Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz Vows to Damage Texas Courts in Response to Obama's Immigration Action

In response to President Obama's upcoming action on immigration, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has vowed to retaliate by sabotaging the federal court system in his own state.

No, that's not how he phrased it, but that would be the impact of his vow. Yesterday in Politico, Cruz wrote how he thinks the Senate should respond to the president's policy decisions on immigration enforcement:

If the president announces executive amnesty, the new Senate majority leader who takes over in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial—outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists.

While such a refusal to perform one of the basic functions of the Senate would harm the entire nation, the damage in Texas would be particularly severe. No state has more judicial vacancies than the Lone Star State. No state even comes close.

As of today, Texas is suffering from eleven current federal court vacancies, with another four known to be opening in the next few months. The White House has worked closely with Sens. Cruz and Cornyn to identify potential nominees, but progress has been slow: Only six of the vacancies even have nominees; three of these have not yet had their committee hearings.

But the other three – for the Eastern and Western Districts – advanced through the Judiciary Committee this morning and are now ready for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. All three would fill vacancies formally designated as judicial emergencies by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. Confirming them would be a good start at addressing the vacancy crisis in Texas.

And that's what is it: a crisis. As we wrote earlier this month in a Huffington Post piece entitled Lame Duck Opportunity and Obligation: Confirm Judges:

The situation is even more dire in Texas, where the Senate has a chance to fill three vacancies in the Eastern and Western Districts. The Western District judgeship has been vacant since 2008, and the Judicial Conference has asked for five new judgeships there to carry the load on top of filling all the existing vacancies. Chief Judge Fred Biery discussed the need for new judges last year, saying, "It would be nice to get some help. We are pedaling as fast as we can on an increasingly rickety bicycle." Judge David Ezra, formerly of Hawaii, explained why he was moving to Texas to hear cases in the Western District: "This is corollary to having a big wild fire in the Southwest Border states, and fire fighters from Hawaii going there to help put out the fire."

The Eastern District of Texas is in similar need of getting its vacancies filled during the lame duck: Of the nation's 94 federal districts, only two have had more weighted filings per judgeship than the Eastern District, according to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts' most recent statistics. Small wonder, then, that the Judicial Conference has asked for two new judgeships there: Even if every judgeship were filled, that just isn't enough. To make matters worse, two more judges in the Eastern District have announced their intention to retire or take senior status next year, making it all the more important to fill the current vacancies now.

Even if the three nominees are confirmed during the lame duck, as they should be, more vacancies in both of those districts will open up early next year. Texas would still have eight vacancies, a number that would rise to twelve in the next few months.

To express his fury at President Obama and rally his right-wing base, Cruz would work to make sure that all these vacancies remain unfilled, which would hurt a lot of innocent Texans.

Cross-posted from the PFAW blog.

Five Conservatives Who Don't Understand Net Neutrality…But Are Definitely Against It!

On Monday, President Obama publicly urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt strong rules preserving net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers must treat all data equally.

Obama’s comments placed a previously fairly niche technical issue right into the middle of the national political debate, forcing commentators to take a side on something many of them did not seem to understand. But luckily, many conservative politicians and pundits have an easy way of deciding where to stand on an issue: if Obama is for it, it will destroy America and they are against it!

1. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz got the right-wing net neutrality pile-on started with a tweet calling the proposal “Obamacare for the Internet."

It didn’t really make sense, but as Matt Yglesias notes, that wasn’t the point: “What, if anything, that phrase means is difficult to say. But its political significance is easy to grasp. All true conservatives hate Obamacare, so if net neutrality is Obamacare for the internet, all true conservatives should rally against it.”

2. Bryan Fischer

As soon as Cruz spoke out, his far-right acolytes seem to have felt obligated to follow. On his radio program on Monday, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer struggled to grasp the proposal that he was definitely against, claiming that it would ban internet providers from charging customers more for faster service — something that already happens and that has nothing to do with net neutrality.

3. Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck is outraged that President Obama wants to end “the freedom of the internet” and ruin something that’s “working pretty well” because “the government is not involved in it at all.” Apparently unaware that current FCC regulations allow his online network, The Blaze, to stream on an open internet, Beck claimed that regulations preserving net neutrality would end this supposedly government-free system in which he operates his business.

Beck’s cohost Pat Gray accidentally debunked his own point by comparing Internet regulation to the interstate highway system, which he seems to also think remains open and accessible because it’s free from government interference.

4. FreedomWorks

The Tea Party group FreedomWorks got into the game yesterday with a video “clearing up” net neutrality for its supporters.

As Consumerist explains, FreedomWorks’ net neutrality explanation is basically a work of fiction:

“Supporters of the plan call it a [uses finger quotes] ‘free and open Internet’ but in reality it’s anything but,” says Somberg. “What net neutrality does is force providers to treat all Web content equally — the same speeds, the same prices, the same access.”

This is simply untrue.

Net neutrality merely says that ISPs can’t slow down, block, or prioritize any content. It doesn’t mean that everything gets treated with the same speed — just that an ISP does nothing to impede or boost any particular content company’s speed. So if it’s fast coming in from the company, it should be fast going out to the end-user. And if the host is slow, then it remains slow.

5. Alex Jones

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones added his own special twist to the net neutrality debate, claiming that it is a “high tech version of what the Soviets and the Nazis and the Chinese Communists and Fidel Castro and every other nut ball did.” 

Bonus: David Barton

While net neutrality might have just recently crossed the radar of many right-wing commentators, make-believe historian David Barton has been beating the anti-net-neutrality drum for years. In 2011, Barton called net neutrality “socialism on the internet” and “redistribution of wealth through the internet” and insisted that it is "wicked stuff" that goes against the dictates of the Bible and the Founding Fathers.

This launched Barton into a discourse on the concept of “fairness,” which he said “is a word no Christian should ever use in their vocabulary” because “what happened to Jesus wasn’t fair.”

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 11/10/14

  • Apparently Ingrid Schlueter is in danger of being sued by her own father, Vic Eliason of VCY America.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz clearly does not understand Net Neutrality.
  • Matt Barber says that just as "there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny ... There is no such thing as 'same-sex marriage.'"
  • The National Organization for Marriage has announced that they "will set their sights on defeating Sen. Rob Portman for reelection in 2016, or if he decides to run for president."
  • Finally, more claims that President Obama is not a Christian: "[I]f Obama is anything, he is a Politician. His religion is politics; his pursuit is power."

'God Is Not Done With America': Ted Cruz Rallies Religious Right Voters To Save The Nation

For the last two days, Sen. Ted Cruz has been the guest on "Life Today," telling host James Robison that it is vitally important for Christians to vote so that America can continue to enjoy God's blessings.

On yesterday's program, the Texas Republican declared that Christians are required by Scripture to vote and cast their votes based on biblical values. After praising his father's efforts to mobilize right-wing pastors and get them involved in politics, Cruz said that Christians could fundamentally reshape this nation is they simply voted according to the Bible.

"Can you imagine how different our country would be if an additional 70 million Evangelical Christians simply showed up and voted biblical values?" Cruz asked. "We would be on a fundamentally different path": 

On today's program, Cruz wholeheartedly agreed with Robison's assertion that the Founding Fathers "were under some kind of powerful umbrella of divine providence influence" when they created this nation.

"From the founding of our country, America has enjoyed God's providential blessing at every stage," Cruz said. "When the Declaration and Constitution were drafted, they were drafted on the knees of the Founding Fathers through prayer."

"I'm convinced," he continued, that "God is not done with America. That his blessings are still on this nation, and that the American people when the challenges are great, rise to the occasion":

Ted Cruz: Anti-Gay Civil Disobedience May Be Needed To Resist Alinskyite Democrats

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace has been focusing his program over the last couple weeks on what he calls the “rainbow jihad” of gay rights, in particular the situation in Houston involving a lawsuit filed by Religious Right activists attempting to take down the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. On his program yesterday, Deace welcomed the self-appointed star of the Houston dust-up, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who told him that pro-equality Democratic lawmakers are waging an Alinsky-inspired plot to silence dissent and that anti-gay conservatives may soon have to resort to civil disobedience.

“The problem is the modern Democratic Party, the professional politician, whether it is Democratic senators in Washington or whether it is the mayor or the city council members in the city of Houston, they have gotten so extreme that their objective is not to win an argument but it is instead to try to silence dissent and to crush and destroy anyone they deem to be their political opponent,” Cruz said.

“You know, Saul Alinsky, who both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton studied carefully, Saul Alinsky said you never want to debate your opponent because it humanizes them,” he continued. “Instead you simply want to silence them. And that is the reality of the modern Democratic party, the elected politicians.”

Later in the interview, Deace asked Cruz if “we are coming to the point” where anti-gay conservatives will have to participate in “organized civil disobedience” like that of the civil rights movement.

“Well, listen, if government tries to silence pastors, if government tries to force believers to violate their faith, it is my hope that believers honor their faith and disregard unjust edicts from government,” Cruz responded.

Top Birther Richard Mack Says Ted Cruz Is Ineligible To Be President

As Brian has written about quite a bit, there is some strife in the ranks of birthers over the potential presidential candidacy of Texas senator and Tea Party hero Ted Cruz.

Birthers believe (falsely) that President Obama was born overseas to one parent who was an American citizen and one who was not, and so, they claim, is not a “natural born citizen” eligible for the presidency. But many prominent birthers have made clear that they would be absolutely fine with the presidential candidacy of Cruz, who was actually born overseas to one parent who was an American citizen and one who was not.

Most mainstream legal observers hold that Cruz is still eligible to be president — just as Obama would have been even if he had concocted an elaborate scheme to lie about his place of birth — but the case highlights the hypocricy of the anti-Obama birther movement.

One prominent birther has at least decided to stay consistent. Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who now heads the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association — a guild of officers who believe the county sheriff has the authority to defy and arrest federal officials — said in a recent Blog Talk Radio interview that he believes Cruz is ineligible for the presidency.

In response to a caller who argued that the Constitution bars the Canadian-born Cruz from being president, Mack said, “That is correct, I try to say that to a lot of people. Ted Cruz cannot run for president of the United States.”

“I like Ted, I’ve met him several times and he’s kind of a friend of mine, but he can’t run for president,” he continued.

Earlier this year, Cruz praised the efforts of Mack and his fellow anti-government protesters in their armed standoff against the federal government at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Colorado.

Earlier in the program, Mack discussed the president’s birth certificate, saying that it was “real easy to determine that that was a fake and a fraud,” and alleged that the people “who helped fabricate all of these things and people who know about” aren’t coming forward because they’re “all fearing for their lives.”

“I know the person who has done this, they’re all fearing for their lives, obviously, but it’s time to come forward,” he pleaded. “The more light you shed on this, the less likely you are to be killed or hurt or put away.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. End of Free Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Outlawing the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

3. Legalizing pedophilia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can the Religious Right Be Trusted?

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

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

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

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

Research contributed by Ian Silverstone

Ted Cruz, the Houston Hype, and the Dishonesty of the Anti-Equality Movement

Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America  specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right's primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response to this week's controversy over subpoenas sent to a few religious leaders in Houston.

Cruz told the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody that there is a "real risk" that preachers will be hauled off to jail for preaching against homosexuality, recycling an old and equally ludicrous charge that hate crimes laws would result in pastors being dragged from the pulpit.

Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response." But he adds: "The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.

Cruz is lying. And he has lots of company promoting the Houston hype. Todd Starnes of Fox News charged, "There is a war over religious liberty in Houston, Texas." The Family Research Council's Ken Blackwell said it smacked of totalitarianism and said it suggested that it was "a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country" who think "America is evil." Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared, "This is how religious liberty dies."

As exciting as it is to hear the alarm bells and read the hyperventilating emails, the truth is far less dramatic. Sorry, Sen. Cruz, but the government is not policing sermons for political correctness. It's not going to start tossing anti-gay preachers in jail.

So what is the real story?

The immediate cause of the ruckus was a subpoena sent by attorneys for the city of Houston to several pastors who had been active in opposition to the city's new anti-discrimination law. Conservatives ran a signature-gathering campaign to put the law before the voters, but city attorneys ruled that so many of the signatures were not valid that the effort did not qualify for the ballot.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Religious Right law firm, stepped in and sued the city over that decision. As part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, attorneys for the city sent subpoenas to five prominent pastors asking for sermons and other communications they had about the ordinance, the signature gathering effort, and the controversy over homosexuality and gender identity.

Here's the problem. The subpoena was sent to pastors who are not party to the lawsuit, and it asked for some materials that do not seem directly relevant to the determination of whether signatures were collected in accordance with the law. By giving pundits something to scream about, the subpoena was a gift to Religious Right leaders and their political allies, who thrive on promoting the myth of anti-Christian religious persecution in the U.S. And they have run with it.

On Friday the city narrowed the scope of their discovery request somewhat. And it's entirely possible that a judge will further limit the amount of materials the city can collect in the Religious Right's lawsuit. That's how our legal system works.

It's terribly inconvenient to the Religious Right's narrative that progressive religious leaders are among those who have criticized the Houston attorneys' subpoena. Among those who criticized the city's subpoena as troubling and overly intrusive were supporters of LGBT equality and church-state separation. Baptists of all stripes weighed in. Both progressive religious leaders and atheists publicly agreed. Even the ACLU! So much for the supposed enemies of religious freedom.

Even some religious conservatives have denounced the Houston hype. In reality, the entire episode undermines right-wing claims that religious liberty is hanging by a thread in America. Indeed, it demonstrates that Religious liberty is widely respected as a core constitutional principle and a fundamental American value — by people across the religious landscape and our fractured political spectrum. If only Ted Cruz and his allies were as committed to the constitutional and legal equality of Houston's, and America's, LGBT citizens.

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post. 

Ted Cruz Agrees Pastors May Soon Be 'Hauled Off to Jail For A Hate Crime'

Sen. Ted Cruz has, unsurprisingly, positioned himself right in the center of the Religious Right’s latest cause celebre, a lawsuit in Houston in which attorneys working for the city subpoenaed materials from local pastors, including copies of their sermons.

City officials have distanced themselves from the subpoenas, issued by pro-bono lawyers defending the city in a dispute over petitions for a referendum to repeal the city’s antidiscrimination ordinance, with Mayor Annise Parker calling their scope “overly broad.” But that hasn’t stopped activists and politicians like Cruz from jumping on the case to claim that all their dire warnings about gay rights leading pastors being thrown in jail are coming true. (An extra element of the case is the fact that Parker is openly gay, which groups like the American Family Association have been quick to note.)

Cruz joined pastors and Religious Right activists at a press conference in Houston yesterday, and in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody today said that all his warnings about the persecution of Christians in America have come to fruition.

When Brody asked Cruz if “we very well soon go through a period where pastors are hauled off to jail for a hate crime because they are speaking for traditional marriage,” Cruz agreed, saying, I think that is a real risk and you and I have both pointed to that risk in the past.”

Look Who Wants To Amend The Constitution Now: Ted Cruz Wants States' Rights Amendment on Marriage

Sen. Ted Cruz has spent the past several months railing against a proposed constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and related campaign-finance cases, which would restore to Congress and the states the ability to “set reasonable limits” on election spending.

Cruz has gone into full hyperbole mode over the amendment, claiming that the campaign to narrowly roll back what many legal experts believe is an erroneous interpretation of the First Amendment is in fact an effort to “repeal the First Amendment,silence pastors and imprison old ladies.

So, of course, it was no surprise at all yesterday to see Cruz himself proposing to amend the Constitution to reverse what he sees as an erroneous interpretation by the courts, this time on the issue of marriage. Roll Call reported on Cruz’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s "tragic" decision yesterday to decline hearing any marriage equality appeals, thus letting same-sex couples in several states get married:

While most Republicans shied away from commenting Monday on the Supreme Court’s historic decision to let stand a slew of lower court rulings legalizing gay marriage, Sen. Ted Cruz torched the court’s decision.

The Texas Republican called the decision “tragic and indefensible” and said he would introduce a constitutional amendment that would ensure states can ban gay marriage.

“By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing,” he said in a statement.

“It is beyond dispute that when the 14th Amendment was adopted 146 years ago, as a necessary post-Civil War era reform, it was not imagined to also mandate same-sex marriage, but that is what the Supreme Court is implying today. The Court is making the preposterous assumption that the People of the United States somehow silently redefined marriage in 1868 when they ratified the 14th Amendment,” he said.

“Nothing in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the 14th Amendment or any other constitutional provision authorizes judges to redefine marriage for the Nation. It is for the elected representatives of the People to make the laws of marriage, acting on the basis of their own constitutional authority, and protecting it, if necessary, from usurpation by the courts.”

For the record, here is the section of the 14th Amendment that courts have been relying on to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Ted Cruz And GOP Leaders Record Ads For Far-Right Groups: 'God's People' Must 'Restore' American Values

David Lane is an extremely influential but notoriously media-shy Religious Right activist who regularly organizes secretive events at which leading Republican politicians speak to pastors in key swing states in an effort to mobilize conservative Christian voters. He is also a full-blown Christian nationalist who believes that the Bible should serve as "the principal textbook" for public education and has warned that the United States would see car bombings all over the nation as a result of God's judgment because "homosexuals [were] praying at the inauguration" of President Obama.

So naturally, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Perry have all now recorded radio ads on behalf of Lane's current voter mobilization effort, which is being funded by the political arm of the anti-gay hate group the American Family association no less. 

As CBN's David Brody reported last night:

The Brody File has exclusively obtained brand new radio commercials recorded by possible GOP presidential candidates, urging conservative Christians to get out and vote in the upcoming Midterm Elections. Below you can listen to the spots recorded by Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

In one of the radio spots, Senator Ted Cruz tells the Christian audience, “The Bible is full of stories of men and women whose faith in God led them to take action during difficult times, trusting in Him for His glory. Today God’s people are once again being called to action as we seek to restore the values our nation was founded upon and to honor the legacy of those who have given their lives in defense of our freedom.” He then implores the audience to get out and vote.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says the following in one of his radio spots: “Throughout the Bible, God’s people are driven to action by their faith in difficult times. Today we’re being called to action to restore the values our nation was founded.” Then, once again there is a call to action to vote.

The radio spots will run nationwide on American Family Radio, the Bott Radio Network and the National Religious Broadcasters Network. That means that these spots will be on close to 300 radio stations across the country in more than 35 states and reaching over nearly 70 million people.

The spots are part of the American Renewal Project’s, “Get Out The Vote” effort. The American Family Association political arm called AFA Action funds it. Part of their stated goal is to, “inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture.” David Lane, the influential evangelical organizer behind this effort also holds his popular, “Pastors and Pews” events around the country in multiple states including the early GOP Primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Those events are geared for pastors to get energized and mobilized so they can get more of their parishioners excited about voting their values.

Stop Persecuting Us! Five Religious Right Tactics On Clear Display At The Values Voter Summit

One thing was clear at last week’s Values Voter Summit: many of the Religious Right’s leaders and allied politicians know that their stances on abortion rights and LGBT equality are becoming more and more toxic to the average voter, and less and less popular within the GOP.

Many speakers at the conference tried to reframe the debate on issues such as same-sex marriage, insisting that opponents of LGBT rights are becoming an oppressed minority in America. This delusion even seeped into matters such as foreign policy, with speakers attacking President Obama as an Islamist sympathizer who refuses to take military action against ISIS, even while he was doing exactly that.

Naturally, one politician was able to prey upon the many fears and fantasies of the far-right: Ted Cruz.

Even as the Values Voter Summit subtly changed its tone on some familiar issues, five tried and true tactics of the Religious Right were unchanged at last week’s event:

5. Make Audacious Persecution Analogies

While addressing the plight of Christians in the Mideast and people such as Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan and Saeed Abedini in Iran — both of whom are actually the victims of shocking anti-Christian persecution — Values Voter Summit speakers often attempted to claim that conservative Christians face similar abuses and comparable treatment in America.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel attempted to paint the Obama administration as more malicious than the government of Nazi Germany, and twins Jason and David Benham — who lost a planned HGTV reality show after we reported on their anti-gay political activism — even had the gall to compare themselves to the victims of ISIS.

Todd Starnes and Kelly Shackelford rattled off cases of purported anti-Christian persecution in America, “Duck Dynasty” star Alan Robertson said his family’s reality TV show was briefly suspended as the result of demonic attacks, and a Colorado baker who gained national attention after denying service to a gay couple broke down in tears.

Maggie Gallagher, the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, told attendees that marriage equality opponents will be “oppressed” due to their opinions, and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel predicted Big Government persecution of Christians on behalf of “the intolerant homosexual lobby.”

4. Demand Religious Freedom… Except For Muslims

For a conference dedicated to protecting religious liberty and addressing the supposed persecution of Christians in America, there sure was plenty of animosity towards Muslims.

Conference speakers including Michele BachmannRobert DeesGary Bauer and Brigitte Gabriel dedicated their remarks to the threat of Islam, with several conflating Al Qaeda and ISIS with all of Islam and suggesting that the U.S. government somehow declare war on the religion.

Prior to the conference, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose group was the summit’s chief sponsor, suggested that Muslim-Americans be stripped of their rights under the Constitution.

3. Brazenly Ignore Reality

It was surreal to watch several Values Voter Summit speakers criticize President Obama for not going after ISIS at the same time as a U.S.-led coalition was launching a daily torrent of airstrikes against ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria and Iraq.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said Obama doesn’t believe that ISIS leaders need to be “hunted down and killed and destroyed.”

Bachmann declared that the president was ignoring her sage advice on how to handle ISIS: “You kill their leader, you kill their council, you kill their army until they wave the white flag of surrender. That’s how you win a war!”

2. Push Back Against The GOP

There was a palpable fear throughout the conference that the Republican Party is moving away from the Religious Right, as more and more GOP candidates either refuse to highlight the movement’s anti-choice and anti-gay positions or are openly trumpeting support for abortion rights and gay marriage.

Just before the conference took place, Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council issued a letter announcing their vow to defeat two openly gay Republican House candidates and the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Oregon, who is pro-choice and running advertisements boasting of her support for marriage equality.

NOM president Brian Brown criticized Republicans for blaming the party’s stances on social issues for losses in the 2012 election. “It’s not our fault,” Brown insisted as he introduced unabashedly anti-gay politician Rick Santorum at the summit.

Later, at a NOM-sponsored panel, Brown accused gay rights supporters of attempting to “hijack” the GOP. While one panel at the summit attempted to explain the potential for libertarians and social conservatives to build a political alliance, it seems many in the audience didn’t want anything to do with the libertarian message.

1. Throw Them Red Meat

Ted Cruz once again won the summit’s presidential candidate straw poll, with Ben Carson, who didn’t attend the summit this year but was well-represented by campaigners from the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, finishing in second place. Cruz and Carson notably outpaced Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, two favorites of Religious Right movement who both spoke at the summit.

Cruz packed his speech with warnings about imminent threats to the Second Amendment and religious freedom, and listing objects of conservative derision: IRS, Common Core and Obamacare.

Conference organizers said Jeb Bush and Chris Christie were not welcome at the summit, but they wouldn’t have been able to stand a chance against Cruz’s easy applause lines anyway.

Ted Cruz Throws Red Meat: Save America By Repealing Common Core And Obamacare

Ted Cruz knew just what Values Voter Summit attendees wanted to hear today, delivering a speech about how Democrats in Congress want to repeal the First Amendment’s free speech and religious liberty protections along with the Second Amendment. He even spoke out against Democrats for threatening the “right to privacy,” which ironically many conservatives believe is not part of in the Constitution but actually a liberal invention.

“Defend the values that are American values, we stand for life, we stand for marriage, we stand for Israel,” he said. 

Cruz, while applauding his own applause lines, then laid out the agenda for a GOP-controlled Senate.

“We abolish the IRS,” Cruz said, and “we repeal Common Core” — an odd agenda item since Common Core was not passed by Congress but enacted by various state legislatures controlled by Republicans and Democrats alike.

And of course, repeal Obamacare.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 9/25/14

  • The National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council Action, and CitizenLink have announced that they are launching a joint campaign to urge voters not to support Republican House candidates Carl DeMaio in California and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts, or US Senate candidate Monica Wehby in Oregon because of their support for marriage equality.
  • FRC prays that the upcoming Values Voter Summit "will be life and nation-changing!"
  • Is anyone surprised that the Duggars do not celebrate Halloween? "Magic, sorcery, witches, spell-casting and the like are all part of the demonic realm that God wants us to stay away from. One specific thing that our parents have always been careful about is magic, which often shows up in children's movies. As harmless as it may seem, it's not a joke in God's eyes."
  • Peter LaBarbera blames support for marriage equality on a brainwashing campaign being carried out by the media.
  • Finally, Bryan Fischer praises Sen. Ted Cruz for "sounding like a guest host on 'Focal Point.'"

15 Values Voter Summit Speakers Who Think The US Is Becoming Nazi Germany

At the Values Voter Summit, which begins this Friday, Republican politicians and Religious Right leaders will come together to rebuke President Obama, attack the gay community and decry the current state of affairs in the U.S.

Subtlety and nuance aren’t this crowd’s strong suits. In fact, it wasn’t that hard for us to come up with a list of at least 15 scheduled summit speakers and panelists who believe that America has gotten so bad under Obama’s leadership that the country has become just like Nazi Germany.

1. Tony Perkins

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins thinks that gay rights supporters are bent on ushering in an anti-Christian holocaust. When are LGBT activists “going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?” he asked in June.

Soon afterwards, Perkins said a caller on his “Washington Watch” radio show “hit the nail on the head” when she claimed Christians in America are about to be “loaded in cattle cars like it was when the Nazis took over.”

2. Mike Huckabee

Former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee agreed last year that it was “the truth” that bills introduced to prevent gun violence are just like what happened in Nazi Germany. “[T]hey’ll start saying, ‘Oh there you go comparing to the Nazis.’ And I understand the reaction, but it’s the truth,” Huckabee said. “In every society and culture where dictators take over, one of the things they have to do is get control of the military and the police and ultimately all of the citizens and make sure the citizens are disarmed and can’t fight in the streets.”

Huckabee has also claimed that the legalization of same-sex marriage will compel Christians to defy the government in order to uphold their religious beliefs, just like people who aided Jews broke the law during the Holocaust : “It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal.”

3. Sandy Rios

American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios said last year that the “War on Christmas” is driving Christians underground and oppressing religious expression: “This is exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany.”

4. Glenn Beck

Unsurprisingly, Glenn Beck is pretty sure that “we are Germany 1930.” Earlier this year, Beck agreed with venture capitalist Tom Perkins that billionaires in America are just like Jews under Nazi oppression and said that officials like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are aspiring concentration camp guards. He has also predicted that the government will “scoop up” Tea Party members and “be remembered as the most evil nation in the history of the world, we will dwarf what Germany did.”

Beck predicts that President Obama is on the verge of breaking down, at which point he will “round up” conservatives and “put them in a camp.”

5. Jerry Boykin

Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin accused President Obama of reviving Hitler’s Brownshirts through the health care reform law.

“Remember Hitler had the Brownshirts and in the Night of the Long Knives, even Hitler got scared of the Brownshirts and killed thousands of them. So you say ‘are there any signs that that’s happened?’ And the truth is, yes,” Boykin said in 2010. “If you read the health care legislation which, by the way nobody in Washington has read, but if you read the health care legislation it’s actually in the health care legislation…. It's laying the groundwork for a constabulary force that will control the population in America.”

6. Michele Bachmann

At a campaign stop in New Hampshire during her presidential bid, Bachmann said that government inaction on the national debt reminded her of the world’s silence in the midst of the Holocaust. “We are seeing eclipsed in front of our eyes a similar death and a similar taking away. It is this disenfranchisement that I think we have to answer to,” she said.

Bachmann has also accused the Obama administration of setting up “reeducation camps for young people” through service-oriented programs like AmeriCorps.

In 2012, Bachmann alleged that the administration was “aiding and abetting” an Islamist plot to take over America and the rest of the world, calling on people to read about the Islamic “belief system” and find out “what they truly believe” just like how “the most important thing a person could do in World War II during that conflict was to read the book that the leader of Germany wrote.”

7. Jim Bob Duggar

In a speech to the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Jim Bob Duggar said his visit to Nazi concentration camps reminded him of the U.S., saying that the Holocaust is “where we are at in our nation.” When asked by reporters about his statement, Duggar said that America is experiencing “a baby holocaust.”

8. Todd Starnes

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes said last year that the so-called “War on Christmas” and purported acts of anti-Christian persecution under the Obama administration made him wonder if he was living in the U.S. or Nazi Germany: “This is not 1930s Germany, gentlemen, this is the United States of America, and unless people of faith stand up and put a stop to this, we very well could be facing a 1930s Germany here.”

9. Mat Staver

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel believes that the U.S. under President Obama’s leadership is now actually worse than Nazi Germany. He said this month that the Obama administration surpassed Nazi Germany’s crimes by “forcing” people to “participate in a genocide” through the contraceptive coverage mandate. He has also repeatedly argued that legal abortion is the same as the Holocaust.

Earlier this year, Staver drew a Nazi analogy while demanding that conservatives more strongly oppose gay marriage: “This is not an issue in which you can remain silent any more than you can remain silent during Nazi Germany.”

10. Louie Gohmert

Texas congressman Louie Gohmert — who early on in Obama’s term agreed with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ predictions that the president would introduce policies reminiscent of Hitler — took to the House floor in May to accuse gay rights advocates of treating their opponents in the same way that the Nazis demonized the people they oppressed:

So it is amazing that in the name of liberality, in the name of being tolerant, this fascist intolerance has arisen. People that stand up and say, you know, I agree with the majority of Americans, I agree with Moses and Jesus that marriage was a man and a woman, now all of a sudden, people like me are considered haters, hate mongers, evil, which really is exactly what we've seen throughout our history as going back to the days of the Nazi takeover in Europe. What did they do? First, they would call people "haters" and "evil" and build up disdain for those people who held those opinions or religious views or religious heritage. And then the next came, well, those people are so evil and hateful, let's bring every book that they've written or has to do with them and let's start burning the books, because we can't tolerate their intolerance.

11. Mark Levin

Conservative talk radio show host Mark Levin claimed last year that President Obama was organizing a Brownshirt paramilitary to defend and promote the Affordable Care Act. “All they need is special uniforms,” Levin said of Obamacare supporters. “Learn how to march and salute and carry flags. I think brown would be good, you know, Brownshirts.”

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Levin said then-presidential candidate Obama was “really into these big German-like events” reminiscent of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

12. Ed Vitagliano

After the 2008 election, the American Family Association’s Ed Vitagliano urged the organization’s members to pray for President Obama just as one would pray for Adolf Hitler to veer away from his wicked ways. He especially urged his readers to pray to block Obama’s “plans to push both abortion and the gay agenda.”

“Obama is like Hitler because, while Hitler primarily slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust, Obama’s support for abortion is similarly evil,” Vitagliano said. “Now I think the moral equivalency of the Holocaust and abortion is a good, defensible argument. Both objectified a category of human beings and then took horrifying steps to pursue their murder. The depths of evil connected to the Holocaust and abortion are equally difficult to comprehend.”

13. Harry Jackson

Religious right activist and preacher Harry Jackson said in 2012 that the success of “radical gay activists” was turning America into Nazi Germany:

They want to impose their will on the culture and if you cannot reproduce you may try to recruit, and what I mean by that is what is going on is an attempt to reshape, refashion the mind, hearts and desires of the next generation. Many Christians are sitting back and we aren’t speaking out, but the reality is just like during the times of Hitler we have people coming after one group after another group after another group, and folks are saying, well this doesn’t affect me I’ll let this slide, we have a problem that really we have a whole generation of people who want to affect not only their lives and choices but the choices of another generation.

14. Rick Santorum

After losing his 2012 presidential bid, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum became a Christian film producer, and he recently unveiled a new movie called “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty.” Santorum’s latest film depicts the U.S. in a dire state eerily similar to Nazi Germany, warning that America’s transformation into a tyrannical, Nazi state will be complete thanks to the silence of conservative Christians. You can get some of the flavor of the film from its trailer, which includes footage of Germany in the 1930s.

While campaigning against for president, Santorum also told a church gathering that people should get involved in his bid to defeat Obama just as the Greatest Generation fought the spread of Nazism.

15. Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz launched his faux-filibuster against Obamacare by arguing that refusing to fight the implementation of the health care reform law was just like appeasing Adolf Hitler, and people who didn't support his plans to stop the law were like Neville Chamberlain.

As Jon Stewart explains, “Ted Cruz says we’re at Defcon Nazi.”

 

Ted Cruz's Dream Cabinet: Values Voter Summit Speakers Ready To Serve In The Cruz White House

It is no secret that Sen. Ted Cruz is a favorite of Religious Right activists. After all, at last year’s Values Voter Summit, the Texas Republican received a euphoric welcome and when one member of the audience declared that God supported Cruz’s effort to shut down the government, he was met with an enthusiastic round of applause. It’s no wonder that Cruz has won the hearts of the GOP’s far-right base, given his penchant for paranoid and incendiary rhetoric along with his boasts about his superior religious convictions.

And the affection seems to be mutual. If Cruz were to win the presidency in 2016, we imagine that his cabinet would look a lot like this week’s Values Voter Summit lineup.

So, we’ve decided to help Cruz out and pick him out a “dream cabinet” consisting exclusively of Values Voter Summit speakers.

Tony Perkins, Secretary of Homosexuality

To say that the Family Research Council leader and Values Voter Summit host is obsessed with homosexuality would be putting it mildly. Perkins fears that gays and lesbians are such a threat that he predicts they will bring about a holocaust of Christians. He calls gay people “vile” and “hateful” pawns of “The Enemy” — Satan — who are “engaged in activity, behavior and an agenda that will destroy them and our nation.”

Perkins spoke out in favor of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which, at the time, included a provision making homosexuality an offense punishable by death in some cases. He has also labeled pedophilia a “homosexual problem.”

What’s more, Perkins comes with a built-in circle of anti-gay advisors: For instance, one of his FRC colleagues once suggested that the U.S. “export homosexuals” because “homosexuality is destructive to society.”

Mike Huckabee, Secretary of Women’s Issues

After vigorously campaigning on behalf of failed Senate candidate Todd Akin and defending the Missouri Republican’s “legitimate rape” comments, Huckabee somehow managed to become the RNC’s “model” for speaking about social issues. Huckabee further displayed this model behavior at an RNC meeting this year, where he claimed that Democrats see women as “helpless and hopeless creatures” who need help from “Uncle Sugar” because they “cannot control their libido.”

Huckabee is a strong supporter of “personhood” laws that would criminalize abortion in all cases, along with common forms of birth control. Although he said rules ensuring that Hobby Lobby employees have birth control coverage would destroy the freedom of religion, as governor of Arkansas, he signed regulations on contraception coverage that had a wider impact on religiously-affiliated groups than the federal rules he now denounces as abortion subsidies and threats to liberty.

Sandy Rios, Secretary of Chain Emails

Thankfully, American Family Radio talk show host Sandy Rios breaks through the biased liberal media filter by citing the news sources America trusts: chain emails. Rios has repeatedly pointed to spurious Internet hoaxes and urban legends to warn about how same-sex marriage is encouraging incest or to expose President Obama’s Muslim writings.

Rios has also cited erroneous right-wing chain emails to shine light on Obama’s purported plan to Islamize America and his real birth place (Kenya). While such stories may not technically be true, they definitely feel true!

Michele Bachmann, Secretary of Truth

Many politicians pretend to believe in outlandish things as a way to throw red meat to their party’s base, but the Secretary of Truth pretends nothing. Whatever you may think about Michele Bachmann, she really does seem to believe that vaccinations cause mental retardation, Obamacare death panels will “literally kill” people, gays want to “freely prey on little children sexually” and AmeriCorps programs are really “re-education camps.” Bachmann also claims to be an expert in Islam, Judaism and the End Times (or, as she believes, the present day).

In fact, Bachmann speaks so much truth that the Associated Press had to impose a fact-checking “quota” on her remarks.

Sarah Palin, Secretary of Syntax

Sarah Palin is known for her captivating way with words and is always providing new material for observers of an evolving English language. Since Cruz sees Palin as a “fearless” leader of the conservative movement, certainly she can serve in a role greater than poet laureate. After all, it’s not everyone who is able to rewrite (with help from the Internet) the works of Dr. Seuss:

Todd Starnes, Secretary of Scam Artistry

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, ever the muckraker, claims to have blown the whistle on dozens of scandals involving anti-Christian persecution in America.

However, many of his reports have been completely debunked, including his stories about forced lesbian kisses in schools and discrimination against Christian athletes, kindergartenersfirst gradersmilitary service members and people celebrating Christmas. He has also falsely accused the military of court martialing Christians and blocking access to a church website, and made bogus statements about “gangs of roving thugs” and anti-Christian zealots running New York.

But don’t worry, none of these false reports have in any way negatively impacted Starnes’ career or his reputation, as he swears he only reports on “the most accurate information possible.”

Glenn Beck will also be addressing the summit, meaning that Starnes will have a real fight on his hands for this prestigious Cabinet office.

Jerry Boykin, Secretary of Islam

Protecting religious liberty is one of the major issues of the Values Voter Summit this year, and religious liberty has no better friend than FRC Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin, who cherishes the First Amendment so deeply that he wants to ban mosques and strip Muslim-Americans of their First Amendment rights (a view that FRC’s president, Tony Perkins, shares). Boykin insists that the Constitution should not protect Muslims because their religion will “destroy” America “from within.”

Boykin also believes that the Obama administration’s actions are part of a spiritual war against Christianity which will provoke people to “take up arms” against the government and even prompt military leaders to hope to “fulfill their constitutional duty and take out the president.”

Jim Bob Duggar, Secretary of Historical Analysis

Reality TV star Jim Bob Duggar, a frequent right-wing campaign surrogate whose son Josh serves as executive director of the Family Research Council, made a splash at last year’s summit when he said that a visit to a Nazi concentration camp reminded him of the U.S. today. Speaking of the Holocaust, he said, “that’s where we are at in our nation.” In Duggar’s telling, the Nazis are pro-choice advocates who have taken over America, while Duggar and his conservative movement allies are like concentration camp liberators.

While defending his remarks to the press, Duggar said Roe v. Wade has led to “a baby holocaust” no different than what took place in Nazi Germany.

Louie Gohmert, Secretary of Intelligence

Louie Gohmert, an actual congressman, has many smart things to say. For example, he believes that Obamacare will “absolutely kill senior citizens” and set up a “secret security force”; thinks America is worse off now than it was during the days of slavery; worries that “extreme leftists” and “radical jihadists” are working together to bring terror babies into the U.S.; and claims that Obama is “supporting” Al Qaeda and Democrats are hoping for terrorist attacks “to create a new jobs bill.”

He is also a zoologist, having warned that a wildlife protection bill would send animals to China and we would “end up with moo goo dog pan or moo goo cat pan.” He once also memorably defended oil pipelines by linking them to caribou sex.

Gohmert is an expert in the field of human sexuality, although he asserts that sex-ed classes are reminiscent of the Soviet Union. The Republican especially knows a thing or two about homosexuality, warning that gay marriage signals the collapse of civilization and will lead America “down the road to the dustbin of history”; claiming that those of “the persuasion of being homosexual” violate “the plumbing that God created”; insisting that gay people undermine humanity’s evolution (which he insists he doesn’t believe in himself); fearing that America will cease to exist because of gays serving openly in the military; and positing that gay marriage will lead to bestiality and extreme restrictions on gun rights.

Mat Staver, Secretary of Ex-Gays

While not an “ex-gay” himself, Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver is a leading proponent of sexual orientation conversion therapy and is attempting to bring his defense of the discredited, pseudo-scientific practice to the Supreme Court.

Staver has also been tied to an “ex-gay” client’s alleged kidnapping of her daughter to Central America to avoid sharing custody with the daughter’s other mother. He claims that gay people want to “entrap” and “groom” children and force them “into a lifestyle of destruction” by barring the use of ex-gay therapy on minors.

Staver will likely have many immediate policy changes to suggest, as he fears that the Obama administration supports “forced homosexuality” and likens fading opposition to gay rights to silence in Nazi Germany about the Holocaust.

Tony Perkins Uses Meriam Ibrahim To Promote Anti-Obama, Anti-Gay Agenda

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has excitedly touted a big “get” for this week’s Values Voter Summit: Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman who was persecuted by the Sudanese government over charges of apostasy. Evangelicals in the U.S. were part of the international chorus of voices who worked to keep a spotlight on Ibrahim’s plight, and Ibrahim may wish to thank some of the activists who advocated for her freedom.

But Perkins and FRC have another agenda entirely: They have been using Ibrahim as a prop in their relentless, over-the-top attacks on the Obama administration — and their claims that Christians in America are themselves facing government persecution.

Ibrahim’s vividly compelling case — for being a Christian, she was shackled to a prison floor with one small child while pregnant, then gave birth in jail — drew worldwide attention. Ibrahim had a Muslim father but was raised by a Christian mother, and in 2011 she married a Catholic American, Daniel Wali.  She was arrested last September after being charged with apostasy — abandoning the Muslim faith — and for adultery given that the court didn’t recognize her marriage to a Christian.  This May she was sentenced to receive 100 lashes and be hanged.

An Amnesty International campaign on her behalf generated more than a million signatures. European leaders condemned her treatment and called for her release. In the U.S., religious and political leaders called for her freedom. A petition on the White House website pushed by Perkins and others gained more than 50,000 signatures.

On May 15, the White House condemned her sentence in a statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, which urged the government of Sudan to respect Ibrahim’s religious freedom andto respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.” The State Department also expressed concerns in May; Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement in June.

Ibrahim was freed on June 23, then re-arrested and detained briefly when she tried to leave the country. She was sheltered by the U.S. embassy for about a month until she was permitted to leave Sudan in late July. She is now living with her husband and children in New Hampshire.

Perkins has repeatedly used Ibrahim’s plight as a way to hammer the Obama administration. 

In late May, Perkins fumed:

While many international groups have taken up efforts to pressure the Sudanese government to release Meriam and her children, the Obama administration has said little, and done nothing.

Think about this: two innocent American children are imprisoned abroad as their life hangs in the balance. If President Obama will not act in a situation like this, what will he act upon? Does Obama care?

Fox News’ hosts got in on the act, even as its own website was contradicting those claims.  A May 31 Fox News story by Joshua Rhett Miller was headlined, “US 'fully engaged' in case of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for Christian faith.” It included a quote from the State Department:

Through the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department, we have communicated our strong concern at high levels of the Sudanese government about this case,” State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson wrote FoxNews.com in an email. “We have heard from many, many Americans that they are deeply alarmed by [Ibrahim’s] plight. We have conveyed these views to the Government of Sudan.”

Yet the video at the top of that very story on the Fox News website featured Perkins saying the U.S. government was doing “so far, nothing that we can tell” other than condemning Ibrahim’s treatment. Megyn Kelly fumed that the State Department had “refused to say bupkis” about what the U.S. government was doing. If Perkins or Kelly were aware of the possibility that U.S. officials may have believed that quiet diplomacy would be more effective, they gave no hint of it.

Other conservatives piled on: On June 11, Nina Shea at the Hudson Institute wrote, “And, as Ibrahim looks toward an appeals court review of her case, President Obama and the U.S. State department have been silent about it.”

On June 12, FRC and Concerned Women for America held a rally in front of the White House. Perkins was joined by Obama-bashers Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Trent Franks. Perkins’ remarks were wildly inflammatory.  “There was a time when people of faith could sit down inside the White House and talk about these issues,” he said. Claiming that administration inaction was threatening the lives of Ibrahim’s children, Perkins said, “If this president is content with the blood of small children on his hands, then God help him.”

Perkins continued throughout the summer to complain that the Obama administration was doing nothing to help Ibrahim, even though he was told otherwise on his own radio show by a Republican congressman. On June 23, Perkins had Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., on his radio show to talk about the case. As Brian reported in RWW, Meadows undermined Perkins’ attacks on the administration:

Asked if the State Department was working to help Ibrahim and her children, Meadows reported that the U.S. has in fact worked vigorously behind the scenes to free Ibrahim: “I got off of a call not more than an hour or so ago and a number of agencies across the board are working hand-in-glove to make sure that this is handled quickly and efficiently. And I am heartened by what I heard on that phone call and really encouraged that this is a government that cares about people. Sometimes I wish they would speak up louder and quicker, but I can tell you behind the scenes a number of agencies are working to make sure that they are safe.”

In July, Perkins testified about the case at a congressional subcommittee hearing. One of his fellow panelists, Grover Rees, who served as a U.S. ambassador during the George W. Bush presidency, said that even though Ibrahim’s husband had said he was rebuffed by a U.S. consular officer when he sought help, Rees believed that government agencies were doing what they could. Rees said that “the State Department seems to be making amends, supplying appropriate attention and care.”

Perkins has even kept up the Obama-bashing rhetoric since Ibrahim’s release and safe passage to the U.S. In August, Perkins cited the case as a reason people think Obama is a Muslim.

Perkins isn’t alone. In August, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer allied himself with ISIS’s characterization of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and griped, “Obama will fight for Satan-worshipers but not for Christians!”

ISIS has been beheading Christian children and crucifying Christians by the side of the road. Christians for months have been fleeing Iraq in droves ahead of the murderous hordes of Al Qaeda. And Obama yawns.

When Christian wife and mother Meriam Ibrahim is imprisoned in Sudan for being a Christian, and forced to give birth in a filthy jail cell while shackled to the wall, Obama yawns. While Christian pastor and American citizen Saeed Abedini languishes in the hellhole of an Iranian prison, Obama yawns.

But when worshipers of Lucifer get in trouble at the hands of the same blood-thirsty savages, suddenly Obama springs into action.

What this reveals about the president’s religious sympathies I will leave for others to decide. But it can’t be good.

Real Persecution vs the Religious Right’s Persecution Complex

We have previously suggested that American religious conservatives should be ashamed of equating their policy disagreements or losses in legal disputes with the kind of brutal religious persecution experienced by Meriam Ibrahim and so many Christians and other religious minorities around the globe. But Perkins and others have been happy to use her case to promote their narrative that Christianity in the U.S. is on the verge of being criminalized.

Advocates for LGBT equality are often portrayed as persecutors of Christians, as in Perkins’ statement in June that he was wondering, “When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?” As part of FRC’s announcement that Ibrahim would be speaking at the Values Voter Summit, Perkins said: 

"Meriam's bold stand for Jesus Christ as she faced death has touched the hearts of people in every nation. Her incredible example of courage should inspire Christians in America to be bold and courageous in their faith as we witness growing religious hostility here in our country.”

At a July 23 hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Perkins said:

“It is difficult to look at these facts [about Ibrahim’s case] and not understand then in the light of the current administration’s unilateral reinterpretation of religious freedom domestically. This administration believes religious beliefs should be quarantined to private spaces and excluded from the public space. This truncated view of religious freedom domestically, more accurately described as the freedom of worship, is matched by the administration’s failure to even address the growing threats to religious freedom internationally.”

In August, Dusty Gates, who works for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, wrote in Crisis magazine that liberals were uncomfortable supporting Ibrahim because they don’t support religious freedom in the U.S.

Naturally, this victory for freedom (liber) is being celebrated, at least to some degree, by liberals of all kinds. A human being freed from oppression, especially from such extreme persecution as Ibrahim faced, seems to be a grand slam for the liberal cause. But with the Ibrahim case, as well as the larger situation of global anti-Christian persecution, is causing liberals to sweat a little. Just as they stand up to cheer, it seems that their impending jubilation is cut short; subdued by a palpable fear that maybe they shouldn’t be celebrating the thing they want to celebrate. “A victory for freedom? Hoora… Oh wait, for religious freedom? Uh oh….”

Gates even slammed the welcome given Ibrahim by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, saying the Nutter’s comparison of Ibrahim to Rosa Parks rather than to other religious martyrs was “a subtle attempt to hijack Ibrahim’s story: taking it out of its full context and using it as a vehicle for the liberal agenda.”

In June, Christian author Benjamin Corey called out right-wing claims of religious persecution in the United States:

Meanwhile in the United States, we’re going about our daily lives panicking with cries of religious persecution as well…although, they’re not the cries one would think. Instead of a collective focus on wide-spread human rights abuses and religious persecution in places like Sudan, North Korea where an estimated 33,000 Christians have been incarcerated in prison camps, or the estimated thousands who actually die for their religious faith each year, we’re focused on a first world version of persecution that’s not really persecution at all.

When A&E temporarily made the decision to disassociate with Phil from Duck Dynasty over anti-gay comments he made in the media, it was labeled as “persecution”.

When public business owners in the baking industry have insisted on the right to discriminate and faced just accountability, it becomes another example of “persecution”.

We even have potential presidential candidates perpetuating such a persecution complex, with figures like Rick Santorum falsely stating that people who oppose same sex marriage are being sent to re-education camps.

With all of the legitimate and horrifying human rights violations occurring in the world, some in America have sadly adopted a very first world, privileged, and self-centered version of persecution. Instead of doubling efforts to shed light on international abuses, we’ve seen a flood of first world persecution claims– from internet trolls right up to the right wing members of government.

…Let’s reserve the “persecution” word for the real thing– such as what we saw in the case of Meriam Ibrahim.

Using Ibrahim to Attack LGBT Human Rights

Perkins has also used Meriam Ibrahim’s case to promote his attacks on the Obama administration’s advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people who face brutal persecution in many countries. In June, he wrote,

President Obama, who can't find a few minutes to call for Meriam Ibrahim's release from a Sudanese prison, had plenty of time to fly to New York and fundraise for homosexual activists.

In a late August direct mail piece, Perkins complained angrily about the “utterly shocking” fact that the rainbow flag was flown over the US embassy in Israel during a gay pride celebration.

“This would be outrageous enough all by itself—but the reality of the big picture is more frightening by far. The global Obama crusade for gay rights is happening against a backdrop of the total collapse of his real foreign policy responsibilities. We are witnessing an unprecedented level of anti-Christian persecution around the world, a colossal, international, multifront assault on religious freedom. Yet in response to these atrocities, the administration has remained all but silent….This administration is pressuring other nations to adopt Barack Obama’s radical gay agenda—but not to observe the most basic universal human right of religious freedom.”

The rest of Perkins’ letter goes back and forth between portraying the administration as fixated on gay rights and unconcerned about persecuted Christians. “We had no choice but to stand up for Meriam — because the Obama administration wouldn’t, and didn’t.”

“I urge you to stand with FRC Action again today as we fight back against the Obama administration’s outrages — their devotion to the cause of sexual immorality and their simultaneous indifference toward Christians suffering persecution for their faith.”

All the while Perkins portrays advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people — who certainly face brutal persecution in many parts of the world — as extremism.

When we see the rainbow flag of the homosexual movement flying over our embassies in Tel Aviv, London, and Prague, we can see with our own eyes what an extremist is sitting in the Oval Office.

Similar language appears in a September 6 fundraising email from Perkins, which says in part:

With President Obama promoting the homosexual movement around the world through the Obama administration, yet not working to prevent Christians from being persecuted, jailed, even tortured and killed for their faith, FRC Action’s work has grown more important than ever before.

As far as we can tell, Perkins and other Religious Right leaders haven’t raised much of a ruckus about the persecution of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who faces 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes after being convicted of “insulting Islam” by calling for religious tolerance, or about the imprisonment in Indonesia of Alexander Aan for publicly declaring himself an atheist.

The Values Voter Summit

Meriam Ibrahim may consider an appearance at the extremism-heavy Values Voter Summit as an opportunity to thank the thousands of Americans who advocated on her behalf while she was suffering in a Sudanese prison cell, and to celebrate the freedom of religion that she and her family enjoy in America.

Unfortunately, her attendance at the Values Voter Summit will put her in the company of people like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who argues that the First Amendment does not protect religious minorities in the U.S., and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who argues that Christians whose beliefs on the equality of LGBT people differ from his do not deserve “true religion freedom.” And it will include many activists, like the Benham Brothers, who cry anti-Christian persecution despite their own record of working to restrict the religious and political freedoms of others.

Americans of every political and religious stripe can admire Ibrahim’s exceptional strength and courage in the face of real persecution. The same cannot be said for those who are trying to exploit her moral authority to advance their own political agendas.

Ted Cruz Raises Money For Ted Cruz With Anti-Immigration Reform Campaign

Sen. Ted Cruz is out with a new effort today opposing President Obama’s possible executive action preventing the deportation of many undocumented immigrants living in the U.S…and in the process is raising money and collecting email addresses for Sen. Ted Cruz.

In a new website and online video, Cruz incorrectly links the crisis of unaccompanied minors at the southern border with Obama’s executive order deferring deportation for DREAMers. A voiceover in the online video says, “we cannot hope to address the crisis on the border without first addressing the fundamental cause of it,” before showing a still shot of someone climbing over the border fence.

But luckily, Cruz is here to save the day! “Senator Ted Cruz is leading the fight to secure the border, stop Obama’s amnesty and celebrate legal immigration,” he voiceover says.

The website, “StopObamasAmnesty.com,” then leads visitors to give Cruz’s fundraisers their email addresses and to donate to Cruz’s joint fundraising committee. The committee has raised over $4 million so far in this election cycle, much of it during the government shutdown that he orchestrated.

This summer, Cruz successfully lobbied a number of GOP House members to block a bill to handle the crisis of unaccompanied minors on the border. So, once again, Cruz is fundraising off a problem that he personally prevented the government from trying to solve.

h/t Center for New Community

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/12/14

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/11/14

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Ted Cruz Posts Archive

Paul Gordon, Thursday 11/20/2014, 3:45pm
In response to President Obama's upcoming action on immigration, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has vowed to retaliate by sabotaging the federal court system in his own state. No, that's not how he phrased it, but that would be the impact of his vow. Yesterday in Politico, Cruz wrote how he thinks the Senate should respond to the president's policy decisions on immigration enforcement: If the president announces executive amnesty, the new Senate majority leader who takes over in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 11/14/2014, 10:57am
On Monday, President Obama publicly urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt strong rules preserving net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers must treat all data equally. Obama’s comments placed a previously fairly niche technical issue right into the middle of the national political debate, forcing commentators to take a side on something many of them did not seem to understand. But luckily, many conservative politicians and pundits have an easy way of deciding where to stand on an issue: if Obama is for it, it will destroy America and they are against... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/10/2014, 5:31pm
Apparently Ingrid Schlueter is in danger of being sued by her own father, Vic Eliason of VCY America. Sen. Ted Cruz clearly does not understand Net Neutrality. Matt Barber says that just as "there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny ... There is no such thing as 'same-sex marriage.'" The National Organization for Marriage has announced that they "will set their sights on defeating Sen. Rob Portman for reelection in 2016, or if he decides to run for president." Finally, more claims that President Obama is not a Christian: "[I]f Obama is... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 11/04/2014, 10:59am
For the last two days, Sen. Ted Cruz has been the guest on "Life Today," telling host James Robison that it is vitally important for Christians to vote so that America can continue to enjoy God's blessings. On yesterday's program, the Texas Republican declared that Christians are required by Scripture to vote and cast their votes based on biblical values. After praising his father's efforts to mobilize right-wing pastors and get them involved in politics, Cruz said that Christians could fundamentally reshape this nation is they simply voted according to the Bible. "... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Thursday 10/23/2014, 2:35pm
Conservative talk show host Steve Deace has been focusing his program over the last couple weeks on what he calls the “rainbow jihad” of gay rights, in particular the situation in Houston involving a lawsuit filed by Religious Right activists attempting to take down the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. On his program yesterday, Deace welcomed the self-appointed star of the Houston dust-up, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who told him that pro-equality Democratic lawmakers are waging an Alinsky-inspired plot to silence dissent and that anti-gay conservatives may soon have to... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 10/22/2014, 1:29pm
As Brian has written about quite a bit, there is some strife in the ranks of birthers over the potential presidential candidacy of Texas senator and Tea Party hero Ted Cruz. Birthers believe (falsely) that President Obama was born overseas to one parent who was an American citizen and one who was not, and so, they claim, is not a “natural born citizen” eligible for the presidency. But many prominent birthers have made clear that they would be absolutely fine with the presidential candidacy of Cruz, who was actually born overseas to one parent who was an American citizen and... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/22/2014, 12:00pm
Here we go again. If Religious Right activists are to be believed, any day now the government will throw pastors in jail, have people “fined $500 a day” for reading the Bible and “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians.” These are among the claims that were made this year by conservative politicians and movement leaders, who warn that America is now witnessing a “war on religion.”  Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false. The apocalyptic... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 10/20/2014, 11:08am
Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America — specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right's primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response... MORE >