Kelly Shackelford

Right Quietly Pours Money Into Montana, Hoping To 'Flip' Pivotal State Supreme Court

Conservative legal advocates from throughout the country have been quietly pouring money into a Montana state supreme court race, hoping to topple a court majority that has bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on campaign finance issues and could soon have a voice in cases with national implications involving abortion rights and LGBT equality.

The Right’s chosen candidate is Lawrence VanDyke, a former state solicitor general with a perfect pedigree for pro-corporate and Religious Right donors. Not only has VanDyke indicated his support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s dismantling of campaign finance laws and lamented that the current Montana high court is insufficiently “pro-business,” but, in his position as solicitor general, steered the state government toward taking positions against abortion rights, marriage equality and gun restrictions in other states.

What's more, in his writings as a law student, VanDyke was unguarded in his social conservative views, fretting about same-sex marriage, endorsing discredited “ex-gay” therapy and defending the teaching of anti-scientific “Intelligent Design” in public schools.

The Right Sees An Opportunity In Montana

At last month’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, the Family Research Council’s political action committee hosted a private $100-a-head reception featuring conservative luminaries including Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, GOP congressmen Steve King, Vicky Hartzler and Mark Meadows, and congressional candidate Dave Brat of Virginia, who unseated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an upset primary election this year.

A flyer for the event announced that along with those national Republican politicians, FRC would be “showcasing a very important State Supreme Court candidate, Lawrence VanDyke of Montana, who we hope can flip the court in that state.”

VanDyke’s presence on the fundraiser’s roster was telling. As FRC’s flyer made clear, a VanDyke victory would change the ideological balance on a court that has been a thorn in the side of opponents of campaign finance reform and could soon be facing nationally watched cases on abortion rights and marriage equality.

VanDyke has not yet submitted a campaign finance report showing how much money, if any, FRC was able to bundle for him at the fundraiser, and his campaign did not respond to our inquiry about whether he was personally present at the Values Voter event. But a review of VanDyke’s campaign finance reports shows that his candidacy has attracted keen interest from out-of-state donors, including some of the country’s leading conservative legal activists.

[UPDATE: VanDyke's Oct. 20 fundraising report revealed some of the contributions from FRC and its allies.]

Since filing for the race to unseat sitting Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat in March, VanDyke has raised about $78,000, more than one-third of which — roughly $29,000 — has come from 114 individual out-of-state donors. By contrast, Wheat has raised just under $85,000 for his reelection bid, only $1,100 of which came from just five out-of-state donors.

Among those who have contributed to VanDyke’s campaign are recognizable names in conservative legal circles. Kelly Shackelford, president of the right-wing legal group Liberty Institute (a major sponsor of the Values Voter Summit) contributed $100, while another top Liberty Institute official, Hiram Sasser, gave $320, the maximum gift allowable as of VanDyke's last fundraising report. Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network and a Harvard Law School classmate of VanDyke’s, and her husband Roger also each maxed out with $320 contributions. Thomas Spence, an official at the conservative Regnery publishing house also sent the maximum contribution to VanDyke’s campaign. Two employees of the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom have together contributed $370. Christopher Murray, a lawyer who served on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, also contributed $320.

Nearly $7,000 of VanDyke’s contributions have come from employees of the law firm Gibson Dunn, where Vandyke worked before entering public service. That includes $320 each from Theodore Olson, the conservative attorney argued the Citizens United case (but who has become better known as a marriage equality advocate), and controversial Bush appeals court nominee Miguel Estrada. VanDyke’s campaign also received $320 each from Eugene Scalia — the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a Wall Street reform-buster in his own right — and his wife.

Montana’s Cowgirl Blog notes that prominent Montana social conservatives Greg and Susan Gianforte — who fund creationist efforts and support anti-gay policies — have also each contributed the maximum amount to VanDyke’s campaign. He has also received the maximum contribution from the Montana Gas & Oil PAC and — in the form of an in-kind gift of catering — from the PAC’s treasurer, Dave Galt.

Cowgirl Blog also notes that VanDyke got a major assist last month from a newly created group called Montanans for a Fair Judiciary, which sent a statewide mailer in favor of his candidacy. The group, which was registered last month, is staffed by a former Montana GOP official and a corporate lobbyist for oil and gas clients, among others.

And just last week, a Washington, D.C.-based group called the Republican State Leadership Committee Judicial Fairness Montana PAC — an offshoot a national group funded by big business interests including the Reynolds tobacco company and Koch Industries — bought $110,000 worth of television ads supporting VanDyke and slamming Wheat as soft on crime. The group has also been mailing out leaflets accusing Wheat of siding with “environmental extremists.”

All of this attention from national activists and corporate backers has caught the attention of a group of six retired Montana Supreme Court justices, who signed a letter last week calling VanDyke an “unqualified corporate lawyer,” adding, "Given [his] background, Mr. VanDyke is an excellent corporate pick although that is obviously not good news for Montanans.”

MTN News reported:

The letter from the judges notes that VanDyke has received the maximum allowable campaign contributions from numerous out-of-state lawyers who represent major corporations, including more than 20 at the Gibson firm - including at least one who represented Citizens United.

"Corporations are buying judicial races because they want judges who will not hold them accountable," the draft letter from the retired justices says. "If the disinformation they are spreading successfully manipulates Montanans into electing an unqualified corporate lawyer, we will lose our fair and impartial court."

‘Changing The Face of the Montana Supreme Court’

While VanDyke’s personal connections seem to behind quite a bit of his financial support from out-of-state conservative leaders, his featured spot at the Values Voter Summit hints that the conservative legal movement and the Religious Right see an opportunity in his candidacy.

Montana conservatives have made no secret of their desire to pack the state Supreme Court with justices in their ideological mold. Last year, the Great Falls Tribune published leaked emails between conservative Republicans in the state senate discussing a “long term strategy” for displacing more moderate Republicans in the state legislature and “changing the face of the Montana Supreme Court.”

One lawmaker wrote of the need to “purge” the party of moderates, after which “a new phoenix will rise from the ashes.”

In 2012, Montana conservatives were able to elect the likeminded Laurie McKinnon to the state Supreme Court thanks in part to a dark money group called the “Montana Growth Network” run by a Republican state senator that spent at least $42,000 on her campaign — more than the candidate spent herself. The “Montanans for a Fair Judiciary” group that has been campaigning for VanDyke is linked to the firm that was employed by the “Montana Growth Network” to boost McKinnon.

National conservative groups have good reason to take an interest in the race as well.

Montana’s Supreme Court gained national attention in 2011 when it bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of campaign finance regulation, ruling that the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United did not invalidate Montana’s century-old ban on corporate spending in elections. The 5-2 decision, in which Justice Wheat joined the majority, openly defied the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling. One of the two dissenting justices wrote that the state court must follow the high court’s precedent but used the opportunity to excoriate the Supreme Court for its Citizens United logic. On appeal, the Supreme Court summarily reversed Montana’s opinion, ending the state’s corporate spending ban.

Montana’s Supreme Court may soon also be in the center of the legal debates on same-sex marriage and abortion rights. State anti-choice groups have indicated that they might challenge Montana’s abortion clinic buffer-zone bill in the wake of the Supreme Court’s striking down of a similar bill in Massachusetts. In addition, marriage equality cases are working their way through both state and federal courts in Montana.

A Movement Candidate

Although Montana’s judicial elections are ostensibly nonpartisan, VanDyke’s resume makes him seemingly a perfect candidate for conservative activists hoping to drag the state's high court to the right. At Harvard Law School, VanDyke was active in the conservative Federalist Society and wrote an article for the school’s law review favorably reviewing a book arguing for allowing public schools to teach anti-scientific Intelligent Design.

In an article for another school publication, VanDyke lamented that courts in Canada had been “forcing same-sex marriage on the populace” and warned of a “trend of intolerance towards religion as homosexual ‘rights’ become legally entrenched.” In the same article, he cited a study supporting debunked “ex-gay” therapy to support the “view that homosexuals can leave the homosexual lifestyle.” (The author of that study has since recanted.)

After graduating from law school, VanDyke clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown, perhaps the most stridently conservative of that court’s activist pro-corporate wing, known for her extreme opposition to government regulation and her writing of a prequel to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. After a stint at Gibson Dunn, VanDyke became an assistant solicitor general in Texas and was named solicitor general of Montana early last year.

In public statements, VanDyke has indicated that he would have sided with the U.S. Supreme Court on Citizens United, defending the decision in a debate last month. And although his race is officially nonpartisan, VanDyke has made it very clear which side of the aisle he falls on, accusing his opponent of judging “like a liberal Democrat” and being “results-oriented” in his rulings — a loaded accusation favored by conservative activists.

VanDyke has also hinted that he would be more favorable to business interests on the court, touting an endorsement from the Montana Chamber of Commerce and saying, “I don’t think anybody who follows our court thinks it’s a pro-business court.” On his website, he backs efforts to “produce and preserve” natural resources, which he contrasts with his opponent's siding with preservationists in a dispute over drilling gas wells. In September, he spoke at a “Coal Appreciation Day” sponsored by a coal industry group.

VanDyke’s website also touts his support for the death penalty and an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment, noting his work as state solicitor general defending a bill that would have invalidated federal firearms regulations on weapons manufactured and kept in Montana. (The law was ultimately struck down in federal court). In that position, VanDyke also pushed for Montana signing on to Alabama briefs in favor of overturning semiautomatic weapon bans in New York and Connecticut. At the time, he bantered over email with Alabama’s solicitor general, Andrew Brasher, about shooting elk with semi-automatic firearms, attaching a picture of himself hunting with “the same gun used by the Navy Seals.”

Ultimately, Montana signed on to both briefs, and VanDyke evidently made a useful connection as well: This year, Brasher contributed the maximum amount to his Supreme Court campaign.

VanDyke recently announced that he had been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

In his role as solicitor general, VanDyke also worked on efforts to oppose same-sex marriage and abortion rights, including signing on to amicus briefs filed in other states.

VanDyke, meanwhile, is running on the message that he will follow “the law, not politics” and accusing Justice Wheat of being overly partisan. In the same interview in which he lamented that the current state supreme court was unfavorable to business interests, he said, “I have not promised anybody that I’m going to be a pro-business judge or that I’m going to be a conservative judge...I’m going to be a fair and balanced judge.”

Judicial Elections Draw More And More Big Money

Last year, Justice at Stake reported on the fast increase of spending in judicial elections, leading to judicial races seeming “alarmingly indistinguishable from ordinary political campaigns” and blurring “the boundaries that keep money and political pressure from interfering with the rule of law.”

Part of this increase was attributable to the 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed outside groups to spend unlimited amounts supporting and opposing candidates. In the case of judicial elections, those candidates could be the ones deciding on the future of that very campaign spending.

It’s no wonder that the corporate right and the Religious Right have joined forces to back VanDyke’s candidacy. A little-noticed nonpartisan race in Montana could prove to be an effective long-term investment for a movement that’s trying to solidify a pro-corporate grip on the courts and win back lost legal ground abortion rights and LGBT equality.

This post has been updated to clarify the status of marriage equality cases in Montana.

Sandy Rios: Riots And Starvation Coming To America

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios dedicated much of her radio show today to attacking the Supreme Court for refusing to hear appeals on several marriage equality cases, which led her to discuss the purported threats to religious freedom that marriage equality is bringing to America.

Rios warned that religious liberty is in peril and viewers should purchase a new AFA DVD, “A Time To Speak.”

“If we don’t do something, I think we’re going to see — and this is radical — I think we’re going to see riots in the street, we’re going to see starvation, we’re going to see things we have never seen before, we’re going to see a complete breakdown in terms of law enforcement, it’s going to be a nightmare,” she said. “This will be what you are handing to your children if you don’t speak up now. I’m not sure we can pull it back, but are you going to say in retrospect that you did nothing?”

Later in the show, Rios spoke to Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute about the supposed death of religious freedom in America, linking it with the news out of the Supreme Court.

Rios said “leaders the [gay rights] movement” are “fascists when it comes to this issue” who “will not stop until people who object are brought to their knees,” an assessment that Shackelford agreed with, and in turn denounced gay rights advocates for using “unconscionable” tactics and pushing “the ultimate intolerance.”

How Many Myths Of Anti-Christian 'Persecution' Can Kelly Shackelford Cite In One Speech? At Least Three

Whenever a new tale of supposed anti-Christian "persecution" begins to sweep through the Religious Right echo chamber, the chances are probably pretty good that it originated with The Liberty Institute. So it was only fitting that LI's president Kelly Shackelford kicked off the afternoon session of today's Values Voter Summit by citing at least three of these false tales as proof that Christians are under attack in America today:

The first claim about the young girl who was supposedly told she was not allowed to pray before eating her lunch turned out to be totally false, as it was a story that was completely ginned up by Liberty Institute, Todd Starnes, and the man in charge of marketing Starnes' latest book about ant-Christian persecution.

The second incident Shackelford cited is a myth that has been floating around Religious Right circles for nearly twenty years and was debunked nearly as long ago when school officials explained that the student in question was disciplined for fighting in the lunch room, not for praying.

The final claim about Sgt. Phillip Monk is something that Shackelford has been promoting for several years now, mainly by fundamentally misrepresenting what actually took place.

It is pretty telling that Shackelford's narrative of anti-Christian persecution in America relies on multiple incidents that are demonstrably false.

More Proof That Religious Right Myths Never Die

Back before the holiday break, we noted that just because some right-wing tale of supposed anti-Christian persecution happened to be totally false, that would never stop the Religious Right from repeating it endlessly, as they have been doing with the saga of Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, who claims he was relieved of duty for disagreeing with a lesbian commander over the issue of gay marriage.

As we noted last time, a military investigation found Monk's claims to be baseless ... which means that David Barton and friends are just going to keep on repeating them time and again, as he did on his radio program last week where he took it all a step further and claimed that Monk's lesbian commander "read him his Miranda Rights ... for not affirming homosexuality ... For refusing to affirm openly homosexuality and gay marriage, she gets him demoted and gets him knocked off his post and they read him his Miranda Rights telling him that a criminal investigation is now under way":

Barton and the Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford made the same claim when Barton guest-hosted Glenn Beck's television program last week as well, adding, for good measure, that if members of the military are not allowed to be open about their Christian faith "we'll end up with Hitler's SS":

What neither Barton nor Shackleford bother to mention is that Monk was, in fact, read his Miranda Rights during the investigation because he was suspected of lying about the entire thing, which is a violation Uniform Code of Military Justice.

As the Air Force stated upon completion of its investigation, Monk did indeed make false statements about what happened, but "they did not rise to a level that violated Articles 107 and/or 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice":

The investigation, initiated Aug. 15 by Col. Mark Camerer, 37th Training Wing commander at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, found the claim unsubstantiated. The investigation also looked into whether Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk made false official statements. It concluded statements he made were false; however, they did not rise to a level that violated Articles 107 and/or 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Monk asserted through interviews with several national media outlets that he was improperly removed from his position as first sergeant of the 326th Training Squadron at Lackland because he did not agree with his commander’s position on same-sex marriage.

“I felt the need to conduct a thorough review to ensure no Air Force policies were violated, and the investigating officer provided that,” Camerer said. “Ultimately I wanted to be sure all facts were collected so we could determine if there was merit to the sergeant’s statements.”

The investigation concluded Monk was not removed from his position, but rather moved, as scheduled, to another Lackland unit, an assignment he was notified of in April 2013. The report stated Monk never voiced a religious or moral objection about same sex marriage to his commander.

“The weight of the evidence shows that religion was never discussed between the two,” Camerer said. “In the end, this is a case about command authority, good order and discipline, and civil rights—not religious freedoms.”

Monk was read his Miranda Rights because he was accused of lying about being the victim of anti-Christian persecution which never happened. But, for the Religious Right, this is now being held up as proof that he was the victim of anti-Christian persecution.

Joni Lamb: America is a Christian Nation and if You Don't Like it, 'You Shouldn't Live Here'

Recently, Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute appeared on the Christian television program "Joni" along with David Barton to discuss the report that Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council released entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America."

During the discussion, Shackelford mentioned a legal fight that took place in Texas last year over a high-school valedictorian who wanted to say a prayer during her graduation speech.  The student ultimately won the right to do so, which prompted host Joni Lamb to declare it a victory for free speech, saying "that if you live in America and you understand that we are a Christian society then you can't be offended by things like that or you shouldn't live here": 

Barton Blames PFAW and Others for Creating 'Toxic" Environment Responsible for Christian Persecution

In August, the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council released a joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which purported to be a "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America" ... but, for some reason, the incident they love to cite more than any other is a nearly twenty year old myth about an elementary school student who was supposedly yanked out of his seat and yelled at simply for praying before eating his lunch in the school cafeteria.

In reality, the student was disciplined for fighting in the lunch room in 1994 but the Religious Right continues to perpetuate this lie to this day. In fact, David Barton cites it repeatedly despite the fact that it is demonstrably false, and did so again today on "WallBuilders Live," as did the Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford, who was on the program to promote the report:

Barton: What does it say to that elementary kid who got jerked out of his seat and hauled to the principle's office in front of everybody else and told don't you ever pray over your lunch again, period? What kind of impression is that giving? Jesus said "suffer the little children to come unto me" and we're doing our best to say "absolutely no way, absolutely not will we ever allow any kid to get to you" ... this is crazy stuff.

Shackelford: It's all the way from a ten-year old boy who was quote "caught" praying over his meal in the lunch cafeteria who was lifted out of his chair and carried to the principle's office where he was told to never do that again while he was at school.

Even though this incident never actually happened, Barton sees it as proof that we at PFAW and other groups have created a "toxic" and "hostile" environment in which public officials are pressured into persecuting Christians:

Barton: And I really blame this climate on the secular groups, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Americans United, the People For the American Way, the Military Freedom Foundation, all these guys who have so made the climate so toxic that if you share your faith, public officials feel like they have to come down on you with both feet otherwise they'll get sued and end up in court and have to spend millions of dollars defending something religions. And so these guys have created such a hostility in the public that now public officials and school officials and city council officials and those who run senior's centers and everything else are so scared to death of seeing faith that if they see it, they feel like they have to jump on it with both feet and both hands and bring out the hammers and run over you with a car and pull out a chainsaw and cut you to pieces. They over-react and I really blame a lot of those organizations. 

Raymond Raines and the Religious Right: The Myth That Will Not Die

Yesterday Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council released a new website and joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which is billed as "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America."

And you can tell from the introduction just how trustworthy this report truly is:

The Obama administration no longer even speaks of freedom of religion; now it is only “freedom of worship.” This radical departure is one that threatens to make true religious liberty vulnerable, conditional, and limited. As some have said, it is a freedom “only within four walls.” That is, you are free to worship within the four walls of your home, church, or synagogue, but when you enter the public square the message is, “leave your religion at home.” President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeatedly echoed this same message in international forums, acknowledging only a right to the “freedom of worship.” This is no accident, and it has huge ramifications.

This claim that Obama is systematically undermining "freedom of religion" seems to be one of the Religious Right's favorite claims ... which, of course, means that it is not true at all.

The report itself consists of 100+ pages of  short descriptions of seemingly every court case along with the various urban legends that the Religious Right trots out whenever they are trying to play the victim.  In fact, this one from the Executive Summary caught my eye:

A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.

That sounded a lot like the story of Raymond Raines and, sure enough, on page 74 we find this:

Elementary School Student Punished for Praying Before Meals
Joan Little, “City Schools Issue Rules About Students, Religion,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 1996, at 2B

Elementary school student Raymond Raines was “caught” praying over his meal at his elementary school. He was lifted from his seat and reprimanded in front of all the other students, then taken to the principal who ordered him to cease praying in school.

As we noted just a few months ago, this myth has been around since 1994 when Newt Gingrich and various Religious Right leaders first started making Raymond's sorry tale the centerpiece of their campaign to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the right to expressions of faith ... despite the fact that it wasn't true:

The St. Louis case concerned 10-year-old Raymond Raines who, his mother said, was given detention because he sought to pray over his lunch. When lawyers for the Rutherford Institute heard about the case, they filed a lawsuit against the principal and issued a press release denouncing the school system.

"I know it sounds bizarre, but we have substantial evidence to believe it happened," said Timothy Belz, the St. Louis lawyer working with the Rutherford Institute.

On NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Gingrich described the situation as "a real case about a real child. Should it be possible for the government to punish you if you say grace over your lunch? That's what we used to think of Russian behavior when they were the Soviet Union."

But school officials said the incident never happened. Rather, they said, Raymond was disciplined for fighting in the cafeteria.

"I can tell you he was not reprimanded for praying," said Kenneth Brostron, the school's lawyer. "Do you think it makes sense that the teachers would look around the cafeteria and target the one student who was praying quietly at his seat?"

This incident took place nearly twenty years ago and the Religious Right is still citing it today as proof that Christianity is under attack in America despite the fact that it never happened.

Kelly Shackelford Warns Health Care Reform is the First Sign of a 'Government that is Totalitarian'

Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackelford appeared on Today’s Issues yesterday with Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon to discuss Missouri’s Amendment 2, the so-called “right to pray” amendment which may allow students to refuse to study any topic they deem to conflict with their religious beliefs, like evolution. Schakelford said the amendment was needed “to really bring their state back to full religious freedom like we had in this country until a decision about twenty to thirty years ago that came down from the Supreme Court.”

While Shackelford did not say which Supreme Court case apparently curtailed the freedom of religion, saying that we had “full religious freedom” only until two decades ago ignores periods in American history when the people of minority faiths and even certain Christian denominations sometimes faced hostility from the state. Ironically, Shackelford was speaking to the leader of the American Family Association, whose own Director of Issues Analysis wants to ban mosques, bar Muslims from the military, deport Muslim-Americans and convert all immigrants to Christianity. He went on to say that the health care reform law is creating a “totalitarian” government that undermines the freedom of religion.

What we did is we came up with the idea that states need to go and pass religious freedom amendments to really bring their state back to full religious freedom like we had in this country until a decision about twenty to thirty years ago that came down from the Supreme Court. And a number of states have started to present those and pass those. It’s like the atomic bomb to the left because we noticed anything they’re after, the thing they can’t handle is religious freedom. I mean whether it’s Obamacare or anything else, when the government wants to take over everything they can’t handle religious freedom because that means people are actually going to be able to stick with their own religious conscience, express their own religious beliefs and that kind of lack of unanimity for the state is something they can’t allow.



You know a government that is totalitarian, the one thing it will never allow is citizens who have allegiance to one higher than the government. So you will see as soon as the government takes over something the first thing that will have to go is religious freedom. Obamacare is a great example; as soon as we have it what do we have right after that, the HHS regulations. When the government is trying to touch its citizens directly and it has what it thinks is a good and noble cause it will not allow anyone to get in the way, including intermediary institutions like the church.

Religious Right Unites Behind '40 Days to Save America' Initiative

In March, Kyle reported that Rick Scarborough of Vision America was launching a new effort, 40 Days to Save America, to rally conservative voters before the November election and stop the “daily deluge of sinful activity”:

We fully understand and are grateful for the fact that America was birthed first in your heart. We acknowledge that America has been a blessed nation above all the nations of the world. Hallelujah!

But we also acknowledge that we have forgotten as a people that it was you and your laws that made this country the land of freedom and opportunity that has been the envy of the world for more than two hundred years. Dear Lord, forgive us of our pride and apathy that has allowed men to call good, evil; and evil, good. We acknowledge that we have grown calloused to the daily deluge of sinful activity, degradation and speaking that has become the routine in American life, and we repent.

Reignite our love for purity and holiness, and create in us a will to initiate the changes in our society that will allow you to once again bless our beloved America.

Scarborough is now unveiling endorsements of the effort from Senator Roy Blunt and Congressmen Todd Akin, Doug Lamborn, Duncan Hunter and Louie Gohmert, and major Religious Right groups like the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the Family Research Council. Dominionist organizations including Lou Engle’s The Call and Cindy Jacobs’ Generals International have also signed on, along with Janet Porter’s Faith2Action, Jerry Boykin’s Kingdom Warriors, Sam Roriguez’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Jim Garlow’s Renewing American Leadership.

The board of directors appears to be a who’s who of leading conservative activists and pastors:

David Bereit
40 Days for Life

General Jerry Boykin
Kingdom Warriors

Dave Butts
Harvest Prayer Ministries

Dr. Jim Garlow
Renewing American Leadership

Bishop Anne Gimenez
Rock Church, Virginia Beach, VA

Bishop Harry Jackson
Hope Christian Church

Dr. Robert Jeffress
First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX

Penny Nance
Concerned Women for America

Father Frank Pavone
Priests for Life

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Dr. Rick Scarborough
Vision America

Kelly Shackelford
Liberty Institute

Mat Staver
Liberty Counsel

Tim Wildmon
American Family Association

Conservative Activists Liken IRS Rules on Churches to Nazi Germany

Religious Right activists continuously claim that a wide majority of Americans share their ultraconservative views but are too politically apathetic or confused to act on their beliefs, frequently blaming the IRS for supposedly “silencing” pastors by maintaining a rule that would take away a church’s tax-exempt status if it endorses candidates. This week, Truth in Action Ministries unveiled a film on Truth that Transforms featuring host Jerry Newcombe, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackelford and author Bill Federer, along with a petition “to repeal the ban on church free speech.”

“How does Satan always work?” Shackelford asked. “False information, intimidation and fear, and that’s what’s happening here.” Later, Federer said that “horrible things can and unfortunately will happen” as a result of the IRS rule, while the film showed images of Adolf Hitler delivering a speech and the corpses of Holocaust victims.

Watch:

Religious Right Activists Warn GOP Not To Nominate Mitt Romney

Right-wing activist and former California legislator Steve Baldwin has organized an open letter to “Conservative, Catholic and Evangelical Leaders” asking them to refuse support for Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. Already a number of activists including failed US Senate candidate and Tea Party hero Joe Miller; Rick Scarborough of Vision America; Brian Camenker of MassResistance; Linda Harvey of Mission America; Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association; Ted Beahr of WND and Movieguide; Gary Glenn of American Family Association-Michigan, Kelly Shackleford of the Liberty Institute; Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation; Floyd Brown of WND; Dick and Richard Bott of Bott Family Radio, and the leaders of a number of anti-choice groups have signed the letter.

The letter says that “a Romney candidacy would be disastrous for the conservative movement and for the country,” writing that he is insincere in his conservative beliefs and “continues to support many aspects of the homosexual agenda even today.” The activists claim that “the flatly illegal charade of ‘gay’ marriage exists solely in Massachusetts due to Governor Romney’s illegal actions,” and lists numerous other issues including abortion rights and health care reform where Romney has reversed himself: “Romney has also been both in favor and against minimum wage legislation, capital gains taxes, gun control, amnesty for illegal aliens, campaign finance reform, the Kyoto agreement, gambling, gun control, and many other issues.”

They conclude by warning that nominating Romney “would be a disastrous mistake”:

Most disturbing is the key role Mitt Romney played in accelerating two of the greatest threats to our Judeo-Christian culture and free enterprise system: Homosexual marriage and government control of health care. In both instances, the actions Romney took – or didn’t take – on homosexual marriage and RomneyCare have done lasting damage to our country. Romney’s aggressive efforts to implement the unconstitutional Goodridge decision set a precedent which inspired pro-homosexual marriage activity nationwide, and his RomneyCare bill served as the model for ObamaCare, the biggest lurch toward socialism since the New Deal.

As such, Romney has done more damage to America in his four years as Governor than any Democrat officeholder we can think of. But Romney, to this day, defends his actions on both fronts and sincerely believes he has done nothing wrong, an attitude which only raises additional questions about his fitness for national office. We must question his worldview, his sincerity, and his judgment. We believe the election of Mitt Romney would be a disastrous mistake for the conservative movement and for the country.

Dozens of GOP Leaders Declare Solidarity With Those Who Want To See Homosexuality Outlawed

Last week when Jeremy Hooper discovered that the Family Research Council was planning to roll out a campaign fighting back against the Southern Poverty Law Center's designation of the organization as an anti-gay hate group, we noted that FRC was asking people to sign on to the campaign to "stand in solidarity with Family Research Council, American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, National Organization for Marriage, Liberty Counsel and other pro-family organizations that are working to protect and promote natural marriage and family."

By doing so, we pointed out, any one who added their name was essentially declaring that they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with groups that proclaim:

Today, FRC announced that it was running this open letter [PDF] in both Politico and The Washington Examiner and that the effort had the support of dozens of Republican members of Congress and conservative leaders:

Family Research Council (FRC) announced the placement of a full-page open letter in today's print editions of Politico and the Washington Examiner responding to the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) recent attacks on FRC and other groups.

SPLC has targeted FRC and other organizations that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The open letter, signed by more than 150 organizational leaders, Members of Congress and other elected officials, calls for a "vigorous but responsible exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty that are the birthright of all Americans."

The open letter was signed by many current and former elected and government officials including Speaker-designate John Boehner, Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor, U.S. Reps Mike Pence (R-IN), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), John Carter (R-TX), John Fleming (R-LA,) Trent Franks (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX,) Gregg Harper (R-MS), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Steve King (R-IA,) Don Manzullo (R-IL), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Joe Pitts (R-PA), Peter Roskam (R-LA), Lamar Smith (R-TX,) Steve Scalise (R-LA,) Fred Upton (R-MI), U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), Jim Inhofe (R-OK,) David Vitter (R-LA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sam Brownback (Gov.-elect, Kansas), Governor Bobby Jindal, former Governor Mike Huckabee, Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Senator Rick Santorum, Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General of the United States, and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

For the record, here is the complete list of leaders who have publicly declared their solidarity with SPLC-designated anti-gay hate groups who want to see gays barred from serving in public office and homosexuality made illegal: 

Alaska Family Council Jim Minnery - President
American College of Pediatricians Tom Benton, MD - President
American Conservative Union Foundation Cleta Mitchell - Chairman
American Decency Association Bill Johnson - President
American Family Association Tim Wildmon - President
American Family Association of Pennsylvania Diane Gramley - President
American Principles Project Andresen Blom - Executive Director
American Values Gary Bauer - President
Association of Maryland Families Derek McCoy - President
Best-Selling Author and Host of Morning in America Dr. William J. Bennett
Calvary Chapel Jack Hibbs - Senior Pastor
Cardinal Newman Society Patrick Reilly - President
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights Bill Donohue - President
CCV of Indiana PAC Joseph Sergio, Ph.D - Chairman
Center for Arizona Policy Cathi Herrod - President
Center for Law and Social Strategy Mark Spengler - Executive Director
Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney - President and CEO
Center for Urban Renewal and Education Star Parker - President
Christian Civic League of Maine Carroll Conley - Executive Director
Christian Medical Association David Stevens - CEO
CitizenLink Tom Minnery - Senior Vice President, Public Policy
Citizens for Community Values Phil Burress - President
Citizens for Community Values of Indiana Patrick Mangan - Executive Director
CNSNews.com Chris Johnson - News Correspondant
CNSNews.com Eric Scheiner - Senior Video Producer
Coalition for Marriage and FamilyTom Shields - Chairman
Colorado Family Action Jessica Haverkate - Director
Committee for Justice Curt Levey - Executive Director
Concerned Citizens for Family Values of Connecticut Ray Kastner - President
Concerned Women For America Penny Nance - CEO
Concerned Women for American Wendy Wright - President
ConservativeHQ.com Richard Viguerie - Chairman
Coral Ridge Ministries Robert Knight - Senior Writer
Coral Ridge Ministries Hector Padron - Executive Vice President
Cornerstone Action, NH Kevin Smith - Executive Director
Cornerstone Family Council of ID Julie Lynde - Executive Director
Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D. - National Spokesman
Delaware Family Policy Council Nicole Theis - Executive Director
Design4 Marketing Communications Clint Cline - President
Eagle Forum Phyllis Schlafly - President
Ethics and Public Policy Center Rick Santorum - Senior Fellow
Faith Christian Fellowship Church The Rev Dr. R. Edgar Bonniwell - Senior Pastor
Family Action Council of Tennessee David Fowler - President
Family First (Nebraska FPC) Dave Bydalek Bydalek - Executive Director
Family Institute of Connecticut Peter Wolfgang - Executive Director
Florida Family Policy Counci lJohn Stemberger - President and General Counsel
ForAmerica David Bozell - Executive Director
Generals International Cindy Jacobs - President
Illinois Family Institute David Smith - Executive Director
Iowa Family Policy Center Chuck Hurley - President
Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality Elaine Silodor Berk - Director
Judicial Action Group Phillip Jauregui - President
Kansas Sam Brownback - Governor-elect
Kansas Family Policy Council Donna Lippoldt - Executive Director
Kingdom Warriors Ministry William Boykin - LTG(R) USArmy
Landmark Legal Foundation Mark Levin - President
Leadership Institute Morton Blackwell - President
Let Freedom Ring Colin Hanna - President
Liberty Center for Law and Policy Mandi Campbell - Legal Director
Liberty Counsel Matt Barber - Director of Cultural Affairs
Liberty Counsel Mathew Staver - Founder and Chairman
Liberty Institute Kelly Shackelford
Louisiana Bobby Jindal - Governor
Louisiana Family Forum Action Gene Mills - President
Massachusetts Family Institute Kris Mineau - President
Media Research Center Matthew Balan - news analyst
Media Research CenterL. Brent Bozell - Founder and President
Media Research Center Kyle Drennen - News Analyst
Media Research Center Matthew Hadro
Mike Huckabee - Former Governor, TV/ Radio Commentator
Minnesota Family Council David Eaton - Chairman
Minnesota Family Council John Helmberger - Chief Executive Officer
Mission America Linda Harvey - President
Missouri Family Policy Council Joe Ortwerth - Executive Director
National Organization for Marriage Brian Brown - President
National Organization for Marriage Maggie Gallagher - Chairman
National Organization for Marriage - Rhode Island Christopher Plante - Executive Director
National Review Rich Lowry - Editor
Nationally Syndicated Radio Talkshow Host Janet Parshall
Nevada Concerned Citizens Richard Ziser - Director
New Jersey Family First Len Deo - Founder & President
New Yorker's Family Research Foundation Rev. Tom Stiles
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms Rev. Jason McGuire
North Dakota Family Alliance Tom Freier - Executive Director
Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition Ken Blackwell - Chairman
Priests For LifeFr. Frank Pavone - National Director
Prison Fellowship and The Colson Center for Christian Worldview Chuck Colson - Founder
Public Service Research Foundation David Denholm - President
Radio America Franklin Raff - Sr. Executive Producer
Rappahannock Ventures WillIam Walton - Chairman
ReAL Action Rick Tyler - Chairman
RedState Erick-Woods Erickson - Editor
Renewing American Leadership Jim Garlow - Chairman
Republican Party of Louisiana Roger Villere, Jr. - Chairman
Restore America David Crowe - President
Retired Rensselaer Broekhuizen - Pastor
RightMarch.com William Greene - President
Shirley & Banister Public Affairs Diana Banister - Vice President
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Dr. Richard Land - President
State of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty - Governor
The American Spectator Alfred Regnery - Publisher
The Coalition of Conscience Michael Brown, Ph.D. - Director
The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation Abby Moffat - Vice President and COO
The Family Foundation of VirginiaVictoria Cobb - President
The Family Policy Council of WVJeremiah Dys, Esq. - President and General Counsel
The National Legal Foundation Steven Fitschen - President
THE New Voice, Inc.Herman Cain - CEO and President
The Oak InititativeRick Joyner - President
The Washington Examiner Mark Tapscott - Editorial Page Editor
TheCall Louis Engle - President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.C. Preston Noell III - President
Traditional Values Coalition Jody Hutchens - Regional Director
Traditional Values Coalition Andrea Lafferty - Executive Director
U.S. Congress Senator David Vitter - (R-LA)
U.S. Congress Senator Roger Wicker - (R-MS)
U.S. House of Representatives Congresswoman Michele Bachmann - (R-MN)
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker-designate John Boehner - (R-OH)
U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor - (R-VA)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman John Fleming, M.D. - (R-LA)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Trent Franks - (R-AZ)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Louie Gohmert - (R-TX)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Jeb Henserling - (R-TX)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Jim Jordan - (R-OH)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Steve King - (R-IA)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Donald Manzullo - (R-IL)
U.S. House of Representative sCongressman Kevin McCarthy - (R-CA)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman-elect Alan Nunnelee - (R-MS)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Mike Pence - (R-IN)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Joe Pitts - (R-PA)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Peter Roskam - (R-IL)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Steve Scalise - (R-LA)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Lamar Smith - (R-TX)
U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Fred Upton - (R-MI)
United States SenateJim DeMint - Senator
Virginia Ken Cuccinelli - Attorney General
Western Center for Journalism Floyd Brown - President
Wisconsin Family Action Julaine Appling - President
WMtek Corp. Dan Pennell - CEO
WND.com Joseph Farah - Chief Executive Officer

Liberty Institute Sought More Than $1 Million In Legal Fees Over Candy Cane Pens

While Kelly Shackelford is not necessarily a household name, he is an influential Religious Right leader, serving as President of Liberty Institute (the new name given to the merger of the Free Market Foundation and the Liberty Legal Institute).

Based in Texas, the organization has been very involved in state-level issues but has, in recent years, also started to branch out into other areas, such as getting involved in lawsuits involving Sarah Palin and "Troopergate" and representing "ACORN prostitute" Hannah Giles.

Liberty's growing portfolio and budget resulted in a lengthy and informative profile of the group appearing in the Dallas Morning News over the weekend which contained several interesting pieces of information - for instance, the group represented the parents of a boy who, back in 2003, was stopped by school officials from distributing candy cane pens that contained the message "The blood Christ shed for the sins of the world."   The District eventually revised its policy regarding the distribution of religious materials ... and then Liberty tried to collect more than $1 million in legal fees: 

In the Greenville ISD case, the lawyer representing Liberty, Charles Bundren, claimed more than $1.2 million in legal fees before the trial started, according to court documents, and Shackelford asked for an additional $113,000.

Senior federal Judge Barefoot Sanders reviewed those fees and concluded that they were the "most unreasonable fee application this Court has reviewed in 25 years on the district bench."

Sanders (who died in 2008) struck down Shackelford's request and lowered Bundren's fees to $109,000.

Just keep that in mind the next time you hear the Religious Right screaming about how Democrats, the ACLU, and trail lawyers are always siphoning off your tax dollars with their "frivolous lawsuits."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The AFA is now boycotting Home Depot ... or, as they refer to it, "Homosexual Depot."
  • Leave it to Alan Keyes to make the Shirley Sherrod saga even more ridiculous than it already was.
  • Think of it as Vacation Bible School, as run by Glenn Beck.
  • Texas Lawyer has named Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute as one of the state’s greatest attorneys in the past quarter-century. That doesn't reflect too highly on TX lawyers, now does it?
  • You know AZ's draconian immigration law is good because it is supported both by the Constitution and the Bible.
  • Finally, quote of the day from Bryan Fischer, responding to the settlement in the Constance McMillen case: "This is how evil advances in America - one weak-kneed group of kind-hearted, wimpish people at a time ... what this situation called for was not niceness but goodness, not capitulation but courage."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The New York Times examines the factors at work behind Sarah Palin's sudden resignation.
  • Mike Huckabee says its unfair to call Palin a "quitter" while predicting that Mark Sanford's political career is over.
  • The ACLU is taking a look at Sally Kern's "proclamation for morality."
  • Rick Scarborough has found a new crusade: Obama's various czars, which he complains "are unelected and unaccountable [and] have too much money and power, and are remaking America in ways none of us could have imagined."
  • Jesse Lee Peterson lambastes Michael Jackson's memorial service saying it was all "about unrealistically lifting up a black Michael as the 'king' in order to lift up blacks, and, in so doing, lowering the value of the hated white man."
  • Personhood advocates claim their movement is gaining momentum.
  • Ted Cruz, who is running for Texas Attorney General, unveils a list of endorsements and backers [PDF] that includes, Cathie Adams of the President of Texas Eagle Forum, Kelly Shackelford of the Free Market Foundation, Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ, David Barton of Wallbuilders, Tim Goeglein of Focus on the Family Action and many other right-wing figures.
  • Finally, Harry Jackson, Niger Innis, Dr. William Owens, Sr, Bishop Dale Bronner and Pastor Terry Millender have penned a letter to President Obama urging him to fight the "disintegration of marriage" by saving DOMA and opposing marriage equality:
  • Changing the definition of marriage will have many unintended consequences, which will hurt generations to come. If one redefines marriage, then the family is redefined. If the family is redefined then the nature of parenting must also be redefined.

    “We are concerned that an attempt to recognize and adjust to one group’s sense of alienation may actually confuse future generations of children about their sexuality and blur lines of responsibility in our families. The very definitions of motherhood and fatherhood may be unnecessarily challenged in years to come.

    “Same-sex marriage is not a civil right. The laws enacted by Congress during a century of struggle for equal rights for African Americans were intended to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, not on the basis of an individual’s sexual preferences or personal behavior.

Rick Perry: The True Believer

There are few politicians in office today that can rival Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s willingness to publicly associate himself with the Religious Right – and not just the “mainstream” groups like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, but with fringe, B-list figures like David Barton and Kelly Shackelford and groups like the Texas Restoration Project.

To this ever-growing list we can now add people like Rick Scarborough of Vision America and groups such as the US Pastor Council:

Today, Perry will continue his appeal to evangelicals at a closed-door session with Texas pastors in Austin. That event is being sponsored by the US Pastor Council, which wants to get preachers more involved in politics.

Headlining the event will be East Texas evangelist Rick Scarborough, an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and abortion. Scarborough is backing Perry and has denounced Hutchison, who supports the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

It's exactly the kind of group that Perry has been trying to woo in advance of next year's GOP primary. Four years ago, when Hutchison was making noise about challenging him, Perry actively helped the Texas Restoration Project, another network of evangelical ministers that the governor's political team saw as potentially helpful.

Scarborough’s support for Perry is rooted largely in his opposition to the primary challenge being mounted by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and, considering that Perry’s chances of beating her are looking a little questionable, this appears to be part of his effort to do all he can to sew up support from the Religious Right heading into the primary.

Still, it is rather remarkable that anyone running for public office would willingly associate themselves with the likes of Scarborough – did he learn nothing from Mike Huckabee?

Scarborough, a self-described “Christocrat” heads Vision America and, when he’s not out palling around with Alan Keys, has a penchant for suggesting that evangelical leaders are dying off because the nation has turned its back on God, suggesting that Christians will have "the blood of martyrs on [their] hands"if they don't oppose hate crimes legislation, blaming "the church" for just standing by and allowing the election of "unrighteous leaders" in 2006, saying that opponents of the War in Iraq are committing treason, organizing conferences designed to highlight the “War on Christians and Values Voters,” and penning books entitled “Liberalism Kills Kids” among other things.

But if Perry is going to associate himself with people like Barton and Scarborough, it only makes sense that he’d willingly affiliate himself with the US Pastor Council as well – maybe he’ll even sign their “Pastors’ Declaration of Godly Citizenship” [PDF]:

I believe that all authorities are subordinate to God, including family, church and government authorities, therefore the actions and decisions of each will be accountable to Him.

I believe that the church has a unique and sacred role in proclaiming God’s principles to leaders of a city, state and nation, with government limited to its Biblical and Constitutional purpose.

I believe that all innocent life from conception to natural death must be protected and valued by the people and our government to the fullest extent of the law as the highest priority of government.

I believe that marriage is a God-created relationship as the lifetime union of one natural man and one natural woman for the blessing of both, the good of the people and the foundation of the family for legitimate procreation.

I believe that the traditional, nuclear family of a married father and mother raising their children in a nurturing and protective environment is the essential building block of a stable community and a nation; it therefore must be promoted and protected by both church and state.

Most politicians seeking re-election wouldn’t be caught dead rubbing shoulders with these types of fringe right-wing groups, but Rick Perry does so openly and willingly – and not because he is pandering and merely seeking their support, but because he is a true believer who actually shares their agenda.

Huckabee's Loyalists: Where Are They Now?

Since dropping out of the Republican Primary last year, Mike Huckabee has settled into a lucrative career as a television host, radio commentator, author, public speaker, and political pundit. While he is enjoying his new-found roles, his former supporters are increasingly going off the deep end.

When he was running for office, he rounded up a gaggle of second-tier Religious Right figures to serve on his Faith & Family Values Coalition and increasingly that list seems to be becoming the primary source for much of the craziness that is engulfing the movement. 

Since Huckabee’s campaign ended, Jerry Jenkins has been seen discussing whether Barack Obama is the Antichrist or merely a pre-cursor to the Antichrist; Star Parker has been heard declaring that public schools are “cesspools” designed to indoctrinate students with “anti-Christian worldviews”; Mat Staver has been proclaiming that letting gays get married will lead to a whole generation of violent criminals; Jerry Cox has been hard at work ensuring that gays cannot adopt children; Kelly Shackelford has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars defending Sarah Palin and warning that gays are out to destroy Christian businesses; and Rick Scarborough has been complaining about the relentless persecution of Christians in America.

But nobody has gone more off the rails than Janet Porter, the co-chair of Huckabee’s coalition (though her last name was Folger at the time). Starting with her declaration that anyone who voted for Obama was going straight to hell and her prayers to God to keep him out of office and continuing through to her joining up with the Birthers and allegations that Obama’s presidency was the culmination of a decade-long Communist conspiracy, Porter has been a one-woman source of right-wing lunacy.

Just last week she declared that our nation is currently being cursed by God for electing Obama and now she is warning that a massive catastrophe is on the way. Citing Teen Challenge founder David Wilkerson, who claims that weeks before September 11th he had been warned by God that a calamity was coming and so he stayed up all night on Sept. 10th making sandwiches, Porter declares that another, even worse, catastrophe is on the way because Wilkerson has prophesied it and, as she says, “we'd be crazy not to listen” to him.

Here is Wilkerson’s warning:

For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.

There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath … God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations. He is destroying the secular foundations

First, I give you a practical word I received for my own direction. If possible lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials. In major cities, grocery stores are emptied in an hour at the sign of an impending disaster.

As for our spiritual reaction, we have but two options. This is outlined in Psalm 11. We “flee like a bird to a mountain.” Or, as David says, “He fixed his eyes on the Lord on his throne in heaven—his eyes beholding, his eyelids testing the sons of men” (v. 4). “In the Lord I take refuge” (v. 1).

I will say to my soul: No need to run...no need to hide. This is God’s righteous work. I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take—trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.

Unfortunately for us, Wilkerson says he does not “know when these things will come to pass,” but does know that they are coming and it is up to each of us to “do with the message as you choose.”

Most people would choose to ignore it, but not Porter:

With the election of the most pro-abortion president (and Congress) in history, there's no question that we deserve God's judgment … The bottom line is that we are economically and morally bankrupt. And it's reported that Iran now has all they need to build nukes.

So, when the guy who made the 2,000 sandwiches on Sept. 10 warns us: "AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN," I think we would do well to heed it.

So it is just worth pointing out once again: Porter was co-chair of Huckabee’s faith coalition and hailed by him in his book as "one of the main catalysts" for his success in the Republican primary.

Perry Woos the Right With State Address

Given that Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison seems intent on challenging Republican Governor Rick Perry next year, it looks like Perry is getting a head start on sewing up right-wing support as he attempts to hold her off:

Gov. Rick Perry delivered his state of the state address to a joint session of the Legislature as if it were a campaign speech.

...

[W]ith the Republican governor planning to run for re-election next year — and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison preparing to challenge him — there was plenty to energize a conservative, red-meat political base Perry is counting on.

“As we consider the growing threats to our nation’s unborn, I believe it’s time to add another layer of protection for the most vulnerable Texans,” he said.

Perry said pregnant women should be required to see an ultrasound before being allowed to get an abortion. And he advocated adult stem cell research — not embryonic stem cells, a flash point for anti-abortion advocates whom the governor invited as Capitol guests.

“I was thrilled to have him discuss that,” said Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life.

Hutchison supports abortion rights, although with restrictions. Perry’s political team plans to use the issue against her in the GOP primary, where social conservatives will make up about a quarter of the vote.

For those keeping score, Perry spent more time on abortion (seven sentences) than on college tuition (one sentence) or reducing insurance rates and expanding children’s health coverage (zero and zero) ... Tuesday’s speech was a triumph for social conservatives — especially on abortion and Perry’s support of another issue popular with the conservative base — requiring voters to show a photo ID.

“All this stuff, the base really has a passion for,” said Kelly Shackelford of Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute.

Interestingly, Rick Scarborough, who has already made his opposition to Hutchison's intended run well known, was also in attendance and apparently has gotten over his "grave disappointment" in Perry due to the Governor's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani during the GOP primaries:

The governor stood in front of the chamber, the San Jacinto flag behind him. The Rev. Rick Scarborough, an influential East Texas evangelist and Perry guest, applauded from his seat in the back.

Scarborough and Perry have not always seen eye to eye. There was, for example, the governor’s unfortunate support of anti-gun, pro-abortion rights candidate Rudy Giuliani in last year’s presidential race.

“I’ve talked with him about that,” Scarborough said darkly, as if alluding a prodigal son’s wayward years.

Liberty Legal and "Troopergate"

As we noted earlier this week, right-wing Alaskan attorney Kevin Clarkson had waded into the "Troopergate" saga in Sarah Plain's defense and was working in conjunction with the Liberty Legal Institute, a right-wing legal organization based in Texas. 

Why a right-wing organization out of Texas that, by its own admissions, focuses mostly on cases dealing with religious freedoms, student's rights, parental rights, and the definition of family was taking the lead in a case involving an investigation into the dealings of the Alaska Governor was hard to understand.  But now Kelly Shackelford, head of Liberty Legal, is explaining just what they are doing there ... assuring impartiality:

Liberty Legal Institute says it has filed the suit on behalf of Alaska legislators and citizens who want to halt the investigation because those running it have lost the impartiality required under the Alaska constitution. The investigation stems from Palin's July 2008 firing of former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety Walt Monegan for insubordination.

Kelly Shackelford -- chief counsel of Liberty Legal Institute -- says the investigation is being led by the Alaska Legislative Council and three Democratic state senators who are outspoken supporters of Barack Obama. "Those people have [made] contributions to Obama. They have public statements pro-Obama and anti-Palin. They have public statements prejudging the case before there's any evidence in," warns Shackelford.

"They have conflicts of interest with those in charge because of past and current relationships. So this is clearly an unconstitutional...political witch hunt which violates the very terms of their constitution."

That would be the same Kelly Shackelford who was recently on James Dobson's radio program crowing about how Palin was the answer to the right-wing movements prayers and explaining his efforts as part of the GOP's platform committee in drafting “the strongest pro-life platform ever in the history of the [Republican] party."

No concerns about impartiality or "conflicts of interest" there.

Right-Wing Legal Group Comes to Palin’s Defense

The AP reports that “five Republican state lawmakers filed suit Tuesday to end the bipartisan investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's” role in the “Troopergate” scandal and buried near the bottom of the article is this little tidbit of information:

"There is no nonpartisan reason to complete this investigation until after the election," said Anchorage attorney Kevin G. Clarkson. "We just want to take the politics out of it and bring fairness back into it."

Clarkson said he and a nonprofit legal firm in Texas, Liberty Legal Institute, were donating their work on the suit.

If the name of Clarkson sounds familiar, it’s because he showed up in a post from a few weeks ago explaining how, back in 2006, he personally assured Focus on the Family that Palin shared their views – and he’d know since he was providing legal counsel to her on the Alaska Supreme Court’s ruling regarding benefits for partners of state employees:

Clarkson explained that it was a convoluted process that led to the veto. Acting as legal counsel, Clarkson advised Palin to veto the bill that he said, because of confusing legislative machinations and existing court challenges, would've had the opposite effect and locked in benefits for all couples.

Clarkson said he had to explain the whole decision to Focus on the Family to put minds at ease.

Clarkson appears to be something of a free-lance right-wing lawyer, as in the earlier article he was listed as affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund and is now listed as working with the Liberty Legal Institute, which just so happens to be run by Kelly Shackelford who was an early backer of Mike Huckabee and was recently hobnobbing with Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer and James Dobson on Dobson’s radio program where they cooed over Palin and Shackelford detailed his role in drafting “the strongest pro-life platform ever in the history of the [Republican] party."

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Kelly Shackelford Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Wednesday 10/15/2014, 11:57am
Conservative legal advocates from throughout the country have been quietly pouring money into a Montana state supreme court race, hoping to topple a court majority that has bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on campaign finance issues and could soon have a voice in cases with national implications involving abortion rights and LGBT equality. The Right’s chosen candidate is Lawrence VanDyke, a former state solicitor general with a perfect pedigree for pro-corporate and Religious Right donors. Not only has VanDyke indicated his support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s dismantling of... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 10/07/2014, 3:00pm
The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios dedicated much of her radio show today to attacking the Supreme Court for refusing to hear appeals on several marriage equality cases, which led her to discuss the purported threats to religious freedom that marriage equality is bringing to America. Rios warned that religious liberty is in peril and viewers should purchase a new AFA DVD, “A Time To Speak.” “If we don’t do something, I think we’re going to see — and this is radical — I think we’re going to see riots in the street, we’re... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 09/26/2014, 3:13pm
Whenever a new tale of supposed anti-Christian "persecution" begins to sweep through the Religious Right echo chamber, the chances are probably pretty good that it originated with The Liberty Institute. So it was only fitting that LI's president Kelly Shackelford kicked off the afternoon session of today's Values Voter Summit by citing at least three of these false tales as proof that Christians are under attack in America today: The first claim about the young girl who was supposedly told she was not allowed to pray before eating her lunch turned out to be totally false,... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 01/02/2014, 3:34pm
Back before the holiday break, we noted that just because some right-wing tale of supposed anti-Christian persecution happened to be totally false, that would never stop the Religious Right from repeating it endlessly, as they have been doing with the saga of Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, who claims he was relieved of duty for disagreeing with a lesbian commander over the issue of gay marriage. As we noted last time, a military investigation found Monk's claims to be baseless ... which means that David Barton and friends are just going to keep on repeating them time and again, as he... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/19/2012, 2:27pm
Recently, Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute appeared on the Christian television program "Joni" along with David Barton to discuss the report that Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council released entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America." During the discussion, Shackelford mentioned a legal fight that took place in Texas last year over a high-school valedictorian who wanted to say a prayer during her graduation speech.  The student ultimately won the right to do so, which prompted host Joni Lamb to declare it a victory for free speech... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/17/2012, 2:47pm
In August, the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council released a joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which purported to be a "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America" ... but, for some reason, the incident they love to cite more than any other is a nearly twenty year old myth about an elementary school student who was supposedly yanked out of his seat and yelled at simply for praying before eating his lunch in the school cafeteria. In reality, the student was... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 08/21/2012, 12:04pm
Yesterday Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council released a new website and joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which is billed as "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America." And you can tell from the introduction just how trustworthy this report truly is: The Obama administration no longer even speaks of freedom of religion; now it is only “freedom of worship.” This radical departure is one that threatens to make true religious liberty... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 08/17/2012, 2:15pm
Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackelford appeared on Today’s Issues yesterday with Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon to discuss Missouri’s Amendment 2, the so-called “right to pray” amendment which may allow students to refuse to study any topic they deem to conflict with their religious beliefs, like evolution. Schakelford said the amendment was needed “to really bring their state back to full religious freedom like we had in this country until a decision about twenty to thirty years ago that came down from the Supreme Court.” While Shackelford did not say... MORE >