Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dispatches from the Holy War: 11/20

Giotto di Bondone: "Expulsion of the Money-changers from the Temple."

It’s been kind of quiet out here in the cornfields lately, but the money changers --- make that politicians --- were back in the temple last night, reportedly baring their souls whilst in last-supper-like formation and getting all misty-eyed during a Family Leader-sponsored forum at First Federated Church in Des Moines.

The theme of the decorations was Thanksgiving, but it would be just too cheap a shot to argue that the turkeys were seated around the table --- Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, Cain and Paul. Gov. Terry Branstad and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley were among the faithful in the pews.

The inevitable Mitt Romney had declined to participate, but what the hey --- everybody there knew that old Mormon boy wasn't a Christian anyway.

Earlier in the week, Bob Vander Plaats, leader of The Family Leader, formally absolved Gingrich of his various sins --- adultery and the like --- during an appearance on MSNBC. Now Jesus can, too.

Saturday night, Rick Perry acknowledged he was “almost overwhelmed” at the thought of being president. Golly, if he’s overwhelmed, think how the rest of us feel.

Perry apparently is willing to rely on prayer to fill the gaps in his intellectual resume, but it seems unlikely most Republicans are willing to make that leap of faith if poll results are any indication.

Nothing new emerged so far as an economic agenda is concerned --- cut business taxes, end business regulations and squeeze the last drop of oil out of the last flake of shale. Same old stuff.

What would Jesus do?

“And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:45-46)


Also last week, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) repeated his intention during an “Iowa Press” appearance to block a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage. A recent special election allowed Democrats to retain their slim majority in the Senate, meaning Gronstal probably can fulfill his promise.

“People’s rights should not be put to a popular vote,” Gronstal said. “We didn’t put slavery to a vote of the people. We didn’t put the right to go to a school in your neighborhood to a vote of the people of Iowa.”

None-the-less, new Senate Minority Leader Jerry Behn, of Boone, pledged to bring the issue forward again when the current session resumes Jan. 9. Nice to know we have something to look forward to after Christmas.


Also in Iowa last week, Victoria Childress, owner of Victoria’s Cake Cottage in Des Moines, drew a certain amount of attention by declining to bake a wedding cake for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers, who plan to marry.

Childress alleges that she is a Christian and, because of that, can’t cook for lesbians. KCCI-TV, which really is Iowa’s news leader sometimes, reported the story first.

Vodraska and Sievers apparently do not intend to pursue a civil rights complaint against Childress, which they certainly could do. There is no religious exemption for businesses built into Iowa civil rights legislation, which forbids public accommodations discrimination based on, among other things, sexual orientation. Business is a public accommodation.

So if push comes to shove and you’re in business, you’ve really got to serve all those less desirable types who walk through the door --- gay people, black people, the stray Hispanic, even Baptists. I know that’s harsh and it seems unfair --- I mean, Jesus might send you to hell if you bake a cake with two brides or two grooms atop it. But that’s the way it is.

Finally, I was interested in an Associated Press interview with U.S. Army Capt. Stephen Hill, who drew jeers from a Republican crowd and a rebuke from Rick Santorum when he asked via YouTube during a September candidate debate about GOP plans in the aftermath of the demise of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Here’s the part of the interview that I thought was especially interesting, since it speaks volumes about military response:

Hill says the fact that he just outed himself on national television had barely registered when he absorbed the boos and Santorum's answer followed by applause.

"When the actual booing occurred, my gut dropped out, because my first inclination was, did I just do something wrong?" he said. "The answer, obviously, wasn't very supportive of gay people, and there was a lot of fear of how the Army would take the question."

He did not have to wait long to find out. At breakfast later that morning, the segment was playing on the chow hall television. Hill immediately tracked down his commander, who told him she had no problem with what he'd done but that she would need to run it up the chain of command. She later relayed the response.

"She said, 'What the military's most concerned with is that you are OK, because it's a lot of pressure on you and we want to make sure if there is anything we can do to help,'" he recalled.

You can read the rest of The Associated Press story here. The question and Santorum’s response follows:

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