Tea Party

Trump, Sanders and how globalization has brought European political values to the U.S.

Trump, Sanders and how globalization has brought European political values to the U.S.

There's a great deal of wisdom encapsulated by the idiom, "be careful what you wish for." The inevitability of unforeseen -- or perhaps just conveniently ignored -- consequences routinely popping up to bite humanity's collective posterior seems obvious.

Which brings me to the 2016 American presidential campaign. The connection? How about the human revolution we call globalization. Obviously, there is a religion angle here.

Sure, globalization gave American consumers cheaper foreign-made goods. But how was it not obvious to all that in return for T-shirts from Bangladesh we were sentencing American manufacturing to economic collapse? The ensuing loss of middle class jobs took quite a bite out of the American backside.

Love it or hate it, there's little doubt that globalization has reconfigured notions about the relationship between us and them. What was once foreign is now domestic. Their problems are now ours to an unprecedented degree.

GetReligion readers know that globalization has shaken up the American religious landscape. (Notice all the new mosques? That some American Episcopalians are now Anglicans loyal to African bishops?)

And politics? Immigrants and refugees, international trade pacts, overseas military entanglements and the limits of U.S. power, what constitutes authentic American culture and religion in a period of demographic transformation -- these issues loom large in the presidential campaign.

Perhaps the clearest illustration of globalization's influence on the candidates are the separated-at-birth outsider campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

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It's thumbsucker time, after the 'tea party' bishops crash the synod on the family

It's thumbsucker time, after the 'tea party' bishops crash the synod on the family

The 2015 Synod of Bishops is over and this weekend was, as required by the traditions of journalism, dedicated to the writing of thumbsuckers.

What was the synod on the family all about? What did it mean? And most importantly, from the everything-is-politics viewpoint of most journalists, which political party won, the "reformers" who back Pope Francis and his appeals for mercy or the tea-party-like radical conservatives who want people to follow all those old church rules? 

Tea party? More on that later.

Any journalist who has ever written a summary, reaction think piece after a major event like this knows that one of the crucial questions is: Who gets the first quote? Journalists may interview dozens of people, with a variety of perspectives, but a reporter has make a choice and give someone the first quote. This choice almost always points to the thesis of the piece.

For example, consider the opening of the New York Times reaction story that was built on the reactions of New York Catholics.

People streaming into Catholic churches across New York over the weekend were struggling to understand the meaning of a statement issued by an assembly of bishops in the Vatican on the place within the church of Catholics who divorce and remarry.

And the first quote:

Ann Moore, 71, of Pittsburgh, attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan on Sunday. She expressed disgust with the bishops, who had been summoned by Pope Francis for a three-week global assembly on family issues, for not letting divorced and remarried Catholics receive communion.
“It’s wrong,” said Ms. Moore, who was in town to celebrate her daughter’s 50th birthday. “If Jesus forgave everybody, why can’t these big shots?”

This quote, for me, raised an interesting question that had been nagging me throughout the coverage of the synod.

Whatever one thinks of the Catholic Church's teachings on divorce, and how these doctrines are fleshed out at the level of pews and altars, I was struck by the fact that journalists -- at least the mainstream reporters I was reading -- were not quoting a rather authoritative source in their reports. To understand the high stakes of the battles in Rome, one really needed to hear from this particular voice of authority.

That source? That would be Jesus, as in the Gospel of Matthew:

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God, Tennessee, culture and that (ironic) red-flannel shirt

God, Tennessee, culture and that (ironic) red-flannel shirt

Once again, the oh-so-bookish politician cloaked in that red plaid shirt is touring the complex state of Tennessee, trying to walk the complicated line between the populism of the old Democratic South and today's modern Republican realities. One of the major problems faced by Sen. Lamar Alexander remains the same: He is the kind of Republican that, every now and then, when the mood strikes them, mainstream journalists are willing to describe as "moderate" -- especially in contrast with tea-party people and, well, you know who.

As a former taxpayer in that unique region called East Tennessee (and someone who will return there soon), I have seen my share of political advertisements and debates in that region and I know where some of the fault lines can be found. The three "states" of Tennessee (see the stars on the flag) are unique and very different regions and cultures. The state, as a whole, is the kind of place where some Democrats remain culturally conservative and many old-guard Republicans have close, defining ties to country clubs as well as churches.

So, what are the hurdles facing Alexander as he runs for another term? Folks at The Washington Post, GetReligion readers will be shocked to learn, are a bit tone deaf to the cultural, moral and religious elements of this drama. It's all just politics.

Yes, the ties between Alexander and the late Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., one of the good-guy Republicans of the Watergate era, are at the heart of this story and they should be. Trust me, I get that.

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Yes, that Virginia gubernatorial candidate has layers

In one of my favorite scenes in the original  “Shrek” movie, the title character explains to Donkey that “there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.”

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Mormonism is a religion, not just a culture

For people serious about their faith, religious beliefs tend not only to influence other types of beliefs but they tend to be presuppositional. Believers adopt particular cultural and political beliefs because of their religious views. For example, an evangelical who believes that abortion is wrong tends to adopt cultural and political views that flow from their religious convictions. Not all evangelicals oppose abortion rights, of course, and even those that do may have developed their position on the issue apart from their religious views. But those who are pro-life tend to be so in a way that is different than those who developed a secular-minded opposition to abortion.

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