Sunday, September 27, 2015

The 3 - September 27, 2015

This week's edition of my week-in-review feature includes more wrangling on Capitol Hill about funding the nation's largest abortion provider.  Also, Presidential candidates converged on Washington to address the Values Voter Summit, and there was a clear winner in a straw poll taken there.  Plus, the Pope visited the U.S., bringing the perspective of a spiritual - and political - leader.

3 - Another attempt to defund Planned Parenthood turned back in Congress

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to block a government funding bill that would defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business. The Senate included language from the bill into legislation to temporarily fund the federal government, according to the website,, which reported that the Senate voted 52 to 47 against ending debate on the government funding bill.  8 Republicans joined 44 Democrats to create that margin.  Democrat Joe Manchin joined 46 Republicans in voting to move the bill forward.

The Administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said before the vote: “The Administration strongly opposes Senate passage of the Senate amendment to H.J.Res. 61, making continuing appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2016, and for other purposes, which contains highly objectionable provisions that advance a narrow ideological agenda.”  According to the story, the OMB added that eliminating federal funding to Planned Parenthood would "limit access" to healthcare for women, men, families and “disproportionately” affect low-income people.

President Obama said he would only sign a government funding bill that does not include language de-funding Planned Parenthood.

The Hill reports that top House Republicans are hoping to convince their members to keep the government open by using a fast-track process known as reconciliation to try to defund Planned Parenthood.

House Republican leaders are planning to target Planned Parenthood’s funding by immediately drafting a fast-track reconciliation bill, according to a senior House GOP aide. The plan would mean supporting a short-term bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday to keep the government open through Dec. 11, but it could also lead to legislation blocking money for Planned Parenthood hitting President Obama’s desk. The article points out that implicit in that course is the suggestion that the House would have to vote next week on the Senate bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood, and the article states, "That might be a bridge too far for many House conservatives, who have insisted they will not support any government funding bill that also includes money for Planned Parenthood." speculates that:

With Speaker John Boehner announcing today that he will resign from Congress next month, the idea may generate more support from conservative Republicans who have been arguing for a shutdown of the federal government in order to attempt to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

2 - Values voters gather in Washington, Cruz wins straw poll

A total of 8 Republican Presidential candidates made their case to what are called "values voters," who could be characterized as conservative Christians, at the annual Values Voter Summit, sponsored by FRC Action, a sister organization to the Family Research Council, headed by Tony Perkins.  The Hill reports that for the third straight year, Texas Senator Ted Cruz won the Summit's straw poll, with 35 percent of those voting, ahead of runner-up Ben Carson’s 18 percent.  Last year, Cruz edged out Carson by just 5 percentage points.  In third, it was former AK Governor Mike Huckabee, with 14 percent; then, in fourth, FL Senator Marco Rubio. In fifth place, with 5 percent, it was Donald Trump.

Carson won the event’s poll for vice president, his second consecutive win for that category.

According to the VVS websiteother candidates addressing the crowd included Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum.

So who's the strongest with evangelicals?  The Boston Globe ran a story that included results of 2 recent polls.  One was the CNN poll released September 10, a national poll of Republicans in which 32 percent of white evangelicals said they would vote for Donald Trump. Carson was second, with 28 percent. No other candidate was in double digits.

The Globe reported on a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on September 14 which showed that Trump’s numbers are better among white evangelicals than almost any other subgroup of voters. In the survey — which also showed Trump surging among voters overall — 54 percent of evangelicals support him on immigration, 62 percent think he is qualified to be president, and 50 percent think he is honest and trustworthy.

Warren Smith, Vice-President of WORLD Magazine says "not so fast"...he says that what he calls the "myth" of Trump support among evangelicals...

...likely started in August, when a Fox News poll said Trump was the top choice of “white evangelical” voters. But polls like this use methodology that allows respondents to self-identify their religious affiliation without any examination of their actual beliefs.

Smith quotes Chris Anderson, president of Anderson Robbins Research, which helped conduct the Fox News poll. Smith says that Anderson told him that the survey question asked, “Would you describe yourself as a born-again or evangelical Christian?” 

Smith adds:

That may sound like a straightforward question, but people who do religion polling for a living know a dirty little secret: People lie, and there’s no way to know they’ve lied unless you ask more questions that expose the lie. A famous Barna survey found that while more than 25 percent of Americans self-identify as evangelicals, less than 10 percent actually hold historically evangelical beliefs, such as the divinity of Jesus, a historical resurrection, and the authority of the Bible.

He also cites a Gallup survey of religious voters, which found that Trump received just a 22-percent favorability rating among the “highly religious” respondents, which Gallup says more accurately represents true evangelicals.

And, WORLD has been conducting a monthly survey of evangelical leaders.  In the most recent, 91 participated in September, just after the second debate.  Rubio led the poll, with 37.4% of respondents saying he was their first choice.  Ted Cruz was second, with 19.8%, and Carly Fiorina moved up to third, with 18.7% of respondents.  When you combine the number picking a candidate first with those picking the candidate second, Rubio is up to almost 57%, with Fiorina at just over 39 percent, with Cruz over 30.  Trump was the first choice of 1.1%, identical to the percentage who picked him second.

1 - Pope's visit includes Washington, New York, and Philadelphia

The greatly-anticipated visit of Pope Francis to America has reached its conclusion, and there are enormous spiritual and political implications of the visit.  The Pope made a strong defense for religious freedom in some opening comments at the White House and on the next-to-last day of his visit, gathered at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.  And along the way, he had his moments as a head of state, shown in his addresses to Congress and the United Nations.

But in his U.N. address, he made some bold declarations.  According to the Christian Post website, he said: "Man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature. Creation is compromised where we ourselves have the final word. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any instance above ourselves. When we see nothing else but ourselves."

He added: "Consequently, the defense of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognize a moral law written into human nature itself. One which includes the natural difference between man and woman and the absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions."

The Post reports that the Pontiff touched on issues such as human trafficking, climate change, sexual exploitation, social and economic justice and international security, and religious freedom. He also warned against war and praised the Iran nuclear deal.

Austin Ruse, President of the Center for Family and Human Rights, was a guest on The Meeting House, and had made reference to concerns by himself and other pro-life individuals about the Congressional speech, but he was complimentary about the U.N. address.

Baptist Press noted that in his Congressional speech, Pope Francis commented on a variety of issues but without being particularly specific on abortion and marriage.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, expressed gratitude the pope spoke to Congress "about the dignity of all human life, whether the unborn, the elderly or the immigrant, as well as the importance of the family in a free and flourishing society," but went on to say, "I do think that the pope's address was an opportunity to address urgent moral issues like abortion culture and religious liberty with more clarity and directness than what was delivered."

Fox News reported on the Pope's first message on American soil, to a gathering at the White House, where, in addition to addressing climate change, he made a strong statement on religious freedom, stating that American Catholics, along with countless other people of goodwill are "likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom reminds one of America's most precious possessions ... all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it."

In Philadelphia, he spoke in front of Independence Hall, and while not address specifics, he made broad statements of support of religious freedom.  CNN quotes the Pontiff as saying: "Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our conscience dictates," adding, "But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families."

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