Free Speech

The Religious Right Gets In On the Town Hall Fun

As anybody who has been paying any attention knows, right-wing groups have been busy urging activists to descend on Congressional "town hall" meetings during the August recess and voice their opposition to health care legislation, in some cases going so far as to encourage them to cause a commotion in an effort to disrupt them.

To date, most of these efforts have been carried out by anti-tax and fiscal conservative groups:

Conservative and business groups, some funded in part by insurers, are mobilizing members and supporters to participate in health-care forums that lawmakers are holding in their states and districts this month.

...

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the national association representing 1,300 health insurers, is out with “August Recess Talking Points” that assert a “government-run plan would dismantle employer-based coverage … [and] add significant liabilities to the federal budget.”

The group is also offering a sample “August Recess Activation Letter” http://tr.im/vIsV for CEOs to send to employees.

“All over the country, conversations on health care reform are taking place, from Town Halls to coffee shops,” the letter says. “Members of Congress and the Administration are planning and participating in several events during the month of August as Congress breaks for recess. You can help share the perspective of the health plan community during these conversations by signing up.”

AHIP’s director of strategic communications, Robert Zirkelbach, says the group discourages confrontations “We encourage people to be positive and constructive.”

FreedomWorks, chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, is e-mailing 380,000 supporters this week with a link to an “August Recess Action Kit.”

“Turn Up the Heat in August: Help Defeat ObamaCare,” the group says on its website. “While Senators and Representatives are home for their August recess they need to hear from you, regardless of party. … Find a town hall meeting near you. If your representative or senator isn’t holding one - ask them why.”

Americans for Prosperity is going a step further and recommending in-person visits to lawmakers’ district and state offices. The groups says on its website that it “has always encouraged members to visit the district offices and attend town hall meetings of their senators and representatives, especially during this August break when issues like health care and cap-and-trade are at the peak of debate.”

But it looks like Religious Right groups are getting into the act as well, encouraging their own activists to attend these events and get in on the action:

Focus on the Family Action has been sending e-mail alerts to subscribers that encourage them to attend town-hall meetings and demand that abortion funding be explicitly excluded from any reform bill, according to Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for the Colorado Springs-based group.

recent Washington Update from the Family Research Council likewise urged activists to attend their local meetings and provided a list of various town hall events across the country:

Americans are talking. The leadership just refuses to listen. Until it does, House and Senate Democrats can expect a long, uncomfortable August where the temperatures outside are nothing compared to the heat they're feeling inside their District offices. FRC has posted a schedule of townhall meetings across the country and sample questions you can ask. Please make a point of going to the forums near you and share--in a respectable manner--your thoughts with your congressman. While you're at it, why not bring your video camera?

For it's part, the Traditional Values Coalition is urging its activsts to participate as well:

The U.S. House of Representatives is on their summer break and the Senate starts on August 7th. They will be in their home districts through Labor Day.

Sign up today to learn where your elected officials are holding their Town Hall meetings! They need to hear from you and hundreds of other concerned Americans.

President Obama has been trying to rush through his government-run health care reform bill. It took him six months to pick a dog for the White House, but he wanted Congress to pass a health care bill in only a few weeks!

His plan to nationalize health care has been slowed down by citizen activism, but he still plans on pushing for passage of his government-run health care plan this fall. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has admitted that Obama's health care plan is designed to socialize our medical system!

Attend Your Congressional Member's Town Hall MeetingGo to Town Hall meetings and challenge your legislators on these issues:

1. Government-Run Health Care and the 53 New Federal Bureaucracies it creates.

2. Employment Non-Discrimination Act (will force religious employers like Bible publishers, day cares, camps, etc., to hire gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons)

3. Pledging to read Legislation before voting on it!

Important Civics Lesson!

Bring a van load of friends, children and grandchildren to these Town Hall meetings. Most students have not returned to school, yet. Let them learn a valuable civics lesson about how our system of government works!

Once you sign up for our Town Hall alert, you’ll be sent the dates of your elected officials’ Town Hall meetings. We want your feedback on how they responded! Sign up today!

As is the American Family Association:

Gary Bauer sent out a special alert yesterday concerning how the liberal politicians and liberal media outlets are seeking to silence those who are speaking out against out of control spending and the take over of vital industries. The liberals are upset that common citizens like you are exercising their right to free speech, and are using it to let the liberals know they have had enough and are going to let their voice be heard.

I urge you to get involved, stand up and speak out. Make the phone calls, send the e-mails, make the phone calls. Don't let the liberal left silence you! The future of our country and our children and grandchildren is at stake. The ugly name calling shows that your voices are being heard. Please keep it up!

Hate Crimes Legislation is a Jewish Plot for World Domination

Last week I wrote a post based on a revelation from Ted Pike that he apparently has regular contact with Janet Porter, but that Porter had been "reamed out" by Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition for associating with Pike and that, in response, Porter told Pike that if he ever publicly revealed that they spoke to one another, she would stop talking to him entirely.

Porter has had Pike on her radio program at least twice in recent months to discuss hates crimes legislation and apparently they have been working together in fighting the legislation ever since, which Pike opposes because he sees it as part of the plot by Jews to destroy and enslave Christian, which is why the Anti-Defamation League lists Pike in its Extremism in America database:

To promote his virulent anti-Semitic ideology, Pike often works under the guise of opposing federal hate crimes legislation and upholding free speech and Christian values. He gives interviews to extremist cable TV and Internet radio shows to further disseminate his anti-Semitic views and also links from his organization's Website to various anti-Semitic sites. Similarly, a variety of extremists, including neo-Nazis, post Pike's columns to their own hate sites, where they praise Pike's anti-Semitic invective.

If you want to know what ADL means when it says that Pike uses hate crimes legislation to spread his virulent anti-Semitic ideology, you need look no further than this new piece he just published on his website in which he calls Israel "the Great Harlot" and claims that the legislation is key part of the effort by "organized world Jewry" to gain "world dominion," funnel Christians into concentration camps and bring about the Anti-Christ:

We need to help make the hate law unenforceable by resisting and disobeying inevitable government edicts (particularly as precedents from liberal courts) to limit free speech. This will require willingness to suffer for the cause of truth and freedom. To help empower such courage we must continue widespread education against hate laws (such as exists at www.truthtellers.org). We must publicize as widely as possible the fact that a cabal of liberal Jewish supremacists is behind all hate laws worldwide. These, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, says are in “relentless attack on evangelical Christians.” Only through encountering massive public resistance and exposure will ADL/B’nai B’rith (organized world Jewry) be slowed on their fast track to world dominion.

The epicenter of such liberal Jewish attack on Christian civilization is the state of Israel. Israel is a nation founded on theft, repression, and terror (See, Israel: Founded on Terror). Despite its claim to democracy, it is one of the most repressive speech crime regimes in the world. In 1920 Christians constituted 20% of the inhabitants of Palestine. Now, as a result of decades of official harassment and discrimination as well as “anti-missionary” laws criminalizing even casual conversations about Christ with Jews, only 2% of Israelis are Christians. The Israeli government continues to look the other way as Messianic Christian Jews in Israel suffer constant harassment, discrimination and even violence, especially from ultra-Orthodox zealots (See website of Lura Maimon Beckford). Knesset continues to propose even stricter speech crime laws against Christians.

...

[B]ecause Jewish supremacism wants to destroy and enslave Christian/conservatives, the present “turn to the left” to which Dobson referred is actually a left turn into the steel gates of an international concentration camp with the clink of its padlock fastened behind us. The direction to the left in which we are now hurtling is part of the same Talmudic/Kabbalistic conspiracy that incited Jewish takeover of Russia in 1917. (See, Jewish Activists Created Communism ) In all its forms, Jewish-inspired Communism has killed more than 100 million, including millions of Christians. If ADL/B’nai B’rith and organized world Jewry are successful in uniting the world under its control, such atrocities will be repeated and probably even exceeded across a blood-stained planet. (Watch, Ted Pike's Zionism and Christianity: Unholy Alliance) Revelation 18:2 tells us that the garments of the Great Harlot, Israel, are drenched with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (See, Israel: On the Way to Empire in the Mideast ) ADL/B’nai B’rith represents an unbroken chain of anti-Christian/Gentile hatred and desire for revenge going back to those who crucified Jesus, the Pharisees. As the Book of Acts relates, ADL’s forefathers did their best to destroy the infant church in the first century AD. ADL wants to finish the job tomorrow, under its false messiah, the one-world ruler, Anti-Christ.

So just let me reiterate that this man has been on Janet Porter's radio program twice so far this year and that Porter co-chaired Mike Hucakbee's Faith and Family Values Coalition during his presidential campaign and will be co-hosting the How To Take Back America Conference at which Huckabee will speak in September.

Can Someone Be Too Crazy For Janet Porter? Yes and No

Despite the fact that we had apparently written about him a few times, I was not familiar with Ted Pike until today.  We had apparently mentioned him back in 2006 when he signed on to some letter with a bunch of other right-wing activists like Paul Weyrich, Sandy Rios, Robert Knight, Dr. Paul Cameron, Peter LaBarbera, Gary Glenn, and Brian Camenker calling on then-Governor Mitt Romney "to declare immediately that homosexual “marriage” licenses issued in violation of the law are illegal and to issue an order to all state and local officials to cease violating the law."

And we mentioned him again not long after that when he said that hate crimes legislation was “the most dangerous legislation ever to come before Congress,” claiming that it would “lead inexorably to the end of free speech.”

But that was about it, until I stumbled across this post he wrote on his National Prayer Network website complaining about how his right-wing allies don't want to be seen as having anything to do with him:

For the past seven months, I have repeatedly seen the religious right ignore vital information about the hate bill threat and opportunities to defeat it for only one possible reason: they didn't want to be seen as influenced by me.

After Janet Porter, head of Faith2Action, informed me that conservative witnesses were being turned away by Sen. Leahy’s Senate Judiciary Committee, I immediately quoted her, mounting a national campaign of protest. She called back to tell me that Andrea Lafferty of Traditional Values Coalition and some of her radio listeners had “reamed her out" for even talking to me! She warned me that if ever again I mentioned publicly that I had talked to her, she would never answer any call from me -- even concerning an imminent hate bill threat!

Now why would Janet Porter get "reamed out" by Andrea Lafferty for talking to Pike?

Maybe this is why:

Ted Pike, the national director of the Oregon-based National Prayer Network, has for years engaged in an anti-Semitic campaign that denigrates the Jewish religion, as well as what he perceives as Jewish-controlled organizations and leaders. Through a series of Web-based articles, Internet radio interviews, videotapes, and books, Pike constantly claims Jewish control over the government and media and asserts Jewish hatred of Christians and the alleged desire of "evil" Jewish leaders and organizations to control what Christian Americans do and say.

To promote his virulent anti-Semitic ideology, Pike often works under the guise of opposing federal hate crimes legislation and upholding free speech and Christian values. He gives interviews to extremist cable TV and Internet radio shows to further disseminate his anti-Semitic views and also links from his organization's Website to various anti-Semitic sites. Similarly, a variety of extremists, including neo-Nazis, post Pike's columns to their own hate sites, where they praise Pike's anti-Semitic invective.

It should be pointed out that Porter had Pike on her radio show on both May 4 and April 28 of this year and that, at least according to Pike, she didn't say that she was going to stop talking to him, merely that she would stop taking his calls only if he mentioned publicly that they were in contact.

I've often wondered just what someone would have to do in order to be shunned by the likes of Janet Porter, considering that she apparently knows no limits herself.  Now we know: promote virulent anti-Semitic ideology ... and only then will they be cut off if they make their connection to Porter known. 

Have I mentioned that Porter is going to be co-hosting the upcoming How To Take Back America Conference featuring Mike Huckabee and Michelle Bachmann and served as co-chair of Huckabee's Faith and Family Values Coalition during his presidential campaign?  Just wanted to point that out.

Marginalize or Be Marginalized

One of the points I have tried to drive home regarding the Religious Right's purported opposition to the current hates crimes legislation is that they don't actually oppose hate crimes in general, they just oppose offering protection to gays. 

They claim that hate crimes laws give certain groups "special rights" and are therefore discriminatory.  If that is indeed what they believe, then the logical position for them to take would be to call for the complete repeal of all existing hate crimes laws, such as the federal law that provides protections for things like race and religion. 

But they haven't offered to forgo the "special rights" they receive as Christians or even bothered to acknowledge this basic fact, choosing instead to harp on the addition of "sexual orientation" to the existing law as somehow a threat to their religious liberty.

Well, Dan Gilgoff has written a piece taking a look at the Right's scare-tactics about this legislation and points out that they are all completely unfounded:

Legal experts note that under the hate crimes bill, a person's religious beliefs about homosexuality become relevant only once he or she is accused of a violent crime against someone from the LGBT community. The bill prohibits a defendant's religious expressions and associations from being introduced as substantive evidence at trial, though the information can be used to help determine whether the defendant was motivated by bias. "Your penalty is being enhanced because of your religious beliefs," says Prof. Douglas Laycock of the University of Michigan Law School. "But you're being prosecuted for the crime."

Proponents of an expanded hate crimes law say religious beliefs should be subject to scrutiny if they lead to violence. "Even the strongest proponents of religious freedom do not claim that religious liberty means the right to beat people up," says Prof. Andrew Koppelman of the Northwestern University School of Law.

Conservative religious activists, meanwhile, point to recent developments in Australia, Canada, and Sweden, where religious conservatives have been penalized for so-called hate speech, even where such speech did not lead to violence. But legal scholars note that those countries lack the robust free speech protections of the First Amendment. And even opponents of expanding the hate crimes law acknowledge that statutes widely adopted by individual states have not resulted in litigation over religious liberty or free speech violations—though many cover the LGBT community. "If somebody had been prosecuted simply for speech, we would have heard about it by now," says Laycock.

So why has the Right been so vehemently opposed to this legislation?  Mainly because, as Tony Perkins admitted last month, their real fear is that if protection for gays are added, it would make gays "equivalent to other categories of protection" and, if that happens, the Religious Right's anti-gays views will be seen as "equivalent to racial bigotry."

And Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defense Fund basically admitted it to Gilgoff as well: 

As religious conservatives mount a last-ditch effort to derail the bill, however, legal experts say the legislation narrowly focuses on violent acts and that pastors' speech remains protected by the First Amendment. And some religious activists acknowledge that they're less concerned about the immediate effects of expanding hate crimes protections than about the broader message it sends. "This is the first time you would have written into law a government disapproval of a religious belief held by the majority of Americans—that homosexuality is sinful," says Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. "It's more of a slippery slope argument than about the law itself."

They are afraid that as society progresses and being gay become increasingly acceptable, their right-wing views are going to become less acceptable.

In short: the more mainstream gays become, the less mainstream the Religious Right becomes ... and that is what they fear more than anything.

Hate Crimes Deja Vu

With hate crimes legislation scheduled to be voted on in the Senate next week, the Religious Right seems somewhat resigned to the fact that they do not have to votes to stop it or even slow it down, but that doesn't mean that they aren't trying.

Yesterday was apparently "National 'Stop S. 909' Day" during which "the American Family Association, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and other conservative activist groups [urged] their supporters to call, e-mail, fax, or visit their senators today to express their disapproval of S. 909, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Senate Bill 909)."

James Dobson and Tony Perkins discussed it on Dobson's radio program yesterday, with Dobson proclaiming that its passage would be used to silence pastors and Focus on the Family is calling on its activists to contact their senators and ""ask them to oppose S.909 or 'hate-crimes' legislation in any form."

Of course, as we've pointed out before, the Religious Right doesn't really oppose "hate crimes legislation in any form," they just oppose protection for gays.

But since it looks like they'll be unable to stop the legislation's passage, they appear to be turning their attention toward stopping efforts to amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to include bullying and harassment prevention program because it also provides protection based on sexual orientation ... and so they are trotting out the exact same bogus claims they used in opposing hate crimes legislation:

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a so-called bullying bill that would require public schools to spell out special categories in their discipline policies, including "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

Family advocates say it will pave the way for a pro-homosexual, adult-driven agenda in public schools.

The name of the bill is Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Focus on the Family's Education Analyst Candi Cushman explained that there is a way to deal with the issue in a fair and objective way, without sexualizing and politicizing the school environment.

"We recognize that bullying and the harm it causes in the lives of kids is tragic and shouldn't be allowed to happen," Cushman said. "We agree schools should be encouraged to have strong policies prohibiting bullying—applied equally and across the board, against any child for any reason."

She said parents need to keep a close watch on the progress of the bill, because if it passes, it could be used to undermine parental rights and local control.

"People need to realize that gay activists will use this federal mandate as the leverage they need to get promotion of homosexuality into public schools," Cushman cautioned.

Jeremiah Dys, president of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, said the bill's language is taking the focus off of the real problem.

"A bully is a bully because he's a bully, not because of who he bullies," Dys said. "The rules ought to be enforced against the bullies regardless of who they're bullying or what actions he takes."

The Traditional Values Coalition has also come out against it by tying it into the Religious Right's crusade against Kevin Jennings, claiming it turn the nation's public schools into bastions of homosexuality:

If this legislation is passed, it will permit Jennings to spend millions of our tax dollars to push the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender agenda in schools under the guise of fighting “bullying” and allegedly promoting “school safety.”

...

Jennings will use millions of our tax dollars to push the promotion of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender behaviors upon hundreds of thousands of school districts throughout our nation.

Make no mistake: The Safe Schools Improvement Act is an ATM machine for the LGBT agenda. Issues about school safety and bullying are simply smokescreens to hide the real agenda.

Note the definitions of bullying and harassment. Under this bill, any gay or cross-dressing teen who is “bullied” or “harassed,” can claim protection. It includes a teen’s “actual or perceived” sexual orientation or gender identity (code for cross-dressers or transsexuals).

If a straight teen criticizes the sexual behavior of a gay or cross-dressing teen, he is guilty of bullying or harassment. This is a direct attack upon free speech.

Let's take a look at the definitions of bullying and harrassment, as TVC suggests, shall we:

(12) BULLYING- The term `bullying' means conduct that--

`(A) adversely affects the ability of one or more students to participate in or benefit from the school's educational programs or activities by placing the student (or students) in reasonable fear of physical harm; and

`(B) includes conduct that is based on--

`(i) a student's actual or perceived--

`(I) race;

`(II) color;

`(III) national origin;

`(IV) sex;

`(V) disability;

`(VI) sexual orientation;

`(VII) gender identity; or

`(VIII) religion;

`(ii) any other distinguishing characteristics that may be defined by a State or local educational agency; or

`(iii) association with a person or group with one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics listed in clause (i) or (ii).

`(13) HARASSMENT- The term `harassment' means conduct that--

`(A) adversely affects the ability of one or more students to participate in or benefit from the school's educational programs or activities because the conduct, as reasonably perceived by the student (or students), is so severe, persistent, or pervasive; and

`(B) includes conduct that is based on--

`(i) a student's actual or perceived--

`(I) race;

`(II) color;

`(III) national origin;

`(IV) sex;

`(V) disability;

`(VI) sexual orientation;

`(VII) gender identity; or

`(VIII) religion;

`(ii) any other distinguishing characteristics that may be defined by a State or local educational agency; or

`(iii) association with a person or group with one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics listed in clause (i) or (ii).

Bullying entails "reasonable fear of physical harm" and harassment must be "severe, persistent, or pervasive" but, just as they did with hate crimes, the Right is completely misrepresenting this legislation.

And notice also that they are not complaining about the protections included for religion or race - they are simply opposed to protections for gays.

It's becoming pretty clear that even after the hate crimes legislation is passed by Congress and signed into law, we can look forward to having the same exact fight over anti-bullying legislation, complete with the same exact right-wing scare-tactics and false claims.

For The Last Time, Stop Lying About Hate Crimes Legislation

I have written several dozen posts debunking right-wing lies about hate crimes legislation in the last few weeks and each time I have thought to myself "this is the last time I am writing about this."  And then, inevitably, I see something even more inane than the last thing I wrote about and feel compelled to write yet another post, making the same point one more time.

So here is yet another post making the same point one more time.

First, here's Pat Robertson saying that if this legislation passes, anyone who so much as speaks out about homosexuality would be charged with a hate crime:

The standard right-wing talking point on this issue is to claim that if a pastor speaks out about homosexuality from the pulpit and then some parishioner goes out at beats up a gay person, the pastor will be charged with a hate crime and tossed in jail.

But apparently even that false claim was too complex for Robertson and his viewers, so he just skipped it entirely and went straight to warning Christians that they would be imprisoned for opposing homosexuality.

In either case, the claim is untrue.

The version that passed the House contains this provision:

Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by, the Constitution.

The version that is now in the Senate contains an even more specific provision:

CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual's expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual's membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

Robertson also asserts that this legislation will be struck down as unconstitutional because it infringes upon free speech. But considering that, as I have pointed out time and again, hate crimes laws that protect things like race and religion already exist and they have not been struck down, so there is no reason to think that laws protecting sexual orientation would be stuck down.

The idea that hate crimes laws infringe free speech is ludicrous.  Hate crimes protections for race and religion have existed for over a decade and racist or anti-religious speech has not been made illegal and nobody has been charged with a hate crime for engaging in such speech.

If hate crimes legislation did the sort of things the Right claims, outspoken opponents of religion like Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris would be sitting in jail as we speak.

But they aren't - and the reason they aren't is because hate crimes laws don't infringe upon the exercise of free speech.

The Right's Incoherent Opposition To Hate Crimes Laws

Yesterday I wrote a post arguing that the Religious Right has two basic options in opposing efforts to add sexual orientation to hate crimes legislation: 1) explain why religion deserves protections while sexual orientation does not even though there are nearly 2.5 times as many violent hate crimes targeting individuals because of their sexual orientation as there are violent crimes targeting individuals because of religion or 2) advocate doing away with hate crimes laws completely while explaining why the existing enhanced penalties for a racist who burns a cross on someone's lawn or a neo-Nazi who burns down a synagogue are "extraneous and obsolete."

In the article I linked to yesterday, Focus on the Family's Ashley Horne claimed to support existing hate crimes laws protecting race and religion but opposed adding protection for sexual orientation because ... well, religion was special:

If, as opponents of the bill say, gays and lesbians do not deserve hate crime protections, then who does?

Focus on the Family does not favor repealing hate-crime laws, but sees sexual orientation and gender identity as changeable, unlike race, for instance, said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for the Colorado-based group.

While Horne acknowledges individuals can change their religion, that category is the exception to the rule because "the government has historically protected religion since the founding of this country."

But today, Horne is claiming that hate crimes laws in general are unnecessary:

Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said [Sen. Harry] Reid has it backwards. A hate-crimes law, she said, could distress entire communities – particularly Christian churches.

"As we've seen in other nations where such laws are passed, they can have a chilling effect on the free speech of those who would simply share from the Bible God's views on issues such as homosexuality," she explained. "Hate-crimes laws are unnecessary in a civil society like ours based on the rule of law.

"All crimes are hate crimes," she added, "To give special status to certain groups of people allows courts to reach beyond punishing people for the illegal acts they commit and judge them for what they may or may not be thinking as they commit those acts."

Which is it?  Yesterday Horne thought it was perfectly acceptable to have "special status" for "certain groups," so long as they were limited to race and religion but now says that giving "special status to certain groups" is fundamentally unfair. 

So, I'll ask this again:  given that the Religious Right, as Christians, already has "special status" under existing hate crimes laws, why is it only now that there are efforts to grant protections for sexual orientation that they think such protections are unnecessary?

This sort of incoherent stance is typical of the Religious Right’s opposition to hate crimes legislation: They see protections for race and religion as perfectly acceptable but don’t think sexual orientation warrants similar protections … but they can’t seem to explain why and so they end up arguing that hate crimes laws in general are unnecessary even though they actual support them and directly benefit from the protection such laws provide.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Who cares what Charlie Daniels think about hate crimes legislation? WorldNetDaily, that's who.
  • The lawsuit filed by a Regent University law student who was suspended after posting a picture on the Internet of school founder Pat Robertson making what appeared to be an obscene gesture has been tossed out.
  • On May 19, the Christian Coalition of Alabama and Committee for Justice held a joint benefit dinner which featured Ward Connerly. That is just ... well ... a pretty odd mix.
  • This quote for Roy Moore is just what people are looking for in a governor: "I have no problem with obeying my oath to the Constitution and disobeying unlawful orders." Of course, Moore likes to decide for himself what constitutes an unlawful order, which is entirely the problem.
  • The Faith and Freedom Institute will be hosting its very first Faith and Freedom Regional Conference on Monday and Tuesday, June 15-16 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center in Hickory, NC. You remember them, don't you?
  • Finally, I always find it entertaining when the gaming industry responds to the Religious Right's efforts to fight gambling because they just let loose:
  • Focus [on the Family] also lists a number of like-minded organizations that have joined them in attempting to impose their lifestyle choices on others.

    Despite the frequent use of the word family, and Focus' own description of the consortium as "pro-family," the assembled associations are primarily fundamentalist religious groups ... "These close-minded people are only for freedom if it's the freedom to do exactly as they do," says Bradley. "Like free speech, it's not really liberty until you support something you yourself don't choose.

    "They worry about the US becoming a national casino, yet many others worry about it becoming a national church, of a very narrow range of denominations. Still, freedom lovers support their right to choose their religion, as long as they don't impose it on us."

What Year Is This?

On April 15, 1995, Timothy McVeigh destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

A little over a week later, President Bill Clinton delivered a speech in which he defended the First Amendment while raising concerns about the impact of violent and hateful rhetoric:

[W]e hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable. You ought to see—I'm sure you are now seeing the reports of some things that are regularly said over the airwaves in America today.

Well, people like that who want to share our freedoms must know that their bitter words can have consequences and that freedom has endured in this country for more than two centuries because it was coupled with an enormous sense of responsibility on the part of the American people.

If we are to have freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and, yes, the freedom to bear arms, we must have responsibility as well. And to those of us who do not agree with the purveyors of hatred and division, with the promoters of paranoia, I remind you that we have freedom of speech, too. And we have responsibilities, too. And some of us have not discharged our responsibilities. It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.

If they insist on being irresponsible with our common liberties, then we must be all the more responsible with our liberties. When they talk of hatred, we must stand against them. When they talk of violence, we must stand against them. When they say things that are irresponsible, that may have egregious consequences, we must call them on it. The exercise of their freedom of speech makes our silence all the more unforgivable. So exercise yours, my fellow Americans. Our country, our future, our way of life is at stake.

For this, Clinton was pilloried by the Right, which prompted People For the American Way to release a memo [PDF] on "free speech, irresponsible speech, and the climate of intolerance" which, remarkably, we could probably release today after making only a few small changes:

Language that attributes heinous motives and goals to individuals and organizations -- such as accusations that liberals are out to destroy Christianity or that advocates for civil rights for gays and lesbians want to molest young children -- destroys any recognition of common interest and any hope of finding common ground among political opponents. That is a terribly dangerous situation in a democratic society.

It is tempting to reassure ourselves by saying that hate speech is the denizen of only the furthest fringes of American political life. Unfortunately, that assertion is clearly not true. Elected officials and highly visible political leaders are among those who spread messages of fear and suspicion, over and over, day in and day out. The repetition of such messages cannot contribute to the well-being of our communities or the health of our society at large. Regardless of whether such messages "cause" violent behavior, they clearly serve to legitimize those who do violate the law.

Pat Robertson is a former Presidential candidate, the patriarch of a political movement, a television broadcaster, and an author. His television show and his books reach millions of Americans. Unfortunately, the message he preaches is often this: Christians are under attack in America by liberals and by a government that wants desperately to destroy their faith and their families. "I do believe this year that there's going to be persecutions against Christians. I think the government is going to step up its attacks against Christians," he told television viewers last year. "The government frankly is our enemy and we're going to see more and more of the people who have been places in office last year ... getting control of the levers of power and they will begin to know how to use them to hurt those who are perceived as their enemies."

...

Last year, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proposed regulations -- originating with the Bush administration -- to protect American workers against religious bigotry and harassment on the job, Religious Right political groups portrayed the effort in apocalyptic terms, telling members that the Clinton Administration was so hostile to the Christian faith that the government was planning to make it illegal to wear cross-shaped jewelry, carry a Bible to work, or talk about religion with a co-worker. "Why is the Clinton Administration doing this?" asked Jerry Falwell. "Because they do not want God in American society." It was all patently untrue, and the EEOC offered to clarify that the regulations were designed to protect, not inhibit, workers' religious liberty. Nevertheless, the regulations were killed.

The war against the EEOC regulations was an ideal operation for political organizations willing to trade short-term gain for long-term damage to American society. By claiming (falsely) that the end of religious liberty was near, groups could motivate supporters to call and write elected officials. By refusing to acknowledge government officials' willingness to cooperate toward reaching a solution, and demanding instead withdrawal of the regulations, the organizations' leaders could flex their political muscle for members of Congress and brag to their own members that they had prevented the arrival of tyranny. Meanwhile, millions of Americans were convinced that the government was out to destroy their faith and freedom.

Some of the most incendiary invective is directed against gay and lesbian Americans and their allies in the effort to win legal protection from discrimination. Gays and lesbians are routinely portrayed - by individuals at or near the center of conservative politics in America - as evil individuals who prey on children and want to destroy the institutions of church and family. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has parroted the assertion of the Traditional Values Coalition's Lou Sheldon that teaching about homosexuality in public schools amounts to an effort to "recruit" teenagers into homosexuality. Gingrich has promised Sheldon that the House will hold hearings on the gay "influences" in the schools. Last year Sheldon told his supporters that "President Bill Clinton has quietly put into place homosexual special rights regulations that will devastate our freedom of religion, speech and association, not to mention destroy our society's cultural and moral fiber. AND ALL THIS IS BEING DONE BEHIND OUR BACK."

...

Randall Terry, one of the founders of Operation Rescue, has told followers, "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good. ... We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this county. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

...

When President Clinton, unequivocally declaring his support for unbridled freedom of speech, called for Americans to respond to hateful rhetoric, his political opponents were quick to twist his words. Pat Robertson told viewers that the President and "those on the left" wanted to use the tragic Oklahoma City bombing "to still the voices of legitimate protest." Oliver North, Rush Limbaugh and others leapt at the chance to glean short-term political gain. When the President in fact called for more speech and more American voices, he was accused of trying to silence voices of dissent. That is precisely the kind of untruth that feeds the current dangerous levels of cynicism and distrust toward the government. And it is ironic to see politically powerful individuals, with powerful voices, claiming the role of victim in order to breed fear and resentment among their supporters.

Yet Another Hate Crimes Post

Honestly, I am so tired of having to write about the constant stream of lies and misrepresentations from the Religious Right about hate crimes legislation.  If I never had to write about this issue again, I would be eternally grateful… but since they keep egregiously lying about it, it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon.

Here is the latest example, compliments of Bill Donohue and the Catholic League:

The driving force behind the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act is the desire to provide additional penalties to criminals who assault homosexuals because of their sexual orientation. Without commenting on the propriety of hate crimes legislation in general, the central problem with this bill is its chilling effect on religious speech.

To be specific, the bill would criminalize religious speech that was critical of homosexuality if it were linked to a crime against a gay person. How do I know this? Because when the bill was considered in the House, that is exactly what Rep. Louie Gohmert was told when he raised this issue. While assaulting anyone, independent of sexual orientation, is rightly considered a criminal offense, the prospect of criminalizing religious speech that proscribes certain sexual practices is beyond worrisome--it is downright dangerous.

Let’s apply the simple test I laid out yesterday whereby we replace the references to “sexual orientation” with references to religion, as religion is already protected under existing hate crimes laws, to see if the concerns still hold up:

The driving force behind the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act is the desire to provide additional penalties to criminals who assault CHRISTIANS because of their RELIGIOUS orientation. Without commenting on the propriety of hate crimes legislation in general, the central problem with this bill is its chilling effect on FREE speech.

To be specific, the bill would criminalize FREE speech that was critical of CHRISTIANITY if it were linked to a crime against a CHRISTIAN person. How do I know this? Because when the bill was considered in the House, that is exactly what Rep. Louie Gohmert was told when he raised this issue. While assaulting anyone, independent of RELIGIOUS orientation, is rightly considered a criminal offense, the prospect of criminalizing FREE speech that proscribes certain RELIGIOUS practices is beyond worrisome--it is downright dangerous.

Now, when looked at this way, it quickly become obvious that all these sorts of concerns are completely overblown because current hate crimes law already applies to violent crimes targeting religion and people are not being charged with hate crimes for criticizing religion or seeing their free speech rights wiped away.  

This sort of flagrant and intentional misrepresentation of the legislation is bad enough, but I don’t even know what to say about this demand:

The First Amendment protects freedom of speech and religious liberty, both of which are jeopardized under this bill. The chilling effect this legislation could have on the right of the clergy to address sinful behavior flies in the face of the spirit of the First Amendment. Surely there are ways to protect homosexuals from being singled out by anti-gay thugs without trespassing on the constitutional rights of priests, ministers, rabbis, imams and others. Accordingly, language that would accomplish this end should be included as an amendment.

Has anyone at the Catholic League even bothered to take a look at the legislation?  If not, here it is and guess what is says?

SEC. 8. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by, the Constitution.

That’s right – aside from the fact that First Amendment rights are in no way threatened by the legislation, the authors also added explicit protection for them just to make that clear.

But still the Religious Right is claiming that the legislation does things is patently does not do and claiming that it doesn’t contain protections that is clearly does.  

Do you have any idea how much easier my job would be if the Religious Right would be willing to do some basic research before spouting off?

A Hate Crimes Thought Experiment

One thing that never fails to amaze me about the Religious Right is its fundamental lack of concern about the truth of most of what it says and how outright lying seems to have become the foundation for many of its efforts.

It happened earlier this year with the stimulus legislation and it happened again recently with the DHS report where, in both cases, bogus information started floating around the right-wing echo chamber which was then amplified by every organization chiming it and repeating the same falsehoods.  Inevitably they all end up lying about it because they don't bother checking its veracity - and they don't bother verifying things primarily because they simply don't care whether what they are saying is true or not, so long as it seems to advance their agenda.

Case in point is this new column by Janet Porter on hate crimes legislation, which she calls "the Pedophile Protection Act" because it would, she claims, "give heightened protection to pedophiles."

I already addressed this sort of nonsensical claim last week, pointing out that things like pedophilia and bestiality are still crimes and passage of hate crimes legislation will have no impact on that because the two issues are utterly unrelated, despite the Right's insulting attempts to conflate the two.

But, believe it or not, that is not even the worst part of Porter's column:

Let me summarize. Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered, cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviant would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and churches would not.

First of all, pushing away an unwanted advance does not even remotely meet the definition of "crime of violence" used in the legislation.  But more importantly, as I pointed out yesterday, the whole point of the current hates crimes legislation is to add sexual orientation to the list of existing protections for things like race and religion, because such protections do not exist.

Given that religion is already protected by existing hate crimes legislation, let's re-write Porter's paragraph accordingly to point out how absurd it is:

Let me summarize. Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the RELIGIOUS RIGHT's agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And CHRISTIANS and other RELIGIONS would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and gays would not.

Like I said, religion is currently protected by existing hate crimes law and attacks targeting someone because of their real or perceived religion are subject to increased penalties - this has been the law for more than a decade.

Yet, in that time, I know of not one instance where someone in this country who has rebuffed an attempt to proselytize or spoken out against the right-wing agenda has been charged with a hate crime.  In fact, I do nothing BUT rail against the right-wing agenda, so if anyone should be terrified of hate crimes laws, it should be me.  But I'm not, because I know that hate crimes laws don't shut down my right to free speech or get me tossed in jail for exercising it. 

As it stands at this moment, if someone violently attacked Porter because she was a Christian, they would get charged with a hate crime whereas if Porter violently attacked someone because they were were gay or she thought they were gay, she would not. 

The current law merely adds "sexual orientation" to the list of protections, along with things like religion, race, and color, which are currently protected. And, as the re-written paragraph above makes clear, nobody has being turned into a felon under current existing law for rebuffing the Right or speaking out against their agenda ... just as the Right won't be turned into felons if the new hate crimes legislation becomes law.

Franks and Gohmert Team Up With the Religious Right

It what seems to be becoming a regular occurrence, Rep. Trent Franks has decided to hold a press conference where he will once again be surrounded by a gaggle of right-wing leaders. 

Just last month Franks held a press conference on the need for the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act where he was joined by Rep. Michell Bachmann and people like Wendy Wright, Rob Schenck, and Clenard Childress.

Today, he's participating in an anti-hate crimes press conference where he will again be joined by Wright, Harry Jackson and, of all people, Lou Sheldon:  

HATE CRIMES AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

1:30 p.m. April 28, Terrace, Cannon Bldg. New

GOP Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Trent Franks of Arizona hold a news conference to discuss their opposition to hate crimes legislation (HR 1913), which they say would "pose frightening threats to religious freedom."

Agenda:

HR 1913 — Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009

Participants:

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.

Harry Jackson, chairman, High Impact Leadership Coalition, and senior pastor, Hope Christian Church

Louis P. Sheldon, chairman, Traditional Values Coalition

Wendy Wright, president, Concerned Women for America,

Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention

Maureen Wiebe, legislative director, American Association of Christian Schools

This list of participants is a real doozy - just yesterday, Wright was speculating that the timing of the swine flu scare was "a political thing to push the [Kathleen] Sebelius nomination through," and Jackson will just be coming off his role in leading the anti-marriage rally in DC today.  

But it is Sheldon's inclusion that is the real head-scratcher because, generally, members of Congress (and frankly most other leaders of the Religious Right) go out of their way not to be seen in public with the likes of him. 

And given the types of things he and his organization say, it is not hard to understand why:

The main purpose of this “hate crime” legislation is to add the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” “either actual or perceived,” as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations-zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?

Gender identity includes such gender confused behaviors as cross-dressing, she-male, drag queen, transvestite, transsexual or transgender. Under the Act, neither “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” are really defined. How can a law be enforced if the new classes receiving special protection remain undefined?

The sexual behaviors considered sinful and immoral by most major religions will be elevated to a protected “minority” class under federal law.

Once “sexual orientation” is added to federal law, anyone with a bizarre sexual orientation will have total protection for his or her activities by claiming that Congress sanctions their appearance, behavior or attitudes.

Inevitably this will negatively affect the performance of co-workers who are forced to work alongside of individuals with bizarre sex habits. Imagine working next to a person who gets sexual pleasure from rubbing up against a woman (Fronteurism) or enjoys wearing opposite sex clothing. These are “sexual orientations.”

Apparently this is the sort of language and anti-gay militancy with which Reps. Franks and Gohmert will willingly associate themselves. 

I'm just surprised that they didn't get Mat Staver to join them because if they are rounding up anti-gay fear mongers to oppose hate crimes legislation, Staver would have fit in perfectly:

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: "Sexual orientation and gender identity include pedophilia and every imaginable deviant fetish. Cross-dressers and pedophiles find refuge in this so-called hate crimes bill, while veterans and grandmas are left to fend for themselves. Obviously, this bill is not about the prevention of crime but is all about pushing a radical sexual anarchy. This bill will crush free speech and trample free exercise of religion."

ACLJ Out Front of Another Bogus Controversy

Last week I wrote a few posts about the utterly inane “controversy” over the recent Department of Homeland Security report “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” [PDF], pointing out how the Right was intentionally misrepresenting what it said and repeatedly lying about it in order to generate outrage and raise money. Then I went on vacation for a few days, fully expecting that the entire charade would blow over by the time I got back to work … but of course I was wrong:

Conservative House Republicans are calling on their leaders to ask President Obama for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation.

And GOP Conference Secretary John Carter (Texas) became the first member of leadership to call for the secretary's resignation, saying Wednesday that Napolitano should be removed or resign.

“No search or arrest warrant should ever be issued on the pure speculative grounds contained in the DHS report, and this report should never have been issued either. The fact that it was, coupled with Secretary Napolitano’s failure to issue an unqualified retraction and apology, displays a level of contempt for a healthy democracy that demands she be removed from office immediately," the judge of 20 years said.

Conservative House GOPs think Napolitano should resign because of the release of a report that singled out conservatives as “right-wing terrorists,” according to several GOP lawmakers.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are set to meet with Obama at the White House on Thursday. It is unclear whether they will request Napolitano’s resignation, but several lawmakers said it was under discussion.

“I think leaders are going to bring it up with the president, maybe call for (her) resignation,” one conservative member told The Hill on Wednesday.

Predictably, the American Center for Law and Justice is once again at the forefront of this “controversy,” just as it was of the “controversy” over the stimulus legislation, with Jay Sekulow showing up on Fox News to voice his manufactured outrage that the DHS report made no mention of the “real terrorists” such as Al Qaeda, a point he also made on the ACLJ’s website:

Nowhere in this report is there any mention of Al Qaida cell groups operating domestically here in the United States.  DHS has taken its focus away from rooting out those people that are bent on causing harm to the United States.  Instead, they are using government resources to monitor pro-life citizens who are exercising their free speech rights by holding up a sign in front of an abortion clinic.  On FOX News today I stated that the government needs to be spending its time rounding up terrorists who are bent on the destruction of our government rather than focusing on grandmothers holding up a pro-life sign outside an abortion clinic.

The scope of this report is also dangerous.  In discussing rightwing terrorists, the report states that there is a phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States.  Pointing to those who are opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, the report envisions what it calls the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States as these pro-life groups, those opposed to immigration, and returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This complaint might make sense if the report was about something other than, you know, domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups.  And to make matters worse, the ACLJ is claiming that the report declares “pro-lifers [to be the] most dangerous domestic terrorists” when it does nothing of the sort.  In fact, the report never even mentions pro-lifers beyond one footnote explaining that individuals driven by a “single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration” may join up with hate-oriented or antigovernment right-wing groups.  

Now the ACLJ is demanding a retraction from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and, in an email to activists, bragging that it has taken the lead in fighting this “blatant attack on conservative America” and, of course, seeking donations:

Let the Hate Crimes Freak-Out Begin

I’ve been away for the last several days and am trying to catch up on what has been going on.  And, judging by the dozens of right-wing statements that are clogging my reader and inbox, it seems as if the end of the world is at hand because the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark-up H.R. 1913, otherwise known as the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.”

For the Religious Right, issuing dire warnings about hate crimes legislation has been a standard practice for years and this time around is no different, which is why we have made it the focus of our current Right Wing Watch In Focus:

Hate crimes are violent attacks on people who are targeted because of who they are.   Thousands of Americans are physically attacked every year because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, or disability.  These crimes are meant to intimidate entire communities.   The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act – also known as the federal hate crimes bill – would direct federal resources to help local law enforcement fight violent hate crimes, and would let federal law enforcement step in when locals don’t.   Similar legislation passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support during the last session, but never made it to the president’s desk.

Religious Right leaders are vehemently opposed to federal hate crimes laws in large measure because they resist any legal recognition of LGBT people (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender).   They know that most Americans support hate-crimes legislation, anti-discrimination laws, and legal protection for gay couples.  So they create confusion by portraying these steps toward equality as dire threats to religious liberty.   This is part of a larger political strategy by Religious Right leaders to advance their policy goals and mobilize supporters with alarmist claims that Christians in America are on the verge of being jailed for their religious beliefs.

As we have noted before, there’s a dangerously cynical motive at the core of this strategy.  It is easier to convince Americans to support discrimination – even to oppose laws designed to discourage violent hate crimes – if you have first convinced them that their gay neighbors want to shut down their church and throw their pastor in jail for reading the Bible.

One of the Right’s favorite tropes is that, if such legislation passes, it will silence Christians and all those who speak out in opposition to homosexuality and will lead to pastors getting tossed in prison and churches getting shut down by the government.  Of course, none of that is true:

The federal hate crimes law doesn’t create something called a “thought” crime or somehow create “special rights” for a particular group of people.  It strengthens law enforcement’s ability to fight violent crime – not vigorous debate, not sermons against homosexuality, not hateful speech, not the infamous “God hates fags” protesters, not the spreading of misinformation that thrives on constitutionally protected right-wing television, radio, and blogosphere. 

Conservatives often say they want judges to focus on exactly what a law says.  Well, here’s exactly what the law says:

"Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."

Another section of the law makes it clear that federal courts could not rely on evidence of a person’s outlook or statements to convict someone of a hate crime unless those expressions were directly related to the commission of the violent crime in question:

“In a prosecution for an offense under this section, evidence of expression or association of the defendant may not be introduced as substantive evidence at trial, unless the evidence specifically relates to that offense. However, nothing in this section affects the rules of evidence governing the impeachment of a witness."

Could it be any clearer that this has nothing to do with silencing preachers or punishing thoughts, and everything to do with discouraging and prosecuting violent hate crimes? 

But just because the Right’s claims are wildly untrue doesn’t mean they are going to stop making them, as evidenced by the fact that that they are making them once again.

Vision America:

It is imperative that we contact all members of the House and demand that they vote against this bill as it will not protect a pastor, Bible teacher, Sunday School teacher, youth leader or anyone else from prosecution if he or she teaches against homosexuality if an individual who hears their message then goes out and commits a crime against a homosexual.. The pastor or teacher could face prosecution for using "hate speech" and "conspiracy to commit a hate crime."

Focus on the Family:

Under "hate-crimes" laws like H.R. 1913, pastors could be prosecuted for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality. Similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. at the state level and abroad.

"The homosexual activists' mantra is no longer tolerance — it's embrace and promote," said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst at Focus on the Family Action. "Anything less will be silenced. Christians must speak up."

Family Research Council:

The act would establish a new FEDERAL offense for so-called "hate crimes" and add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes.  It will mandate a separate federal criminal prosecution for state offenses.

Adding "sexual orientation" to thought crimes legislation gives one set of crime victims a higher level of protection than it gives to people like you and me.

Concerned Women for America:

[E]xpanding "hate crimes" to include "sexual orientation" and gender identity could put people with traditional values directly in the crosshairs of official government policy.  "Hate crimes" laws place us on a slippery slope toward religious persecution. These laws are already being employed as a tool in Brazil, Europe, Canada -- and even right here in America -- to intimidate and silence people who honor natural human sexuality and who value the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman.  If a person speaks out against various sexual behaviors, that person may be accused of "hate speech," which could lead to an accusation of associations with "hate crimes."

Liberty Counsel:

H.R. 1913 is not about stopping crime but is designed to give sexual preference the same legal status as race. This legislation is just a stepping stone to regulate the speech of people who support family values.

Matt Barber:

[I]f H.R. 1913 becomes law, actual violence or injury need not take place for a “hate crime” to occur. For example, if a group of Christians are at a “gay pride” parade and a one of them gently places his hand on a homosexual’s shoulder and shares that there is freedom from homosexuality through a relationship with Jesus Christ, then, voila, we have a battery and, consequently, a felony “hate crime.”

But the Christian needn’t even touch the homosexual. If the homosexual merely claims he was subjectively placed in “apprehension of bodily injury” by the Christian’s words then, again, the Christian can be thrown in prison for a felony “hate crime.”

And, never to be outdone when it comes to issuing over the top warnings about the dangers posed by the “homosexual agenda,” the Traditional Values Coalition has gone into overdrive, releasing various pieces that declare that Christians are going to get tossed into jail by legislation is designed to protect pedophiles, necrophiliacs, and those who engage in bestiality:

HR 1913 targets mainstream religious people for prosecution because their sincerely-held religious beliefs and centuries of theology inform them that homosexuality is a disordered behavior and a sin.  Just expressing that belief will amount to a crime under this bill and pastors across America will be risking their freedom to quote certain passages of the Bible from their pulpits.

This hate crimes bill creates that climate with its chilling effect on the First Amendment’s “free exercise” of  religion, taking rights away from one group of citizens in a phony ploy to protect another group of citizens from a contrived threat.

The main purpose of this legislation is to elevate homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender identity to race. H.R. 1913 will add the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” “either actual or perceived,” as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. Gender identity includes such gender confused behaviors as cross-dressing, transvestism and such conditions as transsexualism.

The so-called hate crimes bill will be used to lay the legal foundation and framework to investigate, prosecute and persecute pastors, business owners, Bible teachers, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, Christian counselors, religious broadcasters and anyone else whose actions are based upon and reflect the truths found in the Bible.

H.R. 1913 broadly defines “intimidation. A pastor’s sermon could be considered “hate speech” under this legislation if heard by an individual who then acts aggressively against persons based on any “sexual orientation.” The pastor could be prosecuted for “conspiracy to commit a hate crime.”

The main purpose of this “hate crime” legislation is to add the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” “either actual or perceived,” as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations-zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?

Gender identity includes such gender confused behaviors as cross-dressing, she-male, drag queen, transvestite, transsexual or transgender. Under the Act, neither “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” are really defined. How can a law be enforced if the new classes receiving special protection remain undefined?

The sexual behaviors considered sinful and immoral by most major religions will be elevated to a protected “minority” class under federal law.

Once “sexual orientation” is added to federal law, anyone with a bizarre sexual orientation will have total protection for his or her activities by claiming that Congress sanctions their appearance, behavior or attitudes.

Inevitably this will negatively affect the performance of co-workers who are forced to work alongside of individuals with bizarre sex habits. Imagine working next to a person who gets sexual pleasure from rubbing up against a woman (Fronteurism) or enjoys wearing opposite sex clothing. These are “sexual orientations.”

Buttars' Comments Continue to Roil Utah Senate

Last week, after Utah state Senator Chris Buttars compared gays to Islamic radicals and America to Sodom and Gomorrah, and said that gays have no morals and that acceptance of their lifestyle will bring about the destruction of the nation, he was stripped of his position as chairman of the Senate's judiciary committee ... but it doesn't look like that has put the controversy to rest.

Yesterday, the Utah Seante shut down for two hours as Republicans continue to try and figure out what, if anything, to do about Buttars:

The Utah Senate stopped working for about two hours Monday as Republicans privately met to discuss a lawmaker's recent comments that gay people don't have morals and that gay activists are among America's greatest threats.

Not a single bill was debated on the Senate floor Monday morning, increasing the backlog of bills that may never become law simply because lawmakers will run out of time to approve them before the 45-day session ends.

...

Buttars' comments and his removal from the judiciary committee have created a rift in the Senate Republican caucus, prompting the private meeting. Senate leaders said Buttars wouldn't face any more sanctions and that no position was taken on the issue during their meeting.

While Republicans struggle to deal with this, it also looks like Democrats in the state aren't making it any easier for them:

Utah Senate Democrats on Tuesday called for the ouster of a GOP lawmaker from two additional key committee posts because of his anti-gay comments.

...

Democrats — outnumbered by Republicans 21 to 8 in the Senate — called Tuesday for additional sanctions, including removal of Buttars from the rules committee, of which he is vice chairman. The rules committee is one of the most powerful in the Legislature because it decides which bills lawmakers will debate.

Democrats also requested that Buttars lose his chairmanship on the health and human services committee, although they didn't propose he be removed from that panel entirely.

For his part, Buttars remains unrepentant and vows never to resign:

I was disappointed to learn of the Utah State Senate’s censure on Feb. 20, 2009. However, this action will not discourage me from defending marriage from an increasingly vocal and radical segment of the homosexual community.

In recent years, registering opposition to the homosexual agenda has become almost impossible. Political correctness has replaced open and energetic debate. Those who dare to disagree with the homosexual agenda are labeled "haters," and "bigots," and are censured by their peers. The media contributes to the problem. Increasingly, individuals with conservative beliefs are targeted by a left-leaning media that uses their position of public trust as a bully pulpit. This pattern of intimidation suppresses free speech.

For the record, I do not agree with the censure I see it as an attempt to shy away from controversy. In particular, I disagree with my removal as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, since my work there is entirely unrelated to my opposition to the homosexual agenda.

Still, I’m a grown man and I can take my knocks. When it comes right down to it, I would rather be censured for doing what I think is right, than be honored by my colleagues for bowing to the pressure of a special interest group that has been allowed to act with impunity.

Thanks to the many citizens who have written and called to express their support. Please know that I’ll live through this to fight another day. In years to come, we’ll all look back at this point in history and see it as a crossroads. I have no intention of resigning.

 

The ACLJ's Very Own Senator

You have to hand it to Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice - they have got to be the only political organization in Washington DC that has its very own Senator who is willing to press its agenda in the Capitol every time it so much as issues a press release. 

At least that seems to be the case judging by the fact that, lately, Sen. Jim DeMint's political agenda seems to be determined primarily by the ACLJ's communications office.

Just a few weeks ago, after the ACLJ started bogusly complaining that the stimulus legislation contained a provision that was discriminatory and anti-religious, it took less than a day for Sen. DeMint to make the issue his own and introduce an amendment to strip the provision from the bill, an effort which ultimately failed.

And now, just days after the ACLJ announced that it was "preparing a litigation strategy should the Fairness Doctrine be brought back to muzzle Christian broadcasting" and unveiled a petition signed by more than 200,000 people calling on Congress to pass the Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would prevent the return of the Fairness Doctrine, guess who is now pressing for such a vote?

That's right, Sen. Jim DeMint - and this move comes despite the fact that President Obama just said that he does not support the Fairness Doctrine and that nobody has any plans to re-introduce it.  But apparently DeMint just wants to make extra sure:

Although a spokesman for President Barack Obama said the administration wouldn’t pursue the revival of the Fairness Doctrine, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, S.C., wants Senate Democrats to go on the record one way or another on the issue.

DeMint, chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, said on Feb. 19 he will offer the Broadcaster Freedom Act as an amendment to the D.C. Voting Rights bill next week. The Broadcaster Freedom Act was introduced by Republican lawmakers last month and prevents the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

“I’m glad President Obama finally confirmed his opposition to the Fairness Doctrine, which attacks the right of free speech on talk radio, but many Democrats in Congress are still pushing it,” DeMint said. “With the support of the new administration, now is the time for Congress to take a stand against this kind of censorship. I intend to seek a vote on this amendment next week so every senator is on record: Do you support free speech or do you want to silence voices you disagree with?”

It is getting to seem like the easiest way to figure out what is on Sen. DeMint's agenda today is to look at what press release the ACLJ released yesterday.

Buttars To Lose Chairmanship (or Resign) Over Anti-Gay Rant?

Earlier this week we posted on the extended interview Utah state Senator Chris Buttars gave as part of a documentary on Proposition 8 in which he spent fifteen minutes comparing gays to Islamic radicals and America to Sodom and Gomorrah,while proclaiming that gays have no morals and that acceptance of their lifestyle will bring about the destruction of the nation.

Buttars' remarks are not going over well with some of his fellow Republicans, who are apparently getting tired of being embarrassed by him, and so it looks like they are preparing to strip him of his position as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

An anti-gay diatribe by Sen. Chris Buttars will cost him his spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee, The Tribune has learned.

Senate Republicans, prompted by complaints from minority Democrats, held a frank discussion of Buttars' actions in a closed-door caucus Thursday. Afterward, senators would not discuss what action, if any, might be taken against the West Jordan Republican.

Part of it, Senate leaders said, depends on what Buttars, who left the Capitol after Thursday's caucus to be with his family, decides to do. He did not return a phone message. But Senate President Michael Waddoups said the action he plans to take is clear.

"I've made up my mind what I'm going to do," Waddoups, R-Taylorsville said, but he would not elaborate.

Sources familiar with the Senate discussions, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Senate Republican caucus decided to remove Buttars from the Senate Judiciary Committee, a panel which he currently chairs ... A news conference has been scheduled for Friday morning to discuss the Buttars situation.

Of course, Buttars' right-wing allies are defending him:

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, a conservative organization that has been among Buttars' most strident supporters, said she did not expect any action against the senator.

"It's a free speech issue," she said. "I'm sure they'd defend anybody's right on that floor to say what they want to say."

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that "a news conference has been scheduled for Friday morning to discuss the Buttars situation" where it will be announced, according to ABC 4, "that Buttars will likely be stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And some we talked to even suggest resignation is not entirely out of the question."

Update: Buttars has been stripped of his chairmanship:

Senator Chris Buttars has been censured for his comments about homosexuals.

The Utah Senate announced in a press conference Buttars has been removed from his chair of the judicial committee.

By The Third Time, It's a Trend

For anyone seeking to understand how the Religious Right plans to operate under the relatively young Obama Administration, let us offer a few telling examples.  

For weeks, if not months, they have been hyperventilating over the fact that Democrats in Congress are intent on re-introducing the Fairness Doctrine in order to "silence conservative and Christian broadcasters" and eliminate their ”freedom to share the Gospel.” Of course, as we noted yesterday, there was no desire or effort to actually bring it back and even President Obama has stated that he "does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated."  But will not stop the Right from carping about it?  Not likely:

While this is encouraging, I want you to know that we will remain vigilant and continue to work to oppose the return of the Fairness Doctrine.

Here's another example:  for weeks the Right has been breathlessly proclaiming that the stimulus legislation was "anti-religious" and part of an effort to "intimidate the free speech of traditional, freedom-loving Americans." Of course, that wasn't true either but that didn't stop them from repeating it every opportunity they had. 

In case the pattern hasn't become clear yet, we can now add the fear-mongering over FOCA to the growing list:

The U.S. Catholic Church's crusade against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has all the hallmarks of a well-oiled lobbying campaign. A national postcard campaign is flooding the White House and congressional offices with messages opposing FOCA, and the Catholic bishops have made defeating the abortion rights legislation a top priority. In the most recent effort to stop the bill, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to every member of Congress imploring them to "please oppose FOCA."

There is only one hitch. Congress isn't about to pass the Freedom of Choice Act because no such bill has been introduced.

...

In the midst of all this activity, the fact that there was no Freedom of Choice Act before the 111th Congress went largely unnoticed and unmentioned.

A Freedom of Choice Act was first introduced in the 108th and 110th Congresses (from '03 to '05 and '07 to '09, respectively), by Rep. Jerold Nadler, a New York Democrat. It was developed at a time when the future of Roe was in doubt because it was unclear if George W. Bush would have the opportunity to appoint another justice to the Supreme Court. But FOCA had a hard time gaining traction — even under Democratic control of Congress, the bill was not only never voted on but never made it out of committee. And now abortion rights advocates are breathing easier with Obama in the White House — so much so that when a coalition of 63 organizations sent the Administration its top 15 priorities for reproductive rights and health, FOCA did not even make the list.

Congressional Democrats have also been less than enthusiastic about the proposal. A spokesman for Nadler says that while he expects the legislation will be reintroduced, "it won't be anytime soon." Even if FOCA is reintroduced in the current Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has indicated she has no intention of bringing it up for a vote. And even if she did, there are not enough votes in Congress to pass the bill.

President Obama has only been in office for a few weeks, but that doesn't mean it is too early to predict that the Religious Right's plan of attack during his administration looks like it will rely heavily on stirring up "controversies" by (a) opposing legislation that does not exist and (b) misrepresenting legislation that does.

Obama Speaks Out, Fairness Doctrine Paranoia to Continue Unabated

What is it about the Fairness Doctrine that is causing the Religious Right to lose their minds?  As Marin Cogan pointed out last year, the more she searched for actual evidence that anyone intended to bring it back, the more she had to conclude that it wasn’t going to happen.

But still the Right is up in arms and vowing to do all it can to prevent its return. Christian broadcasters are warning that their programs will be under attack and the word of God is being “opposed at every quarter.” The Family Research Council declares that it would “silence conservative and Christian broadcasters” while Concerned Women for America claims that it would “jeopardize our freedom to share the Gospel.” Focus on the Family says that liberals are trying “to take a huge bite out of the First Amendment” because they are “highly intolerant." The Traditional Values Coalition released a report [PDF] alleging that liberals “want to kick conservative and Christian talk show hosts off the air altogether in order to suppress what they view as ‘hate speech.’” The Media Research Center formed something called the “Free Speech Alliance” for the sole purpose of fighting the Fairness Doctrine and Republicans in Congress even went so far as to introduce legislation that would prevent its return, for which they were hailed as heroes by the Right. And, just in case that fails, the ACLJ announced that it is “formulating our litigation strategy in the event this discriminatory regulation is put in place.” 

As The Politico explained just last week, every time any Democrat so much as mentions the Fairness Doctrine, the Right completely flips out, despite the fact that even supposed supporters of the doctrine have “no plans to introduce any legislation on the issue, nor is it even on the radar”:

But for even the casual listener of conservative talk radio this past week, it would be assumed that federal agents were already en route, pulling radios out of cars or snapping antennas … The passionate reaction on talk radio on this topic, though, reflects a familiar dance between left-leaning politicians and right-leaning talkers.

Every few months, another Democratic leader praises the Fairness Doctrine or talks off the cuff in the Capitol hallway about the government needing to play a role in what’s heard on the public airwaves. Conservative talk show hosts then respond aggressively, rallying the troops from coast to coast with the idea that their favorite shows are about to be taken away by meddling Democrats in Washington.

The Right’s paranoia is so rampant and pervasive that it has now compelled the White House to declare that, even though there is no effort to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, President Obama would oppose it:

President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday.

The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine -- a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

"As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told FOXNews.com.

So congratulations to all of you on the Right who have managed to propel this issue all the way up to the highest levels of government and forced the President of the United States to state that he does not support the non-existent efforts to re-institute a doctrine that nobody has any intention of trying to re-introduce.  

I’d like to think that this will finally put an end to this nonsense, but knowing how the Right operates, the only thing that is certain is that they are not about to let a little thing like the facts get in the way of their fear-mongering and fund-raising.  

Right Cries "Discrimination," Threatens Legal Action Over Stimulus Legislation

As we reported last night, Sen. DeMint's effort to get a supposedly "anti-Christian" provision stripped from the stimulus legislation failed by the frightening close margin of 54-43.

As is to be expected, the right-wing groups had been peddling this lie all week are not happy, as David Brody reports:

The Traditional Values Coalition just issued this statement:

“Democrats showed their anti-Christian bias by rejecting South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint’s amendment that would have protected religious freedom in colleges and universities receiving federal funds,” said Traditional Values Coalition Executive Director, Andrea Lafferty today. “DeMint’s amendment simply struck the anti-Christian discrimination section from the bill.

...

“This is just the beginning of aggressive anti-Christian bigotry that we will see over the next four years,” said Lafferty. “We suffered a significant defeat to our First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom and free speech today.”

The ACLJ, which was responsible for unleashing this absurd fabrication in the first place, is standing by its erroneous position and threatening to sue if this provision gets signed into law:

This is a very disappointing development. What’s most troubling is the fact that a majority of the Senate supports a discriminatory provision that prohibits religious activity from taking place in college and university facilities nationwide that take federal stimulus funds. If this language remains in the stimulus package that’s ultimately approved by Congress, we will challenge this provision in federal court by filing suit. This provision has nothing to do with economic stimulus and everything to do with religious discrimination.

...

The fact is that unless this provision is removed from the final stimulus package, we'll be in federal court challenging this discriminatory measure.

We wish you the best of luck with that, ACLJ.

Which brings me to my final point.  I'm not in the habit of writing posts that revolve around comments left on blogs - especially comments left on Red State - but today I am making an exception.  Earlier this week, Erick Erickson wrote a post that made many of the false claims we have been systematically rebutting throughout the week.  A commentator there, going by the name PD, weighed in to point out that the language in this legislation is standard boilerplate legislative language.  Another commentator responded that, if the language was so common, why didn't PD provide other examples, to which PD responded with this:

Funds appropriated under a certain higher education grant program “may not be used…for a school or department of divinity or any religious worship or sectarian activity”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode20/usc_sec_20_00001068—e000-.html

Funds appropriated under another program “may not be used…for a school or department of divinity or any religious worship or sectarian activity”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode20/usc_sec_20_00001103—e000-.html

Limitation contained in program to help historically black institutions: “No grant may be made under this chapter for any educational program, activity, or service related to sectarian instruction or religious worship, or provided by a school or department of divinity.”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode20/usc_sec_20_00001062—-000-.html

Grants for work-study programs may “not involve the construction, operation, or maintenance of so much of any facility as is used or is to be used for sectarian instruction or as a place for religious worship”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00002753—-000-.html

Money used under a specific community development program subject to limitation that “no participant will be employed on projects involving political parties, or the construction, operation, or maintenance of so much of any facility as is used or to be used for sectarian instruction or as a place for religious worship”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00009807—-000-.html

Aid under program providing grants for volunteer service projects may not be used for ” projects involving the construction, operation, or maintenance of so much of any facility used or to be used for sectarian instruction or as a place for religious worship.”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00005001—-000-.html

Energy resource graduate fellowships “shall be awarded under this subchapter for study at a school or department of divinity.”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode30/usc_sec_30_00001325—-000-.html

Religious organizations participating in the “Community Schools Youth Services and Supervision Grant Program Act of 1994″ “shall not provide any sectarian instruction or sectarian worship in connection with an activity funded under this subchapter.”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/search/display.html?terms=sectarian&url=/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00013791—-000-.html

Funds used under grant program for tribally controlled schools “shall not be used in connection with religious worship or sectarian instruction.”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode25/usc_sec_25_00001803—-000-.html

Another construction program: “Participants shall not be employed under this chapter to carry out the construction, operation, or maintenance of any part of any facility that is used or to be used for sectarian instruction or as a place for religious worship (except with respect to the maintenance of a facility that is not primarily or inherently devoted to sectarian instruction or religious worship, in a case in which the organization operating the facility is part of a program or activity providing services to participants).”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode29/usc_sec_29_00002938—-000-.html

Etc., etc., etc., etc.

Well done, PD.  And do you supposed the ACLJ intends to file suit against all of these laws as well? 

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Free Speech Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/29/2010, 3:07pm
As we noted earlier, the Religious Right is uniformly livid with the Southern Poverty Law Center's updated list of anti-gay hate groups and seems to be struggling to come up with coherent response as demonstrated by this Concerned Women for America statement which basically accuses the SPLC of calling African Americans bigots: Concerned Women for America, among several other pro-family, pro-life national groups, has been named a “hate group” by The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because of our opposition to same-sex “marriage.” The SPLC began as a civil... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 10/22/2010, 5:21pm
In an entirely predictable move, Sen. Jim DeMint announced plans to introduce legislation stripping federal funding from National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service because Juan William was fired. Speaking of which, since when did getting fired for saying something inappropriate count as censorship and a violation free speech? I am guessing that Gini Thomas wishes she had just left this issue alone. David Brody will interview Christine O'Donnell next week, so we have that to look forward to. Finally, Elaine Donnelly says that if DADT is not stopped,... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 10/21/2010, 9:51am
Yesterday, National Public Radio fired Juan Williams for comments he made Muslims on The O'Reilly Factor: The move came after Mr. Williams, who is also a Fox News political analyst, appeared on the “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday. On the show, the host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him to respond to the notion that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.” Mr. Williams said he concurred with... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/20/2010, 11:18am
The Susan B. Anthony List has been spending millions of dollars targeting Democratic members of Congress who voted for Health Care Reform with claims that they voted to expand taxpayer-funded abortions. It's not true and Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) got fed up with SBA lying about it so he filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission that the group was violating Ohio election law which makes it illegal to "post, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 08/13/2010, 10:20am
Earlier this week we noted that Flip Benham and members of Operation Save America had been targeting mosques for protests, screaming that "Jesus hate Muslims" and declaring "This is a war in America and we are taking it to the mosques around the country." Even though the group is based in Texas, it has chosen to target mosques in Connecticut and Muslim leaders in the state are holding a press conference today to discuss the attacks:  The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut and other organizations are hosting a press conference and rally at 3 p.m. today (Friday) on... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 08/10/2010, 10:27am
Last week I wondered how Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice was managing to rationalize its role in leading the opposition to the "Ground Zero Mosque" while still claiming to be a leading defender of religious freedom in America.  As it turned it, the ACLJ did it by simply claiming that the debate wasn't about religious freedom at all. But that excuse was laughably pathetic, and so Jay Sekulow and Brett Joshpe are back with an op-ed in the Washington Times, taking another stab at justifying themselves, claiming now that their "opposition to... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 06/10/2010, 10:32am
Yesterday it was reported that "17 of the Victory Fund’s 21 endorsed candidates on the ballot yesterday either won their races outright or advanced to general elections." The Victory Fund endorses and supports openly LGBT candidates and works to help them win election to local, state and federal offices ... and so I guess it should come as no surprise that people like Cynthia Hill of the Family Research Council would start raising alarms about the success of LGBT candidates and "The Pinking of America": Americans should take a cold, hard look at the... MORE