December 2009

Welch Apologizes For Failing to Defeat The "Enemy" In Houston's Mayoral Race

Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, was deeply involved in the anti-gay campaign run against Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker:

“The bottom line is that we didn't pick the battle, she did, when she made her agenda and sexual preference a central part of her campaign,” said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, numbering more than 200 senior pastors in the Greater Houston area. “National gay and lesbian activists see this as a historic opportunity. The reality is that's because they're promoting an agenda which we believe to be contrary to the concerns of the community and destructive to the family.”

Welch said he had “no doubt” there would be numerous independent advocacy efforts urging voters not to choose Parker, most of which would involve mail.

But their effort failed and Parker won the election over the weekend ... and for that, Welch feels it is necessary to apologize to America for failing to stop the "enemy" from taking control:

I have to first of all ask forgiveness of the rest of the country on behalf of those in Houston who were entrusted with choosing godly leaders and failed to do so. As I have stated often, the first responders in that line are the churches who profess Christianity and adherence to the Bible as our authority. We let our position on the wall be breached by the enemy.

Now to the business of learning from our mistakes and failures – and it was a failure of the church as well as the Republican Party in Houston, in that order. There are some essential lessons that this provides, as all elections do, and those lessons are universal to every city and state.

...

I believe the questions of the hour for pastors in every city are as follows:

1. Does it matter to God who governs us?

2. Does it matter if the laws of our land conform to or violate God's standards of justice?

3. Do we as Christians have personal and corporate responsibility
for choosing godly leaders?

4. Are we willing to call out and equip men of ability, reputation, character, integrity and proven faith to serve in governing positions?

5. Are we willing to establish a clear, bold and unquestioned priority of voting consistently and biblically for every voter in our churches?

Our recipe for transformation is simple, but will cost us the same as our ancestors of faith and country – everything.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Pam's House Blend: Video of Annise Parker's speech after winning her bid to become Houston's first out mayor.
  • AMERICAblog: Reporter fired for unprofessional anti-gay outburst now the latest cause celebre for the religious right.
  • Box Turtle Bulletin: Manhattan Declaration Authors Criticize Aspects of Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill.
  • News Hounds: Hannity's Studio Audience Wants Obama Charged With Treason.
  • RH Reality Check: "Crushing Student Loan Debt" Doubles as Birth Control, Says Conservative.
  • Finally, David Weigel on the GOP's creeping Birtherism.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The right-wing anti-Jennings crusade gets covered by Fox News, which shoots down some of the unfounded allegations while giving the likes of Peter Sprigg and Peter LaBarbera an opportunity to sound off.
  • On a related note, MassResistance is taking credit for a myriad of the Jennings-related smears.
  • Al Mohler says it is his prayer that someone "can reach Tiger Woods with the Gospel of Jesus Christ" while Wendy Wright blames the saga on Nike's "Just Do It" slogan.
  • Peter LaBarbera hails Bill Keller ... yes, Bill Keller.
  • Bill Donohue takes credit for killing the remainder of the "His Dark Materials" film series.
  • A gaggle of right-wing leaders are calling on the Senate to reject the nomination of Louis Butler.
  • Sen. Jim DeMint says he couldn't support a gay or lesbian president: "“It would be bothersome to me just personally because I consider it immoral.”
  • Finally, I suspect that if we had posted this sort of photo of Dick Cheney, the Family Research Council would have had a fit: 

AFA: Religious Tests Are Perfectly Acceptable

Last week we mentioned the situation in North Carolina where conservatives are threatening to sue in an effort to keep an atheist out of office, citing the state Constitution:

When Mr. [Cecil] Bothwell was sworn into office on Monday, he used an alternate oath that does not require officials to swear on a Bible or refer to “Almighty God.”

That has riled conservative advocates, who cite a little-noticed quirk in North Carolina’s Constitution that disqualifies officeholders “who shall deny the being of Almighty God.” The provision was included when the document was drafted in 1868 and was not revised when North Carolina amended its Constitution in 1971.

One opponent, H. K. Edgerton, is threatening to file suit against the city to challenge Mr. Bothwell’s swearing in. “My father was a Baptist minister,” Mr. Edgerton said. “I’m a Christian man. I have problems with people who don’t believe in God.” Mr. Edgerton is a local civil rights leader and founder of Southern Heritage 411, an organization that promotes the interests of black Southerners.

David Morgan, the head of a conservative weekly newspaper, The Asheville Tribune, said city officials had shirked their duty to uphold the state’s laws by swearing in Mr. Bothwell.

The Supreme Court already ruled unanimously against such religious test provisions back in 1961 in a case out of Maryland:

We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person "to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion." Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs ... This Maryland religious test for public office unconstitutionally invades the appellant's freedom of belief and religion and therefore cannot be enforced against him.

But Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, while not mentioning the Bothwell case specifically, doesn't seem to a) care or b) be aware of the Court's ruling and says that such restrictions are perfectly constitutional:

Our secular fundamentalist friends are fond of citing Article VI of our Constitution as proof that this foundational document is non-religious in nature. It reads, ""but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

It's worthy of note that this applies only to federal offices, for the prior clause makes it clear that the Founders were distinguishing between the federal government - "the United States" - and the legislatures of the individual states, which are referred to as "the several State Legislatures." Both are included in the previous phrase, "all executive Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution." (emphasis mine)

This makes it clear that while officers at both the state and federal level were required to support the Constitution, the restriction on the application of a "religious Test" was reserved for officials in the federal government. States were left to apply explicitly religious tests if they chose, and most did.

Almost all states required holders of public office to declare a belief in God, and many went beyond that to require a belief in the inspiration of both the Old and New Testaments, which in effect limited public service to self-professing Christians. This was just fine with the Founders, who wanted the states to have complete liberty in such matters.

But they were also clear that no religious test was to be applied as a condition of public service at the federal level. What the Founders meant by this, however, was this and this alone: an individual did not need to belong to a particular Christian denomination to be eligible for federal office. That's it.

Of course, we already knew that Fisher had some rather unique views regarding the First Amendment and the separation of church and state and doesn't think that Muslims should be allowed to serve in the military.

Where Have You Gone, John Hagee?

We haven't heard much from John Hagee ever since he was uncerimoniously dropped by John McCain back in 2008.

But he is still around, as evidence by this new letter from a variety of right-wing leaders demanding that Congress impose tough sanctions on Iran:

There is an overwhelming bipartisan consensus in Congress in favor of these sanctions. President Obama’s December 31 deadline is days away. And the IAEA has concluded that diplomatic efforts have reached a dead end. It is time for you to bring legislation implementing these sanctions to the floor for a vote. Additionally we urge you to make your actions and concerns known to the United Nations Security Council and our allies in the international community who share a common interest in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

As the clock runs out, we must remember that Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, is funding Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza, has sought to destabilize democratic and Western-leaning regimes throughout the Middle East, is currently arresting and detaining political opponents, actively persecutes its Christian citizens, has shot protestors in cold blood in the streets, and its president has denied the Holocaust and vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. We speak out today on behalf of millions of Christians who believe that the interests of peace and security would best be served by our elected representatives sending a powerful signal that this tyrannical Iranian regime shall never threaten the world with nuclear weapons.

The letter is signed by Hagee along with a variety of other right-wing leaders including Pat Robertson, Chuck Colson, Richard Land, Tom Minnery, Wendy Wright, Mat Staver, Bill Donohue, Lou Sheldon, Jordan Sekulow, and Gary Bauer.

On a related note, did you know that Hagee's book "Jerusalem Countdown" is being turned into a movie starring Randy Travis?  Well, apparently it is:

Filming for the upcoming Pureflix Entertainment movie Jerusalem Countdown continued Thursday in downtown Manistee, with crews shooting scenes involving country music super star Randy Travis. The scenes were shot in a large, empty downtown storefront.

The film is based on a book by the same name, written by John Hagee. The movie version features a plot full of romance and a lot of action. It is the fourth movie to be filmed in Manistee.

Monckton's Got Nothing On Huckabee

Last week, Media Matters ran this piece exposing the views of Lord Christopher Monckton:

Media Matters Action Network, our partner organization, has unearthed a 1987 American Spectator article in which Lord Christopher Monckton -- one of the right's favorite global warming deniers -- advocates requiring the entire population to undergo monthly HIV tests and forcibly quarantining "for life" those who test positive.

You would think that such views would have made Monckton a marginal figure. But apparently there are no views too extreme for the right-wing media.

On October 23, for instance, Glenn Beck said on his Fox News show that Monckton is "one of the world's foremost authorities on what the global warming hoax is really all about and what they are about to sign over in Copenhagen."

Monckton appeared as a guest throughout Beck's October 30 Fox show. Beck introduced Monckton by saying: "With me now, Lord Christopher Monckton, former adviser to British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher and climate change expert."

On October 19, Rush Limbaugh described Monckton as "a voice of sanity," saying, "The hysteria on the left on virtually everything is all over the place. So you got to hear a voice of sanity in this. Last Wednesday, St. Paul, Minnesota, during a presentation at Bethel University, a portion of remarks made by Lord Christopher Monckton regarding the United Nations' climate change treaty."

Allow me to just remind everyone that Mike Huckabee said more or less the same thing ... in 1992, which was five years after Monckton wrote his piece and four years after the federal government had distributed a pamphlet penned by then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop entitled “Understanding AIDS” which explained that the disease could not be contracted through everyday contact:

"It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population," he said. "This deadly disease, for which there is no cure, is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague."

Huckabee is currently a leading contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, a highly sought-after speaker, and host of a television program on Fox News.

Considering that such views didn't turn Huckabee into a marginal figure, it shouldn't come as much of a shock to see someone like Monckton hailed as a "voice of sanity" because, as Media Matters notes, there simply are "no views too extreme for the right-wing media."

UPDATE: Over at Open Left, Nick Berning points out that Monckton is not actully a "lord," nor is he a "Nobel Laureate."

Bachmann and DeMint Joining Engle and Perkins For Health Care "Prayercast"

On Wednesday December 16, Reps. Michele Bachmann and Randy Forbes and Sens. Jim DeMint and Sam Brownback will be joining forces with the likes of Lou Engle, Tony Perkins, Jim Garlow, and Harry Jackson for a "prayercast" organized by the Family Research Council during which they will seek God's intervention to prevent the passage of healthcare reform: 

Did you know that deep within the Senate health care bill is a tax penalty for couples that are married? Or that in Nancy Pelosi's version of health care "reform" that not only is tort reform not included - but trial lawyers are rewarded even more? To learn more facts about this attempted government takeover of health care, tune your browsers this Wednesday night to FRCAction.org.

On December 16, FRC Action and The Call to Conscience will host a live video webcast entitled "An FRC Action PrayerCast: Government Takeover of Healthcare". Beginning at 8:30 p.m. (EST), this PrayerCast will feature a powerful line-up of speakers, including:

  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council Action
  • Lou Engle, Founder and President, The Call to Conscience
  • Hon. Sam Brownback, United States Senator, Kansas
  • Hon. Randy Forbes, United States Congressman, Virginia
  • Hon. Jim DeMint, United States Senator, South Carolina
  • Hon. Michele Bachmann, United States Congresswoman, Minnesota
  • Bishop Harry Jackson, President, High Impact Leadership Coalition
  • Pastor Jim Garlow, Skyline Church, San Diego, Calif.

During the webcast, you will hear the latest on the threats to the God-given right to human life through government funding of abortions, our health from rationing, our family finances from higher taxes, and our general freedom posed by the government plan to take over healthcare.

We will enter into a time of prayer for the nation, and our leaders. Your engagement and urgent prayer is more critical than ever as Congress will very soon vote on a final health care bill. Register today!

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters: Anti-gay "hate group" MassResistance is source for right-wing media attacks on Jennings.
  • Alan Colmes: GOP CA Councilman Wears Sign Equating Pelosi With Stalin.
  • Good As You: Manhattan Declaration's most eye-opening signature yet.
  • Minnesota Independent: Bachmann tied for voice GOP insiders most want to ‘mute’.
  • Towleroad: Annise Parker Takes Distinct Lead in Houston Mayoral Race.
  • Steve Benen: Don't Feed The Crazies.
  • Think Progress: Right-wing activists demand that Rep. Periello move office to make protesting him easier.

Obama Death Threats, Available in a Variety of Shapes, Sizes, and Colors on Zazzle.com

12/14/09 UPDATE: We did it! Following our report on Friday, bloggers and activists spread the word about products on Zazzle.com that threatened President Obama and his supporters. Zazzle heard from many of us and got the message. As of today, the products are no longer available. Chalk one up for the good guys!


Let’s say that you’re a run-of-the-mill teabagger looking to set yourself apart from the mob. Nazi/Hitler signs tend to go over well, but that’s so not original. You could strap an assault rifle to your back – like this guy did outside an Obama speech – but that’s so not subtle.

Do not fret. Thanks to Zazzle.com, you can find just the right product to push you over the edge from workaday winger to racist extremist.

Want to encourage, or joke about, President Obama’s death? Check out this line of “Bullet holes anti Obama Bumper Stickers:”

Don’t forget to pick up a t-shirt for that special woman in your life:

Maybe you’re a little paranoid about the Secret Service and would rather joke about killing the president’s supporters rather than Obama himself, no problem:

Or maybe you’d prefer to have your dog joke about killing the president instead. What’s the Secret Service gonna do, arrest Fido?

If you’d prefer to be a little more oblique about threatening Obama, while no less offensive, these are for you:

The above designs are all the handiwork of a single user of Zazzle named NOBAMAMAN (thanks go to the Active Art blog for discovering them). Bad taste isn’t against the law, but many of these designs are clearly beyond the pale – especially in an environment of heightened threats against the president.

Last month Zazzle banned a line of products which called on people to pray for Obama’s death. The company said the so-called Psalm 109 products “may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest physical harm to the President of the United States.” In light of this, we should be sure to call Zazzle’s attention to some of the above products.

By Barton's Standard, Every Republican Senator Must Go

Last week David Barton of Wallbuilders declared that Sunday sessions of Congress were unconstitutional and that any member of Congress supports or defends the practice has "affirmed their disregard for the Constitution and for their own congressional oath" before calling on activists to "make sure and replace them in the next election, November 2, 2010!"

Well, if Barton is serious, it looks like he had better get to work voting out every Republican Senator:

Republicans want to work this weekend on health care. Yes, you read that right.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he wants to spend the weekend in Washington so the Senate can refocus its attention to voting on health care amendments. The Senate is currently considering an omnibus spending bill.

“I think I can speak for all 40 Republican senators, we’re not interested in taking off this weekend we’re interested in staying here, debating the measures before the Senate and getting back to health care as rapidly as possible with a series of amendments that give the American people the opportunity to understand what is being proposed here and how bad it would be for the country,” McConnell said. “So this is a debate we welcome, we’re anxious to get back to it and whatever time we finish this conference report, it is my hope and expectation, although we don’t have an assurance yet, we will not only go back to the health care bill, we will have votes on amendments to health care bill.”