Jerry Falwell

The Key to Right-Wing Success

I don't really have anything to say about this latest column from Matt Barber other than to marvel at how he's managed to become a relatively high-profile right-wing activist based on little more than his seething animosity toward gays:

The idea of open homosexuality within our armed services has long been considered preposterous.

[George] Washington wisely understood that to allow men among the ranks who sodomized other men would necessarily distract from the mission at hand, disrupt unit cohesion and damage the morale of non-sodomy-disposed soldiers forced to sleep and bathe alongside those so inclined. It's understandably disquieting to wonder whether your foxhole buddy "has your back" or wants to rub it.

Barack Obama is no George Washington. He and a like-minded gaggle of congressional liberals have pledged to repeal the federal law, Section 654, Title 10, which stipulates that homosexual practice is incompatible with military service. Furthermore, they intend to do away with Bill Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" administrative compromise.

The president has asked Congress to pass and send to his desk H.R. 1283, which, for the first time in American history, would homosexualize the military. To wit, he seeks to supplant military vitality with San Francisco vice. Whereas George Washington put a premium on combat readiness and national security, these indispensable safeguards play last fiddle to liberals' obtuse fixation with political correctness.

In the deadly game of war it's dangerously irresponsible to place extreme social ideology above national security. In combat, even the slightest disruption or distraction can spell the difference between victory and defeat – life and death. The left fails to understand this grave reality.

...

I'm speaking from personal experience. I served 12 years in the Army National Guard. During basic training a young man who later turned out to be homosexual was discharged after making unwanted advances toward other soldiers and for inappropriately touching several while they slept in the barracks.

A lengthy investigation ensued. Troops were pulled away from their regular training to answer questions. It was a tremendous distraction for our entire platoon. This incident most definitely disrupted unit cohesion and harmed troop morale.

But none of this matters to liberals. Obama is the un-Washington. The left – of which Obama sits on the fringe – loathe the armed services. Rather than viewing the military as a noble and necessary institution designed as our last line of defense, they consider it a giant petri dish ripe for radical social experimentation. Move over Army National Guard; make way for the smarmy avant-garde.

Once upon a time, Barber was an manager for Allstate Insurance until he was fired for writing anti-gay pieces for right-wing websites like The Conservative Voice and Men's News Daily. That firing transformed him into a right-wing hero and he quickly became Policy Director for Cultural Issues with Concerned Women for America, where he continued his militantly anti-gay diatribes.  He was eventually lured away from CWA by the Liberty Counsel where he became Director of Cultural Affairs, as well as the Associate Dean for Career and Professional Development at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

In just four years, Barber has gone from an unknown employee at an insurance company to an associate dean at a right-wing university thanks solely to his unrelenting hatred of gays.

Amazing.

What Year Is This?

On April 15, 1995, Timothy McVeigh destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

A little over a week later, President Bill Clinton delivered a speech in which he defended the First Amendment while raising concerns about the impact of violent and hateful rhetoric:

[W]e hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. You ought to see—I'm sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today.

Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences and that freedom has endured in this country for more than two centuries because it was coupled with an enormous sense of responsibility on the part of the American people.

If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too. And we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.

If they insist on being irresponsible with our common liberties, then we must be all the more responsible with our liberties. When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future, our way of life is at stake.

For this, Clinton was pilloried by the Right, which prompted People For the American Way to release a memo [PDF] on "free speech, irresponsible speech, and the climate of intolerance" which, remarkably, we could probably release today after making only a few small changes:

Language that attributes heinous motives and goals to individuals and organizations -- such as accusations that liberals are out to destroy Christianity or that advocates for civil rights for gays and lesbians want to molest young children -- destroys any recognition of common interest and any hope of finding common ground among political opponents. That is a terribly dangerous situation in a democratic society.

It is tempting to reassure ourselves by saying that hate speech is the denizen of only the furthest fringes of American political life. Unfortunately, that assertion is clearly not true. Elected officials and highly visible political leaders are among those who spread messages of fear and suspicion, over and over, day in and day out. The repetition of such messages cannot contribute to the well-being of our communities or the health of our society at large. Regardless of whether such messages "cause" violent behavior, they clearly serve to legitimize those who do violate the law.

Pat Robertson is a former Presidential candidate, the patriarch of a political movement, a television broadcaster, and an author. His television show and his books reach millions of Americans. Unfortunately, the message he preaches is often this: Christians are under attack in America by liberals and by a government that wants desperately to destroy their faith and their families. "I do believe this year that there's going to be persecutions against Christians. I think the government is going to step up its attacks against Christians," he told television viewers last year. "The government frankly is our enemy and we're going to see more and more of the people who have been places in office last year ... getting control of the levers of power and they will begin to know how to use them to hurt those who are perceived as their enemies."

...

Last year, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proposed regulations -- originating with the Bush administration -- to protect American workers against religious bigotry and harassment on the job, Religious Right political groups portrayed the effort in apocalyptic terms, telling members that the Clinton Administration was so hostile to the Christian faith that the government was planning to make it illegal to wear cross-shaped jewelry, carry a Bible to work, or talk about religion with a co-worker. "Why is the Clinton Administration doing this?" asked Jerry Falwell. "Because they do not want God in American society." It was all patently untrue, and the EEOC offered to clarify that the regulations were designed to protect, not inhibit, workers' religious liberty. Nevertheless, the regulations were killed.

The war against the EEOC regulations was an ideal operation for political organizations willing to trade short-term gain for long-term damage to American society. By claiming (falsely) that the end of religious liberty was near, groups could motivate supporters to call and write elected officials. By refusing to acknowledge government officials' willingness to cooperate toward reaching a solution, and demanding instead withdrawal of the regulations, the organizations' leaders could flex their political muscle for members of Congress and brag to their own members that they had prevented the arrival of tyranny. Meanwhile, millions of Americans were convinced that the government was out to destroy their faith and freedom.

Some of the most incendiary invective is directed against gay and lesbian Americans and their allies in the effort to win legal protection from discrimination. Gays and lesbians are routinely portrayed - by individuals at or near the center of conservative politics in America - as evil individuals who prey on children and want to destroy the institutions of church and family. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has parroted the assertion of the Traditional Values Coalition's Lou Sheldon that teaching about homosexuality in public schools amounts to an effort to "recruit" teenagers into homosexuality. Gingrich has promised Sheldon that the House will hold hearings on the gay "influences" in the schools. Last year Sheldon told his supporters that "President Bill Clinton has quietly put into place homosexual special rights regulations that will devastate our freedom of religion, speech and association, not to mention destroy our society's cultural and moral fiber. AND ALL THIS IS BEING DONE BEHIND OUR BACK."

...

Randall Terry, one of the founders of Operation Rescue, has told followers, "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good. ... We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this county. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

...

When President Clinton, unequivocally declaring his support for unbridled freedom of speech, called for Americans to respond to hateful rhetoric, his political opponents were quick to twist his words. Pat Robertson told viewers that the President and "those on the left" wanted to use the tragic Oklahoma City bombing "to still the voices of legitimate protest." Oliver North, Rush Limbaugh and others leapt at the chance to glean short-term political gain. When the President in fact called for more speech and more American voices, he was accused of trying to silence voices of dissent. That is precisely the kind of untruth that feeds the current dangerous levels of cynicism and distrust toward the government. And it is ironic to see politically powerful individuals, with powerful voices, claiming the role of victim in order to breed fear and resentment among their supporters.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University are now demanding that the College Democrats apologize to them.
  • Richard Cizik, who lost his job with the National Association of Evangelicals, continues his environmental efforts.
  • Two national Rabbinic groups have issued a religious ban on "voting for any politician or office holder who supports any aspect of the homosexual political agenda."
  • Rob Schenck announces that, beginning next week, his organization will begin daily prayer vigils for every leading politician in this country, singling them out by name for prayer, and will do so for the entire year.
  • Quin Hillyer completely loses it over Sonia Sotomayor, while the NRA says that it is staying out of it ... for now. Meanwhile, the LA Times reports that the Right is hoping to do to Sotomayor what it did to Dawn Johnsen, and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts announces that he will vote against her nomination.

Is Dobson Calling for the Right to Disengage?

Yesterday, I wrote a post, based largely on this post from Dan Gilgoff, about James Dobson and company lamenting their relative inability to influence the political culture at the moment, now that Democrats are in control of both the White House and the Congress.

There is certainly a sense of panic gripping the Religious Right at the moment, but I think that Gilgoff is reading a bit too much into Dobson's admission that his forces can't stop things like hate crimes legislation and urging his followers to simply pray:

[I]t's important to note that Dobson is entirely serious about prayer as a real strategy to effect change, as are tens of millions of other American Christians. That's why I wrote that Dobson has surrendered politically for the moment, not that he's surrendered entirely.

But to encourage Christian disengagement from politics, at least until Republicans return to power in some branch of the federal government, is no small thing. That's especially true because evangelicals had been politically disengaged for much of the 20th century. Their return to the political arena in the late 1970s was a hard-won victory for culture warriors like Paul Weyrich and Jerry Falwell.

To encourage evangelical Christians to sit on the political sidelines until a better day arrives sounds like a call to return to that previous era, when the public humiliation of 1925's Scopes "monkey trial" scared evangelicals out of politics for the next half century.

...

Is he just facing the facts about the Democrats' monopoly in Washington? Or has he given up too easily?

Dobson is, if anything, a political realist and while I suspect that he is genuinely alarmed by the current political environment, he's not about to give up - and he certainly isn't calling for his followers to "disengage" from politics.  In fact, he has made that abundantly clear in recent weeks, and his organization's action center is still working on everything from hate crimes to executive nominations.

It must be remembered that, during the eight years George W. Bush was in office, Dobson was hailed as king of the "values voters," he was hobnobbing with Senate leaders like Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, his organization had easy access to the White House, and he was being personally courted by the administration when it came to things like generating support for Harriet Miers.

Once upon a time, Dobson had a seat at the right hand of the President of the United States:

But those days are over and now, with Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress, Dobson's influence in Washington DC has plummeted, he's being shut out of events he used to control, and he's reduced to sharing his program with right-wing back-benchers like Reps. Louie Gohmert and Steve King.

Dobson realizes that his influence, and the influence of his movement as a whole, is at its nadir at the moment and that, given the lack of allies they have in power, all that they can really do is pray.

But this is not any sort of call for "disengagement" on the part of those who share his views, a point he made very clearly just a few weeks ago when the last round of "is Dobson calling it quits?" punditry was taking place:

It would not be accurate not to admit that we lost the White House, we lost the House, and we lost the Senate, and we probably will loose in the courts, and we lost almost every department of government with this election. But the war is not over - pendulums swing and we'll come back. We're gonna hang in there and, you know, it's not going to be a surrender.

It was, after all, just two years ago that Gilgoff himself was writing about "how James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Evangelical America are winning the Culture War."

As a person who has spent years covering the Right, Gilgoff ought to know better than anyone that Dobson is not the kind of man who throws in the towel on these issues, no matter how dire the prospects may seem at the moment.

How To Get Into Liberty University, The Easy Way

Liberty University has a long list of scholarships available to prospective students - some require good grades, some require military or ministry experience, and some require memorizing 750 Bible verses.

But if that is too much work, you can always just try speaking out against marriage equality in a nationally televised event and Liberty will start throwing scholarships at you and begging you to transfer:

Liberty University has offered a scholarship to the beauty queen who expressed her opposition to same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant.

School Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. made the offer yesterday to Carrie Prejean, who was visiting the conservative Christian school.

...

Prejean, who's a junior at San Diego Christian College, was first runner-up in the pageant. She hasn't said whether she'll transfer to Liberty for her senior year.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Both the NRCC and the RNC have responded to Arlen Specter's defection with a rousing "good riddance" ... and a plea for donations.
  • Mike Huckabee responded to the news by saying it just goes to prove the importance of his PAC and electing "Republicans who will not sell their values for votes."
  • Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Liberty Council, and others have officially come out in opposition to the confirmation of David Hamilton, while Gary Marx says Hamilton's nomination "does not bode well" for their hopes that Obama would nominate moderates.
  • It looks like Michael Steele's control over the RNC is getting weaker by the day.
  • Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and the Susan B. Anthony List all say that, despite Kathleen Sebelius's confirmation, they are not giving up the fight.
  • You know what we don't see enough of?  Gambling interests attacking the Christian Coalition for its hypocrisy.
  • WorldNetDaily profiles Michael Ferris, the man who made home-school popular, founded Patrick Henry College, and drafted the Parental Rights Amendment.
  • Once again I must ask: can Michelle Bachmann go one day without saying something moronic?  And once again the answer is no.
  • Right-wing anti-marriage darling Carrie Prejean was hobnobbing at Liberty University today with Jerry Falwell Jr. before heading off to join Matt Barber and Mat Staver on their radio program, thus officially completing her transformation from D-list celebrity to A-list Religious Right hero.

What You Learn At Liberty

Kevin Roose, author of the new book "The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University" about his time at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, has a new piece up in Esquire explaining that there are two types of classes at the school:

I'm finding that my favorite courses, like Old Testament and Theology, have something in common: they're surveys, classes in which the professor's goal is simply to introduce a body of new information. The information always has a literalist slant, of course, but on the whole, the classes are fairly straightforward. You'd find the same thing at a hundred other Christian colleges and Bible study groups. There's another type of class, though — the agenda-driven class. In these courses, professors aren't teaching new knowledge so much as teaching students how to think about the world around them.

The second type of classes, known as General Description of the Contemporary Issues or GNED, are designed to "establish undergraduate students in the Christian worldview, and to equip them to apply it through a biblically centered decision making process in relation to various contemporary issues."

Roose provides some insight into what such classes entail:

A week or two before spring break, I started sitting in on GNED II, a mandatory second-semester extension of my GNED course. I'm only at Liberty for one semester, so I'll never get to take GNED II for a grade, but people on my hall kept talking about it, and I wanted to get the flavor. The GNED II class I've been going to, like my GNED I class, is taught by Dr. Parks. In it, Liberty students are taught to view sociopolitical topics like homosexuality, abortion, and euthanasia through an ultraconservative Christian lens. And unlike its first-semester counterpart, GNED II pulls no punches. Its workbook contains fill-in-the blank sections like:

In today's GNED II class, Dr. Parks announces that we will be talking about gender roles in the evangelical world. Dr. Parks spends the first ten minutes of class laying out the two main positions evangelical Christians take on gender issues. The first position, egalitarianism, means exactly what you'd expect it to mean — men and women are equal, both in the church and in the home. Women can be pastors of a church, they can teach Sunday school, and husbands and wives share equal authority in marriage. The second position, called complementarianism, means, in Dr. Parks's words, that "God created man and woman with different roles that complement each other." Complementarians believe that only men can be pastors, that only men can teach Sunday school or other Christian education classes (unless it's an all-female class). Complementarians also maintain that the husband should be the head of the household. They quote Ephesians 5:24, "As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (NIV)."

"You can obviously tell where I am on this," Dr. Parks says. "I am definitely a complementarian, without apology. I think the egalitarian view is greatly skewed."

Dr. Parks clicks a few buttons on his laptop to start a PowerPoint slideshow. The text is accompanied by photos of white, midthirties couples clutching each other, loving gazes plastered on their faces. As the presentation plays, we fill in the blanks in our workbooks:

Dr. Parks realizes that to a nonevangelical, the complementarian view of gender roles can sound misogynistic, but he assures us that it's not. Women can still hold high-power jobs under the complementarian model, he says, and they should still get equal pay for equal work. But when push comes to shove, a woman's priority should be her family. "For a woman," Dr. Parks says, "if the career is most important, and the family gets left out, that's a problem."

As Roose says, these classes are the types of class "a liberal secularist would invent if he were trying to satirize a Liberty education. It's as if Brown offered a course called Secular Hedonism 101: How to Smoke Pot, Cross-dress, and Lose Your Morals. But unlike that course, GNED II actually exists."

Fox News' Bream Has Ties To Jerry Falwell

Just yesterday we noted that the Right's primary talking point in opposing President Bush's first judicial nominee, David Hamilton, is that he has ties to ACORN. Of course, as we pointed out, said ties consist entirely of a one-month stint as a fund-raiser for the organization some thirty years ago.

But apparently that is still enough to damn Hamilton in the eyes of the Right, as they continue to repeat it:

Hamilton is being touted as a moderate, but Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice disagrees. "He's just your classic, liberal judicial activist on issues like abortion, criminal issues such as suppression of evidence and sex offenders, separation of church and state issues," he says ... n addition, Hamilton has had some off-duty activities that have come to Levey's attention. "The guy has had a leadership role in the Indiana Chapter of the ACLU, and we know how the ACLU feels about religion," Levey adds. "He even did fundraising for the ultra, ultra liberal group ACORN, so none of this is surprising."

As we pointed out yesterday, this assertion was first put forth by Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network and has now made its way into press, with Fox News citing it during a segment on Hamilton's nomination yesterday.

Media Matters has posted the clip which features Long, as well as our president, Kathryn Kolbert, during which Fox News reporter Shannon Bream segues into a quote from Long by noting that "critics say Hamilton has ties to the liberal activist group ACORN:"

Interestingly, Shannon Bream is a graduate of Liberty University, so maybe we should mention that she has ties to Jerry Falwell ... ties that are, incidentally, far more substantial than Hamilton's supposed "ties" to ACORN.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • WorldNetDaily reports that "Birther" Orly Taitz flew and drove thousands of miles to confront Chief Justice John Roberts about why the Supreme Court continually refuses to hear their cases and Roberts responded by promising to read all of her documents.
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry will be joined by Gary Bauer for the 2009 State Prayer Breakfast where Bauer will be delivering the keynote address.
  • Could Norm Coleman really be in line to take over the RNC if Michael Steele is ousted?  Could we be that lucky?
  • Tullian Tchividjian has officially been chosen as the next pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, replacing the late D. James Kennedy. As such, it seems worth highlighting this: "Kennedy's preaching against homosexuality and abortion made him one of evangelical Christianity's most divisive figures, and he worked to inject his faith in all aspects of public life and the political process, like his allies the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Tchividjian insists he holds the same theological positions as Kennedy, but he cuts a far different image."
  • If I were the type to employ the right-wing tactic of taking isolated incidents to make sweeping generalizations, I'd probably have a field day with these two incidents.
  • Finally, the Traditional Values Coalition has announced that it is launching its own blog ... and presumably they'll even get it to actually work at some point.

 

Right Wing Round-Up

Today's best reporting on the Right from around the web:

  • RH Reality Check reports that, with a Democratic President, family planning clinics are bracing for an uptick in violence.
  • FishbowlDC notes that the Family Research Council is targeting Chris Matthews for wondering if Gov. Kathleen Sebelius can withstand the "verbal terrorism" of the anti-choice movement.
  • Speaking of which, John Aravosis wonders why the religious right feels free to compare gays and the Supreme Court to terrorists, but then gets upset when they're compared to terrorists.
  • Good as You takes on the absurd notion that the Human Right Campaign is targeting Mormons.
  • Box Turtle Bulletin says that, if you are gay and planning a vacation, you might want to consider avoiding Jamaica.
  • Religion Dispatches discovers Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins debating if Barack Obama is the Antichrist or merely a pre-cursor to the Antichrist.
  • Crooks and Liars has the video and transcript of D.L. Hughley's interview with Frank Schaeffer:
  • [T]he fact of the matter is, I think we have come through a very, very bad time and unfortunately, I'm sorry to say, my dad and I, when I was a young man and he in his career had a lot to do with it. Because we were the people, who along with others like James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and the others, we put all of this crap in place. And now the reason I wrote "Crazy for God" is because the title is literally that if awe approach God in a certain way, it will drive you crazy. And this has been a period of craziness.

Good Thing It Was Only a Lifetime Membership

Back in 2001, National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre traveled to Lynchburg, Virginia where he appeared on Jerry Falwell's television program and presented him with a lifetime membership to the National Rifle Association.

So presumably the decision by Liberty University’s board of trustees not to allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus won’t sit well with them, considering that the NRA brags that it “has been at the forefront in securing the rights of law-abiding Americans to carry concealed handguns for personal protection.”

But apparently the board, students, and faculty were less concerned about these “rights” than they were about the prospect of having to share dorms, classrooms, and a campus with people “packing heat”:

Board members, at Liberty for a regularly scheduled meeting, decided to continue to not allow people with concealed handgun permits to carry weapons on campus.

Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. had brought the matter before the board after members of Liberty’s chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus requested a change in policy.

“The feeling was that, unlike most private property owners, we have our own police force,” Falwell said after the meeting. “So the decision was made, since crime has not really been a problem at LU, not to make any changes to the policy at this time.

“The board did express a willingness to look at, especially faculty and staff being allowed to carry concealed weapons in the future, should they determine that it was needed for enhanced security.”

Currently, the university does not allow those with concealed weapons permits to carry a gun on campus.

Falwell said the board considered both that perspective and opinions from other students and faculty.

“We’ve received a lot of feedback, and I’d say the majority of the community probably does not support (concealed carry on campus),” Falwell said. “The ones who do support it are very, very committed. And the ones who are against it feel just as strongly.”

He said those against allowing concealed carry “probably outnumber those who do two-to-one.”

“Some of the faculty had commented that they couldn’t imagine anything worse than students packing heat while they were handing out grades,” Falwell said.

Presumably, had this sort of decision been reached by some “liberal” university, the Right would be up in arms and blasting the school for violating the precious second-amendment rights of its students … but since it happened at Liberty, nobody seems to be saying anything at all.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Focus on the Family Action has launched a petition drive calling on Congress and President Barack Obama to prevent taxpayer money from funding the abortion industry.
  • Speaking of Focus, the organization is also upset about the marriage of two women on the soap opera "All My Children."
  • Liberty University School of Law hosted Howard Phillips, founder and chairman of The Conservative Caucus (TCC) as well as the Constitution Party, who was praised by Jerry Falwell, Jr. for being "instrumental in encouraging Liberty students to become involved in politics."
  • Personhood USA reports that seven states have introduced bills affirming the personhood rights of pre-born humans from the moment of fertilization.
  • "Atheists Attack in Texas!" So says the Free Market Foundation.
  • What does it mean that Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger both performed during the Inauguration ceremonies? Nothing, except that they are both communists and Seeger is a Unitarian Universalist, which is "a false religion that emphasizes tolerance and respect."
  • Finally, Tobin Grant, an associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University — Carbondale, asks if the stimulus bill is "anti-religious." No, it is not, he says:
  • However, the language in the stimulus bill is neither new nor unusual, since restrictions have been part of federal higher education policy for over 40 years. Rather than inhibit religion, these restrictions make possible federal funding to religious colleges and universities ... The only facilities that would not qualify are chapels, church buildings, and others that are most often used for explicitly religious purposes. The key is to define the primary purpose of a facility. If its purpose is religious teaching or worship, then the building is ineligible. If the facility is used for classes, housing, or study, however, then it can be renovated using funds from the stimulus bill.

Liberty University Imports and Exports Creationism

The Christian Post reports that Thomas Road Baptist Church, the church founded by Jerry Falwell and currently run by his son Jonathan, is hosting a three-day "Answers for Darwin" conference being put on by the creationists from Answers in Genesis:

Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis, which hosted the three-day "Answers for Darwin" conference, told the crowd in the opening session that America is becoming less of a Christian nation everyday and that it is due in part to the influence of Darwinism.

He cited statistics by research firm The Barna Group, showing that at least 60 percent of students raised in church-going homes who attend public schools will walk away from church.

Referring to the culture war, Ham said there are increasing pervasive attacks in America, including abortion and the removal of the Bible, prayer and creation from public schools.

"What is wrong?" he asked the audience at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. "I suggest to you the foundation is being taken out of this nation that was once here and we see the structure collapsing."  

Among the speakers is Liberty University professor Dr. David DeWitt, which makes sense because, as The News and Advance recently explained, the teaching of creationism is a key part of Liberty’s core mission to create “good Christians” who will go out and impact law, politics, society, and the culture:

DeWitt’s personal views are critical of evolution, he said.

“If a frog turns into a prince with a kiss then it’s a fairy tale. If a frog turns into a prince over millions of years, it’s science,” he said, referencing the theory of evolution. “It’s almost ridiculous.”

“I’m a scientist, and I’m not denigrating science. I’m critiquing the idea that millions of years is the magic wand that makes it possible.”

[Law School Dean Mathew] Staver said that the theory of evolution “has impacted everything,” including his area of expertise — law.

An evolutionary model for arguing cases, for example, now impacts the creation of law, he said.

Instead of the previously accepted practice of basing arguments on the original source, the U.S. Constitution, Staver said, now lawyers instead use case studies that build upon each other and “evolve” over time.

Law students at Liberty “have to understand both sides” in order to critically analyze cases, he said.

They also must learn the details of evolution versus creation “so they are comfortable and confident in advocating their position,” he said.

“You clearly see it in some of the more social areas such as marriage and abortion. But it really permeates all the areas of law.”

[Campus Pastor Johnnie] Moore said Liberty students, no matter which program they’re in, should understand arguments that support the creationist perspective so they can defend their beliefs.

“What we’re doing is, we’re training Christian young people to go into culture in various occupations; to be good Christians in their area of influence,” Moore said. “We want them to be as prepared to represent Christ and the Bible and Christian values in culture as they are prepared to excel in their careers.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The scheduled airing of the American Family Association's "Speechless: Silencing Christians" on a television station in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been cancelled.
  • Speaking of the AFA, they have rolled-out something called "Project Push Back" but I have no idea what its purpose is supposed to be.
  • The President of the Virginia State Bar recently visited Liberty Law School and proclaimed that "the Virginia State Bar is thrilled with Liberty University" and told the students that faith and law are not contradictions.
  • The Right is not happy that the Republican Governor of Utah has come out in support of civil unions.
  • Sarah Palin is not amused by people making donations to Planned Parenthood in her name. Palin is also poised to name a new justice to the state supreme court and appears to be a bit boxed in, as neither of the candidates chosen by the Alaska Judicial Council meet her conservative standards, so this will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.
  • Finally, Frank Schaeffer, whose father Francis was influential in the rise of the Religious Right, has penned an open letter to Barack Obama to tell him that they cannot be worked with:
  • As someone who appeared numerous times on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson, as someone for whom Jerry Falwell used to send his private jet to bring me to speak at his college, as an author who had James Dobson giveaway 150,000 copies of my one of my fundamentalist "books" allow me to explain something: the Republican Party is controlled by two ideological groups. First, is the Religious Right. Second, are the neoconservatives. Both groups share one thing in common: they are driven by fear and paranoia. Between them there is no Republican "center" for you to appeal to, just two versions of hate-filled extremes.

    The Religious Right supply the kind of people who at McCain and Palin rallies were yelling things such as "kill him" about you. That's the constituency to which your hand was extended when looking for compromise on your financial bailout bill.

    There's only one thing that makes sense for you now. Mr. President, you need to forget a bipartisan approach and get on with the business of governing by winning each battle. You will never be able to work with the Republicans because they hate you. Believe me, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are the norm not the exception. James Dobson and the rest are praying for you to fail.

The Religious Right's New Demand: Stop Calling Us the Religious Right

It seems that leaders of the Religious Right are tired of being associated with the Religious Right because nobody likes the Religious Right.  Unfortunately for them, they are the Religious Right and that is what we are going to keep calling them, especially now that they are saying we should stop calling them that:

[S]everal politically conservative evangelicals said in interviews that they do not want to be identified with the "Religious Right," "Christian Right," "Moral Majority," or other phrases still thrown around in journalism and academia.

"There is an ongoing battle for the vocabulary of our debate," said Gary Bauer, president of American Values. "It amazes me how often in public discourse really pejorative phrases are used, like the 'American Taliban,' 'fundamentalists,' 'Christian fascists,' and 'extreme Religious Right.' "

...

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for Focus on the Family, said that when writers include terms like "Religious Right" and "fundamentalist," they can create negative impressions.

"Terms like 'Religious Right' have been traditionally used in a pejorative way to suggest extremism," Schneeberger said. "The phrase 'socially conservative evangelicals' is not very exciting, but that's certainly the way to do it."

...

[M]any groups would rather distance themselves from the Religious Right, even though they may agree on several political issues. Richard Land said he corrects numerous reporters who call him a leader of the Religious Right, explaining that he represents a group of Southern Baptists who would probably consider themselves conservative evangelicals.

"When the so-called 'Religious Right' agrees with us, we applaud their good taste and good judgment," said Land, who is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Some phrases need to be eliminated from journalists' vocabulary entirely, he said. "Until Tony Perkins or Jim Dobson puts a pistol on the table and threatens to kill someone, they shouldn't be called ayatollah of the Right or the Jihadists of the Right."

...

Organizational leaders like Tony Perkins of Family Research Council want a term that includes other religious groups like Catholics, Jews, and Mormons so that they can see themselves as fighting for the same cause.

"It's not accurate to say that the Christian Right or the Religious Right is simply a narrow slice of evangelicals," Perkins said. "Will everyone identify themselves as part of the Religious Right? No, but they do share a portion of values."

If the phrase "Religious Right" has negative connotations, it probably stems primarily from the fact that the people who have traditionally represented the Religious Right have caused it to, you know, have negative connotations.  

When people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson go on television and blame the 9/11 attacks on "pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, [and] all of them who have tried to secularize America," that is the sort of thing that tends to create negative impressions about the Religious Right. 

And even if they were called "socially conservative evangelicals," this type of rhetoric would still create negative impressions about the term "socially conservative evangelicals" ... and then "socially conservative evangelicals" would be telling everyone to stop calling them "socially conservative evangelicals."

You see, it is not the term that it is problem - it is the Religious Right's agenda and rhetoric.

Mohler's Lament: The Right is Losing the Culture War Along with the Next Generation

In the past, I have taken issue with the conventional wisdom that there is some sort of “new breed” of evangelicals emerging on the political scene led by figures such as Mike Huckabee or Rick Warren. As we’ve tried to point out repeatedly, just because there might be a new batch of conservative religious leaders on the scene who talk about issues like poverty or human rights, that doesn’t mean that they are any less opposed to equality or reproductive rights.

As such, I have tended to dismiss such stories and will continue to do so until there emerges a bona fide movement or organization that can demonstrate an ability to get a significant number of traditionally conservative sectors of the electorate to start embracing more moderate positions on contentious political issues.  

I don’t have much faith that this is anything we are going to be seeing any time soon … but then again, I don’t work with traditionally conservative students on a daily basis, whereas Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary most certainly does.  And in this discussion with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Mohler seems downright scared that the Religious Right is on the verge of losing the next generation of evangelicals and, along with it, the culture war:

AM: I’ll tell you, the older Evangelical leadership is in danger right now of looking really old, and old not just in chronological terms, but more or less, kind of acting as if the game hasn’t changed, as if we’re not looking at a brand new cultural challenge, and a new political reality. And so I would say that the younger Evangelicals that I look at every single day, and they are so deeply committed, so convictional, they’re basically wondering if a lot of the older Evangelical leaders are really looking to the future, or are really just kind of living in the 80s while the 80s are long gone. So I think there’s a crucial credibility issue there.

HH: Okay, now having…I want to skip back again, focusing on this younger generation of Evangelical leaders. Do they esteem the old leadership, and by esteem, I don’t mean merely honor, but listen to them? And in this regard, well, there are usual suspects. I’m not going to run down them, we all know who they are. Do they still listen?

AM: You know, I think the honest answer to that is they listen occasionally. And you know, when you look at some of the older names, it’s just amazing what kind of generational transition we’re looking at now. Jerry Falwell has now been dead for as long as some of these people have been adults. It happens so quickly. And then you start looking at some of the other big names, they love so many of the big names. They love John McArthur and John Piper and so many others. But when it comes to many of the people who have been deeply involved in the issues that you and I are talking about, the reality is that they are not listening to them in the same way.

HH: Do they care about them? Do they care about abortion?

AM: They care deeply about abortion. And looking at the students on my campus, they are passionately concerned about abortion. They’re not just concerned about not having abortions, they’re concerned about having babies. This is a generation ready to have a much larger family than the average Evangelical family of the last twenty or thirty years. They’re pretty comprehensively pro-life. They’re afraid, however, that just being anti-abortion sends a signal that’s just not enough. And so I’m glad to say that they’re very, very pro-life, and I must give a word of warning, that among some younger Evangelicals, that’s just not true. So the ones who come here, they know where we stand on these issues. But the reality is that especially on the issue of homosexuality, even more than the issue of abortion, this is a generation that is thinking in different terms. Not necessarily about the theological or Biblical status of homosexuality, but about how we should respond to it in the culture.

HH: Well, I’ve had that said to me many, many times at the Prop 8 referendum in California, may have been the last victory for a pro-marriage agenda, because the rising age cohort just doesn’t care. Are you confirming that, Albert Mohler?

AM: I’m definitely confirming that, but not…I wouldn’t put it in the fact they don’t care. I wouldn’t say that. I would say that what you have is a group of younger Evangelicals, and I disagree with them on this, Hugh, and they know it, a group of younger Evangelicals, many of whom simply don’t think that’s the right fight to fight.

HH: Wow.

I don’t know how much of this is real and how much is just your typical right-wing “the sky is falling” rhetoric, but I am inclined to believe Mohler when he says they are losing many of these battles, especially as it pertains to homosexuality.

Granted, there could be a myriad of explanations, caveats, and rebuttals to Mohler’s assessment of what sort of transformation is taking place, if any at all.  But Hewitt and Mohler don’t seem to have any idea why this is happening, as evidenced by the fact that “they kids today are expecting the End Times and so they don’t care” is the best explanation they could come up with:  

HH: Let me ask you about a pretty controversial proposition. I’m not sure if I believe it or not. Dispensationalism, in other words, End Times theory, for those who are not in this world. Do you think that’s sapped some of the energy and purposefulness out of the commitment of Christians to politics in the here and now?

AM: Well, I think it’s part of it. I don’t think that’s a ridiculous argument at all. I think if you are focuses on the fact that you are absolutely certain that the Lord’s going to be coming imminently, very soon, and that this age is going to come to a conclusion very soon, then you’re not going to give much to investment in building a culture for the future. And I really think that is a matter of Evangelical concern.    

Actually, I suspect that it is exactly that sort of answer that is leading the current generation to ignore the “old leadership.”

The Right Declares "We're Not Dead Yet"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia: The Destination of Choice for Right Wing Attorneys General

What do you do if you are a right-wing former Attorney General who is longer in public office?  If you are John Ashcroft, you take a position teaching at Pat Robertson's Regent University ... and if you are former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, you take a teaching position at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University:

Former Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline has taken a visiting law professorship at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

He begins Monday, the same day his successor, Steve Howe, is sworn in.

Liberty University was founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell.

Law school dean Mathew Staver met Kline when he was Kansas attorney general.

“Knowing his roles in the legal realm, the legal skills he acquired in private practice, as a prosecuting attorney and attorney general, provide a number of skills that will make him a good professor,” Staver said.

Because nothing shows that you are serious about increasing the reputation of your Tier 4 institution by bringing in a militantly anti-abortion politician who has resoundingly lost his last two elections and pals around with the likes of Rick Scarborough.

Staver Becoming Increasingly Radical

For many years, Mat Staver of the Jerry Falwell created Liberty Counsel had seemed like a relatively reasonable man.  We didn’t agree with his legal views or agenda, but he wasn’t necessarily the type of right-wing figure to start spouting utterly nonsensical and offensive views about gays or abortion or Democratic politicians or what have you.  

But something seems to have changed recently and, ever since he agreed to join various other second and third-tier right-wing figures for the Values Voter Debate in Florida last year, he has become increasingly unhinged. 

For instance, not too long ago he was blaming our current financial crisis on the “radical redefinition of marriage” and saying that American will be cursed if it elected Barack Obama.  After Obama won, Staver told Newsweek that people who believe Barack Obama might be the Antichrist are not necessarily crazy, but are just “expressing a concern and a fear that is widely shared.” 

Now we get Staver warning that Obama (and his gay allies) are the “biggest threat to religious liberty we've ever had”:

Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty legal organization, told Baptist Press he believes religious freedoms could be impacted under Obama, especially if the bills he supports become law.

"I would consider him to be the biggest threat to religious liberty we've ever had [in the White House] because he will push the homosexual agenda," Staver said. "... I think churches and pastors will be very negatively affected by Obama's policies."

"My biggest fear is that his agenda will not only advance the homosexual agenda but restrict freedom of speech and freedom of religion," Staver said ... "What we've seen recently with the violence and the attempt to intimidate Christians into silence following the passage of Prop 8 by the homosexual activists ought to be a wake-up call for Christians," Staver said. "That's what's coming if we don't stand up and resist now these homosexual policies."

LU Seeks To Become More Than Just Another Boring Bible College

The Roanoke Times has an interesting article on the changes taking place at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University as it seeks to broaden its appeal to potential students:

The college campus that the late Rev. Jerry Falwell founded is not known as a particularly fun-filled place. Falwell himself occasionally referred to Liberty University as a "Bible Boot Camp." But the school's new image includes ski boots -- and a $2 million synthetic slope.

Saying goodbye to some of its straight-laced stereotype, Liberty's fresh face also includes a track for off-road motorcycles, a paintball battlefield, an equestrian center with horse trails and organized student shopping trips to Richmond.

"Our mission was never to be a Bible school just training teachers," said Jerry Falwell Jr., a son of the founder who is Liberty's chancellor and president. He is leading a multimillion-dollar campaign called "Ultimate LU" to enhance the university's appeal to a broader range of prospective students.

I have a sneaking feeling that future classes might contain a fair number of students who were lured by Liberty's shiny new amenities and failed to do some basic research regarding LU's restrictive environment and mission to produce "champions for Christ": 

But Liberty's emphasis on spare-time diversions won't change its strict code of conduct, which includes possible reprimands and fines for such activities as attending dances, entering the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex and viewing R-rated movies.

"We're known as a conservative religious school," Falwell acknowledged. The school's expansion of leisure options "can be done without compromising our Christian beliefs."

"We don't have coed dorms," he added. "We don't have beer bashes."

...

Outsiders did not suggest such nontraditional events for Liberty until recently, and the ideas might underscore a misperception of how much the school's personality is changing, said Chris Misiano, director of campus programming. "We're open" to new concepts, he said. "We're not wide open" ... Liberty officials still filter out HBO at the nearby Ramada Inn that the school leases and manages. Occasionally, Misiano hears someone voice a yearning for campus theaters to show R-rated movies.

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Jerry Falwell Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 11/09/2010, 11:31am
Behold, the Christian university started by Jerry Falwell now has its own rap anthem:  Follow Christ 'cause he knows best, And this school is so blessed, Only college in the whole country with a Snowflex, Perfect is the aim and you should expect no less, If college is a watch, Liberty's a Rolex. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/25/2010, 9:58am
It looks like Newt Gingrich will be heading to Liberty University later this week to speak and plot strategy with Jerry Falwell Jr. and other "key conservative and evangelical leaders": Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will speak at Liberty University during the school’s Wednesday convocation, university officials announced Saturday. Gingrich will deliver remarks on the theme “Rediscovering God in America” at the school’s Vines Center. Gingrich also addressed Liberty at the school’s 2007 commencement ceremony, just days after founder Rev.... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/30/2010, 9:40am
Via Al Mohler we get this fascinating study by Mark A. Smith of the University of Washington in "Political Science Quarterly" entitled "Religion, Divorce, and the Missing Culture War in America" [PDF]. In it, Smith examines why Religious Right groups who spend all of their time talking about family values and the sanctity of marriage seem to give only lip-service, at best, to fighting divorce, despite the fact that it is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. The Right may mentione it, generally when bemoaning the deteriorating culture, but they invest little to no effort in... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/21/2010, 4:30pm
FRC rejoices over the defeat of the effort to repeal Don't ask Don't Tell. Over the weekend, Sharron Angle spoke at Utah’s Freedom Conference, an event co-sponsored by the John Birch Society. Tim Scott tells CBN's David Brody that there is no racism in the Tea Party movement. Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will all speak at Virginia's first annual Tea Party Convention next month. You can now add Rep. Paul Ryan to the list of conservatives saying there might be a need to call a "truce" in the culture... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 08/12/2010, 12:26pm
Back in June we noted that Liberty University had decided not to retain Ergun Caner as the head LU Baptist Theological Seminary after an investigation into discrepancies and exaggerations about his Muslim past. But though Caner would no longer head the Seminary, LU stated that he would remain on staff as a professor for the following academic year ... but now it is looking like Caner may be kept out of LU classrooms entirely and find himself reduced to only teaching on-line courses: The former dean of Liberty University’s seminary still is a member of the faculty, LU officials... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 08/04/2010, 3:06pm
While some Religious Right groups have made it very clear that they oppose the construction of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero in New York City despite their so-called commitments to religious freedom, other groups have remained rather silent.  As far as I can tell, the only comment the Family Research Council has made on this issue came in the form of this radio commentary back in June: Muslims are gaining ground all right--Ground Zero. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. Nine years after terrorists forever altered the New York City... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 07/08/2010, 4:41pm
The Advocate: Court Deals Blow to DOMA. Sam Stein: Sharron Angle's Advice For Rape Victims Considering Abortion: Turn Lemons Into Lemonade. Adele Stan: Tea Party Think Tank Headed By Clarence Thomas' Wife Makes Common Cause With Militia Guru Larry Pratt. Steve Benen: Cuccinelli's Unique Approach to the Law. Wonk Room: Stephen Moore Advocates Raising Taxes On The Poor To Finance Tax Cuts For The Rich. TPM: Vitter Claims Disgraced Staffer Didn't Work on Women's Issues; Records Say Otherwise. Mother Jones: The Bond Villains at the Jerry Falwell Museum... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/04/2010, 8:58am
As we noted yesterday, Lisa Miller's attorneys at Liberty Counsel are continuing to work on her behalf even though she kidnapped her daughter and disappeared six months ago.  Liberty Counsel continues to insist that it does not know where Miller is ... but now it is being reported that she may have fled the country entirely: An 8-year-old girl at the heart of a long-running child custody fight between former lesbian partners may be in Central America with her birth mother, a lawyer for one of the women said. The girl, Isabella Miller-Jenkins, and her birth mother, Lisa Miller, failed to... MORE >