An archbishop faces ghost of JFK

In the beginning, there was candidate John F. Kennedy, who told an assembly of Protestant ministers not to worry about his Catholicism because, "I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair."In that influential 1960 address, Kennedy boldly proclaimed: "I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me."Whatever issue may come before me as president -- on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject -- I will … [Read more...]

God and Caesar, 2009

There is nothing new about Christians deciding that, when political push comes to legal shove, they cannot render unto Caesar what they truly believe belongs to God.Nevertheless, it still makes news when believers vow to act on this conviction."Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required," proclaimed a coalition of Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical Protestants on Nov. 20, in their 4,700-word "Manhattan … [Read more...]

Case by case government doctrines

Welcome to the church-state battlefield, President Barack Obama.Consider this hypothetical landmine: Would it be discrimination for a Christian AIDS hospice to refuse to hire a worker who believes AIDS is a sign of God's wrath?Ponder these scenarios. Can a Muslim school fire a teacher who converts to Christianity? Can a Jewish pre-school discriminate against a job applicant who is active in Jews for Jesus?Wait, there's more. Is it job discrimination for an evangelical shelter for parents … [Read more...]

Faith & politics? Nothing new

When it comes to religion and politics, it's hard to talk about the contests without naming the players and their teams.Consider Hillary Rodham Clinton, who insists that her political convictions are rooted in her United Methodist faith. Then there is Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremy Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ. Enough said.What about John "Faith of My Fathers" McCain, an Episcopalian who worships with the Southern Baptists? Soon he will pick a running mate. Do you prefer Mitt … [Read more...]

First column on Christmas wars 2006

Another year of Christmas warfare has come and gone and Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead is already having mischievous thoughts about 2006.There's no reason to think these Christmas clashes will stop anytime soon, especially not in an election year. But if Americans are going to keep fighting about Christmas, Whitehead thinks their civic leaders should at least create some constructive debates at the grassroots level where they'll do some good.What they could do in 2006, he said, … [Read more...]

Deja vu Nativity wars

Another Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice season has come and gone, but the lawyers will be cleaning up for quite a while.Things got rough on the church-state front. Pick a zip code.Firefighters in Glenview, Ill., were ordered to take down their station's lights, tree and Santa when neighbors said they were offended.A pastor in Chandler, Ariz., was grieved when the public library set up a display of readings about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but not Christmas. Instead of adding … [Read more...]

Free speech movement, for believers on campus

It took a few minutes for leaders of the Bisexual, Gay & Lesbian Alliance at Rutgers University to realize something was wrong at their back-to-school meeting.The hall was full of unfamiliar students wanting to become members. Most were carrying Bibles with markers in the first chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. They also had copies of the campus policy forbidding discrimination on the basis of "race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, … [Read more...]