Monday, October 09, 2006

Foley Impact on Evangelical Voting Patterns

Don't get excited; it may be very minimal based on this New York Times story today. dozens of interviews here in southeastern Virginia, a conservative Christian stronghold that is a battleground in races for the House and Senate, many said the episode only reinforced their reasons to vote for their two Republican incumbents in neck-and-neck re-election fights, Representative Thelma Drake and Senator George Allen.

Yep, you read that correctly. George "Macaca" Allen can apparently do no wrong in the eyes of many conservatives.

“This is Foley’s lifestyle,” said Ron Gwaltney, a home builder, as he waited with his family outside a Christian rock concert last Thursday in Norfolk. “He tried to keep it quiet from his family and his voters. He is responsible for what he did. He is paying a price for what he did. I am not sure how much farther it needs to go.”

Oh, believe me, had Foley been a Democrat it would go a lot further. Heads would be rolling.

Also, the New York Times began running a 4-part series yesterday examining "how American religious organizations benefit from an increasingly accommodating government." This is highly recommended reading for anyone concerned about court-protected bias and discrimination practiced by increasingly powerful religious institutions.

The article, "Where Faith Abides, Employees Have Few Rights" starts off with this jewel:

J. Jeffrey Heck, a lawyer in Mansfield, Ohio, usually sits on management’s side of the table. “The only employee cases I take are those that poke my buttons,” he said. “And this one really did.”

His client was a middle-aged novice training to become a nun in a Roman Catholic religious order in Toledo. She said she had been dismissed by the order after she became seriously ill — including a diagnosis of breast cancer.

In her complaint, the novice, Mary Rosati, said she had visited her doctor with her immediate supervisor and the mother superior. After the doctor explained her treatment options for breast cancer, the complaint continued, the mother superior announced: “We will have to let her go. I don’t think we can take care of her.”

Some months later Ms. Rosati was told that the mother superior and the order’s governing council had decided to dismiss her after concluding that “she was not called to our way of life,” according to the complaint. Along with her occupation and her home, she lost her health insurance, Mr. Heck said. Ms. Rosati, who still lacks health insurance but whose cancer is in remission, said she preferred not to discuss her experience because of her continuing love for the church.
Good Lord! Slap me or slap her, but one of us is missing something here.

Legislators and regulators are not the only people in government who have drafted special rules for religious organizations. Judges, too, have carved out or preserved safe havens that shield religious employers of all faiths from most employee lawsuits, from laws protecting pensions and providing unemployment benefits, and from laws that give employees the right to form unions to negotiate with their employers.

A federal court decision has given religious broadcasters an exemption from some of the fair-hiring requirements of the Federal Communications Commission, even when they are hiring secretaries and receptionists. Two other decisions, one in federal court affecting a Mormon church and the other in a state court of appeals case involving a Roman Catholic nursing home, affirmed the right of religious employers to dismiss employees whose faith changed after they were hired.
Read the rest of the article and tell me what you think.

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