Arizona

Christian Coalition Promises More Anti-Gay Amendments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They'd Vote For Satan if He Was a Republican

One of the claims frequently made by Religious Right leaders is that so-called "values voters" do just that: vote their values rather than vote for one particular party.  In their view, Republicans have historically been better on the value issues they care about and that is why the Religious Right has been such a key part of the GOP's base of support. 

Considering that the values voter's loyalty is supposedly to God and his values rather than to the GOP, what are we to make of this quote from Mat Staver?

By contrast, in 2008 evangelical voters' final get-out-the-vote push is more of a shove against a candidate they don't want in the White House. They have never trusted Arizona Sen. John McCain, who once called some of the movement’s leaders "agents of intolerance," but they see Tuesday’s decision literally as a lesser-evil choice — and for some of them, Barack Obama is worse than Satan himself.

"Barack Obama could be running against the devil and you'd still have high turnout among values voters," said Mat Staver, founder of the religious conservative group Liberty Counsel.

"Obama has, by virtue of his liberal positions on values issues, energized values voters to show up and cast a vote against him," Staver added.

So there you have it:  "values voters" are so committed to their non-negotiable religious principles that they would vote for Satan rather than Barack Obama.

Dobson Takes Up "The Call"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The San Jose Mercury News has more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America Will Not Survive if Prop 8 Loses

That is what Tony Perkins told the New York Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palin Schedules Another Hard-Hitting Interview ... With Dobson

Fresh from her interview with David Brody of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network where she voiced her support for a federal marriage amendment and complained that both she and God were being mocked, Sarah Palin has found time to reach out to an even bigger Religious Right audience, this time granting an interview to James Dobson.

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

One of Sarah Palin’s most prominent local supporters, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, didn’t go to her rally Monday at Sky Sox stadium, but he did manage to sneak in a phone interview with her after the event. The 18-minute interview will air Wednesday on Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” radio show.

Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy of Focus on the Family Action, the lobbying arm of Focus, wouldn’t divulge the details of the interview. But he said Dobson spoke with Palin about the pressure of the campaign and the attacks on her since Sen. John McCain chose her in August as his running mate.

“She is smart, articulate and has a Christian testimony, so we can see why the national media is out to get her,” Minnery said Monday.

Dobson had once said he would never vote for McCain. But soon after McCain chose Palin, Dobson said he vote for the Arizona senator for president.

Minnery said Dobson is impressed by the Alaska governor’s conservative values, including her opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

“Her future in politics is bright,” Minnery said. “People are drawn to her.”

Dobson’s interview with Palin can be heard Wednesday.

Considering that Dobson declared that "a lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God's answer” when he learned of the nomination, it is probably safe to assume that this is not going to be a particularly difficult interview for either of them.

Some Concerned Advice for Palin

Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America is quite proud of her PhD, proclaiming herself “a recognized authority on sex trafficking, the United Nations, U.S. domestic issues, as well as national and international cultural, children's and women's concerns.”  Of course, it turns out that her PhD is actually in Communication Theory from the State University of New York at Buffalo, so how that makes her an expert on sex trafficking is hard to understand.

But now comes a situation in which her PhD is actually relevant and so she is offering debate advice to Sarah Palin:

Dr. Janice Crouse, political commentator for Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, is an expert on presidential communication.  The former presidential speechwriter (Bush 41) said, “In a move distinctly different from Eisenhower’s abandonment of Richard Nixon when he got in trouble with the press, John McCain (R-Arizona) invited Palin to his ranch in Sedona, Arizona, where she will spend two days preparing for the debate — thus sending a signal of his continued support for his veep pick and providing a haven where she will be able to regroup from the vicious attacks and regain her confidence before she faces the ultimate test of her candidacy.”

How chivalrous of McCain to protect Palin from the mean old press so that she can cram for a few days before her big test.  And what expert advice does Crouse have for her?

(1)   First and foremost, be yourself, and remember — as Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense — we are endowed with the intelligence to equip us for self-governance: the colonists didn’t need a monarch to rule them, Reagan didn’t need State Department geeks to tell him how to win the Cold War, and you don’t need inside-the-beltway pundits to tell you how to be Vice President.  Your life experiences and intuition equip you just fine for the job.

(2)   You don’t have to know everything or be an expert in foreign affairs; you are training for a debate, not a television quiz show like Jeopardy.  If you duck and dodge like the vast majority of Washington pols, you will not retain the public’s admiration (52 percent favorability rating even after all the attacks).

(3)   Counter Sen. Joe Biden’s (D-Delaware) phony talk about his blue-collar background with the facts regarding the elitism of the leftist ticket, focusing on Sen. Obama’s (D-Illinois) extreme voting record, his radical friends and associates, and the extraordinary number of Obama earmarks in his short Senate tenure.

(4)   Push your actual executive decision-making experience in contrast to Obama’s appalling number of “present” votes during his Senate tenure.

(5)   Emphasize the role of Frank Raines (Obama’s financial advisor) and the leftist Congress in the current financial crisis.

(6)   Last, your primary job is to convince the public that you can be trusted, that you are honest, and that you are authentic.  The election, ultimately, will depend on the public’s assessment of the candidates’ trustworthiness — especially in this time of national upheaval over the national financial crisis.

Because nothing will demonstrate Palin’s honesty and authenticity and show that she can be trusted quite like engaging in thoroughly bogus attacks about earmarks and Obama’s advisors.

Harry Jackson: DINO

Acronyms like DINO (Democrat in Name Only) and RINO (Republican in Name Only) are generally thrown around as pejoratives, suggesting that the person in question claims to be a member of one party while disagreeing with or failing to support key issues by which that party is traditionally identified. 

Nobody better exemplifies this term than Harry Jackson, who continues to get mileage out of pretending that he is a Democrat:

Similarly, evangelical leader Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., who leads a socially conservative black pastors group called High Impact Leadership Coalition, has urged his black congregation in Maryland as well as other black Christians to vote on their values rather than their race.

Jackson is a registered Democrat but has joined several Focus on the Family Action broadcasts to criticize Obama for his support of abortion and same-sex “marriage.”

Yesterday, Jackson joined a group of African American and Latino pastors in Florida to rally supporters to ban gay marriage and again used his Democratic affiliation to create the impression that his efforts are something beyond standard right-wing activism:

A group of black and Latino pastors pledged Wednesday to rally support among their congregations for Amendment 2, the measure that would essentially ban gay marriage in Florida.

...

"We are not standing here against gays," Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. the coalition's leader and pastor of Hope Christian Center in Beltsville, Md., said at a news conference at the Tampa church. "We're standing simply to proclaim that marriage should be preserved."

Nearly 40 pastors stood behind Jackson, the second gathering of bay area pastors working to support Amendment 2. This month, a separate, similar effort launched that drew mostly white Southern Baptist pastors.

Jackson, who is a black Democrat, said he aims to build bridges between minority and white clerics so they can work together on social issues from a biblical perspective.

As we pointed out several months ago, Jackson's "Democratic" affiliation is purely a political tactic, which he fully admits:

I voted for President Bush, but here in Maryland—a primarily Democratic state—in order to vote in the primaries that affect the election, you need to be a Democrat. That's where I started. Over time, however, I've found that I have very little in common with the Democratic Party in terms of national moral values issues. Still, being able to say I'm a registered Democrat disarms many of the people who want to write me off as an "Oreo" or an "Uncle Tom."

Need more proof?  Well, generally Democrats don't respond to allegations that one of John McCain's high-level staffers is gay by calling on McCain to be more vocal in support of efforts to deny marriage equality in order to minimize the damage:

A conservative Christian pastor and political activist says the revelation that John McCain's Senate chief of staff is an open homosexual should compel the presidential hopeful and his running mate Sarah Palin to "rise up" and "unashamedly" declare their support for traditional marriage.

...

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., of the High Impact Leadership Coalition says the Buse revelation is not likely to diminish McCain's support among conservatives. However, the Maryland pastor is concerned that U.S. senator has not been more vocal about the marriage amendment battles in Florida, California, and his home state of Arizona.

McCain-Palin No Show, No Problem

As we noted last week, both John McCain and Sarah Palin seemed to be intentionally avoiding being seen in public with the Relgious Right.  And that indeed seems to be the case:

At this year’s conference, Romney will be a headliner tomorrow night, Huckabee appears by video Saturday, and McCain… won’t be there at all. Despite being in Washington D.C. for the day on Saturday with no public appearances, the Arizona senator isn't expected to take up the offer to speak at the summit, organized by the Family Research Council’s legislative arm and co-sponsored by the likes of Focus on the Family and Gary Bauer’s “American Values” group.

According to The Brody File, Palin was actually scheduled to appear but then pulled out at the last minute, just as she did with Phyllis Schlafly's reception at the Republican convention, but offered to send a video message, which organizer's of the Values Voter Summit dismissed as "not enough." 

But just because Palin and McCain don't want to be seen with the Right doesn't mean that the Right is holding it against them.  In fact, the Right seems to fully understand that McCain has already caved to them and thus they are perfectly happy with his efforts to distance himself from them in order to get back to pretending to be a maverick: 

John McCain won't attend a gathering of religious conservatives this weekend -- and the Republican presidential nominee won't have to ask forgiveness.

The Arizona senator's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate has appeased the evangelical and social conservatives who form his party's core voters. Now, they are letting him know that he doesn't need to further demonstrate his fealty.

Last year, McCain felt compelled to appear at the Values Voter Summit in Washington to woo the religious conservatives who have long mistrusted him. That's not necessary this time: members of the movement now ``know exactly what's going on,'' said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values in Ohio and a summit attendee.

``I understand if he thinks he's got us,'' said Burress, who led Ohio's 2004 effort to ban gay marriage. ``The Palin appointment guaranteed his base.''

...

``If he can spend his time somewhere else gathering votes, then that's where he should be,'' Burress said. ``The important thing is winning,'' he said, reflecting a new pragmatism from evangelicals who have been slow to embrace McCain.

...

Richard Land, a leader of the 18 million-member Southern Baptist convention, said conservatives appreciate McCain's efforts and don't expect him to make their agenda a cornerstone of his campaign in the closing two months of the election, at least publicly.

``Actions speak louder than words and Sarah Palin speaks not just volumes, but a whole library,'' Land said.

The ADF’s Dangerous “Pulpit Initiative”

It looks like the Alliance Defense Fund is moving ahead with its efforts to potentially get dozens of churches stripped of their tax-exempt status

Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.

The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

"For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church," ADF attorney Erik Stanley said. "It is the job of the pastors of America to debate the proper role of church in society. It's not for the government to mandate the role of church in society."

Rather than wait for the IRS to investigate an alleged violation, the organization intends to create dozens of violations and take the U.S. government to court on First Amendment grounds.

"We're looking for churches that are serious-minded about this, churches that understand both the risks and the benefits," Stanley said, referring to the chance that they could lose their coveted tax-exempt status or could set a precedent.

Stanley said three dozen church leaders from more than 20 states have agreed to deliver a political sermon, naming political names.

"The sermon will be an evaluation of conditions for office in light of scripture and doctrine. They will make a specific recommendation from the pulpit about how the congregation would vote," he said.

"They could oppose a candidate. They could oppose both candidates. They could endorse a candidate. They could focus on a federal, state or local election."

Fortunately, the good folks at Americans United are all over this and have already released a brochure debunking ADF’s bogus line of argument:  

The free speech rights of religious leaders are already broadly protected by the U.S. Constitution. Clergy can and do address public policy concerns, ranging from abortion, gay rights and gun control to poverty, civil rights and the death penalty. They may support legislation pending in Congress or the state legislatures, or call for its defeat. They may endorse or oppose ballot referenda. Indeed, discussion of public issues is a common practice in religious institutions all over America.

The only thing houses of worship may not do is endorse or oppose candidates for public office or use their resources in partisan campaigns. This restriction, which is found in federal tax law, is not limited to churches and other religious ministries. In fact, it is applied to every non-profit organization in the country that holds a tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contrary to the claims of many in the Religious Right, the IRS is not singling out houses of worship for special regulation. Thousands of educational, scientific, charitable and literary organizations hold the 501(c)(3) status, and all must abide by the legal requirement barring involvement in elections.

Why does this rule exist? The answer is obvious upon a moment's reflection: Non-profit organizations receive tax exemption because their work is charitable, educational or religious. That tax benefit comes with conditions. One requirement is that tax-exempt organizations refrain from involvement in partisan politics. This is a reasonable rule, since tax-exempt groups are supposed to work for the public good, not spend their time and money trying to elect or defeat candidates.

Everybody Hates Joe

Last month, Politico quizzed some right-wing leaders to get their thoughts on the prospect of John McCain tapping Joe Lieberman as his running mate ... and they weren't pretty:

“Lieberman’s a great pick for McCain if he doesn’t want to be president,” said Tony Perkins, a Christian conservative leader who is the president of the Family Research Council.

Fellow social conservative leader Richard Land, the former director of the Southern Baptist Convention, called a possible Lieberman vice presidential pick "a catastrophe.”

“This would be the kind of thing that could destroy McCain’s campaign for the presidency,” added Don Devine, the vice chairman of the American Conservative Union. “McCain might like to do this in some deep recesses of his heart, but I can’t believe at the end of the day he would do it — and if he did, it would be disastrous. Lieberman is just too far out of any idea of conservatism. It’s just crazy idea.”

“Lieberman is an impossible vice presidential choice,” said Grover Norquist, a conservative anti-tax activist. “You don’t average out a guy who votes hard left on economic matters because he has enthusiasm for occupying Mesopotamia.”

Lieberman has now been tapped to speak at the Republican Convention and the Washington Times is reporting that there are signs that McCain may seriously be considering him for the ticket and that GOP officials are scrambling to figure out how to stop it, even if that means rejecting him on the convention floor:

Officials with John McCain's campaign made a series of conference calls Monday and Tuesday with supporters nationwide to say that Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman may be named as the Arizona senator's vice presidential running mate, immediately sparking a frenzied effort by some state Republican officials to come up with a strategy to head off such a move, The Washington Times has learned.

...

Concerned state GOP officials on Tuesday discussed by telephone and e-mail whether to organize delegates to reject Mr. Lieberman if his name comes up for a floor vote for the vice presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention -- if Mr. McCain actually does name him, either before or at the beginning of the Sept. 1-4 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

But heading off a Lieberman pick beforehand would avoid having to embarrass the GOP nominee by publicly rejecting his judgment on the choice for vice president at a convention watched on television by much of the nation.

Reed Skips McCain Fundraiser

After all the controversy provoked by the fact that John McCain was set to attend a fundraiser with Jack Abramoff crony Ralph Reed, it looks like the McCain campaign and Reed both wised up and decided not to be seen together at last night’s fundraiser in Atlanta:

John McCain raised more than $1.75 million for Republicans Monday at a fundraiser clouded by confusion over the role of a political operative connected to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The downtown event was promoted by Ralph Reed, a former head of the Christian Coalition. McCain's campaign said the event was organized by the Republican National Committee , not Reed, who was linked to the Abramoff scandal that McCain investigated in the Senate.

McCain didn't raise the issue during his 22-minute appearance. Instead, he thanked donors to the Republicans' umbrella campaign fund.

"Everybody in this room could be someplace else," the Arizona senator told the crowd of several hundred. "Everybody in this room could be donating to some other cause or to their own well-being. But I want to thank you."

Reed was not seen inside the hotel ballroom; a McCain campaign spokeswoman said he did not attend.

Keyes Supporters Try to Throw McCain Off CA Ballot

While Alan Keyes is busy penning 11,000 word attacks against John McCain and his right-wing supporters, his own supporters in the American Independent Party are hard at work trying to get McCain tossed from the ballot in California:

A John McCain presidency would be illegal because the Arizona senator was not born in the United States, says a lawsuit filed this week by the American Independent Party.

The minor party says it wants McCain's name removed from ballots in California because federal law would bar the former Vietnam War POW from taking office were he to be elected in November, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Article II of the U.S. Constitution disqualifies McCain from assuming office because he was born in the Commonwealth of Panama in 1936, while his father was stationed at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, the lawsuit contends.

The American Independent Party claims it will be "irreparably harmed by Senator McCain's illegal and illegitimate presence on the ballot." The plaintiffs in the case want McCain enjoined from running for president.

Also named in the lawsuit are the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party. The lawsuit argues the GOP is engaging in "unfair competition" by putting forth an "illegitimate" presidential nominee.

"The harm sustained by being forced to compete against-and potentially be defeated by-and illegal and illegitimate campaign cannot be monetarily remedied nor can it be remedied after the November general election in any manner," the petition said.

The lawsuit was brought by Markham Robinson of Vacaville, Calif., chairman-elect of the American Independent Party. The AIP has nominated author Alan Keyes for president.

The Right’s Half-Hearted Support For McCain

Matt Taibbi, fresh off his time undercover at John Hagee’s church, returns to the pages of Rolling Stone to chronicle John McCain’s on-going struggle to win over the Christian Right. Taibbi tracked down Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel who was deeply involved in the July meeting in Colorado where a variety of right-wing heavy-hitter decided to finally  back McCain because they basically had no other option and then issued their own “Declaration of American Values” which, Staver tells Taibbi, they want to make clear was not a declaration of support for McCain:

It's McCain's newfound status as the lesser of two evils that recently won him a previously unthinkable triumph — the pledged support of more than 100 Christian groups who met in Denver on July 1st to create a so-called "Declaration of American Values." Organized by Mat Staver, chairman of the fundamentalist group Liberty Counsel, the declaration was an attempt to reunite a Christian right that, as Staver tells me, had suffered "through a fractious primary season. There were a lot of hurt feelings." The group — which included notables on the religious right like Phyllis Schlafly and Tim Lahaye — settled on a list of 10 basic principles, including the perennial sanctity of life and anti-gay-marriage stuff, as well as some weirder and less biblically obvious demands supporting unfettered gun ownership and opposing taxation "of a progressive nature."

And while the group came out in support of McCain, Staver is anxious that this not be interpreted as a broad expression of enthusiasm by the Christian right. "Uh, the media somewhat didn't accurately report that," he says with obvious fright in his voice. "This wasn't a Declaration of American Values in support of John McCain. This was a statement of support for those core values." It was agreed, Staver clarifies, that supporting McCain in this election was merely the best choice for the "short term." And the reason for that, he says, is that the election of Barack Obama would "decimate American values." From there, Staver is off and running about Obama's record on abortion rights and gay marriage, and how generally an Obama election would bring about the end of civilization; he said almost nothing about McCain.

This is a point Staver seems eager to get across, as he told the same thing to Dan Gilgoff back in July, explaining that their support for McCain was done out of political necessity and is aimed at asserting their influence within the Republican Party in order to try and prevent this sort of situation in the future: 

Last week's decision by nearly 100 conservative Christian activists meeting in Denver to coalesce around presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain was a major coup for a candidate whose relationship with the Christian Right has been famously stormy. But the Denver meeting's organizer, Mathew Staver--founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law--says the activists' new unity around McCain should not be taken as evidence of a stepped-up religious outreach effort by the Arizona senator, or as a sign that evangelicals are warming to him personally.

In fact, Staver said in an interview yesterday that much of the Denver meeting was focused on building a long-term strategy for the Christian Right to avoid getting stuck with another figure like McCain.

Taibbi also relates this anecdote, which suggests either that James Dobson has changed his mind once again on whether he’ll support McCain or that his spokesman can’t keep track of his waffling:

As a result, the most influential leaders on the Christian right are keeping their distance. "Uh, no," says a spokesman for Focus on the Family, when I ask if Dobson has changed his mind about McCain, even with Obama on the ticket. "He hasn't changed his mind. No way."

Right Gears Up to Fight “Armageddon of the Culture War”

For two hours earlier this week, pastors gathered at more than 200 sites throughout California, Arizona, and Florida to be exhorted by national Religious Right leaders like Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Maggie Gallagher, and Chuck Colson and others to hold nothing back in their efforts to fight against marriage equality.  The People For the American Way Foundation today released a memo [PDF] chronicling the call and outlining the Right’s plans for the weeks ahead:

The primary focus of the call was Proposition 8 in California, described by Colson as “the Armageddon of the culture war.” Many speakers invoked the language of warfare, raising up an army of believers, putting soldiers in the streets, being on the front lines of a battle. Lou Engle actually described a massive rally planned in Qualcomm stadium on November 1 as a “blitzkrieg moment.”

While speaker after speaker spoke of the dire threats same-sex married couples pose to “traditional” marriage, religious freedom, and civilization itself, the overall tone of the call was confidence that victory would be won with God’s help, 40 days of prayer and fasting before the election, teams of intercessors and prayer warriors around the country, and a massive highly organized deployment of volunteers in a systematic voter identification and turnout campaign.

Ron Luce from Teen Mania ministries and other organizers talked about plans to organize 300,000 youth and their families for an October 1 simulcast, and using them to reach 2.4 million. A representative of the Church Communication Network, a satellite network that has downlink equipment in 500 churches in California, 95 in Arizona, and 321 in Florida, said it would simulcast the youth event free of charge, and would make a satellite dish available “at cost” to churches who don’t yet have one. Said one speaker of the youth organizing, “if we don’t use them, Satan will.”

Another speaker, Rev. Dudley Rutherford, predicted that if Prop. 8 fails, the God-ordained institution of marriage would be destroyed; the engine of hate crimes legislation would be fueled, ultimately leading to it being illegal to read some sections of the Bible; the floodgates would be open to gay couples suing to force churches to marry them; and the polygamists would be next.

McCain Wins Praise From FRC For Gay Adoption Stance

After getting blasted for backtracking on his opposition to gay adoption, FRC is now praising McCain's muddled commitment to family values: "We applaud the Arizona Senator for his support of traditional families, which study upon study affirms as the best environment for raising children. I hope this is only the beginning of a longer, more pointed dialogue about pro-family policies by the GOP's presidential nominee."

Folger's Prison Fantasies Continue

Janet Folger is still claiming that she is going to end up in prison - this time if they don't stop gay marriage: "Let me cut to the chase: If we don't win the marriage battle, now on the ballot in California, Florida and Arizona, people who disagree with homosexual behavior will ... go to jail."

The Ever-Principled James Dobson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCain Endorses CA Marriage Amendment After Meeting OH Right-Wing Activists

As we noted yesterday, John McCain was scheduled to meet with a handful of right-wing activists in Ohio who were not particularly excited about the prospect of supporting his campaign.  At the meeting, McCain reportedly “took detailed notes and listened intently” but apparently didn’t quite win them over:

He spoke for more than an hour but never mentioned issues that social conservatives skeptical of McCain want to hear about: his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, or appointing conservative judges to the Supreme Court.

Conservative activists say that's a big problem.

"John McCain needs to talk about life more often, he needs to talk about marriage," activist Phil Burress said. "If the senator thinks he is going to run the campaign appealing to the middle by avoiding to talk about the social issues, he is going to lose Ohio."

But what do you know?  One day later, it looks like the message these activists delivered has sunk in, leading McCain to suddenly come out in support of the California Marriage Amendment:

United States Senator John McCain today announced his support for the California Protection of Marriage initiative on the state's November ballot, leaders of the ProtectMarriage.com campaign announced. In an email received by the ProtectMarriage.com campaign, Senator McCain issued the following statement:

"I support the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman, just as we did in my home state of Arizona. I do not believe judges should be making these decisions."

Nose Holding in Ohio

John McCain’s messy break-up with televangelist Rod Parsley had the potential to hurt him most in Ohio, a swing state necessary for McCain and the place where Parsley built a network of electorally-charged “Patriot Pastors” in 2004 and 2006. Now McCain is making amends by delving deeper into the state’s Religious Right.

Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state who helped Bush win there in 2004, is a close ally of Parsley; the two campaigned heavily together during Blackwell’s losing bid for governor in 2006. In an AP story today, Blackwell was critical of McCain’s ham-handed efforts to enlist the Religious Right:

"He has never identified with the evangelical and Christian movement and therefore he can, at times, misread or misinterpret certain activities in the political field of play or certain comments that are offered," said Blackwell, now at the Family Research Council, a conservative think tank. "I personally would like for John to get to the point of comfort with some of our issues and policy positions, through understanding and genuine acceptance."

Despite these warnings, Blackwell is a Republican politician at heart and is supporting McCain (who endorsed Blackwell in 2006)—he even recorded a robo-call for the Arizona senator before the Ohio GOP primary in February. But other activists are even more cagey about how much they’ll work for McCain.

In the same AP article, Chris Long of the Ohio Christian Alliance (which broke away from the Christian Coalition when it got too soft) warned, “There’s certainly a little reservation about Mr. McCain.”

Phil Burress, a leader of Ohio’s Religious Right, has been skeptical of McCain’s judges promises and emphasized in March that McCain had a lot more sucking up to do:

Burress, who heads Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values, says although he would vote for McCain in the general election, the Arizona lawmaker has thus far failed to energize the bloc Burress refers to as "values voters."

"They are not mobilized right now -- and in fact, they're just going to be sitting back waiting to hear what he has to say to try to get these people to engage in his campaign," explains Burress.

Burress contends McCain needs to apologize to evangelical Christians and values voters for the way he has treated them over the years. He says because the senator is not likely to make that apology, he must strengthen his pledge to appoint strict constructionist judges to the Supreme Court.

Jack Willke, the former National Right to Life leader who has been called the “grandfather” of the anti-abortion movement, also made “clear” to McCain the unhappiness of the Right, as the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Nevertheless, Willke, like the others, is supporting McCain. But McCain is still worried enough to set up a meeting today with Burress, Wilke, Long, and others, as Jake Tapper reports.

Lori Viars, executive director of the Family First PAC … told the Dayton Daily News that her fellow conservatives "would probably hold our nose and vote for McCain."

Apparently before said mass nose-holding can transpire, this meeting was required.

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Arizona Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 01/12/2011, 12:46pm
While Sarah Palin tries to make herself out as the real victim of the shootings in Arizona, even going so far as to compare herself to Jewish victims of “blood libels,” the right-wing echo-chamber has been busy spinning the shootings in Tucson. After Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips called Jared Lee Loughner “a liberal lunatic,” conservatives eagerly promoted his claims. NewsMax claimed that Loughner has links to “left-wing politics” since his favorite books include “‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler’s... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/11/2011, 5:33pm
TPM: How Glenn Beck And Fox News Successfully Painted AZ Shooter As Hitler, Marx Devotee Alan Colmes: Pawlenty On Palin’s “Crosshairs”: “I Wouldn’t Have Done It.” The Plum Line: Paul Begala to right wing: Why so defensive about Arizona shooting? Steve Benen: A Trip Down Memory Lane With Newt Gingrich. Texas Freedom Network: Far Right Fails in GOP Speaker Vote. Joe.My.God: Bishop Robert Evans: Satan Is Trying To Bring Gay Marriage To Rhode Island. MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/11/2011, 5:18pm
NOM pulled the Rhode Island ad off of YouTube, luckily it’s still on Good-As-You. The Supreme Court will rule soon on Bishop Harry Jackson’s petition to hear a case on the status of DC’s marriage equality law. Jim Garlow and California Republicans plan to rally against the ruling that the cross at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial is unconstitutional. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver and “historian” David Barton are teaming up for “South Carolina Awake!” Apparently, a Tea Party Express fundraising email concerning the... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/11/2011, 4:48pm
Opponents of birthright citizenship have mobilized in Congress and in fourteen state legislatures to pass legislation that would reinterpret the 14th Amendment to deny birthright citizenship. At a forum of state legislators who support scrapping birthright citizenship, Republican State Rep. Daniel B. Verdi of South Carolina compared illegal immigration to “the malady of slavery” and Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said such legislation would help “bring an end to the illegal alien invasion.” Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly praised their efforts in a column... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/11/2011, 11:30am
After calling for politicians and political commentators to tone down violent and hateful political rhetoric, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is now experiencing himself the force of right-wing hostility and rancor. Dupnik never suggested that the deeply disturbed shooter was directly influenced by political debate, but called into question the use of vicious rhetoric and violent imagery that has become all too commonplace in political discourse today. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country,” Dupnik said, “is getting to be outrageous.... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 01/10/2011, 5:38pm
Michael B. Keegan @ Huffington Post: Denouncing Violent Rhetoric, the Sheriff Gets it Right. Towelroad: Iowa Christian Group Blocks Gay Candidate Fred Karger from Debate. Stephanie Mencimer @ Mother Jones: Does Bachmann Believe Congress Should be Run by Christians? Alvin McEwen: Pete LaBarbera accuses me of being a hypocrite while ignoring his own activities. Steve Benen: Rand Paul's Bill Frist Moment. Good As You: Nice. Kevin Drum: The Wages of Sin Are....Nothing Much. Huffington Post: Westboro Baptist Church To Picket Funerals Of... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 01/10/2011, 12:21pm
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s impassioned plea for greater civility and tolerance in politics following the shooting in Arizona has spurred a backlash among far-right politicians and commentators whose campaigns and careers are centered on divisive and indignant rhetoric. Dupnik, who singled out no political party or ideology, condemned the extreme language that could provoke an unhinged individual into violence: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred,... MORE