Category Archives: religious news

Evangelical leaders: lukewarm to man of faith

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A story I read in the newspaper this morning offered a curiously ironic tale of how a key political demographic group is awaiting the arrival of a new president of the United States.

The evangelical Christian movement — with leaders such as Dallas preacher Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins — is giving Joe Biden a wait-and-see welcome as he prepares to become president of the United States.

The irony? Joe Biden is a man of deep and abiding faith in God and in Jesus Christ. The man he is replacing as president of the United States has what one could say generously has a flimsy relationship with Scripture. Yet the evangelical movement clung furiously to the notion of Donald Trump getting re-elected to a second term.

Why the love affair with The Donald? It’s purely political. He appointed judges who adhered to evangelicals’ world view. They are anti-choice on abortion; they favor prayer in public schools; they rule consistently against gay Americans’ rights. What does Donald Trump think about all of that? No one can say with any degree of certainty that he endorses any of it. He just makes the correct political appointments.

They’re getting now a man who attends church daily. He prays to God. His faith has held him up as he has battled unspeakable personal tragedy — such as burying his wife and infant daughter and then his grown son many years later.

President-elect Biden’s personal faith journey isn’t enough to persuade many faith leaders to back him with anything approaching the zeal they demonstrated for a guy who has only a passing acquaintance with faith and whose personal behavior betrays virtually every tenet found in both the Old and New testaments of the Good Book.

The headline in today’s Dallas Morning News declared that the “religious right” is “wary of Biden but not hostile.”

The irony of the evangelicals’ tepid response to the election of a man of faith, though, still screams loudly at me.

Falwell Jr. sues Liberty U … for defamation? Eh?

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Jerry Falwell Jr. is fighting back against the university his late father founded.

Someone will have to explain to me how this should play out.

Falwell once served as president of Liberty University, the school that his dad, Jerry Falwell Sr., founded. Junior got himself into a series of scandals and ethical difficulties, culminating in a picture showing him snuggling with a woman who is not his wife … with his pants unzipped.

Oh, we also have reports of his wife engaging in a sexual relationship with a pool guy who alleges that Junior actually watched the two of them taking part in naughty behavior. To think, then, that Falwell Sr. founded an organization called the Moral Majority.

Falwell now says the university defamed him and that he was dismissed unjustly from his post as head of the nation’s largest Christian institution of higher learning.

I am no fan of Falwell Jr., or his father for that matter. So I am not looking at this lawsuit story with a dispassionate set of eyes. I acknowledge my bias. Still, it seems to me — looking at this from some distance — that Falwell Jr. brought all of this trouble on himself with his rather strange behavior.

What about ‘religious freedom’?

I want to discuss religion briefly, as it well might become an issue in the rapidly unfolding and accelerating presidential campaign.

The issue has come up in a public way and in a way near to my own heart.

Former college and professional football coach Lou Holtz told the Republican National Convention that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is a Catholic “in name only.” Coach Holtz, who once guided student-athletes at Notre Dame University, received immediate pushback from the renowned Catholic school. He spoke for himself, ND officials said, not for the university.

Biden is far from a CINO — Catholic In Name Only. His faith is well-known. He speaks openly about it, about how his faith has helped steer him through unspeakable tragedy.

This topic makes me uncomfortable. Religious faith is deeply personal. It’s not something I like sharing, and I won’t do so here.

However, I do want to challenge an implication that a fellow I know made to me directly. He said in a social media post that I “probably” am comfortable with doing away with “religious freedom.” This fellow seems to believe, according to his world view, that we should be allowed to worship openly and freely without any interference.

I could not agree more with this fellow. He and I actually share a devotion to “religious freedom.” I want to add a caveat, however.

The Constitution spells out quite clearly that we also are free to not worship if we choose. It is a secular document written by men whose direct forebears fled religious persecution in Europe.

While I am committed to religious freedom, I also want to embrace what I believe is a broader view of what that term means and what it entails.

So, when a noted public figure, such as former coach Lou Holtz, says a leading politician is a “Catholic in name only,” he crosses a line he shouldn’t cross. He shouldn’t purport to know what rests in Joe Biden’s heart. That is a dangerous assumption Holtz makes.

As for the fellow who jabbed at me by assuming I “probably” would want to do away with religious freedom, he also is crossing a precarious line.

I am all for granting Americans the right to worship as they please. I also believe we are free to forgo religious faith … if that’s how we want to roll.

Just think that we’re about to be force-fed a large dose of religion in a presidential campaign that already has gone from harsh to ugly.

‘No religious test … ‘

How many times do I have to remind religious zealots about what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says about how “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”?

Don’t answer that. I’ll keep saying it for as long as it takes.

While skimming through the TV channels this evening I ventured onto a news channel and listened to a former football coach say that Joe Biden is a “Catholic in name only.” Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame coach, was speaking on behalf of Donald Trump but then decided he knows what is in the heart of Joe Biden.

Yep, Coach Holtz went far beyond the Xs and Os of drawing a football play and straight into territory where he doesn’t belong.

Donald Trump has declared that Biden is “anti-God” and “anti-Bible.” The practicing Catholic would destroy our faith, according to a president who has no relationship with any religious faith.

I am going to circle back to what the Constitution instructs us. It is a secular document written by men who took great pains to keep religion far away from the government they were creating. Article VI is as crystal clear as it gets. No candidate for public office should be required to adhere to any religious faith.

Biden doesn’t run away from his Catholicism. He flaunts it. He carries Rosary beads. He smears ash on his forehead to commemorate Ash Wednesday every spring. He is free to do that. He would be free to not do it as well.

The Constitution doesn’t require us to attend any house of worship. If it did, well, Donald Trump wouldn’t qualify as a presidential candidate. You know what I mean?

So, for Lou Holtz to step into a religious thicket by hurling an epithet at a man of faith is reprehensible. Stick to talking football, coach. Take a look, too, at what the Constitution’s Article VI instructs us.

Falwell is out, then he’s in, now he’s out … again

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

See ya around, Jerry Falwell Jr. Whatever this guy does, I hope he doesn’t hurry back.

Falwell got kicked out of his job as president of Liberty University, one of the nation’s leading faith-based institutions of higher learning. Why? Because he posed in a tacky picture with his pants unzipped in the presence of a woman who reportedly is an associate of Jerry Falwell’s wife. It was conduct unbecoming of a religious leader, said the Liberty governing board.

Then we hear that Falwell got entangled in a weird sexual threesome with, get this, his wife and a pool guy who is a whole lot younger than Mrs. Falwell. It seems that Jerry Falwell liked to watch his wife and the pool guy engage in sex acts … allegedly.

Falwell then resigned from Liberty; then he said he did no such thing; now he says he is out.

First of all, I believe the allegation of the three-way with the Falwells and the pool guy. If there was nothing to it, do you think Jerry Jr. would quit without a fight, that he wouldn’t want to clear what’s left of his name and that of his formerly adoring wife?

Second, given that I believe the reports about this sickening story, I am not the least bit surprised that Jerry Jr. would be such an adamant supporter of the moral reprobate who now serves as president of the United States, Donald Trump. It’s like these two individuals are made for each other: one guy who gets his kicks watching his wife take a tumble with another man, the other guy — a serial philanderer — who once bragged about how he could grab women by their genitals.

Third, this story only goes to show how the fruit really doesn’t fall far from the tree. I mean, Junior’s dad, the late Jerry Falwell Sr. — the founder of Liberty University — sought to defame the character of two notable politicians by alleging that Bill and Hillary Clinton were complicit in the deaths of close aides, friends and associates. The elder Falwell, indeed, gave evangelical Christianity a bad name.

And so … this disgusting story has taken yet another weird turn.

Is there more to learn about the conduct of this so-called “religious leader”? I am all ears.

Falwell Jr. needs to find another line of work

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Jerry Falwell Jr. reportedly quit as president of Liberty University.

Then he said he has done nothing of the sort. He’s still there, although he’s been removed from his job as president/chancellor.

So, the son of the Christian college’s founder — Jerry Falwell Sr. — has a “job,” but he’s not doing it. He remains on the payroll.

Oh, I guess I need to mention why all the tempest.

The LU board relieved Falwell of his duties because of a hideous picture of him with his pants unzipped, his gut hanging out of an unbuttoned shirt and in the company of a woman Falwell said is a close family friend.

Then came a hideous allegation that Falwell would watch his wife engage in sexual acts with a man with whom she was having an affair. Oh, brother!

Is that how the leader of a prestigious faith-based university should behave? Of course not! However, it is kind of in keeping with the behavior of one of Falwell’s major political allies … Donald John Trump. Falwell has been an ardent supporter of Trump, who quite naturally has been silent on the trouble that has befallen this evangelical Christian leader.

Well, if someone appointed me King of the World, I would order Falwell to pack up his office at Liberty, vacate the campus and look for something else to do.

My trick knee is telling me this story ain’t nearly over.

Yeah, but what about … ?

They call it “what about-ism.” It’s when someone makes a critical statement about someone and you respond with “what about” the time so-and-so did something worse.

Donald Trump has accused Joe Biden of being “against the Bible” and “against God.” That he wants to “hurt God.”

I want to revisit that idiocy for just a moment.

You see, that Donald Trump — of all people! — would say such a thing is laughable on its face … except that it isn’t funny.

Biden is a lifelong practicing Roman Catholic. Trump has no religious experience that anyone has been able to identify.

Then there’s this:

Trump has admitted to never asking for God’s forgiveness; he once had a one-night stand with a porn star (allegedly) and then paid her 130 grand to keep quiet about an event he said never occurred; Trump also boasted to a TV host that he grabbed women by their genitals because he was a “celebrity” and that his celebrity status enabled him to “move on them like a bit**.”

Trump’s assertion about the presumed Democratic Party presidential nominee must be judged for what it is: a cheap, tawdry political stunt.

Will this guy get ‘well wishes’ from POTUS?

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

How do you suppose this story is going to play out?

Jerry Falwell Jr. has been forced to take indefinite leave from his post as president and chancellor of Liberty University. Why? Because he was photographed with his pants unzipped while horsing around with a woman who is not his wife.

According to National Public Radio:

Falwell told the Lynchburg, Va., radio station WLNI on Wednesday that the photo, which was later removed, was taken in “just in good fun” during a costume party on vacation. He said the woman in the photo was his wife’s assistant.

“It was weird,” Falwell told the interviewer. “She’s pregnant, so she couldn’t get her pants zipped. I had on a pair of jeans I hadn’t worn in a long time, so I couldn’t get mine zipped either. So I just put my belly out like hers.”

Uh, huh …

This is a big deal for a couple of major reasons. One of them is that Liberty University is a well-known Christian school founded by Falwell late father, who once published a book that said President and Hillary Clinton were complicit in the deaths of several key aides and friends.

The other reason is that Falwell Jr. is a big-time supporter of Donald J. Trump. He spoke on Trump’s behalf at the 2016 Republican National Convention and has said repeatedly that God favors Trump’s re-election.

So, what is going to be the upshot of this story?

Falwell’s indefinite leave likely means he will be gone from Liberty U. forever. He’ll be fired eventually over conduct that is quite unbecoming for the head of a major faith-based institution of higher learning.

Trump’s response? Will he say he barely knows Falwell? He’s used that dodge before,  regarding convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, to cite just one example. Never mind all those pictures of Trump and Epstein chumming it up at wild New York City parties.

Or will he simply, um, “wish him well”?

Hurt the Bible, hurt God?

Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hmm. I have to wonder whether Donald J. “Demagogue in Chief” Trump is campaigning like a man who believes he is going to lose his job as president of the United States.

He said today that Joe Biden wants to “hurt the Bible, hurt God.”

I am shaking my noggin in utter disbelief.

How do I assess what flew out of Trump’s mouth?

For instance, how does a worldly politician “hurt God”? Well, I won’t go there. You get my drift. The Almighty is beyond being “hurt” by a mere human being.

However, I do want to discuss the utter astonishment at hearing Donald Trump — of all people — accuse a political foe of denigrating issues and matters of sincere faith.

Joe Biden is a lifelong Catholic. He smudges his forehead with ash on Ash Wednesday. He goes to Mass regularly. He takes communion. Trump? His association with matters of faith is, um, for show only. I need only to point you directly to that hideous photo op across the street from the White House a few weeks ago when Trump stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, holding an upside-down Bible. He didn’t go into the house of worship. Oh, no. He stood outside to have pictures taken.

Donald Trump has no basis on which he can criticize another individual’s religious faith. Donald Trump has never sought forgiveness for his sins; he has never admitted to mistakes; he once referred to a New Testament book as “Two Corinthians.”

Trump’s desperation has become evident as he stands in public places and says things such as what he said today about Joe Biden.

Consider, too, that he said Biden is “against guns. He is against God.” Think of the idiocy right there. Guns and God juxtaposed in adjoining sentences.

When I discuss the incoherence Trump displays while speaking to the nation, this is precisely to what I am referring. To think, therefore, that Trump brags about “acing” a cognitive exam, which is given to determine whether someone is afflicted with dementia.

So, we are witnessing Donald Trump trying to find something, anything, to hang on a foe who at this moment seems headed for a smashing victory over a president who doesn’t have a clue about the job he was elected to perform.

Good Book becomes part of POTUS’s political playbook

Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

I will remain offended likely for a long time at the sight of Donald Trump prancing in front of the church near the White House, holding up a Holy Bible as if it was a political prop.

I’ve heard some chatter out there about how Trump was holding the Bible backward and upside-down.

What is perhaps most profoundly upsetting was the tactic he used to clear the path from the White House to St. John Episcopal Church. He used tear gas and dispatched heavily armed police tactical units to beat back peaceful protesters. You’ve seen the video, yes? It shows cops walloping protesters with their “defensive” shields while tear gas is billowing up around everyone.

This came after Donald Trump proclaimed his honoring of “peaceful protesters.” That ain’t how you “honor” them, Mr. President. They were out there to protest police brutality and to call for reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of rogue cops in Minneapolis, Minn.

Then he stands before the boarded-up church. He holds up the Bible. A reporter asked him if it was his Bible. He responded, “It’s a Bible.”

He doesn’t have a clue as to what it contains, which of course is the holy word by which faithful Christians seek to live. Donald Trump isn’t one of them.

No. He’s carnival barker and a con man. For him to use the Good Book in that fashion is anathema to the message delivered by Jesus Christ himself.

Donald Trump, as has been chronicled widely, doesn’t read anything. He reportedly has no need, being the self-proclaimed smartest human being in all of recorded history.

Instead, he uses Christendom’s holiest text as a political prop.

Disgusting.