THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CAMPAIGN
BATTLE HAS RESUMED; THERE ARE NEW
ITEMS OF INTEREST FOR EVANGELICALS
In Pennsylvania yesterday Senators Clinton and
Obama resumed their ongoing fight for the Democrat
nomination. "Fight" has become the appropriate word;
it has ceased being a friendly competition. And the
"unfriendly" spirit which developed in the last days of
the Pennsylvania primary doubtless had an effect in
the final results there. As expected, Hillary Clinton
won. The key measure of success, however, was clearly
based on the margin of victory. The defining figure was
a 10% margin, and as the final figures came into play
it was evident that Senator Clinton had won 55% of the
popular vote, with Senator Obama winning 45%. The
size of the margin gives encouragement for Clinton to
continue, and not drop out of the race – which now
moves to Indiana North Carolina and West Virginia.
So for us who watch by TV, we will have a couple of
months with more of the same, leading up to the
national conventions in August and September.
The top religious news story is, beyond all doubt,
the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to this country.
The Pope visited two cities, Washington, DC and New
York City. Aside from the religious aspects of the visit,
this was basically a massive advertising and public
relations campaign. As such it was conceivably one of
the most expensive in history. No total cost figures are
yet available. The visit of Pope John Paul II in 1995 is
reported to have cost around $1.2 million per day.
Given the increased costs of security in post-9/11 days,
those figures will certainly be surpassed by this most
recent visit. What portion will be borne by American
Catholic dioceses, already hurt financially by the sexual
abuse exploits of some priests (some dioceses have
already declared bankruptcy), and what portion will
be borne directly by the Vatican may never be known.
The Pope came to America in the wake of his church
being dropped to becoming the second largest
religious group in the world, as Islam moved into the
top spot. It appears that he had three goals to achieve:
(1) Try to bring some closure to the priestly sex abuse
scandals which have hurt the church; (2) Challenge
American culture to adopt a stronger stand on moral
issues; (3) Promote a spirit of unity within the Roman
church which seems divided on many spiritual issues.
How well he succeeded is not an evaluation which can
be made immediately. Only time will tell, but to the
thousands in New York and Washington who saw him
in person, and the millions who saw him via TV, this
new Pope has presented a different personality than
the shy professorial image he formerly projected.
We haven’t heard the last of Mike Huckabee, who
made such a huge initial splash in the presidential
primary race. He now blames conservative Christians
for his defeat, saying, "There were leaders of the
conservative movement that, had they stood with me
early, I think the outcome would have been different."
He added, "Some people really worshiped at the altar
of electability rather than to be faithful and loyal to
the principles they were supposed to be committed to."
He also said he would be campaigning for John McCain,
but hinted that he might take another look at the 2012
We are all familiar with the initials "WWJD" –
"What Would Jesus Do?" Now there is a new set of
initials: "HWJV" – "How Would Jesus Vote?" That is
the theme of a tour which plans to bring together
Christian leaders from across the broad political
spectrum in a series of forums to discuss what biblical
values should have an influence on Christian believers
as they prepare to vote in the upcoming elections. The
tour will begin in June in Richmond, VA, and then in
succeeding months move on to Atlanta, Dallas, Los
Angeles, and conclude in Washington, DC in October,
just prior to Election Day, 2008. The idea for the tour
originated with Bruce Clark, a pastor in Silver Spring,
MD, who said of the plan, "The goal of the forum is not
to tell the audience who to vote for but it is to raise the
issue that there are biblical values that we can bring
to bear when we go into the voting booth."
On the integration of government entities: One
of our Founding Fathers expressed this unique idea of
how the various divisions of our government should
handle constitutional matters: "My construction of the
constitution is very different from that you quote. It is
that each department is truly independent of the others,
and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the
meaning of the constitution in the cases submitted to
its action; and especially, where it is to act ultimately
and without appeal." – Thomas Jefferson, May, 1819
And now a few random comments . . .
Jimmy Carter is called "naive," and that is just
about the kindest evaluation heard concerning his
trip to the Middle East to meet with the Hamas terrorist
leaders. Normally we would like him – a man with a
friendly smile and a soft Georgia accent, trying so hard
to accomplish something which would atone for his
failed presidency. But for a former US president – and
that’s what he is – to meet with terrorist leaders and by
so doing accord them some prestige and recognition in
their established goal of destroying the nation Israel, it
is awfully hard to show charity to such a person. His plea
that the civilized world accept the promise he brought
back from the terrorists that Hamas would agree to
consider a peace proposal if the Palestine people voted
in favor of it, was dashed on the rocks of reality just
a day after he left in a poll of Palestinians over the
weekend which disclosed that over half the people of
Palestine favor the suicide bombings and the attacks
against Israel. It probably can’t be done, but some
members of Congress have proposed that his passport
be taken away.
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A few stories this past week served to remind us
that the rights of Christians in America are still under
attack by the liberals. The one gaining the most notice
was probably about the high school football coach in
New Jersey who was forbidden either to kneel or even
bow his head while his players had a student led prayer
before a game, even though he was standing beside them.
In Ohio a teacher who has had his personal Bible simply
lying on his desk for some 16 years, has now been told
to put it in a drawer and out of sight. And in Wisconsin
a teacher refused to give a student any grade at all on an
art project because John 3:16 was included. However,
that school approves Hindu, Buddhist and sorcerers as
forms of art. Unless sooner or later we take a stand in
defense of our rights, more and more of those rights
are going to be taken away.
Remember Greenwich Mean Time, determined at
a site in England, and establishing time for the whole
world? Well, now the Muslims have proposed that the
world’s time be established from a base at Mecca, which
they consider to be the Center of the Earth, and thus
world’s standard time would be called Mecca Time.
Don’t laugh – the way things are going, it could happen.
Another document for "Evangelicals" to sign.
Now being circulated, and scheduled to be released to
the public on or about May 7, is "An Evangelical
Manifesto - the Wash ington Declaaration of Identity
and Public Comitment." Among the principal movers of
the new document are Rick Warren and Leith Anderson,
both nominal "Evangelicals" who signed the Yale Divinity
School letter of concession to the Islamic Scholars. Why
this new document? Warren Smith, writing on Apr. 17 in
"AFAonline" commented, "There is an unseemly power
struggle going on in the evangelical world these days.
It is a struggle for leadership and dominance, for the
right to be the unofficial spokesperson for evangelicals."
None of which is unexpected – as the leading evangelist,
Billy Graham is no longer active, and the deaths of Jerry
Falwell and Jim Kennedy left great vacancies in the field
of Evangelical leadership. We will hear more of this.
And as usual, although some parts of this issue are
different, we close with a quote from one of our nation’s
Founding Fathers: "Providence has given to our people
the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as
the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to
select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
– John Jay, October, 1816