Tennessee

The Unsinkable Ralph Reed

While Ralph Reed may be contemplating running for Congress in his home state of Georgia, his work with the Faith and Freedom Coalition continues to move forward around the country. 

Yesterday, he was in Tennessee plotting strategy with the likes of Richard Land and Rep. Marsha Blackburn:

FFC Chairman Ralph Reed held an organizational meeting with key grassroots visionaries, pastors, and former and current elected officials in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 1st to launch the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Tennessee. Everyone left the meeting energized about the great promise and potential of the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Tennessee

“I believe that the Faith and Freedom Coalition is going to be one of the most important forces for sound public policy in America in the coming years,” said Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “I’m excited that the Faith and Freedom Coalition has come to Tennessee. It will help concerned Tennesseans to give voice to their convictions in the public policy arena.”

“In its short existence, The Faith and Freedom Coalition has already been effective in identifying and turning out conservative voters and we’re pleased to bring it to Tennessee,” said Chip Saltsman, former Chairman of the Republican Party of Tennessee. “With the help of our grassroots team here, Faith and Freedom will be a force in Tennessee conservative politics for a long time to come.”

Apparently Reed's deep ties to Jack Abramoff's corruption hasn't undermined his political standing in any way among conservative activists and members of Congress.  Amazing.

It's especially amazing that Land would join with Reed in this effort, considering that Land believes that "gambling is a violation of two, possibly three of the 10 commandments," while Reed took tens of thousands of dollars to dupe his former Religious Right allies into supporting efforts that would benefit Abramoff's clients' gambling interests.

Right Wing Round-Up

Palin, Bachman, Moore, and Scarborough to Speak At Tea Party National Convention

Where can you find Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann rubbing elbows with the likes of Roy Moore and Rick Scarborough?

At the National Tea Party Convention next February in Tennessee:

Tea Party Nation is pleased to announce the First National Tea Party Convention. The convention is aimed at bringing Tea Party representatives together from around the nation for the purpose of networking and supporting the movements' principle goals.

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska (2006-2009) and the 2008 Republican Vice Presidential Nominee will be the guest of honor and keynote speaker.

Rep. Michele Bachmann will be a breakfast speaker at the convention. Also speaking at the convention are Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore.

Other participants include: Phil Valentine (Nationally Syndicated Conservative Talk Radio Host), Bruce Donnelly (President, SurgeUSA), Ana Puig, Dr. B. Leland Baker (author of Tea Party Revival), Mark Skoda (The Memphis Tea Party), Keli Carender (aka Liberty Belle), Dr. Rick Scarborough (author of "Enough is Enough"), Lori Christenson (The Evergreen Conifer Tea Party), David DeGerolamo (NC Freedom Tea Party), Walter Fitzgerald (Tea Party Nation - Emergency Preparedness), The Leadership Institute, Judicial Watch, SurgeUSA, FAIR, National Taxpayers Union, American Majority, Smart Girl Politics.

Back in September, Bachmann and Scarborough both appeared at the How To Take Back America Conference, and this is what we got:

We are expecting more of the same the next time around.

The Inane State of The Healthcare Debate - Part II

To follow-up on the post I wrote yesterday, here are a few more.

Why do we need healthcare reform when we already have free healthcare?

Bruce Engelman is pastor of Baptist Temple in Fort Worth, Texas, and is also a spokesperson for American Inspirational Ministries. Engelman, who often travels the country as part of his ministry work, says he has made an observation about available healthcare.

"Why do we need socialized medicine or healthcare when there is already free healthcare?" he wonders. "In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mary Free Bed Hospital; in Pittsburgh, children's hospital; St. Jude's in Memphis, Tennessee; Shriners hospital in Kentucky, Cook County hospital in Chicago, Illinois."

The pastor believes the healthcare option is being pushed for two reasons. "Number one, to increase the voting bloc for the liberals -- of both parties, by the way -- of illegal immigration," Engleman says, "and the other reason is there's no question that the other side wants to advance a radical, and I emphasize radical, social agenda."

Engelman says those who are speaking out against the healthcare plan are heroes, much like the Founding Fathers of the nation.

Churches are the key to healthcare reform:

The head of a coalition of evangelical churches says healthcare reform should focus less on government and more on marshaling churches to meet community needs.

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., who chairs the High Impact Leadership Coalition, says large churches could work together to provide diagnostic screening and care for people with diseases like HIV-AIDS.

Jackson says the contrast between government and faith-based relief was striking when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans four years ago. He says, "When the government failed, the church stepped up."

Instead of government healthcare, Jackson believes "there has to be a community-based answer that includes a faith community component."

Randall Terry Takes His Show On The Road

Last week we mentioned that Randall Terry and his band of merry pranksters were heading out on the road for series of "kill granny/kill babies" healthcare reform protests.  Well, they are now underway:

Terry, 50, and his staffers readied their props: plastic toddler dolls, a trick knife, a Halloween syringe, a bottle of fake blood.

"We're going to be executing babies," he joked as the trio, trailed by another staffer with a camcorder, stepped out onto Salem Avenue in Roanoke toward Sen. Mark Warner's downtown office.

...

Friday morning, at the entry to Warner's offices, the activist displayed a sign that read: OBAMA DEATH CARE: One dead patient at a time.

"At the core of Obama's health care policy is the murder of babies and the murder of the elderly," he said. "If this bill passes and they expect us to pay ... there will be horrific consequences to pay."

The consequences, as he explained them, would be contempt for the government; vandalism; and acts of violence against those perceived to be involved with abortions, but he denied involvement with violent anti-abortionists.

"This is not a threat, it's a warning," he said, then told his troupe, "Let's do skit one," and began to stab at baby dolls with a plastic knife. Given a pale-handed "thumbs down" from a staffer in an Obama mask, he pretended to give a lethal injection to another employee who was costumed as a trembling elderly woman.

"You really can save money if you kill granny," he said.

Those and other displays were performed twice before an audience of just three reporters, three cameras and the frosted-glass windows behind him.

Here are some pictures from Kentucky:

They also showed up in Tennessee where even teenagers found their antics to be offensive, juvenile, and misleading:

"I think this is a disgrace," said 13-year-old Jontrez London of Nashville. "Obama's trying to save people. He ain't gonna try to kill an old lady."

Another baby doll went flying and 14-year-old Malcolm Wells shook his head and sighed.

"These are adults acting like children," he said.

Military Fatigues and Guns Optional At Church-Held Political Rally

Let us offer some advice to anyone planning on attending a future "A Call to Arms" rally hosted by a right-wing radio host by the name of Ralph Bristol and TEA Party activists: even though it is being held in a church, be sure to wear your best military fatigues if you want to fit in .... and bring your gun:

An old-fashioned God and country revival broke out at Cornerstone Church in Madison [Tennessee] on Friday night, complete with patriotic songs, flag waving, and a dose of fire and brimstone about the dangers of socialism.

There was even an altar call.

But the 600 or so Christian conservatives gathered for "A Call to Arms," organized by talk show host Ralph Bristol, weren't asked to give their heart to Jesus. Instead, they were asked to sign up for conservative causes like the Tea Party Nation and the Eagle Forum, and to donate to charities like the Nashville Rescue Mission.

"You must get involved," said Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation. "The time for sitting on the sidelines is over."

Phillips urged the crowd to fight what he called the "Obama-Pelosi-Reed axis of evil," which he believes threatens the American way of life.

"Tonight we are doing a different kind of altar call," he said. "Tonight's altar call is not for God. It's for country."

...

Toward the end of his program, Bristol replaced the Hawaiian shirt with a green army jacket and baseball cap with the American flag on it, to play a character called Sgt. Bristol. He gave his audience marching orders to slay the socialist monster.

One thing Bristol didn't carry was a firearm. He had thought about bringing one to church as part of his uniform but decided against it.

"Sergeant Bristol gets pretty angry, and to be up there, wearing a gun, didn't feel right," he said.

Some of the audience wore similar uniforms, and brought their guns.

Sobota and his wife, Cindy, said they have permits to carry handguns, and brought them along to church on Friday.

"There's been a lot of fear-mongering about that," he said. "I'm probably the safest person out there, because I don't want to do anything to jeopardize my permit."

Soothing the Savage Beast

The August 3 issue of the New Yorker includes an only-in-the-New-Yorker-length profile (seven full pages) of right-wing radio host Michael Savage. Savage’s fiercely ugly anti-gay and other extremist rhetoric has often been spotlighted by Media Matters, earning the group a special place in the pantheon of things Savage hates. Savage has called Media Matters “evil” and “Stalinists” and is currently engaged in a ludicrous campaign to challenge the group’s nonprofit status.

While Savage loves to hate the media and Media Matters, he’s found a friend in Kelefa Sanneh, author of the New Yorker profile (subscription required), which feels like a many-thousand word promo for Savage’s radio show. Sanneh is smitten with Savage, “more days than not, a marvelous storyteller, a quirky thinker, and an incorrigible free-associator.” He calls Savage’s show “one of the most addictive programs on radio, and one of the least predictable.”

Sanneh doesn’t ignore that Savage has a well-documented hatred of gays and that his central thesis is “that lefties are ruining the world, or trying to,” and quotes some of Savage’s memorable moments, such as the one that got him thrown off MSNBC, when he told a caller “Oh, you’re one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig.”

But Sanneh finds Savage so weirdly charming and entertaining (he ruminates about death!) that he is quick to dismiss the host’s virulent rhetoric. Here’s Sanneh:

“The immoderate quotes meticulously catalogued by the liberal media-watchdog site mediamatters.org are accurate but misleading, insofar as they reduce a willfully erratic broadcast to a series of political brickbats.”

“Immoderate” is an extraordinarily moderate word to apply to Savage’s serial attacks on gay people, which includes such charges as "[t]he radical homosexual agenda will not stop until religion is outlawed in this county," and that gay people "threaten your very survival." Gays, he says, “want full and total subjugation of this society to their agenda.” Savage has also promoted right-wing lies about Obama being born in Kenya and being a Muslim, and said during the campaign:

"I think he was hand-picked by some very powerful forces both within and outside the United State of America to drag this country into a hell that it has not seen since the Civil War of the middle of the 19th century.”

In a podcast interview posted on the New Yorker site, Sanneh said that people from the left and right do “a pretty good job of getting offended at the other people’s pundits.” Sanneh draws a stunning sort of moral equivalence between Savage, the kind of guy liberals “get all worked up about,” and Al Franken , who some conservatives would consider “an angry, hateful guy.”

Sanneh seems uninterested in considering whether the kind of political rhetoric Savage specializes in has the potential to fuel hatred and violence. Savage’s liberal-hating books were among those found on the shelves of the Tennessee man who opened fire in a Unitarian Universalist church last year to vent his hatred of liberals who he said were destroying the country. Sanneh says that Savage’s best-selling books are “political polemics” but says “none capture the freewheeling sensibility of the show or the complicated personality of the man.”

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Congratulations to Pam on her Women's Media Center Award.
  • As Hilzoy says, you'd think "the absence of any evidence that the Obama administration was considering reinstating the Fairness Doctrine would have prevented people from talking darkly about the end of talk radio and freedom of speech. Regrettably, we do not live in a sane world."
  • David Weigel has been banned from covering the upcoming American Cause conference.
  • Jessica Valenti explains how the virginity movement is attempting to re-brand its abstinence message and legitimize its message by presenting it as science-based.
  • Think Progress reports that "pressure has been building on Tennessee State Sen. Diane Black (R) to fire her aide, Sherri Goforth, who sent an e-mail with a racist image of President Obama." Instead Black issued a "strongly worded reprimand" that was really nothing of the sort.
  • Think Progress also reports that Senator Jim Inhofe made up his mind not to support Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court ... eleven years ago.
  • Finally, as Crooks and Liars notes, its easy for Tony Perkins to sound like an expert on health care when he can just spew Frank Luntz's talking points.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • At RH Reality Check, Myra Duran explains how "so-called crisis pregnancy centers lure women into their facilities with promises of free pregnancy tests and options counseling. But once inside, most provide women with false or misleading information about abortion, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases."
  • Jim Burroway reports that the Georgia Supreme Court threw out a lower court’s order banning children from being “exposed” to their father’s gay partner and friends.
  • What is the deal with state-level Republicans sending out racist "jokes" in South Carolina and Tennessee?
  • As we noted last week, right-wingers in Wisconsin are trying to burn copies of "Baby Be-Bop" - Salon reports that the author of the book is not amused.
  • David Neiwert offers more information about Minuteman "tactical" leader/murder suspect Shawna Forde.
  • The Anti-Defamation League reports that white supremacists have "capitalized on the Sotomayor nomination to characterize Jews as "conspirators seeking world domination, having secretly orchestrated the appointment":
  • "How the (expletive deleted) did that Puerto Rican princess Sotomayor get into Princeton? I mean, she was just another welfare spic from the Bronx…Sotomayor was obviously chosen by the Jews at Princeton to fulfill a quota. Then the Jews at some NY law firm hired her to be their token spicarina, and so on…I can't wait to see what kind of f#cked-up opinions she issues from the Supreme Court Bench. I'll bet they're really insane, using all the tortured and twisted Jew-logic they taught her at Princeton."

Right Wing Round-Up

  • As Good as You says, you don't get to call your ad campaign a rousing success when all of the coverage of it has come in the form of mockery.
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry really seems to be going off the deep end, as Daily Kos explains.
  • He's also being, as Steve Benen notes, something of a hypocrite.
  • On top of that, Perry also appeared on Michael Savage's radio program which, given Savage's long history of offensive statements, is truly remarkable.
  • Box Turtle Bulletin http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/04/15/10686 ">highlights a truly bizarre bill introduced in response to the Iowa marriage ruling that states "a person shall not be compelled to recognize a marriage solemnized in this state if such recognition conflicts with the person’s religious beliefs or moral convictions."
  • The ACLU says that two Tennessee public school districts are preventing students from accessing online information about LGBT issues while allowing them to access information from anti-gay groups.
  • Greg Sargent reports that DHS did, in fact, release a report on "left wing extremists," while Media Matters chronicles the continuing freak out by conservatives about the report on right wing extremists.
  • Finally AU's Rob Boston weighs in on the premature obituary being written about the Religious Right yet again, noting smartly that "the Religious Right is so closely identified with the Republican Party that its fortunes are now tied to that political unit. You might have noticed that the Republicans aren’t doing so well right now. That means the Religious Right isn’t doing so well either."

Unknown Organization Faults Right-Wing Powerbrokers for Losing Culture War

Exodus Mandate, an organization created to “encourage and assist Christian families to leave Pharaoh's school system (i.e. government schools) for the Promised Land of Christian schools or home schooling,” is not particularly impressed with the current crop of Religious Right organizations.

You see, Exodus Mandate believes that “fresh obedience by Christian families in educating their children according to Biblical mandates will prove to be a key for the revival of our families, our churches and our nation” and, as such, it is now publically calling out the likes of Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, Vision America, and Wallbuilders all of whom have failed to adequately encourage their members to flee the public school system and are thereby responsible for losing the culture war:

Chaplain E. Ray Moore issued a Report Card at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) in Nashville, Tennessee, on Feb 10, 2009, at a news conference, on how effectively major Christian ministries and organizations support K-12 Christian education or home schooling. Nine organizations were rated, many of which have actively engaged in the cultural war in the US for the past several decades. Moore said, "Even though these organizations have been valiantly fighting the culture war, they have suffered terrible defeats. They have not been able to arrest and reverse the moral and cultural slide by protests, lobbying, voting and legislative remedies. It's time for these ministries to revisit their methodology and ask themselves if there is a biblical model for spiritual and cultural renewal." The nine criteria used to rate the organizations in the K-12 Christian education Report Card included: promoting a Christian worldview and not promoting K-12 public schools as morally equivalent to Christian and home schools.

The nine ministries generally earned high scores for promoting a Christian worldview, for promoting K-12 Christian education or home schooling and for warning about the dangers of public schools, but they received poor grades for wasting their efforts on public-school reform, on justifying keeping Christian children in public schools to be salt and light, and on promoting a moral equivalence between K-12 public, Christian and home schools. Moore said, "The failure in these criteria is largely due to the fact that some Christian ministries have not yet come to believe that there is an explicit biblical theology of Christian education in the Holy Scriptures. These same ministries have promoted a Christian worldview, and many Christian families, taking this teaching to its logical conclusion, have now outstripped the ministries."

You can see the report card here [PDF], where Coral Ridge Ministries come out on top with a grade of B:

Throwing the Right Overboard to Save the GOP?

Yesterday, I noted that Tony Perkins was declaring Sarah Palin the "future of the [Republican] Party."  You know who will probably not become the future of the Republican Party?  Christine Todd Whitman, at least if the Religious Right has anything to say about it, because she says that Palin and people like Perkins are exactly what is causing the GOP to lose:

Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party's social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose social views are entirely aligned with that wing, as his running mate was clearly meant to demonstrate his commitment to that bloc. Yet while his choice did comfort those voters, it made many others uncomfortable.

Palin has many attractive qualities as a candidate. Being prepared to become president at a moment's notice was not obviously among them this year. Her selection cost the ticket support among those moderate voters who saw it as a cynical sop to social fundamentalists, reinforcing the impression that they control the party, with the party's consent.

In the wake of the Democrats' landslide victory, and despite all evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP are arguing that John McCain was defeated because the social fundamentalists wouldn't support him. They seem to be suffering from a political strain of Stockholm syndrome. They are identifying with the interests of their political captors and ignoring the views of the larger electorate. This has cost the Republican Party the votes of millions of people who don't find a willingness to acquiesce to hostage-takers a positive trait in potential leaders.

Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness. On Nov. 4, the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division. It's long past time for the GOP to do the same.

You know who else probably won't become the future of the GOP? Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander, or Peter King:

As Congressional Republicans lick their political wounds and try to figure out how to bounce back in 2010 and beyond, they might want to consult with Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander and Peter T. King.

Senator Collins, Senator Alexander and Representative King were among Republicans who defied the odds in a terrible year for their colleagues. Their re-elections provide a possible road map for how the party can succeed in a challenging political environment. The answer, the three veteran politicians agreed, is not to become a more conservative, combative party focused on narrow partisan issues.

“What doesn’t work is drawing a harsh ideological line in the sand,” said Ms. Collins, of Maine, who early in the year was a top Democratic target for defeat but ended up winning 61 percent of the vote while Senator Barack Obama received 58 percent in the presidential race in her state.

“We make a mistake if we are going to make our entire appeal rural and outside the Northeast and outside the Rust Belt,” said Mr. King, of New York, who easily won re-election in a region shedding Republicans at a precipitous rate.

“We can stand around and talk about our principles, but we have to put them into actions that most people agree with,” said Mr. Alexander, of Tennessee, a self-described conservative who was able to attract African-American voters.

As much as I would love to see the GOP dump the Religious Right, I don't have much faith that it will actually happen.  In fact, the best chance the party had to do so was with John McCain, but instead of standing by his infamous "agents of intolerance" remark, the "maverick" utterly caved and capitulated to the Right.

Until the GOP can nominate a presidential candidate who openly eschews the Religious Right and still wins the election or the Right gets a dream nominee, someone like Rick Santorum or Sarah Palin, who makes the right-wing agenda the centerpiece of their campaign and then gets utterly destroyed at the polls, the Religious Right and the Republican Party are going to be stuck with each other for the foreseeable future, whether they like it or not.

Barton Stumps for McCain

We knew that David Barton was out there doing his part to help elect Republicans, raising money for Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, explaining to Christian audiences the importance of the Supreme Court and how the GOP and God both share the same agenda

We also knew that he was supporting John McCain but we had no idea that he was actually out there on the trail on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign: 

Fred Thompson, former U.S. senator from Tennessee, told a local crowd Wednesday that the chance to talk about guns and God is his kind of event.

But though the title of the rally was "Guns & Religion," the politician/actor spent more time talking about the economy.

...

Thompson, actor Robert Davi, Republican National Committee Deputy Chairman Frank Donatelli and David Barton, president of the religious-based organization WallBuilders, spoke at the Wednesday afternoon rally at McCain/Palin headquarters in Springettsbury Township.

"I love the guns-and-God mantra, because both are God-given rights," Barton said, telling the crowd to encourage others to vote. "Get people of faith back in the polls."

Dawn Balcom of Springettsbury Township said it was nice to hear religion addressed.

"It was good to hear that these politicians are thinking God is important," she said. "When we get away from God . . . the whole country goes down."

Why is the McCain campaign associating itself with a right-wing pseudo-historian who believes that Christians should "start breaking fingers" of those who don't vote Republican and warns them they'll have to answer to God for their failure to vote properly. 

Did they not learn anything from their Hagee/Parsely debacle?

Abortion and the Other Post-9/11 Anthrax Attacks

We reported earlier that the FBI believes that suspected Anthrax sender Bruce Ivins was motivated partly by his “right-to-life fervor.” Regardless of whether anti-abortion sentiment played a role in those attacks, there was never any doubt about the motivation behind the now forgotten anthrax scare that swept women’s health clinics the following month. Here’s an excerpt from an 11/29/01 FBI press release announcing new information about the then-fugitive suspect Clayton Lee Waagner:
During Labor Day weekend, 2001, Waagner abandoned a vehicle in Memphis, Tennessee, following a hit and run accident. Authorities recovered various items from the vehicle including a rifle, a shotgun, a pipe bomb, and anti-abortion literature. That same weekend, Waagner fled the area after committing a carjacking in nearby Tunica, Mississippi. Waagner had previously testified that he is an "anti-abortion warrior" and admitted to stalking abortion clinics around the country. During the second week of October 2001, more than 280 letters that threatened to contain anthrax were mailed to women's reproductive health clinics on the east coast. The envelopes were marked "Time Sensitive" and "Urgent Security Notice Enclosed." The envelopes also bore return addresses of the U.S. Marshals Service or the U.S. Secret Service. During the first week of November 2001 a second series of more than 270 anthrax threat letters were sent to women's reproductive health clinics via Federal Express.
It now appears quite possible that one deranged “pro-life” terrorist was inspired to action by another deranged “pro-life” terrorist. How tragic, and telling, that would be.

"Justice Sunday" Preacher Steps Down Amid Lawsuit

Jerry Sutton's Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee had hosted the Family Research Council's Justice Sunday II rally and was scheduled to host one of Rick Scarborough's upcoming crusades, but now Sutton has agreed to retire amid an lawsuit over alleged financial improprieties: "By a more than 3-to-1 margin, members of Two Rivers Baptist Church approved a $314,000 retirement package for the Rev. Jerry Sutton on Sunday, clearing the way for the embattled minister to leave the congregation he has led for more than 22 years ... Sutton and church leaders hope his retirement will bring an end to a 14-month conflict. In the summer of 2007, a group of dissident church members sued Two Rivers, seeking Sutton's ouster and access to church financial records."

The Ever-Principled James Dobson

It was just five months ago that James Dobson declared unequivocally that he would not, under any circumstances, ever support John McCain for president, saying “I cannot, and I will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience.”   In fact, so opposed to McCain was Dobson that he went so far as to organize an effort to secure one million signatures in opposition to McCain’s nomination and then publicly reiterated his vehement opposition to his nomination just a few months later.  

But wouldn’t you know it, like every other craven political calculation and empty threat he has ever made, Dobson has changed his mind and concluded that Barack Obama is such a monumental threat to this nation that he almost has no other choice but to blatantly violate his own conscience for the greater good of the Republican Party:

Conservative Christian leader James Dobson has softened his stance against Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, saying he could reverse his position and endorse the Arizona senator despite serious misgivings.

"I never thought I would hear myself saying this," Dobson said in a radio broadcast to air Monday. "... While I am not endorsing Senator John McCain, the possibility is there that I might."

So why is Dobson suddenly changing his tune?  In short, he is absolutely terrified of Obama:

He is also supportive of the entire gay activist agenda.  We're not just talking about showing respect for people and equal rights for all citizens of the United States.  It’s not referring to it in those terms. He’s talking about homosexual marriage. I mean, he makes no bones about that. He's talking about hate crimes legislation which would limit religious liberty, I have no doubt about that, that ministers and others - people like us - are going to very quickly be prohibited from expressing your faith and your theology on certain views.  … Just so many aspects of his views on that issue that keep me awake at night frankly … that he is so extreme, that he does threaten traditional family life and pro-moral values … This has been the most difficult moral dilemma for me.  It’s why you haven’t heard me say much about it because I have struggled on this issue.  And there are some concerns here that matter to me more than my own life and neither of the candidates is consistent with my views in that regard. But Senator McCain is certainly closer to them then Senator Obama, by a wide margin. And there's no doubt, at least no doubt in my mind, about whose policies will result in more babies being killed. Or who will do the greatest damage to the institution of marriage and the family. I'm convinced that Senator McCain comes closer to what I believe. So I am not endorsing Senator McCain today … But as of this moment, I have to take into account the fact that Senator John McCain has voted pro-life consistently and that's a fact. He says he favors marriage between a man and a woman, I believe that. He opposes homosexual adoption. He favors smaller government and lower taxes and he seems to understand the Muslim threat, which matters a lot to me – I am very concerned about that.

Below is the full transcript of today’s program in which Dobson and the Southern Baptist Convention's Al Mohler explain just how “alarming” Barack Obama’s political and theological views are and the dire threat he poses to “traditional family life and pro-moral values":

The Return of the 'One-Day Crusade'

Nearly a year after Rick Scarborough began his ambitious “70 Weeks to Save America” to sign up thousands of “Patriot Pastors” and voters at church rallies across America, only to have it peter out due to money, mechanical problems, slim turnout, and Alan Keyes, and nearly three months since announcing the project’s triumphant comeback, Scarborough is finally holding a “Patriot Pastor” rally in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring disgruntled ex-chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, “National Statesman/Evangelist Dr. Rick Scarborough,” and a singer billed as the “Pavarotti of gospel.”

This “One-Day Crusade” will be held at Two Rivers Baptist Church, home of Rev. Jerry Sutton, who is no stranger to church-based politicking. In 2005, he hosted a rally in support of President Bush’s controversial judicial nominees (including future Chief Justice John Roberts). Billed as a protest against “activist judges” supposedly trying to “silence” people of faith, “Justice Sunday II” brought together some of the biggest names on the Religious Right, such as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and then-National Evangelical Association President Ted Haggard, along with Robert Bork, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, Bishop Harry Jackson, and then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Sutton himself boiled down the message he hoped the audience would take home:

Number one, it's a new day.

Number two, liberalism is dead.

Number three, the majority of Americans are conservative.

Number four, you can count on us showing up and speaking out.

And number five, let the church rise.

Sutton, who is a research fellow with Richard Land’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and ran for president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006, has been involved in an imbroglio at his own church recently, when 71 members sued the church over financial mismanagement (along with Sutton’s “lavish lifestyle” and “authoritarian” leadership).

Huckabee's Got Talent

From CNN: "Former Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee has signed a contract with Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, daughter and senior advisor Sarah Huckabee tells CNN ... Huckabee follows former rival Fred Thompson’s lead by inking a post-campaign deal with a talent agency. But unlike the former Tennessee senator, this is Huckabee’s first official foray into show business."

Hate in the Name of Jesus: From Anti-Gay to Anti-Semitic

Anti-semitic flier

Believe it or not, somebody is taking credit for the above flier, which urges “Memphis Christians” to “unite and support ONE Black Christian” against Rep. Steve Cohen because “Steve Cohen and the Jews HATE Jesus.” Rev. George Brooks of Murfreesboro, Tennessee put his name and phone number at the bottom, and told the Commercial Appeal newspaper that he did it because the 9th congressional district “about 90-something percent black” (actually more like 60 percent, but that’s really beside the point) and therefore ought to have a black representative. Cohen was elected in 2006 when Rep. Harold Ford Jr. left his seat to run for the U.S. Senate.

Brooks’s message painting Cohen as an “opponent of Christ and Christianity” because of his religion is stunningly and appallingly over-the-top bigotry.  But it’s not the first time that Cohen has been the target of religion-tinged attacks.

Last August, at a meeting of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association, members of the clergy attacked Rep. Cohen for his support of federal legislation to extend protections against violent hate crimes—already in place for crimes motivated by racial hatred—to sexual orientation. These ministers borrowed a page from the Religious Right, falsely claiming that the hate crimes bill would affect religious speech. “If this becomes law, then the gay advocates will start suing preachers for preaching what they (gays) see as hate,” said Apostle Alton R. Williams—in spite of the fact that the law includes explicit protections for the First Amendment. For some of the ministers, the bogus religious liberty charge may just have been a cover for the same complaint motivating Rev. Brooks. "He's not black and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line," said Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church at the August meeting.

The Religious Right has long used anti-gay sentiment as the centerpiece of its outreach to the black church – Bishop Harry Jackson led an anti-hate crimes press conference at the most recent “Values Voter Summit” – and right-wing leaders viewed the Memphis ministers’ embrace of anti-gay politics last summer as a victory. The ministers received praise from the Traditional Values Coalition, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council—who is writing a book with Jackson on right-wing outreach to black churches—claimed the bill was “uniting Christian pastors across racial and denominational lines all across America.” Gary Bauer cited the ministers’ meeting as an inspiring moment, building on the federal anti-gay marriage amendment, “when conservative pro-family leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder with black pastors in defense of faith and family.”

While Harry Jackson and the Memphis ministers have apparently signed on to such an alliance, national leaders have rejected the claim that civil rights protections for gays and lesbians must come at the expense of African Americans. The NAACP, African American Ministers in Action, and the Congressional Black Caucus all support expanding hate crimes protections.

Dobson Seeks a Million Pledges Not to Vote for McCain?

James Dobson has a long history of threatening to abandon the Republican Party and take his supporters with him, only to turn around and undertake get-out-the-vote activities seemingly designed to help the GOP win elections.

Back in 2006, Dobson blasted the Republican leadership, saying that “values voters” had “very little to show” for all their efforts at getting them elected and that there would be “trouble down the road” if they didn’t start moving on the issues the Religious Right cares about.  And to show just how serious he was about holding their feet to the fire, he set out to organize and participate in massive voter registration rallies in places like Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee while boosting his efforts on his radio program.   

But this time around, fresh on the heels of telling the entire world that he will not, ever, under any circumstances forsake his principles and support John McCain, it looks like Dobson just might be serious, as he has announced that he is seeking “to enlist 1 million Values Voters” to pledge to stand on principle and not vote for McCain … or something:

Focus on the Family Founder and Chairman Dr. James Dobson invites values voters to pledge to uphold pro-family principles during this year’s election.

In response to the media’s efforts to minimize the impact of values voters, Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family Action are initiating a nationwide Values Voter Pledge. The pledge is a statement by citizens who are committing to vote only for candidates who uphold the highest pro-life, pro-faith and pro-family principles.

Focus Action is hoping 1 million voters will take the pledge, which will serve as a demonstration of the strength and seriousness of Values Voters in this election.

The pledge itself reads:

As a concerned citizen, I am signing this Values Voter Pledge for 2008 indicating my commitment to stand for the values of life, faith and family during this election year. I am pledging to support candidates who uphold these bedrock values of:

 • Life -- I will only vote for candidates who have committed to defend sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

 • Family -- I will only vote for candidates who stand for one-man, one-woman marriage and oppose efforts to undermine the nuclear family.  

 • Faith -- I will only vote for candidates who support the public acknowledgement of God and affirm the religious liberties of all Americans.

I also oppose any and all efforts by the media, organizations or candidates to diminish the role that Values Voters are playing in this year’s election. I authorize Focus on the Family Action to represent my Values Voter Pledge before the media, political candidates or other suitable forums as a demonstration of the strength and seriousness of Values Voters in this election cycle.

Since Dobson attacked McCain specifically on these issues in his statement, this is presumably some sort of attempt to induce McCain to pander to them by getting a million potential voters to threaten to sit on the sidelines unless he does.  But since Dobson has already made it abundantly clear that he hates McCain and has no intention of voting for him anyway, what incentive is there for McCain to even bother appeasing him?  

Plus, given the vague language in the pledge, couldn’t McCain plausibly claim to “uphold these bedrock values” already?  After all, he believes that “that the institution of marriage should be reserved for the union of a man and a woman,” proclaims that “the defense of innocent life” is at “the core of [his] value system,” and, as he declared at the Values Voter Summit, “Religious freedom does not require Americans to hide their faith from public view or that communities must refrain from publicly acknowledging the importance to them of faith.”

McCain seems to meet all of Dobson’s various criteria, so what exactly is the problem?

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