November 2009

Exporting the Anti-Gay Culture War

Political Research Associates has released a new report, written by PRA Project Director Reverend Kapya Kaoma, entitled "Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia" [PDF] which explores how figures like Rick Warren and Scott Lively and organizations like the Institute on Religion and Democracy have been promoting "an agenda in Africa that aims to criminalize homosexuality and otherwise infringe upon the human rights of LGBT people while also mobilizing African clerics in U.S. culture war battles."

From the PRA press release:

[T]he U.S. Right – once isolated in Africa for supporting pro-apartheid, White supremacist regimes – has successfully reinvented itself as the mainstream of U.S. evangelicalism. Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, U.S. religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of U.S. evangelicalism, so helping to marginalize Africans’ relationships with mainline Protestant churches.

The investigation’s release could not be timelier, as the Ugandan parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Language in that bill echoes the false and malicious charges made in Uganda by U.S antigay activist and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively that western gays are conspiring to take over Uganda and even the world.

"We need to stand up against the U.S. Christian Right peddling homophobia in Africa," said Kaoma, who in recent weeks asked U.S. evangelist Rick Warren to denounce the bill and distance himself from its supporters. "I heard church people in Uganda say they would go door to door to root out LGBT people and now our brothers and sisters are being further targeted by proposed legislation criminalizing them and threatening them with death. The scapegoating must stop."

While the American side of the story is known to LGBT activists and their allies witnessing struggles over LGBT clergy within Protestant denominations in the United States, what’s been missing has been the effect of the Right’s proxy wars on Africa itself. Kaoma’s report finally brings this larger, truly global, picture into focus.

“Just as the United States and other northern societies routinely dump our outlawed or expired chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, and cultural detritus on African and other Third World countries, we now export a political discourse and public policies our own society has discarded as outdated and dangerous,” writes PRA executive director Tarso Luís Ramos in the report’s foreword. “Africa’s antigay campaigns are to a substantial degree made in the U.S.A.”

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Washington Post: A former editorial page editor of the Washington Times has filed a discrimination complaint against the paper, saying he was "coerced" into attending a Unification Church religious ceremony that culminated in a mass wedding conducted by the church's leader, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
  • David Brody will be interviewing Sarah Palin.
  • Speaking of Palin, Ralph Reed says "we love her ... please buy my book."
  • Tim Goeglein spoke at Liberty University’s convocation in the Vines Center Monday morning, recalling the first time he met Liberty University founder Dr. Jerry Falwell and hearing his vision to “take America back for Christ.” He honored Falwell, calling him “one of the greatest Americans who ever lived.”
  • A bunch of anti-Islam activists descended on Ohio to rally for Rifqa Bary, only to find out that her hearing had been postponed.
  • Finally, just in time for Christmas, it's Faith Baby.

Right Wing Campaign Against Feldblum Goes Into Overdrive

Tomorrow, there will be a hearing on Chai Feldblum's nomination to serve as Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and, as such, the Religious Right is gearing up for “Armageddon.”

The American Principles in Action, an arm of the American Principles Project, founded by National Organization for Marriage Chairman Robert P. George, has issued a call to action:

Feldblum intends to use her position of influence as EEOC commissioner to force private institutions to follow her radical vision of society, through the enforcement of aggressive and intrusive employment non-discrimination laws.

She is a master at using the language of moral imperatives to further her agenda.

Feldblum is a lesbian activist who supports government recognition of gay marriage as a way to convey approval of gay relationships and homosexuality in general. She has also argued for the equality of "polyamorous" relationships and almost any conceivable sexual relationship to traditional marriage--a position squarely out of line with American tradition, principles, and the mainstream of public opinion.

Far from believing that government should not be involved in private relationships, she is a champion of government interference in moral and religious traditions where they intersect with her personal crusade ... In other words, Feldblum believes that every organization must ascribe to her vision of society or else face penalties from the EEOC.

Worse than this, the potential damage from Feldblum's nomination is not limited to her use of the EEOC as a weapon against traditional marriage and private institutions. It is even possible to imagine Chai Feldblum as a future nominee for the United States Supreme Court, should she be successfully appointed as EEOC commissioner.

That means it is urgent to defeat her Senate confirmation now, while Americans still have a say. Send a message to your Senator (and the Committee hearing her nomination) today and let them know that Feldblum should not be confirmed.

The idea that Feldblum must be stopped now in order to keep her off the Supreme Court seems to be an emerging right-wing talking point, as it was also made by the Traditional Values Coalition:

Feldblum would impose the LGBT agenda on all of our nation’s public and private schools – and our children would be forced to affirm gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals as both teachers and as students.

Feldblum also rejects the concept of traditional marriage in favor of polyamory – where three or more men and women engaged in sex acts is considered a “marriage.” Traditional marriage will become meaningless if Feldblum achieves her goals.

Feldblum’s position on the EEOC is a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she could end up with a lifetime appointment to push the LGBT agenda on all Americans.

The Family Research Council has also gotten involved, releasing a heavily edited video of Feldblum speaking at an FRC event, full of ominous quotes seeking to portray her as radical ... but apparently not so radical that FRC refused to invite her to participate in the event or for Tony Perkins to deliver a gracious introduction.

According to FRC, this is all part of a nefarious plan by gays to destroy religious liberty:

Their plan is clear and logical. Play the victim and pass hate crimes giving sanctioned and special protected status to those who engage in homosexual behavior ... [T]hey will continue the victim routine and take this special status into the private workforce and use the weight of the EEOC to force acceptance of not only homosexuality, but cross dressing and other forms of sexual deviancy through the passage of the so-called employment non-discrimination act. What is interesting is there is no evidence that suggests what is called the GLBTQ community is economically disadvantaged, in fact, they enjoy a higher standard of living than heterosexuals. Once private businesses are forced to hire cross dressers and homosexuals the next target is the military. If private employers can’t discriminate then neither should our nation’s military. And once our nation’s military falls – the defense of marriage Act will be utterly defenseless, leaving rouge judges and liberal legislators to impose their radical views on the entire nation.

Don’t doubt for a minute that they have a plan and they are working their plan.

ADF Files DC Marriage Suit on Jackson's Behalf

Yesterday, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics ruled that the ballot initiative being pushed by Harry Jackson and company seeking to prevent marriage equality in the district would not be placed on the ballot.

Today, the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on Jackson's behalf:

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit Wednesday against the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics for precluding the right of citizens in the district to vote for or against the definition of marriage. The board determined Tuesday that a citizen initiative that would allow voters to either uphold or reject the longstanding definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is not a proper subject for the ballot because of a law passed by the D.C. Council. ADF and Stand4MarriageDC attorneys argue that the board’s reasoning is invalid.

“The people of D.C. have a right to vote on the definition of marriage,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. “The D.C. Charter guarantees the people the right to vote, and the council cannot amend the charter for any reason, much less to deny citizens the right to vote. ADF will defend the right of the residents of our nation’s capitol to participate in a legitimate democratic process in the district.”

...

ADF attorneys represent Bishop Harry Jackson, who heads the Marriage Initiative of 2009 effort, and seven other D.C. registered voters in the lawsuit, Jackson v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, filed with the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

It's too bad that this happened after the Washington Post's deadline, because the paper could have ignored this further evidence of Jackson's ties to militantly anti-gay Religious Right organizations as well in the puff piece that ran in today's paper.

What Say You Now, Bill Donohue?

Last month, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League appeared on The 700 Club to promote his new book, "Secular Sabotage: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America."

During the interview, the question of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church came up when Robertson asked if "all these scandals in the Catholic Church [were] part of this secular agenda to undermine to undermine the moral fabric of the church."  Donohue replied that indeed they were [the section begins around the 3:45 mark]:

There's no question that within the Catholic Church you have a you a left element ... I regard them as termites sitting within, trying to eat away the fabric of the Catholic Church.  So they lie about it in the Catholic Church, they say "oh, we had a pedophilia problem." It's been a homosexual problem all along. It's not my opinion, it's the actual data from the John Jay Criminal Justice System College [sic] here in New York City which looked at the data. I'm not saying homosexuality causes predatory behavior; I'm saying that most of the priests who have been predators have been homosexuals.

What do you supposed Donohue has to say about this?

A preliminary report commissioned by the nation's Roman Catholic bishops to investigate the clergy sex abuse scandal has found no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children, the lead authors of the study said Tuesday.

The full report by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won't be completed until the end of next year. But the authors said their evidence to date found no data indicating that homosexuality was a predictor of abuse.

"What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse," said Margaret Smith of John Jay College, in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now."

...

The bishops commissioned the $2 million study as part of widespread reforms they enacted at the height of the abuse crisis. The scandal erupted in 2002 with the case of one predator priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, then spread to every U.S. diocese and beyond.

Almost 14,000 molestation claims have been filed against Catholic clergy since 1950, according to tallies the bishops have released in recent years. Abuse-related costs have reached at least $2.3 billion in the same period.

At the meeting Tuesday, Bishop Edward Braxton of the Diocese of Belleville, Ill., asked the researchers whether their study indicated that homosexuality should be considered when evaluating a candidate for the priesthood. In 2005, the Vatican issued a policy statement that men with "deep-seated" attraction to other men should be barred from the priesthood.

Smith said: "If that exclusion were based on the fact that that person would be more probable than any other candidate to abuse, we do not find that at this time."

Highlights From the Anti-Hate Crimes Legislation Rally

We've compiled the "highlights" of the right-wing anti-hate crimes rally held earlier this week:

Pay particular attention to the segment featuring Gracy Harley, who claims that she used to be a lesbian but that God made her straight and cites Luke 13:13:

And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

There is a reason she cites the King James Version, and that is because in other translations, the passage says "straightened up," which make sense considering that story is about Jesus healing a woman who was "crippled," not gay

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues

11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.

12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity."

13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

The "Extraordinary Circumstances" Of The McCain, Graham Filibuster Vote

It came as no surprise when Republicans attempted to filibuster the nomination of David Hamilton to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday considering that Sen. Jeff Sessions announced weeks ago that he intended to do so, depsite having opposed the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees when President Bush was in office. Sessions' effort was supported by a gaggle of right-wing activists who likewise opposed the filibuster when it was used against Bush's nominees, but suddenly abandoned their supposedly deeply-help and principled opposition to this sort of "unconstitutional" use of the filibuster. 

But most surprisingly about the vote, which failed 70-29, was that two Republican members of the so-called "Gang of 14" which worked out an agreement to prevent Senate Republicans from deploying the "nuclear option" back in 2005 joined Sessions and other Republicans in trying to filibuster Hamilton: John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

The Gang of 14 agreement stated:

Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should be filibustered only under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

And when it was announced, Graham hailed it as a significant step in ending the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees:

"The American people won tonight. The Senate is back in business. And I truly believe future judicial nominees will be treated better because of this agreement."

"The agreement allows up or down votes on deserving nominees and gives the Senate a chance to start over regarding future nominees. It's my hope both sides have learned from their mistakes and we can get back to the traditional way of doing business when it comes to judges.

"One of the major elements of the deal makes clear that if one of my seven Democratic colleagues decides to filibuster in the future because of an "extraordinary circumstance," I retain the right to vote for a rules change. It's my hope we never get to that point.

"With better communication and a spirit of putting the country ahead of ourselves, I believe we can avoid future filibusters.

McCain likewise praised the agreement:

I feel the long-term implications are that if this succeeds, then perhaps we will see other coalitions, not necessarily this one but other coalitions, that will join together and try to work for the good of the country. I don't believe that of the 14 of us that any of us had any other ambition than to try to prevent the Senate from going over a precipice.

Apparently McCain and Graham joined the Gang of 14 in order to prevent Senate Republicans from nuking the filibuster while ensuring the confirmation of several of President Bush's most controversial nominees ... just so they could try to use the filibuster against President Obama's very first Circuit Court nominee.

What exactly were the "extraordinary circumstances" in the Hamilton nomination that compelled Graham and McCain to attempt a filibuster after participating in and praising the Gang of 14 agreement as a way for the Senate to "avoid future filibusters"?

Washington Post Publishes Puff Piece On Harry Jackson

As everyone knows, Bishop Harry Jackson has been leading the fight against marriage equality in Washington DC and regularly writing about it in his columns, like this one from earlier in the week saying that Jesus would have been giving money to his efforts:

Two weeks ago, just after the Maine’s successful reversal of the state legislature’s decision to sanction same-sex marriage, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer asked me a profound question: “Would Jesus have spent $550,000 to oppose same-sex marriage?”

The question was exactly what many secular parties had been asking in Portland, Maine, where she was speaking to me by satellite. My answer was that Jesus would have given the money to oppose same-sex marriage. My reasoning was simple: Jesus would have upheld his own teaching; refusing to be a loving, permanent enabler of a misguided local government ... [T]he biblical Jesus, who confronted both the political and religious hypocrites of his day, would never let himself be blackmailed into becoming a permanent agent of any corrupt government.”

So imagine our surprise when we saw today's Washington Post and found this puff piece on Jackson and his fight against equality:

"I just feel like I'm on a mission," he says. "It's not a mission of hate. It's a mission to protect godly boundaries."

Using his Pentecostal congregation, Hope Christian Church, as a springboard, he has founded the High Impact Leadership Coalition, which comprises ministers who plow into national moral dilemmas. In addition to same-sex marriage, the coalition focuses on abortion, two hot-button issues that cause liberals and conservatives to cross swords.

His admirers have multiplied, and so have his critics. More than once, police have stopped by his Southeast Washington apartment to check on his safety.

His mother, Essie, calls her son's crusade one of "holy boldness."

Jackson calls it stopping the erosion of the black family.

He's not a televangelist, but he has a televangelist's following.

The article contains a few "critics say" passages, but doesn't bother to quote any of his actual critics, nor does it even mention his deep ties to the Religious Right or the fact that Jackson is a carpetbagger who moved into the District simply in order to lend credibility to his efforts to prevent marriage equality. 

If the Post was interested in finding critics of Jackson's efforts, there are plenty available, including this organization. Heck, we even wrote an entire report about him entitled "Point Man for the Wedge Strategy: Harry Jackson is the face of the Religious Right’s outreach to African American Christians."

The Washington Post seems to have a real soft spot for those who are leading the right-wing effort to fight marriage equality considering that in the last few month the paper has produced its second puff piece on these leaders, following on the heels of the piece the paper ran on Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage back in August.

After all the Bluster, Religious Right 'Rally' on Hate Crimes a Bust

For weeks, the most anti-gay fringe of the Religious Right has been building up Monday's "rally” in front of the U.S. Department of Justice as an in-your-face challenge to the hate crimes law and the Obama administration.  Organizers like Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission promised some fire and brimstone in order to see whether the DOJ would have the cojones to arrest them: 

"We're basically going to defy the law, and challenge it," Cass told WND. "We're going to declare the whole counsel of God, including those parts that some may consider 'inciting a hate crime' to see if the attorney general is going to come down and arrest a group of peaceful clergy exercising their First Amendment rights."
 
The parade of players on the far anti-gay fringes of the Religious Right grew seemingly by the day. Among those whose participation suggested some fireworks were Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastika and supporter of anti-gay repression in Uganda; Rick Scarborough, a self-described “Christocrat” who railed against “Sodomites” at the recent How to Take Back America conference, and Gordon Klingenschmitt, who had responded to the signing of the hate crimes law by quoting Bible verses that call homosexuals worthy of death. Before the event started, Klingenschmitt saw my People For the American Way pin and said he wanted to make sure I had a copy of his statement. It included these verses:
 
Romans 1:32 – “Men with men working that which is unseemly…who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death.”
 
Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a  woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
 
But Klingenschmitt didn’t utter any of these verses. Neither did anyone else.   Maybe someone  decided that footage of Religious Right leaders reading scripture calling for death for gays was not, perhaps, a great public relations move. Or perhaps the presence of a dozen or more college-age counter protestors holding up signs saying “My love is legit” threw them off message.
 
Indeed, a number of speakers seemed to be tailoring their remarks to the counterprotestors, welcoming them to the event, inviting them to pray and repent along with the speakers.   Speaker after speaker insisted that they were motivated only by love for gay people and their desire to protect their right to offer homosexuals hope and God’s word.
 
Sure, we heard many of the Religious Right’s standard lies about the hate crimes bill being an effort to silence Christians, and, of course, Janet Porter waving her book about “the criminalization of Christianity.” We heard the inflammatory and inaccurate characterization of the bill as the “Pedophile Protection Act.” We heard from a Philadelphia grandmother with Repent America who in the Right’s inaccurate retelling, was arrested only for sharing the gospel with attendees at a gay pride event. We heard essentially irrelevant examples of anti-gay preachers being suppressed in other countries which don’t have the First Amendment protections Americans enjoy.  And we heard some preaching that God and the Bible say homosexuality is wrong. In other words, we heard standard and typically false Religious Right talking points about the hate crimes law, and a bit of standard anti-gay theology that is unquestionably protected by the First Amendment.
 
But there was nothing that anyone could remotely consider incitement to a hate crime, and nothing that even these speakers could say with a straight face had any chance of getting them arrested. Even Matt Barber, who typically does not shy away from disparaging comments about gay people and their supporters, gave a relatively dry recitation of the Liberty Counsel’s assertions that the law is unconstitutional.
 
So, what happened?  Did these culture warriors essentially chicken out? Did they feel outnumbered? In spite of the event being billed as a “rally,” the number of speakers gathered behind the microphone seemed to outnumber the number of people attending in support of their message. The “love is legit” folks had the most visible presence. Maybe the organizers just figured out that a “we love the homosexuals” message would play better than “God wants them dead.” 

We'll have some video posted soon.