May 2002 Issue #86
Christianity is the Only Way, Says Delay
Rep. Tom DeLay told evangelical Christians that Christianity offers the “only viable, reasonable, definitive answer” to questions about the purpose of life and God is using him to promote a “biblical worldview” in American politics. He was speaking at a “Worldview Conference,” sponsored by religious right groups “to train and equip both Christian young people and adults in what it means to have a biblical worldview.” The conference took place at Pearland’s First Baptist Church, the congregation led by Vision America’s founder Rick Scarborough.
A recording of DeLay’s remarks was released to media by Americans United for Separation of Church and State. According to the Washington Post, DeLay said, “Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world—only Christianity.”
In response to a complaint that creationism is not taught at Baylor University, DeLay advised not to send children to Baylor or Texas A & M. Ironically, DeLay attended Baylor before he was expelled for “too vigorous a social life,” and his daughter graduated from Texas A & M, despite having what he called “horrible experiences with coed dorms.” He exhorted attendees to pressure state legislators to “throw the P.C. out and bring God in” at Texas’ public universities, the Houston Chronicle reported. After his remarks were reported, DeLay issued a statement apologizing for “any misunderstandings (his) comments may have caused.”
Religious Right Agenda in Congress
Religious Right Rail Against Same-Sex Adoption
A policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supporting the adoption of children by same-sex couples set off a firestorm among the religious right. The AAP said children who are born to or adopted by one member of a gay or lesbian couple deserve the financial, psychological and legal security of two legally recognized parents. Weeks later, talk show host Rosie O’Donnell, an adoptive and foster parent, publicly announced her homosexuality and support of a legal challenge to a Florida law prohibiting adoption by homosexuals. O’Donnell resides in Florida.
The religious right denounced both actions. The Family Research Council asserted that studies show that homosexuals have higher rates of promiscuity, physical disease, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence. According to The Traditional Values Coalition, research shows that typical same-sex households are “sexualized and unstable,” children brought up in same-sex households are at risk for emotional problems and confusion over their proper gender roles, and children living in such households “will be condemned to live in homes filled with violence, sexual confusion, and death from AIDS.”
White House National Day of Prayer
Commemoration has Christian Air
Events were held around the country, including in the Capitol and at the White House, on May 2 to commemorate the National Day of Prayer. Congress established an annual day of prayer in 1952. The American Center for Law and Justice asserted, “NOTHING about the National Day of Prayer accomplishes … an Establishment of Religion. And there is no legal precedent to suggest that such an observance violates the Constitution.” The Associated Press reported, however, that the White House ceremony was almost exclusively Christian, with no non-Christian religious leaders apparent.
Religious Right Unwaveringly Support Israel
The religious right have been among Israel’s staunchest supporters the past few months. Falwell Ministries, for example, has circulated a petition to President Bush and Jerusalem’s mayor to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while the American Center for Law & Justice is asking people to sign a "proclamation for solidarity" with Israel. The Christian Coalition commented, “Ironically, in some instances Christian support for Israel seems to exceed that of Jewish supporters in America.” While many conservatives back Israel for ideological reasons—since it is a democracy and it is being victimized by terrorism—the religious right’s backing has theological underpinnings rooted in the Bible
Poll on Americans' Views on
Religion's Role in Public LifeAccording to a new poll, 45% of Americans rate the “Christian conservative movement” favorably while 29% rate it unfavorably. Two-thirds consider the United States a "Christian nation" and 58% think that America’s strength is based on the religious faith of its people. Still, 84% believe that a person who has no religious faith can be a good American.
A slight majority (50%-47%) thinks that a belief in God is necessary to be a moral person. African-Americans, Southerners and older people, especially women, are among those who see the link between religion and morality as very important, while men, younger people and college graduates are less likely to see religion as a prerequisite for morality.
Americans believe by 70% to 22% that churches should not endorse political candidates. White non-Hispanic Catholics and white mainline Protestants, regardless of their level of religious commitment, oppose such endorsements by higher margins than white evangelicals and black Protestants. Highly committed white evangelicals are the most supportive of such endorsements—41% back the practice.
Nearly 80% of Americans believe the government should not develop programs to encourage marriage. Those with a high level of religious commitment are more likely to favor these programs, but 66% of this group do not want the government to get involved. Seventy percent favor permitting faith-based groups to apply for government funding to provide social services. Regarding Sept. 11, 91% reject the notion that it was a sign that God no longer protects the U.S. 54% think political leaders have expressed the right amount of religious faith and prayer since then.
The survey of 2,002 adults was conducted Feb. 25 to March 10 by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It is at people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=150
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