Home School Legal Defense Association

Mike Farris Stopped The ERA Because It Would Lead To Gay Marriage

Earlier this month, David Barton, Rick Green, and Mike Farris held a webinar focused on promoting an Article V Convention of the States, the latest right-wing plan to bring together representatives from all fifty states to draft constitutional amendments that will dramatically limit the power of Congress and the federal government.

WallBuilders has been airing portions of this webinar on its daily radio program this week and on today's installment, Farris noted that lots of conservatives leaders are supporting such a convention, with the exception of the Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly, who has been vehemently opposed to the idea for years.

In defending the need for an Article V convention, Farris bent over backwards to praise Schlafly as his "dear, wonderful friend" who is simply wrong about this issue, saying that "in a fifty years career of absolute perfection, she's entitled to one mistake."

Farris went on a brag that he had worked side-by-side with Schlafly in fighting against the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, noting that they argued against it by warning that it would lead to gay marriage:

One of the arguments we made was if you do this, it's gonna lead to homosexual marriage and people laughed at us.

Homosexual marriage? That's the craziest idea in the world!

Well, it turns out, we weren't so crazy after all.

Gee, it's good thing they stopped the ERA, otherwise we'd have the legalization of gay marriage rapidly spreading all across the country. Thank goodness Farris and Schlafly stopped that from happening!

The 10 Most Absurd Arguments Against The Udall Citizens United Amendment

While good-government groups have been calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s dismantling of campaign finance laws since the day the Court handed down Citizens United in 2010, the issue has been largely off the radar of conservative activists – and has actually enjoyed broad bipartisan support in an array of polls and in state and municipal ballot measures.

It was largely off their radar, that is, until this week. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a proposal by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to send a constitutional amendment to the states restoring to Congress and state governments the ability to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections. In response, Republican politicians and conservative activists have kicked into gear and are starting to try out new talking points to get their movement to oppose efforts to lessen the influence of big money in politics.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, launched the misleading campaign two weeks ago when he warned a group of pastors that the Udall proposal would “repeal the First Amendment” and allow Congress to “muzzle” the free speech of clergy. In advance of the hearing today, conservative groups including the Family Research Council, Eagle Forum, Tea Party Patriots and the Home School Legal Defense Association started to mobilize against the amendment. Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation held a panel discussion to test out arguments against the amendment, featuring Bobby Burchfield, the attorney who argued the McCutcheon case before the Supreme Court, controversial former FEC chairman Don McGahn, and infamous voter-fraud conspiracy theorist Hans van Spakovsky .

Here, we’ve collected some of the most deceptive arguments that have been launched so far against the Udall amendment.

1. Democrats want to repeal the First Amendment!

When we first heard Ted Cruz  tell a stunned group of pastors that Democrats in the Senate were planning to “repeal the First Amendment,” we knew that we would be hearing that line again and again.

And we were right. Tea Party Patriots adopted the line in mobilizing its activists, as did the Eagle Forum. The Family Research Council claimed the Udall amendment would “strip political speech out of the First Amendment,” and von Spakovsky told the Heritage panel that the amendment would “roll back” the Bill of Rights.

Burchfield and McGahn both argued that the introduction of the constitutional amendment means, in the words of McGahn, that campaign finance law advocates are “admitting” that campaign finance regulations are “unconstitutional.”

On the surface, this is the opposition’s strongest argument, because it sounds so scary. But it’s just not true. Whether you support the Udall amendment or not, it’s dishonest to suggest that it would amount to a “repeal of the First Amendment.” Instead, proponents argue that it strengthens the First Amendment by undoing the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence declaring that spending on elections, including from corporate treasuries, cannot be limited. Proponents of the Udall amendment hold that this jurisprudence, including recent decisions in the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases, represented a radical reinterpretation of the First Amendment; undoing them would simply re-establish the ability of Congress and the states to set reasonable regulations on the raising and spending of money to influence elections.

2. Amendment supporters want to ‘silence critics’ and ‘cling to power’!

The Heritage panelists repeatedly claimed that the Udall amendment is an attempt to protect incumbency by preventing challengers from raising enough money to win elections. McGahn insisted that it was an effort by Democratic incumbents “desperately clinging to power.”

“They want to change the rules of the game and prevent people from criticizing them, not unlike England did before our revolution, and which led to our revolution,” he added.

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios also invoked the American Revolution in an interview with von Spakovsky yesterday, saying, “The First Amendment, the rights to free speech – particularly the right to political speech – were the right to criticize the king, criticize the authorities over you.”

In a later interview with Rios, Tea Party Patriots spokesman Scott Hogenson even managed to connect the Udall amendment with immigration reform, claiming that both are part of a “larger, concerted effort to maintain the Democratic Party’s control of American politics and eventually move to one-party rule.”

In reality, it’s unlimited campaign spending that tends to be a boon for incumbents, who on average are able to raise far more than challengers. For instance, in Texas, a state with few campaign finance limits, incumbents who win on average raise more than twelve times the average amount raised by challengers. By contrast, in Colorado, which has relatively low individual contribution limits, incumbents on average raise less than three times what challengers are able to raise [pdf].

3. Liberals just want to protect the lame-stream media!

In his speech to the pastors' group, Ted Cruz seized on the Udall proposal’s stipulation that “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press” to claim that the amendment carved out an exemption to protect the New York Times.

Von Spakovsky also played up conservative conspiracy theories about the “liberal media,” telling Rios, “No surprise, there’s a glaring exception in this proposed amendment for the press. And that means that MSNBC or the New York Times Company, which are big corporations, they could spend as much newsprint or airtime as they wanted going after and criticizing candidates or talking about political issues.”

These arguments fail to recognize one key distinction, which is that there is a difference between the New York Times publishing an editorial (which would be protected under the proposed amendment, as it is now) and the corporate managers of the New York Times taking $50 million out of their corporate treasury to buy ads to influence an election (which would not be protected).

4. They’ll go after pastors!

Opponents of the constitutional amendment have also been trying to tie the proposal to the right-wing paranoia about the impending persecution of America’s Christian majority .

It’s no coincidence that Cruz rolled out his criticism of the Udall proposal at a pastors’ event organized by the Family Research Council, a main theme of which was the supposed assault on the religious liberty of Christians in America. Cruz told the pastors that the Udall measure would “muzzle” clergy and was being proposed because “they don’t like it when pastors in their community stand up and speak the truth.”

Likewise, McGahn said at the Heritage event that the amendment would endanger the religious liberty of clergy: “What about pastors and churches? This is an issue that comes up once in a while. Can the government get in there and tell a priest he can’t talk to his congregation because it may somehow have something to do with politics?”

This might be true if the proposal would, in fact, “repeal the First Amendment.” In fact, the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty would remain in place.

Of course, that didn’t stop the FRC’s Tony Perkins from somehow linking the Udall amendment to the imprisonment of a Christian woman in Sudan:

5. It’s like the Alien & Sedition Acts!

Along with comparisons to British control before the American Revolution, amendment opponents are trying to link the Udall proposal to the 18th century Alien & Sedition Acts.

In his interview with Rios yesterday, van Spakovsky claimed that “the last time Congress tried to do something like this was when they passed the Alien & Sedition Act in 1798 that criminalized criticism of the government.” Multiple GOP senators at today’s hearing, including Judiciary Committeee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, repeated the talking point.

Of course, the amendment does nothing to reduce the right of individuals to criticize the government or politicians.

6. The polls are skewed!

When an audience member at yesterday’s Heritage Foundation panel asked about polls showing overwhelming opposition to the Citizens United decision, McGahn replied that the questions in the polls were “skewed.”

You can judge for yourself whether this question from a recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll  – which found 80 percent opposition to the Citizens United decision  – is “skewed” on behalf of campaign finance law proponents:

(image via Buzzfeed)

7. What about disclosure?

In one of the least self-aware moments we’ve witnessed in the last few days, McGahn told the Heritage audience that campaign finance reform proponents could have just worked for tougher disclosure requirements, which the Supreme Court’s majority has consistently endorsed as a way to prevent corruption:

What’s interesting is the courts have upheld some disclosure of independent speech, which six months ago was supposed to be the answer, a year ago was supposed to be the answer – remember the DISCLOSE Act, Part 1 and Part 2? Well, that was supposed to cure all the ills in our democracy, but unfortunately I guess they’ve given up on that and they’ve moved to the more radical change, which is the constitutional amendment.

Of course, the DISCLOSE Act – which would have exposed the source of some of the “dark money” behind large campaign expenditures – was blocked by Senate Republicans. And McGahn, when he was at the FEC, fought hard against disclosure requirements proposed in the wake of the Citizens United decision, even though the decision explicitly sanctioned such requirements.

8. The poor don’t participate anyway!

Speaking to the Heritage audience, Burchfield  presented the curious argument that the Udall amendment would demand to "equalize debate among the haves and have-nots,” and since “the portion is small” of “those with limited means” who participate in electoral debates, this would require “severe restrictions.”

The rich do not advocate a single viewpoint. Think of Sheldon Adelson and George Soros, they don’t agree on anything. There are strong voices on the left and on the right, not just in privately funded campaign advertisements, but also in the broadcast and print media. Only a small portion of those with significant resources even bother to participate in the debate. And among those with limited means, the portion is small indeed. In order to equalize debate among the haves and the have-nots, severe restrictions would be necessary. The quantity and quality of discourse would certainly suffer.

The amendment under consideration doesn’t require that everybody be heard an equal amount; instead, it gives Congress and the states the ability to create a more even platform for those who wish to be heard, regardless of their financial means.  

Burchfield's reasoning echoes the arguments of voter-suppression proponents who claim that their laws only inconvenience people who don’t really care about voting anyway.

9. It’s voter suppression!

Although many of the advocates of unlimited, undisclosed money in politics are the same people pushing harmful voter suppression laws, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas yesterday insisted that it’s actually amendment proponents who are advocating “voter suppression” and want to “silence” critics.

10. Blame Saul Alinsky!

Inevitably, anti-amendment activists have begun invoking the right-wing bogey-man Saul Alinsky.

Hogenson told Rios that the Udall amendment is “just taken right out of Saul Alinksy’s book, ‘Rules for Radicals,’ it just makes up a gigantic lie and perpetuates it, that somehow democracy needs to be restored.”

Von Spakovsky also invoked Alinsky in his interview with Rios, claiming that criticism of the enormous political spending of the Koch brothers is an Alinskyite plot: “What’s really going on here is, look, if you look at Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals,’ one of the rules that he sets out is you pick a villain and you basically blame those villains for all of the problems. It’s a way of distracting the public, it’s a way of diverting attention, and that’s exactly what Harry Reid and the Democrats are doing here.”

Sandy Rios Fears Children Won't 'Survive' Common Core, Christians Will Have to Build 'Parallel Society'

Last week, American Family Association’s Sandy Rios spoke to William Estrada of the Home School Legal Defense Association about the supposed dangers of Common Core, which Rios fears will “promote homosexuality” to children.

She told Estrada that conservative Christians will refuse to let their kids learn according to Common Core standards, but as a result will “find themselves in a situation where they cannot function, they cannot be accepted into colleges and universities, they can’t get scholarships, they can’t get a ticket to get into, you know, just living life.”

“I just can’t see how our kids can survive,” Rios lamented, arguing that conservatives will then need to create a new society for those who oppose Common Core: “The only way I can see us even surviving is to develop a parallel society. I’m projecting but honestly that is the truth. A parallel economy, parallel job opportunities.”

Rios: The way is going to Common Core is going to work is our kids, meaning the home school children — when I say our kids, many of us are Christians, we are conservatives politically — our children may find themselves in a situation where they cannot function, they cannot be accepted into colleges and universities, they can’t get scholarships, they can’t get a ticket to get into, you know, just living life, if they are not pulled into the Common Core if it continues on its current trajectory. I just can’t see how our kids can survive.

Estrada: That’s actually our long term concern. Right now the Common Core by law only applies to public schools, of course there are five states that never adopted the Common Core — Texas, Alaska, Virginia, Minnesota only adopted the English Language Arts, and Nebraska never adopted the Common Core — so there are a few states that never did, but the long term concerns is that this is the first step towards a national curriculum. If we truly do have a national curriculum across all fifty states, the pressure will build for homeschoolers to be taught the same way, and if not the doors to universities and colleges will most likely be closed to them.

Rios: The only way I can see us even surviving is to develop a parallel society. I’m projecting but honestly that is the truth. A parallel economy, parallel job opportunities and I just don’t think — that’s not where we want to go. We need to stop Common Core.

Estrada: That is so much why we need to keep this fight.

Republican Congressman Threatens Civil Disobedience On Romeike Case

The Home School Legal Defense Association announced today that the Romeike family, the German homeschoolers who lost their petition to have asylum in the US, will be granted “indefinite deferred status” by the Department of Homeland Security.

While Religious Right activists like HSLDA head Michael Farris blamed President Obama personally for the Board of Immigration Appeals decision not to grant the Romeikes asylum status, we aren’t holding our breaths for them to thank the Obama administration for the DHS’ decision.

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, for one, is still milking the case for all it’s worth.

The Fox pundit today published an interview with Republican congressman Phil Roe, who told Starnes that it may take “civil disobedience” to prevent the Romeikes from facing deportation. Roe added that he blames Attorney General Eric Holder for the initial Board of Immigration Appeals decision, calling Holder “one of the most dangerous people in the country.” The congressman also described the Obama administration’s stance as un-American.

Roe, ironically, is a vocal opponent of immigration reform and the DREAM Act.

Farris, for his part, told Starnes that Tennesseans will organize like Rosa Parks to defend Romeike family, and one Republican state lawmaker called the case an “attack” on “Christian values.”

Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Roger Oldham added that the Romeikes are only facing legal problems because “this family is the antithesis of this administration’s political agenda – a heterosexual married Christian couple desiring to teach their biblical values to well-grounded children.”

Christians in an east Tennessee community are vowing to engage in civil disobedience if the Obama administration initiates deportation proceedings against a Southern Baptist family from Germany who sought asylum in the United States so that they could home school their children.

“It may require civil disobedience with this bunch,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), who represents the congressional district where the Romeike family lives.

“I am furious about this,” the congressman told me. “You’ve got law-abiding people who did everything right who simply want to home school their kids. We used to be that great shining city on a hill. There’s some rust on that city if we are doing free people this way.



Rep. Roe told me the Justice Department needs to “butt out.”

“I don’t know what the Germans are thinking, but we’re not Germany,” he said. “I don’t want to be Germany. I don’t want to be Europe. I want to be America. And right now we’re not acting very much like the America I know with the administration we have.”

Roe called Attorney General Eric Holder “one of the most dangerous people in the country” and called his department’s assault on the Romeike family “appalling and worrisome.”



“The Romeikes have become a part of our family,” said Dean Haun, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Morristown, where the family attends. “I don’t think there’s any question that there will be some people who will be willing to stand with them to the very end – even if it means our imprisonment.”

The Southern Baptist pastor said should that day come, he would be counted among the local residents willing to go to jail to save the family from deportation. “If that’s what it took, yes,” the pastor said. “This is an assault in the face of Christianity in America.”



Roger "Sing" Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, told me he was deep distressed by the Obama administration’s actions.

“I’m not sure what’s more chilling – that this administration views their presence in rural east Tennessee as a threat to our nation’s economic and political well being or that this administration lobbied to deport this family to a nation determined to coercively indoctrinate the children in government sanctioned ‘tolerance’ training,” Oldham said.

Oldham said the case is simply perplexing.

“This family is the antithesis of this administration’s political agenda – a heterosexual married Christian couple desiring to teach their biblical values to well-grounded children,” he said. “For whatever reason, our government does not want them in our nation.”

State Rep. Tillman Goins told me the community is “up in arms.”

“Everybody in Morristown knows the Romeike family,” he said. “You have a family who is doing it the legal way, taking every legal step they can to ask to come to this country and to participate as citizens in this country – only to be persecuted by the United States.”

Goins introduced a resolution calling on Tennessee’s congressional delegation to defend the family.

“I don’t know if all religious liberty is under attack in this country,” he said. “It seems like Christian values are under attack more than any other religion.”

Should the day come when the immigration agents show up to take the family away, Goins said he would meet them at the front door.

“Let’s hope that it doesn’t get to that point,” he said. “(But) should it come down to it – absolutely.”



Farris predicted that if the Romeikes are deported, it would spark a movement among religious liberty supporters.

“If they come for this family, it’s going to ignite a movement that’s going to be the same as when they told courageous Rosa Parks to go to the back of the bus and she wouldn’t go,” Farris said.

“I think we may be approaching a similar moment in our country.”

Farris: Obama Wants To 'Crush Religious Freedom,' Would Have Deported The Pilgrims

UPDATE: After trashing the Obama administration, Farris announced today that "a Supervisor with the Department of Homeland Security called a member of our legal team to inform us that the Romeike family has been granted 'indefinite deferred status.'"

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes is furious that the Romeike family, a family that left Germany for Tennessee over disagreements with German homeschooling laws, has lost its petition for asylum. And of course, Starnes and Michael Farris, who has been representing the Romeike family, blame President Obama.

The Supreme Court yesterday denied an appeal by the Romeikes of a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling that found that they are not eligible for asylum.

The Sixth Circuit ruled against the Romeike’s petition last year, with Judge Jeffrey Sutton — a George W. Bush appointee — finding that “the German authorities have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or homeschoolers in general for persecution.” Conservative legal commentator Eugene Volokh notes that a ruling in favor of the Romeike family would effectively give asylum to anyone who disagreed with their home countries’ laws.

But Farris isn’t having any of it, claiming that the Obama administration seeks “to crush religious freedom” and would have deported the pilgrims: “Had this administration been waiting at Plymouth Rock, they would’ve told the Pilgrims to go back home.”

Starnes, meanwhile, seems to think that undocumented immigrants in America, unlike the Romeike clan, do not want legal status in the US: “There are nearly 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. You’d think the Obama administration could find a place [sic] eight immigrants who want to live here legally.”

“I think this is a part of the Obama administration’s overall campaign to crush religious freedom in this country,” said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. His organization is representing family.

“The Obama administration’s attitude toward religious freedom, particularly religious freedom for Christians is shocking,” he told me in an exclusive telephone interview. “I have little doubt that if this family had been of some other faith that the decision would have never been appealed in the first place. They would have let this family stay.”

Had the family stayed in Germany, where homeschooling is illegal, they would have faced the prospect of losing their children. Like the Pilgrims, they fled their homeland yearning for a place where they could be free.

Farris said the religious bias perpetrated by the Obama administration is “palpable.”

“It’s a denial of the essence of America,” he said. “The Pilgrims left England to go to Holland to seek religious freedom. They came here to seek religious freedom and parental rights for their children. Had this administration been waiting at Plymouth Rock, they would’ve told the Pilgrims to go back home.”

There are nearly 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. You’d think the Obama administration could find a place eight immigrants who want to live here legally.

Farris said the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case sends a chilling message to Americans who currently home school their children.

“This administration thinks it’s a privilege to home school – not a right,” he told me. “We’d better buckle down and be ready to fight them every step of the way.”



Please, Mr. President, have mercy on this Christian family. They came to our shores longing to be free. They left their homeland to escape religious persecution. Please, sir. Welcome them to our land with open arms. Bestow upon them a small measure of grace so they might be able to raise their children in the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Michael Farris' Ironic Plan To Remake The Supreme Court

Homeschooling advocate Michael Farris has a new campaign, the Convention of the States Project, which seeks to introduce a constitutional convention to “stop the federal spending and debt spree, the power grabs of the federal courts, and other misuses of federal power.”

He told WorldNetDaily yesterday that the federal government “will most certainly destroy American liberty relatively soon,” and that states must be able “to impeach federal officials from their states.”

Farris also said that the Supreme Court should be replaced by a system of “50 justices and have the states appoint the justices for a specific term (six or eight years) with no right of reappointment” that is modelled after the European Court of Human Rights.

This is more than a little ironic since Farris regularly criticizes the Supreme Court for citing international law, including cases from the European Court of Human Rights. But Farris himself is now proposing “reconfiguring the Supreme Court after the model of the European Court of Human Rights” in order “to ensure a constitutional government.”

“If we allow Washington, D.C., to continue on its current course of big government, it will utterly destroy American liberty. Debt is the most tangible method of destruction. But big government complete with spying on the American public, the improper use of executive orders, over-regulation, etc., etc., will most certainly destroy American liberty relatively soon.”



“State legislatures currently have no power to impeach federal officials from their states. This is not a viable option. This would, however, be a proper amendment to suggest at the Convention of States we are proposing. I like the idea of giving the state governments the power to impeach congressman and senators from their states,” Farris said

Another possibility?

“The federal courts regularly refuse to rule on constitutional issues they want to avoid by calling them ‘political questions’ or by claiming that no one has standing to sue … One of my ideas for an amendment would be to automatically grant state legislatures standing to challenge any action of the federal government as violating its constitutional limitations,” he said.

There also could be a fix to the problem of an entrenched Supreme Court.

“I [would] propose reconfiguring the Supreme Court after the model of the European Court of Human Rights. There are 46 nations in that court’s jurisdiction, and every nation appoints one judge. We should expand the Supreme Court to 50 justices and have the states appoint the justices for a specific term (six or eight years) with no right of reappointment. That one change would do more to ensure a constitutional government than anything I know,” Farris said.

Virginia GOP Paid $80K to Far-Right Homeschoolers' Group

In September, we reported that Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli had called in religious-right reinforcements in the form of Generation Joshua, a branch of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) that sends homeschoolers to campaign on behalf of conservative candidates across the country.

It turns out there was something in it for the homeschoolers’ group other than working to rid Virginia of the scourges of “abortion, homosexuality, and moral relativism.” Roll Call’s Political Money Line reports that the week before the election, the Republican Party of Virginia disbursed $79,500 to the HSLDA’s federal PAC .

This is a big windfall for a group that in the 2012 election cycle took in just $46,000 and spent $32,000 supporting a handful of right-wing candidates including Todd Akin and Michele Bachmann.

HSLDA is run by Michael Farris, who is also the founder and president of Patrick Henry College, a religious-right institution intended to prepare homeschoolers for leadership positions in the conservative movement. Generation Joshua is a parallel effort that has marshalled homeschooled children to campaign on behalf of far-right candidates including Bachmann and Cuccinelli.

In September, we noted some of Farris and HSLDA’s greatest hits:

Generation Joshua’s William Estrada said the youth group deserves credit for swaying former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle’s decision to veto a civil unions law and Farris successfully led the opposition to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Last December, Farris gained publicity for his drive to make sure that no gay students are attending Patrick Henry College. A Patrick Henry professor during the college's annual “Faith and Reason” lecture criticized the government for prosecuting rape, sexual harassment, child abuse and domestic violence cases.

Just this month, Farris testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to promote the conspiracy theory that the U.S. ratifying the U.N Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities would in fact lead to the banning of homeschooling.

Paranoia-Rama: This Week In Right-Wing Lunacy - 11/8/13

RWW's Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

This week, we learn more about President Obama’s secret gay past and Michelle Obama’s poor spiritual housekeeping, find out the real reason for Terry McAuliffe’s victory in Virginia, and are duly warned about the consequences of health care coverage and U.N. treaties.

5. Obamacare Will Force People to “Suffer and Potentially Die”

Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert, one of Congress’ most creative conspiracy theorists, told the residents of a nursing home in Texas this week that the Affordable Care Act would cut Medicare benefits, causing people to “suffer and potentially die.”

Gohmert’s claim that the ACA “cut $716 billion from Medicare,” repeated frequently by Mitt Romney in his presidential campaign last year, glosses over the fact that the cuts in costs – also recommended by Rep. Paul Ryan – would not affect Medicare benefits.

4. The United Nations Will Snatch Homeschoolers and Kids With Glasses

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee revived consideration of the United Nations Conventions on Persons With Disabilities this week, a year after a right-wing scare campaign managed to prevent the Senate from ratifying the treaty.

Taking the lead in the effort to sink the treaty was Michael Farris, director of the Home School Legal Defense Association, who claimed that U.S. ratification of the treaty would allow the U.N. to “get control” of children with glasses or ADHD and even lead to the deaths of children with disabilities. Invited to testify at this week’s hearing, Farris tried to convince senators that ratifying the treaty – which is based on laws already in place in the United States – would in fact lead to an American ban homeschooling. His only evidence for this fear was a completely unrelated immigration case .

The many right-wing conspiracy theories about the CRPD have been handily debunked by the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, as well as by former Republican senators Bill Frist and Bob Dole.

3. Michelle Obama Invited Demons Into The White House

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer was shocked to learn that First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a White House event this to celebrate Diwali.

By celebrating the Hindu festival, Fischer warned, the first lady was inviting “demons into the White House,” necessitating a “spiritual cleanse” of the building after Obama leaves office.

Fischer neglected to mention that George W. and Laura Bush had hosted the very same event. He did, however, later in the week provide a helpful how-to on how to rid a home of demonic spirits in case it ever comes to that.

2. Voter Fraud Won the Election in Virginia

Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli thinks that President Obama won reelection through organized voter fraud , so it’s no surprise that some of his supporters were ready to cry “voter fraud” when he lost the gubernatorial election on Tuesday to Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

A full week before election day, Virginia conservative commentator Dean Chambers laid out how he predicted McAuliffe would “steal” the election through voter fraud. Meanwhile, Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber spent Election Day tweeting about how Cuccinelli would need to win by 7 points “to get within the margin of Democrat fraud.” And after the results came in, the white nationalist site VDARE claimed that McAuliffe must have relied on “black voter fraud” because it was not “plausible” that African-Americans would “turn out for New York Irish American Pol running for Governor with the same enthusiasm that they voted for a Black for President.”

In 2008, Virginia officials prosecuted 39 cases of voter fraud out of 3.7 million votes cast, none of which involved voter impersonation, the alleged target of Virginia’s pending voter ID law.

1. Obama Procured Cocaine Through Older White, Male Lovers

We already knew that during his student days President Obama was married to his male Pakistani roommate, the union from which he still wears a secret gay Muslim wedding ring , but we learned today via anti-gay activist Scott Lively that the president’s secrets go much deeper.

Lively linked on his website to an interview between crackpot preacher James David Manning and a woman named Mia Marie Pope, who claims to have been a classmate of President Obama's back in Hawaii in the 1970s.

Pope recalled how the future president was “very much within sort of the gay community” and “was having sex with these older white guys” in order to procure “cocaine to be able to freebase.”

Fringe Activists Take Center Stage At Senate Hearing On Disabilities Treaty

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the Senate failed to ratify last year thanks to a startlingly successful religious-right scare campaign.

Showing just how radical the opposition to the treaty is, nearly every witness testifying on behalf of the treaty was a Republican. Pro-treaty witnesses included Republican senators Mark Kirk and Kelly Ayotte, former Republican congressman and Bush homeland security secretary Tom Ridge and former Republican governor and attorney general Dick Thornburgh. Ayotte read a statement from former Republican senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole in support of the treaty, and former Republican senator Bill Frist lent his voice in support of the treaty in a Reuters op-ed published yesterday morning.

The fact that the treaty has wide support from mainstream Republicans left its opponents on the Foreign Relations Committee to reach into the right-wing fringe to find witnesses to testify against ratification.

Susan Yoshihara, vice president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute focused her testimony on her fear that the treaty’s protection for “sexual and reproductive health” would promote access to abortions – a major concern for a group dedicated to fighting protections for gay people and reproductive rights around the world.

Yoshihara’s claim has been thoroughly debunked, including by a major anti-choice group, and was debunked again by Frist in his op-ed:

The relevant provisions in the treaty regarding sexual and reproductive health demand nondiscrimination for persons with disabilities.

In many parts of the world, people with disabilities, regardless of age, are believed to be sexually immature or inactive. The assumption can make them targets for rape and other sexual crimes while, at the same time, gynecologic and obstetrical care are withheld and considered inappropriate and unnecessary. In other cases, they are forcibly sterilized or forced to have abortions, simply because they have a disability.

The treaty’s “sexual and reproductive health” language is a necessary provision to protect these people. It does not define services — a ratifying country’s existing law provides the definition. The agreement simply demands that those with disabilities not be denied any treatments based on their disability.

It does not create any new services not previously available or legally sanctioned in an adopting country.

Meanwhile, Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association continued what Frist called his “impressive fear campaign” claiming that the treaty would somehow endanger the rights of American homeschoolers. Last year, Farris went so far as to claim that the treaty would allow the U.N. to come into American homes and seize children with glasses. At yesterday’s hearing, he claimed that a case involving a homeschooling German family that was denied asylum in the U.S. means that the Obama administration is hostile to homeschooling and would somehow us the disabilities treaty to overturn U.S. homeschooling laws.

In an exchange with Sen. Dick Durbin, Farris was unable to explain how the treaty, which is based on the already-implemented Americans with Disabilities Act and would require no changes to American laws, would in fact destroy homeschooling. 

“I struggle with the thought that we are going to stop this effort to extend the rights of the disabled around the world for fear of something which you can’t even clearly articulate when it comes to homeschooling,” Durbin responded.

Former senator Rick Santorum also revived his role in opposing the treaty yesterday, sending out an email claiming, absurdly, that the convention "threatens U.S. sovereignty and parental rights, and if ratified, it would effectively put us under international law when it comes to parenting our special needs children." Needless to say, none of those claims has any basis in reality.

Right-Wing Groups Gear Up To Oppose Disability Rights Treaty, Again

Last December, former Republican senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole took to the Senate floor in a wheelchair to urge his former colleagues to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), a United Nations treaty that would encourage countries around the world to emulate the United States’ protections for the rights of the disabled.

The treaty fell six votes short of the 2/3 majority it needed for passage, thanks to an intense lobbying effort by Religious Right groups that warned – against all evidence – that the treaty would threaten U.S. sovereignty, impede the rights of homeschoolers, expand abortion rights and allow the UN to seize children with glasses from their families.

Now, the fight is set to start over again. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a hearing on the treaty for tomorrow, and once again the extremist right is gearing up to defeat it by spreading myths about CRPD’s true purpose and effects.

The first sign of what is to come is that Susan Yoshihara of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) has been called as a witness for Tuesday’s hearing. C-FAM is a far-right group dedicated to defeating gay rights and reproductive health measures at the UN. Most recently, the group has made headlines for vocally defending Russia’s ban on gay-rights speech , a law that C-FAM’s president Austin Ruse said “most of the people in the United States” would agree with. C-FAM opposes UN efforts to prevent violence against LGBT people, an effort for which it has found its strongest allies in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

C-FAM also stands against any UN public health initiatives that stray from an abstinence-only ideology. The group criticized UN HIV/AIDS guidelines that called for decriminalizing adultery, homosexuality and extramarital sex, claiming that decriminalization “would fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS.” The group also opposes efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through sex education and condom distribution, which it claims are merely ruses to “protect the sexual revolution.”

C-FAM’s opposition to the CRPD has centered on the myth that the treaty would expand abortion rights – a myth that even the anti-choice National Right to Life Committee has debunked and which Sen. John McCain called just plain “wrong.”

As the Senate considered the CRPD last year, Yoshihara warned that the treaty included protections for “sexual and reproductive health,” which she said meant the treaty would be “used to advance a right to abortion.” After the treaty fell short in the Senate, Yoshihara declared that “cooler heads prevailed,” fretting that “the text could be interpreted as including a right to abortion.”

Also gearing up to fight the CRPD is the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which is renewing its warnings that the treaty, along with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, would imperil homeschooling families in the United States, “override existing state laws” and “surrender our nation’s sovereignty to unelected bureaucrats.” An indication of HSLDA’s mode of operation is that the group’s founder Michael Farris has written a novel set in a future in which the United States has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, allowing the UN to snatch children from American homeschooling parents .

It is Farris who warned last year that the treaty would allow the UN to come in and take control of children who wear glasses or have ADHD. In an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, Farris claimed that the treaty could even empower doctors to kill disabled children. He even warned that the treaty would make the United States “an official socialist nation.”

Thanks in large parts to Farris’ efforts, rumors claims that the United States’ signing of the CRPD would endanger homeschooling became so pervasive that Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware was forced to confirm with the Department of Justice that “ratification of this treaty will not do anything to change existing American law, rules or enforcement on homeschooling” and that the treaty would not “ erode one iota of American sovereignty.”

HSLDA and Farris found a powerful ally in former senator and failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who warned that the treaty would lead to the deaths of children with disabilities like his daughter Bella.

Under Farris and Santorum’s leadership, the Religious Right rallied to oppose the CRPD last year. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins warned – with absolutely no basis – that under the treaty, “the global community could force America to sanction sterilization or abortion for the disabled–at taxpayer expense.” Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum included the treaty vote on its “bills to watch” list, and Schlafly warned that CRPD – and UN treaties as a whole – “override national sovereignty in pursuit of social engineering, feminist ideology, or merely busybody interference in a country’s internal affairs.”Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, Eagle Forum and the American Family Association also joined the effort against ratification

While right-wing groups circulate irresponsible rumors about imaginary impacts of the CRPD, international disability rights advocates are left without an important tool for their work – the United States’ approval of international standards based on US law. The Senate now has a second chance to listen to common-sense voices of support for the treaty – including leading disability rights, civil rights and business groups – and reject the unhinged rhetoric that brought down the treaty last year.

Ken Cuccinelli Calls In The Religious Right Reinforcements: Homeschoolers Edition

Yesterday, Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli attended a fundraiser co-hosted by anti-gay and anti-choice activists. Now, the far-right state attorney general is calling for help from Religious Right leader Michael Farris, who runs Patrick Henry College and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

Generation Joshua is the youth branch of the HSLDA, which sends homeschoolers to work on “races across the country, phone-banking, literature dropping and campaigning on behalf of conservative candidates” who oppose abortion rights and gay equality. “Many battles have been won on the homeschooling front, but there are many battles left to fight because the giants of abortion, homosexuality, and moral relativism remain in our land.”

Cuccinelli was the keynote speaker at the Generation Joshua’s first annual Future of America Banquet, and now the right-wing organization is returning the favor.

Watchdog.org reports that Generation Joshua is hoping to send around 200 students “to work with the Cuccinelli campaign in two weeks” as part of “Operation: Shock and Awe,” which is complete with this fantastic video:

Generation Joshua’s William Estrada said the youth group deserves credit for swaying former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle’s decision to veto a civil unions law and Farris successfully led the opposition to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Last December, Farris gained publicity for his drive to make sure that no gay students are attending Patrick Henry College. A Patrick Henry professor during the college's annual “Faith and Reason” lecture criticized the government for prosecuting rape, sexual harassment, child abuse and domestic violence cases.

Cuccinelli delivered the 2012 commencement address at Patrick Henry College, where he attacked President Obama for thinking he knows “better than God” on the issue of same-sex marriage and called on graduates to engage in the fight “against the tide of political correctness, the intelligentsia and the media.”

Michael Farris Fears Obama May Ban Homeschooling

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) president Michael Farris, who last year warned that children who wear glasses may be placed under the control of the United Nations, is now wondering if President Obama will ban homeschooling with an executive order.

Farris yesterday spoke to Jim Schneider of VCY America on Crosstalk about the legal dispute between his HSLDA and the Justice Department in the case of German citizen Uwe Romeike. Romeike is seeking asylum in the U.S. in order to homeschool his children as it is banned in Germany.

HSLDA claims that the German government is suppressing a particular social group — homeschoolers — while the DOJ argues against granting asylum because the country’s law is neither “selectively enforced” nor “metes out disproportionate punishment” against people of a particular religion.

Farris asserts that the Justice Department’s stance in the case is proof that President Obama may soon issue an executive order banning homeschooling.

Schneider: No doubt there are some saying: ‘Well this is just a family from Germany who is applying for asylum and we really don’t need to worry about it after all, how does this impact me? Why does this matter? How can this impact the homeschooling freedom that we have right here in the United States?

Farris: It can because of the precedent that any case like this can set and it also reveals the heart and intention of our current administration. Their belief is anti-individual liberty on a very broad basis and their group think is at a deep and dangerous level. That repudiation of individual liberty should shock every American. Secondly, for homeschooling itself specifically, you know we’ve seen executive orders on lots of different subjects and so if President Obama gets it in his head that he is going to issue an executive order to ban homeschooling, you know, I wouldn’t put it pass that administration to try something like that especially as they get closer to the end of this four year term. They are capable of anything, who knows?

How Unhinged Rhetoric Sank a Disabilities Rights Treaty in the Senate

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities failed to capture the 2/3 vote needed for ratification in the U.S. Senate today due to fierce Republican opposition. Many Republicans and their allies in the conservative movement claimed that the treaty codifies abortion into law, even though that preposterous claim was rejected by the National Right to Life Committee and Sen. John McCain. Along with the false charges about abortion, opponents of the treaty claimed it will undermine U.S. sovereignty and harm children. Critics like Rick Santorum warned that the treaty may kill his disabled daughter; Glenn Beck said it could create a “fascistic” government and Sen. Jim Inhofe alleged the treaty would help groups with “anti-American biases.”

One of the lesser-known but extremely active opponents of the bill was homeschooling activist Michael Farris.

During an interview with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, he claimed that the treaty will prompt the United Nations to ‘get control’ of children with glasses or ADHD and remove them from their families.

Farris: They’re called living documents, just like the disgraced living Constitution theory, which means the treaty doesn’t mean today what it’s going to mean tomorrow what it’s going to mean ten years from now. So you never know what you’re signing up for, that by itself is a good enough reason to leave it alone and to never enter into one of these things. But in particular, you hit the nail on the head Tony, the definition of disability is not defined in the treaty. My kid wears glasses, now they’re disabled, now the UN gets control over them; my child’s got a mild case of ADHD, now you’re under control of the UN treaty. There’s no definitional standard, it can change over time, and the UN, not American policymakers, are the ones who get it decided.

While speaking with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, the two warned that the treaty could lead to the deaths of disabled children, all the while admitting they have no evidence it would do such beyond their pure speculation.

Fischer: Disabled newborn babies in the UK are being put, oftentimes overriding the wishes of parents, on this death pathway where no matter what the parents want the doctors say this kid cannot live, severely disabled, too many congenital deformities, we think the best thing for this kid is just to be starved and dehydrated to death. It seems to me that although that’s not specifically contemplated in this treaty that could be an outcome.

Farris: Whether they thought about it or not, that’s exactly what Rick Santorum said in our press conference. He was holding his daughter Bella and she’s of the category of child that in Britain they would take that position because her official diagnosis is ‘incompatible with life.’ So when the doctor gets to decide, the doctor empowered by the government—these doctors aren’t doing it on their own, they are doing it because the government says they have the power to do it—the doctor/government deciding what they think is best for the child. It goes to the point of deciding whether the child lives or dies, it is that crazy. If we want to live in a Brave New World like that where the bureaucrats and the government and the UN all tell us what to do, fine, but this is the beginning of the end of American self-government if we go here, it’s just crazy, we cannot let this happen.

After warning that the treaty will kill children, Farris told conservative talk show host Steve Deace that the treaty will create a “cradle-to-grave care for the disabled” and said if the U.S. ratifies it “signing up to be an official socialist nation.” Farris claimed that the treaty will treat the parents of disabled children like child abusers in order to grow government power and implement “coercive socialism.”

“Everybody in America will be living under is socialism as an international entitlement” if the treaty passes, Farris maintained, “it’s a way to make the socialist, liberal, amoral element a permanent feature of our law.” Deace agreed and said the treaty will “due in freedom and liberty.”

Farris: Every parent with a disabled child is going to be in the same legal position as if they’d been convicted of child abuse. We are taking away parental decision-making power in that area. The other thing that everybody in America will be living under is socialism as an international entitlement. The United States resisted all the UN treaties of a certain category that began being proliferated in the 1960s; the first was the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights. Our country said no that is coercive socialism, we’re not going to do that. So we rejected all those treaties ever since 1966. Yet we’re signing up now for our first economic, social and cultural treaty which means as a matter of international binding law that goes to the supremacy clause level in our Constitution, we’re signing up to be an official socialist nation, cradle-to-grave care for the disabled. Maybe Americans want to do that, but I think we’d want to do it as a matter of domestic law, not as a matter of international law. I personally don’t think that’s any business of Congress to do that sort of thing but I certainly don’t want to be doing it when the United Nations tells us to do it. So those are two big ways it will affect every American and there are more.

Deace: Michael Farris is here with us from Patrick Henry College, also from the Home School Legal Defense Association, talking about another attempt to usurp American sovereignty, to essentially do an end-run around the Constitution and then of course due in freedom and liberty through an effort through the United Nations.



Farris: If they can get this one through, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, CEDAW, which is the women’s treaty with all kinds of junk in that one, and then a whole host of other UN treaties that the Obama administration wants to send our way, it’s a way to make the socialist, liberal, amoral element a permanent feature of our law through the use of treaties and they are going to do a full-force attack. We’ve got to stop them now. It’s not like just the camel nose in the tent, it is that too, but we don’t want a camel’s nose in our constitutional system, that’s what we don’t want.

Religious Right Groups Work to Defeat Treaty on Rights of People with Disabilities, Falsely Claim it Sanctions Abortion

Conservative organizations have come out strongly against the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, with Rick Santorum leading the charge. The groups are upset about the treaty ensuring that people with disabilities have equal rights because they claim it is “pro-abortion.”

Article 25 of the Treaty reads in part: 

States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:

(a) Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;

Anti-choice activists are angry about the inclusion of the phrase “reproductive health” in the nondiscrimination clause, according to LifeNews:

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, has previously noted the pro-life concerns, saying abortion advocates put language in the treaty in Article 25 that requires signatories to ‘provide persons with disabilities… free or affordable health care including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based health programs.’” “Translation: the global community could force America to sanction sterilization or abortion for the disabled–at taxpayer expense” he said. “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tried to neutralize the threat during the mark-up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Unfortunately, his amendment (which would have stopped the treaty from forcing abortion policy on countries that sign) was thwarted by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) after a debate.”

Several pro-life groups are on record opposing the treaty, including Eagle Forum, Family Research Council Action, CitizenLink, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, and others.

In addition, the Home School Legal Defense Association and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) have also came out against ratification.

But Perkins’s claim that the treaty “could force America to sanction sterilization or abortion for the disabled-at taxpayer expense” is simply false.

The State Department makes clear that the treaty “does not include abortion” and the phrase “reproductive health” in Article 25 “does not create any abortion rights, and cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion.”

The Convention is firmly rooted in the principles of equality and non-discrimination. As the Chairperson and many other delegations, including the United States, have noted on countless occasions over the course of negotiations, the treaty reinforces existing rights and is aimed at assuring that persons with disabilities will be treated on an equal basis with others.

This approach was reflected in oral statements and in various places in the written travaux preparatoires, including in a footnote to the draft text of Article 25 that appeared in the report of the Seventh Ad Hoc Committee.

In this regard, the United States understands that the phrase "reproductive health" in Article 25(a) of the draft Convention does not include abortion, and its use in that Article does not create any abortion rights, and cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion. We stated this understanding at the time of adoption of the Convention in the Ad Hoc Committee, and note that no other delegation suggested a different understanding of this term.

Even the National Right to Life Committee reported after the text was adopted that no delegate interpreted “reproductive health” to mean abortion and that “delegates from pro-life nations ultimately accepted this language.” “The committee responsible for enforcing compliance to this treaty would be going way beyond their mandate if they were to interpret the term ‘reproductive health’ to include abortion,” the NRLC said:

The legally undefined and controversial term "reproductive health" remains in the document despite the fact that the term has never appeared in any other UN treaty. However, all parties maintained that the term does not include abortion and that its inclusion in this treaty cannot be interpreted to create any new rights such as a right to abortion.

The final version of Article 25 (a) on health states that nations signing and ratifying the treaty shall: "Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health. . . . ."

Delegates from pro-life nations ultimately accepted this language because they were assured and became confident that it does not include abortion or create any new human rights such as a right to abortion.

For example, during the debate the Treaty Chairman, Ambassador McKay of New Zealand, stated repeatedly that the use of the term "reproductive health" in this treaty does not create any new human rights such as abortion. He even added a non-binding footnote to the record of negotiations, not the treaty itself, which he claimed would preclude any such misinterpretation of the term.

Numerous delegates from nations throughout the world including the European Union agreed with Chairman McKay that the term "reproductive health" does not include abortion. No delegate from any nation stated that it does.

In light of all these statements and the language of the treaty, the committee responsible for enforcing compliance to this treaty would be going way beyond their mandate if they were to interpret the term "reproductive health" to include abortion. It is crucial that they do not because nations that sign and ratify a treaty are required to change their laws in order to comply with the treaty.

But for the Religious Right, even definitive evidence that the treaty’s language does not refer to abortion doesn’t change their mind that the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities must be defeated.

Sen. DeMint: The Right's Man In Washington

Currently, the Religious Right does not have a great deal of influence on Capitol Hill.  Gone are the days when Republican leaders like Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum, or Bill Frist would regularly attend the Right's gatherings and, considering that some members of the movement have even had a falling-out with allies like Sen. Sam Brownback, the lack of leadership for the Religious Right's agenda in Congress has been particularly noticeable as of late.

But never fear, because Sen. Jim DeMint has recently stepped-up big time and established himself as the Right's most committed and loyal advocate on the Hill.

A few months back, when the Right was trying to generate controversy over the stimulus legislation, DeMint took their complaints right onto the Senate floor and forced a vote on his effort  to strip an entirely non-controversial provision from the bill at the behest of right-wing groups like the American Center for Law and Justice. 

Earlier this month, we reported that DeMint was continuing to carry water for the Right, personally telling Rick Scarborough of Vision America that he would lead a filibuster against hate crimes legislation.  Today we have come to find out DeMint is now sending out a letter addressed to pastors and other religious leaders urging them to get active in helping him oppose the legislation.

Though the letter doesn't appear anywhere on his official website, it has been posted on Vision America's website and you can get a PDF copy here:

I am writing you today to remind you that religious principles and biblical teachings produced the values and policies that made America exceptional, prosperous, and good.

In recent decades, Congress and the courts have adopted policies that have proved destructive to faith, families, and freedom in America, but no one action has been as damaging as the "hate crimes" legislation will be. This hate crime legislation will replace "equal justice under law" with arbitrary justice based on the race, religion, or sexual orientation of criminals and their victims. More importantly, it will lead to the criminalization of biblical truth as "hate speech."

Under this legislation, a pastor who teaches that homosexuality is wrong could be accused of a hate crime or charged with "inducing" a violent crime against a gay person.

Please tell your congregation this legislation is not about "hate" (all violent crimes are hateful); it is about taking away your freedom to speak and preach biblical truth. It takes away your right to say that some things are wrong. We need millions of Americans to call and email their Senators, especially Democrat Senators who are pushing this legislation. Majority Leaders Harry Reid has promised to pass this legislation in the next few weeks (the House already has).

DeMint's letter concludes by urging recipients to visit the Family Research Council's website for more info and to contact their own senators to voice their opposition.

And because good things always comes in threes, today we also learned that DeMint has introduced the Parental Rights Amendment in Congress, which is the brainchild of Michael Farris, the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, the so-called "Harvard for homeschoolers."

It seems pretty safe to assume that we'll be seeing a lot more of these types of things from DeMint in the future, as he has become the primary conduit through which the Religious Right's agenda makes its way in the halls of Congress.

Huckabee: A Right-Wing True Believer

When Mike Huckabee was seeking the Republican Party's nomination during the last election, the Religious Right's DC powerhouse insiders wanted nothing to do with him, forcing him to seek support from a variety of second and third-tier activists and leaders who inhabit the fringes of the movement. 

When John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson all wisely chose to skip the Values Voter Debate organized by Janet Porter and other such activists (though they were grilled by the organizers nonetheless) on stage stood Mike Huckabee, smiling as a choir sang "Why Should God Bless America?" and assuring the organizers that though "many [other candidates] come to you. I come from you."

Huckabee's appearance led Porter to declare him the "David among Jesse's sons" and not long thereafter she became co-chair of the Huckabee campaign's Faith and Family Values Coalition where she was joined by the likes of Rick Scarborough, David Barton, Mat Staver, Don Wildmon, and Star Parker.

When Huckabee wrote a book following the end of his campaign, he singled out these supporters as a "new wave of leaders…[with] prophetic voices…[who are] determined to follow their convictions instead of the conventional wisdom."

In the months since President Obama's election, many of these people have gone completely off of the deep-end and, whenever I have written about them, I have included a mention of the fact that they once served as part of Huckabee's campaign coalition.  I did so because I was operating under the assumption that, given how radical his one-time supporters have become in recent months, his first order of business were he to make another run for the GOP nomination would be to distance himself from these people. 

But obviously I didn't need to keep reminding people of his ties to these fringe figures because, as it turns out, he apparently intends to keep right on courting them, which is why he'll be a featured speaker in September at their How To Take Back America Conference:

Just look at this list of organizers and hosts:

Michael Farris is the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, as well as the author of the Parental Rights Amendment.

Don Wildmon is Chairman of the American Family Association, the boycott-happy right-wing group that recently went after Miley Cyrus for Twittering her views that Jesus loves everyone, whether they are gay or straight.

Joseph Farah is the founder of WorldNetDaily, one of the main forces behind the "birther" movement and just about every other right-wing conspiracy.

Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum believes that married women can't be raped by their husbands.

Mat Staver is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, the group that is still selling the "proud to be a right-wing extremist" cards, who, earlier this year at CPAC, declared that gay marriage would lead to an entire generation of violent criminals.

Rick Scarborough of Vision America recently traveled to Notre Dame to protest along with Alan Keyes and Randall Terry and, just last week, issued a statement decrying the administration's recognition of LBGT pride month, saying that gays have nothing to be proud of and that those "who engage in unnatural acts should hang their heads in shame."

But none of Huckabee's former supporters has become more deranged than Janet Porter of Faith2Action, who declared that anyone who votes for Obama will go to hell, has used her column at WorldNetDaily to advance the birther conspiracy against Obama and lead the fight against hate crimes legislation, dubbed the "Pedophile Protection Act", by inundating Congress with faxes, all while simultaneously leading the right-wing effort against the Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism by launching an ad campaign demanding Janet Napolitano's resignation.

Just about every insane right-wing conspiracy theory currently in circulation has been embraced by one or more of the organizers of this event, all of whom have actively worked to spread the fear that Obama and the Democrats are out to destroy Christianity and turn America into a socialist hellhole. 

And Mike Huckabee, instead of trying to distance himself from the lunacy of his former supporters, openly and willingly continues to associate with them. 

Absolutely amazing.

The McCain Meltdown

It is hard to overstate the shockwave that John McCain sent through the GOP’s right-wing base with his comments earlier this week that he would not rule out the possibility of naming a pro-choice running mate (though not a pro-gay one, of course).

Right-wing leaders were quick to denounce the statement, with Tony Perkins telling the Washington Times yesterday that “if he picks a pro-choice running mate, I don't see how he can win this race."  And today, Phyllis Schlafly weighed in, calling it a “mistake,” and others obviously share that assessment:

"If Tom Ridge is on the ticket, I will not be voting Republican," Home School Legal Defense Association President Mike Farris said told The Washington Times. He thought for a moment, then added: "I won't be voting Democratic either."

The widely influential founder and chairman of the American Family Association Chairman, Donald P. Wildmon, said a Ridge pick would be a "disaster for Republicans."

Concerned Women for America Chairman Beverly LaHaye said "many will walk" away from the Republican ticket if it includes a pro-choice vice president.

Elsewhere, state-based right-wing leaders, many of whom have had personal meetings with McCain, are likewise making their displeasure known

“It absolutely floored me,” said Phil Burress, head of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values. “It would doom him in Ohio.”

Burress emailed about a dozen “pro-family leaders” he knows outside Ohio and forwarded it to three McCain aides tasked with Christian conservative outreach.

“That choice will end his bid for the presidency and spell defeat for other Republican candidates,” Burress wrote in the message.

He and other Ohio conservatives met privately with McCain in June, and while the nominee didn’t promise them an anti-abortion rights running mate, his staff said they could “almost guarantee” that would be the case, Burress recalled.

Now, Burress said, “he’s not even sure [Christian conservatives] would vote for him let alone work for him if he picked a pro-abortion running mate.”

James Muffett, head of Michigan’s Citizens for Traditional Values, met with McCain along with a handful of other Michigan-based social conservatives Wednesday night.

To select a running mate who supports abortion rights would be “wrong-headed, short-sighted, fracture the Republican Party and not allow us to capitalize on the Democratic Party’s fracture right now,” Muffett argued.

“If he does that, it makes our job 100 times harder. It would dampen enthusiasm at a time when evangelicals are looking for ways to gin up enthusiasm.”

McCain, Muffett said, got that message in their meeting.

“Some people in the movement say it would be the kiss of death. He heard that in the room last night.”

Predictably, Gary Bauer - one of McCain’s earliest right-wing supporters who seems to only show up when the candidate does something to anger Bauer’s right-wing allies - appeared on the scene to assure them that there was nothing to worry about:

Gary Bauer, founder of the Campaign for Working Families, said he isn't worried.

"I’m confident that at the end of the day, the running mate will be pro-life," he told Family News in Focus.

McCain has a solid pro-life voting record on abortion issues and has promised to appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court.

Huckabee’s Many Helpers

While it is debatable that God is really responsible for Mike Huckabee’s recent rise in the polls, as he claims, it is clear that something is at work which has propelled the one-time “also ran” into a legitimate contender for the Republican presidential nomination – and that something appears to be a network of disparate but committed right-wing grassroots activists and organizations.  As the Dallas Morning News recently explained:

Mike Huckabee's political rise has been fueled by a vast network of local Christian leaders largely unknown to the general public but powerfully influential in evangelical circles.

That strategy – methodically rolling up the support of these grass-roots networks – has paid big dividends, helping catapult Mr. Huckabee ahead in Iowa and boosting his prospects in the Republican field.

"All these leaders that most of the national media don't recognize, they're all coming to Huckabee," said supporter Kelly Shackelford of Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute.

"You've got the home-school network. You've got the right-to-life network. You've got networks of megachurches," said John Green of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

"The Huckabee campaign apparently understands something about the evangelical community that people outside don't – that it's highly decentralized," he said.

So far, Huckabee has been rolling up an ever-growing list of B-list right-wing figures while courting even fringier figures such as Steve Hotze and John Hagee, whom Huckabee praised as "one of the great Christian leaders of our nation."  Meanwhile, his supporters were all geared up to travel around Iowa and put on “non-partisan” rallies benefiting him until they ran into problems with the weather and their tour bus.   

But Huckabee’s biggest and most active boosters, at least in Iowa, seem to be home-schoolers who are, as the Des Moines Register described them, “Republicans … united by core principles, especially their rejection of public schools in favor of their own religious-based teaching”:

"They stand for the same things, and they trust each other," said Christine Hurley, a Pleasant Hill Republican active in the state's home-school network.

"I think that's what's happening with the Huckabee thing," said Hurley, who supports Huckabee. "When you understand he's a Baptist minister, you don't have to ask what he stands for."

Michael Farris' endorsement of Huckabee in May, meaningless to much of the voting public, sent a strong signal to Crawford and other Christian home-school families in Iowa. Farris is founder and chairman of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association and the national figure for Christian home-school families.

"That was sort of the icing on the cake," Crawford said of Farris' endorsement. "It wasn't the be-all and end-all. But that was the thing that got me to take Governor Huckabee seriously."

The Washington Post reported on the same phenomenon, as has the Los Angeles Times, and even CBN’s David Brody. And while Mike Farris might not be a household name, he is a longtime right-wing activist (having served as general counsel for Concerned Women for America and as executive director and general counsel of the Washington state chapter of the Moral Majority) and obviously extremely influential within the home-school movement.  

In the end, what really excites these home-schoolers about Huckabee is that he is the most “biblically qualified” candidate out there:

"[Home-school families] see it as a civic duty and it's important to try to elect leaders who hold the same values families do. They get behind a candidate and support them," said [Justin] LaVan, who supports Huckabee as a "biblically qualified" figure "who doesn't want to put up barriers or increase control over home-schooling."

Time Magazine: Will Christian Conservatives Support GOP in November?

"You only gain clout by activity," says Home School Legal Defense Association chairman Michael Farris.
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Home School Legal Defense Association Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 07/01/2014, 1:53pm
Earlier this month, David Barton, Rick Green, and Mike Farris held a webinar focused on promoting an Article V Convention of the States, the latest right-wing plan to bring together representatives from all fifty states to draft constitutional amendments that will dramatically limit the power of Congress and the federal government. WallBuilders has been airing portions of this webinar on its daily radio program this week and on today's installment, Farris noted that lots of conservatives leaders are supporting such a convention, with the exception of the Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 06/03/2014, 4:51pm
While good-government groups have been calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s dismantling of campaign finance laws since the day the Court handed down Citizens United in 2010, the issue has been largely off the radar of conservative activists – and has actually enjoyed broad bipartisan support in an array of polls and in state and municipal ballot measures. It was largely off their radar, that is, until this week. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a proposal by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to send a... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 04/07/2014, 4:45pm
Last week, American Family Association’s Sandy Rios spoke to William Estrada of the Home School Legal Defense Association about the supposed dangers of Common Core, which Rios fears will “promote homosexuality” to children. She told Estrada that conservative Christians will refuse to let their kids learn according to Common Core standards, but as a result will “find themselves in a situation where they cannot function, they cannot be accepted into colleges and universities, they can’t get scholarships, they can’t get a ticket to get into, you know, just... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 03/04/2014, 5:10pm
The Home School Legal Defense Association announced today that the Romeike family, the German homeschoolers who lost their petition to have asylum in the US, will be granted “indefinite deferred status” by the Department of Homeland Security. While Religious Right activists like HSLDA head Michael Farris blamed President Obama personally for the Board of Immigration Appeals decision not to grant the Romeikes asylum status, we aren’t holding our breaths for them to thank the Obama administration for the DHS’ decision. Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, for one, is still... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 03/04/2014, 2:35pm
UPDATE: After trashing the Obama administration, Farris announced today that "a Supervisor with the Department of Homeland Security called a member of our legal team to inform us that the Romeike family has been granted 'indefinite deferred status.'" Fox News commentator Todd Starnes is furious that the Romeike family, a family that left Germany for Tennessee over disagreements with German homeschooling laws, has lost its petition for asylum. And of course, Starnes and Michael Farris, who has been representing the Romeike family, blame President Obama. The Supreme Court... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 03/04/2014, 1:40pm
Homeschooling advocate Michael Farris has a new campaign, the Convention of the States Project, which seeks to introduce a constitutional convention to “stop the federal spending and debt spree, the power grabs of the federal courts, and other misuses of federal power.” He told WorldNetDaily yesterday that the federal government “will most certainly destroy American liberty relatively soon,” and that states must be able “to impeach federal officials from their states.” Farris also said that the Supreme Court should be replaced by a system of “50... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Thursday 11/14/2013, 12:45pm
In September, we reported that Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli had called in religious-right reinforcements in the form of Generation Joshua, a branch of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) that sends homeschoolers to campaign on behalf of conservative candidates across the country. It turns out there was something in it for the homeschoolers’ group other than working to rid Virginia of the scourges of “abortion, homosexuality, and moral relativism.” Roll Call’s Political Money Line reports that the week before the election,... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 11/08/2013, 3:04pm
RWW's Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right. This week, we learn more about President Obama’s secret gay past and Michelle Obama’s poor spiritual housekeeping, find out the real reason for Terry McAuliffe’s victory in Virginia, and are duly warned about the consequences of health care coverage and U.N. treaties. 5. Obamacare Will Force People to “Suffer and Potentially Die” Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert, one of Congress’ most creative conspiracy theorists, told the residents of a nursing home in... MORE >