December 2011

According to Focus on the Family, it's not 'Pro-Life' to Protect Newborns from Mercury Poisoning

Like David Barton, who has no academic training as a historian but is the Religious Right’s point person on American history, Calvin Beinser of the Cornwall Alliance has no scientific credentials but has become the go-to person for right-wing activists on questions of science, particularly climate change. While he lacks any credentials what Beisner does have is close ties to organizations financed by the energy industry and a history of attacking scientists, spreading misinformation, and fueling fears that the environmental movement is a pagan plot to destroy Christianity and kill “about 95% of the human race.”

Beisner is especially concerned about growing calls for environmental protection made by evangelical Christians, and has went out of his way to attack groups like the Evangelical Environmental Network for calling on public officials to clamp down on mercury poisoning. Beisner’s outburst against his fellow evangelicals should come as no surprise, as he has even gone after a Koch-financed study which actually confirmed the science behind climate change. He joined Focus on the Family’s political arm CitizenLink, whose head Tom Minnery appeared in Beisner’s Green Dragon video series, to disparage the EEN for thanking both Republican and Democratic politicians who supported efforts to reduce mercury emissions:

According to the EEN, one of every six American babies is born with harmful blood mercury levels, “which causes permanent brain damage in the unborn and infants.” Therefore, the 12 federal legislators EEN is thanking with radio, TV and billboard ads for supporting the EPA restrictions are “pro-life.”

In truth, only one in every 1,000 American babies is exposed to harmful doses of mercury, and the slight delays in cognitive development it may cause generally disappear by age 7, says Beisner. Moreover, all 12 of the federal legislators EEN is supporting are among the most pro-abortion Congress has to offer.

“Calling this ‘pro-life’ is quite a misnomer, but it will result in a lot of people being confused about who’s really pro-life and who’s not,” Beisner said. “Some of these people have 100 percent pro-abortion voting records in Congress, so people need to know they’re really getting the wool pulled over their eyes if they fall for this.”

But the Center for Disease control did in fact find that one in six newborns, or 630,000 of the 4 million babies born annually, are “at risk for developmental disorders because of mercury exposure in the mother's womb,” which PBS described as mercury levels “so high that they are potentially at risk for learning disabilities and motor skill impairment and short-term memory loss.”

This attack on evangelical environmentalists comes at a time when Focus on the Family head Jim Daly pledged to take the organization in a different direction than his predecessor James Dobson, and Christianity Today reported that CitizenLink recently launched “an effort to reach young adults on issues related to sex trafficking, poverty, and the environment.” It also puts the group at odds with the long list of evangelical leaders who signed the “Evangelical Call to Stop The Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn.”

But apparently for Focus on the Family, being “pro-life” does not entail protecting newborns from mercury poisoning.

Fischer: Fornication and Adultery 'Ought to be Against the Law'

On his American Family Association radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer sought to make the case against Ron Paul on the grounds that Paul "does not have a biblical view of the law and sexuality," meaning that he doesn't believe that things like fornication and adultery must be illegal, like Fischer does:

Whether it is fornication or whether it is adultery, [the Apostle] Paul says there ought to be laws against those behaviors since they are so destructive to human beings. They represent a great danger to human health, adultery destroys families, it chews up children it creates poverty. Adultery does enormous social damage, it does enormous social harm. Sexual immorality, it leads to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, that makes it a public health issue. It leads to out-of-wedlock pregnancies, out-of-wedlock births, those children have to be born somewhere, you've got costs involved, you have now single moms bringing children into the world with no husband, no father around, that puts a strain on welfare budgets. That means fornication, sexual immorality, is properly a matter of public policy concern. It ought to be against the law.

We can now add these to the ever-growing list of things that Fischer wants to see outlawed, including homosexuality, blasphemy and profanity.

The Florida Family Association's One-Man Outrage Machine

While the Florida Family Association has won national attention for its successful campaign to convince advertisers like Lowe’s and Kayak to pull their ads from TLC’s All-American Muslim, the reality show about Muslim families living in Michigan was far from the first show the group attacked, as the FFA previously went after programs like Degrassi, Modern Family, Family Guy and Dancing With the Stars, among others.

As Samuel G. Freedman explains in The New York Times, the FFA is the one-man operation of David Caton, who for decades has been using the FFA as a shell organization for his attacks against not only television programs but also public schools, Disney World and government officials. “What makes the attack on ‘All-American Muslim’ more disturbing — and very revealing — is that it was prosecuted by just one person,” Freedman notes, “a person unaffiliated with any established organization on the Christian right, a person who effectively tapped into a groundswell of anti-Muslim bigotry”:

During the mid-1990s, after hearing about the harassment of gay students, the principal of Largo High School in Florida created a support group for them. Over the next year or two, the meetings also drew sympathetic friends, evolving into a club called the Gay Straight Alliance. For a while, it operated in comfortable obscurity.

Then, in 1998, the principal, Barbara Thornton, began receiving postcards, many bearing the identical message bizarrely denouncing the alliance as a “government-funded witch hunt.” The local school board felt compelled to take up the issue, with 400 parents attending a meeting at which one speaker compared the gay students to murderers.

During that session, Ms. Thornton finally encountered the man who had manufactured the entire controversy: David Caton. An accountant turned rock-club owner, the author of a book about his pornography addiction, Mr. Caton had become a born-again Christian and the founder and sole employee of a fundamentalist activist group called the Florida Family Association.



It would be upsetting enough if a well-financed, well-organized mass campaign had misrepresented a television show, insulted an entire religious community and intimidated a national corporation. What makes the attack on “All-American Muslim” more disturbing — and very revealing — is that it was prosecuted by just one person, a person unaffiliated with any established organization on the Christian right, a person who effectively tapped into a groundswell of anti-Muslim bigotry.



The question is why anybody, especially a major company like Lowe’s, would be swayed by Mr. Caton’s campaign. (Lowe’s did not respond to several requests for comment.) Just to put him in perspective, the 2010 federal tax forms for the Florida Family Association list Mr. Caton as its only paid employee, earning $55,200. The association took in $172,133 in donations and closed out the calendar year with precisely $8,868.76 on hand.

Bachmann Hopes to Reshape the Judiciary According to her 'Biblical View of Law'

Michele Bachmann has made so-called “activist judges” a consistent target of her presidential campaign, dubbing them “black-robed masters” and in last night’s debate she called for Americans to “take the Constitution back” from the courts. Railing against the judiciary is a safe bet for Republicans trying to pander to social conservative voters, but Bachmann’s view of the legal system has come out of her experience as a Religious Right activist and student at Oral Roberts University Law School.

At Oral Roberts, Bachmann worked for Professor John Eidsmoe, and as reported by Ryan Lizza, Eidsmoe taught that when “Biblical law conflicted with American law, Eidsmoe said, O.R.U. students were generally taught that ‘the first thing you should try to do is work through legal means and political means to get it changed.’” Bachmann has consistently trumpeted her work with Eidsmoe, whose legal philosophy has been greatly influenced by Christian Reconstructionist RJ Rushdoony and has urged Christians to promote Biblical law in government.

Today on The Jan Mickelson Show, Bachmann said that her “biblical view of law” molded her view that America needs to disempower the judiciary:

Bachmann: I hold a biblical view of law. If you look at the original constitution and the founding documents of our country, it was clear that the founders wanted to separate power, they wanted to separate the presidency from the Supreme Court and from the Congress, because they thought that the Congress should be the most powerful of all the people’s voices because the people would have the ability to change out the members of the House every two years, originally the state legislatures would chose the Senators and they would have the state’s interest in mind, and the President was meant to execute the laws that Congress would put into place. The courts had a relatively minor function, it was to take current facts and apply it to the law that Congress had passed. So it was really a beautiful system that set up but it’s been distorted since then, and that’s what we need to do, get back to the original view of the Founders because it worked beautifully.

Religious Right activists hit Romney for Trying to Have it Both Ways on Gay Military Service

Mitt Romney has attempted to thread the needle on whether gays and lesbians have a right to serve openly in the military, saying he staunchly opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell but is not willing to reinstate the policy. In a 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, Romney called Don’t Ask Don’t Tell “the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation's military,” but then in 2007 Romney claimed he originally found the policy “silly” but effective, and has since criticized attempts to repeal it. In a June debate Romney dodged a question on whether he would reverse the repeal, until he finally told the Des Moines Register editorial board this week that he would oppose the restoration of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

While his halfhearted and milquetoast stand may not surprise the vast majority of Americans who supported the policy’s repeal, it has not played well with Religious Right activists who want to see Don’t Ask Don’t Tell reinstated.

Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness recently started the Military Culture Coalition along with other conservative leaders to oppose repeal efforts, denounced Romney for his position of supporting Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in principle but not its reinstatement:

Donnelly questioned Governor Romney's comments to the Des Moines Register, noting that "The military does not work that way. Flawed policies that impose heavy 'complicating features' on the backs of military men and women cannot and should not be switched on and off, depending on the direction of political winds or promises made to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) activists of either political party."

She added, "Sound policies that reinforce morale and readiness should be maintained at all times. A long list of what Governor Romney calls 'complicating features' were caused when the 2010 lame-duck Congress voted for Obama's LGBT Law and related policies. Current problems and those yet to come are no more acceptable now than in the midst of a shooting war."

Sandy Rios of Family-Pac and the former head of Concerned Women for America mocked Romney for the “audacity” to say he is more conservative than other candidates while revealing a complete lack of conviction regarding his views on open service in the military:

As the issue of allowing gays to openly serve in the military raged last year, Mitt Romney let it be known he roundly opposed the idea. He was outraged ... incensed. Many conservatives were certain this was the real Mitt revealing himself after years of having to pretend to embrace gay rights as governor of Massachusetts. With this messy business of his position on gay rights out of the way, they could at last breathe a sigh of relief and support the man they thought looked and sounded presidential and had the credentials to turn the economy around.

But now that has all changed. In an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board last Friday, the former Massachusetts governor explained that it wasn't the concept of having gays openly serve in the military that had troubled him ... only the fact that the change was being made in a time of war. Now that the conflict is over, he would not, as Commander in Chief, do anything to change it.



As if to drive his point further, Romney added that Gingrich's "unreliability" hadn't just been 14-15 years ago, but in the last 2-3 years. Yet Mitt Romney's latest leap from conservatism had only taken place a few days prior. What kind of audacity does it take to stand before a news agency editorial board and brag in the face of the evidence that you are the most conservative candidate?



One could go further back with Romney's liberal/conservative iterations, but these are current examples which, in the case of gays in the military, goes back not a few years but a few days. Surely it is a quantum leap to assign him the mantle of conservatism in the current race.

Truth and honesty are inconvenient at times, but they are as much a part of conservative values as any position on the economy or national defense. Dishonesty and deceit are basic disqualifiers -- and bend as we may to excuse the inexcusable, in Romney's case, they are very hard to ignore.

Not to be outdone, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association went after Romney and Ron Paul, who voted in favor of repeal last year, calling them “non-starters as candidates”:

If evangelical Christians simply vote their values, there is simply no way they can cast a vote for someone who is in favor of legitimizing homosexual behavior in the military.

In the GOP field, there are just two candidates who support the presence of sexual deviancy in our armed forces: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Romney told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register last Friday that he is just fine with sexually aberrant behavior in the military.



Bottom line: for values-driven voters who claim to be conservative and to draw their values from the Judeo-Christian tradition, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are both likely to be - and should be - non-starters as candidates. If a voter only claims to be a social conservative but isn’t one in fact, then a vote for Romney or Paul is not likely to be a problem.

Barber's Slippery Slope: A Short Step from Satanism to Bestiality in the Military

A few weeks ago, we noted that anti-gay activist Paul Blair was contemplating a run for the Oklahoma state Senate, prompted by threats he received after speaking out against a local anti-discrimination policy.

So it was no surprise that Blair was recently on Peter LaBarbera's radio program where the two spent most of the program discussing the threats they have received and complaining how differently such things would be treated if Christians did them to gay activists.

Also joining them on the program was Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber, who has never been shy about vocalizing his own pure and unabashed disgust for all things gay.  So eventually Barber trotted out the false Religious Right claim that the military was going to legalize bestiality and managed to link that to the Religious Right outrage over the fact that the Air Force Academy had constructed a worship center for Wiccans:

Now it is legal in the United States Armed Services, if this gets through the House and is signed by President Obama, bestiality will be legal in the ranks of the Armed Services. It boggles the mind.

But this is that slippery slope we're on, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised to find that the United States Air Force Academy recently built a shrine - a Satanic Wiccan shrine - so that Wiccans can worship at the Air Force Academy.

Once you open the door to evil, it doesn't take long for it to fall completely apart.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Traditional Values Coalition president Andrea Lafferty says she was was targeted and detained by security for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the grounds that she supposedly presented a threat.
  • Rick Perry says it is "an honor" to get attacked for being a Christian.
  • Peter LaBarbera says consumers should "take a look at the Human Rights Campaign workplace scorecard for corporations" and support those companies with the lowest ratings.
  • Finally, the Family Research Council's most recent prayer alert thanks God "for the stalwart conservative members of Congress who prevented our government from authorizing bestiality, a threshold our nation cannot endure."

Conservative Iowa Radio Host Attacks Rick Perry for Hiring Openly Gay Staffer

Following a series of debate gaffes and blunders that have pushed him out of his spot as a frontrunner in the presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has tried to win back support by stressing his social conservative credentials. He is kicking off a bus campaign around Iowa focusing on “faith, family and freedom” and has framed himself as a victim of the media, claiming he is being “criticized for standing up for the values Jesus Christ talked about.” In one ad he discusses alleged liberal attacks against his faith and in another attacks openly gay soldiers while lamenting President Obama’s supposed “war on religion.” While Perry has won praise from Religious Right leaders for his ads that vilify gays while stoking fears about President Obama’s handling of religious freedom, at least one right-wing talk show host is angry at the candidate—because he hired a gay pollster.

After the governor’s gay-baiting ad was released, the two leaders of the gay conservative group GOProud tweeted that a high-level pollster on the Perry campaign, Tony Fabrizio, is himself fact gay. Fabrizio has previously worked for pro-gay rights causes, including the campaign to stop Florida’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Steve Deace, an influential Iowa radio host, condemned Perry on his radio show yesterday for hiring an openly gay staffer, who  to work on his campaign for president, likening it to hiring a pedophile or a rapist: “When you put someone in place in your organization, regardless of whether they’re a practicing homosexual, a polygamist, a pedophile, a thief, a rapist, or any other form of behavior that violates the natural law, you are empowering people within your organization that are lawbreakers.”

Deace argued that Perry cannot claim to stand opposed to gay rights while working with people who are trying to “redefine” marriage and that Perry’s decision to hire Fabrizio “repudiates everything that his campaign is supposedly based on.” He went on to say that Perry either “didn’t know” or “didn’t care” about Fabrizio’s sexual orientation, which shows why “despite the fact he’s got $50 million, he’s got six percent more of the popular vote in the polls than I do”:

Deace: So what happens is here is the homosexual deviation from the script, from a public policy standpoint presents challenges to a culture that the rest of the deviations do not. It demands by its very nature, or its violations of nature, it demands that you change the definition of what nature is on everything, across the entire board. So therefore—what is the legal system in America? Well, let’s again go back to our founding document; our founding document says we are governed by ‘the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,’ the natural law. Like, gravity is the natural law, it just is, whether you accept it or not, this is the natural law. So if this natural law is one man and one woman procreating and perpetuating the next generation, and so we’ve set up an entire standard in our system based off of this defined law, if we attempt to redefine that law, we are going to have to redefine everything else.

And so when you put someone in place in your organization, regardless of whether they’re a practicing homosexual, a polygamist, a pedophile, a thief, a rapist or any other form of behavior that violates the natural law, you are empowering people within your organization that are lawbreakers. We are all lawbreakers to some extent, but there’s a difference between recognizing that and going to God for grace and mercy, as opposed to saying you have to change the law and your tradition because of who I am right now, I don’t have to change, you must all change for me.

For the life of me I can’t understand why anybody who’s espousing what Rick Perry espouses in that television ad would put somebody in a place of prominence in his campaign who repudiates everything that his campaign is supposedly based on. What sense does that make? Who would do such a thing? So that leaves two options, either they didn’t know and didn’t do their own homework or they didn’t care. I’m not sure either one of those is really a good answer. That might be signs of why despite the fact he’s got $50 million, he’s got six percent more of the popular vote in the polls than I do.

Janet Parshall says the Devil is Behind LGBT Rights Effort

Talk show host Janet Parshall yesterday along with her husband Craig Parshall, general counsel of National Religious Broadcasters, discussed the Obama administration’s directive to advance LGBT rights abroad. At the end of the program, they argued that the new initiative will infringe on religious freedoms, a common argument used by right-wing activists against the directive. Janet even claimed that the “Father of Lies,” or the devil (John 8:44), is working “through a UN resolution or funding from the United States to try to silence the proclamation of the gospel”:

Janet Parshall: Sometimes it’s imperative to be Nehemiah, a watchman on the wall, and Craig you and I see this stuff, we’re in the shadow of that Capitol dome, and I have to tell you, honestly, I just think to myself, ‘Father, in your sovereignty and in your perfect will, you called us for such a time as this.’ All that stuff you just said, God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but a power and love and of a sound mind, and our message must be so powerful, so transformative that the Father of Lies does everything he can, works through a UN resolution or funding from the United States to try to silence the proclamation of the gospel. If anything, this should make us all the more committed to the power, the truth and the absolute transforming nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ.