GOP meet and greet at Values Voter Summit: Open Forum

This weekend the Values Voters Summit will look for some consolidation of views surrounding a candidate to offset Rudy and defeat Hillary in 2008. The New Yorks Times covers these expectations and what is stake for various suitors for the social conservative vote.

Feel free to post links, comments and observations from weekend coverage here.

Rudy Giuliani’s speech may have helped his status with social conservatives…or maybe not – 10-20-07 – The straw poll shows conservative support split between Romney and Huckabee.

Should a pro-life voter prefer Hillary to Rudy?

Yesterday, I posted the beginning of an interview with Dr. Paul Kengor on the religious views of Hillary Clinton and her abortion policy. Today, I post part two of this interview by discussing other Barack Obama and what a head to head contest between Hillary and Rudy would mean for abortion politics. Go to the end of the post for links to all interviews in this series. Regular readers of this blog will note a pro-life emphasis on this interview. This reflects both my viewpoint as well as an important aspect of the upcoming presidential race. The question which titles this post is already being hotly debated among social conservatives and is a topic to which I will return in coming posts.

THROCKMORTON: Currently second in the polls, Barack Obama could be included in this category of choice Christian, correct? What are his religious leanings and is he of the same cloth as Hillary on abortion?

KENGOR: Yes, that is correct. The degree to which Obama matches Hillary is so striking as to seem almost coordinated, from the way his faith influences his stance on certain “social-justice” economic issues to the way he distances his faith from the rights of the unborn. Both Obama and Hillary seem to have nearly identical strategies for trying to win the “values voter” in 2008. Abortion will be their biggest hurdle.

THROCKMORTON: Is there a pro-life Democrat in the current field?

KENGOR: As usual, no. It is a tragedy what has happened to the Democratic Party. Democrats get angry when their party is described as the “Party of Death” because of where it stands on these life issues, but they’ve done very little to try to change the label. (By the way, “death” here refers to issues like abortion and embyronic research, not war, since presidents from both parties send troops into combat.) My Catholic Democrat grandparents and aunts and uncles are no doubt rolling over in their graves. In fact, the children of all of those relatives, by and large, are Republicans.

THROCKMORTON: On the pro-life side, activist Randall Terry recently asserted that Hillary would be preferable to Rudy for the pro-life voter. How do you respond to that theory?

KENGOR: This coincides with my last answer. While the Democrat Party is being labeled the Party of Death, the Republican Party has become the Party of Life. A President Rudy Giuliani would change that. Pro-life Republicans find that unacceptable. The Republican Party would no longer be able to claim moral superiority on life issues.

THROCKMORTON: You have noted that Clinton would have a clear litmus test on abortion whereas Giuliani might not do so. In a head to head contest, is it accurate to think that Clinton be the better candidate for a pro-life voter?

KENGOR: It would be impossible for Hillary Clinton to be the better pro-life candidate. That doesn’t and can’t equate. There is no candidate more strident than Hillary Clinton on abortion. Period. The voting record makes that perfectly clear. She scores a perfect 100% from NARAL and a 0% from National Right to Life. A President Hillary Clinton who is good for pro-lifers? That would be a more amazing conversion than Saul on the Road to Damascus. The Catholic Church would need to investigate that as a certifiable miracle.

THROCKMORTON: Rudy Giuliani has promised to nominate strict original intent justices to the Supreme Court. Do you believe he would keep his word?

KENGOR: I think he probably would. But there is far more to the life issue than nominating judges. How would he respond once forced to consider supporting federal funding for embyronic research, or when it came to deciding whether to support the various “population” programs pushed by global abortion activists at the U.N.?

Thanks again, Paul for your insights. I highly recommend Paul’s books on Reagan, Bush and Clinton.

Past posts in this series:

New Book Explores God and Hillary Clinton

More on God and Hillary Clinton: An Interview with Historian Paul Kengor

Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani: A Pro-Life Dilemma?

God and Hillary Clinton, Part 4 – Pro-choice Christians?

God and Hillary Clinton, Part 4 – Pro-choice Christians?

This is part 4 of an ongoing series of interviews with colleague Paul Kengor examining the religious views of leading candidates for president. In this interview, Dr. Kengor expands his prior treatment of Hillary Clinton’s views on abortion by describing “pro-choice Christians.” Links to the previous posts on this and related topics are listed at the end of the interview.

THROCKMORTON: You have made a point to describe the sincerity of Hillary Clinton’s Christian affiliations while at the same time embracing abortion rights. In a sense, then, she could be described as a “pro-choice Christian.” Is there a larger pro-choice Christian voting block that may have some impact in the next election?

KENGOR: Hillary is very much part of the Religious Left, which is united in its commitment to “social justice.” Tragically, for many on the Religious Left, this justice is confined to race and class and economics, and only for those fortunate enough to have been born. They do not extend their social justice to the unborn, which they relegate to the status of non-humans who are deprived of the most basic of all rights: the right to life. This is a complete, utter injustice. They refuse to extend the social-justice umbrella to include these most innocent and defenseless among us, those who most need our protection. These Religious Left individuals include a Baptist named Bill Clinton, Roman Catholics like John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi, and a Methodist named Hillary Clinton, to name merely a few.

Both Hillary and her United Methodist Church leadership would describe themselves as “pro-choice Christians.” In fact, her church is a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

This will shock pro-lifers to read this, but there are actually pro-choice Christian feminists who pray to God for the ability to abort their children.

THROCKMORTON: Give us some examples of these pro-choice Christians.

KENGOR: Well, Planned Parenthood has its own chaplain. Then there are groups like Episcopalians for Choice, Christian Dykes for Choice, Francis Kissling’s heretical Catholics for a Free Choice, and so on.

When I was an undergraduate, there was a group of feminists at a nearby college–the name of which I will withhold–that called itself First Church of Christ Abortionist, which taught that abortion was a kind of holy sacrament for women. I know this sounds completely insane, which, of course, it is, but I promise you that I’m not making this up. Who could make up something like that?

THROCKMORTON: What is Hillary Clinton’s association with some of these groups?

The most disturbing example that I detail in my book [God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life] was the April 2004 “March for Women’s Lives” in Washington, DC. This was a pro-choice gathering that was so over-the-top and in fact obscene that George Neumayr, the veteran Catholic reporter and editor-in-chief of Catholic World Report, characterized it as a Pagan festival, though Neumayr rightly cautioned that this might be unfair to ancient pagans, since worshipers of Baal would no doubt have found the gathering too depraved for their tastes. Much of what occurred there was so profane that it could not be printed in newspapers or broadcast without violating FCC standards.

Women carried signs decrying the president’s mother, Barbara Bush, for not aborting her oldest son. “If Only Barbara Bush Had Choice,” read one sign; “Barbara Chose Poorly,” said another. They held up similar placards regarding Pope John Paul II, stating things like “The Pope’s Mother Had No Choice.” Another sign declared: “Pro-Life is to Christianity as Al-Qaeda is to Islam.” Another proclaimed: “I asked God, She’s pro-choice.” A female rabbi said that to be “pro-choice” was to be “pro-God.” The abortion doctor George Tiller referred to the unholy alliance of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft as “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.”

It was a hateful, intolerant scene, and it was into this zoo that Mrs. Clinton stepped. In fact, her presence seemed one of the few joyful moments for these extremely angry women. The emcee had just finished telling the crowd, “I want to be your dominatrix this morning.” Then, before introducing Senator Clinton, she observed, to explosive applause, “Estrogen levels on this Mall have reached levels we enjoy.” These feminists adore Mrs. Clinton, and she adores them.

THROCKMORTON: You have said that Mrs. Clinton’s former OB-GYN, an abortion doctor, describes himself as a pro-choice Christian?

KENGOR: That’s correct. His name is William F. Harrison, who became Hillary’s personal OB-GYN in the early 1970s in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has done about 20,000 abortions. He was interviewed at length for my book. He was quite candid, extremely open, and very generous with his time. He likewise is a Methodist. He says that he prays to God that Hillary will be our next president. He has described his patients as “born again,” saved from the scourge of botched abortions. I continue to exchange occasional emails with him. He sent me a copy of his memoirs, each chapter of which starts with a Bible verse. When asked how Hillary, as a Christian, could advocate abortion rights, he was puzzled by the question, noting that Hillary, after all, is a Methodist. Point taken.

Tomorrow I will post the remainder of this interview which will discuss the views of Barack Obama, and more on Rudy Giuliani. Thanks again to Paul for this series.

Past posts in this series:

New Book Explores God and Hillary Clinton

More on God and Hillary Clinton: An Interview with Historian Paul Kengor

Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani: A Pro-Life Dilemma?

Click HERE for a related article on abortion and mental health.

Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani – A pro-life dilemma?

The recent articles regarding Hillary Clinton have been quite popular. I am following up with a series of interviews with friend, colleague and presidential historian Paul Kengor regarding the role of faith and social policy in the upcoming election. This interview presents Paul’s take on the religious views of front-runners Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, specifically with regard to abortion policy. Would Rudy be denied communion? Does Hillary think of abortion as a kind of sacred right? Read on…

THROCKMORTON: Just a basic question for foundation: Why do you believe that the religious views of politicians are relevant to their campaign for the presidency?

KENGOR: To quote FDR, the presidency is preeminently a place of moral leadership, and religion is the foundation of morality. George Washington noted that religion and morality are the “indispensable supports” of a successful democratic republic. There is no such thing as a legislator or policy-maker who leaves morality out of his or her decision making. All of our figures impose some kind of personal morality, whether flawed or not. Religion is usually the basis for that morality, and, in American history, typically the Christian religion.

Presidential candidates often point to their faith as justification for the policies they promote during their campaigns.

I believe, the scandal is when you have a liberal Democrat like John Kerry who stated in the final 2004 presidential debate, “My faith affects everything I do, really,” and then cites how his faith influences his desire to end poverty, to clean up the environment, to hike the minimum wage, but then, suddenly, completely separates his Roman Catholic faith from life-death issues like abortion and embryonic research. In my view, that’s outrageous. Kerry does it, Mario Cuomo does it, Ted Kennedy does it, and, most recently, from the Republican side of the aisle, Rudy Giuliani is doing it.

THROCKMORTON: Your new book examines the religious views of the current democratic front runner, Hillary Clinton. How about the Republican leader, Rudy Giuliani? What is his religious background?

KENGOR: He says that he studied theology for four years in college, after completing 12 years at a Catholic private school. By studying theology, I think he means that he was probably required to take some religious education courses at Manhattan College, which was the Catholic college that he attended, where I believe he studied politics and philosophy. He says that at one point he considered becoming a priest.

THROCKMORTON: What are his current religious leanings and how will these impact his policy making?

KENGOR: He has been quite private about that, knowing that any mention of his faith will get him in hot water as the first major pro-choice Republican with a legitimate crack at winning the party’s presidential nomination. The Republican Party has become the Party of Life, and nominating Rudy might well change that image. There are numerous pro-life Christians, Protestant and Catholic, who are going to fight that possible shift, from the likes of James Dobson at Focus on the Family to the pages of the National Catholic Register. They are not pleased that after all of these pro-life gains that have come only because of Republican presidents fighting abortion extermists in the Democratic Party, there is a sudden chance of a course reversal under a Republican president named Rudy Giuliani, no matter what his guarantees about appointing “strict constructionist” judges. They understand that in the real world there will be an untold number of pro-abortion executive orders and initiatives and decisions that would come across a President Giuliani’s desk, and that concerns them. As president, he might at best get to appoint two Supreme Court justices, but he will constantly be dealing with a flurry of pro-life and anti-life legislation.

THROCKMORTON: I have heard Mr. Giuliani say, I hate abortion. How does he reconcile this statement and his Catholic affiliation with his abortion public policy?

KENGOR: Hopefully, everyone hates abortion. The burning question in response would be to ask him why he hates abortion. Naturally, one would presume, he would say that he hates abortion because it terminates a human life. That being the case, how can one support the termination of human life? Once he concedes that point, he knows he’s in trouble. His church is very clear on this, from encyclicals like Humanae Vitae to Evangelium Vitae to Veritatis Splendor to the Catechism to the very recent eloquent remarks from Pope Benedict XVI.

Imagine this striking scenario: a Catholic president of the United States who is denied Holy Communion in certain dioceses because of his stance on abortion. That would be truly remarkable.

Non-Catholics have trouble understanding this, so let me try to explain Catholic thinking: Catholics believe that at Holy Communion they receive the literal body and blood of Christ. The recent Vatican document Redemptionis Sacramentum affirms Church teaching that “anyone who is conscious of grave sin should not celebrate or receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession.” The document restated the church’s position that anyone knowingly in “grave sin” must go to confession before ingesting the consecrated bread and wine that Catholics consider the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. Cardinal Francis Arinze said that “unambiguously pro-abortion” Catholic politicians are “not fit” to receive the sacred elements.The Vatican has spoken on this. It is up to American bishops to decide whether to carry out the policy.

In 2004, a number of Catholic archbishops suggested or flatly stated that if a President John Kerry presented himself for communion in their diocese he would be turned away. Among others, these included Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis, Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans, and even Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston—Kerry’s home diocese. Most recently, in Giuliani’s case, Archbishop Burke has spoken up.

THROCKMORTON: Compared to Hillary Clinton, who would be most pro-choice, if such a comparison can be made?

KENGOR: That’s a no-brainer: Hillary Clinton. If you’re a pro-lifer, and if no issue is more important to you than the right of an unborn child to have life, then nothing could be more calamitous than a President Hillary Clinton. I don’t know of any politician who is more uncompromising and extreme on abortion rights than Hillary Clinton. I know this well and don’t state it with anger or hyperbole. Her extremism on abortion rights was the single most shocking, inexplicable find in my research on her faith and politics. I couldn’t understand it. No question. It is truly extraordinary. Nothing, no political issue, impassions her like abortion rights. For Mrs. Clinton, abortion-rights is sacred ground.

By the way, speaking of Catholics, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II saw this abortion extremism in Hillary, and both confronted her on it repeatedly, especially Mother Teresa, right up until the day she died. I have a chapter on this in the book. It’s a gripping story.

THROCKMORTON: Of Hillary and Rudy, who would most likely make abortion rights a litmus test for Supreme Court appointments?

KENGOR: Hillary, no question. She has made that clear. Rudy would not.

More on God and Hillary Clinton: Interview with historian Paul Kengor

In light of the attention given to Paul Kengor’s new book, God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life, I asked Paul some questions to go a little deeper into topics of interest to readers. Of course, the fullest treatment of these issues comes from the book, but Paul here provides more depth on the reports of “seances” and her views on abortion and homosexuality.

Throckmorton: Many are interested in the spiritual experiences with Jean Houston. Would you characterize her conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt as resulting from a seance?

Kengor: No, no, not as a seance. It has been reported that way, but that’s not what I say in the book. I note very carefully in the book that these sessions, which were indeed very strange, were described by Hillary’s critics as “seances,” but that they did not seem to be quite that weird. Now, that said, they were definitely bizarre and far more out-of-line than anything First Lady Nancy Reagan did with her astrologer in the 1980s.

Let me explain what was happening: She brought in a kind of spiritual adviser named Jean Houston, who worked with Hillary in these sort of spiritual-psychological-emotional sessions where Hillary “connected,” or “conversed” in a way, with deceased historical figures, namely Eleanor Roosevelt. Bob Woodward actually first reported this in his book in 1996. Mrs. Clinton did not deny the reports, and neither did her staff. Once the revelations became public, she tried to joke about them and move on, clearly embarrassed, especially politically.

Now, aside from a “séance,” some pundits ridiculed this as “channeling”—allegations that the first lady and her staff vehemently denied. Yet, these suspicions were not totally unmerited. The work of Houston and her husband, Robert E. L. Masters, went well beyond the typical goofy New Age stuff. Houston and Masters did channeling in the past. Masters had his patients channel the Egyptian god Sekhmet. In her book, Public Like a Frog: Entering the Lives of Three Great Americans, Houston introduced three individuals that she said were available to be contacted through a trance or altered state of consciousness: Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickenson, and Helen Keller. Somewhere along the line, Eleanor Roosevelt also presumably made herself available.

This is beyond my expertise, but in the book I pause to note that there are different forms of channeling. According to Jon Klimo, an expert on the subject, these range from full-trance channeling to sleep channeling, dream channeling, light-trance channeling, clairaudient channeling, clairvoyant channeling, open channeling, and physical channeling, among others. Some of these involve the use of Ouija boards, while others manifest themselves in scary forms like levitation and voice alteration. Among them, clairaudient channeling sounds closest to what Hillary was reportedly doing with Houston; it involves relaxing oneself in either a fully conscious or mildly altered state of consciousness and then listening to one’s “innerself.”

Hillary was not, as far as we know, levitating above a table in the White House.

Nonetheless, what Hillary was involved with had the potential to be dangerous, and is widely condemned by the vast majority of Protestant denominations.

After this, for whatever reason, whether spiritual or political or both, Hillary got back on track to more conventional Christianity. The United Methodist Church, her denomination, came to the rescue with an offer of a major speaking engagement at the annual conference in April 1996. She then gave a major speech on her more conventional religious upbringing and beliefs.

Throckmorton: You mentioned that Jean Houston felt Hillary was enduring some kind of “female crucifixion.” What does this mean and what was Mrs. Clinton’s reaction to their characterization?

Kengor: According to Bob Woodward, Houston had come to the grandiose conclusion that Hillary was personally carrying the burden of 5,000 years of women being subservient to men—nearly the entire history of female subservience had been tossed upon the back of Hillary Rodham Clinton. This was her cross to bear. Now, affirmed Houston, history was at a turning point, on the brink of genuine gender equality, and it was Hillary alone who could turn the tide—another Joan of Arc. Houston reportedly told Hillary that, next to Joan of Arc, she was there on the front line as arguably the most pivotal woman in all of human history. But she was a victim, a sufferer of bitter, unjustified personal attack; she was, said Houston, like Mozart, history’s greatest composer, but with his hands cut off.

Woodward says that although Houston herself did not articulate the image, “she felt that Hillary was going through a female crucifixion.” Nonetheless, said Woodward, Houston told Hillary she would prevail. She must persevere, as the new possibilities for the world’s women were too much for her to cast aside.

Apparently, Houston helped Hillary identify a couple of means for fulfilling her global, millennial potential: Hillary should proceed with the book on childcare that had been germinating, and she should attend that U.N. conference on women in early September 1995, specifically, the Fourth World Conference on Women in—of all places—Beijing, to be held September 4-15. There, of course, feminists hoped to save the world by winning for women a global right to legally abort children.

Throckmorton: Does Mrs. Clinton ever grapple with how she can see the face of Jesus in little children and then defend abortion rights so strenuously? From your research, how does she reconcile the two positions?

Kengor: She is very careful to avoid addressing questions like “does life begin at conception?” or “what would Jesus think of abortion?” She shrewdly recognizes that this is a minefield. Unlike pro-choice liberals like John Kerry, she seems smart enough to realize that once you acknowledge the humanity of the unborn child, and particularly from the moment of conception, then it becomes very troublesome to argue for the right to take that life. She generally avoids publicly trying to reconcile the two.

Of course, we must keep in mind that her denomination, the United Methodist Church, supports legal abortion and in fact is a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. So, she points to her denomination for guidance on this matter and, lo and behold, gets backing in being “pro-choice.” The minister at her Washington, DC church, one of the top Methodist leaders in the nation, is pro-choice. Why wouldn’t he be? The UMC leadership is pro-choice, as was, by the way, a fellow Methodist named Harry Blackmun, author of Roe v. Wade, who, incidentally, was invited to take the pulpit at Hillary’s church one day in 1995.

Throckmorton: Does Mrs. Clinton’s religiously based opposition to gay marriage carry over to her views regarding civil unions? Did your research turn up anything on Mrs. Clinton’s religious views regarding the morality of homosexual behavior?

Kengor: This is a very interesting issue. She has traditionally been against gay marriage, citing the Bible and the Biblical tradition. She defends the Defense of Marriage Act passed by the Republican Congress and her husband. On the other hand, she continues to become ever more embracing of gay rights. This is one issue where she is obviously increasingly ambivalent, and I could see her eventually changing on this one if it helped her politically.

Throckmorton: Do you think Mrs. Clinton will be able to garner any high level evangelical endorsements? If so, who might be inclined to support her?

Kengor: Only from liberal evangelicals like Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo, not from conservatives. Look, I try to be as fair and charitable to her as possible in this book, even saying from literally the very first pages that she undoubtedly appears to be a Christian and is truly a lifelong committed Methodist, albeit a very liberal Christian, a Religious Left Christian. She is also a Christian who in my view is tragically wrong and misguided on abortion. That said, if you’re a conservative evangelical and someone who is a deeply pro-life Christian, you are almost certainly going to be repulsed by her stridency on abortion. She is to the left of everyone on the abortion issue. I would not expect any high-level endorsements from conservative evangelicals.

For more information about this new book, see my first post on the matter…

Can Hillary Clinton reach the religious right?

In today’s Washington Post, Michael Gerson has a look at the improbable question – Can She (Hillary Clinton) Reach Religious Voters?

Citing Paul Kengor’s new book, God and Hillary Clinton, Gerson notes that Hillary is a complicated figure for various religious groups. Roman Catholics are among the most pro-choice voters but also have a proven track record in caring for the poor. Hillary divides these values and may make the Republican nominee’s views on abortion a crucial factor in the 2008 election. Gerson ends his column with this analysis:

And it is hard to imagine that these voters will be successfully courted by the most comprehensively pro-choice presidential candidate in American history.

That might change under one circumstance: if Rudy Giuliani were the Republican nominee. Whatever Giuliani promised concerning the appointment of conservative judges, a pro-choice Republican nominee would blur the contrast between the parties on abortion. And between two pro-choice options, a larger number of religious voters might support the one with a stronger emphasis on poverty — because, after all, Jesus did have a lot to say about how we treat the poor.

New book explores God and Hillary Clinton

UPDATE: 9/26/07Paul Kengor goes deeper into Mrs. Clinton’s relationship with one-time spiritual adviser Jean Houston, as well as her views on abortion and homosexuality in an interview today on the blog.

Hillary Clinton

My friend and colleague at Grove City College, Paul Kengor, has released another book about the religious views of a public figure – this time Hillary Clinton. When asked why Hillary, he replied: “Because I’m interested in the faith of public figures—in their religious upbringing, their spiritual journey, and how their faith affects their public life and the policies they advocate, for better or worse, and whether I agree or disagree with their politics.” Just reading through the press information on the book, I anticipate an interesting read. Here are some things one will explore in the new book:

– How Hillary acquired her racial sensitivities and concern for civil rights at the conservative church of her youth and how that church served (in her words) as her “second home.”

– How Mrs. Clinton’s faith ebbed during her college years and during her involvement in radical politics in the 1960s and 1970s, before she and Bill decided to “get back to church” in the early 1980s, and how their choice of churches raised suspicions in Arkansas over political motivations. God and Hillary Rodham Clinton includes new information on Bill’s choice of the one of 60 Baptist churches in Little Rock that televised Sunday services. Bill found a seat in the choir, directly behind the minister and in full camera range for the voters of Arkansas.

– How Bill Clinton’s pro-life pastor in Arkansas helped him come to a pro-choice position on abortion, and how the abortion issue has haunted both of Clintons as pro-choice Christians, and caused a permanent separation between them and pro-life Christians. There is no issue closer to Mrs. Clinton’s heart than abortion rights—to which she holds a nearly religious devotion—so much so that it has become a kind of political theology to the senator, equipped with its own set of apologetics.

– On the abortion issue, Kengor has provided unprecedented information on Mrs. Clinton and the root causes of her position. Interviewed several times for this book is Mrs. Clinton’s close friend and one-time OB-GYN, William F. Harrison, the nationally known Fayetteville, Arkansas abortion doctor. Harrison was very candid, and provided telling insights into Hillary’s sudden deep devotion to the cause of abortion rights by the time of Roe v. Wade, a marked moment on her political-religious path from Park Ridge Methodist to the White House.

– How the First Lady did indeed participate in strange moments of imaginary conversation with a deceased Eleanor Roosevelt from the solarium atop the White House. The woman who arranged these sessions and became very close to Hillary—Jean Houston—compared Hillary to Joan of Arc. Houston was widely known for her work delving into altered consciousness, the spirit world, and psychic experiences, and who in the 1960s had reportedly conducted experiments with LSD. According to one source, Houston seemed to believe that the embattled First Lady was going through a kind of female crucifixion, and that she was arguably the most pivotal woman in all of human history.

– How Mrs. Clinton is a strong advocate of prayer in public schools. Quoting her husband, she notes that “nothing in the First Amendment converts our public schools into religion-free zones, or requires all religious expression to be left behind at the schoolhouse door…. [R]eligion is too important in our history and our heritage for us to keep it out of our schools.”

– How Hillary, a self-described “old-fashioned Methodist,” endorses John Wesley’s credo that “the world is my parish.” Hillary cites Jesus Christ as the chief motivation in her government-based healthcare ministry to children. “We know so well what Jesus said to his disciples, holding a small child in his arms, that whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me, but the one who sends me,” says Hillary. “Take the image we have of Jesus—of Jesus as the Shepherd. Taking that face and transposing it onto the face of every child we see, then we would ask ourselves, ‘Would I turn that child away from the health care that child needs?’”

– How Senator Clinton’s faith is responsible for her position that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman.

Looks like a good read heading into the political season.

Addendum: Click the link for additional posts and information regarding abortion and mental health.

Addendum 2: The Washington Post columnist, Michael Gerson, covers this issue this morning.

Stephen Bennett declares “public divide” with Exodus

Stephen Bennett weighs in on the recent LA Times article and CNN appearance of Alan Chambers.

Stephen takes issue with suggestions from Al Mohler and others that biological factors may be involved in homosexuality:

There is ZERO biological, scientific “evidence” for homosexuality to this date. The biblical evidence for homosexuality is very clear: it’s sin.

Ominously, he declares:

“What we see here is the public divide of the pro-family movement.”

Well, since he brought it up…

I think there have been some significant tensions among social conservatives that may be a part of the broader development of evangelicalism. Of late, divides have occured over environmental policy and abortion. I think we are seeing tensions now over sexuality.

APA appoints task force on abortion and mental health

First mentioned in passing in a January 21 New York Times article, the APA has appointed a task force to conduct an updated review of research on abortion and mental health outcomes. In contrast to the more public process used by the APA to appoint the task force on sexual orientation responses, the APA did not consult the membership for nominations. The APA reached back to partially reconfigure the 1989 task force that found minimal mental health risk in abortion. The members of the Task Force are:

Mark Appelbaum, PhD, University of California, San Diego

Linda Beckman, PhD, California School of Professional Psychology

Mary Ann Dutton, PhD, Georgetown University School of Medicine

Brenda Major, PhD, University of California-Santa Barbara

Nancy Felipe Russo, PhD, Arizona State University

Carolyn West, PhD, University of Washington, Tacoma

According to Rhea Farberman, PR Officer at APA,

A slate of potential members for this task force was determined based on a database search of research on abortion and related issues. That initial list was reviewed by the APA Committee on Women in Psychology which sent recommendations to the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest which in turn sent recommendations to the APA Board of Directors. The Board of Directors made the final appointments to the task force.

The task force was constituted with the following goals:

Include leading researchers who were members of the group that did the review 15 years ago, while not completely reconstituting the original group;

Include research and practice expertise in the following areas: social attitudes, sexual behaviors, violence/trauma/sexual assault, women’s mental health, and minority populations; and,

Include a methodologist, because so many of the most visible/critical questions are methodological in nature.

Concerning the final composition of the task force, three of the task force members have prior expertise directly related to issue of abortion and mental health; the other three have expertise in the related issues noted above.

Rhea added that any information germane to the charge of the Task Force is welcome – it doesn’t necessarily have to be from members — and can be sent to: Women’s Program Office, American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.

The manner and members of the task force have raised some questions. One psychologist I interviewed, Dr. Rachel MacNair, wonders about the objectivity of this committee. Dr. MacNair is the author of Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The psychological consequences of killing. Dr. MacNair says she is a “pro-life feminist” who “sees all violence as connected and wrong, with abortion being one kind of violence.” She observed that half of the task force have been openly critical of pro-life views and have public positions negating any relationship between abortion and negative mental health consequences. Dr. MacNair also believes qualified people were overlooked by the APA’s selection process.

Would the committee’s credibility have been strengthened by including members with opposing perspectives? Dr. MacNair thinks so and told me, “Only if the report comes out with conclusions opposite to what one would expect with the ideological commitment of half of its members will it have credibility. If it comes out as predicted, the absence of balance on the task force will be a problem for its scientific credibility.”

You can read more of Dr. MacNair’s thoughts in a column I just posted on my website call Abortion and American Psychology.

UPDATE: 5/18/07 – The Washington Times carried the Abortion and American Psychology column today.