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Not all Catholics appreciated Pope Benedict XVI’s staunch defense of Christian orthodoxy, traditional marriage and life from conception to natural death. But American evangelicals sure did.
As word spread on Monday (Feb. 11) of Benedict’s resignation, many evangelicals lamented the impending loss of a powerful spokesman for their conservative causes.
Pope Benedict XVI has exemplified moral courage and an unwavering commitment to the Gospel message,” said Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian political group.
“We honor him for his lifelong service to the Lord and his inestimable intellectual contribution to Christian orthodoxy.”
The high praise — “evangelical Benedictions,” you might say — extended beyond U.S. borders as well.
“I appreciate his courage of ideas, even when they did not resonate with contemporary attitudes,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance.
“I was especially moved by his boldness in warning us of the dangers of moral relativism and the tyranny of self-centered ideologies."
Click here to read the full article.
Below is an OpEd written by FFC Executive Director Gary Marx that was featured in U.S. News.com.
“On December 14, 2012, America wept. Parents held their children closely while learning of the gruesome murders of innocent schoolchildren; principals and politicians announced their plans to increase school safety. Yet, America hardly bats an eye when an expecting mother chooses to end the future of their unborn child. Our society embraces individuality to the point of encouraging selfishness. The "pro-choice" movement views the lifestyle of the pregnant mother as more valuable than the life of the unborn. This leads us to the inevitable question: When does life begin? Conception? When an ultrasound shows the baby developing? After the first trimester? When the baby kicks for the first time? When labor begins? When the child takes his first breath outside of the womb? Depending on who you ask, the answer varies.
Of course, from a scientific and Christian standpoint, the answer is clear: Life begins at conception. If you ask a couple who has been trying to get pregnant for years, the life of their child begins as soon as they learn that they're expecting. Ask a teenager who got pregnant accidentally and her answer would be much different. How can an opinion determine the value of life? From a legal perspective, if someone murders a pregnant woman, the murderer is faced with a double homicide. Yet if a woman chooses to end the life of the child she carries, many praise her for embracing her "right" as a woman.
So, should abortion be illegal? Absolutely. We must do all we can to protect the most innocent. This change cannot just be enacted by law, however. We must reverse our selfish thinking that the outcome of a pregnancy is based on the mother's wishes, and remember that the mother is a vessel for new life. Taking away the life of a child is, without question, the cruelest murder there is, because they cannot defend themselves from the mothers and doctors who should love them most and seek to protect them. We must do all we can to ensure that the child has a chance to live. And first and foremost, those of us who are pro-life must continue to lovingly seek to change hearts and minds in this 21st century. It is only in this way that we will ultimately restore a child’s right to life and the promise of “life” that our Declaration of Independence speaks of so movingly.”
Click here to read the full op-ed at USNews.com.
By Ralph Reed
James Madison once observed that mankind is inclined to disagreement, and even “the most fanciful and frivolous distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions.” Take the perennial conflict over public observances of the Christmas holiday, which pit radical secularists against Christians and those who support religious liberty. According to a recent Rasmussen survey, 68 percent of Americans prefer to hear someone wish them a “Merry Christmas.” Yet a war on Christmas still rages, as what Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter once called the “culture of disbelief” seeks to snuff out public expressions of faith in God.
Like modern-day Grinches seeking to steal Christmas, bureaucrats and judges regularly step in to silence even the most benign holiday celebrations. In Arkansas, a local school district initially deemed a community theater group’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” an inappropriate play for students to be exposed to on a voluntary field trip. In California, a seniors apartment complex banned the display of a Christmas tree in its building despite a public outcry from the tenants. Also in the Golden State, the city of Santa Monica cancelled a decades-old tradition of allowing nativity scenes to be displayed in December after it was hijacked by atheists who put up protest displays. Atheists in Illinois, upset over the traditional display of a cross during the Christmas season, have successfully squelched the custom this year. Threatened with expensive lawsuits, a school in Hawaii has canceled its annual Christmas charity concert.
In every case, otherwise benign Christmas traditions have been banned because of the pleadings of a few who claimed they were offended, as if the Constitution guarantees that no citizen will ever experience offense. In truth, by enshrining freedom of speech (including speech of a religious context) in the First Amendment, the founders guaranteed we would be offended regularly by the publicly expressed views of others. It’s called liberty.
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Marx and his colleagues insist they aren't especially concerned about the growing secularization of young voters. They are primarily looking to diversify the GOP's religious coalition, Marx said.
To close the Latino gap, Marx says conservative activists are planning a major outreach effort to evangelical Hispanics and to Hispanic Catholics who attend Mass.
"We are casting a wider net—the politics of addition, not subtraction," Marx said, adding that Latinos and other minorities have been attracted to many conservative positions"
It's no surprise that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio took heat for an interview he gave to GQ magazine this month: Departing from scientific consensus, the rising Republican star refused to state whether the Earth is billions of years old or a few thousand, as many fundamentalist Christians believe.
What no one expected was the rebuke from televangelist and longtime Christian conservative leader Pat Robertson, dismissing theories of a "young Earth."
"If you fight science, you are going to lose your children," Robertson said last week during an appearance on the Christian Broadcast Network, the television empire he founded three decades ago.
Robertson wasn't directly speaking to Rubio, but the senator and others in his party might heed the advice. Viewed by many voters as anti-science and too conservative on social issues such as gay marriage, the Republican Party is in danger of losing young and less religious voters for years to come.
In a post-election breakdown by the Public Religion Research Institute, the Obama religious coalition mirrors the demographics of 18-29 year olds, whereas Romney's mirrors those of voters aged 65 and up.
Click here to read the rest of the article.
Republicans have now lost four of the six presidential elections since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. A season of soul-searching will be healthy, and it is needed to ¬retool and rebrand the party.
Yet despite the stinging defeat and a post-electoral narrative that suggests otherwise, Republicans need not abandon their principles. They must resist the temptation to form a circular firing squad, especially one with evangelicals and their social-conservative allies in the middle.
The media trope that the Grand Old Party resembles a Star Wars bar scene of theocrats and religious extremists has by now become a cliché. A Huffington Post columnist recently alleged that the Republican Party is “a rump parliament of Caucasian traditionalism: white, married, churchgoing—to oversimplify only slightly.” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd claimed that Republicans lost in 2012 because they “tried to force chastity belts on women and made Hispanics, blacks and gays feel like the help,” leading voters to “give white male domination the boot.” Juan Williams of Fox News concluded that demography is destiny and “the cycles of history have turned against the GOP.”
We’ve seen this movie before. In 1992, when George H.W. Bush lost the White House, the political cognoscenti blamed the convention speeches of Patrick Buchanan and Pat Robertson and what one commentator called the “hate-fest in Houston.” A similar pattern prevailed after losses in 1996 and 2008. When Republicans lose, the chattering class always blames religious folk.
Conservative evangelicals are arguably the largest single constituency in the electorate. According to a postelection survey by Public Opinion Strategies, self-identified conservative evangelicals made up 27% of voters in 2012, voting 80% for Mitt Romney compared with 19% for Barack Obama. This represented a net swing of 14 points toward the GOP ticket since 2008 and made up 48% of the entire Romney vote. Mr. Romney, a lifelong Mormon, actually received more evangelical votes than George W. Bush did in 2004.
White Catholic voters, meanwhile, went to Mr. Romney by 19 points, the largest margin among that constituency for a GOP presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1972. This was no doubt due in part to their revulsion over the Obama administration’s harsh mandate on religious charities to pay for health services, such as contraception, that assault their conscience and compel them to violate their faith. Catholics who frequently attend Mass (about one in 10 voters) broke two-to-one for Romney.
Contrary to the prevailing stereotype, evangelicals and Catholics aren’t single-issue voters. They care about jobs, taxes and the deficit, and their support for Israel rivals that of the Jewish community. They played an indispensable role in re-electing the Republican House majority, and in electing 30 Republican governors and hundreds of state legislators and local officeholders in recent years. Jettisoning these voters and their ¬issues would be like a football coach responding to a big loss by cutting the team’s leading rusher.
To be sure, the Republicans need to build bridges to Hispanics and minorities, women and younger voters. But unlike the conventional wisdom, social issues properly framed are one of the keys to a stronger, more diverse Republican coalition.
According to Gallup, a majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life, including one-third of Democrats. Younger voters are one of the most pro-life ¬segments of the electorate, with 51% of college-age -“millennials” stating that having an abortion is morally wrong. A 2012 survey of voters 30 years or younger by Naral Pro-Choice America found that pro-life voters were twice as likely as their pro-choice peers to say abortion is an important issue in determining their vote.
Despite the Obama campaign’s accusation of a Republican “war on women,” Mr. Obama actually won women by a narrower margin than he did in 2008; he lost married women by seven points. Nor did single women—who went heavily Mr. Obama’s way—vote on reproductive issues. Forty-five percent of single women voters listed jobs and the economy as their most important issues, while only 8% said abortion.
If the GOP is serious about reaching out to minorities, social issues are rich soil for finding common ground. Most minority voters are either evangelicals or Catholics. In Ohio in 2004, George W. Bush won 16% of the African-American vote, in part due to his support for traditional marriage. When California voters ratified a traditional-marriage amendment in 2008, support from African-American and Hispanic voters provided the margin of victory.
U.S. Hispanics aren’t monolithic. There are Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Venezuelans and Hondurans, among others. But one of the most ¬reliable predictors of Hispanic voting behavior is religiosity. Roughly 20% of Hispanics are evangelicals (their number increases by 600,000 per year), and 37% of Hispanic voters self-identify as social conservatives. These voters made up a disproportionate share when George W. Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004.
To win their support, Republicans must favor a secure border without sounding anti-immigrant. They should welcome those who come to this country legally and play by the rules, while stressing education reform, economic opportunity and lower taxes and regulation on minority-owned businesses.
Republicans were once accused of using “wedge issues” to divide voters based on race, gender and religion. In 2012 it was the Democrats’ turn, and they did so with the hearty applause of the mainstream-media chorus. When Mr. Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan approvingly noted the “cold politics behind it,” aimed at winning young voters and re-engaging disaffected gay fundraisers.
This is the new world. Even in an election about the economy, social issues won’t go away, and denial isn’t a strategy.
Therefore, Republicans should resist the catcalls urging them to give the cold shoulder to evangelicals and other voters of faith who make up the overwhelming majority of their voters. Instead, they must do more: They must practice the politics of addition by reaching out to Hispanics, Asians, women and young people, millions of whom share these same time-honored values.
Mr. Reed is chairman and CEO of Century Strategies and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
By Joe Carter
They are opposed to Obamacare, same-sex marriage, and the legalization of marijuana. They believe it’s important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs. They plan to vote for Mitt Romney. They are evangelicals.
No surprises there, right? But consider one other factor: These are young evangelicals.
Since 2007, the media has attempted to present young evangelicals in the Millennial generation (age 18-25) as increasingly liberal on social issues and more likely to vote for Democrats. But a new study by the Public Religion Research Institute confirms that the majority of young evangelicals (or at least young white evangelicals) have not abandoned the conservative political (and presumably the theological) positions of their parents.
Of course there remains—as has been the case for at least forty years—a small number of evangelicals who are both young and liberal. But their number are not increasing substantially, much less nearing a majority. The slow, steady shift of white evangelicals from Democrat to Republican has created a powerful narrative that overshadows the fact that for the last four decades at least one-third of evangelicals have voted for the Democratic Party.
In the mid-1960s, white evangelicals self-identified as 68% Democrat, 25% Republican, and 7% Independent. By 1978, the majority of evangelicals still aligned with the Democratic Party, though the numbers had dropped to 53% (only 30% aligned with the GOP). Even in 1984, when the newly emergent “religious right” turned out for Reagan, only 48% identified as Republican while 40% remained Democrat. The decline continued until 2008, when only 34% of white evangelicals remained in the Democratic Party.
Despite the fact that since the 1960s one-third of evangelicals have voted for Democrats, the media is always surprised when post-election exit polls consistently reveal that . . . one-third of evangelicals voted for Democrats. For instance, when 32% of young evangelicals (age 18-29) voted for Obama in 2008, the media assumed this was an unmistakable sign Millennials were becoming more liberal.
A relatively larger percentage of young evangelicals did buy into the “hope and change” message of Obama, making the 2008 something of an anomaly. But recent polls show that the enthusiasm for the President has waned and the young evangelical support for a Democratic president is falling once again. The most recent study finds that eight-in-ten (80%) white evangelical Millennials support Romney, while just 15% support Obama. That’s an even lower percentage than John Kerry received from the demographic in 2004 (16%).
Even in 2008, a likely high-water mark for young evangelical identification with the Democratic Party, there was significant evidence that the group was not becoming more liberal. A study by Baylor University during that period found that young evangelicals “hold views similar to older evangelicals regarding abortion, same-sex marriage, stem cell research, marijuana use, government welfare spending, spending on the nation’s health, and the war in Iraq” and “remain signiﬁcantly more conservative than nonevangelicals on these same social issues.”
Since evangelicals tend to put strong emphasis on the authority of the Bible, it shouldn’t be surprising that they do not support a party whose platform is, on several issues, diametrically opposed to Biblical principles. What is surprising is that such as large number of evangelicals have embraced the naïve idea that voting for a party that endorses abortion-on-demand, same-sex marriage, and unnecessary restrictions on religious freedom, can be a morally neutral act for a Christian.
(The same people who can’t comprehend how Christians in prior eras voted for politicians who supported chattel slavery seem to have no qualms about supporting a candidates that believe the unborn can be killed at any time, for any reason, and have every taxpayer pay for the slaughter.)
Whether a morally serious evangelical should support the GOP is certainly a debatable question (one that I’ve often asked myself). Whether a morally serious evangelical should support the Democratic Party is more clear: We should not endorse a party that is unequivocally pro-abortion, unapologetic about trampling religious freedoms, and unwilling to consider opposition to the destructive redefinition of marriage as anything other than intolerable bigotry.
This is not to say that Christians should vote for Republicans. All that is necessary is for a majority of Christians within the Democratic Party to have the courage to withhold their vote until the platform is changed. With that simple act, these problematic issues would disappear within two election cycles. Sadly, the party currently has a larger number of Christians who are inflexible partisans than Christians who are pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-religious freedom.
Fortunately, there is still a majority of young evangelicals that isn’t willing to exchange God’s revealed truth about justice for the lie that all political parties are equally worthy of our support. As long as they refuse to abandon their convictions, we still have reason to hold out hope for America’s political future.
Wall Street Journal
by Gerald F. Seib
"One man who has set out to make sure that isn't the case is Ralph Reed, a veteran GOP leader in the evangelical movement and founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an organization that mobilizes religious voters. In a recent conversation, Mr. Reed walked through the turnout math and how his organization is trying to affect it."
Political campaigns contain many sexy components: multimillion-dollar ad buys, national debates, convention speeches. But this year's election may well hinge on a decidedly unsexy factor: voter turnout machinery.
With exactly four weeks to go before Election Day, the presidential race is close and seems destined to remain so. Any thoughts that President Barack Obama would run away with it likely were put to rest by Republican Mitt Romney's strong performance in last week's debate.
And in a close race, what matters most in the end game isn't who airs a few more ads or gives a slightly better speech. What matters most is which side can get its supporters to actually show up at the polls.
For the Obama campaign that means, above all, young voters and Hispanics. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Mr. Obama is preferred by a 57%-to-35% margin among voters aged 18 to 34, and an even more stunning 70%-to-20% margin among Hispanics. Those are big advantages—among two groups that don't always turn out in big numbers.
For the Romney campaign, the parallel force may well be evangelical voters. Three-quarters of them say they support Mr. Romney, but evangelicals didn't show great enthusiasm on Election Day four years ago for Republican nominee John McCain.
Consider those challenges in turn.
Young voters played a big role in driving Mr. Obama to victory in some key states in 2008, but they don't seem as fired up this year. Voters under the age of 30 made up 18% of the electorate four years ago, but a recent Pew Research Center study found that the share of them who say they are following campaign news very closely is roughly half of what it was at this point four years ago.
Similarly, Hispanics, who made up 9% of the 2008 electorate, traditionally turn out in smaller numbers than their potential power suggests, and recent data suggest that's still a likely outcome.
The Obama campaign knows full well, of course, that it needs to amp up these voting blocs, so it is trying to catch up with its 2008 standard. It will get some help from its labor allies, and on its own it set in place months ago a social-media strategy to reconnect with young voters, as well as a separate outreach operation for Hispanics.
Obama headquarters in Chicago is a sea of 20-something workers trying to reach such voters, but in recent weeks many of them have been dispatched to swing states to get supporters registered and engaged.
Now, state statistics show, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in five of the six battleground states that register voters by party. In most of those states, the Democratic registration margins still aren't as large as they were in 2008, but they are widening. Crucially, the Obama campaign says voters under 30 make up more than half of new registrants.
For Republicans, a similarly important turnout target is the evangelical vote.
Evangelicals have become a core element of the Republican base, but for months some Republicans have feared they would be underenthused by the candidacy of Mr. Romney because of suspicions about his Mormon religion.
One man who has set out to make sure that isn't the case is Ralph Reed, a veteran GOP leader in the evangelical movement and founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an organization that mobilizes religious voters. In a recent conversation, Mr. Reed walked through the turnout math and how his organization is trying to affect it.
White evangelicals and born-again Christians made up roughly a quarter of all voters in 2008. Yet Mr. Reed estimates that perhaps 17 million evangelicals didn't vote or weren't registered, including roughly a million who voted for George W. Bush in 2004.
That big bloc includes heavy representation in such swing states as Virginia, Ohio, Iowa and Florida. So Mr. Reed's organization is setting out to get them to the polls; it will, he said, spend some $12 million to drive turnout.
Mr. Reed's group has files with cellphone, email or other contact information on 17.3 million potential voters in 15 key states. All those voters will be contacted, many of them multiple times. Two million will get personal visits from volunteers. The message: Mr. Romney shares evangelicals' values on matters such as gay marriage, abortion and religious freedom.
The choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as Mr. Romney's running mate has made the task of energizing evangelicals easier, Mr. Reed said. Though a Roman Catholic rather than a Protestant evangelical, Mr. Ryan is popular among evangelicals for his firm opposition to abortion rights.
It may seem odd that a ticket made up of a Mormon and a Catholic could generate a big evangelical turnout, but Mr. Reed insists that is exactly what will happen. "It will be ironic," he says, "if the first ticket in history without a Protestant got the biggest share of the evangelical vote in history."
Ultimately, though, the outcome likely hangs on precisely such ironies and imponderables of voter turnout.