Tales from the Trail

Santorum explains “phony theology” comment

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says he wasn’t questioning Barack Obama’s faith on Saturday when he said the Democratic president’s agenda was based on “some phony theology.”

Santorum explained his comments during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, saying he was questioning the president’s world view — not his faith.

“I accept the fact that the president’s Christian,” Santorum said. “I just said that when you have a world view that elevates the earth above man says that, you know, we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the earth by things that are frankly just not scientifically proven.”

A devout Roman Catholic and social conservative, Santorum brought up the theology issue a day earlier in Columbus, Ohio, as he addressed supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement. (Here’s the story from Reuters’ Sam Jacobs)

On ABC’s “This Week,” Robert Gibbs, a senior advisor to Obama’s re-election campaign said Santorum’s “phony theology” comment crosses a line and was dragging the presidential campaign down.

U.S. religious leaders urge moral solution to debt talks

Don’t balance the U.S. budget on the backs of the poor and sick, religious leaders said, suggesting that their churches’ charity work is already overstretched and social havoc could result if the government’s social safety net is abandoned.

Representatives from Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and interfaith groups and churches expressed their collective disappointment with the tone of blame in the debt debate between President Obama and congressional negotiators.

The faith groups have organized a vigil alongside the U.S. Capitol and released a letter appealing to the president and Congress to consider the poor and vulnerable in their negotiations.

Obamas make rare church visit

Margaret Chadbourn of Reuters reports the following on the Obama family’s church visit.

President Barack Obama , his wife Michelle, and their two daughters made a rare visit to a Washington church service on Sunday and were promptly invited by the pastor to become members of the congregation.Obama_family

The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, a few blocks from the White House, welcomed the Obama family for a special service celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. on the eve of the holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader.

O’Donnell credits prayer for campaign boost

USA/

Republicans may be abandoning Christine O’Donnell’s U.S. Senate campaign. But she still has friends in high places — really high places.

In fact, the Delaware Tea Party favorite is crediting divine intervention for the successes that her campaign has had.

“The day that we saw a spike in the polls was a day that some people had a prayer meeting for me, that morning for this campaign,” she tells the Christian Broadcasting Network, a cable TV channel founded by televangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson.

State Dept: church Koran burning plan”un-American”

There have been lots of angry words over plans by an obscure Florida pastor to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

But State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley pulled out the biggest gun of all on Tuesday in his effort to distance the government from the pastor’s incendiary proposal — he called it “un-American.”

“We are conscious that a number of voices have come out and rejected what this pastor and this community have proposed,” Crowley told a news briefing. “We would like to see more Americans stand up and say ‘this is inconsistent with our American values.’ In fact these actions themselves are un-American.”

Poll shows Americans are confused on Obama’s religion

USA-POLITICS/OBAMAA year and a half  into his presidency, Americans appear to be growing more uncertain about Barack Obama’s religion.

A Pew Research Center survey shows that nearly one in five Americans — 18 percent — believe Obama is a Muslim, up from 11 percent in March 2009.  Meanwhile only about one third of Americans surveyed correctly describe Obama as a Christian, a sharp decrease from the 48 percent who said he was a Christian in 2009.

The survey was completed in early August, before Obama backed the controversial construction of a proposed mosque and Muslim cultural center near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York.

Obama sits down with Rev. Billy Graham

President Barack Obama had his first face-to-face talks on Sunday with one of America’s top spiritual leaders, the Reverend Billy Graham.

Graham, 91, who is ailing with Parkinson’s disease, has  prayed with U.S. presidents over the course of the past 50 years or so.BILLY GRAHAM

Obama visited his Montreat log cabin home at the end of a weekend trip to western North Carolina.

Clinton finds the jazz in her job, honors King and Gandhi

With jazz great Herbie Hancock and Congressman John Lewis at her side, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a State Department ceremony on Thursday to mark the departure of a cultural delegation to India to commemorate civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s trip therhancocke 50 years ago.

King and his wife, Coretta, traveled to India in 1959 to study the life and works of India’s legendary nonviolent independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. King adopted many of Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence to the U.S. civil rights movement in the early 1960s.
 
Clinton said she was “jealous” of the trip by the delegation, which includes Hancock, civil rights veteran Lewis, King’s son, Martin Luther King III, and Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus. The group will travel to New Delhi and other sites associated with Gandhi.

Hancock said the philosophy of cooperation, communication and harmony espoused by King and Gandhi “are also essential elements of every jazz band.”

from FaithWorld:

Obama evokes church/state divide at National Prayer Breakfast

Religion's role in U.S. politics was on full display on Thursday as President Barack Obama spoke and prayed at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.

Obama, an adult convert to Christianity, used the occasion to announce that he will be establishing a White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This will replace or be an extension of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives established by former President George W. Bush, who was strongly supported by conservative Christians.

Some of Obama's remarks about the new office are sure to raise eyebrows in those conservative Christian circles. For example:

Candidates spar over abortion rights

DALLAS – Barack Obama and John McCain got a chance during their third presidential debate on Wednesday night to directly address their respective bases when they were asked about abortion.

The candidates debate

Moderator Bob Schieffer, who noted that Democrat Obama supports the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe vs Wade decision that grants women a constitutional right to an abortion, while the Republican McCain opposes it, asked: “Could either of you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on this issue?”

Both candidates said they would not apply ”litmus tests” if they were to select justices for the top U.S. court, whose nine members are currently almost evenly divided between conservatives and liberals.