April 2009

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Sen. Sam Brownback is being accused of betraying Christians for his support for Kathleen Sebelius.
  • Sen. Richard Lugar is also coming under assault from the Right for his support for Dawn Johnsen.
  • I don't know that I agree with the headline of this article because, for Huckabee, there has never been much of a difference between the two.
  • LifeNews has a tendency to essentially reprint right-wing press releases and pass them off as news.  Need proof? This article contains a quote from Janet Porter that she reportedly "told" LifeNews - a quote that is exactly the same as the one contained in her press release yesterday.
  • The Family Research Council responds to Sen. Olympia Snowe's lament about Arlen Specter's defection by saying that it moderates like Snowe and Specter who are exactly the problem with today's GOP.
  • Finally, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has decided on a rather bizarre way of dealing with Specter's defection: by making sneering robo-calls to Democrats blasting Specter for being too close to President Bush.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Pam reports that Rep. Virginia Foxx is now trying to walk back from her claim that the murder to Matthew Shepard was a "hoax."
  • The Box Turtle Bulletin has a good analysis of Carrie Prejean, her views, and her role as a martyr for the Religious Right.
  • Good as You has the audio of Prejean's appearance on Matt Barber and Mat Staver's radio program (also, Jeremy has always had a fondness for puns and plays on words, and this post was exceptionally clever.)
  • Publius predicts that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's stock will rise as the GOP's fortunes grow dimmer and they eventually need to recover from the descent into crazy base land.
  • Steve Benen notes that, in the latest effort to re-brand the GOP, there is no mention of culture war issues and says it looks like the Republican Party is trying to throw social conservatives under the bus and asks them if they are "going to take this lying down?"

Robertson: Will Hate Crimes Protect Someone Who "Likes to Have Sex With Ducks"?

The Religious Right generally has two standard explanations for its opposition to hate crimes legislation.  The first is that such legislation will outlaw criticism of homosexuality and end up getting pastors tossed into prison.  The second is this odd claim that such legislation will somehow provide legal protection to people who engage in bestiality or pedophilia:

The main purpose of this “hate crime” legislation is to add the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” “either actual or perceived,” as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations-zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?

Media Matters catches Pat Robertson raising a similar point, asking if hate crimes legislation will protect "some really weird [person] who likes to have sex with ducks" or little boys:

Considering that the purpose of such legislation is to "provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes," how exactly would such legislation end up protecting pedophiles or zoophiles?  Those things remain illegal.  

Hate crimes legislation is aimed at, you know, prosecuting hate crimes, and targets anyone who "willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person."

If you attack someone because they are gay, or because you think they are gay, you are going to get charged with a hate crime. 

If you have sex with a duck, you are going to get charged with bestiality. 

But what is not going to happen is that people who have sex with ducks are suddenly going to find their behavior "protected" because of the passage of hate crimes legislation. The two things are utterly unrelated.

So the question the Right is really asking is: will you get charged with a hate crime for beating someone up because they had sex with a duck? Probably not, because bestiality is illegal, though you will likely be charged with assault.

Is there some vigilante group of conservative Christians out there taking physical retribution against suspected zoophiles that I am unaware of and whose mission will be fundamentally jeopardized by the passage of this legislation?

Is the Religious Right planning on unleashing a campaign of violent beat-downs of suspected homosexuals at some point in the future that would have to be called off if this legislation passes?

If not, then they need to stop using these sorts of lies and scare-tactics in their opposition to this legislation.

Jesus Loves You and AFA Hates Miley

Via Americablog, we learn that the American Family Association is now going after Miley Cyrus for Twittering her views that Jesus loves everyone, whether they are gay or straight:

• "Everyone deserves to love and be loved and most importantly smile."

• "Jesus loves you and your partner and wants you to know how much he cares! That's like a daddy not loving his lil boy cuz he's gay and that is wrong and very sad!

• "Like I said everyone deserves to be happy."

• "God’s greatest commandment is to love. And judging is not loving."

• "I am a Christian and I love you - gay or not - because you are no different than anyone else! We are all God's children."

Now obviously that is outrageously offensive to the "real" Christians like those at the AFA, which is now saying the Cyrus is a terrible role model for children and calling on its supporters to besiege her with letters setting her straight: 

Such statements will send the wrong message to our children who are influenced by this teenage megastar. Parents need to realize that Cyrus is not the positive role model she was once thought to be.

Send Miley Cyrus a letter stating that you do not approve of her comments.

Clearly she is confused and does not understand the Bible. Please pray for the Lord to open her eyes to the truth.

How To Get Into Liberty University, The Easy Way

Liberty University has a long list of scholarships available to prospective students - some require good grades, some require military or ministry experience, and some require memorizing 750 Bible verses.

But if that is too much work, you can always just try speaking out against marriage equality in a nationally televised event and Liberty will start throwing scholarships at you and begging you to transfer:

Liberty University has offered a scholarship to the beauty queen who expressed her opposition to same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant.

School Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. made the offer yesterday to Carrie Prejean, who was visiting the conservative Christian school.

...

Prejean, who's a junior at San Diego Christian College, was first runner-up in the pageant. She hasn't said whether she'll transfer to Liberty for her senior year.

Who Controls The National Day of Prayer?

Last year we noted that The National Day of Prayer Task Force, headed by James Dobson’s wife Shirley and based out of Focus on the Family offices in Colorado, had somehow managed to appoint itself the “official” organizer of the National Day of Prayer.

According to its history, the National Day of Prayer is nothing more than a presidential proclamation, but in the late 1970s a group calling itself the National Prayer Committee was formed - which itself is a project of Mission America  - and the NPC eventually created something called the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is dedicated to “organizing and promoting prayer observances conforming to a Judeo-Christian system of values:”

The National Day of Prayer Task Force was a creation of the National Prayer Committee for the expressed purpose of organizing and promoting prayer observances conforming to a Judeo-Christian system of values. People with other theological and philosophical views are, of course, free to organize and participate in activities that are consistent with their own beliefs. This diversity is what Congress intended when it designated the Day of Prayer, not that every faith and creed would be homogenized, but that all who sought to pray for this nation would be encouraged to do so in any way deemed appropriate. It is that broad invitation to the American people that led, in our case, to the creation of the Task Force and the Judeo-Christian principles on which it is based.

Neither Mission America, the National Prayer Committee, or the National Day of Prayer Task Force are official representatives of the National Day of Prayer, but they certainly seems as if they are.  If you search for "national day of prayer" on Google, the first link brings you the the Task Force website, as does every link on the National Prayer Committee's website promoting the National Day of Prayer.  And the National Day of Prayer has recently become a rally cry for the Religious Right, with the Alliance Defense Fund creating a Save the National Day of Prayer effort in response to a lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation last year:

The suit alleges that a task force associated with Focus on the Family is "working hand-in-glove" with the government in organizing the National Day of Prayer.

The Foundation charges that the government "aligns and partners" with the NDP Task Force as the official organizer of the National Day of Prayer. The NDP Task Force identifies itself online as "The National Day of Prayer 'Official Website.' " The task force has close ties to Focus on the Family. Its chair person, Shirley Dobson, is married to Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and the task force is located in the Focus on the Family headquarters.

Adding to the confusion was the fact that the Bush Administration regularly included members of the Task Force in the White House's Day of Prayer events - but it looks like that is about to change:

The National Day of Prayer Task Force had a friend in the White House. Every year, from 2001 to 2008, the Bush administration would invite members of the evangelical Christian organization to the White House to take part in a formal observance of the May 7 event.

But things are different in Washington now. This year, the Task Force - headed by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson - has not been invited to take part.

Needless to say, the Religious Right will presumably throw a fit about this, alleging that it is just further proof that President Obama hates America and its Christian heritage ... by which they mean, of course, their quasi-official role in controlling the National Day of Prayer.

Barton Named to Texas School Board "Experts" Panel

We don't pay that much attention to the ins-and-outs of goings-on regarding the Texas State Board of Education, but the Texas Freedom Network certainly does and they report this latest development:

The Texas State Board of Education is set to appoint a social studies curriculum “expert” panel that includes absurdly unqualified ideologues who are hostile to public education and argue that laws and public policies should be based on their narrow interpretations of the Bible.

TFN has obtained the names of “experts” appointed by far-right state board members. Those panelists will guide the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. They include David Barton of the fundamentalist, Texas-based group WallBuilders, whose degree is in religious education, not the social sciences, and the Rev. Peter Marshall of Peter Marshall Ministries in Massachusetts, who suggests that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina were divine punishments for tolerance of homosexuality.

The two have argued that the Constitution doesn’t protect separation of church and state and hold a variety of other extreme views related to religion, education and government, TFN President Kathy Miller said.

...

Barton, former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, is a self-styled “historian” without any formal training in the field. He argues that separation of church and state is a “myth” and that the nation’s laws should be based on Scripture. He says, for example, that the Bible forbids taxes on income and capital gains. Yet even such groups as Texas Baptists Committed and the Baptist Joint Committee have sharply criticized Barton’s interpretations of the Constitution and history.

Barton also acknowledges having used in his publications and speeches nearly a dozen quotes he has attributed to the nation’s Founders even though he can’t identify any primary sources showing that they really said them.

Some state board members have criticized what they believe are efforts to overemphasize the contributions of minorities in the nation’s history. It is alarming, then, that in 1991 Barton spoke at events hosted by groups tied to white supremacists. He later said he hadn’t known the groups were “part of a Nazi movement.”

In addition, Barton’s WallBuilders Web site suggests as a “helpful” resource the National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education, an organization that calls public schools places of "social depravity" and "spiritual slaughter."

The Peter Marshall Ministries Web site includes Marshall’s commentaries sharply attacking Muslims, characterizing the Obama administration as “wicked,” and calling on Christian parents to reject public education for their children.

Marshall has also attacked Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. In his call for a spiritual revival in America last year, he called traditional mainline Protestantism an “institutionally fossilized, Bible-rejecting shell of Christianity.”

TFN also provides informative links to these documents containing more info about both Barton and Marshall, and so I'll just add links to all of our posts on Barton as well as a link to our report on him, "Propaganda Masquerading as History," for good measure.

Nice Try, NOM

As we noted yesterday, Miss California Carrie Prejean was going to be featured in a new National Organization for Marriage ad released today.

Well, NOM has put it out and here it is:

Joined by Carrie Prejean, the now-famous beauty contestant who lost her crown when she spoke up for marriage, the National Organization for Marriage today launched the second in a series of television ads to be released as part of NOM's ongoing Religious Liberty Ad Campaign. The new ad, "No Offense," opens with footage of Ms. Prejean's response to a question she was asked regarding same-sex marriage during the Miss USA competition on April 19, 2009. The ad highlights the efforts of same-sex marriage activists to silence and discredit pro-marriage advocates, calling them "liars," "bigots," and worse. Over the protests of gay marriage advocates, a group of prominent religious liberty scholars (including scholars both for and against same-sex marriage) recently warned the Connecticut legislature that a bill codifying the state supreme court's ruling on same-sex marriage raised the potential of "widespread and devastating" effects for religious liberty, if robust exemptions were not provided for faith groups and religious organizations.

The most interesting part comes near the end with the narrator asserts that advocates of marriage equality are trying to silence those who oppose it "because they don't want to debate the consequences of same-sex marriage. They want to silence opposition. Some of the nation's foremost scholars warn that gay marriage can create widespread legal conflicts for individuals, small businesses, and religious organizations."

The NOM ad then flashes the quotes "will create widespread and unnecessary legal conflicts" and "effects would be ... devestating" on the screen, but doesn't say where they came from.

In the press release on its website, NOM instead links to these two letters [PDFs] addressed to Christopher Donovan, Speaker of the House in Connecticut, showing where the quotes came from.  The only problem is that the authors weren't warning of the "devastating" effects of gay marriage - they were urging the state legislature to pass an exemption for religious organizations when it enacted its marriage equality law:

We write to provide you with an analysis of the effects of Raised Bill 899 on religious liberty. Those effects would be widespread and devastating. If Raised Bill 899 is passed in its current form—without religious-conscience protections—many religious organizations and individuals will be forced to engage in conduct that violates their deepest religious beliefs, and religious organizations would be limited in crucial aspects of their religious exercise.

In the only comprehensive scholarly work on same-sex marriage and religious liberty to date, legal scholars on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate agreed that codifying same-sex marriage without providing robust religious accommodations will create widespread and unnecessary legal conflict.

The second letter comes from Douglas Laycock, Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage and wrote to the Connecticut Legislature to urge them to add such an exemption in order to prevent the Religious Right from playing the victim:

[I]is it in the interest of the gay and lesbian community to create religious martyrs in the enforcement of this bill. To impose legal penalties or civil liabilities on a wedding planner who refuses to do a same-sex wedding, or on a religious counseling agency that refuses to provide marriage counseling to same-sex couples, will simply ensure that conservative religious opinion on this issue can repeatedly be aroused to fever pitch. Every such case will be in the news repeatedly, and every such story will further inflame the opponents of same-sex marriage. Refusing exemptions to such religious dissenters will politically empower the most demagogic opponents of same-sex marriage. It will ensure that the issue remains alive, bitter, and deeply divisive.

Connecticut legislators did ultimately provide such an exemption when it passed its marriage equality legislation ... and NOM itself hailed it:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) applauds the Connecticut legislature which, in a surprise move today, adopted substantive religious liberty protections as part of what was expected to be a routine bill implementing the Connecticut court decision ordering same-sex marriage.

"We are just grateful that the Connecticut legislators acknowledged and addressed the serious potential implications of same-sex marriage for traditional faith communities," said Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM. "We hope this decision represents a change of heart among gay marriage advocates and a new willingness to accept broad conscience protections."

So NOM posted two letters urging the passage of a religious exemption to the state's marriage equality law - an exemption that was granted and hailed by NOM - yet is taking quotes from those letters out of context in their new ad to suggest that marriage equality itself will somehow have devastating effects for the nation, when the letters said nothing of the sort.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Both the NRCC and the RNC have responded to Arlen Specter's defection with a rousing "good riddance" ... and a plea for donations.
  • Mike Huckabee responded to the news by saying it just goes to prove the importance of his PAC and electing "Republicans who will not sell their values for votes."
  • Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Liberty Council, and others have officially come out in opposition to the confirmation of David Hamilton, while Gary Marx says Hamilton's nomination "does not bode well" for their hopes that Obama would nominate moderates.
  • It looks like Michael Steele's control over the RNC is getting weaker by the day.
  • Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and the Susan B. Anthony List all say that, despite Kathleen Sebelius's confirmation, they are not giving up the fight.
  • You know what we don't see enough of?  Gambling interests attacking the Christian Coalition for its hypocrisy.
  • WorldNetDaily profiles Michael Ferris, the man who made home-school popular, founded Patrick Henry College, and drafted the Parental Rights Amendment.
  • Once again I must ask: can Michelle Bachmann go one day without saying something moronic?  And once again the answer is no.
  • Right-wing anti-marriage darling Carrie Prejean was hobnobbing at Liberty University today with Jerry Falwell Jr. before heading off to join Matt Barber and Mat Staver on their radio program, thus officially completing her transformation from D-list celebrity to A-list Religious Right hero.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters looks back at the media's coverage of the Obama administration's first 100 days.
  • Think Progress offers its own look back at the period during which "the conservative movement has undergone a period of radicalization."
  • Media Matters catches Rep. Virginia Foxx falsely claiming that Matthew Shepard's murder had nothing to do with the fact that he was gay, calling it a "hoax," while Think Progress provides a collection of other right-wing hysterics in the House during the hate crimes debate.
  • Glenn Greenwald also weighs in on Foxx, noting that she approvingly quoted him in voicing her opposition to the legislation.  But, as Greenwald points out, he was writing about hate speech laws, not hate crimes legislation.
  • Steve Benen notes that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has been disinvited to address a gathering of GOP activists in Michigan because of his support for civil unions.
  • Good as You takes on Focus on the Family and sets the record straight on Focus's claim that the San Francisco Unified School District "now has an entire division dedicated to promoting homosexuality."