So is 'evangelical Catholic' a religious term or a political term? The honest answer: yes

So is 'evangelical Catholic' a religious term or a political term? The honest answer: yes

After all the the press attention dedicated to Donald Trump wooing of evangelicals, it's time to get down to what really matters in American politics -- the never-ending battle over Catholics who regularly or semi-regularly visit church pews.

Yes, it helps Democrats if evangelical Protestants are not terribly excited about the GOP nominee and, thus, are more likely to vote with clenched teeth or even to stay home. This time around, Trump has strong supporters among the Religious Right old guard, but he also has strong, strong critics among solid, conservative Christian leaders (as opposed to the small, but press-friendly, world of progressive evangelicals).

But the big game is among Catholic voters. While lapsed and cultural Catholics are solidly in the Democratic Party camp, along with those in the elite "progressive Catholic" camp, the real question is what happens among millions of ordinary Sunday-morning Catholics and the much smaller number of traditional Catholics who are even more dedicated, in terms of participation in daily Mass, Confession and the church's full sacramental life. This is where the true "swing voters" are found. Does Trump have a prayer with those voters? We will see.

What does this have to do with the "evangelical Catholic" tag that has been claimed by Gov. Mike Pence, who got the VP nod from Trump? Hang on, because that connection came up during this week's "Crossroads" podcast conversation with host Todd Wilken. Click here to tune that in.

The term "evangelical Catholic" is highly controversial, for obvious reasons. In the media, this tends to be a negative term, applied either to people who were raised Catholic (see Pence) and are now evangelicals, or to Catholics who stress the church's ancient, orthodox teachings on moral and social issues on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and sex outside of marriage. Thus, these "evangelical Catholics" tend to be more popular with modern evangelicals than with the elite Catholics who often gather with journalists for cocktail parties on or near the Georgetown University campus.

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Rolling Stone, Slate note the lack of God-talk during Donald Trump's victory lap

Rolling Stone, Slate note the lack of God-talk during Donald Trump's victory lap

Although he threw in everything but the kitchen sink, Donald Trump barely mentioned religion or culture wars themes during his 116-minute speech Thursday night. As the Charlotte Observer noted, were it not for Mike Pence, the God mentions by major speakers at this convention would have been pretty sparse.

Maybe that's because Trump knows that nearly every time he refers to the Bible, he makes some kind of mistake? It's one thing to mess up in front of Liberty University students; it's another to goof up when you're accepting your party's nomination for President. 

For the record, here's the only religion content in Trump's speech:

At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical and religious community in general who have been so good to me and so supportive. You have much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits. An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.
I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.

An earlier draft of Trump's speech that got leaked did not have the words “and religious.”

Here's an explanation of that Johnson amendment, courtesy of Politifact. Thursday night was such sparse pickings for anyone looking for divine content that Slate termed it "The GOP's Godless Convention." Fortunately for us, Rolling Stone -- yes, Rolling Stone -- released this analysis Thursday afternoon about infighting among evangelicals over the GOP nominee.

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'Moderate' rebels once funded by USA behead Syrian boy: Would readers want to know why?

'Moderate' rebels once funded by USA behead Syrian boy: Would readers want to know why?

As I have mentioned many times, your GetReligionistas have never figured out what to do with material published at The Daily Beast.

For the most part, it is a liberal publication that focuses on a pushy, but often interesting, brand of openly slanted, advocacy journalism of the old (and returning) European Model. That's fine and I'll keep reading. However, that is not the kind of hard-news work that we like to focus on here at this blog, unless we are pointing religion-news consumers toward a relevant "think piece."

However, the Beast has also been known to produce features -- especially international news -- that are 99.9 percent basic news. If there is advocacy there, it's because these editors are choosing to cover these stories and others are not. To me, that raises just as many questions about the pros in all of those newsrooms that are ignoring these news events.

Take, for example, the horrible news that the Daily Beast published under this double-decker headline:

U.S.-Backed ‘Moderate’ Rebels Behead a Child Near Aleppo
It’s the kind of stomach-wrenching brutality you’d associate with ISIS. Except this time, it’s American-armed rebels who are cutting off a boy’s head

No, I don't want to click on video URLs that have anything whatsoever to do with this story. I apologize for needing to run the relatively tame screen-grab image that I did, at the top of the post.

However, once again I want to say -- especially since this glimpse into hell has a strong American hook -- that it's amazing that this story is only running at the Beast and in some publications on the other side of the Atlantic, where editors and/or readers seem to have more interest in global news.

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Shooting 'devils': What beliefs drove the Baton Rouge police killer?

Shooting 'devils': What beliefs drove the Baton Rouge police killer?

While the Trumpification of the GOP held the attention of many mainstream media, some were probing the warped mind of Gavin Long, who shot three police officers in Baton Rouge before being shot dead himself. Their chilling discoveries are reported in well-crafted articles, especially in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Here are some of the spiritual currents they found coursing through the killer's mind:

* He returned from a visit to Africa saying that fasting and abstaining from sex, activated his pineal gland and "opened a third eye of wisdom."

* He began calling himself Ausar Setepenra, a reference to two Egyptian gods.

* He claimed membership in a group of African Americans who say they're a "sovereign Native American tribe."

* The world is "run by devils," in his view.

Of the articles, the Post's -- with six reporters writing 1,400 words -- is the most ambitious. It tries to track his movements over his last few weeks:

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Bravo! Christian Science Monitor's seven-part religious liberty series delivers a punch

Bravo! Christian Science Monitor's seven-part religious liberty series delivers a punch

Living as I do just east of Seattle, I’ve been waiting for a magazine to do the definitive profile of Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland, Wash., florist who’s getting sued to the nines for refusing to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay friend. Whereas the New Yorker and the Atlantic have sat this one out,  the Christian Science Monitor has stepped in. Their Stutzman piece, which ran last week, leans over backward to give the florist’s side of the story.

It is part of an intriguing series of seven stories on religious liberty and gay rights and it’s the best treatment I’ve seen yet. The lead story discusses how gay rights is pushing many religious Americans into a corner where they feel compelled to support behaviors their faith condemns as immoral. Look for the Russell Moore quote about the sexual revolution not tolerating public dissent and the John Inazu quote about will happen to our society when faith-based organizations -- if stripped of their nonprofit status -- cease to provide social services to the hungry, poor and homeless.

Other Monitor stories include one asking whether wedding photography is art protected under the First Amendment and whether an artist can be compelled to produce a work she disagrees with (in this case a gay wedding). Then there was this story about the hate mail and death threats that wedding cake designers in Oregon, Colorado and Texas as well as Stutzman the florist have gotten after their well-publicized court cases. This is the first time I’ve seen any media bother to cover this angle.

In covering these issues, the Monitor goes deeper and provides more background than anywhere else I’ve read. The Stutzman story was unusual in that it told some of the legal machinations behind her case.

Barronelle Stutzman loved doing custom floral work for Robert Ingersoll. He became one of her best customers, often encouraging her creativity.
“Do your thing,” he would tell her when placing an order. And he loved what she did.

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The mystery of Donald Trump’s religion: Inspired by Peale, or by Paula White?

 The mystery of Donald Trump’s religion: Inspired by Peale, or by Paula White?

Attempting to comprehend the mystery of Donald Trump’s religion, his critics can’t decide whether to blame Peale or Paula.

Some consider that “positive thinking” guru, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993), the inspiration for what they dislike. (Reports say Trump, a boyhood Presbyterian, never actually joined  Peale’s New York City congregation, which is part of the Reformed Church in America.) For other skeptics, it’s not Peale who’s appalling but Paula White.

Writers with yahoo.com and then Politico.com have recently profiled White,  a popular broadcaster, speaker, author and since 2012 senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla. This is one of America’s countless high-growth independent congregations with a “Charismatic” or “Neo-Pentecostal” flavor.

White, a 50-year-old grandmother, and her ministries deserve further reportage with two angles, Trump’s creed and a major fissure in the unruly U.S. evangelical movement.

Veteran activist James Dobson alerted media to the White connection by passing along reports that Trump, a “baby Christian,” was led to renewed faith by White. Trump and White were pals long before she helped broker his 2015 and 2016 meetings with evangelical types. Trump endorsed one of her books in 2007 calling her “a beautiful person,” appeared on White’s TV show, and White rents a New York apartment in a Trump building.

So let's turn to Trump’s fiercest evangelical foe, the Rev. Dr. Russell Moore, the Washington D.C. voice for America’s largest Protestant body, the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Carson, Clinton, Colbert and ... Lucifer? The God-and-politics drama never ends

Carson, Clinton, Colbert and ... Lucifer? The God-and-politics drama never ends

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder at the Republican convention, the Prince of Darkness showed up. Or at least his ally was in the house, via a prime-time speech reference to none other than Hillary Clinton by one-time GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson.

I am not making this up. Stephen Colbert has even invented a new word: Trumpiness, to describe the state of things in Cleveland, and America in general. More on Colbert later. 

Frankly, I thought most media were fairly subdued in handling what a goofball Carson has become although their headline writers definitely had a holiday. "Did You Stay Awake Long Enough to Hear Ben Carson Call Hillary Lucifer?" Esquire asked

Here's how CNN called it

Washington (CNN) -- Former presidential candidate Ben Carson said Wednesday that he linked Hillary Clinton to a prominent community organizer, Saul Alinsky, who once offered measured praise of Lucifer in a book, to provide "perspective" on what type of president the Democrat would be.
"Recognize that this is a very famous book -- 'Rules for Radicals' -- and on the dedication page, you acknowledge Lucifer in an admirable way saying he's the original radical who gained his own kingdom," Carson told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day." "What I am saying is that we are talking about electing to the presidency an individual who embraces someone who obviously is not someone who is consistent."
Clinton wrote her 1969 Wellesley undergraduate thesis on Alinsky -- though she's said in her own book that she had "fundamental" disagreements with him," according to an analysis of Carson's comments on Politifact.

Now back to what Carson originally said Tuesday night:

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Are you kidding me!? Some Muslims actually support Donald Trump for president

Are you kidding me!? Some Muslims actually support Donald Trump for president

Hey, remember that time Donald Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.?"

It's kind of hard to forget (but if you need refreshment, click here, here, here, here and here).

To read most news reports, Trump is the King of Islamophobia. So it's obvious that no serious, clear-thinking follower of Islam would deign to support Trump for president. Right?

Well, actually ...

There are some interesting stories in the mainstream press this week that quote Muslim supporters of Trump. Reuters, for example, has a story on a campaign to register a million Muslim voters against Trump. But near the end of that piece, the wire service quotes the Muslim who offered a brief benediction Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention:

U.S. Muslim backers of Trump said they were trying to build their own coalitions in swing states.
Baltimore businessman Sajid Tarar said he launched American Muslims for Trump because he favored Trump's stance on combating radical Islam.
"ISIS (an acronym for the Islamic State), al Qaeda, Taliban, they have killed more Muslims than anything else, and that's a message Muslims need to hear and understand," he said, referring to various militant groups.

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Washington Post bait and switch: When pushy Twitter posts change the rules of the game

Washington Post bait and switch: When pushy Twitter posts change the rules of the game

For years now, your GetReligionistas have been explaining why it is wrong to blame reporters for the contents of the headlines that run with their stories.

Many readers never make it past the headline, you see. That's bad if the headline is, to be blunt, inaccurate or misleading, in terms of summing up the contents of the story. By the way, I spent a couple of years on a newspaper copy desk early in my career, where one of my primary jobs was to write headlines.

Nothing does more to pull readers into a story than a good headline. Nothing hurts a story more than a bad one.

Now we live in the age of Twitter, which is a completely different kettle of fish. In an effort to promote their work, while also building their personal "brands," many reporters now push out waves of tweets, many of them right on (or just over) the edge of snark. Some of these tweets deserve their own corrections. Hold that thought.

Consider, for example, that "Acts of Faith" feature that ran at The Washington Post under the headline, "God might not want a woman to be president, some religious conservatives say."

This essay struck me as interesting, since I have seen absolutely zero discussion of this issue online. I guess I don't read enough commentary by doctrinally conservative Christians, Jews and Muslims. The big idea of this piece, with Hillary Clinton on the verge of winning it all, is this:

Clinton is poised to be nominated for president by the Democratic Party next week. And so religious hard-liners of all faiths -- the most conservative Christians, Muslims and Jews -- are debating: Do their Scriptures prohibit a female president?

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