When you assume

WeberCoverI’ve been anxious to read more stories about how religious voters are being courted or which camp they’re ending up in. The Washington Post had an article titled “My Son, the Senator” that discusses how Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, is helping the campaign of Sen. John McCain. After alluding to Joe the Plumber, the article says another Joe is on the scene:

Otherwise known as Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Joe the Senator is wooing the small but possibly crucial Jewish voting bloc in Ohio, which McCain campaign aides hope will help them capture the battleground state.

Lieberman’s face is plastered all over a glossy eight-page mailer, funded by the Ohio Republican Party, that began arriving in mailboxes in primarily Jewish neighborhoods yesterday afternoon. The cover features a large photo of Lieberman with his pal and Senate colleague McCain (R-Ariz.) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, both wearing yarmulkes.

“A proven record, a friend of the Jewish community, 25 years of rock-solid support for strong U.S.-Israel relations, ready to lead on Day One,” the cover blares.

I’m kind of amused by the fact that the article never explicitly identifies Lieberman as Jewish. It’s implied or assumed that readers know already, I guess. Anyway, the article goes on to note the mailer’s heavy emphasis on national security issues and includes this tidbit:

Not surprisingly, the McCain campaign and its surrogates have shied away from highlighting running mate Sarah Palin, an evangelical Christian, to Jewish voters. She is not seen in the Ohio GOP flier. Instead, another Republican governor of an outlying state is working Ohio this week: Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, who, like Joe, is Jewish.

I can speculate as to why an evangelical Christian isn’t highlighted in the mailer, but I’m not sure if it’s so obvious as to describe it as unsurprising. Aren’t evangelical Christians sort of known for being very pro-Israel and concerned with national security issues? The Los Angeles Times ran a story last week about the National Council of Churches’ effort to combat their efforts with planned sermons and brochure distribution at mainline Protestant churches.

For readers interested in media coverage of how the religious vote is breaking down, you may want to read this editorial from the Los Angeles Times‘ Tim Rutten. He looks at the Catholic vote and finds some interesting angles.

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  • http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

    A)For obvious reasons, the McCain campaign has not highlighted – even mentioned – the Hal Lindseyite approach to eschatology that Palin may fairly be presumed to buy into, given her religious affiliations. (The press hasn’t gone into this either, although it would, presumably, be fair game.)

    B)On the Jewish side, the reaction to Evangelical overtures and support for Israel is often met with bemusement and concerns about prosyletizing. Thus, I am not all surprised that McCain would stress Lieberman’s support and ignore Palin in this campaign action.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    FrGregACCA,

    You’re discussing theology, not journalism.

    These things may be “obvious” to you, but they are not to everybody. Reporters should give basic facts rather than use words like “not surprisingly,” etc.

  • Jerry

    If anyone says ‘evangelicals this or that’ in this context, I want details of poll results. I know some think of the state of Israel as a sign of the end times. And even some translations of the Quran, specifically Sura 17:104, has been translated in a way supports this. For example:

    PICKTHAL: And We said unto the Children of Israel after him: Dwell in the land; but when the promise of the Hereafter cometh to pass We shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of various nations.

    But linking this to specific policies of the State of Israel and the issue of, well, evangelizing Jews, is something else.

  • Dale

    FrGregACCA said:

    A)For obvious reasons, the McCain campaign has not highlighted – even mentioned – the Hal Lindseyite approach to eschatology that Palin may fairly be presumed to buy into, given her religious affiliations. (The press hasn’t gone into this either, although it would, presumably, be fair game.)

    If the press wants to go into that, they should at least be familiar with the doctrinal statements of Assemblies of God, the denomination to which Palin belonged before she joined an independent evangelical church. Those statements are freely available on the internet.

    They say, in part:

    Christians are told repeatedly in the New Testament to be watchful for the Lord’s appearing. Never are they taught to watch for the Great Tribulation or the appearance of Antichrist. To expect that such things must happen before the Rapture destroys the teaching of imminence with which the New Testament is replete.

    . . .

    Believers are told to wait “for his Son from Heaven,” not the Great Tribulation (1 Thess. 1:10) When the signs of the end of the age are evident, they are to look up and lift up their heads in expectation of their redemption, not the Great Tribulation (Luke 21:28)

    My interpretation of these statements is that they discourage AofG members from speculating about eschatology, other than Christ’s second coming. That’s hardly the attitude that sold Hal Lindsey’s books, which are filled with speculation about the identity of the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. Thus, any presumption that Palin “buys into” a “Hal Lindseyite approach to eschatology” would be a speculative leap, and hardly fair.

    The phrase “not surprisingly” used by the journalist suggests and encourages those kinds of presumptions on the part of the reader–presumptions based on stereotypes and misinformation. Would it not be better to just ask the McCain campaign why Palin wasn’t featured?

  • Chris Bolinger

    The phrase “not surprisingly” used by the journalist suggests and encourages those kinds of presumptions on the part of the reader —- presumptions based on stereotypes and misinformation.

    In the WaPost? Stunned, I am.

    Would it not be better to just ask the McCain campaign why Palin wasn’t featured?

    But that would require the reporter to do the job of a journalist, which is asking too much of a WaPost reporter. Besides, they know everything already.

  • Susan

    Evangelical Christians are pro-Israel, but they are pro-Israel for very dubious reasons. It fits in with their belifef in an End Times scenario where the Jews in Israel must convert for the Second Coming to begin. In other words Israel would be a Jewish state with NO Jews in it.

    They are also more hawkish and farther to the right on Israel than most American Jews.

    Then there is the issue of the “Jews for Jesus” speaker at her church. One cannot be a Jew and accept Jesus as one’s savior and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or deluded. There is very little all Jews agree on an, but this is one of the few things that all Jews do agree.

    In my city of Philadelphia the mere fact that a church would be hosting a speaker from a Jews for Jesus type organization would cause an interfaith incident.

    Most Jews, at least the non-Orthodox Jews, are liberal on social issues. All non-Orthodox branches of Judaism in America permit the ordination of homosexual rabbis and cantors and allows for gay and lesbian to get married. Mos Jews are also pro-choice. My local Jewish newspaper once wrote a story on antisemitism in the pro-life movement. Then you add the comparisons to the Holocaust which are offensive to most Jews.


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