (give or take a few days) Top Five
1. Democratic and Republican presidential candidates quizzed on religious belief and practice
The May 3 Republican debate asked all the candidates whether they believe in evolution, asked the Mormon candidate whether Roman Catholic bishops should deny Communion to parishioners who support abortion rights, and asked the Baptist minister-turned-governor whether he thinks the Mormon governor governed Mormonly enough. You got the sense that the questioners knew they wanted to ask questions about religion, but had no idea how to do it.
The first and second Democratic debates avoided this problem by not asking any questions about the role of religion in public life. But Monday's Sojourners Presidential Forum had plentyJohn Edwards was asked about creationism, whether this is a Christian nation, how he prays, and (in a question that solicited boos from the audience) to name the biggest sin he's ever committed. Barack Obama was asked whether God takes sides in the war on terror but got very few questions on his own personal spirituality. (This for the candidate who made headlines last year for another Sojourners speech on how his faith relates to public policy.) Hillary Clinton was asked (as you've probably read by now) how her faith got her through her husband's infidelity, and what she asks God for.
After the Sojourners forum, CNN continued the faith questions with different candidates. Joseph Biden was asked whether he blames God for the loss of his first wife and daughter in a tragic accident, whether he prays every day, whether he can forgive the 9/11 hijackers, whether God takes sides in the war on terror, and why people of faith tend to vote for Republicans. Bill Richardson got the prayer question and hot-button policy questions (gays and abortion). Christopher Dodd was asked if he feels pressure to wear his faith on his sleeve, whether he thinks that homosexuals are sinners, whether he takes Communion, and how he would feel if he were denied Communion over his abortion views. Dennis Kucinich was asked if killing is ever justified, how he thinks God views the Iraq war, whether he thinks personal faith has been overemphasized in the presidential campaign, and the standard Catholic-who-disagrees-with-church-teaching question that the other candidates got in some form or another.
Tuesday night, sensing that the evolution question wasn't probed deeply enough in the first Republican debate, candidates got another chance to answer. Rudy Giuliani got the Catholic disagreement question, Ron Paul was asked perhaps the most vague church-state question in history, and Romney was asked to respond to voters who don't want to vote for a Mormon.
There are 517 days left until Election Day.
2. A particularly bad week for Iraqi clergy and churches
One thing all the presidential candidates seem to agree on is that Iraq is a horrible, horrible mess. This week, no one knows that better than Iraq's Christians. AsiaNews.it, a Catholic news service, reports that Christians there "have the impression that they are all alone, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he felt abandoned by the Father." AsiaNews reports on Sunday's killing of Chaldean priest Ragheed Ganni and three deacons:
Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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