FaithWorld

Most U.S. Protestant pastors doubt Beck, Obama are Christians-poll

What do conservative TV and radio personality Glenn Beck and U.S. President Barack Obama have in common? Most U.S. Protestant pastors doubt their Christian credentials.

These are among  the findings of a survey released this week by LifeWay Research, the number-crunching  arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, which sometimes does interesting pastor polls.

The poll in question, of 1,000 U.S. Protestant pastors, asked: “Which, if any, of the following people do you believe are Christians?” It then gave a list of five prominent personalties: TV diva Oprah Winfrey, former U.S. President George W. Bush, Beck, Obama and former Alaska governor and conservative sweetheart Sarah Palin.

USA-POLITICS/RALLY (Photo: Glenn Beck raises his hands to the crowd as he stands on the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial to address supporters at his Restoring Honor rally on the National Mall in Washington, August 28, 2010/Jonathan Ernst)

Only 27 percent of the respondents said they believed Beck, who is a Mormon, was a Christian and only 41 percent — well less than half — answered in the affirmative regarding Obama. Bush scored the highest at 75 percent and Palin was second at 66 percent. Oprah came in rock bottom at 19 percent. The national telephone survey took place Oct. 7-14.

It all raises some interesting questions and may raise a few eyebrows.

Let’s start with Beck, who often speaks the political and even spiritual language of conservative evangelical Christians– and counts many as his fans – but cannot score theological points with them because of his Mormon faith. Many evangelicals regard The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an oddball cult and the survey’s results show it may be as much a political liability for Beck the activist as it is for Mitt Romney the candidate, the former and perhaps future Republican presidential contender.

Filipinos back contraception bill despite Catholic Church-poll

philippines 1 (Photo: A reproductive health advocate dressed as a condom distributes condoms to jeepney passengers in Manila March 1, 2010/Romeo Ranoco)

Seven in 10 Filipinos support a reproductive health bill permitting education on contraception which would also help check population growth, despite opposition from the powerful Roman Catholic Church, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Church, a major social and political force in the poor Southeast Asian nation of about 95 million, has blocked similar bills since the 1990s and earlier this year denounced President Benigno Aquino’s support for contraception.

The bill is in the early stages of consideration by Congress, and proponents are confident it can be enacted into law given it has the backing of Aquino, who says slowing population growth will help fight poverty.

New Yorkers see the right to build Islamic center, but also want it moved

mosque signsNew York voters contradicted themselves over a planned Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site, with majorities saying both that Muslims have the right to build one but that they should be forced to move it, a poll issued on Tuesday finds.

Fifty-four percent of those polled believe Muslims have the right to build the center and mosque near “Ground Zero” because of American freedom of religion, but a similar 53 percent said that right should be denied because of the sensitivities of relatives of those killed on September 11, 2001. (Photo: Demonstrators in front of theIslamic center  site in New York , August 25, 2010/Lucas Jackson)

The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 1,497 New York state registered voters from August 23 to 29, at the height of the controversy that Republicans who oppose the mosque have seized on for a political edge over Democrats ahead of November 2 mid-term elections. Read the full story here.

Strong support to outlaw face veils as France prepares to vote ban

France’s plan to ban full face veils, which comes up for a vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday, enjoys 82% popular support in the country, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Its neighbours also approve — 71% of those polled in Germany, 62% in Britain and 59% in Spain agreed that there should be laws prohibiting the Muslim veils known as niqabs and burqas in public. burqa 1(Photo: French woman fined for wearing a niqab while driving outside court in Nantes June 28, 2010/Stephane Mahe)

The poll, conducted from April 7 to May 8, did not range further afield, but reports from other countries show support there as well. The lower house of the Belgian parliament has voted for a ban, which should be approved by the Senate after the summer. In the Netherlands, several bills to ban full veils in certain sectors such as schools and public service are in preparation. Switzerland’s justice minister has suggested the cantons there should pass partial bans but make exceptions for visiting Muslim tourists (the wives of rich sheikhs visiting their bankers in Zurich or Geneva?)

The big exception in the Pew poll is the United States, where 65% of those polled disapprove of a ban and only 28% support the idea. The poll did not investigate the reasons for this difference, so we can only assume it has to do with the more widespread acceptance of religion in public life in the U.S. and a more open approach to immigration.

POLL: the right verdict in slain Kansas abortion doctor case?

roeder

Scott Roeder in undated booking photograph released to Reuters on 12 June 2009/Wichita Police

A man accused of gunning down one of America’s few late-term abortion providers was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday after he said he had to act to stop the doctor from performing more abortions. Give us your opinion in the online poll below.

The judge initially allowed Roeder’s defense team to argue for a voluntary manslaughter conviction by proving he had “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force.”

Global economic crisis also a values crisis, Davos poll says

wefreportThe World Economic Forum, whose annual Davos summit opening today is a favourite gathering for the rich and powerful, has issued an opinion poll showing two-thirds of those surveyed believe the current economic crisis is also a crisis of values. Almost as many singled out business as the sector that should stress values more to foster a better world. “The poll results point to a trust deficit regarding values in the business world,” the Forum said in a statement.

The fact the Forum conducted this poll may come as a surprise to those who know Davos only from the “CEO in the snow” interviews that flood some cable TV financial broadcasts at this time of year. However, he Forum has widened its scope beyond its initial role as a European management seminar. Since 2001, it has been working with faith communities in inter-faith dialogue, especially between the West and the Muslim world, and more recently a Global Agenda Council on Faith to explore “the challenges that lie in the interactions between religion and society, religion and peacebuilding and religion and business”.

My news story here on the poll gives a summary of its findings. In a few bullet points, they are:

POLL: The world’s top 500 Muslims? Read and vote

500-most

If you’ve ever been confused by Muslim names you read in the news or unsure who’s important in the Islamic world, help is near. A new book entitled “The 500 Most Influential Muslims – 2009″ lists prominent Muslims from different fields — politics, religion, women, media, even radicals — with informative short biographies explaining who they are. It starts with an overall “top 50″ list and then surveys the most prominent Muslims in their fields. Here it is in PDF.

The book, edited by Professors John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin at Georgetown University in Washington, is the first in what is planned to be an annual survey of the top Muslim personalities around the world. It’s a joint effort by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Esposito is director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center and Kalin is spokesman for the Common Word dialogue initiative we’ve written about on this blog before.

As the editors say in their introduction: “Influence in the Muslim world is particular to its context. There is not a clear hierarchy or organised clergy for Muslims to identify a leader, such as a patriarch for Orthodox Christians or a pope for Catholics.” They took a mix of factors into account in working out their top 50 list and have even asked readers to send in suggestions for next year’s list. You can vote for your candidate for “most influential Muslim” in the poll at the bottom of this post.

POLL – Is reforming U.S. health care a moral issue?

obama-healthThe heated debate over United States health care reform revolves around practical issues like its expected costs or the government-run “public option.” But when President Barack Obama addressed Congress on the issue, he quoted a letter from the late Senator Ted Kennedy saying: “What we face is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.” (Photo: President Obama addressing Congress, 9 Sept 2009/Jason Reed)

Religious leaders and politicians supporting health care reform sometimes frame the issue in moral terms. But the term “moral” rarely pops up in the Washington debate and — apart from the Kennedy quote — it didn’t figure in Obama’s speech either. The president did discuss the issue of character, which is a moral term, and used the word often enough for it to appear in the Wordle web cloud below. But he avoided repeating what might be considered a religiously loaded word in a crucial political speech.

What do you think?

poll by twiigs.com

Here’s the word cloud of Obama’s speech. Even “character” is pretty hard to find (click to enlarge the image).

Poll – Should Ted Kennedy have a Catholic funeral?

kennedyOur post “Catholic comments on Ted Kennedy, pro and con” showed readers were deeply split on whether the late senator should have a Roman Catholic funeral. The naysayers argued that his support for choice on abortion and other disagreements with Church doctrine disqualify him from a religious ceremony. Those for a church funeral argued that he helped advance many causes championed by Catholic social teaching.

Those opposing a Mass of Christian Burial for Kennedy predominated, but not all readers take the time to write a comment. One-click poll questions sometimes give a different picture from comment pages. So here’s a simple question:

poll by twiigs.com (Photo: Ted Kennedy in the Senate, 8 Jan 2009/Larry Downing)

Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld