How McCain Far-Righted the Ship

Now that Wasilla Bible Church member Sarah Palin has joined the McCain ticket, Barack Obama suddenly has an “Evangelical Concern” … Continued

Now that Wasilla Bible Church member Sarah Palin has joined the McCain ticket, Barack Obama suddenly has an “Evangelical Concern” on his hands. I am not prepared to upgrade his predicament to an “Evangelical Problem.” Not yet. But Governor Palin’s emergence does put a crimp in Obama’s carefully crafted Faith and Values outreach. Here are three reasons why and one key question to think about:

“She Has Energized the Evangelical Base”: She sure has. You show me a candidate that views the Bible as the literal word of God, wants creationism taught in public schools, assiduously opposes abortion rights, and hunts Moose as if she had the words of Genesis 1:26 tattooed on her forearm, and I’ll show you a candidate that re-activates the White Conservative Evangelicals that Senator McCain virtually put to sleep.

Given that Joseph Biden has about as much street cred’ among Evangelicals as does spectacular French fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld (a.k.a., “The Kaiser”), let us conclude that the Democrats have officially lost the conservative White Evangelical vote in 2008. This is not–repeat not–fatal for Obama (see below). There are other types of Evangelicals out there, but his F and V team better kick it into gear.

Making Obama Look Like Little Lord Fauntleroy: Part of the devastation wrought by Palin’s candidacy is the sharp contrast she draws with Obama. Working-class voters, Evangelical or otherwise, are invited to compare the following: Harvard Law vs. Idaho University: San Francisco vs. Scranton: Arugula vs. Moose jerky. Need I say more?

Notice that in her philippic on Wednesday night Palin only had to mention the word “cling” to set the Red State folks off into a frenzy. Obama’s remark about working class Americans clinging to guns and religion–made off-the record, Governor Palin helpfully pointed out–will surely pay more dividends for the McCain team in coming weeks.

The McCain Team Far-Righted the Ship (And Obama Helped): Recall that as recently as three months ago even Conservative Evangelicals were glumly forecasting that the Senator from Illinois might actually win the Evangelical vote outright! With his support of Faith Based Initiatives, his Bible thumping and fondness for more religion in the Public Square, Obama was poised to neutralize traditional GOP advantages.

What went wrong? Well, for starters the McCain campaign did The One devious thing they needed to do. Second, Obama completely tanked at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency. And, most importantly, Alaska’s Most Charismatic Daughter was nominated for the vice-presidency.

What About the “Fence-sitting,” “Swing” or “Progressive” Evangelicals?: Friends, this has been, and continues to be, one of the most important questions in this campaign. Let me restate something that I have mentioned at least a hundred times before: the Democrats don’t have to win the Evangelical vote. Rather, they have to siphon off about 7 to 10 percent more of it in battleground states than they did in 2004. If they do that, they “win” the Evangelical vote (and probably the White House).

John Kerry received 22% of the Evangelical ballot in his failed bid for the presidency. Up until the McCain team woke up from its death slumber, it seemed like this number was going to double in November. But Governor Palin has changed all that.

The Democrat’s “URGENT TO-DO” list now includes re-energizing the Progressive Evangelicals. If my sources are correct, they are feeling disoriented and demoralized in the aftermath of Palin’s May-I-Smack-You-Liberal-Pansies-With-This-Here-Two-By-Four speech of Wednesday night.

****

Esteemed Readers: I was off last week preparing for the school year, polishing off syllabi, setting up my plants and placing fresh contact paper in my students’ cubbies. Suffice it to say I picked the wrong seven-day stretch to focus on my day gig. But over the next eight weeks I will be blogging three, four, five times a week. Please check in often as my posting schedule is about to accelerate in proportion to the seasonal excitement.

For more information about religion and the candidates check out Faith 2008 by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.

By Jacques Berlinerblau | 
September 8, 2008; 12:52 PM ET


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  • Grace

    I think the Progressive Evangelical Democrats ‘URGENT TO DO LIST’ is to finally decide in what they really believe. No one who calls himself/herself an Evangelical should be Pro-Choice. I just don’t see how they can come to that conclusion based on the word of God – hopefully that is what they base their beliefs on. Not some “feel-good” Christianity.Palin is a breath of fresh air – if all Evangelicals voted according to the Bible there would be no contest and there would be 40 million lives that would have been saved. My hope is that Progressive Evangelicals would be able to give a better answer than Barry Obama gave during the Saddleback forum – (in fact he skirted around an answer) as to when life begins. Give it some thought. Either we believe the word of God or we don’t – it’s that simple. It’s funny if a couple wants a child their first reaction would be life begins at conception – if the child was a mistake – we’ll their just not sure. That’s sad.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Sarah Palin’s supporters tout Sarah’s moose hunting as a reason to vote for her.When the Vermont legislature was considering whether to establish the state’s first moose season a few years ago, the Speaker of the House opined that “Shooting a moose is like shooting a parked car.”So much for Sarah’s being a sportswoman and loving innocent life.

  • DOUGLAS FIELD

    WHERE ARE AMERICA’S RELIGIOUS LEADERS ?*** SADLY THIS REPRESSIVE JUDICIAL INJUSTICE HAS BECOME AN AMERICAN ART FORM !!!** WHEN GOD’S FACE BECAME VERY RED ****** INNOCENT AMERICANS ARE DENIED REAL HC RIGHTS WITH THEIR FEDERAL APPEALS !****WHEN THE US INNOCENT WERE ABANDONED BY THE GUILTY ****Since our US Congress has never afforded poor prison inmates federal appeal legal counsel for their federal retrials,they have effectively closed the doors on these tens of thousands of innocent citizens ever being capable of possibly exonerating themselves to regain their freedom through being granted new retrials.This same exact unjust situation was happening in our Southern States when poor and mostly uneducated Black Americans were being falsely imprisoned for endless decades without the needed educational skills to properly submit their own written federal trial appeals.This devious and deceptive judicial process of making our poor and innocent prison inmates formulate and write their own federal appeal legal cases for possible retrials on their state criminal cases,is still in effect today even though everyone in our US judicial system knows that without proper legal representation, these tens of thousands of innocent prison inmates will be denied their rightful opportunities of ever being granted new trials from our federal appeal judges!!Sadly, the true US *legal* Federal Appeal situation that occurs when any of our uneducated American prison inmates are forced to attempt to submit their own written Federal Appeals (from our prisons nationwide) without the assistance of proper legal counsel, is that they all are in reality being denied their legitimate rights for Habeas Corpus and will win any future Supreme Court Case concerning this injustice!For our judicial system and our US Congressional Leaders Of The Free World to continue to pretend that this is a real and fair opportunity for our American Middle Class and Working Poor Citizens, only delays the very needed future change of Federal Financing of all these Federal appeals becoming a normal formula of Our American judicial system.It was not so very long ago that Public Defenders became a Reality in this country.Prior that legal reality taking place, their were also some who thought giving anyone charged with a crime a free lawyer was a waste of taxpayers $$.This FACADE and HORROR of our Federal Appeal proce$$ is not worthy of the Greatest Country In The World!***GREAT SOCIETIES THAT DO NOT PROTECT EVEN THEIR INNOCENT, BECOME THE GUILTY!A MUST READ ABOUT AMERICAN INJUSTICE::lawyersforpooramericans@yahoo.com 424-247-2013

  • Benny the Wet Blanket

    It would be very interesting if you would analyze the Palin position as it relates to the end times and the nuclear option she may inherit if McCain dies. You may want to touch on several other radical biblical teachings that could relate to her tactical and strategic performance as our potential president. If she is to be vetted as Commander in Chief, let us vet her using her own forum. Some believe that the bible was written by man to control man in a 2000 year old political environment. I don’t know if that is true, but this election is way to important to not explore the relationship. And so far, God is still silent on the subject.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Hmmm, maybe Jacques should spend more time teaching and less time blogging???? The parents paying the exorbitant tuition at Georgetown should protest.

  • Marc Edward

    Grace writes But Grace, Democrats want to reduce the number of abortions, while Republicans want to do nothing about abortion, so what’s your point?

  • Joe

    If all evangelicals voted according to the Bible we wouldn’t be killing innocent women and children in Iraq, or denying health care to children and pregnant mothers, or making justice, health care, education, etc. etc. all dependent upon income. Jesus mostly talks about greed and wealth, and all that is ignored by evangelicals. I don’t know how anyone can be a Christian and vote Republican, because it is the party of greed, cruelty and death. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be an issue for me, because God will make those judgments. But this year we have a candidate who would seek to impose her extreme right-wing values on the rest of us.Do not forget that Jesus was crucified by an unholy alliance of the richest, most powerful nation on earth and the ruling fundamentalist religious authorities. And that is exactly the combination we have now with McCain and Palin.

  • Jews for Jesus

    We love that she supports the Iraq war as a task from God, Jews for Jesus, pre-martial sex, adultery and Alaska secession. In due time the truth will come out about this unpatriotic hypocrite.

  • Aquillo

    Grace,As a Bible-believing evangelical, I must say I disagree with what you are saying. The Bible does not address abortion explicitly, and the ardently pro-life position that you and I share cannot be deduced from it (unlike a doctrine such as the Trinity). We do not get a definitive answer about when life begins – the key issue – from legal passages such as Exodus 21:22-25 or from poetic passages such as Psalm 139:13. No biblical passages contradict the notion that life begins at conception, but neither do any require it.Historically, there has been debate on this subject within the evangelical church. Evangelical scholar Carl F. H. Henry, co-founder of “Christianity Today” magazine and Fuller Theological Seminary and a prominent advocate of biblical inerrancy, held that unborn children are not fully human because they do not reason. Others (e.g. Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter) have argued that, biblically speaking, life begins with breath, and so the unborn are not yet persons. (I don’t find either of these positions persuasive, mind you, but my point is that sincere, Bible-believing Christians have disagreed about the beginning of life.)Also take note that it was only recently that the evangelical church became so uniformly pro-life (the Catholic Church has been more consistently anti-abortion for quite some time). Evangelical Old Testament scholars such as Bruce Waltke, Meredith G. Kline, and Gordon Hugenberger each held moderate pro-abortion positions at one time but changed to a pro-life position later. In 1971, the Southern Baptists supported legislation that would allow abortion in certain limited circumstances, including “rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” (They later modified this to limit abortion to saving the life of the mother only.)My point is that the Bible is not unambiguous on this point unless you wish to condemn a large swath of evangelicals as blind to the obvious. I don’t think that is the case (in isolation, I think one could justly hold a moderately pro-abortion position without contradicting the Bible explicitly). Rather, I think they (rightly) shifted their position as they learned more, and I’ll be bold and suggest that it was not merely that they realized their exegesis of the Bible was internally inconsistent but that natural revelation (including biology and sociology) corrected their interpretation of special revelation.”Huh?” you might be saying. “If the Bible does not require a pro-life stance, why do you think it is objectively the right position?” I contend that we must invoke science to complete the argument and that undisputed scientific observations such as distinct genetics between mother and child and the lack of any easily identifiable point of transition from non-personhood to personhood should press us to favor life. When in doubt, a just society (and certainly Christians) cannot favor “potential murder” over “certain non-murder.” Hence, the burden of proof must must must rest on those who advocate abortion as proving that the unborn do not qualify as persons. This they have not done, and so Christians must oppose abortion, not on the Bible alone but on the Bible in conjunction with natural revelation and a (biblical) predisposition against murder.Of course, we should also be working to care for mothers considering abortion and their children who are permitted to live through financial support, adoption, etc. We have rightly been criticized for focusing too much on abortion itself rather than making what we see as the path of righteousness available and attractive. Christians need to start stepping up and adopting unwanted children.

  • John Boy

    Clearly you have no idea what a “Bible Believer” is, there are no BB’s that will vote for either Obama nor McCain, but they will turn out in droves for Palin. Your use of the term “evangelical” demonstrates its lack of usefulness as a descriptor.

  • Just passing by.

    “Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be an issue for me, because God will make those judgments. But this year we have a candidate who would seek to impose her extreme right-wing values on the rest of us.”Wow, and you base this on…? Reminds me of when people were afraid that electing JFK might mean they’d be forced to take Communion.—————-“When the Vermont legislature was considering whether to establish the state’s first moose season a few years ago, the Speaker of the House opined that “Shooting a moose is like shooting a parked car.”So much for Sarah’s being a sportswoman and loving innocent life.”Was she running on some moose-hunting skill platform that I’m unaware of? And if you eat meat, you can hardly take the high road here. Or do you think your hamburger came from cows that committed suicide?

  • Tonio

    “When in doubt, a just society (and certainly Christians) cannot favor ‘potential murder’ over ‘certain non-murder.'”That could also serve as a credible secular basis for opposing abortion – one can argue that while being agnostic about “when life begins.” From a legal standpoint, I suggest that laws against abortion would be unworkable for the same reason that Prohibition was unworkable – the ban would drive it underground. One can oppose abortion while also opposing laws against it for that reason. Laws are not embodiments of moral concepts, they are simply attempts to balance the interests of citizens with the interests of societies. “Of course, we should also be working to care for mothers considering abortion and their children who are permitted to live through financial support, adoption, etc. We have rightly been criticized for focusing too much on abortion itself rather than making what we see as the path of righteousness available and attractive. Christians need to start stepping up and adopting unwanted children.”Good points. I would add that we need to do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

  • John J

    Looking at things optimistically perhaps it’s a sign of the touted fundamentalist Christian decline in this country that all they can offer us is Sarah Palin – an odious woman with all the grace and charm of the most mean-spirited and self-satisfied girl we remember from the 8th grade. She’s quite taken with herself and hasn’t a clue how ugly she really is.

  • John J

    Looking at things optimistically perhaps it’s a sign of the touted fundamentalist Christian decline in this country that all they can offer us is Sarah Palin – an odious woman with all the grace and charm of the most mean-spirited and self-satisfied girl we remember from the 8th grade. She’s quite taken with herself and hasn’t a clue how ugly she really is.

  • sparrow

    You don’t mention that there is some backlash among Evangelicals as to to making religious issues so much more important that all the other issues that face us today. Many of the younger ones are questioning if it’s rational to vote just on the abortion or gay marriage issues and many of them are tired of it.Evangelicals are not stupid. Bush used them- they know that. I warrant many of them now see Sarah Palin as another cynical ploy to get their vote. In the meantime they’re still suffering alongside the rest of us in the economic downturn, the stress on our soldiers and families and the sheer nastiness of the “culture wars.”Very funny line about Little Lord Fauntleroy, vs the pit bull with lipstick. Nevertheless, if you want to talk about dog breeds, Obama should be considered a borzoi or wolfhound. Graceful, almost delicate looking- very smart, fierce and made to hunt wolves.

  • Anonymous

    “Or do you think your hamburger came from cows that committed suicide?”Norrie Hoyt lives in Vermont. His burgers come from Wendy’s and his steaks come from Sirloin Saloon. He would never consider hurting an innocent animal. His hand is pure and has never touched a gun. Who needs one?

  • Aquillo

    John Boy,I’m not clear on why exactly you question my (implicit) definition of “Bible-believing”. Is it because you doubt my belief in it based on the opinions expressed in my previous post or because of the people/groups I included? I would think the only remotely questionable person in the entire list (including me) is Carter, but even he was appealing to the Bible for his answer on this question. If it is me you’re objecting to, I think your charge is grossly unfair since you know nothing about me. On the question of when life begins, I suspect we agree on the answer, though we get there by different routes. I’m open to persuasion on the route. Please demonstrate that the Bible tells us that life begins at conception (or at any other point along the way). If you cannot, then you should tone down your rhetoric.

  • ann

    All I want to know is who are these people that that tell you about their religion before anything else. Why? Show me through your life and actions, skip the advertisements. Help a neighbor, help a child, tutor a student, find a job for the jobless, feed the hungry, care for the sick, drive a car pool for a busy mom or dad, give a raise in salary to a deserving employee, just be their for a friend in need, but please quick telling me how righteous you are. The only thing it convinces me of is that your banner is covering who you really are, the neo-confederates, ready to replay the civil war.

  • Aquillo

    Tonio,Thanks for the thoughtful response.I said, “When in doubt, a just society (and certainly Christians) cannot favor ‘potential murder’ over ‘certain non-murder.'”Then you said, “That could also serve as a credible secular basis for opposing abortion – one can argue that while being agnostic about ‘when life begins.'”Could it? I suspect the religio-philosophical nature of the question would prevent us going with an agnostic position in a society like ours. You continued, “From a legal standpoint, I suggest that laws against abortion would be unworkable for the same reason that Prohibition was unworkable – the ban would drive it underground. One can oppose abortion while also opposing laws against it for that reason. Laws are not embodiments of moral concepts, they are simply attempts to balance the interests of citizens with the interests of societies.”We’re venturing into legal theory here, but I would suggest that the laws against murder are indeed embodiments of fundamental moral concepts, or what the Framers called the inalienable right to life. Opponents of abortion like me see abortion as a violation of this same inalienable right. The way abortion rights advocates often evade this charge is not by challenging the right to life itself but by denying personhood to the unborn such that they have no such right. (Roe v. Wade’s reasoning rests on such a distinction, too, by relying on “viability” as the indicator of personhood.)Technology has made this denial less tenable, and the progress of technology continues to erode the foundation of such a position. We can see and measure things about the unborn that we couldn’t when Roe came down, and we can keep them healthy and alive from an increasingly earlier age. The movie “Juno” poignantly demonstrated the effect of having the ability to “see” the unborn. Like the title character, many mothers can’t bring themselves to believe their doctors sterile description of the blob of flesh after they hear the heartbeat, see an (possibly 4-D) ultrasound, learn that the child has fingernails, etc., and instead see it as a little person.You also said, “I would add that we need to do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”Here, here! That is common ground between most pro-lifers and pro-choicers, and it is frankly shameful that the Republicans didn’t move here in and the areas previously mentioned when they had control of Congress (under Bush or Clinton!). It may not have accomplished their (purported) goal of eliminating abortion or at least turning it back to the states, but it could have saved plenty of babies in the meanwhile. It seems to me that the “rare” of the “safe, legal, and rare” formula is a compromise position for the Democrats, not a passionate concern, so I wouldn’t expect them to actively pursue it. It should have been a place where they could agree with the Republicans, however, if the latter had pressed it. Shame, Republicans. Shame.

  • Tonio

    “I suspect the religio-philosophical nature of the question would prevent us going with an agnostic position in a society like ours.”I meant “agnostic” in the generic sense, meaning that we don’t have enough information about the biological nature of life to make a true determination about when life begins. It’s often useful or even necessary to make a determination in medicine or law, but that’s only because some situations in both areas demand compromises among competing interests. A secular basis for opposing abortion would be this – since we don’t know when life begins, the safest route is to favor “certain non-murder” over “potential murder.” This basis makes no philosophical assumptions.”I would suggest that the laws against murder are indeed embodiments of fundamental moral concepts, or what the Framers called the inalienable right to life. Opponents of abortion like me see abortion as a violation of this same inalienable right.”While I appreciate your point, I was taking about “moral concepts” in the absolute sense. No right is absolutely inalienable, simply because there are no absolutes in human life except for its impermanence. It’s possible that the Framers supported capital punishment, which amounts to taking away the right to live for a specific reason. That’s not offered as a defense or a criticism of capital punishment, but merely an example of an exception to an inalienable right. The balancing of interests I mentioned means that laws cannot be absolutist, even when they reflect moral concepts. It is not necessary or desirable for everything immoral to be illegal. Making abortion illegal will not save babies, and will cause harm to their mothers as well. A government can conclude that an abortion ban would be unworkable, and that conclusion does NOT amount to government deeming abortion to be a good thing.”It should have been a place where they could agree with the Republicans, however, if the latter had pressed it.”I would like to see the moderates in the GOP prevail over the party’s fundamentalist minority, whose position on abortion seems driven by theological positions about sex and the role of women.

  • sparrow

    aquillo wrote:”I contend that we must invoke science to complete the argument and that undisputed scientific observations such as distinct genetics between mother and child and the lack of any easily identifiable point of transition from non-personhood to personhood should press us to favor life.”that’s a very well thought out argument but I think you’re still playing a bit with semantics in defining “personhood” and also confusing “life” and “personhood.” fertilization combines dna in a new cell. But to say that life begins then is to not understand that all cells in the body have life. What you have with a fertilized cell is the potential to become a new organism but defining life on the basis of cellular biology is not the way to define life. Once you get into that slippery slope, (and many already have by deciding even contraception is akin to murder) where do you stop? Contraception will now become pre-murder. scrape your elbow and its cellular murder? If cancers are maverick cells that are dividing and multiplying, what happens when your definition is turned on its ear and any cell undergoing growth is now to be protected?It’s my contention that evangelicals confuse life and soul in this argument. You can’t have it both ways- if the soul is this mysterious, indefinable spirit, it is separate from the biological organism, but it inhabits it. If the soul is part of the dna, you have to be able to prove it scientifically- if you want to use biology to prove your point. And if the body is just a vessel for the soul, a fetus cannot hold a soul until a certain point in its development. Perhaps that’s the point we should be considering- not at when an embryo is a mass of cells but when it is fully formed. I am pro a woman’s right to choose, and pro contraception. But I also believe that we give too big a time frame for women to abort and that should be much shorter, before a fetus is a “baby.”

  • Craig H.

    Here we go with the “Straight Mock Express” Go get um Mooseelini!!!

  • sparrow

    Tonio: “we don’t have enough information about the biological nature of life to make a true determination about when life begins.”Which makes me wonder because life is always there. Eggs and sperm are living cells. The uterus is a living organ. Dead cells do not undergo mitosis. Fertilization is making new cells with new dna structure, but the cells are already alive. So the argument really isn’t about when life begins, it should be when does it become a person. which means we need to redefine the “life” or bettr define it.

  • Marc Edward

    John Boy writes “Clearly you have no idea what a “Bible Believer” is, there are no BB’s that will vote for either Obama nor McCain, but they will turn out in droves for Palin”Somehow I doubt any of the “Bible Believers” really believe the bible, except where it agrees with their own prejudices. Palin is the type of “christian” who drives people away from Christianity. To me a real “Christian” doesn’t lie about people, nor snear at people, or attack people. It saddens me that this country might end up with that “female dog” as President.BTW, to move to Canada you need at least $20,000 and be a skilled worker or have a college degree. France and Spain are also options, and there are a lot of English folks there so you can find places to live where folks speak English – in case anyone’s thinking they don’t want their kids to die in one of President Palin’s wars.

  • Randall

    Aquillo, Well put. I’m a conservative evangelical and find with surprise that you express my own views on human life and the unborn (but more articulately than I could). The Bible speaks powerfully about how special and valued each human life is, and how we are to care for, serve, and give ourselves for others, particularly the most vulnerable. However, there doesn’t seem to be guidance on when life begins, although the Bible alludes to personhood in the womb. And science also doesn’t seem to give us an answer to a question on life that necessarily intertwines the metaphysical and material.In this respect, I appreciated Obama’s thoughtfulness in the Saddleback conversation and agreed with his sentiment that answers to questions of life are often beyond our ability to answer definitively, at least with the resources of humanism. But just because a moral issue is “beyond [his] pay grade” (and mine) does not mean that he or we should not take action to protect those most in need of protection. I agree with you that “when in doubt, a just society (and certainly Christians) cannot favor ‘potential murder’ over ‘certain non-murder.’”McCain has supposedly answered “our” concerns by bringing on pro-life Palin. And Palin is certainly an interesting candidate. Yet on this issue, McCain and Palin’s affirmation that life begins at conception needs to be backed up by good policy, not just the value statements given by the current administration. A bipartisan effort to reduce unwanted pregnancies, care for new mothers and babies, and facilitate adoption would be a start. I hope we can hear from all four candidates about how we as a society can truly value, care for, and protect life, with concrete action. And I hope that we as Christians can make our voting decisions based on a more complete picture than just a check mark on an issue box.

  • Paganplace

    ” Grace :”I think the Progressive Evangelical Democrats ‘URGENT TO DO LIST’ is to finally decide in what they really believe. No one who calls himself/herself an Evangelical should be Pro-Choice. I just don’t see how they can come to that conclusion based on the word of God – hopefully that is what they base their beliefs on. Not some “feel-good” Christianity.”I think it’s pretty simple. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”Your savior-guy there didn’t say, ‘Run for office and impose what you think is my will on people through government coercion.’ Actually he didn’t mention abortion at all, to my knowing, or it’d be on Fundie billboards along with the dead fetuses. All Evangelicals have to understand is that there’s no religion in compulsion. If your religion’s message is so powerful, why do you need to take away people’s free will and self-determination? All Evangelicals have to do is realize that putting dangerously-wrongheaded and greed-affiliated candidates in charge of the future their children will have to live in… Doesn’t ‘save babies.’ In fact, it actually *increases* the number of abortions. Because too many women don’t feel to have a *choice,* under Republicans. Too many women, even if you shame them to suicide over it, *can’t* raise kids. Or make it on their own without men that demand sex and are taught by Evangelicals that condoms don’t work. McCain realizes his only chance at winning is to try and get the ‘one issue’ anti-choice voters. But he won’t outlaw abortion. If he outlaws abortion, he loses his power base. What he *could* do is continue the policies that could lead all our children to very, very, bad results. If you think your religion is so compelling, you shouldn’t *need* to enforce your theology through government. Have a little faith. Trying to force your theoloogical idea of ‘when life begins’ on hundreds of millions who disagree isn’t righteousness. It’s handing the poor a basket of coat hangers for the rich to get indignant about.

  • Paganplace

    And that’s one thing people ought to know about McCain, if they want to vote for this disaster of a Republican ticket just on abortion. He’s not going to make abortion stop. He’s gonna milk the issue for as long as he can. Hurt and impoverish a lot of women in the process, but he’s not gonna just make it all stop. Cause if trying to outlaw abortion is the only think keeping his corporate buddies in power, actually *doing* that will quickly lead to ‘What have you done for me lately.’ You’ve *already* had your conservative justices in power. But the fact is, the law is the law and our freedom is our freedom. The Supreme court is not an opinion poll. It’s about professional jurists with a responsibility to safeguard our liberty. Thankfully, they *haven’t* succumbed to popular opinion where our civil rights are concerned, too much. If you put ideologues in there, it’s no longer a court. It’s another branch of the media. You may be sold on the idea you want theocratic power, but if history… Particularly the history the Founding Fathers considered current events… teaches us anything, it’s that you *really actually don’t want that.*You want there to be less abortions going on, we all gotta work on that. But not through imposing your religion on a free nation. That never works. Trust me.

  • Garak

    Sister Sarah trashed Obama’s experience as a community organizer, while touting her experience as a governor.Jesus Christ was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.

  • Gaby

    Sarah Palin is an utter hypocrite! A loud-mouthed, washed-up beauty queen from the hinterlands, with a bad hairdo and frumpy clothes!But in good Christian manner she will force a 17 year old boy to marry her pregnant daughter so the chiod is not born out of wedlock!What a fraud!!!!

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,Agreed. Force-feeding never works for belief. It should be noted that a certain carpenter in Judea 2000 odd years back told His followers to spread the message of His good news. He never, ever said to force it on anyone. Ever. Garak has it absolutely correct: Jesus Christ was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor. That is now my rallying cry for this election. Thank you, Garak, thank you.

  • B-man

    This country is too full of ignorant redneck hicks to be a great country anymore. We’re sinking down to the lowest common denominator, first with Gerorge W. Bush and now with Sarah Palin.Too many people in the U.S. believe the President and Vice-president need to be as stupid as they are to win public office. This country is doomed by rednecks.

  • Paganplace

    Eh, Garak, easy, there. Still:”But in good Christian manner she will force a 17 year old boy to marry her pregnant daughter so the chiod is not born out of wedlock!”You’d really think that the Right wouldn’t want to nominate living proof that ‘abstinence only’ education is a dismal failure even in their candidate’s own failure, but they seem to be ‘above’ such mundane concerns when they want to impose the same ignorance on all our kids. I mean, why expect consistency at this point? They want to outlaw a cervical cancer vaccine that would protect their kids from even ‘innocent’ exposure to that deadly and painful disease… on the off-chance that somewhere out there there’s a girl contemplating premarital sex who’s got pap smears on her mind. Reality? Respect for human life and living? Long gone. This is about something else.

  • Grace

    Wow, there are some very interesting comments here. I loved reading all of them.I can Palin and the Rep. Party are ruffling a few feathers. I think the Bible is clear when God says “I knew you in your Mother’s womb”. You usually indicates a person to me. Look all I’m saying here is it’s time for those who believe to stand up and act like it. I agree with all of you who said abortion is not the only issue. It’s not! But who knows, maybe Barry or Mc Cain was not meant to be President in 2008 – Maybe it was one of the innocent babies who were aborted because of a choice the Parents made. To me we just don’t have that right. Notice I’m saying to me – you all can think and feel any way you want. That’s freedom. Have at it and enjoy it while it lasts because of Barry and the Dems have their way the government will own you someday.

  • Gaby

    GRACE:”Have at it and enjoy it while it lasts because of Barry and the Dems have their way the government will own you someday.”And if McSame and the loud-mouthed b*tch win there might not be an American government who can own me. You better brush up on your Chinese! They already own one third of the country and I’m sure their billion or so people won’t have a problem overrunning this country.

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,Er, I think your reply about the comment concerning the 17 year old daughter should have been directed to Gaby, not Garak.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Keep in mind that Pilate was a necessary accessory in the “rise” of JC. Without that crucifixion, where would we Christians be?? And JC and organizer?? Hardly!!! Paul did most of the organizing and original advertising. M, M, L, and J did the added embellishing and ad campaign raising a simple preacher man to deity status akin to the OT and Roman emperors campaign people More necessary accessories!!!!Christianity really should be named “PaMaMa LuJo with a Touch of Voodoo” for historic accuracy!!!!

  • Anonymous

    On Faith – Please remove the maniac spam & thanks.

  • Arminius

    Moderator, PLEASE remove JJ’s droppings! We can’t function as thinking individuals with his drool paralyzing everything. Can’t you hear his infantile giggling, waiting for his didies to be changed?

  • Paganplace

    ” Arminius:Paganplace,”Er, I think your reply about the comment concerning the 17 year old daughter should have been directed to Gaby, not Garak.”Certainly not to exclusion. I think Gaby has a right to use the b-word in terms of Ms Palin, it just so happens I hold that term in higher esteem, usually referring to someone *self-directed.* :)I like the A-word to represent that sneering tool of notions of ‘patriarchy’ that I’d thought went out with slouch boots. I liked the slouch boots. Seems something else came in on em.

  • Arminius

    This is very strange – I have just found JJ’s website, but WaPo will not let me post anything about it. Apparently JJ has the pictures of WaPo empoloyees with the sheep.

  • Paganplace

    Ah, sheep. Well, it’s not only about them, but Christians and Scots…And moral compasses, apparently. Which are apparently ‘broken’ if they don’t lead back to the pen. Which I suppose is fine for would-be ‘shepherds.’

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,JJ just trashed two more blogs again, this one is next. I’m ready to get out of here, there is no defense, and it is becoming a waste of time. Can I ever find you again?

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Corrected copy:Keep in mind that Pilate was a necessary accessory in the “rise” of JC. Without that crucifixion, where would we Christians be?? And JC an organizer?? Hardly!!! Paul did most of the organizing and original advertising. M, M, L, and J did the added embellishing and ad campaign raising a simple preacher man to deity status akin to the OT and Roman emperors campaign people More necessary accessories!!!!Christianity really should be named for The Five Voodoo Doctors with their changing of wine into blood and bread into living tissue and the raising of at least two dead people.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Paganplace, Paganplace, Paganplace,Tis good, “spell it out girl”!!! Get all that voodoo out of your system. You make your coven proud!!! Darn, there I go again, Wiccans don’t believe in voodoo but those spells should suffice.Ooops, I feel a spell of sleep coming on. Thanks Oh Witches of the Half Moon!!!

  • VICTORIA

    Sparrow- said- I had not considered that before. And your point about the confusion of life and ensoulment- Arminius- this is for you

  • Farnaz

    Do Democrats really have to “re-energize progressive Evangelicals”? Isn’t there something else we could do to help? 🙁

  • VICTORIA

    Well, there are alot of undecideds out there- This is a great webiste- it gives ammunition to both dems and GOPs alike- I plan on going out swinging one way or another-

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Oh my I feel so “spelled and blogged” all at once. Thank the covens, it is only a half Moon out tonight!!!!

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    O’Victoria, O’Victoria, O’Victoria,How goes the Swinging Fun and Feasting Month of Ramadan??? I hear you put on ten pounds already.

  • Bud

    As always, Jacques presents a careful and detailed analysis of the situation from a Faith-based perspective. For those of you who think that the selection of Palin was some desperate, knee-jerk Hail-Mary, think again. It was a carefully crafted attempt to win over the conservative base, which McCain was losing by most accounts. And by all accounts the strategy seemed to work very well – at least for now. If the McCain camp continues to be successful in keeping the press away from Palin – so that she may continue to ride along on her “all American Mom” image – there will indeed be trouble for the Obama ticket. The worst thing Obama supporters can do is just assume that the decision to choose Palin was based on desperation and the plan will eventually backfire or she will withdraw. Palin is here to stay, and she represents a serious problem for the Obama campaign. Deal with it.

  • Fate

    The Palin effect will be short lived. If she were the rock star the republicans make her out to be she would be on TV every night, holding interviews, doing her job of bashing Obama. But where is Sarah? As she remains under cover in some RNC bunker learning about foreign and domestic policy in what must make cramming for comprehensive exams look like studying for a quiz, questions are accumulating about her. The latest is her spending as governor. There are of course the previous questions she refuses to answer by remaining hidden. Rock stars do not remain popular when in hiding. I expect to see her emerge, but only in carefully crafted ticket-only events. The republicans know how to do this, they did it with Bush, going as far as throwing out people who even looked liberal from public events.So watch for the fascism to increase among republicans around Palin. Watch as reporters are only allowed to ask certain questions. Watch as handlers step in to tell reporters they cannot ask certain questions. Watch as Palin tries to put on an American/ApplePie charm while thugs limit free speach around her.I thought McCain was a better person, but I don’t understand how he has given himself to the worst aspects of the republican party, to Rovian politics of deception, smear and ruthlessness. We need to remove that form of politics from America. Time for the republicans and their rabid Rovian political machine to lose, and lose big. That might give the reform minded republicans, of which NcCain was a member, a chance for the future, and give America a second chance at greatness. Help McCain help McCain by voting against him and the party which has tied strings to his arms and legs and is dancing him around to remain in power. That’s not change!

  • norman ravitch

    McCain, with his choice of Sister Sarah, has made the campaign about biography not issues, which is a polite way of saying it is about race. Sarah and McCain are white like us, Barack and Michelle are black not like us. Democratic leaders would have understood this and held Barack off at the pass had they not fallen for political corrctness. As a result we shall have a semi senile president and a possbile replacement totally unqualified for anything but killing moose.

  • Grace

    Norman I think you’re off base with the race comment. Don’t forget Barry is not a full blooded Afro American. He may be running on that but the fact is he’s as much white as he is black.

  • Aquillo

    Sparrow,Regarding personhood and biology, you’re right that we often use “life” in a biological sense, in which even a single cell has life, and a religio-philosophical sense, which is what I would call “personhood” or “humanity”. My point in this regard is threefold: First, I wanted to emphasize the ambiguity of when “life” begins from a biological perspective. We can cite various milestones along the way (conception, implantation, separation in identical twins, presence of brainwaves, heartbeat, fingernails, etc.), but there is no scientific dividing line to tell us when this life becomes a person or a full-fledged human being, or if it always is from the moment the sperm and egg join and create a distinct biological entity.Second, the embryo/fetus is a distinct biological entity that will (barring any unfortunate complications) certainly be an independent human one day. That’s a defeater in many pro-lifer’s minds for the pro-choice argument about women controlling their own bodies. We all agree that women should control their own bodies, but pro-lifers don’t see a fetus as part of a woman’s body (and wouldn’t even if it were a biological clone of her!) and do see it as quite different in kind from a cancer or a tapeworm. It is a distinct entity: a proto-person if not a person outright.Third, Roe’s viability is not a good standard. On the one hand, technological advance will likely keep the line moving earlier toward conception, and on the other, a 3 month old child is not independently viable either, though virtually everyone would grant that child the status of personhood.Humanity or personhood is a religio-philosophical concept, not a biological one, and as such it will be quite difficult or impossible to arrive at a consensus in a pluralistic, multicultural society such as ours. Does personhood require a non-physical (and thus scientifically undetectable) soul? When does the soul “arrive” (consider the hard case of identical twins)? If a soul is not required (because one doesn’t believe it exists or because it is not religiously necessary), what is the proper criterion for calling a blob of cells a person? You support early abortion but think it is wrong if done late. On what basis do you make this judgment?My argument is that we don’t know, perhaps can’t know, when personhood begins. Biology gives us no definitive answer, and the Bible does not either (I suspect the same is true of most other religious traditions, though I haven’t surveyed all of them). Hence, I suggest that a just society must prefer “certain non-murder” over “potential murder.” In a case like this the burden of proof must must must rest on those who say it is not murder to establish when life (i.e., personhood) has begun. Otherwise, we must err on the side of caution, or we have permitted murder.Don’t think I haven’t noticed that such proof will be difficult or impossible to provide. I say again, I think we can’t know for sure or arrive at general consensus, so we must err on the side of caution. This may leave pro-choicers embittered because they will feel beholden to others’ worldviews and have no recourse to prove their case, but that’s the whole point – they won’t likely be able to establish when personhood has begun except by arbitrary line drawing and that is simply not good enough to justify the potential murder. And why should their worldview effectively become state doctrine? It is not objectively justified or neutral from the state’s perspective any more than an evangelical view is.

  • Aquillo

    Grace said, “I think the Bible is clear when God says ‘I knew you in your Mother’s womb’. You usually indicates a person to me.”Granted, but that doesn’t indicate that life (i.e. personhood) began at conception or any other definitive point. Ancient Christians, among others, suggested that there was no life until the quickening (i.e., the mother feeling internal movement). This is less plausible in an age of 4-D ultrasounds etc., but it does indicate that they didn’t understand the Bible in the way that you are taking it.Again, I don’t think the Bible contradicts the notion that life begins at conception, but neither does it require it. Let’s not go beyond the Scriptures or put ideas in it that weren’t intended.

  • Aquillo

    Tonio,Thanks for another thoughtful reply. (BTW, I knew what you meant by “agnostic.” 🙂 )You say, “A secular basis for opposing abortion would be this – since we don’t know when life begins, the safest route is to favor ‘certain non-murder’ over ‘potential murder.’ This basis makes no philosophical assumptions.”I’m with you, but I can hear the rebuttal coming: “Women’s autonomy is worth risking a bit of philosophical unknown. Just because some are held captive by superstitions and abstruse philosophical ruminations does not give them the right to impose their views on everyone. That’s what’s happening here: since we don’t know if this is a person or not, we’ll assume it is until proven otherwise. Why not assume that it is not a person until it can be shown that it is? It’s not like either assumption is without consequence. Why choose the one where *all* women’s rights to privacy are certainly impinged, rather than the one where the rights of ‘insensate tissue’ *might* be. This isn’t secularism or agnosticism; it’s enshrining religious belief *by default*.”In short, pro-choicers won’t take this lying down.You continued, “No right is absolutely inalienable, simply because there are no absolutes in human life except for its impermanence. It’s possible that the Framers supported capital punishment, which amounts to taking away the right to live for a specific reason. That’s not offered as a defense or a criticism of capital punishment, but merely an example of an exception to an inalienable right.”I believe we agree, though admittedly I’m a bit above my pay grade here.You said, “The balancing of interests I mentioned means that laws cannot be absolutist, even when they reflect moral concepts. It is not necessary or desirable for everything immoral to be illegal. Making abortion illegal will not save babies, and will cause harm to their mothers as well. A government can conclude that an abortion ban would be unworkable, and that conclusion does NOT amount to government deeming abortion to be a good thing.”I agree that everything that is immoral should not be illegal, but how do we determine what *should* be illegal? Obviously, unenforceable laws are no good. What else? There are plenty of libertarians who would legalize cocaine, for instance, but that seems beyond the scope of our discussion here – we’re not going to resolve that debate or become an ideal libertarian state any time soon.In any case, with abortion it is the putative rights of another person (or proto-person) at stake, not just an individual’s choice to wear a seat belt or motorcycle helmet or not. Abortion is, as libertarian feminist Camille Paglia recently put it, “the extermination of the powerless by the powerful [and] the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue.” Why should the government not try to protect these powerless individuals through law? I ask honestly not knowing the answer, but I won’t accept the response that it would make us more libertarian. Neither major party has been concerned with that for some time, so the opponents of abortion rights should have other reasons.You said, “I would like to see the moderates in the GOP prevail over the party’s fundamentalist minority, whose position on abortion seems driven by theological positions about sex and the role of women.”Speaking as a conservative evangelical, I think the role of women as a driving force on this issue is mostly a canard (I say mostly because I’m sure there are a few whackjobs out there). I for one – and I believe Palin agrees – am fine with sex-ed dealing with contraception methods along side abstinence. Yes, I think extramarital sex is immoral, but I am not here to moralize the culture or control others’ sex lives insofar as they are not harming others (see I Cor. 5:12-13; etc.). But that’s precisely where abortion – unlike, say, same-sex marriage – crosses the line.

  • Mary

    Remind me what an “evangelical” is. My grandma was a Pentecostal Baptist, and when I went to her church I saw people speak in tongues and fall on the floor, as they did in the video of Sarah Palin’s Assembly of God. But my Grandma never talked about any “rapture”, where God would come and kill everybody horribly who wasn’t in her church. She didn’t wait for any angels to come and beam her up to some kind of flying saucer while God rained grief, pain, terror, and torment on her political enemies. How is it now Christian to call for war, promote famine and plague and death, and work to bring about the Apocalypse because you think that’s God’s plan?I’m not a believer now, but Obama’s religion is more like my Grandma’s.

  • Mary

    We secular humanists might make ourselves better understood if we use spiritual vocabulary to discuss the problem of when and how a human soul is created.It might be scientifically beyond us to define some precise moment when consciousness becomes physiologically possible, but the question would pose no problem at all for God. In every case, he could define the moment he created a human soul. He isn’t limited to any externally detectable threshold like the “moment of conception” that could be argued about in court. So Augustine’s proposal of “quickening” would work fine for God or for some human being who wasn’t interested in imposing his own religious superstitions on other people’s conscience.Pope John 23, in his great papal encyclical Pacem in Terris, argued that the moral voice in every human heart is the voice of God. As a humanist, I believe religion at its best is an expression of our shared moral voices. In either view, don’t you think it better to allow each individual woman, carrying a pregnancy, to listen to that voice? Could you men face the awesome possibility that SHE will be the one who hears God’s voice in her heart, without your interference?