A NEW RELIGIOUS TEST FOR OFFICE?

Religious issues were of grave concern to the Founding Fathers. So great was their concern that they placed in the body of the Constitution a prohibition against religious tests. That prohibition is contained in Article VI, Section 3, and states:

……” no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

The clause is cited by advocates of separation of church and state as an example of “original intent” of the Framers of the Constitution of avoiding any entanglement between church and state.

The religious test prohibition envisioned by the Founding Fathers was intended to prevent government from imposing a religious test as a prerequisite for holding office.

But the body of the Constitution was not the only place where reference to religious issues was placed. Four years later, in 1791, the First Amendment was passed as a part of the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

The First Amendment contained two statements regarding religion. So important was the desire of those who drafted the First Amendment to ensure separation of church and state, that the religion clauses were placed before any other clauses – even those clauses guaranteeing freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government.

As the provisions of the Bill of Rights were gradually applied to the states through the 14th Amendment, the First Amendment religious provisions were included as well.

Yet today, we have an evangelical culture which has determined that candidates for the presidential office should submit themselves to examination to ensure that their religious views are in line with certain religious perspectives.

This past week, Barack Obama and John McCain submitted to a “job interview” conducted by Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church – an evangelical mega-church not affiliated or controlled by any specific denomination. The event should never have taken place and reflects how fearful candidates have become of the force of the religious right.

This “grilling” of Obama and McCain is far from what the Founding Fathers envisioned when they included a clause that forbade a religious test. Their thoughts ran to preventing governments from requiring religious tests reflecting certain ideologies, but that long-ago concern has now surfaced in a new forum. But the danger in this new forum is that it is not subject to Constitutional constraints. The only restriction on this new form of religious test is the candidates’ refusal to participate in such a sideshow.

Unfortunately, neither candidate took the opportunity to refuse to participate, thus opening the door to future interrogations focused on religious beliefs. The Founding Fathers understood the danger in mixing government and religion, but they did not foresee the danger that a non-governmental religious “job interview” would be a prerequisite to holding office.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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29 Responses to A NEW RELIGIOUS TEST FOR OFFICE?

  1. Judith says:

    The Constitution does not demean religious beliefs. It specifies that the government will not require that one religion will have prevalence over another. Our founding fathers were careful not to have a theocracy, but for the most part they were religious men. Note many requests for God to bless the new nation and to guide its leaders.

    By far the majority of Americans believe there is a God and at times pray to Him. The questions to the candidates did not bring out a specific religion, but did give insight as to how the candidates use their value-system to reason and make judgments.

    I really liked the format of questioning one candidate at a time, and the plea at the end to bring more civility into the political process.

  2. Judith:

    I appreciate your viewpoint; however, I am curious how deeply involved a church must become before it loses its tax-exempt status.

    I am sure Mr. Warren had some form of advice prior to setting up the debate since political activity can result in the loss of tax exempt status.

    I didn’t indicate that the Constitution demeaned religious beliefs. Article VI mentioned prohibits religious tests, which seems to indicate that no religious belief should be the basis for holding government offices.

    I also question the notion that God is a “him.” In Genesis, the wording is:

    (Genesis 1:26-28)

    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

    First, Who is the “our” in “our image?” Our is plural, so it seems that there may be more than one in that statement. Yet, we are to believe that only one God created the universe, etc.

    Second, how can you create something in God’s own image, if God is formless? This continues to puzzle me. If our image is based on a formless being, then how do we know what characteristics – good or bad – were meant to be instilled in human beings?

    Third, the Bible was translated by men with all their faults. The use of the word “man” and the designation of God as a “he” comes from male authors.

    I do not believe God is a male; I believe God encompasses both genders, thus I do not refer to God as a “he” or “she” – I avoid the designation at all costs.

    I am sure my statements will be considered heresay by some, but I am the one who has to ultimately answer at the end.

  3. Judith says:

    Charlotte:

    You caught me keeping wording from my youth referring to God. I agree that God has no gender. I believe that God, the Creator, was in a form we cannot understand. The “we” refers to God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. John 1:1 emphasizes that Jesus was with God from the Beginning. And I believe that “the Father, …the Son” are simply expressions for people to comprehend a little of the mystery. One of my favorite ministers referred to “God, our Mother” as often as “Father.”

    As to “man” being created “in God’s image”, I believe that cannot be the physical form, for God is omnipresent–everywhere at once. I think it refers to humans beings able to think, to reason, make plans, choose between right and wrong, and have spiritual characteristics–able to worship, stand in awe of the world, receive answers from God. We can have an empathy for others and understand we are to care for each other and for the earth.

    One thing I find astonishing about Barack Obama is that he had many questions about life and began reading from ancient through modern philosophers and historians, as well as from the Bible and other religious writings. While he was a student at Harvard he studied and contemplated until he arrived at his religious beliefs. He chose to become a Christian. His mother is often referred to as an athiest. Obama denies this, saying she did not believe in an organized religion, but that she felt a presence of God through the creation.

    To me, Obama’s quest for the meaning of life and how a diety belongs in it is far more significant than the opinions of those of us who were “churched” from childhood.
    But Obama has consistently pursued answers through many avenues, and the fact that he values history, listens to advice from many different types of people, and has a relationship with God will make him a great president. But these things are what help me make the decision to vote for him. Others will find their reasons, but I hope the voting decision will be for the same person.

    I didn’t feel that Rick Warren presented a specific religion, nor did he reward “correct” answers. He probed the values of the candidates and left the judgments to the viewers. And he said he will not endorse a candidate. This is different than the “voters’ lists” distributed at many churches in the past, giving the names for whom the parishioners should vote.

    You and I agree on many issues, and you are well-versed in a wide variety of topics. It’s great that in the U.S.A. we can have these open discussions, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing, and many times finding new paths. This right and responsibility seems to have eluded those given the great honor of being elected to serve in our government at the highest levels.

  4. A good question, when does a church lose its tax exempt policy. Asking questions to candidates certainly doesnt cross the line. Besides, the church leader is more than just a spiritual leader he is a best selling author reaching way beyond just church topics. Tax exempt status should end somewhere around Barry Obamas preacher teachings. I am not just saying this on Obamas preacher, anyone saying “God *&^% America” or talking about Hillary or Hannity during a surmon should be considered non exempt.

    And if asking serious question is “grilling” we are in big trouble. Should these men just walk into the white house unquestioned? I guess I would compare this questioning to a republican going infront of the NAALCP. Only the NAALCP wouldnt make it fair or give him a chance to talk

  5. wickle says:

    Charlotte, I understand your concern, but this was a voluntary event that gave publicity to the two candidates. They went because they chose to. Obama has spoken at Saddleback before, not necessarily attached to any kind of Presidential campaign, to speak on the subject of worldwide AIDS help.

    There are other faith-oriented events that candidates don’t attend. Several groups held a Values Voter Debate last year, attended by several Republican candidates (but not McCain). None of the Democrats accepted the invitation.

    A religious test is something that eliminates candidates — If you’re not Baptist, then you can’t even run, for example. This kind of thing may or may not matter to voters, but voters still have that choice. This is no different from any other group — a labor union, the NAACP, the NRA, the Sierra Club, NOW, or anyone else — having an event. Candidates decide whether they want to go and whether the events will serve to help their campaigns. Voters decide whether participating matters to them, but it isn’t anything like the religious tests that concerned the Founders.

  6. The IRS site provides the following direction to what constitutes political activity:

    “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

    Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

    On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”

    Here is my question. Let’s suppose a church takes a position on abortion – for instance – the Catholic Church. While the Church may not openly and directly mandate to its members that they follow certain political positions, it is well-known how the Church views abortion. The Church could publish brochures, pamphlets, etc. reflecting a neutral tone with an overt goal of educating the public, yet, in reality, the brochures and pamphlets indicating the candidates’ positions on abortion are merely a covert method of disseminating the Church’s position.

    In fact, the anti-abortion position is so widely held by the Church administration that most followers adhere to that position and vote for those individuals who oppose abortion regardless of how balanced and neutral the Church’s activities appear to be.

    The Church doesn’t have to coerce its members to vote against pro-choice candidates; the Church simply lets its position be known and faithful followers vote the way the Church steers them.

    A public forum like the one set up by Warren is meant to comply with the IRS requirements. The real question though is why have a forum sponsored by the Saddleback Church to simply re-ask and re-hash positions and questions that were asked dozens of times during the campaign? The answer is simple – the Church used an overt forum not prohibited by the IRS Guidelines to instruct its membership in a covert way who it is the members should support.

    I have no doubt that evangelical right-wing voters will support McCain, even if he isn’t a perfect match.

  7. Wickle:

    I do understand the difference between a voluntary public forum which candidates may or may not choose to attend and a forced “religious test” feared by the Founding Fathers.

    My concern is the idea that the right-wing can simply by its influence command attendance at a forum where candidates’ beliefs on religious positions are the underlying focus.

    It reminds me of the preparation for a lie detector test: the person taking the test is asked a few neutral questions to put him or her at ease and then the pointed questions are asked. The questioner goes from a neutral questioning tactic to one focused on the real issues.

    This is exactly what the Saddleback forum was intended to do by asking questions about many other areas of voter concern and then getting to the heart of the real reason for the forum – the candidates’ positions on the issues of abortion, the beginning of life, etc.

    Just an analogy, but I see the Saddleback forum as a manipulation of the IRS code sections prohibiting political activity – and it was all above board and legitimate. That is why I am disappointed that Obama, at least, did not politely refuse the offer.

  8. Wow. You really have it in for the right. So, these topics have been hashed and rehashed. Obama didnt answer the question did he?\

    Churches have always taken stands on moral issues. They say feed my sheep, etc. They say we dont support x y and z. Thats what i like about church, its black and white with room to get better. And just because most conservative principles reside in the republican party and the religious people of the country doesnt mean people cant see past the old parties. For example, I know a man very religious, very conservative,but wont vote republican. This is because his dad said the dems were for the working man. This man isnt looking up the facts and votes blindly much like others who think the GREAT dem party of the past is still great. Lets not kid ourselves, the new party is a bunch of socialist, far left, anti constitution creeps.

    I would say rev. Wright and his church crossed the line would you say so?

  9. Clint:

    I see the right in the same light as you see the left. Again, look at the definition of socialist. Throwing out accusations that the Democrats are socialists, far left, and anti-constitution is just the kind of fear-mongering for which Republicans are so well known.

    Which question did he not answer? And why should he have to answer in order to placate the Saddleback members and all others who use certain issues as litmus tests?

    Churches are not black and white. As an example, think about the exceptions to abortion that the church-going pro-life proponents accept.

    The usual exceptions are given as the life of the mother, incest, and rape. But if an unborn child is truly innocent then what difference does it make in the way the child was conceived? He or she had no say in that conception, so why should that unborn child suffer because of an act that he or she had no part in completing?

    What does it mean to be anti-Constitution? I believe the Constitution must be a living document not a stale piece of paper that lives in the past. If not, then women would not be celebrating the 88th anniversary of winning the right to vote tomorrow, August 26, 2008. The Constitution sets out fundamental principles, and those principles require that a nation grow and become inclusive in providing the rights that were so long held by only a select few.

    If believing in fairness and equality and inclusiveness is anti-Constitution, then I am anti-Constitution.

  10. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    I was going to stay on the sidelines of this one as my view on it are pretty simple. Our fathers DID NOT ANY CHURCH/FAITH to tell the masses what to do. That is the belief I have since a young teen and will hold it until I die.

    I think the major portion of our country’s fathers where church going and God fearing men. However, they did not want a repeat of what they had come from with church faith was often a driving force in their system.

    Charlotte, let me tell you about a lady who is raped and is carrying a child. You have no concept the nightmare they live then and everyday of their life. I can not believe you even said such. To ask them to carry that child full term is worse treatment then ever given to the person who committed it.

    I am prolife and also against the death penalty.

  11. wickle says:

    Charlotte,

    I still don’t see what your concern is … What is the difference between Saddleback holding an event and the NAACP, NOW, or Sierra Club?

    As to your concern about churches teaching on moral issues — Of course they do. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. I might add that if it wasn’t for the leadership of religious groups, the abolition and civil rights movements would have gone nowhere. Churches have moral teachings, and there you are. Yes, those might have political ramifications. However, there are many reasons why this doesn’t violate any Constitutional provision: for one thing, no one is required to be a member of any religious group. If you don’t like the Catholic Church’s anti-abortion teaching, then don’t be Catholic. If you don’t like pacifism, don’t be a Quaker.

    To be honest with you, it sounds like you would overreact and, in fear of having a religious test, violate the free speech rights of religious groups. No religious group should have special authority over the government, but at the same time they shouldn’t have any less freedom to speak to issues than secular groups.

  12. J.Q.

    I am pointing out a flaw in the prolife position. Prolifers are prolife with the exception of life of the mother, rape, and incest.

    In rape and incest, the child had no hand in its conception. It is an innocent life, is it not? At least as a prolife supporter, would you not acknowledge that concept?

    If you do not believe the life is innocent, then the alternative is that because the baby was conceived in the manner it was, it is evil or its life is not worth living.

    This has nothing to do with how I feel about abortion. I don’t doubt that it is traumatic for the mother to bear a child conceived under those terrible circumstances. However, that does not make the child guilty.

    My question is this, why don’t prolifers exclude all exceptions except the life of the mother? Again, what difference does it make how the baby was conceived, if it is truly an innocent victim?

    Would you then support a woman’s right to an abortion if her husband beat her and raped her – setting aside the fact that the law in most states doesn’t provide for marital rape? This baby would be conceived in violence – the only difference is the relationship of the parties to each other.

  13. Wickle:

    You state:

    “I still don’t see what your concern is … What is the difference between Saddleback holding an event and the NAACP, NOW, or Sierra Club?”

    The difference is called tax exemption. The groups you use as a comparison to Saddleback are not tax exempt and could not be due to their political activities.

    You also state the following:

    “No religious group should have special authority over the government, but at the same time they shouldn’t have any less freedom to speak to issues than secular groups.”

    Your statement is absolutely inaccurate since churches receive tax exempt status and are limited to how much political involvement can be undertaken. My statements were based on the tax exempt privilege given to Saddleback and other churches – not an overreaction to the issue of free speech by religious groups.

    Secular groups, if tax exempt, are also limited. It is not a matter of having the right to freedom of speech – if they want to give up their tax exempt status, then they have every right to say what they want and to support openly those political candidates which hold similar beliefs.

    If churches want their tax exempt status, then they must follow the IRS rules – I did not make those rules.

    I am also not sure where you got the impression I am concerned about churches teaching moral issues. That is one of their main goals, and I don’t have a problem with it. My grandfather was a Baptist minister, so I was raised around religion.

    I used the Catholic position as an example. Am I not allowed to use examples, or are you saying my free speech should be limited to a group of which I am a member? 🙂

  14. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Rape is rape! Be it a husband, friend, or unknown person. The bible states that is a sin. Hence, in my belief it is against the laws of the church and in most cases the state. Husbands (if that is what we have to consider them) have been tried and sent to jail for raping a wife.

    I do not try to jam my beliefs down anyone’s throat. However, I do consider a person’s stance on abotion as part of my final pick as to who I may vote for.

    What is an start of an innocent life? One concieved out of an illegal act by most state laws and the bible?

    I know when my day comes I will answer to God on my stance. Maybe I will learn that my belief was wrong and I will be damned to hell. I hope not, but I will not be damned for it because I ever waivered on my belief.

  15. J.Q.

    I understand you are agitated on this issue, but I still need to have an answer to the issue I raised. Do you believe a baby conceived through rape or incest is an innocent life? Do you believe that the only reason the baby is subject to a termination of its life is because it was conceived in the way it was?

    Are you saying that because the baby was conceived by an illegal and horrible act, it is justifiable to end its life? What is right about that? This is why I believe the pro-life position is flawed. The only exception that should be allowed – in a pro-life stance – is the life of the mother.

    I am pro choice for whatever that terminology means. To me, it means that women and their doctors should be the ones to make the decision – the choice, if you will – not predominantly male legislatures. In 2007, 76.5% of the 7,382 state legislators in the United States were still men. Men held 78.6% of the 1,971 state senate seats and 75.7% of the 5,411 state house seats.

    Yet women compose over 50% of the population.

    I understand the concepts contained in the Bible. As I mentioned in my response to Wickle, my grandfather was a Baptist minister. He was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and 1930s. My grandmother was instructed not to tell me until after my grandfather had died, and she kept her promise. I was his first grandchild, and he was concerned that I might see him in a different light had I known while he was alive. And I probably would have.

    I still – to this day – cannot fathom the idea that a man of God could belong to such a despicable and hate-filled group.

    I also believe – as you do – that I will answer for my views in the end. I do not believe in a head of household; I do not believe human beings are inherently bad; I believe women are equal to men; I believe women are just as capable as men of holding the priesthood, being a preacher/minister; I do not believe women should be subservient to their husbands, etc.

    For these beliefs, I will answer, but they are mine.

  16. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    In answering your question I DO NOT BELIEVE A FETUS is a innocent life when concieved under rape or incest. These are both sins of the bible and against common law. If the bible did not speak of them then it would cause me to reconsider. I am sure people on both sides of my answer can make an arguement. They may be right but I believe mine is right and I will answer for it when I leave this earth.

    I think many people of faith find themself wondering about what the bible means because man has written it. Hence, I follow as I believe God ment it to be. If I am right or wrong there is day I will find out.

    I understand your feelings about the Ku Klux Klan. I did not live back then to understand how they operated. I know from reading every little Klan group did not take any active roll against people of color. There was members of the Klan who joined because of pressure but never took part in even their meetings. Also I have read that some of these groups where little more then social groups in their area. Until you dig into the subject more I would not be too harsh on your Grandfather.

    Well we have a head of the household here… It is my wife of over 35 years. She runs the day to day operation on the inside. Because of recent heart attacks she now does most of the outside work also. However, anything greater then the normal day to day stuff we discuss it and decide. I believe when we got married we agreed to take care of each other and honor each other. I DO NOT remember anything about me being named King.

    I believe women are equal to men in most cases. I do think there is some physical strenght issues that most women do not equal men. However, if there are women who can meet the physical strenght then they are equal for a given job.

    I agree with you on the priesthood and if I am given the chance to vote on such a issue you know how I would vote.

    Sadly I do think some children are born inherently bad. Because parents decided to put drugs into their bodies that screwed up their genetic makeup that it is then passed down to some poor child. No fault of the child.

    With more and more studies coming out that it appears smoking even small amounts of pot can trigger such mental illness as bipolar. Just think what we are going to learn about Meth. in a the years to come.

    I seldom talk about faith as I consider it a very private matter. Even today I rethink my position on my faith. However, I do use my faith in helping me decide on who I would vote for.

  17. kspeakman says:

    J.Q.-
    What about fornication (sex between two unmarried people) and adultery, which both are also sins? 0r…If the rapist has a 6 month old child should it be killed because its father is a rapist? Should a murderer’s children be eliminated because of his “bad seed?”

    If I am pro-life, I must believe that first and foremost life is an inalienable right, given by our creator. At the point of conception, whether the parents are criminal or not, a new person is formed and alive (life technically is a continuance of a live egg and a live sperm. Life does not begin, therefore, but a new human being is created).

    Pro life for me boils down to timing: when should we start protecting new human beings? With modern technology, we are more aware now than ever about the individuality of and personalities of children even in the womb. It saddens my heart that we would even think about discarding children because of inconvenience or because their very existence would remind us of a horrible and tragic event or that they may have a quality of life that we in our finite wisdom determine is not very good.

    Be honest, a “fetus” is either always a baby, to be loved and cherished, or it is not. We cannot choose the truth, truth is objective and absolute.

    Charlotte,
    In Acts Chapter 2 the Apostle Peter quotes the prophet Joel in stating that “sons and daughters” will prophesy, that God’s Spirit will be poured out on ALL people, both “men and women” will proclaim the truth. “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Women are extremely necessary in helping discern the will of God. The North American church tends to forget this.

    I also live with some baggage from my ancestors, but I am so thankful that I do not have to answer for them, only for myself.

    –Kenny

  18. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Kenny,

    You raise an interesting issue. You are right that fornication (sex between two unmarried people) and adultery is no longer against the law but are sins. In fact in the Catholic faith they are mortal sins. My belief is if the child is carried born that God will accept the child. However, I believe the parents will have some difficult times when they meet up with God later on.

    I have no clue how you got to KILLING off children of rapist or murderer. But I do not believe the bible ever discusses such. Besides that would be asking someone else to pay for the sins of others.

    Your quote of “Be honest, a “fetus” is either always a baby, to be loved and cherished, or it is not. We cannot choose the truth, truth is objective and absolute.” falls under the following in my beleifs. I will let God judge me as no man/women will.

    Let me tell you about rape. I know a 23 year old female that was raped when she was 17. Thank God she did not end up carrying a child. But her life is one messed up life. She has not had a single boyfriend since then that lasted more then two months. She has turned to drinking at times to bury the hurt. Yes, she has spent time talking to doctors, she has spent time in the hospital, she has been on medications, and she has spent time talking to people of her church. She can not keep focused on life for more then three to six months.

    If you saw her walking the street or in the mall you would look twice at her because she is one very attractive looking young lady. That is when she does not go on an eating binge inwhich she gains 25-30 pounds.

    Now you tell me that God would have wanted her to carry a fetus to term.

  19. Robert Rouse says:

    Charlotte has a lot of valid points. This is a Constitutional matter. The reason Saddleback shouldn’t be allowed to do the same thing as the NAACP and other like organizations is because those other Organizations do not have to follow 501(c)(3) of the tax code. Saddleback, on the other hand, has an obligation to not be involved in politics or stand a chance of losing their tax exempt status.

    While some may say that it was a bipartisan event, the questions asked were clearly associated with determining which man was closer to church doctrine.

    As for J.Q.’s assertion that he would use the single issue of abortion as a key in making his decision who to vote for, there are far too many Americans who vote every single election on a single issue even if that choice will run counter to best interests. I am also pro-life, but I don’t believe in the government telling anyone what to do in such an important decision.

  20. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Robert,

    I think you had better reread my posts… It is one of the issues I use to decide who to vote for. It is not the sole one.

    All the posts where just an attempt to explain MY BELIEF. Trust me I do not run around trying to tell people how to live their lives. I am not that perfect, by a long shot. However, I do have my beliefs and vote them as I see them.

    If you read my posts on other blogs you will notice that I tend to say why I believe why I am saying it. If people want to agree with me is fine and if they want to disagree is fine.

  21. 1. It was 100% voluntary
    2. If you dont appeal to Christians in this country- too bad the reality is we dominate the voting block (along with a dirty little secret that white men are the most important vote to get).Talk all you want about gays, lesbos, women, hispanics, yada yada, it realy doesnt matter unless you appeal to the good old white christian male.
    3. I guess a new lithmus test for the libs is “how much can govt do for you” this segment of the population is always appealed to by the left.

    PS did you see the banners at the bottom of the cnn screens stating what % of delagates at the DNC are what. Absolutley rediculous identity politics. 4% disabled 8 % gay 19 % hispanic etc. Talk about a racist party. WHO CARES

  22. Kenny says:

    J.Q.-
    You wrote: “Besides that would be asking someone else to pay for the sins of others.” That’s my point about aborting a child because of rape or incest…

    I believe that the baby is always innocent, whether in the womb or after birth.

    I haven’t come to my beliefs easily. Rape has deeply wounded people I love.

    I vote pro-life because I believe America is better and safer when we value every human life. Regardless of gender, gender preference, color, national origin or immigration status, everyone has intrinsic value, I believe from God. (if you choose not to believe in God, at least the Declaration of Independence provides for the value of every life)

    Robert,
    I revisited 501(c)(3) restrictions. Not sure I agree with you. No discernible preference for either candidate was demonstrated at Saddleback. Obama seems to have gotten better mileage for his campaign against McCain from the interviews.

    For a pure pro-lifer, neither candidate is good enough. I will vote but not sure for who yet (unless McCain wants to give me one of his houses lol)

  23. little debbie says:

    i respect the fact that we have a religious population who feel strongly that abortion is wrong and is “baby-killing”. they are certainly free to feel that way and never have an abortion. abortion did occur during the time period covered in the bible. but god never uses simple clear wording about it..and never references the actual word..altho is was in use at the time. hmmm.

    i am pro-legal abortion. the only other option is pro-illegal abortion. abortions have occured at least since documentable recorded history, and they will continue to occur regardless of the religious rights’ advocates desire show their rightousness and control others behaviors/choices by striking down roe v wade. it would NOT end abortion, or probably even decrease the frequency. it would just put in back in unsanitary unsupervised facilities and go back to using knitting needles or wire hangers as tools–as had been common pre-roe v wade.

    we in america are ruled by an intentionally secular government. if we demand our government to legislate sin, you had better beware. there are hundreds of sins referenced in the bible and you can bet the farm some of them being legislated would have an impact you feel is too intrusive and personally invasive. examples..isnt gluttony a sin? isnt pride? isnt mentally desiring another person you are not married to? be careful what you wish for!

    far as the saddleback forum..i watched it and was proud that obama declined to be baited into casting judgement on when life begins, and that he did address the value of decreasing the need for abortion to become an option. of course it was to spell out “moral” beliefs for viewers. i dont have any issue with that, and charlotte has as always done her extensive homework on legalities of tax code requirements. the good thing is that many younger christians are not as worried about controlling others by being so heavily involved in life-style/life-choice politics, but are more broadminded and accepting of other people and are more concerned about heeding their gods call to help the needy and downtrodden, and to focus on healing the earth we have so extensively poisoned in the relatively recent past. yay!!

  24. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Kenny,

    I respect your belief and how it guides you in life. I have mine and I hope you respect it even if you disagree. Both of us will answer someday.

  25. Judith says:

    Ecclesiastes 11:5 is written in some translations as “Just as you do not know the path of the wind or how the spirit enters the bones in the womb, so you do not know the activity of
    God who makes all things.”

    A minister taught me that meant we do not know when the spirit is joined with the body. That would bring thought to those who say that “life” — “a soul in the body”– begins at conception.

    As a former teacher, I can tell you that an unwanted child can face many obstacles in life. My child was fervently wanted, always loved, and guided to make responsible decisions. That is not the case for many children. And it seems that many who oppose any abortion are the same ones who do not want any responsiblity for caring for the unwanted or the desperately poor child.

    So Barack Obama’s answer that he does not know when “life” begins would seem to be the correct answer–no human being does. But most of us agree there should be efforts to reduce the number of abortions through education and available contraceptives.

    I was overjoyed to be pregnant, but I was very sick and uncomfortable. Would those who would force a woman to bear an unwanted child be willing to sustain a brother’s life by giving a kidney, or being hooked up intravenously daily? Should that be forced by law?

  26. gweybright says:

    I thought the show at Saddleback was a mistake. It did seem like a test to me. The candidates were also guilty of plain old political pandering to a segment of our society. The only issue that should be important to the church-going crowd is whether a candidate, if elected, will protect a persons right to religious freedom.

    If you have been paying attention in recent years, the Republicans have been using religion to produce the “gotcha” moment. Remember the Mark Mellinger Bible question to Tom Hayhurst 2 years ago?

    At any rate, the only proof I need that Saddleback was wrong is that Kathleen Parker, one of the most conservative columnists I’ve ever read, thought it was a mistake. Parker, in response to the question “who won”?, wrote “The winner, of course, was Warren(Rick Warren, Senior Pastor at Saddleback), who has managed to position himself as political arbiter in a nation founded on the separation of church and state”.
    Parker then wrote “The loser was America” She also wrote “This is about higher principles that are compromised every time we pretend we’re not applying a religious test when we’re really applying a religious test”.

    Enough said

  27. Glen:

    I certainly do remember the question to Tom. I was fortunate enough to attend that debate, and, when Mellinger asked the question, I was stunned. I know others felt the same way.

    I haven’t seen Parker’s column. Interesting though that such a conservative writer understands what is transpiring and sees the danger in it.

  28. Little Debbie, thank you for representing the left so well. Obama couldnt even say life begins a birth? We all agree on that right? Oh wait, thats right, he thought, and is on record on the Senate floor as saying that bringing in a doctor after a botched abortion is contrary to the original “choice” of the woman and would burden them.

    Here is exact quote.
    “And that essentially adding an additional doctor, who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the decision to induce labor and perform an abortion.”

    For me, its not about abortion, its about character. I wont change your mind you wont change mine. But at least if you decide to run for high office–dont freakin side step easy question.
    For Obama I will go ahead and answer the question–For him life begins at birth or a few hours after, Im not sure considering the quote above.

  29. little debbie says:

    the religious right is not the power-voting bloc they were in the last several elections, except in their own minds and on faux news i think. too many americans are tired of the rants about legislating sin and too little ranting about walking the christian walk rather than judging what others should be permitted to do..which they ARENT required to do if they choose not to.
    life begins at birth? life begins at conception? life begins with prenatal viability? life begins when the mother feels the fetus stirring in her womb? why should he feel obligated to give any answer when he knows, as does rick warren the businessman, no matter what his answer would be it would cause an uproar which actually distracts from the real issues during this election in many peoples opinion? it was asked so he could be defined as either right (at conception) or wrong (at birth). he is wise enough to NOT feel his personal thoughts on this topic should be fodder. he realizes, unlike the religious right, that his personal opinions on such a topic should not be used to legislate, or to judge. the right could learn a few things from this man!

    your rtl interpretation of obamas statements on sb1082 is a kinda cause-serving scare-tactic thing out of the rove/cheney playbook and is a very small part of a long discussion during obamas legislative terms. i think its inappropriate to post a snippet that you think serves your cause but not the whole body of discussion. thats just soooo faux! obama was concerned because the wording of the specific bill in question would have included making abortion illegal in the state of illinois, at any stage of pregnancy. not all people are anti-abortion. its a right, not a requirement. so whats your worry–nobody is forcing anyone who doesnt want an abortion to have one, the “liberals” arent trying to force all to have abortions…just to maintain the current legal CHOICE, as opposed to the choice of illegal abortion.

    from factcheck.org–
    “”Obama, Senate floor, 2002: [A]dding a – an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion. … I think it’s important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births.

    Obama, Senate floor, 2001: Number one, whenever we define a previable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – a child, a nine-month-old – child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it – it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute.

    Obama’s critics are free to speculate on his motives for voting against the bills, and postulate a lack of concern for babies’ welfare. But his stated reasons for opposing “born-alive” bills have to do with preserving abortion rights, a position he is known to support and has never hidden.””

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