culture wars

The Right's New Manhattan Project

It seems that Chuck Colson has gathered together a group of right-wing activists and clergy for something called the "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience" in order to create a unified front in fighting the culture war

The manifesto, to be released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush. The signers include nine Roman Catholic archbishops and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America.

They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage. They hope to influence current debates over health care reform, the same-sex marriage bill in Washington, D.C., and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

They say they also want to speak to younger Christians who have become engaged in issues like climate change and global poverty, and who are more accepting of homosexuality than their elders. They say they want to remind them that abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom are still paramount issues.

For some reason, the headline of the New York Times article is "Christian Leaders Unite on Political Issues" instead of "Right Wing Activists Unite On Political Issues," which would have been far more accurate considering that a significant number of those who signed on to this declaration are standard Religious Right political activists:

Chuck Colson Founder, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview

Jim Daly President and CEO, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO)

Marjorie Dannenfelser President, Susan B. Anthony List (Arlington, VA)

Dr. James Dobson Founder, Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, CO)

Dr. William Donohue President, Catholic League (New York, NY)

Dinesh D’Souza Writer & Speaker (Rancho Santa Fe, CA)

Rev. Jonathan Falwell Senior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church (Lynchburg, VA)

Maggie Gallagher President, Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and a co-author of The Case for Marriage (Manassas, VA)

Dr. Robert P. George McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)

Rev. Ken Hutcherson Pastor, Antioch Bible Church (Kirkland, WA)

Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church (Beltsville, MD)

Dr. Richard Land President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC (Washington, DC)

Rev. Herb Lusk Pastor, Greater Exodus Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA)

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY)

Tony Perkins President, Family Research Council (Washington, D.C.)

Alan Sears President, CEO, & General Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund (Scottsdale, AZ)

Mark Tooley President, Institute for Religion and Democracy (Washington, D.C.)

The Declaration can be found here:

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.

Exporting the Anti-Gay Culture War

Political Research Associates has released a new report, written by PRA Project Director Reverend Kapya Kaoma, entitled "Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia" [PDF] which explores how figures like Rick Warren and Scott Lively and organizations like the Institute on Religion and Democracy have been promoting "an agenda in Africa that aims to criminalize homosexuality and otherwise infringe upon the human rights of LGBT people while also mobilizing African clerics in U.S. culture war battles."

From the PRA press release:

[T]he U.S. Right – once isolated in Africa for supporting pro-apartheid, White supremacist regimes – has successfully reinvented itself as the mainstream of U.S. evangelicalism. Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, U.S. religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of U.S. evangelicalism, so helping to marginalize Africans’ relationships with mainline Protestant churches.

The investigation’s release could not be timelier, as the Ugandan parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Language in that bill echoes the false and malicious charges made in Uganda by U.S antigay activist and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively that western gays are conspiring to take over Uganda and even the world.

"We need to stand up against the U.S. Christian Right peddling homophobia in Africa," said Kaoma, who in recent weeks asked U.S. evangelist Rick Warren to denounce the bill and distance himself from its supporters. "I heard church people in Uganda say they would go door to door to root out LGBT people and now our brothers and sisters are being further targeted by proposed legislation criminalizing them and threatening them with death. The scapegoating must stop."

While the American side of the story is known to LGBT activists and their allies witnessing struggles over LGBT clergy within Protestant denominations in the United States, what’s been missing has been the effect of the Right’s proxy wars on Africa itself. Kaoma’s report finally brings this larger, truly global, picture into focus.

“Just as the United States and other northern societies routinely dump our outlawed or expired chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, and cultural detritus on African and other Third World countries, we now export a political discourse and public policies our own society has discarded as outdated and dangerous,” writes PRA executive director Tarso Luís Ramos in the report’s foreword. “Africa’s antigay campaigns are to a substantial degree made in the U.S.A.”

FRC's Morrison Explains How Condoms Ruined Our Nation

In recent week, Religious Right groups were nearly unanimous in their opposition to the legislation introduced by Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn seeking "common ground" in the debate over reproductive choice.

Though "aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies and supporting pregnant women," the Religious Right immediately dismissed the effort as a "red herring,"a "travesty," and an effort to increase abortions.

Among the various reasons they gave for opposing the bill was that, in the words of Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, "contains no funding for abstinence programs nor anything to encourage teens and young adults to refrain from risky sexual behavior."

Today, Robert Morrison, a Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at FRC, took to the organization's blog to provide an explanation of what is wrong with the bill's lack of funding for abstinence programs, offering some rather bizarre "proof" of why "condom programs don't work."

The "proof" he provides?  Bill Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky:

Our children are, in fact, still paying for most deplorable episode in our history. One of my brilliant foreign students, a young Austrian, told me during a White House tour last summer that the first time he ever heard of the Oval Office was when Bill Clinton disgraced it. How terrible for America.

The latest effort at condom-pushing in Congress—the so-called Ryan-DeLauro bill—is being touted by TIME and other media outlets as the historic compromise that will solve the problem of abortion in America. It will bring “peace in our time” in the culture wars, TIME and the bill’s pushers believe.

Well, it won’t. With the passage of a dozen years, however, we might use the tawdry Clinton-Lewinsky story to teach an important lesson: condom programs don’t work.

The idea behind condom-pushing is that if enough young people are educated enough, informed enough, and have enough “access” to condoms, they will faithfully and effectively use them to prevent unwanted pregnancy, AIDS, and all other STDs.

Advocates of condom-pushing are forever treating us like the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live. “Get real,” they yell at us. They tell us over and over again that it is only America’s “puritanical” sexual mores that prevent our young people from getting the “information” and equipment they need. We are the ones who are woefully impractical and need to “get with it,” they try to convince the American people.

So let’s do a reality test of our own. Suppose we have a President who is not only an Ivy League graduate but also a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford. Is that smart enough? And suppose he has “access” to all the condoms in the world. In fact, he has appointed Tim Wirth to be his Under Secretary of State. Tim keeps a supply of condoms in a silver bowl on his desk. Our leader has only to snap his fingers or press a button to have Tim come running with his silver bowl. Talk about access. As for information about condom use and effectiveness? Suppose our Chief Executive actually sends messages to Congress every year for a nearly decade touting condoms and appropriating billions of tax dollars for their distribution and use? Is that enough information?

Yet suppose further that a 21-year old intern comes into the office of our Commander-in-Chief, bearing pizza and snapping the thong of her underwear. What then becomes of all that education, access and information? Poof! Bill Clinton never even thought about using them.

Poof and proof. Condom programs don’t work. Q.E.D.

Apparently, if Clinton and Lewinsky had only been properly indoctrinated with abstinence education teachings, this nation would have been spared "the most deplorable episode in our history."

James Dobson's Hate Crimes Freak-Out

For anyone tempted to think that James Dobson was about to throw in the towel, concede defeat in the culture wars and retire … well, think again

Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family founder and chairman emeritus, has recorded a special video message for a pro-family event in California ..."Now, perhaps more than ever in our nation's history, it's crucial that Christians stand up for their faith and for the defense of His Word," Dr. Dobson says. "I'm convinced that if God's people do not seek His blessing and mercy, the Church will be tested severely, as if by fire, over the coming weeks and years" …"Yes, the landscape looks bleak right now," Dr. Dobson says. "(But) citizens can move mountains when they unite in prayer and action. Remember that God is always faithful to hear and respond to the petitions of His people. As you enter this battle, make sure that you put on the full armor of God. 

Here is the video, in which Dobson freaks out about a variety of things, but primarily about hate crimes legislation, declaring “have we gone completely mad?”

 As I'm recording this video greeting, there's a so-called hate crimes bill that's working its way through the congress that contains no adequate safeguards to protect the preaching of God's word. Because the liberals in Congress would not define sexual orientation, we have to assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders identified as such by the American Psychiatric Association. Let me read just a few of them: bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality. Those are just a few. And I have to ask, have we gone completely mad? 

Good as You, Pam, and Towleroad all have more on this video, but I wanted to look at Dobson's claim that he has to " assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders" identified by the APA.

Of course, he does not “have to assume” anything of the sort – he is choosing to assume this because it is part of an intentional effort by the Religious Right to conflate protections for gays with protections for pedophiles and thus generate opposition to the legislation; a tactic that is being employed by everyone from the American Family Association to the Traditional Values Coalition.

But Dobson is correct that Congress did not define “sexual orientation” in the legislation - and during the mark-up of the legislation [PDF] in the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Tammy Baldwin explained why they didn’t do so and also why they rejected Rep. Steve King’s amendment to explicitly exclude pedophiles from the definition:   

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I move to strike the last word in opposition to this amendment that—well, the gentleman claims that we have not pinned down a definition for sexual orientation. And indeed, in our earlier session yet today, I drew his attention to the fact that there is a definition with regard to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

I, during the break, searched to just confirm that what I had articulated earlier today was, indeed, the definition. And it is. Sexual orientation means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality. That is the definition.

Now, as you have noted earlier, there is only one term defined in this legislation. And that is gender identity on page 14. And the reason for that is that that definition exists nowhere else in federal law. This is the first time it is occurring in federal law.

But in every other case, gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, national origin, color and—I am missing one—the architecture of the hate crimes statutes in the United States is those definitions do not lie within that architecture. They exist elsewhere in federal law, and we rely on them. So there is a clear, concise definition of sexual orientation.

Your amendment is unnecessary and also, I would add, inflammatory in terms of insinuations, I would say. But given the definition of sexual orientation meaning consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality, it is absolutely clear that that could not include pedophilia.

Aside from the astute point that King was merely trying to add unnecessary and inflammatory insinuations into the bill, Baldwin pointed out that the term “sexual orientation” was already defined in the "Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990.”  Here is precisely what that legislation says

As used in this section, the term "sexual orientation" means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality. 

Thus, a definition of the term “sexual orientation” is not needed in the hate crimes legislation because it already exists.  And this definition does not cover things like incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, or bestiality, despite all of the Religious Right’s lies and scare-tactics.  

Right Wing Reaction to Souter's Retirement

Here's a quick collection of early right-wing reactions to the news that Justice David Souter will be retiring from the Supreme Court at the end of this term - it will continue to be updated as new statements are released:

Wendy Long (Judicial Confirmation Network):

1. The current Supreme Court is a liberal, judicial activist court. Obama could make it even more of a far-left judicial activist court, for a long time to come, if he appoints radicals like Diane Wood, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. A new Justice in this mold would just entrench a bad majority for a long time.

2. If Obama holds to his campaign promise to appoint a Justice who rules based on her own "deepest values" and what's in her own "heart" — instead of what is in the Constitution and laws — he will be the first American President who has made lawlessness an explicit standard for Supreme Court Justices.

3. The President and Senators need to be careful about, respectively, nominating and appointing a hard-left judicial activist. Americans who elected Obama may have done so out of fear for the economy or other reasons, but they did not elect him because they share his views on judges. By a margin of more and 3 to 1, Americans want Supreme Court Justices who will practice judicial restraint and follow the law, not jurists who will indulge their own personal views and experiences in deciding cases.

4. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has pointed out, a judge who decides cases based on her personal and political views, instead of what the law says, will have a hard time fulfilling her oath to dispense justice impartially. Senators have a constitutional duty to rigorously scrutinize the nominee on this score, and vote "no" if the nominee cannot establish that she will follow the law, rather than her own values and beliefs, as the President has suggested.

Ed Whelan:

Souter has been a terrible justice, but you can expect Obama’s nominee to be even worse. The Left is clamoring for “liberal lions” who will redefine the Constitution as a left-wing goodies bag. Consider some of their leading contenders, like Harold Koh (champion of judicial transnationalism and transgenderism), Massaschusetts governor Deval Patrick (a racialist extremist and judicial supremacist), and Cass Sunstein (advocate of judicial invention of a “second Bill of Rights” on welfare, employment, and other Nanny State mandates). Or Second Circuit judge Sonia Sotomayor, whose shenanigans in trying to bury the firefighters’ claims in Ricci v. DeStefano triggered an extraordinary dissent by fellow Clinton appointee José Cabranes (and the Supreme Court’s pending review of the ruling). Or Elena Kagan, who led the law schools’ opposition to military recruitment on their campuses, who used remarkably extreme rhetoric—“a profound wrong” and “a moral injustice of the first order”—to condemn the federal law on gays in the military that was approved in 1993 by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Clinton, and who received 31 votes against her confirmation as Solicitor General. Or Seventh Circuit judge Diane Wood, a fervent activist whose extreme opinions in an abortion case managed to elicit successive 8-1 and 9-0 slapdowns by the Supreme Court.

...

American citizens have various policy positions on all these issues, but everyone ought to agree that they are to be addressed and decided through the processes of representative government, not by judicial usurpation. And President Obama, who often talks a moderate game, should be made to pay a high price for appointing a liberal judicial activist who will do his dirty work for him.

The American Center for Law and Justice:

“The reported retirement of Justice Souter marks the beginning of President Obama’s legal legacy – a legacy that will move this country dramatically to the left,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “With reports that Justice Souter will step down at the end of the term, President Obama now has a green light to begin reshaping the federal judiciary. Based on the appointments at the Department of Justice, it’s clear that President Obama will name a Supreme Court nominee who will embrace an extremely liberal judicial philosophy. There’s no illusion here – President Obama is poised to reshape the nation’s highest court. Once a nominee is named and the confirmation process begins, it’s important that the nominee faces full and detailed hearings – with specific focus on the nominee’s judicial philosophy including how the nominee views the constitution and the rule of law. The American people deserve nothing less.”

Operation Rescue:

"Operation Rescue will actively oppose any nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court that will disregard the lives of the pre-born and uphold the wrongly-decided case of Roe v. Wade.

"Obama received greater than expected opposition to his nomination of extremist pro-abort Kathleen Sebelius to HHS. He can only expect that opposition will continue to grow if he has the poor sense to appoint a justice that will promote abortion from the bench.

Susan B. Anthony List:

"Elections have consequences, and the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation battle is likely to further entrench President Obama's dedication to the abortion agenda. The President has said he would like 'common ground' on abortion policy. This is an especially relevant objective when you consider yesterday's release of public opinion data by the Pew Research Center showing a sharp decline in support for legal abortion. Choosing a judicial nominee who wants to enshrine the right to an unrestricted abortion in the United States Constitution would certainly be a step in the wrong direction. Appointing an abortion extremist to replace Justice Souter on our nation's highest court will continue the trend of activist court decisions do little reduce abortion in our nation."

Americans United for Life:

Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, promised her group would help lead the charge against any pro-abortion activist Obama may name to the high court.

“We will work to oppose any nominee for the Supreme Court who will read the Freedom of Choice Act into the Constitution in order to elevate abortion to a fundamental right on the same plane as the freedom of speech," she told LifeNews.com.

Yoest said the jurist Obama names to the Supreme Court will tell the American public whether he is serious about reducing abortions or keeping it an unlimited "right" that has yielded over 50 million abortions since 1973.

“This nomination represents a test for a President who has expressed a public commitment to reducing abortions while pursuing an aggressive pro-abortion agenda," she said. "Appointing an abortion radical to the Court -- someone who believes social activism trumps the Constitution -- further undermines efforts to reduce abortion."

Priests for Life:

Upon hearing news reports of Justice David Souter's retirement from the US Supreme Court this June, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, commented, "This will unleash a Supreme battle. Judicial activism in our nation has given us a policy of child slaughter by abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Now the left will scream about 'no litmus tests' on abortion, but the fact is that all of us observe litmus tests at all times. If a racist or terrorist is unfit for the highest court in the land, why would a supporter of child-killing be any more fit? This is the question we will pose again and again during the process of replacing Justice Souter."

Richard Land:

Land told Baptist Press, "This retirement will, of course, not impact the court's balance. President Obama will undoubtedly nominate someone who is as liberal as, if not more liberal than, liberal David Souter, and thus you will just have an old liberal replaced by a young one. President Obama's ability to sell himself to the American people as a centrist will be hampered severely by his nomination of what will inevitably be a radically liberal justice."

Committee For Justice:

Given the economic crisis, your ambitious legislative agenda, and your promises to rise above partisanship, one would think you would eschew a bitter, distracting confirmation fight and a sparking of the culture wars by naming a consensus nominee that moderate Republicans and Democrats can embrace. While we remain open to evidence to the contrary, it is our belief that potential nominees such as Sonia Sotomayor, Kathleen Sullivan, Harold Koh, and Deval Patrick are so clearly committed to judicial activism that they make a bruising battle unavoidable.

We realize that, in the past, you have said that you want judges who rule with their hearts and you have even expressed regret that the Warren Court “didn’t break free” from legal constraints in order to bring about “redistribution of wealth.” But now would be a good time for you to clarify if you feel that you may have gone too far by endorsing judicial activism. For example, you could make it clear that you agree with Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent statement that “judges should make their decisions based only on the facts presented and the applicable law” (response to written question from Sen. Arlen Specter).

We also hope that you resist the pressure you will inevitably face from the various identity groups that dominate the Democratic base. It would be a shame if you chose a nominee based on their race, gender, or sexual identity, rather than focusing exclusively on qualifications and judicial philosophy.

We remind you of your opposition to gay marriage, your commitment to individual Second Amendment rights, your support of the death penalty, and the great value you place on the role of religion in society. We hope you will not contradict those positions by choosing a Supreme Court nominee who has questioned the constitutionality of the death penalty, expressed an extreme view of the separation of church and state, or wavered on the questions of whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage and an individual right to own guns. Also, given your promise to move the nation “beyond race,” it would be hard for you to explain the
nomination of someone who has expressed support for racial preferences, which polls indicate are now even more unpopular as a result of your election.

While many Americans – including some conservatives – are willing to give your experiment in using honey to coax cooperation from other nations a chance, the public is also looking for reassurance that our nation’s interests and sovereignty will always come first. Thus, now would be an awful time to choose a Supreme Court nominee who believes that American courts should put greater reliance on foreign law.

Finally, we remind you that, in the first year of his Administration, George W. Bush successfully nominated two former Clinton nominees – Roger Gregory and Barrington Parker – to the appeals courts in an effort to set a bipartisan tone. Now would be the perfect time for you to match the previous President’s gesture by renominating three unconfirmed Bush appeals court nominees who have bipartisan support – Peter Keisler, Judge Glen Conrad, and Judge Paul Diamond. Such a gesture would engender good feelings among Senate Republicans and would set a positive tone heading into what might otherwise be a bitter confirmation fight.

Concerned Women for America:

"The anticipated retirement of David Souter from the U.S. Supreme Court launches a national debate over the proper role of judges," stated Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America. "President Obama stated during the campaign that judges should rule according to 'empathy' for preferred classes of people, such as homosexuals and some ethnic groups, but not others. America, however, is a nation founded on the belief that we are all created equal and that the rule of law provides justice for all by following a written Constitution, not the whims and feelings of judges. Senators must live up to their constitutional duty to fully examine any nominee to determine if they respect the Constitution above their own opinions."

Mario Diaz, Esq., CWA's Policy Director for Legal Issues, said, "If President Obama's nominee is in the mold of his recent choices, Senators and citizens must be engaged now more than ever in the confirmation process. Several of President Obama's nominees put forth as 'moderates' by the White House have turned out to be outside the mainstream upon careful review. This is why Senators must be diligent and take the time to closely examine whether each candidate will abide by the Constitution or make the Court their personal fiefdom."

Family Research Council:

In the speech that catapulted Barack Obama to fame in 2004, the young Democrat said, "There is not a liberal America or a conservative America. There is a United States of America." Five years later, the same man will face his biggest test to prove it: the nomination of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Since the election, Washington has been prepared for a vacancy on the high court, most likely from the aging, Left-leaning justices. Yesterday, reports confirmed that Justice David Souter, 69, will be the first to exit, giving the new President his first crack at reshaping the Supreme Court. Will he plow ahead with a pro-abortion, anti-faith radical (as he did with 7th Circuit Court nominee David Hamilton) this early in his presidency--or will he bide his time on a full-blown congressional war and nominate a judge that both sides can agree on?

As a candidate, Barack Obama prided himself on his ability to work with conservatives. His first 100 days, however, have been a case study in unilateralism. When asked why he moved away from bipartisanship, the President dodged the question and said, "Whether we're Democrats or Republicans, surely there's got to be some capacity for us to work together, not agree on everything, but at least set aside small differences to get things done."

On Wednesday, President Obama decided his best way to "get things done" was to use congressional rules to block any meaningful participation by Republicans on controversial policies like health care reform and education. While those decisions can be overturned, lifetime appointments cannot. As both sides are painfully aware, nothing in this administration's legacy will withstand the test of time like President Obama's judicial nominees.

To that point, the White House would be wise to take into account the growing public consensus on the sanctity of human life. While some people are pointing at social conservatives as the cause of the Republicans' woes, a new poll suggests that the GOP's platform on life may be its biggest appeal. According to the most recent Pew Research Center poll, American support for abortion is experiencing its steepest decline in at least a decade. Since last August, the proportion of people who believe that abortion should be legal in most or all cases has dropped from a small majority--54%--to 46%. The drop is particularly noticeable in the youngest generation (18-29) whose support for abortion dropped by five points (from 52% to 47%) in just nine months. The conservative trend is even affecting women. Fifty-four percent said abortion should be legal in most or all cases last summer, while less than half (49%) feel that way today.

 Traditional Values Coalition:

The U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of taking a huge lurch to the far left with the exit of Justice Souter from the Court. Souter is certainly no loss for Constitutionalists, but he will most likely be replaced with someone far worse. During the election, President Obama stated that he wanted to appoint judges who had “empathy” and who understood what it was to be poor, black or gay. He clearly stated that he wanted judges who would not confine themselves to the Constitution or to the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

From Obama’s public statements, it is clear that he will appoint a Justice who views the U.S. Constitution like a Wikipedia entry that can be edited, revised and distorted for the political agenda of the Justice. Obama wants a Supreme Court nominee who will ignore the Constitution; use his “feelings” to determine legal decisions; use foreign law to impose a liberal political agenda; and use the power of the Court to redistribute the wealth. The President has stated that he believes the Courts should be used to promote “economic justice,” – code for judge-ordered income distribution.

President Obama once mentioned former Chief Justice Earl Warren as the ideal person to serve on his Supreme Court. Warren was one of the most notorious left-wing judicial activists in our nation’s history. The President is likely to appoint a Justice who believes in the use of foreign law in interpreting cases that come before the Court. The use of foreign law in issuing rulings in American court cases will undermine self-government and destroy our Constitutional government. Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have an important role in advising and consenting to such nominations. They must seriously challenge the political views of anyone chosen by Obama for this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. No nominee who believes in using foreign law in making court decisions has any place on the Court. Our self-government depends upon it.

Dobson To Return to Set The Record Straight

When it was announced back in February that James Dobson was giving up some of his responsibilities and control at Focus on the Family, there was lots of speculation that this signaled an end to his role as central figure in the Religious Right's political establishment and a sign that the movement itself was in decline.

As we noted repeatedly, it was no such thing, but that idea was only reinforced last week when it started getting reported that, in addressing Focus on the Family staff after announcing the decision, Dobson had conceded defeat in the culture wars.  As we pointed out then, Dobson was not so much announcing that the battle was lost and that they were giving up as he was urging his staff to keep pressing and defending their agenda and vowing to fight on.

But that didn't seem to matter, as the narrative that the Religious Right was already established, despite their proclamations to the contrary.

And so you know it was just a matter of time before Dobson weighed in to set the record straight - and that is exactly what Focus on the Family is announcing that he'll be doing on "Hannity" tonight:

Focus on the Family founder and chairman emeritus Dr. James Dobson is scheduled to appear on tonight's episode of the Fox News Channel's "Hannity" to set the record straight about media reports indicating he has "conceded defeat" in the so-called culture war.

Dr. Dobson plans to spend two segments in an exclusive interview with his friend Sean Hannity beginning at 9 p.m. EDT.

Dr. Dobson requested the opportunity to appear on the show to clarify erroneous media reports that have gained nationwide attention in recent days claiming he has given up fighting for pro-family causes like the sanctity of human life and the defense of marriage. The misinformation stems from a story in London's Telegraph newspaper, which quoted Dr. Dobson's comments to Focus on the Family staff in February announcing his resignation from the ministry's board of directors. His actual words were truncated and not put in their proper context to create the impression the paper wanted to create -- that he was "throwing in the towel" on standing for principles that have been his passion for more than three decades.

Here's what the Telegraph reported he said -- words that have been picked up by scores of other media outlets over the past few days: “We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”

Here's his full quote; note the intentional dropping of his last words in the statement: "We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?"

Dr. Dobson's comments that day were an encouragement to staff to join him in continuing to fight for righteousness in the public square, even though recent events had not turned out the way he or they would have hoped. Yes, he acknowledged some momentary defeats in skirmishes in the battle for public policy that strengthens families. But that is hardly akin to "conceding defeat" in the "war." At least that's the way he meant it and his audience understood it. But the media, with their own agenda, chose to twist his words to get the story they wanted.

We have to admit that it is a little odd to find ourselves in this situation siding with Dobson and people like Tony Perkins, but here we are.  They are not conceding defeat - in fact, they are vowing to fight even harder.

And for everyone who thought that Dobson and Religious Right were losing their political influence and about to disappear, this ought to dispel that notion.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • It looks like the National Organization for Marriage is tired of everyone making fun of their "Gathering Storm" ad and have succeeded in getting the audition tapes we and many others posted earlier this week removed from YouTube.
  • The latest rumor is that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is thinking about giving up the governorship and running for Senate against David Vitter.
  • Speaking of Jindal, he has signed a proclamation declaring April as Abortion Recovery Awareness Month.
  • Jay Sekulow and Rick Santorum have joined the right-wing campaign against Harold Koh.
  • Politico reports that "the culture wars are making a comeback, but this time around, social conservatives find themselves in an unfamiliar position: playing defense."
  • Finally, Joseph Farah defends his decision not to support John McCain, saying an Obama presidency is necessary because conservatives "needed to be jolted awake by experiencing the consequences of these horrendous policies, and Republicans had to be forced to rediscover their roots in and commitment to limited government."

Reports of The Right's Death are Greatly Exaggerated

In his latest column, the New York Times' Frank Rich declared that Religious Right groups are on the cusp of seeing their political and social influence dramatically shrink, thanks largely to the current economic crisis which makes culture wars "a luxury the country can no longer afford" and means that "Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds."

Citing polls showing that the majority of Americans do not share the Right's views on things like stem cell research, civil unions and same-sex marriage, and Don't Ask Don't Tell, Rich says that the nation is moving away from organized religion and might be on the verge of a "40-year exodus" duing which Religious Right leaders will find their reach increasingly limited.

Personally, I do not share Rich's assessment because these sorts of bold proclamations are made every time the Republican Party loses at the polls, only to be followed shortly thereafter by a raft of pieces discussing the Right's miraculous resurgence once the GOP wins a few elections.

In addition, as we recently pointed out, the Right is currently in the process of re-formulating itself into a resistance movement under Obama and using the economic crisis as a means to further its agenda and has already embarked on efforts designed to reverse their losses in Congress and regain control of government so that they can get on with the process of enacting their political and social agenda.

As tempting as it is to start writing the Right's obituary, such declarations have been made before and have inevitably turned out to be wrong due, in large part, to the fact that the leaders and activists in the movement believe that they are doing the work of the Lord and thus have no intention of giving up the fight.

Case in point is this response to Rich's column from the Family Research Council:

The bottom line: political movements come and go, but the Church is not a political movement. The end game is much bigger than a win at the ballot box, as important as that may be. Equipped with such an understanding, we are sustained in times of cultural and political setbacks. Is America where it needs to be as a nation? Is the Church the catalyst for moral and spiritual transformation that it should be? I think the answer to both is no--at the present. At this turning point, what happens is up to us. Don't just sit and wring your hands. Pray.

"If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then... [I] will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14) In the meantime, Rich and company should be careful what they wish for. When the end of the culture war does come, we already know who's on the winning side.

That is not the language of people who are inclined to throw in the towel just because the Republican Party, with whom they have always had a rather tenuous relationship, is currently flailing about.  If anything, the Right see the current political climate as an opportunity to re-build the conservative movement and the GOP in its own image.

Until the Republican Party puts forward a spate of Religious Right true believers who lose or a bunch of Religious Right heretics who win, the Right's influence in the party and in our nation's politics and culture will continue.

And finally, since they are still being invited to the White House, it seems a bit premature to start declaring them dead.

Right Wing Round-Up

Today's best reporting on the Right from around the web:

  • Box Turtle Bulletin has a complete transcript of Utah Sen. Chris Buttar's interview, which we mentioned here. Relatedly, Andrew Sullivan points out that in addition to being a homophobe, Buttars is also the former Executive Director of the controversial Utah Boys Ranch.
  • Steve Benen reports that Republicans in Congress have suddenly discovered the importance of the White House preserving its emails.
  • Pharyngula has a post on the University of Vermont's Nicholas Gotelli and his great response to an invitation he received to debate David Klinghoffer from the Discovery Institute.
  • The Washington Blade reports that anti-gay forces are hard at work trying to regain their national influence, stemming from their fear that Congress will advance gay rights legislation.
  • Finally, Kathryn Joyce, author of "Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement," has a piece on Babble explaining just what the movement is all about:
  • [T]he most important thing to understand about the Quiverfull movement [is that] in order for a woman to be Quiverfull, she must embrace a life of absolute submission and obedience to God, her husband, and the cause of Christian revival — winning the culture wars — by having more children than the "other side." At the heart of this call is Quiverfull's insistence that women's individual rights and desires are of secondary importance to the larger cause.

The Less Things Change

Last week we noted that Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church had tapped a new pastor to replace the late D. James Kennedy who appeared intent on modernizing the church and removing it from the political and culture wars.  

But just because change might be coming to the church doesn’t seem to mean that any sort of similar change will be coming to its political arm, Coral Ridge Ministries:  

Many traditional marriage supporters have been taken aback by the pro-gay rights tone the Whitehouse.gov website has taken for its "Civil Rights" agenda, which supports the expansion of hate crimes statutes, discrimination employment laws that would grant special protections to the LBGT community, gay civil unions, gay couples' adoption rights and the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask-Don't Tell" policy.

Coral Ridge Ministries, a Christian media organization, also sent out an e-mail alert over the weekend stating, "Our new president wants to force Americans to accept homosexuality in the workplace and in the military."

"Right now, the President has the political wind at his back. Most in the media and Congress are cheering for him and his agenda to succeed," the ministry added. "That means he most likely will unless men and women of moral conviction and courage stand up and say 'No!'"

The email from Coral Ridge Ministries can be found here:

“It’s only the third day of Barack Obama’s presidency, but he just announced his aggressive plan to force Americans to accept homosexuality.

His just-revealed gay rights agenda, posted on the http://whitehouse.gov website, is a dream come true for the homosexual lobby. Our new president wants to force Americans to accept homosexuality in the workplace and in the military. Plus, he will push hard to pass hate crimes legislation and give marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

Here’s a short list of what our new president wants to do:

- Pass hate crimes legislation that will criminalize opposition to homosexuality.
- Allow homosexuals to enter into civil unions, which will 'give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples.'
- Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
- Oppose a federal constitutional amendment to limit marriage to a man and a woman.
- Repeal federal law to allow open homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military.
- Give homosexual couples the right to adopt young children.
- Fight AIDS with sex education, condoms, and needle-exchange programs.

Right now, the President has the political wind at his back. Most in the media and Congress are cheering for him and his agenda to succeed. That means he most likely will unless men and women of moral conviction and courage stand up and say 'No!'..."

Changes Underway At Coral Ridge

Shortly before D. James Kennedy passed away in 2007, his Coral Ridge Ministries announced that it was shutting down its Center for Reclaiming America, the home of its right-wing activism, in favor of concentrating on expanding its audience via its media productions.  And that is what it did, unveiling various videos during the election on how Christianity is being “suppressed” in America by liberals and the “militant homosexual agenda" and that hate crimes legislation will result in the “criminalization of Christianity.”

But for the most part, Coral Ridge has been relatively silent lately on political and culture war issues ... and now it looks like the church itself is about to undergo a significant change.  Yesterday I mentioned that Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church had tapped Billy Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, to become pastor and today, via AU's Wall of Separation, we come to find out that Tchividijan intends to remove the church from politics and politics from the church:

When D. James Kennedy, the influential pastor who pushed conservative politics from the pulpit of Fort Lauderdale's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, died in 2007, members lost the fiery leadership of the man who built it from a congregation of a few dozen to more than 10,000 with internationally viewed television and radio programs.

Now, successor William Graham Tullian Tchividjian, 36, grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and head of Margate's relatively small New City Church, is ready to take Coral Ridge in a new direction.

Tchividjian (chi-VID-gen) -- friends call him Tullian -- is no stranger to the church, whose congregants erupted in cheers Sunday when they heard he was offered the job. An occasional guest speaker at Coral Ridge who has a radio show on WAFG-FM 90.3, he is expected to modernize the thinking of the church over which Kennedy presided for more than five decades and take it back to the basics of teaching the Bible instead of reigniting the culture wars.

Energetic and easygoing, he will be a stark contrast to the often stiff and formal Kennedy, people familiar with the church say. Kennedy, a notable member of the Moral Majority before its dissolution, rallied against same-sex marriage and evolutionary theory and sought to ``reclaim America for Christ.''

''The impression out there of Coral Ridge is that they are a church that is stuck in the past and unwilling to change,'' said Tchividjian, a father of three who lives in Coconut Creek. ``This move on their part corrects that assumption" ... Tchividjian said he plans to stay away from politics. A registered Republican, he would not answer questions on current political issues, such as same-sex marriage.

Right Plots to Wage Culture War During Obama Presidency

For those hoping that a victory by Barack Obama might somehow restrain or moderate the Religious Right … well, you are going to be disappointed since the Right is already looking ahead and planning on reconstituting itself by rallying around Sarah Palin and launching an all-out culture war: 

"An Obama victory will galvanize social conservatives for 2010 and 2012 and they will look for a standard bearer they can rally around," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of America's largest evangelical group.

Land told Reuters the candidate most likely to "rally the troops" under an Obama administration looked to be McCain's running mate Sarah Palin.

The Alaska governor has excited the evangelical base but her strident opposition to abortion rights and other hard-core conservative positions have alienated more moderate voters.

William Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League which opposes abortion rights, said religious conservatives were bracing for a new phase in the "culture wars."

"I've been on the phone the last couple of days with some of my friends ... and we're getting ready for the biggest culture war battles ever," Donohue said.

"There is nobody in the history of the United States who has run for president who is a more enthusiastic supporter of abortion rights than Obama," he said.

AFA Begins McBoycott

The American Family Association launches a boycott of McDonalds “in response to the fast-food chain’s support of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). McDonald’s “contributed $20,000 to the organization,” which describes itself as “the LGBT business voice in Washington, on Wall Street, and down Main Street USA.” The AFA, of course, “feels it is ‘inappropriate’ for McDonalds, as a family restaurant, to clearly endorse one side of the culture wars.” Tim Wildmon: “What we’re talking about is taking $20,000 of corporate money and making a donation to a gay and lesbian activist organization. We think that’s wrong and we want people to know what McDonald’s has done here.”

Right-Wing Groups Promote 'Faith-Based' Investing

Moving beyond its boycott strategy, AFA urges supporters to "purge" portfolios of "gay agenda" or "anti-family" corporations. "Red state Christians" taking "culture wars" to "corporate sector," claims one firm.
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culture wars Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 12/29/2010, 3:25pm
When the North Carolina Council of Churches, a coalition composed of mainline Protestant and Catholic churches, selected an openly gay man as the body’s new president, right-wing activists jumped on the story in their efforts to foster divisions and anti-gay sentiment among church groups. Seventeen denominations, including Episcopal, Lutheran, AME, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Reformed, and Methodist churches, are members of the North Carolina Council of Churches, and President-Elect Stan Kimer promised to make outreach, environmental stewardship, and social justice key parts of his agenda... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/06/2010, 5:49pm
Dan Gilgoff @ CNN: Christian group pulls support for event challenging homosexuality. Sarah Posner @ Religion Dispatches: The Tea Party Religion. Stephanie Mencimer @ Mother Jones: Tea Party Courts GOP's Evangelical Wing. Lisa Keen @ Bay Windows: GOP seeks to intervene in Mass. DOMA cases. Alex Pareene @ Salon: Todd Palin's angry e-mail to Joe Miller. Chris In Paris @ Americablog: Gingrich promotes 'no food stamps for the poor' in campaign. Andy Birkey @ Minnesota Independent: Bradlee Dean: LGBT advocates use anti-gay bullying... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 10/01/2010, 2:06pm
Christianity Today has a long profile of Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, that focuses largely on theological battles within the denomination, but also contains some interesting information ... like the fact that at the age of 15, he was taken under the wing of D. James Kennedy: At age 15, R. Albert Mohler Jr. had a crisis of faith. Two years earlier, his family had moved from the conservative idyll of Lakeland, Florida, to the other end of the world: Pompano Beach, 200 miles south ... In Pompano Beach, torn from everything he knew, Mohler found... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/21/2010, 5:30pm
FRC rejoices over the defeat of the effort to repeal Don't ask Don't Tell. Over the weekend, Sharron Angle spoke at Utah’s Freedom Conference, an event co-sponsored by the John Birch Society. Tim Scott tells CBN's David Brody that there is no racism in the Tea Party movement. Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will all speak at Virginia's first annual Tea Party Convention next month. You can now add Rep. Paul Ryan to the list of conservatives saying there might be a need to call a "truce" in the culture... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 09/08/2010, 10:37am
Earlier this year, Gov. Mitch Daniels came in for all sorts of criticism from the Religious Right for suggesting that truce might be needed in the culture wars so that the nation can focus on addressing economic and security issues. If there is one thing the Religious Right hates, it is being told that their issues should be placed on a back burner or that they don't motivate voter turn out.  In fact, just yesterday we noted that the Religious Right was warning House Republicans not to ignore social issues as they lay out their issues and agenda, warning that it would be an "... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 08/20/2010, 5:27pm
Joseph Farah continues his feud with Ann Coulter. Peter LaBarbera is now very upset with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Stephen Prothero wonders why Mormons like Mitt Romney haven't been speaking out on behalf of Muslims regarding Park 51. Newt Gingrich will apparently not be participating in the 9/11 rally against Park 51. Alan Keyes really doesn't like Glenn Beck. I just might have to pick up the book "Jesus and Gin: Evangelicalism, the Roaring Twenties and Today's Culture Wars" because it sounds pretty interesting. MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 08/09/2010, 10:06am
As I noted last week, it appears as if the Religious Right's primary plan for upholding Proposition 8 and preventing marriage equality is not so much to argue why stopping gay marriage is necessary and constitutional, but rather to simply warn that there will be hell to pay if they are not. That certainly seems to be what Bruce Hausknecht of Focus on the Family's Citizenlink is saying: "I will say that the Supreme Court, even the liberals on the court, ought to be thinking at least twice about the culture wars they will ignite -- just like they did with Roe v. Wade -- if they were... MORE