November 2007

'Patriot Pastors' ... for Huckabee?

Rick Scarborough, a pioneer in organizing churches around partisan politics, has seen his national stature rise dramatically in the last few years—the Texas ex-pastor even starred on CNN’s “God’s Warriors” series—but he’s also faced some setbacks. His “Patriot Pastors” strategy was dealt a blow last November when voters in South Dakota rejected an abortion ban and Missourians voted in favor of embryonic stem cell research, despite non-stop church-based organizing by Scarborough in both states up to Election Day. He also discovered the fact, known by most other political advocacy groups, that full-time lobbying or organizing for or against legislation is not tax-deductible—a sad day for him.

And his latest “Patriot Pastors” campaign—the ambitious70 Weeks to Save America” tour that was to culminate on Election Day 2008—has apparently suffered from a lack of media coverage, spotty participation, and finally abandonment by Scarborough’s partner, Alan Keyes, who is running for president again. “Needless to say, this created a serious reevaluation of our whole program to register voters and to educate Christians through our Seventy Week campaign,” wrote Scarborough, who announced that sparser church events would be “augment[ed]” by voter registration drives and rallies at state capitols, “followed by an all out effort to move Values Voters to vote their values on Election Day '08.”

But sometimes opportunity knocks. Joining Randy Brinson, head of the embattled Christian Coalition of Alabama as well as a voter-registration outfit, Scarborough is bringing his “Patriot Pastors” act to the Iowa caucuses:

Beginning December 6, Vision America will be joining forces with in an effort to mobilize thousands of Values Voters all over Iowa as we barnstorm the state for ten days. We have been offered the use of a bus that has been especially designed for rallies, complete with a roll out stage, satellites on the roof to connect with the worldwide media, loud speakers and spotlights.

We will be working with the Iowa Family Policy Institute as well as the Iowa Christian Alliance, two very aggressive and effective pro-family organizations. Our goal is to host three rallies a day as we crisscross the state, registering thousands of voters and mobilizing tens of thousands to vote their values during the Iowa caucuses in January.

"Fox News," "US News and World Report," and other national media have expressed interest in covering this groundbreaking event as we travel the length and breadth of this important state.

Scarborough’s “One Day Crusades” this year have so far been focused on next year’s general election. Why the sudden interest in the Republican presidential primary? Well, Scarborough has heartily endorsed his former seminary classmate, Mike Huckabee, as has Brinson. And media are reporting that Huckabee has a shot of winning the Iowa caucus.

While Scarborough’s help may or may not push Huckabee over the edge in Iowa, the activist is still hedging his bets. After all, Rudy Giuliani still leads in national polls, and some have speculated that Huckabee’s surge ultimately benefits Giuliani by siphoning off far-right support for Mitt Romney. Scarborough has publicly waffled over whether he would support Giuliani were he nominated, but while he’s said Giuliani’s stance on abortion is unacceptable, he’s also been giving himself some wiggle room. Radical Islam, he said recently, is “the ultimate life issue."

Vision America Barnstorming Iowa

Rick Scarborough announces that they'll be will be joining forces with, the Iowa Family Policy Institute, and the Iowa Christian Alliance "to host three rallies a day as we crisscross the state, registering thousands of voters and mobilizing tens of thousands to vote their values during the Iowa caucuses in January." Unfortunately, they are broke: "We do not have the money on hand to fund this effort which includes airfare, hotels and food, not to mention the need to advertise and publicize each rally. This is a pure faith venture."

FRC Blasts GOP Loyalty Pledge

The Family Research Council is not happy with the Virginia Republican Party's demand that primary voters pledge to support the GOP nominee in the general election: "The only loyalty oath the party might consider is one in which the candidates themselves pledge support for the values and principles in the party platform. Rejuvenating any political party begins not with a loyalty oath from voters, but with renewing the party's loyalty to its voters."

Pat Robertson to the Rescue?

Amid all the turmoil plaguing Oral Roberts University, it appears as if things might be turning a corner because, in addition to a Christian businessman’s pledge to bail out the debt-ridden institution with a $70 million donation, it seems as if Pat Robertson is set to take advantage offer his assistance:

A team from Regent University will travel to financially troubled Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., on Monday to explore “options” for ties between the institutions.

“We are pleased to report that Dr. Pat Robertson, president and chancellor of Regent University and long-time friend of Oral Roberts University, has contacted members of the board of regents and has expressed interest in exploring options for the future of ORU with Regent University,” George Pearsons, chairman of the ORU Board of Regents, said in a statement posted on the university’s Web site.

“Dr. Robertson is sending a team on Monday to Tulsa to meet with ORU Regents and administrative representatives,” he said

It should be noted that Robertson’s Regent University Law School got its start back in the mid-80s when ORU, like today, was facing financial difficulties:  

The Regent law school was founded in 1986, when Oral Roberts University shut down its ailing law school and sent its library to Robertson's Bible-based college in Virginia.

Regent didn’t just get ORU’s “entire law library, [but] some students and faculty” as well.  

Who knows what part of ORU Robertson has his eye on this time.

Speaking of Robertson and Regent, Adam Key, the Regent Law School student suspended and ordered to undergo a mental evaluation for posting an unflattering photo of Robertson on his web page, has apparently decided to sue:

A Regent University law student who was suspended for posting an unflattering photo of school founder Pat Robertson on the Internet sued the university and Robertson on Thursday.

Adam M. Key, 23, claims in the federal suit that Regent officials violated his free speech and due process rights for expressing his "Christian religious and political opinions" when it suspended him in October.

"I went there because I wanted an environment conducive to learning that had a respect for religious liberty, but the only liberty they are interested in defending is theirs and people like them," Key said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

Because the private university receives federal funds, it is required under the U.S. Higher Education Act to respect students' freedom of religion and expression.

The lawsuit also alleges Key was "fraudulently induced" to attend Regent. "Adam relied on Regent's many claims of religious liberty and speech" and the law school's American Bar Association accreditation, the lawsuit states.

Breaking News: Keyes Wasn't Invited to This Debate, Either

When Alan Keyes announced his latest quixotic campaign, someone might have thought he hit the ground running: He was featured just three days later at the Values Voter Debate alongside real, live presidential candidates. Granted, he may have benefited from the fact that the four Republican front runners all skipped that event, and in the end, he didn’t make too much of an impression, but none the less, it’s nice to be wanted. And he also scored a spot at Tavis Smiley’s black-oriented forum on PBS (although again, the four leading candidates skipped that debate).

But alas, “the Big Mo” would elude Keyes. He was left out of the GOP debate in Michigan; blaming NBC, Keyes called it a “sham.” (On the other hand, it did have those four candidates…) He was also left out of the next debate in Orlando. Worst of all, he wasn’t even invited to speak at the Family Research Council Values Voter Summit.

So at this point, it’s not too surprising that Keyes would be left out of last night’s CNN/YouTube Republican debate. Nevertheless, Keyes campaign chief Stephen Stone (who moonlights as a pro-Keyes editor of Keyes’s RenewAmerica website) is outraged. Stone, in a angry—and long-winded—e-mail exchange with CNN, threatens legal action and insinuates foul play:

How do CNN and YouTube intend to dispel the obvious appearance that their exclusion of Ambassador Keyes from the debate does in fact amount to an attempt to damage the Keyes campaign? In other words, explain why the behavior of CNN and YouTube is not intentionally self-fulfilling — since it presumes in advance that the Keyes campaign lacks viability, and then proceeds to ensure such lack of viability by excluding Dr. Keyes from the nation's consciousness — even though he is the most eloquent and persuasive Republican candidate in the race, a candidate who in 2000 was widely credited with winning the Republican presidential debates and came in third in the primaries, and whose candidacy, therefore, cannot objectively be considered less than viable.

Is God Using NAFTA Superhighway to Stop Homosexuality?

WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah writes of immigration and the Bush Administration’s alleged secret plans to create a “North American Union”:

It is, ultimately, about moving away from differences between nations that God Himself created for His own divine purposes. It is about following the path of Nimrod and all the others who have attempted to build super-states in defiance of God.

Farah believes God, like him, opposes immigration and NAFTA—not to mention a nefarious superhighway supposedly at the root of the administration conspiracy—but a report from Pat Robertson’s CBN finds a gay-fighting God using that same road as a prophetic highway of holiness.

The concept of a behind-the-scenes “North American Union”—persistently advanced by Farah’s WorldNetDaily, the John Birch Society, CNN’s Lou Dobbs, presidential candidates Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo, and others—is closely tied to the anti-immigrant sentiment that has struck right-wing politics over the last few years. But it has taken on a life of its own, thanks to vivid imagery like “the plan to build a huge NAFTA Super Highway, four football-fields-wide, through the heart of the U.S.” that was alleged in detail by Jerome Corsi last year. Corsi even provided a now-iconic picture, taken from a transportation-industry lobbying group:


In the picture, it appears as if almost all of middle America has been blanketed by some kind of yellow dust originating from south of the border and traveling up Interstate 35 like a swarm of killer bees. The “NAFTA Superhighway” and the “North American Union” may be “the quintessential conspiracy theory for our time,” as the Boston Globe recently discussed.

But what if Corsi and friends are wrong? What if the yellow cloud surrounding I-35 isn’t an “invasion” from Mexico but an “invasion” of God? That, apparently, is the theory of the youth-oriented church activists profiled on yesterday’s “700 Club, who are running “purity sieges” at clinics and porn shops, where they claim to be “moving angels and demons” by, for example, “setting free” an inebriated young man from “the desires to be with men” through the laying of hands at a gay bar.

While the CBN report doesn't mention NAFTA or a North American Union, the suspicious highway is central to the story:

A number of Christians have come to believe, because of recent prophecies, dreams, and visions, that I-35 is the highway spoken in Isaiah 35, verse 8: “And a highway will be there, it will be called the way of holiness.”

… [Heartland Ministries’ Hill] believes God has an awesome plan that starts along I-35. “Let’s draw a line in the center of America, set people on fire, get young people saved, get moms and dads saved, get churches on fire, get holy, and watch how it affects the rest of America.”

“What do we expect to see?” [said Cindy Jacob.] “We expect laws to be changed in cities. We expect righteous leaders. We expect a movement, a reformation that will literally sweep the face of the earth.”

The Right Rallies 'Round Huckabee

The right-wing endorsements just keep pouring in for Mike Huckabee. In addition to B-list celebrities like Chuck Norris and Ric Flair, Huckabee has also been racking up endorsements from B-list Religious Right leaders such as Rick Scarborough, Don Wildmon, and Tim and Beverly LaHaye. And now Huckabee has secured the support of Jerry Falwell, Jr.:

Former Arkansas Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee announced the personal endorsement of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. Falwell is the son of the late Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and Falwell Ministries. "I knew Jerry's dad for more than 30 years and have admired the long tradition of Liberty University and the legacy for creating 'Champions for Christ'," Huckabee said. "Dr. Falwell's vision of helping students to start with nothing to believe they can change the world is exactly what our campaign is all about."

Huckabee also unveiled his Faith and Family Values Coalition which, as one would expect, is chock full of Religious Right figures of varying fame and influence:

- Dr. Jerry Jenkins, best-selling author, including the Left Behind series; Colorado
- Star Parker, Founder and president of CURE;* Washington D.C. - Michael Farris, Chair of Home School Legal Defense Association* and Chancellor of Patrick Henry College;* Virginia
- William J. Murray, Chair of Religious Freedom Coalition,* Chair of Government is Not God PAC,* and author; Washington D.C.
- Don Wildmon, Founder and Chairman of American Family Association;* Mississippi
- Dr. Mark Bailey, President of Dallas Theological Seminary;* Texas
- Rick Scarborough, Founder and President of Vision America;* Texas
- Jerry Cox, President of Arkansas Family Council;* Arkansas
- Janet Folger, President of Faith2Action;* Florida
- Jim Pfaff, President and CEO of the Colorado Family Action;* Colorado
- Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel*/ Dean of Liberty University Law School;* Virginia
- Kelly Shackelford, Chief Counsel, Liberty Legal Institute and President of Free Market Foundation;* Texas
- Phil Burress, President of Citizens for Community Values;* Ohio

As for Janet Folger, not only is she a member of the coalition, she is also serving as co-chair. This comes as no surprise, as Folger has been Huckabee's most vocal backer ever since he won the straw poll at the Values Voter Debate, which she organized. It should also be noted that Folger personally invited the Grand Avenue Church of God choir to perform their rendition of "Why Should God Bless America?" at the debate:

In recent weeks, Folger has been going all out for Huckabee in her WorldNetDaily columns, calling Hillary Clinton "Queen of Slaughter" and claiming that, if elected, Clinton will put Christians in prison. For that, Huckabee appears to have decided that she deserves to serve as co-chair of his Faith and Family Values Coalition.

Romney Meets With Schiavo's Brother

Terri Schiavo's brother, Bobby Schindler, announces that he met with Mitt Romeny: "Given that the Presidential candidates are repeatedly asked to comment on the circumstances and outcome of Terri Schiavo's case, Mr. Schindler sent a letter to every candidate requesting a meeting to discuss the implications of Terri's case on the right to life of people living with disabilities. Presently, Governor Romney is the only candidate to accept the invitation for a meeting."

Heritage/Cato Economist Comes to Defense of 'Ron Paul Dollars'

Fed raid earlier this month just "validates" big-government paranoia, writes Richard Rahn of FreedomWorks, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and Discovery Institute.

Folger’s Fantasy World

Janet Folger appears to be becoming increasingly unhinged in her avid devotion to Mike Huckabee’s campaign, following up her last column where she claimed to be writing from prison following Hillary Clinton’s election with this political fairy tale:  

Once upon a time in the dark days of the great slaughter, there was a determined search for a king who would bring the slaughter to an end.

The wicked reigned in both houses of the shadowy Council, and black-robed tyrants ruled the land. The slaughter continued and the good people mourned. They fought and debated, dissented and deplored for three long dreary decades until their voices grew hoarse. They were disappointed and weary and a little bit leery, but their goal they saw clearly: to shield and not yield until all babies were protected from slaughter.

Finally, the day had come when a king or queen they would send to the White Palace to bring the slaughter to an end.

Three contenders stepped forth against the evil Queen of Slaughter: Prince Slay-'Em, the Sheriff of Floppingham and Friar Mike, in that order.  

It doesn’t require much imagination to figure out just who Queen of Slaughter (Clinton), Prince Slay-'Em (Giuliani), and Friar Mike (Hukcabee) are supposed to represent.  Nor does it take much imagination to figure out the meaning behind Folger’s claim that the “Sheriff of Floppingham was always pro-slaughter.” 

She then provides the requisite happy ending in which the noble Mike Huckabee rescues the nation:

Then somebody said, "If our leaders won't lead, hey, why don't we? For the slaughter to end, the message we'll send with our friar friend named Mike."

Others jumped up and said, "He's from our ranks, and I would give thanks to see him take the lead."

And the poll numbers surged at the thought that the slaughter would be purged, as the people joined behind Mike.

"But he isn't perfect! Some ranted and raved!"

Then Sir Chuck of Norris rode forth pushing the earth down before him. Now the way would be paved! "I'll watch the border, just get things in order!"

He lowered his sword and knighted Friar Mike, "I give you Sir Mike-A-Lot who we all Like a lot! He's the only one we can trust to slay the Slaughter Dragon and the wicked Slaughter Queen. Now that he's lean, he's a fighting machine!"

Sir Don-of-the-Wild rode forth on his steed. "I'm ready to lead!" he said. "Sir Mike-A-Lot will protect all the tots from slaughter and make sure each has a mother and a father."

And following along, 3 million strong, came Don-of-the-Wild's faithful army.

"Sir Mike-A-Lot," in one voice they declaraged, "is the one we trust to protect Royal Marriage."

So Sir Mike led the way, with each son and each daughter, to face the evil queen and her dragon of slaughter.

With new passion they fought, as each of them ought, and the dragon they caught and they slayed him.

Then the evil queen of the Hill was exiled back to Blueville where she and her dragon could no longer kill.

Sir Mike raised his sword and sang praise to the Lord that children and marriage were protected once more. And the kingdom was filled with the children's laughter, and the red and blue kingdoms lived happily after.

So now, not only can Huckabee alone save the Right from inevitable imprisonment under a Clinton regime, but he is the last hope to the nation from the “evil queen and her dragon of slaughter.”   

If Huckabee wants to start being taken seriously as a first tier candidate, it might help if he could secure the support of people beyond B-list actors, ex-wrestlers, and fringe right-wing leaders.  It might also help if he publicly distanced himself and his campaign from Folger’s worsening delusions.