Does this claim from Focus on the Family make any sense at all?
Ninety percent of Americans pray every day, according to a study released Thursday by Brandeis University. Half pray several times a day, according to the analysis of four public prayer books filled by patients and visitors at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.
Three-quarters of those studied prayed for themselves, families and friends, with about a quarter praying for themselves alone, The Washington Times reported.
“This is a testament to our belief that prayer is a vital part of our walk with the Lord," said Brian Toon, vice chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "Examples of answered prayer are more common than many believe. Whole communities have seen crime, suicide and unemployment drop as a result of Americans coming together in prayer."
How exactly does one go about determining that 90% of Americans pray daily, and that many pray several times daily, by analyzing prayer books in a hospital in Baltimore?
FOF is obviously relying on this Washington Times article which makes the same claim:
Politicians come and go, fashions evolve and the culture shifts with alarming frequency. One thing remains constant, though.
Americans pray. A lot.
Ninety percent have a spiritual interlude with God every day, according to a study released Thursday by Brandeis University. Half pray several times a day, in fact.
"Most prayer writers imagine a God who is accessible, listening, and a source of emotional and psychological support, who at least sometimes answers back," said Wendy Cadge, a sociologist who directed the research.
I haven’t read the study itself because it requires a subscription, but here is the abstract:
Researchers in sociology, medicine, and religion ask whether prayer influences health, but pay little attention to the content or experience of personal prayer. This paper draws insights from cognitive studies of religion to ask what kinds of requests people make of God in their prayers, how they construct God in their prayers, and what kinds of responses they believe possible from God based on how they frame their prayers. We analyze the prayers patients, visitors, and staff wrote in a prayer book at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital between 1999 and 2005. Prayers are primarily written to thank God (21.8%), to make requests of God (28%), or to both thank and petition God (27.5%). The majority of prayer writers imagine a God who is accessible, listening, and a source of emotional and psychological support. Rather than focusing on specific discrete outcomes that could be falsified, writers tend to frame their prayers broadly in abstract psychological language that allows them to make multiple interpretations of the results of their prayers.
Apparently, the study focused on what sort of prayers people offer, not on how many Americans are praying on a given day. Given that the study was limited to prayers left in prayer books at Johns Hopkins University Hospital over a six years period, it is unimaginable that the author could have deduced that 90% of Americans pray daily based on such narrow and obviously biased source material.
In this piece by Cadge on Religion Dispatches about her study, she mentions in passing that “close to 90% of Americans pray” but she in no way suggests that this is a finding that came out of her study … yet somehow both the Washington Times and Focus on the Family have convinced themselves that that is exactly what Cadge has found, leading FOF to excitedly crow: “Good News: Study Shows 9 in 10 Americans Pray Every Day.”
There have been several articles recently about the future of the federal judiciary under President Obama and how he will have a chance to reshape it after eight years of Bush appointments. Which makes this article all the more interesting:
While it will likely be months before President-elect Barack Obama makes an appointment to fill a vacancy on Middle Georgia’s federal bench, several Macon lawyers and a judge have expressed early interest in the post.
Macon lawyers Bill Clifton, Marc Treadwell, Stephen Dillard and Floyd Buford, as well as Macon Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Tripp Self, have expressed interest in the post or are considering filing applications.
Dillard, of the James, Bates, Pope & Spivey law firm, said he plans to apply for the position although he doesn’t share the president’s political affiliation.
“It never hurts to try,” said Dillard, a Republican.
Dillard is not just any old Republican, he’s a right-wing Federalist Society member who blogged for Red State’s Confirm Them and was among the most vocal opponents of President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. He was also a founding member of both Catholics Against Rudy and later Catholics Against Joe Biden.
Also, according to his bio:
Dillard served as a legal-policy advisor to Governor Mike Huckabee during the 2008 presidential campaign, and is currently a member of the National “Catholics for McCain” Steering Committee.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think that Dillard has much of a chance of getting nominated by President Obama to a coveted seat on the federal bench.
Leading social conservatives blasted Newsweek for its current cover story, "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage," which they said misinterprets both biblical scripture and their own political movement.
“It doesn’t surprise me. Newsweek has been so far in the tank on the homosexual issue, for so long, they need scuba gear and breathing apparatus,” said Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “I don’t think it’s going to change the minds of anyone who takes biblical teachings seriously.”
Tony Perkins, president of the socially conservative Family Research Council, agreed, calling Newsweek’s cover story “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity” … “If they think they’re going to cause Evangelical Christians or Bible-believing Christians of different stripes to somehow say, oh, the Bible doesn’t matter on marriage, I think they’re mistaken,” Perkins said. “I don’t think too many in the Evangelical world are too concerned about what Newsweek has to say.”
We’ve written about a group known as In God We Trust a few times before, first back when they were demanding that Barack Obama publicly repudiate a billboard put up in Colorado by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and then again when they freaked out when they learned that the American Humanist Association was going to be placing its own ads in Washington, DC.
Now, the organization is launching a pre-emptive effort to ensure that the FFRF doesn’t have a chance to place their “religion is a myth” sign, which is causing so much controversy in Washington state, in the nation’s capitol:
"In God We Trust will oppose any effort to place these signs in any state capital or in any government location in Washington, D.C.," promises Bishop Council Nedd, the organization's chairman. "These signs have nothing in common with a menorah, a nativity scene or a Christmas tree. They are an attempt by anti-religious bigots to equate a belief in God with enslavement and to ridicule the majority of Americans who believe in God."
"Why do these zealots have the right to post signs on public property attacking their countrymen?" Nedd asks. "Would anyone stand for an equally hate-filled message being posted by the Klan on Martin Luther King's Birthday? Of course not. Yet that is exactly what these atheist bigots want. And their next step will be to demand one of these signs be posted on the National Mall in Washington, DC."
Nedd says he is launching a national effort to preempt the posting of any more of these signs. The organization is mobilizing its 60,000 supporters to lobby their Governors and representatives in Washington urging them stop the atheist advertising effort.
Of course, this mobilization is rather pointless, as the FFRF currently has no intention of actually trying to place its signs in the nation’s capitol and no plans to do so. I know this because I just called them and asked and was informed that their efforts in this regard are purely reactive and limited to situations where religious symbols are currently on display in state capitols.
In essence, In God We Trust is merely trying to generate some press and hopefully raise some money off of a current controversy by announcing a mobilization effort dedicated to preventing something from happening that … well, isn’t going to happen.
Over the weekend, Family Research Council fellow Ken Blackwell announced that he was seeking to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee:
Ken Blackwell, a former U.N. ambassador and former Ohio secretary of state, has become the second black man to plunge into the heated contest for Republican National Committee chairman, The Washington Times has learned.
Mr. Blackwell, 60, joins former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the other black Republican seeking to be the next national chairman when the 168-member Republican National Committee meets Jan. 28-31 in Washington.
Mr. Blackwell has worked with economic, national security and religious conservatives in his party.
"I am a full-portfolio conservative," Mr. Blackwell, 60, said in a phone interview Saturday from his home in Cincinnati. He noted that he is a board member of of the National Taxpayers Union, the Club for Growth and the National Rifle Association and holds fellowships at the Family Research Council and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
In a letter to RNC members announcing his candidacy, Mr. Blackwell notes that he "vocally opposed tax increases offered" by his state's Republican governor and "helped to successfully lead the fight to amend the Ohio Constitution to ban government recognition of same-sex marriages."
Blackwell first made a name for himself back in 2006 when he linked up with the “Patriot Pastors” [PDF] in Ohio run by Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson:
It was during the Issue 1 campaign that Parsley and Johnson began a fruitful collaboration with the amendment’s chief proponent, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell’s close association with Parsley and Johnson has continued since the passage of the anti-gay constitutional amendment, ranging from public rallies and “Patriot Pastors” policy briefings to flying on a church-owned plane.
With Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign in full swing, the “Patriot Pastor” events have featured Johnson and Parsley highlighting Blackwell and extolling the candidate’s virtues. At a rally on the state Capitol steps, Parsley boomed over a Jumbotron screen, “Let the Reformation begin! Shout it like you’re going to carry the blood-stained banner of the cross of Christ the length and breadth of the Buckeye State!” Parsley then introduced Blackwell as “a man of great conviction, consistently standing for family, life, marriage, and faith throughout his public service.” At other events, Johnson followed Blackwell’s speech to pastors by presenting the man he called a “leader of leaders” with a “courageous leadership award” in the form of a large, gilded-eagle trophy—a ritual he repeated a number of times before different audiences of pastors.
I am proud to endorse Chip Saltsman for RNC Chair. Chip has proven to be a dynamic leader within the Republican Party over the years. His youth and experience are combinations that are vital to leading the Party into the 21st Century. Over the last two years I have seen Chip in action and have observed and admired his talents as a tactician and strategist. Chip Saltsman's management of my Presidential campaign showed Chip's skills to operate in a very frugal manner, something that will greatly benefit the RNC.
As the Party searches for the leadership skills necessary to lead the Republican Party forward I believe that they will find that Chip Saltsman is the right person for the position of RNC Chair. Chip's technological skills will be an important part of his accomplishments with the RNC. The national party needs to function so as to empower and assist local and state party organizations and become a more ground-up, grassroots army. Chip Saltsman will bring energy and a willingness to listen and open doors to new ideas. I urge you to visit Chip's website at www.chipsaltsman.com and learn more about this uniquely talented man.
Organizations:Club for Growth, Family Research Council, LEARN , Patriot Pastors, republican national committee , Republican Party, Washington Times
One of Mike Huckabee’s favorite strategies during his primary campaign was to show up in local churches for Sunday services and speak from the pulpit. It was something he did repeatedly and he always insisted that he was there to deliver a sermon, not a political speech, though it was often rather difficult to tell the two apart.
As guest pastor of a Sunday evening church service at Westside Baptist Church, Mike Huckabee wasted no time joking about his unique situation of delivering a sermon as a former politician who once vied for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination … Although Huckabee, 53, told the congregation he wasn't there "to be political," the first 20 minutes of his 40-minute sermon was sprinkled with references to the presidential election and self-deprecating commentary on his own unsuccessful bid to capture the nomination.
In an interview shortly after signing hundreds of copies of his new book, Huckabee, who now keeps busy hosting a weekly Fox News Channel show, said he's taking it one step at a time.
"It's too early to start thinking about that," he said regarding a possible second bid for the presidency.
Of course Huckabee has to say that it’s too early to be thinking about another presidential run, but considering that he ended his new book with a pretty definitive declaration that he intends to make another run, that is a little hard to believe.
And news like this only serves to make it even harder to believe:
Barack Obama is more than six weeks away from assuming the presidency, and the next Iowa caucuses are more than three years away, but a national poll out Friday suggests that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin top the list of potential 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls.
Huckabee leads in the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Friday. The survey is an early measure of possible support for the next GOP presidential nomination.
The margin for error in the poll means that Mike Huckabee (34%) is essentially tied with Sarah Palin (32%), but he still comes in ahead of other possible candidates like Mitt Romney (28%), Newt Gingrich (27%), Rudy Giuliani (23%), and Bobby Jindal (19%).
Last week, we made a few mentions of the kerfuffle brewing up in Washington over the sign placed in the state Capitol by the Freedom From Religion Foundation that reads "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
And you just knew that if there was some right-wing battle brewing in the state that Ken Hutcherson was going to show up … and so he did:
Several hundred people rallied at the state Capitol on Sunday to protest a holiday display inside that provoked a national outcry by disparaging religion and declaring there is no God.
Organizers pleaded with Sunday's crowd to keep their messages positive, but there were still signs portraying Gregoire as a Grinch. Even scheduled speakers took political pot shots.
"You have led the state of Washington to be the armpit of America. And I'm afraid that our governor is the one adding the offensive odor to the armpit," said the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, a Christian preacher known in the region for his commentary on social issues.
“We want to be respected also, and it looks as though Christianity and religious people are the only ones that you can be intolerant against and everyone thinks it’s OK,” he said. “The only reason why that’s going on is because we have allowed it, and I think it’s time for us to say enough’s enough.”
And speaking of Hutcherson, it looks as if he is still committed to his one-man crusade to take over Microsoft so that he can dictate how the company donates to charity:
Last year Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington, asked concerned Christians to purchase shares in Microsoft and send him a share so he could address the company at its annual shareholders meeting about its support for homosexual causes. During the annual meeting last month, Hutcherson was able to address Microsoft executives, including founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer. Hutcherson says he brought up the recent protests by homosexuals against California's voter-approved Proposition 8.< /p>
And my question to Microsoft this year was, our company is supporting, with millions and millions of dollars, a group that has proven to be intolerant, that has proven to be hateful, violent, and [prejudiced] towards African Americans," he explains. "[Opponents of the voter initiative] are now calling African Americans who voted for Prop. 8 by 'the N-word.'"
The outspoken pastor and former NFL player calls reaction from Microsoft executives lukewarm. "You know what they said afterward? It was all quiet and they said, 'Well, we have voted to continue our charitable gifts,'" Hutcherson points out. "That's why I'm saying I'm not going to stop because they have proven to be hypocrites. And if it was any other group, they would have stopped it immediately."
Still, Hutcherson is urging concerned Christians to purchase shares in companies like Microsoft who support the pro-homosexual cause and to request that they stop supporting intolerant groups.
Earlier this week we mentioned that some people were upset about a sign placed in the Washington state Capitol by the Freedom From Religion Foundation that reads "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." The sign sits in the Capitol alongside a Christmas tree and a nativity scene placed there by Ron Wesselius.
Now Bill O'Reilly has jumped into the mix, calling Gov. Chris Gregoire "a coward" for allowing the sign and insisting that "there's no law that says atheists have to have signs up denigrating religion during the Christmas season."
The Governor's office has since been inundated with calls from angry O'Reilly viewers and was forced to release a statement explaining its position:
"The Legislative Building belongs to all citizens of Washington state, and houses the state Legislature, as well as the offices of several state-elected executives, including the governor. The U.S. Supreme Court has been consistent and clear that, under the Constitution’s First Amendment, once government admits one religious display or viewpoint onto public property, it may not discriminate against the content of other displays, including the viewpoints of non-believers."
The thing about this is that, typical of O'Reilly, he's focusing his outrage on the wrong people. If he's really upset by this, he ought to be blasting the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund which successfully sued the state last year on behalf of Wesselius when he wasn't allowed to place his nativity scene in the Capitol.
As part of the settlement [PDF] it was agreed that:
Plaintiff and all other persons and organizations will be treated similarly to other private members of the public in all respects, including access to the areas in the Capitol Rotunda, pursuant to CCF policy attached as Exhibit A, to display a Nativity Scene during the 2007 traditional holiday season.
The relevant portion of the CCF policy reads:
Public use of capitol facilities may include, but is not limited to, activites such as rallies, demonstrations and vigils related to government issues, performances, community events, activities sponsored by state agencies, cultural, historical and educational activities, exhibits and displays, affairs of state, wedding ceremonies, choral presentations, and memorial services. Authorization for use of capitol facilities shall not be made on a discriminatory basis based on the religious or political content or viewpoint of the public speakers seeking access to the facilities.
So this particular situation arose directly out of the ADF's suit and eventual settlement and the state of Washington is now obligated to ensure that decisions regarding access to the Capitol can not "be made on a discriminatory basis based on the religious or political content or viewpoint."
If O'Reilly and his followers want to inundate anyone with calls of outrage regarding this policy, they should be targeting the Alliance Defense Fund:
15100 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
The Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is heading to Texas for some "private events" that will raise a little money for his re-election bid:
As Gov. Bobby Jindal continues to draw attention as a rising star and possible national candidate for Republicans in 2012 or 2016, he insists that he has the job he wants right here in Louisiana. But that doesn't mean he won't leave the state to raise a little cash for his campaign account.
His next such trip starts today, with plans for a fundraiser tonight in San Antonio and Friday afternoon in Houston.
The fundraisers were described in his official schedule only as "private events" for Jindal's re-election campaign. Melissa Sellers, Jindal's communications director, declined to share more information about where the events would be, who is hosting and how much is being sought from potential donors.
Since he won't say who he'll be hobnobbing with, I feel it is worth pointing out that the last few times Republican presidential hopefuls ended up traveling to Texas to raise some cash and support, we ended up seeing Mike Hucakbee hanging out with a guy who believed that "all disease and disability is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve" and John McCain ended up winning the endorsement of John Hagee, whom he then had to publicly humiliate before the end-times enthusiast could do any more damage to his campaign.
But while Jindal doesn't want to say who he'll be schmoozing with in Texas, he is apparently less than reluctant to be seen with the likes of David Vitter:
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter has lined up a hefty list of Louisiana’s current and former members of Congress to help him with a fundraiser next week.
Headlining the Washington, D.C., fundraiser is Gov. Bobby Jindal. Listed as co-chairs of the event — called “Mardi Gras in December” — are all the Republican members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation and six former GOP congressmen from Louisiana.
The list of support for Vitter’s 2010 re-election bid could help Vitter toss aside speculation that the senator may have trouble maintaining support from GOP leaders after his involvement in an escort service scandal.
So Jindal will gladly be seen with a "family values" congressman caught frequenting prostitutes but won't say who he'll be meeting with in Texas? Does that seem odd to anyone else?
I have no idea what is going on in Kenya that requires immediate intervention by Lou Engle, but apparently he and God TV see something at work there that warrants their first African-based rally:
"Kenya stands at a critical juncture as its newspaper headlines expose the frailty of the nation's moral fabric," said Lou Engle, "but there is the promise of a great awakening on the horizon. It is always darkest before dawn, and the Church is set to enter its finest hour. When it seems like there is no hope, God still has a holy prescription: 'Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a fast, call a sacred assembly!' (Joel 2). We are therefore calling the people of Kenya to gather in nation's capital, on December 6th, to cry out to God for mercy and revival."
"We sense God's Hand on TheCall Kenya and it's strategic timing," said Wendy Alec who is GOD TV's Director of Television, "which is why we will be broadcasting the entire event LIVE to our potential viewing audience of almost half a billion viewers in 214 nations. It is only through prayer and fasting that we will see revival come to our nations and we encourage viewers to tune in and stand with the people of Kenya in prayer, and as they do, we believe the Lord will touch them wherever they live."
Christians and Mulsims are slaughtering each other in Nigeria, a genocide continues in Darfur, a horrific conflict continues to plague the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia is wracked with unimaginable horrors while pirates ply its seas ... yet apparently it is Kenya's unravelling "moral fabric" that Engle seeks to save.
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