God's Politics

God's Politics


Amy Sullivan: Republicans Don’t Own Evangelicals

posted by gp_intern

I still have another month on self-imposed blogging hiatus so that I can finish my book. But I couldn’t let this pass without comment.

Rod Dreher quotes Stuart Rothenberg, who shoots down the idea that Democrats can pick up votes from evangelicals by claiming that “the numbers suggest that Democratic opportunities among evangelicals are very limited.”

In fact, the numbers suggest no such thing. The only numbers Rothenberg cites are the meager gains Democrats made nationally among evangelicals in November 2006. But no one – and certainly not the Democratic religion consultants he criticizes in the piece – has claimed that Democrats made great strides among evangelicals nationally last year. Indeed, it would be surprising if they had, given that the party made virtually no special effort to court evangelical voters.

What Democrats like Mara Vanderslice and Eric Sapp (and, to be fair, me) have said is that in the states where Democrats spent a year or two establishing relationships with evangelical leaders and voters, candidates did make significant gains. In Michigan and Ohio, for instance, the Democratic gubernatorial candidates nearly split the evangelical vote. And, contrary to Rothenberg’s assertion that evangelicals won’t vote Democratic because they vote based on issues (which he defines narrowly as gay marriage and abortion), those winning Democratic candidates were pro-choice and pro-gay rights.

Nowhere in the rest of the piece does Rothenberg cite actual numbers to make his point. He counters evidence Sapp and Vanderslice gathered based on meetings with hundreds of evangelical leaders by simply asserting: “If you know anything about evangelicals, you know this is simply wrong.”

Well, Vanderslice and Sapp may not be pollsters, but they are evangelicals, so they know a thing or two about the community. And they know that while a majority of evangelicals may decide to stick with the GOP in the hopes of changing the party from the inside, it’s more than possible for Democrats to pick up enough evangelical voters to put them over the top. Republicans did the same thing courting socially conservative African-American voters in 2004. It works where Democrats have tried it. So why on earth would you hold up cases in which Democrats haven’t tried it as proof that it can’t work?


Amy Sullivan is a Red Letter Christian and a contributing editor for The Washington Monthly.



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Jeff

posted March 28, 2007 at 3:58 pm


The other factor is Republicans taking evangelical voters for granted. If neither party offers a candidate worth voting for (I don’t see a pres. cand. on either side worth my vote) many evangelicals will stay home. Bush Sr. and the Rep. found this out the hard way in ’92. There are other ways to change a nation. Jeff



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 5:24 pm


Republicans did the same thing courting socially conservative African-American voters in 2004. They largely failed, however; it was the gay marriage issue that drove a few — precious few — to the GOP. In fact, Bush’s positive poll rating among African-Americans after Katrina was about 2 percent.



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butch

posted March 28, 2007 at 5:41 pm


“He counters evidence Sapp and Vanderslice gathered based on meetings with hundreds of evangelical leaders by simply asserting: “If you know anything about evangelicals, you know this is simply wrong.” Amy Sullivan I don’t discount the value and influence of leaders but I think most change moves from several layers below the top. Listening to “evangelical leaders”, even Wallis may not give a view into the future of change. “Church Leaders” are traditionally on the wrong side of many issues, civil rights, women s rights, and children s rights. Of course you will give me examples of Church Leaders on the right side of these and other issues, for everyone I’ll give you 10 that were on the wrong side. I’m not pointing my finger at anyone in particular but we need to talk amongst ourselves and inform our leaders and even remove or depose some. I’m very suspicious of any Church Leader that cozies up to a political leader or party. Church leaders should inform political leaders of any party and be informed by their followers. Look what happened in the Catholic Church when the people put their head in the sand and didn t inform the leadership about child abuse. When a leader stands up and says follow me, my tendency is to say, whoa where are you going , I want details. The ritual in my church, which is old main line, is like a little pep rally for Christ and some of the new mega churches that I have seen are big pep rallies. Give me a group jumping and down in the aisles, waving their hands and I can lead them over a cliff.



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Wolverine

posted March 28, 2007 at 6:40 pm


Amy Sullivan wrote: In Michigan and Ohio, for instance, the Democratic gubernatorial candidates nearly split the evangelical vote. I can’t speak to Ohio, but Michigan I know pretty well. I suspect what happened in Michigan was a reaction to GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos and his former leadership of Amway. Without going into the bushes too much, Amway (now known as Quixtar) has a very controversial history. Plausible allegations have been made that much of Amway/Quixtar has degenerated into a pyramid scam, and in some cases groups within Amway have even resorted to cult tactics. I suspect that this connection to Amway/Quixtar left a lot of evangelicals nonplussed, depressing turnout among political conservatives and even driving some to support Granholm. Wolverine



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Will

posted March 28, 2007 at 7:26 pm


Wolverine, while I do not know much about the situation with Amway/Quixtar I would have to say your example supports what Amy is saying. Christians are becoming more likely to not vote Republican because of the hypocrisy that they can see. Christians don’t want to vote for leaders that will not represent their morality which includes shady business deals. I think Amy is right in pointing out that the number of moral issues in the political sphere is increasing, and that is a good thing.



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kevin s.

posted March 28, 2007 at 8:59 pm


I do think a number of evangelicals voted Democrat because of Republican corruption. However, I don’t think this shift is permanent (though it depends on how you define evangelical) especially since Democrats have been all too happy to allow their most scandal-plagued members (e.g. Jefferson, various Kennedys) to continue serving.Congressional approval isn’t up one iota since November (and lags behind even Bush), so it is not as though the new majority is wowing anyone.



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Ellen

posted March 28, 2007 at 9:25 pm


I can’t speak to what happened in Michigan in 2006, but I can say something about what happened in Ohio – with the economy tanking and a Republican candidate who was more into ideology than he was into policy, Ohio voters were given little choice. It really didn’t have anything to do with faith issues, since both gubernatorial candidates claimed a religious background. It had more to do with who could improve the sorry plight of this once great state. Let’s keep politics separate from the church, as the writers of the constitution wished.



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James

posted March 28, 2007 at 9:30 pm


Amy, A radical change happened in the Church, when the GOP ursurped the Word to promogulate their agenda under the guise of “Christianity”. Many casual attenders heard what they thought was truth and fell victim to a false gospel of small government, home schooling, no taxes, big business, and anti-thinking. Do what we tell you, and you will be OK. Many Pastors used this time to also change the way their churches operated. Many circumvented congregational control, opting for either a oligarchy or monarchy with the pastor as king. This time spawned many mega-churches with iron-fisted rule at the top, similar to the same government status of “you’re either with us, or you’re against us” mindset. This mindset swept into the churches and politics together as the Reagan Revolution was coming to an end. The “Good Vibes” of old times and “American Pride” felt during those times was almost over the top. Unthinking Christians, I use this term with respect, were subjected to a barrage of sermons and advertisements portraying gay rights and abortion as tantamount to Communism. Why?, because, if they had expressed a desire to assist the poor it would come across as a social value (sic Communist), not church or religious one. Most of the Christians I know are, unfortunately, spiritual children. They do not regularly study their scriptures, nor have a daily quiet time to reflect and be near to God. My parents taught me that ethics and values were standards of the Son of God, not deception and disenfranchisement. If we as Evangelicals would hold our Church Leaders and Government Leaders to ethical standards, for example, telling the truth, not coveting our neighbors property, you know the big ten, we would reap a great harvest and see a revival. Our standard is clear and concise, the scripture is precise and to the point, no matter what translation you prefer…Our God is Holy, we must act as if our life depends on it, it does. Hold them accountable for their actions, words, and deeds. Go to them with another brother or sister in Christ and tell them in a Christ-like manner that they have strayed from the teachings of Jesus.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 9:57 pm


I do think a number of evangelicals voted Democrat because of Republican corruption. However, I don’t think this shift is permanent (though it depends on how you define evangelical) especially since Democrats have been all too happy to allow their most scandal-plagued members (e.g. Jefferson, various Kennedys) to continue serving. I read an excellent column in Monday’s New York Times by Paul Krugman, who suggested that the people who were most disgusted with the conservatives (not necessarily the Republicans themselves) were those making about $75,000 a year. The corruption — I assume you mean specifically the K Street lobbying scandal — surrounded, really, the “super-rich” who were the primary beneficiaries of tax cuts and other types of preferential treatment, and they acted as if they owned the government.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 28, 2007 at 10:00 pm


James — You better be quiet — you’re making too much sense … :-)



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Kannbrown65

posted March 28, 2007 at 10:01 pm


One thing you have to note, when you talk about ‘Congress’ and approval ratings. Especially when contrasting with a President for one big reason. Nobody votes for ‘Congress’. They vote for a particular congressman or woman. And, quite frequently, you get this bit. ‘Oh, look at Congress. A bunch of jerks, crooks, and powermongers. They don’t care about anything but the lobbyists and the polls. Spineless crooks! Well.. except for mine. He’s a pretty good guy.”



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butch

posted March 28, 2007 at 10:33 pm


I do think a number of evangelicals voted Democrat because of Republican corruption. However, I don’t think this shift is permanent (though it depends on how you define evangelical) especially since Democrats have been all too happy to allow their most scandal-plagued members (e.g. Jefferson, various Kennedys) to continue serving. Kevin S The Republi-nazi always changes the subject from his own parties problems to “they” or anybody or subject that doesn’t shine the light on Republican corruption and lies. I would respect him if he talked about his party and exorcised his party of the devils within.



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Doug7504

posted March 28, 2007 at 10:52 pm


I’m not satisfied that this current Congress can get the job done, however at least they’re finally standing up to the President. We need a Congress which will do it’s job, act as check on the man in the White House, particularly this one! The limits on the President’s war don’t go far enough, but at least Congress isn’t rubber-stamping everything he wants, like the last two years. I don’t pay much attention to the labels applied to people in polls or blogs. I vote on issues, not parties, and even though I’m not too happy with the Dems, they’re the far lesser of two evils right now. It’s a sad commentary on the state of our nation when we’re in such a fix. I pray that our leaders can find their way before things spin further out of control. Our system was designed to run on compromise and bi-partisan rule, not a one-party system. It’s part time to force our representatives back to such a system. One-party rule, which is what we’ve had for the past two years, has bankrupted the country, bogged us down in an ill-conceived and immoral war, and brought this nation closer to Fascist rule than I pray we ever get again.The influence of the “super-rich”, or as Mr. Bush prefers to call them, the “haves and the have-mores” has to end. It’s time for all people of faith to stand up and demand morality in our government. Can you picture how Jesus would have responded to this latest debate about whther or not to fund the war in Iraq? Would He worry about political posturing, or would He point his finger at the money-changers who lurk in the shadows in Washington and call them vipers? I pray that our nation find it’s way to the path of righteous leadership in the world.Peace.



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HASH(0x11ce25dc)

posted March 28, 2007 at 11:18 pm


Will wrote: while I do not know much about the situation with Amway/Quixtar I would have to say your example supports what Amy is saying. Christians are becoming more likely to not vote Republican because of the hypocrisy that they can see. Christians don’t want to vote for leaders that will not represent their morality which includes shady business deals. I think Amy is right in pointing out that the number of moral issues in the political sphere is increasing, and that is a good thing. Erm, no. If I’m right, what you have with DeVos and Amway/Quixtar is not a general disapproval of conservative thinking or the GOP, but a negative reaction to a specific candidate with specific ethics problems. I don’t think you can generalize from that. I’m less familiar with Ohio, but my impression is that they had some ethics problems with the state GOP there too. Since those are the two states that Ms. Sullivan highlights, I think there’s another possible explanation, one that has less to do with a general rejection of conservatism and more to do with local issues and the weaknesses of state candidates. Wolverine



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HASH(0x11ce2e4c)

posted March 28, 2007 at 11:29 pm


James wrote: Many casual attenders heard what they thought was truth and fell victim to a false gospel of small government, home schooling, no taxes, big business, and anti-thinking. Do what we tell you, and you will be OK. I had the misfortune of growing up in a fundamentalist church and school, and my impression of things was that the anti-intellectual strain of evangelicalism predates the Religious Right by several years. In fact, H.L. Mencken was making fun of fundamentalists back in the days of the Scopes “Monkey Trial” — way back in the 20s. Many Pastors used this time to also change the way their churches operated. Many circumvented congregational control, opting for either a oligarchy or monarchy with the pastor as king. This time spawned many mega-churches with iron-fisted rule at the top, similar to the same government status of “you’re either with us, or you’re against us” mindset. This mindset swept into the churches and politics together as the Reagan Revolution was coming to an end. That’s a pretty heavy charge. You got any sources for that? Any specifics? Names of pastors or churches where this happened? An anecdote? Most of the Christians I know are, unfortunately, spiritual children. They do not regularly study their scriptures, nor have a daily quiet time to reflect and be near to God. A question comes immediately to mind: Are you sure the problems you described are the result of conservatism? Is it possible that they were the effects of immaturity and lack of spiritual discipline in general? Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 2:34 am


That’s a pretty heavy charge. You got any sources for that? Any specifics? Names of pastors or churches where this happened? An anecdote? I have one. Years ago a couple in what is now my church was attending another, independent mega-church in a trendy suburb when the pastor kicked her out of the choir for weighing too much. She came down to my church — to heal, she said — and told her husband that’s where she was going. He followed, and now he’s in the orchestra (and leads it in rehearsal when the pastor who handles that is unavailable). A question comes immediately to mind: Are you sure the problems you described are the result of conservatism? Is it possible that they were the effects of immaturity and lack of spiritual discipline in general? It is no secret that such “immaturity” is found only in “conservative” churches (because more liberal churches don’t really care). Thing is, the lack of spiritual discipline is a direct result of focusing upon “salvation” and “keeping what’s mine” rather than recognizing that whatever we have is a gift from God and seeking Him for His own sake. I left a relationship a number of years ago for that very reason — my then-girlfriend wanted me to attend her right-wing church, but I discerned that kind of immaturity not only in the church but especially with her sons and I knew the only way we would survive as a couple was to go to mine, which she wouldn’t do because it wasn’t in her neighborhood. Now, my church, as evangelical as it gets, is nevertheless pretty much down the middle ideologically — it’s about 20 percent black so it’s going to be only so conservative — but there’s no ideology you have to fit into, and privately my pastor has slammed James Dobson for reasons mentioned on other threads. Lately, however, we’ve been focusing on becoming a “holy community” and a deeper knowledge of the LORD and thus we don’t focus on it very much.



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butch

posted March 29, 2007 at 3:02 am


You will be lucky to figure out how to do it in the church you are in and for yourself and I’m convinced it is impossible to figure it out for anyone else.



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neuro_nurse

posted March 29, 2007 at 3:28 am


Rick Nowlin I’m a Catholic married to a Southern Baptist (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…). My wife, her family, and I approached this relationship very carefully. Politically, she usually votes for Republicans and I am a (yellow-dog) Democrat. I had the same misgivings about conservative churches as those you expressed, and her father, the pastor, met with me frequently before she and I married to make sure I was right with the Lord. Because my wife is generally not comfortable with Catholic theology, and let s face it, her father is the pastor of the church, we attended her church before we moved. I will admit that I ve had to bite my tongue many times when I am around other conservative Christians in particular, when we were having a discussion with a group of friends and one of them referred to liberals as those who hate the bible.When we relocated to New Orleans, we visited a couple of Baptist churches (I still slip away to a Catholic mass from time to time). The first was fairly liberal, and the preaching was dull. (My father-in-law is an excellent expositor). The second was a mega-church that I vetoed because the two times we visited the pastor slipped in a couple of oblique political references to which I objected. We are currently going to a small church. I suspect the pastor is relatively conservative, but he leaves politics out of his sermons and it s the best preaching we ve heard since we left Seattle. My wife and I have our differences, as you can imagine, but the relationship has been (the best experience of my life!) rewarding for both of us. What it comes down to is our personal and shared relationship with the Lord. A lot of the things we had to work out early in our relationship turned out to be more differences in terminology than anything else. You did not make a blanket statement that all conservative Christians are immature but I m not so sure that immaturity is limited to conservative churches. Many of my liberal values come from my being raised Catholic, so I ve more or less always considered the Catholic Church to be liberal (that s going to get a few laughs), but there are certainly some good examples of immature Catholics out there. Somewhere in there I thought I had a point to make. I guess it s this: we may not like it, but I think conservatives and liberals need each other. Birds need a right wing and a left wing to fly, and you need two eyes for depth-perception. My marriage to a conservative has made me appreciate points of view I did not see before.



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butch

posted March 29, 2007 at 3:55 am


My marriage to a conservative has made me appreciate points of view I did not see before. neuro_nurse Interesting but it doesn’t mean much outside your relationship. There are so many people with so many different needs that there is no model that will or probably should work for everyone. This is where I get crossways with some conservatives I’ve meet who seem to think they have all the answers.



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Rix

posted March 29, 2007 at 4:50 am


So you seem to think Democrats ought to act like “good” Republicans? Name one important national policy in which the influence of white evangelicals is less than pernicious.



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butch

posted March 29, 2007 at 5:24 am


We’ve been on the road to pernicious since Nixon.



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Mike B

posted March 29, 2007 at 5:26 am


Dem’s and Rep’s are spelled ‘pernicious. It seems neither are much different at the core.



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butch

posted March 29, 2007 at 5:35 am


If one gets what they deserve in politicians then maybe we will get a better one by this method. When I first joined we griped about the other party and planned fundraisers. I want to keep my party clean and almost ignore the other party. Our local political club is developing positions and intend to hold our congressman to task for how he votes. If he ignores us we plan to put someone else up against him, not just support him if he is winning, he must do our will. We plan to what him, if we find his hand in the cookie jar or some pages pants we want to get rid of him instead of hoping he keeps winning and doesn’t get caught.



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l'etranger

posted March 29, 2007 at 5:41 am


Neuro, Rick, Wolverine and Butch interesting points from all of your on this thread as ever. I wonder if you’d answer these questions for me as it might enlighten your discourse 1 Define “conservative” – do you think of it as political, theological or liturgical 2 Define “liberal” ditto 3 Define “evangelical” It would be interesting – and I think would help your discourse to understand each other’s mental models. Best to you all l’et



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Donny

posted March 29, 2007 at 6:43 am


The first responder to this blog “Jeff,” offers up a creepy yet sobering truth. There are ways to change America into a godless Marxist society that so epitomizes the Democrats true nature.Now that the GOP has Guiliani and Romney as front guys, it is true that Evangelicals, AKA “Christians,” have much trepidation for casting a vote for these types of people.Both Guiliani and Romney promote political landscapes that do not resemble anything Godly. Massachusetts is the very nature of Sodom, and New York City isn’t far behind. What the Democrats’ Progressives and Liberals hoped for – the total debauchery of both political parties to drive their sick agenda on the entire populace – is close to being accomplished.Looking at California, where the “Republican” Governor has finally shed his masquerade of being morally sound; AKA he’s a Democrat in spirit and taking away parental rights prove it, things look like the story in Revelation is far more contemporaray than even some conservative theologians thought. It is a time when darkness is a civil right, and the Church is all but illegal. Thanks to the activists active in the Democrat party. Welcome to the “progress” sought by the Left.



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butch

posted March 29, 2007 at 6:45 am


I don’t have or accept any of these terms for myself and firmly believe any who do have stopped thinking. I immediately think when someone self describes themselves with any of these labels they probably can’t think about issues very deeply or constructively. When someone says they are liberal or conservative then I don t think they know who they are and is following someone who may not know where they are going. I support taking care of the environment, which some call liberal and I think it is conservative, like waste not want not , don t squander your money , a penny saved is a penny earned . I want to take care of children and spit on a drunk in the gutter, not that I don t feel pity and want to help, I feel to help the drunk is to keep him in the gutter. I believe in charity but if you think I m a bleeding heart you have the wrong boy, excuse me the wrong old man. If you feel or see God in me and ask I ll tell you about my faith otherwise you are on your own. And I won t be sure about anything I tell you about my Christianity or Christianity in general. I understand grace because that is where I am and I feel the Holy Spirit and I don t always do what I think I should. For me the term neo-con is as bad as child molester so if I call you a neo-con then know how little regard I have for you. This seems to make a lie of my first paragraph but not for me. Certain things are pure enough to be labeled and bad enough to be labeled everything else is changeable a moving target. I m sorry for their ailment and pray for them and want them locked away so they don t hurt anyone else. So what am I, conservative, liberal, evangelical?l’etranger, is this more than you wanted to know?



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 6:58 am


My wife and I have our differences, as you can imagine, but the relationship has been (the best experience of my life!) rewarding for both of us. What it comes down to is our personal and shared relationship with the Lord. A lot of the things we had to work out early in our relationship turned out to be more differences in terminology than anything else. I understand that — but in the case of my ex-girlfriend, I had practically no voice in the relationship. I’d dated conservative women before, but in this case I was always “wrong” when it came to theology, politics or just about anything else. You did not make a blanket statement that all conservative Christians are immature but I m not so sure that immaturity is limited to conservative churches. I think, though, that it’s safe to say that because you have a lot of immature evangelicals, especially in the “mega-churches,” who didn’t grow up in the church for the simple reason that you don’t have a lot of “gray hairs” in such churches to advise them. Interestingly enough, the few evangelical churches that are less conservative ideologically or part of mainline denominations (at least in my experience) tend to be more mature spiritually — there’s a pretty nice Episcopal church in my city that I would have considered attending had I not been called to where I am now. BTW, the bishop of my city is heavily involved in the conservative movement in the denomination. I guess it s this: we may not like it, but I think conservatives and liberals need each other. Birds need a right wing and a left wing to fly, and you need two eyes for depth-perception. My marriage to a conservative has made me appreciate points of view I did not see before. There was an article in PRISM magazine a couple of months ago that said just that. But it’s been my experience that the conservatives have been so rigid and attached to their ideology that anyone who dares to challenge it has his/her faith questioned.



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christian

posted March 29, 2007 at 9:26 am


“I suspect that this connection to Amway/Quixtar left a lot of evangelicals nonplussed, depressing turnout among political conservatives and even driving some to support Granholm”. For me it was more than just the Amway thing. Blackwater was huge as well as his shmoozy businessman demeaner. Oh, and the fact that a billionaire has a hard time identifying with anything I stand for. Especially Christianity. And he blew it on the tele. Com to think of it, I can’t think of one person I would not have voted for before Dick.



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Donny

posted March 29, 2007 at 2:52 pm


White Evagelicals have built the best parts of America. That’s not pride, that’s just a fact. White Evangelicals clothed, fed and housed the majority of the victims of Katrina. White Evangelicals feed. clothe and help the worlds poor and starving.Next time you look st a hospital or University look at who founded it. Christian bashing is the only discrimination that is still legal.



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James

posted March 29, 2007 at 2:52 pm


One would think that we are engaged in trivial conversation, yet this discussion is paramount to the survival of our country. The comment about needing both sides to fly correctly is appropriate, especially since the way is narrow. If the Right is too strong, we become overly agressive, forceful and ignore the needs of others. However, if the Left becomes dominant we spend all of our time focused on the needs of others and don’t take care of our needs. That is not what God intended. If one wing is stronger, just as one side of a rowing galley is stronger the bird or boat will only move in circles, going nowhere. Wolverine, I have not been ignoring you, my java is down on the home computer, so this is from work. Several mega-churches in Virginia, read Lynchburg struggled with pastors over the control of their church. Here in the mid-South, recently a prominent Baptist church in Germantown, TN fought a very public battle with its pastor over control of its church. My home church in North Alabama has encountered many problems in the past several years over the governance of the church’s business and location with its present pastor. One of the churches I previously attended, had a pastor confront the congregation regarding how they would vote on election day, resulting in several members walking out of the service. (My job forced me to moved quite regularly.) Another church I witnessed a pastor produce registration applications from the pulpit, but only Republican Primary ones. Now to address the “maturity” issue. I have found that there are a number of different categories of church members. To coin a phrase of a previous pastor, one group are mere “pew sitters”. Pew Sitters come only on Sunday Mornings to the standard worship service and then go home. The next group are “Social Christians”. Social Christians are those that also attend Bible study and all of the social functions, like meals, dinners, trips, meals, plays, meals, mid-week services, meals, special services and any special meals. “Committed Christians” are the ones that are at every church function, whether or not food is being served. Some of these people come for a lack of any thing else to do, but some are sincere. “Worker Bees” are the involved Christians that are always doing all of the work. Ten percent do 90% of the work, or so the saying goes. “Youth” are the ones that no one knows what to do anything with, but does know that they can’t be left to there own devices. It takes many Committed Christians to work with the Youth. “Complainers” are the ones in the church against everything, admit it you know who they are. Heavens, you may even be one of them. They don’t like the new pastor, truth told they didn’t like the old one either. The food at the last meal was cold. The music is too loud or too new or too old….you get the picture. “Agreers” are the ones that agree with everything just to keep the peace. NO WAVES! They can’t stand any problems. “Preeners” are the ones that are in church just to be seen. You know they have “their spot”. So which are you? Conservatives in politics and Conservatives in religion are oxymorons. I suppose that makes politics and religion oxymorons. Altogether another reason that our forefathers had the forethought to protect religious liberty from government. Conservative religious thought forgets that the reasons we have the freedom to worship as we do is because we do so freely, not instead of. Our religious freedom is a guarantee only if all are guaranteed the same freedom. Maturity is the place we strive to get to along our walk with the Almighty. It is a narrow pathway, with struggles and steep hills. But as we climb reach out, there is a hand for comfort and guidance and strength and assistance there for us.



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tt

posted March 29, 2007 at 3:40 pm


I think it’s going to be awhile before we reach any middle ‘evangelical’ consensus on this that will help us move forward. In analyzing the last election, Wallis and crew said it was a clear indication that evangelicals are making a statement that they are tired of Republicans and the right hijacking their faith. Dobson, et al, claim it was because the Republicans backed off on some of thier pet conservative issues and tried the moderate route, which in thier terms, was a disaster. So their answer is to be more conservative, focus on thier big 2 even more and continue to try to divide and conquer. I would love to have genuine loving dialogue about this stuff without one’s faith being consistently questioned.



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Stephen Davidson

posted March 29, 2007 at 3:54 pm


Which political party follows the New Testament guidelines as the writers advised? The Republicans far more than the Democrats. When democrats speak to Christians, it is always for them to cast aside their truth for Marxist, Humanist, hedonsim, so important to all things Democrat. Is there a large section-eight housing area in Malibu or Beverly Hills? In the Hamptons? Which affluent New England elitist enclave boasts Projects for poor single unwed mothers and their multi-fathered children????? Democrats are far and away more hypocritical in their handling of Christian isues then the Republicans. James Dobson or Jim Wallis? Dobson keeps to the Gospel IN ALL of its “red letters.”Wallis and his league of Democrat causes discard and edit out anything in the Gospel that proves what heresy and false teachings they really offer up. The GOP doesn’t own Evangelicals, they just represent a more honest view of life that a Christian can support. Go down the list of social issues and see for yourself? The Dems talk about the poor, but the iner-cities they dominate are the most immoral, and violent, in the country.



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liz

posted March 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm


As a Catholic who doesn’t believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth, I’ve always had a problem with so called pro-lifers who want to talk about the sanctity of life, yet support the death penalty, cutting health benefits for children and expectant mothers, etc., etc. Don’t pretend to be a devout follower of Jesus when you can’t be bothered to help the least among us at the expense of the most financially successful.Don’t throw the Bible in anyone’s face after you’ve taken out the parts you don’t like and use the rest to justify whatever your agenda is.



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tt

posted March 29, 2007 at 4:12 pm


Stephen, You seem pretty sure about that – have you read the end of Acts Chapter 2? What exact social system is described there as the ideal Christian community? As flawed as our system is – it is far more a democratic model than republican – but again both are flawed. You make a valid point on hypocrisy – the difference is Republicans believe they have a right to God’s favor and make no excuses for thier wealth and lifestyle – it was ordained to be this way – well is it? I think you’ve bought in to what YOU want Christianity to be, and I suppose we all have to a certain extent – but don’t tell me God’s a republican capitalist.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 4:16 pm


White Evagelicals have built the best parts of America. That’s not pride, that’s just a fact. They were nowhere to be found during the civil-rights movement — which started in the black church, BTW — and some even opposed it. Don’t give me that crap. Next time you look at a hospital or university look at who founded it. Yeah — either Catholics or Jim Wallis-style evangelicals, never the “religious right.” The Dems talk about the poor, but the inner-cities they dominate are the most immoral, and violent, in the country. The place I grew up in, which is now classic “inner city,” was up until around two decades ago dominated by white Republicans — who, by the way, fled in part because middle-class blacks moved in.



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kevin s.

posted March 29, 2007 at 5:13 pm


“Nobody votes for ‘Congress’. They vote for a particular congressman or woman. And, quite frequently, you get this bit.” I think, in this go around, people were voting for congress (or, at least, against the President). If not, the premise of this article is undermined. Either way, I don’t think it is realistic to suggest that, in two years, evangelicals finally had a collective epiphany and realized that we need bigger government. More likely it was some combination of Iraq fatigue, scandals (particularly Mark Foley’s), candidate recruitment, and government waste (the presence of which was amplified by yet more scandals). Of those elements, only candidate recruitment stands a chance at being replicated in 2008. Democrats have done nothing to substantively reduce pork, and now the president is threatening to veto pork-laden bills, which will turn the tables.Nobody has been impressed with the Democrats ponderous, equivocal stance on Iraq. The Republicans most closely associated with scandal are no longer in office, while William Jefferson (about whom Sojo remains predictably silent) remains. The Democrats have reasons to be optimistic, but only because they have a numbers-game advantage in the Senate, not because they can expect a continued influx of support from evangelicals.



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James

posted March 29, 2007 at 5:53 pm


As a “White Evangelical” I was quizzically puzzled at an extremely early age when we sang “Jesus Loves Me this I know; for the Bible tells me so; Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in his sight”, I guess that I wore the rosy-colored glasses of an optimistic babe and believed that all of my fellow christians, especially the denomination I belonged to believed in that also. We sang it. We sent missionaries to the far-flung expanses of the earth. I believed it. Three glaring memories stand out that still remind me that we have still have a long way to go before Americans reach the equality of Christians they espouse to. One happened many years ago in the church I was saved and raised in the faith. We were expecting missionaries from the field with stories of faith and struggle on the Dark Continent. What we did not know is that the missionaries had many surprises with them, not only in souveniers, reminders and relics of their posting in Africa, they had real live Africans with them. To many of us in rural Alabama, this was the most foreign of foreign things. We had seen Blacks before, yet these men and women were different, they spoke with British accents. But what stands out in my memory the most from that magnificiant encounter was not the interaction with the strangers, but the un-Godly reaction of some of the members of our local church. As the visitors were introduced, an elderly woman and the mother of one of my Sunday School classmates stood up, and at the top of their lungs shouted that they would not attend services with those heathens. I often wonder how God dealt with them on their judgement day if they did not repent? For in His eyes we are the same. The second remembrance stems from an instance that occured at middle school while I was attending. A playmate of mine called me a name, because we had a Black maid, that worked for my family. And that maid’s daughter had the gaul to attend our local high school. The name calling resulted in a bout of fisticuffs and a trip to the principal’s office. What the playmate did not know is that his family was the only one in the neighborhood that did not employ the same woman as a part-time maid. My third memory is a bit more personal and quite more vivid. Our telephone rang about 7PM one evening in the 60s and I over heard my father thank the caller. He called my mother aside, spoke privately to her, then sat me down to explain what had happened. We had received a bomb threat on our home. The telephone call had been from my uncle who lived two houses up the street. One of the guys he loaned money to regularly had overheard some members of the local KKK at their informal gathering hole discussing the nights plan. He knew that my uncle could get word to my father without creating a ruckus. My dad called the police and sheriff, both were reluctant to do very much prevention, yet if any thing occured we could call them. I was only twelve years old at the time and had only handled my dad’s shotgun on the occassional quail hunting trip to the country. He gave me a quick set of instructions to remind me of basic operation and we set out to guard our home. Around 8:30PM a dark sedan drove by several times. Later around 9PM my uncle walked over from his house and brought another shotgun, just in case. My dad and I sat on our front porch and watched the same dark sedan drive by our house at 10PM and 11PM. Inside the car were men covering their faces with hoods, scared to be seen by a twelve year old and his dad. Later that week, my dad drove to the business owned by the reputed Grand Dragon of the Klan in our town and warned him. He told him there was a twelve year old waiting on his sorry…. That man that was the leader of the Klan was a leader in my home church. Their problem with us was the same maid, that ten other families employed. I said all of that to say this: I have moved around the South a great deal and seen men of the church attempt to use scripture to defend racism and capitalism. I’ve also seen some try to defend communal living with scripture. Dobson’s biggest problem is that he sold out. If he stayed in the pulpit and off of the soapbox he would not get half the greif he gets now. There is more to a moral, Christian life than anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion. Being Pro-environmental in not anti-christian. God told us to take care of what he gave us, not to just indescriminately use it up!



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 6:11 pm


Kevin — The reason why there’s so little interest in Jefferson is because his case is in reality an isolated incident (and he didn’t get the committee chairmanship that by seniority was due him because of it). The K Street lobbying scandal, on the other hand, was far, far more extensive and was specifically designed to keep Republicans and conservatives in perpetual power (and some folks, specifically Tom DeLay, even bragged about that). A sense of proportion is needed here, so let the wheels of justice turn.



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neuro_nurse

posted March 29, 2007 at 6:14 pm


l’etranger, Define “conservative” – do you think of it as political, theological or liturgical; Define “liberal” ditto; Define “evangelical” You pose an interesting question, one to which I have difficulty formulating an adequate response. For the sake of simplicity and, hopefully, brevity let me say what I think liberals and conservatives are not: Liberals are not what Donny and Stephen Davidson make us out to be, and conservatives are not Republi-nazis.With regard to evangelicals, this was something my wife and I discussed last night. Jesus gave us the Great Commission, but I believe it was Paul who gave a better definition of what that means. Paul described the gifts of the spirit, told us that each has value, and should be respected by other members of the body as part of the whole. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 God called me to become a nurse and work in Africa, so my gift, presumably, is the ability to help others. (my wife tells me that I should not say that I have the gift of healing, because to many Christians that means something other than what I do professionally) In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Benedict XVI wrote the following about Catholic charity:Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends. But this does not mean that charitable activity must somehow leave God and Christ aside. For it is always concerned with the whole man. Often the deepest cause of suffering is the very absence of God. Those who practise charity in the Church’s name will never seek to impose the Church’s faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html So, that is how I view my role as an evangelist, a role which my wife, and ‘evangelical’ herself, also regards as evangelical. Donny repeatedly criticizes progressives and tells us we should evangelize. Donny, I am very interested to know how *you* define evangelism. Rick Nowlinin the case of my ex-girlfriend, I had practically no voice in the relationshipWith all due respect, that sound more like a problem with your ex-girlfriend (been there, done that), but as I said, having close contact with some very narrow-minded people, I know the type. I just don t think it s fair to generalize our perceptions about the very vocal extremes, those that are on both tails of the gaussian curve, to those the fall within a standard deviation or two of the mean. Peace!



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squeaky

posted March 29, 2007 at 6:37 pm


Stephen Davidson, “Is there a large section-eight housing area in Malibu or Beverly Hills? In the Hamptons? Which affluent New England elitist enclave boasts Projects for poor single unwed mothers and their multi-fathered children?????” I don’t remember anywhere in any red letter where Jesus speaks like this about the poor. Please cite some chapters and verses for me. It is clear to me your god is Mammon.



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HASH(0x11e2ea1c)

posted March 29, 2007 at 6:55 pm


“White Evangelicals clothed, fed and housed the majority of the victims of Katrina.” Dude, I live in New Orleans. Maybe you should come down here and take a look around and see what’s going on before you make that kind of statement. It’s true that the Southern Baptist were on the scene shortly after Katrina, but so were a lot of other people – not all of them white, and not all of them ‘evangelical’ (however you define that). How about this Donny, why don’t you make a contribution to the New Orleans Second Harvest (food bank), since I doubt I’ll ever see you cross the swamps into Orleans Parish. http://www.no-hunger.org/donate/donations.htm Peace!



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neuro_nurse

posted March 29, 2007 at 6:56 pm


Peace! Anonymous | 03.29.07 – 1:00 pm



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jk

posted March 29, 2007 at 8:17 pm


I was about to defend my conservative brethren from what I feel are some unwarrented attacks. Some of the same ridiculous labeling and lumping into one pot I hear progressives complain that conservatives do. Then I read Stephen and Donny’s postings….Forget it.



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Jeff

posted March 29, 2007 at 8:34 pm


Donny said, “The first responder to this blog “Jeff,” offers up a creepy yet sobering truth. There are ways to change America into a godless Marxist society that so epitomizes the Democrats true nature.” I said, “There are other ways to change a nation.”The other means to change a country I was referring to was prayer.Jeff



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 9:13 pm


I read Stephen and Donny’s postings….Forget it. You get the drift. What those boys are saying have been going on for the better part of two decades now, and the “liberals” now are speaking up. The other means to change a country I was referring to was prayer. Prayer does not so much change circumstances but the people who pray so that they are more in tune with God’s will — because they end up praying more for the things He wants. More than anything else He desires that we be on His team.



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butch

posted March 29, 2007 at 10:02 pm


while William Jefferson (about whom Sojo remains predictably silent) remains. Kevin S Typical Republi-nazi, talk about Deomocrats, why not clean up you own party or talk about all corruption?



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tt

posted March 29, 2007 at 10:22 pm


wrong is wrong – right or left – republican or democrat. Tom Delay is on a recent cover of Focus on the Family’s Citizen Magazine with an article extolling his faith and values. Jefferson is a disgrace, as are so many republicans in this administration, who vowed to clean things up after Clinton, however nobody is served by the term republi-nazi.



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butch

posted March 29, 2007 at 11:28 pm


If you are a democrat then clean up your own house or the other way around. Calling a snake a snake serves a purpose. I don’t make deals with devil. If you pay attention Kevin S sounds reasonable and writes very well but always sneaks in a little jab at Democrats. And, changes the subject if it gets to close to Republicans. Who vowed to clean up, that was a lie! You have to watch all of them and those who apologize for them or buy the BS. Listen carefully to the words of Voltaire> “The most wonderful part of the infernal business is that each leader of murderers causes his colors to be blessed and, before setting out on carnage, piously invokes God. If a leader kills only a couple of thousands he renders no thanks to God for so small a favor, but when he has wiped out ten thousand by fire and sword, and leveled a town to the ground, he bursts out into a paean of thanksgiving. Orators are paid to celebrate the slaughter, and to cite precedents from ancient Palestine. When there is no victory to eulogize, these orators fill in their time declaiming against vices: they show that women who put carmine on their cheeks will be consumed in red fire, that certain plays are works of the devil, and that folk can pay ninety cents a pound for fresh fish during Lent will achieve their salvation, while others who can afford to eat only hamburger will got to perdition. Voltaire I understand the invoking God being on the leaders side. I understand that many must die before one flies onto an aircraft carrier. I understand leveling Baghdad before bursting out into a paean. I understand that orators must be paid to write celebratory words. I understand if it doesn t go well the orators must turn attention to something else. Butch



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Jeff

posted March 29, 2007 at 11:47 pm


Rick, “Prayer does not so much change circumstances but the people who pray so that they are more in tune with God’s will — because they end up praying more for the things He wants. More than anything else He desires that we be on His team.” Wrong on the first point. Right on the second and third. Jeff



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Jeff

posted March 29, 2007 at 11:55 pm


Rick, Sorry, didn’t mean that to sound harsh. I do understand your point. Jeff



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 12:03 am


Jeff — Understood, but I stand by my statement because God, and thus His will, does not and cannot change. For all we know He may have already decided to do those things anyway but was waiting for us to come to Him.



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YetAnotherRick

posted March 30, 2007 at 3:06 am


James, please don’t make sweeping judgements about Americans or Christians based on your personal experience in rural Alabama. And Dobson never had a pulpit…he’s a Child Psychiatrist.



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l'etranger

posted March 30, 2007 at 5:21 am


Neuro and Butch thanks for your gracious and thoughtful responses – I agree about the inadequacy and dangers of labels (I really find it difficult to make clear where I stand) but I suppose I raised it becuase of the real difficulty of putting conservative (or indeed liberal) and evangelical together. For what it’s worth my sense is that to be conservative theologically would be to hold to the creed (in terms of trinity, sufficiency of grace et) the innerrancy (but not necessarily the literalistic interpretation) of the whole of scripture, substitutionary atonement as the means of salvation. This of course has nothing to do with conservative politics (or liberal or progressive politics for that matter). How you apply the gospel in terms of politics is tricky. Clearly on one hand the bible is silent on many specific political issues of our time. But equally clearly as christians it should be fundamental to our political lives as much as anyther part of our lives. What is profoundly dangerous though is proof-texting my prejudices – this way idolatry lies (I recreate God in my own image). For what it’s worth I don’t think Wallis does this. Several people have noted here that scripture does not mandate government provided or purchased services. True. But neither does it mandate small government and low taxes. What it does mandate is social cohesion and justice, and the importance of relationship beyond one’s immediate family. I guess arguing the best way of achieving that in post-agrarian societies is a useful argument to have.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:23 am


And Dobson never had a pulpit…he’s a Child Psychiatrist. Psychologist, to be more accurate. He’s not an ordained minister, to be sure, but he does have a pulpit — what do you think “Focus on the Family” is?



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kevin s.

posted March 30, 2007 at 7:15 am


“Kevin — The reason why there’s so little interest in Jefferson is because his case is in reality an isolated incident” No, there was plenty of interest, it’s just that teh Washington Post didn’t run 100 articles about the subject, a la “macaca”. If it so isolated, there should be no problem calling for Dems to get rid of him, right? Is that a tumbleweed? “Typical Republi-nazi, talk about Deomocrats, why not clean up you own party or talk about all corruption?” I am for earmark reform in general, how about you? Now, howzabout you talk about reforming your party? Not interested?



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 2:56 pm


No, there was plenty of interest, it’s just that the Washington Post didn’t run 100 articles about the subject, a la “macaca”. If it so isolated, there should be no problem calling for Dems to get rid of him, right? I read the Washington Post, and sorry, but there isn’t a whole lot of interest outside the conservative camp. George Allen’s “macaca” moment, on the other hand, was very pertinent during that campaign because it dealt with conservatives supposedly trying to reach out to minorities but while still not addressing some of their racist attitudes. Besides, as I alluded to earlier, Republican corruption was far more entrenched and institutional than anything Jefferson did.



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Wolverine

posted March 30, 2007 at 3:10 pm


l’etranger, Sorry to take so long getting back to you. I think your last post was pretty solid, and I’d add that, because the Bible is silent on a lot of public policy issues, the most important virtue for a Christian involved in politics is humility. Wolverine



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l'etranger

posted March 30, 2007 at 4:50 pm


Wolverine “the most important virtue for a Christian involved in politics is humility.” On that I couldn’t agree more. Cheers l’et



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Michael Goldberg

posted March 30, 2007 at 8:46 pm


Deplorable does not begin to describe the actions of our congressional leaders, presidents, and religious leaders. The cogressional leaders, both republican and democrat,for the last 20 years have sold out our children’s financial future by maintaining fiscal policies that have allowed our United States dollar to slide, thereby causing our standard of living and purchasing power to continue to slide every few years. President Clinton disgraced the Oval office by lying to the public about his infidelity and further by granting over 100 pardons to pals in his last 2 hours of office. President Bush has shown poor judgement in the management of this Irag war and even worse judgement by not asking for the resignation of Mr. Cheney, a Vice President and former executive of the petroleum servicing and construction company, Halliburton, that has mysteriously ended up with large amounts of ‘new’ business as the Irag endeavor continues. Mr Cheney’s ethics and style have seemingly compromised those who have worked for the administration in sundry capacities. Then we have the religious leaders who have shown us how unlike Christ they are. Christ showed us mercy, grace, compassion and unconditional love and how to reconcile with God Himself. Christ preached these things unrelentingly and then gave His own life for mankind. Instead of following Jesus Christ’s flawless example, the liberal and conservative religious leaders, including Jim Wallis, take pot shots at each other either in print or on the very same television interview, thereby making non-Christian folks around the world wonder why they would want to be Christian. The Bible, in Galatatians 5:15 says it best…’But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another.’ This is exactly what is happening, and peace between man and God and between each other goes by the wayside all the while. Let this be a wake up call for us, before the veritable Titanic turns on it’s end and sinks….



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 10:07 pm


Michael Goldberg — Sounds good, except that at times even Christ was very unpopular (was eventually crucified, even) because he “told it like it was.” Argument for the sake of argument is sin; argument for the sake of truth is necessary even if it costs you your life.



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CRP

posted March 31, 2007 at 3:53 am


I posted this on another thread on why the neocons do what they do. I think it describes a group who have little humility. “One of the real issues that is fueling the passion in this debate is the rise of US fascism. I haven’t seen it go this far in this country for a long time. Now, some of the neocons don’t really believe that God loves US Americans more than other people in the world, but they cynically play up the rhetoric for their own personal gain and ego-gratification. But some really do believe such things and–as Butch says–that makes them dangerous. And a great danger is that both groups of neocons (cynics and fascists) appeal to many, many dispossessed and/or bitter Americans who yearn for a solution to their problems. Well one thing that fascism does well is demonize the other…” Look folks, the stakes are high and the time for contemplation was years ago. Write your representative, organize opposition, protest. Do something now. Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening.



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butch

posted March 31, 2007 at 5:26 am


I am for earmark reform in general, how about you? Now, howzabout you talk about reforming your party? Not interested? kevin s. Yes, I am very interested and I m not making any excuses for bad behavior or bad policy of my party. I ve sponsored 3 things at our local political party. That we stop talking about the other party and talk about our own. We ve offered people working in offices of elected officials to let us know in confidence of illegal or unmethodical behavior and we will out them. We are developing positions and holding our elected officials to task on these issues. This comes from listening to man saying he studied issues and voted for whom he thought was best but they never seemed to do what he wanted. We are going to decide what we want and tell them, and then hold them to task. Hastid Hastid you rotten bastid Covering up for Foley Pretending you re so holy This was such dumb politics, the cover-ups are always worse than the problem, when will Republicans learn. Republicans probably lost congress because of Foley s behavior and the cover up which made it worse. Now we have Gonzales trying to cover up the prosecutor s scandal. So, I m accusing you of making excuses and covering up by changing the subject if the discussion gets to close to problem areas mainly Iraq.



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butch

posted March 31, 2007 at 5:47 am


“Never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.” — Joseph Goebbels : Nazi chief of propaganda



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Carl Copas

posted March 31, 2007 at 8:15 pm


“When I hear the work ‘kultur’ I reach for my gun”???? –Goebbels



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butch

posted March 31, 2007 at 10:58 pm


Look folks, the stakes are high and the time for contemplation was years ago. Write your representative, organize opposition, protest. Do something now. Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening. CRP I have no real quarrel with the things you say except labels even when accurate interfere with finding solutions. I think addressing each issue directly on the merits.



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