National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Politics

Watchdog group files 'Pulpit Freedom' complaints with IRS

A Washington-based watchdog group has filed six complaints with the Internal Revenue Service after dozens of clergy participated in a challenge to rules that ban politicking from the pulpit.

At least 31 pastors took part in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" (Sept. 28), according to the initiative's organizers at the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian law firm based in Arizona.

"These pastors flagrantly violated the law and now must deal with the consequences," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Pastors endorsed Sen. John McCain for president in five of the six churches, Lynn said.
Gary McCaleb, senior counsel with ADF, said: "It's not a matter of separation of church and state when you've got the IRS in the pew. That's oppression of free speech."

McCaleb said 31 pastors who agreed to participate in the plan preached on Sunday. The ADF has asked the pastors, most of whom are evangelical, to send their sermons to the law firm, which plans a court challenge of the IRS rules against partisan politicking by tax exempt organizations.

Archbp. Burke warns Democrats becoming 'party of death'

 | 

ROME -- The Democratic Party in the United States "risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death,'" said U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke , prefect of the Vatican's highest court.

An interview with the former archbishop of St. Louis was published in the Sept. 27 edition of Avvenire, a daily Catholic newspaper sponsored by the Italian bishops' conference.

The newspaper asked the archbishop, the new head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, for his reaction to reports that his Vatican job was designed to get him away from St. Louis.

"I have too much respect for the pope to believe that in order to move someone away from a diocese he would nominate him to a very sensitive dicastery like this one," said the archbishop, whose office is in charge of ensuring that lower church courts correctly administer justice in accordance with canon law.

Catholic Democrat group hits K of C attack on Biden

 | 

Catholic Democrats, a state-based network of groups representing a Catholic voice within the Democratic Party, has decried as "hypocritical and partisan" an attack by Carl Anderson, national head of the Knights of Columbus, on Sen. Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate.

In an open letter that ran as full-page advertisements in several major U.S. daily newspapers, Anderson attacked Biden’s Catholicism, the action stemming from comments the senator had made about abortion. Anderson compared the vice presidential candidate's views on abortion to those of pre-Civil War advocates of slavery.

The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal organization. Anderson is the group's Supreme Knight.

Pastors launch challenge of IRS rules on endorsements

WASHINGTON -- Pastor Gus Booth remembers when he used to simply encourage his congregation of 150 in Warroad, Minn., to vote each Election Day. Now, he thinks it's important to tell them which candidate should get their vote.

On Sunday (Sept. 28), as part of the "Pulpit Initiative" organized by an Arizona-based conservative Christian legal group, Booth is set to join dozens of clergy nationwide in challenging Internal Revenue Service rules that prohibit churches from politicking by supporting or opposing candidates.

"If we can tell you what to do in the bedroom, we can certainly tell you what to do in the voting booth," said the Minnesota minister, an evangelical leader of a nondenominational church, who expects to endorse Republican John McCain during his "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" sermon.

"The voting booth is not some sort of sacred cow that you can't talk about. You're supposed to bring the gospel into every area of life."

Obama victory could rewrite painful U.S. race saga

 | 

News Analysis
Somewhere beneath the turmoil about presidential campaign lipstick remarks and the latest stage of market meltdown, the unspeakable “r” word (race) continues to buzz quietly.

It can be detected, for example, in new laws requiring photo IDs in order to vote; it’s heard among the purging of voter roles on the basis of a single returned letter or an address on a new property foreclosure list.

Those who have long tracked racial issues charge that the sometimes systematic culling of ineligible voters targets mostly poor urban voters, who also happen to be mostly black.

Only a scant few might suggest that racism ended when laws forced the “whites only” signs to come down in places like Alabama and Mississippi, just as hardly a soul would say that racism in the political world ended with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Bishops' election document goes high tech

WASHINGTON -- Ask Catholic teenagers if they've read a recent document by the U.S. bishops and you might get a blank look.

But ask if they've heard of the bishops' statement "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility," either through a podcast, a video quiz on YouTube or its page on the social networking site Facebook, and you might get a nod of recognition.

That's what the U.S. bishops are hoping anyway.

"Faithful Citizenship," the document that urges Catholic voters to form their consciences around a variety of social concerns based on Catholic social teaching, is not something new. The bishops initially published the document in 1975 and produce a new version of it about every four years to coincide with the national elections.

The document for the 2008 election was approved by the bishops in November 2007.

But this time the document looks a lot younger. For starters, its Web site, www.faithfulcitizenship.org, has resources for youths and those who work with them.

Four in 10 Americans think clergy should endorse candidates

WASHINGTON -- Four in 10 Americans believe that religious leaders should be permitted to endorse political candidates from the pulpit without risking their organization's tax-exempt status, a new survey by the First Amendment Center shows.

Twenty-two percent of respondents "strongly" agreed and 18 percent "mildly" agreed that religious leaders should be able to make such endorsements, which are currently prohibited by IRS regulations.

In comparison, 39 percent strongly disagreed, 15 percent mildly disagreed and 6 percent didn't know or refused to answer.

The finding was based on a new question in the Washington-based center's annual "State of the First Amendment" national survey.

When asked to name specific rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, just 15 percent mentioned religion, the lowest percentage to recall that topic since 2000.

Asked if Americans have too much or too little religious freedom, 6 percent said they had too much, 28 percent said they had too little and 62 percent said they had about the right amount.

We are not party bosses, archbishop says

 | 

Archbishop John C. Favalora of Miami in a Sept. 12 statement informed his flock of an attempt by the Alliance Defense Fund, a consortium of conservative Christian ministries, to encourage pastors "to join their Pulpit Freedom Initiative by preaching a sermon ‘that addresses the candidates for government office in light of the truth of Scripture.' " The statement is titled titled Why we don’t take sides on candidates.

Debunking the ëeliteí a tried and true strategy

 | 

News Analysis

The conservative populism Republican strategists are drawing upon to extol the “ordinary” virtues of Sarah Palin while casting doubts on the “elitist” education of Barack Obama date back nearly two centuries in U.S. history, and have been exploited by generations of politicians.

This is the view of several U.S. historians interviewed this week by NCR who easily tie the current presidential campaigns with a populism common during the presidency of Andrew Jackson.

This conservative populism, repeatedly manipulated for political purposes over the years, distrusts the college educated of the East Coast. It manifested itself in the form of an explicit anti-intellectualism during the 1950s, when political strategists painted the articulate presidential candidate, Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson, as an “egghead,” and out of touch with the ordinary voter.

Leafleters arrested at Baltimore basilica

 | 

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Two demonstrators were arrested for trespassing at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore Sept. 14.

After two men affiliated with Operation Rescue, a national anti-abortion group, refused to comply with repeated requests that they cease distributing political literature on church grounds, they were taken into custody by Baltimore City police.

The literature included an image of Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee for president, and read, "Is it immoral to vote for Obama for president?"

"Their literature was patently partisan, focusing on individual candidates, rather than issues," said Father Jeffrey Dauses, pastor of the basilica. "At no time were they inside the basilica, but they were on the patio in front of church. After repeated requests to leave church property, from security, a sacristan and myself, two of the four complied. The other two refused and were arrested."

Father Dauses said the protesters began distributing literature before the 9 a.m. Mass. The arrest report notes that the police responded at 10 a.m., as Father Dauses prepared to celebrate the 10:45 a.m. Mass.

Pages

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014

07-18-2014_0.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.