peter montgomery

PFAW Releases New Report on the Right's Efforts to Transform Religious Liberty from a Shield to a Sword

A new report from PFAW examines how the Far Right is distorting the concept of religious liberty in public policy debates around the country.

Supreme Court Action on Marriage Cases Is No Surprise

In last month's Supreme Court Term Preview, PFAW Foundation explained why most Justices might very well want to avoid taking the then-pending marriage cases.

“A right for one is a right for another and a responsibility for all.”

That is the spirit in which faith leaders and religious liberty advocates have come together in 2012 to answer the question, “What is the truth about American Muslims?”

PHOTOS: Religious, Political Leaders Join Launch of People For Foundation Report, '12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics'

Last week, People For the American Way Foundation launched a new report, “12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics,” which offers guidelines for policymakers and advocates seeking to bring faith into political debates.

Joining us at a launch party for the report and a discussion of the issues it raises were Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress; Sister Simone Campbell, director of the Catholic social justice group NETWORK; and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Here are some photos of the event from People For Foundation’s Dylan Hewitt:

Sister Simone Campbell talks with People For’s COO, Nick Ucci 

People For President Michael Keegan, Rep. Keith Ellison, and Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery 

Michael Keegan and Rep. Keith Ellison

Sister Simone Campbell and Rabbi David Saperstein

Rabbi David Saperstein 

Rep. Keith Ellison and Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Conference.

12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics – A People For the American Way Foundation Report with a Foreword by Bill Moyers

Washington, DC – The proper role of religion in American politics has been the subject of vigorous – and sometimes toxic – debate for over two centuries. Today, in the midst of campaign-season claims about America’s founding as a “Christian nation” and hyperbolic rhetoric about religious persecution, People For the American Way Foundation calls for a more constructive conversation with a new report, 12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics, authored by PFAW Foundation senior fellow Peter Montgomery with a foreword by journalist Bill Moyers.

"12 Rules" takes on a number of current debates, including those over required contraception insurance coverage, marriage equality, and the role of religion in the 2012 presidential campaign. This edition builds on earlier releases of "12 Rules" in 1984 and 1994.

The full report can be found online here. 

“Religious liberty is at the heart of what it means to be an American, but it is also at the center of some of our fiercest debates,” said Peter Montgomery. “How do we balance the constitutional principles of free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state when they come into tension with each other? And how can people of faith bring their religious values into the public arena without turning religion into a political club? As our religious landscape becomes increasingly diverse, it is important that we grapple with these issues in ways that are more constructive than divisive. We hope these Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics will launch many constructive conversations around these topics.”

“Our political climate is being poisoned by inflammatory charges of anti-religious and anti-Christian persecution,” said Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way Foundation. “We can look around the world to see what religious persecution looks like, and we think it’s wrong to cry wolf over political and policy disputes. We are strong advocates for First Amendment freedoms. But something can be legal without being wise. The principles in this report should be embraced by people of all religious and political beliefswho long for a more respectful and responsible debate in the public arena.”

This new edition of "12 Rules" will be launched at an event in Washington, DC featuring a discussion with Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim American elected to Congress.

Read the full report, 12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics, here.  


12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics

Religious liberty is at the heart of the American Way. In America, one’s standing as a citizen, member of the community, or candidate does not depend on a profession of faith.

Illuminating Rick Santorum and the Religious Right’s Vision for America

Last weekend, People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch captured video of prominent Louisiana pastor Dennis Terry introducing Rick Santorum at an event with an incendiary sermon in which he insists that those who don’t believe that America is a Christian nation “get out” of the country.

The video quickly went viral, and Santorum was forced to distance himself slightly from Terry’s remarks, saying “I didn’t clap when he said that.”

As PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery wrote in a column for the Huffington Post, the incident illuminates the Religious Right worldview that Santorum and supporters like the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins – himself a parishioner of Terry’s – embrace:

While the media may understandably focus on Santorum's garbled economic message, his Sunday evening appearance is worth a longer look -- for what it tells us about Santorum and the Religious Right movement that is propelling his campaign.

The church at which Santorum appeared is Baton Rouge, La.'s Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, which Family Research Council President Tony Perkins describes as his home church. Perkins, in fact, was introduced at the event as a "dear friend" of Pastor Terry and as a church elder. Perkins, whose FRC has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for relentlessly promoting false and malicious propaganda about LGBT people, said of Greenwell Springs Baptist, "there is not a better church in the United States of America than right here." So in Perkins's mind, there is no better congregation than the one that applauded wildly at Pastor Terry's "Christian nation" assertions and his seeming suggestion that people who do not worship Jesus Christ should find some other country to live in.

Peter discussed his column and the Religious Right movement behind Santorum’s candidacy in an interview with TruthDig radio in Los Angeles yesterday. You can listen to the interview here.

America as a 'Christian Nation' -- A Conversation with Experts on Religion, History, Law and the Constitution

One year before the 2012 election, the role of religion in our public life is already a hot topic in the presidential race. The idea that America is, or should be, a "Christian nation" is taught by Religious Right figures such as "historian" David Barton. What do "Christian Nation" advocates get wrong about American history and the role of religion in public life, and what are the implications of their policy demands? Join us for a conversation with scholars on religion, history and the Constitution.
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peter montgomery Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 10/20/2011, 4:48pm
Peter Montgomery @ Religion Dispatches: Jeffress is Both Right and Wrong on Religion & Politics.   Rachel Tabachnick @ Dome: Spiritual Warfare.   Ashley Lopez @ Florida Independent: Hasner ally says Muslim Brotherhood is behind Occupy Orlando.   Towleroad: Right-Wing Group Airs Gay Marriage Attack Ad in Iowa.   Zack Ford @ Think Progress LGBT: Herman Cain Doubles Down That Being Gay Is A Choice, ‘Washes Off.’   Michael E. Miller @ Miami New Times: Ave Maria University: A Catholic project gone wrong... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 10/13/2011, 9:53am
One of the sessions at the recent Values Voter Summit featured a showing of a new half-hour video produced by the American Family Association called “Divorcing God: Secularism and the Republic.” (Back in the summer it was being promoted as "Divorcing God: Secularism, Sexual Anarchy, and the Future of the Republic.") The video features an array of Religious Right leaders and academics, whose argument can be summarized this way:  America, whose greatness is decaying because the country has turned its back on the God who inspired the founding fathers, is doomed if it... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 10/12/2011, 10:04am
As RWW readers know, the Values Voter Summit, the year’s biggest political gathering for the Religious Right, took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.  Every Republican presidential candidate with the exception of Jon Huntsman addressed the summit, evidence of the continuing importance of Religious Right activists and political groups to the GOP. Polls suggest that the Religious Right is about twice as big as the Tea Party, with significant overlap between the two movements. Ron Paul’s campaign packed in enough voters to win the straw poll, but it would be wrong... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Friday 10/07/2011, 8:59am
Even before the opening bell at the Values Voter Summit, the Liberty Counsel hosted a breakfast on messaging and outreach to Hispanic Americans. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver shared the stage with Tony Calatayud, a Miami-based activist who works for the Spanish language arm of Christian radio Salem Communications.   Calatayud, who helped Marco Rubio get elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida, now travels the country helping to identify and support conservative Hispanic candidates with the group Conservadores. Staver said that Hispanic unhappiness with Barack Obama is... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 10/06/2011, 12:03pm
David Barton’s WallBuilders is tireless in pushing its “Christian nation” version of American history.   Today it encourages its supporters to “Celebrate Columbus Day!” and to read John Eidsmoe’s Columbus and Cortez: Conquerors for Christ.   Eidsmoe is the Christian Reconstructionist cited by Michele Bachmann as her mentor and major influence.  He is also a colleague of Roy Moore, who lost his job as Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court when he refused to obey federal court orders to remove a Ten Commandments memorial he had... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 09/09/2011, 4:32pm
Peter Montgomery @ Huffington Post: Lasting Harm, Lingering Hope. Towleroad: Tennessee HS Students Threatened with Suspension for Trying to Start Gay-Straight Alliance. Igor Volsky @ Think Progress LGBT: North Carolina Lawmaker: ‘We Need To Reach Out To Gays, Get Them To Change Their Lifestyle.’ Rachel Tabachnick @ Talk To Action: C. Peter Wagner's Response to Increased Exposure of the New Apostolic Reformation. Warren Throckmorton: Christian Post blog removed over reaction to article on Mitt Romney; Can Romney get fair coverage from Christian... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 08/31/2011, 4:56pm
Peter Montgomery @ Religion Dispatches: Historic Pro-Gay Equality Shift Led by Millennials—Evangelicals Included. Chip Berlet @ Talk To Action: How We Coined the term "Dominionism." Nick @ Bold Faith Type: Catholic Right Leader Robert George Funds Anti-Islam Extremists. Towleroad: Equality California Rips Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council and its Ties to the KKK. Amanda Peterson Beadle @ Think Progress: Virginia Anti-Abortion Lobbyist Married To Top State Health Official Who Helped Draft Clinic Regulations. Equality Florida:... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 08/25/2011, 3:06pm
As we've been noting, it sure is amazing how all of these journalists and Religious Right activists are suddenly telling everything that dominionism doesn't exist and that, even if it does, it is really just a left-wing scare tactic. Just last week, Lisa Miller wrote a piece in the Washington Post where, as our colleague Peter Montgomery noted, she dismissed any concerns about dominionism as little more than an attempt to raise "fears on the left about 'crazy Christians" in order to "paint them as freaky and dangerous." Miller admitted that "extremist dominionists do... MORE >