Concerned Women for America

Everybody's a Comedian

It seems that the Religious Right is taking time out from holding press conferences warning that healthcare reform will force women to abort their children in favor of a new tactic: humor.

First up, the Family Research Council:

Concerned Women for America likewise recently unveiled three of its own "humorous" videos on what healthcare reform will mean for Americans. Behold:

Normally, this is where we'd tell those responsible for these ads not to quit their day jobs ... but unfortunately, in this case, producing things like this is their day job.

Health Care Reform Will Lead To Forced Abortions

Is anyone surprised that right-wing groups are holding a press conference to claim that including coverage for reproductive health services in healthcare reform legislation are would lead to forced abortions ... or that several Republican members of Congress would join them in making that claim

If so, you obviously haven't been paying attention to what has become of today's GOP:

Today Concerned Women for America will join in a press conference on health care with numerous groups including Focus on the Family Action, National Right to Life, and Family Research Council as well as Representatives Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina,) Tom Price (R-Georgia) and Eric Cantor (R-Virginia.) The press conference will be held in the House Triangle.

"Women are generally the primary decision-makers in the family when it comes to health care. However, our ability to make health care decisions will be snatched away and given to bureaucrats empowered to ration care and pay for abortion," stated Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America.

"The current bill sets up a system whereby bureaucrats decide what health care we can receive, with cost as a major factor. It also will fund abortion. Since abortion costs less than prenatal care, delivery and post-natal care, especially if the mother or child has special needs, it is not unlikely that bureaucrats will put on their green-eye shades and decide that abortion will be covered but expensive maternal and child care is not.

Anti-Gay Hate Crime Proves Gays Don't Need Hate Crimes Protection

I had just finished watching the news report on the vicious anti-gay beating of Jack Price (complete with an defense of the beating from a man sporting a Leviticus tattoo) when I came across this piece by Concerned Women for America's Ken Ervin claiming that the beating proves that gays don't need hate crimes protection:

The New York Post is abuzz with the story of Jack Price, a 49-year-old man who was viciously beaten by two twenty-somethings last week. While in the College Point store, two boys (why call them “men”?) hurled insults at Price, waited for him to leave the store and then jumped him. According to the Post, “Price suffered a fractured jaw and ribs, and a lacerated spleen.” He remains in a medically-induced coma in serious but stable condition.

So, to recap, two adolescently-minded wanna-be-men ganged up on a man more than twice their age, beating him so severely that his jaw and ribs were broken, his spleen was damaged, and he required hospitalization. Pretty bad, yes? Horrific and absolutely unconscionable, right? Are you outraged? Do you want to see justice done? Do you want these two jerks to spend a lot of time in some dark, dank hole in the New York prison system? Good. That’s how it should be.

And yet, for some, the mere fact of broken bones and a lacerated spleen wasn’t worthy of outrage. Oh no. What was truly outrageous about this unthinkable crime, and what seems to some to be more horrific than broken bones and life-threatening injuries is that — horror upon horror!! — the assailants hurled “anti-gay slurs” at the object of their torment.

C’mon people. Can you seriously look me in the face and tell me that these hoodlums should get a harsher sentence for calling Jack Price nasty names while they beat him? If so, you’re also saying that it’s okay with you if they had kept their mouths shut while beating him and got away with a lighter sentence. Preposterous.

Homosexual or not, who really cares? These hooligans deserve prosecution to the fullest extent of the law — the regular law, not the “special” ones. We don’t need “hate crimes” laws. We need law enforcement. We need these guys to be afraid of more than a slap on the wrists. And if that isn’t happening with the regular law, then making “special” laws isn’t going to do it either.

Let me ask, for seemingly the millionth time, if the Religious Right would be making this argument that hate crimes laws are unnecessary if the victim had been attacked because of his race or religion? 

If "special" laws are so unnecessary, then why aren't they calling for the repeal of the existing hate crimes protections for race and religion, instead of merely trying to prevent gays from getting those same protections? 

Obama's Noble Prize Proves That Everyone Is a Stupid Communist!

For the most part, right-wing and Religious Right groups have been silent on the news that President Obama has been awarded the Noble Peace Prize, but a few have issued predictably inanely incoherent statements.

Such as the Catholic League proclaiming that "Abortion Haunts Peace Prize Winner":

Unlike another Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Mother Teresa, who said abortion was “the greatest destroyer of peace,” Obama has never indicated that abortion undermines the cause of peace. Indeed, he champions abortion as if it were a sacred right. If he wants to pivot at this juncture, Catholics will welcome it. If he doesn’t, he will have to live with the consequences.

And then there is Concerned Women for America's "Dumbing Down The Nobel Peace Prize":

According to the Associated Press, there were rumors consideration was being given to “…Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a Colombian senator and a Chinese dissident, along with an Afghan woman’s rights activist.” Wow – that’s tough competition. It’s amazing that the president of the United States would be considered amidst such an august group of candidates.

When Alfred Nobel wrote his will in 1895 he insisted that the peace prize should go “…to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.” One wonders if Nobel ever considered there could have been a year where the crop of candidates was so bad that the award would be given to someone who had accomplished none of the things stipulated in his will. Apparently when there is a year where the prospects are so bleak, the lowest common denominator wins. That doesn’t say much for the world’s prospects for peace.

Not to be outdone is Richard Viguerie, whose press release claims that the award just goes to prove that Obama and everyone else is a Communist:

"The announcement from the Nobel Peace Prize Committee says as much about the Norwegian voters and their parliament as it does President Obama. All involved should be embarrassed and ashamed for using this Prize to advance a radical, leftist agenda.

"It's clear that the Marxist leaders in Europe know what most Americans don't know--that the American president is a kindred spirit who they recognize as one of their own.

"Freedom-loving people should no longer respect or take seriously the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, as they have become an arm of the worldwide Marxist cause, evidenced by their previous selections of Yassar Arafat and Le Duc Tho and now Barack Obama.

"The award has been cheapened beyond repair and the Nobel Committee has insulted all who labor and sacrifice for true peace and freedom under God's laws."

CWA To "Weclome" Spain's Prime Minister to White House

Concerned Women for America announces that they will be protesting outside the White House next week during a visit from Spain's Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero:

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will meet with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday, October 13. Zapatero will be met by Americans in solidarity with Spain's citizens against his attempt to increase abortions.

Zapatero recently proposed a bill to liberalize Spain's abortion law. The bill would allow 16-year-olds to get abortions without parental consent, increase abortion without restrictions to 14 weeks, and change abortion from a crime to a social "right."

Spanish pro-life groups will hold a march in Madrid on October 17 to protest Zapatero's efforts to radicalize Spain's abortion laws. Doctors in Spain who face being forced to perform abortions or thrown in jail will join the march.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) and other pro-life activists will gather at the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue at 10:00 a.m. on October 13 during Zapatero's visit.

"Spain's pro-lifers and doctors can be encouraged that Americans stand with them against Zapatero's attempt to increase abortions. Pictures of Americans supporting life and opposing Zapatero during his White House visit will be sent to Spain to build momentum for Spain's march for life," said CWA President Wendy Wright.

Respecting the Troops By Voting Against the Defense Appropriation

Back when George W. Bush was president, any Democrat in Congress who voted against any defense appropriation bill was immediately accused of hating our troops and endangering their lives.

But times have changed apparently:

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) are voting against the House/Senate fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill — because it contains hate crimes provisions designed to protect gays and lesbians.

Boehner, speaking at his weekly press conference Thursday, said the inclusion of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the defense bill was "an abuse of power" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sought to punish offenders for what they thought — and not what they did.

He accused the speaker of pursuing her social agenda "on the backs" of the troops.

GOP Whip Eric Cantor is also a no, saying that the legislation constitutes classifying a new group of "thought crimes."

Not surprisingly, the Right has seized upon the idea that voting against this appropriations bill is a way to show support for the troops:

As FRC has said countless times, this provision would be devastating to free speech and religious freedom. Other laws that have passed under the guise of "hate crimes" have been the first step toward silencing pastors and Christians who speak out against homosexuality. Please join with us in asking Congress to respect our servicemen and women and vote no on "hate crimes" as part of the defense authorization bill!

Concerned Women for America makes a similar claim:

"The Defense Authorization bill should fund our national defense. Period. This 'hate crimes' provision grants special rights to certain political groups and could give cover to criminal behavior. This exploitation of a bill to fund our national defense shamelessly places homosexual groups' demands equal to or more important than our military," stated Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America.

"'Hate crime' laws unduly expand the federal government. These crimes are already fully prosecuted by the states. 'Hate crime' laws allow prosecution for the same act twice, violating the Constitutional protection against Double Jeopardy. It creates a class of 'special' preferred victims, denying equal protection to other victims. It could cover every kind of sexual behavior, granting protected status even for pedophiles. And homosexual activists admit the whole effort is a scam to raise money and political power," Wright noted.

Freedom Federation Welcomes Huckabee

We've written several posts about the new right-wing supergroup known as the Freedom Federation over the last few months.  Consisting of various right wing groups including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, the American Family Association, Traditional Values Coalition, Wallbuilders, Vision America, and many others, the group's mission is to create a unified political front for the Religious Right.

Today, Deacon Keith Fournier writes in Catholic Online that he was recently invited to attend a meeting of the Freedom Federation's steering committee but was reluctant to go ... until he found out that they were going to have a special guest speaker - Mike Huckabee:

I have made some inspiring new friendships with champions such as Rev. Sam Rodriquez and Bishop Harry Jackson. And, it is a joy after several years to renew old ones with my friends Ken Blackwell and Matt Staver. However, the drive to Washington D.C., even with good “beltway traffic” is at least four hours for me since I moved back to Chesapeake, Virginia. I am “swamped” these days, on every front of my life. So, let me be honest. I accepted the invitation because a special guest had promised to drop by and share his thoughts. That special guest is one of my favorite public servants, the former Governor of Arkansas and former Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee.

I have long admired this genuinely good man. I had the privilege of interviewing him for Catholic Online during the last Presidential campaign. We have published those interviews as related stories under this article. When he entered the meeting, filled with dedicated people (mostly evangelical protestant leaders, though this time I was not the only Catholic) who themselves possess leadership gifts, he filled the room with his presence. Real leaders have a presence about them which just fills the room. His warm smile and attention to every person he greeted was impressive. His warmth toward me made the long drive worthwhile. However, it was his insights, shared over the course of a long and dynamic meeting which convinced me that this is a man who has not even begun to give his gifts to the service of his Nation.

I sat next to the Governor and, I must admit, I invited some of his responses through my own questions and observations. I could say he “had me” when he called my champion, the late Servant of God John Paul II, “one of the great spiritual and Christian leaders of our lifetime” and shared anecdotal stories from the late Pope’s life. However, there was much more to come in the rich content of his intelligent public policy positions. It was the substance of those deeply held positions on the issues which matter most which won the day and only deepened my admiration for the man. He breaks the molds of the empty political labels of “left/right”, “liberal/conservative.” He espouses truly human, just and concerned positions. I will be returning to them, I am sure, in future articles. However, permit me to share just one of his comments.

In the context of discussing the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the right to life from conception, to birth, throughout life and up to and including a natural death - what I call the “whole life/pro-life” position, which the Governor clearly embraces - he said these words: “To say that one person has value, but another does not, that one has human dignity but another does not, or somehow has less… that is the kind of thinking that slavery was built upon, and worse… . The dignity of every human person and the value of every human life must be the pole star of all public policy.” These words are not a slogan, they are a creed to the Governor, a deeply help vision of life and worldview. They flowed from the heart of a man who cares deeply about this nation and about our future together.

Many of the leaders of the Freedom Federation's member organizations backed Huckabee's presidential bid back in 2008, but many others did not, for which Huckabee regularly and roundly blasted them as sell-outs.  Since then, he has been hard at work positioning himself as the Religious Right's most ardent defender and the effort has recently begun paying dividends.

Huckabee continues to insist that he has not decided on whether he will make another run for president in 2012 ... but he certainly seems to be working hard to win over and unify the Religious Right behind him in case he decides to do so. 

How Many Coalitions Does The Religious Right Need?

Over the last several months, we've been chronicling the seemingly endless emergence of new Religious Right groups and coalitions. 

In recent months we've witnessed the arrival of the American Principles Project and the Faith and Freedom Institute, which was followed by Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, while Newt Gingrich was unveiling his Renewing American Leadership effort, and Lou Engle was announcing his Call to Action.  And then a bunch of Religious Right leaders came together under the banner of the Freedom Federation, but apparently the Freedom Federation wasn't enough because now there is something Conservative Action Project which has been sending out "memos for the [conservative] movement" on a regular basis [PDF]:

The Conservative Action Project, chaired by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, is designed to facilitate conservative leaders working together on behalf of common goals. Participation is extended to leaders of groups representing all major elements of the conservative movement—economic, social and national security.

The Conservative Action Project doesn't seem to have a fixed membership, though the memos usually carry the names of people like Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Gary Bauer of American Values, among others.

To date, the coalition has issued memos demanding that heathcare legislation contain lawsuit reform and doesn't include coverage for abortion, one blasting President Obama for supposedly carrying out an "apology and appeasement tour," one decrying the "culture of corruption," and a new memo "requiring that legislation be available on the Internet for 72 hours before consideration by the House."

This new group seems to have some sort of link to the Center for National Policy, considering that the contact info listed on this memo uses the email address: @cfnpaction.org. The Council for National Policy's URL is cfnp.org, and it has an affiliated c4 known as CNP Action.

Concerned Women Concerned About Women on Submarines

Apparently, Concerned Women for America is now concerned about women serving on submarines ... or, more accurately, the babies those women may or may not be carrying while serving on said submarines:

Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation's largest public policy women's organization, is disappointed in recent statements by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus indicating their wish to lift the ban on women serving aboard submarines. Admiral Mullen advocated the policy change in written congressional testimony on Friday. Navy Secretary Mabus said he was "moving out aggressively on this."

"Unlike any other assignment in the U.S. Navy, the submarine service is a hazardous environment for women of child-bearing age," noted CWA President Wendy Wright. "No other assignment exposes women to a constantly recycled atmosphere of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and more than 200 potentially toxic chemicals. Those contaminants remain even with filtering. While normal adults can adjust to this environment, a developing child in the first trimester cannot, and the levels of carbon dioxide that crewmembers are exposed to can be linked to birth defects. Also, no study has been done to determine the impact of this environment on a woman's fertility."

"Another serious consideration is the threat to the life and health of the women assigned to submarine crews should an ectopic pregnancy occur. These cases, about four out of every 1,000 women per year, can be life-threatening situations that demand evacuation," Wright said. "For a great many women, the acute symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are their first indication that they are even pregnant. Pre-deployment pregnancy testing is not a silver bullet either, since tests may not give a positive reading in the earliest stages of pregnancy."

"Along with the medical issues, there are very real social and psychological difficulties posed by mixing the sexes in the 'Silent Service,'" Wright added. "Military readiness and cohesiveness will be affected, and commanders will have the added difficulties of harassment and fraternization to deal with, which are inevitable in this situation of confined quarters with extremely little privacy. National security is the Navy's primary mission, not advancing women's careers."

Religious Right Demands Sanctions on Iran

Every once in a while, Religious Right leaders take a break from railing against abortion and gays and czars and death panels and whatever to weigh in on foreign policy issues, like back in 2007 when a group of them released a statement demanding that the US remain in Iraq, or last year when another group demanded a meeting with Barack Obama to discuss their ideas on how to defeat terrorism.

Now a similar group is back with a new letter demanding sanctions on Iran:

In a remarkable ecumenical and bipartisan display of unity, Christian leaders representing over 28 million evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and other Christians have sent a letter to Congress today and other key world leaders calling for urgent action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The letter urges a total arms embargo and a cut off of exports of refined petroleum products, including gasoline, as a firm yet peaceful measure against the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

...

The leaders include Pat Robertson of Christian Broadcasting Network, Southern Baptist Convention chairman and pastor Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Charles Colson of the Prison Fellowship Ministries, Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, , Dr. Michael Youssef of Leading the Way, Dr. James Merritt of Cross Pointe Church, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Gary Bauer of American Values, and Dr. John Hagee of the Conerstone Church in San Antonio.

I'm not sure what is so "bipartisan" about this, since just about every person who signed their name to this appears to be a right-wing activist.  

But there was one interesting revelation among the signatories: 

Manuel Miranda, President, The Iraq Society

Presumably, that is this Manuel Miranda.

So Miranda is not only an expert on judges and immigration, but also on Iraq now?  Who knew?

Dobson, Malkin, and the Merging of the Right Wing Movement

At lunch yesterday, I was having a conversation with a colleague about the apparent merging of various factions of the right-wing movement under President Obama, noting how right-wing supergroups like the Freedom Federation were bringing together organizations like Concerned Women for American and the Family Research Council with outlets that they had never really aligned themselves with before, like Americans for Prosperity and Morning Star Ministries.

We also commented on the fact that the Heritage Foundation is sponsoring this year's Values Voter Summit, which is a first, as far as we can recall, and that James Dobson has started having people like Rick Scarborough on his radio show, which was also a rather new development.

But I didn't realize how fully integrated the right-wing movement was becoming until I saw this:

This is actually just the first part of a scheduled two part interview. You can listen to part one here or here.

Right Wing Paranoia Knows No Bounds

On September 9th, President Obama delivered his healthcare address to a joint session of Congress. Not surprisingly, security around the Capitol was pretty tight ... but to Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America, this sizable security presence wasn't there to protect the President or members of Congress; it was really an effort by "the Left" to intimidate conservatives:

Everything was on hand in preparation for an assault. But by whom?

Were they mobilizing for an attack by jihadists bent on acts of terrorism? No, the State Department has decreed that the bad old days of the Bush Administration’s preoccupation with the Axis of Evil and the War on Terror are over.

Then it came to me.

They are there to ensure that those evil right-wing terrorists who have been running amuck at TEA Parties and town halls all over the country don’t get the idea that they can weaken the grip of Pelosi and company by mounting a disruptive demonstration prior to, during, or after Obama’s health care reform address to Congress. Can’t allow those wicked conservatives to take a page out of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals! Can’t allow those wicked conservatives to behave like ACORN or the Black Panthers! It just wouldn’t do.

...

If the left — with its majorities in both the House and the Senate — has everything nailed down as solidly as “I’ve-got-the-votes” Pelosi claims, why all the frustration, anger, fear, and hysteria that we’re seeing? That much is not merely theatre. Those emotions are real and very hard to hide. You can see them in the eyes and body language and hear them in the tone of voice.

No. What we are seeing is something very real. And it certainly isn’t pretty.

CWA: Repealing DOMA "Will Result in Reverse Discrimination"

Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler introduced legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the House of Representatives and, predictably, Concerned Women for America is not happy about it, going so far as to claim that repealing DOMA would amount to discrimination against people who don't think gays should be treated equally: 

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), said, "The citizens of 39 states have worked hard to pass legislation and constitutional amendments to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman. DOMA ensures the integrity of our constitutional system and the will of Americans. DOMA reflects the reality that marriage provides unique benefits to individuals, children, and society which cannot be replicated by any other living arrangement.

"The Defense of Marriage Act anticipated the assault that homosexual activists would inflict upon marriage. Through DOMA, the will of the people is honored, as evidenced in the 39 states that have passed laws protecting marriage."

Shari Rendall, CWA's Director of Legislation and Public Policy, said, "Homosexual activists and their congressional supporters are making the outrageous claim that protecting marriage is a form of discrimination. But the reverse is true -- failing to protect marriage and overturning marriage laws will result in reverse discrimination against people who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman."

The Right Piles On

I have been diligently following the developments in the shooting death of anti-abortion activist James Pouillon in Michigan since the news broke this morning and based on the little information and few details that are available, it is impossible to know why Pouilon was killed.

Reports indicated that Pouilon was gunned down from a moving car early this morning.  A witness got the car's license plate and police arrested someone an hour later.  At that point, the suspect reportedly informed the police that he had committed another murder earlier in the morning and police were soon informed that the body of Mike Fouss, the owner of a local gravel pit, had been discovered, shot multiple times in his office:

Fuoss knew the suspected shooter, according to Shiawassee County Sheriff George Braidwood. Braidwood said it appeared he was shot at close range.

Subsequent reports indicate that the suspect in custody had some sort of personal connection to Fuoss:

Fuoss’ brother-in-law, Glen Merkel, told the Free Press that Fuoss was found shot dead in his office around 7:30 a.m. by an employee. He said Fuoss was seen alive perhaps 20 minutes earlier when another truck driver for his company came to pick up a load of gravel.

Merkel said the suspect in the shootings is the son of a former Fuoss Gravel employee, but said he did not know any reason for Fuoss’ slaying.

In short, at this point, it’s far, far too soon to say what the motive in either of these crimes actually was.

But none of that seems to matter to right-wing groups and individuals like Randall Terry, all of whom are releasing statements and holding press conferences demanding political action.

From Concerned Women for America:

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), stated, "We are shocked at this senseless violence against a peaceful man. Jim Pouillon sincerely lived out his belief that babies have the right to be born. He dedicated his life to convincing others to reject the violence of abortion. It is a tragedy upon tragedy that a peaceful man who tried to end violence was himself violently killed.

"We hope Attorney General Holder will as vigorously denounce the murder of Jim Pouillon, who tried to save babies from violence, as he did the murder of George Tiller, the late-term abortionist."

CWA President Wendy Wright will speak at a press conference today, September 11, along with pro-life leaders Troy Newman, Patrick Mahoney and Rob Schenck. The press conference will be held at 2:30 outside the Department of Justice (950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.).

From the Pro-Life Action League:

"We are shocked to learn of the killing of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon, a man who day after day stood as a witness to the violence of abortion. Now he himself is a victim of violence," said Joseph M. Scheidler, national director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, "Just last month at a clinic on the north side of Chicago a man shouted to one of our counselors, 'I'll get my gun and shoot you through the head.' On a number of occasions, our 'Face the Truth Tour' was threatened with deadly weapons."

"When the late term abortionist, Dr. George Tiller, was murdered, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office launched a federal investigation into federal crimes in connection with the murder, and the Civil Rights Division convened a meeting of the National Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers," commented Scheidler. "Now the Pro-Life Action League is calling on those government agencies to investigate this murder and established a task force to protect pro-life advocates."

Let me say this again: at this point, nobody knows why Pouillon was killed.  He may have been targeted for his activism, or it may have just been random, but nobody knows.  Perhaps it would behoove these right wing groups to hold off until some facts are actually known about this case before they start issuing statements and making all sorts of demands.

And maybe media outlets like the New York Times ought to hold off on running articles carrying headlines like "Man Killed Over Anti-Abortion Stance" until that has actually been established:

If You Thought PFOX Was A Group For "Ex-Gays," Think Again

Via AMERICAblog we get this excellent article in the Washington City Paper about Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX):

PFOX has always had a hard time getting ex-gays to join the club. PFOX’s board of directors includes a surplus of everstraights but few former homosexuals. Parents of openly ex-gay children are also in short supply. The closest the group comes to fulfilling its name is Griggs, who speaks publicly about her loving—and disapproving—relationship with her openly gay son.

Beyond the one hopeful parent of a future ex-gay, PFOX’s directors are more fit to provide political influence than ex-gay support. Paul Rondeau, the group’s president, is not ex-gay. Estella Salvatierra, vice president, is a civil rights attorney and is not ex-gay. If Scott Strachan, the group’s secretary, is ex-gay, he’s not talking about it. Michelle Hoffman, the treasurer, once told the Montgomery County School Board that “I know many former homosexuals and am proud to call them my friends.” Peter Sprigg, a director, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and has publicly identified as everstraight. Retta Brown, a director, is not ex-gay. Robert Knight, a former director of Concerned Women for America, is not a woman and is not ex-gay. Barber, a director, works at Liberty University Law School and is not ex-gay. Quinlan, a director, is ex-gay.

Thanks to Quinlan, the closest ex-gay connection that most PFOX members claim is that they are the “friends” of an ex-gay. They better be. The organization’s ex-gays are stuck with the dirty work: fighting off homosexual urges, inserting themselves into possibly discriminatory scenarios, and never, ever accomplishing the full heterosexuality of the everstraights. Ex-gays aren’t even welcome in PFOX meetings. In an e-mail posted on one ex-gay message board, a PFOX rep made the group’s target audience clear: “PFOX meetings are for families and friends of strugglers only, and not for ex-gays.”

How has PFOX managed to build the local ex-gay movement with the participation of so few actual ex-gays? Through the clever use of a smokescreen. The group claims to represent relatives and friends of ex-gays, which is code for the true constituency—Christian conservatives. Accordingly, PFOX does not deal in ex-gay counseling, therapy, or support groups; PFOX sues people.

Obama Wants To Kill You

That seems to be the message behind this banner on the Concerned Women for America's website:

Bush's White House Visitor Log Reveals Revolving Door of Religious Right Leaders

From Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:

Newly disclosed Bush-era White House visitor records suggest leading conservative Christian leaders may have had a significant voice in President Bush’s administration, and many seem to have had the ear of the president himself. The White House produced these records in response to CREW’s request for the visitor records of nine individuals beginning in January 1, 2001.

Only one record indicates a visit after October 4, 2006, the date of CREW’s request. The data is summarized below.

  • For the period April 2001 through June 2006, Focus on the Family Founder and Chairman Emeritus James Dobson visited the White House 24 times; 10 of those visits were to President Bush.
  • Andrea Lafferty, Executive Director of the Traditional Values Coalition, made an astonishing 50 visits to the White House starting on February 1, 2001, and continuing through March 16, 2008. Six of those visits were to President Bush.
  • Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, made 43 visits to the White House between May 2001 and August 2006. Four of those visits were to President Bush.
  • Gary Bauer, President of American Values, made 10 visits to the White House, starting with a January 6, 2003 visit to Vice President Cheney and ending with a July 20, 2006 visit to President Bush.
  • The late Jerry Falwell, of Jerry Falwell Ministries, made eight visits to the White House between May 2001 and September 2004. Three of those visits were to President Bush.
  • Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, visited the White House 14 times between February 2001 and June 2006, including two visits to President Bush.
  • Louis Sheldon, Chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, made 19 visits to the White House between March 2001 and September 2006, including two visits to President Bush.
  • The late Paul Weyrich, the Founder of Free Congress foundation, made 17 visits to the White House between May 2001 and July 2005, including six visits to President Bush and one to Karl Rove.
  • Donald Wildmon, Founder of the American Family Association, made three visits to the White House between July 2001 and March 2003, including one visit to President Bush. 

What Rifqa Bary Means To The Religious Right

The saga of Rafiq Bary continues to drag on.

The short version is that Bary is a 17 year old girl from a Muslim family in Ohio who converted to Christianity, reportedly 4 years ago. Several months ago, her father bought her a laptop and she started spending all of her time on Facebook and sometime during that period became convinced that her father was going to kill her in an "honor killing."  Someone eventually bought her a bus ticket and she fled from her home in Ohio to Florida where she lived for nearly two weeks Blake and Beverly Lorenz of Global Revolution Church, whom she had gotten to know through a Facebook prayer group. Her parents say she's been brainwashed, her defenders say they are just trying to save her life.

Bary's case has, in recent weeks, become a huge deal for the Religious Right and has been getting lots of coverage from places like Fox News, WorldNetDaily, OneNewsNow, and Human Events and has also been championed by several Religious Right groups like Concerned Women for America, the Traditional Values Coalition and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

It's likewise been a huge deal on right-wing blogs, and some bloggers even showed up outside of the hearing last week:

Before the hearing on Thursday, outside in front of the courthouse, Tom Trento held a news conference, as he did before the first hearing. He's from the Florida Security Council, an organization with the slogan of "Securing Florida Against Terror." This time, though, he brought a pastor from Ohio and a pair of anti-Islam bloggers.

Jamal Jivanjee, the Ohio pastor, compared Rifqa Bary to Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who was killed by Nazis in World War II and whose diary became what many consider one of the most important books of the 20th century.

Robert Spencer, who writes on a blog called Jihad Watch, told reporters Islam was here to take over America. Pam Geller of the Atlas Shrugs blog dismissed the results of the Franklin County investigation by saying things were "corrupt in Ohio."

"Forget your political correctness!" she said.

But the driving force behind this entire spectacle seems to be John Stemberger, who stepped in to represent Bary and just so happens to be the president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council, which is a state affiliate of Focus on the Family.  He was also deeply involved in passing Florida's anti-gay marriage amendment last November. 

Once he got involved, he started leveling all sorts of wild accusations, claiming that if Bary were sent back to her parents she'd be murdered and alleging that the mosque her parents attend is a terrorist hotbed and throwing around allegations of sexual and physical abuse. He even publicly revealed Bary's parent's address in Ohio.

The authorities in Ohio conducted an investigation and found there was no reason to suspect that such allegations were true and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted its own investigation and delivered it to court last week ahead of a scheduled hearing on Bary's situation. But suddenly Stemberger asked the judge to seal the report so that nobody in the press or the public could see it.  Though those involved has been barred from discussing the report's findings, Bary's parent's attorney stated that it came back "very favorable" and contained "no evidence whatsoever" of alleged abuse or threats of death made by the girl's parents. The judge ordered the FDLE's investigation into allegations against her parents was sealed for ten days and ordered Bary and her parents to seek the mediation within 30 days, scheduling another hearing for September 29 if the family is not able to resolve the conflict.

Whatever happens regarding Bary's status, it seems clear that those claiming to represent her interests will continue to utilize a strategy that hinges largely on transforming the story of a runaway girl into a full-blown war between Christianity and Islam:

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch. He was in Orlando to take part in a news conference supporting the girl's contention that she would be at grave risk if returned to her family.

"Her testimony is entirely credible. There is indeed a death penalty in Islam for those who leave Islam. Her father attended a mosque that is very devout. It's not the least unbelievable that with the death penalty for apostasy existing, this would put this girl at risk," he notes.

According to Spencer, those advocating for the family attempted to disrupt their news conference. "There was a very rude individual who was connected with the family in Ohio who disrupted our press conference and tried to spread lies about Islamic apostasy law," he adds.

While others will continue to use it an opportunity to win more converts to Christ:

Attorneys for Bary's parents have accused Stemberger in particular of using the case to attack Islam. On Monday, Stemberger filed documents alleging the Ohio mosque the Bary family attends has ties to terrorist groups, claims the mosque's leader denies.

Christian observers say Bary's case, and the media attention it has received, may be part of God's plan for the teen. If her parents had learned of her faith just a year from now, there likely would have been little uproar.

"It is possible that God wanted to do something through this for the Muslim children," said evangelist Steven Masood, a native of Pakistan whose father tried to kill him after learning of his conversion in 1973. He ultimately fled the predominantly Muslim nation in 1981 after being imprisoned for violating its anti-blasphemy laws, which are punishable by death.

"There are teenagers who are looking seriously at what has happened," Masood added. "[They say], ‘If she is doing this, why can't we?' It will bring a lot of honest teenagers out of Islam."

[Jamal] Jivanjee agrees. "I think God wants to elevate her story," he said. "He wants to use it as a wake-up call to other Christians ... and a story of hope for other Muslims. What gave her courage to stand up to her parents has been Jesus. She'd been quiet about her abuse in the past, but she's not quiet about Jesus. It needs to be talked about."

In fact, it seems as if actively seeking the conversion of Muslims is part of a growing right-wing effort:

The Christian missionaries came to Dearborn [Michigan] this summer from across the United States to win over souls for Jesus.

The evangelists handed out literature, held religious debates and met with residents in a city they sought out because of its large numbers of Muslims. It's part of an increasing effort by some Christians, mostly evangelicals, to convert the Muslims of metro Detroit -- in schools, at festivals and on street corners.

To Eric Haven, executive pastor at Woodside Bible Church in Troy, the growth of Islam in the United States gives churches a chance to convert closer to home.

"For years, Christians have sent missionaries around the world to proclaim the gospel of Christ," Haven said. "In this day and age, the world is coming to America. ... So, it's a great opportunity."

The efforts have stepped up in recent years as more Christians have become aware of the Islamic presence in Dearborn, where about one-third of the city's 98,000 residents are of Arab descent, many of them Muslim and some Christian ...

There is money behind the push. One group spent at least $67,000 on materials, airfare and lodging for Christian activists to visit Dearborn this summer.

...

Some residents said the efforts in recent months have crossed over into harassment and bigotry.

During the annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn in June, for instance, some Christian evangelists were accused of openly insulting Islam's prophet. And others yelled at passersby "that they were going to hell because they were Muslim," according to a Dearborn police report.

 

The Inane State of the Health Care Debate

Earlier today The Freedom Federation held its press conference demanding "explicit exclusion" for abortion coverage in any legislation as well as protections "for those with debilitating or terminal illness and the elderly."

That was too be expected ... as was this sort of crassly moronic attempt to use Sen. Ted Kennedy's passing to bolster their case, I suppose:

“When [Kennedy] faced a serious health problem he did not go to England, he did not go to Canada, he did not go to a country that has a government plan. He sought treatment in the country that he believed had the best treatment available, and that is America,” said Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women For America, during a news briefing at the National Press Club. “That is a lesson that we can take from Ted Kennedy.”

Of course, nobody is arguing that our healthcare treatments are not excellent; they are arguing that our method of getting people access to those treatments is in need of reform.  Those are two completely different issues.

On a semi-related note, Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has announced the creation of what it calls "Political Responsibility Teams" that will be dedicated to getting churches to "speak out" on political issues and "educate and activate citizens to exercise their responsibility to participate in the electoral process."

Again that is not particularly surprising, considering that new right-wing organization seems to be popping up every other week.  But I don't even know what to make of this statement: 

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, the Catholic Church's largest pro-life ministry, stated today, "The reason for the mess we are in with the health care reform debate is the elections of 2008, and the way out of the mess will be the elections of 2010 and 2012."

I honestly have no idea that that is even supposed to mean.  Is he suggesting that if Barack Obama had not become President and Democrats had not taken control of Congress last year, the healthcare reform debate would be just swimming along all nice and peaceful like?  

If you want to know what is really causing the "mess" in the healthcare reform debate, these sorts of inane statements from Religious Right groups pretty much exemplify it.

When You Are Wrong, Blame The Gays

The other day Daimeon over at Pam's House Blend caught the Maine Family Policy Council posting this image on its website along with this description:

Who would know the meaning of the symbols shown below, for example? The bumperstickers on this car in Augusta are a silent 'dog-whistle' which tells other homosexuals that the owner supports the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest homosexual rights organization (the yellow and blue equal sign) and has had some contact with a sadomasochist organization in Georgia (a map of the state of Georgia drawn with the colors used by the sadomasochist movement, black and blue.)

The only problem was that the decal of the state of Georgia with a blue line across it is actually "displayed in honor of those injured or killed in the line of duty" in law enforcement.

Today, Jeremy at Good As You noted that MFPC has owned up to the mistake, but did so by blaming gays and society and pretty much everyone but themselves:

Yesterday The RECORD ran a photo of an auto in Augusta which sported two decals, one for the Human Rights Campaign, and one for what we incorrectly stated was the decal of a sadomasochistic organization. It was instead a "Thin Blue Line" decal which honors police.

Given the similarity of the "Thin Blue Line" design to the flag of the sadomasochistic movement, the mistake was understandable ... This is an error that anyone could have made, and is understandable in a society which is no longer shamed by perversion, but actually boasts of perversion and publically endorses it as "pride." The fault lies ultimately with those who seek to normalize deviancy.

We regret, however, if we have unwittingly and unintentionally associated anyone with this despicable movement.

This sort of insanity and vitriol is not an anomaly. In fact, just a few weeks ago the MFPC claimed that "call for same sex marriage and other forms of sexual immorality" are directly linked to urban blight and even said that crops were failing in the state due to gay marriage.

Amazingly, the organization is not just some crackpot fringe group, but is rather a "fully associated" affiliate of Focus on the Family whose leaders routinely participate in events with representatives from groups like the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America.

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Concerned Women for America Top Posts

Founded by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Religious Right activist Tim LaHaye, as a counter to the progressive National Organization of Women, Concerned Women for America (CWA) describes itself as "the nation's largest public policy women's organization." CWA opposes gay rights, comprehensive sex education, drug and alcohol education, and feminism, while advocating what it calls "pro-life" and "pro-family" values. MORE >

Concerned Women for America Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 10/27/2011, 5:38pm
Rick Santorum goes after Herman Cain on the issue of abortion and using quotes from various Religious Right leaders to drive home the point.   The Rick Perry campaign has hit upon a novel possible solution to addressing the candidate's poor debate performances: skipping future debates.   Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones is running for president.   FRC's latest prayer target: "Pray that DOMA will be preserved! May the people elect a President and Congress next November who will pass, and may the states ratify a Federal Marriage... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/24/2011, 5:01pm
Several weeks ago, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins hosted a press briefing at the National Press Club to discuss just what it is that the Religious Right is seeking in a Republican presidential nominee. During the Q&A, Perkins was asked to discuss the idea that the very positions that make a candidate appealing to the Religious Right are the same positions that make such candidates unappealing to the general voting population. Not surprisingly, Perkins took issue with that assessment and asserted instead that without the support of the Religious Right, no Republican candidate... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 10/21/2011, 4:40pm
Herman Cain has said this week that he is pro-life and that abortion should be made illegal, but also that the government shouldn’t have any role in it and the decision should be left up to the woman and her family. As Kyle notes, it seems that Cain’s position is that abortion should be outlawed but “in situations where a family was deciding whether or not to break the law, it is none of the government’s business to tell them what to do.” Cain seems to be the only person who understands this view, and the Religious Right is not happy, to say the least. Rick Perry... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 09/28/2011, 12:56pm
Religious Right leaders are coming together to form yet another law school to train future lawyers of the conservative movement. The right-wing Alliance Defense Fund is helping Louisiana College, a Southern Baptist institution, start the Paul Pressler School of Law, which will join Liberty University, Regent University and others in providing politicized training to the next generation of Religious Right lawyers. Pressler’s ties to the Alliance Defense Fund will be similar to the Liberty University School of Law’s partnership with Liberty Counsel and the Regent... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 09/23/2011, 2:30pm
North Carolina state Sen. James Forrester appeared on Concerned Women for America radio Tuesday, along with his wife -- who just happens to be the Associate State Director of CWA’s North Carolina chapter -- to discuss the proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Republicans in the state legislature succeeded in getting a referendum on the marriage amendment on the ballot for May of next year. Earlier this month, Forrester memorably told a town hall meeting that gays “are going to die at least 20 years earlier” than straight people. While proponents... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/13/2011, 11:48am
Janet Porter has, in many ways, been at the center of the merger between the "mainstream" Religious Right and the Dominionist prophets and apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation.  In fact, it was through Porter's participation in the "Convergence 2010" event, where she prayed that Christians would take control of the media, that we first became aware of the likes of Cindy Jacobs.  Since then, Porter has gotten progressively more involved with the movement - so much so that she lost her radio program due to her embrace of Seven Mountains Dominionism. But now... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 09/12/2011, 2:00pm
With conservative politicians and groups trying to ‘reclaim feminism’ for the Right, it is no surprise to see the notoriously anti-feminist Concerned Women for America jumping on the bandwagon. Concerned Women for America claims it was founded by Beverly LaHaye, whose husband is Religious Right leader Tim LaHaye, to counter the National Organization for Women because “She knew the feminists’ anti-God, anti-family rhetoric did not represent her beliefs, nor those of the vast majority of women.” LaHaye has said, “Feminism is more than an illness. It is a... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/01/2011, 5:28pm
Michael Youssef actually praises NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg for not including any clergy in the 9/11 memorial service, thereby saving Christians from committing the "abomination of syncretism." Typing in tongues? Just a reminder that Scott Lively is still an anti-gay activist. It sure is amazing how nobody even knows what dominionism is. Finally, Concerned Women for America takes a bold stand against insurance coverage for breast pumps. MORE >