Is that it?

Iconic Houses

Frequently we criticize reporters for ignoring or obscuring the role religion might play in stories about socio-economic trends. But here’s a case where a reporter led with the religious angle when looking at a new report that shows that Utah had the fifth-highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

Apparently 1 in 231 homes there received a foreclosure notice in January, nearly double the national rate. The story says that explaining why Florida, Nevada, Arizona and California had even higher foreclosure rates is straightforward — home prices more than doubled since 2000 and then real estate values dropped precipitously. But Utah home prices only rose half that much, the story says. So what’s the deal with Utah, according to the Christian Science Monitor?:

“It’s a lot of younger people who spent way, way beyond their means, absurd amounts of money trying to keep up with their folks,” says one Utah resident who helps counsel financially troubled families at his church. They’re “cool, nice, wonderful people, but an awful lot of them don’t know how to spend money very wisely.”

In mid-decade, when Utah was tops in bankruptcies, various commentators pinned the blame on Mormon religious and cultural practices, such as tithing, creating large families, buying homes at a young age, and as one critic put it: “the pressure in Mormonism to be, or at least appear, financially successful as proof the Lord is blessing them.”

Indeed, Mormons in 2004 had a bankruptcy rate that was approaching twice that of the national average. But a 2007 study by two Harvard Law School graduates found that rates among non-Mormons in Utah were even higher, suggesting that religion, if anything, was restraining bankruptcies.

First off, what’s the deal with not giving the person in the first quote a name? And does he speak only to experiences in his own unidentified congregation or do we have reason to think his explanation is applicable more broadly? And if you’re going to suggest that the foreclosure ranking is caused by Mormons, you have to base it on much more than a nameless quote and no data. And when data is brought into the equation, it doesn’t exactly support the thesis either.

Also, the way that reporter Laurent Belsie won’t identify sources is frustrating. It’s good to know, I guess, that two graduates of a particular law school studied the issue of bankruptcy in Utah. But who was the study for? Which peer-reviewed journal published it, if any? If someone wants to find out more information, rather than taking the reporter’s word about what the study says (something I try not to do!), what do we do?

And wouldn’t it be nice to know what percentage of Utah is Mormon and what percentage of that group is practicing Mormon? I’m not asking for a full blown regression analysis, but if you don’t know enough about the difference between correlation and causation to look into a few of these issues, you really shouldn’t be speculating on all this.

The rest of the story comes up with other explanations, including low wages, high medical costs, large number of bankruptcy filers with at least one dependent child, large family size, garnishment laws, repeat bankruptcy filers and something called “the effect of having a large proportion of young, middle-class people earning $30,000 to $60,000 a year.” I’m not even sure half of these things are true but needless to say, they are really poorly explained.

Also, I have to mention the headline for this piece:

Foreclosure mystery: Why can’t conservative Utahns afford their mortgage?

Now, certainly Utah as a state tends to vote conservatively but that doesn’t mean that everyone in Utah is conservative. We don’t know whether there is any correlation between the political or social views of a given Utahan and their propensity to foreclose on a property. For all we know, only liberal or moderate Utahans are foreclosing. That headline goes so far beyond what the original report looked at that it’s laughable.

It’s a good instinct to look at possible correlations between religious views and social trends. But if you’re going to do it, I think it needs to be done a bit more thoroughly than we see here.

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Snow money, snow problems

Throughout the 10 years I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. I’ve made great sport of the freakouts that accompany snow in the region. Unlike these puny mid-Atlantic mortals, I grew up in a part of Oregon where four or more feet of snow in my front yard wasn’t uncommon. My wife, being from Colorado, frequently joined me in scoffing.

Until now. I kindly refer you to the photo of the street Casa de Hemingway is on from last weekend. Mind you, this photo is before it snowed an additional 10-20 inches this past Wednesday. Parts of the city saw 52 inches of snow — in less than a week.

I don’t care where you live, the amount of snow we’ve received in the last week is ridiculous. Driving has been almost out of the question, as for days on end most of the sidestreets in our neighborhood remained unplowed. Heck, even getting to our ransacked grocery store four blocks away just to get more baby food has been an ordeal.

But by far the biggest challenge was getting to our church 10 miles away this past Sunday. A friend and parishoner in our neighborhood managed to dig his car out and get close to our house. The whole Hemingway family piled in his car and managed to make it to church, but few others did. There were around 30 people attending services that Sunday, compared to over 200 on average. (A lot of area churches canceled services, but our Lutheran pastor is from hearty Minnesota stock.) Suffice to say, I have been wondering how the storm has been affecting churches all week.

Well, Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post comes through in a big way today. It’s a fairly straightforward headline — “Churches, worshipers also feel storms’ impact,” and Boorstein covers a lot of ground. It hadn’t even occurred to me that the storm would negatively affect church income, but that’s what Boorstein leads with:

Some say a snowstorm, with its power and beauty, settles the spirit. Tell that to Pastor Charlie Whitlow, whose Ashburn church is down about $100,000 in offerings, thanks to Mother Nature’s recent weekend romps.

Boorstein notes that Whitlow ended up doing his sermon for the week on the web from his living room. The story also has this lovely anecdote about a Jewish woman who struggles to find a minyan — a quorum of ten Jews — to mourn her father:

When she saw the blizzard, however, she thought of the 1990s TV show “Northern Exposure,” about a Jewish doctor living in Alaska, and the episode in which residents of the mostly American-Indian community scatter across a vast area to help him get the quota — called a “minyan” — so he could pray for his dead uncle.

Miller, who has lived in her Northwest Washington neighborhood for a couple years, sent a plea via the listserv of her 300-unit condo building. Within minutes, she had a few replies. One was from a neighbor who was in Philadelphia, saying he was also in mourning and offering to recite the prayer on her behalf at a synagogue there. By sundown, she had 11 people in her living room– the 10 required Jews and one non-Jewish neighbor with a cheesecake.

“Perhaps our paths will never cross again. Maybe, just maybe, we shared a moment of faith on the worst blizzard in a hundred years,” Miller, a rabbi and spiritual counselor, wrote in a letter of thanks. “The act of giving is an act of faith.”

Boorstein also goes through a litany of events that were cancelled by churches and discusses how the lost church income will be difficult to make up in a bad economy. It’s the kind of story that is often thankless work reporters, but it’s very informative bread-and-butter journalism.

That said, there were a few sins of omission I think are worth mentioning. For one, there was a church building in D.C. that collapsed last weekend when the roof caved in under the weight of the snow. This goes unmentioned. I would have liked to have known how church properties were holding up, what churches are doing for snow removal, etc.

And the other issue is that Boorstein doesn’t really address the issue of chartity at all. Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of people in the area were without power. How did churches help families stay warm? Surely, they played a role. How is the harsh weather otherwise taxing church-related charities?

Here’s hoping for follow-up. There’s a good one waiting to be written.

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The Mormon public square

When the late Richard John Neuhaus argued for greater participation in civic life by people of faith in his classic 1984 book, his title was metaphorical. The Naked Public Square warned about the crisis of faith confronting a democracy that legislates religious faith to the periphery of cultural life.

But Kirk Johnson of The New York Times’ Denver bureau writes about a literal public square that some say may be too wrapped up with religion in his recent piece, “Project Renews Downtown, and Debate.”

The public square in question is a 20-acre, $1 billion development project called City Creek Center that is being funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is located near the church’s temple and the adjacent Temple Square.

This story operates on multiple levels — religious, financial and civic. Johnson gives each its due, quoting church officials and members as well as local business and academic experts.

Some residents say the church, by opening its checkbook in a recession, rescued the city when times got tough. The 1,800 construction jobs at City Creek alone have provided a big local economic cushion. Completion of the project–20 acres of retail shops and residential towers–is scheduled for 2012.

“City Creek has been a literal and figurative godsend,” said Bradley D. Baird, the business development manager at the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, a private nonprofit group that has no direct involvement with the project.

Other people say that if the new heart of downtown has a strong church flavor, Salt Lake, which has become more diverse in recent years–could veer back toward its roots, for better or worse. About half of city residents are Mormon, according to many estimates, and if many, or most, of the roughly 700 apartment units at City Creek were occupied by Mormon families, the city could have a dramatic new feel.

“Our downtown has become a ghost town in my life–nobody lives there,” said Dan Egan, 55, a lawyer and church member who works near the site but lives in the suburbs. “Having several thousand people live down here will have a big impact, and having many of them L.D.S. would be a very interesting thing to see.”

Church leaders say they are pursuing no religious agenda with the development, and say they will negotiate special contracts with restaurants that allow the sale of alcohol, which church members are taught to avoid.

Though parts of this story are unique to Salt Lake City and its Mormon establishment, issues raised by the City Creek Center development project are of interest to religious institutions and civic leaders in other cities who are seeking viable urban renewal partnerships at a time when public deficits create the need for creative responses to recurring urban problems such as crime and the loss of jobs and residents to the suburbs.

Although lots of urban churches worry about those issues, the ones that can write a $1 billion check are rare.

“It’s certainly one of the largest, if not the largest project in the United States funded by a single entity, and the fact that the entity is a church makes it doubly unusual,” said Patrick L. Anderson, the chief executive and founder of the Anderson Economic Group, a Michigan-based real-estate consulting company.

Perhaps Johnson’s piece on City Creek Center shows how religious, business and government groups can cooperate in public squares that are both literal and metaphorical.

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‘Lifies’ and the Haggard saga

Gayle Haggard, the loyal wife of fallen evangelical mega-pastor Ted Haggard, was all over the mainstream media world (Oprah, “Today,” etc.) last week promoting her new book: “Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour.”

With this book blitz, reporting on the Ted Haggard story has now officially moved from Chapter 1 in the Media Playbook (Hard news: Scandal) to Chapter 3 (Features: “Lifie”) without going through Chapter 2 (Analysis: What the heck is really going on here?). Readers would have benefited from deeper questioning.

Ted Haggard finally admitted his sins in November 2006 and was subsequently fired from the Colorado Springs megachurch he founded. He resurfaced in January 2009 when HBO broadcast Alexandra Pelosi’s gripping documentary, “The Trials of Ted Haggard” and he and Gayle appeared on Oprah’s show.

Late last year he started a new church down the road from his old congregation. At that point, some reporters (including local religion reported Mark Barna at The Gazette) did good analysis pieces that raised questions about Haggard’s suitability to lead.

All those questions have been forgotten in the wake of Gayle’s successful p.r. campaign (which was orchestrated by Tyndale, the Wheaton, Illinois-based evangelical publisher that learned a few things about big-league promotion with the Left Behind novels). Marcia Z. Nelson of Publishers Weekly’s Religion BookLine reports that Tyndale has already gone back to press after selling out a first printing of 75,000 copies.

The Haggard story has now evolved into the type of media events Neal Gabler called “lifies,” which are celebrity-driven, media-friendly stories about failure and redemption that serve up big, gooey life lessons for viewers.

Gayle Haggard presents readers and viewers with a powerful message of marital love, personal loyalty and Christian forgiveness, and I was particularly impressed by her interview with Meredith Vieira on “Today” and the piece by Adelle banks of Religion News Service.

But as the Haggards seek to find a new life and calling for themselves, important questions remain:
- Can we believe Ted when he says, as he did on Oprah last week, that after therapy, he has not had “one compulsive thought or behavior”?
- Even if that is true, is Ted now in a position to once again assume the mantle of pastoral leadership?
- Gayle Haggard has certainly suffered enough already, and her husband’s sins do not necessarily bar her from leadership. But is the “evangelical industrial complex” helping to return the couple to a form of shared leadership by publishing and promoting Gayle’s book?

Gabler’s “Life: The Movie” argues that entertainment has conquered reality. The Haggard saga, at least as it is currently being covered, is the latest in a long list of stories about tarnished evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal leaders that demonstrates the truth of Gabler’s argument in religious circles.

Despite their frequent and often angry protests against pop culture, many Christians reveal that they are all too willing to submit to the marketplace–not any ecclesiastical authority–as the ultimate arbiter of who qualifies as a leader.

This isn’t the last we will hear from the Haggards. Perhaps next time around enterprising reporters will ask some of the tough questions about leadership and authority that have been lost in in the “lifies.”

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Beer, babes and … abortion?

Let’s gather ’round the TV as we celebrate one of America’s biggest holidays, Super Bowl Sunday. And if the game’s a dud we can laugh at the commercials, many of which feature beer and babes.

This year, a new Super Bowl advertiser (Focus on the Family) is paying CBS to air a spot with a different kind of message about (pick one) pro-life or anti-abortion values.

As we could have predicted, some pro-choice (or pro-abortion) groups are SHOCKED that Focus would do such. And Focus is SURPRISED that they are shocked!!!

An Associated Press story available at the Sports Illustrated web site captures the shock and surprise surrounding this ad, which will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother:

The New York-based Women’s Media Center was coordinating the protest with backing from the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and other groups.

“An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year — an event designed to bring Americans together,” said Jehmu Greene, president of the Women’s Media Center.

“By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers,” the letter said.

(P.S. #1: When did women’s groups come to believe that the Super Bowl’s marathon mix of man-on-man violence and ads that objectify sisters was a hallowed ground that demanded their protection?)

Meanwhile, Focus has gone from not acknowledging the ad to discussing it to (in the AP piece) defending it:

Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, said funds for the Tebow ad were donated by a few “very generous friends” and did not come from the group’s general fund.

Schneeberger said he and his colleagues “were a little surprised” at the furor over the ad.

“There’s nothing political and controversial about it,” he said. “When the day arrives, and you sit down to watch the game on TV, those who oppose it will be quite surprised at what the ad is all about.”

“We understand that some people don’t think very highly of what we do,” Schneeberger said. “We’re not trying to sell you a soft drink–we’re not selling anything. We’re trying to celebrate families.”

(P.S. #2: I once had a close friend who routinely embarrassed me in social situations. Time after time he would do things that others found offensive. He was always surprised by people’s reactions, but then he would go on to offend again and again. I wonder what ever happened to him.)

The story is popping up in papers and other media outlets nationwide, but so far I haven’t seen any local angles or coverage in Colorado papers.

It would also be intriguing to see coverage that explored some of these related issues more deeply:

* What kinds of advocacy ads have aired or not aired on previous Super Bowls?

* What does this conflict say about the unique and elevated status the Super Bowl has in our national life?

* Following the Supreme Court‘s recent decision opening the doors to greater political advocacy by corporations, what’s the role of free speech on mega-events like the Super Bowl?

For his part, Tebow has asked viewers to respect a point of view that led to his being born:

“I know some people won’t agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe,” Tebow said. “I’ve always been very convicted of it (his views on abortion) because that’s the reason I’m here, because my mom was a very courageous woman. So any way that I could help, I would do it.”

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People of the (Christian) book

On December 1, 2009, CBA (which was formerly called the Christian Booksellers Association, back when Christian bookstores sold more books than gifts and other merchandise) asked the Department of Justice to investigate alleged predatory pricing by big-box stores and online retailers that threatens the very existence of the nation’s dwindling number of Christian retailing outlets.

On January 7, 2010, Adelle M. Banks of Religion News Service (for which I occasionally write) published a news story on CBA’s complaint: “Christian retailers seek federal probe of competitors.”

Since then, I’ve been waiting to see who would publish this story or add an interesting local angle. Mostly, I’m still waiting.

Among the very short list of those that have, either in print or online: The Houston Chronicle ( and linked to the article there);; and (in Albany, New York).

Among those that haven’t: publications here in Colorado, where CBA is based.

Banks spelled out the issues in her RNS piece:

“, Wal-Mart, and Target are using predatory pricing practices in what appears to be an attempt to control the market for hardcover best-sellers,” the CBA board of directors wrote in the letter to the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

Eric Grimm, business development manager at CBA…said Christian retailers have long been concerned about competitors’ pricing strategies, and called the letter a “pre-emptive” action before the competition for Christian books grows even more challenging.

“What we want to do is establish that this is an unfair practice so that when the next big blockbuster comes out of a Christian book that they won’t do the same thing,” he said.

Christian booksellers are not alone:

The CBA letter follows a similar request for a Justice Department investigation by the American Booksellers Association, which cited deeply discounted pre-sales of new books by [Stephen] King, former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and novelist John Grisham by the same three retailers.

Banks also got a quote from one of the industry’s biggest agents (with whom I have worked):

…CBA supporters like Rick Christian, president of the literary agency Alive Communications, also worry that the pricing by competitors is leading to fewer new voices entering the marketplace as publishers rely on popular authors who are more likely to generate big sales.

“In the short term, consumers will get too-good-to-be-true deals,” said Christian, who has represented titles like the “Left Behind” series and “The Message” Bible, in the letter to the Justice Department.

“However, the broad river of titles now available to readers will ultimately be reduced to a trickle, and the vast publishing industry we know will become a relative wasteland.”

But based on an article in Sunday’s New York Times, Christian retailers may need to look at the practices of Christian publishers like Zondervan, which is giving away e-books in an effort to spur sales of e-books.

In the Times article, “With Kindle, the Best Sellers Don’t Need to Sell,” Motoko Rich, reveals an interesting secret about the bestseller lists of titles for’s Kindle reader:

“That’s right. More than half of the “best-selling” e-books on the Kindle,’s e-reader, are available at no charge.”

…Earlier this week, for example, the No. 1 and 2 spots on Kindle’s best-seller list were taken by “Cape Refuge” and “Southern Storm,” both novels by Terri Blackstock, a writer of Christian thrillers. The Kindle price: $0. Until the end of the month, Ms. Blackstock’s publisher, Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is offering readers the opportunity to download the books free to the Kindle or to the Kindle apps on their iPhone or in Windows.

Will Justice investigate CBA’s claim? I’m still waiting for some reporters to follow Banks’ lead and tell us where things stand. Meanwhile, Christian retailers may be facing challenges that are bigger than predatory pricing by the big mainstream retailers. They may be facing a cultural tsunami.

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In the 3-D eyes of the beholder

A cigar is just a cigar, said Freud. Or is it?

Not when it comes to how people view movies. The bigger the movie, and the more people who see it, the more interpretations that arise. At least that’s what Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times describes in: “You Saw What in ‘Avatar’? Pass Those Glasses!”

Over the last month, it has been criticized by social and political conservatives who bristle at its depictions of religion and the use of military force; feminists who feel that the male avatar bodies are stronger and more muscular than their female counterparts; antismoking advocates who object to a character who lights up cigarettes; not to mention fans of Soviet-era Russian science fiction; the Chinese; and the Vatican. This week the authorities in China announced that the 2-D version of the film would be pulled from most theaters there to make way for a biography of Confucius.

Some conservatives seem certain that their readings of “Avatar” are dead-on:

In a column for the Christian entertainment Web site, David Outten wrote that “Avatar” maligned capitalism, promoted animism over monotheism and overdramatized the possibility of environmental catastrophe on earth. At another site that offers a conservative critique of the entertainment industry,, John Nolte wrote that the film was “a thinly disguised, heavy-handed and simplistic sci-fi fantasy/allegory critical of America from our founding straight through to the Iraq War.”

But should we view “Avatar” as a big-screen cigar? If so, its primary function would be to succeed as mass entertainment. Mission accomplished!

Itzkoff’s article–which probes deeply into matters of postmodern criticism without getting bogged down in pointy-headed lingo–offers other perspectives:

“Some of the ways people are reading it are significant of Cameron’s intent, and some are just by-products of what people are thinking about,” said Rebecca Keegan, the author of “The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron.” “It’s really become this Rorschach test for your personal interests and anxieties.”

The “Avatar” camp isn’t endorsing any particular interpretation, but is happy to let others read the ink blots. “Movies that work are movies that have themes that are bigger than their genre,” Jon Landau, a producer of the film, said in a telephone interview. “The theme is what you leave with and you leave the plot at the theater.”

I mistakenly thought this Jon Landau was the same Jon Landau who served as a manager and producer for Bruce Springsteen. A diligent reader gently corrected me.

But if we think about “Avatar” the way we think about Springsteen (or Tom Petty) we can see what “Avatar’s” Jon Landau is saying. Springsteen and Petty are artists who knows the value of big, broad themes that evoke a wide range of feelings in a wide range of listeners. At their best, these artists combine a few simple chords and a few seemingly simple words to create vast idea-worlds that inspire the imagination.

So, is “Avatar,” which may be on its way to being the most financially successful film in history, anti-capitalist? Sure, if you think it is!

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Missing messages in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Scott Brown votes in election.

For those of you whose spouse didn’t force them to watch MSNBC all night last night, the big news is that somehow the unthinkable happened: Republican Scott Brown (pictured, right) won the Senate seat held, until his recent death, by Democratic Ted Kennedy. Until a couple of days ago, Democratic candidate Martha Coakley was considered a shoo-in. It’s not that Republicans haven’t won state-wide office in Massachusetts, it’s just that they haven’t had a Republican senator in many moons.

I’m sure everyone will be spinning what this election means for political parties, political movements and President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda. I didn’t even know about this race until last week when someone sent in a Washington Times story, a blog post really, about how Coakley was trying to make an issue out of Brown’s support for conscience protections. Here she is in an interview with a Massachusetts radio talk show host:

Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

Martha Coakley: (…uh, eh…um…) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.

The story was huge in the Catholic, pro-life and conservative blogospheres, where her views went over like a lead balloon. But it didn’t really get much mainstream media coverage. Both Coakley and Brown support legalized abortion, for what it’s worth, although Brown has a more favorable view of restrictions on abortion. Massachusetts is the second-most Catholic state in the union with 44 percent of the population.

It’s my own view that Brown owes his victory more to voters concerned about government growth than voters concerned about social issues, but it was surprising how little religion was discussed by the national media covering this race. Or, as Chris Matthews said the other night on MSNBC (via NewsBusters):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: But this election’s interesting. I don’t even know what religion — religion seems to play no role in this election, which is so unique in Massachusetts. Brown is a Protestant. Nobody’s even mentioned it — I guess I just did. And Coakley’s I guess a Catholic, although I don’t think that she sort of squares away that way in terms of her politics. So I mean it’s just so interesting: it’s so post-tribal.

It is interesting that a Protestant would win a Senate seat in Massachusetts. He’s a member of a congregation affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church in North America. There’s no doubt that Brown’s messages about government and the economy resonated with most of yesterday’s voters. And the media did cover that, some more reluctantly than others. But I didn’t see any coverage about how the two candidates’ views on social issues played with voters, much less what those views were.

I did come across this other article, which I’m positive did not seem so spectacularly wrong when it first ran, that dealt a little bit with the issue. It was published in mid-December in the Boston Phoenix and was headlined:

Even GOP insiders don’t expect Scott Brown to beat Martha Coakley. But they care how he loses.

Reporter David Bernstein refers to Coakley’s imminent victory as a “pre-ordained drubbing” and suggests that Brown was running a “hopeless” race only to position himself better for a future run for governor. He adds that Republicans “harbor no illusions” about whether he’ll lose or not. This is not his fault. Nobody expected Brown to win a month ago. Anyway, he describes Brown thusly:

Throughout his political career, Brown has been considered a staunch conservative. His first race for the State Senate, in 2004, was defined largely by the issue of same-sex marriage, which Brown opposed. He is extremely popular among the conservative base of the state party, say insiders.

That’s worrisome to those in the wing of the state GOP — personified by gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker — who believe the party needs moderate candidates who focus on job creation and fiscal responsibility. They want to downplay social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, and to distance themselves from the hard-line rhetoric of the Tea Party movement.

On the other hand, the article says that his more conservative opponents have referred to him as a Republican in name only.

Brown is the new Republican Senator from Massachusetts. But he won by uniting a coalition that we’re still learning about. It’s my sense that his win is related to the other Republican victories last year, sure, but also related to that huge outpouring of public concern seen at town halls and Tea Party protests. Brown didn’t mention the word “Republican” once in his victory speech. He did mention the word “independent” quite a bit.

This independent movement is emerging, we don’t exactly know what’s fueling it. We know that the voters supporting it are concerned about federal power as it relates to economic issues. And we know that social concerns aren’t the driving force. But does that mean that social concerns aren’t important to them at all? Probably not. And does religion play a role in shaping the outlook of these people? How? It would be great to know and hopefully the media will begin to actually cover the movement a bit better than they’ve done in the last year.

Please do let us know if you see any good religion coverage of this race and what it means in Massachusetts or the country at large.

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