Patterico's Pontifications

4/15/2008

Religion and Politics at Messiah College

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:38 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Given the discussion in another thread about religion and politics, this Jake Tapper/ABC blog post seems on point. Specifically, a reader questioned the hypocrisy of Obama and Clinton attending the recent CNN Compassion Forum at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, while criticizing Republicans for speaking at schools like Bob Jones University:

“Both Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday night appeared at a CNN “Compassion Forum” at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.

Messiah College describes itself as embracing an “evangelical spirit rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan traditions of the Christian Church.”

As such, its “community covenant” states that members of the Messiah College community “avoid such sinful practices as drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior.”

In the past, Republican presidential candidates have been criticized for speaking at universities where certain religious beliefs are considered bigoted, most notoriously when then-Gov. George W. Bush in 2000 spoke at Bob Jones University, where anti-Catholic dogma was taught and inter-racial dating banned.

Messiah counsels its gay and lesbian students to seek the help of controversial organizations that use Scripture and behavioral exercises to coach them to stop acting on gay feelings and impulses.

It’s not difficult to imagine a big outcry among liberal activists if, say, Republican presidential candidates attended such a forum hosted by, say, Fox News at such a university.”

Why is it fine for Obama and Clinton to speak at Messiah College?

— DRJ

44 Responses to “Religion and Politics at Messiah College”

  1. As such, its “community covenant” states that members of the Messiah College community “avoid such sinful practices as drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior.”

    Why is it fine for Obama and Clinton to speak at Messiah College?

    Oh come now…

    Those are just words.

    Hey, what a minute…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  2. Bah, “what” should be “wait”…

    Too much painting back in the model shop today…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  3. The problem with Bush speaking at Bob Jones was the rule about inter-racial dating. That’s some backwards, archaic, Jim Crow shit.

    Levi (76ef55)

  4. The rule against “dishonesty” should have kept any and all politicians off campus.

    Neo (cba5df)

  5. I disagree that there would be an outcry if a Republican spoke to a university that advocated against same-sex relationships, as opposed to interracial ones.

    I think there’s a big difference between policies against interracial dating and policies against homosexuality. I disagree with both, but I think the former are quite a bit more at odds with the values of the major constituencies of both parties than the latter.

    If you can point to any widespread criticism of Republican politicians for speaking at universities with anti-homosexuality policies, however, I agree that such criticism would be somewhat hypocritical.

    Of course, hypocracy is the ultimate low-hanging fruit in the rhetorical culture wars, since it is as subjective a criticism as “selfishness.”

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  6. “As such, its “community covenant” states that members of the Messiah College community “avoid such sinful practices as drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior.”

    Sounds about as offensive as a lot of churches. But seriously, you’re going to equate this to the segregation at Bob Jones?

    stef (dfd808)

  7. Levi, your description of Bob Jones University pretty much defines you. Archaic, backwards shit.
    After all, Marx had 1800’s ideas and Soviet style communism to a major hit when Russia was reborn. Levi, your rivets are showing.

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III (e18128)

  8. I don’t know about Hillary but Barry probably went because he thought they had renamed the college after him.

    Mike K (6d4fc3)

  9. Heh. Heh. Twice, because it was that good, Mike K.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  10. So, Levi, it’s a crime against humanity for a Republican to make ONE speech at Bob Jones University … but it’s perfectly O.K. for a Democrat to listen to the Rev. Wright for TWENTY YEARS?

    Bubba Maximus (0ce2db)

  11. i remember the first time i ever saw the word “anabaptist”, when i was quite young, reading this story which is still one of my all-time favorites.

    assistant devil's advocate (0be901)

  12. Sounds about as offensive as a lot of churches. But seriously, you’re going to equate this to the segregation at Bob Jones?

    I agree, there is a nontrival difference between a ban on interracial dating and disapproval of homosexuality. However, it’s still shameful of them, especially Obama, whose record on gay rights is quite good. That bit about trying to brainwash Teh Gay out of people is particularly noxious.

    Russell (093e64)

  13. Russell – Tell that to Obama’s buddy Donnie McClurkin.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  14. “However, it’s still shameful of them, especially Obama, whose record on gay rights is quite good.”

    Obama was touring with an anti-gay preacher earlier this primary. I remember seeing some liberal blogs give him flack for it.

    The Pope is in the country, in the white house. I’m sure he offers the same advice, that people avoid those same things on that list. And others, like avoid mistreating workers. Avoid mistreating immigrants, legal or not, etc..

    stef (dfd808)

  15. TEN things you should know about John McCain (but probably don’t):

    1 John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has “evolved,” yet he’s continued to oppose key civil rights laws.

    2 According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain “will make Cheney look like Gandhi.”

    3 His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.

    4 McCain opposes a woman’s right to choose. He said, “I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned.”

    5 The Children’s Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children’s health care bill last year, then defended Bush’s veto of the bill.

    6 He’s one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a “second job” and skip their vacations.

    7 Many of McCain’s fellow Republican senators say he’s too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He’s erratic. He’s hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”

    8 McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

    9 McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his “spiritual guide,” Rod Parsley, believes America’s founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a “false religion.” McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church “the Antichrist” and a “false cult.”
    10 He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

    Esox Slayer (8f521e)

  16. Esox Slayer – in the spirit of ethical sock-puppetry, could you not have cited the URL from which you lifted the 10 talking points ?

    After all, moveon.org deserves the ‘credit’ for such spun ‘originality’ …

    From a simple Google search (albeit to cached pages), the result shows “[Extracted rom a 5 Apr 2008 e-mail from MoveOn.org.]” … and, yup the “rom” typo is part of MoveOn.org’s charm …

    I’ll respond just to #4 – is it not possible to support a woman’s right to choose AND still dislike the Roe vs Wade decision ?

    Alasdair (0c1945)

  17. Well, if Pat Buchanan said so, we Republicans better get in line.

    Er.. Didn’t Pat run for the Perot aluminum foil hat party nomination ?

    By the way, the SCHIP bill included adults in the “children’s health care bill” and that is what Bush vetoed.

    And that isn’t all that Moveon.org got wrong.

    Maybe that list was ten things YOU didn’t know.

    Mike K (f89cb3)

  18. And, what’s wrong with owning eight homes, and telling people who’ve made foolish financial decisions, that perhaps they need to try harder?

    After all, McCain didn’t get those eight homes (if in fact he has them) by stealing them. And, how much of his wealth was brought into the marriage by his wife?

    moveon.org – The Moron Channel!

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  19. Presidential candidates and presidents should speak to and act for all citizens, not just the ones who share their political or social beliefs, not just the ones who voted for them, and not just the ones who gave them money.

    How can a president expect the people to accept or support or even think about his or her policies or presidency in general if that president never bothers to talk to that particular consituency (and maybe more importantly never listen, even in a token way?)

    A prez that only talks to people he or she agrees with really is an elitist.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  20. Oh, you mean like the way Dems interact with NRA members?
    I just can’t wait to see Hillary climb behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler.
    But, better than that, for Nancy to explain to assembly-line workers at Cat why she dumped on one of their best export markets, in the name of labor solidarity.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  21. moving back to the original question–
    if you go through the links provided by the Messiah College website (for the link to Messiah College, see Tapper’s post)–you’ll find a much gentler tone, and even some respect for gay rights, and a policy that is premised on seeing a distinction between homosexuals and homosexual acts. It also sees the latter in the context of being among those things which are fornication–sexual acts outside marriage. Just like adultery and premarital sex–and not some stand alone prohibition. Phelps would hate Messiah College too. (At least, I’ve never heard of him opening up a Godhatesadulters website.) Moreover, unlike interracial dating, major segments of this country happen to agree with the position Messiah College takes.

    A further question–if candidates shouldn’t appear at colleges who have policies they don’t agree with–for instance, speech codes–doesn’t that mean that conservative politicians should not appear at most colleges and universities these days?

    kishnevi (1ab50b)

  22. “…members of the Messiah College community ‘avoid such sinful practices as drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior.’

    Damn, I’ve done at least half those things just in the past week.

    the wolf (3cd7f8)

  23. Kishnevi,

    I think the problem Jake Tapper’s reader was pointing out is that the Democratic Party does not endorse the views espoused by Messiah College, even if most Americans do.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  24. kishnevi – speech codes prohibit conservative speakers from appearing on most campuses these days. Look at Star Parker being denied the right to speak at St. Thomas in Minnesota this month.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  25. But Messiah College isn’t a good example of Phelpsian hatred. It’s not really out of the mainstream. Bob Jones was. Nor can anyone insinuate that either Hillary or Barack share Messiah’s views–which they could do about a Republican candidate vis a vis BJU. Not enough traction. (I am not, of course, saying that it would have been fair to a Republican candidate.) If McCain, Obama or Clinton spoke at Yeshiva University, would anyone be able to accuse them of believing that a man should never hear a woman singing, and that women should remain quietly behind a barrier in sexually segregated sections of the room during communal prayer?

    kishnevi (1ab50b)

  26. Is there evidence that Messiah expels students who break this covenant? Students who dated members of other races were banned from BJU.

    Did the candidates know of Messiah’s covenant? I’ve never heard of the school but perhaps I’m in the minority. BJU and its policies were infamous by the year 2000, and Bush certainly knew what he stood to gain and lose by speaking there.

    Nels Nelson (0496fd)

  27. daleyrocks–be fair to St. Thomas. Maybe they’re just trying to make up for banning a really important leftie.

    Truth to tell, not only I had not heard of Ms. Parker being banned at St. Thomas, but I had not heard of Ms. Parker. And googling both Star Parker and St. Thomas yields a number of things, but nothing on this incident. Have ye a link?

    kishnevi (1ab50b)

  28. Mr. Nelson–it’s an evangelical school; I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find this in their code of conduct, even if no one actually went to look it up.

    However, it strikes me that Obama and Clinton must object to other portions of the policy. They are politicians, after all. So they can’t agree that stealing and dishonesty are immoral :)

    kishnevi (1ab50b)

  29. “I think the problem Jake Tapper’s reader was pointing out is that the Democratic Party does not endorse the views espoused by Messiah College, even if most Americans do.”

    I don’t think the democratic party endorses the views espoused any religious institution.

    stef (e86d77)

  30. kishnevi – Powerline has had a few posts on it and is local. Their most recent post is here:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/04/020291.php

    Other blogs have been following it as well, as I’m sure you could tewll from your google search.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  31. “I don’t think the democratic party endorses the views espoused (by) any religious institution.”

    Why, why, am I not surprised?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  32. “Why, why, am I not surprised?”

    I mean, can you imagine? “It is the platform of this party that catholicism is the way, and not any other religion?” ridiculous.

    stef (19b5bf)

  33. stef, I don’t think you quite got the point. Religious institutions espouse views such as “thou shalt not kill” and “thou shalt not steal”. By suggesting that the Democratic party does not endorse the views espoused by any religion, you suggest that the Democratic party endorses no ethical rules at all. Personally, I’m sympathetic to this view of the Democratic party, but I suspect that you are not.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  34. “By suggesting that the Democratic party does not endorse the views espoused by any religion, you suggest that the Democratic party endorses no ethical rules at all.”

    I think the Messiah college rules are more about morals than ethics. But let me instead clarify that I don’t think that democrats are going to be following any one particular church. So they may agree with things like ‘thou shalt not kill’ and they may agree with the Catholic’s view of immigration and workers rights, but you’ll still likely find catholic views they don’t follow.

    stef (dfd808)

  35. kishnevi above is right. I don’t live far from Messiah College. I know people there. The very fact that Messiah let Obama speak there shows that it is not far from the mainstream. Some believe they are getting closer and closer to the mainstream.

    Every college has rules, mostly for parents to read. That does not mean every rule is enforced.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  36. “…members of the Messiah College community ‘avoid such sinful practices as drunkenness, stealing, dishonesty, profanity, occult practices, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, homosexual behavior, and sexually exploitative or abusive behavior.”

    Then why the tolerance for Islam and global unity in the international outreach programs?

    Bob Jones with segregation by skin color is wrong.

    Any Judeo-Christian “flock” joining with Islam (10 Commandments-based law/values vs. Sharia slavery) is far more destructive.

    Taking money for social welfare programs from those who would kill or enslave your grandchildren because decent folks have fled the toxic public square for higher ground isn’t cause to praise or join an enemy that openly promotes this:

    The Muslim Brotherhood “Project”
    Some relevant portions:

    Putting into place a watchdog system for monitoring Western media to warn Muslims of “international plots fomented against them”;
    Cultivating an Islamist intellectual community, including the establishment of think-tanks and advocacy groups, and publishing “academic” studies, to legitimize Islamist positions and to chronicle the history of Islamist movements;

    Developing a comprehensive 100-year plan to advance Islamist ideology throughout the world;

    Balancing international objectives with local flexibility;

    Building extensive social networks of schools, hospitals and charitable organizations dedicated to Islamist ideals so that contact with the movement for Muslims in the West is constant;

    Involving ideologically committed Muslims in democratically-elected institutions on all levels in the West, including government, NGOs, private organizations and labor unions;

    Instrumentally using existing Western institutions until they can be converted and put into service of Islam;

    So, no, supporting Bin Laden because he builds schools and roads for his people isn’t Christian, decent, noble or wise. It’s betraying all.

    The sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to G_d, says Messiah Edu’s #1 Instruction book.

    The wicked who don’t parade about as wolves in shepherds’ disguise are following His will.

    trouble (68030e)

  37. Hillary (not Rodham) Clinton and Barack Obama are Liberals. Therefore they are above the laws that otherwise govern all.

    Thank you for your time.

    The Outlander (deaf8b)

  38. The words “ethical” and “moral” are synonyms. Recently college-semi-educated people have come to believe that they mean different things because of the different contexts in which they are generally used. The word “moral” is typically used by religious people while the word “ethical” is typically used by scholars –not because it means anything different but because it sounds more scholarly.

    So people who read about the Moral Majority and then go attend their class on social philosophy and ethics get the idea that “moral” implies something different from “ethical”, but it doesn’t.

    Doc Rampage (01f543)

  39. Once again I am painfully forced to admit that assistant devil’s advocate might be a good enough guy.

    Anyone who reads Saki is okay in my book, and that particular story is one of my favo(u)rites. So, thank you, ada, for bringing back some good memories.

    Uncle Pinky (5ba4c8)

  40. Doc, I once heard the difference explained like this: A Moral man does not cheat on his wife because he knows it is wrong. An Ethical man knows it is wrong, but does it anyways.

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  41. “A Moral man does not cheat on his wife because he knows it is wrong. An Ethical man knows it is wrong, but does it anyways.”

    An ethical lawyer or pharmacist follows the rules. A moral lawyer or pharmacist damns the rules when they offend their morality.

    stef (bd740e)

  42. Scott, that’s a clever line, but it isn’t accurate. A man who knows what is good and does not do it is not ethical. These apparent differences come from the usages of the words in religious and academic areas. The word “moral” is most often used in religious contexts which are personal and specific while the word “ethical” is most often used in academic contexts which are impersonal and abstract.

    Stef also has an interesting point but this apparent distinction also is just a matter of usage. There are professional rules of conduct and it is considered unethical (immoral) not to follow those rules of conduct just because they are considered the responsibility of your profession, whether the rules are inherently ethical (moral) or not. In discussion of such rules the word “ethical” is preferred to “moral” even though the two mean the same thing. But it would be just as correct to say that “Yes, this is a violation of my client’s confidentiality, but it is still the ethical thing to do”.

    But it is true that usage has created some ambiguity as to whether ethics refers to artificial rules or natural rules. That is, “Thou shalt not kill” is a natural rule. “Thou shalt not reveal thy client’s privileged communications” is an artificial rule.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  43. I still think there’s some distinction. In the way that a principle like “do unto others as you would have them do to you” is an ethical code, but not really a moral one.

    stef (6e3234)

  44. Doc, you’re looking at it wrong. “Ethical” is to the code of ethics as “legal” is to the law. If an act violates a law, it’s illegal. If it violates a canon of ethics, it’s unethical. Either may be morally defensible, or even a moral imperative, under certain circumstances. But the fact that X is the right thing to do does not make it ethical, any more than it makes it legal.

    Xrlq (b71926)


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