Family Research Council

Marco Rubio: The New Doug Hoffman

It looks like the Right, fresh off its "victory" in backing Doug Hoffman in New York, is now focusing its attention on the Florida Senate primary race between Gov. Charlie Crist and right-wing darling Marco Rubio.

Mike Huckabee endorsed Rubio months ago and he's already received support from the National Review. Now the Club for Growth is getting involved in the race:

The Club for Growth took a major step Thursday toward backing Marco Rubio in Florida’s GOP Senate primary, launching an ad against Gov. Charlie Crist.

The ad criticizes Crist for saying this week that he didn’t, in fact, support President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan.

“Since Charlie Crist helped pass Barack Obama’s spending program, nearly 200,000 Floridians have lost their jobs,” the ad states. “Unemployment is the highest in decades. Personal income’s down. And the deficit in Washington is three times larger.”

The ad is not yet on TV but is slated for an ad buy, a Club spokesman said.

And today, the Family Research Council Action PAC officially endorsed Rubio as well:

Today FRC Action PAC, the political action committee connected to Family Research Council Action, is endorsing Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate representing Florida. Tony Perkins, President of FRC Action, made the following statement:

"Marco Rubio has been a true friend of the family and the culture of life as a state legislator in Florida. Senators who will fight to defend the family against the radical leadership in the Senate are crucial to the future of our country.

"Rep. Rubio has fought to protect mothers and their unborn children. He supported pro-life legislation that would require doctors to complete ultrasounds before performing abortions thus giving the mother an opportunity to assess the consequences of her actions. Rep. Rubio also understands the importance of adult stem cell research in treating patients. He also endorsed legislation to ensure that taxpayers aren't forced to fund embryonic stem cell research.

"Rep. Rubio knows how taxes and out-of-control government spending burden our families. We believe he will stand up to the White House and Senate leadership as they attempt to saddle our children and grandchildren with an overwhelming mountain of debt.

"Rep. Rubio's many years of advocacy on behalf of pro-family causes will serve him well in the Senate. FRC Action PAC believes that Marco Rubio will be a true advocate for the issues that best uphold and strengthen families. We are proud to support his candidacy," concluded Perkins.

NY-23: A Test of Huckabee's Conservatism?

Yesterday we noted that Doug Hoffman's campaign for the House seat in NY-23 had been endorsed by a veritable who's who of right-wing leaders and organizations.  In fact, endorsing Hoffman has become something of a test of one's conservative bona fides and so it was interesting that one name that was conspicuously absent from Hoffman's list of supporters was Mike Huckabee, and is appears as if Huckabee's refusal to endorse Hoffman is not going unnoticed by those on the right

“It’s very disappointing,” said Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council. “You have names out there like Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson and Tim Pawlenty who are willing to take a stand. You’d think that would have pushed him to make a decision.”

“It concerns me. I think he should endorse. I think Doug Hoffman is his kind of candidate,” said Mike Mears, executive director of Concerned Women for America’s political action committee.

“I keep hoping that he is going to do it,” he said. “Conservatives are lining up behind Doug Hoffman.”

...

“When you’re a leader of the conservative movement, as Mike Huckabee is, you should make a bold statement,” said Mike Long, president of the New York State Conservative Party. “If you’re a leader, how do you not get involved?”

“If you want to show leadership, you’ve got to break away from the club,” Long added.

Politico speculates that Huckabee's reluctance to endorse Hoffman might be rooted in some sort of animosity he still holds toward Fred Thompson or the Club for Growth, both of whom have endorsed Hoffman, though that seems like a ridiculously unlikely reason for Huckabee to sit out this race to me.  But it does provide an opportunity for the Thompson, Club for Growth, and Huckabee teams to renew their rivalry and take pot-shots at one another: 

Both the Thompson camp and the Club for Growth gave evidence of those tensions by taking shots at Huckabee for his nonendorsement. 

“We’re very disappointed that Gov. Huckabee saw fit to come into the district for a Conservative Party event and then didn’t support or contribute to Hoffman,” said a source close to Thompson.

“He’s only hurting himself with his silence,” said Club for Growth Executive Director David Keating, who noted archly that “some people might conclude he supports Scozzafava.”

Sarah Huckabee dismissed the idea that Mike Huckabee had decided to stay out of the race because of any lingering tensions with Thompson or the Club for Growth, noting that he had thrown his early backing to Club for Growth favorite Marco Rubio in the hotly contested Florida GOP Senate primary.

“It’s absurd to say he doesn’t take sides,” Sarah Huckabee wrote in an e-mail. “He has taken a stand time after time for conservative issues. Where were all the conservatives when he was saying TARP was a bad idea?”

Who Needs to Know Gay People When You Can Rely on the Religious Right?

The San Francisco Chronicle has a telling quote about the influence that national Religious Right groups are having on the battle over marriage equality on the ground in Maine:

In Orrington, population 3,526, Ken Graves worked as a lumberjack for nine years after he started Calvary Chapel near Bangor. Twenty-five years later, the 47-year-old still sports a woodsman's thick arms and tough hands as he towers over an evangelical congregation of 1,500, one of Maine's largest.

Last week, Graves stood on the bank of the nearby Penobscot River clad in a red flannel shirt, where he and a videographer filmed a 30-second ad in favor of Question 1. He'll pay "a few thousand dollars" to air it locally.

"What got me is how the homosexual community being portrayed in this campaign is a gross misrepresentation of how it really is," Graves said. "You see these commercials of two happy moms, or two happy dads and happy siblings - when in fact they are not happy families. They are depressed."

He acknowledged that he doesn't know any gay families, saying he relies on the Family Research Council, a conservative think tank that finds homosexuality "harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large," and Focus on the Family, a group that helps people "overcome" gay attractions.

Update: Here is the commercial Graves' shot, via Good As You:

This Is What Happens When You Seek FRC's Participation

Apparently, a few weeks back Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council was invited to participate in a discussion on the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. Perkins declined and decided instead to use the opportunity to demand the firing of Kevin Jennings:

Earlier this month, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins received an invitation to participate in a discussion of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) scheduled to take place today. Perkins declined the invitation and instead sent a letter which includes detailed recommendations and specific concerns about the office, its programs, and its leadership.

Perkins made the following comments in a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan:

"The drug prevention program you now administer was created by Congress to combat the illegal use of drugs. Since this was its original purpose, it should remain the principal one. Unfortunately, the life and writings of Kevin Jennings, whom you appointed as Assistant Deputy Secretary to direct OSDFS, have contradicted this Congressionally mandated message. In his memoir, Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son, he wrote several times about his own use of alcohol and marijuana as a high school and college student...

"While many people may experiment with drugs and alcohol in their youth and later come to regret it when they have reached a higher level of maturity, the light-hearted tone of these excerpts--written only three years ago--does not suggest any regret whatsoever...

"Surely we can agree that all students deserve to attend 'safe schools' that are free of violence. Therefore, I urge you to reject initiatives such as the model legislation proposed under Mr. Jennings' leadership at GLSEN--namely, to create special categories of protection...We should extend protection to all students based on the nature of the victimizing conduct, rather than the characteristics of the victim.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Jennings' own behavior in an incident when he was a teacher, which he has recounted on a number of occasions, draws into sharp question his willingness and ability to fulfill [these] recommendations. By his own (conflicting) accounts, it appears that when he met with a male student (aged 15 or 16) who admitted to finding a same-sex sexual partner in the bus station in Boston, Mr. Jennings' only advice to him was, 'I hope you knew to use a condom.'

"...However, for America to have confidence in his commitment to the 'safety' of our children, it is vital for him to enumerate in greater detail what he should have done...

"Unless Mr. Jennings is willing to admit that he should have taken most or all of the steps listed...I would submit that he is unfit to protect the 'safety' of American school children, and he should resign or you should remove him from office."

You can read Perkins' 8-page letter here [PDF].

Harry Jackson's "David and Goliath" Struggle Against Marriage Equality in DC

Yesterday, Harry Jackson, leader of the anti-marriage equality effort in Washington, DC , hosted a "People's Rally" in Freedom Plaza.  The rally was backed by groups like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage and we were on hand as well.

Jackson declared that "we are on the verge, I believe, of taking back this city" and stated that he was "disgusted" by the lack of leadership in this fight, though he praised the Catholic Church and other religious leaders for joining in the effort, saying God had called them together for this fight because if they don't hang together, they will all hang separately.

Jackson also declared that this was not an anti-gay effort, but rather an effort to protect children from the redefinition of marriage and the family in order to prevent them from being taught that "Heather has two mommies" and "things of that magnitude from people they don't even know."

Jackson concluded by saying that marriage-equality is not a civil rights issue, because the only things that quality as civil rights issues are income, education, health care, housing, and justice, announcing that he was starting a 21 day fast because "we are in a David and Goliath situation" against the DC City Council which is "out of control" before declaring that "God is going to do a miracle among us":

Staver Seeks To Moderate the Right's Stance on Immigration Reform

Last week I wrote a post based on Dan Gilgoff's article about efforts by Mat Staver and Samuel Rodriguez to moderate the Religious Right's position on immigration reform, noting that both were members of the Freedom Federation, which contains groups like the Eagle Forum who have been vehemently opposed to such reform in the past.

Now, Gilgoff has followed-up on this topic and appears as if Staver truly intends to try and get the Freedom Federation and its members to change their position on this issue:

"There was this rhetoric in the last immigration debate that was, frankly, harsh," says Mathew Staver, dean of the law school at Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell. "We need to understand that we are still a nation of immigrants, and we need to bring people out of the shadows and make them legal."

Staver, who is leading the effort to bring conservative evangelicals and other religious conservatives on board for comprehensive immigration reform, says he's motivated by biblical principles regarding the treatment of foreigners and by a desire to build bridges between the "pro-family" movement and growing ethnic constituencies. But the campaign may wind up dividing religious conservatives, some of whom helped lead the charge against George W. Bush's failed attempt at comprehensive immigration reform in 2007.

...

Now, Staver is trying to build support among Freedom Federation members for comprehensive immigration reform. Part of his goal is to bring Hispanics into the conservative Christian political fold. "The future of the conservative movement is at stake in the debate about immigration reform," says the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who has been helping Staver lobby conservative evangelical leaders on immigration.

At a recent coalition meeting in Washington, Staver had former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee discuss his immigration views, which have been criticized as soft by many conservatives, with dozens of representatives from religious conservative groups. "Huckabee was attacked in the presidential race because he didn't want to remove educational benefits for the children of illegal immigrants," Staver says. "But that's a biblical concept—you don't punish the child for what his parents did."

And it looks like Staver has his work cut out for him, as the Eagle Forum says it's not budging while other members are still making up their minds:

"Many of our members oppose comprehensive amnesty because of their faith," says Colleeen Holmes, executive director of Eagle Forum, the conservative group founded by Phyllis Schlafly. "But this is really about conservatism versus liberalism, and conservatism says you need rule of law." The Eagle Forum opposes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants ... Some Freedom Federation members, however—like Eagle Forum—remain strongly opposed to comprehensive immigration reform. Others, like Family Research Council Action, are still determining their position.

Considering that many members of the Freedom Federation have openly opposed efforts at immigration reform in the past, Staver's effort to push this issue could end up causing a rift in the movement that, ironically, the Freedom Federation was created in order to heal.

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.

Note To FRC: You Are Not Alone In Getting Hate Mail

Honestly, has the Family Research Council never received angry messages before?  It sure seems that way, given that they are highlighting this voicemail they recently received on their blog, in their Washington Update, and even in a stand alone press release:

I read about your, uh, homophobic comments, and I just gotta give you some advice. It's not a good idea to be, uh, an intolerant bigot s*****g. Uh, because, you know, you reap what you sow and when you start spreadin' hate against other people, that's exactly what you're gonna get back. And, you know, who knows what effect that could have on you, or your family, or your office, you know, on G Street? Uh, just a bit of advice for ya. You should really learn, really-stop bein' such a redneck piece of ****.

Granted, that is not a very nice message and it even seems to contain a vague threat, but if FRC thinks that is bad, they ought to see some of the messages we get here at RWW.  And frankly the messages we get here don't even begin to compare to the hate directed at groups like ACORN:

Hi, I was just calling to let you all know that Barack Obama needs to get hung. He's a f*****g n****r, and he's a piece of s**t. You guys are fraudulent, and you need to go to hell. All the n*****s on oak trees. They're gonna get all hung honeys, they're gonna get assassinated, they're gonna get killed.

If FRC feels the message it received constituted a threat, they should contact the authorities.  But they really ought to stop acting as if getting hate messages is uncommon or as if they are the only group receiving such messages.

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.

FRC: We'd Rather Lose The Seat Then See a Liberal Republican Win

Yesterday, David Weigel had a good piece on the Republican "civil war" unfolding in New York over the race for the open Congressional seat between Doug Hoffman, the choice of the right-wing base, and Dede Scozzafava, who is being backed by the RNC:

In July, Hoffman bid to become the Republican Party’s nominee for a special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. The nominee would be chosen by party leaders in the district’s 11 counties; few people were surprised when they chose Deirdre “Dede” Scozzafava, a five-term assemblywoman who’d voted with Democrats on abortion and labor issues, factors that could help the party hold a historically conservative district that had voted for the Obama-Biden ticket last year. Hoffman, a 59-year-old accountant making his first run for office, forged ahead and grabbed the nomination of the venerable Conservative Party.

Since then, Hoffman’s campaign has become this election cycle’s great conservative crusade. On Sept. 5, the candidate was endorsed by 9-12 Candidates, an offshoot of Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Project, and a reflection of the support he was getting on conservative blogs. On Sept. 28, both Fred Thompson and the Club for Growth put their weight behind Hoffman, with the Club putting $250,000 into TV ads attacking Scozzafava and Democratic candidate Bill Owens. Those endorsements, coupled with reports that Scozzafava was struggling, brought the American Conservative Union and the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List into the fray to back Hoffman. On Monday afternoon, FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey announced that he’d campaign for Hoffman, putting the Tea Party movement’s seal of approval on the upstart campaign.

Two weeks out from the election, the battle in upstate New York is being portrayed in the press as a “civil war” between Republican factions. That might understate how much support for Hoffman, and how little for Scozzafava, there is in the conservative movement. As far as the roiling Republican base is concerned, support for Hoffman has become a test of whether a conservative leader can be trusted. Conservative media, from magazines to blogs, are using the low-stakes special election to test their ability to drive news cycles and raise money.

The Family Research Council is particularly incensed at the RNC's sell-out in this race, saying that what the GOP needs is "good women like Marsha Blackburn and Michele Bachmann in Congress" instead of more "pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, liberal candidate who fails to reflect the values the Republican Party."

In fact, so outraged is FRC that they are now declaring that their goal is to "bring down" Scozzafava rather than see a liberal Republican elected:

"This is ridiculous -- putting a liberal up like that and expecting everybody [in the GOP] to fall in line. It's just not going to happen," says [Connie Mackey, president of the Family Research Council Action Political Action Committee]. "And if we can't elect Doug Hoffman, frankly we do hope that we at least bring down the Republican candidate."

50+ Republicans Join Rep King's Anti-Jennings Crusade

It looks like Rep. Steve King is starting to find significant GOP support for his anti-gay crusade to fire Kevin Jennings:

Fifty-three House Republicans have written President Barack Obama asking him to remove "safe schools czar" Kevin Jennings from that position.

The lawmakers accused Jennings of "pushing a pro-homosexual agenda" and said that Jennings's past writings exhibit a record that makes him unfit for the position.

"We respectfully request that you remove Kevin Jennings, the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, from your Administration," the Republicans wrote. "It is clear that Mr. Jennings lacks the appropriate qualifications and ethical standards to serve in this capacity."

...

The letter was primarily assembled by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), and was joined by 53 Republican colleagues, including two members of leadership: House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) and House Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).

As Greg Sargent points out, King continues to recklessly and unapologetically spread allegations that he knows to be false:

Rep Steve King, who’s been leading the charge against top Obama education adviser Kevin Jennings, today called for Jennings to be fired for allegedly “ignoring the sex abuse of a child” when he was a young schoolteacher.

But guess what: King’s office was informed at least a week ago that even Fox News, a lead tormentor of Jennings, corrected these allegations and acknowledged that the “child” was actually of legal consent age. I know, because I informed his office of this, in the course of seeking comment on an earlier story I was doing about the whole mess.

...

At least a week ago, after Rep. King attacked Jennings over the incident, I emailed his spokesman, letting him know that Fox had corrected the record. The spokesman replied, but I ended up not writing ... [The new letter] states as outright fact that this was “child abuse” and the “sexual abuse of a child.” King’s office knows this is false, and yet is repeating it, anyway.

UPDATE: FRC weighs in to praise those members of Congress who signed on to this letter:

Today, Family Research Council praised fifty-three House Republicans for calling on President Obama to fire Kevin Jennings, a homosexual activist who heads the Education Department's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

...

"We applaud these fifty-three House members for seeking to uphold basic ethical standards within the Department of Education. We urge President Obama to heed the growing calls from Congress and the American people that he immediately remove Kevin Jennings as 'safe schools' czar. No Administration official is more deserving of removal than Kevin Jennings.

"Kevin Jennings has shown a disregard for parental rights and for our children's well being. The record shows that Kevin Jennings has neither the temperament nor the ethical standards needed for public service. "

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Memories

Back in 2005, it was reported that Tony Perkins, now President of the Family Research Council, "paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana."

Shortly thereafter, FRC released a statement refuting the assertion:

Tony Perkins was the manager of the 1996 U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Woody Jenkins in Louisiana where Impact Media was contracted to make pre-recorded telephone calls for the campaign. In 1999, an unrelated federal investigation uncovered that David Duke had a financial interest in the company, which he did not report to the IRS, resulting in his conviction on federal tax evasion charges. This connection was not known to Mr. Perkins until 1999. Mr. Perkins profoundly opposes the racial views of Mr. Duke and was profoundly grieved to learn that Duke was a party to the company that had done work for the 1996 campaign.

A year later, it was reported that on two occasions, Perkins had addressed the racist Council of Conservative Citizens:

The Boston Herald reported in an October 16, 2006, article, "In 2001, [Perkins] gave a speech at a meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] considers a hate group." Indeed, a Fall 2004 article in the SPLC's Intelligence Report asserted that Perkins "spoke to the Louisiana Council of Conservative Citizens on May 19, 2001," during his tenure as a Louisiana state legislator. The SPLC characterizes the CCC as a "white nationalist" organization, and has reported that the group is "the reincarnation of the racist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s." The CCC declares in its statement of principles:

We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.

In a July 30, 2005, article, The Vancouver Sun reported that Perkins acknowledged his speech before the CCC in an interview. The Sun also reported that Perkins claimed he could not recall what he said to the group and that he said he had been unfamiliar with the CCC's history at the time. From the Sun article:

The magazine [The Nation] also reported that Perkins, while a Louisiana state congressman, spoke in 2001 to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC).

Perkins said he was invited by a constituent to speak to the group, and said he wasn't aware of its history.

"Never spoke to them again. That was over a decade ago," Perkins told The Sun, suggesting the speech happened in 1996, not 2001.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which keeps track of politicians close to the CCC, forwarded The Sun a March-April 2001 copy of Citizens Informer, the newsletter put out by the CCC, which included the following notice:

"The Louisiana CofCC met at the Mandarin Seafood in Baton Rouge May 19 to hear State Representative Tony Perkins discuss the current legislative session. At that meeting a recruitment project was developed."

When informed of the item by The Sun, FRC spokesman J.P. Duffy does not dispute the assertion that the event happened in 2001, not 1996, but added that Perkins "cannot remember speaking at the event, as he speaks to hundreds of groups each year." Duffy added that Perkins opposes racial discrimination and offered the names and phone numbers of two black pastors who support him.

Since Perkins claims that he "cannot remember speaking at the event," maybe this photo that recently surfaced online will help to jog his memory:

Perkins To Be Honored For His Anti-Choice Efforts

It's not quite the Nobel Peace Prize, but Tony Perkins is getting an award too:

The National Pro-Life Religious Council (NPRC) announced today the recipient of its annual Pro-life Recognition Award. This award is bestowed each year upon a leader who has made a significant difference in the effort to restore protection to unborn children. This year's recipient is Mr. Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council.

Rev. Frank Pavone, President of the NPRC, praised the work and example of Mr. Perkins: "Tony has an incredible record of uniting Christians of all denominations in legislative efforts that protect the rights of unborn children. We are particularly grateful for the pioneering way he has inspired and empowered pastors to join in this cause."

The pro-life award will be presented at the annual National Memorial for the Preborn, to be held on Capitol Hill on the morning of Friday, January 22, 2010, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Is Yes On 8 Ashamed of Its Past?

As the vote on California's Proposition 8 neared last November, the organizers of the Yes on 8 effort suddenly began working hard to appear moderate and fair-minded in hopes of downplaying the radical nature of the groups that had endorsed the effort, including:

Alliance Defense Fund
American Family Association
California Family Alliance
California Family Council
Concerned Women for America
Coral Ridge Ministries
Eagle Forum of California
Eagle Forum of Sacramento
Faith2Action
Family Research Council
Focus on the Family
Liberty Counsel
Pacific Justice Institute
Traditional Values Coalition

Liberty Counsel's appearance on this list is especially interesting, considering that since Prop 8's passage, the folks behind Yes on 8 have gone into overdrive trying to prevent the organization from getting involved in the subsequent lawsuits and regularly fighting LC's efforts to intervene ... and succeeding:

It was a sunny summer morning, but inside a San Francisco federal courtroom the outlook for Rena Lindevaldsen of Liberty Counsel was cloudy.

Charles Cooper, representing the official anti-gay marriage forces in a federal court challenge to Proposition 8, wasn't fighting hard enough, she insisted. He wouldn't try to prove, for instance, that homosexuality is an "illness or disorder."

"Individuals should be entitled to treatment to change your sexual orientation," Lindevaldsen argued.

Cooper's team quickly deflected Liberty Counsel's attempt to intervene, saying it just wanted to fight battles that "can't be won." That left Cooper -- a consummate Beltway insider who avoids the kind of language favored by Lindevaldsen -- and his firm the sole legal representatives for 7 million Californians that supported Prop 8.

...

The official Yes on 8 effort has tried to distance itself from "fringe" groups that are too "strident or combative," [Yes on 8 General Counsel Andrew] Pugno said.

"I think it's fitting that the demeanor and tone of our lead counsel would reflect the demeanor and civilized tone that we tried to maintain during the campaign," he said.

So it seems that Yes on 8 was perfectly happy to have Liberty Counsel's support - along with the support of other militantly anti-gay organization like TVC, AFA, and Faith2Action - when they were trying to pass Prop 8, but now wants to distance itself from those sort of "strident and combative fringe" groups, even though those groups were the backbone of the organization and played a key role in its passage.

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.

The Continuing Right Wing Attacks On Obama's Faith

For the last several years, every time a Religious Right leader or conservative politician or nominee was criticized for their positions or views, the immediate response from the Right was to accuse the critics of attacking that person's faith (see, for example, the Family Research Council's first "Justice Sunday" event.) And these sorts of direct attacks on someone's faith, according to the Religious Right, amounted to a personal affront that was beyond the pale of accepted political discourse.

But then Barack Obama ran for president and suddenly that standard went completely out the window.

So now we have Gary Bauer writing entire op-eds for Politico directly criticizing President Obama's use and interpretation of Scripture:

Obama has referenced the Sermon on the Mount in support of special rights for homosexuals, despite the Scriptures’ clear support of marriage between one man and one woman and its admonitions to celebrate sex inside the married relationship only.

While the Bible details that human beings are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that life is a gift from God, Obama uses Scripture to support a mentality in support of abortion rights. Explaining his decision to lift an executive ban on federal funding of embryo-destructive stem cell research, Obama said, “As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research — and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly.”

At the University of Notre Dame, he told graduates, “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.”

Obama has played the faith card during the health care debate, too. When prospects for passing Obamacare started to go south, Obama framed the debate as “an ethical and moral obligation.” “We are God’s partners in matters of life and death,” he told rabbis during a conference call to sell his reform proposals.

Life and death issues became the spark igniting the public backlash against Obama’s plans. They arose from concerns over possible death sentences for the ill and elderly should care be rationed and from concerns about tax-payer funded abortions, to name a few. Obama wrapped himself in Scripture to combat opposition to his plans. At one point, he alleged that Obamacare opponents were not just mistaken but also immoral and “bearing false witness” for worrying about taxpayer funding of abortion under his plan.

Bauer says that he believes that "elected officials should talk about faith" ... but apparently that doesn't apply to cases where the use of Scripture does not reinforce Bauer's right-wing interpretation of it:

I don’t mean to question the sincerity of Obama’s faith. This is a discussion of language. Increasingly, it seems as though the president’s deepest belief is in his own ability to disregard his critics’ moral objections by touting abstract religious principles and embracing empty religious symbolism. Obama seems to think that Americans will accept his out-of-the-mainstream views on moral issues as long as he claims those views arise in part from his religious beliefs.

Of course, if someone were to have written that "Bauer seems to think that Americans will accept his out-of-the-mainstream views on moral issues as long as he claims those views arise in part from his religious beliefs," he and his allies in the Religious Right would have wasted no time in proclaiming the remark to be an attack on Bauer's "deeply held beliefs" and held it up as evidence of anti-Christian bigotry.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Janet Porter's "nuclear option" is really rather pathetic.
  • A resolution has been introduced in the House of Representatives to honor anti-abortion demonstrator Jim Pouillon, who was killed in Michigan earlier this month.
  • Sarah Palin's book will be entitled "Going Rogue" and is set to be released in mid-November.
  • Bill Donohue is not amused by International Blasphemy Day.
  • Finally, the Family Research Council released its anti-ENDA testimony, in which it claims that "homosexuality is [not] biologically determined" and "'transgender' people have a mental illness."

"Loose Forth the Blood-Drenched Sword of Jesus Christ"

In the post I wrote last week featuring audio excerpts from the right-wing anti-Islam conference call organized by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, Lou Engle, and Tony Perkins, there was an exchange near the end that I didn't manage to record due to technical problems. 

The exchange came when Cindy Jacobs was leading the prayers near the end of the call, and fortunately Beliefnet caught it

On Thursday evening, officials from the Family Research Council and the National Day of Prayer Task Force hosted a national call-in prayer-a-thon in which one woman prayed, "We take together (God's) sword and break the sword of Islam over this nation, and we loose forth the blood-drenched sword of Jesus Christ."

On a related note, I thought this article about Al Mohler warning that Christians should not recognize or honor Muslim holidays was rather interesting, especially his claim that Muslims do not really understand Islam:

On a recent radio broadcast, Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr. tackled the issue, saying it is dangerous and confusing when Christians adopt the practices of other religious beliefs which do not acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord. Instead, Mohler said Christians must focus on Christ and sharing the gospel with Muslims.

"It is the love of Christ that leads us to love our neighbor enough to share the gospel with them, which takes on the very tangible expression of seeking to have them, by means of the gospel, come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. That is love, in that God loved us so also we love our neighbor -- and love of neighbor is not just in terms of living peaceably among our neighbors," he contends.

"From a Christian perspective, from a New Testament perspective, loving our neighbor is not just not putting our grass clippings on his lawn; it's loving our neighbor enough to share the gospel with him, to be motivated to share the gospel."

Mohler said many Muslims do not understand the true nature of Islam.

I don't know about you, but when I am looking for someone to explain the "true nature of Islam," the first place I turn is to the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Michele Bachmann action figures - get 'em while they're hot.
  • Politico: Tonight, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and his wife Callista Gingrich host the premiere of their documentary — “Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage” — at the Capitol Visitor Center.
  • FRC: Wednesday, September 30th, at 1:00 pm, at a National Press Club luncheon, Family Research Council will release a groundbreaking report, A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life, which shares the tremendous contributions of pregnancy resource centers since the inception of the movement over forty years ago.
  • The "personhood" effort comes to California.
  • Finally, a variety of right-wing leaders are blasting the "Obama Apology Tour."
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Family Research Council Top Posts

801 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 www.frc.org President: Tony Perkins Date of founding: 1983 Membership: 455,000 members. Finances: $10 million (2000 revenue)   MORE >

Family Research Council Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Monday 07/23/2012, 12:45pm
On his daily radio bulletin, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins joined other Religious Right activists in condemning Google for its Legalize Love campaign to advocate against laws criminalizing homosexuality. “Thanks to a new campaign, Google's approach to traditional values is to search—and destroy,” Perkins said, and later baselessly claimed that companies which favor gay rights “take a financial hit” and warned that Google “shouldn’t be surprised by the blow back” for its decision. After defending countries that criminalize... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 07/20/2012, 1:15pm
Rep. Michele Bachmann’s much-maligned witch hunt against Muslim-Americans working in the Obama administration, including top State Department official Huma Abedin, is the outgrowth of a festering conspiracy theory that has been gaining traction in right-wing circles, where Obama is viewed as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood if not a secret Muslim himself. One of the main perpetrators is Frank Gaffney, whose Center for Security Policy is cited by Bachmann in her letter to the inspector general [pdf]. Gaffney is a birther have resulted in him being driven out of even conservative... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 07/18/2012, 1:40pm
Family Research Council’s new vice president Jerry Boykin has a penchant for making bizarre, conspiratorial claims about President Obama and extremist attacks on Muslims, and at a Massachusetts synagogue last week even wondered whether President Obama is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Responding to a questioner who asked if Obama is “a member of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Boykin replied, “you probably don’t know, and my answer is, I don’t know.” He went on to allege that Jeremiah Wright brought Nation of Islam theology into the United Church of... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 07/17/2012, 4:55pm
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has called President Obama the “worst president this country has ever had” and warned that America will not “have a future as a country” if Obama is re-elected because his administration “will destroy this country.” Perkins even said that Christian Obama supporters must “repent” for electing a president who “has a disdain for Christianity.” And so today it was no surprise that after Perkins and co-host Tim Wildmon, the president of American Family Association, played an out of context... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 07/16/2012, 2:35pm
In 2010, Congress codified the Affordable Care Act by passing the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which included an amended version of the health care reform bill along with student loan reform. Before passing the act, banks served as middlemen between the government and students seeking loans for higher education, but the reform law cuts out the middleman and created a system of direct loans, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. Seemingly unable to come up with an argument against a system that is more beneficial to taxpayers and fairer to students, Family Research Council... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 07/13/2012, 1:59pm
Jerry Boykin is best-known around here for being a militantly anti-Islam Religious Right activist who likes to spread all sorts of conspiracy theories about how the Council on Foreign Relations intentionally triggered a global economic crisis in order to help Barack Obama win the election so that he could establish an army of Brownshirts loyal only to him though the passage of Health Care Reform. So obviously this is exactly the sort of man that the Family Research Council wants overseeing its day-to-day operations, which is why FRC has named Boykin its new Executive Vice President: Lt... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 07/13/2012, 11:20am
Ron Crews, the executive director of the Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty and a former Republican politician, appeared alongside Family Research Council president Tony Perkins today on Washington Watch Weekly to push back against reports showing that only a small number of chaplains say they have been negatively impacted by the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While the Religious Right’s prediction that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would have catastrophic consequences on the military and national security contradicts nearly all of the evidence, Crews... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 07/02/2012, 3:45pm
General Mills was immediately attacked when it announced its opposition to a proposed amendment in Minnesota, where the company is based, that would enshrine the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in its constitution. National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown called the move “ludicrous” and claimed that the company “effectively declared a war on marriage” and Minnesota for Marriage began holding protests to “Dump General Mills.” Today, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council weighed in during his daily radio bulletin by attacking the... MORE >