Cornwall Alliance

Christian Reconstructionism And The GOP: 'Biblical Justice' vs Social Justice

There’s a reason so many Republican politicians seem to bring a religious fervor to their efforts to gut public institutions and social welfare spending. The modern day Religious Right draws much of its ideology from Christian Reconstructionists who teach that God gave specific duties to the government, the church, and the family.

According to this theological worldview, education and taking care of the poor are the responsibility of families and churches, and it is unbiblical for the government to take on these roles. That meshes well with the view of “constitutional conservatives” who believe, for example, the Constitution does not authorize any federal government role in education.

A stark example of the increasingly indistinct line between conservative Republicans and hard-core Christian Reconstructionists and dominionists (who believe the right kind of Christians are meant to have dominion over every aspect of society) can be found in the recent Republican primary victory of Michael Petrouka in a race for a county council seat in an Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Peroutka believes that any law that runs counter to God’s law is invalid, and that the Maryland General Assembly is itself no longer a valid legislative body. Here’s a concise summation of his approach to government:

Since civil government is ordained by God in order to protect God-given rights, then the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law – PERIOD.

It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY!

This religion-inflected ideological view of government is not relegated to inhabitants of the far-right fringe like Peroutka. David Barton, an influential Republican activist and “historian” who helped write the GOP’s national platform in 2012, claims that the Constitution was drawn directly from the Bible and the sermons of colonial preachers, and that its focus on individual freedom reflects the founders’ theology of individual salvation. In this view, the Tea Party’s belief in a radically limited federal government is not only a question of constitutional interpretation, it is a mandate of Holy Scripture.

Just this month, Barton promoted these views on “Praise the Lord,” the flagship program of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which bills itself as the world’s largest religious network and America’s most-watched faith channel. “In the Bible, Jesus has a teaching about minimum wage,” Barton said. “In the Bible, Jesus has two teachings on capital gains tax.” The Bible, according to Barton, opposes those taxes as well as estate taxes and progressive income taxes. A flat tax is “what the Bible supports.”

On the same show Barton denounced government spending on welfare. “It’s not the government’s responsibility to take care of the poor and needy,” he said, “it’s the church’s responsibility.”

According to Barton, there are 205 verses in the Bible that instruct the family or church to take care of the poor, but not the government. “The government is told to do only one thing with taking care of the poor and that one thing is to make sure that when the poor come into court they get justice. That’s the only thing government is told….What we’re doing right now is for the first time in America we have ignored what the Bible says, the Bible says you don’t work, you don’t eat.” He went on to say that people “not having to work and getting free money…violates everything the Bible tells us” about dealing with the poor.

These themes are repeated in Social Justice: How Good Intentions Undermine Justice and Gospel, a booklet published last year by the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and the anti-environmentalist Cornwall Alliance. The booklet, written by Cornwall’s Calvin Beisner (according to him, at the request of the Family Research Council), was distributed at last month’s “Road to Majority” conference, which was organized by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.

The premise of the booklet is that “social justice” is contrary to “Biblical justice.” If that sounds familiar, you may be recalling Glenn Beck’s diatribes against “social justice” a few years ago, when he urged people to leave their church if its website included the phrases “social justice” or “economic justice.”

It is wrong, Beisner writes, to try to mitigate inequality “through force of government.” Why? “Because God ordained the state to dispense justice, and the church to dispense grace.” According to Beisner, giving someone “unearned” benefits is grace, not justice. People should graciously serve the poor, he writes. “But if care for the needy is made a matter of justice to the needy rather than to God, then grace becomes law. Then, the needy—and those who merely profess to be needy—may claim the benefits of grace as their due by justice.”

In other words, government has no right to tax someone in order to help feed someone else.

That is a widely shared belief on the Religious Right. Speakers at Religious Right conferences like Reed’s June event, and Republican Members of Congress, can be heard justifying cuts in food stamps with an appeal to the Bible passage that David Barton quoted on TBN. That verse, depending on your translation, says something like “he who will not work shall not eat.”

Reps. Kevin Cramer and Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee cited that verse last year. Fincher said, “The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.” In equating taxation for social services with theft, Fincher echoes Barton, Beisner, and others. (In context, by the way, the work-to-eat verse referred to early Christians who were so confident of the imminent return of Christ that they quit doing anything.)

Poor people turning to the government, Beisner writes in his anti-social-justice booklet, results in “the stultifying effects of wealth redistribution by the coercive power of the state.” Even worse, he says, “it blinds [poor people] to their deepest need: the grace of God offered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

This is another theme of the Republican Party’s right wing. Sharron Angle, the GOP’s 2010 Senate nominee in Nevada, said during her campaign that entitlement programs are “idolatry” because they “make government our God.” Farris Wilks, the Texas fracking billionaire who gives huge amounts to the Heritage Foundaiton and other right-wing groups, declares that “the Torah is set up on the free enterprise system” and that “Yahweh never intended for us as a people to be afraid and reliant on government.” Former Sen. Jim DeMint, who now heads the Heritage Foundation, says “the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets.

Heritage is just one of the institutions working to make right-wing economics an article of faith just like opposition to gay rights and abortion. The Freedom Federation, one of the many right-wing entities created in the wake of Barack Obama’s 2008 election, brings both "mainstream" and fringe Religious Right groups together with the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. The Freedom Federation’s “Declaration of American Values” includes not only the expected rhetoric about traditional values, but also opposition to progressive taxation.

John Lofton, a right-wing pundit, is the spokesperson for Republican county council candidate Peroutka, and for Peroutka’s Christian Reconstructionist Institute on the Constitution, which has trained Tea Party activists on the biblical basis of the Constitution. Lofton has spoken on “God and Government” at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government. In 2012, in reference to an article about evangelicals disagreeing on budget priorities, Lofton wrote that “there should be no disagreement among those who believe the Bible is true. Because it is crystal clear that in God’s Word He gives NO AUTHORITY to civil government (Caesar) to give health, education or welfare to ANYBODY. If people need help, it is the role of the Church – God’s people – to provide this help and NOT government.”

Tea Party? Religious Right? GOP? Or all of the above?

Hobby Lobby And 'Biblical Economics'

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent in the Hobby Lobby case that the Court’s conservative majority had “ventured into a minefield” with its decision. Many of those mines have already been placed by right-wing leaders who claim a religious grounding not only for anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-contraception positions, but also for opposition to collective bargaining, minimum wage laws, progressive taxation and government involvement in the alleviation of poverty.

In Hobby Lobby, the Court found for the first time that for-profit corporations have religious rights just like real people and can therefore make claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that they should be exempt from laws that burden their corporate “exercise” of religion. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was deeply skeptical of Justice Samuel Alito’s assertion that the decision was limited only to the contraception mandate and only for closely held corporations.

“Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage, or according women equal pay for substantially similar work?” she asked. How would the Court justify applying its logic only to religious views about contraception?  “Indeed, approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.’”

Ginsburg’s questions are not merely rhetorical. Conservative Catholic and evangelical leaders who have signed the Manhattan Declaration, including some U.S. bishops, declare themselves willing to engage in civil disobedience – maybe even martyrdom – in order to avoid any participation in abortion or any “anti-life act.” Nor, they declare, “will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”

Alito’s majority opinion says Hobby Lobby does not extend the right to religion-based discrimination on account of a person’s race, but is conspicuously silent on other kinds of discrimination. That silence raises concerns that business owners could use the Hobby Lobby decision to opt out of a future federal LGBT civil rights law, or the Obama administration’s executive order against anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

Indeed, especially in light of Alito’s mention in Hobby Lobby that RFRA applies to the District of Columbia as a federal enclave, such a claim could be brought today to seek an exemption from D.C.’s Human Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.  What happens if and when a local bishop instructs Catholic business owners that it would be sinful to treat legally married gay employees the same as other married couples, or an evangelical businessman declares he will not “bend” to DC’s Human Rights Act?

As Zoe Carpenter writes for The Nation,

Business owners now have a new basis for trying to evade anti-discrimination laws and their responsibilities to their employees. Religious liberty is already the rallying cry for conservatives looking for a legal way to discriminate against LGBT Americans; other business owners have tried to use religion to justify opposition to minimum-wage laws and Social Security taxes. Faith groups are already trying to capitalize on the Hobby Lobby decision out of court; on Wednesday, a group of religious leaders asked the Obama administration for an exemption from a forthcoming federal order barring federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

To be clear, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was used as the basis for the Hobby Lobby decision applies only to federal and District of Columbia laws and regulations, including presidential executive orders, not to state laws.

The stories of business owners being told they cannot exempt themselves from anti-discrimination laws have mostly involved questions about state-level civil rights and religious freedom statutes. Earlier this year the US Supreme Court declined to review a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that a wedding photography business had violated anti-discrimination law when it refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.

Although Hobby Lobby does not apply directly to state laws, it could influence state courts weighing religious claims by business owners in states with their own versions of RFRA.

The clash between religious conservatives and advocates for LGBT equality has been well publicized. But the minefield Ginsburg refers to extends well beyond traditional “social issues.” Religious Right leaders have been working hard to convince conservative evangelicals that the Tea Party’s anti-government, anti-union, anti-welfare agenda is grounded in the Bible – an effort that started well before the Tea Party arrived on the scene.

David Barton is an influential Republican activist and “historian” who helped write the GOP’s national platform in 2012. Barton’s “Christian nation” approach to history has been denounced by historians and scholars, including some who are themselves evangelical Christians, but it is embraced by conservative politicians who extol a divinely inspired American exceptionalism. Barton teaches that Jesus and the Bible are opposed to progressive taxation, minimum wage laws, collective bargaining, and “socialist union kind of stuff.” 

In addition, “mainstream” Religious Right leaders and conservative politicians are increasingly allied with a group of Pentecostal leaders who promote a “dominionist” theology that says God requires the right kind of Christians to take dominion over every aspect of society, including the business world. Many of them were sponsors of, and participants in, the prayer rally that Texas Gov. Rick Perry used to launch his ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign.

Thanks to previous Supreme Court decisions, alluded to and affirmed by Alito’s majority opinion in Hobby Lobby, the Court has for now seemingly closed the door to companies making a religious challenge to paying Social Security and federal income taxes based on their objection to a particular government program funded with those taxes. But the same might not be true for more targeted taxes and fees, or for laws regulating company behavior or the relationships between companies and their employees.

Opposition to unions has deep roots in Christian Reconstructionism, which has influenced the Religious Right’s ideology and political agenda. An early Christian Coalition Leadership manual, co-authored by Republican operative Ralph Reed in 1990, is a stunning example. A section titled “God’s Delegated Authority in the World” argues that “God established His pattern for work as well as in the family and in the church.” It cites four Bible passages instructing slaves to be obedient to their masters, including this one:

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 

The conclusion to be drawn from these slaves-obey-your-masters passages?

Of course, slavery was abolished in this country many years ago, so we must apply these principles to the way Americans work today, to employees and employers: Christians have a responsibility to submit to the authority of their employers, since they are designated as part of God’s plan for the exercise of authority on the earth by man. 

More recently, Religious Right leaders have cheered on corporate-funded attacks on unions in Wisconsin and Michigan. Does the Hobby Lobby ruling open another front in the right-wing war on workers? It is not uncommon for companies to refuse to cooperate with union organizers or negotiate with a properly organized union. Imagine that a business owner objects to a National Labor Relations Board finding that they have violated the National Labor Relations Act by arguing in federal court that their company’s religious beliefs prohibit them from dealing with unions?

It’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. Since long before the Hobby Lobby case created an open invitation to business owners to raise religious objections to bargaining with unions, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has encouraged workers to raise religious objections to requirements that they join or financially support a union. Here’s an excerpt from their pamphlet, “Union Dues and Religious Do Nots.”

To determine whether your beliefs are religious instead of political or philosophical, ask yourself whether your beliefs are based upon your obligations to God. Do you simply dislike unions or hate this particular union’s politics? Or, does your desire to stand apart from the union arise from your relationship to God? If your beliefs arise from your decision to obey God, they are religious. 

It is possible that conservative courts may not give the same weight to religious claims about anti-gay discrimination or the Bible’s opposition to unions or minimum wage laws as they did to Hobby Lobby’s anti-contraception claims. Those claims were based on the owners’ belief – one that runs counter to medical scientific consensus – that some of the most effective forms of birth control work by causing abortions, and are therefore the moral equivalent of murder.

But as Justice Ginsburg pointed out, it is not clear how courts will differentiate between different types of claims. And it will be easier for claims to meet the new, lower threshold created by the Court in effectively altering the “substantial burden” test.

As Justice Ginsburg pointed out, rather than having to show that a person’s, or corporation’s, practice of religion has been burdened, they simply need to show that a law is “incompatible with” the person’s religious beliefs. Additionally, it seems that a wide array of regulations, conceivably including minimum wage laws, could be threatened by Alito’s reliance on the idea that having the government pay for the cost of implementing a regulation is less restrictive than having the company  bear the cost of a regulation it objects to.   

It is also not clear that the decision will remain “limited” to the 90 percent of American companies that qualify as closely held, which employ more than half of the nation’s workforce. The Court explicitly acknowledged the possibility that publicly traded corporations could raise such claims, but argued that it would be “unlikely.” But in this new world in which corporate religious claims can be made against government regulation, what is to prevent the CEO or board of a publicly traded organization from finding religion with regard to, say, greenhouse gas emissions?

The Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, promoted by the anti-environmentalist Cornwall Alliance, declares as a matter of faith that earth’s ecosystem is not fragile and that efforts to reduce global warming, like regulating the emission of carbon dioxide, are not only “fruitless” and “harmful” but would discourage economic growth and therefore violate Biblical requirements to protect the poor from harm.

Justice Alito’s opinion rejects Justice Ginsburg’s characterization of the ruling’s “startling breadth.” But it is undeniable that the Court majority has opened the door to owners of for-profit corporations making an array of claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Justice Ginsburg writes in her dissent, “Little doubt that RFRA claims will proliferate, for the Court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood—combined with its other errors in construing RFRA—invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faith.” For today’s right-wing leaders, who claim religious grounding for just about every aspect of their political ideology, there aren’t many forms of regulation that would be off-limits.

Beisner Explains Why Environmentalism Represents the 'Greatest Threat to Western Civilization'

Yesterday, Dr. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance appeared on Janet Mefferd's radio program where he explained that the modern environmental movement represents "the greatest threat to Western civilization" because it combines "the utopian vision of Marxism, the scientific facade of secular humanism, and the religious fanaticism of jihad" into a pseudo-religion that undermines Christianity:

Mefferd: That seems like, maybe to some people, like hyperbole Dr. Beisner, but why do you think that that's the case?

Beisner: Well, let me just give you four simple, direct reasons.

First, because unlike the Soviet Union and its satellites in the Cold War and unlike Islamic jihad today which were, or are, external and clearly recognized as enemies by the overwhelming majority of people in the free world, environmentalism is internal and thought by most to be friend, not foe.

Second, because unlike arid and nihilistic secular humanism, environmentalism speaks to the inherent spiritual yearnings of human souls and it provides plausible answers to dogged questions about how we got here and what causes suffering and how suffering might come to an end.

Third, because environmentalism incorporates the strengths of all three of those other threats: the utopian vision of Marxism, the scientific facade of secular humanism, and the religious fanaticism of jihad.

And fourth, finally, because environmentalism encompasses all the vague spiritualities that have frankly overwhelmed secular humanism in the West and now threaten the Christian faith as so many people now take to referring to themselves as "oh well, I'm spiritual but not religious," which basically means they are all involved in designer religion.

Right Wing Leftovers - 2/20/13

Fischer & Beisner Say That Not Using Fossil Fuels is an Insult to God

Earlier this month, the Religious Right's favorite climate change-denying "expert," Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, appeared on American Family Radio where he declared that believing in climate change "is an insult to God."  Yesterday, when he joined Bryan Fischer on "Focal Point" for yet another discussion about the "myth" of global warming, both he and Fischer declared that failure to use coal, oil, and natural gas is an insulting rejection of the gifts that God has given to us - gifts which, incidentally, He buried deep in the earth because He delights in our search for and discovery of them:

Beisner: Belief in Climate Change 'is an Insult to God'

Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance is the Religious Right's favorite anti-climate change "expert" despite the fact that his academic credentials are limited to a doctorate in Scottish History.  While appearing on AFA's "Today's Issues" radio program today, Beisner provided the most concise explanation of why Christians cannot believe in climate change when he declared that the entire theory rests on the assumption that the earth is an extremely fragile place, which conflicts with the Biblical view that the earth was built by God for man's use.

Therefore, to believe in climate change "really is an insult to God" ... and it will eventually lead to tyranny:

Beisner: Hurricane Sandy was Sent By God as 'a Matter of Grace'

Today on "Focal Point,"  Bryan Fischer brought on Dr. Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance to discuss the impact of Hurricane Sandy.  Beisner, who received his doctorate in Scottish History, is the Religious Right's favorite climate change "expert" primarily because his entire agenda is rooted in the belief that environmentalism is a religion that is out to destroy Christianity.

Back in 2011, after a massive tornado devastated parts of Missouri and killed more than 300 people, Beisner claimed that it was sent as "a little taste" of God's judgment, which is a claim he reiterated this time around, saying that through Hurricane Sandy, God is alerting mankind that "there is an eternity of suffering ahead" for those who do not repent and is therefore really "a matter of grace."  That prompted Fischer to declare that Americans now need to "search our hearts, we need to go before God, we need to fast and pray to see if we can understand why we may be, at this time, the object of God's wrath": 

Fischer and Beisner Praise Ryan's 'Biblical View of the Environment'

American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer today was joined by pro-corporate, anti-environmental activist Cal Beisner on Focal Point to discuss Rep. Paul Ryan’s egregious record on environmental protection. The two celebrated his votes against the EPA and climate change legislation as signs that he has a “sane, objective and biblical or evangelical understanding of man’s relationship with the environment. “Paul Ryan seems to get it,” Fischer said, and Beisner applauded Ryan’s voting record “fits well with the biblical understanding” of the environment, which for them means that there should be few if any restrictions on environmental exploitation. Later, Beisner repeated his bogus charge that increased carbon dioxide levels and climate change will help the environment and the poor.

Watch:

Fischer: It seems like we’ve got another clear differential when it comes to a sane, objective and biblical or evangelical understanding of man’s relationship with the environment. Paul Ryan seems to get ii and the other team doesn’t. So that would be potentially very good news for those of us that care about seeing a biblical view of the environment in public policy.

Beisner: Yes it would. Ryan’s understanding I think fits well with the biblical understanding that God made man in His image to be creative and productive as He is, to fill and to rule the earth. Not to abuse the earth, not to rape the land so to speak as many environmentalists talk, but rather to increase its fruitfulness, its beauty and its safety to the glory of God and the benefit of our neighbors. I think that really underlies the comments that Ryan has made on these issues through the years and it comes I think from his solidly Christian worldview background.



Beisner: Most Americans do not see any real purpose in tight restrictions on CO2 admissions. Many Americans actually remembered what they learned way back in seventh and eighth grade biology class, mainly that carbon dioxide is plant food. So the more of that there is in the air the more the crops grow and the cheaper the food is around the world, this actually helps especially the poor.

Cal Beisner Rallies the Troops to Fight the 'Spiritual World War'

The Cornwall Alliance's Cal Beisner returned to Janet Parshall's radio program yesterday to continue their anti-environmentalism collaborations and promote his latest effort called In His Image 2012 which seeks to "completely reshape the way Americans, and then people around the world, think of human beings and our role on Earth – to reassert the sanctity of human life and sexuality, the beauty and centrality of marriage, the goodness of human multiplication, and the dignity of human work and godly dominion over the Earth."

As Beisner explained, this new effort is necessary to help Christians understand that Judeo-Christian civilization is facing a "spiritual world war" being waged by proponents of Darwinsim, gay rights, and environmentalism, all of which are "rooted in the rejection of the fundamental Biblical doctrines of God and humanity":

This is the launch of what we intend to be a multi-year educational program to help people to understand what are the common roots behind a lot of the challenges that the Christian faith and frankly the whole Judeo-Christian civilization faces.

Whether it's naturalistic Darwinism with the eugenics and population control and government family-planning programs that come out of it with coerced sterilization and abortion and euthanasia. Or free-sex, no-fault divorce, gender confusion, homosexual so-called marriage, polygamy and polyamory. Or radical environmentalism, animal rights, ecosystem rights and Gaia worship. Or the war on abundant, affordable, reliable energy. Or ever-tightening environmental regulations at federal and state levels. Or eco-imperialist rules that are forced on poor nations, and more.

What we recognize is that all of these are rooted in the rejection of the fundamental biblical doctrines of God and humanity. All these different threats are not isolated; they're different parts of a spiritual world war. It's not primarily a political war, it's certainly not primarily a military war, it's a spiritual world war and we as Christians have got to recognize that spiritual enemy and then bring spiritual weapons into battle against that.

Beisner: Pixar's 'Brave' is Part of Satanic Plot to Undermine God's Plan for Mankind

Yesterday, Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance was a guest on Bryan Fischer's radio program where he revealed that God had given him an insight that Satan was engaged in a systematic attack against God's mandate for humanity as set out in Genesis 1: 27-28.

As Beisner explained, God's created us in His image and made us male and female and commanded us to "be fruitful and multiply" and take dominion over the earth.  Since Satan cannot attack God directly, he instead attacks God's representatives (mankind) by undermining our beliefs in these very principles, which is why we tolerate things like abortion and homosexuality and environmentalism, all of which are aimed at slowing population growth ... oh, and movies like Pixar's "Brave":

Fischer & Beisner Describe the Doctrines of the Religion of Environmentalism

On Bryan Fischer's radio program yesterday, Fischer and Cal Beisner discussed how environmentalism was becoming the established religion in America. 

How exactly is environmentalism a religion, you ask? Well, as Beisner explained, it has its own doctrines, its own holy day (Earth Day,) its own food taboos, sacrifice rituals (recycling,) paradoxical beliefs, sacred structures (recycling bins,) and it proselytizes.  And, as Fischer added, just like with the early church, heretics (i.e. global warming deniers like Fischer and Beisner) are punished and excommunicated:

Santorum and the 'Green Dragon': Faith-Based Attacks on Environmentalism Nothing New from the Religious Right

Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum raised a lot of eyebrows this weekend when he attacked environmentalism as anti-Biblical and said that President Obama has a “phony theology” that sides with “radical environmentalists” over the Bible. While it was remarkable to hear these theories coming from a major presidential candidate, the theories themselves are nothing new. Instead, Santorum was drawing from a dual line of attack on environmentalists and progressive people of faith that has recently come into wide use among the Religious Right.

In 2010, People For the American Way looked at the concerted right-wing effort to frame environmentalism as anti-Biblical in a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report, The ‘Green Dragon’ Slayers: How the Religious Right and the Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection . The report took its title from a right-wing “documentary” called “Resisting the Green Dragon,” which featured major Religious Right figures including the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and faux historian David Barton. Kyle put together a highlight reel:

 

The Religious Right’s relatively new antipathy to environmentalism is largely the result of the hard work of E. Calvin Beisner, a purveyor of dominion theology and the leader of The Cornwall Alliance, a group with financial ties to the oil industry. The Cornwall Alliance’s sole purpose is to convince the Religious Right to buy into the Corporate Right’s climate change denialism and help them demonize environmentalists. The RWW report details the growing partnership:

In the last decade, as evangelical Christian leaders increasingly became involved in conservation , “creation care” and taking action against global climate change , the alarms went up in corporate America that many traditional members of the conservative coalition were becoming advocates for environmental protection. To counter the rise of the faith-based environmentalist Evangelical Climate Initiative, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance emerged. The ISA, propped up by business interests including Exxon Mobil , has peddled misleading and false claims to make the case that climate change is a myth. In 2007, the ISA was renamed the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and became more belligerent and zealous in its anti-environmental activities.

The Cornwall Alliance is led by E. Calvin Beisner, who believes that since God granted humans “dominion” over the earth, humans have a right to exploit all natural resources. As Randall Balmer writes in Thy Kingdom Come, Beisner “asserts that God has placed all of nature at the disposal of humanity.” Balmer quotes Beisner’s own summary of his dominion theology: “All of our acquisitive activities should be undertaken with the purpose of extending godly rule, or dominion.” As Balmer notes, “the combination of dominion theology from the Religious Right and the wise use ideology of corporate and business interests has created a powerful coalition to oppose environmental protection.”

According to a report by Think Progress , the Cornwall Alliance is a front group for the shadowy James Partnership. Both the James Partnership and the Cornwall Alliance are closely linked to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), an anti-environmental group that is “funded by at least $542,000 from ExxonMobil, $60,500 from Chevron, and $1,280,000 from Scaife family foundations, which are rooted in wealth from Gulf Oil and steel interests.” CFACT is also part of a climate change denialist network funded by the ExxonMobil-financed Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Beisner is a CFACT board member and an “adjunct fellow” of the Acton Institute , which is primarily funded by groups like ExxonMobil, the Scaife foundations and the Koch brothers. Beisner is also an adviser to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which is financed by the oil-backed Earthart Foundation , the Koch brothers, and ExxonMobil.

In fact, Beisner is not a scientist and has no scientific credentials. Despite claiming to be an authority on energy and environmental issues, he received his Ph.D. in Scottish History.

Beisner has been extraordinarily successful in convincing the Religious Right that environmentalism presents a threat to Christianity. Earlier this month, he told Fischer that the EPA is violating the separation of church and state by helping to promote the upcoming film version of “The Lorax.” Why? Because he claims that environmentalism is itself a religion. This is rhetoric that Santorum, in saying that Obama’s theology is influenced by “radical environmentalists,” has swallowed whole.

Also active in the effort to recruit the Religious Right to the Corporate Right’s view of environmentalism has been David Barton, self-proclaimed historian and all-purpose fake expert. In 2010, he appeared on the Glenn Beck show along with Beisner explain that environmentalists want us to “live in fear”:

Barton -- who is no more a historian than Beisner is a scientist – is a widely influential figure in the Right, cited by prominent figures including Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee, and who has even been invited to testify before the Senate about climate change.

Santorum’s remarks were so shocking because this is the first time they have been heard on the national political stage – but his talking points on environmentalism and progressive faith have already been polished and accepted as gospel by the movement the Religious Right.

Beisner: EPA Promoting 'The Lorax' Violates the Separation of Church and State

Back in 2010, the Cornwall Alliance released a 12-part DVD series entitled "Resisting the Green Dragon" featuring a who's who of Religious Right leaders attacking environmentalism and warning that it represents a dire threat to Christianity:

Calvin Beisner, the founder of the Cornwall Alliance, has become the Religious Right's favorite "expert" in fighting any environmental effort and a regular guest on Bryan Fischer's radio program, despite the fact that his scientific credentials appear to be limited to possessing a Ph.D. in Scottish History.

Beisner is now complaining that the Environmental Protection Agency is one of many partners involved in promoting the upcoming film "The Lorax" and that, by doing so, the agency is in "violation of the separation of church and state" because Beisner believes that environmentalism is a religion:

The film adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax features a tiny, but tenacious creature who "speaks for the trees" and fights industrialism. Cal Beisner, national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, says this is just one of many films geared toward children to spread such a message.

...

[W]hat really concerns Beisner is the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency is among nearly 70 partners with Universal in promoting the film.

"What you've got there is the mixing of taxpayer dollars into the promotion of a clear ideology that has a particular religious flavor to it," the Cornwall Alliance spokesman concludes. "And frankly, I think that this is a violation of the separation of church and state."

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.

Beisner Rejects Koch-Funded Study Confirming Climate Change Science

Calvin Beisner is running low on allies in his effort to deny climate change. Beisner, the head of the Cornwall Alliance, is trying to stop other evangelical Christians from supporting efforts to curtail climate change with warnings that scientists are liars and environmental protection will destroy Christianity, promote mass genocide and hurt the poor.

But a recent study sponsored by the Charles Koch Foundation that was meant to prove that scientists were twisting data on climate change actually confirmed the science behind climate change. The physicist behind the study, climate skeptic Richard Muller of UC Berkeley, now declares, “Global warming is real.”

Naturally, Beisner is now attacking Muller for practicing bad science. As we reported in our report The ‘Green Dragon’ Slayers: How the Religious Right and the Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection, Beisner has close ties to oil and gas organizations and climate change denying organizations. Moreover, “Beisner is not a scientist and has no scientific credentials. Despite claiming to be an authority on energy and environmental issues, he received his Ph.D. in Scottish History.”

Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics writes in EthicsDaily that Beisner is losing allies fast because “[s]cience and experience are working against them.” Parham writes:

Muller's work debunks the agenda of the Koch Foundation, which helped to underwrite the study. The Koch brothers are climate polluters.

Now, the ice under the global warming deniers and skeptics is thinning as fast as the ice is thinning from climate change in the Arctic.

Disregarding their increasingly precarious position, deniers and skeptics moved quickly to discredit Muller.

Fundamentalist theologian Calvin Beisner announced that physicist Muller's study was irrelevant.

He called Muller's position a "rhetorical sleight of hand." He said the study had inherent flaws and criticized his papers for not being peer reviewed.

Beisner heads the Cornwall Alliance, a global warming denial group of right-wing Christians more committed to the free market than environmental stewardship.

Beisner, other fundamentalist Christians and profiteers from global warming pollution (big oil and dirty coal) will likely be the last outpost of climate change deniers.

Science and experience are working against them.

Beisner Attacks Evangelicals Who Want To Reduce Mercury Poisoning

Energy industry apologist Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance appeared on Janet Parshall’s radio show yesterday to once again do the bidding of polluters. As we’ve reported in The Green Dragon Slayers, Beisner has no scientific credentials but is closely tied to energy companies. During the interview, Beisner directed his animus as the Evangelical Environmental Network, which launched a pledge to combat mercury poisoning:

One in six babies, over 700,000 each year, are born with harmful levels of mercury in their blood, and coal-burning power plants are the largest source of domestic mercury pollution.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

We believe this is an urgent and escalating moral crisis which calls for immediate action!

According to the National Institutes of Health, “For fetuses, infants and children, the primary health effects of mercury are on neurological development. Even low levels of mercury exposure such as result from mother’s consumption methylmercury in dietary sources can adversely affect the brain and nervous system.”

But Beisner said that it was more important to leave polluters unregulated. He insisted that regulations against pollution were actually going to kill people and that his pro-corporate view is the real “pro-life” position. He went on to say that advocates of environmental protection want to deliberately weaken the economy because “the environmental movement hates human prosperity”:

These were people who frankly didn’t know the science behind it, all they saw was that babies were endangered and they wanted to protect these babies. Well of course we would want to protect the babies but the science isn’t good and so consequently the EEN has succeeded, at least temporarily anyway, in fostering the notion that this is a pro-life cause. It's not a pro-life cause if anything the opposite is a pro-life cause because whereas the current levels of mercury admissions are not causing any deaths to anyone, the reduced economic output for this country will indeed increase premature deaths among the American population.



The real aim is to try to get us to use less energy overall because energy fuels a prosperous economy and the environmental movement hates human prosperity because it sees it as a threat to the environment.

Perkins Warns Of Government "Promotion Of Same-Sex Relations" For Population Control

Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance appeared on Janet Parshall’s radio show In The Market on Tuesday to discuss the “Green Dragon” film series which was made by Beisner’s group and hosted by Parshall. As we discussed in our report The ‘Green Dragon’ Slayers: How the Religious Right and the Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection, the “Green Dragon” series represents efforts by the Religious Right and the Corporate Right to paint environmentalism as anti-Christian and ungodly:

During the radio show, Parshall played clips from the “documentary,” including one from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who argues that in the name of “population control” the government will eventually push “infanticide” and promote “same-sex relations”:

Perkins: Population control is a very loaded term. It includes not only abortion, contraception and sterilization, all at government expense of course, but it also includes infanticide and the promotion of same-sex relations. At the heart of this push for population control is an unbiblical view of children and of life.

Another clip featured right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton. Barton, who has made a career of infusing Religious Right beliefs into politics and American history, accused environmentalism of being “a religion” with its own rules and “high priests,” and went on to tell people to contest environmental beliefs because “that’s not science, that is the faith position that you’re taking”:

Barton: People say that environmentalism is a religion. Others say, ‘Oh no, that’s not true,’ but it really is. Now how do we know? I’ve been involved in seven cases at the US Supreme Court and I can point to a number of court decisions where the court has said religion is whatever you believe so strongly that it affects the way you live your life. That’s why the court recognizes even atheism as a religion. Environmentalism definitely is a religion, it has its own high priests, it has folks that tell us what we can and can’t do with the environment and how we can treat it and they’re the guardians of it as if it’s a great temple. It’s a religion. And as soon as we recognize that environmentalism is a religion then it helps us to understand better how to respond to what’s being said, how to filter what’s being said, and say, now wait a minute, that’s not science, that is the faith position that you’re taking.

Beisner: Environmentalists' Objective Is To Kill 95% Of Humanity

Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance spoke to Bryan Fischer yesterday on American Family Radio about the evil plans that environmentalists have in store for humanity. Beisner, who has his PhD in Scottish History and whose group is tied to energy companies, previously worked with Fischer and other Religious Right leaders on the “Resisting The Green Dragon” miniseries which attacked the supposedly anti-Christian, anti-human environmentalist movement.

Last time Beisner was on Fischer’s program, Beisner said that the deadly tornadoes in the American South were “little tastes” of God’s judgment. Yesterday, the two discussed how they believe environmentalists are earth-worshippers who are deliberately destroying the economy and that climate change is a myth, lauding Rick Santorum for calling global warming a “patently absurd,” liberal plot.

Fischer asked Beisner if the environmental movement wanted a return “into dark paganism” and Beisner agreed, saying that the end-game of environmentalism “would require the disappearance of about 95% of the human race.”

Watch:

Porter: Tornadoes Due To Legal Abortion, Israel Policy

Janet Porter believes that the recent tornadoes that left hundreds dead in the South were a consequence of America’s acceptance of legal abortion and “sexual sin,” along with the supposed mistreatment of Israel. In addition to wildfires in Oklahoma and Texas, Porter claims that Americans gave “God reason to at least partially lift His protective Hand from America.” Porter isn’t the only Religious Right leader who said that the tornadoes signaled that America trigged God’s wrath: Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance said the tornadoes were “early warning signals” and “little tastes” of God’s judgment. Porter warns that America continues to risk “God’s wrath against us” until Americans “give their undivided attention to God.”

Is God trying to get our attention?

The worst tornado outbreak in American history has left hundreds dead. Mississippi flooding has not been this bad in 80 years. Wildfires have swept through millions of acres in Texas and Oklahoma.

There are a number of things that could give God reason to at least partially lift His protective Hand from America, including the millions of abortions done here each year, the flaunting of sexual sin, and our recent treatment of Israel.

Any support that the U.S. provides for dividing the Holy Land risks God’s wrath against us. Rabbi Aryeh Spero says that a division could displace 400,000 Jews from their homes and more Christian holy sites would fall under Muslim control.

Pray that this will not happen and that many Americans will give their undivided attention to God.

The Religious Right's Fact-Free Climate Change Misinformation Campaign

Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance is at the center of the Religious Right’s growing push against “the Green Dragon,” otherwise known as the environmental movement. As noted in the latest Right Wing Watch In-Focus, Beisner has his PhD. in Scottish history and absolutely no scientific credentials, however, he does have close ties to corporate-financed, anti-environmental groups such as the Acton Institute and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Now, right-wing activists like David Barton, Wendy Wright, and Bryan Fischer are heavily promoting Beisner’s film (which they are also featured in).

According to Beisner, environmental protection is “anti-biblical” while heightened carbon dioxide emissions are good for the earth. Even though actual scientists have concluded that the rapidly increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide cause warming temperatures, drought, and rising sea levels.

While climate change threatens to reduce precipitation and produce devastating food shortages, Beisner wrongly claims that climate change will increase the food supply and, in fact, goes so far as to accuse the EPA of intentionally seeking to "hurt the poor":

Beisner: A lot of agricultural economists think that the increased crop yields that we've seen over the last forty to fifty years, something in the neighborhood of twelve to fifteen percent of that is attributable directly to increased carbon dioxide, which means that food gets more plentiful and that helps the poor.

Well, the EPA wants to hurt the poor [in] two ways: one, by raising energy prices by forcing us to switch from carbon-based fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, to much more expensive and much less reliable fuels like wind, solar, and bio-fuels. And two, they want to hurt the poor by lowering the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which would reduce plant growth efficiency, reducing crop yields, reducing food availability, raising food prices. So it's a double whammy on the poor.

Then David Barton, of all people, accuses scientists of ignoring anything that does support their worldview and manipulating data to support it, while complaining that it is all plot to increase government control and play God:

Barton: This is not about science, this has nothing to do with science. Science is a vehicle to give them more control over the lives of individuals.

Green: So there's no intellectual honesty then there?

Barton: No. There's no intellectual honesty. You find something that lines up with your worldview and you say "here it is, this is what I've always believed, I knew it was out there." And you find a fake science like the IPCC at the UN which has its own agenda ...

Green: And they're willing to put out supposed data, that's false ...

Barton: And the great proof that it's a philosophical worldview is when you refuse to listen to opposing data. When you get all these scientists on the other side ... who roll out all these studies that say "no, no, no that's wrong." When you won't listen to opposing data, science has nothing to do with it. You're into a worldview conflict at that point and your saying that my worldview demands that I have more control over your life, over what you do, that's why government does exist, you're hear to serve government, not vice versa, and this is the vehicle to do it. This really has nothing to do with science.

But what happens is, not understanding that, a lot of Americans buy into that this is science.

Green: Oh, they've been indoctrinated with it in education for the last twenty years.

Barton: Are you kidding me, Earth Day in the schools? We've got to save the Earth? I mean, that's like a tick ... trying to save a whole heard of cattle. I mean, ticks go along for the ride, they don't manage the cattle, they don't tell them where to go. And that's our arrogance in thinking that we can do something to save the planet and control where the planet goes. You know, we're just along for the ride and we're insignificant peons on this thing

Green: Well, arrogance is the right word. I mean, it really does, we get to the point where we think - not that we shouldn't do the things we can do, of course you do the things that are responsible - but we think that we can control this whole thing. We think we're God.

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Cornwall Alliance Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 07/22/2014, 1:53pm
There’s a reason so many Republican politicians seem to bring a religious fervor to their efforts to gut public institutions and social welfare spending. The modern day Religious Right draws much of its ideology from Christian Reconstructionists who teach that God gave specific duties to the government, the church, and the family. According to this theological worldview, education and taking care of the poor are the responsibility of families and churches, and it is unbiblical for the government to take on these roles. That meshes well with the view of “constitutional... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 07/22/2014, 11:16am
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent in the Hobby Lobby case that the Court’s conservative majority had “ventured into a minefield” with its decision. Many of those mines have already been placed by right-wing leaders who claim a religious grounding not only for anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-contraception positions, but also for opposition to collective bargaining, minimum wage laws, progressive taxation and government involvement in the alleviation of poverty. In Hobby Lobby, the Court found for the first time that for-profit corporations have... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 03/19/2013, 1:51pm
Yesterday, Dr. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance appeared on Janet Mefferd's radio program where he explained that the modern environmental movement represents "the greatest threat to Western civilization" because it combines "the utopian vision of Marxism, the scientific facade of secular humanism, and the religious fanaticism of jihad" into a pseudo-religion that undermines Christianity: Mefferd: That seems like, maybe to some people, like hyperbole Dr. Beisner, but why do you think that that's the case? Beisner: Well, let me just give you four simple,... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/20/2013, 5:30pm
For some reason, Mitt Romney will speak at CPAC. The American Family Association has joined the fun by filing a lawsuit over the contraception mandate. CWA's Janice Shaw Crouse wishes Beyoncé would stop being such a tart. The Cornwall Alliance will help you to "arm yourself and your friends against the fatal cult of anti-humanism!" Gary Cass is once again outraged. Finally, Bryan Fischer is quite enamored with Sen. Ted Cruz. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 11/30/2012, 11:26am
Earlier this month, the Religious Right's favorite climate change-denying "expert," Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, appeared on American Family Radio where he declared that believing in climate change "is an insult to God."  Yesterday, when he joined Bryan Fischer on "Focal Point" for yet another discussion about the "myth" of global warming, both he and Fischer declared that failure to use coal, oil, and natural gas is an insulting rejection of the gifts that God has given to us - gifts which, incidentally, He buried deep in the earth... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/19/2012, 3:44pm
Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance is the Religious Right's favorite anti-climate change "expert" despite the fact that his academic credentials are limited to a doctorate in Scottish History.  While appearing on AFA's "Today's Issues" radio program today, Beisner provided the most concise explanation of why Christians cannot believe in climate change when he declared that the entire theory rests on the assumption that the earth is an extremely fragile place, which conflicts with the Biblical view that the earth was built by God for man's use. Therefore, to... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/31/2012, 3:28pm
Today on "Focal Point,"  Bryan Fischer brought on Dr. Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance to discuss the impact of Hurricane Sandy.  Beisner, who received his doctorate in Scottish History, is the Religious Right's favorite climate change "expert" primarily because his entire agenda is rooted in the belief that environmentalism is a religion that is out to destroy Christianity. Back in 2011, after a massive tornado devastated parts of Missouri and killed more than 300 people, Beisner claimed that it was sent as "a little taste" of God's judgment, which... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 08/13/2012, 3:50pm
American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer today was joined by pro-corporate, anti-environmental activist Cal Beisner on Focal Point to discuss Rep. Paul Ryan’s egregious record on environmental protection. The two celebrated his votes against the EPA and climate change legislation as signs that he has a “sane, objective and biblical or evangelical understanding of man’s relationship with the environment. “Paul Ryan seems to get it,” Fischer said, and Beisner applauded Ryan’s voting record “fits well with the biblical understanding” of... MORE >