Separation of church and state / the Bible and the Constitution

Obama Condemns ‘Distorted’ Faith at National Prayer Breakfast by Adelle M. Banks, God’s Politics Blog, Sojourners, 02-05-2015 President Obama on Feb. 5 called for an emphasis on what is just about the world’s religions as a way to counter the ways faith has been distorted across the globe. “We see faith driving us to do right,” he said to more than 3,500 people attending the annual National Prayer Breakfast. “But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or worse, sometimes used as a weapon.” He urged believers of all faiths to practice humility, support church-state separation and adhere to the Golden Rule as ways to keep religion in its proper context. “As people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion — any religion — for their own nihilistic ends,” Obama said. “Here at home and around the world we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom: freedom of religion, the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.”

Marcus Borg and the New Face of Christianity by Philip Clayton, Ph.D., Claremont School of Theology, huffingtonpost.com, 01/26/2015 …Marcus Borg died a few days ago…[his]  The Heart of Christianity …clearly expresses the kind of Christianity that most of us want our lives to be associated with… Borg’s humility, which so many of us experienced, was the natural expression of a Christian faith built around Jesus’ radical way of compassion first, with everything else a distant second…Borg was an open, out-of-the-closet liberalBorg described a God worth believing inBorg’s unencumbered Christianity didn’t negate other religions and spiritual paths…a Christianity without exclusion or intolerance…

Fundamentalists take issue with the writings of Marcus Borg By Bill Uhrich, readingeagle.com, February 1, 2015 “Conflict about the Bible is the single most divisive issue among Christians in North America today,” wrote Marcus Borg, who died Jan. 21…Through his writings, Borg offered an alternative viewpoint to fundamentalist views of the Bible, particularly in his 2001 book “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally.”…This perspective flies in the face of the fundamentalists’ belief in verbal plenary inspiration, the idea that every single word and all parts of the Bible are God-given and authoritative…Borg’s participation along with 200 other scholars, including John Dominic Crossan, in the Jesus Seminar of the 1980s and 1990s, which revived historical Jesus studies…Using modern tools available to scholars, the seminar came to the conclusion that 18 percent of the sayings and 16 percent of the deeds attributed to Jesus in the gospels are authentic, according to the Westar Institute, which sponsored the seminar. The rest are essentially reflections of the early church and early Christian understanding…this methodology also raised howls of scorn from fundamentalists…”I describe myself as a nonliteralistic and nonexclusivistic Christian,” Borg wrote, “committed to living my life with God within the Christian tradition, even as I affirm the validity of all the enduring religious traditions.”

Tony Perkins: 2015 ‘Most Dangerous Year’ For American Christians by Peter Montgomery, rightwingwatch.org, 1/27/2015 …Religious Right leaders have adopted a strategy of portraying just about any policy they disagree with as a dire threat to their religious freedom. And they love to portray President Barack Obama as a sinister enemy of religious liberty. Today’s frantic email from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is a model of both the Obama-is-evil paradigm and frothing-at-the-mouth alarmism… flat-out lies…To avoid any accusations that we’ve taken Perkins out of context, here’s today’s fundraising letter in full:…“…President Obama seems willing to do anything to further his radical agenda—even if it means violating the Constitution to take away your religious freedom. This President has clearly placed the religious freedom of millions of Christians like you in his sights. Why? You are among the people who are standing in the gap against his radical plans to transform America into a godless, secular country where government reigns supreme. In these evil days it is more important than ever that you stand your ground for religious freedom!…

Evangelical Political Operative Reveals Plan to Fundamentally Transform America — and It Involves 1,000 Pastors by Billy Hallowell, theblaze.com, Jan. 27, 2015  …The faith leaders assembled for the Issachar Training Event, which was organized by the American Renewal Project, an organization that is working toward bringing 1,000 preachers into the public square next election cycle…[American Renewal Project founder David Lane] launched the American Renewal Project after he began to think about the societal transformation that could happen if he was able to recruit 1,000 pastors to run in 2016 — a prospect that he said “would change America.”…“Somebody’s values are going to reign supreme. Our values or somebody else’s values,” Lane told Brody. “It’s our goal to bring spiritual men and women into the civil government arena.”…[Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal wrote. “There is a great need for the kind of leaders we read about in the Old Testament, ‘The Men of Issachar’ (1 Chronicles 12:32). We need such men and women of wisdom today who will accept the challenge to restore our Judeo-Christian heritage in America.”… “These engaged evangelicals would be voting for their biblically-based conservative values.”

The Real Origins of the Religious Right By RANDALL BALMER, politico.com, May 27, 2014 They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.

Mike Huckabee’s Christian Sharia Law by Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, February 1, 2015 Mike Huckabee is known as a former governor, an author, a onetime Fox News host, and as a possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination…When he last ran for president in 2008, he argued that we “should amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards.What would be the reaction if a Muslim candidate for president…argued that we should amend our Constitution to agree with the Quran? The right wing in this country would explode… many of those same right-wing people who fabricate the claim that Muslims in America want to impose Islamic law have no problem when a Christian politician tells us point blank he wants to impose what is, in essence, Christian Sharia law. The good news: Our First Amendment prohibits the establishment of any religion in our country, be it Christianity or Islam or anything else…in the United States at least, our laws must be based on public policy considerations and the Constitution, not passages of religious text.

 

Apocalypse Now

By ANDREW ROSENTHAL, New York Times, October 30, 2012

The presidential candidates have told us many times that this election is vitally important and have stressed the dire consequences of voting for the other guy. President Obama says the poor will suffer while rich people will prosper if Mitt Romney wins. Mr. Romney counters that Mr. Obama will destroy the economy, coddle terrorists and betray Israel.

But now we learn that there is a much, much greater risk even than that in voting for Mr. Obama – the wrath of God.

“This November, Christians across the nation will be put to the test,” the Rev. Mike Huckabee, former governor and former presidential candidate, says in a new video.

“Your vote,” he says, “will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?”

While the video shows burning fires (get it?) and a woman striding purposefully into a voting booth, Mr. Huckabee concedes that there are a lot of issues in this campaign, but “some issues are not negotiable.”

These are “the right to life from conception to natural death; marriage should be reinforced, not redefined; it is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty to force the church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.”

That last bit is a combination of two lies involving Mr. Obama’s health care reform, which requires companies to offer coverage for contraceptives to female employees. It specifically exempts churches and it does not cover abortion.

Mr. Huckabee is not alone in casting this election as a test of your faith in God.

On his website and in newspaper ads (for the Milwaulkee Journal-Sentinel, among other places), the Rev. Billy Graham wrote: “I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel.” (Hint: That does not include Mr. Obama.)

“I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman,” he said. “Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that American will remain one nation under God.”

Although Mr. Obama isn’t above pandering, in this election cycle I have not seen the Democratic side stoop nearly this low.

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/apocalypse-now/?nl=opinion&emc=edit_ty_20121030