Saturday, May 31, 2008

Priests, Pundits and Politics - Religion in the campaign season

This blog likes to highlight the similarities between pundits and wrestlers. What its really highlighting is charisma and presentation, usually in the art of talking. Politicians, Pundits, Comedians and Wrestlers all share this ability to move mass audiences with rousing speeches - and they've all been featured on this blog.

There is another group who command the attention of mass audiences and are arguably more influential than the aforementioned groups put together. Priests. They've taken an unusually prominent role in this Presidential Election season.

The role of church was quite prominent but pretty standard in the early weeks of the Presidential Primary season. The serious candidacy of Mitt Romney vying to be the first Mormon in the White House. Former Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee's amazing run finishing second for the GOP nomination, wearing his religiosity proudly (often blatantly) but disarming people with his good natured presentation.

The last few weeks religious leaders have become the newsmakers. Most prominently the controversy surrounding Obama's relationship with the controversial Jeremiah Wright which led to him delivering his 'Perfect Union' religion speech. Recently influential Pastor John Hagee withdrew his endorsement of Republican John McCain, beating him to the punch as McCain rescinded the endorsement moments after. Hagee made news after making controversial comments excusing Hitler's actions against the Jews as God's will.

Those controversies involved religious leaders with statements on the pulpit that have come back to hurt their affiliated candidates, underscoring the nature of politics today with the ubiquitousness of media technology. However the way some religious leaders have injected themselves into the campaign have been as straight partisan players. Recent examples of priests have surfaced using the type of rhetoric we're accustomed to seeing from Radio Talkers and Wrestlers when calling out opponents. Faith has begun to move away from being a solemn belief contributing to a person's moral character into the latest front in political war and theatre

Below are some recent examples:
VIDEO: Michael Pfleger - White Liberal Guilt at Its Finest
(mocking Hillary Clinton) I'm white, I'm entitled. There's a black man stealing my show.
VIDEO: Priest Jim Lisante at GOP dinner prays
"God, tell Obama to find a new pastor"
Priest JIM LISANTE: ...Lord, please tell Senator Obama that maybe change is a good thing, and that maybe he should think about changing his favorite preacher. I know a lot more of us would be comfortable with his judgment skills if he hadn’t sat for twenty years through those words offered by his preacher of division, bigotry, and, honestly, half-truths, without a word of objection from Senator Obama. That is, until the media brought it up. Now, he doesn’t want any part of the guy. I’m willing to be his new preacher.
Read Reverend Wright's bio from Trinity church's official site
Read John Hagee's bio from his official website
Read Michael Pfleger's bio from Saint Sabina Church's official site
Read Monsignor Jim Lisante's bio from his official site
Watch Mitt Romney's faith and politics speech "Faith In America" Dec 6, 2007
Watch Barack Obama's faith and politics speech "A more Perfect Union" March 18, 2008

Read previous religion themed Punditfight posts:
God in Politics and Wrestling
Mike Huckabee wishes Americans a Merry Christmas

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