people for the american way

Is Rick Perry a moderate? Perhaps, if the price is right.

Cross-Posted on the People For blog

Here at People For the American Way, we’ve spent the last several weeks marveling as Texas Gov. Rick Perry plans a blockbuster Christian prayer rally in Houston, gathering around him a remarkable collection of Religious Right extremists – from a pastor who claims that the Statue of Liberty is a “demonic idol” to a self-described “apostle” who blamed last year’s mysterious bird deaths in Arkansas on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Perry claims the event is apolitical, but it is conveniently timed to coincide with the possible launching of his presidential bid and bolstered by groups that are dedicated to working far-right evangelical values into American politics.

Which is why we were all surprised today to find a story in The Hill titled “At second glance, Texas Gov. Rick Perry not as conservative as some think.” Really?


The evidence presented for Perry’s maverick-moderate tilt is that the governor has taken some reasonable positions on immigration reform and that he once angered Religious Right groups by requiring that all 6th grade girls in the state receive a vaccine for HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer.


Perry’s 2007 executive order requiring that the vaccine be offered to Texas’s sixth graders was a wonderful, progressive public health policy…but seemed a little odd coming from a far-right Texas governor. Interestingly, while the move angered Perry’s supporters on the Religious Right, it made one constituency very happy: lobbyists for Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical giant that manufactured the vaccine and stood to gain billions from the new law. The Associated Press reported at the time on the cozy relationship Merck had developed with the newly-reelected Texas governor:


Merck is bankrolling efforts to pass laws in state legislatures across the country mandating it Gardasil vaccine for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

Details of the order were not immediately available, but the governor's office confirmed to The Associated Press that he was signing the order and he would comment Friday afternoon.

Perry has several ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company's three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, his former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.

Toomey was expected to be able to woo conservative legislators concerned about the requirement stepping on parent's rights and about signaling tacit approval of sexual activity to young girls. Delisi, as head of the House public health committee, which likely would have considered legislation filed by a Democratic member, also would have helped ease conservative opposition.

Perry also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign.

Maybe Gov. Perry just really cared about helping prevent an epidemic and helping girls in Texas receive good medical care. On the other hand, health care for Texans doesn’t seem to have been a major priority for Perry: by last year, the tenth year of his governorship, Texas ranked last in the country in terms of the percentage of the population with health insurance and the percentage of insured children.


The “Perry bucks the Religious Right for the health of young girls” story will probably continue to reappear as he continues to be lauded as the Republican Party’s last, best hope for 2012. But the full story in no way proves that Perry’s an independent-minded moderate. Instead, it offers a case study of the sometimes conflicting priorities of the Religious and Corporate Right, and a politician who tries to appease them both.

 

Maddow Shines Light On Perry's Extreme Prayer Rally Endorsers

Last night Rachel Maddow looked into the radical views of the preachers and activists that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is partnering with to put on his The Response prayer rally. Utilizing research from People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, Maddow featured video of Mike Bickle, John Hagee, Bryan Fischer, Cindy Jacobs, John Benefiel and C. Peter Wagner, and discussed Perry’s attempts to win support from the Religious Right as he weighs a run for the presidency.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Fischer: Right Wing Watch Is Waging Jihad Against Me!

Last week, we released a new report on the unrelenting torrent of bigotry that is spread by the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer on a daily basis and an accompanying video chronicling some of his "highlights," while our colleague Peter Montgomery discussed Fisher and the AFA in the context of Gov. Rick Perry's prayer rally with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC.

Fischer has already made it clear that he does not particularly appreciate all of the attention we have devoted to covering him here, so it was not surprising that he spent nearly a half-hour of his program on Monday discussing the new report and the O'Donnell segment and accusing us of waging "jihad" against him and committing a "slow motion hate crime":

Ladies and gentlemen, right now out on the left wing there is a jihad that has been launched against me and against Focal Point and against the AFA. It is holy war. This is, in spiritual terms, a jihad. They are trying to destroy me, destroy Focal Point, to destroy AFA.

Now People For the American Way, and I've mentioned this before, I've played some soundbites of what they've done, they have been cyberstalking me for I don't know how long. It's just like a creepy obsession, they same kind of creepy obsession that the left has had with Sarah Palin. I mean, it's just weird, it's just bizarre. And so they have been monitoring everything I write, everything I say, everything we do here on Focal Point, keeping a list and checking it twice.

Here is a piece on Right Wing Watch referring to me as "The GOP's Favorite Hate-Monger: How the Republican Party Came to Embrace Bryan Fischer." And this puppy is seventeen pages long!

Remember, we are watching the unfolding of a hate crime against yours truly. You are watching a slow motion hate crime being engineered against yours truly.

Now, if we managed to put together a report chronicling Fischer's bigotry and that reported ended up being seventeen pages long, that probably means Fischer has a absurdly long record of engaging in insane bigotry. But to Fischer, it means we are cyberstalking him while waging jihad and committing a hate crime.

For those that are interested, here is the nearly half-hour segment Fischer dedicated to discussing our report and O'Donnell segment:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel thinks People For the American Way and other members of the “intolerant left” are going to purge religion from the US.

PFAW Exposes Bryan Fischer With Lawrence O'Donnell

Last night, People For the American Way senior fellow Peter Montgomery went on MSNBC's The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell to discuss the American Family Association's chief spokesman Bryan Fischer and his organization's work with Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Make sure to read our new Right Wing Watch: In Focus on Fischer here.

And watch the interview with O'Donnell:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Fact Checking Barton Part IV: "I Never Had To Retract A Single Thing"

David Barton tells Jon Stewart that he never took President John Adams’ ideas on the relationship of church and state out of context. First Barton lies about Adams’ faith, positing that he was a 'Trinitarian Unitarian.' Unitarianism, however, is based on the rejection of the Trinity and noted Unitarian thinker James Freeman Clarke writes that “Unitarians, strictly speaking, are those Christians who reject the Church doctrine of the Trinity, and do not believe that Jesus is God the Son, equal with the Father, or that he is the Supreme Being.”

After misrepresenting Unitarian beliefs, Barton defends his use of Adams’ quote. As People For the American Way details in the report, Barton’s Bunk, David Barton absolutely cherry picked from Adams’s remarks:

One of the most damning fact-checks concerns a letter from John Adams to Benjamin Rush from 1809. Barton cites a long section of the letter in which Adams says, in part, “There is no authority, civil or religious –there can be no legitimate government - but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it – all without it is rebellion and perdition, or, in more orthodox words, damnation.” But Barton does not include the sentence which immediately follows, which is “Although this is all Artifice and Cunning in the secret original in the heart, yet they all believe it so sincerely that they would lay down their Lives under the Ax or the fiery Fagot for it. Alas the poor weak ignorant Dupe human Nature.” In other words, Adams was mocking the very point that Barton claims he was making.

Later, the beginning of the third part of the interview, Barton told Stewart that he “never had to retract a single thing.”

Oh really? As noted in Barton’s Bunk, Barton “edited and renamed one book (The Myth of Separation became Original Intent) after critics pointed out false material.”

Here are just a few erroneous quotes of the Founding Fathers used by Barton in his books and documentaries that he later admitted were questionable:

We have staked the whole future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments. – Falsely attributed to James Madison

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. - Falsely attributed to John Quincy Adams

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. - Falsely attributed to George Washington

I have always said and always will say that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make us better citizens. - Falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. - Falsely attributed to Patrick Henry

It appears now that David Barton has to mislead others to cover-up his own falsehoods.

He also dismisses historians who disagree with him simply as secularists. But many of his major critics are indeed Christian historians, such as J. Brent Walker of the Baptist Joint Committee, John Fea of Messiah College and Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College. Barton may be an expert in dodging questions, but he has holds little respect for the study of history.

Fact Checking Barton Part II: Constitution Explicitly References Religion

In the second part of the televised interview on The Daily Show, David Barton claims that the Constitution contains “four references to God” in Article VII. Article VII reads: “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.”

That’s it.

Barton is presumably referring to the following line: “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth.” As noted in People For the American Way’s Barton’s Bunk, “Barton claims that this passing reference to the Declaration of Independence incorporates that document and its reference to rights endowed by a Creator into the U.S. Constitution, making the Constitution a religious document that reflects and requires a national acknowledgment of God’s hand in our founding, history, and prosperity.”

Barton dodges Stewart’s question about presidential oaths. As Stewart rightly claims, the oath outlined in the US Constitution does not specify the use of the Bible. Moreover, Article II even allows Presidents to make an “Affirmation” rather than an Oath: “Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: — ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’” In fact, Franklin Pierce decided to affirm rather than swear during his inauguration, John Quincy Adams “took the oath upon a volume of law,” and Teddy Roosevelt didn’t use a Bible in his rushed inauguration.

Barton has also repeatedly asserted, including in Wednesday’s WallBuilders Live radio program, that the Bible was used as the basis for republican form of government (Exodus 18:21), the separation of powers (Jeremiah 17:9), and the three branches of government (Isaiah 33:22).

So let’s check his citations:

Exodus 18:21 You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. (Barton: Republican government)

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse — who can understand it? (Barton: Separation of powers)

Isaiah 33:22 For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us. (Barton: Three branches of government)

Now, if the Bible was the foundation for republican government, where the citizenry and not a monarch occupy the power of government, then what does Barton have to say about all the prominent monarchies in the Bible, like King David and King Solomon?

In addition, where in Federalist Numbers 47 and 51, which many historians point to as the basis for the separation of powers and the three branches of government, does James Madison cite Jeremiah or Isaiah, let alone any Biblical passage? In Federalist No. 47, Madison frequently cites Montesquieu, but not the Bible; Madison also doesn’t use the Bible or any theological explanation in Federalist No. 51.

While Barton can find passages in the Bible that may reflect a similar opinion or sentiment of the Founding Fathers, he is consistently unable to demonstrate how the Founders specifically used the Bible or “Biblical principles” to develop the Constitution.

Barton’s Chutzpah: ‘Historian’ Lies to Jon Stewart

People For the American Way’s recent report on David Barton was subtitled, “Religious Right ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America.”   Barton has really hit the big time this week, with a profile in the New York Times and an appearance on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart’s popular Comedy Central program. Anyone who questions Barton’s facility at manipulating and distorting history should watch him in action, denying reality with a straight face.

In the extended interview available online, Stewart did a good job getting Barton to admit that he doesn’t believe the First Amendment applies to the states, and that he thinks states and localities ought to be able to establish religion. (If you’re a Jewish kid forced to start the day with Christian prayers in your local public school, tough luck. If you don’t like it, move someplace with a Jewish majority.) The good-natured Stewart did not call Barton a liar even when Barton contradicted the facts that Stewart put before him.  
 
RWW will be providing some detailed fact-checking on Barton’s interview, but here’s the big picture:
Barton dramatically downplayed his promotion of his “Christian nation” historical revisionism; he misrepresented his use of Jesus and the Bible to promote right-wing economic policies; and he asserted that he had never had to retract a single thing, which is demonstrably false. Barton also said his critics have never provided documentation of his manipulations, which is laughably untrue. Our recent report cited a number of historians critiquing his claims and linked to very detailed refutations, some of which Stewart asked him about directly. Barton has admitted that a number of alleged quotations from the founders that he used to promote are inaccurate or non-confirmable from original documents.
 
Barton also distorted his use of the Bible to support right-wing economics. When Stewart questioned him about using the Bible that way, Barton suggested that in a particular speech he was simply citing historical documents referencing a 1765 sermon. In fact, Barton has repeatedly claimed a biblical basis for right-wing views on progressive taxation in speeches and broadcasts and on his own website. Among his targets: the capital gains tax, the inheritance tax, minimum wages, and “socialist union kind of stuff.”   His use of the Bible to promote his take on taxes and labor relations is no more trustworthy than his use of historical documents. 
 
Perhaps the scariest claim Barton made, if it were true, is that he secretly edited the nation’s best selling public school textbook but kept his name off of it to avoid controversy. Let’s hope that claim is about as accurate as many others he made on Stewart’s show.

UPDATE: Chris Rodda, who challenges Barton's scholarship by examining the historical documents he says support his claims, has responded to Barton's latest distortions by offering her book, Liars for Jesus, for free as a download.

 

Harvey And LaBarbera Accuse LGBT Community And Glee Of Using "Demonic Manipulation" To Make Kids Gay

Linda Harvey of Mission America talked to Peter LaBarbera about Friday’s Day of Silence, a day for students to protest anti-gay bullying and harassment in schools. As detailed in People For the American Way’s report “Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids,” the Religious Right has been leading a campaign against anti-bullying programs, and Harvey is one of the most outspoken critics of bullying-prevention programs. Harvey, who co-hosted the rabidly anti-gay Americans for Truth Academy with LaBarbera, has urged parents to make sure their child doesn’t have gay friends, blamed gay-rights advocates for suicide among LGBT youth, and dubbed the Day of Silence a “Hitler Youth product.”

On LaBarbera’s radio show, Harvey concludes that the acceptance of gay youth will lead to “God’s judgment” and calls on parents to remove their children from public schools immediately. Harvey goes on to claim that gay-rights advocates are using “demonic manipulation” to turn children gay, and LaBarbera said Glee is also promoting homosexuality by featuring a kiss scene between two openly gay characters, asking, “how many young men and boys decided right there that they’re gay?”

LaBarbera: You’re promoting homosexuality to middle school boys. Now, if that can go on in America, without consequence, then it’s over. Then we as a country are going to go straight downhill because you’re getting to the point where you are promoting perversion to boys who should be so innocent still.

Harvey: Innocent and when you think about Scripture and you think about history, the male culture of any society is the backbone, the strength, the honor, the nobility, the future, the vitality of the society. What are we doing with our young males? It is a symptom, I think its part of God’s judgment on us that we’re doing this and that people are not ripping their kids out of these schools by the thousands daily, they should be. Because there’s no reason for people to be in these schools if you have any other choices at all, not everybody does, but I really recommend it if people have a choice, they get their kids out of these schools.



Harvey: These people are masters at demonic manipulation; I mean I have to put it that way, because that is what the homosexual agenda directed to that age group does. Kids don’t know what they’re going to turn out to be, kids can be secretly wondering and doubting if they are homosexual without a parent ever knowing. Because of A) what they get in schools, and B) what they get on the Internet.

LaBarbera: And then Hollywood, I talked about at our conference about this Glee kiss which is just, as I said at the conference, it shocked my soul. This romantic Glee kiss between two teenage boys depicted on the show, popular characters, one of the most popular if not the most popular TV show that young people watch, and here they had a romantic kiss between two teenage boys, I thought, what, how many young men and boys decided right there that they’re gay?

Barton: The Bible Opposes Net Neutrality

David Barton believes that everything should operate under Biblical principles, and according to Barton, the Bible even has a view on rules for Internet service providers like Net Neutrality. Here’s a hint: the Bible opposes it. As noted in People For the American Way’s new report, “Barton’s Bunk: Religious Right ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America,” Barton finds that the Bible always has a pro-corporate, pro-GOP message.

Barton and his partner Rick Green hosted Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) [no relation], a vocal foe of Net Neutrality who has received significant contributions from Net Neutrality opponents like Comcast, Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Net Neutrality ensures that Internet service providers can’t charge higher rates for faster delivery of content. The New York Times explains that Net Neutrality allows “Internet users [to] get access to any Web site on an equal basis” and without the policy, service providers can “give preferential treatment to content providers who pay for faster transmission, or to their own content, in effect creating a two-tier Web.”

But David Barton says that the Bible, Ben Franklin and the Pilgrims all opposed Net Neutrality because it violates the rights of huge corporations to charge higher rates and discriminate on content, calling it a “wicked” policy and “socialism on the Internet.” Apparently, the National Religious Broadcasters and the Christian Coalition, two prominent supporters of Net Neutrality, have missed the memo. But, David Barton insists, “'fair' is a word that no Christian should ever use in their vocabulary”:

Rick Green: Today, David a topic we actually haven’t covered that much, it has to do with the Internet, and it’s called Net Neutrality, a wonderful sounding name-

David Barton: But we talk about it today because it is a principle of free market. That’s a Biblical principle, that’s a historical principle, we have all these quotes from Ben Franklin, and Jefferson and Washington and others on free market and how important that is to maintain. That is part of the reason we have prosperity. This is what the Pilgrims brought in, the Puritans brought in, this is free market mentality. Net Neutrality sounds really good, but it is socialism on the Internet.



David Barton: This is the Fairness Doctrine applied to the Internet, and I’ll go back to what I believed for a long time is: fair is a word no Christian should ever use in their vocabulary. Fair has nothing to do with anything. What you want is justice, you don’t want fairness. Fairness is subjective, what I think is fair, what you think, what happened to Jesus wasn’t fair. That’s right, but we needed justice so God did that for us.



David Barton: This is really, I’m going to use the word wicked stuff, and I don’t use that word very often, but this is wicked stuff.

Even though David Barton claims to know that the Bible is decidedly against Net Neutrality, evidently he has no idea what Net Neutrality is, since he is decrying the policy as “redistribution of wealth through the Internet.”

David Barton: There's groups out there that their business requires a whole lot more bandwidth than, say, you and I do sending emails. I mean, if you're Skype, you got a lot of bandwidth being used. If you're YouTube, you got a lot of bandwidth going with videos. Guess what? You got more bandwidth, you're going to have to pay a little more.

Oh no. That's not fair. That's not Net Neutrality.

Well, if you don't pay more, these broadband providers say "we're going to cut you off because you're using more of our space." Government says "that's not fair, you can't do that."

Rick Green: So when they say "selectively block," what they mean is we're not going to let you choose who you need to charge more to.

David Barton: That's right, that's exactly right. I mean, if Skype uses eighty-five percent of the server space, you can't charge them eighty-five percent of the fees because that would be unfair. And if Skype says "well, we don't want to pay that," and you say "well, you're off our server," no you can't do that. You can't kick them off just because they won't pay.

I mean, this is crazy stuff. This is redistribution of wealth through the internet and it really is redistribution. This is socialism on the internet

Exposing David Barton's Bunk

Today, People For the American Way released a new report entitled "Barton’s Bunk: Religious Right ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America" written by PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery that exposes David Barton's shoddy pseudo-history and why it matters: 

Barton’s growing visibility and influence with members of Congress and other Republican Party officials is troubling for many reasons: he distorts history and the Constitution for political purposes; he encourages religious divisiveness and unequal treatment for religious minorities; and he feeds a toxic political climate in which one’s political opponents are not just wrong, but evil and anti-God.

Scholars have criticized Barton for presenting facts out of context or in misleading ways, but that hasn’t stopped him from promoting his theories through books, television, and, yes, the textbooks that will teach the next generation of Americans. He promotes conspiracy theories about elites hiding the truth from average Americans in order to undermine the nation from within. Last summer, he declared that liberal and media attacks on the Tea Party were just like attacks on Jesus. In February, Barton spoke at the Connect 2011 Pastors Conference, where he said that Christians needed to control the culture and media so that “guys that have a secular viewpoint cannot survive.” Said Barton, “If the press lacks moral discrimination, it’s because we haven’t been pushing our people to chop that kind of news off.”

Barton’s work is not just an academic exercise. It is meant to have a political impact. For Barton, “documenting” the divine origins of his interpretations of the Constitution gives him and his political allies a potent weapon. Barton promotes a false reality in which anyone who opposes any element of his political agenda stands in opposition to both the Founding Fathers and to God. He believes that everything in our society – government, the judiciary, the economy, the family – should be governed according to the Bible, and he promotes a view of the Bible and Jesus that many Christians would not recognize. Opponents, even Christians, who disagree with Barton about tax policy or the powers of Congress are not only wrong, they are un-American and anti-religious, enemies of America and of God.

President Obama is a particularly frequent target of Barton’s. In January, one of his WallBuilders Live radio shows was titled “Why is Obama Trying to Remove God from the United States?” In March, right-wing “news” service WND quoted Barton accusing Obama (falsely of course) of being “engaged in a pattern of ‘willfully, deliberately’ repudiating America's Christian heritage.”

Those are the kind of accusations long favored by the Religious Right, and they are destructive. Claims that political opponents are evil and are actively trying to destroy Americans’ freedoms poison the public arena, make constructive civic discourse nearly impossible, and have the potential to incite acts of violence.

Elected officials who endorse Barton give his claims credibility they do not deserve. He in turn gives cover and a veneer of legitimacy to right-wing politicians interested in putting their notions of a nation created by and for Christians into public policy. Both Barton and his backers are undermining understanding of, and respect for, vital American values and constitutional principles like separation of church and state and equal treatment under the law.

And last night, Peter appeared on "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell to discuss Barton and his influence:

Newcombe: Taking Prayer Out Of Schools Will Make America Akin To Nazi Germany

Jerry Newcombe of Coral Ridge Ministries appeared on WallBuilders Live, the radio program of right-wing pseudo historian David Barton, to promote his new book about how the Constitution was supposedly shaped by the Bible. Speaking to Barton’s co-host Rick Green, Newcombe claimed that the goal of organizations such as People For the American Way, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation is to arrest and imprison people who pray in public. He points to D. James Kennedy, the founder of Coral Ridge Ministries, to argue that without prayer in schools, America will go down the road of Nazi Germany.

Newcombe: I think about that statement from George Washington, clearly in the context when he’s talking about Christianity when he uses the word ‘religion,’ and he says, what, of all that habits and dispositions which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. He goes, in vain would that person be able to call himself a patriot who in anyway would subvert those great pillars of human happiness. So in other words, Washington was saying that it’s unpatriotic to undue these pillars.

Well that is exactly what these groups like the ACLU and People For the American Way, and so forth, with all their lawsuits, Freedom From Religion Foundation, whatever, with all their lawsuits. ‘Oh my goodness, this person said a prayer, a principal, oh heavens!’ Not only fire them but send them to prison, there have actually been attempts where they actually try to put people in prison for saying a prayer because they’re a public official.

Green: And it’s just as dangerous I think, especially in this environment with the Tea Party and everything and everybody’s getting involved and studying the constitution and whatnot, but there’s a strong libertarian bent that also leaves out religion and morality and doesn’t want God to come back into the equation, and I’m somewhat libertarian in many ways, but look, Washington said you cannot be a patriot and leave those things out so don’t leave that out. Don’t go to this, this kind of conservative version of the ACLU where we don’t want God in the equation at all, we just don’t want the government spending money, because that’s just as dangerous, isn’t it?

Newcombe: Well I don’t know if it’s just as dangerous, yeah, in the long run, yes, it is, in the long run it is. In fact, as D. James Kennedy once pointed out, in 1935, what was the most educated nation on earth? The answer was Germany. But that didn’t prevent Auschwitz from taking place. So there is such a thing as education, where if it’s devoid of God, it is dangerous.

Bryan Fischer Dedicates Yet Another Program to Attacking Islam

Last week, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer declared that the First Amendment does not apply to Islam and therefore, Muslims have no right to freely practice their religion in this country.

A few days later, Fischer was in Iowa to broadcast his radio program from the Rediscover God in America conference where he lined up an all-star list of guests, including Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Haley Barbour. 

As such, People For the American Way released open letters to Gingrich, Huckabee, and Barbour, asking them not to give Fischer credibility by appearing on his program or, at the least,to denounce Fischer's bigoted views.

Not surprisingly, our request was roundly ignored.

Yesterday, Fischer dedicated nearly the entirety of his two-hour radio program to railing against Islam and demanding an end to immigration from Muslim nations and a ban on the construction of mosques in America.  So I edited down the audio of his rant and decided to merge it was photos of these GOP leaders sitting side-by-side with Fischer just last week in order to produce this short video:

This is where George Bush was simply plain wrong: he believed that there's a hunger in every human heart for freedom. Not true. That hunger for freedom does not exist in the Islamic heart. It's not in their DNA. Why? Because the spirit of God is absent in Islam. There is no spirit of God in Islam. It is the spirit of Satan. It is the spirit of darkness. It is the spirit of tyranny. It is the spirit of bondage.

The Quran is based on hallucinations. These hallucinations, I think Mohammad really experienced something, but what he experienced was what Paul refers to as the Angel of Light. This was a messenger of Satan masquerading as a messenger from God. You want to see what a religion looks like when it has been revealed by the Prince of Darkness, you look at Islam and the Quran.

From now on, no more immigrants from Islamic countries. Can't have it. It's going to corrode western culture. No more mosques because these are places of subversion, places where Sharia law, places where jihad is inculcated, where it is taught and where they are recruits made for jihad.

The First Amendment of the Constitution provides no specific protection for the free exercise of the Islamic faith. So that's a matter of courtesy. They behave themselves, we're glad to give them the opportunity to exercise their religious faith. but they've got to behave themselves. They start becoming subversive, they start releasing a toxic ideology into our culture, then we have the right to do something about that.

Congress can say 'no more Muslim immigrants to the United States.' They have the constitutional authority to do that. So that's one part of a solution. Congress exercising its constitutional authority to control immigration by restricting immigration from Muslim countries. Then, they could - a state could pass a law prohibiting the building of any more mosques in their state. They could do that, would not be in violation of the federal Constitution. And then state and local governments have the authority to refuse permits to the building of mosques. They can do that. So those are the things that we need to do to stop the spread of Islamization in America.

South Dakota Governor Likely to Sign Radical Anti-Choice Bill

The Republican governor of South Dakota announced that he is “inclined to sign” an extreme bill passed by the state legislature that requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a 72 hour waiting period and biased counseling. RWW first reported on the bill when it was first approved by a House committee, and has since passed the full House and Senate.

As outlined in a new People For the American Way report on the flurry of anti-choice laws under consideration in the states, the impending 72 hour waiting period would even exceed the more common 24 hour waiting period in a state which only has one clinic that offers abortion services, which are provided just once a week.

If signed into law, South Dakota women would be forced to meet with staffers of so-called “pregnancy care centers,” better known as crisis pregnancy centers, who are typically not medical professionals but instead anti-choice activists. Such centers receive significant funding from Religious Right groups and organizations opposed to abortion rights, and frequently employ deceiving and discredited propaganda against abortion and contraception.

According to a 2006 Congressional report, close to 90 percent of such centers “grossly misrepresented the medical risks of abortion, telling the callers that having an abortion could increase the risk of breast cancer, result in sterility, and lead to suicide and ‘post-abortion stress disorder.’” Many of the groups also receive government funding through abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and one of the largest private financers said that the goal of such centers is to “get the chance to share the Gospel with [women], which is the ultimate thing of what we’re doing.” In fact, the New York City Council just passed a measure that would make the centers disclose that they are not accredited medical offices.

CPAC: Merit Selection for Judges is an Evil Leftist Plot

A group of right-wing legal advocates warned CPAC participants – or more accurately, a tiny subset of CPAC participants – about “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary.”

Panelists discussed the meaning of “judicial activism” and why the kind of right-wing judicial activism we’ve seen from the Supreme Court doesn’t qualify. (Overturning health care reform? Also not judicial activism.) But the main thrust of the panel was the supposedly dire threat posed by efforts at the state level to replace judicial elections with a merit selection process. 
 
The increasing tendency of judicial elections to become big-money affairs funded by individuals and groups who regularly appear before judges has increasingly raised concerns about judgeships – including state supreme court justices – being for sale to the highest bidder, such as corporate interests looking for courts that won’t hold corporations accountable for misconduct.
 
But today’s panelists – Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackleford, American Justice Partnership’s Dan Pero, the Center for Individual Freedom’s Timothy Lee, and the American Civil Rights Union’s Ken Klukowski, warned against merit selection, a nonpartisan alternative that is employed in a number of states and under consideration in others. Pero called merit selection “a power grab by the liberal left,” citing People For the American Way, among others he said were liberals trying to use the courts to impose their vision on America.
 
Timothy Lee, perhaps mindful of the small crowd drawn to the panel, urged participants to explain to others why the courts were important, no matter what other issue they cared about. For example, he said, the Citizens United decision overturning Supreme Court precedent and substantially crippling the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law rested on the fact the Samuel Alito had replaced Sandra Day O’Connor on the high court.
 
Klukowski echoed Lee’s call, saying that the fight for “constitutional conservatism” can’t succeed without the right judges in place: “The U.S. Constitution is only as good as the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court that interpret it.” He complained about the Supreme Court’s rulings that Guantanamo detainees have habeas corpus rights and about other federal courts recognizing marriage equality and ruling against the ban on gay servicemembers.
 
And while panel members celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, Klukowski said it’s not clear that there’s a majority in the Court for overturning other gun restrictions. He specifically complained that it is a felony for someone who went through a “messy divorce” and was under a restraining order to have a gun.
 
Klukowski said that he and Ken Blackwell have written a book called Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservativism can Save America and made an appeal for all stripes of conservatives – social, economic, and national security – to stop fighting each other and work together.

CPAC: Merit Selection for Judges is an Evil Leftist Plot

A group of right-wing legal advocates warned CPAC participants – or more accurately, a tiny subset of CPAC participants – about “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary.”

Panelists discussed the meaning of “judicial activism” and why the kind of right-wing judicial activism we’ve seen from the Supreme Court doesn’t qualify. (Overturning health care reform? Also not judicial activism.) But the main thrust of the panel was the supposedly dire threat posed by efforts at the state level to replace judicial elections with a merit selection process. 
 
The increasing tendency of judicial elections to become big-money affairs funded by individuals and groups who regularly appear before judges has increasingly raised concerns about judgeships – including state supreme court justices – being for sale to the highest bidder, such as corporate interests looking for courts that won’t hold corporations accountable for misconduct.
 
But today’s panelists – Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackleford, American Justice Partnership’s Dan Pero, the Center for Individual Freedom’s Timothy Lee, and the American Civil Rights Union’s Ken Klukowski, warned against merit selection, a nonpartisan alternative that is employed in a number of states and under consideration in others. Pero called merit selection “a power grab by the liberal left,” citing People For the American Way, among others he said were liberals trying to use the courts to impose their vision on America.
 
Timothy Lee, perhaps mindful of the small crowd drawn to the panel, urged participants to explain to others why the courts were important, no matter what other issue they cared about. For example, he said, the Citizens United decision overturning Supreme Court precedent and substantially crippling the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law rested on the fact the Samuel Alito had replaced Sandra Day O’Connor on the high court.
 
Klukowski echoed Lee’s call, saying that the fight for “constitutional conservatism” can’t succeed without the right judges in place: “The U.S. Constitution is only as good as the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court that interpret it.” He complained about the Supreme Court’s rulings that Guantanamo detainees have habeas corpus rights and about other federal courts recognizing marriage equality and ruling against the ban on gay servicemembers.
 
And while panel members celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, Klukowski said it’s not clear that there’s a majority in the Court for overturning other gun restrictions. He specifically complained that it is a felony for someone who went through a “messy divorce” and was under a restraining order to have a gun.
 
Klukowski said that he and Ken Blackwell have written a book called Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservativism can Save America and made an appeal for all stripes of conservatives – social, economic, and national security – to stop fighting each other and work together.

Eagle Forum: Constitution at 'White-Hot Center' of Culture War

People For the American Way has just published a new report by Senior Fellow Jamie Raskin which exposes the Tea Party’s dangerously distorted view of the Constitution and core constitutional values. (Is the 14th Amendment the authoritative constitutional source for the nation-defining civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, or is it an illegitimate pretext for an assault on private business owners’ rights and responsibilities?)

With fortuitous timing, Eagle Forum has just sent an activist alert declaring the Constitution to be the central front in the Culture War that America’s “internal enemies” are waging against religion and society. The Eagle Forum “briefing” is one more sign of the Religious Right’s efforts to co-opt the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement for its own Constitution-subverting agendas.
 
As America enters the year of 2011, new government officials are taking their seats all over the nations, at all levels of government. If our nation is to survive and thrive (neither of which has been happening in recent years), we must all face certain fundamental facts and act accordingly… Three such facts are:
1.     America is, and has for decades been, engulfed in the flames of a Culture War; 
2.     The Constitution has long been a white-hot center of this War and we therefore must Revive the Constitution!; 
3.     The Courts continue to be the major "weapon of choice" of the forces fighting against the Constitution and the culture in the Culture War.
 
The Eagle Forum “briefing” quotes rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork and other conservative thinkers arguing that the culture war war reflects hostility toward religion and religious institutions, noting that Bork has identified the nation’s internal enemies as “judge-led.”
 
America's Culture War can therefore be understood only as a War of Worldviews…. In America's Culture War, the bitterly opposing worldviews and the constitution theories they advocate may be outlined as followed, with more familiar terms included in parentheses.
 
Worldviews: 
Humanistic ("Pulverize our Foundations") 
v. 
Judeo-Christian ("Protect Our Foundations!") 

Constitution Theories: 
Reconstructionists (Activist/Liberal) ("Kill the Constitution") 
v. 
Constitutionalists (Restraintist/Conservative) ("Revive the Constitution")
 
The Eagle Forum alert concludes that 2011 is a “banner year” to “launch a massive counter-attack to Revive the Constitution.”

NOM’s Gallagher Outnumbered at Catholic Conversation on LGBT Issues

Georgetown University’s College Republicans and College Democrats hosted “A Catholic Family Conversation” on LGBT issues last night. The event at the Jesuit school was moderated by columnist E.J. Dionne and featured a debate between author/blogger Andrew Sullivan and Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage.

At the outset, Gallagher asked for a show of hands on where members of the audience stood on gay marriage. There appeared to be more supporters than opponents (not surprising given the mostly young audience and data on widespread Catholic support for LGBT equality). That may be why Gallagher condescendingly told young Catholics who support gay marriage not to pat themselves on the back for bravery, because, she said, what takes courage these days is to defend the church’s teaching. Gallagher and others were wearing a NOM button that tries, clumsily and not very successfully IMHO, to co-opt the term “marriage equality”:

Dionne spoke about his own journey from opposition to support for marriage equality. “Be not afraid,” he said, quoting from the day’s Gospel reading to suggest that Catholics should not fear conversation or engagement with modernity. He said that the Catholic Church has sometimes challenged modernity and sometimes been enriched by it, and sometimes both.

Many of Gallagher’s arguments were familiar to those who follow the marriage issue: Gallagher insisted that marriage is primarily about procreation and that “traditional” marriage serves a societal benefit of ensuring that children are raised by their mothers and fathers. She asked how society would be able to channel young men’s sexual energies into marriage if the traditional ideal of marriage is redefined as bigotry.

Gallagher said she was “shocked” at how opponents of gay marriage are being stigmatized as akin to racists and claimed that the gay rights movement is going to create intensifying conflict between the government and faith communities. (Perhaps she was thinking about NOM board member Orson Scott Card’s call for the overthrow of the government and Constitution if that Constitution is interpreted to permit gay couples to marry.)

In response to one audience question about what she would say to a teen in despair, she said she would counsel that God loves him, and claimed that she would confront his bullies because she has no respect or tolerance for bullying. When a later questioner asked how that statement could be reconciled with some of the groups NOM works with, she essentially dismissed the question by saying she couldn’t respond without specific examples. (We’d be happy to provide a few, or a ton.)

Gallagher slammed Catholics for Equality, which helped organize the event, calling on the group to repent for language she thought too critical of the church. (She seems sensitive in that regard, saying during the debate that Sullivan’s blunt criticism of the pope’s denigrating language about gay people made her want to cry.) And although she criticized her opponents for being uncivil, NOM distributed a flyer to attendees attacking Catholics for Equality. (The flyer slammed People For the American Way as an “anti-religious group funded by George Soros.”)

Sullivan was particularly effective as a speaker because he combined hard-hitting debate about the logic of NOM’s positions and the consequences of the church’s anti-gay teachings with a very personal, moving and disarming honesty about his own life and the way it has been strengthened by his marriage and his husband’s love.

Sullivan said he agreed with much of what Gallagher said about heterosexual marriage as an amazing, beautiful, mysterious event, but that he does not accept that marriage is an “either/or” proposition, adding that neither his parents’ marriage nor his sister’s is invalidated by his own. Sullivan told Gallagher that of course it hurt that she was trying to forcibly divorce him from his husband. It was, he said, a dehumanizing effort to deny gay people human happiness.

For more on the event, see journalist Sarah Posner’s report here.

Public Policy, Private Corporations: Detaining Immigrants for Profit

People For the American Way has been documenting the ways in which corporate interests, with a big boost from the Supreme Court, are pouring unprecedented sums of money into this year’s elections to buy themselves an even more corporation-friendly government. This morning, National Public Radio reported on another way that corporate interests are shaping public policy. Remember that controversial anti-immigrant law in Arizona? Turns out it was drafted at a conference of right-wing legislators with help from private prison corporations that see the detention of immigrants as a new profit center.

According to Corrections Corporation of America reports reviewed by NPR, executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market. Last year, they wrote that they expect to bring in "a significant portion of our revenues" from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that detains illegal immigrants….
 
NPR also notes that as soon as the bill was introduced in Arizona, prison industry money followed:
 
Thirty-six co-sponsors jumped on, a number almost unheard of in the capitol.  According to records obtained by NPR, two-thirds of them either went to that December meeting or are ALEC members....
 
At the state Capitol, campaign donations started to appear.
 
Thirty of the 36 co-sponsors received donations over the next six months, from prison lobbyists or prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America, Management and Training Corporation and The Geo Group. 
 
By April, the bill was on Gov. Jan Brewer's desk.
 
On a May conference call with investors, NPR reports, one prison industry official expressed hope for more help from the federal level:
 
" Those people coming across the border and getting caught are going to have to be detained and that for me, at least I think, there's going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do."
 
Here’s some more information about the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that brings corporate donors together with conservative state lawmakers to push anti-regulatory legislation on a range of issues.

Victim of Rand Paul’s Goon Squad Attack Speaks Out

Lauren Valle, the 23-year old activist who was assaulted by supporters of Rand Paul, who threw her to the ground and stomped on her head, is now speaking out about her experience:

"They tried to grab me and chased me around Rand Paul's car," she said of the politician's supporters." And once I'm in front of the car, they take me down…I remembered someone stomping my head in the ground."

Video of the incident shows Valle tripping after someone ripped a blond wig off her head. She is then wrestled to a curb by one man. After she is placed face down, another man stomps on her shoulder and head. Valle said she instinctively got into the fetal position and covered her head with her hands.

"I think I saved myself from further injury," she said.



Before the melee, Alex Giblin, a 24-year-old volunteer with MoveOn, told the Daily News he heard one of Paul's supporters say"We might have to take someone down."

Valle was later taken to a hospital, where doctors told her she suffered from a concussion.

It is the latest sign of the Tea Party getting out of control: Joe Miller’s security force arrested a reporter for asking questions, a Sharron Angle supporter punched a female Democrat during a forum, and Allen West’s campaign used the “Outlaw” motorcycle biker gang to intimidate his rival’s campaign workers.

People For the American Way today released an online compilation of Rand Paul “in his own words,” detailing his far-right ideas and agenda. While Paul presents a callous and reactionary future for the country, his Tea Party thugs violently try to silence protesters.

 

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people for the american way Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/05/2011, 4:46pm
Earlier this week, we here at People For the American Way called on the Republican presidential hopefuls who are scheduled to speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit to denounce the unmitigated bigotry of the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer.   We singled out Mitt Romney because he is scheduled to speak directly before Fischer on Saturday and Fischer has recently begun asserting that the First Amendment does not apply to any "non-Christian religions," including Mormonism. Given that Romney is going to be directly preceding Fischer on stage at the Values Voter... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/05/2011, 12:00pm
Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition appeared on The 700 Club today with Pat Robertson, alleging that the Bible warned us of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the book of Zachariah. Lapin went on to say that the attacks were “based on a dream that Adolf Hitler had in 1943.” No word if Lapin ever intended to warn Americans about the attacks before 9/11, or if the Bible had anything to say about how People For the American Way and gays were responsible for the 9/11 attacks, another theory concocted on The 700 Club. Watch: Lapin: The Torah, in ancient Jewish wisdom the Bible... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 10/05/2011, 10:20am
This weekend, nearly every major GOP presidential candidate, along with the top two Republicans in the House of Representatives, will speak at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of the leaders of the movement to integrate fundamentalist Christianity and American politics. The candidates – Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – and the congressmen – House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor – will join a who’s who of the far Right at the event. The organizers of... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 09/29/2011, 10:54am
When Deirdre DiBiaggio and Katie Carmichael went to their town clerk in Upstate New York to receive a marriage license, the clerk turned them away and refused to process their marriage application, instead telling them to make an appointment with a deputy on another day. The couple, represented by People For the American Way Foundation, is now trying to make sure that the clerk does her job and complies with the state’s Marriage Equality Act. The Family Research Council is now defending the clerk, who, the group writes in an email to members, faced a “surprise visit from a lesbian... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 09/29/2011, 9:27am
We reported yesterday that American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer will not only be speaking at the upcoming Values Voter Summit but will immediately follow Mitt Romney. Today, People For the American Way released a statement urging Romney and fellow Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum to condemn Fischer’s unmitigated bigotry rather than lending it legitimacy by appearing with him: • Fischer, the chief spokesman for the AFA, has insisted that American Muslims have no First Amendment... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 09/20/2011, 9:55am
The American Family Association affiliate OneMillionMoms is calling on activists to boycott Ben & Jerry’s because of the company’s new Schweddy Balls ice cream. In an email, the group describes the legendary Saturday Night Live skit featuring People For the American Way board member Alec Baldwin, Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon that gives the ice cream its name, but doesn’t see the humor in it. “The vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive,” the group writes. Urging activists to demand “that no additional... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/13/2011, 8:52am
It was ten years ago today when we were doing our daily monitoring of "The 700 Club" and watched as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed PFAW, the ACLU, gays, and abortionists for the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Here is our original video from that day: JERRY FALWELL: This is the first time that we've been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters - the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats--what we saw on... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/06/2011, 9:09am
It seems that Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber is none-too-pleased with the coverage that dominionism and its influence and role within the Religious Right movement has been receiving in the media and on blogs like Right Wing Watch and so he has dedicated his more recent column to attacking and mocking those -including me, by name - who have been writing about it: There has been great gnashing of teeth in “progressive” circles of late over “Christian Dominionist Theology.” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has warned that much of the Republican presidential field embraces this... MORE >