Saturday, March 29, 2008


A rather surprising poll was released today on the Fox News Channel  - 68% of White Evangelicals said they could not vote for Barack Obama, 21% could not vote for John McCain, and only 11% could not vote for Hillary Clinton.

The only number that seems unsurprising is John McCain's.  His foul mouth and general discomfort with evangelicals are legends.  While Hillary and Barack have been heard using the same words, they do not appear angry in public, and seem to have gotten a pass on this. No one believes his attendance at a Southern Baptist Church in Arizona is convincing.  While his official positions are largely in line with the moral agenda of many evangelicals, his support for embryonic stem cell research being the notable exception, Christians INCLUDING ME distrust him.  Much of the anger of conservatives seems targeted at his McCain-Feingold and McCain-Lieberman  bills on Campaign Finance Reform and Immigration respectively.  I suppose most evangelicals will end up voting for him, but having twice the negative factor as Hillary is amazing.

Burns Strider was hired by Hillary as an "evangelical consultant".  Hill has been speaking in terms less offensive to evangelicals while at the same time not changing one iota of her anti-family, pro-homosexual, pro-abortion agenda.  It is amazing to me that 89% of evangelicals think that sharing a platform with Rick Warren (the Robert Schuller-style positive thinking author of "The Purpose-Driven Life" and other books) and speaking in softer tones makes a difference.  After all, Barack shared the platform at Saddleback as well, and it seemed to create far more negative buzz.  Hill and Barack stand for essentially the same things. Hill is currently less critical of the Iraq War, but she has vacillated so much on the issue I frankly cannot comprehend how anybody, whether  evangelical or not, could seriously consider her qualified to be a Commander-in-Chief.  Playing to the polls is simply a disqualifier for the position. Her husband's vacillation in office and his distaste for taking strong principled stands after we were attacked are cited by many as prime reasons 9/11 happened in the first place.  

Evangelicals have morphed into a strange land.  Before he died, Jerry Falwell was quoted as saying, "I hope she's the candidate, because nothing would energize my constituency like Hillary Clinton." He even said, "If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't." Hillary had unbelievably galvanized the electorate like no one else. Where are the folks who made Abortion a litmus test for Republican hopefuls? Where are those who were responsible for the 1994 take-over of congress? Where are those who saw through her recreated history in her autobiography?

I believe it is because so many evangelicals have changed.  They are very desirous of not being on the outside or seen as intolerant. They have allowed apostate professors in droves to infiltrate their seminaries. They often do not even believe in Genesis anymore. They are more and more embarrassed by those who take uncompromisingly Biblical stands. They have accepted women in the pulpit and in senior leadership despite the clear teachings of the Bible they claim to believe. They are much more likely to be softer on moral issues - many Evangelical Christians routinely watch movies their parents would have run far from. I hear the "s" word and other curses from their lips. They divorce almost as much as non-Christians. Evangelical men are increasingly expecting pre-marital intercourse, though perhaps later than their non-believing counterparts. Some of the largest evangelical churches in the country preach a soft me-centered gospel that lacks the power of God. Major Christian TV programs have strayed so far from Orthodoxy - the personalities and the presentations and their interesting "words" replace any faithfulness to Biblical fidelity. "Christian" music is often indistinguishable from the world's unless you read the indecipherable lyrics. Repentance and hell are on the back burner if on the stove at all.  No wonder attitudes toward homosexuality are softening markedly and people are cowering in the face of political correctness run amok. A radio broker told me 90% of pastors do not want their churches in an openly soul-winning posture on the radio - they want to be pillars of the community that people can come to and be blessed with their families. They shun the spotlight. Very few Evangelical Christians are truly Biblically literate any longer, and they do not know what Christ taught. It is a feel-good and inclusive religion that differs in degree but less in concept from the traditionally liberal denominations.  It is only natural that the desire to not be identified with "narrow-minded fundamentalists" has caused people to vote increasingly for those with stridently anti-Biblical stands.

I believe there is also a more sinister element - racism.  Hill and Bill have shown that the "first black president" title was a sham, and that they are as racially charged as anyone.  This has been well-known by those with discernment, but many had the wool pulled over their eyes. Given a choice between a bi-racial liberal man and a white liberal woman, they go with the white woman.

Barack's campaign approach has been far more similar to Christian goals of cooperation and a softer touch than either of the others.  He is a church-goer, albeit in a denomination which is the most liberal in protestantism and probably the most antagonistic to truly born-again Bible-believing Christians.  His tolerance and positions may be no better than Hillary's, but he does not carry the same baggage and comes across as not nasty but user-friendly.  

If Barack and Hillary had the same negative rating, I would understand it.  For Barack to have SIX TIMES more negativity seems to simply be an issue of the old race issue or the embarrassing susceptibility of Christians to believe some internet legends and hear-say negative pieces.  I believe it is both.  Some of the stuff people circulate on ANY number of issues is not worthy of belief. So are so many pulpit messages, whether on the TV or their home church, the gullible assimilate into their spirits without checking them out in the Bible.  I would have hoped for better.

It will be interesting how these attitudes will stay the same or change as we move closer to November.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Many Americans have been shocked by the flaming oratory of Barack Obama's former pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ. It has been called leftist Liberation Theology.  It has been called racist. It has been called a lot of things.  What it HASN'T been called is "more common than you think".

Some dismiss the United Church of Christ (a majority white denomination by the way) as simply too liberal. After all, it was the first to have homosexuality accepted, even among the clergy. It was an amalgamation of several failing denominations a generation ago, and it is indeed liberal. But it does not stand alone.  Left-leaning folks have taken over a host of seminaries. If you haven't checked out a seminary website recently, check out Drew's in Madison, NJ.  You will find liberation theology, feminist theology, and every kind of theology possible except ANY theology that even remotely resembles the Bible.  Drew is not unique. You could go to the websites of Yale, Harvard, Andover-Newton, Union Theological, Colgate Rochester, Duke, Candler, and others and wonder why people are going to study about GOD there. They have been losing traction because the churches that hire people from these institutions are largely on the decline. I mean, what is the point of going to church if you don't really get to know God?

I have personally witnessed sermons mixed with politics not that much more elevated than former Pastor Wright's.  I heard a local minister many consider sound with a large following screaming about the Iraq War being started so George Bush could help Dick Cheney increase Haliburton's profits.  He got a standing ovation.  I have been in small gatherings where the politics mirror's Wright's in substance if not in vitriol. I have been places where the pledge of allegiance to the flag would be unthinkable. There were times in my own life I would have a very hard time singing the national anthem because of the state of the country.  I understand what it feels like to think you are on the outside looking in.  Whether those feelings are legitimate is another story, but the feelings are there.

Some sermons in evangelical churches sound like a Republican fundraiser. In fact, I heard a very liberal young man who had gone to India to be a Hindu return to America after he found Christ and tell us that now that he had become a Christian, he became a Republican because all Christians were Republicans! The fact of the matter is that there is a large racial divide in America that is being stoked by orators who really do not understand the calling of a Pastor. There are those on both the conservative and liberal side of the aisle who put their brand of politics and their weltanschauung (world view) as synonymous with the gospel.

Many people rejected Jesus Christ because he did not fulfill their political agenda. Judas is often portrayed as being so disappointed that Jesus was so apolitical that it was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back and caused him to betray Christ.  The people wanted someone to beat the Romans. Just like some folks want a hero to beat the Republicans. A hero to stop Hillary. Whatever. I believe the church of Jesus Christ must be committed to Biblical Christianity. Personal political opinions must not be given the weight of Holy Writ. I mean, some folks put as much weight in Rush Limbaugh's monologues and opinions as they do the Bible. And the same could be said for liberal commentators and liberal pastors.

The liberation theology of Jesus did not free the Jews from the Romans. Christians learned not to be culture-centric. God broke down the barriers. Ethnic pride has never been on the agenda for God. Our boast must be in him. I know a man who says he thanks God he was born white and middle class. Others most they are more "black" in their outlook than others. None of this is worth two cents to God. Paul counted his pedigree as rubbish (a nicer word than he used) in order that he could win Christ. We must do likewise.

We are also to recognize that the political leaders are ministers of God. Yes, if Hillary wins, SHE is a minister of God. If Barack wins, HE is a minister of God. Even if the foul-mouthed John McCain wins (and he  may not be any more foul-mouthed than the other two - he just has the reputation), HE is a minister of God.  If they aren't, tear Romans 13 out of the Bible. I was as unhappy about Bill Clinton's escapades as anybody, but many Christians HATED the man and honored him not at all. If you want to know the times and seasons Romans 13 was written in, AD 57 is the best guess, remember that Nero was emporer then.  Caligula had been murdered 15 years prior - the one who liked to invite couples to dinner, seize the wife for sex, and then bring her back to the table and describe their activities in detail to her husband.  Things went DOWNHILL from there with Nero, so Paul was not writing this in the kinder days of Caesar Augustus.  AND he was writing it to the Romans. 

Believe me, God will judge all evil, but there is a stunning lack of revolutionary rhetoric in the Bible. Slaves are instructed to become free if they can, but this is sometimes interpreted to mean those in indentured situations should work more to get free sooner and not remain in servitude any longer than necessary. Remember, slavery was more time limited back then. I have read the accounts of Frederick Douglas and understand the debate that took place even then about peaceful vs. violent change, but God raised up a government minister, Abraham Lincoln, who carried out God's will to free those who were oppressed.

I think it is important to hear the anger that the Pastor Wright's of the world have, regardless of whether there appears to be any Christian content. My wife and her mom actual met him when he was in Philadelphia, and confronted him on his anti-Biblical theology before walking out. The thoughts he expresses are not as rare as one might think, just as a lot of the thoughts those on the right express  are not as rare as many would hope either. When we know the truth, we know how to pray and how to deal with it. My prayer is that the great anger so many have will be address by the peace that passes understanding, the peace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray also that ALL the presidential candidates would start to go to churches where the gospel is preached, and that each and every one of them would get on their knees, repent, and make a solid commitment in faith to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Dave Letterman likes top ten lists.  They are fun.  But hey, I like to be different, so I will give you ELEVEN.  The eleventh is probably the most important.  Why lies? Perusing the selection at Barnes and Noble will yield a lot of books with the word "LIES" in them. People get hot under the collar and love to lambast folks.  Rather than that, the truth shall set you free, so here are ELEVEN sobering lies that have gotten traction in our culture today that I would like to debunk.

LIE #1 - Prostitution is a victimless crime.
Tell that to Silda Spitzer or the Spitzer daughters. Everyone is a victim in this situation. Especially the "John", who lost everything because of his transgression.  It is amazing how everything from homosexuality to smoking pot is called victimless. There are victims right and left with all these things. To say otherwise is to ignore reality.

Lie #2 - Democrats are less racist than Republicans.
The spin has always been that Democrats are protectors of the downtrodden. Why is then that so many voted against the civil rights act?  It passed with the help of Republicans. Why is it that Bill Clinton is the "first black president" when what he has been saying is racially charged? Why is it that Hillary is given a pass because she knows how to phrase herself in front of black groups but who seems to have an amazing number of people close to her who say racist things? I do believe that many Democrats say fewer things publicly that could be construed as offensive, but when they do, the mainstream press usually gives them a pass. Privately, I'm not sure there is really any difference. Republicans like to see achievement, and want to recognize minority achievement on the same basis as anyone else's.  What is intrinsically good about having two standards for excellence? It is racist to the core. Most people have some racial issues. Rather than having a mote and log argument, let's all get rid of what racism we still harbor in our hearts.

Lie #3 - I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body.
Time and time again people say they are not prejudiced. Then they say some racially-charged thing. Look, I believe I have less of that than most people, but I haven't met anyone YET who doesn't have some prejudice, and that includes myself. The Bible says that he who says he has no sin is a liar, and those words especially apply in this case. We are all works in progress, and we should be working to the point where we do not prejudge anyone based upon our ideas or our past experiences. It helps no one to deny we have shortcomings.

Lie #4 - Fundamental Christians are as major a problem as Islamo-Fascists
First of all, know that what the world considers a "fundamental Christian" is very different from what many Christians do. A lot of Christians unwittingly condemn them without having a clue what they are talking about. To the world, a "fundamental Christian" is not merely one who holds to tons of rules and who believes that joylessness is next to Godliness, but is simply anyone who has the audacity and stupidity to believe that Jesus Christ actually is who he said he is, who believes the dusty old Bible is actually true, and who believes that faith in Christ is the only way to salvation and heaven.  I am a "fundamental Christian" in the eyes of the world because I believe all those things.  Contrary to the stereotypes. Christians are usually more fair than anyone else, and even the most narrow ones have done much to make our nation and many other nations great. In fact, to the extent any country has any good in it, it has come from Christian influence. Since Christian influence is waning in the U.S., we have far less good in our culture. In fact, any perusal of books and videos shows that good is in short supply these days.  Whether using the world's definition or the definition widespread in evangelical circles, Fundamental Christians do not strap bombs to themselves, they do not force people to believe what they believe, and they believe in religious freedom.  Find me any Muslim, let alone an Islamo-Fascist, who unequivocally condemns the intolerance and violence that is commonplace. You won't find it on the C.A.I.R. website. There are always other qualifiers.  Islamic Fundamentalists are truly dangerous.  The only danger of Christian Fundamentalists is resisting the secular humanist agenda.

Lie #5 - Christians are more close-minded than anybody else. 
This one is a big favorite.  It has gained traction because it has been repeated so often. Any honest reading of secular books and Christian books tells me that there is no truth to that whatsoever.  If anything, Christians are FAR MORE open-minded. Secular folks, such as the author of "God's Problem" who thinks he has checkmated God over the issue of suffering are totally closed to God. Richard Dawkins and others refuse to let "God get a foot in the door" in their virulently atheistic statements. They sacrifice science, logic, and reason because of their dogma. Many Christians stick their fingers in their ears as well, but no more than the others. Refreshing to me are the Christians who can reexamine long-held ideas which may not be true. Answers in Genesis will reverse itself when science proves the theory of a creationist wrong. When have evolutionists EVER done that with their theories? They still teach things they don't believe. The goal is that people believe it, not understand it. Historically, scientists were Christians, and improvements to society have come from the open-mindedness of Christians. Universities that teach this lie are some of most close-minded places on earth.

Lie #6 - Evolution is a Fact
Facts have proof. Facts have evidence - such as the irrefutable evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is NO proof for molecules-to-man evolution. The proofs of change that are offered are those of minor variations and natural selection which ARE accepted by Biblical creationists. The jump to molecules-to-man evolution is a convenient leap of faith unsupported by observational science. Evolution as popularly taught is a belief system that goes back millenia, but expanded and popularized in this culture in the mid 1800's. Much of what has been discovered since brings their ideas into question, but the system is a sacred cow in universities, in schools, and even at presidential debates. Despite its racist and cruel roots which led to horrifically oppressive Darwinistic capitalism, the rise of eugenics and it's chief advocate Adolf Hitler, and now the anomie of our culture where suicide, drugs, and a meaningless existence are the order of the day, the forces of evil are seeking to prevent any questioning of its dogma, any alternative presentation of beliefs, and the home-schooling by parents in the only antidote, the Bible, the Word of God. The close-mindedness and anti-intellectual approach tell us all we need to know.

Lie #7 - Everyone who believes in a young universe is an idiot.
Actually, the temperature of Neptune indicates it is a young planet, which along with other discoveries has thrown a wrench into this billions of years dogma. There is a Christian cosmology which has been peer-reviewed.  It violates no known science. Big-bang advocates have a time problem in their own cosmology, but you won't read about it in TIME or the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Big Bang folks ASSUME that the earth is JUST ANOTHER PLANET and that the universe is limitless.  Christian cosmologists accept the eyewitness account in Genesis that the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write, where the earth was created FIRST, making it close to the center of the universe that GOD "stretched out" (unrelated to how God arranged our solar system), and where the universe is VAST, but not unlimited.  We believe in an infinite God, not an infinite universe. How could God be over something as infinite as himself???  If you take those two very reasonably different assumptions, and apply Einstein's theory of General Relativity, the time warps that exist mean that the billions of light years needed for starlight to reach earth would take only a few thousand years of time as measured on earth. Dr. Humphreys has written extensively on this cosmology which is not the work of an idiot, but of an accomplished scientist; a cosmology, incidentally, which has FEWER issues than the revered Big-Bang.

Lie #8 - The Earth is very old, and the Bible cannot be trusted.
The earth seems to be getting more than one year older each year I live. It gets much older than ever. There are a lot of problems with this theory.  The first is that any reconstruction of the past is based upon present observation. The theory is that things have always been as they are today. Peter warns about this line of thought in one of his books.  Things change, and the history of the flood, accurately chronicled in the Bible, but appearing in literature and folk lore worldwide, explains how fish fossils got into the Himalaya Mountains and how fish fossils are at the bottom of the sea - period.  Ever have an aquarium in your house? Fish rise when they die naturally, they don't fall. The recent major RATE experiments (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth) have shown major issues with aging methodologies that some folks have uncritically believed in. There are challenges for all belief systems, but young-earth advocates have actually shown more scientific integrity that the old-earth folks who simply add years when discoveries discredit their ideas. The Bible has been vindicated again and again by archaeological discoveries. More important, Jesus believed Genesis because the Holy Spirit who filled him was the author of it.

Lie #9 - Roe v. Wade is settled law.
"Pro-choice" stick-in-the-mud folks (who tend to be anti-choice when it comes to education or religious freedom) think that any challenge to a case decided in the dark ages of fetal science is ridiculous and evil. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sonograms and heavy research has multiplied our knowledge. Yet, like the evolutionists, time stands still for these folks, and they refuse to reexamine the issue.  We know the preborn infant feels pain, and we know that from the beginning all the aspects of personhood are there. Even the court that decided the case left open the door for reexamination as science progressed, and the original plaintiff said she was used and no longer believes in abortion! Everything is present for this case to be reopened and even reversed. Close-minded people are the only ones in the way.

Lie #10 - All Roads Lead to Heaven
All roads NEVER lead to the same place. Why do you thing we have navigation systems? Roads go different directions, and if you ever missed a fork in the road, just a two degree difference can put you miles away from where you should be before long. Those who depart from the only straight and narrow way  to even a "minor" degree will miss the boat. There is only one way. There was only one ark. Not an ark for each belief system. There was only one way to be saved then, and there is only one way to be saved now. The broad way, the popular way, leads to destruction. You need a real spiritual Mapquest to find heaven, because few there be that find it. There are so many ways to miss it, you have to stick with the narrow way that is detailed in the Bible. Otherwise, you will end up somewhere else.

Lie #11 - God won't Destroy so many People
Carlton Pearson tripped on this one and became a Universalist.  It was an epic, but unfortunately all too common and time-worn mistake. The people of Noah's day thought the same thing. I have been teaching Genesis on the radio - and in my research I found that there would have been anywhere from one billion to five billion people on the earth at the time of the flood. The long life of mankind, large families, and no recorded famines, wars, or epidemics could have resulted in a very quick increase in population.  The reason for the wide range is how soon Adam and Eve had children and how long Eve was fertile. Remember that the Bible never says how long it was before Cain and Abel were born.  The birth of Seth was noted as being when Adam was 130 years old. Because of the development of cities and Cain finding a wife, it is apparent that there were a host of children in that period, but we do not have enough information to say. The fact is God destroyed a number of people comparable to that of the unsaved world's population either today or not so long ago, so if he did it once, he would do it again, because our God changes not. The conditions on earth are even worse now than they were then, so we should expect God to do as he has promised in the Bible. Of course, if all men would repent, he would NOT destroy the world, but unfortunately, most men and women reject repentance, so what has been prophesied will occur. The message of hope is that God provided an ark before he destroyed the evil folks then, and he also has now provided an even better ark through the person of Jesus Christ. Often in life there is only one way of escape. We have that one way and it is available in every country on earth to any person regardless of how rich or poor, whether man, woman, or child, and of any ethnicity whatsoever. If we go into the ark of safety before GOD closes the door to that ark, just as he closed the door of Noah's ark, we will rise above that destruction and be part of the new heaven and new earth where righteousness dwells. If we DON'T go into the only ark he has provided, we will learn too late that God indeed WILL destroy that many people.  It is best just to believe him and believe the history of what happened before. I have done that and will have no regrets. I don't want YOU to have any regrets.  No one wants to have believed a lie!

Saturday, March 08, 2008


People ask me what I think about the Democratic Race. I have lots of opinions. I believe the differences are extremely clear between these candidates - they are definitely not peas in the same pod, and they would not make good running mates.

Barack Obama looks a lot younger than he is. People love youth and vibrancy. He has a lot of organizational, teaching, and inspirational experience. Nonetheless, you HAVE to look behind the surface. He sponsored a boatload of bills which are telling in terms of how he thinks. I recommend everybody go on his website and go through his positions issue by issue. Do not base your decision on Barack's spirituality on what you hear on the 700 Club. Base it upon what you see him say on his website meant for general consumption. Just like if you want to know what Joel Osteen believes, don't watch his TV show. Watch a rerun of his telling interview meant for general consumption on Larry King's CNN show.  See my post just prior to this one which has his landmark speech on faith verbatim. You pick up some basic fairness and a desire not to demonize faith per se, yet it is abundantly clear he does not believe the Bible, the words of Christ, or the need to be saved to avoid hell.  He clearly equates different religions in the tradition of theological liberals, and finds his comfort zone with only those evangelicals who copycat the left such as Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis.

Barack has a high likability factor and he inspires confidence. He has run an amazing campaign and has raised a prodigious sum of money. While many greatly overestimate the power of the President, it is troubling that he even went left of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) in opposing the Infants Born Alive Act.

In the plus side, his moderation on Health Care is much more realistic than what Hillary is proffering. However, other of his positions are clearly not economically viable. Many presidential candidates promise what they cannot deliver. Clearly, the message of CHANGE has not affected that longstanding tradition of both parties.

Barack's steadfast opposition to the Iraq War seems a bit of a moot point with the war essentially won. The moderating comments from his camp indicate a slower pace of withdrawal than many would assume from his speeches. Personally, I do not believe he would endanger our country. 

He states a strong support of Israel.  While many doubt, I believe he is as much on board there as other candidates.  Even McCain caused some concern in Israel recently, so all of them would need prayer.  

However, an itemization of the issues as HE defines his positions is telling and in my opinion is pretty doctrinaire left wing.

Hillary is trying to position herself as the provider of all things good, but has given not one financial idea to pay for anything. Those who pay little or no taxes are naturally drawn to this Pied Piper. If she proved successful, it would push us into an economic crisis that would dwarf our current malaise.

Hillary's ideas on health care seem unchanged from fifteen years ago. It didn't work then, and it won't work now. When she compares us to other countries, she ignores the fact WE pay to protect those countries. Look at the GNP of Western Europe, of South Korea, and other countries. The US is burdened with the defense of the free world. Israel spends a lot, but still needs out help against their intractable enemies. The US cannot afford to spend the same as other nations - AND when we look even at that, these nations aren't affording it EITHER and are changing things. The rationing of care and the failure of other nations to offer new health solutions is telling. We MUST fix healthcare, but not create a BOONDOGGLE that would be disastrous. This is nothing new - Teddy Roosevelt proposed national health care a century ago.
Who would aver that health care would be as good as it is today had her been successful in that venture?

Hill has been all over the map on Iraq, and that alone in my mind disqualifies her. She simply changes with what she perceives the audience wants. That is the mark of a FOLLOWER, not a LEADER. Leaders lead - they inspire, they stick with the unpopular if it is the right thing to do. Imagine if Winston Churchill had listened to his opponents. The Brits would be speaking German today. If George W. Bush followed the polls, Saddam's minions would still be raping and killing Iraqi citizens. Above all, the President must LEAD, and must have the moral authority to do so.

This issue of moral authority is a major one. None of the candidates of either party appear very spiritual at all. However, when one must have moral authority, one must have moral underpinnings. One must have a firm idea of right and wrong. Hillary has taught Sunday School in the United Methodist Church, a denomination where there has been substantial compromise. Her positions bear no resemblance to Biblical ideas, so we must ask if it is not the Bible she is basing her decisions on, what is it?

I believe the late Murray Rothbard (and I am for real no Ron Paul supporter - they love this guy) had it right back in the early 1990's. I do not see things having changed - just the details. He says:

Now obviously, and of course, a lot of this is Hillary's drive to "reinvent" herself, that is, to create a duplicitous false image, to make herself less threatening to the angry American public. And surely the late nineteenth-century Social Gospelers would be horrified at the current multi-gendered, condomaniacal Clintonian left, to say nothing of the rapid revolving of poor John Wesley in his eighteenth-century English grave. But there is definitely a direct line of descent from the Methodist Social Gospelers of the nineteenth century to the St. Hillary and the monstrous Clintonian left. Mix into "old fashioned Methodism" liberal doses of Marxism, the New Left, the pagan pantheist New Age, and the multicultural and sexual revolutions, stir briskly. and you get the current ruling horror that we all face, and are trying to roll back out of our lives. We face, in short, regardless of what hairdo or persona she affects next week, the evil Witch in the White House.

I am afraid her "authority" is her own ideas, which do not have any moral authority behind them. Deep questions about her own sexual issues, the incontrovertible inconsistencies in the death of Vincent Foster, combined with the fact that her husband, a known serial adulterer would be in the White House and a major advisor to the President. 

9/11 happened because of continued non-response to terrorism by Bill Clinton. One gets the impression Hill might go down the same path.

To many, the idea of a woman president is no big deal. It is a big deal to me. I personally do not believe it is a good idea. After all, God prohibited women from leading and directing the church. How would he then endorse them for leading the world? No Queen of Israel was righteous. The oft-cited example of Deborah was as a judge in a situation where men abdicated. There is a difference of constitution between men and women. It is not the tears she shed (whether accidentally or on purpose).  Brett Favre cried much more than she did.  I'm sure George Bush has cried many a tear. He wouldn't be human if he didn't. Crying is OK with me. What isn't is vacillation and emotion governing decisions being made.  Women are simply not built for the stress than goes with that job.  The men in it gray quickly.  A well-seasoned person has a tough time with it. Hillary's overstated "experience" and qualifications mask to the uninformed the fact she never ran anything and has even failed to run a good campaign. Why would anyone put a person with that record in charge of the free world?

I am a registered democrat in the tradition of the late Robert B. Casey. The party has forced me to vote primarily for republicans or independents for many years. I may vote in the primary. If I do, it will be for Obams simply to vote against Hillary. In the general election, I have a real dilemma.  I cannot support the positions of Barack Obama.  Neither can I support the animus John McCain feels against true Christians and his rather illogical decision making.  I hope God brings a ram out of the bush for our country.  If we are stuck with these folks, I will let you know my decision before November.


Many have made so many claims about Barack Obama. Some are convinced he is a Muslim. Others heard him describe a Christian experience on the 700 Club. Here is his landmark speech on his faith as displayed on his website, and I believe if you read all of it, you will know everything you need to know about what Barack Obama believes AND what he doesn't believe.

June 28, 2006, Washington DC

Good morning. I appreciate the opportunity to speak here at the CALL TO RENEWAL'S BUILDING A COVENANT FOR A NEW AMERICA CONFERENCE. I've had the opportunity to take a look at your Covenant for a New America. It is filled with outstanding policies and prescriptions for much of what ails this country. So I'd like to congratulate you all on the thoughtful presentations you've given so far about poverty and justice in America, and for putting fire under the feet of the political leadership here in Washington.

But today I'd like to talk about the connection between religion and politics and perhaps offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments that we've been seeing over the last several years.

I do so because, as you all know, we can affirm the importance of poverty in the Bible; and we can raise up and pass out this Covenant for a New America. We can talk to the press, and we can discuss the religious call to address poverty and environmental stewardship all we want, but it won't have an impact unless we tackle head-on the mutual suspicion that sometimes exists between religious America and secular America.

I want to give you an example that I think illustrates this fact. As some of you know, during the 2004 U.S. Senate General Election I ran against a gentleman named Alan Keyes. Mr. Keyes is well-versed in the Jerry Falwell-Pat Robertson style of rhetoric that often labels progressives as both immoral and godless.

Indeed, Mr. Keyes announced towards the end of the campaign that, "Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama. Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has behaved in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved."

Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama.

Now, I was urged by some of my liberal supporters not to take this statement seriously, to essentially ignore it. To them, Mr. Keyes was an extremist, and his arguments not worth entertaining. And since at the time, I was up 40 points in the polls, it probably wasn't a bad piece of strategic advice.

But what they didn't understand, however, was that I had to take Mr. Keyes seriously, for he claimed to speak for my religion, and my God. He claimed knowledge of certain truths.

Mr. Obama says he's a Christian, he was saying, and yet he supports a lifestyle that the Bible calls an abomination.

Mr. Obama says he's a Christian, but supports the destruction of innocent and sacred life.

And so what would my supporters have me say? How should I respond? Should I say that a literalist reading of the Bible was folly? Should I say that Mr. Keyes, who is a Roman Catholic, should ignore the teachings of the Pope?

Unwilling to go there, I answered with what has come to be the typically liberal response in such debates - namely, I said that we live in a pluralistic society, that I can't impose my own religious views on another, that I was running to be the U.S. Senator of Illinois and not the Minister of Illinois.

But Mr. Keyes's implicit accusation that I was not a true Christian nagged at me, and I was also aware that my answer did not adequately address the role my faith has in guiding my own values and my own beliefs.

Now, my dilemma was by no means unique. In a way, it reflected the broader debate we've been having in this country for the last thirty years over the role of religion in politics.

For some time now, there has been plenty of talk among pundits and pollsters that the political divide in this country has fallen sharply along religious lines. Indeed, the single biggest "gap" in party affiliation among white Americans today is not between men and women, or those who reside in so-called Red States and those who reside in Blue, but between those who attend church regularly and those who don't.

Conservative leaders have been all too happy to exploit this gap, consistently reminding evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their Church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage; school prayer and intelligent design.

Democrats, for the most part, have taken the bait. At best, we may try to avoid the conversation about religious values altogether, fearful of offending anyone and claiming that - regardless of our personal beliefs - constitutional principles tie our hands. At worst, there are some liberals who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word "Christian" describes one's political opponents, not people of faith.

Now, such strategies of avoidance may work for progressives when our opponent is Alan Keyes. But over the long haul, I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people's lives -- in the lives of the American people -- and I think it's time that we join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy.

And if we're going to do that then we first need to understand that Americans are a religious people. 90 percent of us believe in God, 70 percent affiliate themselves with an organized religion, 38 percent call themselves committed Christians, and substantially more people in America believe in angels than they do in evolution.

This religious tendency is not simply the result of successful marketing by skilled preachers or the draw of popular mega-churches. In fact, it speaks to a hunger that's deeper than that - a hunger that goes beyond any particular issue or cause.

Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds - dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office, flying to a business meeting, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets - and they're coming to the realization that something is missing. They are deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness, is not enough.

They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives. They're looking to relieve a chronic loneliness, a feeling supported by a recent study that shows Americans have fewer close friends and confidants than ever before. And so they need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them - that they are not just destined to travel down that long highway towards nothingness.

And I speak with some experience on this matter. I was not raised in a particularly religious household, as undoubtedly many in the audience were. My father, who returned to Kenya when I was just two, was born Muslim but as an adult became an atheist. My mother, whose parents were non-practicing Baptists and Methodists, was probably one of the most spiritual and kindest people I've ever known, but grew up with a healthy skepticism of organized religion herself. As a consequence, so did I.

It wasn't until after college, when I went to Chicago to work as a community organizer for a group of Christian churches, that I confronted my own spiritual dilemma.

I was working with churches, and the Christians who I worked with recognized themselves in me. They saw that I knew their Book and that I shared their values and sang their songs. But they sensed that a part of me that remained removed, detached, that I was an observer in their midst.

And in time, I came to realize that something was missing as well -- that without a vessel for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart, and alone.

And if it weren't for the particular attributes of the historically black church, I may have accepted this fate. But as the months passed in Chicago, I found myself drawn - not just to work with the church, but to be in the church.

For one thing, I believed and still believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change, a power made real by some of the leaders here today. Because of its past, the black church understands in an intimate way the Biblical call to feed the hungry and cloth the naked and challenge powers and principalities. And in its historical struggles for freedom and the rights of man, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world. As a source of hope.

And perhaps it was out of this intimate knowledge of hardship -- the grounding of faith in struggle -- that the church offered me a second insight, one that I think is important to emphasize today.

Faith doesn't mean that you don't have doubts.

You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away - because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street in the Southside of Chicago one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany. I didn't fall out in church. The questions I had didn't magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt that I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.

That's a path that has been shared by millions upon millions of Americans - evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims alike; some since birth, others at certain turning points in their lives. It is not something they set apart from the rest of their beliefs and values. In fact, it is often what drives their beliefs and their values.

And that is why that, if we truly hope to speak to people where they're at - to communicate our hopes and values in a way that's relevant to their own - then as progressives, we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse.

Because when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations towards one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome - others will fill the vacuum, those with the most insular views of faith, or those who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.

In other words, if we don't reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, then the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and Alan Keyeses will continue to hold sway.

More fundamentally, the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Some of the problem here is rhetorical - if we scrub language of all religious content, we forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice.

Imagine Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address without reference to "the judgments of the Lord." Or King's I Have a Dream speech without references to "all of God's children." Their summoning of a higher truth helped inspire what had seemed impossible, and move the nation to embrace a common destiny.

Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation is not just rhetorical, though. Our fear of getting "preachy" may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in some of our most urgent social problems.

After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten point plan. They are rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness - in the imperfections of man.

Solving these problems will require changes in government policy, but it will also require changes in hearts and a change in minds. I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manufacturers' lobby - but I also believe that when a gang-banger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels somebody disrespected him, we've got a moral problem. There's a hole in that young man's heart - a hole that the government alone cannot fix.

I believe in vigorous enforcement of our non-discrimination laws. But I also believe that a transformation of conscience and a genuine commitment to diversity on the part of the nation's CEOs could bring about quicker results than a battalion of lawyers. They have more lawyers than us anyway.

I think that we should put more of our tax dollars into educating poor girls and boys. I think that the work that Marian Wright Edelman has done all her life is absolutely how we should prioritize our resources in the wealthiest nation on earth. I also think that we should give them the information about contraception that can prevent unwanted pregnancies, lower abortion rates, and help assure that that every child is loved and cherished.

But, you know, my Bible tells me that if we train a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not turn from it. So I think faith and guidance can help fortify a young woman's sense of self, a young man's sense of responsibility, and a sense of reverence that all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy.

I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology - that can be dangerous. Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith. As Jim has mentioned, some politicians come and clap -- off rhythm -- to the choir. We don't need that.

In fact, because I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality, I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they're something they're not. They don't need to do that. None of us need to do that.

But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognize some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of "thou" and not just "I," resonates in religious congregations all across the country. And we might realize that we have the ability to reach out to the evangelical community and engage millions of religious Americans in the larger project of American renewal.

Some of this is already beginning to happen. Pastors, friends of mine like Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes are wielding their enormous influences to confront AIDS, Third World debt relief, and the genocide in Darfur. Religious thinkers and activists like our good friend Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo are lifting up the Biblical injunction to help the poor as a means of mobilizing Christians against budget cuts to social programs and growing inequality.

And by the way, we need Christians on Capitol Hill, Jews on Capitol Hill and Muslims on Capitol Hill talking about the estate tax. When you've got an estate tax debate that proposes a trillion dollars being taken out of social programs to go to a handful of folks who don't need and weren't even asking for it, you know that we need an injection of morality in our political debate.

Across the country, individual churches like my own and your own are sponsoring day care programs, building senior centers, helping ex-offenders reclaim their lives, and rebuilding our gulf coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

So the question is, how do we build on these still-tentative partnerships between religious and secular people of good will? It's going to take more work, a lot more work than we've done so far. The tensions and the suspicions on each side of the religious divide will have to be squarely addressed. And each side will need to accept some ground rules for collaboration.

While I've already laid out some of the work that progressive leaders need to do, I want to talk a little bit about what conservative leaders need to do -- some truths they need to acknowledge.

For one, they need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn't the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn't want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves. It was the forbearers of the evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they did not want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.

Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.

This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what's possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It's the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you doubt that, let me give you an example.

We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Abraham is ordered by God to offer up his only son, and without argument, he takes Isaac to the mountaintop, binds him to an altar, and raises his knife, prepared to act as God has commanded. 

Of course, in the end God sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute, and Abraham passes God's test of devotion. 

But it's fair to say that if any of us leaving this church saw Abraham on a roof of a building raising his knife, we would, at the very least, call the police and expect the Department of Children and Family Services to take Isaac away from Abraham. We would do so because we do not hear what Abraham hears, do not see what Abraham sees, true as those experiences may be. So the best we can do is act in accordance with those things that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or basic reason.

Finally, any reconciliation between faith and democratic pluralism requires some sense of proportion.

This goes for both sides.

Even those who claim the Bible's inerrancy make distinctions between Scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages - the Ten Commandments, say, or a belief in Christ's divinity - are central to Christian faith, while others are more culturally specific and may be modified to accommodate modern life.

The American people intuitively understand this, which is why the majority of Catholics practice birth control and some of those opposed to gay marriage nevertheless are opposed to a Constitutional amendment to ban it. Religious leadership need not accept such wisdom in counseling their flocks, but they should recognize this wisdom in their politics.

But a sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters. It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase "under God." I didn't. Having voluntary student prayer groups use school property to meet should not be a threat, any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats. And one can envision certain faith-based programs - targeting ex-offenders or substance abusers - that offer a uniquely powerful way of solving problems.

So we all have some work to do here. But I am hopeful that we can bridge the gaps that exist and overcome the prejudices each of us bring to this debate. And I have faith that millions of believing Americans want that to happen. No matter how religious they may or may not be, people are tired of seeing faith used as a tool of attack. They don't want faith used to belittle or to divide. They're tired of hearing folks deliver more screed than sermon. Because in the end, that's not how they think about faith in their own lives.

So let me end with just one other interaction I had during my campaign. A few days after I won the Democratic nomination in my U.S. Senate race, I received an email from a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical School that said the following: 

"Congratulations on your overwhelming and inspiring primary win. I was happy to vote for you, and I will tell you that I am seriously considering voting for you in the general election. I write to express my concerns that may, in the end, prevent me from supporting you."

The doctor described himself as a Christian who understood his commitments to be "totalizing." His faith led him to a strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage, although he said that his faith also led him to question the idolatry of the free market and quick resort to militarism that seemed to characterize much of the Republican agenda. 

But the reason the doctor was considering not voting for me was not simply my position on abortion. Rather, he had read an entry that my campaign had posted on my website, which suggested that I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose." The doctor went on to write: 

"I sense that you have a strong sense of justice...and I also sense that you are a fair minded person with a high regard for reason...Whatever your convictions, if you truly believe that those who oppose abortion are all ideologues driven by perverse desires to inflict suffering on women, then you, in my judgment, are not fair-minded.... You know that we enter times that are fraught with possibilities for good and for harm, times when we are struggling to make sense of a common polity in the context of plurality, when we are unsure of what grounds we have for making any claims that involve others... I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."

Fair-minded words. 

So I looked at my website and found the offending words. In fairness to them, my staff had written them using standard Democratic boilerplate language to summarize my pro-choice position during the Democratic primary, at a time when some of my opponents were questioning my commitment to protect Roe v. Wade.

Re-reading the doctor's letter, though, I felt a pang of shame. It is people like him who are looking for a deeper, fuller conversation about religion in this country. They may not change their positions, but they are willing to listen and learn from those who are willing to speak in fair-minded words. Those who know of the central and awesome place that God holds in the lives of so many, and who refuse to treat faith as simply another political issue with which to score points. 

So I wrote back to the doctor, and I thanked him for his advice. The next day, I circulated the email to my staff and changed the language on my website to state in clear but simple terms my pro-choice position. And that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own - a prayer that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.

And that night, before I went to bed I said a prayer of my own. It's a prayer I think I share with a lot of Americans. A hope that we can live with one another in a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all. It's a prayer worth praying, and a conversation worth having in this country in the months and years to come.

Thank you