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.
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.
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."
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.
The James Ossuary:
- Royal Ontario Museum gets approval to repair ossuary | Will go on public display in Toronto one day earlier than originally planned (The Globe and Mail, Toronto)
- A collector's find long ago roils world of antiquities | Bones of Jesus' brother might have rested in box (The Baltimore Sun)
- Israelis digging for truth about ancient burial box | Some scholars link ossuary to Jesus, but officials link it to grave robbers (The Toronto Star)
- Israel man vows not to sell ossuary | Breaking his silence, the reclusive owner of an ancient burial box said Thursday he will never sell what may be the oldest archaeological link to Jesus, but that he is willing to have it exhibited in Israel (Associated Press)
- 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)
- N.M. priest endorses prolife candidate from pulpit | Politicians 'are walking into my area; I'm not walking into theirs,' says Rev. Terry Brennan (Associated Press)
Church and state:
- The boundary between neutrality and hostility toward religion | The recent Third Circuit decision about the Tenafly Eruv (Sherry F. Colb, Findlaw.com)
- Medford board settles with family over Bible story | The case over a former Medford first-grader's desire to read a favorite Bible story to his classmates was settled Monday for $35,000 (Burlington County [Penn.] Times)
- Utah high court mulls atheist's prayer case | Tom Snyder asks justices to reinstate lawsuit over city council's rejection of prayer addressed to 'Our Mother, who art in heaven.' (Associated Press)
- City denies petition to turn home into worship place | Representatives of the Coptic Chapel/Coptic Church of North America say their plans were misunderstood (East Grand Rapids Cadence News, Michigan)
- LDS Church sends letter to mayor, pressing him to release plaza easement | The only way the church can restrict First Amendment activities—including proselytizing by other churches, speech and clothing it deems offensive, protests and pamphleteers—is for the city to give up the easement, according to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled last month that the restrictions on a city-retained easement are unconstitutional (The Salt Lake Tribune)
- 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)
- Washington derails drive at UN for cloning treaty | At the urging of the US anti-abortion movement, Washington began pushing hard earlier this year for a treaty that would ban both types of cloning (Reuters)
- Stem cell research 'go-ahead' | The use of human embryos in stem cell research will be legalized next week when the Australian Senate votes on controversial legislation (The Daily Telegraph, Australia)
- Stem cell research advocates spar with foes | New Jersey debates issue (Associated Press)
- 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:
- Dalit leader plans mass conversions in Chennai | It's a protest against anti-conversion law (The Times of India)
- Christian groups clash, bus set ablaze | It happened in Tamil Nadu. (ChennaiOnline News Service)
- WCC concerned at Christians' security in Pakistan (Dawn, Karachi)
- Atlantans of three faiths: First pilgrims, then friends | It might be a plot for a new version of TV's "Survivor": Fly 45 Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders from Atlanta to a foreign country, stick them on a tour bus for almost two weeks and see what happens (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Linkage of religion, hate is puzzle | If anyone knows why religion, which espouses kindness, is stained with so much gore, I wish you'd explain it to me (James A. Haught, New Haven Register)
- Vatican liaison urges Christians and Jews to improve relations | But Walter Cardinal Kasper appeared to question a recent paper from a working group of U.S. bishops that called for an end to Christian evangelization among Jews (Boston Herald)
Missions and ministry:
- Billy Graham celebrates 84th birthday (News14, Charlotte)
- Russia denying more visas to religious workers | "It looks like the door is shutting." (Associated Press)
- Going for a Sunday drive | Evangelical campaign focuses on environmental awareness (The Washington Post)
- The agonizing complications of charity | Are international aid workers inadvertently creating a culture of dependency among their beneficiaries? (The Christian Science Monitor)
- New institute to study how faith affects philanthropy | Facility at IUPUI will be nation's first to research ties between religious belief, giving (The Indianapolis Star)
- 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:
- Lawyers gather in Savannah for Christian Legal Society conference | Some things are more important than defending criminals and putting killers away, say Christian lawyers (Associated Press)
- Attorneys defend faith at conference | Christian Legal Society meets in Savannah (The Augusta Chronicle)
- 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)
- Why Pulp Fiction is a biblical epic | The connections between the Good Book and the high octane world of modern popular cinema are to be explored in a conference on Saturday organized by the Scottish Bible Society and the Church of Scotland's national mission (The Scotsman)
- Scottish theologians use Tarantino to spread the word (The Independent, London)
- Sixpence, much the richer | After layoff, band returns with 'Divine Discontent' (CNN)
- Monks give religion a pop spin | Benedictines at a Limerick abbey build on their hit CD of Gregorian chants with a new prayer book (The Observer, London)
- Johnny Cash | The man in black's musical journey continues (NPR)
- St. Mark's choir strikes an untraditional chord | For nearly 50 years, hundreds of people have been coming to St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral every Sunday night to be lulled by the contemplative, liturgical music of the Compline Choir (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
- Maybe God really drives a Chevrolet | Chevy and God have a unique partnership that even some evangelicals consider cool (Jim Ketchum, The Times Herald, Port Huron, Mich.)
- Where faith meets flying elbows | "God never said be a punk," says Brian Grant, one of several Miami Heat players who are Christians. (Palm Beach Post)
- Punt, pass … and pray | Everman's team's ritual includes group, individual petitions (The Dallas Morning News)
More pop culture:
- Sherlock Holmes and the curious case of a scholar who detects the Bible in Conan Doyle's tales | A Vatican professor believes that the detective stories are the Gospels in disguise (The Times, London)
- Rev. Richardson gets TV show | Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, began a weekly television show Sunday on The Word Network, which is seen on DirecTV, Time Warner and Cablevision, among other systems (Associated Press)
- Small town's big cheese dies, so a saint goes riding in | As part of its Lanford Wilson celebration, the Signature Theater Company presents a solid cast in an often sanctimonious indictment of small-town hypocrisy in "Book of Days" (The New York Times)
Bible and theology:
- God-is-male language in the Bible is open to lively debate | Nothing roils the waters more in the conservative Christian community than a debate over gender and the Bible (San Antonio Express-News)
- Theologians don't all agree about Second Coming | Not even all evangelicals (William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News)
- 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)
- Priests work for man not God, say MEPs | European Parliament overwhelmingly voted for changes in British law yesterday to give the clergy the same employment rights as other workers (The London Independent)
- Vicar's appeal backed by MEPs (BBC)
- Sally Army minister in contract row (BBC)
- Why should those who are called to serve God be denied the protection of the laws of man? | On Wednesday, MEPs will respond to a petition by the Rev Ray Owen calling for protection against unfair dismissal for himself and other British clergy (Stephen Plant, The Times, London)
- Virgin renaissance | Whether for religious or secular reasons, in a world awash with sex, celibacy is a growing trend (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- Nevada OKs constitutional amendment on marriage | 36th state to officially define marriage as a union between a man and a woman (The Washington Times)
- Marriage proposal heading to Legislature | Voters overwhelmingly agreed to amend Nevada's constitution to stipulate that marriage is legal only among heterosexual couples (Las Vegas Sun)
- Gay marriage to get hearing | Ottawa could consider legislation as early as this spring (The Toronto Star)
- Canada eyes gay marriage/civil union options (Reuters)
- Patience of a saint | The gay adoption issue caused turmoil this week. Our correspondent meets the gay priest forced to resign after fostering a boy with learning difficulties, and finds a story of true Christian love and family values (The Times, London)
- FBI aide to head church anti-abuse office | 30-year law vet picked by bishops (Chicago Tribune)
- Also: Bishops pick FBI official to monitor sex abuse policies | An F.B.I. official was named to head an office created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to monitor the bishops' compliance with new policies on the sexual abuse of minors (The New York Times)
- Roseville minister reveals past as pimp in his trial | Gennaro Piscopo faces criminal sexual conduct charges for activity during exorcism (The Detroit News)
- 2 ministers no longer facing charges of hindering probe | Pair had been accused of interfering in abuse case (The Baltimore Sun)
- Former nun not remorseful | Commune leader gets 8 months for beatings (Canadian Press)
- Canadian former nun gets jail for spanking kids | Lucille Poulin was sentenced to eight months in jail (Reuters)
- Also: Ex-nun sentenced for assaulting kids (Associated Press)
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)
- 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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