OneNewsNow

We'll Keep Swinging and Missing Until We Have Won

We've written about the anti-choice movement's new focus on "personhood" as it attempts to find new tactics to outlaw reproductive choice a few times in the past, mostly to note that efforts to date have not been particularly impressive considering that it was wiped out at the polls in Colorado last November.

But that doesn't mean they are giving up.  Recently, Personhood USA announced that "seven different states have started efforts for the personhood of pre-born children. In addition, Rep. Duncan Hunter has introduced H.R. 881, the Right to Life Act , on the federal level, propelling the personhood movement forward."

Now, RH Reality Check reports that the North Dakota House just passed such a measure yesterday:

On Tuesday, one body of North Dakota's state legislature voted, 51-41, not only to ban abortion, but to define life as beginning at conception. Such a measure, considered extreme even by pro-life standards, would have far-reaching consequences on women's health.

State Rep. Dan Ruby introduced the legislation, which declares that "for purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens."

"It was at the bottom of the calendar and we didn't expect [the House] to get to it, so it caught us a little bit by surprise," said Tim Stanley, senior director of government and public affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. "This bill dangerous, far reaching, and allows government -- not women and families -- to make critical decisions about health care." Some state legislators have been quoted saying the intent of the measure is not to ban abortion outright. However, many legal experts agree that defining life as beginning at conception would affect access to birth control and emergency contraception as well as affect in vitro fertilization. "I'm not sure if this is naivete or if this is sincere," Stanley said. "The bottom line is that our attorneys have looked at this and are extremely concerned."

OneNewsNow asked one of the activists who is pushing this personhood effort, Cal Zastrow of Michigan Citizens for Life, why they are focusing on this issue considering that it lost so badly in Colorado, and he says it is because they will not quit until abortion is outlawed:

"Because it raises the pro-life tide and it gets the vision to not quit until every baby is protected by law and love," he contends. "And you're right, we didn't win the World Series every time we swung the bat -- but we're going to keep swinging the bat and keep going until we have won the World Series."

Of course, a more accurate explanation is probably the one Katy Walker of the American Life League gave last year when she admitted that "the idea of personhood in this movement is really the only thing, the only option left to us."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Concerned Women for America, Operation Rescue, and the Christian Defense Coalition are already opposing the idea that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius might be Obama's nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • Speaking of CWA, they are also opposing efforts to add sexual orientation to South Dakota's hate crime laws, saying "What about obese people or short people or bald-headed men?"
  • The Pacific Justice Institute is suing a California school district for allegedly forcing a twelve year old girl to take a pregnancy test, an accusation the school vehemently denies.
  • Gordon Klingenschmitt continues his crusade to defend police chaplains in Virginia Virginia who want to pray in Jesus’ name, delivering thousands of petitions to Gov. Tim Kaine.
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been chosen to delivers the national Republican response to President Barack Obama's first speech to Congress.
  • The National Republican Trust PAC is threatening to finance primary challenges to any of the Republicans who vote for the stimulus bill - so far, that is only three and, of those three, only Sen. Arlen Specter is up for re-election in 2010.
  • Mike Huckabee says everyone needs a good Christian education because "greed caused the collapse not only of our economic system but of our ethical system."
  • Finally, Alan Keyes apparently has a blog called Loyal To Liberty where he likens himself to Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill and proclaims:
  • I have an ominous feeling about the years ahead. With Obama, we have crossed the line that separates civil politics from civil war disguised as politics. Occupying the White House is a man known for his support and association with people for whom that line appears never to have existed. I predict that American politics as we have known it is gone. And unless we Americans wake up, more than civil politics will end up dead.

Targeting the DOJ, Prepping for the Supreme Court

Last week I wrote a post about the Right’s opposition to a handful of President Obama nominees to serve in the Justice Department and speculated that this was partially an effort to test their strength under the new administration, but also an effort to start laying the groundwork for their full-blown opposition to his judicial nominees.

The more I see them write about this issue, the more convinced I become that this is actually the case ... and that what they are really preparing for is a Supreme Court battle.  For instance, here is Ken Blackwell writing today about these nominees and why they must be stopped:

Three people in particular are getting close scrutiny this week because their names are before the U.S. Senate. Mr. Obama has nominated David Ogden, Elena Kagan and Dawn Johnsen to be deputy attorney general, solicitor general, and the assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), respectively. These positions, in addition to being three of the highest-ranking posts at the Justice Department, are also common stepping stones to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The deputy attorney general is the number two at Justice. The solicitor general is the lawyer who argues for the government in the Supreme Court when the United States is a party to a suit. And OLC issues official legal positions for the federal government.

Each of them - Mr. Ogden, Ms. Kagan and Ms. Johnsen - are committed liberals whose views on a whole range of issues are on the far left. Each of them could argue anti-gun views in our federal courts, and if any of them end up on the bench, could enshrine those views in the law books.

Right-wing pundits and activists are piling on in their opposition to these nominees, primarily David Ogden, and frequently tying the issue to the future of the judiciary and the Supreme Court.

And now the Judicial Confirmation Network has taken out an ad in Roll Call, blasting Sen. Patrick Leahy for moving too quickly and demanding that he slow the confirmation process down. While the JCN's ad doesn't mention the judiciary specifically, considering that the organization's central focus in on the issue of judicial confirmations, it is not too difficult to piece together the obvious connection:

Senator Leahy is trying to ram through the Senate confirmation process the nominations of David Ogden for Deputy Attorney General, Elena Kagan for Solicitor General, and Thomas Perelli for Associate Attorney General. Leahy's abuse of the process makes a mockery of the Senate as the "world's greatest deliberative body." The American people have a right to know about the nominees who have been chosen for the most important legal positions in the executive branch. The Senate has been entrusted with this constitutional responsibility. So why is Senator Leahy forcing a rush to judgment on Department of Justice nominees especially when the vetting process for top jobs in the Obama administration has been so lacking? What is it the Senate needs to know about these nominees that Senator Leahy prefers to brush past? What do you have to say, Senator Leahy?

Below is a copy of a full page ad that we ran in today's copy of Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper. We hope you will join us in asking Senator Leahy . . . why the rush to judgment on these crucial nominations?

What will you have to say, Senator Leahy?

Senator Leahy is trying to ram through the Senate con­firmation process the nominations of David Ogden for Deputy Attorney General, Elena Kagan for Solicitor General, and Thomas Perelli for Associate Attorney General. Leahy's abuse of the process makes a mockery of the Senate as the "world's greatest deliberative body." The American people have a right to know about the nominees who have been chosen for the most important legal positions in the executive branch. The Senate has been entrusted with this constitutional responsibility. So why is Senator Leahy forcing a rush to judgment on Department of Justice nominees – especially when the vetting process for top jobs in the Obama administration has been so lacking? What is it the Senate needs to know about these nominees that Senator Leahy prefers to brush past?

What do you have to say, Senator Leahy?

Until recently, the JCN’s mission was limited to supporting “the confirmation of highly qualified individuals to the Supreme Court of the United States [and working] to ensure that the confirmation process for all judicial nominees is fair and that every nominee sent to the full Senate receives an up or down vote.” 

But now that President Bush is no longer in office, that mission has apparently broadened and now includes weighing in on Executive Branch nominees as it seeks to position itself to lead the opposition once President Obama starts putting forth judicial nominees.

As we’ve noted before, perhaps the Judicial Confirmation Network should just go ahead and change its name, as the “confirmation” part no longer seems to apply.

Sometimes You Just Have to Scratch Your Head and Wonder

I honestly had no intention of continuing to cover the ludicrous “controversy” regarding the supposedly “anti-Christian” provision in the stimulus legislation, but it keeps popping up on right-wing websites and so I feel obligated to keep futilely trying to knock it down. 

For instance, here is Jonathan Falwell writing on WorldNetDaily, who cites this provision as proof that “public religious expression is increasingly in the crosshairs of our government”:

On Thursday, I spoke with Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law about this issue. During our conversation, he stated in part that the so-called stimulus bill may lead to the banning of religious activity from public facilities, with public schools possibly being forced to expel after-hours Bible clubs and weekend religious services in order to access these government funds. This would have a chilling effect on religious ministries and church-planting organizations of all stripes, including new church plants being sent out from Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University.

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if our lawmakers have even a basic understanding of our nation's rich history of religious freedom.

First of all, stop listening to Mat Staver because he’s wrong.  And secondly, sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if anybody on the Right has even a basic understanding of how to read legislation because, if they did, they’d know that everything they are saying is outright false.

The Family Research Council also made another mention of this provision in its most recent “Washington Update”:

Although Republicans have tried to strip some excess from the stimulus, Democrats had a small victory of their own yesterday, defeating Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) amendment to ban religious discrimination from the bill by a 43-54 vote. Only Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) deserted the GOP to side with her liberal pals in opposing the provision.

Actually, two Republicans senators voted against it: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if anybody on the Right has even a basic understanding of how to read a roll call vote.

Then finally, there’s Jay Sekulow, who got this whole thing started in the first place, declaring that he and the ACLJ intend to file suit immediately after President Obama signs it and proclaiming that they intend to spend years fighting it, if necessary:

"Well, not only is it disappointing, it's almost a throwback to litigation that we conducted in the 1980s that we won unanimously at the Supreme Court," he says. "And I feel like this particular legislation pokes the finger in the eye of people who take religious faith seriously.
 
Jay Sekulow (Amer. Ctr. for Law & Policy)"It's discriminatory in its application, unconstitutional as it's written, [and] unfortunately it's going to take four or five years for it to be litigated all the way through," Sekulow adds.
 
With passage of the bill with the restrictions in place, how might colleges and universities be affected? "We're going to look at filing an application for a stay of this provision, trying to get it declared unconstitutional through a restraining order," he shares.
 
Sekulow plans to file suit the day after President Obama signs the bill.

Does the ACLJ really intend to file suit and spend years in court based on nothing more than its own intentional misreading of this provision? Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder if this is all a plot to drive me completely insane.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Yesterday we posted a video from Rob Schenck reporting that Focus on the Family's new chief lobbyist, Tim Goeglein, would be working out of Faith and Action's offices.  Maybe Schenck said too much, because the video has now been yanked.
  • Rick Scarborough is not happy with efforts to do away with the moment of silence in Texas schools, saying "my prayer is that kids will have sense enough to know they need help from above."
  • Elaine Donnelly continues her one-woman crusade to save Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
  • Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka opposes efforts to grant rights to domestic partners, saying "We're not going to fall into that trap. I don't want to take my chances."
  • Mike Huckabee has got nothing on Bobby Jindal.
  • Apparently, Barack Obama mentioned non-believers in his remarks today at the National Prayer Breakfast.  Will the Right freak-out again?
  • Just a reminder that while the Religious Right doesn't like gays and abortion, they have a much wider agenda which includes things like fighting alcohol sales on Sundays.
  • Finally, Richard Cizik has been laying low ever since losing his job with the National Association of Evangelicals, but he re-surfaced yesterday when he delivered thousands of petitions to the President and Congressional leaders calling on them to "act quickly to ensure the future of our planet and generations to come."

ACLJ's Zombie Lie Becomes Official Right Wing Talking Point

Over the last few days, we have been chronicling how a flat-out fabrication by the ACLJ about a provision in the economic stimulus legislation would supposedly ban religious students from using university facilities. 

As we've pointed out repeatedly, the provision says nothing of the sort ... but that hasn't stopped the ACLJ's Jay Sekulow from intentionally spreading this misinformation far and wide, writing about it on his Beliefnet blog where he called it "an unacceptable provision that clearly discriminates against religious organizations," as well as on The Hill's Congress Blog, where he said it was designed to "bolster efforts by those who would like nothing more than to strip religion and faith from our culture."

Sekulow's lies about this provision then induced both the Liberty Counsel and the Traditional Values Coalition to hop on board the effort to get it stripped from the legislation, which in turn generated coverage from right-wing news outlets like OneNewsNow and CNS News.

And you know that it has finally become an official right-wing talking point when it shows up in the Family Research Council's "Washington Update":

Buried in the education component of the bill is language that singles out religious institutions for discriminations ... liberals shouldn't be using the stimulus bill as an opportunity to practice viewpoint discrimination with government funds and encourage colleges and universities to discourage religious activity on campus out of fear of losing out on federal dollars.

Early on, Sen. Jim DeMint hopped on the ACLJ's bandwagon and now Sekulow reports that DeMint has officially introduced an amendment [PDF] to strip the provision from the legislation; an amendment with the stated purpose of allowing "the free exercise of religion at institutions of higher education that receive funding under" the stimulus bill.

Of course, the original provision in no way prohibits the "free exercise of religion" at universities that receive funding, but that isn't stopping the Religious Right from lying about it in order to try to get it stripped from the bill.

There Is Always More To The Story

Last week, LifeSiteNews reported that efforts to protect traditional marriage in Nigeria were coming under attack from gay rights activists in the European Union:

The European Union’s Intergroup on “gay rights” has demanded that all foreign aid to Nigeria be suspended after that country’s House of Representatives voted to prohibit attempts to create legal “gay marriage.” The Nigerian vote was unanimous this week in favor of a bill that “prohibits marriage between persons of same gender, solemnisation of same and other matters related therewith.”

And because there has never been an anti-gay measure anywhere that he couldn’t find a way of supporting, Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel was quick to commend the Nigerian legislature for its bold stand and blast those who dare criticize the legislation as “homo-fascists”: 

"The European Union has certainly been infiltrated by homo-fascists. There's just no doubt about it," he contends. "They are using that body to essentially try to push the international homosexual agenda down the throats of countries that respect traditional values relative to sexual morality."
Barber believes Nigeria and any other country ought to be free to express its own culture without outside interference.

Like so much of the “news” reported by right-wing outlets, coverage of this legislation was exceedingly misleading both about the nature of the bill and the international opposition to it.  As Human Rights Watch explained:

On January 15, 2009, the Nigerian House of Representatives voted favorably on the second reading of a bill "to prohibit marriage between persons of same gender." The bill would punish people of the same sex who live together "as husband and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship" with up to three years of imprisonment. Anyone who "witnesses, abet[s] and aids" such a relationship could be imprisoned for up to five years.

"This bill masquerades as a law on marriage, but in fact it violates the privacy of anyone even suspected of an intimate relationship with a person of the same sex," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "It also threatens basic freedoms by punishing human rights defenders who speak out for unpopular causes."

HRW reports that Nigerian law already mandates up to “14 years of imprisonment for anyone who ‘has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” and Amnesty International says the legislation “can only promote acts of hatred.”

This bill is not about “protecting marriage” – it’s about throwing gays and lesbians in jail.  

Yet to Barber, that is perfectly okay because what is important is protecting “traditional values” from the “homo-fascists” who are out to destroy sexual morality.  

The Gay Mole at OPM

President Obama intends to name John Berry -- who was tapped to serve as director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park back in 2005 -- to be the next head of the Office of Personnel Management, and not everyone is happy about it.

Professional anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera is miffed because … you guessed it … Berry is gay:

Homosexual activist groups are predicting that if nominated and confirmed, Berry would work to expand benefits for same-sex couples -- something he did while he worked in the Interior Department.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, says Berry has been flouting the spirit if not the letter of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars spousal recognition for same-sex couples.

"First of all, looking at Mr. Berry's track record, it's obvious that he's a homosexual activist within the federal government, doing a lot of things within a Republican administration that most people never were aware of," he contends. "So, what we have is sort of a subversive -- if you could call it that -- homosexual activist, and now he's going to have an even much more visible and powerful role at OPM, which is a very powerful job in Washington. And it just shows what's going to happen under the Obama administration."

And what was it that Berry did during his time at Interior that has LaBarbera so terrified?:

[Berry served as assistant secretary for policy, management and budget at the Interior Department during the Clinton administration and his accomplishments include] overseeing the creation of a grievance procedure for employees who experience discrimination because of their sexual orientation; expanding relocation benefits and counseling services to the domestic partners of Interior employees; establishing a liaison to gay and lesbian employees; and eliminating discriminatory provisions of the National Park Service's law enforcement standards, including bans on security clearances for gay and lesbian employees.

Berry's efforts touched on contracting as well. Under his watch, the Interior Office of Small and Disadvantaged Businesses began outreach to gay and lesbian-owned firms and chambers of commerce.

OPM's potential nominee also helped lead efforts culminating in the addition of the Stonewall Inn in New York City -- the site of riots that helped spark the American gay rights movement -- to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

In recognition of those efforts, the Department of the Interior Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees Association presented Berry with its New Millennium Human Rights Award in 2001 and named the prize after him.

Working to end discrimination against gay employees and implement policies aimed at equality? Boy, that certainly does sound “subversive.”

While The Right Stays Mum on Steele, Duke Loses It

When he was running for chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele frequently came under attack from those who felt he was insufficiently committed to the right-wing agenda, with Don Wildmon of the American Family Association even sending out an email attacking Steele.  

But now that he has been elected to take over the RNC, Steele got right to work trying to win his critics over:  

Michael S. Steele, whose sixth-ballot victory Friday made him the first black leader of the Republican Party, immediately began mending fences within the Republican National Committee and showing conservative leadership muscle after the long and nasty five-way contest for chairman.

Mr. Steele began his first day as national chairman with several members saying that he has a number of formidable tasks ahead, chief among them to unite the ideological and regional factions in the party that have become increasingly obvious.

In particular, party officials said, Mr. Steele will have to use his considerable charm and rhetorical skills to allay the fear among conservatives in the South that he is too moderate.

For his part, Gary Bauer, who was one of the few right-wing leaders who didn’t publicly endorse Steel’s opponent, Ken Blackwell, says the Religious Right has nothing to worry about from Steele:

[Bauer] does not share the concerns of some conservatives who worry that Steele is too moderate on social issues and may move the party in a more centrist direction.
 
"I know him personally. He's a smart guy, and I think he understands that the only chance that the Republican Party has in the future is to be consistent about its core message -- and that core message is smaller government, lower taxes, a strong national defense, pro-family, and pro-life," he contends. "So, I do not see Michael Steele in any way undermining any of those key, central ideas that are held so strongly by most conservatives and most Republicans."

Presumably, this is not going to assure Bauer’s allies on the right:

Michael Steele, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee wants the GOP to reach out to candidates who support gay marriage and are pro-choice. Steele told Fox's Chris Wallace that it was "important" to reach out to those voters.

WALLACE: You are one of the co-founders of something called the Republican Leadership Council which supports candidates who favor abortion and gay rights.

STEELE: Yes.

WALLACE: Does the GOP needs to do a better job of reaching out to people who hold those views?

STEELE: I think -- I think that's an important opportunity for us, absolutely. Within our party we do have those who have that view as well as outside and my partnership with Christy Todd Whittman was an effort to build a bridge between moderates and conservatives.

So far, we haven’t seen any press releases or commentary from other Religious Right groups and leaders, which makes us suspect that they are none-too-pleased with the RNC’s choice … but at least they are not losing their minds, like David Duke:

I am glad these traitorous leaders of the Republican Party appointed this Black racist, affirmative action advocate to the head of the Republican party because this will lead to a huge revolt among the Republican base. As a former Republican official, I can tell you that millions of rank-and-file Republicans are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore! We will either take the Republican Party back over the next four years or we will say, "To Hell With the Republican Party!" And we will take 90 percent of Republicans with us into a New Party that will take its current place!

Vitter's Self-Defense Campaign Rolls On

I can't tell if I really am seeing Sen. David Vitter's name show up a lot more in the places I monitor for right-wing news or if I am just noticing his name more because I am fascinated by his current scramble to seal off his right flank in order to hold off a possible primary challenge, perhaps from someone like Tony Perkins. 

Either way, I feel like I've been writing about him a lot lately ... and I see no reason to stop now, especially since this fits in with the current narrative that Vitter seems to be trying really, really hard to become the Religious Right's most committed advocate on the Hill:

Senator David Vitter is vowing to do everything within his power to block the Freedom of Choice Act from moving forward in the Senate ... Although the legislation has not yet been introduced in the current Congress, Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) tells OneNewsNow he intends to aggressively oppose the bill, which he calls a "huge threat."

"In one fell swoop it would wipe away so much of the progress we've made in the last decades -- so many legitimate, proper restrictions that are in place now on abortion. It would threaten conscience provisions. It would usher in unprecedented federal taxpayer funding of abortions," he notes. "So, it would be horrible, and that's why I'm going to do everything possible to fight the bill, to filibuster it, to use every procedural tool available in the Senate to block that bill when it's introduced."

Vitter has always been a favorite of the Religious Right, but I can honestly say that I don't recall him ever being as active on their agenda as he has been in recent weeks ... and considering that he's up for election next year and fearful of a primary challenge due to his involvement in a prostitution ring, this clearly isn't just a coincidence.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • A while back we chronicled the on-going fight between Dick Armey and James Dobson in which Armey proclaimed that "Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies." Well, judging by Amey's appearance on "Hardball" last night, it seems that the same could quite easily be said about him.
  • Former Rep. Ernest Istook suggests that President Obama ought to get Al Sharpton, Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson, Ward Connerly, CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), Herman Cain, Ken Blackwell and J.C. Watts together to figure out what to do about affirmative action and "gather them all and others in a public setting to chart a simpler, fairer future course that reflects America’s great progress over the last 50 years."
  • A gaggle of right-wing Representatives and Senators have "re-introduced the Life at Conception Act, legislation that declares that life begins at conception and the unborn to be 'persons' under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution."
  • Finally Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America explains why the Right was so opposed to efforts to including funding for family planning in the stimulus bill - because it would have cut down on the number of children, and we need those children to pay down the debt:
  • The economic stimulus bill shifts the burden of the debt onto the next generation; yet if we are spending billions of more dollars in 'family planning,' there won't be much of a next generation to pay this huge debt."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • After Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation last year creating "Harvey Milk Day," a California legislator is hoping that publicity from the movie "Milk" will help get it passed and enacted this year.
  • Ted Baehr, founder of Christian-oriented MovieGuide, says the list of current Oscar nominees proves that Hollywood is "the cultural pigsty of the world" and made up of "elite snobs" who "don't like anything that extols great virtues and institutions like heroism, purity, sacrifice, the military, the traditional family, honesty, liberty above lawlessness and licentiousness, anti-Communism and Christianity."
  • Alan Keyes pens a typically rambling attack on Obama, claiming "Obama uses the name of God, but in his views and politics he stubbornly denies, disregards and rejects God's authority."
  • Among the signs seen at yesterday's March for Life: "Impeach Adolf Obama."
  • Another day, another rabid statement from Matt Barber:
  • "I certainly cannot judge whether or not Barack Obama has a relationship with Christ. That's between him and God, and only they know that. However, scripture tells us that you will be known by your fruits, and here Barack Obama is promoting counter-biblical, anti-Christian policies. [These are] policies that elevate deviant sexual behaviors and dangerous sexual behaviors that are destructive spiritually, physically and emotionally, and certainly -- when embraced as Barack Obama has embraced them -- are destructive societally."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Hill reports that, in the race for the next RNC Chair, Ken Blackwell is falling to the back of the pack, saying he still "has a reservoir of public supporters, [but] his initially fast pace in rolling out backers has slowed."
  • Maria McFadden Maffucci, editor of the Human Life Review, says that the anti-choice movement itself has not failed but that "pro-life individuals have failed to make the protection of the unborn an actual priority."
  • The Family Research Council is warning that Wyoming's Marriage Amendment is "scheduled to die due to lack of support if immediate action is not taken" and urges its activists to start inundating Wyoming legislators.
  • Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance is not happy that the University of Idaho is planning to launch co-ed dorm rooms this Fall, saying he doesn't think "that a taxpayer-funded institution like the University of Idaho simply should not be in the business of fostering environments that encourage this kind of sexual experimentation."
  • Finally, the blogs were abuzz yesterday with a quote from the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman voicing his displeasure that George Mitchell was to become the Obama Administration's special diplomatic envoy to the Middle East, saying he was too "even-handed." It seems that Gary Bauer shares that concern:
  • George Mitchell has a reputation on his previous work in the Middle East as being evenhanded between Israel and the Palestinian extremists. And for me that means the appointment is bad because I don't believe we should be evenhanded between Israel and the Palestinians. I think Israel is our only reliable ally in the Middle East. I believe that they are right in this ongoing war that is being waged against them.

The Right Gets Spooked By the Specter of Nonbelievers

In his Inauguration Address, President Obama acknowledged that "we are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers."  I didn't think much of it at the time, but apparently it was the first time that atheists had been explicitly acknowledged in an Inauguration speech.

And it has seemingly spooked the Religious Right, or at least its media arms, so much so that they felt it necessary to seek out quotes from movement leaders that would remind everyone that, though nonbelievers exist, they are a small minority and that this is still a Christian nation.

As OneNewsNow put it, "America's 'melting pot' dominated by Christians"::

[Al] Mohler says while the nation has diverse religious beliefs, Christianity is by far the most popular.

"I just found it also interesting that in that representation, you have Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus -- and the reality is that Christians vastly outnumber [other religious adherents], beyond almost mathematical focus what you're talking about," he points out. "But we do believe in religious liberty. This is the land where this can be said in a way that is different than can be said in most nations of the world throughout human history."

And OneNewsNow was not alone in feeling it necessary to make this point clear:

“It struck me as accurate,” [Richard] Land told CNSNews.com. “We are a nation of Christians and Jews, and Muslims and Hindus, and Baha’i and agnostics and atheists – although proportionally the vast majority of Americans claim some kind of affiliation with a Christian faith.”

...

Dr. Elmer Towns, dean of the Liberty University School of Religion ... added: “If Obama is setting an agenda of tolerance, let’s make sure that the tolerance extends to the majority as well as the minority.

“The Baptists have an old saying – “Let the minority have their say, let the majority have their way.’”

I don't really have anything insightful to add to this, other than to note that just seems rather odd that because of the mere mention of non-believers, right-wing media outlets like OneNewsNow and CNS thought it necessary to produce articles reminding everyone that the majority of Americans consider themselves to be Christians.

The Right Declares "We're Not Dead Yet"

For those tempted to write off the Religious Right as moribund in light of back-to-back devastating defeats of Republicans in the last two elections and the rise of Barack Obama, keep in mind that such proclamations seem to be issued after every Republican defeat, only to be followed a few years later by a spate of articles proclaiming the surprising re-birth and influence of the movement.

But you don’t just have to take our word for it – here’s Jerry Falwell Jr. declaring that the Religious Right has no intention of ceding its hard-earned place in contemporary politics or laying down to die:

This isn't the first time conservative Christians have been dismissed as dearly departed. Yet we continue to resurface as a political force because God is still at work in the hearts of His people.

Conservative people of faith who were at the fore of the elections in 1980, 1994 and even 2004 are still around, and they remain equipped for battle. But there have not been enough people on Capitol Hill for us to rally around in recent years. We are hungry for a Ronald Reagan to lead us.

We need in the White House a protector of our historic religious freedoms, an advocate for the unborn, a defender of the traditional American family and a guardian of constitutional principles of law. Some may say that these are old-fashioned ideals that no longer resonate with Americans, particularly young people.

However, such critics need look only as far as Liberty University to see that throngs of young people still live by the ideals Christians have long held dear. Liberty is rebuilding the conservative movement by training these future conservative leaders.

[W]e must ensure that our government does not make us unwelcome in our own country.

Conservative Christians were largely responsible for Reagan's winning the presidency and changing the course of our nation three decades ago. We must change the political climate again, no matter how many critics are ready to erect our tombstones.

Falwell is scheduled to be on Liberty Live with host Mat Staver and co-host Matt Barber along with Don Wildmon of the American Family Association where they will discuss their confidence that they will soon be able to reverse their current situation and their plans for doing just that:  

Today on Liberty Live, Liberty University Chancellor and CEO, Jerry Falwell Jr., will talk about the conservative movement. His article, "Don't Play Dead," appears in this month's edition of Charisma Magazine. Don Wildmon, the Founder of the American Family Association (AFA), will also join Falwell to discuss rebuilding the conservative movement.

Like Falwell, Don Wildmon, Founder of AFA, is focused on building the conservative movement. AFA and Liberty are partnering together to organize and train a new generation of world leaders. AFA has the largest grassroots conservative email list in the world. AFA.net, AFR.net, and OneNewsNow.net are some of the most frequently visited web sites in the world.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented, "The future of the conservative movement is brighter than ever. If anyone thinks for a moment that the conservative movement is dead, they must not be living on this planet."

I don’t know that I’d go so far as Staver to declare that their movement’s future is “brighter than ever” … but then again, their current situation is rather grim, so the “future” probably does seem pretty bright in comparison to the gloom that is enveloping the movement at this point in time.  

Robinson's Participation in Inauguration Might Cause God to Destroy Washington DC

Ever since it was announced that Rev. Gene Robinson would be participating in the Inaugural festivities, Religious Right leaders, many of whom were initially thrilled when they found out that Rick Warren was to be involved, have become decidedly less thrilled about the whole thing.

As we've noted previously, Tony Perkins called it a move "designed to placate angry liberals" while Bill Donohue complained that "Obama has chosen a man who offends Catholics as much as he does Protestants. If that’s his idea of inclusion, he can keep it. " Peter LaBarbara called it "an affront to faithful Christians and religious defenders of morality everywhere" and Matt Barber saw it as a betrayal of Christian voters.

Now, as Inauguration Day approaches, others are jumping on the bandwagon and revving up the radical rhetoric, with Rick Scarborough calling it a blatant "slap in the face":

Bishop Gene Robinson is supposed to help unite the country? Give me a break ... For Christians, THIS invitation was a slap in the face. Bishop Robinson’s choices are completely against the Bible he supposedly represents. The sin of homosexuality is rebellion against God’s Holy Word. It is one of the most tragic of the lies that Satan perpetrates on the human race ...Let’s also remember to pray for our new president. That God will change his heart on the issue of homosexuality. That he will see it for what it is: a sin and an affront to the God on whom this nation was founded. That he will have the courage not to be swayed by an outspoken, belligerent minority. That he will have enough fear of a Holy God that he will stand boldly and courageously for what is right.

Never one to be outdone, Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission is telling parents not to let their children watch what will be the "most perverted [inauguration] in our nation’s history" and warns that God just might destroy the nation's capital because of it:

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States is going to be historic for many reasons, not all of them good. Obama’s inauguration may help move race relations forward in America, but Obama’s inaugural events are a major step backwards for historic Christian values. CADC must issue this WARNING message: Don’t let your children watch!

National events ought to unify and elevate the nation by celebrating what is virtuous, such as God and patriotism. Obama is making a terrible mistake by polluting his inaugural events with sexual sin. Some one ought to remind him that he wasn’t elected mayor of Sodom.

Barack Obama’s inauguration will have the dubious distinction of being the most perverted in our nation’s history ... In order to be consistent in using this kind of reasoning, Obama ought to have a stripper lead off the inaugural parade followed by the Hell’s Angel’s Motorcycle Drill Team followed by the Crips Precision Handgun Corp. and the Transvestite Fashion Police. Just because something exists in society does not mean it is good and is to be paraded in front of everyone, especially children.

On this historic occasion of the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, I must unfortunately recommend that you keep the kids away from the TV and pray that God will not rain fire and brimstone down on Washington DC.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Peter LaBarbera weighs in on the decision to include Eugene Robinson in the Inauguration ceremonies, calling it a "tragic departure from America's godly, Judeo-Christian heritage" while Tony Perkins calls Robinson "divisive," saying the move was "designed to placate angry liberals." For his part, Rick Warren applauded the decision.
  • Just weeks after passing an anti-discrimination ordinance, the Kalamazoo City Council has rescinded it after an outcry from the American Family Association.
  • Speaking of the AFA, they have launched a boycott against Pepsi for its donations to the Human Rights Campaign and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays ... though they had no complaints last month when Pepsi partnered with Liberty University.
  • Today's episode of Dr. Phil featured "expert" advice from Focus on the Family's Glenn Stanton and the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality's Joseph Nicolosi - Good as You and Queerty have more.
  • Finally, despite the fact that he passed away last month, Paul Weyrich still seems to be penning columns for Townhall.

They Can't Give an Inch

Last month, President Bush signed The Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA), legislation designed to clarify a provision in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA), which, as the Human Right Campaign explained, "made it possible for employers to allow any nonspouse beneficiary of an employee’s retirement plan—including an employee’s same-sex partner—to roll inherited retirement benefits directly to an individual retirement account (IRA) and avoid immediate taxation."

Prior to passage of the PPA, same-sex partners who inherited retirement plan savings were forced to pay taxes on the amount while married spouses could roll the savings over with no tax penalty. Provisions in the PPA were designed to remedy this inequity but, after passage, such provisions were interpreted to be optional for employers and thus WRERA was passed to clarify that companies are required to offer this protection to all employees.

Of course, now the Right is mad about this because ... well, if we start treating gays equally, they'll demand that they be treated equally

Peter Sprigg is vice president for policy at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC. He says the new law is an example of how homosexual activists have made many of their policy advances.

"Sometimes they throw the long ball, so to speak, and have these big court cases that declare same-sex 'marriage' to be the law of the state, like we've seen in Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut," says Sprigg. "And other times it's the ground game, so to speak -- just grinding it out with these short little plays that advance their agenda a yard at a time."

Sprigg says the practical impact of the new law benefiting same-sex couples will be minimal, but it will have a troubling cumulative effect. He believes the more such benefits are accrued by same-sex couples, the more plausible it appears for them to argue they should be treated just the same as married couples in everything.

If we don't keep discriminating, next thing you know gays will be saying that "they should be treated just the same." And we can't have that now, can we?

We'll Have to Start Paying More Attention to Paul Broun

Until last week, we had never paid much attention to Rep. Paul Broun ... in fact, when he showed up last week with Rob Schenck and Patrick Mahoney for some pre-inaugural anointing, it was the first time we had ever written about him. 

But I am beginning to suspect that that is about to change:

Congressman Paul Broun has reintroduced legislation that he says would stop abortion and the "clone-and-kill" mentality in the U.S.

Representative Paul Broun (R-Georgia) believes the "greatest moral issue facing our nation" is the killing of unborn children, and that all Americans have a "moral and constitutional obligation" to protect every unborn child. That's why Broun, a medical doctor, has promised that the Sanctity of Human Life Act will be the very first bill he will introduce in every Congress until abortion is banned in the U.S. He notes the bill scientifically defines life as beginning at the point of fertilization with the creation of a human zygote.

"It gives the right of personhood to that one-celled human being," Broun explains. "If you look at Roe vs. Wade, the whole decision was predicated on no definition of the beginning of life being ever established legislatively." Roe v. Wade is the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America.

"[But] this [bill] would define life beginning at fertilization," he continues. "It would give the right of personhood to that one-celled human being -- thus that person should be protected under the law as we are today."

We'll probably have to start trying to keep an eye on Tim Echols, one of Broun's former aides, as well, since he seems to have big plans to resurrect the Religious Right in Georgia:

One of U.S. Rep. Paul Broun's closest advisers is starting a consulting firm to bring religious conservatives back to political prominence and elect the first black Republican to statewide office in Georgia.

Winterville resident Tim Echols, a former spokesman for Mr. Broun, resigned Friday as his campaign treasurer to form Gold Dome Consulting.

One of the firm's goals will be to develop black candidates to run for state and federal office on the Republican ticket, Mr. Echols said. The GOP has neglected black voters, but they often share Republicans' conservative views on social and moral issues, he said.

"When it comes to issues of marriage and family, they're Republicans," he said. "But Republicans haven't reached out to them they way we should have."

Mr. Echols, 48, said he is talking with potential candidates but declined to identify them.

Gold Dome will be selective in choosing politicians to advise, and Mr. Echols will spend at least half his time on nonprofit clients, he said.

One of Gold Dome's first clients is the Christian Coalition of Georgia, which once dominated state politics. It lost influence after scandal-plagued Ralph Reed lost his 2006 bid for lieutenant governor and former head Sadie Fields left to start a rival group, the Georgia Christian Alliance.

"I'm going to come alongside them and bring them back to a place of strong stature," Mr. Echols said.

What Constitutes "Christian Bashing"?

I tried to ignore this press release the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission put out earlier this week chronicling the "Top Ten Instances of Christian Bashing in America, 2008," but now that it is generating coverage from right-wing outlets like WorldNetDaily and OneNewsNow, I suppose I should weigh in. 

Among the instances that make the list are Funny of Die's "Prop 8 - The Musical," Bill Maher's film "Religulous," the so-called "firing" of several police chaplains in Virginia, and various other trumped up episodes. 

But one of this listed instances did strike me as rather odd:

INSTANCE #3: Barack Obama Defames Christianity

According to research into President Elect Obama's own statements about faith, and an examination of Obama's position on moral issues, CADC has determined that by any biblical and historic Christian standard, Barack Obama is not a Christian, although he claims he is a "devout Christian."

Apparently, Barack Obama considering himself to be a "devout Christian" is now taken by the Right as evidence of anti-Christian bigotry.  Does that make any sense at all?

You'd think that Obama having his faith declared “woefully deficient” and the basic tenets of his faith mocked while his “religious commitment” is questioned might warrant inclusion in the CADC's list of instances of Christian bashing - but no.  Apparently, Obama's being told he is not a “true Christian,” that he doesn’t "meet the requirements” to be a Christian and that his faith “tramples on the historic teachings of Christianity and the Bible” didn't warrant inclusion either.  Nor did his being told that he is the harbinger of the Anti-Christ who has “no right to claim” to be a Christian because he is "not a Christian by any Biblical or historic measure."  In fact, the CADC was probably the most consistent offender on this issue and even released its own seven-part video series leading up to the election in which they savaged Obama's faith on a variety of fronts - yet it is not their overt and politically motivated attack on Obama's Christian faith that warranted inclusion on their list, but rather Obama's faith itself.

And that pretty much tells you all you need to know about CADC, its motivations, and its self-serving attempts at playing the victim

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