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Religious Right Activists Working To Water Down Air Force Rules On Religious Coercion

Fox News pundit Todd Starnes made waves last year when he claimed that the Air Force was preparing to “court martial” Christians as part of an Obama administration “religious cleansing of the military.”

As it turned out, the policy on proselytizing that Starnes cited to make these claims [PDF] was crafted in 2008 – during the Bush administration – and in no way calls for the court martialing of Christians.

The regulations do stress that “leaders at all levels” should “avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion. Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order, and discipline.”

But the facts didn’t stop Republicans politicians and conservative activists from using the Bush-era policy to attack President Obama and to push for looser restrictions on religious proselytizing in the military.

And now, the Religious Right’s campaign may be succeeding in pressuring the Air Force to water down the 2008 policy. McClatchy reports today that while Air Force officials maintain that the accusations of religious persecution in the military aren’t true, they are considering altering the rules on religious coercion in response to pressure from the Right.

The Air Force reportedly convened a meeting to discuss the policy in March, and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is claiming that the service plans to “make a policy change shortly.”

In the “religious persecution in the military” meme, the Religious Right has found an issue that it can fundraise off in perpetuity that also works toward two of its main goals: attacking President Obama and undermining laws that promote the separation of church and state.

Don Boyd of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty rightly asks: “If the claims of persecution are ‘not true,’ why change the policy? Americans who want to serve their country without receiving unwanted religious pressure should have some protection.”

McClatchy:

“The single biggest frustration I’ve had in this job is the perception that somehow there is religious persecution inside the United States Air Force,” Gen. Mark Welsh III told a House Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this spring. “It’s not true.” Welsh’s irritation underscored the pressure the Air Force is under from Republicans in Congress, evangelical Christians and conservative advocacy groups to end what they allege is the service’s suppression of religious freedom. Their charge isn’t new, but the target is: a regulation designed to prevent religious bias by barring commanders and other leaders from “the actual or apparent use of their positions to promote their religious convictions to their subordinates.”



“It’s when the commander becomes the preacher that we have a problem,” said a former senior defense official who dealt with the issue but requested anonymity in order to speak freely. “It’s commanders turning to subordinates and saying, ‘Here’s what makes my life worthwhile. It’s going to my church and subscribing to my views.’ ”



The Air Force defends the regulation as a measure that “seems to make good sense.” Yet the pressure — legislation, congressional hearings, meetings, letters, media statements and online appeals — to revise or dump it is having an impact.

Late last month, James and Welsh convened a “Religious Freedom Focus Day” conference of senior chaplains and legal and manpower officials to discuss the policy. An Air Force spokeswoman, Rose Richeson, declined to make the results of the April 28 meeting public, saying it would be “too premature to provide an interview.”

But Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a Christian conservative policy institute that leads a coalition of organizations that are fighting the regulation, said that based on what he’d heard from people at the meeting he expected the Air Force to “make a policy change shortly.”

The prospect alarms supporters of the policy, who say a pro-Christian bias in the Air Force remains overwhelming and that the regulation provides an avenue of relief to service members who object to being regaled with their superiors’ religious views or who worry that declining invitations to “voluntary” Bible classes might jeopardize their fitness reports and chances of promotion.

The regulation has been “an umbrella in a tsunami of Christian fundamentalist extremism,” asserted Mikey Weinstein, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and a former Air Force officer whose outspokenness has won him scorn and death threats.

Since the regulation went into effect, 4,121 Air Force personnel have sought the organization’s help in fending off proselytizing by superiors, Weinstein said. The organization has a 95 percent “success rate” in ending “the offending behavior,” he said. Evangelical Christians draw the largest number of complaints — ironically enough, from fellow Christians, he said.



“We don’t advocate that someone in a position of authority use that authority to somehow force someone to participate in a religious activity,” Perkins said. “On the flip side of that is just because someone in a command position (has) a devotional or weekly Bible study and you invite your colleagues, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you are not requiring (attendance). It’s like asking someone to come play dominoes.”

Military culture, however, is very different from the civilian world, the regulation’s defenders responded. The services are closed, clannish and hierarchical, and in such an atmosphere a commander’s exhortation to follow his or her beliefs or an invitation to a voluntary prayer circle can be perceived as tantamount to an order.

To illustrate the point, Weinstein said his organization had received 17 complaints _ all from Protestants _ in early May after a commander at an Air Force base left invitations to a “Purity Ball” _ a religious, high school prom-like event attended by fathers and daughters _ on the chairs of three senior subordinates. The girls take vows to refrain from premarital sex.

The subordinates “understood that they had to distribute the invitations. They distributed them to 212 people,” said Weinstein, who declined to identify the base, the commander or the complainants because of confidentiality considerations.

Another Poll That Should Terrify Anti-Gay Activists

Recently, gay rights opponents have touted two polls which they claim prove that Americans are turning against marriage equality: one of the polls only surveyed districts with competitive elections, the other polled Republicans and Republican-leaning independents .

But a new actually representative Gallup poll today confirms what several other recent national polls have shown: support for marriage equality is moving past the 50 percent mark and is especially high among young voters.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they supported legalizing same-sex marriage, including 78 percent of people ages 18 to 29 years old.

Marriage equality also has majority support in each region of the country except for the South, where support stands at 48 percent.

But don’t worry, today’s Gallup survey will most likely be promptly dismissed by Religious Right leaders as another “cooked” poll that misrepresents the view of the real majority of Americans who are being “bullied” by a small clique of gay rights advocates and “activist judges.”

Tony Perkins Falsely Claims Obama Was Too Busy Pushing Gay Rights 'To Acknowledge Armed Forces Day'

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins thinks he has caught President Obama in a mini-scandal, claiming in his daily email to members Monday that Obama “couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge Armed Forces Day” because he was too busy finding “time to lecture Americans on an agenda tearing apart the very military he ignored.

He was referring to the president’s acknowledgment of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, two terms Perkins put in quotation marks.

Everyone else's eyes are wide open, thanks to the avalanche of attacks thundering down on anyone with a natural view on marriage -- from network television and bank brokers to Internet companies and city councils. Even the President of the United States, who only recently hopped aboard the same-sex "marriage" express, is piling on with outlandish public statements against a sentiment he used to share. On the 10th anniversary of Massachusetts's court-imposed same-sex "marriage," the White House marked the day by railing against "homophobia" and "transphobia." The same President who couldn't be bothered to acknowledge Armed Forces Day found more than enough time to lecture Americans on an agenda tearing apart the very military he ignored. And if these polls are any indication, his heavy-handed approach is already backfiring -- a fact the GOP would be wise to capitalize on.

Perkins, unsurprisingly, was wrong.

As Adam Weinstein notes, it only takes a few seconds of Googling to find Obama’s proclamation recognizing Armed Forces Day.

Presidential Proclamation -- Armed Forces Day, 2014

ARMED FORCES DAY, 2014

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

In every generation, there are men and women who stand apart. They put on the uniform and put their lives on the line so the rest of us might live in a safer, freer, more just world. They defend us in times of peace, times of war, and times of crisis, both natural and man-made. On Armed Forces Day, we honor the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who render the highest service any American can offer.

The patriots who stand sentry for our security are a proud link in an unbroken chain that stretches through the centuries. This generation has distinguished itself on mission after mission, tour after tour. Because of their heroism, the core of al-Qaeda is severely degraded and our homeland is more secure. Thanks to their extraordinary sacrifice, we are winding down more than a decade of war and strengthening alliances that extend our values. These are the gifts they have given us, and this is why we owe them a profound debt of gratitude.

It is our obligation to ensure our troops have all they need to complete their missions abroad, but we must also support them when they return home. We must care for the families who serve alongside them and fulfill our promises today, tomorrow, and forever. And we must demonstrate our thanks by building a Nation worthy of their sacrifices, a Nation that lives up to our founding ideals and allows every citizen to write their chapter of the American story.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, continuing the precedent of my predecessors in office, do hereby proclaim the third Saturday of each May as Armed Forces Day.

I direct the Secretary of Defense on behalf of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and the Secretary of Homeland Security on behalf of the Coast Guard, to plan for appropriate observances each year, with the Secretary of Defense responsible for encouraging the participation and cooperation of civil authorities and private citizens.

I invite the Governors of the States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to provide for the observance of Armed Forces Day within their jurisdiction each year in an appropriate manner designed to increase public understanding and appreciation of the Armed Forces of the United States. I also invite veterans, civic leaders, and organizations to join in the observance of Armed Forces Day.

Finally, I call upon all Americans to display the flag of the United States at their homes on Armed Forces Day, and I urge citizens to learn more about military service by attending and participating in the local observances of the day. I also encourage Americans to volunteer at organizations that provide support to our troops and their families.

Proclamation 8984 of May 17, 2013, is hereby superseded.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Louie Gohmert Claims Obama Is 'Empowering Radical Islamists' Like Boko Haram

Louie Gohmert, an actual congressman, took to WorldNetDaily today to allege that President Obama is “empowering radical Islamists” including the Nigerian group Boko Haram.

The Texas Republican suggested that Obama should fight Boko Haram just like how “Bush went after the Taliban” with “a few hundred special ops and intelligence personnel” to “totally defeat them.” The US is still fighting the Taliban to this day.

A congressman is warning that Barack Obama’s terrorism policies not only appease Islamic jihadists such as the al-Qaida-linked Boko Haram, they empower such radicals, possibly contributing to the abduction of almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls last month.

The policies also may have led to the murder of a family two years ago in the village where the girls attended school.

“As someone whose cousins were Christian missionaries in Africa, I have a difficult time watching the current administration appear to spend more time empowering radical Islamists in various countries than defending or protecting Christians,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told WND.

Gohmert proposes a quick and uncomplicated solution to what policymakers are calling a religious cleansing at the hands of radical Islamic groups in northern African countries such as Nigeria.

“If this administration went after Boko Haram the way Bush went after the Taliban, a few hundred special ops and intelligence personnel could be embedded, give air support, then totally defeat them without repeating the Bush administration’s mistake when they added tens of thousands of troops that became ‘occupiers,’ and engaged in nation-building,” Gohmert said.

“We can and should help Nigerians defeat radical Islamists, then get out,” he said.

Concerned Women For America Lauds Closure Of School's Women Studies Department

The University of South Carolina-Upstate recently announced the closure of its Center for Women’s and Gender Studies following several attacks from Republican politicians who threatened to cut funding from the school over an LGBT comedy event.

Naturally, Concerned Women for America head Penny Nance applauded the move:

“Congratulations to the University of South Carolina Upstate for having the courage and good sense to eliminate a course of study whose sole purpose is to indoctrinate young women in leftist ideology.

“We applaud the University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU) for closing the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CWGS) and allocating those funds to teach America’s founding documents. The decision puts the South Carolina college in compliance with state law requiring those documents be taught and also gives these women a chance at actual employment upon graduation.

“As American women, we strongly support equal opportunity and are glad USCU will instead concentrate on courses that will prepare its young women for jobs instead of joining their other women’s studies sisters in the unemployment line.

“It is surely more beneficial to learn the history of our country then to take part in pointless gender “victimology” lessons. Clearly, they will miss the “I Need Feminism” campaign and CWGS’s 2014 Bodies of Knowledge Symposium that included “Trans, but Not Like You Think”, and planned to include the play How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less. We think they’ll be fine.

Leftist feminists love to make fun of home economics, which none of us in the CWA national office actually majored in, but we can’t argue with Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler that it teaches useful life skills. In fact, it’s far more useful than studying Passages of Appearing: Arendt and the Existential Politics of Transgender Liminality.

“In researching this issue we looked to see how many of the women who have degrees in these women’s studies programs are actually employed. Let’s say they weren’t bragging on their post-graduate employment numbers.

“Of those who are actually employed, we surmise most of those jobs would result in other women’s studies professors. Good news for those jobless feminists though, there may bea chance at employment on the horizon if the Senate joins the Republican establishment in the House of Representatives to push for the Left’s hopeful shrine to abortion, the National Women’s History Museum. (emphasis ours)

“But back to the point. Well done USC Upstate! Women’s studies majors may in fact more clearly understand their “rights” and whether they are actually being violated after a thorough reading of the Constitution. We encourage other universities to follow suit and hope other states will adopt similar policies.”

Todd Starnes Jokes About 'The War Of Northern Aggression'

As we have mentioned before, Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes likes to use his schtick as a folksy Southerner with downhome charm to make up for his often totally false reporting.

Take for instance a recent appearance in Georgia, where Starnes dedicated most of his speech to describing how tough it is to be a good Southerner among the heathens of New York.

“I still can’t figure out how we lost the War of Northern Aggression, I just don’t get it living among those people,” he joked. “These are the folks that wear the skinny jeans and they have the mustaches, some of the girls do too.”

Dinesh D'Souza Producer Claims Obama Wants To 'Lock Up' Opponents

Conservative activist and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza pled guilty today to violating campaign finance law by making straw donations to a Republican U.S. Senate candidate. Earlier reports had indicated that D’Souza knew he was breaking the law and planned to initially plead not guilty “to get his story out there.

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids. I deeply regret my conduct,” he said today.

But Gerald Molen, who served as a producer for D’Souza’s anti-Obama films “2016” and “America” is still insisting that D’Souza was wrongly prosecuted by an administration that wants to throw its rivals in jail.

“This administration doesn’t see its opponents as dissenters but as enemies, and if they can’t refute you, they try to lock you up,” he said.

“Normally these types of offenses are resolved with fines or community service. I and the American people will be watching closely to make sure that justice is done in the sentencing portion.”

In January, Molen’s response to D’Souza’s indictment also was blunt.

“When Dinesh D’Souza can be prosecuted for making a movie, every American should ask themselves one question: ‘What will I do to preserve the First Amendment?’” Molen, the producer of “2016: Obama’s America,” told WND at the time.



Molen told WND in January that the prosecution of D’Souza “is the equivalent of prosecuting a political dissident in the Soviet Union for jay-walking.” “Yes, jaywalking in the Soviet Union is a crime, but it’s a minor crime. The real point is that you are a political dissenter and the government wants to put you away,” he said.



“This is not the America we grew up in,” Molen said at the time. “In the America I treasured, a president would go out of his way to protect those who disagreed with the president’s policy. That’s what the First Amendment is all about.”

Operation American Spring Leader Announces 'Phase II' Of Plan To Overthrow Obama

Last time Operation American Spring leader Harry Riley stopped by “The Alan Colmes Show,” he told Colmes that he was expecting a “gigantic, massive rally” that would “field about 10 to 20 million people in Washington, D.C. and we’re going to close it down.” In another interview, Riley guaranteed a “verified, validated” minimum of 10 million attendees ready to overthrow President Obama.

Of course, just over one hundred or so people ultimately showed up for the event, although one speaker put the figure at “four or five hundred people.”

But in an interview with Colmes last night, Riley said that thousands of people were present: “I think we probably had three or four thousand the first day.” He later added that “probably 1,000” activists are still on the National Mall pushing for Obama’s removal from office.

Declaring the event to be a success, Riley said Operation American Spring is now entering a second phase in its plan to oust President Obama and top administration officials.

“We’re still in that process, we were in a mobilization phase, now we’re in phase II of exercising our strength and length of phase.”

We actually stopped by the National Mall on Saturday, the second day of Operation American Spring, and found fewer than ten OAS supporters present.

Including these activists, who seemed to be leaving.

As Candidate For Congress, Ted Yoho Suggested Limiting The Right To Vote To Property Owners

Recently unearthed footage of Rep. Ted Yoho speaking at Berean Baptist Church in Ocala, Florida, during his candidacy for Congress in the 2012 election cycle shows the Republican politician suggesting that only property owners should have the right to vote.

“I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote,” he said to applause.

He also called early voting through absentee ballots “a travesty” and hailed Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s move — since rescinded — to significantly reduce early voting from 14 days to eight, saying Scott’s plan didn’t go far enough. “I think it needs to be cut less than that,” he said.

Later in the event, an audience member asked Yoho about the Bilderberger Group, the center of a popular conspiracy theory. The audience member claimed the group “wants to take us down,” and asked, “What do you think our chances are in the next two years of being able to vote?”

“That’s a scary question and that’s one of the reasons I’m running for Congress, because I fear for this country,” Yoho replied. “I grew up believing in the American dream, I’m a product of the American dream, no one gave my wife and I anything…we worked our tail off and we didn’t expect anything from the government.” (In fact, Yoho has admitted that he and his wife at one point “went on food stamps.”)

He added: “If we don’t do anything in two and a half years, it’s a scary thought, if you start reading some of the stuff I’ve been reading, you’re like, this is all by designs, it sounds like a conspiracy.”

Yoho had a similar response to the next questioner who inquired about why he is running for Congress: “I fear for the country, two and a half years from now we may not be able to vote.”

Tea Party Nation Wants Michael Sam's 'Nauseating' Kiss Off TV

Yesterday, Tea Party Nation president Judson Phillips sent members a column from his group’s website titled “Too Much Gay Everything,” which criticizes the media’s treatment of Michael Sam’s “nauseating” and “lugubrious” kiss.

The author, conservative activist Alan Caruba, writes that his anti-gay prejudice “is based on biology and history” and that “being gay is not normal.”

As is typical in anti-gay columns, Caruba goes on to warn that schools are promoting homosexuality and that “anyone with a handful of functioning brain cells” opposes legalizing same-sex marriage.

I like to think of myself as a tolerant person. I have, however, one prejudice that is based on biology and history.

Michael Sam, the first openly gay professional football prospect, made history when he was filmed by an ESPN crew giving his lover, Vito Cammisano, a long, lugubrious kiss to celebrate being selected in the National Football League draft on May 10th. The sight of two men kissing passionately was not something I and a lot of other folks wanted to see.

A spokesman for GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination, called the kiss “a significant milestone”, describing it as “touching.” No it wasn’t. It was nauseating to any heterosexual having to witness it or explain it to their children. We need to understand that being gay is not normal. Biologically, species exist because the male and female genders exist for the purpose of procreation and propagation.

Historically, gays have been held in disdain in every era of civilization. Today in the Islamic Middle East you can be killed for being gay, but you can also be killed for being Christian. In the West both actions are an abomination.



I don’t want to hear much about gays for any reason. The kiss was not something I would want young people to see on television or anywhere else. The bigger problem is that our younger generation, progressing through our schools, is being systematically taught to accept homosexuality as just another version of normality.



Being a youngster of any age is stressful enough, but being young and gay just adds to the stress and someone should tell them they will live with that for the rest of their lives.

Most certainly parents do not send their children to our public schools to learn about homosexuality, bisexuality, or being transgendered.

What a very large portion of the heterosexual population objects to is the appalling and aggressive effort of the homosexual minority to redefine marriage. Anyone with a handful of functioning brain cells knows that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Same-sex marriage is an assault on the traditional, historical and global understanding of marriage, the keystone of any society.
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