As recently as 2004, when evangelicals were credited with reelecting George W. Bush, sexual mores defined the culture wars. But as the economy has become the political priority for liberals and conservatives alike, traditional culture-war issues—abortion, gay marriage—have been blunted as weapons in the political theater.
On Nov. 30, about a dozen moderate Christian leaders gathered for a meeting in Washington, D.C. Their colleagues on the religious right had been delivering a potent new message about God and country, of fear and domination, that was resonating among Christians and conservatives nationwide.
A mystic and the modern woman.
It's like a Hollywood movie. One spouse goes off to work at the Supreme Court, that most august of institutions, where formality and discretion reign. The other puts on her power suit—and occasionally, a foam Lady Liberty crown—and enters the raucous, chaotic world of Tea Party politics and Fox News pontificating.
What exactly is a "mama grizzly"? If the grizzlies are united by an anti-establishment fury rooted in maternal concern, then it's fair to ask what their records show they've done for kids. Not just for their own kids—which in Palin's case, especially, is well documented—but for America's kids, and their families as well. Even some Republicans wonder whether all the fearsome roars are merely election-year antics with little substance.
Conventional wisdom in the last election cycle held that Mitt Romney could never win the hearts of America's conservative evangelicals—the Republican base—because he's Mormon, and evangelicals don't consider Mormons to be properly Christian. "I don't believe conservative Christians will vote for a Mormon, but that remains to be seen," James Dobson, then chairman of Focus on the Family, told radio host Laura Ingraham in the run-up to the 2008 contest.
While researching their forthcoming book about American religion, the Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam and his colleagues polled on this hypothetical question: Say a group of Buddhists wanted to build a large temple in your community. How would you feel?
Instead of consoling the victims of priestly sexual abuse or bridging the divide with Anglicans, Pope Benedict is hitting all the wrong notes in his trip to the United Kingdom.
Here is the latest semantic assault from the party that brought you "Islamo-facism" (circa 2005) and "Axis of Evil" (2002). The term "stealth jihad" is suddenly voguish among politically ambitious right-wingers who see President Obama's approach to terrorism as insufficient.
Do hard times produce more fundamentalists? Do prosperous times produce more do-gooders? Will a lengthy economic slump pull people into the pews to pray for jobs and ladle soup for needier neighbors? Or will it keep people at home on the couch, nursing psychic wounds and cursing their creator?
It sounds like a Catskills-era joke with a Jewish lawyer in the punch line, but among Jewish leaders it's deadly serious. Why does it cost so much to be Jewish? At a time when American families are tightening household budgets, does it really make sense to continue to charge thousands of dollars to participate in Jewish life?
The Vatican has clearly stated that when investigating cases of sex abuse, "civil law concerning the reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed." History shows, however, that such cooperation is not always the norm. For more than a thousand years in Europe, church and state were rarely separate.