California

Anti-Gay Forces Pretend to Rise "Above the Hate"

Via Good as You we find out that the National Organization for Marriage has launched a petition drive to thank the Mormon Church for its deep involvement in the passage of Prop 8 and to declare solidarity with them:

We write firstly to express our deep gratitude to you and the entire LDS community for the large and impressive contributions of your church and its members in protecting marriage in California and Arizona.

Anyone who participated in this process has come to admire the competence, diligence and moral courage that so many members of your faith community displayed as part of this coalition effort—as Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, and people of other faith communities all came together to fight this great battle for marriage.

But we write for an even more important purpose: to express our outrage at the vile and indecent attacks directed specifically and uniquely at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members because of your courage in standing up for marriage.

The best thing about this is the name they have chosen for their new effort - Above the Hate.com.  Its name is especially ironic considering the list of those who rushed to add their signatures to the letter:

Maggie Gallagher

Donald E. Wildmon

James C. Dobson, Ph.D.

Charles W. Colson

Tony Perkins

Paul Weyrich

Dr. Gary Bauer

Bishop Harry Jackson

Richard Land

Tom Minnery

Ron Prentice

John Stemberger

Phil Burress

Kelly Shackelford

Regina Griggs

Wendy Wright

Janice Crouse, PhD

That's right - the leaders of the professional anti-gay lobby are "rising above the hate" to thank the Mormon Church for helping them deny gays and lesbians their basic equality.

Prop 8 Proponents Try to Distance Themselves From Their Allies

The San Francisco Chronicle has a good article on how the folks behind Yes on 8 are trying to bar the Campaign for California Families, Randy Thomasson, and Mat Staver from getting involved in the on-going legal dispute because of the latter’s extreme anti-gay views, which Yes on 8 fears will make them all look bad: 

The group, now known as the Campaign for Children and Families, is run by Randy Thomasson, who for years has been one of California's most visible opponents of gay rights and what he bills as "the homosexual agenda."

The people behind Prop. 8 have been butting heads with Thomasson for years, arguing that his efforts to outlaw same-sex marriage and curb domestic partnership arrangements are a long step further than a majority of California voters is willing to go.

In 2005 and again in January, Thomasson and his allies proposed initiatives that not only would bar same-sex marriage but that also "voids or makes unenforceable" rights conferred by California law on couples, gay or heterosexual, registered as domestic partners, including community property, child custody, hospital visitation and insurance benefits.

"It was like the nuclear option to obliterate the entire domestic partners law," [Andrew Pugno, general counsel for the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign] said. "We were constantly hassled by that organization, who thought we weren't aggressive enough."

But the disputes between the groups have grown in the past few days, with Thomasson launching an all-out attack against the Supreme Court for accepting the challenge to Prop. 8, a court decision Pugno and others from ProtectMarriage.com had welcomed.

"If the court disobeys the constitution by voiding Prop. 8, it will ignite a voter revolt," Thomasson said in statement released after the court agreed Wednesday to hear arguments over the validity of the constitutional amendment. "The court is playing with fire by threatening to destroy the people's vote on marriage."

Pugno and others from the Prop. 8 campaign want to avoid such fiery challenges and threats to the court and keep matters on a quiet legal level until the court rules on same-sex marriage sometime after March.

"What we are not doing is discussing the possibility of recalling justices who oppose us," Ron Prentice, chairman of the Yes on Prop. 8 effort, said in an e-mail to supporters Wednesday. "Making threats to recall justices from office is counterproductive and harmful to our chances of winning in court."

So the “moderates” who want to deny equality for gays are afraid that people like Thomasson, who’s been busy freaking out about everything the use of “Party A” and “Party B” on marriage licenses and proposals for Harvey Milk Day, are going to make them look too extreme?  I think that, considering that they just spent tens of millions of dollars to getting California voters to strip gay couples throughout the state of their constitutional right to marriage, it’s a little late for the Yes on 8 troops to start worrying about looking like of bunch of anti-gay extremists.

Rick Warren Partners With Reader’s Digest

Fresh off of urging his millions of supporters to protect “traditional marriage” by passing Proposition 8 in California, evangelical guru Rick Warren announces a new partnership with Reader’s Digest to spread his personal brand of “Purpose Driven” Christianity across the nation: 

The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., and Dr. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church and the author of the worldwide best seller, "The Purpose Driven Life," today announced a partnership to produce an inspirational multimedia platform called The Purpose Driven Connection.

Together the organizations will pool their international resources to produce and publish this Purpose Driven platform to help people who are seeking their purpose in life and wish to interact with others on their spiritual journeys. The platform will provide a suite of bundled multimedia tools: "The Purpose Driven Connection," a quarterly magazine; Small Group study materials delivered in DVDs, workbooks and downloadable discussion guides; and a state-of-the-art Christian social networking website.

"We are excited about this new partnership and its unprecedented potential for international impact," said Warren, who will serve as Editor-in-Chief and be heavily involved in the conception of each element. "The Purpose Driven Connection represents more than simply integrated multimedia resources; it will become a platform for a movement of people to change the world."

"We are delighted to be working with Rick Warren and the Saddleback team," said Alyce Alston, President of RDA's Home & Garden and Health & Wellness affinities. "This is one of our company's most important and far-reaching ventures ever. Together we will create a category-busting multimedia suite that will help millions of people in their daily lives, including those who already follow the Purpose Driven principles as well as seekers everywhere looking for greater fulfillment."

Apparently, while Reader’s Digest would presumably never agree to a partnership with someone like James Dobson, they have no problem partnering with Warren, even though he admits that the only difference between himself and Dobson is a question of tone.

It’s Only Discrimination if Skulls Are Cracked

Mike Huckabee has been on quite a roll lately.  While he’s out hawking his latest book, he’s also been weighing in on the issue of Prop. 8’s passage in California.  

Yesterday, he told “The View” that gays haven’t really been seeing their rights violated because they haven’t been getting the skulls cracked:

HUCKABEE: It’s a different set of rights. People who are homosexuals should have every right in terms of their civil rights, to be employed, to do anything they want. But that’s not really the issue. I know you talked about it and I think you got into it a little bit early on. But when we’re talking about a redefinition of an institution, that’s different than individual civil rights.

BEHAR: Well, segregation was an institution, too, in a way. It was right there on the books.

HUCKABEE: But here is the difference. Bull Connor was hosing people down in the streets of Alabama. John Lewis got his skull cracked on the Selma bridge.

And today he told Bill Bennett that Prop. 8 didn’t actually take away anyone’s rights at all:

HUCKABEE: The very people who voted for Barack Obama in California…also voted to sustain traditional marriage. I refuse to use the term, “ban same-sex marriage.” That’s not what those efforts did. They affirmed what is. They did not prohibit something. They simply affirmed something that which has and forever has existed.

Of course, as Think Progress pointed out, that is exactly what Prop. 8 did – it was right there in the description of the amendment: “Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.”

Focus on the Family Eliminating 200 Positions

Last week I speculated that Focus on the Family was undertaking its stealth ad campaign as an attempt raise money because it had been forced to lay off staff several times over the last few years.  Now, it looks like they are about to eliminate even more positions:

Focus on the Family is announcing in an hour that it is eliminating 202 jobs in the coming weeks -- 149 through layoffs and 53 by not filling vacant positions. The layoffs are on top of 46 announced in October that will take effect at the beginning of 2009.

The employees were notified today, spokesman Gary Schneeberger said.

"We've been trying to take care of our family here first," he said. "We notified those affected, and they'll come back this week to find out more about their transition packages."

The Colorado Springs-based Christian nonprofit's budget will be reduced from $160 million this year to $138 million in 2009.

The Colorado Independent has more:

Focus on the Family is poised to announce major layoffs to its Colorado Springs-based ministry and media empire today. The cutbacks come just weeks after the group pumped more than half a million dollars into the successful effort to pass a gay-marriage ban in California.

In all, Focus pumped $539,000 in cash and another $83,000 worth of non-monetary support into the measure to overturn a California Supreme Court ruling that allowed gays and lesbians to marry in that state. The group was the seventh-largest donor to the effort in the country. The cash contributions are equal to the salaries of 19 Coloradans earning the 2008 per capita income of $29,133.

...

This is the third year that Focus has laid off employees due to budget cuts. In its heyday, the ministry, which relocated to Colorado Springs from Arcadia, Calif., in 1991, employed more than 1,500 people. Many of those employees worked in mailroom and line assembly jobs, processing so much incoming and outgoing correspondences that the U.S. Postal Service gave Focus its own ZIP code.

In September 2005, nearly 80 employees were reassigned or laid off in an effort to trim millions of dollars from its 2006 budget. In addition, 83 open positions were not filled in the layoff, which included eliminating some of the ministry’s programs. At the time, Focus employed 1,342 full-time employees.

“To the extent that we can place them within the ministry, we will try to do that,” said then-spokesman Paul Hetrick. “Most of them will not be able to be placed.”

In September 2007, amid a reported $8 million in budget shortfalls, Focus on the Family laid off another 30 employees; 15 more were reassigned within the company. Most of the layoffs were from Focus’ constituent response services department (i.e. the mailroom).

James Dobson: Gay, Crazy, or Wife Killer?

I don’t write much about Michael Savage here, mainly because Media Matters covers him so well but also because I think he’s an insufferable jerk and a fraud.  But today Media Matters has a typically stupid quote from him that is actually kind of relevant to the things I write about here:

Discussing "children" on the November 14 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage stated: "I'm as good an expert as any. I have found in my life that most of the Ph.D. experts on children are either gay or crazy and were never married. Or if they were married, they either tried to kill their wife or were in rehab for a few years, and then came out and went into psychotherapy to find out why they killed, or attempted to kill. And then they washed it all away, and suddenly they're experts on childrearing."

Interesting.  Which category would James Dobson fall into?

James C. Dobson, Ph.D., is founder and chairman of Focus on the Family … [and] a licensed psychologist in the state of California and a licensed marriage, family and child counselor in both California and Colorado. Dobson was for 14 years an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, and served for 17 years on the Attending Staff of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics. He has an earned Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (1967) in the field of child development.

And since I’m already writing a post about Savage, I guess I may as well just go ahead and mention this as well:

Nationally-syndicated talk show host Michael Savage is set to interview former German member of the Hitler Youth, Hilmar von Campe this Tuesday, November 18

The program will focus on similarities, which von Campe sees between the rise of totalitarianism under Hitler and the current social and political trends inside the United States.

"Every day brings this nation closer to a Nazi-style totalitarian abyss," writes von Campe, now a U.S. citizen, and author of "Defeating the Totalitarian Lie: A Former Hitler Youth Warns America."

Marriage Protests Caused God to Send CA Wildfires

Controversial “ex-gay” right-wing preacher James Hartline offers a clearheaded explanation of the cause of the wildfires raging in California – it’s the fault of the gays

God keeps trying to get their attention. They, for their part, are shouting so loud for the acceptance of homosexuality, that they cannot hear the thunderous warnings of God: "Repent! For the judgment comes soon!"

Each time homosexual activists attempt to force their agenda on California, there have been raging, massive, incinerating fires sweeping across the California landscape.

Today, people are running for their lives as 800 California homes have burned down and the firestorm is spreading like a nuclear holocaust. Yet, the radical homosexual anarchists rampage upon the streets of this state demanding the destruction of marriage and family, and the establishment of their socialistic dark vision for society.

You see, the problem is this: God has plans for California in the near days ahead. Thus, these attempts to force an ungodly tyranny on this state are being met blow with blow by God. God is saying, "California shall be a refuge for America when the catastrophes come. California belongs to Me, not the advocates of sexual anarchy."

The more that homosexual activists press their battle in California, the more there will be great calamaties in this state. Go ahead, challenge the Lord Thy God in this season. For I have heard the voice of the Lord say, "This state belongs to God! It is not the land of degradation and immorality anymore. I shall have My way, for this land, I created. And this land is Mine!" thus saith the Lord.

Via Mike Tidmus

The Atheists Are Coming!

It looks like the Religious Right will have a new enemy to fight in their annual “war on Christmas” now that the American Humanist Association has announced its new ad campaign:

"Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," proclaims a new holiday ad from the American Humanist Association. Already appearing today in the New York Times and Washington Post, the message will soon be blazoned on the sides, taillights, and interiors of over 200 Washington DC Metro buses.

It's the first ad campaign of its kind in the United States, and the American Humanist Association predicts it will raise public awareness of humanism as well as controversy over humanist ideas.

Needless to say, right-wing leaders and activists have already swung into action to warn unsuspecting Americans of the dangers of this new advertising campaign:

Peter Sprigg, vice president of policy at the conservative Family Research Council (FRC), told CNSNews.com that sustainable morality is grounded in a belief in a higher being.

“I don’t think it’s possible to sustain long-term morality without religion,” Sprigg said. “If there is no higher being obliging humans to act morally and ethically, why should we do it?”

Sprigg emphasized he thinks that atheists can act morally, but he also said that society would shift towards greed and selfishness without a belief in a higher power.

And you just knew that Bill Donohue was going to have something to say about it:

Codes of morality, of course, have always been grounded in religion. For those of us in Western civilization, its tenets emanate from the Judeo-Christian ethos. By casting this heritage aside, and replacing it with nothing more than the conscience of lone individuals, we lay the groundwork for moral anarchy. And that is because there is nothing that cannot be justified if the only moral benchmark is what men and women posit to be right and wrong. Indeed, every monster in history has followed his conscience.

The danger is so great in fact that even the moribund Christian Coalition was obligated to speak out against this effort to “ban Christmas and God from the public square,” saying the AHA “has an elitist contempt for Americans believing in God” and urging their “millions of supporters to call the city of Washington, DC and Congress to stop this un-Godly campaign." Even Mat Staver weighed in to call the campaign "insulting" while American Family Association president Tim Wildmon called it "stupid."

We had mentioned a group called In God We Trust once before when they inexplicably demanded that Barack Obama publicly denounce a series of “Imagine No Religion” billboards that the Freedom From Religion Foundation had placed around the country … and so it is no surprise that they would weigh in on this latest affront and do so by attempting to link the AHA to the Right’s most-hated nemesis – the United Nations:

"These ads are a deliberate attack on American traditions, beliefs and customs by a United Nation's affiliated group that espouses a radical anti-American agenda and is funded by an zealot who believes that the U.S. is a backwards nation full of imbeciles," says In God We Trust Chairman Council Nedd.

"This ad campaign is yet another attempt by America-hating snobs to mock and attack our nation's traditions and culture" says Nedd. "The AHA is not some harmless little atheist group. These people hate America and they are working with our nation's enemies to attack our heritage."

 

A Tale of Two Operation Rescues

We written about the confusion/animosity that exists regarding the various iterations of Operation Rescue several times before but I think we've come up with a pretty simple test to determine which OR faction is speaking at any given time. 

Here, for instance, is a press release from the Troy Newman-led group commenting on the string of loses they suffered last night of various anti-abortion ballot measures - notice how, while it might be a bit delusional, it is not fundamentally irrational:

"Yesterday's losses are just a speed bump on the road to victory for the innocent," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "Overall, Americans are more pro-life than ever before. The closeness of the votes on pro-life measures in South Dakota and in California shows that we have made great gains amongst the people. Election cycles tend to be cyclical, and we are confident that we will once again have our day."

...

"These set backs will only energize us. The fight is on. We will continue to work to inform the public with our fleet of Truth Trucks, expose abortionists, and close abortion clinics. We will continue to work though every available legal means to stop abortion. The person occupying the White House will not diminish that work, nor will other perceived political set backs."

Compare that to this release from Operation Rescue founder Randal Terry in which he blames Barack Obama's victory entirely on Sean Hannity:

Sean has shown no qualms about betraying conservative principles that are Divine in origin. He is content to throw babies under the bus, throw marriage to the wolves, and lay our right to keep and bear arms at the feet of tyrants - as long as the villains are Republicans. This is not the stuff of which a true conservative, or "a great American," is made. It is shallow and partisan, treacherous to the principles we claim to honor.

Frankly put: Mr. Hannity's moral compass is shattered. He is wandering aimlessly in a wasteland of "economic conservatism" that is strewn with the bodies of dead children, killed under the watchful eye of Sean's buddies, Mayor Giuliani and Governor Schwarzenneger. And he wants us to believe that he has a map!

Which brings us to President elect Obama: When Sean repeatedly betrayed the most sacred portions of "conservatism," he guaranteed conservatism's demise. By reducing conservatism to "who is electable" and "economics," and virtually ignoring the horror of fifty million dead babies, he helped numb America to the horror of an Obama Presidency, and taught millions to put money first.

...

Sean's radio show is a decent spot for some news, but don't be fooled: Sean is not a voice of legitimate Conservatism. And his voice cannot unite a cohesive resistance to Obama; because it was his voice - that repeatedly put economics and electability ahead of sacred principles and innocent blood - that helped elect Obama.

If you are reading something attributed to "Operation Rescue" and you think to yourself "well, I don't agree with that," it's probably the Troy Newman group whereas if you read something attributed to "Operation Rescue" and you think to yourself "what on Earth are they talking about, this is insanity," it's more than likely from Randall Terry.

The Right's Response to 2008

I had been working on this post throughout the day, but before I actually got around to writing it I found that David Waters of the Post's "On Faith" blog had already pretty much written it, so I figure I'll just link to that and highlight this bit:

Officials at James Dobson's Focus on the Family seem to agree. They chose to focus on the success of Tuesday's anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives in Arizona, California and Florida. "A tremendous night for the cause of righteousness," senior vice president Tom Minnery said on Focus's CitizenLink webcast.

Southern Baptist leader Richard Land told Christianity Today that "Evangelicals did their part. The exit polling is showing that there's no drop-off among evangelicals. The 2006 elections showed us that evangelicals can't win elections by themselves. If indeed the three marriage initiatives win, it will show that the values voters were not the ones who lost this election. If evangelicals are sad about the election, I'm going to say, 'Do you have faith in God? Is your faith in God or in government?'"

Christian Coalition Promises More Anti-Gay Amendments

On the heels of success of the anti-gay marriage amendments in Florida, California, and Arizona, the Christian Coalition announces that it's goal moving forward is to get amendments on the ballots in every state that has not already passed one:

Thus far, 30 states have outlawed homosexual "marriages" by an average close to 70% approval by voters through amendments to the state constitutions. In addition, the voters in Arkansas yesterday approved a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents. It will be the goal of Christian Coalition to ensure that the other 20 states adopt similar amendments banning homosexual "marriages" including the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut which also had two judicial decisions, by one vote margins, legalizing these abominations.

Considering that the Christian Coalition hasn't been particularly relevant for quite some time, it's pretty clear that they think that hopping on the bandwagon in pushing these amendments will be a way for them to regain at least some of their influence within the contemporary Religious Right movement.

The Right's Muted Response to Their Anti-Gay Victories

I've been having a bit of difficulty putting together a post regarding what the Right has to say about their anti-gay amendment wins in Florida, California, and Arizona not because I don't know what to say about it, but because they don't seem to know what to say about it. 

As of this writing, aside from ProtectMarriage.com thanking supporters and voters and insisting that their victory in California "doesn’t discriminate or take rights away from anyone," no major Religious Right groups have had much to say about any of this.  Powerhouse groups like Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, and the ACLJ have all been oddly silent. 

In fact, the only things I've really been able to find have been Richard Land crowing that "if traditional marriage can win in California, it can win in any of the 50 states when it's put to a vote of the people" and Ken Blackwell saying if Prop 8 "hadn't passed, we would have seen a floodgate opened in terms of same-sex marriage. Now, we've closed that gate." 

Of course, you can always count on Matt Barber to having something to say about it and he does not disappoint by providing his unique spin which suggests that Barack Obama's historic victory last night means he is now obligated to embrace the Right's anti-gay agenda:  

The passage of these three state constitutional amendments is an indicator that Obama, who has pledged full support for every single demand of extremist homosexual pressure groups, must recalibrate his far-left positions on these and other social issues if he wishes to be an effective leader ... The institution of legitimate marriage is a cornerstone of any healthy society. If you introduce counterfeit money into society, it devalues the dollar. By the same token, if you introduce counterfeit "gay marriage" into society, it devalues the institution of natural marriage. President-elect Obama owes his African-American supporters and the rest of America assurances that he will work to protect the cornerstone institution of legitimate marriage and reject the free-speech killing, religious liberties chilling agenda of the radical homosexual lobby."

Marriage Equality Foes Up In Arms Over “Home Invasion” Ad

Last week the Courage Campaign unveiled a new ad highlighting the millions of dollars the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has poured into the California campaign to strip marriage rights from gay and lesbian couples.  As KUTV explained the ad:

A new commercial against proposition 8 in California is expected to fuel the fire of an already heated debate over gay marriage.
 
The commercial depicts two Mormon missionaries invading the home of a same sex couple.

In the commercial they knock on the door, say they are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and tell a lesbian couple “we are here to take away your rights.”

They enter the home take the women’s rings, ransack the house looking for their marriage license, find it, and then tear it up. 

At the end, the missionaries was away saying, “that was too easy, yeah, what should we ban next?”

The ad itself is here:

Needless to say, the Yes on 8 folks are none too pleased with the ad and are now screaming “religious bigotry”

"This ad reaches new lows of religious bigotry and intolerance," said Yes on 8 Chairman Ron Prentice. "We hope that the leadership of the No on 8 campaign - including Senator Feinstein, Mayor Newsom and Superintendent O'Connell -- as well as all Californians regardless of their position on Proposition 8, will not only condemn the ad but join us in asking television stations to refuse to air it. After all, the No on 8 campaign has been running their own television commercials saying we must all oppose discrimination and intolerance whenever we see it. The bigotry this ad shows to members of the LDS church demands action now."

The California Catholic Conference is likewise outraged:

Bishop Stephen Blaire, the President of the California Catholic Conference decried the new advertisement from opponents of Proposition 8 as "a blatant display of religious bigotry and intolerance." He expressed dismay that any public media outlet would give it an airing. "The YES on 8 campaign is not about discrimination and intolerance; it is about restoring the traditional definition of marriage for the good of society and children," said Bishop Blaire. "All individuals and groups, whether religious or not, have both a right and a responsibility to participate in a civil debate about this important issue. From the beginning of this campaign the Catholic Conference has stressed the importance of mutual respect and denounces this type of religious bigotry."

Of course, when footage surfaced last week of Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute telling a rally of Prop 8 supporters that failure to pass the amendment was akin to failing to stop Hitler, they uttered not a peep.

Prop 8’s Call to Extremism

As we’ve noted, the organizers of a massive stadium rally pushing the anti-gay initiative in California have snagged for the stage the biggest name in the Religious Right universe. No, not Sarah Palin, but James Dobson of Focus on the Family. One benefit might be to draw media attention from the event’s organizer, Lou Engle. He’s far less well-known than Dobson, and organizers might prefer to keep it that way.

Engle is an unabashed “dominionist” – someone who thinks the church, under the leadership of modern-day apostles like him, should rule over government and other institutions of society. He thinks of himself as a John the Baptist who badgers Christian teens to adopt a radical lifestyle of fasting and prayer that will bring God’s intercession against gays, liberal judges, and the like. And his style – screaming at the top of his lungs and rapidly rocking back and forth – is a sharp contrast with Dobson’s polished media-star demeanor.

A new report by People For the American Way Foundation documents some of his other charms, which include:

  • praying for God to “terrorize” judges until they fall like stars from the sky>
  • believing that the appearance of the goddess Minerva on California’s state seal is a sign of demonic domination over the state by the “Jezebel spirit”
  • suggesting that marriage equality is Satanic and legal abortion spells America’s doom>

Though, given Prop. 8 leaders’ tendency to describe their campaign in apocalyptic terms, and the increasingly shrill and panicky proclamations of doom from the Right over the prospect of an Obama presidency, Dobson and Engle are likely to feel right at home in each other’s company.

Dobson Chokes Up Explaining God Wants Him in California to Save Marriage

James Dobson dedicated his radio program today to explaining his sudden decision, which we mentioned earlier, to go to California this weekend to join Lou Engel, Tony Perkins and others for a massive "The Call" rally of prayer and fasting in the name of saving "traditional marriage."

In the clip below, Dobson has just explained that he received a letter from Rev. Jim Garlow, one of the leading organizers of the "yes on 8" movement pleading with Dobson to attend and, after reading it, felt God's hand on his back telling him to attend "The Call."  Dobson chokes up explaining that despite having been on the go for weeks and being exhausted, he knew God wanted him there.  Dobson had to call his son to tell him he couldn't babysit for his grandson this weekend as planned and his son Ryan then confirmed that God wanted him in California instead.  Dobson could barely keep it together when he explained that "the Lord must be involved in this" and then hands over the program to Garlow, who also gets choked up and speaks of their level of spiritual desperation and their constant "crying out to God" to save California because they are "watching the destruction of Western civilization."

Dobson Takes Up "The Call"

Just yesterday I was writing about Lou Engel and his prayer warriors, noting that in this election cycle he had become far more openly political and had started linking up with DC's Religious Right insiders like Tony Perkins and Mike Huckabee.

And now today comes word that James Dobson himself is set to participate in Engel's rally of prayer and fasting this weekend in opposition to gays getting married in California:

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people will gather at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium for corporate prayer and fasting for the protection of traditional marriage and the soul of our nation.

Family advocates from across the nation are expected to travel to California to be a part of the day of prayer and worship. Joining them will be Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family.

"It is not a festival, it is a fast," Dr. Dobson said on Wednesday's radio broadcast. "It's a day of concerted prayer from 10 o'clock in the morning till 10 o'clock at night."

Dr. Dobson said he hoped thousands would join him at the free gathering.

Jenny Tyree, marriage analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said Dr. Dobson's presence in California is significant.

"Dr. Dobson is a recognized champion of marriage," she said. "His listeners know his heart for nurturing marriages, as well as his passion for strengthening the definition of marriage in our laws.

"His steadfast stance in support of traditional marriage gives strength to voters in California and across the country who share his esteem for our most pro-child institution."

The San Jose Mercury News has more:

"This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon," Charles Colson, the former Nixon administration official turned evangelical leader, said in a video that is being quoted by pastors around the state. On Saturday some of the nation's best-known evangelical leaders are hoping to fill Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for a rally on behalf of the proposed ban.

Lou Engle — the charismatic founder of TheCall, an evangelical 12-hour gathering of prayer and fasting with a strong following among young people — will be one of the evangelical leaders at the rally, along with James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

That combination of leaders is "extraordinary. It just tells about the significance of the moment and the real need to pray," Engle, whose ministry is based in Kansas City, said in an interview Wednesday. "I spoke recently with a man from a Muslim country, who said to me, 'Lou, we're praying for you all over the world, for what you're doing, because if same-sex marriage stands in California, it will sweep all over the world.' "

Despite the votes in Arizona and Florida, "California is the focus, because everybody knows that California is the influential one," Engle said.

The global reach of Silicon Valley is another means California has to spread its influence on gay marriage, a senior leader of one prominent Christian group said.

By publicly opposing Proposition 8, companies like Google and Apple have "irritated" people across the country who buy their products, said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of public policy for Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based group that has donated more than $350,000 to back Proposition 8. Apple last week said it would contribute $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign, and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have made large individual donations.

The issue "has become national in part because those corporations have made it so," Earll said. "People may think twice about buying that iPod."

Jesus Hates You, Just So You Know

Biblical Family Advocates has issued a press release so that its president, Pastor Phil Magnan, can tell all the gays who want to get married that, even if they do get the right, it’s not going to change the fact that Jesus still hates them:

Regardless how people package it, Christ hates the lawlessness of homosexuality. Homosexual marriage is a lawless relationship whether it's legal or not. And I have news for the homosexual community and those who have joined their unholy alliance; God owns the sacred institution of marriage, not the State, so they should stop tampering with what God has joined. Government and the people have a responsibility to uphold what God has instituted.

Should I feel discriminated against because I cannot marry my brother or sister or a 12 year old girl? Should I feel discriminated against because society chooses to be godly or moral? Discrimination based on good moral judgment is a protection for the stability of society and upholds godly morals for future generations. A government that allows homosexuals to marry would be endorsing the unnatural.  Equal protection under the law should never mean the protection and promotion of what is immoral or harmful. Keeping same sex couples from marrying restrains them from corrupting the wholesome sanctity of marriage.

It is eternally reprehensible that the pro same sex marriage movement is working to codify their perversion of the marital union; which has an even broader agenda. This agenda will end up being forced into the religious institutions around us, as well as force children to accept immorality in every venue of education. Evidence for this is already painfully known in the forced homosexual indoctrination of kindergarteners' in California and Massachusetts. Acceptance of same sex unions will inevitably punish families who oppose it. As a Pastor and Minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the homosexual community must be warned that they are at odds with Jesus Christ Himself, who condemned those who cause children to stumble into sin.

The Rise of Lou Engel

Sarah Posner has a good piece up at Religion Dispatches on Lou Engle, founder of The Call, and his recent branching out from this militant anti-abortion proselytizing and into the marriage debate and the upcoming election. 

Engle, as Posner explains, is best known for his efforts to turns hordes of young men and women into warriors for Christ and “raise up of an army of spiritual warriors for revival” and is becoming something of a regular figure in the political Religious Right movement, appearing with notable figures such as Tony Perkins and Mike Huckabee before and during his recent “The Call” rally in Washington, DC:

The Call’s advisory board is stacked with prominent Pentecostal and charismatic preachers, leading figures in the controversial apostolic movement, which is elevating a new generation of self-appointed prophets and apostles, African-American and Latino religious leaders, charismatic publishing giant Stephen Strang, and religious right leaders like Perkins, Harry Jackson, and Gary Bauer.

The religious right political leadership’s keen interest in Engle was evident at The Call held on the National Mall in August. The day before the event, the public relations firm Shirley Bannister introduced Engle, flanked by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and former Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, at a press conference just a few blocks from the White House. Perkins, one of the most visible political leaders on the religious right, noted Engle’s influence on young evangelicals, who he claimed were even more conservative on abortion than their parents, though he cited no surveys or polls to support the claim.

Engle, per his custom, likened his crusade against abortion to Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement. He rocked back and forth, as though davening, preached against Roe v. Wade, and shouted, as the crowd prayed and spoke in tongues, “this is a Passover Day for America. Today, we plead the blood of Jesus on the doorpost!” Purity covenants, requiring abstention from even thinking about sex outside of marriage, were distributed. Participants were urged to consecrate themselves, to be ready for the moment when Jesus “is going to rule over Washington, DC and the world.”

“Repentance and revival cannot start in the building behind me,” said Huckabee, his back to the Capitol, “until it starts in the temple inside me.”

But when he’s not leading day-long rallies such as this or the anti-gay marriage one scheduled at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium this weekend, Engle and his army can be found at International House of Prayer he co-founded in Kansas City where they direct their prayers toward things like remaking the US Supreme Court … and rather successfully at that, according to Engle: 

Engle unabashedly credits prayer for George W. Bush’s presidency and his subsequent appointment of Supreme Court Justices who upheld the ban on so-called “partial birth abortion.” “The praying church deals with the demonic realm, so that God raises up one and brings down the other,” Engle said in a recent video on The Call’s web site, explaining how prayer proved victorious over satanic forces in the spiritual warfare of an election, adding, “I directly attribute [Bush’s election] to the prayers of the saints.”

Young people at his House of Prayer, said Engle, had been praying about judges for three years when Sandra Day O’Connor retired and William Rehnquist died. As if to prove to his acolytes that their prayer and fasting is not in vain, Engle maintains that their prayers and prophecies shaped the Supreme Court. “One of the young ladies had a dream,” Engle asserted, “that a man named John Roberts would be the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” He beams with pride. “Don’t you think those kids were baptized with confidence? Their prayers, I believe, were literally moving a king to appoint a justice who has now led a court that has banned partial birth abortion. Don’t tell me prayer doesn’t shape a nation.”

Right Plots to Launch Culture War From The Inside Out

Just yesterday I was writing that the GOP's right-wing base was planning on launching an all-out culture war in an effort to rebuild their party in the wake of an Obama victory. 

And today the LA Times reports that social conservatives are already maneuvering to take control of various elements of the party, especially the Republican National Committee:

The social conservatives and moderates who together boosted the Republican Party to dominance have begun a tense battle over the future of the GOP, with social conservatives already moving to seize control of the party's machinery and some vowing to limit John McCain's influence, even if he wins the presidency.

In skirmishes around the country in recent months, evangelicals and others who believe Republicans have been too timid in fighting abortion, gay marriage and illegal immigration have won election to the party's national committee, in preparation for a fight over the direction and leadership of the party.

Apparently, it is going to come down to a decision about whether the RNC will be chaired by a more moderate figure aligned with Florida Governor Charlie Crist, someone like Michael Steele, or someone like South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson who believes that "moderating our party is what caused us to lose power" in the 2006 elections.

According to the Times, the Right has already won a number of seats on the national committee and is intent on putting someone in power that will make their culture war agenda into the foundation of the party's future:

It was frustration with the Bush-led Republican National Committee that prompted a number of conservatives this year to try to upend the system. Conservatives won seats representing California, Iowa, Alaska, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Michigan. One new member is a popular black preacher from Detroit, Keith Butler, who presides over a mega-church.

"There is a new blood in the party that is interested in communicating the message of the party -- the conservative message," said Kim Lehman, executive director of the antiabortion group Iowa Right to Life, who in July defeated a state legislator for one of the state's seats on the national committee.

America Will Not Survive if Prop 8 Loses

That is what Tony Perkins told the New York Times:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobby based in Washington, said in an interview, “It’s more important than the presidential election.”

“We’ve picked bad presidents before, and we’ve survived as a nation,” said Mr. Perkins, who has made two trips to California in the last six weeks. “But we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage.”

So dire is the threat that Lou Engle is gathering his prayer warriors in an effort to call forth divine intervention and save America from the forces of evil:

Preachers from other parts of the country have dropped everything and moved to California in recent months. Lou Engle, who leads TheCall, a charismatic prayer ministry in Washington and Kansas City, Mo., with a large following among youth, moved with his seven children to California in September. He is holding large prayer rallies up and down the state, urging people to pray and fast for the 40 days leading up to the election. Some people are giving up solid foods; others are giving up clothes shopping or their favorite television shows.

“We believe there is a spiritual battle in an unseen realm, and that’s why I’ve called for united prayer for divine intervention,” Mr. Engle said. “It’s a defining moment for the definition of marriage in American history.”

For his part, Perkins begins laying the blame should McCain go down in defeat, saying that he’s failed to make marriage an issue in the campaign and is therefore failing to secure the electoral support of the anti-gay movement:

Mr. Perkins of the Family Research Council said the Proposition 8 forces had not benefited from the Republican presidential campaign of Senator John McCain of Arizona or even by his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, an outspoken Christian conservative, as his vice-presidential running mate.

“He’s not helping, and he’s not being helped by the support for the marriage amendment,” Mr. Perkins said, in contrast to the campaigns of President Bush.

I expect that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this finger-pointing from the Right if McCain loses next week.

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