Hot words in top 2012 religion stories

'Twas the Sunday night before the election and the Rev. Robert Jeffress was offering a message that, from his point of view, was both shocking and rather nuanced. His bottom line: If Barack Obama won a second White House term, this would be another sign that the reign of the Antichrist is near. Inquiring minds wanted to know: Was the leader of the highly symbolic First Baptist Church of Dallas suggesting the president was truly You Know Anti-who? "I am not saying that President Obama is the … [Read more...]

Billy Graham & Co. push the values voters

The television talking heads all agreed that the election was over, which ignited celebrations among the staff and supporters of winner Richard Nixon -- including the world's most famous evangelist. "We did it," proclaimed the Rev. Billy Graham, according to iconoclastic journalist Joe McGinniss in "The Selling of the President 1968." Graham, he added, went "directly into Nixon's room, without explaining whether 'we' meant Billy Graham and Richard Nixon or Billy Graham and God or perhaps all … [Read more...]

Stalking the anti-Mormon voters of 2012

With the White House race nearing an end, it's time for America's political pundits to face that fact that millions of voters will in fact be worried about Mitt Romney's Mormon faith on Election Day. Many will be offended by what they believe are the intolerant, narrow teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on marriage. Others will be worried about Mormonism's history of opposing abortion rights. "There really is a large group of people in America who won't vote for Mitt … [Read more...]

Faith in that Barack Obama brand

Here's good news for President Barack Obama: The slice of Americans who believe he is a Muslim is down to 11 percent, according to a new Gallup Poll. That number was up to 18 percent two years ago, in a Pew Research Center survey, after hitting 11 percent in 2009. This time around, 52 percent of Democrats knew the president is a Protestant Christian, as opposed to 24 percent of Republicans. Only 3 percent of Democrats said Obama is a Muslim, while 18 percent of Republicans thought so. The … [Read more...]

Evolving conflicts over religious liberty

The ratification of the 18th Amendment banning the manufacture, transportation or sale of alcoholic beverages had obvious implications for Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis, as well as for tavern owners. Thus, legislators wrote an exemption into the bill that defined the Prohibition era allowing the sacramental or medicinal use of alcoholic beverages. The wine on Catholic altars and Jewish Seder tables remained real -- thanks to the Volstead Act's fine print. "If the act had failed to exempt … [Read more...]

Freedom of “worship” vs. “religion” — again

With the sounds of protests echoing across the campus, President Barack Obama knew his 2009 commencement address at the University of Notre Dame would have to mention the religious issues that divided his listeners. "The ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt," he said. "It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us." With this sweeping statement Obama essentially argued that religious faith contains no … [Read more...]

The pope, the president and religious liberty

Pope Benedict XVI cut to the chase when meeting with the visiting bishops from Washington, D.C., Baltimore and the U.S. Armed Services. The pope mentioned "religious freedom" in the third sentence of his Jan. 19 remarks at the Vatican and he never let up -- returning to this hot topic again and again. The bottom line, he said, is that America's once strong political consensus has "eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core … [Read more...]

Thumbs down for Obama faith, again

For those keeping score, let it be noted that the White House transcript from the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony says that President Barack Obama shouted "Merry Christmas" before adding "Happy holidays." In fact, Obama said "Christmas" eight times, twice as often as he mentioned "holidays." With his family at his side, the president also used an even more controversial word -- "Christian." "Each year we've come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia," he … [Read more...]

2010 was that kind of year in religion

President Barack Obama did something on Sept. 19th that caught many in the national press off guard. He went to church. The First Family walked across Lafayette Square Park to St. John's Episcopal Church, a parish so close to the White House that many call it the "Church of the Presidents." The Obamas set down front and received Holy Communion. Was this really an important news story? Timing was everything. The Obama family had not occupied a public pew -- as opposed to attending services at … [Read more...]

Obama and Allah, past and present

In the spring of 2007, candidate Barack Hussein Obama met with a New York Times columnist and discussed his days as a "little Jakarta street kid" who once got in trouble for making faces during Koran classes. Obama proceeded to recite the opening lines of the Muslim call to prayer in Arabic, with what Nicholas D. Kristof called a "first-rate accent." Obama described this chant as "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset." This text, in one English translation, proclaims: "Allah is … [Read more...]