Entries in Evangelical Christianity (4)


Appealing to Evangelicals, Romney Voices Support of Ministerial Exception

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) -- Making an appeal to an evangelical crowd Monday afternoon, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of promoting a path that will lead to a more “secular nation,” citing for the first time a recent Supreme Court case that permitted the use of a “ministerial exception” in firing -- a decision the Obama administration had opposed.

“We’ve become more and more of a secular nation,” said Romney, speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition event in Myrtle Beach, S.C.  “He had a more recent case -- you may have seen that -- before the Supreme Court saying that the ministerial exception should be something that should be determined by government, not by the religious institution.”

Romney was referring to the case of Cheryl Perich, a Michigan teacher who was fired by a school run by the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Perich, who suffered from narcolepsy, was told she would be fired if she did not submit to an agreement that would give her some money for her health care in return for her resignation.

While Romney seemed to suggest that Obama himself had been opposed to the decision, the president never addressed the case publicly.

Perich, however, turned to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed suit on her behalf, arguing that her firing was in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The case went to the Supreme Court, who just last week issued a unanimous decision against Perich.  Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion that the First Amendment bars “the government from interfering with the decision of a religious group to fire one of its ministers.”

On Monday, Romney used the case, which has been lauded by some as a victory of religious liberty, to emphasize his support of religious freedom.

“Fortunately that was struck down by the court 9-0,” Romney said.  “We are very fortunate [to have people] who are willing to stand up for religious tolerance and religious liberty and the First Amendment of this Constitution in this country.”

Romney, who made a rare mention of his support of a constitutional amendment that would define a marriage as a union between a man and a woman, also used religious terminology in his speech, emphasizing the role of the “creator” in the audiences’ lives.

“The founders said the creator had endowed us -- God had endowed us, not the state, but divinity,” Romney said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum to Evangelicals: GOP Needs Nominee Who'll ‘Take the Bullets’

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) -- Just six days before South Carolina voters go to the polls, Rick Santorum addressed an evangelical conference Monday afternoon, trying to pitch himself to the crowd.

At the Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum, he contrasted himself with his opponents, listing Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and himself and said, “only one did not support the Wall Street bailout.”

“Clear lines, sharp contrast,” Santorum said, adding that evangelicals need a nominee who “believes in their heart” in “conservative principals,” not “because they happen to run in a primary” with a conservative electorate, because when they go to Washington, D.C., they will not have to appeal to these same South Carolina voters.

“This is a race, this is an election where we need someone who is not afraid to get shot at,” Santorum said, adding that the GOP needs a nominee who will “take the bullets.”

“As a family, we’re committed to winning in South Carolina this weekend,” Santorum said, with his wife at his side, and accompanied by four of his children.  He got an enthusiastic reception from the crowd, which was packed into the tent in Myrtle Beach, S.C., to listen to the forum’s speakers.

“So I ask the people of South Carolina to give a good, strong hard look at this,” Santorum said.  “You have a tough choice to make between some good candidates.”

Earlier Monday, Santorum sat next to his wife, Karen, at a forum sponsored by an online mother’s group, and his wife got emotional when talking about their special needs daughter, Bella.  It was one of the first times Karen Santorum has spoken at length on the campaign trail.

She told the story of finding out their daughter’s diagnosis four days after her birth and said she was “very angry” and in a “deep, dark hole,” for the first 10 days after Bella’s diagnosis.  She said she didn’t lose her faith because she “love(s) the Lord,” but it was extremely difficult.  Now, she says Bella is “perfect,” and she’s 3 ½ when no one said she would live three hours.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Santorum Gets Big Boost from Iowa Christian Conservative Leaders

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(URBANDALE, Iowa) -- Rick Santorum got a big Iowa endorsement Tuesday from one of the state’s social conservative leaders, which could help with the splintered Christian evangelical community.

Bob Vander Plaats backed the former Pennsylvania senator just two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, calling him “the Huckabee in this race.”

“I saw him as a champion for the family in the U.S. House, I saw him as a champion for the family in the U.S. Senate. I saw him as a champion for the family on the campaign trail,” Vander Plaats said. “I believe Rick Santorum comes from us, just not to us, he comes from us. He’s one of us so I look forward to the next two weeks so I can see what I can do to advance his candidacy to see if we can get him out of the state of Iowa.”

Vander Plaats heads up The Family Leader, a social conservative organization that has never endorsed before, but said that they would this cycle. The board deliberated up until Monday night and Vander Plaats said the board “reached unanimity” that The Family Leader as an organization would not endorse.

Chuck Hurley who heads the Iowa Family Policy Center, part of The Family Leader, also chose to endorse Santorum outside of his organization. In a press conference set up for the announcement, Hurley cited Santorum‘s commitment to socially conservative issues, adding that he was persuaded by the fact that the Santorum family home schooled their children, as he did.

In the last cycle, home school advocates and the broader evangelical community were able to coalesce around Mike Huckabee ensuring his victory over Mitt Romney despite the ten million dollars he poured into Iowa.

The deliberations were both testy and dramatic with Hurley saying Vander Plaats receiving threats before making his decision.

Hurley ended by telling Iowa caucus-goers “to take a close look at Rick, to study the scripture, to pray hard and vote their conscience, above all we answer to God for our vote.”

Santorum’s Coalitions director Jamie Johnson said the endorsement will give a big boost to the campaign in Iowa and across the country and the backing will help voters give Santorum a “second look” as well as help with much-needed campaign funds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry’s Religious Event Mired in Controversy 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- A prayer event initiated by Texas Governor Rick Perry will take place Saturday in Houston, Texas, but the religious revival is mired in controversy concerning exclusion of non-Christian religions, controversial figures, and the question whether a public official is violating the separation of church and state by hosting a religious event.

Perry, a self-described “man of faith” and Methodist who attends an evangelical mega-church in Austin, laid out plans for the event called “The Response,” a gathering of Christians dedicating a day to prayer and fasting for a “nation in crisis,” which will take place in Reliant Stadium, a football arena home to the Houston Texans.

Perry, who many speculate will run for president this election season, has insisted the event holds no ulterior political motives.

“The event’s not political. The event’s not about promoting an organization, it’s not some fancy promotional event. It’s going to be simple. This is simply people coming, calling out to God,” Perry told a Christian radio show hosted by Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon last month.

Approximately 8,000 people plan on attending the event in a stadium that seats 70,000. Perry extended an invitation to his fellow governors to attend, but none have committed, including Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who once said he would attend but is now stepping back from the event.

Though he conceptualized the event, Perry will play a minor role on Saturday. He is expected to read scripture and lead the group in prayer. Many religious figures from across the country will attend the event, including Sam Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

But some controversial figures will be leading and participating in the event, including Dr. James Dobson, founder and former president of Focus on the Family. In the past, Dobson has likened embryonic stem cell research to operations performed by the Nazis during WWII and criticized the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, saying homosexuality could lead to incest and beastiality.

The event is paid for by the American Family Association, whose website describes the group as being on the “frontlines of the culture war.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the American Family Association as an anti-gay group.

Alternative rallies are planned in the Houston area throughout the weekend. The LGBT Political Caucus will hold a rally to “recognize and honor the many contributions made by members of the LGBT community to the quality of life in Houston, Harris County, Texas and the nation, and will also be attended by Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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