When Dallas First Baptist Church pastor Robert Jeffress endorsed Mitt Romney this week, it raised some eyebrows. Jeffress, after all, was the evangelical leader who roiled last year’s Value Voters Summit by casually telling reporters that Mitt Romney was “not a Christian,” but instead a member of the Mormon “cult.” His endorsement should serve as a warning to any Democrats who expect that evangelical distaste for Mormonism will cost Mitt Romney a significant number of votes.
The 2012 GOP nominating contest has witnessed the final triumph of an unlikely figure. I say “unlikely” because his name hasn’t been invoked much (if at all) by any of the candidates, nor has he been mentioned frequently by the press in its campaign coverage. What’s more, he died in 2007.
If Newton Leroy Gingrich becomes the Republican candidate for president of the United States, then the 2012 election will be a contest between two men who found new religions fairly late in life. Gingrich is on his third religion: He was raised a Lutheran, later became a Southern Baptist, and in 2009 was received into the Roman Catholic church. President Obama, having been raised in an irreligious home, famously found faith as an adult in Chicago, where he was baptized in 1988 by Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.
God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right By Daniel K. Williams (Oxford University Press, 372 pp., $29.95) From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism By Darren Dochuk (W.W. Norton, 520 pp., $35) In the presidential election of 1976, the Democrat Jimmy Carter split the votes of American white evangelical Protestants almost evenly with the Republican Gerald Ford. With a clear plurality of at least ten percentage points, Carter did even better among the nation’s white Baptists.
Thomas Sugrue, writing in the New York Times op-ed page, calls the fear of crime cited by white Detroiters a pretext for racism: Those who left the city cited various reasons: desire for a little green space, new housing, better schools, freedom from crime.
Westboro Baptist Church, the hate group noted particularly for its anti-gay pickets at numerous events (including military funerals), showed up to protest this year's Comic-Con in San Diego. Never missing an opportunity to use nerd humor for good, attendants staged a counter-protest.
Not long ago, Tavis Smiley did something I would not have expected, which is rare. He announced that he was discontinuing his annual State of the Black Union conferences. These have been powwows where the Usual Suspects are invited to make the usual points: roughly decrying racism while genuflecting to the radical idea that people are responsible for repairing their own culture too.
From the A.P.: ELLENWOOD, Ga. -- Someone made off with loot from a Georgia church but also left behind an apology. A note scrawled on the wall said: "Sorry but I'm poor. Forgive me Lord." The Rev. Roger Davis tells WSB-TV that expensive equipment including microphones and a laptop containing important records were stolen over the weekend from Berean Baptist Church.
Inside the Obamacare Laboratory: Have Democrats Learned the Right Lessons from Massachusetts? by Jonathan Cohn Previewing Obama’s Asia Visit: Why He Has a Rare Chance to Improve U.S.-Japan Relations, by R. Taggart Murphy TNRtv: The Jew-Hating, Gay-Bashing Westboro Baptist Church Comes to New York. Oh Boy. by Benjamin Birnbaum and Ben Eisler Should We Be Worried About the Changing Demographics of Unions? by John B. Judis Don’t Let Abortion Destroy Health Reform--Millions of Americans Will Be Far Better Off Than They Are Now, by E.J. Dionne Jr. Are People Flocking to ‘Dirty’ Cities?
In the theology of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), God has a pretty long shit list. Read the colorful placards at the group’s daily demonstrations and you get the idea: “God Hates Fags,” “God Hates Fag Enablers,” “God Hates Obama,” “God Hates America,” “God Hates The World,” “God Hates YOU.” Led since its 1955 inception by Fred Phelps, who turns 80 tomorrow, the church is populated primarily by his progeny.