The World Wide Religious Web for Thursday, January 5, 2012

EVANGELICALS, MORMONS, & POLITICS: Why Obama Wins. “So many evangelicals grew up being told that the pope is the anti-Christ and that the LDS Church is satanic, that it is deeply ingrained in them.  I’m not saying that they’ll campaign against Romney or Santorum, just that their antipathy to their religions will leave evangelical voters totally unmotivated.” See also Romney’s Evangelical Problem Starts with Theology. “The good news for Mitt Romney: he won the Iowa caucuses. The bad news for Romney: evangelicals remain reluctant to support him.” And finally, Romney’s religion still a sticking point. But if you read all the way to the end of the article, you read that Phil and Karen Poe (who attend an Assemblies of God church in Des Moines) got over their suspicions of Romney pretty quickly. “Beating Obama is my bottom line,” Karen said. My guess is that that’s the bottom line for many evangelical voters, not the candidate’s theology. See also Evangelicals and Santorum, where R. R. Reno shares the same intuition as I do.

MICHELLE BACHMANN: A Divine Call Won’t Get You Votes.

RON PAUL: Theonomists, Reconstructionists, and Dominionists. Oh My! “So I think we should applaud Goldberg for taking into consideration the religious viewpoints and influences of candidates like Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Michelle Bachmann, but we should also take her to task for not being a bit more sensitive to the complicated theological landscape. Christian Reconstructionists are a vocal minority, a “fringe” as Goldberg calls them, among politically conservative Christians, but their specific views about biblical laws and punishments are simply not attributable to every evangelical candidate.”

THE HIGH PRIEST OF OUR CIVIL RELIGION: Commander and Chaplain: The Faith of Presidents. “In the absence of a national chaplain, the President sometimes has functioned in that role, partly because of the expectations of the American people. When we have a crisis, whether it is a war or a tragedy—like the shootings in Tucson or a space disaster—we expect the President to function almost as our civic priest. We want him to give us assurance that God is still in control and that the people who have died have died for a good cause and that they’re going to be eternally blessed.”

MARRIAGE MATTERS: Why Fight Same-Sex Marriage? “There is, then, a further vital reason why same-sex marriage must be vigorously contested, namely, that no peace is to be had by capitulation. Like it or not, the great struggle is under way. Marriage, if you please, is the Sudetenland, and its concession is the precursor to a cultural Blitzkrieg.” I largely agree with this article, but why must the author use a Nazi analogy? By doing so, doesn’t he risk violating Godwin’s law? Regardless, if you think this author is just wildly speculating, read this.

MEAN ATHEISTS: Ill will toward men. “Seen on ‘How do atheists express their love for the rest of humanity?’ Answer: ‘You don’t need religion to express love, you complete idiot. Why are all your questions so ignorant?’ Genuinely warmhearted atheists exist, but warmheartedness is not the first descriptive quality that comes to mind. The more vocal ones betray themselves sooner or later: To reject God is almost always to despise people.” This makes logical sense. After all, atheists teach that God is a mere projection of humanity. If God is a delusion (Dawkins), then his human creators are ignorant and deluded. If religion poisons everything (Hitchens), then humans are the poisoners. Calling the vast swath of humanity stupid and wicked is the essence of misanthropy.

LEGO ATHEIST: The Brick Bible’s Case against Faith. “In all, the book—with its skewed perspective on matters of faith and its wry commentary on Old Testament stories—makes a pretty good case against faith. Since that’s not the objective of most parents, I’d suggest looking elsewhere for a good Bible storybook for your children.”

AGES OF ROCKS & THE ROCK OF AGES: Why Geology Matters. “But more specifically, it is clear that all Christian high school and Christian college students ought to gain substantial knowledge about the structure, composition, behavior, and history of their God-given home, planet Earth. The current situation, in which the geosciences are ignored totally, woefully underemphasized, or grossly distorted in Christian high schools and Christian liberal arts colleges, is inexcusable and must be radically changed. MacDougall’s book amounts to a wake-up call for a much larger place for geoscience education. Why Geology Matters should be mandatory reading for all scientists, school board members, and academic deans and presidents, but especially pastors, theologians, Christian school board members, and Christian college leaders.”

TOO MUCH POLITICAL SPEECH? Iowa: The Gray Lady Freaks Out. “So let’s sum up: The Times is concerned that 1) there is more political speech than there would be if not for the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and the appeals-court decision in v. FEC; 2) groups of citizens are running their own ads, rather than relying solely on the candidates to run ads; 3) the ads are saying awful things, accusing candidates of “being too liberal on immigration,” or having “ethics baggage,” something the Times would never discuss, except in its news stories on Newt Gingrich’s “ethics” “baggage” on November 28, December 8, December 9, December 14, and December 31; 4) stories about a candidate’s ethics or positions on immigration should be off limits in an “accountable” campaign; and 5) all this citizen speech informing voters about various candidates’ positions, ethics, and endorsements, coming not only from the candidates but from other sources, can be blamed on Citizens United and”

NO: Does Islam Forbid Even Studying Evolution? “Muslims everywhere must open their minds to all new ideas. They must be confident that their faith and worldview are robust enough to deal with modernity in its various facets; indeed, new viewpoints can help fine-tune beliefs and worldviews. Islam not only does not forbid studying evolution or any other theory; it welcomes new knowledge and deals with it objectively. Muslims are called upon to engage with science, philosophy, and art with confidence and open minds.”

CHURCH LAW & TAX: The Top 10 Church Law Articles from 2011.

BUILDING CHURCH LEADERS: Our Top 10 Resources in 2011.

The World Wide Religious Web for Tuesday, January 3, 2012

LOVE WINS? “2011: The Year of the Hell Debate.”

I AGREE WITH THIS LETTER: “All American Muslim: An Open Letter.” “In our view, it is fundamentally unjust to tar all or most Muslims with the brush of extremism; and, as Christians and Americans, we must never countenance injustice. Moreover, effectively countering the threats posed by genuine extremists requires us to welcome as friends and allies Muslims who share our opposition to radicalism and violence, who value their American citizenship and American freedom just as we do, and who contribute constructively to their communities and the larger society. When we treat our Muslim fellow citizens justly, and when we welcome them as partners in our efforts on behalf of life, liberty, and human dignity, we are being true both to our Christian faith and to our American heritage.”

SANTA CLAUS IN TURKEY: “Is Santa the Canary in the Coal Mine?” I’m not sure what to make of this post, but there’s something funny in a Jew writing about a Muslim’s view of a Christian saint.

EVANGELICALS FOR MITT? “An Open Letter to the Romney Skeptics.”

COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM? “Santorum’s evangelical surge is about more than Christian Right.”

NUTTY POLITICS, BUT NICE GUY? “The Compassion of Dr. Ron Paul.”

COLLATERAL DAMAGE: “Divorce Rate Among Afghanistan, Iraq War Vets Increases by 42 Percent.”

BUT THE INTELLIGENT DESIGNER ISN’T: “Intelligent Design Is Dead: A Christian Perspective.”

INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW: “Was Arminius an inclusivist? Continuing a conversation.”

THE CHALLENGE OF EVANGELICAL AESTHETICS: “Art, Conscience, and Theological McCarthyism.”

RELIGION & POP CULTURE: “Let Lennon be Lennon and forget Cee Lo Green.”

LET THE JOKES BEGIN: Ted Haggard to appear on “Celebrity Wife Swap.”

FIFTY PERCENT: “Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Church.”

HOMILETICS MASTER CLASS: “Preaching when parched.”

INFOGRAPHIC: “How the Bible Feels.”

OBVIOUSLY, IT’S A SLOW NEWS DAY: “Tintin’s Politics.”

INSIDE JOKE FOR PHILOSOPHERS OF RELIGION: “Transworld Irony.” “It is possible that in every possible world there exists at a college named after John Calvin a philosophy professor who offers a free will defense for the problem of evil.”

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“The Politics of Being a Good Christian.”

New research suggests there are actually two God Gaps. For some Christians, being more religious makes them more conservative on social issues. For others, going to church, praying, and doing other religious activities actually makes them more liberal on social justice issues.



“At debate, Republican candidates spar over Islam.” Personally, I’m with Abe Greenwald:

Bad showing all around on the Muslim question. There’s one right answer: I would hire any American I believed could do the best for my administration and my country–any race, religion, or creed. The meandering into crazy Sharialand and different types of Muslims will cost the GOP.


“[Gov. Rick] Perry has not overburdened the collection plate.” I’ll say. In 2007, for example, Perry reported $1 million in income and gave a whopping $90 to his church. $90. I’m a put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is kind of Christian, and this report is going to make me discount a lot of Perry’s religious talk. Perhaps there’s more to the story. Maybe Perry gave gobs of cash to charities. If so, I’ll revise my opinion. But if not…


Tom Gilson has a three-part series on the morality of Christian exclusivism: here and here. Christian exclusivism is the belief that “there is one God uniquely revealed in Jesus Christ, who is the one way, truth, and life for all people everywhere in all times. This means that other paths to God are excluded.” I’ll post Part 3 when it goes online.


“A Mormon President: Are Souls at Stake?” David French says, “Those who believe that presidents impact our immortal souls have too great a view of politics and too small a view of God.


“Targeting the World’s Worst Religious Persecutors.” Hard to argue with Doug Bandow’s take:

The freedom to believe, or not believe, in God and respond accordingly—as individuals, families, and communities—is precious.  Sadly, much of humankind is denied this most fundamental right.

While Washington cannot make the world free, Americans can reach out and help their oppressed brothers and sisters around the globe.  Persecution should be highlighted and denounced; victims of intolerance, hate, and violence should be comforted and supported.  Finally, if America is to remain free, Americans must tenaciously defend religious liberty at home.


“El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron.” An online role-playing game of some sort. Based on…the Bible?


“Call an Exorcist for Anthony Weiner?” In which Mark Judge somehow manages to bring together Ann Coulter, Anthony Weiner, and William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist.


“From decline to decision”: In which Ed Stetzer ruminates on the declining membership of the Southern Baptist Convention. Money quote: “We don’t change until the pain of staying the same grows greater than the pain of change. May the truth break our hearts, drive us to our knees and compel us into the mission.”


“Boards of Springfield schools vote for consolidation.” That would be Assemblies of God schools in Springfield, Missouri. It may not be big news in your neck of the ’hood, but it’s big news around here.

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 8, 2011


“Are You Smarter Than Anthony Weiner?” I certainly hope so. But Russell D. Moore provides a timely reminder about temptation and self-deception:

Almost every adultery situation I’ve ever seen includes a cheating spouse who honestly believes that he or she is not going to get caught. The cheater often doesn’t want the marriage to end in divorce. Instead, like the characters in today’s headlines, he or she instead wants to keep everything the same: spouse, kids, and lover too. That’s irrational and completely contrary to the way the world works. Anyone can see that.

But you can convince yourself…or be convinced…that it will work for you. You’re special, after all. That’s the way temptation functions. We put consequences out of our minds, both temporal and eternal consequences. We start to believe that we are gods, with power over good and evil and life and death. And then we do crazy things.

This doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence. Satan is hyper-intelligent. And yet, even knowing that he will ultimately have his skull crushed, he rages all the more against Christ and his people, “because he knows his time is short” (Rev. 12:12). In terms of the most basic principles of military strategy, that’s crazy. What we need is not intelligence, but wisdom. Wisdom includes seeing where the way I want to go will lead (Prov. 14:12).

I don’t know who you are, reader, but I know you are probably not smarter than Anthony Weiner or Arnold Schwarzenegger or John Edwards. And neither am I. Both of us, you and I, are on the verge of wrecking our lives. We’re probably not on the verge of a situation quite like any of those men, but the gospel tells us we have vulnerabilities just the same, and they all can lead to destruction.


“What Sarah Palin Got Wrong—And We Did, Too.” If we’re going to criticize politicians, might as well be bipartisan about it.


“Christian Conservatives flock to Michelle Bachmann.” You have to love this line from Haley Barbour: ““There’s only been one perfect person that ever walked on this earth. And there ain’t gonna be another one in this election.”


“Perry’s Planned Prayer Event Riles Critics.” Though, truth be told, it doesn’t take much to rile them.


Is a vote for Romney a vote for “a false and dangerous religion”? Hard to argue with the “false” part, though dangerous seems a bit of a stretch.


“Must Christian Voters Choose Between Ayn Rand and Jesus?” Let’s see: an avowed egotist who created a cult of personality around herself or the Savior of the world… So (a) yes and (b) the choice is obvious.


“1919 signed letter contains Hitler’s first known stance on Jewish ‘removal.’”


“Religious art: fig leaf or full frontal?” How about a suit and a tie?


“Americans Still Believe in God.” In other news, the pope is still Catholic.


 “World soccer officials defend hijab ban after Iranian team forfeits match.” My guess is that most of the women don’t want to wear hijabs either, but they have to in order to play for the national team. Solution: Let them play!

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