Manhattan Declaration

Meet Marco Rubio's 'Religious Liberty Advisory Board'

Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign has announced its creation of a Religious Liberty Advisory Board that includes Religious Right legal and political activists, including academics and some big names, like Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.

The list could be seen as a response by Rubio’s campaign to last month’s closed-door meeting at which “dozens” of Religious Right leaders voted to rally behind his rival, Sen. Ted Cruz. But Rubio’s director of Faith Outreach, former Manhattan Declaration Executive Director Eric Teetsel, told World Magazine that “membership on the board doesn’t equal an endorsement of the GOP candidate, and the members could advise other campaigns if they wanted.”

Among the members of Rubio’s advisory board are two Latinos who have urged conservatives to adopt a more welcoming approach to immigration: Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and  Carlos Campo, president of Ashland University and former president of Pat Robertson’s Regent University.

Rodriguez has been pushing the Republican Party to take a more constructive tone on immigration in order to open the door for more effective outreach to Latino voters, a tough sell on the right, even before the era of Donald Trump. Rodriguez has participated in recent Religious Right gatherings with Cruz, but has been quoted as saying he’s not in Cruz’s camp.

Rubio shaped and advocated for the so-called Gang of Eight immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013, but he later disavowed his own bill in the face of strong right-wing opposition. He is viewed with suspicion by some right-wingers but has said on the stump that he knows how to fix the immigration system better than anyone else in the race.

Also on Rubio’s advisory board are people affiliated with legal groups promoting Religious Right efforts to portray LGBT equality and religious liberty as incompatible, including Doug Napier and Kellie Fiedorek of Alliance Defending Freedom and Kyle Duncan, lead counsel for the Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby, and former general counsel of the Becket Fund, which was once described in Politico as “God’s Rottweilers.”

Formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, ADF is a heavyweight among Religious Right legal groups, and is spreading its anti-gay, anti-choice advocacy worldwide. Fiedorek argues that the “agenda to expand sexual liberty and redefine marriage” puts religious liberty in “great peril.” She has compared business owners who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples to Rosa Parks.

The Greens’ challenge to the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act was used by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to reinterpret the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and give owners of for-profit corporations the right to seek exemptions from laws that offend their religious beliefs. 

Another member of the Rubio board, law professor Michael McConnell, runs a religious liberty law clinic at Stanford University that was funded by $1.6 million steered to Stanford by the Becket Fund in 2013. Becket Fund attorneys appear in Rick Santorum’s 2014 movie, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty.”

Advisory board member Wayne Grudem, an anti-gay seminary professor and author, argues that God will hold people accountable for shaping laws to meet biblical standards. Grudem has promoted a chart on how to “defeat the enemy’s plan” in politics. He has said that religious freedom makes it legal in the U.S. to have a Muslim mosque or a Buddhist temple, “but that doesn’t mean it’s morally right for people to seek to come to God that way….”

Marco Rubio Hires Culture Warrior Eric Teetsel as Faith Outreach Director

Largely unnoticed in the media coverage of the Republican presidential primary this week was Marco Rubio’s hiring of a major millennial anti-gay, anti-choice culture warrior. Eric Teetsel, who has been executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, has been hired to be Rubio’s faith outreach director. One who took notice was right-wing activist and pundit Erick Erickson, who gushed over the “huge and impressive hire.”

Where other candidates are hiring folks from the dying “Moral Majority” coalitions of the past, Eric Teetsel is plugged into those power centers, but has transcended them. He’s of a more youthful generation of Christian evangelicals who respects past contributions, but is also focused on the future and not nursing past grievances.

Teetsel is, indeed, well plugged in if not as well known to the public as his more visible counterpart at the Heritage Foundation, Ryan Anderson. Like Anderson, Teetsel is part of the anti-equality crowd that orbits Robert George, a co-author of the Manhattan Declaration and a founder of the National Organization for Marriage. And like George and Anderson, Teetsel has written a book about (one man, one woman) marriage. The acknowledgments section of his book reads like a Who’s Who of the Religious Right, including George, Anderson, Brian Brown, Tony Perkins, Mark Tooley and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

And, as Igor Babic noted at the Huffington Post this week, Teetsel has also been a vocal part of the Religious Right chorus denouncing the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, complaining that the court “has bestowed its imprimatur to homosexuality as both an identity and a way of life.” Teetsel wrote:

"A significant cultural impediment has been removed, and so sin will spread. This is regrettable because sin, of course, leads to suffering. As our LGBT neighbors continue to experience the ravages of their sin, will anyone be there to explain to them its cause?"

The Manhattan Declaration brings right-wing Catholics together with their evangelical counterparts to advance their shared strategic goal of portraying opposition to LGBT equality, abortion and contraception in religious liberty terms. Signers and promoters of the Manhattan Declaration compare themselves to martyrs and pledge civil disobedience:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Teetsel has appeared at numerous Religious Right political gatherings and shows up in Rick Santorum’s “documentary” about the “erosion” of religious liberty in America. More notably, he spoke at the recent World Congress of Families summit in Salt Lake City, which honored an activist who defends African laws that punish gays with long jail terms. In fact, Teetsel is listed in the WCF program as a member of the “SWAT Team” charged with “Strategic Planning for the Future” along with that activist, Theresa Okafor, and other anti-gay and anti-choice leaders from around the world.

Teetsel’s hiring is almost certainly a better reflection of Rubio’s commitment to anti-gay culture warriors than his much-ballyhooed endorsement by billionaire Paul Singer, who has backed gay causes but seems more interested in what Rubio can do for the profitability of his vulture capitalism.

Robert George: Marriage Equality Judges Ignore His Brilliant Arguments

Robert George, the reigning intellectual godfather of the Religious Right, complains in an interview with the Christian Post today that judges who recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry are not only ignoring the Constitution, they are ignoring his own brilliant arguments.

George, co-author of the Manhattan Declaration and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, published a law review article and book, “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” with Sherif Gergis and the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson. George is quite proud that Justice Samuel Alito cited their arguments in his dissent to the Supreme Court decision overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act. But he cannot accept that any judge with a commitment to the Constitution could possibly disagree with him.

George broadly renounces all judges who have ruled in favor of marriage equality as engaging in a “pure ideological power play.” He acknowledges that marriage equality rulings have come from judges nominated by both Republicans and Democrats, but portrays them all as “liberal judges who don’t like traditional morality and the traditional understanding of marriage and want to overturn it.”

“So they’re abusing their offices, they’re usurping the authority of the elected representatives of the people, and sometimes the people themselves acting through referendums and initiative, to impose their own vision, their own preferences, their own political policy preferences on the American people. It’s not right and it’s unconstitutional.”

George is incensed that judges are applying the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to same-sex couples, because he says the authors of that mid-19th Century amendment were not thinking about marriage equality.

“It’s just an offense against constitutionalism, against the rule of law, against the idea that the people rule themselves in a republican form of government, to seize on a provision like the Equal Protection Clause and to overturn the laws of marriage.”

But most of all, George cannot seem to accept that an ideologically diverse set of judges, in dozens of opinions, could have considered and rejected his arguments.

“It seems to me that the courts, if they’re going to strike down the marriage laws in the name of the 14th amendment, do have an obligation to at least engage the argument that we presented, but so far they haven’t. And I know the reason why they haven’t. The reason why they haven’t… is that they don’t have an answer for the argument.”

That is ridiculous. But don’t take my word for it. I ran Robert George’s claims by Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a major player in marriage equality advocacy. Here’s what he said:

Judges across the country have considered the arguments put forward by Professor George and others—that marriage is essentially tied to heterosexual procreation and to the alleged “sexual complementarity” of men and women—and have overwhelmingly concluded that they are not persuasive. In fact, most of those courts have held that such arguments are so tenuous and illogical that they fail even the lowest level of constitutional scrutiny.

 

Rick Santorum Presents Latest 'Religious Persecution' Movie

Two current Religious Right fixations — the “persecution” of American Christians and the need for conservatives to do more to influence the pop culture — have come together in movies like “Persecuted” and “We the People—Under Attack.” The latest entry, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty,” was screened by Rick Santorum at the Heritage Foundation on Monday night.

Santorum said the movie will be released in September. His EchoLight Cinemas is trying to create an alternative to Hollywood distribution channels by building a network of thousands of tech-equipped churches who will sell tickets for "One Generation Away" and other movies. He says the long-term strategy is to bring more people into churches and put the church back at the center of the culture.

"One Generation Away" is described as a documentary, but it’s really a preaching-to-the-choir call to arms for conservative Christians and pastors to get more involved in culture war battles while they still have the freedom to do so. Among the film’s producers are Donald and Tim Wildmon from the American Family Association, which Santorum said is packaging a shorter version of the movie into more of an activist tool.

The title comes from Ronald Reagan – specifically from a speech to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in 1961, a time in which Reagan was working with conservatives to rally opposition to Medicare – “socialized medicine”:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

The thrust of "One Generation Away" is that religious freedom in the United States is disappearing fast, and if the church doesn’t fight for it now, it will soon be gone forever. Before running the film on Monday, Santorum quoted Cardinal Francis George, who said during the debate about insurance coverage of contraception, “I expect to die in my bed. I expect my successor to die in prison. I expect his successor to be a martyr.” That’s just the kind of hyperbolic “religious persecution” rhetoric we have come to expect from Religious Right leaders and their allies in the Catholic hierarchy.

At one point toward the end of the movie, it seems as if the filmmakers might be striking a more reasonable tone, with a couple of speakers saying that Christians should stand up for the rights of people of different faiths — even though the AFA’s chief spokesman opposes First Amendment protections for non-Christians— and others actually acknowledging that it is problematic for American Christians to be complaining of “religious persecution” over policy disputes when Christians and others are facing horrific, deadly persecution in many other parts of the world.

But that caution is quickly abandoned as the movie makes a direct comparison of the status of the Christian church in America with the church in Germany as the Nazis came to power. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who tried to mobilize German Christians to resist Nazi tyranny and was executed by the regime, is held up as the model that American Christians need to be willing to follow.

Eric Metaxas, a Bonhoeffer biographer who became a Religious Right folk hero when he questioned President Obama’s faith at a National Prayer Breakfast attended by the president, warned that if the church doesn’t link arms to fight, all will be lost. “The good news,” he said, “is that the American church is slightly more attuned to the rumbling heard in the distance than the German church was in the 30s. The bad news is, only slightly, right?”

The movie cuts to Mike Huckabee saying that Bonhoeffer could have saved his life if he had been willing to soften his faith, but that instead he resisted and rebuked the Nazi regime. And then we’re back to Metaxas to complete the Nazi analogy:

 “The parallel today is simply that. You have a government, a state, which is getting larger and larger and more and more powerful, and is beginning to push against the church. There’s a window of opportunity where we can fight. If we don’t wake up and fight before then, we won’t be able to fight. That’s just what happened in Germany. And that’s the urgency we have in America now. And people that’s incendiary, or I’m being hyperbolic. I’m sorry, I wish, I wish, I wish I were. I’m not.”

Filmmakers said at the screening that they had conducted 75 interviews for the movie, and it sure feels like it.  It includes names that will be well-known to RWW readers, like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Tim Wildmon, Alveda King, Robert George, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, Eric Teetsel of the Manhattan Declaration, and Ryan Anderson and Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation.

Also appearing are Rep. Doug Collins; Rick Perry backer Robert Jeffress; Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute, which sponsored the infamous and discredited Regnerus “family structures” study; Stephen McDowell of the dominionist Providence Foundation; Gregory Thornbury of Kings College; lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, the Beckett Fund, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund; and a number of pastors.

The film also includes interviews with some opponents of the Religious Right, including Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Princeton’s Peter Singer, and Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Santorum told the audience at Heritage that he wishes he had even more of his opponents included in the film because “they scare the hell out of me” and would help motivate the right-wing base.

In order to keep the movie from being one brutally long succession of talking heads, the filmmakers resort to a tactic of constantly shifting scenes, a couple of seconds at a time, in a way that feels like they got a volume discount on stock images of Americana: boats on the water, kids playing softball, families walking together. There are also odd random fillers, like close-ups of the pattern on a couch in the room in which a speaker is sitting. The endless, repetitive succession of images actually makes the film feel even longer than it actually is. (Zack Ford at ThinkProgress had a similar reaction to this technique.)

The meat of the film, or the “red meat,” mixes the personal stories of people being  victimized by intolerant secularists and/or gay activists with miniature David Bartonesque lectures on the Christian roots of America’s founding; the fact that the phrase “separation of church and state” never appears in the U.S. Constitution; the notion that the American government is trying to replace “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship” and require any expression of faith to take place behind church walls; and the disgracefulness of making any analogies between the civil rights movement and the LGBT equality movement. The 1947 Supreme Court decision in which Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” phrase was invoked by the Court and “changed everything” is portrayed as nothing more than a reflection of Justice Hugo Black’s hatred of Catholics.

Featured “persecution” stories include:

  • a long advertisement for Hobby Lobby and its owners, the Green family, which recently won its legal battle against the contraception mandate;
  • a baker and florist who ran afoul of their state’s anti-discrimination laws when they refused to provide services for a same-sex couple getting married;
  • cheerleaders at a public high school in Texas who were challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation for creating football game banners featuring Christian scriptural quotes;  
  • Catholic Charities being “forced” to give up adoption services rather than place children with same-sex couples;
  • an ACLU challenge to a large cross at the Mt. Soledad war memorial; and
  • the supposed frontal attack on the religious freedom of military chaplains as a result of allowing LGBT members of the armed forces to serve openly. On this issue, Tony Perkins declares, “The military is being used as a vanguard of radical social policy. And in order for that policy to permeate and to take root, you’ve got to take out the religious opposition.”

In spite of the parade of horrors, the movie tries to end on an upbeat note, saying that the early Christian church expanded while it was being suppressed, and that it will only take “one spark of revival” to change the nation.  A familiar theme at Religious Right conferences is that blame for America’s decline rests with churches that don’t speak up and pastors who don’t preach or lead aggressively enough. One Generation Away ends on this point, telling Christian pastors it is their responsibility to wake up and challenge their congregants to live their faith “uncompromisingly.”

During the Q&A after the screening, Santorum said the fact that Hobby Lobby was a 5-4 decision demonstrated the importance of the 2016 election. “Part of me almost wishes we’d lost,” says Santorum, because that would have made the threat clearer to conservative activists. “We are one judge away,” he said, adding that “if we get a Democratic president, our five, or four-and-a-half, justices are not going to hold out forever.”

“I just worry,” he said to the young people in the audience, “that the longer we delay, and America sleeps, and your generation is indoctrinated the way it is, the harder it will be to come back.”

Hobby Lobby And 'Biblical Economics'

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Zoe Carpenter writes for The Nation,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pluralism & Prejudice: Catholic Bishops, Mormons, Evangelicals Unite To Oppose Equality

On Monday, five religious organizations filed an amicus brief urging the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold bans on same-sex couples getting married in Utah and Oklahoma. According to the Associated Press, the brief was written by lawyers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was joined by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

The thrust of the brief is to argue that there are sound social policy reasons to oppose marriage equality, and to attack the notion that opposition to gay couples getting married is grounded in anti-gay prejudice, or “animus.” Says the brief, “The accusation is false and offensive.”

“Our faith communities bear no ill will toward same-sex couples, but rather have marriage-affirming religious beliefs that merge with both practical experience and sociological fact to convince us that retaining the husband-wife marriage definition is essential.”

No ill will toward same-sex couples?  Let’s review.

We can start with the Southern Baptists, who have officially declared that “homosexual conduct is always a gross moral and spiritual abomination for any person, whether male or female, under any circumstance, without exception” and that they even oppose businesses extending benefits to domestic partners.  OK, to be fair, that was 1997. The SBC voted in 2003 to “call upon all judges and public officials to resist and oppose the legalization of same-sex unions,” and in 2008 called for constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the U.S.

Richard Land, who was for 25 years the voice of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission until his retirement last fall, has said the Devil takes pleasure in the destructive homosexual lifestyle.  In 2012, Land said, “God is already judging America and will judge her more harshly as we continue to move down this path toward sexual paganization.” A year earlier he accused gay rights activists of “child abuse” for “recruiting” children in elementary school.

Land’s retirement was expected to shift the ERLC’s tone; but the group still opposes ENDA, a proposed federal law to protect LGBT people from discrimination on the job.

Let’s see, who else opposes ENDA, domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriage equality? That would be the US Conference of Catholic bishops. The bishops have said they oppose “unjust discrimination” against people with same-sex attractions, but they define the term “unjust” in a way that applies only to people who remain celibate. So if you are a gay couple and you are having sex, workplace discrimination against you is justified, as is a refusal to legally recognize your relationship.

A number of prominent U.S. bishops signed, and urged other Catholics to sign, the Manhattan Declaration, which compared liberals to Nazis. It declares conservatives’ positions on marriage to be "inviolable and non-negotiable," and pledges that conservatives will engage in civil disobedience, and may even need to prepare for martyrdom, in order to avoid recognizing legally married same-sex couples.

Let’s not forget Bishop Thomas Paprocki, from Springfield, Illinois, who told Catholics in 2012 that voting for the equality-supporting Democratic Party would put their eternal souls in jeopardy, and who responded to the passage of marriage equality in Illinois by conducting an exorcism.

The Mormon Church was a driving force in opposition to early marriage equality moves in Hawaii and Alaska and was crucial to the success of California’s Prop 8, providing tens of thousands of volunteers and a flood of cash. After a post-Prop-8 backlash from both inside and outside the church, LDS officials seemed to have abandoned the anti-marriage-equality crusade. The church says it supported Salt Lake City ordinances banning discrimination in housing and employment and has supported same-sex couples’ rights regarding “hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights” – sounds good – “so long as those do not infringe of the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.” Hmm.

How about the National Association of Evangelicals?  In 2008, Richard Cizik, the longtime public policy face of the NAE, was forced to resign after he publicly expressed support for civil unions.

Unlike the more progressive Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the more conservative Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) strongly opposes LGBT equality. In a statement after the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, the church insisted, “Same-sex unions are contrary to God’s will, and gay marriage is, in the eyes of God, no marriage at all… no matter what the courts or legislatures may say.” The conservative Lutherans have backed HJR 6 in Indiana, which is attempting to add a ban on marriage equality to the state constitution.

In January, the LCMS announced it was entering formal discussions with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Makane Yesus, which cut its longstanding ties with the ELCA last year over sexuality issues. The Ethiopian church was so disturbed by the ELCA’s pro-equality positions that it has declared its members may not share communion with ELCA members.  Ethiopia’s churches and government, with the encouragement of American missionaries, have, in the words of a recent disturbing Newsweek article, “declared war on gay men.”

So, maybe it depends what you mean by “ill will.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/13/12

Religious Right Leaders Warn that Contraception Coverage Policy has 'Many Parallels' with Nazi Germany

Sunday on Breakpoint, Chuck Colson hosted fellow Manhattan Declaration co-founders Timothy George and Robert George to discuss the mandate for contraception coverage and the need for “disobedience” to resist the policy. During the interview, Timothy George repeated his claim that the Obama administration is turning the United States into Nazi Germany, comparing the Manhattan Declaration to the Barmen Declaration of German Christians who opposed the Nazi Party and telling Colson that “there are many parallels” today with Nazi Germany. Later in the interview, Colson maintained that while “we’re not going through the horrors the Nazis did,” the “issue is the same” as the German resistors.

George: The Barmen Declaration was a document that came of May of 1934, it was issued by a group of Protestant Christians in Germany just at the beginning of the Third Reich in which they drew a line in the sand and they said to everyone who would listen that Jesus Christ as he is attest in the Holy Scripture is the one Word of God whom we are to hear, whom we are to trust and whom we are to obey in life and in death. It was a way of saying we will not go along with the usurpation of human rights and Christian commitment that Hitler was calling for at that time, and so we felt that something like that needed to be said in our own time. There are many parallels, it’s not exactly analogous, but we want to call people to the kind of faithfulness and fidelity demonstrated in 1934 in that very important and precious document.



Colson: I think, led by the Holy Spirit, these two extraordinary scholars with me and I were simply led along to do this and I think it is a document for our times, there is not an analogy with the Barmen Declaration because we’re not going through the horrors the Nazis did, but the issue is the same.

New Religious Right Video: Secularism Means Doom For America

One of the sessions at the recent Values Voter Summit featured a showing of a new half-hour video produced by the American Family Association called “Divorcing God: Secularism and the Republic.” (Back in the summer it was being promoted as "Divorcing God: Secularism, Sexual Anarchy, and the Future of the Republic.") The video features an array of Religious Right leaders and academics, whose argument can be summarized this way:  America, whose greatness is decaying because the country has turned its back on the God who inspired the founding fathers, is doomed if it continues to allow secularists to push religion into the closet.  It's time for Christians to fight back.

And just to be clear, the God in “one nation under God” isn’t any old generic God, but the same Christian God who made western civilization possible.  It’s familiar to anyone who has followed the Religious Right’s “Christian nation” rhetoric, filled with founders’ quotes about religion and  attacks on the Supreme Court’s rulings on church-state separation.

Among the stars of the video is Princeton University’s Robert George, the Religious Right’s favorite intellectual. George, a leader of the National Organization for Marriage, is one of the authors of the Manhattan Declaration, whose signers fancy themselves potential martyrs for opposing abortion and LGBT equality in America. Others include Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute; Michael Farris, homeschooling advocate and chancellor of Patrick Henry College; and Matthew Spalding, of the Heritage Foundation. The founders clearly believed that God punishes nations, says Dacus, and when countries allow their societies to become amoral, there’s a price to be paid, not just by those individuals but society as a whole.  The video suggests that the current fight between secularists and those who want to preserve the country’s divine foundation is the last stand for the future of freedom on planet earth.

Another DVD being handed out at the Values Voter Summit hit similar themes about the importance of the nation’s foundation on biblical principles.  It features a 2010 “State of the Nation” speech delivered by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  Ham argues that the nation is threatened by the teaching of evolution and by the Supreme Court. “There really is no such thing as separation of church and state,” says Ham, who warns that “Christianity in this nation is becoming outlawed more and more in various quarters.”  Ham blames the decline more on church leaders than on secularists.  The Bible is the “absolute authority,” he says, but too many Christians have undermined the authority of scripture by compromising on the truth of the 6,000 year-old earth and great flood described in Genesis.  And that means quoting the Bible in policy debates on abortion and gay marriage has lost its effectiveness.

Meanwhile, French scholar Denis Lacorne has just published Religion in America: A Political History (Columbia University Press, 2011), in which he examines two competing narratives about American identity.  One derives from the secular values of the Enlightenment and reflects a desire to preserve liberty by freeing it from the power of an established church.  The second ties American identity to the Puritans and Protestantism.  These two narratives are reflected in competing notions of church-state separation evident today in our politics and on our Supreme Court.  At a presentation at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. this week, Lacorne suggested that what he calls the neopuritan narrative was developed in the first half of the 19th century by historians who wanted to resurrect the influence of the Puritans, who he says were generally ignored by the founding fathers in their debates over religious liberty and whether or not to make the Constitution an explicitly Christian document.  (They chose not to.)

 

GOP Presidential Candidates Join Far-Right Group For Iowa Tea Party Bus Tour

According to the Des Moines Register, Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum will take part in Iowa’s Tea Party Bus Tour. The bus tour is led by a coalition of right-wing groups: the Leadership Institute, FairTax Nation, and the American Principles Project’s affiliated groups, Preserve Innocence and American Principles in Action.

Founded by noted anti-gay activist Robert George, the group is also closely linked to the Manhattan Declaration and the National Organization for Marriage, which it worked with to defeat marriage equality in Maine. Thomas Peters, the APP’s communications director, even participated in a conference tied to the notoriously anti-Semitic Polish broadcaster Tadeusz Rydsyk of Radio Maryja.

The APP is best known for instigating the boycott of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference due to its inclusion of GOProud, a group of gay conservatives, and rallied other Religious Right organizations to leave the summit.

Preserve Innocence is the APP’s education watchdog and is mainly a voice against comprehensive sex education and anti-bullying programs. The group outspokenly opposed the role of Kevin Jennings, the White House’s outgoing Assistant Secretary for the Department of Education’s Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools and the founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, asserting that his views represent a “moral atrocity”:

Kevin Jennings aggressively advocates using our schools to teach children—including young children—about homosexuality and homosexual practices. He is the author of a Foreword to a book called Queering Elementary Education, and as the former Director of GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educational Network), he supports a radical agenda that includes bringing sexual liberationist teachings into public schools. That’s what he means by “queering” elementary education.

“Queering” our elementary schools means destroying the innocence of our children. Please help us to stop that moral atrocity from happening.

The APP also bizarrely claims that President Obama was establishing “death panels” and working with Planned Parenthood to encourage students to have abortions:

“There is a frightening disconnect between what American parents believe their children should be taught about sex and by whom, and the liberal, even promiscuous sex education the Obama administration wishes to inflict upon our children through Planned Parenthood”, stated Andy Blom, Executive Director of the American Principles Project and American Principles in Action. “But this goes beyond sex education. This is opening the doors of our schools and their health programs to the nation’s largest abortion provider.”



President Obama’s Health Care plan threatens babies through Government mandated, taxpayer funded abortion. It threatens parental rights, pre-teens and teenagers through Planned Parenthood SBHC sex indoctrination. It threatens the elderly and disabled through rationed health care and end-of-life “Death Panels.”

Can The Religious Right Please Stop With The Nazi Comparisons?

Ever since the Religious Right drafted and released The Manhattan Declaration in 2009, the authors and supporters of the document has made no bones about the fact that they believe themselves to be courageous heroes in the mold of those who resisted the Nazis in Germany.

And just in case the analogy had not yet been made crystal clear, co-author Timothy George has an essay in the Spring edition of Beeson magazine [PDF] in which he explicitly links the Manhattan Declaration to the Barmen Declaration, the 1934 statement by the Confessing Church standing in opposition to the Nazi take over of the German church.

George admits that "the plight of the church in North America today, serious as it is, is not analogous to the repression Jews, Christians and many others experienced in Hitler’s Germany," but then proceeds to explain how the Manhattan Declaration and the Barmen Declaration are two sides of the same coin:

First, both Barmen and the MD appeal to the authority of Holy Scripture. Each offers quotations from the Bible as the theological basis of its statements. Each recognizes that the Christian faith can be, and often has been, distorted by accommodation to the “prevailing ideological and political convictions” of the day. Thus, it is not surprising that both Barmen and Manhattan have been controversial. Each document subscribes the claim of Jesus in John 14:6, an assertion that demands a decision: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Second, neither Barmen nor Manhattan are “political” statements in the sense of being tied to a particular political party or ideology. The MD has been signed by Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. Some say today that the church should take a sabbatical from speaking to the culture at large. Hitler himself was happy (at least for a while) to leave the Christians alone so long as they stayed within the four walls of their church buildings and refrained from “meddling” in matters related to public policy and the common life of the German people. But both Barmen and Manhattan refuse to say that there are areas of life which do not belong to Jesus Christ. Both affirm the sovereignty of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Finally, both Barmen and Manhattan are more than mere statements of academic discourse. They are not mere declarations of religious opinion. Both are movements of the Spirit and calls to commitment. Stefanie von Mackensen, the only woman delegate at Barmen, later said that she had felt the presence of the Holy Spirit sweep the room when the Barmen Declaration was unanimously adopted and the congregation rose and sang spontaneously, “Now Thank We All Our God.” Both Barmen and Manhattan recognize “the cost of discipleship.” Both call for the kind of conscientious courage that dares to count the cost of following Jesus Christ along the way that leads finally to the cross.

Give the apparently profound significance of the document, I feel compelled to point once again that organizers of the Manhattan Declaration expected to secure one million signatures on the document within a month of its release.  It was now been over a year and a half ... and they have not even received half that.

After More Than a Year, Manhattan Declaration Still Half-A-Million Signatures Short

It was November 2009 when dozens of Religious Right leaders banded together to draft and sign The Manhattan Declaration, that "no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence" and that they will stand for Christ even if it costs them their lives.

At the time, organizers hoped to have one million people sign on to the document within a month, a goal they had not reached even nine months later when, in August 2010, they celebrated that they were only 37,000 signatures short of a half-million.

It has now been six months since that last update, and organizers are still short of the half-million signatures by almost 15,000 - as of today, the website claims the document has received 485,625 signatures in support:

After More Than a Year, Manhattan Declaration Still Half-A-Million Signatures Short

It was November 2009 when dozens of Religious Right leaders banded together to draft and sign The Manhattan Declaration, that "no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence" and that they will stand for Christ even if it costs them their lives.

At the time, organizers hoped to have one million people sign on to the document within a month, a goal they had not reached even nine months later when, in August 2010, they celebrated that they were only 37,000 signatures short of a half-million.

It has now been six months since that last update, and organizers are still short of the half-million signatures by almost 15,000 - as of today, the website claims the document has received 485,625 signatures in support:

Religious Right Leader: Episcopal Church No Longer Christian Because It Supports Gay-Rights

Michael Youssef, the head of Leading the Way Ministries and a vocal critic of Islam, today argued that the Episcopal Church is no longer Christian and “not Jesus’ church” as a result of the church's policies regarding gay-rights. Youssef is a signatory of the Manhattan Declaration, a largely anti-gay and anti-choice screed, which also laments the “decline in respect for religious values” in American society. However, Youssef’s diatribe against the Episcopal Church shows the Manhattan Declaration’s call for “religious liberty” and greater respect for religious values remains secondary to its unbridled anti-gay attacks. Youssef’s attack on the Episcopal Church keeps him in the company of other Religious Right leaders and groups who continuously smear mainline Protestant churches that back civil rights. In a column for the American Family Associations news service, Youssef declared that the Episcopal Church’s support for LGBT equality means that the Church has “defied God” and lost its status as Christian:

Episcopal Church: Christian?

Based on everything I am currently reading and what I experienced firsthand in that Church in the past, my answer to this question is a forceful, "No!"

Perhaps the last nail in the coffin of that once-vibrant Christian church came as no surprise to many of us when M. Thomas Shaw, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, kicked off the new year of 2011 by performing a lesbian marriage ceremony at St. Paul's cathedral in Boston. Two "priestesses" of the church -- Katherine Hancock Ragsdale (dean and president of Episcopal Divinity School, no less) and Mally Lloyd (canon to the Ordinary at St. Paul's) -- were united in homosexual bliss in the presence of 400 guests. The whole debate of homosexuality has deteriorated into an emotional argument on equality with total disregard to God's created order that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

But how can one be surprised at this defiance of church cannons when the Episcopal leadership has defied God? Once the fear of God and obedience to His Word are trampled underfoot, then any sort of church resolution is not worth the paper it's written on.

Back in 2004, the Episcopal Church, in an act of slight-of-hand (more likely a cunning maneuver), agreed to hold a moratorium in the practicing of all the sordid affairs of "ordaining, marrying, and uniting, and blessing" acts of sodomy. But that was merely a surface declaration. In reality, the blessing of same-sex marriage had been widely accepted in the American Episcopal Church before the time of moratorium.

Can anybody in his/her right mind believe that the Episcopal Church is the Church of Jesus -- the Jesus who left the glories of heaven, came to our broken and dark world, died on the cross to redeem us and give us power over sin, and then rose again to assure us of eternal life with Him? The answer has to be a resounding, "No!"

The Episcopal Church is not Jesus' church. The few...very few faithful ones left within this Church need to run for their lives lest they be held accountable for complacency on the Day of Judgment.

Religious Right Leader: Episcopal Church No Longer Christian Because It Supports Gay-Rights

Michael Youssef, the head of Leading the Way Ministries and a vocal critic of Islam, today argued that the Episcopal Church is no longer Christian and “not Jesus’ church” as a result of the church's policies regarding gay-rights. Youssef is a signatory of the Manhattan Declaration, a largely anti-gay and anti-choice screed, which also laments the “decline in respect for religious values” in American society. However, Youssef’s diatribe against the Episcopal Church shows the Manhattan Declaration’s call for “religious liberty” and greater respect for religious values remains secondary to its unbridled anti-gay attacks. Youssef’s attack on the Episcopal Church keeps him in the company of other Religious Right leaders and groups who continuously smear mainline Protestant churches that back civil rights. In a column for the American Family Associations news service, Youssef declared that the Episcopal Church’s support for LGBT equality means that the Church has “defied God” and lost its status as Christian:

Episcopal Church: Christian?

Based on everything I am currently reading and what I experienced firsthand in that Church in the past, my answer to this question is a forceful, "No!"

Perhaps the last nail in the coffin of that once-vibrant Christian church came as no surprise to many of us when M. Thomas Shaw, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, kicked off the new year of 2011 by performing a lesbian marriage ceremony at St. Paul's cathedral in Boston. Two "priestesses" of the church -- Katherine Hancock Ragsdale (dean and president of Episcopal Divinity School, no less) and Mally Lloyd (canon to the Ordinary at St. Paul's) -- were united in homosexual bliss in the presence of 400 guests. The whole debate of homosexuality has deteriorated into an emotional argument on equality with total disregard to God's created order that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

But how can one be surprised at this defiance of church cannons when the Episcopal leadership has defied God? Once the fear of God and obedience to His Word are trampled underfoot, then any sort of church resolution is not worth the paper it's written on.

Back in 2004, the Episcopal Church, in an act of slight-of-hand (more likely a cunning maneuver), agreed to hold a moratorium in the practicing of all the sordid affairs of "ordaining, marrying, and uniting, and blessing" acts of sodomy. But that was merely a surface declaration. In reality, the blessing of same-sex marriage had been widely accepted in the American Episcopal Church before the time of moratorium.

Can anybody in his/her right mind believe that the Episcopal Church is the Church of Jesus -- the Jesus who left the glories of heaven, came to our broken and dark world, died on the cross to redeem us and give us power over sin, and then rose again to assure us of eternal life with Him? The answer has to be a resounding, "No!"

The Episcopal Church is not Jesus' church. The few...very few faithful ones left within this Church need to run for their lives lest they be held accountable for complacency on the Day of Judgment.

Colson Vows To Never Stop Fighting Against Apple

Last week, Chuck Colson used his "Two Minute Warning" to compare those who have signed the Manhattan Declaration to those who opposed the Nazis and the Soviet gulag.

This week, he uses the message to declare that they will never - never! - stop fighting the culture wars, saying that it took "the gay rights crowd ... to infiltrate the schools, the media, network TV shows, to convince legislators, judges, and cultural gatekeepers that gay sex is healthy and normative" and that Christians should expect it to take just as long to restore the "traditional moral order" and vows to keep up the fight against Apple's decision to ban the Manhattan Declaration app for years if necessary:

Right Wing Round-Up

Take a Stand With FRC and Those Who Want Homosexuality Criminalized

The Religious Right has been uniformly outraged ever since the Southern Poverty Law Center updated its list of anti-gay hate groups to include the likes of the Family Research Council and the American Family Association.

And today Jeremy Hooper discovered that they intend to do something more than just incessantly complain about it, as FRC is poised to launch a "Start Debating, Stop Hating" campaign designed to rally support for those groups who found themselves "slandered" by the SPLC: 

The surest sign one is losing a debate is to resort to character assassination. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal fundraising machine whose tactics have been condemned by observers across the political spectrum, is doing just that.

The group, which was once known for combating racial bigotry, is now attacking several groups that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman. How does the SPLC attack? By labeling its opponents “hate groups.” No discussion. No consideration of the issues. No engagement. No debate

These type of slanderous tactics have been used against voters who signed petitions and voted for marriage amendments in all thirty states that have considered them, as well as against the millions of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement. Some on the Left have even impugned the Manhattan Declaration-which upholds the sanctity of life, the value of traditional marriage and the fundamental right of religious freedom-as an anti-gay document and have forced its removal from general communications networks.

This is intolerance pure and simple. Elements of the radical Left are trying to shut down informed discussion of policy issues that are being considered by Congress, legislatures, and the courts. Tell the radical Left it is time to stop spreading hateful rhetoric attacking individuals and organizations merely for expressing ideas with which they disagree. Our debates can and must remain civil - but they must never be suppressed through personal assaults that aim only to malign an opponents character.

You can take action by adding your name to the following statement:

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Family Research Council, American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, National Organization for Marriage, Liberty Counsel and other pro-family organizations that are working to protect and promote natural marriage and family. We support the vigorous but responsible exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty that are the birthright of all Americans.

Just let me point out to those thinking of adding their names to this statement that you are declaring your solidarity with people who proclaim that:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Randall Terry and Alan Keyes are giving Republican in Congress 100 days to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • Joe Scarborough wants to know when someone in the GOP will "man up" and put an end to the charade the Sarah Palin is a legitimate presidential candidate. I'm guessing the answer will be "never."
  • Just a reminder: Harry Potter is very dangerous.
  • Dennis Prager boldly takes on the pressing issue of children having too much self-esteem.
  • The forces behind the Manhattan Declaration want Apple to reinstitute their iPhone app.
  • FRC is not buying the results of the DADT report.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Gary Bauer: "Nothing has changed at FRC since Tony Perkins took over. It was not a 'hate group' when I ran it and it is not a 'hate group' today. What has changed in recent years is the aggressiveness of the 'tyrants of tolerance.'”

Religious Right Thrilled With Its Few Scraps From The GOP

For the last several weeks, Religious Right leaders had been warning Republicans that social issues had better be included in the agenda GOP leaders were going to lay out for the party moving forward.

House leaders have finally released their "Pledge to America," so how did the social conservatives fare

[T]he “Pledge” turned out to have little of substance for the value voters movement.

“We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity. We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values,” it said in the introduction.

The only specifics that followed in the subsequent 21 pages, however, were a promise to “permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment,” and to pass conscience clauses into law for physicians and medical workers.

So you'd think that the Religious Right would be livid that the GOP so blatantly simply threw them a few superficial bones in order to keep them quite ... but you'd be wrong, because they are overjoyed with the few scraps they received:

“We are pleased that the Republican leadership saw the wisdom of honoring our demand for a clear statement of commitment to life, marriage, and the free and full participation of religious believers and faith-based institutions in our public life.

The American Principles Project, Susan B. Anthony List, American Values and Let Freedom Ring submitted more than 20,000 petitions. Supporters and signers of the Manhattan Declaration made thousands of phone calls. The GOP leadership clearly got the message.

Once again, social conservatives have proven that they are the conscience of the party. They have stood up for the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife; and religious freedom and the rights of conscience.”

And of course Ralph Reed is declaring victory as well

House Republicans rightly rejected the idea that Tea Party issues like cutting spending and delimiting government are somehow at odds with the pro-family agenda of honoring marriage and unborn life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pro-family candidates are the most likely to be fiscal conservatives, and Tea Party candidates are the most likely to be pro-life. The agenda embraces time-honored values like traditional marriage and ending taxpayer-funded abortion as well as lower taxes and reduced spending. The message was unmistakable: we will not be divided by a false choice between fiscal responsibility and strong families. We will fight for both, and indeed we must do both if we are to restore America’s promise.

This is absolutely laughable - there is one throwaway mention of marriage and one passing mention of religious liberty in 21-pages of text and yet the Religious Right is acting like it pulled off a major coup.

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Manhattan Declaration Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 01/06/2016, 12:46pm
Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign has announced its creation of a Religious Liberty Advisory Board that includes Religious Right legal and political activists, including academics and some big names, like Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. The list could be seen as a response by Rubio’s campaign to last month’s closed-door meeting at which “dozens” of Religious Right leaders voted to rally behind his rival, Sen. Ted Cruz. But Rubio’s director of Faith Outreach, former Manhattan Declaration Executive Director Eric Teetsel, told World Magazine that... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Friday 11/13/2015, 10:23am
Largely unnoticed in the media coverage of the Republican presidential primary this week was Marco Rubio’s hiring of a major millennial anti-gay, anti-choice culture warrior. Eric Teetsel, who has been executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, has been hired to be Rubio’s faith outreach director. One who took notice was right-wing activist and pundit Erick Erickson, who gushed over the “huge and impressive hire.” Where other candidates are hiring folks from the dying “Moral Majority” coalitions of the past, Eric Teetsel is plugged into those power... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 08/19/2014, 2:47pm
Robert George, the reigning intellectual godfather of the Religious Right, complains in an interview with the Christian Post today that judges who recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry are not only ignoring the Constitution, they are ignoring his own brilliant arguments. George, co-author of the Manhattan Declaration and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, published a law review article and book, “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” with Sherif Gergis and the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson. George is quite proud that Justice Samuel... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 07/31/2014, 10:28am
Two current Religious Right fixations — the “persecution” of American Christians and the need for conservatives to do more to influence the pop culture — have come together in movies like “Persecuted” and “We the People—Under Attack.” The latest entry, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty,” was screened by Rick Santorum at the Heritage Foundation on Monday night. Santorum said the movie will be released in September. His EchoLight Cinemas is trying to create an alternative to Hollywood distribution... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 07/22/2014, 11:16am
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent in the Hobby Lobby case that the Court’s conservative majority had “ventured into a minefield” with its decision. Many of those mines have already been placed by right-wing leaders who claim a religious grounding not only for anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-contraception positions, but also for opposition to collective bargaining, minimum wage laws, progressive taxation and government involvement in the alleviation of poverty. In Hobby Lobby, the Court found for the first time that for-profit corporations have... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 02/12/2014, 5:11pm
On Monday, five religious organizations filed an amicus brief urging the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold bans on same-sex couples getting married in Utah and Oklahoma. According to the Associated Press, the brief was written by lawyers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and was joined by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The thrust of the brief is to argue that there are sound social policy reasons to oppose marriage equality, and... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 12/13/2012, 5:37pm
Rob Boston @ Wall of Separation: You’ve Got (Stupid) Mail!: Texas School District Debunks Religious Right Curriculum Claims. Noah Rothman @ Mediaite: Glenn Beck And S.E. Cupp Agree That GOP Must Accept Gay Marriage, But How? Alvin McEwen @ Pam's House Blend: ‘One Million Moms’ abandoning failed Ellen DeGeneres protest. Andy Kopsa: Mississippi Teen Pregnancy Faith Based Summit: Sales Pitch for Truth in Action Ministries. Towleroad: Manhattan Declaration Promotes Vague, Forgettable Decal. Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: Virginia Foxx spends too much... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/28/2012, 10:30am
Sunday on Breakpoint, Chuck Colson hosted fellow Manhattan Declaration co-founders Timothy George and Robert George to discuss the mandate for contraception coverage and the need for “disobedience” to resist the policy. During the interview, Timothy George repeated his claim that the Obama administration is turning the United States into Nazi Germany, comparing the Manhattan Declaration to the Barmen Declaration of German Christians who opposed the Nazi Party and telling Colson that “there are many parallels” today with Nazi Germany. Later in the interview, Colson... MORE >