blue dog Democrats

Here we go again: U.S. Supreme Court gains even more power in America's culture wars?

Here we go again: U.S. Supreme Court gains even more power in America's culture wars?

The day after election day is, of course, a day for political chatter. Let’s face it: In Twitter America, every day is a day for political chatter.

This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to see a few religion ghosts in all of this media fog — hints at the religion/politics stories that will soon return to the headlines. Let me start with a few observations, as a Bible Belt guy who just spent his second straight national election night in New York City.

* I didn’t think that it would be possible for the U.S. Supreme Court to play a larger and more divisive role in American political life than it has post-Roe v. Wade. I was wrong. Do you see big, important compromises coming out of the new U.S. House and Senate?

* Maybe you have doubts about the importance of SCOTUS in politics right now. If so, take a look at the U.S. Senate races in which Democrats sought reelection in culturally “red” states. Ask those Democrats about the heat surrounding Supreme Court slots.

* So right now, leaders of the religious left are praying BIG TIME for the health of 85-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and, to a lesser degree, 80-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer. After two battles with cancer, activists inside the Beltway watch Ginsburg’s every move for signs of trouble. What will conservative religious leaders pray for?

* If Ginsburg or Breyer exit, one way or the other, what will be the central issues that will surround hearings for the next nominee? Do we really need to ask that? It will be abortion and religious liberty — again.

* If the next nominee is Judge Amy Coney Barrett (a likely choice with GOP gains in the U.S. Senate), does anyone doubt that her Catholic faith (“The dogma lives loudly in you”) will be at the heart of the media warfare that results?

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Monday Mix: Pittsburgh shooting, hate that kills, Sutherland Springs, white nationalism, 'double lives'

Monday Mix: Pittsburgh shooting, hate that kills, Sutherland Springs, white nationalism, 'double lives'

Surprised? No.

Numb? Yes.

After a weekend marred by yet another mass shooting in America, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s front page pays tribute to the victims in a special way today.

Welcome to another edition of the Monday Mix, where we focus on headlines and insights you might have missed from the weekend and late in the week.

The fine print: Just because we include a headline here doesn't mean we won't offer additional analysis in a different post, particularly if it's a major story. In fact, if you read a piece linked here and have questions or concerns that we might address, please don't hesitate to comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion. The goal here is to point at important news and say, "Hey, look at this."

Three weekend reads

1. "The day closed with 3,000 people attending a vigil for the dead and wounded at the intersection of Murray and Forbes avenues.” GetReligion’s Julia Duin, who used to live in Pittsburgh, has a helpful overview of news coverage of the synagogue shooting.

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Sex crimes and sins in the past: Pay attention to Bill Clinton's skilled use of the faith card

Sex crimes and sins in the past: Pay attention to Bill Clinton's skilled use of the faith card

Long ago, I was a strong supporter of Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, in part because of his early willingness -- as a Bible Belt Democrat -- to seek compromises on government policies linked to abortion. I was even more hopeful about the future of a young politico from Tennessee, Sen. Al Gore, whose pro-life voting record came in at 80-plus percent.

Yes, there was a time when both men were, in the context of the Democratic Party, clearly to the right of center on moral and cultural issues. They weren't "blue dog" Democrats, but they were close.

Things changed.

Now Bill Clinton is creeping back into the news during America's tsunami of headlines -- justified, methinks -- about sexual harassment and worse in Hollywood, inside the DC Beltway and elsewhere. On the cultural and political left, those who are concerned about the Harvey Weinsteins of this world, as well as accusations against one Roy Moore of Alabama, are being asked if they are rethinking their views on former President Clinton. As in this New York Times headline: " 'What About Bill?’ Sexual Misconduct Debate Revives Questions About Clinton."

This is an important story (ditto for this strong online essay at The Atlantic by the always readable Caitlin Flanagan). But as you read it, please see if you sense -- as I do -- the presence of a "religion ghost" (to use the GetReligion term).

You see, Clinton never really repented of his sins -- in legal and political terms. He outlasted his critics, on that front, and survived. Instead, as a progressive Baptist, he did his repenting in religious language that connected with Americans, but had little practical impact. I think that's a crucial element of the story of his survival.

Here is the overture of the New York Times piece:

WASHINGTON -- Another woman went on national television this week to press her case of sexual assault by a powerful figure. But the accused was not Roy S. Moore or Harvey Weinstein or Donald J. Trump. It was Bill Clinton.

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Concerning GetReligion and our history of openly biased commentary on news

Concerning GetReligion and our history of openly biased commentary on news

Anyone who has ever taken the time to read the first essay published at this blog more than 11 years ago -- "What we do, why we do it" -- or who knows how to use a mouse and a search engine well enough to reach Wikipedia knows that one of my closest friends in journalism is a writer whose byline, back when she was a nationally known religion-beat professional, was Roberta Green.

Roberta and I were on the beat during the same era, primarily when I was at The Rocky Mountain News and she was at The Orange County Register. Then, in the pre-Internet era, she vanished from the beat when she married someone she met in a church Bible study. Our paths crossed again a few years later, at a Columbia University conference on religion-news issues, linked to the famous Freedom Forum study called "Bridging The Gap (.pdf here)."

As it turned out, Roberta had married a philanthropist named Howard Ahmanson, who at times has been a controversial figure in Southern California cultural and political life. At this point, I will simply say that if you want to know more about his evolving views on a host of subjects, you should check out his blog -- "Blue Kennel." For those who know political symbolism, it's logical to note that blue kennels might house blue dogs, a label Ahmanson embraced a few years ago when he left the Republican Party and registered as a Democrat.

For the past two decades, Roberta and I (and a host of other journalists and academics) have been involved in many journalism-education projects working with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the Global Media Project,, Oxford University Press and now The McCandlish Phillips Journalism Center, a project at The King's College in New York City that honors the legacy of the great New York Times reporter John McCandlish Phillips. My work with has been part of all of this, for 11 years.

Like I said, these connections were put into print the day this blog opened. Still, I was not surprised when the GetReligion reader named "Jay," or whoever resides at the lambda98 address at Hotmail, had this response to my recent post about GetReligion, Religion News Service and debates about "church" and "state" conflicts in newsrooms.

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