Friday, November 06, 2015

Are religious conservatives and political conservatives destroying each other?

I just read an interesting article from Pew research on American religion. Since 2007 Americans are 4% less likely to attend religious services, 7% less likely to associate themselves with a particular religion, and 3% less likely to believe in God. This may not seem like big numbers, but each percentage point represents more than 3 million people.

My question is this. A small segment of Christians are extremely vocal and extremely fundamental. This group of Christians seems to have been embraced by the GOP, particularly since Pres. Obama's election. In the process, we've seen the Republicans shift so far right, and cater to ultraconservative denominations.

Are religious conservatives and political conservatives destroying each other?

Many people, including myself, have left the Republican Party because of their determination to eliminate the separation of church and state. We left because they've thrown science under a bus, bolstering the distrust of science of creationists. (You can believe in a Creator and in the value of scientific discovery. Many do.)

The most extreme among the Republican presidential candidates are often embracing the values of the most extreme Christian groups.
  • fear of Islam
  • rejection of evolution
  • homophobia
Furthermore, far right political beliefs are now becoming embraced by conservative Christians, even though many of them conflict with core Christian beliefs. 
  • rejection of welfare
  • rejection of immigrants
  • embracing military action 
  • perception of persecution 
  • fear of terrorism 
  • racism
Worse, many political platforms are based in the business success of corporate lobbying.
  • a national defense three times the size of the second largest standing army.
  • defense spending larger than the rest of the world combined.
  • a pro-gun lobby that generates more gun sales than automobiles and the highest gun related violence in the world
  • rejection of social policies that reduce health care spending 
  • rejection of energy policies that reduce the dependence on fossil fuels
The Republican Party has condoned these extreme politicians because the voter base is loyal. They know they are causing apathy among voters, however, the apathy is taking place in the wide center, and extreme Republicans outnumber extreme Liberals. They win elections by reducing turn out, not through persuasion. 

Not only does this relationship create apathy toward politics, but now, it seems, it may be creating apathy toward religion. 

Most Christians are very centric in their political beliefs and many see caring for others as a Christian responsibility as well as a government responsibility. 

A very vocal minority creates the perception that religious and political extremists are commonplace and tightly tied together, I believe that apathy and distrust toward politicians has spread to apathy and distrust for the deep roots that faith has built in this country. 

At no point was this more clear as when the new Pope visited America. The Catholic Church has traditionally been more conservative than most Protestant Churches. However, politicians and extreme Evangelical Christians spoke out against the Pope because he is perceived as more tolerant of diversity and beliefs, embracing of science including climate change, and a proponent of reducing violence particularly between religious sects.

Correlation does not equal causation! 

Naturally, extreme conservatives are going to draw the correlation between the time table of the Obama presidency and the fall in religious value. 

While apathy in politics is increasing, and apathy in religion is increasing the most logical potential causation is where the two intersect. There is no doubt that extreme Christianity and extreme political conservatism distinctly overlap. 

This doesn't equate to direct causation either. It's simply more likely.

The sad conclusion... 

While the Republican Party and the Christian faith are closely tied and both experiencing attrition, this attrition actually helps Republicans. 

Fewer voters increases the likelihood of Republican success. Apathy helps the Republicans.

Few Christians however, can lead to overall declines in the importance of faith to our society and our nation. Apathy hinders the Churches. 

I believe in God. I believe that most Christians are good people dedicated to the betterment of our communities and society. Those Christians are being dis-empowered unwittingly by a relationship with a group of politicos driven by thirst for power, greed and pride. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Frances Oldham Kelsey, Doctor Who Kept Thalidomide From US Market, Dies At 101

Frances Oldham Kelsey, a doctor whose work at the FDA in the 1960s kept the morning sickness drug thalidomide from mass release on the U.S. market, has died at 101, her daughter said. Thalidomide was found to cause serious birth defects, but lax drug approval regulations at the time meant thousands of babies were born suffering from its effects worldwide. Dr. Kelsey, believing the untested drug could be harmful, "fastidiously blocked its approval while drug company officials maligned her as a bureaucratic nitpicker" for a critical 19-month-period, the Washington Post reports.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Election Day in Pennsylvania

I'm very interested in politics and try to research facts, but I never tell people whom to vote for specifically.  I'm about to break that rule. Governor Tom Corbett has failed Pennsylvania.

-- He said he'd bring jobs, but PA ranks 47th in job growth. Nationally the economy is better, but in PA it has barely changed.
-- He said he would bring energy dollars with fracking. Of the 16 states that earn energy dollars, PA ranks last.
-- He said he would bring energy jobs, but almost all jobs created by energy companies were for high tech energy and geology engineers that they imported from other states.
-- He said casinos would lower property taxes, however property taxes have increased faster than property values. Expanding the casinos has simply taken income away from poor Pennsylvanians.
-- Speaking of poor Pennsylvanians, he vowed to save money in DPW. He did this by making it harder to get Medicaid, and other services such as Attendant Care.
-- Pennsylvania has always ranked in the top 5 as best place to live if you have a physical disability according to ADAPT. Today we rank 50th.
-- Governor Corbett never appointed anyone to the Governor's Office for people with disabilities, a sub-cabinet position. Later he dissolved the office altogether.
-- Governor Corbett promised jobs for Pennsylvania but he reduced jobs by exporting services. One DPW policy took jobs from 40 companies providing financial management services to people with disabilities and gave them to one company from Massachusetts.
-- Approximately 17,000 disabled people had their lives put at risk and approximately 80,000 high school educated workers had their pay delayed by 6 weeks because of a new DPW policy that forced us to switch services for attendant care, care we need.
-- He did this to reduce costs at DPW. It ended up costing taxpayers and Medicaid more.
-- He refused to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) which was popular, but cost PA much more. Later he quietly accepted ObamaCare.
-- He stood against gay marriage and abortion, again popular, but the Supreme Court disagrees and regardless of how moral it seems, he is powerless to do anything about it. It's all a show.
-- Governor Corbett is also a horrible leader. At least 8 cabinet level officials have resigned in the first 4 years. Additionally, when things didn't go his way he fired the top 5 people in DPW after the Secretary resigned to 'spend more time with family.'

I'm a Republican and voting today for Tom Wolf. Here's why:

-- Tom Wolf was Treasurer of PA during a time of prosperity.
-- He was expected to run for Governor, but declined because his family business, which he had sold a few years earlier was near bankruptcy.
-- He bought the business back and saved 1500 PA jobs. Today the business thrives.
-- Democrats are seen as tax hungry and big spenders, but Tom has a track record of financial responsibility. He believes government should be run more like business, a very Republican way of thinking.
-- Tom is a fan of marriage equality. People think this means 'gay marriage' but it also impacts many people with disabilities. It means that services we receive aren't based on whether or not we are married.

Please join me in voting for Tom Wolf today!