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Posts Tagged ‘Evangelical’

It has been a little over 225 years since a beleaguered little group of pilgrims huddled from home to home in Europe to have their faith gatherings. This group, hunted by a queen and some nations’ leaders were shunned by the mainstream religions of the day. They were forced to board small, wooden ships to escape severe religious persecution. Unable to internalize and repair the damage of discrimination and persecution of their own kind, this little group of protestant religionists, once in their new home, now exiled fellow members of their faith. They forced sinners to wear scarlet letters, locked each other in stocks, and burned young girls at the stake. All in the name of religion and “truth’s” sake. These were people who earnestly sought to behold truth, but instead became blinded by their insatiable appetite for power, complete and unmitigated conformity, and domination of the human spirit.

Fast forward to the political and religious landscape of America today. Has anything really changed? Again and again, we are seeing the Rev. Mike Huckabee and his political congregation using the same barbaric methods of bigotry and bottom-feeding ethics to accomplish the task of reigning with supreme power over our nation. All the other candidates, besides Mitt Romney, have played below-the-belt dirty. Huckabee promotes an idea of “trustworthiness” yet every count and every turn of reality shows this flies in the face of any, even generous, reason.

Mitt Romney has no reason to play scum ball. He has a work ethic like no other, a success record like no other. He has been blessed with an abundance of good fortune and seeks to share his assets with a nation that is in dire need of the talents he not only has been given, but has arduously cultivated. He does not need to “prove” himself, he has already done that. He is offering to share that greatness with the ultimate venture, our nation.

Mitt Romney plays a clean game, a respectable game, and an honorable game. It is these characteristics that seem so “foreign” in our American society. It is the strategy of maturity and decency. A man whose character was forged out of another group of persecuted religionists, the Latter-day Saints. This time, however, this later group of Christians were able to overcome some of mankind’s vilest savagery to become some of the world’s most upstanding, moral, faith-promoting and restorative influence our world has ever known. And no matter what, this group will never stoop to the depths of spewing hatred and vitriol. The Mormons will continue their project of restoring humanity to its God-intended virtue, one life, one soul, and one act of service at a time.

Our nation is revealing, by its despicably negligent response in upholding Article VI, – that there shall be no religious test for political office – can hardly profess to be a party that proclaims to uphold the Constitution. This only goes to show not only how derailed our nation is, but how hijacked the Republican party has become. Everything considered to be Holy in the founding of our country will be annihilated by the same disturbed followers that would eagerly participate in the tar and feathering of another in some twisted and sick belief that it serving the common good.

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Well, it was a tip from a commenter from another blog, Swertfeger said in response to Iowan’s for Mitt’s post:

I think we are seeing a trend . . . and it’s disturbing

Here’s the highlights from that post:

Pastors for Huckabee:
1) “Are Christians Bigiots If They Can Not Support Mitt Romney Because He Is A Mormon?
2) “Huckabee Ask; Does Mormonism Teach That Jesus and the Devil were Brothers? The Answer is Yes! Here is the Proof.”

From Iowa Likes Mike (moderating comments . . . and takes a more moderate stand . . . but down deep is trying to defend Huck’s injection of the “Jesus/Satan Brothers” doctrine into the race):
1) Is Mike against Mormons?
2) “A Note About the Mormon Issue

The Baptist Press seems to be interjecting themselves into the debate:

  • They’ve got a 6 part series (up to part 4 currently. . . Part 1 here) about Mormonism.
  • This one tells Baptists how to respond if Mormon missionaries come to the door.
  • Oh, and they’re defending Huckabee as a martyr whose being targeted because of his faith.
  • And lest there be any doubt . . . their alternating ticker in the top right corner has a picture of Romney with the words “Romney and Mormonism”. Shameless. Do you see the LDS website freaking out that Huckabee’s a Baptist and bringing forth articles to attack his faith?

Now, all of this is not Huckabee’s fault per se. His supporters can do/say what they want and will. However, I don’t believe he’s been at all clear in denouncing and condemning this line of opposition to Romney’s candidacy.

So here’s the comment:

Can the pastors at Pastors for Huckabee lose the tax exempt status of their church for participating and openly supporting Huckabee?

Here’s what the AU (American’s United for the Separation of Church and State) say – and who would know better? Here’s what they CAN do.

Religion, Partisan Politics And Tax Exemption:

The free speech rights of religious leaders are already broadly protected by the U.S. Constitution. Clergy can and do address public policy concerns, ranging from abortion, gay rights and gun control to poverty, civil rights and the death penalty. They may support legislation pending in Congress or the state legislatures, or call for its defeat. They may endorse or oppose ballot referenda. Indeed, discussion of public issues is a common practice in religious institutions all over America.

So here is what they list Tax Exempt church’s can’t do:

The only thing houses of worship may not do is endorse or oppose candidates for public office or use their resources in partisan campaigns. This restriction, which is found in federal tax law, is not limited to churches and other religious ministries. In fact, it is applied to every non-profit organization in the country that holds a tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Why does this rule exist? The answer is obvious upon a moment’s reflection: Non-profit organizations receive tax exemption because their work is charitable, educational or religious. That tax benefit comes with conditions. One requirement is that tax-exempt organizations refrain from involvement in partisan politics. This is a reasonable rule, since tax-exempt groups are supposed to work for the public good, not spend their time and money trying to elect or defeat candidates.

This regulation is also designed to protect the integrity of the election process. Special types of organizations already exist to help political hopefuls win public office. Those groups, such as Political Action Committees, have a different tax status and are organized under a different set of rules than 501(c)(3) groups, rules designed to ensure that the nation’s campaign-finance laws are followed. Blurring the distinction between these two types of organizations would harm both religion and politics.

Due to misinformation spread by advocates of church-based electioneering, some clergy are confused about federal tax law and how it impacts political activity in houses of worship. For example, some religious leaders might wonder what constitutes an endorsement of a candidate. Prohibited activities include letters of endorsement printed on the letterhead of the church, synagogue, temple or mosque. Distribution of campaign literature, pulpit endorsements of candidates, display of campaign signs on religiously owned property and other similar activities also clearly indicate partisan involvement in an election. (It should be noted, however, that clergy may endorse candidates as individuals in forums outside the church or work on behalf of candidates during their personal time.)

Emphasis mine. I do recall a post a few months back where a person talked about how their pastor would preach from the pulpit and just the second he got down he would begin greeting the congregation and couldn’t stop promoting Huckabee.

Penalties for violating federal law include loss of tax-exempt status or financial penalties imposed on officials of the house of worship in question. This is more than a theoretical concern; the IRS does enforce the law in this area. The Church at Pierce Creek near Binghamton, N.Y., lost its tax-exempt status in 1995 after the IRS determined it had violated federal tax law by publishing a full-page ad in USA Today in late October of 1992 advising people that voting for presidential candidate Bill Clinton was a sin and soliciting tax-exempt donations to defray the cost of the ad. The church sued in federal court to regain its tax-exempt status, but a federal appellate court ruled unanimously that the IRS was right to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status.

So what are the election-related activities that a house of worship may engage in? There are many. For example, houses of worship may sponsor nonpartisan voter registration drives. They may encourage voting and transport people to the polls on Election Day. They may also sponsor non-partisan candidate forums at which all legally qualified candidates for a given office are invited to appear.

What about “voter guides” produced by outside groups? Houses of worship should be extremely wary of voter guides produced by outside groups, especially the Christian Coalition. Many of these groups hold a tax status that permits them to engage in partisan activities that religious organizations are not permitted to take part in. Also, when a guide has been produced by an outside group, religious leaders have no way of knowing if the answers are accurate or if the guide has been intentionally slanted to favor certain candidates.

The Christian Coalition has been accused of both intentionally slanting its guides and including inaccuracies of some candidates’ positions. A federal district court has found that the guides are designed to steer voters toward certain candidates. If a voter guide produced by an outside group is determined to be partisan and is distributed in a house of worship, the IRS has the legal right to assess penalties even though the house of worship did not produce the guide.

Aside from the points already mentioned, there are several other reasons why partisan politicking in houses of worship would be dangerous and bad public policy:

• Mixing religion and partisan politics could lead to religious majoritarianism and divisiveness. If the church electioneering bills become law, a large church, or a number of churches working together, could form a political machine. Religious groups could select candidates and support their campaigns. This would inevitably allow the largest denomination in each community to dominate political life.

A quick survey of conflict around the globe shows how dangerous it can be when religion and politics are injudiciously mixed. The last thing America needs is to take a step in that direction.

• The church electioneering bills would open a dramatic loophole in the nation’s campaign finance system. Houses of worship are given tax-exempt status because the government assumes that their work is charitable, not political. As such, contributions to them are tax deductible, while donations to political candidates and parties are not.

To undo the tax law’s ban on religious politicking allowing religious groups to act as partisan institutions while maintaining their tax-exempt status would wreak havoc on the nation’s campaign finance system.

The likely result is unappealing, to say the least. Candidates could shill for contributions right from the pulpit, turning what are supposed to be sacred services into political fund-raisers. Religious leaders could spend their time in the pulpit talking not about faith but the need to write checks for certain candidates.

If you didn’t see the Tuesday, October 09, 2007 BYU Devotional with Senator Harry Reid titled ” Faith, Family and Public Service ” you can here. You only need to see the first part when he first takes the stand. But for most of us LDS conservatives, it was extraordinarily out of hand when he turned what was supposed to be a “spiritual” speech into a platform to promote his heinous views and then bash Mitt Romney. This is exactly what the AU is talking about.

BYU Devotional by Senator Harry Reid – U.S. Senate Majority Leader

The AU article continues:

• The American people oppose politicization of our houses of worship. Survey results released in March 2002 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 70 percent of Americans said churches should not endorse political candidates, while only 22 percent backed church involvement in campaigns. Church partisanship was unpopular among all tested demographic groups. For example, the report indicates that Catholics and mainline Protestants reject church political endorsements by more than a three-to-one margin. Although TV preachers are crusading for a change in the tax law, even many evangelical Christians in the pews do not agree with them. According to the Pew survey, evangelicals opposed church endorsements by a 48 to 41 percent margin.

When Americans drop their money in the collection plate, they don’t expect it to wind up being used to pay for bumper stickers or attack ads on behalf of some politician.

• Partisan politicking in pulpits could foster divisiveness within communities of faith. The membership of most religious communities spans the political spectrum. Congregants from one political party would almost certainly become upset if their religious leader endorsed a candidate from a different party. Other people of faith could get angry if their member of the clergy refused to endorse their favored candidate. Religious leaders should be wary of wading into these types of partisan disputes.

• Houses of worship have the right to refuse tax-exempt status if they want to endorse candidates. Religious leaders already have a clear legal right to use their pulpits to address moral and political issues. If congregations decide they want to go further and raise funds for campaigns and endorse candidates, they have every legal right to give up their tax exemption and create an explicitly partisan organization. Current law simply limits groups from being both tax-exempt ministries and partisan political outfits.

• Houses of worship shouldn’t get special political privileges. Under current law, restrictions on partisan politicking apply equally to all 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. The church politicking bills favored by the Religious Right seek to change the law to allow only houses of worship to engage in partisan political efforts. This creates an uneven playing field, in which secular charities would be denied a legal benefit offered to ministries of the same tax status. This favoritism raises serious legal questions about the constitutionality of these proposals.

Federal tax law is serving our nation’s religious community well, preventing houses of worship from being sullied by partisan politicking or from becoming cogs in political machines. With that in mind, members of Congress should leave the law alone. The current system serves the best interests of both religion and government.

Their website further cites an interesting article about Americans United Warns Political Group In Alabama Not To Distribute Partisan Material In Churches which catches Hillary Clinton’s campaign with their hand in the cookie jar.

An Alabama political group that has endorsed U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for president should drop its plan to distribute Democratic Party sample ballots in churches, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

If you think that any congregation, church, or tax-exempt group is crossing the line, you can call the IRS at their webpage, “How Do You Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity?” The IRS general information page for understanding “Charities, Churches, and Educational Organizations – Political Campaign Intervention.”

So the bottom line is this: let’s say Huckabee would “win” the nomination. This would be despite every effort of every other political Republican conservative to “stem the tide” of what would be the biggest mistake in GOP history. This would be in light of the daily media litany revealing Mike Huckabee as the most unethical, unscrupulous member of one of the most obnoxious religious heritage in the history of our country. Can you imagine for one moment what this would be like for the rest of the members of our country who did not go along with this? A Republican nominee who would have won from playing a martyr to his own crowd and bigoting another. How could any Mormon ever look at any Evangelical again? If this day would ever come, it would be marked in history in the same way as the day after the first O. J. Simpson verdict. It will simply set this country back to the days of the witch hunts. Has this fanatical group professing to be “Christian’s” evolved at all? Same story, different century.

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You are cordially invited to witness one of the most decidedly profound moments in the history of the United States of America. The President of the United States, George W. Bush, has invited Governor Mitt Romney to give an address on “Faith in America” this Thursday, December 6th 2007. This speech is a welcomed moment in light of the ever increasing evangelical bigot vote to exclude Governor Mitt Romney, a Latter-day Saint, as a viable candidate for the 2008 presidency because of his faith. There is no religious test for the presidency of the United States. Despite this, many evangelical Christians are willing to go to any length to thwart Gov. Romney’s candidacy.

The address titled Faith in America will be given later this week in College Station, Texas. The governor’s decision to deliver it and the themes Governor Romney will discuss:

Governor Romney has made a decision to deliver a speech titled ‘Faith in America”.

The governor has been invited to The George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas to deliver this address on Thursday, December 6.

This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor’s own faith would inform his Presidency if he were elected.

Governor Romney understands that faith is an important issue to many Americans, and he personally feels this moment is the right moment for him to share his views with the nation.

Governor Romney personally made the decision to deliver this speech sometime last week.

While identifying a venue for this address, the campaign consulted with President George H.W. Bush’s office last week about Governor Romney’s decision.

President Bush was gracious enough to extend an invitation to deliver the speech at the presidential library.

The invitation to speak at the presidential library is not an endorsement of Governor Romney’s campaign.

-Kevin Madden, Romney for President campaign spokesman

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So today I sat with my pro-Huckabee friend at Home School swim classes. There was a dreamy sigh she had at the thought that Mike Huckabee was going to make a surprise win in Iowa. I asked her if she had read the article about “The Dilemma of a Values Voter: A Vote for Huckabee is a Vote for Giuliani” – which, of course, she hadn’t.

My first question is, “Why hasn’t Huckabee emerged as a substantial candidate by now?” He seems like a nice guy. Passive. If Mitt Romney weren’t so amazingly on-the-ball, sharp, wholesome, clean, and “genius smart” in the areas that the leader of our nation needs – I might consider someone like Huckabee. But then I look at Giuliani. I’m left with the same sick-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling as I did when I had to choose between George W. Bush and Al Gore. I knew in my head, Bush was the conservative Republican that “represented” all the things I stood for – but the little beady-eyed, wet-behind-the-ears, look of Bush left me with the feeling, “you’ve got to be kidding, that guy is really going to run our country?”

Over the years, I’ve slowly come around and felt more supportive from time to time – but nothing has ever been like the riveting, tearful, pride to my very DNA strands – PATRIOTISM that I felt when I watched Ronald Reagan get elected for the first time and then the second. His stature, his presence (hmmm and maybe a little hair) was so gripping to my soul, I’m not sure I bothered with food for those hours that I watched.

So what is it about Mike that just gets my intuition left searching for something? Well, for one thing, as a Mormon, I find it disturbing that Gov. Huckabee was part of an altar moment where members of the congregation were waving their arms around in prayer for the “David” who was the anointed one to lead our nation which was then followed by altar calls. The LDS Church has a long history of being penalized for mixing “church and state” and there are fairly strict overtures to make sure that politics stays away from the pulpit. Of course, there is the friendly reminder to vote, but it is a neutral reminder.

I was not always Mormon. I spent some a number of years as a Catholic, and then a few years “Church Shopping”. I tried the meetings where people were rocking and waving their hands and what appeared to be “babbling” in an effort to appear to be speaking in “tongues”. This, to me, was literally “gibberish”, it was disturbing for me personally, and not a place I felt comfortable investing my relationship with God and his son, Jesus Christ . I hate to use the word “cultish”, but this stuff was weird. I realize there are people who are “into this”, but it was just too much for me.

At one time, I also had an acquaintance who was Southern Baptist. She was the blond Barbie-doll looking girl in my class who went out of her way to pick on and harass me. At one point, I had had enough and during a outside fair, I dumped the coke I had in my hand on her head. She was deriding me about how much superior she was. Talk about “stuck up”. She actually, and probably a result of her harsh upbringing, ended up with some very serious anorexia issues. When she finally returned to school, from her time of recovering from those issues, was a changed girl. She pulled me aside one day and made amends. She said she was so “sorry” for how she had treated me and that she deserved my dumping my coke onto her.

So I have this unique perspective. I have been a Catholic, an Evangelical, and a Mormon. Guess which one I have stayed steadfastly faithful to for 18 years. I am a proud, card carrying latter-day Saint who can recognize when I’m being sold a sack of goods or not. Been there and done that. But there is something about Huckabee I have been struggling to put my finger on and then I found this on MyManMitt. Now see for yourself. His physical transformation is actually “telling” too.

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Selling Out

250px-ouroboros.png

This ancient symbol has had many interpretations of its meaning. It is called the ouroboros. A common explanation is that it represents the recycling of life. I’d like to suggest that this is precisely what happens when some religionists can’t let go of something that is killing them. In this case it is some evangelical Christians who can’t stop hating Mormons.

Since the inception of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there have been some “Christians”, willing to tar and feather, rape and pillage, invoke extermination orders (and many more unthinkable and vile actions) against people who celebrate their religion here on American soil.

These are the same people who descended from Church affiliations that were similarly persecuted only a couple of generations before in Europe for the exact same reasons. At one time Martin Luther nailed his thesis on the door of a Catholic cathedral because he had expressed what no one before had been able to do. He listed all the reasons why the Catholic church had become an abomination to Christianity. Luther spent the rest of his life in exile and hiding.

So what have some “Christians” done in the same vein? They have preached and indoctrinated hatred of the Mormon Church. This week Pat Robertson, co-founder of the “Moral Majority” has endorsed Rudy Giuliani: a cross-dressing, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual agenda GOP candidate. This defies any imagination. Sam Brownback endorsed John McCain. This is on the heels of Senator Kevin Bryant, a former Brownback supporter, who switched his loyalties to Mitt Romney.

So why are some of these professed Christians so antagonistic to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? It sounds like just plain old jealousy. As their Church memberships struggle, the LDS church steadily increases in membership all over the world. The Church is making great efforts to keep up with the increasing inquiries people have about LDS beliefs. At this time they have sent two “ambassadors” to Washington DC to visit Editorial Boards to address the many misconceptions of the Church. So regardless of what is preached from some Christian pulpits and cult classes, people are realizing that the indoctrination of hatred and intolerance within the Christian community needs to be recognized, addressed and abolished.

An interesting piece written by Lowell C. Brown for Meridian Magazine, explains just how far these fringe affiliations are willing to go to destroy themselves:

More to the point: I am a member of the Church, and like all believing Mormons, I consider Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. If someone has a problem with that, too bad. Neither Land nor anyone else can expect any Church member to say otherwise; to do so would be to deny our faith. My guess is that people will get wearier and wearier of hearing such theologically arcane attacks, which, whatever their underlying intent, are in effect cheap shots. Over time people like Land are simply going to be marginalized.

He also points out the profound dangers this reasoning invokes:

Also consider this: Some conservatives (e.g. Ramesh Ponnuru) argue that Republicans must be pragmatic and avoid nominating someone like Romney because the prejudice against Mormons (regrettable though it may be) is a hurdle Republicans don’t need in 2008. Does that same pragmatism hold true for Huckabee, whose only private sector job (I think) was as a Baptist minister?

Why is this so disturbing? There are many reasons, but here’s the big one, in my mind: A serious, respected conservative thinker, in perhaps the leading conservative journal, is making an argument for the GOP’s taking religious bigotry into account in deciding whom to nominate. Many will find his argument persuasive; after all, it is logical, or at least pragmatic.

And yet … and yet … Ponnuru is arguing for pragmatism over principle: “The country’s not ready for a Mormon president; it shouldn’t be that way, but it is, so let’s just acquiesce to that prejudice.”

Here’s another point. This last weekend Mike Huckabee was introduced as the chosen one of God from a pulpit by Larry Huch. Precisely, Larry Huch said Sunday:

The Almighty, who chose a Goliath-slayer to reign over Israel years ago, apparently has selected an Arkansan to rule over the United States, the Irving pastor repeatedly told his congregation as Mike Huckabee stood nearby.

Huch, saying he believes he has a word from God for the Republican hopeful, quoted a Scripture passage from 1 Samuel that ends with the Lord declaring: “Arise and anoint [David to lead the nation ] for this is the one.”

The crowd, some of them wearing yarmulkes, cheered noisily after Huch’s declaration, and they later stretched their hands toward Huckabee as they prayed for campaignseason favor from heaven.

“I believe that Sen. Huckabee is the David that you’ve brought in to be a head over this nation’s house,” Huch said, misstating Huckabee’s political rank. “And Father, I ask for the blessing on him, on his family, on their campaign, that you will keep them safe, you will give them wisdom, that you will give him favor, for he is giving you all the praise and all the glory.”

John S from Article VI blog, expressed the outrage succinctly:

…Lowell? What if Hinckley proclaimed a prophecy concerning Romney? That is precisely analogous to this guy and his claim to have “received a word.” If Hinckley did so it would be front page news in the Washington Post, the New York Times, et. al. and yet here I am reading it on the blog of a local Arkansas reporter when it comes to a Baptist.

I find myself beyond words here. By implication, Huckabee has accepted apparent direct divine selection. And people think Romney will have a problem with his church telling him what to do? Oh please! What happens the first time this fool of a pastor “gets a word” that Huckabee is supposed to declare war on Europe, or liberate some African nation?

The good news is that Mike Huckabee was deftly interviewed about his religion by Bill O’Reilly on the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News a few days ago (from Lowell C. Brown).

At one point O’Reilly pressed Huckabee on his religious beliefs, asking, “Do you believe only those who believe in Jesus will go to heaven?” (A silly question to ask a presidential candidate.) Huckabee properly avoided a direct answer, saying only that he believed that for him, faith in Jesus Christ is the only path.

In his view, Huckabee stated, the most important thing was for candidates to “be honest about” their faith. At first I wondered what he meant by that, but he later clarified that he’s talking about living up to one’s Christian beliefs, rather than professing Christianity but living a lesser standard.

In short, in his deflection of religious-based questions, Huckabee sounded a lot like Mitt Romney when he is asked such questions. My first thought was to if dialogues like the O’Reilly-Huckabee exchange aren’t actually helpful by putting the issue in perspective and taking pressure off Romney. If nothing else, the interview reminded voters that Romney’s not the only religious conservative running in 2008 — and that the questions Huckabee is starting to get are just as irrelevant to his candidacy as they are to Romney’s.

So what does all this mean for us? It means that there are those willing to sell out on the principle of hatred of a fellow Christian faith at the sacrifice of the millions of lives lost each year from abortion. And there are those who will not. Have you viewed an aborted child recently? I suggest you take the time.

It also endorses the demise of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Most people will not gamble or compromise their principles away so easily. Most people will allow the legitimizing of another another Christian faith because they understand the pressing need to lock arms with others to strengthen the American resolve to preserve the founding Judeo-Christian principles of our nation.

They do not want to eat their own tail and thereby destroy themselves for the sake of an inherent scorn of another faith’s success. This is the price true Americans and true Christians are willing to take.

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