The Long Knives Come Out For Huckabee

Fresh off his resounding victory at the Values Voter Debate in Florida and his first place (depending on how you count) finish in the straw poll at the Values Voter Summit, it seemed as if Mike Huckabee’s campaign was gaining traction – for a while, at least. After all, following the Summit, a group of right-wing leaders met to discuss their options going into the 2008 election and many appeared ready to come out in favor of Huckabee:
Phil Burress, president of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values and member of the executive committee of the Arlington Group, declined to talk about the meeting but said he has personally decided to support Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister. Another well-respected Christian conservative leader, Kelly Shackleford, a Texas lawyer, is also expected to come out on behalf of Mr. Huckabee in the coming days.
Since the summit, Huckabee has hit double digits in the polls for the first time, saw his fundraising skyrocket, and even picked up the endorsement of Joe Carter, who is not only Director of Web Communications for Family Research Council but also an influential blogger in his own right. His progress appears to have prompted others on the Right, such as the Club for Growth’s Pat Toomey, to take his campaign seriously and mobilize to stop it:

Perkins’ Prediction Comes True and Creates a New Dilemma

Heading into the recent Values Voter Summit, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was careful to make clear that it was unlikely that any one candidate would emerge from the event as the Right’s candidate of choice, thus rescuing them from their current dilemma and confusion.   But he also predicted that the event would at least help narrow down the field a bit:  

“These are the influencers, these are the talkers,” Perkins said of the attendees that will take over the Washington Hilton hotel. “This could be when things start to shake out and a candidate begins to emerge with a certain level of support. I don’t think anybody’s going to walk away with a lock, but maybe one or two candidates, maybe three, will begin to take off with strong support from the base.”

The one candidate who got the biggest boost from the Summit was Mike Huckabee, who came in second place in the straw poll and was the overwhelming favorite among those in attendance – something which, oddly enough, only seems to have confused things further:

The influential social conservatives who comprise the Arlington Group met over the weekend to discuss the possibility of endorsing a presidential candidate and could not reach a consensus, according to a source familiar with the process.

Though leaders of the individual organizations may make their own endorsements, those selections "cannot be considered a blanket endorsement by the 'Religious Right,'" according to the source.

While many leaders want to endorse fan favorite Mike Huckabee, others are more hesitant. The source informed me that "the dilemma is over whether to choose the preferred candidate of their constituents or go with the pragmatic choice and risk offending our base."

According to the source, James Dobson of Focus on the Family likes Mitt Romney, Gary Bauer of American Values prefers Fred Thompson, and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association likes Huckabee. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is still on the fence, but nearing a decision.

In fact, very little has changed:  Supporting McCain or Giuliani was never much of a possibility and the right-wing leadership has always been torn between Romney, Thompson, and, to a lesser extent, Huckabee.  The only new development is that some are becoming more willing to openly back Huckabee:

Just How Fractured Is the Right?

Ever since the news broke that many right-wing leaders were considering abandoning the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani secures the presidential nomination, lots of ink has been spilled speculating about just how serious they are about carrying out the threat and discussing what it could mean for the 2008 election. 

Today, Bloomberg ran an article that pretty well encapsulates the utter confusion plaguing the movement at the moment by quoting a variety of leaders and activists, none of whom seem to agree with each other:

- “I am asking them to at least consider Voltaire's question: Do you make the perfect the enemy of the good?'' said Richard Land, a leader of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, based in Nashville.

- If Clinton, 59, wins, “her administration would declare war on social conservatives,'' Bauer said. “She'll go after conservative talk radio, she'll go after Christian radio' … Bauer said that with some “serious negotiations'' over his platform, religious conservatives could find a way to support Giuliani. He declined to provide specifics, citing a need to maintain his bargaining position if Giuliani is the Republican nominee.

- “Some leaders will hold to principle and will not vote for someone who is pro-abortion,'' said Tom Minnery, the political director of Focus on the Family.

- Michael Farris, the chancellor of Patrick Henry College, an evangelical school in Purcellville, Virginia, said he would consider supporting Giuliani only if “he named my mother as vice president.''

- “The entire conservative movement is going to be united because Hillary is going to be on the ballot and the Supreme Court is going to be at stake,'' said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington-based anti- tax advocacy group.  Land sees things differently. “I know a lot more evangelicals than Grover does,'' he said. “If Giuliani is the nominee, Grover will be shocked.'

If You Don’t Like Pat Robertson, You Must Be Crazy

There is an interesting story developing down at Pat Robertson’s Regent University.  It seems as if one of the students, Adam M. Key, doesn’t seem to like Robertson much and doesn’t really fit the stereotype of the typical Regent student:

Key, a bearded 23-year-old with a tableau of tattoos, would seem an odd fit at the evangelical Christian institution Robertson founded in 1978.

Key, a Lutheran, describes himself as a “liberal Christian” who heads the campus’ small “Christian Left” organization.

The tattoos reflect his passion for justice and the legal system. The colorful jumble of images features the U.S. Constitution written on a scroll, the Magna Carta, the Torah, phrases such as “due process,” and men of principle such as Martin Luther, Sir Thomas More and former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

One startling image shows Osama bin Laden juxtaposed with Robertson.

“I believe they’re both reprehensible people,” Key said, “but I defend their right to believe whatever they want.”

Key, who is from Texas, said he had wanted to attend a Christian institution with a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, such as Regent. One motivating factor, he said, was “the opportunity to show people that liberalism isn’t a sin.”

Key said he has a grade-point average close to 3.0 and that he’s on track to graduate from the three-year program in 2½ years. He said he was only vaguely familiar with Robertson and his political views when he applied to Regent.

Key reportedly posted a photo of Robertson appearing to make an obscene hand gesture on his Facebook page, which he took from a freeze-frame of a YouTube video of Robertson scratching his face on “The 700 Club” - and apparently the folks at Regent didn’t find it funny:

Regent officials gave Key two choices: publicly apologize for posting the picture and refrain from commenting about the matter in a “public medium,” or write a brief defending the posting. He faces punishment that could include expulsion.

Key, a second-year law student, said he refused to apologize and “be muzzled” by the university, so he composed the document, which includes citations from noted First Amendment cases.

Key said that Jeffrey Brauch, dean of the law school, rejected his brief and that he now awaits disciplinary action under the university’s Standard of Personal Conduct. At one point during the controversy, Key said, he was escorted by three armed security guards from the university’s public relations office.

And now Robertson U. has gone a step further and ordered Key to submit to a Regent-approved mental health counselor:

Adam M. Key, 23, was ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation before he can return to classes. He also was ordered to undergo counseling if a mental-health provider that is acceptable to the university deems it appropriate, and to provide a report showing that he has completed any treatment plan required.

Key also must agree to allow the mental-health provider to provide regular updates on his treatment to the school.

Presumably, Key’s case won’t be discussed when Regent Law School students gather for this:

LAW 774 First Amendment Law (3) Survey of the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Topics covered include freedom of religion, the establishment clause, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Attacks on Judiciary Down But Not Out

The Right’s rhetorical war on the judiciary reached its fever pitch in 2005, when Congress broke a vacation to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. To take one example from many, Rep. Tom DeLay, then House Majority Leader, declared that the judiciary had “run amok,” warned, “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.” He later added, “Our next step, whatever it is, must be more than rhetoric.”

Since then, Congress has changed parties, and DeLay, tied to a corrupt lobbyist and indicted in Texas for laundering campaign money, is out of office, and so it feels like the pressure has been dialed down a notch. At least, that’s how it seems to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

"Particularly since the 2006 election, I am pleased to relate, rapport between Congress and the federal courts has markedly improved," Ginsburg said at a meeting of American and Canadian judges in Vancouver.

No bills limiting judges' independence have been introduced in the current Congress and "one sees far fewer broadsides against 'activist judges' reported in the press," Ginsburg said. … She recounted with distaste comments about judges made in 2005 by two Texas Republicans, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Sen. John Cornyn.

Cornyn had expressed his “concern” that there might be “some connection” between “unaccountable” judges and violent attacks against members of the judiciary.

While far-right members of Congress like Todd Akin continue to introduce legislation to tamper with the courts—such as his bill to impeach judges when Congress disagrees with their opinions—Justice Ginsburg is right that, without right-wing leadership in Congress, such efforts will lead nowhere.

Unfortunately, while the days of the “nuclear option” and Tom DeLay are behind us, the current status may be the calm before the storm, when a future Supreme Court nominee or even just the politics of the presidential debate will likely cause tensions to flare again. GOP candidates have pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices in the Scalia-Thomas mold, and at the recent Values Voter Debate, second-tier candidates--including religious-right favorite Mike Huckabee--pledged support to a court-stripping measure.

“In ’08, it’s all about the judges,” as Rick Scarborough stated recently.

Scarborough Can’t Make Up His Mind

Back in February, Vision America’s Rick Scarborough was one of the first to throw down the gauntlet regarding the possibility of Rudy Giuliani winning the Republican nomination and raise the specter of a bolting the party all together should that happen:

The fact that Rudy Giuliani is polling at above 35% should awaken Values Voters to the reality that America desperately needs revival. Christians should be no more inclined to vote for a pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun candidate than homosexual activists are inclined to vote for Jerry Falwell or D. James Kennedy.

We must pray and work toward securing a candidate that we can not only vote for, but get excited about when we go to the polls.

And we should be ready to go outside the Republican Party if it refuses to give us such a candidate. Christians must always remember that we are followers of Christ, not pawns of a party which often wants to dance with us before the election but then ditches us right after the final vote count.

But then, when other right-wing leaders recently echoed Scarborough’s call and made exactly the same point, Scarborough suddenly backtracked:

To all of that I say emphatically, “Grow UP!!!” When I hear my friends, and people I admire, saying that they will either stay home or go to a third party, I lose my patience. Five years ago I stepped out of a good pastorate to devote my full attention to educating pastors and congregations on what Christian citizenship truly means and teach them why Christians, of all people, should and must stay engaged. Now some of the men who most inspired me to get involved are acting like our movement is dead and the cause is lost.

I for one do not intend to sit idly by and allow evil to triumph because good men choose to do nothing--or worse, do the wrong thing. I have often said in speeches to churches, “the only thing worse than not voting, is voting without a clue as to what you are voting for.” When it comes time for the ‘08 elections, we must be armed with truth and determined to vote our values. If enough of us do that, we will get a president who will make the right choice when it comes to nominating judges. In ’08, it’s all about the judges! … We may have to hold our nose as we vote in ‘08, but we must and we will vote.

And now it appears as if Scarborough has changed his mind once again:

Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, a Texas-based group that has a network of 5,000 pastors willing to mobilize their churches to vote, was at the recent meeting of those who threatened to back a third-party candidate, and he said they were not just bluffing.

“I am not going to cast a sacred vote granted to me by the blood of millions of God-fearing Americans who died on the fields of battle for freedom, for a candidate who says it’s O.K. to kill the unborn,” he said. “I just can’t.”

“It’s not about winning elections. It’s about honoring Christ.”

So, according to Scarborough the 2008 election either seems to require that the Right “hold our noses” and support the Republican nominee because it’s “all about the judges” or abandon the GOP because it’s all “about honoring Christ” … or preferably some combination of the two that will allow them do the former while pretending there are upholding the latter.  

Gingrich Threatens 'Transformational Change'—As GOP's Losing Candidate?

Newt Gingrich says he will run for president if he can convince people to donate $30 million, according to the Washington Times. As hard as it is to believe, Gingrich claims that “more and more people have been approaching me about running.” (Apparently Mike Huckabee didn’t get the memo: the struggling second-tier candidate is letting Gingrich guest-blog on his campaign web site.)

The former House speaker has been dancing around the 2008 campaign for almost a year, practicing his platitudes through a project called American Solutions for Winning the Future, which has also allowed him to gather a mailing list. Gingrich threatened to announce his candidacy if the GOP’s “pathetic” bunch of “pygmies” don’t shape up, but only after Solutions Day, his futuristic holiday scheduled for this very week, when Gingrich “will outline the challenges facing our country and how to address these challenges through fundamental transformational change. Real change requires real change.”

Most of the “workshops” organized for Solutions Day appear to be house parties hosted by Gingrich fans, but at least one features a far-right celebrity: The Texas chapter of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity will feature David Barton, a Republican activist and pseudo-historian known for promoting the idea of a “Christian nation” and the claim that the separation of church and state is a “myth.”

For supporters of American Solutions—aside from those who were bowled over by the “Real change requires real change” rhetoric—Gingrich may represent a conservative ideal embodied in his reputation for hard-line partisanship during the Clinton Administration. But that ideal is also embodied in the career Gingrich pursued after his growing unpopularity and scandal-ridden fall from grace—a novelist of books in which the Confederacy beat the Union at Gettsyburg. “Alternate history” may be effective in fiction, but such a strategy seems likely to be less compelling in a real political campaign, even with Gingrich’s futuristic makeover.

Which leads Newsweek’s Jonathan Darman to speculate that Republicans may nominate Gingrich as a “postmodern Goldwater”—a reference to the 1964 candidate who stuck by his far-right principles and went down in electoral flames, but inspired the Right to create the conservative movement that would elect Ronald Reagan 16 years later. Gingrich, writes Darman, may be positioning himself as “a candidate conservatives can be proud to vote for in a year when they face near-certain defeat.” But before GOP voters take that step, they may want to listen to the advice of one reviewer of Gingrich’s book: “Readers should be forewarned … they may come away from this exciting novel believing events really did happen this way.”

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:

Land Tries to Ease Right’s Qualms About Thompson

Over the weekend, the Associated Press reported that many on the Right were beginning to have second thoughts about Fred Thompson:

Prominent evangelical leaders who spent the summer hoping Fred Thompson would emerge as their favored Republican presidential contender are having doubts as he begins his long-teased campaign.

Thompson's less-than-clear stance on a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and his delay in entering the race are partly responsible for a sudden shyness among leading evangelicals.

AP reports Thompson came close to winning over the influential Arlington Group but some of its members have since cooled toward his campaign, which validates the rumors we noted last week:

"A month or two ago, I sensed there was some urgency for people to make a move and find a candidate," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based conservative Christian group. "Right now, I think people are stepping back a little and watching. The field is still very fluid."

In short, as desperate as the Right is to find a candidate it can rally around, they just don’t seem to be sure that Thompson is the one:

"He's got a real opportunity to be the most credible conservative candidate across the board," said Gary Bauer, a one-time presidential aspirant who heads the advocacy group American Values. "Whether he can put it all together remains to be seen. But he's got a real chance to emerge as the major conservative alternative to Giuliani."

Others are skeptical about whether Thompson can fill that role.

Rick Scarborough, a Southern Baptist preacher and president of Texas-based Vision America, said that while he is encouraged by Thompson's strong voting record in the Senate against abortion, he questioned the candidate's commitment to social issues.

"The problem I'm having is that I don't see any blood trail," Scarborough said. "When you really take a stand on issues dear to the heart of social conservatives, you're going to shed some blood in the process. And so far, Fred Thompson's political career has been wrinkle-free."

Of course, there is one right-wing leader who is absolutely convinced that Thompson would be just about the best candidate ever:

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Thompson's position is consistent with the former senator's support for limited federal government and giving power to the states.

Land said it is healthy that expectations for Thompson have diminished from unrealistic levels and he does not think evangelical excitement has dimmed for a man he described as a "masterful retail politician."

As Land stated several months ago, “I don‘t endorse candidates,” but that obviously doesn’t mean he can’t shower his candidate of choice with praise every opportunity he gets.  

“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

Not Many on The Right Sorry to See Rove Go

Head of the Texas Eagle Forum says "social conservatives ultimately felt used" by Rove, but at least "we can walk away with ... two good Supreme Court judges."

Scarborough Decries Presidential Forum: 'What’s Next? The Bestiality Debates?'

Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, writes that the recent Democratic presidential forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and Logo TV was “the latest reminder of how far we have fallen from the exalted purposes upon which this nation was founded”: a “homosexual sponsored debate carried live on a homosexual television network.”

So far this political season we have had Frosty the Snowman asking questions over YouTube and now the "Gay Debates" to see just which candidate is willing to grant the most favor to a lifestyle which historical Christianity calls sinful. What’s next? The Cross Dresser Debates? Or perhaps the NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Lovers Association) Debates? Or here’s one for the ages -- The Bestiality Debates. Not possible? That’s what I thought about our leaders attending a debate sponsored by homosexuals twenty years ago.

Scarborough, a former Texas pastor, was a pioneer in developing the “Patriot Pastor” model of church-based electoral organizing, and he’s currently touring churches with Alan Keyes and ex-Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt to build up a “base” for November 2008. As he explained, quoting his “Rick Scarborough Version” of the Bible at his first “One Day Crusade” last month (of a planned 70): “He who hath the most votes wins."

So far, turnout – and press coverage – has been slim for Scarborough’s events, and although reports aren’t in yet for yesterday’s scheduled rally in Sulphur Springs, Texas, organizers claim the project is “gaining momentum.” Unfortunately for them, the effort is running low on financial support.

Scarborough "Too Strident" For Rove

Rick Scarborough doesn't have fond memories of Karl Rove: "My closest encounter came when he demanded that I be removed from a pastors meeting which Dr. Jerry Falwell hosted while Bush was still the governor of Texas due to my being too strident and conservative in my views for his taste."

Stuck in the Mud, Right Wing Forgets Its Happy Days with Rove

For many frustrated right-wing activists, news of Karl Rove’s departure from the White House may have felt like good riddance to bad rubbish. Richard Viguerie called it “good news for conservatives.” Paul Weyrich, another old hand of the conservative movement, said, “You have to say that if (Rove) can claim credit for what happened in 2004, it is reasonable that he is somewhat responsible for where we are in 2007.”

But if these right-wing activists can pin the blame for the administration’s woes on the president’s erstwhile “architect,” they will have a hard time glossing over Rove’s role in giving them an important berth of political power in the Bush White House.

Pat Boone, Voice of Reason

In the Nation, Christopher Hayes offers some insight into the origin of the “North American Union”—“NAFTA Superhighway” conspiracy theory, which he writes came out of a proposal for a toll-highway in Texas and spiraled into “the first stage of a long, silent coup aimed at supplanting the sovereign United States.”

“North American Union” rumors swirl around the Internet, in spite of (or because of) a lack of factual support beyond a couple disparate, exaggerated elements – such as the Texas highway proposal and meetings between Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico that invoke the menacing word “partnership.” These rumors are championed by CNN host Lou Dobbs, Phyllis Schlafly, “Swift Vet” co-author Jerome Corsi, and the John Birch Society, as well as politicians such as Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) and presidential candidates Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

But if you were waiting for a moment to take the conspiracy seriously, your moment has arrived: legendary crooner (and occasional far-right spokesman) Pat Boone writes that “We've arrived at the most precarious time in this country since the Revolutionary War…”

Pat Boone

New 'Patriot Pastors' Group in Virginia?

The Family Foundation of Virginia, a group that organized support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in 2006, is putting together a “Pastors Issues Summit” that appears to be modeled on the recent “Patriot Pastor” organizing in Ohio, Texas, and other states.

According to the group’s brochure, Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Republicans, will join a representative of the right-wing legal group Alliance Defense Fund to speak on topics such as “Your role as a pastor in Civic Government” and “The political environment in Virginia.” Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, is apparently invited – but if this event resembles the “Patriot Pastor” events in other states, it will be a partisan crowd.

Rick Scarborough's Bible: 'He Who Hath the Most Votes Wins'

The Dallas Morning News follows up on the recent “One Day Crusade” in Lufkin, Texas held by Rick Scarborough, Alan Keyes, and Gordon Klingenschmitt to organize “Patriot Pastors” and register “Values Voters” through the 2008 election. The question asked by the article is whether “traditional-value voters” will be a driving force in 2008, in the way religious-right leaders claimed them to have been in 2004.

Rudy Giuliani, anathema to these activists for his positions on social wedge issues, remains at the top of polls of Republican primary voters, and, as a 2006 Center for American Values in Public Life survey showed, abortion and gay marriage were never the determining factors for the vast majority of Evangelical voters, much less voters in general. And as the Morning News notes, some conservative Christian activists are even broadening their agendas to issues that fall outside their traditional place in the right-wing coalition.

The 'One Day Crusade'

Rick Scarborough has begun his “70 Weeks to Save America” tour of political rallies at churches, with the goal of signing up “100,000 Values Voters, 10,000 key leaders, 5,000 Patriot Pastors and 5,000 women” to “vote their Christian values on election day 2008.”

One Day Crusade in LufkinTurnout was slim” at the kick-off event last Thursday in Lufkin, Texas, according to the local newspaper, but the speakers did what they could to make the evening memorable. Alan Keyes, said to be “considering another run for the White House,” told the crowd that there can be no separation of church and state, and noted that “Barack Obama is an evil man.” (Obama defeated Keyes for Senate in 2004 by 70 to 27 percent.) Keyes added, “The Bible says God hates evil-doers. Christians should hate what God hates too.”

Introducing Rep. Louie Gohmert, local activist Bob Flournoy praised the congressman’s efforts to oppose hate crimes protections for gays, and complained about the “liberal God-haters who can't stand him.” Although the hate crimes bill applies only to violent crimes, Gohmert claimed, “They will come after your sermon notes and your congregation and accuse you of hate speech crimes, just for quoting your Bible in church.”

And Scarborough warned that terrorist attacks were a result of abortion and other policies in America:

"We've allowed terror to strike in the wombs of mothers," he said. "...Could it not be that our judgement has been seeded by our own sin?"

God would reverse the terror if we would reverse our sin, Scarborough said.

Four Boxes

The 200 activists gathered in San Antonio, Texas to protest the conviction of two Border Patrol agents involved in a shooting and cover-up fell short of the 1,000 expected, but the rally – with organizers including anti-immigrant groups American Freedom Riders, U.S. Border Watch, and Minuteman Civil Defense Corps – still had its sparks. The San Antonio Express-News reports:

David Marlett of Dallas climbed into the back of a white pickup and told the crowd that there are "four kinds of boxes — the soap box, the jury box, the ballot box and the cartridge box." "We have seen a misuse of the jury box," he said. "We're going to use the ballot box to get rid of you. But don't test our use of the last box."

With a small group of immigrant rights supporters posted across the street, much of the two-hour rally was tense and fraught with racial undertones.

"We as American patriots won't step aside and allow that flag to be any color other than red, white and blue," said Curtis Collier, president of U.S. Border Watch.

Viewpoint Neutrality for Me, But Not for Thee

Earlier this month, we wrote about a controversy regarding the Albemarle County School Board in Virginia and its "backpack mail" program. As we explained then, the Jerry Falwell-affiliated Liberty Counsel had sent a letter to the school board, citing an earlier 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down a Montgomery County (MD) “backpack mail” policy after it refused to distribute fliers for Child Evangelism Fellowship’s “Good News Clubs.” 

The Liberty Counsel warned the Albemarle board that its refusal to distribute fliers about a church-sponsored vacation bible school via its own "backpack mail" program was unconstitutional and the board quickly changed its policy.  

The Right was quite pleased with itself – at least until fliers for a summer camp for atheists and freethinkers started showing up in students’ backpacks.  

With that, Vision America swung into action, saying it was “outrageous to force teachers to distribute these flyers” and apparently its activists so overwhelmed the Albemarle County School Board that the board has decided to do away with the backpack mail program entirely:

This fall, the load of papers coming home with Albemarle County kids in backpack mail will be lighter: no Boy Scouts recruitments, no YMCA sign-ups, no mention of vacation Bible school. And no fliers touting atheist camp.

Superintendent Pam Moran told the School Board her email inbox shut down when a national organization-- Vision America headquartered in Lufkin, Texas-- got wind of the "beyond belief" Camp Quest fliers and flooded her with messages protesting school-abetted "atheistic indoctrination." Technicians had to work over the weekend to get her email back up and running.

So to recap: Liberty Counsel eagerly embraced “viewpoint neutrality” in order to get evangelical Christian materials into the schools’ “backpack mail” program, but once that neutrality extended to include atheists, Vision America stepped in and shut the program down all together. 

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