The Pew Forum has this summary of the results of their 2007 survey on abortion views. There is a strong correlation between religious identification and the position held. The most support for legal abortion comes from those who identify as Jews. The least support comes from Jehovah's Witnesses. Even stronger is the correlation between practice and position, with 61% of those who attend services weekly opposing abortion.

Overall, U.S. citizens polled at 18% favoring legal aborion in all cases, 35% legal in most cases, 24% illegal in most cases, and 16% illegal in all cases.

For those of us on the Pro-Life side, the most heartening statistic is that less than 1 in 5 Americans favors completely unrestricted legal aborion, and 3 out of 4 favor some restriction.
The story from The Pew Forum:

A few tidbits

Collectively, Protestants account for more than half (54.7%) of the 111th Congress, about the same proportion as their share of the U.S. adult population (51.3%). But American Protestantism is very diverse and encompasses more than a dozen major denominational families, such as Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians, all with unique beliefs, practices and histories. When these Protestant denominational families are considered as separate religious groups, Catholics are the single largest religious group in the 111th Congress. Catholics, who account for nearly one-quarter of the U.S. adult population, make up about 30% of Congress. Indeed, the number of Catholics in Congress is two-and-a-half times the size of the next largest religious group, Baptists, who make up about 12% of the members.
. . .
Differences become much more pronounced at the party level. While 70.8% of congressional Republicans are Protestant, fewer than half of Democrats (43.6%) belong to Protestant denominational families. On the other hand, the share of Democratic members who are Catholic (36.6%) is much greater than the number of Catholic GOP members (21%). And while Jews make up 13.4% of all congressional Democrats (including two independents who tend to caucus with the Democrats), they account for just 0.9% of congressional Republicans, with one Jewish Republican in the House and one in the Senate.
. . .
In many ways, the changes in the religious makeup of Congress during the last half-century mirror broader changes in American society. Congress, like the nation as a whole, has become much less Protestant and more religiously diverse. Indeed, the total percentage of Protestants in Congress has dropped from 74.1% in 1961 to 54.7% today, which roughly tracks with broader religious demographic trends during this period. As recently as the early 1980s, nearly two-thirds of Americans identified themselves as Protestants. In the recent Landscape Survey, the number of self-identified Protestants dropped to 51.3%.

Not surprisingly, many of the major Protestant denominational families have lost ground in Congress in the past 50 years. Methodists, who made up nearly one-in-five members (18.2%) of the 87th Congress, which was seated in 1961, make up only 10.7% of the 111th Congress. The share of Presbyterians and Episcopalians also has dropped significantly during this period, from 13.7% and 12.4%, respectively, to 8.1% and 7.1% in the new Congress. Finally, Congregationalists have dropped from 5.1% to 1.1% during this period.

A few Protestant groups have fared somewhat better, however. From 1961 to today, the number of Baptists in Congress has remained roughly the same, at around 12%, as has the Lutheran share (around 4%).
The Pew Forum has completed and released this study of media coverage of religious issues during the presidential campaign.

Religion played a much more significant role in the media coverage of President-elect Barack Obama than it did in the press treatment of Republican nominee John McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign, but much of the coverage related to false yet persistent rumors that Obama is a Muslim.

Meanwhile, there was little attempt by the news media during the campaign to comprehensively examine the role of faith in the political values and policies of the candidates, save for those of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

And when religion-focused campaign stories were covered by the mainstream press, often the context was negative, controversial or focused on a perceived political problem.


The whole article is informative. One conclusion I have: when media types try to investigate religious issues, they become unprepared foreign correspondents.
Christianity Today has these stories:

Protestant pastors polled on presidential preference yields surprises--

1. Self identified "mainline" pastors not more pro-Obama (they were split).
2. A sizeable minority of pastors are still undecided.
3. A majority [of] pastors endorsed candidates outside of their church role.


Evangelicals polled in swing states. As expected, McCain leads, but, has a surprisingly small lead in Indiana.

Indiana: 57 (McCain) 33 (Obama) percent
Florida: 72-21
Ohio: 61-33
Pennsylvania: 62-31



From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life,

Oct. 27 marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the International Religious Freedom Act, a law that made the promotion of religious freedom a basic aim of U.S. foreign policy. The passage of the legislation marked the culmination of a campaign of unlikely religious allies, who went on to champion other international human rights causes. Pew Forum Visiting Senior Fellow Allen Hertzke, an eyewitness observer of the birth and growth of the international religious freedom movement and author of Freeing God's Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights (2004), recounts what he witnessed in Washington, D.C., a decade ago and discusses the difference the landmark legislation has made in promoting religious freedom worldwide.

Read the full article.
Sarah Palin is a Christian, baptized Roman Catholic, but has belonged to the Assemblies of God for quite a while. The Assemblies are a pentecostal denomination. Assembly of God website.

The Pew Forum has this biographical overview of Palin, along with links to articles on her religion.

The Pew Forum website also has this essay with statistics on pentecostalism.

So far, I think the most powerful member of the Assembly of God in Washington was Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Brief, preliminary thoughts: On the plus side, if Palin has internalized the Assemblies doctrines and ethos, she will be driven by a concern for right and wrong, not popularity. She will have a source of strength that may enable her to transcend the forces that shape people inside the Beltway. On the negative side, the Assemblies' doctrines and ethos do not lend themselves to compromise. The Assemblies, and pentecostalism in general, do not have the lengthy and sophisticated intellectual tradition regarding political practice that can be found within Roman Catholicism, Reformed thought, or Lutheranism. She will need to reach outside her tradition if she tries to think through to a well-developed Christian political worldview.

Perhaps someone will give her some of Reinhold Niebuhr's books.
So argues Ryan Anderson in the latest First Things. Worth reading and reflecting on.

For my own position see this post and its links.

I don't think a Protestant embrace of Natural Law reasoning is as simple for Protestants as Anderson asserts. Note that he quotes only Martin Luther King, Jr. as his example of a Protestant using natural law argument (indirectly, at best, since King is quoting Augustine and Aquinas). The Lutheran and Reformed traditions have had some serious suspicions about the ability of human reason to know God's will apart from revelation. Anabaptist groups are not that interested, historically, in convincing the larger culture of anything by argument. And American evangelicals, generally speaking, have little experience in laying out a vision for the good life, individually and socially, without quoting Scripture.
Recent comments by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore leader of world-wide Anglicanism, show a tremendous lack of critical intellect. Story from The Mail online.

Dr Rowan Williams also criticised Christianity's history for its violence, its use of harsh punishments and its betrayal of its peaceful principles.
His comments came in a highly conciliatory letter to Islamic leaders calling for an alliance between the two faiths for 'the common good'.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has admitted that Christian doctrine is offensive to muslims
But it risked fresh controversy for the Archbishop in the wake of his pronouncement earlier this year that a place should be found for Islamic sharia law in the British legal system.


(Sigh), where to begin? He seems to assume that Christianity is pacifist, a point that is at least debatable. And, Anglicanism has never been pacifist. And finding a place for Sharia in the British legal system? How can one have a nation if more than one system of Basic Law is in place? Sharia? a blueprint for the oppression of women, punishment of "apostates," discrimination against non-Muslims, etc.

The Archbishop's letter is a reply to feelers to Christians put out by Islamic leaders from 43 countries last autumn.
In it, Dr Williams said violence is incompatible with the beliefs of either faith and that, once that principle is accepted, both can work together against poverty and prejudice and to help the environment.


What? Islam spread by force of violent conquest. The Q'uran advocates violence against unbelievers. Muhammad, the exemplar of how to live, engaged in acts of violence in consolidating his power. Islam and violence are extremely compatible. What a ninny.

He also said the Christian belief in the Trinity - that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost at the same time - 'is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims'.
Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with the Islamic view that there is just one all-powerful God.
Dr Williams added: 'It is all the more important for the sake of open and careful dialogue that we try to clarify what we do and do not mean by it, and so I trust that what follows will be read in this spirit.'


What does he mean "sometimes offensive, to Muslims?" The Doctrine of the Trinity is inherently offensive to Muslims who believe Allah to exist in splendid unitary isolation. And why do I think that Williams call "to clarify what we do and do not mean by it" will involve backpedaling on this most fundamental Christian doctrine.

He told Muslim leaders that faith has no connection with political power or force, and that Christians have in the past betrayed this idea.

What? Only if Christianity is to have absolutely no relationship, directly or indirectly with government, which as St. Paul said, has been given the sword by God. I was not aware that Anglicanism had secretly been Anabaptist all along.

'Religious identity has often been confused with cultural or national integrity, with structures of social control, with class and regional identities, with empire: and it has been imposed in the interest of all these and other forms of power,' he said.

Such as when the Royal Navy in the nineteenth century unilaterally ended the slave trade across the Atlantic, a projection of power rooted in evangelical Christian conviction.

As Bugs Bunny says, What a Maroon!



Story here from the Sidney Morning Herald.

Words of wisdom, once again uttered by Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sidney:

"Ruthless commercial forces are telling young people that this is the way forward, that this is the modern way, and they remain totally silent on the difficulty and damage this does to marriage and family life."
Pope Benedict XVI continues to hold the line on Roman Catholic doctrine, as evidenced by the recent appointment of Archbishop Raymond Burke, recently of St. Louis, to head the Supreme Tribunal, the highest court for ecclesiastical law.

From USA TODAY:

Burke has led the charge among a handful of U.S. bishops to discipline Catholic politicians who stray from church teaching. In 2004, he told Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry he could not receive Communion in St. Louis because of his support of abortion rights and in 2007 said he would refuse Communion to then-Republican candidate former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani for the same reason.

Full Story.

Official Site of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The front page contains Burke's farewell statement upon his new appointment.

Burke's traditional Roman Catholicism can be seen in this excerpt from a 2007 column:

Last year, in the face of the fierce battle to prevent the approval of a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to clone human life for the purposes of scientific experiment, the Archdiocese
launched the Rosary Crusade for the Protection of Embryonic Human Life. As you know, now the battle ground has shifted. Now, we must work steadfastly and tirelessly to repeal the constitutional amendment
which was passed. I urge you to continue to pray the Rosary daily for the work of the Respect Life Apostolate, for the reversal of the decisions in
Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, and the reversal of ďAmendment 2").

The Rosary is one of the most effective prayers in the Church. Many victories of the Church are connected to a crusade of praying the Rosary, for example, the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. It is my desire to renew publicly the Rosary Crusade in the Archdiocese, during the next months. If you have remained faithful in praying the Rosary for the Protection of Embryonic Human Life, please continue the same. If you have not yet begun or have discontinued the praying of the Rosary, I ask you to begin praying, at least some decades of the Rosary, from today forward. Our Blessed Mother never fails to hear the pleas of her children, especially when they are on behalf of innocent and defenseless unborn human lives or the lives of those who are heavily burdened by advanced years, special needs or serious illness.


From a Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Burke's which drew some attention at the time:

39. But, there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, that a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the innocent, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, human cloning or the recognition of a same-sex relationship as legal marriage. These elements are so fundamental to the common good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter how good.

Ol' Benny 16 knows how to pope.