Activism

Cass: Tea Party Movement Is The Work of the Holy Spirit

One of the things I've been following lately is the attempt by the Religious Right to hijack the Tea Party movement by claiming that, at heart, the movement shares the social conservative's political and cultural agenda. 

While undoubtedly there is overlap between the agendas of the two groups, the efforts by the Religious Right to claim the Tea Party mantle are getting more and more blatant.  Just last week Vision America's Rick Scarborough announced his "Truth Exalts America Patriot Pastors' Tea Party" to be held in San Antonio, Texas in July, which is basically a Religious Right prayer rally dressed up to look like a Tea Party event. 

Now we have Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission claiming that the entire Tea Party movement is actually the work of God as part of a "spiritual awakening":

I think the Tea Party movement is the move of God. A lot of people are wondering, you know, is the Lord done with America? Why are things going the way they're going? And I really believe what is happening within the Tea Party movement is a spiritual awakening that has been precipitated by political circumstances.

I think what's happened, perhaps for the first time in many people's lives, they had an awakening where all of the sudden their conscience just has compelled them to engage on a political level - probably for the first time for many people, maybe the first time in a long time for some folks - but they're just constrained by their conscience, they have to do something, and I again believe that's the work of the Holy Spirit in people's hearts.

Rick Scarborough's Blatant Hijacking of the Tea Party Movement

Frankly, we have never really understood how Vision America's Rick Scarborough managed to get himself associated with the Tea Party movement ... and now it makes even less sense.

A few weeks ago we mentioned that even though he had been a featured speaker at the National Tea Party Convention, he was now launching his own Religious Right version of the Tea Party movement, changing the TEA Party's "Taxed Enough Already" acronym to "Truth Exalts America" and unveiling something he called the "Patriot Pastors' Tea Party."

Now Scarborough is announcing the group's first gathering, and it sounds a lot more like the standard Religious Right prayer rally than it does any sort of Tea Party gathering: 

A National Call to Pastors: Pastors across America are coming to San Antonio, Texas, on July 7th, for a Patriot Pastors’ T.E.A. Party in San Antonio, Texas, July 7, 2010. We urge Pastors to come to the Seventh largest city in America on the Seventh Day of the Seventh month for Seven hours of rallying and education, followed by Seventeen weeks of commitment concluding on Election Day. The prayerful goal of this effort is that we might experience a II Chronicles 7:14 revival in America.

Rationale: When Elijah became dismayed over the state of his nation and cried out to the Lord that he was the only prophet left who cared about God’s honor, God rebuked him and informed him He had 7,000 more who had not bowed to Baal.

There are thousands of Pastors in America who have not surrendered to the Baals of our culture and who faithfully proclaim the truth of God’s Word without compromise every day. We are calling them to join us in San Antonio for one day during which we will repent of our sin of complicity in the moral meltdown of America, and we will call upon our gracious God to restore our nation.

Many Pastors would have difficulty affording a trip to Washington DC and absorbing the cost of food and lodging there. We have chosen city in the central part of America where Pastors can take a stand for Christ and participate in an effort to call the 70 million Evangelicals in this country seek God for national renewal and revival.

The National Patriot Pastors’ T.E.A. Party will meet on the Plaza of the Alamo where 180 courageous “Texicans” made the ultimate sacrifice to confront tyranny and to gain their freedom. The Alamo holds profound symbolism for all Pastors and Christians in America. We too, must be willing lay it all on the line for Christ and for revival.

The rally will take place in the morning before heat is a problem. We will then reconvene in the afternoon in a church or civic auditorium (TBA) for training and strategy. The afternoon meeting is being arranged and the location will be announced here soon.

Mission: To experience genuine revival, so that Pastors may once again provide spiritual guidance for the Nation.

I have a sneaking suspicion that when the Tea Party movement first emerged, Christian prayer rallies calling for revival in America carried out by people who liken themselves to the prophet Elijah and the nation to Baal was probably not at all what they had envisioned.

Huckabee, Scarborough, and Brinson Are Getting The Band Back Together

Back when Mike Huckabee was running for President, Rick Scarborugh of Vision America and Randy Brinson of Redeem The Vote set out to host a series of "Patriot Pastors" rallys on his behalf across Iowa ahead of the caucuses.

Though Huckabee and Brison had big plans for the events, they never amounted to much, though Huckabee went on to win Iowa anyway.

Now, two years later, Huckabee, Brinson, and Scarborough are teaming up again, this time for an email blitz aimed at defeating health care reform:

This weekend's health care showdown in Congress will test the political clout of evangelical Protestant activists, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who are rushing to muster mass opposition to the Democratic bill endorsed by President Obama.

Dr. Randy Brinson, founder of Redeem the Vote, said evangelical leaders will target first-time voters, including Catholics, particularly in the Midwest, and voters not normally involved in religious or social activism, with an appeal highlighted by an e-mail from Mr. Huckabee.

Over the next few days, Mr. Huckabee's name, picture and words will appear on what organizers say will be "millions of electronic messages" urging voters to tell lawmakers to stand firm against the health care bill, set for a climactic vote Sunday in the House.

Mr. Huckabee, who ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nod, has teamed up with the Rev. Rick Scarborough of Vision America and Dr. Brinson, a Montgomery, Ala., founder of Optimum Impact LLC, which he describes as the "largest purveyor of e-mail data regarding political messaging."

"President Obama, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid are doing everything in their power to push through a health care bill that would mandate federally funded abortions, along with a host of other issues that the American people have clearly said they don't want," Mr. Huckabee claims in his e-mail pitch ... The Huckabee e-mails will go to constituents of eight pro-life House Democrats who are considered on the fence or were heavily lobbied by Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders.

Keep in mind that Brinson claims to control a massive email list containing more than 70 million contacts ... and that Scarborough is a self-proclaimed Christocrat and Birther.

The Resurrection of Ralph Reed

Religion Dispatches' Sarah Posner has a really good article on Ralph Reed and his miraculous resurrection through his Faith and Freedom Coalition which contains a lot of useful information, a lot of which I was totally unaware of, like the fact that Tim Phillips, which whom Reed c0-founded Century Strategies after leaving the Christian Coalition, is now the president of Tea Party activist firm Americans for Prosperity and that Reed's new organization is apparently cannibalizing his previous organization to create his new organization:

Reed’s FFC is essentially a retread of the Christian Coalition which, under Reed’s leadership, was investigated by Congress, the Federal Election Commission, and ultimately (after Reed’s departure) had its tax-exempt status denied over its engagement in electoral politicking. But Reed, who has managed to survive the Christian Coalition meltdown, his two-timing of evangelicals through his business association with Abramoff, and his 2006 loss in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor of Georgia, is sifting the remnants of the Christian Coalition infrastructure to build FFC.

O'Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, and a Christian Coalition of Florida board member, said that the board voted last year to “come under the umbrella of” the FFC. For an organization that was low on funds, said Dozier, it was “a great opportunity that we felt we couldn’t pass up.”

Now Dozier also serves on the FFC board, and says that the affiliation brings “more fundraising capabilities. With Faith and Freedom and with Ralph being known as he is, we can get more conservatives involved and coming to functions that we have in order to raise funds,” both locally and nationally. “It costs a lot of money to print voter guides,” he chuckled.

Also rather amazing is the fact that nobody in the movement is particularly concerned about Reed's Jack Abramoff-related double-dealings:

Yet Reed continues to elicit effusive praise from fellow evangelicals. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody claims FFC “is indeed poised to be a major player in the 2010 and 2012 elections.” About Reed’s association with Abramoff, [Iowa Christian Alliance president Steve] Scheffler told RD, “if you look at the whole explanation it was a nonissue, it was the press that made something out of nothing that was there.” He added that Iowa activists were “excited” that Reed was the master of ceremonies for the Iowa Christian Alliance’s fundraiser this week, at which Rick Santorum was the keynote speaker.

Cindy Costa, the Republican National Committeewoman for South Carolina and former Christian Coalition activist, told RD that Reed is a “fine gentleman” and “helpful to the conservative movement.” After an FFC organizing event in Tennessee last week, Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the FFC “one of the most important forces for sound public policy in America in the coming years.” And GOP operative Chip Saltsman, forced to pull out of the race for Republican National Committee chair last year after he distributed a “Barack the Magic Negro” CD, added that FFC “has already been effective in identifying and turning out conservative voters and we’re pleased to bring it to Tennessee.”

But rest assured that even though Reed might be seeking to tie his current activism to the Tea Party movement, he isn't abandoning his Religious Right foundation:

Reed went on to claim that not running the country on a Judeo-Christian moral code is actually contrary to democracy. “So really, when you really get right down to it, James,” he said, “democracy doesn’t really work at all unless there is a citizenry animated by a moral code that derives from their faith in God. That’s what makes the whole thing work because otherwise, the government has to tell everybody what to do.”

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

The Religious Right's Fight For The Tea Party Mantle

Ever since Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll, traditional Religious Right activists have been arguing that the event was overtaken by Libertarians and therefore did not represent "true" conservatives ... a belief that was only reinforced by the fact that Young Americans for Freedom's Ryan Sorba was booed by the audience for his attack from the stage on the conservative gay group GOProud.

For decades, CPAC has been the conservative gathering in Washington, but this year a man who for years had been relegated to the sidelines of the movement suddenly won the event's straw poll thanks largely to the support from Tea Party activists, which re-exposed a basic rift between the economic conservatives and social conservatives that in recent years the movement has been trying hard to bridge ... apparently without much success:

The rise of a new conservative grass roots fueled by a secular revulsion at government spending is stirring fears among leaders of the old conservative grass roots, the evangelical Christian right.

A reeling economy and the massive bank bailout and stimulus plan were the triggers for a resurgence in support for the Republican Party and the rise of the tea party movement. But they’ve also banished the social issues that are the focus of many evangelical Christians to the background.

And while health care legislation has brought social and economic conservatives together to fight government funding of abortion, some social conservative leaders have begun to express concern that tea party leaders don’t care about their issues, while others object to the personal vitriol against President Barack Obama, whose personal conduct many conservative Christians applaud.

“There’s a libertarian streak in the tea party movement that concerns me as a cultural conservative,” said Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association. “The tea party movement needs to insist that candidates believe in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.”

...

There’s no centralized tea party organization, and anecdotes suggest that many tea party participants hold socially conservative views. But those views have been little in evidence at movement gatherings or in public statements, and are sometimes deliberately excluded from the political agenda. The groups coordinating them eschew social issues, and a new Contract From America, has become an article of concern on the social right.

The contract, sponsored by the grass-roots Tea Party Patriots as well as Washington groups such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform, asks supporters to choose the 10 most important issues from a menu of 21 choices that makes no mention of socially conservative priorities such as gay marriage and abortion.

“They’re free to do it, but they can’t say [the contract] represents America,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a veteran of the Christian right. “If they do it they’re lying.”

Groups such as FreedomWorks, said Perkins, bring a libertarian bias that doesn’t represent the “true tea parties.”

As we noted a few weeks ago, social conservatives like Perkins have long been at war with Tea Party/economic conservatives like Dick Armey, but had recently swallowed their pride and linked up with Armey's FreedomWorks in an attempt to get in on the Tea Party activism which Armey's activism has come to represent:

Tea party activism is so entirely driving the right-wing movement at the moment that the most influential Religious Right organization is willing to co-host an event with a group lead by a man who publicly and repeatedly insulted them as stupid, shallow demagogues just to get in on the action.

If that doesn't tell you just where the Religious Right fits in to the conservative movement, I don't know what does.

And now you have Perkins claiming that FreedomWorks doesn't represent the "true tea parties," which is laughably pathetic and just goes to prove, as we have been arguing all along, that the Religious Right is desperately trying to co-opt the Tea Party narrative and graft their own religious agenda on to a movement that, from its founding, has had no real interest in such issues.

Is Prophetic Intercession The Future of The Religious Right?

In the last several posts I wrote featuring video clips from the "Convergence 2010: A Cry to Awaken A Nation" conference, I tried to note the rather new development of Religious Right activists like Harry Jackson, Jim Garlow, and Janet Porter joining forces with self-proclaimed "prophetic intercessors" like Lou Engle or, in this case, Cindy Jacobs of Generals International, which hosted this particular conference.

But frankly, aside from the fervent praying and occasional speaking in tongues, nothing any of these Religious Right leaders said at this conference was all that different from the sorts of things you hear at any Religious Right conference. 

The difference in this case was the host, Cindy Jacobs and her Generals International.

And written descriptions just cannot do justice to her style of speaking and activism, which is wholly different from what we normally see at Religious Right conferences.

As such, I have put together this video of Jacobs closing out the "Convergence 2010" conference where she recounts the time she had an amazing visitation with God during which he showed her Seraphim and set her bedroom on fire, before she set about about casting out demons, lifting curses, and conducting faith healings of everything from AIDS to Hepatitis C to Glaucoma and even Cancer:

It should also be noted this sort of overlap is becoming more and more common, as both Jacobs and Engle have been invited to the upcoming Freedom Federation summit next month at Liberty University along with elected officials like Virgina Governor Bob McDonnell, VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Govs. Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry.

This Is What It Looks Like When Right-Wing Activists Run For Public Office

As I noted yesterday, Rick Green is poised for a run-off election next month for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court ... he is also a Chuck Norris approved, Tea Party Religious Right activist.

So what does it look like when someone like that decides to run for a seat on the state Supreme Court?  It looks a lot like this presentation where, unable to tout his judicial experience since he has none, Green instead assured the audience that his hard-core right-wing views would always drive his decision-making process on the bench and all they have to do is look at his long record of right-wing activism to know that there is no need to fear that he'll ever "become a David Souter": 

Something that makes me different from all the candidates in this race, and that is unlike most judicial candidates, you don't have to wonder about my philosophy. You don't have to guess what my convictions are or where I stand. You don't have to worry about voting for me and regretting it because I become a David Souter, the ultra-liberal on the United States Supreme Court, appointed by George Bush because everybody though he would be conservative.

It's not enough to say "I'm a conservative," you gotta look at the record. And with me, you can do that. You can look at my voting record when I was a state legislator; when I was a state rep I was considered the fourth most conservative in the legislature. I received the Eagle Forum's "Faith and Family Award." The Chamber of Commerce gave me the "Fighter for Free Enterprise Award." I was co-author of the Parental Notification Bill, I was always a 100% pro-lifer, I had property rights awards, Second Amendment awards.

... [Green talks about this endorsement he received from Charlton Heston] ...

I've also been with David Barton and WallBuilders for about ten years now, teaching on the Constitution, the original intent of the Founding Fathers, going back to the formula that made us successful and teaching that to folks, and author of books on the subject as well.

I'm also the founder of Patriot Academy, for ten years we've been training 16-25 year-olds in the Founding Father's philosophy so they have not only the right knowledge, but the skills to be effective at the process.

I want you to know that, as a former legislator, I respect the proper roles of the different branches. I will be the one sitting around the conference room table reminding my fellow Justices that it's the folks we elected to serve under that big pink dome, they're the ones supposed to make the law, our job is only to apply it

...

The bottom line is, you elect me to the Texas Supreme Court, you can count on me to fight for justice, to uphold the rule of law, but never to legislate from the bench.

Right Wing Round-Up

Scarborough Merging Tea Party and Religious Right Activism, Hosting Conference Calls With GOP Leaders

Vision America hadn't sent out its "Rick Scarbough Report" in several weeks, but today the most recent email showed up in my inbox and it is carrying an exciting new addition to its name:

In the latest update, Scarborough informs us that his appearance at the National Tea Party Convention was a massive success and that he intends to merge Tea Party activism with his standard Religious Right activism, changing the TEA Party's "Taxed Enough Already" acronym to "Truth Exalts America" and launching a "Patriot Pastors' Tea Party" with the support of David Barton.

Also, he's been regularly hosting weekly conference calls with Republican members of Congress including Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Randy Forbes, Jim DeMint, David Vitter, and others.

VISION AMERICA AT THE FIRST NATIONAL TEA PARTY CONVENTION

On February 4-7, I attended the First National Tea Party Convention at the Gaylord Hotel in Nashville, which brought together over 600 leaders of various local Tea Party groups. These are the folks who've wrought an overnight revolution and I was honored to be with them.

The Convention included speeches by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and a host of other national leaders.

On the first evening, I spoke to the Convention and led a prayer service. The following day, I conducted an hour-long breakout session on "Why Pastors and Churches Must Engage In Politics." Every chair in the room was filled and people stood around the walls in a hall estimated to hold 300.

To say our message was well received is somewhat of an understatement. The press reported that audience cheered as I explained how this nation has fallen as we have drifted further and further from our Judeo-Christian roots.

We made many friends and allies. I believe the seeds we sowed in Nashville will bear fruit in the months ahead, resulting in a growing alliance between Vision America and the Tea Party movement.

On Saturday morning, I had a closed-door meeting with 16 pastors and several laymen. Some traveled hundreds of miles to be with us. We discussed ways in which pastors can become more involved with local Tea Parties, including organizing their own Tea Party. Former syndicated columnist Don Feder talked about effective communications techniques.

LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE CALLS

As we have for the past year, we are continuing to do our Thursday afternoon leadership, networking conference calls (3pm Central Time).

Last week, we heard from Congressman Steve King (Iowa) on mega-deficits, taxes and looming fiscal calamity. This week's presenter was Congressman Randy Forbes (Virginia), founder and chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, which leads its members in national efforts to protect prayer and America's spiritual heritage. Rep. Forbes spoke on the work of his Prayer Caucus and the sham of a health-care "compromise."

Past presenters have included Senators Jim DeMint (S. Carolina) and David Vitter (La.), Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and Congressmen Louie Gohmert (TX),Lamar Smith (TX), and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin.

...

PATRIOT PASTORS TEA PARTY?

More than 60 pastors have been involved in an effort to organize a Patriot Pastors' Tea Party, just for Pastors. I have been conducting weekly conference calls for the past three weeks to explore the possibility of having a Patriot Pastors' Tea Party in San Antonio, at the Alamo, on July 7th. We have adopted the acronym Truth Exalts America for our TEA Party.

On the last call, the pastors heard from Wallbuilders' David Barton on the role pastors (the "Black-Robed Regiment") played in generating popular support for the American Revolution.

I promise to keep you informed of our progress on all of the foregoing, and earnestly solicit your prayers and support.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Good As You makes a convincing case that Ryan Sorba get into anti-gay activism thanks to Scott Lively.
  • Also, if you missed the right-wing anti-DADT repeal press conference at CPAC, Good As You has all the video.
  • Speaking of DADT, Media Matters examines all the myths and falsehoods conservative media figures have pushed in their efforts to prevent repeal.
  • John McCain is whacking his Republican primary challenger for his Birtherism with a new ad.
  • Allow me to quote Steve Benen: "So, let me get this straight. Prominent conservative voices don't mind [Glenn] Beck's deranged conspiracy theories, his humiliating ignorance, and his hatred for those who don't think as he does. But these conservative voices mind a great deal if Beck notes that Republicans have an embarrassing record when it comes to deficit reduction, the national debt, government spending, and increasing the size and scope of the federal government's powers -- an observation that happens to be true. What an odd movement."
  • Finally, in the annals of idiotic right-wing lying hypocrisy, this is hard to beat.

When Everyone Becomes A Tea Party Activist ...

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post arguing that Tea Party activism has become the face of the conservative movement, so much so that just about every conservative organization and activist is now tying their own agenda to the Tea Party bandwagon in an effort to co-opt and exploit it, obscuring the original Tea Party agenda and rendering the entire discussion of the movement as an entity increasingly moot, as "Tea Party" it is now becoming just another way of saying "right-wing."

To demonstrate what I mean, just take a look at this article:

A diverse mix of longtime Southie conservatives and young professionals packed a standing-room-only Tea Party launch meeting yesterday, energized by Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate win and mobilized by ire at Washington.

“The Tea Party is a movement of all the heroes of this country,” South Boston Tea Party organizer Susan Long told a crowd of 65 gathered at the Perkins VFW Post.

The meeting was part of a burgeoning GOP grassroots revival from Boston to the Berkshires.

Long, a nurse and mom of four, spoke on conservative themes - anti-abortion, low taxes, small government. Brian Camenker, a Newton anti-gay activist, also spoke, and GOP gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos, Shrewsbury Rep. Karyn Polito and former City Council candidate Doug Bennett also attended.

Camenker runs MassResistance, an anti-gay group so militant that it is one of the few classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center

From its inception, MassResistance has focused on nothing beyond furthering their anti-gay bias, only now Camenker is passing it off as Tea Party activism.

Whatever Tea Party activism meant when it first emerged has been lost as the "movement" continues to get co-opted by traditional right-wing and Religious Right activists.

Bishop Jackson Defends His Anti-Gay Activism

Just yesterday, Bishop Harry Jackson used his syndicated column to attack the Washington Post for its coverage and stance on the issue of marriage equality in the District of Columbia (having apparently forgotten all about the puff piece the paper ran on his last year).

So it was a little odd to see him show up as the focus in this new "Faith Complex" video in the Post's "On Faith" section.  Most of the interview revolves around Jackson's anti-marriage activism in DC , but around the 6:30 mark, host Jacques Berlinerblau asks him how he'd react to the news that a well-educated, well-to-do Black gay couple wanting to adopted a young black child and Jackson struggled to explain his position, saying that he could only support such a move if he "had no other choice" and even then, he'd be very reluctant and would want assurances that it wouldn't cause "further psychological damage" to the child.

Later, around the 9:30 mark, Berlinerblau asked Jackson how he feels, given his professed commitment to civil rights, to think that by his activism he is denying another minority group their civil rights.  Predictably, Jackson responded by saying that it was actually his civil rights that were being denied by the District's refusal to allow him to vote on the issue of marriage equality:

GOP and Tea Party Merge In South Carolina

At the National Tea Party Convention, organizers announced that they would be starting a new PAC called Ensuring Liberty Corporation which would aim to "endorse, support and elect" conservative candidates for office ... provided they promised to be loyal Republicans: 

The announcement came with an official platform that could help define what the multi-faceted tea party movement stands for and expects from the candidates it supports. The group's leaders plan to support candidates who stand for a set of "First Principles."

Those principles are: fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, less government, states' rights and national security.

Prospective political candidates will be expected to support the Republican National Committee platform. If a particular candidate meets the proposed criteria he or she would be eligible for fundraising and grassroots support.

Once elected to office, members would be expected to join a congressional caucus of "like-minded representatives" who attend regular meetings and are held accountable for the votes they cast. Those who stray from the tea party path would risk losing the new organization's support and a possible re-election challenge.

That is one way of trying to take over the Republican Party. Of coruse, an even more efficient way would be to do what they are doing in South Carolina and simply merge the two:

The South Carolina Republican Party announced Monday that it’s uniting with tea party groups in the state to share resources, coordinate messaging and push the GOP in a more conservative direction.

The points of contact between the state party establishment and the grass-roots will be the Greenville County Republican Party — one of the most conservative wings of the state party — and the Upstate Coalition of Conservative Organizations, an umbrella structure of state tea party groups.

The agreement, as announced by South Carolina Republicans, is designed to serve four goals: increase precinct involvement, improve communication between the state party and grass-roots groups, create liaisons between the state party and the various tea party organizations and to work “closely to make the Republican Party more conservative.”

State Republican Party Chairman Karen Floyd told POLITICO that the arrangement came at the suggestion of a local activist who works with both the state party and local tea party groups.

“This is not something the state party by edict pushed down,” Floyd said. “This is something the grass-roots pushed up with an understanding that we are stronger together than apart.”

Floyd said that working with the groups accomplishes her goals of “growing the Republican Party, electing conservative Republicans and growing the strength of the party,” though she was careful in describing what the party intends to do in working with the tea parties to elect more conservative members.

Frankly, it is hard to see this as anything but a looming sign of the end of Tea Party activism as a movement as it gets entirely co-opted by the existing Republican power structure.  

Tea Party Activism and The Religious Right

I have to take issue with Andrew Sullivan's assertion that the Tea Party movement is "Christianist" at its core.

By "Christianist," Sullivan means essentially the Religious Right and the idea that the Religious Right's anti-gay, anti-choice political agenda has played a central in Tea Party activism is ludicrous. 

When the movement began last year, the "TEA" in Tea Party stood for "Taxed Enough Already" and was aimed at the bailouts and stimulus measures put in place in an attempt to stabilize our economy.

At first, the Religious Right more or less watched from the sidelines as the fiscal conservative groups like Freedomworks, National Taxpayers Union, Americans For Tax Reform, and The Club for Growth started to institutionalize the Tea Party effort. 

Eventually, groups like the American Family Association climbed on board, as did leaders like Ralph Reed, but that was done in order to try and capitalize on the Tea Party success and tie their "Christianist" agenda to the already established Tea Party activism.  

The presence of Religious Right fringe figures like Roy Moore and Rick Scarborough at the National Tea Party Convention is more a sign of the power of the Tea Party narrative than it is of Religious Right control or influence over the movement or its agenda.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the fundamental merging of overall right-wing movement under the banner of the Tea Party than the fact that the Tea Party front-runners at Freedomworks recently partnered with Religious Right powerhouses like the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America despite that fact that, just a few years back, Freedomworks' founder Dick Armey was calling the socially conservative wing of the movement a bunch of stupid, lazy demagogues.

At the moment, Tea Party activism is the face of the conservative movement and so it is no surprise that Religious Right groups are climbing aboard the bandwagon in an effort to try and utilize it to press their own agenda.  

The Tea Party movement does not have a Religious Right agenda at its core, but rather as a component ... and that is only because Religious Right groups have set out aligning themselves with the movement in order to co-opt and exploit it.

Focus President Jim Daly Says He Will Not Endorse Political Candidates

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal produced yet another story about how Focus on the Family is becoming kinder and gentler under the leadership of new President Jim Daly, with Daly asserting that, unlike Dr. Dobson, he will not be endorsing political candidates, saying "I don't think that's helpful. Who cares, really, what I think?":

Mr. Daly, 48, said he wasn't backing away from Mr. Dobson's conservative social agenda, as the Super Bowl ad shows. The ministry collected more than $2.5 million just days after Mr. Daly proposed the idea.

But, Mr. Daly said, he has no use for the sharp personal attacks on politicians employed by Mr. Dobson.

"I don't see evil behind everything," Mr. Daly said. Mr. Dobson declined to be interviewed for this article.

Mr. Daly said he preferred to build bridges with others. While Mr. Dobson blasted President Barack Obama for "fruitcake" ideas, Mr. Daly praised the president for his devotion to family and last summer attended a White House event celebrating fatherhood.

On abortion, Mr. Daly said he wouldn't spend much energy fighting for a ban—though that remained his ultimate goal—but would emphasize adoption.

The ministry's political action budget is about $10 million, the same as in years past. Mr. Daly said he hasn't yet decided what role the organization will play in this year's elections.

Mr. Daly said he would reinvigorate the organization's central mission—"helping marriages, helping parents"—which he said had been overshadowed by Mr. Dobson's activism.

Politically, that may lead the group into surprising new territory. The ministry has never dealt much with immigration, for example. But Mr. Daly said he planned to take a fresh look at the issue because "families are being torn apart" through deportations.

In a related blog post, the WSJ notes that one of Focus's newest efforts is an on-line video series called "Jelly Telly" which is aimed at teaching Biblical Principles to children:

Anti-Choice Groups Slams Randall Terry

Earlier this week, the Center For Bio-Ethical Reform issued a press release condemning Randall Terry's reaction to the conviction of Scott Roeder for murdering Dr. George Tiller and for Terry's support for the use of violence against abortion providers.

Terry immediately responded with a press release of his own making his standard claims that he does not support violence, but sees it as inevitable so long as abortion remains legal. 

Gregg Cunningham of the Center For Bio-Ethical Reform then responded with another press release in which he dared Terry to "sue us" if he thinks he's been maligned and proceeds to smack down Terry's attention-seeking histrionics while calling out his self-serving claims about opposing the use of violence. 

I'm posting a large chunk of the CBR release because it's a thing of beauty:

You chide me for not "picking up the phone" to "check the facts" before condemning your attempt to minimize the murder of George Tiller but what facts would have rebutted published newspaper photos of you displaying signs which argued that Scott Roeder's motives in killing George Tiller made his crime less than murder?

When you tell The New York Times (January 28, 2010, "Doctor's Killer Puts Abortion on the Stand") that you are not "condemning Mr. Roeder's actions," you are expressing support for violence against abortionists.

When you tell The Wichita Eagle (January 30, 2010, "Reactions to the Scott Roeder verdict from both sides of abortion debate") that "If we condemn him [Roeder] too severely it undermines the premise of everything we stand for," you are expressing support for violence against abortionists.

When you issue a press release (January 25, 2010) in which you say it is "a farce" to "pretend that this trial has nothing to do with child-killing by abortion," you are suggesting that Mr. Roeder's murder of George Tiller was justified by George Tiller's abortion practice and you are expressing support for violence against abortionists. (www.christiannewswire.com/news/7566412845.html).

When you issue a press release (January 27, 2010) in which you quote scripture which says in reference to George Tiller's murder, "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning" and that "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous" and that "the Lord our God will bring other destructions upon them" and add "their innocent blood cries to God ... for vengeance," you are expressing support for violence against abortionists. (www.christiannewswire.com/news/8209412876.html).

When you hold a press conference (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqGwuOwdZ7U) during which you say testimony by former Attorney General Phil Kline could have "validated" Scott Roeder's motivation and "brought a level of credibility to Scott's frame of mind," you are expressing support for violence against abortionists.

When you argue at a press conference (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqGwuOwdZ7U) that Scott Roeder, who bought a handgun, practiced with it, studied George Tiller's daily habits and visited his church three times before finding him there and blowing his brains out, should have been charged with "voluntary manslaughter," you are expressing support for violence against abortionists.

When you argue that Scott Roeder's motivation for killing George Tiller entitles him to a slap-on-the-wrist sentence of less than five years in prison (the minimum sentence for voluntary manslaughter under Kansas law) you are trivializing premeditated murder and expressing support for violence against abortionists.

Against this background, your press conference claim that "I don't even agree with what Scott Roeder did" is absurd. It is the sort of self-serving fig leaf which thoughtful listeners will rightly reject. You are either being intentionally deceptive or wildly negligent.

You have every right to bring discredit upon yourself and the organization you represent. But when your self-promotional excesses discredit the entire pro-life movement with reckless theatrics, it would be irresponsible for the rest of us to signal indifference, or worse, agreement, by our collective silence.

When you attempt to rationalize, justify, or minimize violence against abortionists, you don't speak for those of us who condemn anarchy without equivocation. Be assured that when you jeopardize the fragile progress we have all worked so hard to achieve, we will anathematize and isolate you.

CBS Worked Closely With Focus On The Family To Craft Anti-Choice Ad

Back in 2004, CBS rejected an ad from the United Church of Christ, declaring that "it was against our policy of accepting advocacy advertising," which made CBS's decision to run Focus on the Family's anti-choice ad during the Super Bowl such a surprise.

But now we find out that it really shouldn't have come as much of a surprise at all, because the network had been working closely with Focus on the Family for months to help them craft that ad:

The major broadcast networks have avoided political advocacy ads for years, so CBS's decision to air the Tebow ad caught abortion rights advocates off guard. But Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian group founded by Dr. James Dobson, says that it has actually been working closely with CBS executives for months on the ad's script.

"There were discussions about the specific wording of the spot," said Gary Schneeberger, spokesperson for Focus on the Family. "And we came to a compromise. To an agreement." Schneeberger declined to comment on CBS's input on the ad's message.

CBS has said that in the last year, in an acknowledgement of "industry norms," it loosened previous restrictions on advocacy advertisements, accepting ads that pushed for health reform and environmental activism.

But pro-choice advocates complain the network didn't publicize the policy change and hasn't applied it consistently, citing a rejected Super Bowl ad from gay dating Web site ManCrunch.com. According to Schneeberger, Focus on the Family was not aware of an explicit policy change inside the network, either. "It was only last week that they indicated that they changed any policy," he said.

"We've worked with [CBS] almost since the beginning," Schneeberger added. "Our senior vice presidents talked to CBS executives throughout the process. It was a very cordial, very professional, fruitful relationship."

Armey Partners With Stupid, Lazy Demagogues

It was just the other day that I was noting that Mike Huckabee, who had long been identified with the socially conservative wing of the movement, had suddenly jumped on the Tea Party bandwagon.

But for those who need more proof that tea party activism has become the driving force of the entire right-wing movement, look no further than fact that the Family Research Council is hosting an event next week featuring several tea party groups

On Tuesday, February 2 at 8 p.m. EST, Family Research Council's headquarters will be the host site for a special webcast, State of the Union, Voice of the People. This live webcast, one week after the President's address, will provide a voice to the American people and an opportunity for them to give their own State of the Union response. Family Research Council is partnering with TVTownhall.com and eight leading national conservative organizations that represent a combined membership estimated to be over 15 million Americans.

...

Organizations joining Family Research Council include THE New Voice, the Institute for Liberty, Media Research Center, Let Freedom Ring, Americans for Prosperity, Concerned Women for America, TEA Party Patriots and Freedomworks.

The inclusion of Freedomworks is especially telling.  While the organization has been at the forefront of the tea party activism, it has long had a rather icy relationshyip with the Religious Right.  Back in 2006, right around the time Republicans lost control of Congress, Freedomworks' chairman Dick Armey had this to say about the socially conservative wing of the party: 

"[James] Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies. I pray devoutly every day, but being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid. There's a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools. Demagoguery doesn't work unless it's dumb, shallow as water on a plate. These issues are easy for the intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic. These issues become bigger than life, largely because they're easy. There ain't no thinking."

That set off a round of attacks and counter attacks between Dobson's supporters and Armey that eventually involved FRC's Tony Perkins.  It continued into 2008, when Armey even attacked Perkins outright and questioned his conservatism.

Tea party activism is so entirely driving the right-wing movement at the moment that the most influential Religious Right organization is willing to co-host an event with a group lead by a man who publicly and repeatedly insulted them as stupid, shallow demagogues just to get in on the action.

If that doesn't tell you just where the Religious Right fits in to the conservative movement, I don't know what does.

Anti-Immigration Activists On The Warparth

Though the topic has fallen off the radar since 2006, it is widely expected that the Obama administration and congressional leaders will try to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform legislation sometime this year.

As such, we can expect to hear more from right-wing anti-immigration groups like Americans for Legal Immigration, which are still active around the country as demonstrated by the group's response to the failure of legislation in New Jersey that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain in-state tuition rates at public universities. 

AILPAC is rejoicing that it has defeated this "globalist plan to restructure America" and vows to "go on offense" and "fire more politicians in D.C. than you can count": 

"This makes about the 20th time we have helped to defeat this aspect of the Globalist plans to restructure America since 2005," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC. "Citizen activism has helped defeat in-state tuition for illegals in every state except for two in the last five years, since we defeated the measure in North Carolina."

In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is part of a Globalist plan to build an economic block in North America that integrates populations and suppresses Americans using hyper legal immigration and rampant illegal immigration as a nation building tool.

"Tonight we celebrate our latest victory in New Jersey and we thank and congratulate our supporters and activists," Gheen said. "Tomorrow we will announce plans to go on offense to reverse in-state tuition for illegals in the states of Nebraska and Texas using legislation and court challenges."

The defeat of in-state tuition for illegal aliens in New Jersey creates an opportunity for the pro-immigration enforcement Americans to return to strategic positions of political offense. After every battle, each side must decide to advance, dig in, or retreat.

"Tomorrow, we go on offense," said Gheen. "Time for the illegal aliens and their supporters to start playing defense in the states and the elections. Tomorrow we advance in Texas and Nebraska!"

ALIPAC plans to release plans to support legislation in Nebraska that will rescind in-state tuition in the state, after some lawmakers sneaked the provision through without significant public knowledge or input two years ago.

ALIPAC also plans to launch support for a lawsuit that has been filed in Texas to rescind in-state tuition and other taxpayer benefits for illegals.

Other plans are being made to circulate and file strong state level comprehensive immigration enforcement legislation such as the laws passed in Georgia, Arizona, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

"We are going to launch a major initiative in the states as part of our plans to defeat the Amnesty legislation in Washington," said Gheen. "And then we are going to fire more politicians in D.C. than you can count!"

Pure Bigotry Driving Attacks On Amanda Simpson

After years of monitoring the Religious Right, I always assume that I have more or less become immune to being shocked by their displays of naked bigotry ... but then they always manage to surprise me. 

Take, for instance, the newest backlash against Amanda Simpson, a transgender appointee to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security where she will serve as a senior technical adviser monitoring the export of U.S. weapons technology.

Despite her thirty years of experience and degrees in physics, engineering, and business, all the Right can focus on is her gender, claiming that her appointment is part of some conspiracy to criminalize Christianity (and note also how they insist on referring to Simpson as "he"):

“He may very well be qualified for this position but it appears that he was not picked (merely) for his qualifications, he was picked because of his wardrobe,” [Matt Barber, Director of Cultural Affairs for the Liberty Counse] commented to CNA. “That is not diversity or tolerance. It's political correctness run amok” ... Barber continued to express his concern regarding the future ramifications of Simpson's appointment, arguing that it is part of a larger movement within the current administration.“With hate crimes legislation and ENDA (Employment Non Discrimination Act) and other radical GLBT pieces of legislation that are being pushed by the Obama Administration,” Barber told CNA, those who disagree with the GLBT perspective “literally can and will face criminal or civil penalty.”

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth voiced similar concern on the Focus on the Family Action website on Jan. 4. “Is there going to be a transgender quota now in the Obama Administration? How far does this politics of gay and transgender activism go? Clearly this is an administration that is pandering to the gay lobby,” he said.

Barber added that in his opinion “there is no doubt” that Simpson's appointment “is an effort to normalize” transgender issues and “desensitize” American society.

And I know I should be shocked by anything I find in WorldNetDaily ... but I can help but shake my head in disbelief at articles like this, with its repeated use of the term "he" and inclusion of wholly irrelevant details:

Mitchell Simpson, now known as "Amanda" following a sex change, is said to have been appointed senior technical adviser at the Commerce Department. He purportedly began work today.

...

Simpson, 49, is a former test pilot who made the gender switch 10 years ago while working in Tucson, Ariz., for Raytheon Missile Systems, a major Department of Defense contractor where he became deputy director. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Simpson underwent six surgeries at a cost of $70,000 to make the transition from male to female. He had his Adam's apple removed, breasts added, forehead ground down and genital surgery.

...

Simpson told ABC News he's worried that people will assume he was hired because he is a transgender and not on his merits.

What does any of this have to do with Simpson's qualification for the job?  Nothing whatsoever. 

This is nothing more than a personal attack based entirely on Simpson's gender and a flagrant display of undisguised right-wing bigotry.

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Activism Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Friday 03/11/2011, 11:57am
Even though her ties to Cindy Jacobs and 7 Mountains Dominionism cost Janet Porter her radio program and essentially shut down her political activism for almost a year, it has become pretty clear that she has no intention of backing away from it.  In fact, she not only got even more deeply involved in it during her time away, but continues to associate with the movement today.  And now it looks like Porter is no longer simply associating with the Dominionists who inhabit this sphere of prophetic activism, but is actually bringing them in to her more "mainstream"... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 03/07/2011, 2:52pm
For months now, we have been chronicling how self-described prophets and apostles have been merging 7 Mountains/Dominionism with "mainstream" Religious Right activism ... and increasingly the man at the center of this appears to be the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. Perkins was among the first to embrace Lou Engle and transform him into a Religious Right leader and now he seems to be doing the same with Rick Joyner of The Oak Initiative. Just today we noted that Joyner, Jerry Boykin, and Janet Porter were gathering for a conference next month and as I was looking for... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 03/02/2011, 10:54am
Legal scholar Goodwin Liu, President Obama’s nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, is receiving a second hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Liu, who is an Associate Dean and Professor of Law at the Berkeley School of Law and a renowned legal scholar, has unsurprisingly found himself to be a top target of right-wing activists. Ed Whalen of the Nation Review accuses Liu of “trying to fool senators and get himself appointed to the Ninth Circuit, where he would (among countless opportunities for mischief)” overrule California’s Proposition 8. In... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 03/01/2011, 11:11am
When Janet Porter is involved in something, you know it is just a matter of time before it goes completely off the rails. It happened with her 2007 Values Voter Debate where a choir sang "Why Should God Bless America? " while Religious Right leaders asked questions to empty podiums representing the Republican candidates who skipped the event. And it happened again with her May Day prayer rally at the Lincoln Memorial which left her facing $70,000 in expenses and cost her her daily radio show. And so it was only a matter of time before her already bizarre "Heartbeat Bill"... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 03/01/2011, 10:57am
According to Rod Parsley, if judges overturn laws that are supported by conservatives, they are outcome-based activist judges who don’t care about the Constitution. However, Parsley says that it isn’t judicial activism if courts overturn laws backed by progressives, such as campaign finance reform and health care reform. Rather than argue for judicial modesty or restraint, Parsley supports judges overturning laws as long as they are laws traditionally supported by the left. Illogically, after praising himself for decrying “judicial activism,” Parsley slams liberals for... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 02/28/2011, 10:21am
Conservative activist Alan Caruba usually works as a shill for corporations and is the former communications director of the American Policy Committee, which staunchly opposes environmental protections and the United Nations. Instead of criticizing regulations on businesses, Caruba yesterday launched a tirade against the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act, calling marriage equality “an act of societal suicide” and the administration’s decision “a stealth attack on the nation.” He also derided the... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 02/28/2011, 10:21am
Conservative activist Alan Caruba usually works as a shill for corporations and is the former communications director of the American Policy Committee, which staunchly opposes environmental protections and the United Nations. Instead of criticizing regulations on businesses, Caruba yesterday launched a tirade against the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act, calling marriage equality “an act of societal suicide” and the administration’s decision “a stealth attack on the nation.” He also derided the... MORE