Signs and Wonders
Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., left, and his son John.
Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite
Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., left, and his son John.

Signs and Wonders: Is Arkansas’ Griffin the first casualty of the shutdown fight?

Newsworthy

Really? Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., says he won’t seek reelection to the House, citing family reasons. That may be true: He has a wife and two young children. But it is also true that Griffin’s district has been trending from red to purple in recent years. He won election in 2010 with about 58 percent of the vote, and re-election in 2012 by a smaller margin, just 55 percent. The Democrats have not yet announced a candidate, but he was likely to get stiff competition. Is this a sign of things to come for the 2014 election? Most people think it unlikely for the Republicans to lose control of the House. Most of the 435 House seats are safe for both parties, and of the less than 50 seats in play, the Democrats would have to win almost all of them to gain control. But the Obamacare/debt ceiling/government shutdown fight has taken a toll on Republicans in some swing districts, and Griffin’s “retirement” could be a sign of that.

Miscalculation? New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie folded this week on the same-sex marriage issue. Rather than authorize the executive branch to continue to fight against same-sex marriage, he withdrew the state’s appeal of an earlier decision to the New Jersey Supreme Court. I’ll admit that it was something of a judgment call, since the court had already said the appeal was unlikely to prevail, and it had authorized the marriages to proceed anyway. But for Christie to roll over was a miscalculation. I’m guessing he hopes to cast himself as the leading spokesman for a “Big Tent” Republican Party. It’s more likely, though, that it will alienate the base and guarantee he is unelectable in places like Iowa and South Carolina, should he decide to run for president.

Difficult divorces. With divorce rates at high levels, and same-sex marriage more common, some are asking: Should divorce be more difficult? Most folks who study the issue say that no-fault divorce, which started in California in 1970, is a significant cause of the sky-rocketing divorce rate. North Carolina is considering a bill to make divorce much more difficult. The Healthy Marriage Act would extend the divorce waiting period from 1 to 2 years. It was introduced in April in the Senate and hasn’t passed out yet, but the bill is still alive and eligible for consideration next year. Louisiana passed a first-in-the-nation covenant marriage law that makes both marriage and divorce more difficult, but few states have followed that example. Given the brokenness of the current system, perhaps more should.

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Charismatic fight. There’s an intramural fight over the Holy Spirit brewing in evangelicalism. According to Religion News Service: Megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll claims that his books were confiscated at the Strange Fire conference put on by another megachurch pastor John MacArthur. Driscoll, who pastors Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is a reformed pastor who is more open to charismatic theology. MacArthur, who pastors Grace Community Church in southern California and has been named in the top 10 most influential pastors in a survey by LifeWay Research, has long criticized the charismatic movement, calling it ‘a farce and a scam.’” MacArthur’s people say Driscoll’s books were not “confiscated,” but were accepted as gifts from Driscoll. Whatever the case, some are criticizing Driscoll for being at the conference in the first place, saying he could not have been there for any reason other than to disrupt and generate publicity. Driscoll claims he was in Southern California for another event, and just happened to drop by.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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