The Rev. Jerry Johnston of Oakland Park, Kan., recently organized a group of local clergy to argue that churches must get more involved in politics. Upset about the Kansas legislature's defeat of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Johnston began distributing a pamphlet containing background information on incumbent state legislators from the area. If they supported the amendment against gay marriage, the word YES appears by their picture.
An upcoming issue of The Nation (July 12) will carry a terrific piece about former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed's recent work on behalf of legalized gambling.
When Reed ran the hyper-moralistic Coalition in the 1990s, he denounced state-sponsored gambling as anti-family. As Jack Newfield points out in The Nation, Reed once called the spread of gambling "a cancer on the American body politic" that was "stealing food from the mouths of children."
North Carolina's Supreme Court issued a controversial ruling yesterday when it chose to compel a lower court judge to use references to God when he enters the courtroom and when swearing in witnesses, according to The Washington Post.
Fallout continues from revelations that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was crowned "king of America" at a ceremony held in the Senate Dirksen Office Building in March.
Yesterday, The New York Times ran a story about the controversy, noting, with some understatement, that the royal congressional recognition of the controversial Korean evangelist (and self-proclaimed messiah) is "causing a bit of a stir" in the nation's capital.
In election years, it's not uncommon for the Internal Revenue Service to issue a letter to non-profit groups, including houses of worship, reminding them that they may not intervene in partisan politics.
This year, the IRS is taking an additional step. It recently issued a three-page letter to officials with seven political parties reminding them not to lure non-profits into politics. It is believed to be the first time the IRS had issued such a letter to political parties.
The Washington Post has an interesting item today about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's March 23 "coronation" ceremony at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. During the event, Moon and his wife, dressed in flowing royal robes, had golden crowns placed on their heads, as members of Congress participated or looked on.
The role of religion in American politics is getting a great deal of press recently, so much so that TIME magazine devoted its cover story to exploring just how religious America wants their public officials to be. Of all likely voters, only 28% felt it very important that a presidential candidate be a religious person, according to the TIME poll. Despite this fact, 56% see religious values as a tool that public figures should use to guide their actions.
"I think it is very important for people who are serving [in public office] to make sure there is a separation of church and state," said President George W. Bush at a press conference yesterday. While we welcome the president as a newly minted defender of the First Amendment, his remarks stand in stark contrast to some of the actions of his administration.
Religious Right activists often insist that America is a Christian nation. Although most Americans are indeed Christians, the TV preachers who talk about America as a "Christian Nation" mean something more -- that America should be officially Christian.
President George W. Bush has apparently asked top Vatican officials to push American bishops to become more politically active. In a talk with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the president reportedly declared that 'Not all the American bishops are with me' on the cultural issues, according to stories by the National Catholic Reporter and The New York Times. Some observers saw his remarks as an appeal for hierarchical help in the upcoming elections.