Thomas More Law Center

5 Years After Passage Of Hate Crimes Law, Religious Right's Dire Predictions Still Haven't Come True

Here we go again. If Religious Right activists are to be believed, any day now the government will throw pastors in jail, have people “fined $500 a day” for reading the Bible and “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians.” These are among the claims that were made this year by conservative politicians and movement leaders, who warn that America is now witnessing a “war on religion.” 

Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false.

The apocalyptic rhetoric is a reaction to the advances in LGBT rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in dozens of states and the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in municipalities across the country. Along with categories such as race, gender, religion, age and ability, more localities are recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as traits warranting protection from discrimination in the public domain.

As anti-gay politicians lose in the courts, Congress, state houses, town halls, and perhaps most importantly, at the ballot box, many have taken to conflating political defeat with a loss of rights and liberty. Only by depriving other people of their rights, so they claim, can conservatives and people of faith in this nation truly be free.

This month, many Republicans latched onto a complicated legal case in Houston to justify their hyperbolic warnings about impending doom for Christians in America. After Houston passed an equal rights ordinance this year, a pastor-led group tried — and failed — to collect enough valid petition signatures to force a referendum on repealing the ordinance. When a group of conservative activists and pastors filed a lawsuit demanding that officials accept the invalid petitions, pro-bono attorneys working for the city subpoenaed several pastors’ communications, including sermons, on petition collecting and related issues like homosexuality as part of the discovery process.

While many groups from the left and right alike called out the subpoenas as overly broad and intrusive, the Religious Right cited the legal move as proof that pastors will be, as the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody put it, “hauled off to jail for a hate crimes because they are speaking for traditional marriage.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who in 2012 warned that America was “at the edge of a precipice” and would soon see non-existent “hate speech” laws used “against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages [or] who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage,” agreed with Brody’s assessment.

(In a similar episode this month, the owners of a for-profit wedding chapel business filed a lawsuit against their hometown over a nondiscrimination ordinance, arguing that city officials have threatened them with prosecution and jail time for denying service to same-sex couples — even though officials haven’t pursued any legal action against the couple.)

The rhetoric surrounding the Houston case has become so apoplectic that even some conservatives are calling out their allies for making false and grossly misleading claims.

We’ve seen this movie before. In 2007, members of a group called Repent America were charged after disrupting a gay pride event and refusing to abide by police orders. The way conservatives tell the story, godly missionaries were punished by law enforcement for exercising their First Amendment rights and “sharing the gospel,” but as court records show, the group tried to disturb the peace and protest inside an event without a permit.

In fact, if Religious Right were correct in their warnings, America should have experienced a wave of arrests targeting pastors, church-goers and Republicans following the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Predictions about the criminalization of the Bible, pastors locked in jail cells and concentration camps for Christians never came true, mainly because these prophecies had no basis in reality.

The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Law was passed by Congress five years ago today, and so far, the far-right’s twisted and baseless claims about the law have all been proven false. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped making the exact same discredited arguments five years after the bill’s passage:

1. End of Free Speech

Despite the hate crimes law’s provision making clear that it is applicable only to cases of violent crime and nothing “shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs,” Religious Right activists and their allies in the GOP nonetheless predicted that the 2009 law would bring free speech to an end.

“Gay activists will use it against preachers who present the Biblical view of homosexuality,” Rick Scarborough said at the time. “The federal hate crimes law doesn’t target crime, but free speech.” He also warned that the law’s passage would “criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality,” telling members of his group, Vision America, that he may face arrest for “speaking out against sexual deviancy.”

Scarborough, a Texas anti-gay pastor and political organizer close to Ted Cruz, hasn’t backed down from his claims even years after the law has gone into effect. At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Scarborough declared that the “infidels” in the Obama administration are “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christians wouldn’t rise up against the attacks, he feared, “until a bunch of us are thrown into concentration camps.”

The Traditional Values Coalition went as far as to claim that the hate crimes law would imprison Jesus Christ.

“I believe that ‘hate crimes’ is the most dangerous bill in America, it is precisely what they are using to silence Christians around the world,” Janet Porter, a Religious Right activist with the group Faith 2 Action, said in an interview the year before the bill was passed. “How much of a stretch is it, really, to say that because I would say to you homosexuality is a sin or it’s dangerous behavior, before that speech alone is worthy of jail time? And that’s what we’re facing.” Porter told a Washington, D.C., rally shortly after the law was passed that it “criminalizes Christianity” and “sends pastors to prison for biblical positions and speech.”

In an 2009 email message with the subject line, “The Senate Will Vote To Silence You!,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that “what ‘hate crimes’ legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.”

He also alleged that the law would “gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the homosexual agenda” and that it “punishes a person’s beliefs — part of the Left's intolerant agenda to silence the voice of Christians and Conservatives in America and eliminate moral restraint.”

“If federal thought crimes laws are passed, your right to share politically incorrect parts of your Christian faith could become a federal crime,” Perkins warned. At another conservative event, Perkins said hate crimes laws will curtail freedom and breed “chaos in America.”

Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America even encouraged opposition to the law by alleging that “there is a direct connection between the sins and crimes of abortion and the sodomite agenda and the Islamic terrorism that threatens our nation.”

One group of GOP and Religious Right figures claimed the law would be “a savage and perhaps fatal blow to First Amendment freedom of expression.” 

E.W. Jackson, a Virginia pastor and GOP politician, told a conservative rally that the law “represents a virulent strain of anti-Christian bigotry and hatred” that is “another step in the process of robbing all Americans of the very freedoms the founding fathers pledged their lives for and the civil rights martyrs gave their lives for.”

Ohio-based televangelist Rod Parsley, best known for his work supporting George W. Bush’s re-election campaign and the passage of his state’s gay marriage ban, said that the hate crimes law would force him out of the pulpit.

“This deceptive ploy of liberal, homosexual agenda begins to lose its allure once you pull the mask back and take a closer look,” Parsley said. “The legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people not for their actions but for their culturally incorrect thoughts. This legislation could become law, and you and I could find ourselves forbidden to speak from God’s word right here in America. I could no longer share my heart with you on critical issues, such as this, through the medium of television, or even in the pulpit of my own church.”

We can report that despite Parsley’s grim predictions, he is still very much “sharing his heart” as a preacher.

2. Outlawing the Bible

One group of Michigan pastors, joined by local Republican politician and American Family Association state chairman Gary Glenn, filed an unsuccessful legal challenge against the hate crimes law soon after it was enacted. The group’s legal representative, the conservative Thomas More Law Center, contended that “the sole purpose” of the law was “to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”

Pseudo-historian David Barton told a California church that the law will throw pastors in jail for reading the Bible.

Pastor Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ also offered an ominous warning: “If preaching the Bible is now against the law, then let us be arrested.” One WorldNetDaily commentator said the law would “crack down” on Christians for “reading the Bible.”

“Christianity Is Now Outlawed,” declared the Christian Seniors Association, a front group of the Traditional Values Coalition, in a fundraising letter following the law’s passage. “Did you know that the new Hate Crimes Act that President Obama signed into law makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature?’” the letter continued.

“Most Christians might as well rip the pages which condemn homosexuality right out of their Bibles because this bill will make it illegal to publicly express the dictates of their religious beliefs,” said Andrea Lafferty of the TVC. “The ultimate objective of this legislation is to claim that ‘hate speech’ — criticism of homosexuality — incites individuals to violence and must be suppressed and punished. This will violate the First Amendment rights of any person or group that opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture.”

3. Legalizing pedophilia

In the paranoid conservative alternate reality, pedophilia has been legal for five years now thanks to the updated federal hate crimes law.

“The main purpose of this ‘hate crimes’ legislation is to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,’ ‘either actual or perceived,’ as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations: zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?” asked televangelist Pat Robertson.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, similarly charged: “We have a record roll call vote that shows every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voting to have pedophiles protected.”

King’s colleague Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went one step further and said that as a result of the hate crimes law, courts would “have to strike any laws against bestiality” along with laws targeting “pedophiles or necrophiliacs.” Gohmert went on to warn that the law would effectively turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, for his part, predicted that the law would extend legal protections to “bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality.”

Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center claimed the law “elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”

Porter dubbed the law the “Pedophile Protection Act,” “summarizing” the law by completely making things up: “Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered [sic], cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviants would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and churches would not.”

Pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia are still against the law and such laws have not been affected by the Hate Crimes Act, while declining “an unwelcome advance of a homosexual” is still very much legal. However, we are still waiting with bated breath for Porter’s lawsuit detailing how she was forced and legally bound to succumb to the charms of a homosexual enticer.

Can the Religious Right Be Trusted?

The many frantic, unfounded warnings about the perils the 2009 Hate Crimes Act are just one example of anti-gay activists’ penchant for manufacturing myths and brazenly distorting cases of supposed persecution.

Religious Right commentators now regularly liken themselves to Jews living under Nazi Germany or shamelessly compare the state of Christians in the U.S. to that of Middle East Christians facing displacement and death at the hands of terrorist groups like ISIS.

Apocalyptic warnings and blatantly dishonest remarks have always been characteristic of the Religious Right's crusade against LGBT rights and we can expect such activists to continue to engage in such shameless fear mongering and misinformation before the 2014 election.

But, like the Religious Right’s warnings about the effects of the 2009 Hate Crimes Act, these dire predictions should be taken with a heavy dose of salt.

Research contributed by Ian Silverstone

Anti-Gay Pastor Likens Fight Against Marriage Equality To The American Revolution

Religious Right groups have for years employed what the National Organization for Marriage described as a plan to “to drive a wedge between gays and blacks.” But this week, the Thomas More Law Center unveiled a campaign to file amicus briefs opposing same-sex marriage on behalf of black preachers, boasting that this worn-out strategy is “a game changer” in the marriage equality debate.

In a press release announcing the game-changing strategy, one of the pastors warns that “every culture that has embraced a homosexual culture has suffered decadence, depravity, and decline,” while another alleges that gays and lesbians aren’t protected under the 14th Amendment.

Pastor Emery Moss even compares the fight to stop marriage equality to the Revolutionary War: “The American Revolution had taxation without representation and we’re going to have marriage legislation without representation. It’s un-American and all Americans should stand up against it.”

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center disclosed that a legal team has been formed to file friend-of-the-court briefs (amicus briefs) on behalf of a Coalition of African-American pastors and Christian leaders. The legal team consists of the Law Center’s senior trial counsel, Erin Mersino, and co-counsels William R. Wagner and John S. Kane of Lansing, MI.

Thompson explained, “In its briefs, the Law Center reflects the voice of a majority of African-Americans that discrimination because of one’s sexual preference is not the same thing as racial discrimination and that tradition and morality should not be discarded as a basis of the law; as the pro-homosexual judges have done in their opinions.”



Bishop Samuel Smith, of the Apostolic World Christian Fellowship consisting of 25, 000 churches worldwide representing over 5 million laity, stated: “Every once in a while, the homosexual agenda makes an effort to redefine morality, but history tells us, that every culture that has embraced a homosexual culture has suffered decadence, depravity, and decline.”

Pastor Danny Holliday, Pastor of Victory Baptist exclaimed, “We all know that the 14th Amendment was made because Black folk were considered as property. Gays have never been considered as property.”

Evangelist Janet Boynes, a former lesbian and member of the Coalition related from her own experience, “There is no substitution for the role of a father and a mother. I know this to be true. I was in a homosexual lifestyle with a woman who had two children and I tried to fulfill the role of a dad. As time went on, I realized that I wasn’t equipped nor built to be a daddy.”

Pastor Emery Moss, of Strictly Biblical, said, “The American Revolution had taxation without representation and we’re going to have marriage legislation without representation. It’s un-American and all Americans should stand up against it.”

RNC Committeeman David Agema Loses Lawsuit Against PFAW, CAIR

You may remember Kamal Saleem, the phony ex-terrorist and Religious Right all-star who claimed that President Obama’s babysitter was setting up a shadow Islamic government and that Roe v. Wade imposes Sharia law.

Back in 2012, Saleem was scheduled to address a forum at a Michigan public school about the supposed dangers of Muslims in the U.S., prompting People For the American Way and the Council on American Islamic Relations to send a joint letter to the school asking them not to provide a platform for someone promoting misinformation and intolerance.

The school cancelled the event due to safety concerns after independently discovering that Saleem’s supporters bragged that he is a target of terrorist threats.

The hosts of the event — Republican National Committeeman and former state lawmaker David Agema, a local county commissioner, and a chapter leader of the anti-Muslim group ACT! for America — sued the school, the city and other city officials for a variety of claims, as well as PFAW and CAIR for the tort of interfering with a contract.

Agema is notorious for making bigoted comments against Muslims and gay people.

Right Wing Watch, a project of PFAW, was also mentioned in the lawsuit [PDF], which says the blog “criticizes and disparages conservative politics and Christian–Judeo values.”

The organizers were represented by Thomas More Law Center, a far-right legal group which counts Michele Bachmann and Allen West as board members, and its attorney Erin Mersino.

Today, a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit, noting that the plaintiffs “fail to state a constitutional deprivation” and base their lawsuit on “mere conclusory statements.”

Judge Janet Neff, a Bush appointee, correctly found that PFAW and CAIR were within their First Amendment rights to send a letter to the school: “The Court agrees that the petition from Defendants CAIR-MI, [Dawud] Walid, PFAW and [PFAW president Michael] Keegan to the school superintendent constitutes an attempt to influence governmental action, a petition that is protected by the First Amendment.”

As we’ve noted before, the Thomas More Law Center doesn’t exactly have the best track record:

The anti-gay and anti- Muslim group started by Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan is best known for its legal defeats, including its failed challenge to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; unsuccessful lawsuit against Planned Parenthood to “require it to declare a link between abortion and breast cancer;” and failed defense of the Dover, Pennsylvania school district where they argued “that federal law recommended that students learn alternatives to evolution such as the teaching of intelligent design.” After the disastrous Dover decision, Rick Santorum defected from the group’s Citizens Advisory Board, even though he stars in an ad for the Law Center, because of what he called their “huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did.”

Thomas More Law Center Warns SCOTUS Gay Rights Victory Would Lead to 'Ideological Totalitarianism'

The Thomas More Law Center, a right-wing legal group whose advisory board includes Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Rep. Allen West, is warning the Supreme Court that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would lead to “ideological totalitarianism” and hand gay rights advocates “a legal weapon with which to beat down ideological opponents.”

In an amicus brief filed last week [pdf], Thomas More argues:

To enshrine one side of a deeply divisive issue in constitutionally untouchable concrete is to fashion a legal weapon with which to beat down ideological opponents, at the cost of intellectual liberty. For this Court to say that it is irrational or illegitimate for a government to recognize, and act upon, the distinction between the potentially procreative marital act, and every other sexual act, would be for this Court implicitly to declare as irrational, benighted, or bigoted, all those individuals who adhere to the traditional view of marriage.

Already those who dare to voice objections to any part of the political program of various LGBT advocacy groups risk vilification, marginalization, or worse. Liberty suffers when one side of a debate is delegitimized as a matter of constitutional law.

….

In Lawrence, this Court has held that sexual acts between persons of the same sex may not be prohibited. But to go further and say that no government may treat such acts as different, for purposes of government policy or official recognition, from the unique marital acts of a man and a woman, would be enormously to expand the constitutional power this Court already affords sexual choices as such. To take that additional step would be to declare unacceptable and illegitimate the recognition of the uniqueness of the marital act. Those who subscribe to that recognition, in turn, then become pariahs, ignoramuses, or bigots in the eyes of the law.

Opponents of the legal redefinition of marriage already face the prospect of significant retaliation. Equating such persons, as a matter of constitutional law, with racist rednecks or backwards fools, serves as a legal license to continue or increase the legal and social marginalization of such persons. The price is the loss of liberty for those individuals who can no longer obtain gainful employment in their fields….and the loss of intellectual diversity for larger society…This Court should not foster the imposition of what would be, in effect, an ideological totalitarianism, i.e., a regime in which the unquestioning acceptance of the same-sex marriage movement represents the only permissible point of view. (Citations omitted)

The Thomas More Law Center is prone to this sort of dramatic prediction. The group unsuccessfully sued the Justice Department over the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which it claimed would create “a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior.” The group further claimed that "the sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin." The Shepard-Byrd Act, of course, only imposes jail sentences on people who have actually committed crimes and has yet to “criminalize the Bible.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 1/4/13

Thomas More Law Center Warns the Muslim Brotherhood Helps Run the Military, FBI

When congressmen Michele Bachmann and Allen West promote extremist anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, remember that they are members of the advisory board of the rabidly right-wing Thomas More Law Center, whose head Richard Thompson warned talk show host Janet Parshall that the Muslim Brotherhood has taken “over the education system of the United States military.” Thompson said that Sharia law is becoming part of U.S. law and that the government is unable to fight it because Americans are too sensitive to criticize Islam, and so we are now “being destroyed from within.” Angry that the military is trying to remove anti-Muslim training materials, Thompson asserted that the government has “turned over our organizations that are supposed to protect us to the Muslim Brotherhood” and now America’s survival is in jeopardy.

They are establishing Sharia law slowly through our court system and you have Al Qaeda and its associates using terrorism to strike fear in the hearts of people. We’re still trying to define who the enemy is and we can’t do it, one of the reasons we can’t is because we don’t like—we’re very sensitive when we criticize religion. So even though these terrorists are coming out of mosques and their terrorism is promoted by them imams in those mosques, we’re afraid to connect the terrorist with the mosque and with the Islamic religion. Because we’re very sensitive about that and don’t do that we have opened ourselves up to being destroyed from within.



They took over the educational system of the United States military, they are telling the Pentagon what they should their officers, as well as the FBI, responsible for domestic violence and domestic terrorism. So we’ve turned over our organizations that are supposed to protect us to the Muslim Brotherhood. Now our officers and our FBI agents cannot be trained as to what is the true threat facing our nation and we can’t survive like that.

Thomas More Law Center Names Michele Bachmann to Advisory Board

After adding Rep. Allen West to its advisory board, the Thomas More Law Center has found another rabidly anti-Muslim member of Congress to join its group: Michele Bachmann. The group, best known for its unsuccessful lawsuit against Planned Parenthood and the Shepard-Byrd hate crimes law as well as its botched defense of a Pennsylvania’s school’s Intelligent Design curriculum, as of late has tried to appeal to anti-Muslim sentiments. The group believes that Islam is trying to “destroy America,” demanded a state investigation into the sale of a school to a Muslim group, and thinks that a school teaching Arabic will train kids to become terrorists. When not attacking the rights of Muslim-Americans, the group warns that Christians will soon be imprisoned due to hate crimes laws and that the “homosexual agenda” will cause America to “disintegrate.”

Seeing that Michele Bachmann has built her career on anti-gay advocacy and is currently smearing Muslim-Americans in the Obama administration by calling for McCarthy-like investigations, it is no surprised that she has decided to work with the group in their fight against “the internal threat to America posed by radical Islam.”

In accepting service on the Advisory Board, Congresswoman Bachmann stated, "I am pleased to join forces with the Thomas More Law Center. They are in the courts aggressively fighting the internal threat to America posed by radical Islam."

Congresswoman Bachmann is a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. As a member of that Committee, she has steadfastly advocated for peace through strength to ensure America's national security.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, "We are honored to have the counsel of a tough, tested, true American patriot; a person who puts her country above politics, party and political correctness. She understands and shares our concerns about the internal threat to our nation posed by Stealth Jihad as well as maintaining the Judeo-Christian values that made this nation 'the shining city on the hill.'"

Michele Bachmann is the mother of five and the foster mother of 23. As a believer in the traditional values upon which this country was founded, she consistently defends traditional marriage, the importance of the family as the first unit of government, and the right to life for all Americans, including the unborn.

Bachmann expressed her strong commitment to America's Judeo-Christian heritage and values: "I am honored to stand with the Thomas More Law Center as they engage in the legal battles to uphold the Judeo-Christian values upon which our country was founded."

Anti-Gay and Anti-Muslim Activists Come Together for 'Rise Up California'

Eagle Forum’s San Diego chapter is hosting a conference in June to unite conservatives in Democratic-leaning California before the upcoming election:

Tomorrow, Friday June 1, 4-9pm prominent national, state and local leaders will address hundreds of conservatives at the "Rise Up California" Eagle Forum San Diego Convention at Skyline Church in Rancho San Diego. The purpose of the convention is to gather, energize, educate, empower and activate conservative Californians 4 days prior to the primary, and into the November general election.

Skyline Church is led by Jim Garlow, a close adviser to Newt Gingrich who led efforts to pass Proposition 8 and has since become a national spokesman for anti-gay causes.

Brian Brown and Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage will also address the conference alongside Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, a birther and “Christocrat” who believes AIDS is part of God’s judgment and is working against the “sexual anarchy led by sodomites.” The NOM leaders’ appearance with Scarborough, who as Kyle noted earlier today mourned the decline of the white population, won’t help their attempts to distance NOM from a campaign memo based on sowing racial divisions and build a “rainbow coalition” to oppose the gay rights “storm.”

Joining them will be Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, the anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who was banned from CPAC and the “Weyrich lunch” for his extremist views and attacks on fellow conservative leader Grover Norquist.

Another speaker is Dinesh D’Souza, who is turning his discredited book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, into a movie with the help of Republican megadonor Joe Ricketts, who recently had to drop a proposed plan to finance racially-charged ads linking President Obama to Jeremiah Wright.

Other activists appearing at the event include Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Charles LiMandri of the far-right Thomas More Law Center, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for Vice President in 2008 Wayne Allyn Root, Dran Reese of the Salt and Light Council, and anti-environmentalist campaigner Holly Swanson.

Thomas More Law Center President Claims 'America Will Disintegrate' Because of the 'Homosexual Agenda' and Obama

Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center today visited WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green to publicize his group’s anti-Muslim activism and to lavish praise on Barton’s group for “giving the kind of information that people have to have to understand that is going on,” including Barton’s debunked memo calling Obama “America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U. S. President.” He said that the left’s alleged attempts to “attack faithful Christians” and support of the “homosexual agenda” are part of a “war against Christianity.” If successful, Thompson warn, “America will disintegrate”:

Just recently I recall that Dave put out a list of all the anti-Christian statements made by President Obama, I think one of the reasons for this is that we are in a culture war and the left, the far left views Christianity as the major hurdle that they have to overcome to get their agenda passed. So they do everything they can to attack faithful Christians.



It is clear that there is this culture war going on. We are at the tipping point now, we are seeing an attack on the Judeo-Christian principles, whether it’s the homosexual agenda that’s coming down, where they just eliminated the whole Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy that prevented open homosexuality in the military, whether there’s now attack [sic] on pro-life organizations because they are supporting pro-life stands and they are not going to get any funding from the government on certain social things that these organizations do like adoptions, like assisting women who have been abused. So you see this full court press against Christianity and its time for Christians to stands up and speak out. Even though a vast majority of Americans are Christen it is the people who hold the strings of power, whether it’s the mainstream media, or whether it’s the cultural elite, or whether its academia, they are waging a war against Christianity and Christians can’t stand by and be silent. We have to speak out.

I know you praise the Thomas More Law Center but I want to turn around and praise WallBuilders because you are giving the kind of information that people have to have to understand what is going on, to understand the history of our nation. They’re not teaching history anymore to show American exceptionalism, and I believe in American exceptionalism, we are the shining city on the hill, and if we don’t keep faith with our Founding Fathers, faith with the Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values that we have, America will disintegrate like every other huge power that existed in history.

Allen West Joins Far-Right Thomas More Law Center

Rep. Allen West (R-FL) today announced that he will be joining the Thomas More Law Center’s Citizens Advisory Board, because the group “knows the true threat to our nation posed by radical Islam and it has initiated and funded more cases challenging the Stealth Jihad being waged against our Nation than any other public interest law firm in America.” West will be joining former Republican presidential candidate and conspiracy theorist Alan Keyes, anti-choice activist Mary Cunningham Agee, and former Alabama Republican Senator Jeremiah Denton.

The anti-gay and anti-Muslim group started by Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan is best known for its legal defeats, including its failed challenge to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, unsuccessful lawsuit against Planned Parenthood to “require it to declare a link between abortion and breast cancer,” and failed defense of the Dover, Pennsylvania school district where they argued “that federal law recommended that students learn alternatives to evolution such as the teaching of intelligent design.” After the disastrous Dover decision, Rick Santorum defected from the group’s Citizens Advisory Board, even though he stars in an ad for the Law Center, because of what he called their “huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did.”

Seeing that West has his own rabidly anti-Muslim views, he should fit right in, and last month Tom Lynch of the Law Center told Concerned Women for America’s Chelsen Vicari that Islam is a Trojan Horse trying to “destroying America” that is simply “disguised as a religion,” and that nobody should trust Muslims because they are lying because of Taqiyya:

A lot of Americans are ignorant and that’s why I want to talk about this subject today, about this internal subversion or what we call a stealth jihad. If you go back in history, I mean today the Trojan Horse here in America is Islam, it’s entered America disguised as a religion, it’s ultimate objective is political, and that is to destroy America and to establish an Islamic nation under Allah and Sharia law.



With Taqiyya, if you’re following the Qur’an and your religion, that means that you can lie. So how can you really trust anybody that might be appeasing to our Constitution, our Christianity, or our country?

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Mat Staver says Americans United is "out to literally destroy America."
  • Rudy Giuliani is "absolutely" thinking about running again in 2012.
  • Mike Huckabee will wait until at least the summer before making a decision about running in 2012.
  • The Thomas More Law Center has a rather unique reason for suing over the government bailout of AIG.
  • Finally, Sen. Jim DeMint joins the Religious Right's boycott of CPAC.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Pamela Geller is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center in the $10 million lawsuit filed against her by the attorney for Rifqa Bary's parents.
  • Tea Partiers seem to love Dick Armey based on the mistaken belief that he is some sort of DC outsider.
  • I find it amazing that Religious Right leaders will so openly denigrate Islam and that the Washington Post continues to provide them a venue in which do so.
  • Al Mohler says that exorcisms are hokum because "there is absolutely no New Testament evidence that a believer in Christ can be possessed by demons."
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Robert Knight responding to efforts to elimiate DADT: "Not all of the snipers targeting U.S. military personnel are in caves or perched on cliffs in Afghanistan. Some are right here in America, planting stories instead of explosives. Their mission: to destroy the military's moral backbone."

Judge Dismisses Religious Right Lawsuit Challenging Hate Crimes Legislation

In February, four Religious Right activists in Michigan - Levon Yuille, Rene Ouellette, James Combs, and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan - represented by the Thomas More Law Center filed suit against Attorney General Eric Holder over the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, claiming that protection for gays "creates a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior."

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington dismissed the suit:

In a 43-page motion to dismiss, Holder called Glenn’s arguments hypothetical.

Citing 68 cases, he said Glenn and the ministers had no right to file a civil suit based on “conjectural” or hypothetical injuries or infringements.

“Plaintiffs do not allege that they have been prosecuted under the Act, that they have been threatened with such prosecution or that they intend to engage in any conduct prohibited by the Act,” Holder argued.

“The Act does not proscribe speech. It prohibits only violent conduct and includes specific provisions ensuring that it may not be applied to infringe any rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

Ludington agreed.

“... it is entirely speculative that Plaintiff’s conduct would be prosecuted under the Act,” Ludington wrote.

Case law requires that a plaintiff’s claim must be more than a “generalized grievance,” the judge noted.

If Anything They Said Was True, They'd Both Be In Jail

Back in February, the Thomas More Law Center announced that it was filing suit to challenge the constitutionality of the recently enacted hate crimes legislation on the grounds that "the sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin."

Of course, the fact that this is patently false as the legislation contains explicit free speech and religious liberty protections isn't going to stop them from claiming that the law is an attempt to outlaw Christianity and protect pedophiles ... which is exactly what Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center and Rick Green of Wallbuilders did yesterday while discussing the issue on Wallbuilders Live:

 

Muise: We're in this [legal fight] for the long haul, and we need to be because those opponents of Christianity and the Christian view, they don't give up so quickly. They're continuing to press and fight as long and hard as they can to ensure that, you know, their really deviant sexual behavior is elevated to a special protected class as a matter of federal law and federal policy and they want to normalize it and want to silence Christians who oppose it.  In fact, when you look at this, to even call it hate crimes legislation, they really want to equate the biblical teaching of homosexuality with racist speech, they want to really vilify it, demonize it, so it's no longer a participant in the marketplace of ideas. I mean this is all part and parcle of really a grand plan.

Green: I have never heard a Christian minister say "go out and do violence against a homosexual," so I don't even understand where they get ... if you get up and say "look, here's the deal, the Bible says this is a sin, no different than adultery is a sin, all these other things, the Bible speaks against this" and if you say this, that somehow that is inciting violence. I don't even get that connection.

Muise: You get the connection only because that's the rhetoric they use to silence those who oppose them. When you look at the Bible, and the Bible's words on homosexuality are quite harsh, as they are for other sinful conduct. Really, I don't know of any other situation where we've elevated deviant sexual behavior and those who engage in it to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and federal policy.

Green: And including pedophiles.

Of course, the great irony of this entire discussion is that if the right-wing claims about hate crimes legislation being designed to silence Christians who speak out against homosexuality were true, then both Green and Muise would immediately be arrested for the very things they just said. 

But that won't happen because their free speech and religious liberty rights have not been violated by the law, which undermines their central claim that hate crimes legislation is unconstitutional because it will silence Christians from speaking out.

In short, Green and Muise just spent a half-hour citing the Bible and railing against the "deviant sexual behavior" of gays, all while claiming that the existence of hate crimes legislation would result in anyone who cited the Bible or railed against gays being hauled off to jail .. and neither of them has been hauled off to jail.

Hate Crimes Protection for Gays Is "Demeaning [to] the Black Community"

Last week we noted that the Thomas More Law Center had filed suit against Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 on behalf of right-wing activists and pastors in Michigan. One of those pastors was Levon Yuille, who tells OneNewsNow that he opposes hate crimes protections for gays because he finds it "demeaning [to] the black community": 

A black pastor who is challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted federal "Hate Crimes Act" says he's offended by comparisons to the civil rights struggles of African-Americans with those who engage in homosexual behavior ... Yuille tells OneNewsNow that he also finds it insulting to equate the supposed "civil rights" struggle of homosexuals with the real civil rights struggle of African-Americans.

"I feel like individuals [are] demeaning the black community in trying to equate us to what someone chooses to do sexually," Yiulle remarks. "The totality of black people is far greater than what one would prefer to do in expressing themselves in the manner I've already stated."

The Michigan pastor says the spotlight should be on how the HIV virus is devastating his community -- women in particular. "I'm most certainly disheartened to see that there's so little focus being placed on this issue relative to so many black men participating in heterosexual and homosexual behavior -- and ultimately and regrettably a lot of black women contract AIDS through this type of behavior," he shares.

Pastor Yuille says he is taking a stand for truth, and believes he is doing what is right from a biblical, social, and health perspective.

Religious Right Sues Over Hate Crimes Law

I am actually surprised that it took the Religious Right this long to file suit:

A conservative civil liberties group is challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 ... The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center says it elevates people engaged in deviant sexual behaviors to a special, protected class of persons under federal law.

The lawsuit naming U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of three pastors and the president of the American Family Association of Michigan.

All of the plaintiffs “take a strong public stand against the homosexual agenda, which seeks to normalize disordered sexual behavior that is contrary to Biblical teaching,” the Law Center said in a news release.

“There is no legitimate law enforcement need for this federal law,’ said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

“This is part of the list of political payoffs to homosexual advocacy groups for support of Barack Obama in the last presidential election,” Thompson continued. “The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin. It elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”

...

The four plaintiffs are Michiagn Pastors Levon Yuille, Rene Ouellette, James Combs, and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan.

...

Robert Muise, who is handling the case, said the new law promotes two Orwellian concepts: “It creates a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior. And it creates ‘thought crimes’ by criminalizing certain ideas, beliefs, and opinions, and the involvement of such ideas, beliefs, and opinions in a crime will make it deserving of federal prosecution."

 

What Happens When Muslims Refuse to "Accept American Values"? Christians Sue for Discrimination

Last year, I wrote a post about Gerald Marszalek, a high school wrestling coach in Dearborn, Michigan who was let go due to concerns that he had been allowing an assistant coach, a local clergyman, to try to convert Muslim students to Christianity.  In that post I excerpted an article from the Detroit Free Press which is no longer available on-line: 

According to Marszalek, parents and community leaders, [Principal Imad] Fadlallah and other parents have long been concerned about contacts between the wrestling team and a local clergyman, the Rev. Trey Hancock of the Dearborn Assembly of God.

Hancock, who helped Marszalek with the team for 10 years, and whose son, Paul, is now a member, confirmed that he attempts to convert Muslim youths to Christianity and that he baptized a 15-year-old Muslim student in Port Huron a few years ago.

Hancock insisted that he never attempted a conversion as part of his work with the wrestling team, or on school grounds. But when asked if he understood the concerns of Muslim parents, he said, "I consider it my work to pastor to anyone who is within my reach. So I can imagine they would be concerned. But is the Dearborn Public Schools going to be dictating what every pastor can or cannot do within his congregation?"

As I said at the time, the problem was not what Hancock was doing “within his congregation” but rather what he was doing in his capacity as a coach. If the roles here had been reversed and a Muslim coach had been trying to convert Christian students, you can rest assured that the Right would have gone absolutely ballistic.

That was the last we had heard of it, until today when we learned that Marszalek is now suing to get his job back:

Marszalek's attorney, Brandon Bolling, said his client coached at the school for 35 years and wants his job back.

"He was going to complete one last season to try to get to 500 wins," Bolling said.

For the record, Bolling just so happens to be an attorney for the Thomas Moore Law Center, which is a right-wing legal organization "dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians ... [by] providing legal representation without charge to defend and protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square."

In the organization's press release announcing the suit, they say that the case is not about a coach using his position to proselytize and convert Muslim students but rather about what happens when Muslims get all uppity:

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “We are getting a glimpse of what happens when Muslims who refuse to accept American values and principles gain political power in an American community. Failure to renew coach Marszalek’s contract had nothing to do with wrestling and everything to do with religion.”

The release also claims that "Principal Fadlallah was so upset by the conversion that he punched the student and informed him he had disgraced his family."  I have been unable to find any articles that independently verify this allegation and frankly find it a little hard to believe that Fadlallah would still be Principal if he had punched a student.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Thomas More Law Center has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Homeland Security seeking answers about the recent report on right-wing extremists.
  • Gary Dull and his nascent Faith and Freedom Institute received some press coverage for their participation in a "tea party" rally yesterday, declaring "stop taking our freedoms away from us."
  • Bill Donohue opposes efforts to bring marriage quality to New York state, declaring "once you allow two men to marry there's nothing left. You can't stop three men from getting married. You could not stop Sam and Sally for that matter if they wanted to have an incestuous relationship granted by the state."
  • The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission warns that hate crimes legislation is on its way, saying that "if this bill passes it lays the foundation for censoring Christians."
  • The Judicial Confirmation Network's Wendy Long pens an attack piece on judicial nominee David Hamilton in which she repeats the discredited claims about his ties to ACORN.
  • The Susan B. Anthony List declares that Gov. Sarah Palin's decision to speak at the Vanderburgh County Right to Life Banquet in Indiana tonight proves that she is "authentic" and reflection of "her values and true persona." I'd argue that her refusal to follow to state law in filling an empty Democratic seat in the state Senate is a better reflection of her values and persona.
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Thomas More Law Center Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/22/2014, 1:00pm
Here we go again. If Religious Right activists are to be believed, any day now the government will throw pastors in jail, have people “fined $500 a day” for reading the Bible and “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians.” These are among the claims that were made this year by conservative politicians and movement leaders, who warn that America is now witnessing a “war on religion.”  Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false. The apocalyptic... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 09/25/2014, 11:05am
Religious Right groups have for years employed what the National Organization for Marriage described as a plan to “to drive a wedge between gays and blacks.” But this week, the Thomas More Law Center unveiled a campaign to file amicus briefs opposing same-sex marriage on behalf of black preachers, boasting that this worn-out strategy is “a game changer” in the marriage equality debate. In a press release announcing the game-changing strategy, one of the pastors warns that “every culture that has embraced a homosexual culture has suffered decadence, depravity, and... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 01/22/2014, 5:15pm
You may remember Kamal Saleem, the phony ex-terrorist and Religious Right all-star who claimed that President Obama’s babysitter was setting up a shadow Islamic government and that Roe v. Wade imposes Sharia law. Back in 2012, Saleem was scheduled to address a forum at a Michigan public school about the supposed dangers of Muslims in the U.S., prompting People For the American Way and the Council on American Islamic Relations to send a joint letter to the school asking them not to provide a platform for someone promoting misinformation and intolerance. The school cancelled the... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 02/06/2013, 3:49pm
The Thomas More Law Center, a right-wing legal group whose advisory board includes Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Rep. Allen West, is warning the Supreme Court that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would lead to “ideological totalitarianism” and hand gay rights advocates “a legal weapon with which to beat down ideological opponents.” In an amicus brief filed last week [pdf], Thomas More argues: To enshrine one side of a deeply divisive issue in constitutionally untouchable concrete is to fashion a legal weapon with which to beat down ideological opponents... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 01/04/2013, 6:45pm
Joe Strupp @ Media Matters: Dick Armey Dishes On FreedomWorks’ Deals with Beck & Limbaugh.  Matthew Yglesias @ Slate: Sen. John Cornyn’s Outrageous Op-Ed on the Debt Ceiling. Alex Koppelman @ The New Yorker: The GOP’s Sandy Problem. Scott Keyes @ Think Progress: Republican Congressman Claims Hammers Could Be Outlawed Under Assault Weapons Ban.  Jeremy Hooper @ Good As You: Hubristic Thomas More Law Center claim discrimination is victimized position. MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/24/2012, 12:20pm
When congressmen Michele Bachmann and Allen West promote extremist anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, remember that they are members of the advisory board of the rabidly right-wing Thomas More Law Center, whose head Richard Thompson warned talk show host Janet Parshall that the Muslim Brotherhood has taken “over the education system of the United States military.” Thompson said that Sharia law is becoming part of U.S. law and that the government is unable to fight it because Americans are too sensitive to criticize Islam, and so we are now “being destroyed from within.”... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 08/02/2012, 12:30pm
After adding Rep. Allen West to its advisory board, the Thomas More Law Center has found another rabidly anti-Muslim member of Congress to join its group: Michele Bachmann. The group, best known for its unsuccessful lawsuit against Planned Parenthood and the Shepard-Byrd hate crimes law as well as its botched defense of a Pennsylvania’s school’s Intelligent Design curriculum, as of late has tried to appeal to anti-Muslim sentiments. The group believes that Islam is trying to “destroy America,” demanded a state investigation into the sale of a school to a Muslim group,... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 05/31/2012, 2:00pm
Eagle Forum’s San Diego chapter is hosting a conference in June to unite conservatives in Democratic-leaning California before the upcoming election: Tomorrow, Friday June 1, 4-9pm prominent national, state and local leaders will address hundreds of conservatives at the "Rise Up California" Eagle Forum San Diego Convention at Skyline Church in Rancho San Diego. The purpose of the convention is to gather, energize, educate, empower and activate conservative Californians 4 days prior to the primary, and into the November general election. Skyline Church is led by Jim Garlow, a... MORE >