Pro-Life Groups Zero in on Arlen Specter

Groups opposing legal abortion are spearheading a grass-roots effort against newly reelected Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter, a Republican, who on Wednesday cautioned Bush against nominating Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Though on Thursday Specter clarified his comments and denied he had warned Bush, websites like NotSpecter.com and groups like the Family Research Council are urging pro-lifers to e-mail or call Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to block Specter from becoming Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Senate's judicial confirmation process.

Blogging in the conservative magazine National Review, Kathryn Lopez writes: "Arlen Specter cannot be judiciary chair. ...if you agree that good men and women cannot be kept off the Supreme Court because they are against abortion (disqualifying, for starters, any faithful Catholic, many evangelicals, Muslims, automatically...) call and e-mail Bill Frist (and your Republican senators, if applicable) today. ...an overwhelming outcry from conservatives in the next few days is the only way Arlen Specter can be kept from becoming a huge obstacle."

Christian Groups Applaud "Moral Values" Leading to Bush Win

Christian groups nationwide are rejoicing in the Bush victory, attributing it to voters' concern for moral values in public policy, as well as to divine causes.

A statement by Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council read, in part: "This election demonstrates that Democratic Party leaders have moved far away from the moral consensus in America. If they are to reclaim political relevancy, they will need to reexamine their positions on all the major moral issues including the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage and the public acknowledgement of God."

Jim Rogers of the evangelical group Mission America sent out an e-mail Wednesday morning saying, "Election day, Nov. 2, 2004 will be remembered as the day folks voted their "Values" instead of less important issues. We have come to realize that while 'morality' cannot be legislated, it can be enacted by the will of the people in the voting booth. ...Yesterday America cried out and He heard from heaven and answered our prayers. PRAISE GOD!!"

Evangelical leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family applauded the ban on same-sex marriage that 11 states enacted, saying "Today's victories once again demonstrate that American voters believe in traditional marriage." The president of Christian Coalition of America, Roberta Combs, said her organization "looks forward to working with Congress ...to pass a federal constitutional amendment to ban homosexual 'marriage' and to pass further restrictions on abortion. The Christian Coalition will also begin work for passage of the 'Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act' to ensure the church has free speech. Radical liberals have used every trick in the book to try and silence the church. The sleeping giant has been awakened and will refuse to be intimidated by secular fundamentalists." The weblog of the evangelical magazine Christianity Today notes that "particularly in key battleground states, Bush's stance on moral values stanched his staggering losses among voters who cared primarily about Iraq and the economy/jobs." The National Clergy Council will hold a Prayer Service of Thanksgiving for the election results later this week on Capitol Hill. Kerry Signs Vandalized in Florida

Campaign signs supporting Sen. John Kerry were vandalized in Florida with stickers reading, "Arafat Endorses," the Miami Herald reported Monday. The National Jewish Democratic Council's Ira Forman calls the actions an "appalling and pathetic" attempt by Republicans to dissuade Jews from voting for Kerry by suggesting that ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat supports him. Several blogs have reported Arafat's endorsement, but the Kerry campaign emphasizes its support for Israel and denounces the vandalism. Last-Minute Church Stops for Bush, Kerry

On Sunday October 31, both presidential candidates crossed denominational lines to reach voters--and were enthusiastically received by the presiding ministers at Christian services they attended. President Bush, a Methodist, attended Catholic Mass at the Church of the Epiphany in Miami, FL. According to the Associated Press, the pastor, Monsignor Jude O'Doherty, "all but endorsed Bush. 'Mr. President, I want you to know that I admire your faith and your courage to profess it,' the priest said in a long tribute to Bush. 'Your belief in prayer and dependence on God has to be an example for all of us.'"

Also in Florida, the Rev. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life and a leading Catholic abortion opponent, "told a packed St. James Cathedral in Orlando to 'carry out your Christian responsibility in this election.'"

Meanwhile, Kerry attended Catholic Mass and received Communion at the Church of the Holy Angels in Dayton, Ohio. According to Knight Ridder, when the priest welcomed Kerry, the church "erupted in applause.... But after Kerry passed in the aisle on the way to his seat, a woman grabbed her husband and stalked out of the church. 'I won't spend a moment with that man,' she muttered."

On the same Sunday, Kerry also attended a service at Shiloh Baptist Church, a predominantly black congregation in Ohio. The pastor there, Rev. Selwyn Bachus, "preached the story of David slaying Goliath, from 1 Samuel 16. 'We're going to see that on Tuesday,' he said."

Kerry also attended Catholic Mass in Orlando on Monday, November 1, in honor of All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. In addition to their Sunday obligation, American Catholics are required to attend Mass on 4-8 holy days a year. However, this requirement is often dropped when the holy day falls on a Saturday or Monday, and Kerry was not strictly required to attend an All Saints Day Mass.

Voting for Kerry a "Sin," Says Christian Leader

Brannon Howse, founder of the conservative Christian Worldview Weekend, sent an email to his supporters on Monday suggesting that voting for Sen. John Kerry is a "sin."

He wrote: "On Saturday, as I sat behind the President at a rally in Minneapolis, I heard his promise to use his Administration...to protect the life of the unborn and uphold the definition of marriage. I heard references to God...I heard an evangelical prayer...I heard the hatred of abortion and the respect for traditional marriage. My friends, I heard what you will never hear at the rally of the Democrats."

He added: "I believe anyone that does not vote on Tuesday is sinning and anyone that votes for Kerry is committing an even greater sin!"

Phony Phone Calls

Some voters in Michigan are receiving phone calls from people posing as Kerry supporters. In a phone message played for the Associated Press, a young woman's voice says, "When you vote this Tuesday remember to legalize gay marriage by supporting John Kerry." Kerry does support civil unions for gays, but believes "marriage is between a man and a woman."

GOP officials claim that voters are also receiving calls from people pretending to represent the Bush campaign with messages filled with swear words.

Candlelight Vigils for Democracy

The Unitarian Universalist Association, the American Friends Service Committee, and the National Council of Churches have organized candlelight vigils throughout the country beginning at 7 p.m. tonight. Visit the AFSC vigil site to find one near you.

Bush and Kerry: Cafeteria Catholics?

Catholics who have enjoyed JibJab.com's online cartoons about the election will get a chuckle out of the animated election feature at CafeteriaCatholics.com. In it, Bush and Kerry sit down to dinner at a posh Catholic restaurant where a bishop takes their order. Possible choices include "Avoid War" entrees and "No Abortion" side dishes.

Prayer Before Voting

Activist, rabbi, and Tikkun editor Michael Lerner has posted a lengthy prayer voters can read before heading to the polls. The text asks the "Power of Healing and Transformation in the Universe" to guide voters and to "give me the wisdom to understand those who do not vote in the way that I do." When "Prayers of the Faithful" Are Partisan

"Prayers of the Faithful"--prayers related to current events, such as "we pray for refugees in Sudan" or "we pray for hurricane victims"--are often read at Catholic Masses and other churches' Sunday services. In recent weeks, congregations have been polarized by prayers such as "we pray that Americans may elect a president who works with other countries to secure peace" and "we pray for a president who will protect the rights of the unborn."

In an Oct. 28 column for the Denver Catholic Register, conservative Catholic George Weigel criticizes politically-charged prayers of the faithful. The petitions "often become minisermons in which various messages, theological and political, are encoded," Weigel writes.

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