Texas

Ted Cruz joins Tony Perkins for a Planned Parenthood Lie-A-Thon

Right-wing activists have always had a difficult relationship with the truth, especially when it comes to Planned Parenthood. The lies they have told about the women’s health organization have been disgraceful and even comical. They continued today as Ted Cruz, the former Solicitor General of Texas and a candidate for US Senate, spoke to Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Today’s Issues about his state’s move to defund Planned Parenthood, which treats nearly half the patients in the state’s Women’s Health Program.

Under Medicaid’s rules, states cannot prohibit qualified health care providers from participating in the program, and Texas officials knew that defunding Planned Parenthood would lead the federal government to withdraw its funding for the program, representing 90 percent of the program’s total funding.

Unfortunately, 130,000 women will now lose access to health care because of Texas’ decision, and will lead to millions of dollars in new state spending due to the drastic cut to preventative health care.

But Texas went ahead and defunded Planned Parenthood, to the satisfaction of the Religious Right, and now are shocked—shocked!—that Medicaid is enforcing its longstanding rules.

Perkins claimed that “Planned Parenthood as a result of losing this funding was closing twelve of its abortion clinics.”

This is false.

In fact, none of the affected clinics provided abortion services. Planned Parenthood clinics that do offer abortions receive neither federal nor state funds and are therefore not impacted by the state’s decision.

Perkins and Cruz also attempted to hold Parent Parenthood and the Obama administration responsible for the deleterious impact on women’s health care by twisting and ignoring the facts throughout the interview. Perkins called it “blackmail” and blamed the administration for “cutting off funds to some of the most needy people in the state of Texas.” Cruz said that the Obama administration wants to send taxpayer dollars to “the abortion industry,” which he called “typical of the assault on our liberties that is proceeding relentlessly everyday under the Obama administration.”

They seem to find no fault at all in Texas’ unilateral and deliberate decision to break Medicaid’s rules and defund an organization that provided nearly half of the health services to low-income women under the state’s program.

Perkins: Let me get your first impressions, the Governor who you know well and the legislature whom you’ve worked with, they said, ‘We’re not going to be part of funding Planned Parenthood.’ They took the steps, that’s rightfully theirs, and so now I can’t explain it as anything other than blackmail from the Obama administration cutting off funds to some of the most needy people in the state of Texas.

Cruz: Tony you’re exactly right. The Obama administration has been the most radical administration this country has ever seen, he is the most radical president this country has ever seen. On this issue, his concern is quite simply political, it is ensuring that the money flow continues to Planned Parenthood and to the abortion industry, and he is willing to hold 130,000 low income Texas women hostage in order to make sure that Planned Parenthood makes their money. It’s cynical, it’s partisan and it’s wrong.



Perkins: I wonder if the timing here, it seems very suspect to me, but after Texas decided to stop this funding of Planned Parenthood, I think it was a week before last the story came out of Texas that Planned Parenthood as a result of losing this funding was closing about twelve of their abortion clinics in Texas. That was a story that was beginning to get traction around the country, giving other legislatures encouragement to take steps like Texas. Is this an effort to cut that off at the pass and try to say ‘hey, you better slow down or else we’re going to come after funding in other areas’?

Cruz: I think it was exactly that. The disturbing thing Tony is you and I and every American are involuntarily the largest funders of Planned Parenthood in this country because the federal government and the Obama administration is fighting tooth and nail to send millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood. You and I are both strongly pro-life, have been fighting to defend the right to life for many years, the idea that we are facing an administration that is so radical that they will do anything they can to defend and expand the taxpayer money to pay for Planned Parenthood and to fund the abortion industry, that is really dismaying and it is typical of the assault on our liberties that is proceeding relentlessly everyday under the Obama administration.

Tom DeLay, Out on Bail, Reunites with Abramoff buddy Ralph Reed at Faith and Freedom Rally

Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) is out on bail after he was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DeLay was also subject to an investigation over his links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In fact, DeLay played a central role in the Abramoff scandal on the illegal use of Indian gambling money.

Another member of the Abramoff’s crooked scheme was Religious Right activist Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition. Abramoff stealthily financed Reed’s anti-gambling organization in Alabama with money from casinos in Mississippi that were afraid of increased competition. Reed claimed he didn’t know it was gambling money, claims Abramoff laughed off as “ridiculous.” In a humiliating defeat, Reed lost his 2006 race to be the Republican nominee of Lt. Governor of Georgia, and in 2009 founded the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Does it come as a surprise to anyone that DeLay, while out on bail, will be speaking at a Faith Freedom Coalition rally in Texas?

Surely, DeLay and Reed are the best people to talk about the importance of America’s “time-honored values” and “sound public policy at every level of government.”

The only thing that could make DeLay and Reed’s Texas rally more perfect would be if Jack Abramoff himself made an appearance. Too bad he now works for the ethics watchdog United Republic.

American History 101 With Professor Kirk Cameron

Yesterday WallBuilders' Rick Green, the poor man's David Barton, appeared as a guest on TBN's "Praise The Lord" program to promote and share the patented brand of Religious Right pseudo-history with which WallBuilders is synonymous.

And Green had some stiff competition in the regard as host Kirk Cameron - yes, that one - tried to stump the audience with a trick question by asking if they knew the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and which one contained the phrase "four score and seven years ago." 

The answer, of course, is that neither document contains that phrase, which Cameron admitted ... before mistakenly claiming that it appeared in the Emancipation Proclamation when, in actuality, it was the opening line of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

How David Barton Is Secretly Shaping Curricula Across The Nation

In our previous post we noted that the American Family Association spent two hours promoting the new WallBuilders "Building On The American Heritage Series" DVD program and that, during the program, David Barton took calls from listeners in the AFA audience.

During the Q&A, one of the listeners expressed hope that the next president would give Barton a Cabinet-level appointment, maybe as Attorney General, but that was a notion that Barton quickly shot down by admitting it would never happen because he is "radioactive."  

But Barton then went on to reveal that because he is so radioactive, he has been forced to help school boards draft state history and/or government curricula in secret so that people on the Left don't find out about it:

For me, I am radioactive in so many areas. I got a call from US News and World Report and they said "did you know the ACLU just spent a million dollars to discredit you?" There are four law schools I know that have entire websites dedicated just to me. Soros-type people get paid to find my name every time it pops up and they will start blogging about how stupid I am, how I don't know anything, how I make up my history. And so if you Google me, you're going to find a lot of negative stuff about me.

Now, having said that, I get appointed by a lot of states, by state boards of education to do the history and government standards in those states, public schools, etc ... Now, when these guys find out that I'm there, I become the target of their attempts. So in Texas, I was one of six guys appointed by the state Board of Education to do history and government there and suddenly I'm up on Wall Street Journal, MSNBC is doing specials on how terrible I am, all these things are going after me. And that's fine; I understand that I'm radioactive.

So, this is a lot of fun: I had a national textbook publisher come to me and said "hey, you helped write these standards, why don't you help us do textbooks to reflect those standards?" I said "sure, but just keep my name out of the textbook, don't put me down as one of the editors because if you put me down, they'll go all over the nation talking about how terrible this is." So they kept my name out. Guess what? That public school textbook is now the best-selling public school history textbook in America.

So this history is good. People want this history, they want to get this stuff but what happens is there's a political movement that will try to marginalize us by making us radioactive. I currently now am working with multiple states in doing their history and government standards - I'm not going to say what those states are because they've kept it silent, I'm going to keep it silent.

Blackwell Ditches Bachmann For Perry

Back when Michele Bachmann was the GOP’s flavor of the month, three Religious Right leaders formed a Super PAC to bolster Bachmann’s fledgling campaign. Kenneth Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State, failed gubernatorial nominee and unsuccessful candidate to be chairman of the Republican National Committee, was to chair the pro-Bachmann Citizens for a Working America. In fact, the announcement came just days after Rick Perry entered the presidential race.

How times have changed. Today, Blackwell switched sides and is now endorsing Rick Perry:

Ken Blackwell, the former Republican Secretary of State of Ohio and one time candidate for Governor who lost against Democrat Ted Strickland in 2006, has endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for President.

“I am proud to endorse Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president,” said Blackwell in a release from the Perry campaign. “Gov. Perry’s successful record of job creation shows that he has the skill, experience and ideas necessary to get our nation working again. His proven conservative values, and his proven executive experience are exactly what this country needs to reverse the failed policies of the Obama Administration.”

Blackwell’s endorsement comes just as Perry’s campaign is having a second roll-out following a major slip in the polls as a result of dreadful debate performances and other missteps. Bachmann’s poll numbers have also dropped significantly as Herman Cain, for now, has emerged as Mitt Romney’s closest rival. But with Cain flubbing and flip-flopping even straight-forward questions on abortion rights and gay rights and Bachmann’s campaign running low on support, staffers and funding, it may be time that establishment figures in the Religious Right rally behind Perry as their choice.

Rep. Ted Poe: Obama Administration Is "Anti-Religious"

Speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Washington Watch last week, Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe accused President Obama and his administration of promoting policies that are “anti-religious.” Poe and Perkins were discussing with the manufactured controversy over a Texas veteran’s cemetery that prohibits a volunteer group from holding religious services at a funeral if the family does not request it. The New York Times points out that this rule was created in 2007 by the Bush administration, but according to Poe, the policy is actually all Obama’s fault.

As Kyle noted, “To the Religious Right, preventing outside groups from attending funerals and offering prayers at services where they are not wanted or requested is a violation of the religious freedom of the volunteers.” Last month, Poe attacked the cemetery director as “anti-Christian, anti-religion and anti-veteran” and introduced legislation that he said would end the supposed “religious censorship.”

In his conversation with Poe last week, Perkins claimed that “this is symptomatic of a much larger problem that we’re seeing in this administration where this type of hostility, I would describe it as, toward traditional, orthodox religious views is being unleashed.” Poe said that he agreed with Perkins’ assessment and went on to blame the Obama administration for having an “anti-religious” bias.

Perkins: This is symptomatic of a much larger problem that we’re seeing in this administration where this type of hostility, I would describe it as, toward traditional, orthodox religious views is being unleashed. We won this battle but the war is far from over, so you’ve got legislation that will say, ‘hey, nowhere in this country will veterans be denied their rights nor their families to the right to these religious services in federal cemeteries,’ so where does that legislation stand?

Poe: The legislation has been filed and it is before the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives. As soon as they get a hearing we’ll get it to the floor as soon as we can and get a vote on it, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t pass. What you say Tony is exactly correct. It is my opinion that the administration—this problem is systematic throughout the administration in areas that it’s just almost anti-religious, non-religious and anti-religious in areas such as this. We’re calling them out on this to stop this nonsense.

US Pastor Council Wants Everyone To Know Houston Mayor Annise Parker Is Gay

Back in 2009, Dave Welch of the US Pastor Council took the lead in opposing the campaign of openly gay Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker but lost, leading Welch to apologize for letting our "position on the wall be breached by the enemy" while declaring Parker's election to be evidence "of cancer of the soul among the people."

So, in case you weren't aware, Welch is not particularly supportive of Parker's sexuality or her role in public office.  And that is why, as the Texas Freedom Network reports, Welch's organization sent out an email announcing a new video aiming to expose Parker's nefarious agenda - a video that consists mostly of footage of Parker talking about equality and gving her partner a kiss on the cheek:

It is astounding to have to say that most Houston citizens – including most Christians and pastors – are still unaware of the radical nature of Mayor Annise Parker’s commitment to imposing the full “San Francisco Style” Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, etc. agenda. … We have a sin-sick city and we need the power of God through Jesus Christ changing lives and changing City Hall!

Perkins Agrees With Jeffress That Voters Should Prefer Christian Leaders

Coverage of the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit this year was dominated by stories of Robert Jeffress’ criticism of the Mormon faith; Bryan Fischer’s unabashed bigotry; and the infighting that rose to the surface when Bill Bennett rebuked Jeffress and Mitt Romney, tepidly and not by name, denounced Fischer. The press coverage of the Religious Right conference was so completely focused on Jeffress and Fischer that the FRC even asked members to pray that the media will stop reporting on the story.

Today FRC president Tony Perkins used his radio alert today to defend Jeffress, who made it clear that Romney’s Mormon faith was a reason he endorsed his chief rival, Rick Perry. “His rational; all else being equal a Christian leader is to be preferred over a non-Christian,” Perkins said, “I whole heartedly agree.”

Listen:

Do you have the freedom to choose between Christian and a non-Christian candidate? Hello, this is Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council in Washington. Texas pastor Robert Jeffress created a firestorm when he declared at the Values Voter Summit he was voting for Rick Perry because he was a Christian. His rational; all else being equal a Christian leader is to be preferred over a non-Christian. I whole heartedly agree. So did the first justice of the Supreme Court John Jay who said it was in the "interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." Many so-called journalists have gone apoplectic claiming such a bigoted position violates article 6 of the Constitution, how absurd. The article reads, “Congress may not require religious tests for an office." The Constitution restricts what the government can require, not what individuals can consider. If voters can consider a candidate's party and that party's platform, they can consider a candidate’s religion and the tenets of that faith. We should prefer mature, qualified Christians for public office over those who reject the orthodox teachings of scripture.

This prompts the question: how would Tony Perkins feel about the competence of a Jewish leader over a Christian one? Perkins and the Religious Right always talk about their Judeo-Christian coalition and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is Jewish, addressed the Values Voter Summit and is seen as a rising star in GOP circles. So much for that.

And would it impact Perkins’ decision in the Republican primary? During the Jeffress spat, Perkins told CNN’s John King that he does not consider Mormons to be Christians: “Well, let me say this, John. I do not see Mormonism as the same as Christianity. Now, whether it’s defined as a cult, I don’t know. I would say it’s not Christianity the way evangelicals view Christianity. There’s a distinction. There’s no question there’s a theological distinction between Mormonism and Christianity.”

If Perkins thinks that Christians should be given preference over non-Christians, and that Mormons are not Christians, is there any difference between his view and Jeffress’ view on Romney’s candidacy?

Media Banned From Secretive Religious Right Event

Shortly after Rick Perry's prayer rally earlier this year, organizers of that event started promoting a Religious Right voter mobilization effort called "Champion The Vote," which seeks to "mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012."

It turned out that the Champion The Vote effort was a project of organization called United In Purpose, which is being funded by conservative millionaires for the purpose of mobilizing "40 million out of the estimated 60 million evangelicals in the United States to vote" over the next decade.

As part of this effort, United In Purpose/Champion The Vote are producing an event called "One Nation Under God" where churches and Religious Right activists will gather to watch a three-hour DVD being provided United In Purpose and featuring David Barton, Newt Gingrich, James Dobson, and others talking about the importance of keeping America "one nation under God":

Over the weekend, all of the speakers gathered in Florida for a Florida Renewal Project event for pastors at which the filming for the DVD was presumably done ... and it seems that organizers did not want any attention because when a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel showed up at the event, he was tossed out of the hotel by security:

The media was advised that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s speech to a gathering of Florida pastors Friday would be closed to the public, but apparently the group behind the meeting didn’t even want media in the same hotel.

A couple weeks ago, Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry were announced as possible speakers at a two-day event in Orlando Thursday and Friday called the Florida Renewal Project. But this week no one wanted to talk about it, except to say it would be closed to the media and public.

Perry’s staff even denied he would attend. Gingrich’s staff confirmed his appearance but would not return phone calls to discuss it.

I went anyway this morning, to the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, to see if Gingrich would be willing to talk to me before or after his speech. When he arrived shortly before noon, I was the lone journalist on the scene, waiting in the hallway outside the meeting room. Gingrich and his staff agreed to talk to me later, at another hotel. After seeing that exchange, hotel officials approached me and, saying they were acting on behalf of event organizers, ordered me to leave the Rosen Centre property immediately, and escorted me to my car.

...

Then it turned out Perry had attended after all, sort of, Thursday night - by satellite link-up, according to tweets posted Thursday night by John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, which was a participant in the Florida Renewal Project.

That appearance, which included a speech and taking questions from the pastors, came just hours after the Texas governor’s campaign staff assured the Sentinel he would not attend.

Who organized the event though? No one would say for sure, though Stemberger acknowledged that the California-based organization United in Purpose, which had organized similar “Renewal Project” events in California and Iowa earlier this year, “was involved.”

The last time United In Purpose hosted one of these conferences, we caught Mike Huckabee telling the audience that Americans ought to be forced to listen to David Barton at gunpoint.  But when United In Purpose later broadcast the event, that exchange was entirely edited out

So while organizers are going to be releasing a DVD of this Florida event in the coming weeks, it seems that they want to be able to control what people actually see and don't want reporters around revealing what was really taking place.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Peter LaBarbera says the vandalism of the site hosting his conference qualifies as a hate crime.
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  • And, of course, Bryan Fischer seconds that view.
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  • The Associated Press takes a look at The New Apostolic Reformation.
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  • Robert Jeffress will be a featured speaker at the 2nd Annual Reclaiming Texas for Christ Conference.
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  • Finally, Al Mohler says Christians cannot attend gay weddings: "[A]ny Christian who knows that same-sex marriage violates God’s Law and purpose for marriage knows — and cannot act as if he or she does not know — that a same-sex couple should not be joined in holy matrimony. To remain silent at that point is to abdicate theological and biblical responsibility. Even if the question is not formally asked in the ceremony, the issue remains. We cannot celebrate what we know to be wrong."

Priest Says Catholics Must Oppose Politicians Who Don't Oppose "Intrinsically Evil" Homosexuality

The mayor of El Paso, Texas and two city councilmembers are facing recall elections after their support of domestic partner benefits for city employees raised the ire of Religious Right activists. One of the proponents of the recall, Rev. Michael Rodriguez, was reassigned out of the El Paso Roman Catholic diocese after paying for advertisements saying that the choice for Catholic voters in the election was “clear” and they must support the recall.

In an interview last week with Michael J. Matt of The Remnant, Rodriguez said, “Every single Catholic has a moral obligation before God Himself to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions” and “oppose this homosexual agenda.” Rodriguez told the newspaper that “even a pagan, bereft of the light of faith, can arrive at the conclusion that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil.”

MJM: Up until last year, I believe, things were pretty quiet in your priestly life. What happened to change all that?

FR: The local, and even national, "controversy" that has engulfed me is due to the fact that I have been vocal in promoting what the Roman Catholic Church teaches in regard to the whole issue of homosexuality. It's a disgrace, but the City Council of El Paso has been adamant in trying to legitimize same-sex unions. This goes completely contrary to Catholic Church teaching. I've made it clear to the Catholics of El Paso (and beyond) that every single Catholic has a moral obligation before God Himself to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions. A Catholic who fails to oppose this homosexual agenda, is committing a grave sin by omission. Furthermore, if a Catholic doesn't assent to the infallible moral teaching of the Church that homosexual acts are mortally sinful, then such a Catholic is placing himself / herself outside of communion with the Church. These are the Catholics who are actually excommunicating themselves, not the Society of St. Pius X!

MJM: I can understand why the civil authorities and media might find this “controversial”; but why would your ecclesial superiors find it so?

FR: The dismal response of both civil and ecclesiastical authorities to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church in regard to homosexuality demonstrates how extreme the current crisis of faith actually is. It really can't get much worse. There's hardly any faith left to lose! Even a pagan, bereft of the light of faith, can arrive at the conclusion that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. Reason, natural law, and consideration of the male and female anatomy more than suffice to confirm this moral truth.

Right Wing Round-Up

In David Barton's Alternative Reality, Americans Love Don't Ask Don't Tell

Republican pseudo-historian David Barton says that he, like Jesus, has never been legitimately critiqued, and is even suing two Democratic politicians in Texas and a blogger who have criticized him. While Right Wing Watch, among others, reports on Barton’s incessant dishonesty on a regular basis, he continues to tell falsehoods even when he is directly confronted about it.

Today on his program WallBuilders Live, Barton and his co-host Rick Green discussed the 9th Circuit Court’s decision on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While they originally found the policy unconstitutional, the court recently vacated the ruling following the policy’s official repeal. Barton argued that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act are “still overwhelmingly popular” among Americans:

Barton: The president’s going to follow the 9th's decision, that’s just what happens when you get a president—

Green: You’re gonna have to choose a Commander and Chief that—

Barton: You’re gonna have to choose a president who’s going to enforce laws that the rest of us think are important. Now he’s choosing to enforce the laws and not enforce the laws he thinks are important, and it’s not where the nation is. You know overwhelmingly we still want DOMA, the ban on homosexuals in the military that’s still overwhelmingly popular, he’s just not going there.

Of course, Barton is flat out wrong.

A CBS News poll released October 4 found that “68 percent of Americans said they support gay and lesbians’ rights to serve openly,” and that 48% of Republicans favored the repeal of the ban on openly gay soldiers, more than the 41% who opposed repeal.

On marriage, polls from Gallup, CNN, ABC, AP/Roper and the Public Religion Research Institute all found that a majority of Americans support marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Moreover, a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll found that 51% of voters oppose DOMA and just 34% support the law, which is still being enforced.

But David Barton, naturally, would not let actual polling data stand in the way of his claim that Americans are still hostile to the rights of gays and lesbians.

Values Voter Summit 2011 & America in 2013

As RWW readers know, the Values Voter Summit, the year’s biggest political gathering for the Religious Right, took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.  Every Republican presidential candidate with the exception of Jon Huntsman addressed the summit, evidence of the continuing importance of Religious Right activists and political groups to the GOP. Polls suggest that the Religious Right is about twice as big as the Tea Party, with significant overlap between the two movements. Ron Paul’s campaign packed in enough voters to win the straw poll, but it would be wrong to say he was the favorite of the Values Voter crowd. It was up-and-coming candidate Herman Cain who won the loudest cheers (and took second place).

The two days of speeches from presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and Religious Right activists painted a clear picture of where they’ll try to take the country if they are successful in their 2012 electoral goals.  In their America, banks and corporations would be free from pesky consumer and worker protections; there would be no Environmental Protection Agency and no federal support for education; women would have no access to abortion; gays would be second-class citizens; and for at least some of them, religious minorities would have to know their place and be grateful that they are tolerated in this Christian nation. 
 
Here’s a recap of some major themes from the conference.
 
Religious Bigotry on Parade
 
In one of the most extreme expressions of the “Christian nation” approach to government, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has stated repeatedly that the religious liberty of non-Christians is not protected by the First Amendment.  More specifically, he says Mormons are not protected by the First Amendment.  For whatever reason, VVS organizers scheduled Romney and Fischer back-to-back on Saturday morning. 
 
Before the conference, People For the American Way called on Romney to take on Fischer’s bigotry, which he did, albeit in a vague and tepid manner, criticizing “poisonous” rhetoric without naming Fischer or explaining why his views are poison.  Getting greater media attention were comments by Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who in his introduction of Texas Gov. Rick Perry insisted on the importance of electing a “genuine” follower of Christ. Reporters who accurately saw this as a swipe at Romney’s faith asked Jeffress about it, and he labeled Mormonism a cult.  (Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many Christians, including Southern Baptists, believe Mormon theology is anything but.)  Following Romney at the microphone, Fischer doubled down, insisting that the next president has to be a Christian “in the mold of” the founding fathers.  Fischer’s inaccurate sense of history is eclipsed only by his lack of respect for church-state separation and for the Constitution itself – even though he insisted that his religious test for the presidency was really a “political test.” Romney took only four percent in the VVS straw poll, even though he has been leading in recent polls of GOP voters.
 
Beating up on Obama
 
Religious Right leaders routinely denounce President Barack Obama, so it is no surprise that a major theme of the VVS was attacking the president and his policies.  Perhaps the nicest thing anyone said about the president was Mitt Romney’s snide remark that Obama is “the conservative movement’s top recruiter.”    Among the nastiest came from virtue-monger Bill Bennett, who said, “if you voted for him last time to prove you are not a racist, you must vote against him this time to prove you are not an idiot.” Rep. Anne Buerkle, one of the Tea Party freshmen, said flat out that the president is not concerned about what is best for the country. 
 
Health care and foreign policy were top policy targets.  Many speakers denounced “Obamacare,” and most of the presidential candidates promised to make dismantling health care reform a top priority. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Religious Right favorite who is leading a legal challenge to the health care reform law, said that if the Supreme Court did not overturn it, Americans would go from being citizens to subjects.  Just about every speaker attacked President Obama for not being strong enough in support of Israel, and repeated a favorite right-wing talking point by pledging to “never apologize” for U.S. actions abroad.
 
Gays as Enemies of Liberty
 
It is clear that a Republican takeover of the Senate and White House would put advances toward equality for LGBT Americans in peril.  Speaker after speaker denounced the recent repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers in the armed forces; many also attacked marriage equality for same-sex couples.  And many portrayed liberty as a zero-sum game, insisting that advances toward equality posed a dire threat to religious liberty. Rep. Mike Pompeo said “You cannot use our military to promote social ideals that do not reflect the values of our nation,” concluding his remarks with a call for the election of more Republicans, saying “ride to the sounds of the guns and send us more troops.”
Another member of the 2010 freshman class – Rep. Vicky Hartzler – attacked the Obama administration for “trying to use the military to advance their social agenda,” saying, “It’s wrong and it must be stopped.” Predictably, the AFA’s Fischer was the most vitriolic and insisted that the country needs a president “who will treat homosexual behavior not as a political cause at all but as a threat to public health.”
 
Loving Wall Street, Hating Wall Street Protesters
 
On the same day that moving pictures of Kol Nidre services at the site of Occupy Wall Street protests made the rounds on the Internet, Values Voter Summit speakers portrayed the protests as dangerous and violent.  Others simply mocked the protesters without taking seriously the objections being raised to growing inequality and economic hardship in America.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor denounced the “growing mobs” associated with the protests and decried “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” (Too bad he didn’t stick around to hear the rest of the speakers).  Glenn Beck denounced “Jon Stewart Marxism” and warned that the protests were the sign of an approaching “storm of biblical proportions” in which “the violent left” would smash, tear down, kill, bankrupt, and destroy.  Pundit Laura Ingraham simply made fun of the protesters and held up her own “hug the rich” sign.  Rising star Herman Cain defended Wall Street, blaming the nation’s economic crisis on policymakers, not reckless and irresponsible financiers.  Nobody wanted to regulate the financiers; speakers called for a repeal of the Dodd-Frank law. 
 
A number of speakers promoted Christian Reconstructionist notions of “Biblical economics,” with Star Parker declaring that “this whole notion of redistribution of wealth is inconsistent with scripture” and calling for the selection of a candidate with commitment to the free market according to the Bible.  Ron Paul also insisted “debt is not a political principle.”  The AFA’s Bryan Fischer said that liberalism is based on violating two of the Ten Commandments, namely thou shall not steal, and thou shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.  Liberalism, he said, is “driven by angry, bitter, acquisitive greed for the wealth of productive Americans.” 
 
No Love for Libertarians
 
A major theme at last year’s Values Voter Summit, as at other recent Religious Right political events, was an effort to make social-issue libertarians unwelcome in the conservative movement by insisting that you cannot legitimately claim to be a fiscal conservative if you are not also pushing “traditional family values.”  The same theme was sounded this year by the very first speaker, Tony Perkins.  Another, Joe Carter, took a shot at gay conservatives, saying it was not possible to be conservative and for gay marriage – it simply made you a “liberal who likes tax cuts.”  Carter said “social conservative” should be redundant. Ingraham echoed the theme, calling for an end to conservative modifiers (social, fiscal, national security) and, echoing popular Christian writer C.S. Lewis, called for a commitment to “mere conservatism.”  There were far fewer mentions of the Tea Party movement itself at this year’s VVS, perhaps owing to the movement’s unpopularity – or to the fact that the GOP itself has essentially become one big Tea Party party.
 
Crying Wolf on Religious Persecution
 
Religious Right leaders routinely energize movement activists with dire warnings about threats to religious liberty and the alleged religious persecution of Christians in America.  William Bennett said liberals are bigoted against “people who publicly love their God, who publicly love their country.”  Retired Gen. William Boykin said Christians are facing the greatest persecution ever in America.   The American Center for Law & Justice’s Jay Sekulow warned that the next president will probably select two Supreme Court justices, and that if it isn’t a conservative president, our Judeo-Christian values could be “eliminated.”  Crying wolf about persecution of Christians in America is offensive given the very real suffering of people in countries that do not enjoy religious freedom.  Several speakers addressed the case of a Christian pastor facing death in Iran.  That is persecution; having your political tactics challenged or losing a court case is not.
 
America is Exceptional; Europe Sucks
 
Republican strategists decided a couple of years ago that “American exceptionalism” would be a campaign theme in 2010 and 2012, and we heard plenty of talk about it at the Values Voter Summit.  Among the many who spoke about American exceptionalism was Rep. Steve King, who said “this country was ordained and built by His hand,” that the Declaration of Independence was written with divine guidance, and that God moved the founding fathers around the globe like chess pieces .  Liberals, said the Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding, don’t share a belief in American exceptionalism or the American dream. Many speakers contrasted a freedom-loving, God-fearing America to socialist, post-Christian Europe.  Rick Perry said “those in the White House” don’t believe in American exceptionalism; they’d rather emulate the failed policies of Europe.  Gen. Boykin declared Europe “hopelessly lost.”
 
Smashing the Regulatory State
 
The anti-government, anti-regulatory fervor of billionaire right-wing funders like the Koch brothers was on vibrant display at the VVS.  Without the slightest nod to the fact that regulating the behavior of corporations’ treatment of workers, consumers, and the environment is in any way beneficial, a member of a Heritage Foundation panel said conservatives’ goal should be to “break the back” of the “regulatory state.”  Some presidential candidates vowed to halt every regulation issued during the Obama administration.  Michele Bachmann said her goal was to “dismantle” the bureaucracy.
 
Judging Judges
 
Many speakers criticized judges for upholding abortion rights, church-state separation, and gay rights. Newt Gingrich took these attacks to a whole new level, calling for right-wing politicians to provoke a  constitutional crisis in which the legislative and executive branch would ignore court rulings they didn’t like.  He called the notion of “judicial supremacy” an “affront to the American system of self-government.” Aside from Gingrich’s very dubious constitutional theory, the speech seemed out of place at a conference in which speakers had been calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the health care law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
 
Deconstructing the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’
 
VVS speakers love quoting the Declaration of Independence, but some are clearly a little troubled with the notion that the “pursuit of happiness” is an inalienable right, one that might apply, for example, to happy, loving gay couples.  Rick Santorum said that the founders’ understanding of “happiness” meant “the morally right thing” and doing what God wants.  Steve King said the  pursuit of happiness was not like a tailgate party, but the pursuit of excellence in moral and spiritual development.  Michele Bachman has equated the pursuit of happiness with private property.
 
Notably weird speeches
 
Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel gave a meandering address that moved from U.S. policy on Israel to the war on Islamic radicalism to an attack on the United Nations to denunciations of sexologist Alfred Kinsey and humanist/educator John Dewey for undermining western civilization. He warned against conservatives using rhetoric that might push the growing Latino population into the maw of the “leftist machine,” making an aside about Latinos whose names end in “z” having a special connection to Israel.
 
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who ended up taking third place in the straw poll, seemed personally hurt that conservative evangelicals weren’t rallying around him given all that he had done for them and the price he had paid for it.  He whined, “Don’t you want a president who’s comfortable in his shoes talking about these issues?”
 
Rep. Steve King of Iowa said that people who support marriage equality or legal abortion don’t do so because they have a value system supporting those things, but because they want to spite the Religious Right – “because they know it’s precious to us.”
 
Former Fox TV personality Glenn Beck gave a trademark lurching speech contrasting visceral anger with his recitation of Abraham Lincoln’s “with malice toward none.” The speech was long on mockery of Wall Street protestors and on the messianic narcissism that was on display at his Lincoln Memorial rally last year.  “We need to give America the same choice” that Moses gave Israel, he said: good or evil, light or dark, life or death, freedom or slavery.  He said America is in a religious war, a race war, a class war, and other wars.  In one breath he insisted that the nation “must return to God” and talked about the “country’s salvation” – and in the next he denounced the notion of “collective salvation,” which he has elsewhere attributed to President Obama and denounced as evil and satanic.
 

David Barton Is Just As Good At Math As He Is At History

A few weeks ago, David Barton was featured on a conference call promoting United In Purpose's upcoming "One Nation Under God" event and, during the discussion, asserted that his work is "documented so well" that all his critics can do is attack him personally.

The idea that critics cannot challenge Barton's "facts" is absurd. In fact, it was just last week that Barton was forced to admit that he misleadingly characterized the American College of Pediatricians, a small, right-wing splinter group,  as "the leading pediatric association in America" ... though, in typical Barton fashion, he did so by refusing to admit that he was wrong.

On yesterday's program, where he and Sally Kern stoked fears of gay violence, Barton picked up on the idea that Kern was some sort of modern day Anita Bryant and, in recounting Bryant's story, perfectly demonstrated his own lack of concern for getting his facts right:

Now most people don't know Anita Bryant, especially in this generation. Anita Bryant goes back to 1977. She was Miss America runner-up ... at that time, she was a spokeswoman for Florida orange juice and Florida oranges and what they did and she was, in '77, getting a hundred thousand dollars a year on contact to be a spokesman and that's a lot of money, that's in the millions today.

Now, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator, $100,000 in 1977 equals $373,836.63 today - not quite the "millions" that Barton claims.

You'd think that Barton, who attended Oral Roberts University on a math and science scholarship and actually taught math at a Christian school would be ... well, a little bit better at math.

Now this instance is not a particularly egregious example of Barton's misleading work, but it is another good example of just how fundamentally uninterested he is in making sure that anything he says is based in reality

Bryan Fischer's Speech To The Values Voter Summit

During his address to the Values Voter Summit, Bryan Fischer made the same claims he always made: Islam is evil and Muslims are traitors, LGBT equality threatens freedom, and the Constitution protects only Christians (not Mormons). After posting clips from the speech of Fischer attacking gay rights and the theory of evolution, we decided to post his speech in full.

Remember that presidential candidates Herman CainMichele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich have all appeared on his show, along with past candidates Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee. In addition, Fischer is the spokesman for the organization, the American Family Association, that co-hosted The Response prayer rally with Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Part I:

Part II:

WallBuilders Enlists Christopher Columbus & Reconstructionist Eidsmoe in Christian Nation Crusade

David Barton’s WallBuilders is tireless in pushing its “Christian nation” version of American history.   Today it encourages its supporters to “Celebrate Columbus Day!” and to read John Eidsmoe’s Columbus and Cortez: Conquerors for Christ.  

Eidsmoe is the Christian Reconstructionist cited by Michele Bachmann as her mentor and major influence.  He is also a colleague of Roy Moore, who lost his job as Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court when he refused to obey federal court orders to remove a Ten Commandments memorial he had installed in the state courthouse.

As we have reported, Eidsmoe believes that feminists “violate the normal order” that God put in place for husbands to head households, that “homosexuality invites the judgment of God upon all of society,” that gays will turn the military into a “cesspool of immorality,” and that public education is brainwashing students to believe in secularism and evolution.  Ryan Lizza recently reported that Eidsmoe was uninvited from a Tea Party event last year after addressing an event in Alabama commemorating Secession Day and telling an interviewer that it was the state’s “constitutional right to secede,” and that “Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.”

Eidsmoe’s book on Columbus has an introduction by Peter Marshall, another “Christian Nation” advocate who served with Wallbuilders’ founder David Barton as an “expert” to Religious Right members of the Texas Board of Education pushing massive revisions to social science textbooks.  Marshall writes:

In his customary careful and thorough manner, John Eidsmoe has pierced through the obfuscating fog of twentieth-century humanist bias and judgments that have obscured the truth about two of the most controversial figures in American history, Christopher Columbus and Hernando Cortez. Using earlier sources, he has presented us with a well-researched, even-handed, and fair treatment of both their Christian motives for their incredible exploits, and the very real mistakes they made .This is a valuable contribution toward restoring a true Christian perspective on our American past.

WallBuilders’ Columbus Day email celebrates Columbus’ belief that he was being led by the Holy Spirit and complains that modern scholarship has denigrated Columbus specifically because of his religious motivation:

It is especially because of Columbus’ religious motivations and convictions that today he has become a villain for most modern educators and writers, who regularly attack and condemn him.

That echoes Eidsmoe’s book, which claims, “A scholarly desire to correct the historical record is not the primary reason [for modern criticism of Columbus]…No, the attack is directed toward values – biblical values and the Christian civilization that is based on biblical values.”

Eidsmoe writes:

The reason may of us find history boring is that we fail to see the sovereign hand of God at work as history unfolds. The way you look at history depends in large part upon your world view….For the Christian, history is, or should be, the unfolding of God’s plan for the human race. For the Christian, the discovery, exploration and settlement of the Western Hemisphere takes on a whole new dimension of meaning as God works through imperfect vessels like Columbus, Cortez….and others who bring salvation to the inhabitants of the Western world through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

He decries the effort to “move this nation away from its Christian foundations” in order to “remake America into a secular or pagan society….If the Christian professions of Christopher Columbus and others can be proven insincere, if their deeds can be downplayed and their sins and shortcomings magnified, then this element of America’s Christian past can be discredited and set aside.”

David Barton Likens Himself To Jesus

The ever so humble David Barton told listeners on a conference call for United In Purpose’s “ One Nation Under God” event today that the criticisms he faces for his erroneous, reliably wrong and consistently debunked portrayal of history are just like what Jesus endured. Bill Dallas of United In Purpose and Champion the Vote asked why the “secular press” always questions Barton’s faulty interpretations of history. In fact, Barton’s critics include historians from both Christian and secular institutions. Barton answered that his critics, like the persecutors of Jesus, don’t attack the content of his message but only lie about who he is.

Barton, who is currently suing three of his critics for libel and defamation, recommends that since “Jesus ignored those comments,” you “don’t worry about when they attack you, you don’t worry about what they say.”

Dallas: Well when the secular press tries to pigeonhole you as a historical revisionist, how does that make you feel? How do you combat that? How do we combat that? Because we use a lot of your materials, David, what do you say to that?

Barton: One of the things that I’ve found is that they like to go after me but they won’t go after the content because it’s documented so well, in our case we have 100,000 documents from before 1812. I have four law schools out there, secular law schools, who have entire websites smashing me, trashing me, but they’ve never been able to go after the content, they just don’t like what’s there. So what they’ll do is, and I don’t want to compare myself in anyway, but it’s the same tactic they used with Jesus. When Jesus had content that would change people’s lives they’d say ‘oh he’s a wine-drinker, he’s a glutton,’ and they would make things up about him and that’s designed to sever people from listening to him, ‘who wants to listen to a drunkard, who wants to listen to a glutton?’ So what you have to do is, you get by there, Jesus ignored those comment, you keep putting out the information so you don’t worry about when they attack you, you don’t worry about what they say, you get a whole bunch of people who will listen and you just overwhelm them with numbers.

Dallas also told listeners that Barton will give a two hour lecture during the “One Nation Under God” event, which will also feature Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, but which Dallas stressed is completely “nonpartisan.” Of course, having Gingrich, Perry, and Barton, the former vice-chair of the Texas Republican Party and a paid consultant of the Republican National Committee, shows that event organizers aren’t trying very hard to hide their pro-GOP message.

Are VVS Organizers Trying To Hide Fischer's Involvement?

Last month, we asked why Bryan Fischer was not being pictured among the confirmed and invited leaders to the upcoming Values Voter Summit.

Fischer has been a featured speaker for each of the last two years at the event and has always been prominently featured on the speaker's list in years past.  And considering that his employer, The American Family Association, is a co-sponsor of the event, it seemed rather unlikely that Fischer had been dropped, despite his long record of unmitigated bigotry.

The Values Voter Summit is being held next week and Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum are all pictured on the confirmed speaker list, as are dozens of other GOP and Religious Right leaders ... but Fischer is nowhere to be found:

But just because he is not listed on the speakers page, that doesn't mean that Fischer won't be speaking, because the event schedule has him listed as speaking directly after Mitt Romney on Saturday:

9:00 a.m. - Noon

MORNING PLENARY SESSION - Regency Ballroom

- Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), Republican Presidential Candidate*

- Dr. Bill Bennett, Host, Morning in America*

- Governor Mitt Romney, Republican Presidential Candidate*

- Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis, American Family Association*

Straight Talk on Gay "Marriage"

- Moderator: Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, FRC Action
- Daniel Avila, J.D., Policy Advisor for Marriage and Family , U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops*
- Brian Brown, Executive Director, National Organization for Marriage
- Derek McCoy, President, Maryland Family Alliance*
- David Tyree, Former Wide Receiver, New York Giants

- General William Boykin (Ret.), Former Commander, Delta Force*

The asterisk by Fischer's name indicates that he is a confirmed speaker, so why are event organizers seemingly trying to conceal his participation?

Alliance Defense Fund To Launch Law School Aimed At Creating "Liberal Chaser" Attorneys

Religious Right leaders are coming together to form yet another law school to train future lawyers of the conservative movement. The right-wing Alliance Defense Fund is helping Louisiana College, a Southern Baptist institution, start the Paul Pressler School of Law, which will join Liberty University, Regent University and others in providing politicized training to the next generation of Religious Right lawyers.

Pressler’s ties to the Alliance Defense Fund will be similar to the Liberty University School of Law’s partnership with Liberty Counsel and the Regent University School of Law’s (originally Oral Roberts University’s Coburn School of Law) alliance with the American Center for Law and Justice. As Sarah Posner notes, such law schools intend to “teach the ‘biblical’ foundations of the law” and create “lawyers unafraid to inject their particular Christian beliefs, not only into the public square, but quite deliberately into legislation, policy, and jurisprudence.”

According to the National Law Journal, the new law school “is named for Paul Pressler III, a former Texas Court of Appeals judge who helped lead the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention during the 1970s.”

The founding dean of the Pressler law school, J. Michael Johnson, was previously senior counsel of the ADF and, according to his Townhall.com bio, has “provided legal representation to organizations such as Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, Toward Tradition, the American Family Association, and Coral Ridge Ministries, and numerous family policy councils and crisis pregnancy centers.” In 2005, Johnson won the “Faith, Family and Freedom” award from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins for his work defending the Louisiana Marriage Protection Amendment, which placed a ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution.

Yesterday on Today’s Issues, Perkins, who is a member of Pressler’s board of reference, spoke to Johnson about the new law school. Johnson said the law school would be “not unlike what our colleagues are doing at the Liberty University School of Law and the Regent University School of Law.” Perkins said, “This law school’s not going to be pumping out ambulance chasers, this is going to be pumping out liberal chasers, I mean we’re gonna track them down, wherever they are and we’re gonna defeat them, and if we can’t defeat them in the policy realm we’re gonna defeat them in the courts.” He added, “This law school is gonna be pumping out God-fearing, American-loving, family-defending attorneys”:

The choice of Louisiana College is no surprise. The school claims it “seeks to view all areas of knowledge from a distinctively Christian perspective and integrate Biblical truth thoroughly with each academic discipline” and believes “academic freedom of a Christian professor is limited by the preeminence of Jesus Christ, the authoritative nature of the Holy Scriptures, and the mission of the institution.”

In 2008 the school barred members of the Christian LGBT group Soul Force from appearing on campus. In his decision to bar the group, the college’s president cited a fake James Madison quote propagated by David Barton, which states that the U.S. government was based on “the Ten Commandments.”

Now David Barton is serving on the board of the law school.

Along with Perkins and Barton, Religious Right leaders on the board include Alan Sears of the Alliance Defense Fund, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, Alveda King of Priests for Life, Religious Right luminary Tim LaHaye and his wife Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women for America, Kelly Shackleford of the Liberty Institute and Reagan’s Attorney General Edwin Meese. Republican politicians including Reps. Rodney Alexander and John Fleming, former congressman Bob McEwen, and senatorial candidate and Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz are also on the board.

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