Election 2002: What happened? What's next?
With Republicans grasping control of the Senate, expanding their House majority, and holding down anticipated state Governor gains by Democrats on Election Day, religious activists and mainstream newspapers are focusing on Christian and prolife influence at the polls.

The Washington Times says religion and life ethics issues played a huge role in the Republican wins: "A mobilized conservative religious vote probably swept Republicans to victory in Georgia and the Carolinas [and] prolife Catholics and Protestants made the difference for the GOP in Missouri."

FoxNews exit polls showed that 16 percent of voters were in the "conservative Christian political movement." Political observers told the Times that strong motivating topics for voters were marriage and abortion.

"Once again, those who expected the pesky Christian conservatives to go away have been shocked," wrote Marvin Olasky in World magazine. "The funeral for Christian influence in American politics is still a long way off. Providentially, millions of Bible-oriented voters did not listen to those who advised giving up on politics."

Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), said in a press release that regardless of party lines, "the prolife stand was a decisive factor in the Republican takeover of the Senate." CWA's vice president for government relations said prolife issues were not important to Republican voters alone. Michael Swartz said in a press statement: "If that were the case, you would not have seen prolife Democrats like Tim Holden (D-Pennslyvania) and Mike Michaud (D-Maine) winning … while pro-abortion Republicans like Connie Morella (R-Maryland) were going down."

At least one Democrat candidate has left the party over the abortion issue. Jesse Quakenbush lost a state representative race in Texas but says his own party worked against him because he is prolife,. "They say they are an open party and they are accepting of anyone that wants to be a member of their party and then they have a viable candidate in myself and actively campaign against me because of my stance on abortion," Quakenbush told Amarillo television station KAMR.

The CWA also said that American voters were frustrated by Democrat obstruction in judicial appointments. A press release said, "Seizing the day will require holding Senate Democrats to their words and preventing them from repeating their guerilla tactics."

Ron Torossian, media director for the Christian Coalition, told the Washington Times that his organization played a part in the win. The group widely distributed voter guides (mainly through the Internet) and takes credit for getting many Christians to the polls. "Many of the races were so close that I think people wanted to get out and make a difference," Torossian said.

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Some Christian activists and tactics were directly employed in the Republican victories this week, most notably former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed. The Washington Post demonstrates why the Republican Party did so well by using Georgia, where Reed now heads the state GOP, as an example. Democratic incumbents were defeated in the House, Senate, and the Governor's mansion. The Post explains that one major part of Reed's strategy was to convince Republican candidates they had a better chance of winning as a team than they did running individual races.

Others are directly blaming the Democrats for their own loss. In his roundup of media thoughts on the election, Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post wrote that there are two schools of thought on why the Republicans' big day happened. One theory is that the Democratic Party ran a bad national campaign. "The other," Kurtz writes, "is that they ran such a horrifying, inept, intellectually dishonest and soulless campaign that they have dug themselves into a dark pit from which they may not emerge for decades."

He writes that the Democrats were hurt by not addressing two major issues: Iraq and the Bush tax cut. In addition, Kurtz says the party's "moderate, nonoffensive, blur-the-differences strategy was a flop."

Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine strongly agrees, saying the Democrats lost because they had no vision to share with the American people. They didn't offer a clear alternative to the Bush administration. "Many people who wanted to vote against war or for economic fairness didn't really know who to vote for in most races," Wallis wrote. "Who will raise a prophetic voice for social and economic justice, or for peace? Never has there been a clearer role for the churches and religious community."

Salon's Joe Conason says the Democrats can only blame themselves. "Bland and compromised Democratic candidates were unable to motivate their own base," he wrote. Many observers, such as Dick Morris in the National Review, say the win can be attributed to a strong wartime president. Democrat Nita Lowey of New York even called the elections "a referendum on a popular wartime president."

World magazine said that President Bush worked for Tuesday's wins. "More than any other president in history, Mr. Bush had wagered an enormous amount of his own political capital by campaigning in 23 states this mid-term election," Bob Jones writes. "Again and again he asked voters to show their support for his agenda by backing his local surrogates." That work paid off.

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What will happen now?

AgapePress, a service of the American Family Association, reports that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi said the "logjam" of bills will be cleared. "We will move the partial-birth abortion bill through [the Senate]," Lott told AgapePress. "I will call it up, we will pass it, and the president will sign it. I'm making that commitment. You can write it down."

Other reports say Republicans activity will adhere to a more moderate agenda. "Republicans [are] determined not to repeat the mistakes of the 'Republican revolution' of 1994, when a more overtly conservative agenda played into the political hands of Bill Clinton and helped secure his 1996 reelection," reports The Washington Post.

In World, Olasky urges the GOP to capitalize on their wins. "And now Republicans, with both Senate and House majorities, need to remember that politics is a collision sport," he said. "Bush now has the opportunity to put together a second-half victory by getting the economy moving again with a pro-growth economic plan that builds on his first-half tax cut. They can end federal discrimination against faith-based charities and stay the course on welfare reform. This is a time to hit hard."

Benny Hinn event in England produces injuries and illness
Last Saturday, about 19,000 people showed up to see faith healer and televangelist Benny Hinn in Manchester, England. The problem: the arena only holds 17,000. At least seven gatecrashers were injured.

"A 30-year-old woman who was five months pregnant and was involved in the crush was taken to hospital as a precaution, a 42-year-old woman suffered a fractured leg, a 60-year-old person who was a diabetic collapsed and was taken to hospital," said a spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Ambulance Service. "In addition a 32-year-old man was treated for heat exhaustion at the scene, a 66-year-old woman fractured a wrist, a 35-year-old man was taken to hospital after suffering an asthma attack, and another man with a history of chest pains was taken to hospital after suffering a suspected heart attack. In a totally separate incident, man who was already inside the arena, and in his seat suffered a fatal heart attack."

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The ambulance service called it "a major incident."

Steve Goddard, editor of the Christian website Ship of Fools, told The Daily Record of Scotland, "There was a panic in the air and it was absolute chaos. … It was incredible nobody was more seriously hurt."

The problem, said the arena's general manager, is that organizers issued "guest passes." But while those who held them thought "guest pass" meant "ticket inside," organizers intended them to mean "invitation." Tickets were separate.

It's not an isolated incident for the Hinn crusades. Last month between 3,000 and 5,000 people were turned away at a Lakeland, Florida, crusade. Several of those packed inside suffered dehydration.

More articles

The James Ossuary:


  • St. Pat 'sexcapade' lady sorry | Loretta Lynn Harper says she went to the church only to use a restroom. (New York Post)

  • Faith healers case sparks internal probe at LAPD | Police chief says he recently learned that the narcotics division had received tips about the illegal injections as far back as May 2001, but had failed to investigate them (Los Angeles Times)

  • SEC accuses man of scam on churches | The complaint against Abraham L. Kennard and two companies he allegedly controls, Network International Investment Corp. and Church Kingdom Investments Ltd., says he collected at least $3 million in an "affinity fraud" program (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Also: SEC charges in Ga. church scams | Suit charges Abraham Kennard, of Wildwood, Ga., and his firm, Network International Investment Corp., with promising pastors throughout the country a return of $500,000 for every $3,000 they invested (Associated Press)

Politics and law:

  • Politically born again? | After losing a nasty, nasty campaign for Orange County Chairman against Mel Martinez, John Ostalkiewicz disappeared. Now he has resumed his public persona, as chairman of the Christian Coalition of Florida (Scott Maxwell, The Orlando Sentinel)

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Church and state:

Boy Scouts:

  • Inclusion and the Scouts | There is hypocrisy in a value system that forces one to lie about having principles rather than simply acting on one's principles (Editorial, The Seattle Times)

  • Atheist Scout didn't have to pick this fight | The way we tolerate other people's religious beliefs is by not challenging them (Bruce Ramsey, The Seattle Times)

  • Boy Scouts has the right to set its own standards | My greatest fear from Lambert's unreasonable complaint against the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts is that the freedom of association will be damaged if the Boy Scouts is forced by a court or a legislature into changing its membership standards (Hans Zeiger, The Seattle Times)

  • Rejection of gay Scout leaders is upheld | D.C. appeals court overturns ruling by rights panel ordering reinstatement (The Washington Post)


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  • President of Malawi attacks Christians | President Bakili Muluzi last Friday praised Moslem sheikhs for taking a leading role in the fight against HIV/Aids but at the same time accused Christians of concentrating on the third term issue (The Chronicle Newspaper, Lilongwe)

  • Aids: Cleric defends church | Bishop Kalu defended the church saying it had done everything possible to disseminate the HIV/Aids message to its followers (The East African Standard, Nairobi)

Persecution and violence:

Interfaith relations:

Missions and ministry:

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  • Churches rescue government | Several churches have embarked on relief programs aimed at distributing food aid to most vulnerable communities. (The Chronicle Newspaper, Lilongwe, Malawi)

  • Area Baptists seeking converts before state convention begins | Legions of Baptists from across the greater Waco area will be knocking on doors, having block parties or even prayer-walking through neighborhoods, all as a prelude to next week's 2002 Baptist General Convention of Texas (Waco [Tex.] Tribune-Herald)

  • Tour makes impact in Cape Coral | 2,000 attend Christian-themed event, excited to see blood and guts (The News-Press, Fort Myers, Fla.)

Christian Legal Society:


  • Different face for cover of Popular Mechanics | The December issue of Popular Mechanics, which is owned by the Hearst Corporation and is scheduled to be on newsstands next week, features on the front a shadowy figure looming behind a headline that promises, "The Real Face of Jesus." (The New York Times)

  • Everybody loves Gilbert! | Who in heaven's name is going to read a popular magazine devoted to the work of a long-forgotten High Church moralist? Several thousand people, it turns out. (Alex Beam, The Boston Globe)

  • Also: G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy on the loose (Christian History, coming soon)

  • Also: The Road to Rome | Chesterton's spiritual journey (Christian History)

  • Personal experience is bedrock of religious radio show | Arguably the most intelligent show on radio about religion, "Speaking of Faith" officially went national with monthly shows last year and is regularly carried by 150 public radio stations. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)


  • Christian movie producer takes leap of faith | Peter Lalonde wants to take Cloud Ten from an independent maker of faith-based, Christian movies to a studio-affiliated outfit—a sub-brand that, in its own way, is like Miramax Films is to The Walt Disney Co. (Reuters)

  • Film's goal is to reach more folks | Peter Lalonde of Cloud Ten Pictures wants to get the church talking — about his film (Houston Chronicle)

  • A priest who prays 'with cinema in my head' | Virgilio Fantuzzi might well be considered Roman Catholicism's Roger Ebert, and he might be expected to choose and evaluate movies in terms of their fealty to, or dissent from, Catholic orthodoxy. He does not. (The New York Times)

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More pop culture:

Bible and theology:

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Denominational controversies:

  • No honeymoon for new leader of Anglicans | He has not even been enthroned as leader of the Church of England yet, but the next archbishop of Canterbury already is caught in a conflict — between what he believes and what the Anglican Communion teaches on homosexuality (Associated Press)

  • Episcopal bishop picks liberal aide | Episcopal conservatives privately are gnashing their collective teeth over the appointment of a liberal, divorced, female prelate as assistant bishop for the Diocese of Washington (The Washingotn Times)

  • Bishops to debate 'rift' fears with Williams | Twelve senior bishops have offered to hold confidential talks with the next Archbishop of Canterbury amid growing fears that his liberal views will divide the Church (The Daily Telegraph, London)


  • Bishop calls on Mugabe to quit | The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, says black farmworkers are the real victims when white farms are handed over to government supporters (BBC)

  • Zimbabwe 'diverts food aid' | US may have to take "intrusive" measures to ensure that food aid was properly distributed (BBC)


Sexual ethics:

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Clergy abuse:


Other stories of interest:

  • There's always room for a few more commandments | "Three New Commandments Found," says the Weekly World News (Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  • McCartney-Baylor rumors fly | But Promise Keepers founder says he won't coach football at Baptist university (The Denver Post)

  • Schools get extra time for religion | New religious assemblies could be based on the Scottish Parliament's regular "thought for the day" slot (Daily Record, Scotland)

  • Challenges in new church year | At a time of unprecedented faith confusion, the church year provides a wonderful alternative structure to Christians living in a spiritually increasingly unstructured world (Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI)

  • Religion ain't dumb | These days, if you tell people you are a religious Christian or Muslim you will more than likely be tagged as "fundamentalist" by the agnostic power elite (Peter Pitts, UPI)

  • Sounds of silence | Iraqi Assyrians speak the language Jesus spoke — but for how long? (ABCNews.com)

  • Post office wins battle | Private facility can hang "In God We Trust "poster (Houston Chronicle)

  • Will the Christian Church survive? | "Any significant impact of the Church upon the day whose sun is sinking into a confusing twilight, or upon the tomorrow which struggles in the womb of night, must necessarily be an impact of challenge, of opposition" (Bernard Iddings Bell, The Atlantic Monthly, October 1942)

  • A quiet faith | Women ministers serve church with no name (KRT)

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  • Religion news in brief | Churches in schools, Anglican same-sex blessings, Beliefnet out of bankruptcy, and other stories (Associated Press)

  • Now, a church fiscal issue | Eight months late in publishing its financial report for the fiscal year ending June 2001, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles now says it has no plans to release the statement at all. What an unwise step by church leaders who have been promising a new era of openness (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

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