Monday, January 28, 2008

Who Would Dobson Vote For?

From Focus on the Family Action (FFA) comes videos critiquing the seven candidates that are leading in the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and John McCain.

Tom Minnery, FFA's senior vice president of government and public policy, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council review the candidates and evaluate how each performs against their religious conservative values. Obviously they roundly dismiss the Democratic candidates. But I was interested in their criticisms of the Republican candidates. A surprise to me: these men didn't like Huckabee, criticizing the former Arkansas governor's position on the Iraq war and his fiscal populism.

Who would James Dobson vote for in 2008? It seems the answer is Mitt Romney, who emerges mostly unscathed in the Focus on the Family analysis.

On the bizarre side, the Focus on the Family pundits claim that "Mitt Romney has acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith." Huh? What are they smoking?

hat tip: Right Wing Watch

Dominant Churches by Region

From the Glenmary Research Center in Nashville comes this fascinating map showing the church denominations that dominate in each county of the United States.

Against a background of baby blue representing counties where Catholicism dominates are a few other colors: Orange in the Midwest representing the Lutheran strongholds in Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas; Grey in Utah and Idaho indicating the dominance of the Mormon church in those states; and a deluge of red across the states known as the "South" representing the widespread reach of the Baptists.

In my own county--Champaign County--in Central Illinois, the Catholic church dominates.

hat tip: Strange Maps

The Moment of Truth

Whoa. This new show on Fox looks intense, emotional, ...and none of our business.



But I bet it'll get ratings.

Hat tip: Pomoprophet

Friday, January 25, 2008

They're Coming to Your Town


The American Family Association has put together a new video. I think they mean it to sound frightening, but the blurb on their website somehow doesn't quite strike fear in my heart. Check it out:
Residents of the small Arkansas town of Eureka Springs noticed the homosexual community was growing. But they felt no threat. They went about their business as usual. Then, one day, they woke up to discover that their beloved Eureka Springs, a community which was known far and wide as a center for Christian entertainment--had changed. The City Council had been taken over by a small group of homosexual activists.
Not scared yet? AFA isn't finished. They up the crazy a bit.
The Eureka Springs they knew is gone. It is now a national hub for homosexuals. Eureka Springs is becoming the San Francisco of Arkansas.
Aaaaahhhh! Not the San Francisco of Arkansas!
City Council member Joyce Zeller said the city will now be promoted, not as a Christian resort, but a city “selling peace, relaxation, history and sex.”
Now this statement actually does disturb me. I wouldn't want to live in a community known as a hotspot for promiscuity. So I watched the trailer for the video, thinking the might have some intense footage that would raise my blood pressure.

Um, no. Check out the trailer for yourself. There's something about the narrator's
"kindly old man" voice that just doesn't strike fear in my heart. Furthermore, the only footage they offer is of old Christians who are saying indignant things about gay people vacationing in their city. But there are no videos of Folsom Street Fairs in the middle of Eureka. Just some footage of a few people in pink hats.

Yawn. Well, order your copy today. Or, as the AFA website says in boldface, red text:
Special Offer! Save over 33%! Order a 5 pack and put this vital information in the hands of your local officials, pastors and other community leaders.
Something tells me supplies won't be running out any time soon. "5 pack"s? Seriously, folks. Who buys videos in a 5 pack?

New Mexico, Maryland Legislatures Consider Domestic Partnerships, Gay Marriage


This past week, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill that would grant legal recognition and protection to gay couples under the title "domestic partnerships." The bill now passes to the state Senate, which has a strong Democratic majority (24 - 18). It is unclear how the Senate will respond, but New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has pledged to sign the bill if it comes to his desk.

Meanwhile, today in Maryland, bills to legalize gay marriage were introduced in both houses of the state legislature. Nine senators and forty representatives immediately signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation, but that won't be enough to see the bills passed.
Gov. Martin O'Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch have said that they prefer civil unions. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions.
O'Malley, Busch, and Miller are all Democrats. Under their leadership, this legislation may be as good as dead. Still, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Evolution Caused the Holocaust

I hate Holocaust revisionism--and there's a lot of it out there. So many people have twisted the evil of the Nazis and the slaughter of millions of Jews to somehow further their personal agenda. People like Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastika, who teaches that the Nazis were homosexuals. People like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran, who believes the Holocaust never actually happened--that the idea was manufactured by Jews to gain sympathy.

People like Ben Stein.

Huh? Ben Stein? What?

Yeah. Stein is apparently an advocate of Intelligent Design. According to the Christian Post, Stein spoke at a recent news conference promoting a new film on Intelligent Design. There, the former speechwriter for presidents Nixon and Ford brought the crazy.
Stein pointed out that Darwinian teaching on natural selection and random mutation "led in a straight line to the holocaust and Nazism."

Darwin said that there were certain species that were superior to other species and all were competing for scarce supplies of food or resources, Stein pointed out. But if there was a limited supply of basic resources, Darwinism taught that "you owe it to the superior race to kill the inferior race," he told reporters.

Darwinian evolutionary theory fueled Nazi idealism that felt gypsies, Eastern Europeans and others were competing with them for scarce basic resources, explained Stein.

I think this is nuts. Nothing I've ever learned about Darwin's teachings or the modern-day theory of evolution has advocated murder or has attempted to "baptize" murder "for the common good." Evolution is not eugenics, people!

I think Stein is committing a disservice to others who believe in Intelligent Design. I know quite a few advocates of Intelligent Design, but none of them have ever blamed the Holocaust on evolution. Stein's comments only besmirch Intelligent Design.

hat tip: Christian Post

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How Gay and Straight Relationships are the Same

This is really interesting. After writing my previous post "How Gay and Straight Relationships Differ" yesterday, I found 43 press releases on news.google.com discussing studies that were just released this month on how homosexual and heterosexual relationships are the same. Reuters ran the headline "Gay couples as committed as straight couples." The Washington Post's headline is "Same-sex couples just as committed as heterosexual counterparts."

All these headlines referred to two studies published in this month's edition of the academic journal Developmental Psychology (January 2008: Vol. 44, No. 1). Ironically, one of the studies was conducted on my campus--in the Relationships Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (aside: Reuters misspelled the name of the city as "Champagne"; now I know how people at Johns Hopkins must feel!).
Roisman, G.I., Clausell, E., Holland, A., Fortuna, K., and Elieff, C. "Adult romantic relationships as contexts of human development: A multimethod comparison of same-sex couples with opposite-sex dating, engaged, and married dyads." Developmental Physchology. 2008, Vol. 44, No. 1, 91-101.
The other was joint work of researchers at the University of Washington, San Diego State University, and the University of Vermont.
Blasam, K. F., Beauchaine, T.P., Rothblum, E.D., and Solomon, S.E. "Three-year follow-up of same-sex couples who had civil unions in Vermont, same-sex couples not in civil unions, and heterosexual married couples." Developmental Psychology. 2008, Vol. 44, No. 1, 102-116.
The big finding of both these studies is the explosion of "the stereotype that same-sex relationships aren't as healthy or secure as heterosexual pairings." The Illinois study found that committed gay relationships were generally not distinguishable from committed straight relationships on measures of relationship satisfaction and stability. Moreover, the Washington-San Diego State-Vermont study found that gay couples (with or without civil unions) reported "greater relationship quality, compatibility, and intimacy and lower levels of conflict" than the straight couples they studied.

This is fun news for a guy like me who just got engaged to a guy :-)

While the popular press articles don't go into much detail, I did read the full studies last night before going to bed. Each of the studies had unique facets to their methodology that are significant contributions.

What's cool about the University of Illinois study is that it did not rely on self-reporting alone. The researchers also gathered relationship data by inviting them into the Relationship Lab, where the individuals were fitted with electronic instruments on their bodies to measure physical responses (skin conductance and heart rate) during interactions with their partners in the lab. Furthermore, the interactions of the couples were filmed discreetly using hidden cameras; the films of the interaction were carefully reviewed to watch for visual cues that have previously been shown to indicate relationship quality. All this data worked in unison to inform the study's conclusion: committed gay relationships and committed straight relationships are remarkably similar.

What's cool about the Washington-San Diego State-Vermont study is that it is based on data from the first study of gay couple in America that didn't rely on what is called a "convenience sample"-- study participants gathered by posting an ad in a newspaper or fliers in the community. This study, rather, was based on the records of the state of Vermont, the first state in the Union to grant legal recognition to gay couples (in 2000). The authors of the study accessed through public records the names and addresses of all 2,475 civil union certificates granted in the first year of the Vermont law and attempted to contact all of these couples to request participation in the study.

Cool stuff :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How Gay and Straight Relationships Differ

A very interesting article on studies of long-term gay and straight relationships appeared in last Thursdays's edition of the New York Times. The author, John Cloud, is himself a gay man who recently ended a 7 1/2-year relationship. After recovering emotionally from the loss of his partner, he set about studying what academic studies have been conducted on gay relationships.
I wondered whether Michael and I could have done more to save our union. What impact had our homosexuality had on the longevity, arc and dissolution of our relationship? Had we given up on each other because we were men or because we were gay? Or neither? Friends offered clich├ęs: Some people just aren't meant for each other. But our straight friends usually stayed married. Why not us?
The results he found are fascinating. First, he listed some of the positive advantages gays have been shown to have over straights in relationships:
John Gottman, a renowned couples therapist who was then at the University of Washington, and Robert Levenson, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, led a team that evaluated 40 same-sex couples and 40 straight married couples. The psychologists concluded that gays and lesbians are nicer than straight people during arguments with partners: they are significantly less belligerent, less domineering and less fearful. Gays and lesbians also use humor more often when arguing (and lesbians use even more humor than gays, which I hereby dub "the Ellen DeGeneres effect"). The authors concluded that "heterosexual relationships may have a great deal to learn from homosexual relationships."
Researchers have long noted that because gender roles are less relevant in gay and lesbian relationships--it's a canard that in most gay couples, one partner plays wife--those relationships are often more equal than heterosexual marriages. Both guys do the dishes; both women grill the steaks. Straight couples often argue along gender lines: the men are at turns angry and distant, the women more prone to lugubrious bursts. Gays and lesbians may be less tetchy during quarrels because they aren't forced into a particular role.
However, gay relationships suffer from weaknesses that are less present in heterosexual relationships, too.
But Gottman and Levenson also found that when gay men initiate difficult discussions with their partners, the partners are worse than straight or lesbian couples at "repairing"--essentially, making up. Gottman and Levenson suggest that couples therapists should thus focus on helping gay men learn to repair.
And then there are factors that don't apply equally to homo and hetero relationships--factors that mean good things if they are present in gay relationships and bad things if they are present in straight relationships.
Gottman, Levenson and their colleagues found that gays and lesbians who exhibit more tension during disagreements are more satisfied with their relationships than those who remain unruffled. For straight people, higher heart rates during squabbles were associated with lower relationship satisfaction. For gays and lesbians, it was just the opposite. Gays conduct their relationships as though they are acting out some cheesy pop song: You have to make my heart beat faster for me to love you. For gays, it is apathy that murders relationships, not tension. Straight people more often prefer a lento placidity.
Interesting. In what ways are gays and straights relationships equal? The rate of falling apart.
[Lawrence] Kurdek says in a 1998 Journal of Marriage and the Family paper that even though gay and lesbian relationships end more often than straight marriages, they don't degrade any faster. In other words, it takes squabbling gay and straight couples the same amount of time to enter what is known as "the cascade toward divorce."
That's where the similarity ends, however.
But straight couples more often find a way to stop the cascade [toward divorce].
The author concludes with statistics on gay relationships being shorter on average than straight relationships and offering some theories why that may be so.

Although the world is changing... many gay kids still grow up believing that what they want is disgusting. They repress for years, and when they finally do have relationships, they need them to carry sufficient drama into those emotional spaces that were empty for so long. Gays need their relationships to scorch.

That's one reason gays and lesbians end relationships sooner than heterosexuals. In a 2004 paper, psychology professor Lawrence Kurdek of Wright State University in Ohio reported that over a 12-year period, 21% of gay and lesbian couples broke up; only 14% of married straight couples did. Too many gay relationships are pulled by the crosscurrents of childhood pain, adult expectation and gay-community pathologies like meth addiction. Kurdek has also found that members of gay and lesbian couples are significantly more self-conscious than straight married people, "perhaps due to their stigmatized status," he writes.

This leads the author to press for normalization of gay relationships--definitely with legal marriage recognition, but also at the deeper level of societal normalcy.

hat tip: Google News

Monday, January 21, 2008

McCain Wins S.C. Primary; Republican Frontrunner Unclear


This is old news by now, but I just wanted to say how happy I am that John McCain came out on top of the South Carolina Republican primary this past weekend.

Going into the weekend, I was very nervous that Mike Huckabee would ride a wave of evangelical support through to a victory in South Carolina. Those fears have not been realized, but Huckabee still had a very strong showing, finishing with only 3% less of the vote than McCain. Meanwhile, on the other side of the nation, Mitt Romney won the Nevada Republican caucuses by a landslide.

The Republican field still lacks a clear frontrunner, although at this point it does seem that the field has been narrowed down to three candidates: McCain, Romney, and Huckabee.

The Democratic primaries have also failed to produce a clear frontrunner, although the field seems to have been narrowed down to two candidates: Clinton and Obama.

This is shaping up to be quite an interesting campaign! And the days are flying by as we draw ever nearer to Super Tuesday (February 5th), when I finally get to vote (along with folks in about 24 states on the same day).

My personal choices? Here are Joe Moderate's not-so-official endorsements :-)
  • On the Republican side, I clearly favor McCain. Not only do I prefer McCain over Romney and Huckabee, but I also feel he is the most electable. I don't think Romney or Huckabee stand a chance in the general election.
  • On the Democratic side, I'm fine with either Clinton or Obama, although I think Obama is the more electable candidate.
An interesting match-up come November would be McCain vs. Obama. I'm not sure who I would vote for in that instance...

Famous Texas Prosecutor Caught in Scandal


You may recall Lawrence vs. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case brought by a man arrested for having consensual sex with a man in the privacy of his Houston suburb apartment. In a landmark 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Texas's law against consensual sodomy and similar laws in 12 other states. The Court found that such laws violated the liberty and equality of all persons guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Charles A. Rosenthal Jr., the powerful Houston district attorney in Texas's most populous county, made oral arguments in defense of the state's law. His arguments included the following statements
"I think that this Court having determined that there are certain kinds of conduct that it will accept and certain kinds of conduct it will not accept may draw the line at the bedroom door of the heterosexual married couple because of the interest that this Court has that this Nation has and certainly that the State of Texas has for the preservation of marriage, families and the procreation of children," Rosenthal told the justices.

"Even if you infer that various States acting through their legislative process have repealed sodomy laws, there is no protected right to engage in extrasexual - extramarital sexual relations, again, that can trace their roots to history or the traditions of this nation."

Imagine the irony now that Rosenthal's own extramarital affair with his secretary has since come to light. The New York Times, in addition to many other news outlets, has printed two articles on the ensuing scandal.

Last week the Harris County Republican Party announced Rosenthal's decision to not seek reelection.

hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Self-Made Man


Misty Irons over at More Musings on Christianity, Homosexuality, and the Bible has posted a fascinating review of a former L.A. Times columnist's new book Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back Again. In the book, Norah Vincent describes an 18-month experiment she conducted by "going undercover" and dressing as and living like a man.
For a period of eighteen months as "Ned" she joined a bowling league, dated women, went to strip clubs, worked in sales, and even lived in a monastery for her research.
Norah was interested in investigating whether it is true that it is easier to be a man in American culture. What she found surprised her.
Instead of living large once she was freed from the social expectations of femaleness, as a male she felt she encountered only a different type of repression, a different set of problems. She learned that the only socially acceptable emotion Ned was allowed to express was anger ("As a guy you get about a three-note emotional range"). She found that women were immediately hostile to Ned on the first date ("'Pass my test and then we'll see if you're worthy of me' was the implicit message coming across the table at me. And this from women who had demonstrably little to offer"). Among men Ned was always on guard against doing anything that might get him labeled a "fag."
...

The entire book, in fact, could be summed up as a politically incorrect critique of radical, anti-male feminism. And no one is in a better position to pull it off with greater credibility than this free-thinking lesbian intellectual.

Norah Vincent's message to women is: Men aren't what you think.

Her message to men is: You have it harder than people know.
Interesting. I'd love to read this book someday.

The Bigot Vote

Hee hee :-) This is a fun fake news story from the Onion that's rather true-to-life. It's a story about Mitt Romney losing the "Bigot Vote" after it is discovered that he once was tolerant of gays.




Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The following is, for me, a convicting statement by MLK about the "white moderate." It's from his Letter from Birmingham Jail as found in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;" who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season."
Another excerpt, this one about the role of time in social change. It's from Dr. King's last Sunday morning sermon, delivered March 31, 1968.
The hour has come for everybody, for all institutions of the public sector and the private sector to work to get rid of racism. And now if we are to do it we must honestly admit certain things and get rid of certain myths that have constantly been disseminated all over our nation. One is the myth of time. It is the notion that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice. And there are those who often sincerely say to the Negro and his allies in the white community, "Why don't you slow up? Stop pushing things so fast. Only time can solve the problem. And if you will just be nice and patient and continue to pray, in a hundred or two hundred years the problem will work itself out." There is an answer to that myth. It is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I am sorry to say this morning that I am absolutely convinced that the forces of ill will in our nation, the extreme rightists of our nation - the people on the wrong side - have used time much more effectively than the forces of good will.
hat tip: Soulforce

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Huckabee on Young Americans' Views of Christianity and of the Religious Right

More from the interesting beliefnet.com interview with Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.
Beliefnet: There’s a book you may have heard about called “Unchristian” which is basically saying that, among young people, the involvement of religious conservatives in politics has actually turned them off of Christianity. Do you think there’s anything to that?
Incidentally, the book beliefnet is referring to was produced by a Christian polling agency called the Barna Group. I wrote a blog entry about Barna's "Unchristian" report awhile back which cites some of the numbers that beliefnet is referring to. Among their statistics, Barna said the following:
Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is "anti-homosexual." Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.
Okay, so back to Huckabee's response to Beliefnet's question about the Barna report.
Beliefnet: There’s a book you may have heard about called “Unchristian” which is basically saying that, among young people, the involvement of religious conservatives in politics has actually turned them off of Christianity. Do you think there’s anything to that?

Huckabee: I would hope not. I think it would be very tragic. I would hope that if that’s the case that I’ve not contributed to it.
::shakes head:: What? Really, Huckabee? Your really feel that your polarizing statements equating homosexuality with drug abuse, pedophilia, and necrophilia haven't contributed to young people's negative views of Christians in politics? Wow.

Huckabee had more to say.
Huckabee: I would like to think quite the opposite, that I’ve made that people realize that Christians are real people and they have a real world view that’s defensible and intellectually sound, and that it impacts people’s lives in a positive way.
::more head shaking:: "Defensible"? "Intellectually sound"? "impacts people’s lives in a positive way"? Huckabee has no idea the profound negative impact his views and his policies have had on people like me and my friends.
Huckabee: I think it would be tragic if that were the case...
I agree. It is absolutely a tragedy that the name of Jesus Christ is associated with bigoted views and policies. I sincerely hope that Mike Huckabee one day comes to the realization of the true impact of his words.

May that day come soon.

hat tip: Beliefnet

Huckabee on the Mutability of the U.S. Constitution, Immutability of the Bible Canon


So a few days ago I posted a quote from Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee that's gained a lot of attention and opposition:
I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.
In a recent interview with beliefnet.com, Huckabee elaborated on his view that the Constitution is changeable, but the Bible is unchangeable.
Beliefnet.com: One of the comments you’ve made that’s getting a lot of discussion in the press is the point you made in the last day or so that we might need to amend the Constitution to have it apply more to God’s standards. Do you want to elaborate on that? In particular the question of people who might hear that and think, “Well, that’s a conversation stopper,” people who might agree with you on policy but feel that the constitution is secular document and should be driven by secular concerns rather than aligning it with God’s word.

Huckabee: Well, I probably said it awkwardly, but the point I was trying to make– and I’ve said it better in the past – is that people sometimes say we shouldn’t have a human life amendment or a marriage amendment because the Constitution is far too sacred to change, and my point is, the Constitution was created as a document that could be changed. That’s the genius of it.

The Bible, however, was not created to be amended and altered with each passing culture. If we have a definition of marriage, that we don’t change that definition, that we affirm that definition. And that the sanctity of human life is not just a religious issue. It’s an issue that goes to the very heart of our civilization of all people being equal, endowed by their creator with alienable [sic] rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That was the point. The Bible was not written to be amended. The Constitution was. Without amendments to the Constitution, women couldn’t vote, African-Americans wouldn’t be considered people. We have had to historically go back and to clarify, because there’ve been injustices made because the Constitution wasn’t as clear as it needed to be, and that’s the point.
I find this interesting because Huckabee's description of the Bible touches on one of the reasons why I no longer consider myself an Evangelical Christian. Huckabee's language seems to imply the Bible was written at one time by a single author... rather than across 2,000 years by 40 or more different authors. He seems to imply that the Bible "appeared" in its present 66-book form, rather than evolving over hundreds and thousands of years.

Let's say we transport Mike Huckabee back in time to, oh, how about 100 B.C. What we now call the "Old Testament" was all written, although it wasn't all collected under a header with that label. Would Huckabee oppose the inclusion of material from scandalous new authors like... Mark? Luke? Paul? John?

Move forward a bit to 100 A.D. All the texts present in our modern "Bible" have now been written, but no one has canonized them together and argued for their veracity or coherency. In fact, multiple "Bibles" exist, depending on which region of the Mediterranean you visit and which church you're at. Would Huckabee oppose a neighboring region's or church's "Bible." What makes Huckabee's particular region's or church's "Bible" more accurate than another?

I agree that the Constitution was designed to be amended (albeit rarely and carefully). But it doesn't make intellectual sense to me to say that the Bible was never amended. For 2,000 years it was amended!

Yeesh.

hat tip: Right Wing Watch, Beliefnet

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Defenders of Marriage

This is good :-)



hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars

It's Raining... Sewage?

You wouldn't believe what's pouring out of a ceiling light fixture in the kitchen of my apartment. Even if you did, you wouldn't want me to describe it to you. Rest assured, I just called my landlord's emergency maintenance number.

Oh, gross...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Romney Wins Michigan







Well, now. This is interesting. Let's review the top three Republican winners in each of the recent three important primary/caucus states.

Iowa - 40 delegates to the GOP national convention
  1. Huckabee (34%)
  2. Romney (25%)
  3. tie: McCain (13%) Thompson (13%)

New Hampshire - 12 delegates
  1. McCain (37%)
  2. Romney (32%)
  3. Huckabee (11%)

Michigan - 60 delegates
  1. Romney (39%)
  2. McCain (30%)
  3. Huckabee (16%)

Interesting that Giuliani hasn't broken into the top three in any of these states. Also of interest: while he had a strong win in Iowa, Huckabee has not garnered a critical percentage of the vote in New Hampshire or Michigan. That doesn't seem to worrisome for the Huckabee campaign on the surface, but the Michigan exit polls indicate that Huckabee's support is slipping among Evangelical Christians and that it is now unlikely that the will win the Republican nomination.

Frank Lockwood, the religion editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has been closely following the campaign of the former Arkansas governor. Lockwood posted the following on his blog tonight:
Mike Huckabee lost in Michigan. But the really bad news for Huckabee fans is in the exit polls. They strongly suggest Huckabee won't be able to win the 2008 Republican nomination.

Here's why: In order to win, Huckabee must have overwhelming support from evangelical Christians. And he doesn't.

In Iowa, exit polls showed him capturing 46 percent of born-again voters. But his numbers plummeted in New Hampshire and they have not strongly rebounded in Michigan. Exit polling showed Mitt Romney getting 33 percent of the vote among white evangelical or born again voters. Huckabee had just 31 percent. [McCain also fared well, with 21 percent.] These polling numbers suggest New Hampshire was not an aberration. Will Huckabee do better among Southern evangelicals? Perhaps. But he's got to get to 50 percent nationwide. And if he can't win impressively among fellow Christian conservatives, it's hard to see how he'll sway those who reject his religious beliefs.

Perhaps the Huckabee "bubble" is finally bursting. BTW, check out NPR's really cool primary map that is loaded with information.

hat tip: NPR, Bible Belt Blogger

Florida Voting Problem Strike Again, This Time Impeding Antigay Constitutional Amendment

Conservatives in Florida have been signing a petition to put a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the ballot in November. Last month, conservative leaders announced they had gathered more than the required number of signatures. Now comes the revelation that Florida election errors have struck again, this time resulting in inflated numbers of signatures. This discovery means the conservatives do NOT have the signatures necessary to get the amendment on the November ballot. Right Wing Watch reports:
Last month, the Religious Right was boasting that it had gathered more than enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot—in contrast to 2006, when an anti-gay petition fell short. But the campaign, Florida4Marriage.org, was apparently using faulty numbers, as it turns out that machines in at least one county had submitted duplicate signature reports. Now the effort is at least 22,000 signatures short, with just two weeks to go.
Conservatives are frenetically mobilizing to find the remaining number of signatures they need.

“Right now we are called as men and women of faith are often called to first pray and depend on our faith and then to come together and absolutely take this emergency sitiuation seriously,” [Bill Bunkley of the Florida Baptist Convention] said. He suggested those who support the amendment spend the next 7-10 days armed with petitions and share them at church, at school and anywhere they travel in the state, asking two questions: “Are you a registered voter? and “Have you signed the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment?”

Bunkley predicts that within the next seven days “if the sanctity of marriage is truly a top priority for men and women of faith” this state-wide deficit should be able to be made up.

This will be an interesting story to follow. It doesn't seem to me that it would be all that hard to put together 22,000 conservative signatures in a state like Florida... but then I must remember that these are 22,000 additional signatures. Perhaps Florida voters who object strongly to gay marriage have already been counted.

I hope so.

hat tip: Right Wing Watch

New Exodus Plan: Make 9,930 New "Member Churches" by 2010


Exodus international, the Evangelical Christian umbrella organization for a variety of "ex-gay" ministries and therapists, plans to grow its network of member churches from the present modest 70 to 10,000 by the year 2010. What must a church do to be saved, ahem, become an Exodus member?
  1. The Church must express agreement with Exodus’ doctrinal and policy statements.
  2. The Church must designate a contact person for this area of ministry, and that contact person and anyone else in the leadership of this ministry must be free from immoral sexual behavior for a minimum of three years.
  3. The Church must have a governing body in place.
  4. Exodus strongly recommends that a representative of the Church attend the annual Exodus conference at least once every three years.
  5. Payment of an optional $50.00 annual membership fee.
hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch

Pat Robertson: Bush is Asking for "the Wrath of God"

So President Bush is in the Middle East trying to coordinate peace efforts between the Israelis and the Palestinians. A noble cause, right? Not if you believe what Pat Robertson believes.



hat tip: Right-Wing Watch

McCain: America is "the Hope of Mankind"


No kidding. In a new campaign ad airing in South Carolina, Arizona Senator and Republican Presidential hopeful claims
America is our cause. Her greatness our hope; her strength our protection; her goodness the hope of mankind.
Poor mankind. It's screwed!

hat tip: Bible Belt Blogger

Huckabee: Amend U.S. Constitution to Look Like the Bible


No kidding. From Baptist minister and Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee during a speech yesterday in Michigan.
I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.
hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin

Monday, January 14, 2008

Merry Christmas to You Too, Paul Cameron

You may have heard of "The Family Research Institute" (FRI), the organization consisting of Paul Cameron and his son, Kirk Cameron. These two men are infamous for turning out some very dubious "statistics" about gay people--so dubious, in fact, that even Exodus finally removed Cameron statistics last year.

So I happen to be on the mailing list of FRI, and I periodically receive newsletters from the organization that parade the Camerons' scary numbers and then ask for donations. Today I apparently received their Christmas/New Year's newsletter. It was nuts as always, but I gotta just give you a taste for how crazy it sounds. The paragraph I've reproduced below is the last in the letter. It follows a crazy story about a little boy who was apparently outrageously abused by a lesbian couple (and yes, the Camerons did generalize the couple's abusive behavior to be characteristic of most gays.)

At any rate, without further ado, the end of the FRI newsletter:
If you will donate at least $25 (and more we hope), we'll send you our latest publication: 'Do Those Who Engage In Homosexual Sex More Frequently Rape and Murder the Underage?' You'll see that what the lesbian pair did in Florida is not all that out of character.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Dr. Paul Cameron
FRI Chairman
What just happened? I hadn't even finished throwing up from reading the title of Cameron's latest publication when he cheerfully says "Merry Christmas" and is finished!

And what a ridiculous title. You know immediately the conclusion that Cameron will draw. Reminds me of a funny trend in TV news captions that Jon Stewart noticed...



:-)

Meet Terrance

Meet Terrance:
black. gay. father. vegetarian. liberal.
The cool image on the left is from his blog, The Republic of T. What I find especially interesting about Terrance are his blogs about being a father to the children he and his partner have adopted.
My husband and I have been together for almost seven years, after meeting through a personals ad on Love@AOL. (I answered his.) In November of 2002, we became parents upon adopting our son, who was just four days old when we took home from the hospital.
That was his first son, Parker, to be precise. Terrence recently posted the following about the recent adoption of their second son, Dylan, in an entry tenderly titled "From Three to Four." In it, Terrance describes some of the complexities of adoption, including the week-or-so-long (depending on the state where the adoption takes place) waiting period before the legal guardianship is transferred.

The baby. We had a long night and an anxious morning, because we'd been told that the birthmother was signing away custody of the baby, and would be discharged from the hospital that morning. The agency would call us around noon on Tuesday, Dec. 4, to let us know when it was done and we could hit the road. They called, said the papers were signed and that we should start traveling. And then they added that the baby was being discharged that same day.

We arrived at the hospital around 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, and immediately went up to see him. Just over an hour later we were walking out of the hospital with him, and we camped out at an extended stay hotel, waiting for the interstate compact to process, so we could take him home. At noon on Wednesday, the agency called to say that the birthmother came to their office and signed the parental rights papers. It was done. They told us she was accompanied and supported by family, and expressed that she felt very good about her decision and about choosing us as adoptive parents. She chose not to meet us in person, because of her healing process after the adoption, but we were open to meeting and remain open to contact in the future.

After about two weeks, the Tuesday before the holiday, we finally got the call that we could legally take the baby home. We left that morning and arrived home in the afternoon.

...

And the baby? We're just thrilled and stunned that he's with us. Parker in particular always want to "see the baby" and always wants to give him a kiss goodnight, give him his pacifier or run to get the bottle when the baby is hungry. We're naming him Dylan.


Awww :-) Congratulations to you and your husband, Terrance! Have fun being an older brother, Parker :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Caption this Image

Hee hee :-) I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the photo that was front and center on the National Public Radio website this afternoon. You could have fooled me if you told me I was looking at The Onion website instead. Here's the image:


My challenge to you: figure out what legitimate news headline could possibly go with this photo! :-) What's so wacky about this is that NPR treated this photo like any other news image; they seem to be totally unaware of the scandalous tabloid headlines that could easily be paired with a shot like this. Scandalous headlines like
Obama throws marriage, presidential hopes to the wind in stunning revelation of 5-year romantic relationship with John Kerry!

Couple embrace and kiss passionately on steps of Massachusetts courthouse moments after emerging with marriage license!

Sez Kerry: "He Baracks my world!"

Local woman: "Eh, whatever. Get a room."
...or something like that ;-)

Smearing Barack Obama

Apparently, some crazy chain emails are being forwarded around the internet that make some crazy false claims about U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama that play on religious fears of Islam. I've copied the text of one of these smear emails below and emphasized the outrageous claims.
Who is Barack Obama?

Very interesting and something that should be considered in your choice.

If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts... this is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us here in our own United States... better heed this and pray about it and share it.

We checked this out on "snopes.com". It is factual. Check for yourself.

Who is Barack Obama?

Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHEIST from Wichita, Kansas.

Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. Hi s father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocate to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.

Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school."

Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that that he is not a radical.

Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education.

Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta.

Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran.

Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag. While others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag and slouches.

Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.

The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level - through the President of the United States, one of their own!!!!

Please forward to everyone you know.. Would you want this man leading our country?...... NOT ME!!!
What a crock. If you do go to snopes.com (a site devoted to debunking urban legends) as the email urges you to do, you will find a page specifically devoted to debunking this very email. Most noteably, Senator Obama of Illinois was not sworn in on the Koran--that was recently-elected Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a defense attorney who became the first Muslim member of the U.S. Congress.

Fortunately, I don't know anyone silly enough to believe such an email. It is a forwarded chain email after all--don't I get 1,000,000 of those a day that go straight to my spam folder? At any rate, thought it was interesting.

Hat tip: Bible Belt Blogger

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Alive Inside

No, believe it or not, this isn't a blog entry about spirituality :-). It's about this cool Guiness commercial I keep seeing.





Reminds me a lot of an old ATI/Radeon animated music video that floated around the internet a few years ago.





I know, I know. I am too easily entertained... but I just thought these looked cool :-)

Guess what we've been shopping for...


:-)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

This Ought to Be Interesting

You might recall my recent post about the bipartisan commission that is traveling the state of Vermont holding public forums to hear citizen's thoughts about gay marriage. Strangely enough, it has turned out that few opponents of gay marriage have come to the commission meetings. There has been some question whether there are Vermonters who are deeply opposed to allowing gay couples the title granted legally to straight couples.

There is no longer any question. Stephen Cable of Rutland, VT announced today the formation of "The Vermont Marriage Advisory Council," an organization of those opposed to gay marriage. Cable clams the group's primary tactic will not be to diss gay couples but rather to "educate" the public about the benefits of straight marriage (and somehow, I guess, explain how straight marriage is better than gay marriage... wait, how is this not dissing us?)

According to the group's website, their public education campaign will focus on answering the following four "weighty questions":
  1. Are all family forms equal in their abilities to foster healthy children?

  2. Is it in the best interest of the child to know and be raised by their biological parents?

  3. Does traditional man/woman marriage provide exclusive social goods (benefits) to society which cannot be duplicated by any other arrangement?

  4. Will changing the definition of marriage to genderless (same-sex) marriage weaken traditional man/woman marriage?
Oh boy. This ought to be interesting.

I'm particular interested to see the group try to answer #1 and #2 without dissing adoption, single-parent families, children raised by aunts and uncles or grandparents, etc. I'm intrigued to hear what they come up with for #3; my wager is that they'll say something about procreation, an argument that seems to always backfire when you consider the 25% of heterosexual couples that are unable to conceive.

And, as always, it will be entertaining to hear the answer to #4. This is my favorite argument of folks who oppose gay marriage: that gays marrying will somehow "weaken" straight marriages. Reminds me of a certain humorous video a friend once showed me



Hee hee :-) Gotta love the meteor.

Hat tip: the Boston Globe

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Discerning Truth from the Campaigns

Check out this interesting article in defense of negative campaign ads published by the Libertarian magazine Reason. The article argues that negative ads provide useful information about the candidates that voters might not realize based on positive ads alone.
What would we glean about the current candidates from watching only their own positive ads and presentations? ... That Mike Huckabee is unabashedly in favor of Christmas. That Rudy Giuliani will kill terrorists with his bare hands. That Barack Obama's serene wisdom would make Gandhi look like Bill O'Reilly
Consider the valuable information that can be learned from negative ads:
Huckabee has changed his position on illegal immigration. Edwards has changed his position on the Iraq war. Romney has changed his position on everything.
Hee Hee. I liked the statement about Romney (nicely summarizes this post I wrote decrying Romney's rampant flip-flopism).

Of course the article also points out that negative ads often spin the truth and give deceitful information about the candidates, which is ultimately unhelpful to voters. I recommend visiting the fact-checking website PolitiFact.com, a joint service of the Congressional Quarterly and the St. Petersburg Times. The site has pages and pages of statements made by or about the candidates, each paired up with a "Truth-O-Meter" evaluation--the staff of CQ and the Times fact-check each of the claims and determine how accurate the statements really are.

For example, in a December 16, 2007 interview on Meet the Press, Romney said
I just talked about guns. I told you what my position was, and what I did as governor, the fact that I received the endorsement of the NRA.
Truth-O-Meter says that statement is


and points out that even Romney has confessed that statement is untrue.

On the other hand, in a Romney ad attacking Mike Huckabee, "Spike" the dog claims:
Mike Huckabee raised taxes on dog groomers!
Truth-O-Meter says that statement is


As with all Truth-O-Meter verdicts, these conclusions come with details collected by the CQ and Times fact-checkers. Also cool: you can sort the claim evaluations by candidate who spoke them, candidate they are directed at, type of issue involved, even by political party.

Cool website :-)

Hat tips: my boyfriend, NPR

Pat Robertson's Visions for 2008

As he does every year, Pat Robertson takes a spiritual retreat to listen for predictions from God about the future year. This past Wednesday, Robertson released his expectations that 2008 will be
a year of violence worldwide and a recession in the United States, followed by a major stock-market crash by 2010.
Last year, Robertson predicted that 2007 would be marked by a massive terrorist attack, possibly involving a nuclear weapon, resulting in mass killing in the U.S.

Wow, such violent visions! Perhaps this helps explain Robertson's unexpected endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination because he feels the New York mayor will best protect the U.S. against the threat of radical Islamic terrorism--in spite of the mayor's pro-abortion, pro-gun control, and pro-gay rights stances, positions diametrically opposed to Robertson's religious right organization.

Weird.

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars, OneNewsNow

Saturday, January 5, 2008

2008 Presidential Race

So we're in between the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses (in Iowa) and the first-in-the-nation presidential primaries (in New Hampshire). So many folks jockeying to snag the nominations from their respective political parties. So many speeches, commercials, debates, and news articles. Yeesh.

My $0.02 on the Iowa results:
  • $0.01: I'm pleased with the Iowa Democrats' selection of Barack Obama as their top pick. I personally find the top three Democratic contenders (Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards) more or less indistinguishable when it comes to policies. But Obama seems infinitely more likeable than Hillary. And John Edwards has never really interested me.
  • $0.02: I couldn't be more frustrated with the Iowa Republicans' choice of Mike Huckabee. Really, Iowa? Huckabee? Gosh. I'll admit the guy comes off as likeable and he toes the socially conservative line... but when it comes to policies and substance, this guy is terrible! C'mon, folks: John McCain is the only sensible choice here! Grumble grumble. Fortunately, there's pretty much no chance in hell that New Hampshire Republicans will choose Huckabee--there's just not as strong a religious influence on voting there. I'm hoping for a McCain win there come January 8th.
So I guess I just revealed who I'd prefer to take the nominations for both parties. But what I haven't done is tell you who I intend to vote for come election day in November. Here it is folks, my big revelation for the New Year.

Joe Moderate officially endorses... Charles R. Doty for President of the United States!

The Heart of the Ex-Gay Movement

Last fall, Erin Marie Daley wrote a thoughtful 3-page article on the Focus on the Family/Exodus/NARTH traveling conference "Love Won Out" when it came through Boston on September. I was quite impressed with the article.

Erin documents the organizational and political history of ex-gay ministry, including the surges of donations and attendance the ministries has experienced as big evangelical organizations like Focus on the Family have begun talking about Exodus in their national campaigns against homosexuality in America. She records some of the standard messages often heard in the programs, such as "fathers, if you don't hug your sons, another man will," the message that "homosexuality is not immutable," and the sweeping and grotesque characterizations of the "gay lifestyle" as "a life of bulimia, obsessive workouts, and steroids." She comments on the confusion and misunderstanding between the conference attendees and the crowd of loud, often offensive pro-gay protesters outside.

Moreover, Erin gives the article a decidedly human touch by following two young participants--Tom, a college-age Christian from Cleveland "in an argyle sweater and glasses" who just came out, and Josh, a 28-year old Jew from Manhattan "in a tight white T-shirt and yarmulke." Throughout the article, Erin provides more and more details of these two guys' stories and records the questions they ask of the conference speakers (including a particularly pointed confrontation between Tom and Exodus president Alan Chambers) and their thoughts of the amassed protesters outside.

I found the most insightful paragraph in the entire article came near the end, when Erin recounts the heavily emotional "altar call" given by Joe Dallas inviting ex-gay strugglers to come forward to receive prayer and encouragement from the conference leaders.
As people crowd the alter, tears streaming down their faces, and others sit in the audience weeping, the crux of the ex-gay movement emerges, the simple reason it can exist at all in modern America: People are sad. They're fearful in an age of uncertainty, they feel far away from God, they're wrestling with personal demons, and the ex-gay world offers them a forum to explore their pain.
Right on.

Hat tip: Peterson Toscano

Friday, January 4, 2008

Top 10 Christian News Stories of 2007; Fear in Evangelical-Speak

The Christian Post is an online clearinghouse of news articles of interest to evangelical Christians. They have recently released their "Top 10" list of events or trends that concerned evangelicals during 2007.

1. Rise of "militant" atheism and atheist apologetics
2. The 2008 U.S. Presidential race
3. Mormonism
4. Homosexuality
5. Creationism vs. evolution
6. Deaths of Jerry Falwell, Ruth Graham (Billy Graham's wife), D. James Kennedy, Rex Hubbard
7. Global efforts toward Muslim/Christian unity
8. Growing negative perception of the Church
9. Government attention given to the "prosperity gospel"
10. Christian missionaries held hostage by Taliban in Afghanistan

This massive (11-page!) article offers a page of expansion on each topic. I thought I'd provide some excerpts from the "homosexuality" and "negative perception" topics.

On homosexuality:
As always, homosexuality was a large issue this year and fueled a number of persistent debates within and outside the Church.

One of the most heated debates this year was over gay-to-straight conversions.

The American Psychological Association (APA), which is currently reviewing its 10-year-old policy on counseling homosexuals, commenced discussion in July on whether therapists should be allowed to offer counseling to persons wanting to rid their same-sex desires.
The Christian Post article proceeded to discuss the controversial Jones and Yarhouse study of ex-gay ministry participants:
According to researchers of a study released in September, change for homosexuals is difficult, but still possible.

The study, conducted by longtime Wheaton College professor of psychology and provost Stanton L. Jones and Regent University professor Mark Yarhouse, followed about 100 people entering ex-gay programs under the umbrella of Exodus International – the nation's largest Christian organization dealing with homosexuality issues – for over four years.

Results showed that 15 percent of the sample claimed to have successfully changed their sexual orientation, reporting substantial reduction in homosexual desire and addition of heterosexual attraction.

Researchers did not hasten to conclude that anyone can change their sexual orientation or that no one has ever been harmed from the attempt to change. But Jones said the study results suggested that "the forceful way in which the secular mental-health community is saying change is impossible and harmful is just not well-advised."
On negative public perception of Christians:
Only 16 percent of non-Christians aged 16 to 29 years old said they have a "good impression" of Christianity, according to a report released in September by The Barna Group. A decade ago, the vast majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including young people, felt favorably toward Christianity's role in society.

Criticism, furthermore, was not limited to young people outside the Christian faith. Half of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical and too political. Also, one-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

Among other common impressions, 23 percent of young non-Christians said "Christianity is changed from what it used to be" and "Christianity in today's society no longer looks like Jesus." Young born-again Christians were just as likely to say the same (22 percent).

Young Christians largely criticized the church, saying it has made homosexuality a "bigger sin" than anything else and that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.
Hmm.

I appreciated much about this article. But something stood out to me that I haven't ever really thought about before. The language used by the Christian Post often struck me as paranoid, sensationalist, and unaware of reality. Take for example the first two sentences of the article:
The year 2007 was a year in which Christians had to up their guard amid increasingly frequent and vehement challenges. Whether it was defending against atheism, Mormonism, negative stereotypes, or liberal agendas, believers across the nation found themselves needing more to stand up for what they believe.
I read these sentences and thought "huh? Who is this pathetic, weak, battered group they're talking about? Surely they aren't speaking about the powerful religious and political bloc that makes up the lion's share of the Republican Party... are they?"

This got me thinking about my days as an evangelical, when I used to move in circles where language like the above was used all the time. Perhaps I've never given description to the common tone of voice I was so familiar to hearing, but now I think I have words for it: martyrdom and fear.

I'm puzzled by this. Why has the language of the evangelical community evolved into this tone of voice? I think it is inaccurate to think they are truly an oppressed or threatened group. Maybe this tone of voice contribute to follow-the-leader mentality and group cohesion? Perhaps to keep a group together one must identify an enemy and paint the enemy as an imminent threat.

But... what if that caricature is inaccurate? Are evangelicals being deceived on a regular basis--at services once or twice a week and even in casual conversations with friends? Is this group a victim of paranoia or of manipulation? Or is there some other mechanism at work here?

I'm curious to know my readers' thoughts, if you have any.

Hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Iowa Caucuses

The Iowa Caucuses, the first step in the U.S. Presidential primaries, are now only two days away. The presidential hopefuls from both parties have waged exhausting campaigns (well, all of them except maybe Fred Thompson) for a full year, and we are about to see the first measure of their labor on Thursday.

It's really a bummer that the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are off the air as a result of the writers' strike (although the good news is that they will be back on the air January 7th--the day before the New Hampshire primary). It would be great to have their colorful commentary on the candidates in the last hours before the Iowa Caucuses.

Alas, it is not to be. However, I was able to find Daily Show footage from the night of the 2004 presidential caucuses in Iowa.

Explanation of how the Iowa caucuses work


Hilarious commentary on the 2004 Democratic presidential hopefuls


Meanwhile, Mark Fiore has put together a fun flash cartoon "the Night Before Caucuses" that parodies the 2008 Republican presidential hopefuls

Happy New Year and Congratulations!

Happy 2008, everyone!

Last night I watched the ball drop in Times Square via television (with a one-hour time delay for those of us on Central Time) along with C and a group of close friends. It was a great way to welcome the new year :-)

Some couples in New Hampshire welcomed the new year in an extra special way: by having their relationships recognized and protected by the state for the first time in history. Civil Unions for gay and lesbian couples became law in New Hampshire at 12:01am this morning, and many couples gathered on the steps of the statehouse in Concord to celebrate, such as Wendy Waterstrat (left) and Holly Henshaw (right) of Brookline, N.H.

State officials estimate between 3,500 and 4,000 civil unions will be performed this year. I'd like to extend warm congratulations to all those couples; I'm so happy for them!

Funny comments from Ed Brayton:
Today marks the beginning of civil unions for gays and lesbians in the state of New Hampshire, which of course means that all of the traditional marriages in that state lost their sanctity as of midnight last night. All of the families headed by straight families in that state are now under an imminent threat. Parents will stop loving their children. Men will marry box turtles. Mass chaos.
Interestingly, the AP reports that there was no conservative protest of the civil unions this morning, only a lone activist from Maine who had driven down to observe the goings-on and report back to his fellows. According to this man (Micheal Hein, who was passing out literature from his group, The Christian Civic League of Maine)

Without our vigilance in Maine, [civil unions are] something that could occur as soon as next year.

I certainly hope Mr. Hein's "vigilance" is unsuccessful and that gay and lesbian couples in Maine soon enjoy the same freedoms as those in New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, my own state's legislature is presently pondering a bill that would make Illinois the first Midwest state to recognize civil unions. Every few days I visit the government website that monitors the progress of Illinois HB1826. I don't know if Illinois is quite ready for civil unions, but wow, would it ever be cool if the bill passes!

Hat tips: Associated Press, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, and Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the only openly gay member of the Illinois legislature and the author of the bill that may one day bring legal recognition and protection to my relationship with C