Could Obama win over Evangelicals?

As I typed the title, I reflected on several posts here months ago focusing on Hillary Clinton. I wondered who pro-life voters should prefer: Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton. Seems silly now, eh?
Lots of Dems preferred Hillary over Barack but not enough. However, on social issues, Obama is not much different than Hillary. And so, given that Evangelicals are overwhelmingly pro-life, it seems incredible that they could move toward Obama. However, Obama is reaching out to Evangelicals, suggesting a meeting with Focus on the Family. Today, the FOTF daily broadcast devotes some time to criticize Obama’s use of the Bible in his speeches.
Apparently, Dobson and company believe Evangelicals could be persuaded by Obama’s references to the Bible and believes some attention is needed to keep them from jumping on the Obandwagon. While sticking up for a traditional exegesis of the Bible seems reasonable for a Christian radio show, this is moving into political waters — which as the AP article points out is permitted in this case. However, if pro-life, Evangelical leaders want to really impact things, my advice would be build public bridges to McCain. Don’t wait for McCain to do it on your terms, just do it. Having trouble with the idea? Just think about Obama’s support for the Freedom of Choice Act and the Supreme Court appointments a President Obama might select.

Changing Abortion’s Pronoun – Men and abortion

LA Times writer, Stephanie Simon, has an interesting article today about how some men experience negative reactions to a wife or girlfriend’s abortion. The article begins:

SAN FRANCISCO — Jason Baier talks often to the little boy he calls Jamie. He imagines this boy — his son — with blond hair and green eyes, chubby cheeks, a sweet smile.

But he’ll never know for sure.

His fiancee’s sister told him about the abortion after it was over. Baier remembers that he cried. The next weeks and months go black. He knows he drank far too much. He and his fiancee fought until they broke up. “I hated the world,” he said.

Baier, 36, still longs for the child who might have been, with an intensity that bewilders him: “How can I miss something I never even held?”

These days, he channels the grief into activism in a burgeoning movement of “post-abortive men.” Abortion is usually portrayed as a woman’s issue: her body, her choice, her relief or her regret. This new movement — both political and deeply personal in nature — contends that the pronoun is all wrong.

We had abortions,” said Mark B. Morrow, a Christian counselor. “I’ve had abortions.”

Morrow spoke to more than 150 antiabortion activists gathered recently in San Francisco for what was billed as the first national conference on men and abortion. Participants — mostly counselors and clergy — heard two days of lectures on topics such as “Medicating the Pain of Lost Fatherhood” and “Forgiveness Therapy With Post-Abortion Men.”

Simon then interviews some in the mental health community who are skeptical but the article mostly allows the men at the conference to describe their experiences. It is impossible to judge how prevalent such reactions are; however, I can say that I experienced grief over my wife’s miscarriage some years ago. I have worked with a few men who describe this grief over abortion. As with other issues we have dealth with here, I hope counselors do not impose their views of how an event should or should not impact a person, but at the same time, counselors should not discount those who want to explore their reactions to an abortion.

Year in review: Top Ten Stories from 2007

Since it was so much fun last year, I decided to compile a top ten list of stories of the year on the blog. Since I am the only voter, the list is subjective and regular readers might arrange them differently or think I should have included another story over one of these. The stories are arranged in the order of the interest they seemed to create here on the blog and elsewhere.

1. APA Task Force on sexual orientation – I first reported here that the APA had convened a task force to review APA policy regarding therapeutic responses to sexual orientation. Initial information released from the APA noted that gay advocacy groups sought assistance from the APA in order to negatively evaluate efforts to change sexual orientation. The charge also involves therapeutic responses to individuals who wish to alter behavioral expression of their sexuality. The issue was the subject of a CNN segment involving yours truly, an Associated Press article and was the subject of several posts on the blog. A large coalition of religious groups and interested individuals wrote the APA regarding the religious aspects of the committee’s charge. Efforts to further regulate orientation change efforts spilled over to other professions, notably, the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The APA Task Force will likely be featured as a top story again since the report is expected to be released sometime in 2008.

2. The sexual identity therapy framework – The SIT framework was the subject of national news stories and identified by Stephanie Simon of the LA Times as an important component of changes in therapy for those in conflict over sexual identity. I did numerous posts on the framework in an attempt to distinguish it from other approaches. Mark Yarhouse and I presented aspects of the framework at the American Psychological Association convention, the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference and other local conferences. A revision of the framework and several high level presentations are slated for 2008. 

3. The release of the Exodus outcomes study by Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse – After months of speculation, Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse released the results of their longitudinal study of Exodus International participants at the AACC conference in September.  Although the study garnered little national media attention, many blogs, (including this one), and the gay and religiously based news services thoroughly covered the study. With additional data to be collected and reported, this story will most likely reappear in 2008.   

4. Donnie Davies – For a short time in January and February, blogosphere was captivated by the “Rev. Davies” and the “The Bible Says” music video. In a kind of “Where’s Waldo” cyber hunt, numerous bloggers were eager to crack the case and learn find out who Donnie Davies was, where was he hiding, and to learn if his act for real. I did 11 posts on the subject and became acquaited via email with Joey Oglesby, the actor behind the spoof. We even wondered if Mr. Oglesby and Rev. Davies were twins separated at birth because of their uncanny resemblance. Will Donnie do an anniversary reunion tour in January? Stay tuned.

5. The Cameron Eastern Psychological Association presentation – In March, Paul and Kirk Cameron released a series of news spots claiming that data from Canada, Norway and Denmark supported their contention that gays die between 20-30 younger than straights. In reviewing their study, first presented as a poster session at the Eastern Psychological Association annual meeting, I disputed key assumptions underlying their claims. In addition, Danish epidemiologist, Morten Frisch reviewed the study here on the blog finding it inadequate. Paul and Kirk Cameron provided rebuttals to criticisms and a nine-part series resulted.

6. New Warriors Training Adventure and the Mankind Project – A post regarding the suicide of Michael Scinto in an October issue of the Houston Press led to a series of posts about the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. I received numerous emails from men who attest to benefit and those who believe NWTA was harmful and coercive. One irony about NWTA is that public proponents of reparative therapy and gay affirmative therapy both recommend NWTA to clients to enhance masculinity. Reparative therapists believe NWTA may lead to reduced same-sex attraction and gay therapists believe NWTA can enhance security in a gay identity. I remain curious about the mechanisms inherent in NWTA and other such programs to effect either benefit or harm. With the Scinto trial schedule for later in 2008, this story will remain of interest through the next year.

7. Montel Williams show on reparative therapy – The Montel Williams show purporting to examine reparative therapy was a lightning rod for controversy. On the show, psychiatrist Alicia Salzar falsely claimed that science has shown that 96% of people attempting to change orientation cannot do so and experience harm. Her claim was based on a study, the authors of which acknowledged cannot be used to make such a claim. The unwillingness of the show to retract the statement led to a ethics complaint against Dr. Salzar, filed by Exodus International. 

8. Pro-life/abortion related stories – The most viewed post on the blog consisted of an interview with Grove City College colleague and historian Paul Kengor regarding the religious beliefs of Hillary Clinton.  Other such interviews have been immensely popular with readers as well. Another APA task force, this one on abortion and mental health issues, stimulated grassroots activism, reported here in November. 

9. Emergence of the ex-ex-gay movement – At this year’s Exodus conference, a group of people once involved in ex-gay efforts had a parallel conference to discuss their efforts to recover from their experiences. Perhaps, the newest ex-ex-gay, James Stabile is a 19 year old young man from Dallas who encountered evangelists from the Heartland World Ministry Church in early September. Recorded on film and broadcast on the Christian Broadcasting Network, it appeared that Mr. Stabile was dramatically converted and even reported change in homosexuality. Later it was learned that Mr. Stabile had not changed and was back home with his parents after a stay at ex-gay residential program, Pure Life Ministry.

10. Richard Cohen – An early 2007 debacle on John Stewart’s Daily Show led Mr. Cohen to pledge on my blog that he would do no additional media appearances. He ended his email with a fundraising appeal. In response to this appearance, Exodus issued a statement distancing the organization from Cohen’s work, and NARTH and PFOX quietly removed references to Mr. Cohen from their websites. Cohen made something of a comeback however, with You Tube videos including his family, and a new edition of one of his books with Evangelical publisher, Intervarsity Press. Then, later, I looked into the Unification Church connections of Mr. Cohen’s assistant director and former board member, Hilde Wiemann. Both Cohen and Wiemann initially denied these connections but they were clear enough that cult expert, Steve Hassan, briefly placed the International Healing Foundation back on his list of Unification Church connected groups. Eventually, Mrs. Wiemann acknowledged, in contrast to the initial claims, that she had been involved in the church and had only recently left it. After her repudiation of Moon, Mr. Hassan then again removed the IHF from his list of Unification connected groups.    

Well, that was quite a year. I suppose one could make a case for other stories, e.g., the Omaha websites advocating violence, the quick emergence and then retreat of Michael Glatze as an ex-gay spokesman, Ted Haggard’s three week therapy, the wide stance of Larry Craig, the Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger, Stephen Bennett’s public division with Exodus, Al Mohler’s comments on biology and homosexuality, the retirement of I Do Exist, and my musical comeback and resultant #1 Internet hit.

Now cast your opinion – What would your top ten list for this blog look like for 2007?

Godspeed to all and a Happy New Year!

What Might Have Been – The Man Who Could Have Reversed Roe v. Wade

This post is another in a series of interviews with Grove City College friend and colleague, Paul Kengor. In this interview, Dr. Kengor discloses behind-the-scenes events involving Ronald Reagan and one of his closest advisors, Judge Bill Clark. In his new book about Bill Clark, Paul provides rich detail about Judge Clark’s role in winning the Cold War. He also provides this look into the rest of the story behind what would eventually be the appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor.

Throckmorton: You have written about several prominent political figures. Your latest book is about Judge William P. “Bill” Clark, titled, The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007). Tell us a little about who he was and what roles he played in the nation’s recent political history.

Kengor: In so many ways, Bill Clark is the untold story of Ronald Reagan’s political career, from Reagan’s governorship to presidency, and was no doubt the most instrumental and forgotten player in the effort to defeat atheistic Soviet communism. Clark is one of the most important figures in the fall of communism—period. Among Catholics—Clark is a devout Catholic—he was the single most significant American Catholic in the collapse of communism, and, in that respect, I would argue the second most important Catholic in the world in terms of the Soviet collapse, next only to Pope John Paul II.

Naturally, one might ask: If Bill Clark was so central to this huge moment in history, why don’t we know more about him? Because of his striking humility: he never promoted himself, always refusing to tell his story, until now—in this book.

Throckmorton: Aside from what Clark did in the Cold War, you talk about “what might have been” in the Culture War, and the difference Clark could have made for the cause of life in the United States. Talk about that.

Kengor: This is the other untold story, and the one theme in the book that thus far has not received the attention it merits. In June 1981, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart announced that he was stepping down from the high court. Ronald Reagan, the new president, needed a replacement for Stewart. At that time, Bill Clark was serving as Reagan’s deputy secretary of state, fresh off a decade of service as a judge in the California court system, where Governor Reagan had appointed him all the way up to the California Supreme Court.

So, once Stewart resigned, Reagan called Clark into the Oval Office and asked him if he wanted to be considered for the court vacancy. Clark said no. He said he enjoyed what he was doing for Reagan’s foreign policy, and he never came to Washington to die there. He wanted to serve Reagan faithfully for a few crucial years and then return to California to get back to his family and life on his ranch.

When Clark said that, President Reagan pulled a note card from his coat pocket—which included only a few names, I believe with Clark’s at the top—and said, “That’s what I thought you’d say, Bill.” Reagan scratched off Clark’s name.

That was a great day for those who have no respect for the sanctity and dignity of unborn human life. They exhaled a huge sigh of relief.

I have no doubt that if Clark had said “yes,” he would still to this day be sitting on the Supreme Court. Instead, the job went to Sandra Day O’Connor.

Throckmorton: Would Judge Clark have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade?

Kengor: Absolutely. Bill Clark would have been the swing vote that overturned Roe v. Wade, particularly through the 1992 case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood. He would not have voted the awful way that Sandra Day O’Connor voted.

Furthermore, we need to consider the influence he could have had not only through his own vote but possibly on the vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan pick that came after O’Connor. Clark had known Kennedy well. They regularly had lunch together when they were both judges in San Francisco, Clark on the state Supreme Court and Kennedy on the federal court. Kennedy, a fellow conservative Catholic with Irish roots, was known to be pro-life, a key reason why Reagan nominated him. Kennedy, however, is a man easily influenced by others, including the anti-life culture in Washington and on the high court. He became a reliable anti-life vote for those who champion abortion rights.

Had Clark served on the high court, the vote on Casey could have flipped from 5-4 against Casey to 5-4 in favor, and perhaps even 6-3 in favor if Clark influenced Kennedy.

Throckmorton: Did Clark know at the time that he could have played this historical role?

Kengor: That’s a good question, and I’m not sure. This much was and remains certain: Rather than win the Culture War, Bill Clark instead went on to run the Reagan National Security Council, where, through roughly 100 National Security Decision Directives (plus much more), he laid the foundation to win the Cold War. He opted to defeat the evil of Soviet communism rather than the evil of American abortion.

I suppose that’s a large enough challenge and contribution for one man for one lifetime. He left the Culture War to others. That’s now our task.

Throckmorton: How can people find out more about this book?

Kengor: Ignatius Press has set up a website, www.TheJudgeBook.com. Please take a look. This man’s life is a quite notable and moving story.

Silent No More seeks support for letter to the APA

Silent No More, a post-abortion awareness campaign, is seeking signatures of support for a letter to the American Psychological Association. Specifically, the letter seeks dialogue with the APA’s Task Force on Abortion and Mental Health. Silent No More would like to hear from women and men who have experienced post-abortion consequences, as well as those who support them. With permission, I am reproducing here a recent email alert sent to the Silent No More mailing list.

Note that the deadline for collecting signatures has been extended. Although the letter below says the letter will be delivered in time for the APA to respond by December 1, 2007, this is of course now not correct and will be corrected when the letter is sent to the APA.  So anyone who is interested in signing on should do so now, although I am not aware of when the letter with signatures will be sent. When this information is available, I will post it.

Dear Silent No More Awareness Friends,

This month’s e-letter is somewhat like one we sent you this time last year! How ironic! We are once again soliciting you to be SILENT NO MORE via your signature. This time though it is on a letter going to the American Psychological Association (APA).  The APA has created a Task Force to review all the existing research regarding the negative psychological consequences following abortion. Based on their evaluation of the data, they will release a report that will influence their members and the media for years to come.

After consulting with various experts of our own, we have decided to send them one letter signed by many.This is where you come in! The Silent No More Awareness Campaign needs you to join us and sign onto to the letter. The letter is below and if, after you read it, you want to sign it – please click on the email address and send us an email or send us a note stating you want your name included.

Here’s the letter:

We, the undersigned, have become aware that the American Psychological Association is revisiting the topic of abortion effects on mental health.

By means of the Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion you propose to collect, examine and summarize the scientific research addressing the mental health factors associated with abortion, including the psychological responses following abortion, and will produce a report based upon review of current research.

We write to ask how we may have a voice in the deliberations of this task force. As we review the task force charge we would like to make you aware of one item of interest and make one request. First, in examining the existing scientific research, we are aware of thousands of women who may not show up in studies of post-abortion effects. Part of the purpose of our letter is to make you aware of a very large pool of potential participants in research on potential effects of abortion.

Second, to open dialogue and facilitate understanding, we would like to request a meeting with the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. Leaders of groups representing women who experience negative post-abortion consequences would like to present data to you from our own collected experience.

The undersigned represent thousands of women who report negative post-abortion experiences of various kinds as well as thousands more people who stand in support of them.

We hope to hear from you by December 1st,2007. [This deadline will be later]

Sincerely,

To sign the letter as a woman who has had an abortion – email: mail@SilentNoMoreAwareness.org and note PAS Women Signature in the subject line. List your name as you want it included in the letter to the APA.

To sign the letter as a man who has an abortion experience – email: mailto:Info@AnglicansforLife.org and note PAS Man Signature in the subject line. List your name as you want it included in the letter to the APA.

To sign the letter as someone who supports women and men in getting healing after abortion – email: mailto:Info@AnglicansforLife.org and note PAS Support Signature in the subject line. List your name as you want it included in the letter to the APA.

If you’d like to have your friends also sign on to the letter, please direct them to our website: SilentNoMoreAwareness.org – have them click on “Join Us” and fill out the form – in the comments sections – note how they want to sign onto the letter. PAS Women Signature, PAS Man Signature, or PAS Support Signature.

We want to thank all of you for being silent no more in so many ways. We are especially grateful for those who have recently come aboard and want you all to feel welcome and know you participation is important to us.  We pray for each of you to embrace God’s guidance as He shows you how to be silent no more.

Blessings for Life,

Georgette Forney, 800-707-NOEL

Georgette@SilentNoMoreAwareness.org

Janet Morana, 888-PFL-3448

Janet@SilentNoMoreAwareness.org

Address any questions to the contacts above and feel free to make comments here as well.

Anne Rice converts to Catholicism, endorses Hillary Clinton

This post is another in the series of interviews with my colleague Paul Kengor regarding social issues and the 2008 election. This one veers off this track a bit in that we discuss the recent conversion of author Anne Rice to Catholicism as well as the endorsement of Hillary Clinton by Ms. Rice. However, the interview reflects different views about how Christians of various stripes will handle the values issues in the coming election.

THROCKMORTON: What’s your take on the endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president by Anne Rice, the famous author of The Vampire Chronicles and recent high-profile convert to Catholicism? That endorsement, which is posted on her website (www.annerice.com), is making quite a stir.

KENGOR: A reader alerted me to this via email. I’ve visited her website and taken a close look at her position.

First off, I must say that I’m impressed with Rice’s earnestness, her sincerity. Her endorsement was made with kindness and charity, with the Christian virtues that she is clearly taking to heart. It is a heartfelt, careful, conscientious endorsement. I mean that sincerely, and not to be patronizing in any way.

That said, it can’t help but clash with Rice’s statement (which was made to Alan Colmes and is posted on her website) that, “I believe the life of the unborn is sacred….. I’m pro-life, I’m not for abortion.” Given that belief, Anne Rice faces a huge hurdle in endorsing Hillary Clinton. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that Hillary shares that view.

In fact, ironically, I noticed that immediately after the endorsement posted on her website, Anne Rice inserted a link to the website for Feminists for Life, which she rightly calls a “wonderful” website.

Well, Feminists for Life, which describes Anne Rice, is not a group that Hillary respects. Hillary Clinton is a pro-choice feminist who has been downright nasty to pro-life feminists.

THROCKMORTON: Is Hillary really that hard on rank and file pro-lifers?

KENGOR: Oh, yes. She has demonized pro-lifers. I’ll give you an example.

On January 22, 2004, she gave the keynote address at the NARAL dinner celebrating the 31st Anniversary of Roe v Wade, where she described pro-lifers as insidiously plotting behind closed doors to plan the quiet overthrow of America’s greatest right: the right to an abortion. Here’s an excerpt:

“They [pro-lifers] have realized it cannot be done quickly and in the light of day. They can’t just propose a constitutional amendment, and make the debate public. No. Our opponents are patient. They are going to do it slowly, quietly, one justice at a time, one legal battle at a time, one state at a time. As we gather today, forces are aligned to change this country and strip away the rights we enjoy and have come to expect. Slowly, methodically, quietly, they have begun chipping away at the reproductive rights of women. And if those rights fall, other rights will follow. Their goal is to supplant modern society with a society that fits into their narrow world view.”

She lambasted pro-life stances by “anti-choice forces” that “seem reasonable,” but, in her view, are not. Among them, she noted, “It’s a crime to harm a pregnant woman, so it should be a crime to harm the fetus, as well. Right?… We even believe in protecting the rights of doctors and nurses to act on their conscience in deciding what medical procedures to perform.” She warned her sisters: “We should be careful in our complacency. Many of these policies sound perfectly reasonable to the untrained ear. But they are not reasonable when you realize the true intention—which is not to protect fetuses from crime, to expand access to prenatal care, to involve parents more thoroughly in their children’s medical decisions, or to protect the civil rights of medical professionals. These policies are meant to chip away at all reproductive rights.”

She did the same on the issue of the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions: “On the surface, this argument also sounds reasonable….”

As the speech went on, she grew more angry, ultimately launching into a tirade about how pro-lifers were seeking to end “all rights of privacy.” She ripped pro-lifers as allegedly being opposed to both science and progress, even though, obviously, pro-lifers include scientists, doctors, medical professionals, people with doctorates and various other professional degrees, writers—people like you, like myself, like Anne Rice and many of your readers.

She finished by shaking and shouting at the NARAL audience: “Our rights are at stake. Our freedom is at stake. Our way of life is at stake. Let’s wake up America!” It was a very ugly political speech, and it was evident from the speech that no other issue so animated Mrs. Clinton. In fact, having written a book on her faith, her behavior in the speech reminds me of her statement that, “I wrestle nearly every day with the biblical admonition to forgive and love my enemies.” This would seem a particularly acute challenge in the case of pro-lifers.

THROCKMORTON: This, of course, is not the view of Anne Rice’s newly found Catholic Church.

KENGOR: No, it is not. The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, said last month that “the fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself.”

Senator Clinton completely disagrees. She sees the right to an abortion as among the greatest of all human rights. In fact, ever since Hillary Clinton and Al Gore began working on the September 1994 World Conference on Population Development in Cairo, the Vatican has been fearful that Mrs. Clinton will fight for abortion as an official, internationally defined “basic human right.”

Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II were constantly working on both the Clintons on abortion, and made no impact at all. They were very fearful of Hillary’s crusade for abortion rights. Mother Teresa pressed her constantly, by letter, by phone, in person.

THROCKMORTON: In light of the stark difference between Catholicism and Hillary Clinton on life, what, do you think, is Anne Rice’s thinking? How does she come to her position?

KENGOR: Like many liberal Christians and Democrat Christians, she seems to be looking past abortion when she states that the Democratic Party and “Hillary in particular” are “more concerned with the life and death issues” than the Republicans. By this, she means several issues other than abortion. She cites healthcare, Katrina, Iraq, and global warming. Rice told Alan Colmes, “abortion is not the only issue here.”

But here’s the problem with that thinking: All Christians, all Catholic Christians, whether Democrat or Republican, whether liberal or conservative, can reasonably disagree over the best way to handle issues like Iraq–which, by the way, Bill Clinton bombed repeatedly while he was president, each time killing not Saddam and his sons but innocent Iraqi bureacrats in government buildings–global warming, healthcare, and disaster relief. This is a matter of disagreement on means to an end, not the ends themselves. Poverty is the same kind of issue, based on whether you tend to favor government or private-sector solutions.

Yet, abortion is an end in itself. It is the deliberate, willful end of a human life. It is the destruction of the most innocent and helpless among us. And there has never been a presidential candidate in all of American history–ever–as uncompromising and strident on the abortion issue than Hillary Clinton. Abortion–as well as embryonic research–is much more directly a life-death issue.

That’s where I respectfully but strongly disagree with Anne Rice. She says that “unborn human life is sacred.” I agree. Neither of us, surely, would say that global warming is a sacred issue; it might be important, even very important, but it is not sacred. The act of global warming is not on the same moral plane as the deliberate destruction of an unborn human life resting comfortably in the protection of its mother’s womb, nor the generation of human embryos simply for cells prior to their destruction.

So, I’m thrilled about Anne Rice’s conversion and her new commitment to writing about the life of Christ in her work, but I think she is way off base here in her endorsement of Hillary. I believe that her commitment to the sanctity and dignity of human life does not reconcile with her endorsement.

This occasion interview series will continue through the election year and feature various candidates and their views on social issues.

Previous 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?

Should a pro-life voter prefer Hillary to Rudy?