ethics

Land Clarifies Things By Explaining That Mormonism Is Only "Technically" A Cult

It is amazing to watch Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission try to downplay fellow Southern Baptist Robert Jeffress' assertions that Mormonism is "a cult" while admitting that, according to SBC doctrine, Mormonism is, in fact, a cult [PDF.]

Land dedicated a good portion of his radio program last week to discussing the issue, trying to draw a distinction between being a cult in a "social" sense and being a cult in a "theological" sense before finally admitting that while Mormonism may not a "cult" in the former sense, it most is in the latter:

Technically speaking, theologically, a cult is a movement, a religious movement, that claims to still be within the confines of Christianity when it has moved beyond the parameters of orthodox Christian faith. And that certainly fits Mormonism. Mormonism is not just a distinctive denomination within Christianity. Mormonism, using the language of Christianity and claiming to believe in the Jesus of the New Testament and the God of the Bible, promulgate doctrines which are completely at odds with orthodox, with a small "o," Apostles' Creed, standard Christianity. That makes them a cult.

This is, of course, exactly the same distinction that Jeffress has been making, so it is a little hard to understand why Land thinks that he is somehow clarifying things by saying the very same thing that set off the controversy in the first place.

Land: Gay Activists Seek Full-Blown "Sexual Paganization Of Society"

Over the weekend, the Liberty Counsel's Rena Lindevaldsen was a guest on "Richard Land Live!" where she and Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, discussed her new book chronicling the case involving her client, ex-gay kidnapper Lisa Miller.

During the program, Land warned that gay rights activists seek to "reduce [Christians] to the level of the Ku Klux Klan" so that they will be ostracized by society and went on to assert that gays are "recruiting" children, which is a form a child abuse, while claiming that homosexuality is "incomprehensible."  In the end, Land claimed, gays really just want to destroy the institution of marriage in order to bring about the "full-blown paganization" of America:

They're recruiting down in the grade school levels. They're recruiting people for homosexual clubs and it's really child abuse is what it is.

You need to find out what's going on in your school. You need to ask your children what's going on, you need to see what books their reading, you need to know what the teacher is talking about because, I'm telling you, they are trying to brainwash our children in the public schools.

It's the one sin that I know about that I find totally incomprehensible. But obviously some boys do find it comprehensible, because otherwise there wouldn’t be any homosexuality.

Even if you take out AIDS, male homosexuals die much earlier than heterosexual males do because of the inherently dangerous - health dangerous stuff that they engage in. But I don't think that's the big issue - I think that's a side issue. I think the real issue is they want to destroy marriage.

The alternative is not live and let live - it is the marginalization and the ostracizing of people of traditional faith. And it will be the full-blown paganization. You know, they have already started talking about polyamory and pedophilia. They're going to start talking now about lowering the age of consent - they are already starting to talk about it, saying who are we to deprive a child of his or her sexuality? And we’re going to end up like Greece and Rome. If this dam breaks, the tidal wave will be just an outright sexual paganization of society.

 

Rick Perry Finds A Welcoming Audience At Liberty University

Yesterday we took the opportunity of Rick Perry’s recent speech at Liberty University to revisit his appearance on last year on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, in which he went into depth about the “supernatural events” (mainly rain or lack thereof) that have driven his life.

If the governor’s visit to Liberty is any indication, the affinity that he displayed with the Religious Right in his TBN appearance is still going strong. Before Wednesday’s speech, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. gave Perry a rousing welcome, defending the governor for his controversial effort to require that girls in Texas recieve HPV vaccinations and calling Perry’s secession talk “gutsy.” Brian Kaylor of EthicsDaily, a publication of the Baptist Center for Ethics, reports that the ties between Perry and Falwell are even closer than what is being reported. Falwell was scheduled to take part in one of televangelist James Robison’s leadership summits, at which Religious Right leaders urged Perry to enter the race. While Falwell “could not make it,” Liberty University’s Vice President Johnnie Moore participated. Kaylor reports that Moore and David Lane, who organizes state-based “restoration” projects, were behind Perry’s appearance at Liberty:

Organized by Texas evangelist James Robison, the June meeting was a follow-up to a September 2010 meeting as Robison and other conservative Christians plotted to bring political revival and change to the 2012 elections.

Liberty's chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr., son of Liberty's late founder, was scheduled to attend but could not make it.

Robison led a similar effort prior to the 1980 presidential election as he sought to defeat then-President Jimmy Carter. That effort culminated in an August 1980 rally in Dallas with then-Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan as the key speaker.

On Wednesday, Falwell introduced Perry at Liberty by talking about how much he "admired" Perry for "having the guts to say things that weren't exactly politically correct, like when Governor Perry hinted that Texas might secede one day from the Union."

Falwell also recounted saying several months ago – before Perry joined the presidential race – that "it was too bad" Perry was not running for president.



Falwell also said that Perry's trip to Liberty was organized and made possible due to the work of religious-political organizer David Lane and Liberty's vice president for executive projects, Johnnie Moore. Both Lane and Moore have been part of Robison's group.

According to Perry, Lane and Robison inspired him to lead "The Response," a prayer rally held last month at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Numerous other individuals in Robison's group were key leaders in planning the event, which thrust Perry into the national headlines just days before he officially announced he was running for president.

Perry's support among conservative evangelicals is one of the key factors to his rapid rise to the front of the Republican presidential primary polls.

His speech at Liberty University on Wednesday, his private meetings with Christian leaders in June and August, and his prayer rally in August demonstrate Perry's efforts to mobilize conservative Christians and receive their support as he seeks to be what Robison and his group say they are hoping for – a new Ronald Reagan.

Gingrich's Lone Religious Right Supporter Being Wooed By Perry

As we noted last week, Rick Perry gathered with a whole range of Religious Right leaders at the ranch of right-wing megadonor James Leininger over the weekend and details continue to emerge about what took place during the event, like Perry vowing to them that there would be no revelations about his past that would ever embarrass them.

We are also seeing more reports about which leaders were in attendance:

The meeting received little public attention, though the 200 or so in attendance included luminaries of the Christian right such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, California pastor Jim Garlow, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Washington-area Bishop Harry Jackson, who presides over one of the largest African American churches on the East Coast.

It is especially interesting to see that Garlow was present at the gathering, given that he had pretty much been the only Religious Right leader supporting Newt Gingrich's presidential bid.

The fact that Garlow traveled to Texas to participate in this meeting with Perry seems to suggest that even Gingrich's most ardent supporters know that his campaign is dead in the water.

Perkins: Gays And Lesbians Are Ruining The Military, Media

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has been ratcheting up his anti-gay rhetoric recently, and finding new ways to blame gays and lesbians for what he sees as society’s problems. Last month, for instance, the Air Force suspended a class on “Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare training,” after it was revealed that the class relied heavily on Christian teachings. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation objected to the class and solicited complaints from Air Force officers, who the group says were mostly “practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics.” While the controversy centered on allegations that the class represented an unconstitutional religious test and endorsement of one particular religious viewpoint, Perkins claims (without any evidence) that the class’s suspension was actually the fault of gays and lesbians and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Perkins, who once said that politicians who backed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell have blood on their hands, warned in a radio commentary that the decision to support “homosexuality [when it] clashes with faith” will have dire consequences for the Air Force:

It looks like the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is off to a flying start--at least in the U.S. Air Force. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. Starting this week, the Pentagon's changing some of its policies to make the military more welcoming for homosexuals. In the Air Force, that means dropping the religion from its training course. After 20 years, officials scrapped the Bible verses that had been a part of the "Just War" curriculum since early 90s. Apparently, someone complained that the material was "promoting... right-wing fundamentalist Christianity." The class was suspended the very same day. No questions asked. See, that's what happens when homosexuality clashes with faith. Faith loses. This isn't about political correctness, David French said. "It's about cleansing [God] from the public square and building a completely secular society." Unfortunately for our troops, this is just part of the President's plan to radicalize the military. And if the Air Force is any indication, tradition won't be the only thing taking a nose-dive.

In another news bulletin, Perkins railed against the positive portrayal of gays and lesbians in television shows, arguing that it is ruining television for families. He claims that ABC Family, which received praise from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is now trying to “indoctrinate kids” as they “push the homosexual agenda through characters and storylines.” He suggests that parents should protest such positive portrayals by contacting the network and refusing to watch its programming:

This month, TV's biggest networks aren't telling the story--they are the story. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. Where's the "family" in ABC Family? Parents are wondering after the latest report from GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Every year, GLAAD rates channels on how well they push the homosexual agenda through characters and storylines. This time, ABC Family got top honors--making them only the second network ever to get an "excellent" rating. Michael Riley, ABC's chief executive, said he was "proud" to be honored. Celebrating homosexuality, he said, is "very important to us." That's a serious problem, considering that ABC Family is the highest-rated network for 12 to 34-year-olds. Most parents trust the channel, which used to be owned by Disney. But it's a different story now that the network's going out of its way to indoctrinate kids. That won't change until you get involved. Contact ABC. Tell them what they gain by being gay-friendly doesn't compare with what they'll lose. And that's viewers.

Rick Perry's Long History Of Attending "Nonpolitical" Religious Right Events

The Austin Chronicle has begun tweeting links to old articles about Rick Perry, like this one from 2005 when Perry spoke at a "Texas Restoration Project" with a gaggle of anti-gay Religious Right activists:

A source who attended the event spoke to the Chronicle but requested anonymity because he serves in a local congregation and was sensitive to its politically diverse viewpoints. He recorded the event and provided the audiotape to the Texas Freedom Network, which in turn provided copies to the media.

Millionaire San Antonio conservative James Leininger was in attendance, as was East Texas chicken tycoon Bo Pilgrim, who introduced the governor. The two are among Perry's most generous campaign donors, most recently chipping in $50,000 apiece to the governor's re-election campaign, according to state Ethics Commission filings.

Though the audiotape is of poor quality, there is no mistaking the fever-pitched gay-bashing theme of most of the speeches. The group is fashioned after a similar evangelical organization in Ohio that worked to pass that state's marriage amendment in November and helped produce a narrow victory there for President Bush. Critics accuse the Ohio group of operating in tandem with the Bush presidential campaign, managed by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, now running for Ohio governor in 2006. Blackwell was one of the featured speakers in Austin. Other guests who spoke in Austin included two key players in the Republican Party of Texas – Vice Chair David Barton, a self-described Christian nationalist, and former executive director Susan Weddington, who now heads Perry's faith-based initiatives program. Weddington called Perry "a spiritual giant."

Additionally, Ohio evangelical Pastor Rod Parsley lambasted the "homosexual agenda" and railed against Islam; Arlington minister Dwight McKissic – other than Blackwell, apparently the only African-American speaker at the event – delivered a hellfire condemnation of gays and lesbians, climaxing his address with the biblical story of the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and declaring, "God has another match!" The crowd roared. "He said the most horrible things," the attendee said. "He was the most difficult to listen to."

Kelly Shackelford, who heads the Plano-based Free Market Foundation, may have stolen Perry's thunder in being the first to announce the governor's choice to fill the vacancy on the Texas Supreme Court – Don Willett, who was seated in the audience. Shackelford introduced Willett as a "strong believer in Jesus Christ. … I have no doubt where this man stands on any issue." Shackelford urged pastors to start organizing support for the upcoming constitutional election. "The other side is very organized," he said of the "No Nonsense in November" campaign, which opposes the amendment. "They are out there working in your communities."

Perry steered clear of directly incendiary comments, but left no doubt where he stands on the referendum. "For the record," he said, "this is one Texan who's going to be voting to protect the family unit this November by voting to preserve the institution of marriage between one man and one woman." Afterward, someone asked the governor what they could do to help him – the closest anyone came to mentioning his re-election campaign. Perry thought a moment before responding.

"Pray for me."

If the names of the participants sound familiar, there is a reason for that:  many of them also endorsed Perry's recent prayer rally, including David Barton, Dwight McKissic, and Kelly Shackelford.

You may also recognize the name of Susan Weddington, who has been working wtih Barton and close Perry friend Alice Patterson, to get African Americans to support the Republican Party.

In fact, these Restoration Project events are organized by David Lane, who was not only responsible for the recent similar Rediscover God In America conference, but just so happened to also serve as the National Finance Chairman of Perry's The Response prayer rally.

Perry has been attending these distinctly political Restoration Project events for several years and then partnered with many of these very same activists in organizing his recent prayer rally ... all while bogusly insisting that the event was distinctly non-political.

The Religious Right's Spin On Science

The mainstream scientific community rejects the Religious Right’s assertion that gays and lesbians can change their sexual orientation to become heterosexual: the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychiatric Association all deny the effectiveness, safety and ethics of ‘ex-gay’ reparative therapy.

But that doesn’t stop right-wing activists from citing and exaggerating the claims of small, fringe organizations in order to bolster their support of reparative therapy and claim that such “therapy” has extensive backing in the medical community.

Today, Liberty Counsel heads Mat Staver and Matt Barber, who according to their official biographies have no background in psychology, dedicated their Faith & Freedom radio show to assailing the American Psychological Association, arguing that they have more psychological expertise than the APA. Staver pointed to a small, Christians-only psychological group has “the most definitive, most recent research that’s come out that says change is possible” for gays and lesbians:

Liberty Counsel even declared that the American Association of Christian Counselors is “larger than American Psychological Assn”:

 

In reality, the AACC has just one-third of the membership of the APA, which has 154,000 members.

Staver and Barber are far from the only anti-gay figures to promote the findings of tiny, religious groups over the claims of more reputable and mainstream organizations.

As reported on RWW, David Barton on WallBuilders Live last week falsely described the American College of Pediatricians as “the leading pediatric association in America” as he cited a memo from the group claiming that “most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged.” Barton used the ACP’s memo as evidence to show that all children will “end up being heterosexual unless [schools] force them to be homosexual”:

The ACP is not “the leading pediatric association in America,” but a far-right offshoot of the real leading pediatric group, the American Academy of Pediatricians, which vigorously condemned the ACP’s memo. Barton’s co-host Rick Green tried to defend his dishonest representation of the ACP, but as Warren Throckmorton points out, while the ACP has “probably less than 200” members, the AAP has around 60,000.

Moreover, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America frequently cite the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality as a reliable source of information on reparative therapy despite the group’s history of fraud and promotion of anti-gay and racist views.

The argument over the efficacy of ‘ex-gay’ reparative therapy mirrors the fight over teaching Creationism and Creationist-influenced Intelligent Design in public schools. Religious Right figures have a tendency to call any study from a leading and mainstream scientific associations biased if it doesn’t reflect their views, and then find (or create) small, non-credible organizations to reflect their viewpoints. Desperate to reject the consensus of the scientific community, like clockwork Religious Right activists try to pass off these tiny groups as large, credible, and legitimate institutions in an effort to lend authority to their foundering arguments.

Who's Who in Today's DOMA Hearing

Cross-posted on PFAW blog

Senate Republicans have called Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, David Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund and Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center as witnesses in today’s hearing on the “Defense of Marriage Act.” The groups these witnesses represent have a long record of extreme rhetoric opposing gay rights:

CitizenLink, Focus on the Family’s political arm, is a stalwart opponent of gay rights in every arena:

• Focus on the Family has consistently railed against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, demanding the discriminatory policy’s reinstatement.

• The group claims anti-bullying programs that protect LGBT and LGBT-perceived youth in schools amount to “homosexual indoctrination” and “promote homosexuality in kids.”

• The group insists that House Republicans investigate the Justice Department over its refusal to defend the unconstitutional Section 3 of DOMA.

The Ethics and Public Policy Center is backed by the far-right Sarah Scaife Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Koch- backed Castle Rock Foundation, all well-known right-wing funders.

• George Weigel of EPPC wrote in June that “legally enforced segregation involved the same kind of coercive state power that the proponents of gay marriage now wish to deploy on behalf of their cause.”

• Ed Whelan spearheaded the unsuccessful and widely panned effort to throw out Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 decision finding California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional on the grounds that Walker was in a committed same-sex relationship at the time of the decision.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which bills itself as a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, is dedicated to pushing a far-right legal agenda:

• The ADF has been active on issues including pushing "marriage protection," exposing the "homosexual agenda" and fighting the supposed "war on Christmas."

• The ADF claims 38 “victories” before the Supreme Court, including: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited money on elections in the name of “free speech” and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), which allowed the Boy Scouts to fire a Scout Leader because he was gay.


Perry's 'Apolitical' Prayer Rally To Include More Religious Right Leaders

The American Family Association today announced that more traditionally pro-GOP Religious Right organizations are joining them in hosting The Response prayer rally with Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Kyle reported that Focus on the Family founder James Dobson is on board, and now Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America have been named co-chairmen. Even though Perry and the AFA are adamant that the prayer rally is apolitical, the fact that leaders of three of the most prominent Religious Right political groups in the country are hosting the event along side a potential presidential candidate makes us think otherwise.

In addition, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Richard Land has already endorsed the rally, and other endorsers — Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and megachurch pastor Tony Evans — have also signed on as co-chairmen.

American Family Association says three more respected Christian leaders have been named as co-chairpersons of the upcoming The Response: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis prayer event.

The new co-chairpersons are Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America; Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council; and Frank Wright, President of the National Religious Broadcasters.

The prayer event will be held at the Reliant stadium in Houston on August 6. Several thousand individuals are expected to attend the event, according to Donald E. Wildmon, founder of AFA which is sponsoring the event.

...

Co-chairpersons announced earlier include Dr. James Dobson and his wife Shirley, Rev. Sammy Rodriquez, Dr. Tony Evans, and Dr. Richard Land.

Right-Wing Columnist: Eliminate Public Schools To Stop "Stalinist" LGBT History Law

Writing for the ultraconservative Crisis magazine, Kevin Ryan of Boston University’s Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character is outraged over the recently signed California law that makes sure textbooks cover important LGBT historical figures. Ryan said that the policy has a “distinct Stalinist odor” that will bolster the “gay agenda.” But Ryan has a way to respond to the new textbook law: abolish public schools. “Eliminate state-run public schools,” Ryan writes, “make a transition to one of the many school choice options” like home schooling:

Given the brute fact that the state can and does put parents in the slammer for not delivering up their children for the state approved and directed schooling, this new legislation has about it a distinct Stalinist odor. The odor is particularly strong in the nostrils of those parents who believe such grave matters as how one lives out their sexuality is not the educational province of the state bureaucrats who create the lesson plans for teachers.

It is tempting to dismiss this soon-to-be statewide curriculum as just another in a long line of outrageous and kooky, La-La Land events seemingly designed to keep the rest of us chuckling and mildly finger-wagging. However, the Sunshine State is the 800-pound gorilla of the textbook world and teachers and parents in Montana, Iowa and Georgia will surely be seeing the “gay agenda” in their next textbook adoptions.



Another idea — and one which is receiving a great boost from legislation requiring a gay-friendly curriculum — is to eliminate state-run public schools. That is, make a transition to one of the many school choice options that put parents back in charge of their children’s education.

Increasingly, the very idea of the state answering the core educational question, “what is most worth a child knowing,” is being acknowledged as dangerous and a violation of parents’ right to control the education of their children. Currently in the US the parents of well over one million children are making huge personal and financial sacrifices to homeschool their children, and the movement is growing. While motivations vary, many of these parents have withdrawn their children from the public school because of the very over-sexualized environment this new California legislation will doubtlessly intensify.

It is tempting to take solace in the idea that this latest school victory by gay activists is a step too far and will spark a revolt. However, the public school teachers unions, local, state and national, are very strong and very politically protected. The opposition is underfunded, disorganized and tends to have a short attention span.

On the other hand, if attempts to alter our children’s understanding of their sexuality and what is the correct way for them to live out their sexuality cannot arouse parents to action, what, in God’s name and our nation’s future, will?

A Who's Who of Religious Right Activists Participated In Robison's Leadership Summits

Last week, Time's Amy Sullivan reported that dozens of Religious Right leaders gathered for "a conference call to discuss their dissatisfaction with the current GOP presidential field, and agreed that Rick Perry would be their preferred candidate if he entered the race."

Brian Kaylor of EthicsDaily.com had reported on the same thing a few weeks back, noting that the effort was being organized by James Robison.

Last Friday, Robison wrote a post on his blog in which explained that he had called these gatherings in September of 2010 and June of 2011 because "there is an insidious attack on God, faith, family and freedom" and that God was planning on using this group of "national leaders to help inspire a spiritual awakening, a return to sanity and a restoration of freedom’s foundation."

And he also conveniently posted a list of every person who had participated:

Anti-Choice Group Fundraises To Encourage "Freedom From The Homosexual Lifestyle"

Steve Jalsevac, the cofounder of Life Site News, wants readers to know that the fight against reproductive rights isn’t enough, and that the group will be redoubling its efforts to combat LGBT equality. While describing a recent trip to a Pride Parade, where he “was filled with sadness for all the lost, confused souls who were participating in it,” Jaslevac warns that “our freedoms” are at stake if the gay rights movement continues to advance. Jaslevac ends his missive by asking for financial help in order to help “the homosexuals themselves” by bringing them “freedom from the homosexual lifestyle”:

With the enthusiastic help of the rich, the powerful, and the famous, and the all-too-willing mainstream media, the tactics of the “gay pride” agenda are proving to be frighteningly successful - to the detriment of the family, traditional sexual ethics…and our freedoms.

Have no doubt about it. Many gay rights activists are not satisfied with mere “tolerance” - they want acceptance, even if it tramples on our basic rights. Already we are seeing devout Christians losing jobs, being fined, and being ostracized, simply for speaking up in defense of the family.



As I was standing watching Sunday’s Gay Pride parade, I was filled with sadness for all the lost, confused souls who were participating in it.

The fact is, despite the unprecedented levels of social acceptance for homosexuality, the gay community continues to be plagued by soaring levels of deadly sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, depression, and suicide. And no wonder!

We know that only God can provide the peace and happiness for which we all crave. What could be more opposed to this than the promiscuous gay lifestyle?

As our editor-in-chief, John-Henry Westen, wrote last week, it isn’t acceptance that homosexuals need. It’s freedom from the homosexual lifestyle, and all its dangers and miseries.



So please, for our culture, our children, and for the homosexuals themselves, who are in need of God’s love and freedom from the homosexual lifestyle, please consider making a donation to LSN today.

National Review Columnist Compares Marriage Equality To Racial Segregation

Writing for the National Review, columnist George Weigel of the far-right Ethics and Public Policy Center lashes out at marriage equality supporters for comparing their struggle for equal rights to the civil rights movement. According to Weigel, legalizing marriage between same-sex couples is more like imposing racial segregation than ending it: “Legally enforced segregation involved the same kind of coercive state power that the proponents of gay marriage now wish to deploy on behalf of their cause.” He explains that LGBT rights require a “totalitarian impulse” to “remanufacture reality,” claiming that the gay rights movement “is the heir of Bull Connor,” referring to the Birmingham sheriff who violently crushed civil rights demonstrations. Weigel writes:

That usurpation is at the heart of the gay lobby’s emotional, cultural, and political success — the moral mantle of those Freedom Riders whose golden anniversary we mark this year has, so to speak, been successfully claimed by the Stonewall Democratic Club and its epigones. And because the classic civil-rights movement and its righteous demand for equality before the law remains one of the few agreed-upon moral touchstones in 21st-century American culture (another being the Holocaust as an icon of evil), to seize that mantle and wear it is to have won a large part of the battle — as one sees when trying to discuss these questions with otherwise sensible young people.

But the analogy simply doesn’t work. Legally enforced segregation involved the same kind of coercive state power that the proponents of gay marriage now wish to deploy on behalf of their cause. Something natural and obvious — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” — was being denied by the state in its efforts to maintain segregated public facilities and to deny full citizenship rights to African Americans. Once the American people came to see that these arrangements, however hallowed by custom (and prejudice), were, in fact, unnatural and not obvious, the law was changed.

What the gay lobby proposes in the matter of marriage is precisely the opposite of this. Marriage, as both religious and secular thinkers have acknowledged for millennia, is a social institution that is older than the state and that precedes the state. The task of a just state is to recognize and support this older, prior social institution; it is not to attempt its redefinition. To do the latter involves indulging the totalitarian temptation that lurks within all modern states: the temptation to remanufacture reality. The American civil-rights movement was a call to recognize moral reality; the call for gay marriage is a call to reinvent reality to fit an agenda of personal willfulness. The gay-marriage movement is thus not the heir of the civil-rights movement; it is the heir of Bull Connor and others who tried to impose their false idea of moral reality on others by coercive state power.

Religious Right Leaders Huddle To Plan For 2012 Election, Target Obama

In a story first reported by Brian Kaylor of EthicsDaily.com, James Robison has been bringing social conservative activists and televangelists from across the country together to strategize on how to prevent President Barack Obama from winning reelection. A who’s who of Religious Right leaders, including Don Wildmon, Tony Perkins, Richard Land, Rod Parsley, Jerry Boykin, Jim Garlow, Daniel Lapin, Kenneth Copeland, Harry Jackson and Sam Rodriguez attended the gathering hosted by Robison.

According to Kaylor’s report, Robison called the meetings an “absolute necessity and one of the ways the people of God’s Kingdom can leave His footprints on planet Earth, impacting our own great nation.” Robison, who was Mike Huckabee’s mentor and host of Life Today, recently spoke with Texas Gov. Rick Perry about how the economic crisis was needed to turn America back to God. Wildmon and Garlow are both closely involved in organizing Perry’s The Response prayer rally and Kaylor reports that the “group is connected to Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry's plan for a large prayer rally in August.” He writes:

According to a list obtained by EthicsDaily.com, among the attendees at the meeting were several Southern Baptist leaders: Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas who recently suggested on Fox News that Obama was a Muslim; Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Richard Lee, pastor and the editor of the controversial The American Patriot's Bible; and former North American Mission Board head Bob Reccord, who now heads the semi-secretive group the Council for National Policy, founded by Tim LaHaye. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and son of the late founder of the Moral Majority, was scheduled to attend but couldn't make it.

Also attending the meeting were: Jacob Aranza, a minister who in the 1980s helped popularize the theory that rock ’n’ roll music included backmasked messages promoting drug use and sex; Vonette Bright, widow of Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, who played a key role in conservative religious-political efforts that birthed the so-called "Religious Right"; Jerry Boykin, a former Pentagon official rebuked for violating policies by speaking in churches in uniform; Jim Garlow, chairman of Newt Gingrich's organization, Renewing American Leadership; Ruth Graham, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham; Harry Jackson, a politically active conservative pastor; David Lane, who has led several efforts to politically mobilize pastors; Ron Luce of Teen Mania Ministries; former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob McEwen; Rod Parsley, a controversial megachurch pastor who endorsed John McCain in 2008 before being rejected by McCain; Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leaders Conference; and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association.



Tony Perkins, president of the James Dobson-founded Family Research Council, similarly praised Robison during the June 2 broadcast. Perkins attended both the September and June meetings.

"I sensed a new leadership that the Lord has called you to, in that there is a clear recognition that America needs to turn to God," Perkins said. "But I think what you're able to do as kind of a senior statesman of the church is to call together those leaders today that are emerging, and those that are present, to bring them together because unity is the key. I know one of the conversations we had is that you prayed for that unity among us. I think if we could ever be unified and we could walk together as a body of believers in this country that we could profoundly impact this nation."



Robison and his group seem united in their opposition to Obama and their desire to see Obama defeated in 2012, but it remains to be seen if they can find a candidate who unites and activates them like Ronald Reagan did in 1980.

Watch Robison and Perkins explain America’s dire need for Godly leaders:

At Ralph Reed Confab, Obama Portrayed as Enemy of Faith and Freedom

Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington, D.C. this past weekend was essentially a relentless repetition of the GOP’s 2012 attack themes on the Obama administration, mixed with Religious Right leaders’ demands that the Tea Party not abandon social conservatives’ priorities and conservative politicos’ appeals for unity behind whichever candidate emerges from the presidential crowd.  Just about everyone running, or thinking about running, for the presidency on the Republican side was in attendance with the exception of Newt Gingrich.

One of the easiest, and most frequently used, ways to get applause at F&F was to pledge that Obama will be a one-term president.  Among the other major themes:
 
American Exceptionalism
 
Former Senator Rick Santorum, who officially announced his presidential bid this morning, said his campaign theme will be American exceptionalism.  Unfortunately, for Santorum, it seems that every Republican candidate is talking about American exceptionalism – and the claim that President Obama, Democrats, and “liberal elites” don’t believe that the U.S. is the God-ordained greatest nation in the history of the world – so it’s going to be hard to break away from the pack on that score.  Gary Bauer claimed that American elites don’t believe the words of the Declaration of Independence. 
 
‘Obamacare’ = Socialism = The End of Freedom
 
Many speakers cited health care reform as the ultimate example of the Democrats’ commitment to freedom-destroying socialism.  Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network said it was one example of progressives’ tendency to say “to hell with the Constitution” when it got in the way of their policy goals.  Rep. Allen West even attacked the notion of “shared sacrifice,” which he said was code for “redistribution of wealth,” which is how the right-wing looks at progressive taxation.  Rep. Tom Price, who clearly needs to spend some time studying American history, called the health care reform bill “the furthest reach of oppression that this society has ever seen.”  Others similarly insisted that the implementation of the law would mean the end of liberty in America.  Michele Bachman shouted, “I will not rest until we repeal Obamacare. America will not rest until we repeal Obamacare.”  Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said the fight against Obamacare is just one sign that federalism is reemerging.  He argued that Americans need to understand that there is a “liberty pie” that does not grow – and it has only two slices, government power and individual liberty – and one necessarily grows at the expense of the other. 
 
America Needs More Religion (as long as it’s not Islam)
 
The FFC was long on Religious Right rhetoric on religion and politics.  The pastor who gave the opening prayer for the conference gave thanks for “a nation founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”  The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins exulted that it was good to be among folks who are “not ashamed to defend the Christian principles on which this nation was founded.”  The Republican National Committee’s Reince Priebus said America’s greatness is “rooted in our faith” and that “faith in our God, and faith in our savior” is “not a convenience, it is the foundation of a good life.” But Islam was clearly deemed a threat, with one participant telling a contentiouspanel on Sharia law that in Minnesota “we practically have a Muslim state.”  
 
Reproductive Rights and Gay Rights = Big Government
 
In the “Social Issues: Why They Still Matter” panel, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal discussed “the psychology of those who are trying to undermine the moral fiber of this country,” arguing that liberals are compelled by a lust for power and therefore need to “control people” and “lower standards of society as a whole.” Fund explained that “if you can lower standards” by permitting legal abortion and gay equality, then liberals can gain control over society, and insisted that “we have to bring back shaming” of women who had abortions because “we need to be judgmental about this issue, we need to call out people for the choices that they made, ‘shaming’ is not a bad word in this society.” On a separate panel, National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher said, “When you redefine marriage, you also redefine the relationship between Genesis and the American tradition,” which would jeopardize freedom because “in some cases, the power of government is already being used to marginalize and stigmatize people who disagree with the foundational ideas of same-sex marriage.”
 
Obama as Enemy of Israel
 
Michele Bachman was one of several speakers who misportrayed recent Obama administration comments about Israel, calling them a “shocking display of betraying our greatest friend and ally.” One participant commented that “life, liberty, and Israel” were the elements that make up “the pursuit of happiness.” Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said Obama may soon be referring to Israel as “the Zionist regime” and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission implied that Obama may bringing upon the country the curse of God for his policy towards Israel. Peter Roff of U.S. News and World Report lamented that “the American Jewish community is for some reason enamored of Democratic politicians in general and Barack Obama specifically.”
 
Unified Conservative Movement
 
FRC’s Perkins was among many Religious Right speakers who argued for keeping social conservatives’ priorities at the forefront of the movement in the name of conservative movement unity.  Perkins used a strange mixed metaphor, saying it is the “bottom of the ninth for our beloved country” and no time to lapse into an undisciplined orchestra, calling for a “rousing symphony” – drums of national defense, the horns of economic abundance, and the strings that bind a strong family.  Among others who sounded the same theme were Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence, who said, “we have to recognize that our present crisis is not just economic or political but moral in nature” and touted the importance of the sanctity of life, “traditional marriage,” and the importance of organized religion in our daily life.
 
Haley Barbour, one of the potential presidential candidates who decided not to run, devoted his remarks to lecturing attendees about the need to rally behind whichever candidate was nominated even though the nominee won’t be perfect.  “In politics,” he said, “purity is the enemy of victory.” Tony Blankley warned that the media and Democrats would love to “divide and conquer” the movement.
 
Advocating for social issues at the FFC was clearly preaching to the choir.  But some Tea Party activists were clearly annoyed by the “you’re nothing without us” attitude of Religious Right activists Jordan Sekulow and Matt Barber at a panel on the “Teavangelicals” that was moderated by the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody.

Will Money Help Gingrich Win Over The Religious Right?

The Wall Street Journal today features an extensive profile on Newt Gingrich’s vast network of political organizations, including American Solutions, Renewing American Leadership (ReAL), and Gingrich Productions. The paper reports that Gingrich’s “network has amassed more than 1.7 million voter and donor contacts and raised $32 million between 2009 and 2010—more than all his potential 2012 rivals combined.” Gingrich also helped steer $150,000 to American Family Association Action to help defeat three Iowa State Supreme Court justices that ruled in favor of marriage equality. Along with ReAL, which is led by anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, and his support for the AFA, Gingrich has made overtures to other Religious Right groups and leaders including John Hagee, Bryan Fischer, Janet Porter, Liberty University, Liberty Counsel, The Family Leader and the Minnesota Family Council.

But will Gingrich’s financial influence, religious documentaries and appeals to prominent Religious Right figures translate to real support from activists who might be wary of backing a thrice-married adulterer? Fischer remains a skeptic, but Iowa’s Bob Vander Plaats, who coordinated the anti-judge campaign, is still grateful for Gingrich’s significant monetary aid:

Mr. Gingrich hasn't run a truly competitive campaign in 21 years. He is given to public gaffes, most recently criticizing President Barack Obama for failing to back the rebels fighting Col. Moammar Gadhafi, only to reverse himself after Mr. Obama ordered U.S. planes into Libya. He resigned from Congress in 1998 under an ethics cloud, after his party suffered a historic midterm loss. It was later revealed that he was having an affair with a congressional aide.

Even groups that have allied with him, such as the conservative American Family Association, aren't poised to back him, citing his two messy divorces and three marriages. "He is brilliant, and has much to offer. But he isn't what we need in the Oval Office," said the AFA's director of issue analysis, Bryan Fischer.



Wearing an array of organizational hats, he has met repeatedly with pastors, trained local candidates, consulted with doctors on his proposed health-care innovations and met with local refiners to tout ethanol. After raising money through one of his groups, Mr. Gingrich funneled $150,000 in seed money to a successful campaign last fall to oust three Iowa Supreme Court judges who supported gay marriage.

"Newt's role was quiet and very low key, but it was pivotal," said Bob Vander Plaats, a well-known Iowa conservative who led the anti-judges campaign.



The heavy emphasis on religion is part of his long push to atone for his multiple divorces, according to people who know him. "He was very direct about this," said Rev. Brad Sherman, a prominent Iowa evangelical leader, recounting a session Mr. Gingrich had last year with a small group of Iowa religious leaders. "He said he had deep regrets, and asked our forgiveness."

National Day Of Prayer Speaker Declares "Homosexual Agenda" The "Greatest Threat To America"

Radio talk show host and Religious Right activist Penna Dexter was the keynote speaker at the National Day of Prayer event yesterday in Rapid City, South Dakota. Dexter, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, last year blamed a gay California youth who was murdered by another student for his own death. According to the Rapid City Journal, Dexter lamented that while Osama bin Laden is dead, the “the advancing homosexual agenda” continues to flourish:

A smaller than expected crowd of about 350 people, including at least two out of four mayoral candidates, turned out for Rapid City's National Day of Prayer event Thursday at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center to hear Christian political commentator Penna Dexter encourage Americans to offer "fervent prayer" for a government she believes is in trouble.

"Despite the sense of satisfaction in our country now because our guys just got a really bad guy, there's still a feeling that the ship of state is sinking," Dexter said, referring to the recent killing of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. military.

The Texas radio personality credited the Obama administration with defending the observance of the first Thursday in May as an annual National Day of Prayer. Dexter then moved on to what she called social, financial and moral problems with the current government, including abortion rights, the homosexual rights agenda and the growth of government entitlement programs.

"It's not politically correct to say so, but the greatest threat to America ... today is the advancing homosexual agenda," she said. She called on Americans like herself who are concerned about "so many attempts to silence God's word" to pave the way for political action with "fervent prayer."

Right Wing Round-Up

  • PFAW: House Moves to Deny Women’s Constitutionally-Protected Rights.
  • Bold Faith Type: Setting The Record Straight on The 'No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act.'
  • RH Reality Check: Texas Legislature: If Planned Parenthood Sues We’ll Take Everyone’s Family Planning Money.
  • Salon: The Fox News-ification of Donald Trump.
  • Colmes: Limbaugh: Obama Should Apologize For Taking So Long To Get Bin Laden.
  • Wired: Blackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft.

Religious Right Reacts To Law Firm’s Decision To Withdraw From DOMA Defense

Today, the law firm King & Spalding decided against defending the Defense Of Marriage Act on behalf of the House of Representatives, leading Paul Clement, the partner who was going to take charge of DOMA’s defense, to resign . Groups and leaders opposed to marriage equality are unsurprisingly irate at King & Spalding, and have found a new hero in Clement:

Brian Brown, National Organization for Marriage:

Brown contrasted Clement’s courageous stand for integrity with the cowardice of King & Spalding Chairman Robert Hays. “In contrast to the principled stand by Paul Clement, King & Spalding, through their Chairman Robert Hays, has demonstrated a shocking lack of professional ethics and shown cowardice under fire. This law firm has shown itself to be without principle,” Brown said. “Representing clients who may be unpopular in some quarters is what lawyers do. The actions of King & Spalding would suggest that they believe an accused murderer is entitled to a vigorous defense, but the thousands-year old understanding of marriage is not, even though our marriage law was passed with overwhelming bi-partisan majorities and signed into law by President Clinton.”

NOM pledged an investigation into the actions of King & Spalding and urged its supporters to contact Hays to express their outrage over the firm’s decision. “We will convene a panel of legal experts and ethicists to determine if any rules of professional conduct have been violated, or if the firm has acted illegally in reaching their decision. We already know they have violated the moral imperative of acting in good faith and fair dealing. If our review concludes that the firm has violated any statutes or rules of professional conduct, we will initiate the appropriate disciplinary complaints,” Brown said.

Tony Perkins, Family Research Council:

"We commend Paul Clement for standing firm in the face of homosexual activists who seek to censor any opposition - even in the courtroom - to their campaign to overturn the marriage laws of 45 states.

"It is a shocking revelation that King & Spalding would rather lose their most brilliant and talented Supreme Court lawyer than confront a smear campaign by homosexual activists.



"The truth is not afraid of a good debate. What are homosexual activists afraid of? If they are right, then they should welcome a robust legal argument. We are convinced that the truth will win out in the end and DOMA will be upheld as constitutional. A person who doesn't want his opponent to have a good lawyer is an opponent who knows that the law isn't on his side.

"We call on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to denounce these unacceptable smear and silence tactics. The American people and our system of justice deserve better."

Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel:

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, says Clement is demonstrating legel "class and integrity" -- and that the decision by King & Spaulding was an incorrect move. "Where we see this clash coming between homosexuality and religious rights or other rights or just simply common sense and civility, I think we're seeing it played out right there in the King & Spalding law firm," he tells OneNewsNow.

Staver says because of certain political complaints from branches within the law firm, King & Spaulding decided to drop the case. "That, I think, illustrates the clash of the homosexual agenda, and the frank intolerance that we see manifested in some of the individuals pushing that agenda."

Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice:

Paul Clement is an honorable advocate. He understands that when an attorney engages a client, and agrees to defend a position in court, that is what he must do. We applaud his efforts to move forward in defending DOMA - now with another law firm.

We know that Paul will provide a sound and thorough defense to DOMA, which we expect to be upheld by the courts. We will file an amicus brief defending DOMA as the case unfolds.

We applaud Paul's commitment to the legal profession, his integrity, and his desire and dedication to carry out his professional responsibilities in this case.

Religious Right Ramps Up Attacks on Judicial Nominee Goodwin Liu

As we have previously noted, right-wing activists have waged a year-long smear campaign against legal scholar Goodwin Liu, who was nominated by President Obama to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Liu’s nomination was not acted on in the last Congress; he had his second confirmation hearing on March 2, 2011, and on April 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination.

In the wake of that approval, Religious Right activists are ramping up their rhetoric and demanding that Republican senators block Liu’s confirmation. On Sunday, the Oak Initiative, a dominionist Religious Right group led by self-proclaimed apostle Rick Joyner, sent activists an email alert urging them to contact their Senators and urge opposition to Liu’s confirmation. On Monday, Concerned Women for America posted an interview with Mario Diaz, CWA’s Policy Director for Legal Issues, who repeated the litany of charges right-wing activists have been hurling at Liu since his nomination in February 2010, calling him the nominee of the “extreme radical left.”

It’s worth noting one more time that Richard Painter, a former chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, has publicly endorsed Liu’s confirmation and slammed the smear campaign against him:

However, for anyone who has actually read Liu's writings or watched his testimony, it's clear that the attacks--filled with polemic, caricature, and hyperbole--reveal very little about this exceptionally qualified, measured, and mainstream nominee. ..

He’s not the only conservative legal luminary to endorse Liu. So have Ken Starr and Clint Bolick.

But that hasn’t kept right-wing activists, led the National Review’s Ed Whelan, from waging an all-out rhetorical attack on Liu. Some on the Religious Right are trying to take things further: at the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference at Liberty University this past weekend, the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell said they’d be calling people into the streets of Washington D.C. to stop the nomination.

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ethics Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/19/2011, 11:50am
It is amazing to watch Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission try to downplay fellow Southern Baptist Robert Jeffress' assertions that Mormonism is "a cult" while admitting that, according to SBC doctrine, Mormonism is, in fact, a cult [PDF.] Land dedicated a good portion of his radio program last week to discussing the issue, trying to draw a distinction between being a cult in a "social" sense and being a cult in a "theological" sense before finally admitting that while Mormonism may not a "cult... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 09/26/2011, 5:27pm
Over the weekend, the Liberty Counsel's Rena Lindevaldsen was a guest on "Richard Land Live!" where she and Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, discussed her new book chronicling the case involving her client, ex-gay kidnapper Lisa Miller. During the program, Land warned that gay rights activists seek to "reduce [Christians] to the level of the Ku Klux Klan" so that they will be ostracized by society and went on to assert that gays are "recruiting" children, which is a form a child abuse, while... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 09/16/2011, 1:40pm
Yesterday we took the opportunity of Rick Perry’s recent speech at Liberty University to revisit his appearance on last year on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, in which he went into depth about the “supernatural events” (mainly rain or lack thereof) that have driven his life. If the governor’s visit to Liberty is any indication, the affinity that he displayed with the Religious Right in his TBN appearance is still going strong. Before Wednesday’s speech, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. gave Perry a rousing welcome, defending the governor for his... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/01/2011, 4:10pm
As we noted last week, Rick Perry gathered with a whole range of Religious Right leaders at the ranch of right-wing megadonor James Leininger over the weekend and details continue to emerge about what took place during the event, like Perry vowing to them that there would be no revelations about his past that would ever embarrass them. We are also seeing more reports about which leaders were in attendance: The meeting received little public attention, though the 200 or so in attendance included luminaries of the Christian right such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, California... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 08/22/2011, 4:10pm
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has been ratcheting up his anti-gay rhetoric recently, and finding new ways to blame gays and lesbians for what he sees as society’s problems. Last month, for instance, the Air Force suspended a class on “Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare training,” after it was revealed that the class relied heavily on Christian teachings. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation objected to the class and solicited complaints from Air Force officers, who the group says were mostly “practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics.” While... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 08/22/2011, 3:19pm
The Austin Chronicle has begun tweeting links to old articles about Rick Perry, like this one from 2005 when Perry spoke at a "Texas Restoration Project" with a gaggle of anti-gay Religious Right activists: A source who attended the event spoke to the Chronicle but requested anonymity because he serves in a local congregation and was sensitive to its politically diverse viewpoints. He recorded the event and provided the audiotape to the Texas Freedom Network, which in turn provided copies to the media. Millionaire San Antonio conservative James Leininger was in attendance, as was... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 08/17/2011, 5:50pm
The mainstream scientific community rejects the Religious Right’s assertion that gays and lesbians can change their sexual orientation to become heterosexual: the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychiatric Association all deny the effectiveness, safety and ethics of ‘ex-gay’ reparative therapy. But that doesn’t stop right-wing activists from citing and exaggerating the claims of small, fringe organizations in order to bolster their... MORE