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Last minute religious hype as election nears…

Last minute religious hype as election nears…

…While we note with appreciation Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton’s pastoral letter for its clarity and balance, not to mention his respect for the consciences of the voter. It is a stark contrast to the ways that religion is manipulated for political ends.

We hear more news of religious leaders telling their followers how they must vote…or else! Maybe it’s because we are church in a (nominally) swing state, but in Pennsylvania, I am getting quite a few robo-calls and e-mails telling me to tell my congregants to “vote biblically.”

Like this ad.

RNS has a few stories:

A number of Roman Catholic bishops are making forceful last-minute appeals to their flock to vote on Election Day, and their exhortations are increasingly sounding like calls to support Republican challenger Mitt Romney over President Obama.

The most recent example: a letter from Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky accusing the administration of an unprecedented “assault upon our religious freedom” and implying that Catholics who pull the lever for Democrats who support abortion rights are like those who condemned Jesus to death.

“Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present,” Jenky writes in the letter, which he ordered priests in his Peoria diocese to read at all Masses on Sunday (Nov. 4).

In the letter, Jenky blames Obama and the Democratic majority in the Senate for trampling on the Catholic Church’s rights and moral convictions by requiring health insurers to provide contraception coverage. Jenky also compares abortion rights supporters to the Jewish crowd in Jerusalem that pledged loyalty to the Roman Empire and demanded that Pontius Pilate crucify Jesus.

RNS also found this blog post by Jonathan Fitzgerald writing in Patrol where he describes “the Romney Mega Prayer.” Fitzgerald oscillates between anger and the sense that this must be a joke. But it is evidently posted by well-meaning evangelical who at once wishes for the power of God to be marshaled by everyone praying all at once (for Romney to win, of course), and to remain completely anonymous. There is so much wrong with this that it defies the imagination.

All in all, it makes one want to cry.


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I’ve been alternately amused and disgusted by the way that a certain conservative Anglican website has turned into a shameless parody of that old saw about the Episcopal Church being the Republican Party at prayer. For some time they have openly hitched their wagon to the GOP star, but now seem to do little else except shill for Republican candidates under a thin veneer of “Bible based” religiosity. Every point in which they disagree with the President and his policies turns out to be (surprise!) a result of their patented orthodox(c) interpretation of Scripture and Tradition. Voting Democrat appears to be a sure sign of having sold one’s soul to the Lord of the Flies in their eyes. And the links between the Awful Things that are happening in the Church and “incorrect” political belief are adamantine. They bitch about ECUSA being PC, but in reality have completely confused their views of political and religious orthodoxy, themselves.

Progressive Episcopalians do the same thing to some extent, but not so much or so loudly, it seems to me.

Besides amused and disgusted, it also makes me a little sad that at least for this cohort of religious conservatives there really don’t appear to be deep theological arguments in play, but the same ignorant fear that made the party of Lincoln and Goldwater the party of Bachman, Palin, Allen, and Romney.

Bill Dilworth


I have received daily robocalls from “Pastors” in Missouri, Texas, Illinois, a rabbi in Boston, and today, Rick Santorum, instructing me to encourage “my flock” to vote for Christian ideals that protect the unborn and marriage between a man and a woman – and to help “my flock” know where the candidates stand I should direct them to which ever website the robocaller is endorsing. I am offended by these calls. The people in the congregation I serve are smart enough to make up their own minds and don’t need me or these websites to “instruct” them. I wish someone would stop this. It offensive.

Terri Cole Pilarski (added by ~ed.)

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