Ralph Reed: Jack of All Trades

If you are Fox News and looking to do a segment related to the Olympics on the issue of China and religion, who better to invite on than a noted expert on the subject … maybe someone like Ralph Reed:

Well, China has always been something of a paradox and a riddle for Americans. I mean, it's an officially communist country that is increasingly embracing capitalism and free enterprise. It is, as you said, an officially atheist country that has arguably one of the most robust churches anywhere in the world. You mentioned the figure of 70 million Christians in China. Some figures go as high as 130 million.

And I think what we're really seeing, Heather, and the Olympics are really putting a spotlight on it, you cannot put the genie back in the bottle once you allow some measure of any kind of liberty. And when you allow cultural exchanges and we have hundreds of thousands of Chinese students who have come here, and then gone back home, there's an exchange of ideas. There's an exchange of Democratic values. The Internet is exploding, and Christianity is part of that flowering of liberty that I don't think the communist government is going to be able to snuff out.

In fairness, it is not as if Reed is completely unqualified to discuss the issue of Christianity and China – after all, he did once shill for Jack Abramoff in his efforts to fend off regulation of the Northern Marianas Islands by citing the fact that the Chinese slave laborers working there were “exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ”: 

The promise of eternal salvation for Chinese peasants proved to be a useful tool for Reed. In 1999, Abramoff hired him to help lobby on behalf of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth that is exempt from federal wage and labor laws, a loophole that allows garmentmakers to stitch MADE IN THE U.S.A. into their products without having to follow any U.S. rules. It’s also a hellhole for migrant workers: sweatshop labor, sex slavery, forced abortions for imported peasants. None of that was a secret: By the time Reed signed on as Abramoff’s subcontractor, there’d been years of studies and media reports documenting the conditions.

But in August 1999, Reed’s direct-mail subsidiary sent a pamphlet to conservative Alabama Christians urging them to call a Republican congressman and thank him for opposing the imposition of federal rules on the Northern Marianas. The mailer, sent under the auspices of the Traditional Values Coalition, claimed that “the radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton want to pass a law preventing Chinese from coming to work on the Marianas islands” and that they “have spread vicious lies about this U.S. territory to silence the gospel.” The pamphlet’s grotesque logic: Many of those sweatshop seamstresses and bullied prostitutes “are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ…are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand, ready to spread the gospel and start home churches.”

Christian Coalition of Alabama "Expands Focus"

In an unlikely partnership, Christian Coalition of Alabama Chairman Randy Brinson joined forces with a Democratic state senator “to call for better health care for the state's uninsured.” Brinson: "Yes, we're ardently pro-life. Yes, we're ardently for marriage. But beyond just that, there's other moral failings that are having (an) impact. ... Not enough emphasis is put on that."

'Expelled' Inspires Anti-Evolution Legislation

After a month, “Expelled”—the anti-evolution film starring Ben Stein—is fading from the scene with disappointing sales (although associate producer Mark Mathis says he’s pleased). The movie’s efforts to portray Intelligent Design creationism as a valid scientific field being persecuted by the authorities probably never had a chance with academics familiar with these dubious creationist arguments, but then again, it probably wasn’t the movie’s intention to convince scientists that ID was a legitimate scientific theory. Instead, “Expelled” took its battle against evolution to the political arena.

This was apparent in the film’s marketing strategy of reaching out to right-wing media outlets and activists, who embraced the half-baked Darwin-Hitler connection at the center of “Expelled.”

And—regarding the strange subplot of Yoko Ono suing over the film’s use of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” without getting the rights—a lawyer for the movie recently argued that the film’s message is pegged toward influencing this year’s presidential election, according to the AP:

A lawyer for the movie's distributors has warned that the litigation could wreck the movie's political message by preventing it from impacting viewers in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential campaign.

While it’s too early to say how creationism will figure into the presidential race, the political impact of “Expelled” can be seen more directly in state legislatures, with a rash of new legislation challenging science education in public high schools. “I think Expelled definitely has played a role,” said ID-advocate Casey Luskin of Discovery Institute.

According to the National Center for Science Education, anti-evolution bills were recently introduced in Florida, Missouri, and Alabama, but the legislative sessions in those states ended before the bills could pass. Versions in South Carolina and Michigan also appear to be stalled for now. But a bill in Louisiana to undermine classroom teaching on the topics of “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” was passed unanimously in the state Senate and has already passed through a committee in the House.

The major claim of “Expelled” is that scientists working to provide some—any—legitimacy to Intelligent Design are facing persecution. The stories told in the movie don’t seem to pan out, but as Stein and company are surely aware, the debate over creationism is not taking place at research universities but at school boards, state legislatures, and public high school science classes. A newly published survey of high school teachers found that 25 percent address creationism or Intelligent Design in the classroom, and 12 percent call creationism a “valid scientific alternative” to evolution. Ben Stein’s rants about Nazis seem unlikely to chance the basic course of scientific inquiry into the natural world, but the legacy of “Expelled” may be bills, like Louisiana’s, to put the supernatural world into the science classroom.

Hutcherson and the Legacy of MLK

It appears as if Ken Hutcherson's crusade against his daughter's school continues. As we noted previously, Hutcherson was invited to speak at his daughter's high school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which did not sit too well with some staff because of his anti-gay views. The school apologized for the controversy but Hutcherson was having none of it and demanded that the teachers involved lose their jobs. And that was the last we had heard of it until Hutcherson showed up on the Wallbuilders Live radio program today to discuss his on-going feud with the school, which has now broadened to include attempts to shut down the school's Gay-Straight Alliance and end the school's participation in The Day of Silence. On and on Hutcherson and host Rick Green went, complaining about supposed double standards and anti-Christian bigotry, leading Hutcherson to declare that the teachers at the school who oppose his anti-gay views and activism ought to thank their lucky stars that he has found Christ and is no longer violent:

What it shows is the power of God to control his son. Before I became a Christian, if a white guy looked at me wrong, he was beat up. That's the reason I went out for football, so I could hurt white people legally there in Alabama. I was a much better baseball player than football, but you hit someone with the baseball while they're running to first base, people didn't like that. But you could hit them on the football field and knock them out and they patted you on the back.

But those days are past - supposedly:

If they don't fire these teachers, I'm going to sue 'em and I'm going to ask them for their dreams. And then they're going to mess around and laugh and I'm going to take their tongue out.

Considering that Hutcherson is the sort to threaten to tear out tongues and rip the arm off of any man who dares to hold the door open for him and "beat him with the wet end," it is a bit of a mystery as to why anyone would think he would be a good choice to discuss Martin Luther King and his legacy of non-violence.

Alabama County Gives Money to Far-Right Group

The government of Jefferson County, Alabama is making some sharp budget cuts to deal with a $30 million shortfall, but commissioners have scrounged up resources for at least one new priority: subsidizing a far-right activist group:

The Jefferson County Commission voted Tuesday to spend $15,000 to help a conservative group host a forum next month on global warming, immigration, education policy and other politically charged topics.

Eagle Forum of Alabama is part of the national Eagle Forum, an organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime conservative political activist.

According to county commission president Bettye Fine Collins, the money is to help the Eagle Forum “work with the state school board and work with the local school system.” The Eagle Forum’s “leadership conference,” however, hardly sounds like an after-school program:

Eagle Forum of Alabama will hold its Twenty-Seventh Annual Leadership Conference on February 22-23, 2008 at the Birmingham Marriott on Highway 280. This years speakers include: Gary Palmer of the Alabama Policy Institute, Kris Kobach of the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law K.C. McAlpin of ProEnglish, Phyllis Schlafly and many more! We will be covering a variety of topics including: "Press One for English"; "What States Are Doing About Illegal Immigration"; and "What America Needs From Its Next President."

Collins had participated in an Eagle Forum event in the past, and another commissioner received an award from the group for his “leadership in working for God, Family, and Country.”

Twenty-two years ago, PFAW urged an investigation when the Eagle Forum was awarded a $600,000 grant from the Reagan administration Justice Department to counteract "the feminist agenda" on the issue of domestic violence.

AL County Gives Eagle Forum $15,000

Money well spent - from The Birmingham News: "The Jefferson County Commission voted Tuesday to spend $15,000 to help a conservative group host a forum next month on global warming, immigration, education policy and other politically charged topics. Eagle Forum of Alabama is part of the national Eagle Forum, an organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime conservative political activist. Jefferson County's appropriation comes after the county last year approved a $660 million budget that cut $18 million in vacant positions, $5 million in cultural arts funding and $4 million in worker overtime in an effort to close a $30 million shortfall."

Hijacking the Language of Faith

Yesterday, The Press Register in Alabama ran an op-ed by Randy Brinson entitled “Language of Faith Hijacked.”  In it, Brinson complained that all of the talk of faith in the current presidential election is confusing voters:

In this presidential cycle, nearly every campaign, both Democrat and Republican, has developed a faith outreach component to facilitate communicating to the faithful. The 2008 presidential election will focus on the faith and values of the individual candidates more than any in modern history.

While this may give solace to many faith-oriented political activists, it only makes it difficult for voters to decipher which candidate truly understands the link between personal faith and policy.

Despite this onslaught of personal spirituality, it has been even more difficult for voters to determine whether some of the candidates even understand the particular faith they profess to embrace.

Brinson went on to criticize Barack Obama, saying that his talk of faith, “may be losing the audience he seeks to engage,” and Mitt Romney, questioning “if his Mormon faith guided his present moral convictions, what guided him when he was pro-choice and pro-gay-rights?”

Brinson concluded by seemingly urging these candidates, and presumably others, to focus less on faith and more on “candor, integrity, honesty and character,” as that is what voters are looking for in a candidate.  

Of course, nowhere in the piece does Brinson bother to mention that he has been actively involved in assisting Mike Huckabee:

The Values Voter barnstorm [through Iowa] will be led by Pastor Rick Scarborough, an early Huckabee endorser. Participants include R. Randolph "Randy" Brinson, an iconoclastic social conservative doctor from Alabama who possesses a huge list of Iowa pastors and Christian conservatives. He's also the head of ReedemTheVote, which was active in 2004 and 2006 as a voter registration vehicle for young evangelicals.

As the Washington Post explained last month:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's surge in Iowa, from single digits in the polls to a virtual tie for the lead among Republicans, has captivated the political world and prompted speculation about just how he did it.

The Fix may have found the answer: a physician from Montgomery, Ala., named Randy Brinson.

Brinson is the keeper of a massive e-mail list of much-coveted Christian voters that Huckabee is using to reach and organize people in early-voting states such as Iowa.

Brinson's list numbers about 71 million contacts, with 25 million identified as belonging to "25 and 45 years old, upwardly mobile, right-of-center, conservative households," he said. In other words, a target-rich environment for a candidate such as Huckabee, who is preaching a compassionate conservative message heavily infused with religious sentiment.

In fact, this op-ed appears to be an outgrowth of an email Brinson sent around not too long ago attacking Mitt Romney for … you guessed it, hijacking the language of faith

Brinson wrote an e-mail distributed widely in Iowa that questioned the changed views of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on abortion and gay rights and that asked whether Romney was really being led by his Mormon faith.

Some political commentators have credited that e-mail with being one of several factors that helped turn out conservative Christians for Huckabee.

Brinson said Friday he sent the e-mail because he was concerned that some candidates had "hijacked the language of faith."

Since he’s backing Huckabee, who has made his faith the center of his campaign, Brinson is obviously not worried about political candidates using faith for political purposes.  But like many other religious right activists, he seems to think the “language of faith” is reserved for the “right” kind of “Christian Leader.”

'Patriot Pastors' ... for Huckabee?

Rick Scarborough, a pioneer in organizing churches around partisan politics, has seen his national stature rise dramatically in the last few years—the Texas ex-pastor even starred on CNN’s “God’s Warriors” series—but he’s also faced some setbacks. His “Patriot Pastors” strategy was dealt a blow last November when voters in South Dakota rejected an abortion ban and Missourians voted in favor of embryonic stem cell research, despite non-stop church-based organizing by Scarborough in both states up to Election Day. He also discovered the fact, known by most other political advocacy groups, that full-time lobbying or organizing for or against legislation is not tax-deductible—a sad day for him.

And his latest “Patriot Pastors” campaign—the ambitious70 Weeks to Save America” tour that was to culminate on Election Day 2008—has apparently suffered from a lack of media coverage, spotty participation, and finally abandonment by Scarborough’s partner, Alan Keyes, who is running for president again. “Needless to say, this created a serious reevaluation of our whole program to register voters and to educate Christians through our Seventy Week campaign,” wrote Scarborough, who announced that sparser church events would be “augment[ed]” by voter registration drives and rallies at state capitols, “followed by an all out effort to move Values Voters to vote their values on Election Day '08.”

But sometimes opportunity knocks. Joining Randy Brinson, head of the embattled Christian Coalition of Alabama as well as a voter-registration outfit, Scarborough is bringing his “Patriot Pastors” act to the Iowa caucuses:

Beginning December 6, Vision America will be joining forces with in an effort to mobilize thousands of Values Voters all over Iowa as we barnstorm the state for ten days. We have been offered the use of a bus that has been especially designed for rallies, complete with a roll out stage, satellites on the roof to connect with the worldwide media, loud speakers and spotlights.

We will be working with the Iowa Family Policy Institute as well as the Iowa Christian Alliance, two very aggressive and effective pro-family organizations. Our goal is to host three rallies a day as we crisscross the state, registering thousands of voters and mobilizing tens of thousands to vote their values during the Iowa caucuses in January.

"Fox News," "US News and World Report," and other national media have expressed interest in covering this groundbreaking event as we travel the length and breadth of this important state.

Scarborough’s “One Day Crusades” this year have so far been focused on next year’s general election. Why the sudden interest in the Republican presidential primary? Well, Scarborough has heartily endorsed his former seminary classmate, Mike Huckabee, as has Brinson. And media are reporting that Huckabee has a shot of winning the Iowa caucus.

While Scarborough’s help may or may not push Huckabee over the edge in Iowa, the activist is still hedging his bets. After all, Rudy Giuliani still leads in national polls, and some have speculated that Huckabee’s surge ultimately benefits Giuliani by siphoning off far-right support for Mitt Romney. Scarborough has publicly waffled over whether he would support Giuliani were he nominated, but while he’s said Giuliani’s stance on abortion is unacceptable, he’s also been giving himself some wiggle room. Radical Islam, he said recently, is “the ultimate life issue."

Romney Faith Impediment to 'Christian Nation' Vision?

In the past, Mitt Romney has blamed the media (along with those “who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others”) for raising questions about whether his Mormonism will hurt his electoral chances—a claim that doesn’t hold water, as we pointed out. A Bloomberg article today makes clear that he might start with his own friends:

“I told him, you cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, ‘I am a Christian just like you,’” said Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina, which is scheduled to hold the first primary among the Southern states. “If he does that, every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences.”

So it should be no surprise to see those on the Religious Right who are not on Romney's side kicking up dust. Richard Land, who leans toward Fred Thompson, said Romney is “picking a fight” when he states a basic tenet of his beliefs. “When he goes around and says Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior, he ticks off at least half the evangelicals. He's picking a fight he's going to lose,” Land said. In Max Blumenthal’s entertaining video report on the Values Voter Summit, Huckabee booster Janet Folger is heard excitedly denouncing Romney: “I mean take a look at really what he believes. He believes that Jesus Christ is Satan’s brother—are you kidding me?”

“Mitt Romney … is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult,” one prominent Dallas pastor said earlier this month. “It's a little hypocritical for the last eight years to be talking about how important it is for us to elect a Christian president and then turn around and endorse a non-Christian.”

But if Romney can convince the Religious Right that he’ll fight for their political causes, why does it matter what else he believes?

One answer to that is provided by Roy Moore, a staunch proponent of government endorsement of sectarian religion:

“We need more injection of an understanding of God in our political life,” said Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and a potential third-party, anti- abortion presidential candidate. “I am looking for a candidate that understands that this nation is established on a particular God.”

Huckabee Supporters Demand a Recount

“Religious Right Divides Its Vote at Summit” was the headline of the New York Times article on the Values Voter Summit, and indeed, Mitt Romney only edged out Mike Huckabee by a few votes in the straw poll, 1595 to 1565, with other candidates trailing significantly. But that headline had to be a real disappointment for Huckabee boosters, dreaming of pushing him up from the second-tier, who believe that official tally is illegitimate because it allowed FRC members to vote online. Among actual conference-goers, Huckabee, the crowd favorite, walked away with a majority vote, besting Romney 488-99.

Janet Folger, who endorsed Huckabee soon after he won the straw poll at her Values Voter Debate, accused Romney of “ballot-box stuffing”:

Efforts to try and skew the results of the Internet poll, such as the e-mail sent by Mark DeMoss (now on the Romney campaign), complete with a link and instructions to stack it, gained Romney a .5 percent edge for his prominently announced "win." By the way, when that announcement was made following fanfare, including a drum roll, the audience (who were 5-to-1 Huckabee supporters) sat stunned. Had they announced the results of the real grass-roots activists who actually attended the event, we would have heard explosive applause instead of the sound of crickets and the clapping of a few Romney shills.

A harsh allegation, to be sure, but hardly out of character: Romney managed to win the CPAC straw poll last spring solely on the basis of students he sponsored, and he similarly paid for votes at the straw poll in South Carolina. After announcing that he was scaling back his efforts at the Ames, Iowa straw poll, Romney’s campaign spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the best tent and the most buses to ferry Republicans to the event, presumably with their tickets paid in exchange for a vote commitment (as is common at Ames). Considering that membership to FRC Action and the code to vote in that straw poll could be purchased for a $1 donation, this latest effort was a steal. Then there’s money Romney pays to prominent right-wing figures, such as $25,000 to a company owned by Jay Sekulow, who endorsed Romney.

Alabama activist Randy Brinson, head of the state’s reconstituted Christian Coalition chapter as well as a voter mobilization effort and an ally of Huckabee, thinks it’s that kind of cash that keeps people like Tony Perkins pooh-poohing Huckabee’s prospects. From U.S. News:

[Brinson] says he believes that "gatekeepers" like Bauer, Perkins, and Dobson are more interested in Romney or Thompson because their campaigns have money to pay for consultants from the big conservative evangelical organizations, ensuring them access to the White House if either of them wins.

Who's Who At the Values Voter Debate

Below are short biographies of those who have been mentioned as participating in tonight's "Values Voter Presidential Debate" in Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

Poll Finds 'Christian Nation' Notion Catching—Thank the Far Right's Marketing Effort

USA Today reports on a new poll from the First Amendment Center, showing that a disheartening 55 percent of Americans believe that “The Constitution establishes a Christian nation.” For this we can no doubt thank, in part, the efforts of pseudo-historian David Barton and other religious-right activists who have made “Christian nation” a catchphrase, meant by them to signify that the separation of church and state is a “myth.”

Just today, in fact, Roy Moore rebuked those who consider the Constitution to be “a ‘secular’ document.” Moore is scheduled to question Republican candidates for president at the Values Voter Debate on Monday, and he added, “The recognition of the sovereignty of God is an essential prerequisite for liberty. … If presidential candidates do not clearly understand that God is the source of liberty, they will not protect those liberties from intrusive bureaucracy.”

Moore, the former chief justice of Alabama, has his own version of the First Amendment: He lost his position on the state’s Supreme Court and became a right-wing hero for refusing an order to remove a two-ton Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse, placed there to instruct petitioners that the Bible formed the “foundation” of U.S. law. He also called on Congress to prevent the first Muslim member from assuming office, and when a Hindu chaplain gave a guest convocation in the U.S. Senate, Moore asserted, “Our senators must acknowledge that one, true God in Whom America has trusted.”

Ailing Televangelist and Religious-Right Pioneer Retires

D. James Kennedy

D. James Kennedy, who built up Fort Lauderdale, Florida megachurch and television empire over the last half-century, has officially retired, eight months after he was first hospitalized following a heart attack. Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has nearly 10,000 members, and his broadcast ministry claims 3.5 million listeners and viewers, but he is best known as one of the founding figures of the Religious Right in the early 1980s, known as the “Ivy League Jerry Falwell.”

Kennedy, who once said that “the diabolical mission” of People For the American Way was “to crush the influence of the Christian religion in American society,” became active in political issues from battling pornography, “secularized” education, abortion, and civil rights for gays to supporting Reagan administration policies like SDI, Iran-Contra, and the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. His involvement grew in the 1990s and 2000s, as he organized national conferences for religious-right activism and expanded his influence in Washington.

The 76-year-old Kennedy’s retirement comes just a few months after the death of Jerry Falwell, and again heralds the inevitable passing of the older generation of religious-right leaders -- Falwell, Kennedy, 71-year-old James Dobson, 69-year-old Don Wildmon, and others who built the infrastructure and set the pattern for fundamentalism-charged politics.

Much more on D. James Kennedy’s political career below.

“God’s Warriors”: Rick Scarborough – “Christ-Ocrat”

CNN's Christiane Amanpour interviewed Vision Americas’ Rick Scarborough for her series "God's Warrirors" amidst his seventy-week “crusade” to save America and rally right-wing voters ahead of next year’s election. In this clip, Scarborough rails against sex education, hate crimes legislation, and gay marriage while calling for the impeachment of federal judges. Transcript after the jump

Washington Times Outlet Claims Congressmen Secretly Fear Muslim Rep

According to a (subscriber’s-only) article in Insight, the sensationalist newsweekly put out by the right-wing Washington Times, “both Democratic and Republican” members of Congress, unnamed in the story, “have been worried” that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) “would become the strongest advocate of extreme Islam in Congress.”

"He is a pleasant man, but his advocacy of the Saudi agenda is very worrisome," a senior House aide said. "This feeling represents numerous Democrats."

Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress, has been a target of the far Right since his election last November. Talk show host Dennis Prager said he “should not be allowed” to pose with Koran after his swearing in, a sentiment echoed by self-described “defender of religious freedom” Jay Sekulow, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore—who was removed from the bench for refusing an order to move a two-ton Ten Commandments monument from his courthouse—wrote that Muslims like Ellison are not fit for office. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) warned his constituents that “if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.” Meanwhile, other right-wing commentators have attempted to link Ellison to American Muslim groups they purport to be somehow associated with terrorism.

Insight, citing anonymous “congressional sources,” claims that “no Democrat has gone public in fear of a Saudi-financed Muslim backlash, particularly by Ellison's biggest supporter, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.”

As an example of Ellison’s supposed “close ties to Islamic fundamentalists,” the Insight article refers to a visit by Ellison and other members of Congress to Iraq, during which he met with U.S. military leaders and Iraqi leaders seeking his help in “countering al-Qaeda's vision of Islam.”  USA Today noted that Ellison was “already helping a State Department outreach effort aimed at improving the image of the U.S. in the Muslim world.” In Insight’s telling, those details get lost and the trip takes a menacing aspect:

Ellison's close ties to Islamic fundamentalists have sparked greater concern. In late July, Ellison toured Iraq and met Sunni clerics in Ramadi who sought his help in improving Islam's image in the United States. Ramadi has been regarded as being heavily influenced by al Qaeda.

"They were very upset and concerned that al Qaeda is misrepresenting Islam," Ellison said on July 30. "And they were talking to me about what I can possibly do to work with them to give a clearer, more accurate picture of what Islam is all about."

Ex-Judge: Libby Perjury Linked to Lack of Ten Commandments Monument in Court

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore responds to the conviction of Cheney aide Scooter Libby on perjury charges by linking it to the supposed ill effects of the separation of church and state:

We can expect more perjury by high-ranking government officials if our legal system continues to remove from its courts and its oaths the knowledge of a sovereign God who punishes evil. …

While the ACLU and other anti-Christian groups engage in a crusade to rid the courts of solemn reminders of God, they undermine the moral fiber of the legal system and its discernment of truth in the pursuit of justice.

Moore’s reference to removing God from the Courts seems to be alluding to his own personal struggle, in which his insistence on bringing his religious beliefs into his courtroom fueled his rise to the state Supreme Court, and then his ouster from office for defying a court order to remove a two-ton Ten Commandments monument he installed in the state courthouse.

In Alabama, Religious-Right Factions Come Together and Break Apart

Among the handful of Christian Coalition chapters that parted ways with their national affiliate, the Alabama chapter has had the most acrimonious divorce. Not only did the old chapter – now called Christian Action Alabama – publicly disagree over a gambling measure with the replacement chapter, the two were embroiled in a lawsuit. Randy Brinson’s newly-formed Christian Coalition of Alabama claimed John Giles and Christian Action Alabama had absconded with Christian Coalition assets.

Now, Brinson and CC of Alabama are prepared to let bygones be bygones. “We dropped the lawsuit because basically we were getting such bad press out of it," he explained.

It’s been said that bad press is better than no press, however, and it may be a while before we hear from either faction again. While Brinson’s still trying to get the new CC of Alabama – which then-rival Giles had called “one man and a name” – off the ground, the old group appears to be moribund. Giles, who used to be its president and full-time lobbyist, found a job in the private sector, and says Christian Action Alabama will be “in an idle position” for the time being.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion activists are bringing another factional dispute to the state.

Christian Coalition Spat Continues in Alabama

Last week’s attack on James Dobson by some anti-abortion groups prompted rebukes defending Dobson from other anti-abortion groups with almost the same names, displaying an internecine conflict between factions on the far Right: Operation Rescue versus Operation Rescue and National Right to Life versus affiliate Colorado Right to Life.

Similar problems have been brewing over the last year between the waning Christian Coalition and its state affiliates. Chapters in Ohio, Iowa, Alabama, and Georgia have split off, citing disgust over the group’s finances as well as apparent ideological differences, such as the national group’s support of an Alabama tax reform measure, which the Republican governor called a Christian duty to the poor but which was fervently opposed by the group’s Alabama chapter.

Roy Moore: Preschool Is Nazi Naptime

Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was ousted for refusing to remove a two-ton Ten Commandments monument from his courtroom, is decrying proposals to expand pre-kindergarten programs as an attempt by “liberal elites” to “indoctrinate our youth,” on par with the formation of the Hitler Youth:

Why, then, do social liberals like Hillary Clinton push so hard for the expansion of preschool programs? Perhaps they understand the truth of Proverbs 22:6 better than most parents: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." When the mind of a young child is subjected to state control before fundamental concepts and basic beliefs are formulated, the child is much more likely to learn a liberal social and political philosophy with the state as his or her master. Creation and God-given rights are more easily replaced with evolution and government-granted rights. Totalitarian regimes like those of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin knew well the value of a "youth corps." As Hans Schemm, leader of the Nazi Teacher's League, once observed, "Those who have the youth on their side control the future."

Romney’s Right-Wing Outreach Ramps Up

It looks as if Mitt Romney’s effort to reach out to the GOP’s right-wing base is kicking into overdrive beginning this weekend:

A visit this weekend to the Rev. Pat Robertson's school illustrates the challenge for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as he courts the all-important evangelical vote.

The former Massachusetts governor is to give the commencement address Saturday at Robertson's Regent University in Virginia, a golden opportunity to reach core GOP voters.

Of course, when the invitation was extended to Romney back in March, some of the students at Regent were pretty upset about it:

Selecting presidential candidate Mitt Romney as its May commencement speaker has riled some of Regent University's students and alumni who say his Mormon faith clashes with the school's bedrock evangelical Christianity.

"What we're against is the fact that Mormonism is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Christian values and what we believe," said Doug Dowdey, a Virginia Beach pastor who said he graduated from Regent's divinity school last year.

Dowdey said he welcomed diverse viewpoints at Regent but that the university's commencement should reflect the school's distinctive religious values.

"If Pat wants to hold a political rally, well, hold one. Why not? Just don't hold it at commencement," Dowdey said.

While Romney is busy courting Robertson personally, his campaign is preparing to send out surrogates to court right-wing grassroots activists all over the country:  

In the next few weeks, the campaign will take a more direct approach, sending two of its evangelical supporters for meetings with pastors and others in key primary states.

Mark DeMoss, a public relations executive whose prominent client roster includes the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, said he volunteered to travel to South Carolina and Alabama on Romney's behalf.

Jay Sekulow, a Washington insider and chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, an advocacy group founded by Robertson, is heading to Iowa and Florida, DeMoss said.

Hugh Hewitt, the conservative blogger and radio talk show host, is trying to help Romney by publishing the book "A Mormon in the White House?" which urges Christians not to oppose the candidate because of LDS teachings they consider heretical.

Speaking of Hewitt, he interviewed Romney’s son, Tagg, following last night’s GOP debate so he could offer his spin.  Guess who he thought won?

I thought he knocked it out of the park, he was clearly a fantastic candidate tonight, and showed why he’d make the best president.

My Dad is articulate, he knows how to communicate his vision, he’s very relaxed in front of the camera, he’s a fantastic communicator. I think clearly, anyone who watched the debate tonight would say boy, isn’t Mitt Romney, wouldn’t Mitt Romney make a fantastic president. That’s the same feeling people get when they meet him one on one. It’s the same feeling they get when they meet him in large groups.  

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