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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2010 / 27 Tishrei, 5771

Believers' remorse

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As a candidate, it was a measure of Barack Obama's political innovation and ambition that he set out to win religious voters, including evangelical Christians. As president, his failure in this effort is equally revealing.

During the campaign, Obama's brand of progressivism was refreshingly free of secularism. He combined a conciliatory message — that believers do not need to "leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square" — with persistent outreach to religious leaders. He affirmed the importance of faith-based organizations in the provision of social services, pledging they would "be central to our White House mission." And he made his convictions clear: "I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian," he told Christianity Today in 2008. "I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

The ground was fertile for political sowing. Many evangelicals were weary of being associated with the harsh tone of the religious right; they were increasingly concerned with ideologically unpredictable issues such as global AIDS; and their ties to the Republican Party were somewhat strained.

On Election Day, Obama's gains among religious voters were modest but measurable. He improved on John Kerry's 2004 performance among Protestant, Catholic and Jewish voters. John McCain's support among white evangelicals remained high — 73 percent — but still six points below George W. Bush's results in the previous election.

It was a beginning — that quickly ended. Growing percentages of Americans have described the Democratic Party as "unfriendly" toward religion. Obama has lost ground with religious Americans across the board, with Mormons and Protestants the most disillusioned. A recent Pew Research poll found that 42 percent of white evangelicals say they don't know what religion Obama practices. Evangelicals were a heavy presence at the Glenn Beck rally on the National Mall, and a new study by the Public Religion Research Institute has found a large conservative Christian presence in the Tea Party ranks.

There are a number of reasons for the believers' remorse. Social issues blurred during a campaign naturally become more vivid and divisive in the process of governing. Obama's campaign appeal to reconciliation — which impressed many religious voters — has dissolved into prickly partisanship.

But the failure of Obama's religious appeal is also ideological. It is true that evangelicals are generally not libertarian. They admit a place for government in encouraging values and caring for the needy. Yet they do not believe that governmental elites share their values or have their best interests at heart. Among conservative Christians, government is often viewed as a force of secularization — a source of both bureaucratic regulation and moral deregulation. By identifying with expanded government, Obama fed long-standing evangelical fears of the aggressive, secular state.

This is where an embrace of the faith-based agenda might have helped Obama. The promotion of social justice through the funding of faith-based charities and community organizations is less threatening to religious conservatives than the construction of bureaucracies.

But Obama has mainly employed his faith-based office to defend federal initiatives, particularly health-care reform. "Get out there and spread the word," he recently told faith leaders. "I think all of you can be really important validators and trusted resources for friends and neighbors, to help explain what's now available to them." Such obvious political manipulation only feeds skepticism.

Instead of creatively reaching out to religious conservatives, Obama has driven them toward an ideological decision. America is accustomed to culture war arguments on abortion and family issues. The president has provoked a culture war debate on the size and role of government. If the choice is between bureaucratic centralization and Tea Party revolt, most evangelicals will choose the latter.

There are a range of options between government as the first resort and government as the enemy — options that few in our political debate seem willing to offer. Religious conservatives are not natural allies of Dick Armey's predominantly secular libertarians and could easily be exploited in this association. As I argue with my co-author Pete Wehner in a new book, "City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era," Christians have often been compromised by identifying too closely with narrow ideological agendas.

But many religious conservatives and libertarians are now bound in their resistance to Obama's ideological overreach. Instead of breaking off a piece of the religious vote for his party, Obama has sent a portion into the Tea Party's embrace.


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Previously:



10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


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