South Carolina Congressman Tim Scott, who has reportedly been chosen to replace Jim DeMint as that state’s senator by Governor Nikki Haley, has had a heavenly helping hand during his time in Washington. A volunteer named Tim Taylor has led a group of “prayer team warriors” who have organized on Mr. Scott’s campaign website and prayed for God to give the congressman guidance and protection. Mr. Taylor told Politicker the team has been praying for Mr. Scott, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, throughout his career.
“The prayer team has been active for many years now and we’ve prayed for Tim consistently,” said Mr. Taylor. “I’m just committed to it. I’ve known Tim for a long time and, you know, I’ve just felt led to pray for him.”
September 17 is the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests, but it is also Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, a day when observant Jews are supposed to go to temple and refrain from a whole host of activities. Because these religious obligations might prevent Jews from participating in the protests planned for the Occupy-iversary, a group called Occupy Judaism is planning an Occupy Rosh Hashana service in Zuccotti Park on September 16. According to the Facebook invite for the event, Occupy Rosh Hashana will include, “a potluck dinner,” a “nondenominational holiday service” with “Occupy Torah” and, of course, the requisite apples and honey.
“Using Jewish holidays as a way of calling for social and economic justice is in line with what the prophets envisioned, as far as what an act in the service of God is,” Occupy Judaism founder Dan Sieradski explained to Politicker. “God wants you to pursue justice, not to talk about it in a book, to go out and pursue it.”
Last weekend, Michelle Obama made a surprise visit to a hospital in Aurora, Colorado to meet with victims of last month’s movie theater shooting there. Her husband, President Barack Obama, also met with those affected by the horrific shooting just two days after it occurred. However, neither the president or the First Lady has visited Oak Creek, Wisconsin where six people were killed at a Sikh Temple sixteen days after the incident in Aurora. Amardeep Kaleka, whose father was killed at Oak Creek, said he finds it “strange” his community hasn’t received more support from President Obama and Mitt Romney.
“Why wouldn’t they, at some point, make a stand. Make a stand for everybody out there who’s ever been robbed, or gunned down or has faced this hatred,” Mr. Kaleka said.
Mr. Kaleka’s father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. According to Mr. Kaleka, his father was shot eight times and lost all of his fingernails while wrestling with the gunman. Mr. Kaleka said he and other family members of the victims haven’t received any communication from President Obama beyond a single call to a “random” member of the congregation.
A new ad released by the Romney campaign this morning invokes the late Pope John Paul II to suggest President Barack Obama is endangering religious freedom in America. The ad references President Obama’s contraception coverage rule, which it describes as “forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.”
“Who shares your values? President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion,” a narrator says in the ad. “Mitt Romney believes that’s wrong.”
Texas governor and former presidential candidate Rick Perry sat down for a video interview with National Review Online last week and he discussed his reasons for opposing gay marriage. Mr. Perry addressed the topic when he was asked about voters who admired his economic policies, but wished he would “just back off on the social issues.” He answered by explaining that he thinks, though society may be becoming gay friendly, God’s stance on same-sex marriage is quite clear.
“The issue of traditional marriage is one that continues to bubble forward and I happen to believe that, if you’re going to have a society that is successful economically or otherwise, you’re going to have to have values that you attach that society to. For 2,000 years we have had marriage between a man and a woman,” said Mr. Perry. “I suspect that issue’s not going to go away, but just because you share a different view or you are flexible on the issue does not mean that God has changed his mind about it.”
Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s successor as pastor of Chicago’s Trinity Baptist Church, Otis Moss III, took to Twitter to comment on the New York Times‘ story about a controversial plan by a conservative Super PAC run by billionaire Joe Ricketts to attack President Barack Obama by associating him with Reverend Wright.
“We must fight this! Just got word about the structure of the ads. I will be calling on people of good will to stand with our church,” Mr. Moss wrote. “It is not about denomination or theology This is an attack on the black church, ministry and prophetic witness.”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind was not happy with the new Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition of Gertrude Stein’s art collection. Mr. Hikind, a leader in the Orthodox Jewish community, has been harping on the Met to modify the exhibit with a note explaining it “was owned and collected by fascist/Nazi-collaborator Gertrude Stein.” After teaming up with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to raise the issue at a meeting with museum officials this morning, Mr. Hikind said he was able to convince the Met to add a note about Stein’s relationship to the Nazis.
“Visitors have the right to know that this collection exists because Gertrude Stein sold her soul; that she lived in comfort, aiding the Nazi cause while her fellow Jews were being robbed, tortured and murdered,” Mr. Hikind said in a statement. “I am grateful to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for accepting the historical accountability of full disclosure. I also want to thank Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for joining me in correcting this glaring omission.”
The race between veteran Councilman Lew Fidler and Republican upstart David Storobin was a vicious campaign that included charges of pedophilia, Nazism and election day allegations “a Storobin thug” ran over a Fidler volunteer with a van. A police spokesperson subsequently told The New York Times the claim about the van proved to be untrue. In the end, Mr. Storobin was up by 120 votes in the final pre-paper ballot tally, but both candidates declared victory and the campaign is headed to a close count and court fight. However, as Mr. Storobin pointed out in a speech at his election night party, no one expected him to come close.
“We counted 100 percent of the votes but there are still some votes, some paper votes that are left, but based on all the info that we have, I’m proud to say that we, all of us, won this race. There may be recounts and we may have to wait for official results for a few days, or maybe even a couple of weeks, but like I said, the good won, we won,” Mr. Storobin said. “Tonight, we’ll go to bed as winners when nobody outside believed that we had a shot to even compete, when every story about this campaign began with Lew Fidler, the heavy favorite.”
Law & Order
A group of 110 advocacy and activist organizations teamed together to send a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today asking him to investigate whether the NYPD violated the constitutional rights of American Muslims with its widespread Muslim surveillance program. Signatories of the letter included; the New York Chapter of the NAACP, Occupy Wall Street, Muslim Advocates, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the Muslim Bar Associations of New York, D.C., Florida, Southern California and Chicago.
“The NYPD appears to have targeted individuals and communities for surveillance based upon nothing more than their faith. Such measures are just the latest manifestation of the NYPD’s discriminatory practices against racial, religious, and ethnic minorities,” the letter said. “In light of the breadth of information now available, we strongly urge the Department of Justice to commence a prompt investigation into NYPD surveillance of Muslims in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, including determining whether potentially unlawful surveillance continues.”
Law & Order
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly fielded questions on the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk and Muslim surveillance programs during a contentious hearing of the City Council Public Safety Committee. Mr. Kelly was ostensibly testifying about the NYPD’s preliminary budget for the coming fiscal year, but the hearing quickly turned into a heated discussion of the department’s most controversial policies when committee members questioned the commissioner following his testimony.