Ben Johnson

Is Obama’s Religious Talk a Political Ploy?

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C. December 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Political observers have noticed a change setting in on America’s most secular president. In the last few months, Barack Obama has begun using more religious-sounding rhetoric.

A political science professor is among a growing number who say, whatever the sincerity of Obama’s faith, the new emphasis is designed for one purpose alone: to win votes.

At the annual Christmas tree lighting on December 1, Obama said, “Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us. And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.” That message, he added, “lies at the heart of my Christian faith.”

The uncharacteristically devout speech follows the president’s quoting Scripture twice during 9/11 memorial services and saying during his speech on the jobs bill, “We are one nation under God. We always have been and always will be.”

However, that emphasis is at odds with most of Obama’s tenure in the White House. At his inauguration, he became the first president to mention non-believers. Last year’s Christmas message simply said the holiday’s message was “universal: A child was born far from home to spread a simple message of love.” He made virtually identical remarks in 2009

Likewise, Obama did not mention God in this year’s Thanksgiving message, although he did mention God in his written proclamation. Last November, he gave thanks for “the blessings of choices.”

“The only reason he’s bringing Christianity up now and trying to play this role is because of the election next year,” Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson of The Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny (BOND) and one of the strongest voices for traditional values in the black community today, told LifeSiteNews.com. “A lot of Christians wouldn’t vote for him if they didn’t think he was a Christian.”

Sharon Hughes, syndicated Christian columnist and the president of the Center for Changing Worldviews, agreed. “I think Obama knows it is politically expedient to refer to his ‘Christian faith’ for his campaign,” she wrote in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com. His campaign is “well aware of the criticisms against him” for his secularism and passing over of Christian holidays, so “there is more and more promotion of him going to church with family, etc.”

Interestingly, non-partisan academic analysis supports the contentions of the president’s more conservative Christian critics. Political science professor John Green of the University of Akron recently told USA Today that Obama is “ramping up his ‘God-talk’ for the re-election campaign.” said, “There’s no avoiding that this is a strategic emphasis on his part. He didn’t speak this way when he was at 60 percent public approval.” 

Democrats have become more observant since “values voters” determined the 2004 presidential election. Democratic strategist Flavia Colgan, who majored in religion at Harvard, has told liberals they ignore religious voters at their peril. “One of the most dangerous things for the Democratic Party is to essentially be the anti-religion party, and the God-hating party,” she said, “and the party who portrays people of faith, who are the vast majority of Americans, as somehow not intellectually up to the challenge.”

Evangelicals, too, underscore the importance of overlooking them. Last year, Franklin Graham told CNN, “there are millions of evangelicals that voted for President Obama this last election. But there has not been a movement towards this administration, toward the evangelical community at all.” Hughes believes now that the campaign season is upon us Obama “with the help of his advisor Jim Wallis and others is trying to win the ‘Christian vote’” of core Democratic constituencies and others on the Left.

Many Christians say Obama’s actions speak louder than his well-crafted words. Rev. Peterson said, “I think people need to wake up and not fall for Obama because he’s saying all these good things about God. They need to reflect on his actions the last three years and see if there’s anything he’s done that makes you believe he is a Christian.”

“He went around the world in essence demeaning Christianity, saying America is not a Christian nation…He repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the military,” he said. “He supports gay marriage. He doesn’t support marriage between a man and a woman. He supports abortion at any point - any point - even if a child is born alive.”

Whether real or rhetorical, the president must take care not to appear too religious for his base. The Public Religion Research Institute warned, “Obama must navigate a religiously diverse public as president and a more diverse Democratic Party as a candidate.” A recent Gallup survey confirmed the traditional wisdom that “the least religious are disproportionately likely to affiliate with the Democratic Party.”

This has guided Obama’s attitude towards religion most of his term. He issued no presidential proclamation for Easter this year. When asked about the omission at a press conference, White House spokesman Jay Carney laughed the questions off. Obama’s 2010 Easter message said Easter’s principles lie “at the heart of Judaism, at the heart of Christianity, at the heart of all the world’s great religions.” The previous year’s statement claimed that Easter embodied “the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all - Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike.”

Similarly, Obama has edited God out of the national motto, skipped attending church on Christmas, banned religious ornaments from the Christmas tree, and forbidden a military flyover at a “God and Country rally” for the first time in 43 years.

Despite his aversion to Christian holidays, President Obama has released presidential statements commemorating the Islamic holidays of Eid-ul-Fitr, and Eid-ul-Adha; the Jewish holiday of Passover; the Persian New Year; and Diwali, a holiday shared by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jainists. 

Rev. Peterson believes Obama will continue a policy of favoring non-Christian religions if he serves a second term. “If he’s re-elected,” Rev. Peterson said, “I think he’ll identify more with Islam than with Christianity, because his concern is not to be elected anymore.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said Obama’s actions had “created an atmosphere that is hostile toward Christianity,”  and the president has personally exhibited a “disdain for Christianity.”


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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