Civil Rights

Virginia Foxx's "Revisionist History"

For the last several years, we've been chronicling efforts by far-right activists like David Barton and the National Black Republican Association to claim that throughout American history it has been Republicans who have been the champions of civil rights while Democrats were the party of racists and it seems that this idea has now worked its way into the House of Representatives thanks to Rep. Virginia Foxx:

During a debate on the House floor today over designating 21 miles of the Molalla River as “wild and scenic,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who opposes the legislation, tried to claim a progressive environmental record for her party. “Actually, the GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this country,” said Foxx.

Foxx then extended her claims of the GOP’s progressive history to the issue of civil rights. “Just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the ’60s without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle,” said Fox. “They love to engage in revisionist history.”

A few years back, Barton produced an entire video pushing this idea.  Entitled "Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White," Barton's presentation chronicled the decades of oppression and discrimination against Blacks for which Barton claimed the Democrats were entirely responsible, only to suddenly stop with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, completely ignoring the political transformation that overtook the country in its wake and the rise of the Republican Party’s "Southern Strategy" as we explained in our report:

Having been so eager to recount every historical Democratic disgrace, Barton falls silent when it comes to mentioning the split that emerged within the Democratic Party in the 1960s between the growing number who embraced the civil rights movement and those who continued to oppose it. Barton does not mention that President Johnson risked his career and his party’s future to do the right thing, nor does he mention that racist and segregationist southern Democrats left the party and were welcomed by the national Republican Party as part of its “Southern Strategy” to building power. Nor, of course, does he mention a particularly shameful modern-era example of that strategy – presidential candidate Ronald Reagan launching his 1980 bid for the presidency with a visit to Philadelphia, Mississippi to declare his support for states’ rights – with no mention of the town’s notoriety as the place where civil rights workers were murdered and townspeople jeered federal investigators.

Even an amateur historian like Barton shouldn’t be able to ignore that sordid history. In fact it’s so well documented that even RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman once openly acknowledged it in the context of his efforts to recruit African Americans into the Party. Mehlman gave an apology of sorts, saying "By the '70s and into the '80s and '90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out. Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

Even President Bush acknowledged that whatever prestige the Republican Party once had with African Americans has been squandered, telling the NAACP on July 20, 2006 that he understands why “many African Americans distrust my political party” and that he considers it “a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historic ties with the African American community. For too long my party wrote off the African American vote, and many African Americans wrote off the Republican Party” – admissions which were met with rousing applause from the audience.

But that is nothing compared to the efforts of Frances Rice of the National Black Republican Association, who prefers flat out lying about it:

The 30-year odyssey of the South switching to the Republican Party began in the 1970s with President Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy," which was an effort on the part of Nixon to get Christians in the South to stop voting for Democrats who did not share their values and were still discriminating against their fellow Christians who happened to be black.

As we asked once before:

The obvious question raised by all of this is not why the Democrats are reluctant to discuss it, but why right-wingers who are obsessed with it never manage to explain the so-called “Southern Strategy” employed by Richard Nixon to win over traditional Southern Democrats who were angry by the party’s emerging pro-civil rights positions. As Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips explained it:

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

Ronald Regan’s strategist Lee Atwater was even more blunt about the reasoning behind the strategy:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

It's amazing to see this sort of right-wing propaganda being spread on the floor of the House of Representatives. 

Amazing, but sadly not surprising.

Scarborough: Anti-Gay Activists Are Just Like MLK

As something of a follow-up to my last post, Rick Scarborough just issued yet another press release about the upcoming press conference challenging hate crimes legislation in which he compared those participating in the event to Martin Luther King:

On October 28, President Barack Obama signed into law a measure extending the federal hate crimes statute to include so-called sexual orientation. The ministers believe this will criminalize all criticism of homosexual behavior, including that contained in the Bible.

To test this belief and protest a clear violation of First Amendment freedom of speech and religion, various clergy will preach short sermons and read passages from the Bible regarding homosexual behavior. Like Dr. Martin Luther King and the Sixties Civil Rights movement, they will engage in civil disobedience to protest injustice.

On a semi-related note, here's another short clip of Scarborough on Janet Porter's radio program saying what while President Obama was "so careful in choosing his words and calling for caution" after the shooting at Fort Hood, "he threw all that to the wind when George Tiller was shot in his church ... There was no hesitancy in this particular presidency to immediately assume that there were conspirators ... There was a quick jump to judgment in that issue":

For the record, here is President Obama's statement on the murder of Tiller:

I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.

Remember Back When the Right Hated The Filibuster?

Once upon a time, activists on the Right were vehemently opposed to the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees, declaring on principle that its use was flagrantly unconstitutional and calling on Senate Republicans to do away with the Democratic minority's ability to use them against President Bush's nominees.

But then President Obama took office and made a Supreme Court nomination and those "principles" went right out the window and suddenly those who had been, just a few years earlier, decrying the filibuster as downright evil were championing it.

Which brings us to this new Conservative Action Project "Memo to the Movement" demanding a filibuster of Seventh Circuit nominee David Hamilton:

We agree with Senator Sessions that indeed this is one of those extraordinary circumstances where the President should be informed that his nominee is not qualified. "Extraordinary circumstances" is the standard agreed to by the bipartisan Gang of 14 for when it is permissible to block a confirmation vote against judicial nominees. The Senate should apply it now to stop the Hamilton nomination ... Judge Hamilton is precisely the kind of liberal judicial activist who would use our federal courts as his own super-legislature. The Senate should vote no on the cloture vote to stop this nomination.

The memo is signed by the following group and I have taken the liberty of highlighting those individuals or organizations who, during the Bush presidency, signed on to letters [PDF] demanding an end to the use of the filibuster

Marion Edwyn Harrison, President, Free Congress Foundation
Edwin Meese, former Attorney General
Mathew D. Staver, Founder & Chairman, Liberty Counsel
Wendy Wright, President, Concerned Women for America
Cleta Mitchell, American Conservative Union Board of Directors
J. Kenneth Blackwell, Visiting Professor, Liberty University School of Law
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List
Curt Levey, Executive Director, Committee for Justice
Colin A. Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring
Susan Carleson, Chairman & CEO, American Civil Rights Union
William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government
Kay Daly, President, Coalition for a Fair Judiciary
T. Kenneth Cribb, former Counselor to the U.S. Attorney General
Andrea Lafferty, Executive Director, Traditional Values Coalition
David Keene, Chairman, American Conservative Union
Gary Bauer, President, American Values
Phil Burress, President, Citizens for Community Values

Jim Martin, President, 60 Plus Association
David McIntosh, former Member of Congress, Indiana
Tom Winter, Editor in Chief, Human Events
Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com
Alfred Regnery, Publisher, American Spectator
Becky Norton Dunlop, President, Council for National Policy
Rev. Lou Sheldon, Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition

By my count, 15 of 24 individuals listed of this memo demanding a filibuster of Hamilton either signed, or represent an organization which signed, a letter just a few years back demanding an end to the use of the filibuster.

Yes on 1's Prodigal Son Returns

Back in September, Mike Heath of the Maine Family Policy Council suddenly announced that he was leaving the organization, right in the middle of the fight over marriage equality in the state.

Heath had been finding himself being pushed aside in the Religious Right's activism and mobilization efforts, presumably because of the rabidly anti-gay insanity he'd been spreading, as the Yes on 1 side worked to portray itself as tolerant and mainstream.

Heath then all but disappeared from the scene ... but now that Yes on 1 has been victorious in Maine, Tip-Q points out that he has popped up on Peter LaBarbera's Americans for Truth website declaring that gays are sick and calling for reinstatement of Maine's anti-sodomy laws:

Homosexuality has absolutely nothing to do with marriage. Homosexuality is a sickness. It’s a sin.

We need to stop putting up with it. There is nothing civil about hiding the truth from those we love. And the truth about sex outside of marriage is that it hurts, it’s bad for us. We need to avoid it.

We need to choose life over sex. Sex is for life … it creates life. Sex and life must be connected in our thinking. We come together sexually in the context of marriage to celebrate creation, the creation of a unique individual human life. It is perilous to disconnect sex from creation. It is even more perilous to pretend that pleasurable sex should be associated with acts unspeakable.

In the interest of protecting and affirming all of Maine’s people, especially our children and grandchildren, we must repeal domestic partnership laws that provide benefits on the basis of homosexuality, we must de-fund the so-called “civil rights teams” [pro-homosexual student groups] and remove “sexual orientation and gender identity” from the Maine Human Rights Act and the Maine Civil Rights Act. It would also be prudent to reinstate Maine’s anti-sodomy law that was quietly removed from our criminal code in the late 1970s.

The Right Rallies For Rifqa

Rifqa Bary has been sent back to Ohio, but that isn't stopping the Right's crusade to keep her away from her Muslim parents, which is why they are now claiming that authorities are trying to "cut her off from all Christian fellowship," by monitoring her phone and internet usage, as the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission alleges.

The Traditional Values Coalition takes it even further, claiming Bary has been put into "solitary confinement":

An Ohio judge agreed with Rifqa’s parents and her father’s Muslim attorney to put the girl into solitary confinement. She will have her phone calls monitored and her internet use monitored as well. Her parents have been working with attorneys with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization with ties to Islamic extremist groups.

Bary’s father, Mohamed, has denied threatening to kill his daughter, but part of Islamic theology is lying to infidels. It is called “taqqiya.” This doctrine teaches Muslims to practice deception, fraud and double standards in defending Islam from infidels.

Bary’s parents are also in the U.S. illegally from Sri Lanka. In addition, Rifqa Bary’s parents attend the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, a hotbed of terrorist-related activities.

I fear that Bary’s parents will ship Rifqa off to a mental asylum in Sri Lanka where she will be browbeaten into denouncing Christianity. If this fails, she can be legally killed for apostacy. Or, her father may simply murder her in an Islam-sanctioned “honor killing.”

Rifqa Bary is facing a death penalty – thanks to courts in Florida and in Ohio.

Bary is scheduled for a hearing in a few weeks and, not surprisingly, Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs and various other right-wing anti-Islam activists are organizing a rally on her behalf outside the courthouse, as Geller explained to Front Page Magazine:

Geller: I am organizing a “Rally for Rifqa” in co-operation with Robert Spencer, bestselling author and director of Jihadwatch, and Dr. Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Islamic Jihad. It will be held on November 16th, the day of Rifqa’s dependency hearing in support of the reinstatement of her rights and freedom of religion.

FP: This is, of course, about Rifqa. But it is also about much more right?

Geller: Yes Jamie. It’s not just Rifqa’s battle. She is our proxy in the battle for freedom of religion and individual rights. Rifqa Bary’s case is the landmark case in the civil rights battle of this new century.

...

FP: How is Rifqa doing?

Geller: Rifqa Bary’s civil rights are being violated. She is being held prisoner: no phone, no internet, no public school. Why? What is her crime? She is being held under house arrest in accord with Sharia law, which stipulates that female apostates are to be imprisoned until they recant. Ohio is effectively practicing Sharia law.

Where are Rifqa’s civil rights? Where is her freedom of religion? Barack Obama said in Cairo in June 2009 that he would fight for the right of Muslim women in the U.S. to wear the hijab. Why isn’t Obama fighting for their right NOT to wear the hijab? Why isn’t he taking a stand for Rifqa’s right not to be a Muslim at all?

Jim Zorn, a children’s services attorney, is the one who asked Franklin County Juvenile Magistrate Mary Goodrich to forbid Rifqa from using the Internet and her cell phone.

Zorn explained: “What we want to restrict is the other people, the other organizations, the other forces, that have interjected themselves into this case inappropriately, and have caused the additional problems that we’ve seen.”

Her father may have threatened to kill her, and Zorn and Goodrich are keeping her away from the people who saved her and took her in.

The isolation of Rifqa is an egregious crime. How will we know if she is not being psychologically or physically abused? How will we know if she is all right?

Rifqa Bary should be posting to a Facebook page every day. The Ohio authorities and the Islamic supremacists who are pulling their strings are not protecting this girl, but rather are endangering her life.

Porter, LaBarbera, and Gallagher Talk Marriage In Maine

Earlier today we mentioned that Peter LaBarbera was heading up to Maine, but before he left he made time for a check-in with Janet Porter, as did the National Organization for Maine's Maggie Gallagher.

LaBarbera explained that he was heading to Maine in order to expose the "radical agenda" of groups that are trying to influence the vote on marriage equality andy rally pro-family forces to defeat them to prevent them from brainwashing our children in the public schools.  LaBarbera and Porter urged listeners to donate money to the effort and LaBarbera twice issued a special call for financial assistance for Brian Camenker who is "in a severe financial pinch right now," pleading with listeners to make a donation.

Starting around the 4:00 mark, LaBarbera says he believes they will win in Maine and goes on to compare the fight against marriage equality to the fight against reproductive choice, saying those who oppose the "homosexual activist agenda" are on the front lines of the culture war and are standing up against this abomination, comparing homosexuality to child sacrifice and bestiality in the Old Testament and vowing never to back down against those who "are willing to rob our religious freedom in the name of promoting that perversion in the name of civil rights."

LaBarbera was then followed by Maggie Gallagher, who likewise sought to raise money from Porter's listeners, though she estimated that NOM would raise nearly $10 million this year, and spent most of her time claiming that those a who support marriage equality are "lying to the people of Maine about what gay marriage means":

The Big Con: How Matt Barber Swindled Me Out of $30

Yesterday, I wrote a post taking issue with right-wing outlets that were claiming that people were giving Matt Barber's new book, "The Right Hook: From The Ring To The Culture War," negative reviews without have read it, claiming that the book isn't even going to be released until next week.

As I noted, I already received a copy that I ordered from Amazon last week.  But now that I've started to read it, I made an interesting discovery: namely, that anybody who has read his columns doesn't need to actually read the book before they review it ... because they have literally already read it, since the book consists entirely of his republished columns! 

Nowhere on the publisher's website or the Amazon page is there any sort of disclaimer that this "book" is really just a collection of Barber's past columns.  Had that been made clear, I certainly would have saved myself the $32.00 I spent on this bound edition of his inane columns.

So, to save prevent anyone else who was thinking of buying this "book" from getting conned and ripped-off, here is the entire Barber book in links:

Harry Jackson's "David and Goliath" Struggle Against Marriage Equality in DC

Yesterday, Harry Jackson, leader of the anti-marriage equality effort in Washington, DC , hosted a "People's Rally" in Freedom Plaza.  The rally was backed by groups like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage and we were on hand as well.

Jackson declared that "we are on the verge, I believe, of taking back this city" and stated that he was "disgusted" by the lack of leadership in this fight, though he praised the Catholic Church and other religious leaders for joining in the effort, saying God had called them together for this fight because if they don't hang together, they will all hang separately.

Jackson also declared that this was not an anti-gay effort, but rather an effort to protect children from the redefinition of marriage and the family in order to prevent them from being taught that "Heather has two mommies" and "things of that magnitude from people they don't even know."

Jackson concluded by saying that marriage-equality is not a civil rights issue, because the only things that quality as civil rights issues are income, education, health care, housing, and justice, announcing that he was starting a 21 day fast because "we are in a David and Goliath situation" against the DC City Council which is "out of control" before declaring that "God is going to do a miracle among us":

Rifqa Bary: Face of the "New Civil Rights Movement" in America?

The Orlando Sentinel got access to the two hour interview that Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted with Rifqa Bary as part of its investigation in which Bary asserted that her father had beaten her and even had a marriage arranged for her back in Sri Lanka, but also provides some insights into how she ended up at the home of Blake and Beveryly Lorenz in Florida:

During the August interview, she answered several questions about how she got from her parents' home to Florida. She said she sneaked out about 7 a.m. on a Sunday, spent all day at a church and then spent the night with a family whose child went to school with her.

She hitchhiked to the Greyhound bus station, she said, although Florida authorities have reported that Brian Williams, the 20-something evangelical who baptized her, drove her to the bus station. In the interview, Rifqa said she met Williams through an anti-abortion group.

The bus ticket was bought for her by a married couple who belong to the Global Revolution Church in Florida, she said. They picked her up in Orlando and took her to stay with the Revs. Blake and Beverly Lorenz, pastors of the church.

Rifqa called her time with the Lorenzes "the best weeks of my life."

She said they paid for new clothes and decorated a room for her. "They loved me like a mother and father did."

A cheerful Rifqa described herself as a "Facebook fanatic," explaining how she'd met Beverly Lorenz and many other Christians willing to help her in online prayer groups. On Facebook, she goes by "Anna Michelle Matthew" to hide from her parents, she said.

On a related note, News 13 in Florida recently caught up with Lorenz who explained why they waited two weeks before notifying authorities of Bary's presence in their home, saying "we wanted to get to know her. We wanted to know if her story was true or not" and declaring that Bary represents the "new civil rights movement" in America: 

Lorenz is talking about the day a 16-year-old girl showed up at his doorstep, fearing for her safety.

His choice to take in the Ohio runaway would change his life and possibly the way we looked at religion in this country.

"In fact, I've had lawyers and others tell me this is the new civil rights movement for the 21st century in America," Lorenz said.

Rick Scarborough Preaches to the Choir at the How To Take Back America Conference

For weeks we have been covering the run-up to the How To Take Back America Conference, writing about the fringe Religious Right activists who are hosting it and the Republican leaders like Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann who will be addressing it, asking just how radical one has to be before they find themselves shunned by the GOP.

Earlier this week, we released a report on the organizers and participants which chronicled the various right-wing conspiracy theories and inflammatory rhetoric they have spewed over the years and, given that their long records of firey fringe activism are well-known, nobody can feign surprise when these activists got up to the podium and spewed those same rabidly fringe views at the conference.

Case in point: Rick Scarborugh of Vision America.

Scarborough, who served on Mike Huckabee's Faith and Values Committee during the latter's presidential campaign, unleashed a fiery sermon more befitting a Sunday sermon than a political gathering. But since the two are essentially one in the same for Scarborough and the other participants, his proclamations that he is neither a Republican nor a Democrat but rather a "Christocrat" who will support only candidates who proudly stand up on the campaign trail and say "yes, there's a God" and who realizes that the Constitution is a godly document designed to guide this nation by Christian principles, just as the Bible is designed to guide the lives of all of mankind. He then rails against Republican failures to defund the Department of Education and Planned Parenthood before turning his attention to President Obama and "his minions" who are intent on giving civil rights to "sodomites" while banning the Bible and putting Christians in jail. Eventually he turns to the "shadow government" constructed by President Obama filled with "well-financed, well-heeled, and highly-staffed professional infidels who have dedicated their life" to destroying America.

Highlights From the Religious Right's Anti-Islam Counter Offensive

Last night we posted audio of Rifqa Bary's surprise appearance on the National Day of Prayer Task Force's effort to mobilize its Christian warriors to counter the "dark spiritual content" of the scheduled Muslim prayer rally in Washington, DC, which, as we've seen over the last several days, and continue to see, seems to be causing the Religious Right to completely freak out:

Robert Knight is a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union and a senior writer for Coral Ridge Ministries. He says having 50,000 Muslims on Capitol Hill paints a very potent picture for Muslims around the world.

"It's adding up to a picture that the United States may not want to paint because there are a lot of Muslims who will be inspired, perhaps, to get more militant if they think the United States is falling into Muslim hands, basically," he points out.

According to Knight, many Muslims believe they have a sympathetic ear in President Barack Obama. "Obama held no National Day of Prayer events at the White House this year, but gave a very positive eloquent speech about Ramadan," he recalls. "And he also has said some very interesting things overseas about the emergence of Islam."

Organizers say it was President Obama's inauguration speech in January and his speech broadcast from Egypt in June that inspired them to hold Friday's event, scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

At least one pro-family organization has expressed deep concern about the individuals who have organized the gathering and who are scheduled to speak. In an Action Alert to its constituents, the American Family Association has described those individuals as "men who harbor both anti-Semitic and fundamentally anti-American views." And like Knight, AFA notes President Obama's refusal to participate in the National Day of Prayer in May -- in contrast to his hosting of a White House dinner celebrating what Obama called "the Holy Month of Ramadan."

Meanwhile, Christians alarmed at today's scheduled gathering of tens of thousands of Muslims outside the U.S. Capitol have prayed together in a national conference call. Shirley Dobson, who heads the National Day of Prayer Task Force, said she and other Christians "are so troubled at what we see going on in our nation -- we're watching the foundations crumble."

Associated Press says Christian leaders in last night's conference call were unconvinced the gathering will be a time for Muslims to pray together, read the Quran, and celebrate America's religious freedom -- as its organizers insist. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins wondered if the Muslims would be "praying for the well-being of our nation."

Perkins called the Muslim gathering "a wake-up call for the church" and a warning that if Christians do not "fill the void that's in this nation with the truth, it will be filled with something else."

We've put together this clip featuring some of the highlights from the call itself, featuring Dobson saying the effort was designed to "put a shield of prayer around the United States of American and our world, while just praying for God's intervention." She was followed by Perkins, who insisted that it was not a question of whether Muslims had a right to gather to pray but rather "the focus of their prayers, are they praying for the well-being of our nation," saying that the Islamic community has been silent when acts of terrorism have been committed against America and has been equally silent on the "threats" facing Rifqa Bary and, as such, "we have reason to be suspicious about the motives this community has for the well-being of this country. Perkins then introduced his "good friend" Lou Engle, who proceeded to warn that Americans did not "understand the spiritual implications of what is taking place" with this Muslim rally, saying they were "taking the spiritual power of 40 days Ramadan and then channeling it like an arrow right into the White House."  Eventually, others began to pray as well, asking God for a "great turning in education, a great turning in the political arena, [and to] turn the media in America over to your son" at which point Engle took over again asking God to help them win "the challenge in the spirit realm" and defeat "every demonic ideology [and] every spirit of darkness":

Religious Right Demands Sanctions on Iran

Every once in a while, Religious Right leaders take a break from railing against abortion and gays and czars and death panels and whatever to weigh in on foreign policy issues, like back in 2007 when a group of them released a statement demanding that the US remain in Iraq, or last year when another group demanded a meeting with Barack Obama to discuss their ideas on how to defeat terrorism.

Now a similar group is back with a new letter demanding sanctions on Iran:

In a remarkable ecumenical and bipartisan display of unity, Christian leaders representing over 28 million evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and other Christians have sent a letter to Congress today and other key world leaders calling for urgent action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The letter urges a total arms embargo and a cut off of exports of refined petroleum products, including gasoline, as a firm yet peaceful measure against the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

...

The leaders include Pat Robertson of Christian Broadcasting Network, Southern Baptist Convention chairman and pastor Johnny Hunt of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Charles Colson of the Prison Fellowship Ministries, Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, , Dr. Michael Youssef of Leading the Way, Dr. James Merritt of Cross Pointe Church, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Gary Bauer of American Values, and Dr. John Hagee of the Conerstone Church in San Antonio.

I'm not sure what is so "bipartisan" about this, since just about every person who signed their name to this appears to be a right-wing activist.  

But there was one interesting revelation among the signatories: 

Manuel Miranda, President, The Iraq Society

Presumably, that is this Manuel Miranda.

So Miranda is not only an expert on judges and immigration, but also on Iraq now?  Who knew?

Harry Jackson to Religious Right activists: Please stop sounding like racists


Bishop Harry Jackson, the Religious Right’s favorite African American preacher, asked the mostly white participants at the Values Voter Summit to tone down their anti-Obama rhetoric. He knew they weren’t racists, he explained, but the fact that some people were sounding like racists made it even harder on him as a conservative trying to get other black clergy to join his anti-gay organizing in D.C.
While asking summit participants to be less offensive, Jackson’s Saturday afternoon speech may have actually reached some new personal lows of offensive rhetoric. Let’s review:

1) Gays and liberal Christians are enemies of God who deserve to be struck down. Jackson cited verses from Psalm 68 saying “let God arise, let his enemies be scattered….let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” He described God striking dead a person who wasn’t following instructions about how the Ark of the Covenant should be moved. Who are the wicked? Gays, certainly, but also “folk who are Christians in name only” but are just asking to be struck dead by God for not following His ways.

2) Jackson said repeatedly of people who don’t support his agenda that “there are people in our culture who are easily led.” Do you remember the outcry from the Religious Right when the Washington Post said the same thing about them? But nobody batted an eye when Jackson suggested that African Americans who don’t support him are “in an ideological plantation” and “easily led” to believe the worst “character assassination” about white conservative evangelicals. That’s why, he said, right-wing activists need to tone down their attacks on Obama. In the fight to keep same-sex couples from getting married, he said, he “can’t win if my own black brothers see me as a traitor.”

3) Jackson utterly ignored the existence of African American LGBT people and their leadership in the pro-equality movement in the District of Columbia. He portrayed the battle over marriage equality in DC as a battle pitting rich gay lawyers against black clergy and poor single mothers. Jackson’s litany was a perfect example of the race- and class-baiting he is using to rouse opposition to marriage equality in the District. “Many of our gay people,” he said, are professionals, disproportionately educated, make a lot of money, are living in DC’s fancy new condos. Jackson said a “K Street lawyer who decides to come out and call himself gay” cannot understand the plight of a single mother in Washington, DC raising two kids without a father. This seems to be from his new gays-vs-blacks talking points. Hey, Rev. Jackson, what about all the LGBT people in DC who aren’t rich lawyers, who are people of color, who are raising kids without the legal protections of marriage? Maybe he hasn’t spent enough time in his new hometown to meet any of them yet.

4) Jackson cited his father’s experiences of racism to credential himself for an attack the notion that the gay rights movement is a civil rights movement. “Their movement is a handful of privileged people,” he said, who are “intolerant of anybody with another idea” and who want to “oppress and suppress truth in the name of freedom.”

5) The tea party movement, on the other hand, “is a movement that God is in the background stirring up.”

Jackson, who borrowed a line from fellow Religious Right figure Rick Scarborough to say, “I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, I’m a Christocrat,” ended his speech by leading the crowd in chanting
“Let God arise and his enemies be scattered.”

Meet the Religious Right's Newest Target

Earlier this week, President Obama nominated Chai R. Feldblum to be Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

It took the Traditional Values Commission all of three days to begin its smear campaign, starting with this piece entitled "If You Hate America You Have a Lawyer":

President Obama has picked Chai R. Feldblum to become a member of the Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency which enforces workplace civil rights laws. If confirmed, she would serve 5 years on the EEOC and issue edicts that will impact all areas of employment.

Feldblum isn’t known by most Americans but her career experience and employers make her a sort of general counsel to the Forces of Darkness. She has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign Fund and she founded something called the Moral Values Project, a "gender equity" group meant to sound like something conservative.

She is a lesbian and has played a major role in pushing the LGBT agenda in American culture for the past 20 years.

...

In short, she wants the gay agenda to trump the First Amendment and religious freedom to impose the gay agenda on all Americans – including those with strongly held religious beliefs about homosexuality.

“Once again, President Obama has demonstrated there is no one too radical to serve in his administration,” said TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty.

“By picking Feldblum, he has signaled to his many fringe group fans on the Left that he will help them accomplish all of their goals to undermine the Constitution and overturn biblical morality and decency in America.

"Liberals hate America and so does a President who insists on appointing them to positions of power and responsibility within his already tottering administration."

Harry Jackson: Gays Are Oppressing Blacks

We don't call Harry Jackson the "point man for the wedge strategy" for nothing:

The truth is that the gay community has “manipulated” the political process through extravagant campaign contributions and strategically infiltrating the city’s Democratic Party’s hierarchy over the last five years. DC council members have ironically participated in the suppression of the citizens’ right to vote in order to advance a privileged minority’s pet issue. This has been done in the name of “civil rights.”

If anybody knows what civil rights are, it would have been my father, who was threatened at gunpoint by a state trooper for his participation in voting registration efforts in the South. The officer who threatened him actually discharged his weapon in an attempt to make it clear that if my father spoke up again, he would be killed. My father could speak about civil rights because as a teenager he saw lifeless bodies hanging from lynching trees as part of the “strange fruit of the South” while taking shortcuts to deliver papers on several mornings. My father understood about civil rights as he heard the stories of an African-American man in his town who was brutally beaten, mutilated, set on fire, and dragged through the town square of the city.

But my father is not the only one who understood civil rights. The unwed black mother, living on public assistance, understands true discrimination. She understands that there are privileged people in our culture and institutional barriers that prohibit whole segments of our society from experiencing the American dream. In DC, gay activists enjoy better education, better jobs, better housing, greater access to the system, and now – legislative power. Something is wrong when the privileged feign that they are the persecuted, when the powerful posture themselves as victims. In this strategic period of American history, when many major issues are being decided, the least the city council could do would be to slow down and allow liberty to have her voice.

The Right Piles On

I have been diligently following the developments in the shooting death of anti-abortion activist James Pouillon in Michigan since the news broke this morning and based on the little information and few details that are available, it is impossible to know why Pouilon was killed.

Reports indicated that Pouilon was gunned down from a moving car early this morning.  A witness got the car's license plate and police arrested someone an hour later.  At that point, the suspect reportedly informed the police that he had committed another murder earlier in the morning and police were soon informed that the body of Mike Fouss, the owner of a local gravel pit, had been discovered, shot multiple times in his office:

Fuoss knew the suspected shooter, according to Shiawassee County Sheriff George Braidwood. Braidwood said it appeared he was shot at close range.

Subsequent reports indicate that the suspect in custody had some sort of personal connection to Fuoss:

Fuoss’ brother-in-law, Glen Merkel, told the Free Press that Fuoss was found shot dead in his office around 7:30 a.m. by an employee. He said Fuoss was seen alive perhaps 20 minutes earlier when another truck driver for his company came to pick up a load of gravel.

Merkel said the suspect in the shootings is the son of a former Fuoss Gravel employee, but said he did not know any reason for Fuoss’ slaying.

In short, at this point, it’s far, far too soon to say what the motive in either of these crimes actually was.

But none of that seems to matter to right-wing groups and individuals like Randall Terry, all of whom are releasing statements and holding press conferences demanding political action.

From Concerned Women for America:

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), stated, "We are shocked at this senseless violence against a peaceful man. Jim Pouillon sincerely lived out his belief that babies have the right to be born. He dedicated his life to convincing others to reject the violence of abortion. It is a tragedy upon tragedy that a peaceful man who tried to end violence was himself violently killed.

"We hope Attorney General Holder will as vigorously denounce the murder of Jim Pouillon, who tried to save babies from violence, as he did the murder of George Tiller, the late-term abortionist."

CWA President Wendy Wright will speak at a press conference today, September 11, along with pro-life leaders Troy Newman, Patrick Mahoney and Rob Schenck. The press conference will be held at 2:30 outside the Department of Justice (950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.).

From the Pro-Life Action League:

"We are shocked to learn of the killing of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon, a man who day after day stood as a witness to the violence of abortion. Now he himself is a victim of violence," said Joseph M. Scheidler, national director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, "Just last month at a clinic on the north side of Chicago a man shouted to one of our counselors, 'I'll get my gun and shoot you through the head.' On a number of occasions, our 'Face the Truth Tour' was threatened with deadly weapons."

"When the late term abortionist, Dr. George Tiller, was murdered, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office launched a federal investigation into federal crimes in connection with the murder, and the Civil Rights Division convened a meeting of the National Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers," commented Scheidler. "Now the Pro-Life Action League is calling on those government agencies to investigate this murder and established a task force to protect pro-life advocates."

Let me say this again: at this point, nobody knows why Pouillon was killed.  He may have been targeted for his activism, or it may have just been random, but nobody knows.  Perhaps it would behoove these right wing groups to hold off until some facts are actually known about this case before they start issuing statements and making all sorts of demands.

And maybe media outlets like the New York Times ought to hold off on running articles carrying headlines like "Man Killed Over Anti-Abortion Stance" until that has actually been established:

If You Thought PFOX Was A Group For "Ex-Gays," Think Again

Via AMERICAblog we get this excellent article in the Washington City Paper about Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX):

PFOX has always had a hard time getting ex-gays to join the club. PFOX’s board of directors includes a surplus of everstraights but few former homosexuals. Parents of openly ex-gay children are also in short supply. The closest the group comes to fulfilling its name is Griggs, who speaks publicly about her loving—and disapproving—relationship with her openly gay son.

Beyond the one hopeful parent of a future ex-gay, PFOX’s directors are more fit to provide political influence than ex-gay support. Paul Rondeau, the group’s president, is not ex-gay. Estella Salvatierra, vice president, is a civil rights attorney and is not ex-gay. If Scott Strachan, the group’s secretary, is ex-gay, he’s not talking about it. Michelle Hoffman, the treasurer, once told the Montgomery County School Board that “I know many former homosexuals and am proud to call them my friends.” Peter Sprigg, a director, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and has publicly identified as everstraight. Retta Brown, a director, is not ex-gay. Robert Knight, a former director of Concerned Women for America, is not a woman and is not ex-gay. Barber, a director, works at Liberty University Law School and is not ex-gay. Quinlan, a director, is ex-gay.

Thanks to Quinlan, the closest ex-gay connection that most PFOX members claim is that they are the “friends” of an ex-gay. They better be. The organization’s ex-gays are stuck with the dirty work: fighting off homosexual urges, inserting themselves into possibly discriminatory scenarios, and never, ever accomplishing the full heterosexuality of the everstraights. Ex-gays aren’t even welcome in PFOX meetings. In an e-mail posted on one ex-gay message board, a PFOX rep made the group’s target audience clear: “PFOX meetings are for families and friends of strugglers only, and not for ex-gays.”

How has PFOX managed to build the local ex-gay movement with the participation of so few actual ex-gays? Through the clever use of a smokescreen. The group claims to represent relatives and friends of ex-gays, which is code for the true constituency—Christian conservatives. Accordingly, PFOX does not deal in ex-gay counseling, therapy, or support groups; PFOX sues people.

WND: President Obama Is Just Like O.J. Simpson

What was it that Joseph Farah was saying yesterday about WorldNetDaily pursuing "an independent brand of journalism beholden only to the truth"?

Is must be that sort of dogged pursuit of independent truth that leads it to publish pieces like this one explaining how President Obama is a "deeply pathological narcissist" just like O.J. Simpson, which people will only discovered when he perhaps kills somebody:

Football legend and actor O.J. Simpson was a truly beloved American icon. The quintessential American success story, he projected an amicable, wholesome, larger-than-life figure. His triumphs were even more noteworthy because he was a black man who had risen to fame and fortune during the Civil Rights Movement era.

In 1995, Simpson was put on trial for the murders of Nicole Brown (his second ex-wife) and a male friend. As a result, authorities and the press were able to delve into his affairs as no one had previously done. Only then did Americans learn that he was a beast and a brute, an obsessively controlling, chronic wife beater, emotional abuser and philanderer. In short, he was a pathological narcissist for whom whimsy, pleasure and image were paramount. Worse, his behavior had been validated and reinforced by the fact that he had been catered to by those around him, personally and professionally, for decades. After beating the murder rap, Simpson continued to manipulate and bully those around him. Twelve years later, his capricious conduct earned him a lengthy prison sentence for numerous firearms charges, robbery, burglary, assault and kidnapping.

Many Americans, and even a few trained in behavioral science, have identified President Obama as a deeply pathological narcissist. He has also managed to masterfully control his environment. While his detractors contend that his façade has been maintained by a complicit press, this may only be partially true. According to experts, the profoundly narcissistic frequently astonish casual observers when the extent of control they have been able to maintain over their environment (primarily, people close to them) is finally revealed ... Given the determination with which our president has hidden certain other personal information, it is probable that there are a few aspects thereof that he perceives might damage him politically, if not personally or even legally.

Like the close friends of Nicole Brown and O.J., there may indeed be distressed, conscientious individuals who are privy to the truth of these matters. Ironically, it may wind up being the effects of Obama's narcissism itself that eventually give them away.

A Taste of What's To Come on ENDA

It was just last week that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in the Senate, so the Religious Right campaign of screaming their heads off is just getting off the ground. 

But Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries gives us a nice preview of the sort of hyperbolic nonsense we can expect to see:

On Aug. 5, the GOP's Maine kleptocrats, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, joined Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and longtime sponsor Ted Kennedy in reintroducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which we'll call the "gay quota bill" for short. ENDA is profoundly dangerous. It turns private sin into a public right and brings the force of government against morality itself. Any such law is a violation of our unalienable rights as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. To put it more simply, a statute that directly contradicts God's moral law is illegitimate. Laws embody and reflect morality, or they are not laws. They are tyranny. That's why so-called same-sex "marriage" laws are absurd and treacherous. Forcing citizens to accept a counterfeit as the real thing is an act of despotism.

ENDA adds not only "sexual orientation" but "gender identity" to federal workplace anti-discrimination law. Thus, it takes an ax to the idea that sexual behavior has a natural normalcy or any relation to morality. It falsely equates a changeable condition (sexual desire) with race and ethnicity. Worse, it turns traditional values into a form of bigotry punishable under the law.

First of all, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act already has a short-hand name: ENDA.  So we don't need your suggestion that it should be called the "gay quota bill" because a) that's false and b) it's longer than the one we already have.

And secondly, it looks like efforts to pass this legislation are going to run into the same sort of Religious Right lies that plagued the hate crimes legislation, with right-wing activists claiming that it will grant "special rights" to those in the LGBT community. 

Of course, that will raise the exact same problems as their efforts to make that claim about hate crimes legislation, considering that there are already a number of federal laws on the books that outlaw employment discrimination based on things like race, religion, gender, and disability: 

    • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;

    • the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination;

    • the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older;

    • Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments;

    • Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government

So, once again the Right will have to explain why gays shouldn't receive similar protections as say, Christians. 

And once again, they'll fail to do that because they have no reason other than claims that God hates gays and therefore it should be okay to discriminate against them, leading to pieces like Knight's where the Right is reduced to bellowing that any "statute that directly contradicts God's moral law is illegitimate."

Tales From the DART Side

Last week we noted that Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority has yanked advertisements from local buses that had been purchased by Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers after complaints from residents.

And apparently it wasn't just "residents" who were outraged by the ads reading "Don't believe in God? You are not alone" - so was the Governor:

Gov. Chet Culver weighed in on the controversial Des Moines bus ad that has been yanked after multiple complaints.

“I was disturbed, personally, by the advertisement and I can understand why other Iowans were also disturbed by the message that it sent,” Culver said.

The question will likely become a legal battle, Culver said. He deferred questions of whether the group deserves the same free speech rights as Christian organizations to advertise on the buses to the Iowa Attorney General.

Culver also declined to answer if he would also have gotten off the bus had he been a rider, but noted that he would have been offended by the ad’s message.

Despite the fact that they ads personally disturbed the Governor's delicate sensibilities, it looks like they are going back up:

An advertisement promoting a Des Moines atheist group will be put back on buses, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority officials said Friday night.

"By honoring the freedoms protected through our shared civil liberties, DART, like other businesses that accept advertising, will be in the position of displaying messages and images that may be controversial or uncomfortable to some, but legal and protected by civil rights," DART General Manager Brad Miller said in an e-mail.

The decision was made after DART officials met with representatives from the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers group Friday afternoon to discuss the removal of the group's ads from buses earlier this week.

The transit authority had asked the group to consider reviewing an alternate bus advertisement, but the group refused.

...

DART will also be updating advertising policies to clearly communicate its position to uphold both civil liberties and the protection of citizens from material that is obscene or profane, Miller said.

"The Des Moines region and the state of Iowa (are) developing a positive reputation as a place that accepts diversity, new ideas and is civil in its discourse of even the most controversial of topics - for example same-sex marriages. ... It is altogether appropriate for our policies to keep pace with this progress," Miller wrote in the e-mail.

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Civil Rights Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 02/16/2011, 2:50pm
Bill Donohue purports to defend religious Americans from anti-Christian and particularly anti-Catholic prejudice, but appears to find no problem with smearing others from Jews and gays and lesbians to victims of child molestation with his own bigoted and inflammatory remarks. The head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights also relishes another target: people of faith who disagree with his ultraconservative ideology, who he says are “no more Christian than the man in the moon.” Like other Religious Right groups and leaders, Donohue has a long history of criticizing... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 02/16/2011, 2:50pm
Bill Donohue purports to defend religious Americans from anti-Christian and particularly anti-Catholic prejudice, but appears to find no problem with smearing others from Jews and gays and lesbians to victims of child molestation with his own bigoted and inflammatory remarks. The head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights also relishes another target: people of faith who disagree with his ultraconservative ideology, who he says are “no more Christian than the man in the moon.” Like other Religious Right groups and leaders, Donohue has a long history of criticizing... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 02/11/2011, 7:23pm
If there is one message to take away from CPAC’s panel on immigration, it’s that White America is in serious jeopardy and may soon succumb to immigration, multiculturalism, and socialism. The panel “Will Immigration Kill the GOP?” featured former congressmen Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Virgil Goode (R-VA), Bay Buchanan of Team America PAC, and special guest Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA). The group Youth for Western Civilization sponsored the panel, and its head Kevin DeAnna was also a panelist. Youth for Western Civilization is a far-right group that regularly criticizes... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 02/11/2011, 7:23pm
If there is one message to take away from CPAC’s panel on immigration, it’s that White America is in serious jeopardy and may soon succumb to immigration, multiculturalism, and socialism. The panel “Will Immigration Kill the GOP?” featured former congressmen Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Virgil Goode (R-VA), Bay Buchanan of Team America PAC, and special guest Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA). The group Youth for Western Civilization sponsored the panel, and its head Kevin DeAnna was also a panelist. Youth for Western Civilization is a far-right group that regularly criticizes... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Friday 02/11/2011, 3:35pm
A group of right-wing legal advocates warned CPAC participants – or more accurately, a tiny subset of CPAC participants – about “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary.” Panelists discussed the meaning of “judicial activism” and why the kind of right-wing judicial activism we’ve seen from the Supreme Court doesn’t qualify. (Overturning health care reform? Also not judicial activism.) But the main thrust of the panel was the supposedly dire threat posed by efforts at the state level to replace judicial elections with a merit... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Friday 02/11/2011, 3:35pm
A group of right-wing legal advocates warned CPAC participants – or more accurately, a tiny subset of CPAC participants – about “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary.” Panelists discussed the meaning of “judicial activism” and why the kind of right-wing judicial activism we’ve seen from the Supreme Court doesn’t qualify. (Overturning health care reform? Also not judicial activism.) But the main thrust of the panel was the supposedly dire threat posed by efforts at the state level to replace judicial elections with a merit... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/08/2011, 12:19pm
CPAC boycotters, angered over the upcoming event’s inclusion of the gay conservative group GOProud, have taken out a full page ad in the right-wing Washington Times to ask, “What would Ronald Reagan think of CPAC today?” Rick Scarborough’s Vision America was behind the ad which accused CPAC of “betraying conservative principles and threatening conservative unity by creating the false impression that gay activism is somehow compatible with conservativism” by allowing GOProud to be a participating organization: The self-proclaimed gay Republicans support hate... MORE