health care

Eagle Forum Pushes Blatantly False Attack on Obamacare

Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum on Friday warned that the Obama administration has estimated that the average family will pay a minimum of $20,000 for health insurance once the health care reform law goes fully into effect.

The only problem with Schlafly’s claim is that the government never issued such an estimate.

The IRS simply used the $20,000 figure as an example for calculating the “shared responsibility payment,” or penalty, for a nonexempt family that does not acquire health insurance.

As the Annenberg Center’s FactCheck.org notes:

The IRS used $20,000 in a hypothetical example to illustrate how it will calculate the tax penalty for a family that fails to obtain health coverage as required by law. Treasury says the figure “is not an estimate of premiums.”



[T]he regulations weren’t a “cost analysis” at all. A spokesperson for the Treasury Department confirmed to FactCheck.org in an email that the IRS wasn’t making any declarations or projections about what prices will be.

“[Twenty thousand dollars] is a round number used by IRS for a hypothetical example,” the official wrote. “It is not an estimate of premiums for a bronze plan for a family of five in 2016.”

Schlafly wasn’t the only conservative leader to fall for the false story, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel also wrote an article arguing that a government “cost analysis based on ObamaCare regulations show[s] that the cheapest healthcare plan in 2016 will cost average American families of four or five members $20,000 per year for the so-called ‘bronze plan.’”

The Obama Administration is now estimating that by 2016 the minimum annual cost of health insurance for an average American family under ObamaCare will be $20,000. And there is no guarantee that the health insurance will actually cover all the medical treatments that the family wants and needs. $20,000 is merely the minimum annual cost; many families could face even higher premiums. Millions of Americans will be faced with the choice of buying this expensive health insurance, or paying hefty penalties to the IRS. Those who choose not to buy health insurance will be slapped by the IRS with thousands of dollars in additional taxes. Is this what Americans really want? Certainly not. $20,000 is many times more expensive than what most Americans pay for health insurance today.

It's not only families who will be hit by these enormous price increases under ObamaCare. One study predicts that a 27-year-old non-smoking male in Texas will go from paying $54 a month in health insurance premiums to a whopping $153 per month as soon as ObamaCare goes into full effect. That will be on top of the massive student debt that so many young people are already struggling to pay off. The real result may be that many Americans will choose to drop their health insurance simply because they cannot afford it. But that is the opposite of what ObamaCare was supposed to achieve.

None of this is a surprise to those who have criticized ObamaCare for years. Not a single Republican voted for this costly injection of federal bureaucracy into the American health care system, which has been the finest the world has ever known. Many businesses are decreasing the number of hours that their employees can work in order to fall below the threshold requiring employers to buy this costly insurance for their employees.

Kuhner: 'Judas' John Roberts Ushered in 'The End of our Constitutional Republic'

Washington Times columnist and Edmund Burke Institute president Jeffrey Kuhner doesn’t seem too happy with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care reform law, telling Janet Mefferd yesterday that the ruling “signals the end of our Constitutional republic as we know it” and “the end of traditional America as we know it.” “We are now living in an age of a creeping, soft, socialist tyranny,” Kuhner warned, even alleging that the government can potentially mandate that people stop “using toilet paper because it’s bad for the environment.” He argued that Chief Justice John Roberts “is a Judas” who “did it for his thirty pieces of silver” in the form of favorable reactions from the media:

Kuhner: Today it’s going to be health insurance, tomorrow it’ll be eating broccoli or buying an electric car or not using toilet paper because it’s bad for the environment. There is now no end; there is no limit on the power of the central government. That’s why it’s an ominous precedent, it’s a revolutionary precedent; I believe it signals the end of our Constitutional republic as we know it, we are now living in an age of a creeping, soft, socialist tyranny. This election I believe is the last chance for the American people to now stop Obamacare, stop the government takeover of healthcare, to stop this out of control imperial presidency, and to save our republic. After the next election, Obamacare will be fully implemented, the precedent of the Supreme Court will now be established and it will be the end of traditional America as we know it.

Mefferd: It’s interesting, when Obama has been issuing these executive orders, a lot of people have accused him rightly I believe of being confused of what his branch of government is supposed to do, do you believe that Roberts superseded his branch of government? He’s the judicial branch. Do you think he was doing something beyond the authority of the court to start saying alaw is this and not this regardless of what was argued?

Kuhner: Yes. In fact, I’m going to be very candid with you and I’m not going to mince words, I believe Chief Justice Roberts is a Judas. And I believe like Judas he did it for his thirty pieces of silver. And what were his thirty pieces of silver? It was one puff profile piece after another.

Rep. Tom Price Cites Bogus Study to Attack Health Care Reform, Warns of Government 'Subjugation'

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) appeared on WallBuilders Live today alongside hosts David Barton and Rick Green to discuss the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care reform law. The congressman maintained that the law “removes the very freedom and liberty that our founders fought for at its very core” and if it is implemented then America will no longer be “the America that you and I love” and that “our founders fought for.” Price went on to cite a sham, Tea Party study heralded throughout conservative media, to claim that “around eighty percent of the physicians surveyed would say if this comes to its full conclusion, that is Obamacare becoming fully implemented, they don’t see how they could practice.” He said that doctors following rules under the reform law will be violating their professional oath, representing the “subjugation of a free citizen, a formerly free citizen.”

Green: It’s allowing government to take over these very personal decisions.

Price: It removes the very freedom and liberty that our founders fought for at its very core. Nothing is more personal, as a physician I can tell you when I would treat patients they understood that it was either an insurance company or the state or federal government that were dictating to them what might be available to them in terms of treatment or diagnosis, they’d bristle, as would I. This is just turning that into the system for every single American and that is a system where Washington decides what you can get, what kind of treatment you can get for yourself and for your family. That’s not America, that’s not the America that you and I love, that’s not the America our founders fought for, that’s not the America that recognizes that our liberty and our freedom comes from God almighty and not from the federal government.

Green: Amen. It looks like as the White House begins to spin this it looks like we’ll be where we were in 2009 where both sides are trying to say whether or not this is a good idea as we go into the 2012 elections. It looks like a lot of doctors are actually saying, ‘If this thing goes forward I’m out of here, I can’t even practice medicine under this system.’

Price: You all have been following this very closely and there’s a recent survey that puts it at somewhere around eighty percent of the physicians surveyed would say if this comes to its full conclusion, that is Obamacare becoming fully implemented, they don’t see how they could practice. The reason is, it’s important for people to appreciate the reason for this, it’s not that things just get too difficult it’s that as a profession we take an oath, physicians take an oath, to provide the highest quality care they are capable of for their patients. If the federal government is going to come in and say ‘we know that you believe Mrs. Smith deserves this and needs this for her treatment but we don’t believe that that’s what Mrs. Smith needs and we will tell you what to give Mrs. Smith,’ that’s no longer a profession, that’s a subjugation of a free citizen, a formerly free citizen, that physicians will not tolerate and I think that’s why you’re seeing that kind of response that you’re seeing from doctors across the land.

Ted Nugent: 'I'm Beginning to Wonder if it Would Have Been Best had the South Won the Civil War'

Musician and Mitt Romney backer Ted Nugent took to the Washington Times today to blast the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Roberts in particular, for upholding the “un-American, Constitution-violating” health care reform law. “Because our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government hold the 10th Amendment in contempt,” Nugent writes, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”

Nugent, who was successfully courted by Mitt Romney in April, goes on to claim that the Supreme Court’s ruling “engineered the ultimate demise of this great experiment in self-government” and ushered in “the smothering era of socialism.”

Yogi Berra said that when you come to a fork in the road, take it. When supposed-conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. came to a judicial conservative-liberal fork in the road, he veered left.

With Chief Justice Roberts‘ vote to save Obamacare, I was reminded of what my dad told me more than 50 years ago: Never trust a man who wears a black robe. He might be naked under there.



The bottom line is that Chief Justice Roberts‘ traitor vote will ensure more monumental spending and wasted taxes and put almost 15 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) under one of the world’s most bureaucratic, ineffective, incompetent and grossly expensive systems ever devised by man: our out-of- control federal government.

Chief Justice Roberts squandered the opportunity to restore judicial, financial and legislative sanity to a government that by any sane person’s standards is insane and addicted to centralized federal control of our lives.

Because our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government hold the 10th Amendment in contempt, I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War. Our Founding Fathers’ concept of limited government is dead.



Obamacare will now join Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as another unaffordable, unsustainable, runaway, unaccountable social program.

Our entitlement programs have bankrupted America. We have dug a financial crater so deep that many doubt we can ever climb out. With his vote, Chief Justice Roberts didn’t give Fedzilla an even bigger shovel, he gave Fedzilla an earth mover with which to dig bigger financial holes.

Quite possibly, with his vote, Chief Justice Roberts just engineered the ultimate demise of this great experiment in self- government. If you think we are skating on financial thin ice now, just wait until 2014 when the full financial tsunami of Obamacare comes crashing down.

The president should have Chief Justice Roberts over for dinner, give him a ride on Air Force One and apologize for not voting for him during his confirmation hearings. It’s the least the community-organizer- in-chief can do for the turncoat chief justice who saved the president’s socialist health care program.

Limited government is dead. The smothering era of socialism is here.

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Reform: Reactions From the Right

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010, is constitutional.  Below we are collecting reactions from right-wing and Religious Right groups and individuals as they are released:

Sarah Palin (via Twitter):

Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn't a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:

"Today's Supreme Court decision will do serious harm to American families. Not only is the individual mandate a profound attack on our liberties, but it is only one section among hundreds of provisions in the law that will force taxpayers to fund abortions, violate their conscience rights, and impose a massive tax and debt burden on American families.

"The Obama administration has created, for the first time in American history, new federal regulations that toss aside the constitutional right to religious freedom by forcing religious institutions and employers to pay for abortion-causing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations.

"It's now time to replace those leaders who disregarded the constitutional limitations of their authority and the deeply held religious beliefs of their constituents, voting for the government takeover of healthcare. We must repeal this abortion-funding health care law and restore the Constitution to its rightful place," concluded Perkins.

Ken Klukowski of the Family Research Council:

"The Supreme Court has today given the federal government unlimited authority to use its tax power to require Americans to engage in specific commercial activity. The obvious implication is chilling: Uncle Sam can make you buy anything, at any price, for any reason," said Klukowski. "That's why today, the American dream gave way to a real American nightmare. President Obama's vow about 'fundamentally transforming the United States of America ' was fulfilled. The Supreme Court essentially said it cannot articulate any limiting principle on the power of the federal government.

"By ruling that the law is constitutional, the Supreme Court gave the federal government the power to order private citizens to enter into contracts with private organizations and give those organizations their money. This ruling fundamentally transforms the federal government from one of limited and specified powers in the Constitution to an all-powerful central government with plenary power over every area and aspect of Americans' lives from cradle to grave."

Rob Schenck of Faith and Action:

"This opinion may allow the government to compel people to pay into the system, but it can't compel any of us to abandon our most deeply held convictions. This is a moral, spiritual and ethical crisis. People of conscience will need to make difficult decisions, including engaging in conscientious objection or even respectful civil disobedience, which may bring painful penalties with it. It's time to be prayerful, brave, and strong. From here on we will need help from God and from one another."

Christian Medical Association:

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens observed, "The high court unfortunately could not muster enough justices willing to uphold the Constitutional principles of limited government and separation of powers that have guided our nation since its founding. This ruling sounds an alarm across the country to people with faith-based and pro-life convictions, to poor patients who depend on physicians with these values and to all patients who value choosing their own health care.

"Who will stop U.S. Health and Human Services political appointees from forcing employers and individuals with faith-based convictions to subsidize abortion or life-ending contraceptives and imposing huge 'faith fines' on those of us who resist? What will stop this administration, with its radical pro-abortion agenda, from further undermining conscience rights and pursuing policies that effectively force out of medicine physicians with life-honoring convictions? Who will keep government panels from effectively denying physicians and patients choice about what are the most effective and appropriate medicines, surgeries and treatments?

"While court battles will continue over other aspects of the Affordable Care Act not addressed in today's decision, we have learned that we cannot simply rest in the hope that our courts will uphold Constitutional principles. We call on Congress to turn back this law's assault on our freedoms and restore American values and Constitutional principles in health care. Repeal this overreaching law and enact bipartisan, targeted health care reforms.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel:

“This is a stunning decision to uphold ObamaCare as a tax. Congress relied upon the Commerce Clause, not the Taxing and Spending Clause. The Court ignored the intent of Congress, which did not intend the mandate to be a tax but rather a penalty. Rulings like this on ObamaCare undermine the confidence of the people in the competency of the Supreme Court to follow the rule of law. Today’s decision damages the image of the Supreme Court and is bad for America.”

Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America:

"We are outraged to see the Supreme Court ignoring the constitutional limits the Founders put in place to constrain the federal government's power over us. Shame on them!

With this decision they have given a blank check to the federal government, forever altering the constitutional concept of checks and balances that has been so crucial throughout our history.

We wholeheartedly believe we must strive to make health care more affordable for all Americans. But it is inconceivable to believe we must infringe on our constitutional rights in order to achieve that.

Women will be especially hurt by today's decision. As we have seen with the contraception mandate, the politicization of so-called women issues by the left leaves the majority of women extremely vulnerable to the exploitation of a few radical groups that exert much political influence in Congress and the White House.

Women want to make their own decisions when it comes to their health care, with the support of their families and their doctors. It's preposterous to suggest the government would do a better job at deciding what is best for us and our loved ones.

We are determined now more than ever to repeal this nightmare and to help Congress enact commonsense reforms that will help make health care more affordable, while empowering Americans to make the best choices they see fit for themselves and their families."

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue:

"We will not comply with this socialistic and oppressive law that forces us to not only purchase insurance we may not want, but more importantly, forces us to violate our consciences and fund abortion coverage," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. "We must demand that Congress change the law for the good of our nation. If Congress will not change it, we still will not comply."

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice:

“The Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate is extremely disappointing,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “While the court correctly concluded that the mandate violated the Commerce Clause of the constitution, a majority concluded that the individual mandate is a constitutionally-acceptable taxing provision for the health care law.”

“The high court missed an important opportunity to reign in a runaway federal government that's determined to interject itself into every aspect of the lives of Americans. By permitting the individual mandate to stand, the high court opened the door to permitting the federal government to take more control over the lives of Americans.”

Sekulow added: “The decision to keep the health care law intact is problematic for our nation and the American people. The government-run, pro-abortion law may have survived constitutional scrutiny, but the focus now turns to November and the election. The American people understand that this law is not what our nation needs or deserves. Our efforts will intensify to support a legislative remedy that ultimately will result in the repeal of ObamaCare.”

Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has now told Americans what policy makers in Washington have known for over two years. Obamacare is a $1 trillion dollar tax hike on lower and middle class Americans.

“Americans need to understand what has just occurred. At a stroke, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the nationalization of 18% of the United States economy, raised taxes by $1 trillion dollars, and jeopardized the American experiment through the most reckless and invasive legislation our generation has experienced.

“Liberals in Washington seek to transform our American republic into something far different from what our Founders envisioned. I strongly encourage families, friends, and churchgoers to discuss the implications of this ruling, and discuss what they can do about it in November and beyond.

Lila Rose of Live Action:

Today, the Supreme Court has upheld nothing more than a Ponzi scheme to expand the abortion business. If this legislation is not overturned by the next administration, Obamacare’s socialist-style diktats will be used, not to provide better or more affordable health care, but to expand Planned Parenthood’s abortion empire across the backs of American taxpayers and people of conscience – and at the expense of our religious freedoms.

In light of today’s ruling, Americans will greet Independence Day with prayer, sacrifice, and renewed energy to continue our opposition to this mandate. We must also recommit ourselves to restoring full constitutional protections of Life and Liberty to the most vulnerable in our society: unborn children.

Richard Viguerie:

"Today, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court of the United States -- the body the Framers of the Constitution created to protect the citizenry from tyranny -- has chosen to join infamous courts of the past, such as the Taney Court that made the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision finding that slaves had no rights and the Fuller Court that ruled to institutionalize Jim Crow discrimination in Plessy v. Ferguson in stripping Americans of their freedom.

"Those infamous decisions were eventually reversed, as this one should be.

"The Supreme Court's decision is a stark reminder that one presidential appointment to the Supreme Court is all that stood between our freedom and the tyranny that will grow ever greater now that the individual mandate has been upheld.

Peter Ferrara of the American Civil Rights Union:

"Before ObamaCare passed, the President of the United States told the whole country on TV that the individual mandate is not a tax. After ObamaCare passed, Barack Obama sent his lawyers into courts all over America to argue that it is constitutional because it is a tax.

"The Supreme Court of the United States just endorsed this fundamental dishonesty of our politics. The President intimidated Chief Justice John Roberts like Hugo Chavez intimidates the Venezuelan Supreme Court," Ferrara continued. "The Rule of Law is now dead. The American people have only one more chance now to save their country."

Rick Joyner of the Oak Initiative:

Nothing in our history will have been as devastating to destroying liberty in America like Obamacare if it is allowed to stand. Chief Justice Roberts incomprehensible reasoning for siding with the liberal justices affirmed the worst and most evil part of this bill, calling the individual mandate “a tax” when even Obama Administration lawyers had resolutely denied this. No one, liberal or conservative saw the kind of rationale for this ruling coming because it was not rational. Now it has potentially released the most evil hounds from hell against the American people. Now the gate is open to call anything the government wants to impose on us “a tax” and get away with it.

It is understandable that some are now making the assertion that Chief Justice Roberts’ medication used to control his epilepsy has taken a toll on his mental abilities and reasoning. Nothing else has come forward as an adequate explanation for why he would be the one to free Obamacare like he did to become the biggest grab of totalitarian power over America in history.

This decision has demeaned the Supreme Court itself and called into question the competence of the leader of it. Liberals now think they have an easy dupe to manipulate in the Chief Justice, and conservatives have had their trust in him shaken to the core. This is a terrible tragedy for our system of Justice, and with terrible timing.

Janet Porter Urges Seniors to Quit AARP for Backing 'Immoral' Gay Rights and 'Euthanasia'

Janet Porter on her Faith 2 Action radio bulletin today urged listeners to leave the AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, over their “advocacy for same-sex marriage” and “support for homosexual adoption.” She claimed that seniors should leave the organization not only over the group’s endorsement of “special rights for immoral behavior” but also because of their support for the health care reform law, which she says will lead to “more euthanasia and health care rationing for the elderly.”

Special rights for immoral behavior. Advocacy for same-sex marriage. Support for homosexual adoption. These are some of the things that the AARP does with the money from dues that they receive from the millions over the age of 50 that they’re supposed to represent. While many think of it as an organization that’s all about insurance, travel discounts, and group outings with friends, this is the very sad truth about the AARP. And, in spite of the fact that ObamaCare will probably lead to much more euthanasia and health care rationing for the elderly, AARP has been one of the leading supporters. If they don’t represent you, you can quit at members@aarp.com or call 888-687-2277.

Harvey Urges Parents To Refuse Care For Their Children From Gay Doctors

Linda Harvey of Mission America has a message for parents: don’t let your child be treated by a gay or lesbian doctor or nurse. On her radio show yesterday, Harvey said that parents should prohibit gay and lesbian health care employees from attending to their children because their sexual orientation is “erroneously influential to children.”

“There are a few homosexual doctors treating kids, there are far more nurses, LPNs, technicians and other health care workers in these lifestyles,” Harvey contends. “Should your child ever be hospitalized, you do not want your child treated or cared for by one of these members of the Children’s Hospital gay employees group.”

Listen:

How do you feel about open homosexuals tending to your child in a health care setting? Do you think these folks provide good role modeling at a time when your child is very vulnerable? I was thinking about this recently when I heard that Children’s Hospital in Columbus has a homosexual employees group called NCHARGE, which stands for Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Advocates Representing Gay Employees. The meeting minutes of this groups reveal that they participated in last June’s gay pride parade, that they participated in a health expo on adolescent health this summer and that they’re concerned about same-sex partner benefits. They’re also planning to be identified with rainbow lapel pins.

But let’s say your eleven year-old has broken her leg rather badly and needs to be in the hospital a few days, which would you prefer: a nurse who’s proud of her lesbianism, who has rainbow identifiers on her work clothing, or a nurse who does not?

I would like to suggest that parents think long and hard about this. If you want your children to admire people who proclaim a homosexual lifestyle, they’re involvement with your child during a hospital stay is sure to be an influence. And let me be clear that folks involved in these behaviors can be certainly competent workers but they are tacking on to their workplace identity one that is highly offensive to many people and can be erroneously influential to children who won’t, or shouldn’t, see the whole picture of how this behavior really manifests itself.

Here’s what parents can do: select your pediatrician very carefully, first of all. There are a few homosexual doctors treating kids, there are far more nurses, LPNs, technicians and other health care workers in these lifestyles so you may want to consider writing a letter that you file with your pediatrician that should your child ever be hospitalized, you do not want your child to be treated or cared for by one of these members of the Children’s Hospital gay employees group except in the case of an emergency situation. But for routine in-hospital care where contact with your child would be required, your values should be respected.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Los Angeles Times profiles the International House of Prayer.
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  • Bryan Fischer says "our next president must understand that the more devout a Muslim becomes ... the more of a threat he becomes to the national security of the United States."
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  • FRC defends the Protect Life Act, saying it simply "ensures that Americans who want health care insurance with abortion coverage or supplemental abortion coverage can purchase it, but not with federal dollars."
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  • Richard Land is demanding the Pentagon reverse the policy of allowing chaplains to officiate at gay weddings, saying it "degrades both the tradition of high moral conduct in the military and the vital and exclusive role of traditional marriage in society and within our military."
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  • Finally, the quote of the day from Gary Bauer: "The private company that owns Zuccotti Park backed down from its demand that the Wall Street protestors clear out so the park could be cleaned. And how did the protestors respond? Just as Iran or the jihadists in the Palestinian territories do — at the first sign of weakness they attack!"

Values Voter Summit 2011 & America in 2013

As RWW readers know, the Values Voter Summit, the year’s biggest political gathering for the Religious Right, took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.  Every Republican presidential candidate with the exception of Jon Huntsman addressed the summit, evidence of the continuing importance of Religious Right activists and political groups to the GOP. Polls suggest that the Religious Right is about twice as big as the Tea Party, with significant overlap between the two movements. Ron Paul’s campaign packed in enough voters to win the straw poll, but it would be wrong to say he was the favorite of the Values Voter crowd. It was up-and-coming candidate Herman Cain who won the loudest cheers (and took second place).

The two days of speeches from presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and Religious Right activists painted a clear picture of where they’ll try to take the country if they are successful in their 2012 electoral goals.  In their America, banks and corporations would be free from pesky consumer and worker protections; there would be no Environmental Protection Agency and no federal support for education; women would have no access to abortion; gays would be second-class citizens; and for at least some of them, religious minorities would have to know their place and be grateful that they are tolerated in this Christian nation. 
 
Here’s a recap of some major themes from the conference.
 
Religious Bigotry on Parade
 
In one of the most extreme expressions of the “Christian nation” approach to government, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has stated repeatedly that the religious liberty of non-Christians is not protected by the First Amendment.  More specifically, he says Mormons are not protected by the First Amendment.  For whatever reason, VVS organizers scheduled Romney and Fischer back-to-back on Saturday morning. 
 
Before the conference, People For the American Way called on Romney to take on Fischer’s bigotry, which he did, albeit in a vague and tepid manner, criticizing “poisonous” rhetoric without naming Fischer or explaining why his views are poison.  Getting greater media attention were comments by Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who in his introduction of Texas Gov. Rick Perry insisted on the importance of electing a “genuine” follower of Christ. Reporters who accurately saw this as a swipe at Romney’s faith asked Jeffress about it, and he labeled Mormonism a cult.  (Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many Christians, including Southern Baptists, believe Mormon theology is anything but.)  Following Romney at the microphone, Fischer doubled down, insisting that the next president has to be a Christian “in the mold of” the founding fathers.  Fischer’s inaccurate sense of history is eclipsed only by his lack of respect for church-state separation and for the Constitution itself – even though he insisted that his religious test for the presidency was really a “political test.” Romney took only four percent in the VVS straw poll, even though he has been leading in recent polls of GOP voters.
 
Beating up on Obama
 
Religious Right leaders routinely denounce President Barack Obama, so it is no surprise that a major theme of the VVS was attacking the president and his policies.  Perhaps the nicest thing anyone said about the president was Mitt Romney’s snide remark that Obama is “the conservative movement’s top recruiter.”    Among the nastiest came from virtue-monger Bill Bennett, who said, “if you voted for him last time to prove you are not a racist, you must vote against him this time to prove you are not an idiot.” Rep. Anne Buerkle, one of the Tea Party freshmen, said flat out that the president is not concerned about what is best for the country. 
 
Health care and foreign policy were top policy targets.  Many speakers denounced “Obamacare,” and most of the presidential candidates promised to make dismantling health care reform a top priority. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Religious Right favorite who is leading a legal challenge to the health care reform law, said that if the Supreme Court did not overturn it, Americans would go from being citizens to subjects.  Just about every speaker attacked President Obama for not being strong enough in support of Israel, and repeated a favorite right-wing talking point by pledging to “never apologize” for U.S. actions abroad.
 
Gays as Enemies of Liberty
 
It is clear that a Republican takeover of the Senate and White House would put advances toward equality for LGBT Americans in peril.  Speaker after speaker denounced the recent repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers in the armed forces; many also attacked marriage equality for same-sex couples.  And many portrayed liberty as a zero-sum game, insisting that advances toward equality posed a dire threat to religious liberty. Rep. Mike Pompeo said “You cannot use our military to promote social ideals that do not reflect the values of our nation,” concluding his remarks with a call for the election of more Republicans, saying “ride to the sounds of the guns and send us more troops.”
Another member of the 2010 freshman class – Rep. Vicky Hartzler – attacked the Obama administration for “trying to use the military to advance their social agenda,” saying, “It’s wrong and it must be stopped.” Predictably, the AFA’s Fischer was the most vitriolic and insisted that the country needs a president “who will treat homosexual behavior not as a political cause at all but as a threat to public health.”
 
Loving Wall Street, Hating Wall Street Protesters
 
On the same day that moving pictures of Kol Nidre services at the site of Occupy Wall Street protests made the rounds on the Internet, Values Voter Summit speakers portrayed the protests as dangerous and violent.  Others simply mocked the protesters without taking seriously the objections being raised to growing inequality and economic hardship in America.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor denounced the “growing mobs” associated with the protests and decried “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” (Too bad he didn’t stick around to hear the rest of the speakers).  Glenn Beck denounced “Jon Stewart Marxism” and warned that the protests were the sign of an approaching “storm of biblical proportions” in which “the violent left” would smash, tear down, kill, bankrupt, and destroy.  Pundit Laura Ingraham simply made fun of the protesters and held up her own “hug the rich” sign.  Rising star Herman Cain defended Wall Street, blaming the nation’s economic crisis on policymakers, not reckless and irresponsible financiers.  Nobody wanted to regulate the financiers; speakers called for a repeal of the Dodd-Frank law. 
 
A number of speakers promoted Christian Reconstructionist notions of “Biblical economics,” with Star Parker declaring that “this whole notion of redistribution of wealth is inconsistent with scripture” and calling for the selection of a candidate with commitment to the free market according to the Bible.  Ron Paul also insisted “debt is not a political principle.”  The AFA’s Bryan Fischer said that liberalism is based on violating two of the Ten Commandments, namely thou shall not steal, and thou shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.  Liberalism, he said, is “driven by angry, bitter, acquisitive greed for the wealth of productive Americans.” 
 
No Love for Libertarians
 
A major theme at last year’s Values Voter Summit, as at other recent Religious Right political events, was an effort to make social-issue libertarians unwelcome in the conservative movement by insisting that you cannot legitimately claim to be a fiscal conservative if you are not also pushing “traditional family values.”  The same theme was sounded this year by the very first speaker, Tony Perkins.  Another, Joe Carter, took a shot at gay conservatives, saying it was not possible to be conservative and for gay marriage – it simply made you a “liberal who likes tax cuts.”  Carter said “social conservative” should be redundant. Ingraham echoed the theme, calling for an end to conservative modifiers (social, fiscal, national security) and, echoing popular Christian writer C.S. Lewis, called for a commitment to “mere conservatism.”  There were far fewer mentions of the Tea Party movement itself at this year’s VVS, perhaps owing to the movement’s unpopularity – or to the fact that the GOP itself has essentially become one big Tea Party party.
 
Crying Wolf on Religious Persecution
 
Religious Right leaders routinely energize movement activists with dire warnings about threats to religious liberty and the alleged religious persecution of Christians in America.  William Bennett said liberals are bigoted against “people who publicly love their God, who publicly love their country.”  Retired Gen. William Boykin said Christians are facing the greatest persecution ever in America.   The American Center for Law & Justice’s Jay Sekulow warned that the next president will probably select two Supreme Court justices, and that if it isn’t a conservative president, our Judeo-Christian values could be “eliminated.”  Crying wolf about persecution of Christians in America is offensive given the very real suffering of people in countries that do not enjoy religious freedom.  Several speakers addressed the case of a Christian pastor facing death in Iran.  That is persecution; having your political tactics challenged or losing a court case is not.
 
America is Exceptional; Europe Sucks
 
Republican strategists decided a couple of years ago that “American exceptionalism” would be a campaign theme in 2010 and 2012, and we heard plenty of talk about it at the Values Voter Summit.  Among the many who spoke about American exceptionalism was Rep. Steve King, who said “this country was ordained and built by His hand,” that the Declaration of Independence was written with divine guidance, and that God moved the founding fathers around the globe like chess pieces .  Liberals, said the Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding, don’t share a belief in American exceptionalism or the American dream. Many speakers contrasted a freedom-loving, God-fearing America to socialist, post-Christian Europe.  Rick Perry said “those in the White House” don’t believe in American exceptionalism; they’d rather emulate the failed policies of Europe.  Gen. Boykin declared Europe “hopelessly lost.”
 
Smashing the Regulatory State
 
The anti-government, anti-regulatory fervor of billionaire right-wing funders like the Koch brothers was on vibrant display at the VVS.  Without the slightest nod to the fact that regulating the behavior of corporations’ treatment of workers, consumers, and the environment is in any way beneficial, a member of a Heritage Foundation panel said conservatives’ goal should be to “break the back” of the “regulatory state.”  Some presidential candidates vowed to halt every regulation issued during the Obama administration.  Michele Bachmann said her goal was to “dismantle” the bureaucracy.
 
Judging Judges
 
Many speakers criticized judges for upholding abortion rights, church-state separation, and gay rights. Newt Gingrich took these attacks to a whole new level, calling for right-wing politicians to provoke a  constitutional crisis in which the legislative and executive branch would ignore court rulings they didn’t like.  He called the notion of “judicial supremacy” an “affront to the American system of self-government.” Aside from Gingrich’s very dubious constitutional theory, the speech seemed out of place at a conference in which speakers had been calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the health care law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
 
Deconstructing the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’
 
VVS speakers love quoting the Declaration of Independence, but some are clearly a little troubled with the notion that the “pursuit of happiness” is an inalienable right, one that might apply, for example, to happy, loving gay couples.  Rick Santorum said that the founders’ understanding of “happiness” meant “the morally right thing” and doing what God wants.  Steve King said the  pursuit of happiness was not like a tailgate party, but the pursuit of excellence in moral and spiritual development.  Michele Bachman has equated the pursuit of happiness with private property.
 
Notably weird speeches
 
Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel gave a meandering address that moved from U.S. policy on Israel to the war on Islamic radicalism to an attack on the United Nations to denunciations of sexologist Alfred Kinsey and humanist/educator John Dewey for undermining western civilization. He warned against conservatives using rhetoric that might push the growing Latino population into the maw of the “leftist machine,” making an aside about Latinos whose names end in “z” having a special connection to Israel.
 
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who ended up taking third place in the straw poll, seemed personally hurt that conservative evangelicals weren’t rallying around him given all that he had done for them and the price he had paid for it.  He whined, “Don’t you want a president who’s comfortable in his shoes talking about these issues?”
 
Rep. Steve King of Iowa said that people who support marriage equality or legal abortion don’t do so because they have a value system supporting those things, but because they want to spite the Religious Right – “because they know it’s precious to us.”
 
Former Fox TV personality Glenn Beck gave a trademark lurching speech contrasting visceral anger with his recitation of Abraham Lincoln’s “with malice toward none.” The speech was long on mockery of Wall Street protestors and on the messianic narcissism that was on display at his Lincoln Memorial rally last year.  “We need to give America the same choice” that Moses gave Israel, he said: good or evil, light or dark, life or death, freedom or slavery.  He said America is in a religious war, a race war, a class war, and other wars.  In one breath he insisted that the nation “must return to God” and talked about the “country’s salvation” – and in the next he denounced the notion of “collective salvation,” which he has elsewhere attributed to President Obama and denounced as evil and satanic.
 

Who’s Who at the Values Voter Summit 2011

This weekend, nearly every major GOP presidential candidate, along with the top two Republicans in the House of Representatives, will speak at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of the leaders of the movement to integrate fundamentalist Christianity and American politics.

The candidates – Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – and the congressmen – House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor – will join a who’s who of the far Right at the event. The organizers of the Values Voter Summit and many of its prominent attendees are on the frontlines of removing hard-won rights for gay and lesbian Americans, restricting women’s access to reproductive healthcare, undermining the free exercise rights of non-Christian religions and breaking down the wall of separation between church and state.

In perhaps the starkest illustration of how far even mainstream Republican candidates are willing to go to appease the Religious Right, Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak immediately before the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, a man whose record of hate speech should be shocking by any standard. Along with regularly denigrating gays and lesbians, Muslims, and other minority groups, Fischer has no love for Romney’s Mormon faith. In a radio program last week, Fischer insisted that Mormons have no right to religious freedom under the First Amendment and falsely claimed that the LDS Church still sanctions polygamy.

People For the American Way has called on GOP presidential candidates appearing at the conference to denounce Fischer’s bigotry. Last year, PFAW issued a similar call to attendees, which was met with silence.

The following is a guide to some of the individuals with whom the leaders of the GOP will be rubbing shoulders at the Values Voter Summit this year.

Bryan Fischer

Bryan Fischer is the Director of Issues Analysis at the American Family Association, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Fischer acts as the chief spokesman for the group and also hosts its flagship radio program, Focal Point, on which he has interviewed a number of prominent figures including Bachmann, Gingrich, Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

On his radio program and in blog posts, Fischer frequently expresses unmitigated bigotry toward a number of minority groups, including gays and lesbians, Muslim Americans, Native Americans, low-income African Americans and Mormons.

Fischer has:

At a speech at last year’s Values Voter Summit, Fischer said that if Christians don’t get involved in politics, they “make a deliberate decision to turn over the running of the United States government to atheists and pagans.” Of the gay rights movement, he warned, “We are going to have to choose, as a nation, between the homosexual agenda and freedom, because the two cannot coexist.”

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the main organizer of this weekend’s summit. Perkins leads the group’s efforts against gay rights, abortion rights and church/state separation.

The FRC famously expressed its hostility to religious pluralism in a 2000 statement blasting a Hindu priest who was invited to give an opening prayer in Congress: "[W]hile it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage…. Our Founders … would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference."

The FRC has one of the most anti-gay platforms of any major political organization, including expressions of support for the criminalization of homosexuality. Earlier this year, the group called on members to pray for the continuation of Malawi’s law prohibiting homosexuality , under which a gay couple was sentenced to fourteen years in jail. Senior fellow Peter Sprigg said he would “much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”

Perkins himself frequently reflects the extreme views of his organization. He:

At last year’s Values Voter Summit, Perkins managed to simultaneously insult U.S. servicemembers and several important U.S. allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that armies that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly “ participate in parades, they don’t fight wars to keep the world free .”

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the head of the Liberty University School of Law and its legal affiliate, Liberty Counsel, both sponsors of the Values Voter Summit. Liberty Counsel vehemently opposes rights for gays and lesbians, and in July filed the lawsuit to overturn New York’s Marriage Equality Act . The group’s Director of Cultural Affairs Matt Barber has called marriage equality “ rebellion against God” and said LGBT youth are more likely to commit suicide because they know “ what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] is immoral .” Barber has also described liberalism as “hatred for God” and said the president and Democrats “are anti-God.” In fact, Liberty Counsel claimed that Obama is “ pushing America to move under the curse ” of God and “ jeopardizing our nation” for purportedly not supporting Israel.

Through his role at Liberty Counsel and on his radio program Faith & Freedom, Staver has:

Staver aggressively promotes “ex-gay” reparative therapy and warns that gays and lesbians are “ intent on trampling upon the fundamental freedoms ” of others. He is also closely linked to the saga of Lisa Miller, a woman represented by Liberty Counsel who kidnapped her daughter and fled to Central America after a court granted custody to her former partner, a lesbian woman. Although Liberty Counsel denies involvement in the kidnapping, earlier this year Miller was reportedly staying at the house of Staver’s administrative assistant’s father in Nicaragua . Staver has also taught the Miller case in his law classes as an example of an instance where “God’s law” preempts “man’s law.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin sparked a controversy when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the War on Terror as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative. In a speech at the group’s conference in April, he declared that George Soros and the Council on Foreign Relations conspired to collapse the U.S. economy in order to help President Obama get elected. Last year, he told the group that President Obama was using his health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him .

Star Parker

Parker is a long-time Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-abortion rights work. As Washington, DC was poised to legalize marriage equality, Parker warned that it would lead to more HIV infections in the city, which would “ transform officially into Sodom.” In a recent radio interview with Tony Perkins, Parker mused that black family life was “ more healthy” under slavery than it is today and has accused liberals of treating Justice Clarence Thomas and Gov. Sarah Palin like runaway slaves. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust.

Ed Vitagliano

As the AFA’s research director, Ed Vitagliano helped co-produce the 2000 anti-gay documentary “It’s Not Gay,” which is riddled with misleading statistics about gays and lesbians and promotes “ex-gay” reparative therapy. The “documentary” starred ex-gay leader Michael Johnston, a self-described “former homosexual,” who was later revealed to have been secretly having sex with other men. Vitagliano’s anti-gay work has continued apace — on the AFA’s radio program this year, Vitagliano argued that gay men are “ abusing the nature of the design of the human body” and said homosexuality is not a “ natural and normal and healthy activity.” Vitagliano also scolded congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis for supporting marriage equality , saying that Lewis “thumbed [his] nose” at God and “needs to go back and read his Bible.”

Bishop Harry Jackson

Jackson, who built his career as an avowed opponent of rights for gays and lesbians, is a regular speaker at Religious Right conferences. He has called for a “SWAT Team” of “Holy Ghost terrorists” to work against hate crimes legislation that protects gays and lesbians, and said that black organizations that support gay rights have “ sold out the black community” and have been “ co-opted by the radical gay movement .” Jackson claims that gay marriage is part of “ a Satanic plot to destroy our seed” and that the larger gay rights movement is “ an insidious intrusion of the Devil.”

Along with his fierce opposition to LGBT rights, Jackson has compared legal abortion to “lynching” and urged the Senate to defeat Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court because she is not a Protestant (Kagan is Jewish). Jackson has even described his political efforts in apocalyptic terms, telling a Religious Right group before the 2010 elections, “God is saying to us ‘I want to pick a fight in which I can wipe out my enemies and cause them to be silenced once and for all.’ This is where America is; if we do not recognize and repent, we are going to see our way of life destroyed as we now know it.”

Lila Rose

Rose is the anti-choice activist responsible for carrying out a deceptive hit job against Planned Parenthood this year. Members of Rose’s group, Live Action, went to Planned Parenthood clinics around the country posing as clients seeking help with a child sex trafficking ring. Planned Parenthood alerted the FBI about the activity, and the one staffer who handled the supposed traffickers inappropriately was promptly fired. Nevertheless, Rose claimed that her hoax proved “beyond a shadow of a doubt that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks state and federal laws and covers up the abuse of young girls it claims to serve.”

Rose is no newcomer to the Values Voter Summit: in a speech at 2009’s summit, she called for abortions to be performed “in the public square.”

Glenn Beck

Until Beck’s Fox News program was canceled earlier this year, he was one of the Right’s most visible fear-mongers and conspiracy theorists. When his violent rhetoric inspired some real threats against progressive leaders, he laughed off the critics who urged him to choose his words more responsibly. Beck’s elaborate conspiracy theories include the idea that socialists and Islamists were planning a global caliphate, with the help of American progressives; an obsession with the progressive funder George Soros, at whom he leveled a number of anti-Semitic smears including a personal attack that the Anti-Defamation league called “horrific”; and a distrust of President Obama, who he once said was “racist” with a “ deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture .”

On air, Beck joked about killing prominent progressives (for instance, poisoning Nancy Pelosi’s wine), but frequently insisted that it is progressives who were urging violence, even predicting his own martyrdom. In one 2010 broadcast, he warned that "anarchists, Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists" have to "eliminate 10 percent of the U.S. population" in order to "gain control."

After a terrorist in Oslo killed dozens of young members of Norway’s Labor Party at an island summer camp, Beck attacked the victims , comparing the camp to “Hitler Youth” and calling it “disturbing.”

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Disappointingly, Mike Huckabee is not considering entering the Republican presidential race.
  • Glenn Beck is now targeting kids with a new children's show on his GBTV network.
  • Bryan Fischer's latest conspiracy theory is about how President Obama wants the Supreme Court to strike down health care reform so that he can use it to win re-election.
  • Shocklingly, FRC is not happy that military chaplains can now conduct same-sex marriage.
  • On a related note, Elaine Donnelly says it is ridiculous for the military to recruit at gay venues.
  • Finally, Liberty University is taking more government money.

Pavone Says Support For Abortion Rights Is Akin To Supporting Terrorism

While in Amarillo, Texas, after his archdiocese recalled him from New York over allegations of financial mismanagement, Frank Pavone of Priests for Life is still making his voice heard. Pavone writes in his blog today that in the same way voters cannot find common ground with politicians that support terrorism, they can’t find common ground with pro-choice candidates:

“When I preach – and help other priests to preach – the clear message that candidates and parties must defend life, some – including clergy – complain to me that my message hurts their favorite candidate or party. My response? ‘Go tell your favorite candidate or party to get the babies’ blood off their hands and clean up their act regarding defending life. Then my words won’t hurt them anymore.’ ”

… “What if a candidate supported terrorism,” Father Pavone asked. “Would citizens say, ‘Well, I disagree with you on terrorism, but what’s your health care plan? Maybe we can work together on some social programs. After all, terrorism isn’t the only issue.

Susan Tyrrell at Lou Engle’s group Bound4Life made a similar claim today, saying that Christians who voted for pro-choice candidates are succumbing to the “spirit of the antichrist”:

Cut to the 2008 election season. As polls burgeoned nationwide on who was voting for whom and why, a recurring theme emerged: the economy. Voters said over and over that was their primary concern. Unfortunately, many Christian voters said this as well. It caused many to utter rationalizations such as “who I vote for won’t change abortion, but we need to help the poor. That’s what Jesus would do.” Actually so would the devil.

The devil actually feeds his business on helping the poor. This is the spirit driving the modern social justice movement that says we should help those less fortunate at all costs. The truth is, we should help those less fortunate—but only at the cost of the blood of Jesus. Not the blood of 54 million babies.

We have become worshipers of the god of riches. That’s the reason we have so much federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and why the latest recommendation for national health care includes a mandate for birth control coverage, including abortive birth control. If every person who called him or herself a Christian were standing against these issues vocally and publicly, there would be no debate. We are more in number than Planned Parenthood, NOW, Congress, the National Institutes of Health—all of them put together. The fact is, money is behind it all and since more pro-abortion policies have been in place since January 2009, we have watched our nation pursue the American dream of wealth in the name of practicality and security. We care more about our personal comfort than we do righteousness when we live this way. And that is the very spirit of the antichrist who uses this very method to find his worshipers.

Perry, Prayer, Politics and the Presidency

Casual viewers of “The Response,” including some political reporters who don’t pay a lot of attention to the Religious Right, may have watched Texas Governor Rick Perry’s prayer rally on Saturday and wondered what all the fuss was about.  Most of the time was taken up with prayer and praise music.  Few of the speakers seemed overtly political.  Nobody used the occasion to endorse Perry’s pending presidential bid.

But context is everything, and the context for this event was remarkable: a governor launching a presidential bid by teaming up with some of the nation’s most divisive extremists to hold a Christians-only prayer rally that suggested Americans are helpless to solve the country’s problems without divine intervention. Some media coverage is missing the boat: the issue wasn’t whether it was ok for a politician to pray, or the size of the audience, but the purposes of the event’s planners and their disturbing vision for America.

Organizers argued (unconvincingly) that “The Response” was about prayer, not politics. But groups like the American Family Association (AFA), which paid for the rally and its webcast, and organizations like the Family Research Council, whose president was among the speakers, are not designed to win souls but to change American law and culture through grassroots organizing and political power-building.  They have a corrosive effect on our political culture by promoting religious bigotry and anti-gay extremism, by claiming that the United States was meant to be a Christian nation, and by fostering resentment among conservative evangelicals with repeated false assertions that liberal elites are out to destroy religious liberty and silence conservative religious voices.

By calling for this rally, and partnering with the far right of the evangelical world, Perry aligned himself with all these troubling strategies.  When he drew criticism for the event and the extremism of its sponsors, Perry suggested his critics were intolerant of Christians.  Speakers returned to the theme, with one of them declaring that “there is an attack on the name of Jesus.” Such claims of anti-Christian persecution are a tried-and-true strategy of the Religious Right for rousing conservative Christians to political activism.  And for those who actually believe that Christianity is on the verge of being criminalized in America, Perry’s event defined him as a defiant and courageous defender of the faith. 

As journalist Dave Weigel writes, “That's the brilliance of what Perry has done here…He doesn't need to talk about politics, or do anything besides be here and understand this event. The religion is the politics. These worshippers understand that if they can bring ‘the kingdom of God’ to Earth, economic problems, even macroeconomic problems, will sort themselves out.”

A major chunk of the day was given over to Mike Bickle, who runs the International House of Prayer (IHOP) movement, which recruits young people into “radical” devotion to prayer and fasting. Yes, he’s the guy who said that Oprah is paving the way for the Antichrist. Bickle’s associate Lou Engle has organized a series of stadium events pushing prayer, fasting, and politics under the banner of “The Call,” which provided the model for “The Response.”  Bickle and Engle are hard-core dominionists who believe they are ushering in a new Christian church which will take its rightful place of dominion over every aspect of government and society.  But in spite of their well-documented extremism, they are embraced by Republican leaders.  Engle, for example, took part in a Family Research Council prayer-a-thon against health care reform, at which he introduced Rep. Michele Bachmann.

The Christian-nation crowd, like Response speaker David Barton and AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer, who says the First Amendment protects only Christians’ religious liberty, shares a certain vision for America’s future.  Some of the political goals of “The Response” sponsors were brutally clear at the rally; a series of speakers prayed for an end to legal abortion.  While rhetorical gay-bashing was surprisingly absent at an event whose sponsors include the most vehemently anti-gay groups in America (including the AFA, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), it is clear that in the America envisioned by “The Response” planners, same-sex couples would have no chance at legal recognition or protection for their families.  Shortly before the event, Perry himself was forced to walk back from his very brief flirtation with a states’ rights defense of New Yorkers’ decision to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples -- and to vow his support for a federal constitutional amendment that would strip married same-sex couples of their rights and make sure that in the future gay couples could not get married anywhere in the U.S.
And lest anyone think that Perry’s religious agenda is limited to social issues, he made clear that a rigid conservative economic agenda was central to his spiritual mission. Just days before the rally, on “The 700 Club,” Perry said he’d be praying for “our country’s economic prosperity. There just so many people that can’t take care of their family because government’s over-taxed, over-regulated, over-litigated, it caused roadblocks to economic prosperity.” Those words echo the theology of activists like Barton, who have preached that the Bible condemns progressive taxation, the minimum wage and collective bargaining.
 
Perry is clearly positioning himself to enter the Republican presidential primary as a political savior to right-wing activists who are underwhelmed with their choices so far.  Yet, oddly for someone who wants to be president, he insists that America’s problems are beyond human ability to fix. (Sadly, that may only be true to the extent that enough legislators believe that God, like Grover Norquist, is opposed to any tax increases.)

Perry’s worldview and that of “The Response” organizers seems to see no useful role for non-Christian Americans, whose religious beliefs were denigrated at “The Response.”  When Perry told Americans on Saturday that we, “as a nation,” must return to God, it’s clear he meant God as understood by the event’s organizers.  Jim Garlow, who organized anti-marriage equality pastors in California before being hired by Newt Gingrich to run one of his political groups, told journalist Sarah Posner on Saturday that “The Response” was “not about whether Perry becomes president, it’s about making Jesus king.” Perry used the event to let right-wing religious voters and churches nationwide know that for those who see politics as spiritual warfare, he is the warrior they have been waiting for.

Is Wendy Wright Out At Concerned Women For America?

Wendy Wright may be out of a job at Concerned Women for America. Once President and CEO of the powerful Religious Right organization, she appears to have been eclipsed by the new CEO Penny Young Nance. Now, Wright has been completely removed from CWA’s leadership page and her bio was taken down (you can still see her cached page). In fact, she is listed as “Past President, Concerned Women for America” on this new social conservative petition opposing government social services programs.

 

An outspoken opponent of evolution science, reproductive freedom and LGBT rights, Wright had a long career marshalling the Religious Right.

She was a frequent visitor to the White House during the Bush administration, although wasn’t a fan of the Obama administration’s attempts to bring progressive and conservative groups together to reduce the need for abortion (she claims there is never a “need” for abortion). On LGBT rights issues, Wright lobbied hard against hate crimes laws, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. She flatly dismissed a comprehensive study that showed the fitness of gay and lesbian parents and said that she and her allies were victims of discrimination from “homosexual activists,” while doubting the existence of any discriminatory laws in the US. In 2008, Wright blasted Hallmark for allegedly trying to “destroy the family” by supposedly pushing “homosexual messages.”

“There is no evidence of evolution from one species to another,” she told evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, arguing that there is no substantiation for evolutionary theory. Wright also argued that evolution science was responsible for “horrific abuses against human beings.”

Wright even contends that environmental protection efforts are devastating for humanity, arguing in the Resisting the Green Dragon series: “the policies that environmental groups and even these evangelical groups got behind were ones that would consign the poorest people around the world to grinding poverty, to disease, to premature death.” During the debate over health care reform, Wright claimed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act violated all of the Ten Commandments and mocked the law’s plans to combat racism in the health care sector.

We’ll miss you Wendy! Although I have a feeling you won’t be gone for long…

Is Rick Perry a moderate? Perhaps, if the price is right.

Cross-Posted on the People For blog

Here at People For the American Way, we’ve spent the last several weeks marveling as Texas Gov. Rick Perry plans a blockbuster Christian prayer rally in Houston, gathering around him a remarkable collection of Religious Right extremists – from a pastor who claims that the Statue of Liberty is a “demonic idol” to a self-described “apostle” who blamed last year’s mysterious bird deaths in Arkansas on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Perry claims the event is apolitical, but it is conveniently timed to coincide with the possible launching of his presidential bid and bolstered by groups that are dedicated to working far-right evangelical values into American politics.

Which is why we were all surprised today to find a story in The Hill titled “At second glance, Texas Gov. Rick Perry not as conservative as some think.” Really?


The evidence presented for Perry’s maverick-moderate tilt is that the governor has taken some reasonable positions on immigration reform and that he once angered Religious Right groups by requiring that all 6th grade girls in the state receive a vaccine for HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer.


Perry’s 2007 executive order requiring that the vaccine be offered to Texas’s sixth graders was a wonderful, progressive public health policy…but seemed a little odd coming from a far-right Texas governor. Interestingly, while the move angered Perry’s supporters on the Religious Right, it made one constituency very happy: lobbyists for Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical giant that manufactured the vaccine and stood to gain billions from the new law. The Associated Press reported at the time on the cozy relationship Merck had developed with the newly-reelected Texas governor:


Merck is bankrolling efforts to pass laws in state legislatures across the country mandating it Gardasil vaccine for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

Details of the order were not immediately available, but the governor's office confirmed to The Associated Press that he was signing the order and he would comment Friday afternoon.

Perry has several ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company's three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, his former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.

Toomey was expected to be able to woo conservative legislators concerned about the requirement stepping on parent's rights and about signaling tacit approval of sexual activity to young girls. Delisi, as head of the House public health committee, which likely would have considered legislation filed by a Democratic member, also would have helped ease conservative opposition.

Perry also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign.

Maybe Gov. Perry just really cared about helping prevent an epidemic and helping girls in Texas receive good medical care. On the other hand, health care for Texans doesn’t seem to have been a major priority for Perry: by last year, the tenth year of his governorship, Texas ranked last in the country in terms of the percentage of the population with health insurance and the percentage of insured children.


The “Perry bucks the Religious Right for the health of young girls” story will probably continue to reappear as he continues to be lauded as the Republican Party’s last, best hope for 2012. But the full story in no way proves that Perry’s an independent-minded moderate. Instead, it offers a case study of the sometimes conflicting priorities of the Religious and Corporate Right, and a politician who tries to appease them both.

 

Religious Right Activists Warn GOP Not To Nominate Mitt Romney

Right-wing activist and former California legislator Steve Baldwin has organized an open letter to “Conservative, Catholic and Evangelical Leaders” asking them to refuse support for Mitt Romney’s campaign for president. Already a number of activists including failed US Senate candidate and Tea Party hero Joe Miller; Rick Scarborough of Vision America; Brian Camenker of MassResistance; Linda Harvey of Mission America; Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association; Ted Beahr of WND and Movieguide; Gary Glenn of American Family Association-Michigan, Kelly Shackleford of the Liberty Institute; Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation; Floyd Brown of WND; Dick and Richard Bott of Bott Family Radio, and the leaders of a number of anti-choice groups have signed the letter.

The letter says that “a Romney candidacy would be disastrous for the conservative movement and for the country,” writing that he is insincere in his conservative beliefs and “continues to support many aspects of the homosexual agenda even today.” The activists claim that “the flatly illegal charade of ‘gay’ marriage exists solely in Massachusetts due to Governor Romney’s illegal actions,” and lists numerous other issues including abortion rights and health care reform where Romney has reversed himself: “Romney has also been both in favor and against minimum wage legislation, capital gains taxes, gun control, amnesty for illegal aliens, campaign finance reform, the Kyoto agreement, gambling, gun control, and many other issues.”

They conclude by warning that nominating Romney “would be a disastrous mistake”:

Most disturbing is the key role Mitt Romney played in accelerating two of the greatest threats to our Judeo-Christian culture and free enterprise system: Homosexual marriage and government control of health care. In both instances, the actions Romney took – or didn’t take – on homosexual marriage and RomneyCare have done lasting damage to our country. Romney’s aggressive efforts to implement the unconstitutional Goodridge decision set a precedent which inspired pro-homosexual marriage activity nationwide, and his RomneyCare bill served as the model for ObamaCare, the biggest lurch toward socialism since the New Deal.

As such, Romney has done more damage to America in his four years as Governor than any Democrat officeholder we can think of. But Romney, to this day, defends his actions on both fronts and sincerely believes he has done nothing wrong, an attitude which only raises additional questions about his fitness for national office. We must question his worldview, his sincerity, and his judgment. We believe the election of Mitt Romney would be a disastrous mistake for the conservative movement and for the country.

Rick Perry Partner John Benefiel Claims Homosexuality Is An Illuminati Conspiracy

Earlier today we posted video of “Apostle” John Benefiel, an official endorser of Rick Perry’s The Response prayer rally, arguing that the Statue of Liberty is a “demonic idol” used for pagan worship. In the same sermon, Benefiel claims that homosexuality is a plot by the Illuminati to “control the population.” He says that the Illuminati intend to reduce the world population to just 500 million people and that, along with the recently passed health care reform law, the secretive group will use homosexuality as a “perverted way” to bring about “a death culture” and population control.

Benefiel also insists that homosexuality is a “stronghold” of the “demon god” Baal.

Watch:

Homosexuality was and is one of [Baal’s] big strongholds. Now we’re not against homosexuals, but we are against homosexuality because the Bible very—clearly God says ‘I hate it, don’t do it.’ By the way, homosexuality is a great way to control the population. Do you understand? I’m serious about this and I’ve seen this in lots of places, that the entity that we call the Illuminati which is really over, above Free Masonry, has stated it as their goal…to limit the world population to no more than 500 million. Do you realize that means getting rid of all of us? Because there’s between 6 and 7 billion people in the world today, and to get from 6 to 7 billion down to 500 million you gonna have to kill a lot of people off. What do you think the health care bill is? Oh yes, it’s a death culture. What about homosexuality, that’s a great way to limit the population. It’s not a great way it’s a perverted way, isn’t it.

Remembrance of Bachmann Things Past: Praying To Stop Healthcare Reform

Given that Rep. Michele Bachmann is now running for president and among the Republican frontrunners, I was going through our Bachmann archives collecting past posts chronicling the absolute fringe Religious Right leaders with whom Bachmann has eagerly associated herself since getting elected to Congress.

In doing so, I noticed that we had lost our video of Bachmann and Lou Engle at the Family Research Council's 2009 "Prayercast" which was organized in order to seek God's intervention in preventing the passage of health care reform.

And so I thought it might be a good idea to get that video reposted:

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Towleroad: The FBI Invited Westboro Baptist Church to Train its Police Officers and Agents.
  • Bill Berkowitz @ AlterNet: Why Is Jerry Falwell's Evangelical University Getting Filthy Rich off Your Tax Money?
  • Steve Benen: How health care rulings are covered.
  • Carlos Maza @ Equality Matters: Pat Robertson’s “Sodom” Comments Are In Line With Those Of NOM, FRC.
  • Good As You: Santorum says marriage equality 'an assault at the very core of America.'
  • Media Matters: The 50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said On Fox News.

Dr. Barton Recommends Getting Your Healthcare Advice Straight From The Bible

Last week, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube of a presentation David Barton made at a Citizens for Community Values banquet earlier this year and decided to watch it.  But by now, I have seen Barton's standard presentation so many times that I could almost recite it by heart and this one was no different from any of the dozens of other such presentations I have watched him deliver ... with one exception.

In this presentation, Barton made an aside to recommend a book called "None Of These Diseases" by S.I. McMillen, calling it "one of the best healthcare books you'll ever read."  So I decided to order a copy - not one of the updated and whitewashed versions being sold today, but the original 1963 version that read just as McMillen intended it - and, once I received it, it became obvious as why Barton would recommend it since it is basically a medical version of the sort of political propaganda that Barton peddles professionally. 

Most of the book is dedicated to explaining how all medical advances were first foretold in the Bible and declaring that people would be so much happier and healthier if they just followed the health advice set forth in Scripture ... and how it would protect them from schizophrenia:

The individual who has Christ in his heart and the Bible in his hand has splendid fortifications against man's greatest mental disturbance - schizophrenia. Why do I make that statement? It is medically recognized that schizophrenia is the result of anxiety stemming from an inability to meet the adjustments of adulthood. In highly predisposed individuals even a little anxiety can tip the scales. Furthermore, it is felt that any individual, if subjected to sufficient stress, could experience the schizophrenic reaction.

Naturally, anything that lessens anxiety is important in the prevention of schizophrenia. In reduction of anxiety, nothing is more important than spiritual conversion and Christian living. Anyone who ever truly repented his sins and asked God to forgive him can never forget the miraculous way in which his mind was immediately freed of "the guilt complex."

Elsewhere, McMillen states that promiscuity is the cause of arthritis and insanity and that it is not necessary for women to experience orgasm:

Many a young girl has dampened my desk with her tears. The shame, the disgrace, and the ostracism brand her, and the pain often lasts through many years. A great variety of resulting neurotic manifestations can produce any of the many psychosomatic diseases. The community does not know, but the physician knows, that breaking through God's fences around sex is the basic cause of Kathy's toxic goiter, or Helen's arthritis, or Suzanne's commitment to the insane asylum.

...

Some authorities state that less than half of married women have ever experienced sexual orgasm. However, the emotions they derive from the sexual act are beautiful and completely gratifying without the need for any physical climax. Their emotions are diffused throughout their bodies. To them the glowing embers of hardwood are just as satisfying as the quick bright flash of a little gunpowder.

Finally, McMillen recommended to a woman whose husband had punched her in the face that the key to a happy marriage was her submission:

Then, as Yvonne held an ice bag over her left eye and looked at me with the other, I gave her a little marriage counseling, somewhat belated to be sure. I ended my lecture with words something like these: "Yvonne, in every marriage, situations are bound to arise in which one of the partners must give in, out of consideration and love for the other partner. Don't feel sorry for yourself if you discover that you are the one who has to give in most of the time. I have strange but good news for you: when you give in to Mike, you are losing your life in the one and only way to find life and worthwhile happiness. The secret to happiness in married life depends on each partner making small sacrifices, readily and cheerfully."

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health care Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Monday 03/04/2013, 11:30am
Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum on Friday warned that the Obama administration has estimated that the average family will pay a minimum of $20,000 for health insurance once the health care reform law goes fully into effect. The only problem with Schlafly’s claim is that the government never issued such an estimate. The IRS simply used the $20,000 figure as an example for calculating the “shared responsibility payment,” or penalty, for a nonexempt family that does not acquire health insurance. As the Annenberg Center’s FactCheck.org notes: The IRS used $20,000 in a... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 07/11/2012, 11:15am
Washington Times columnist and Edmund Burke Institute president Jeffrey Kuhner doesn’t seem too happy with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care reform law, telling Janet Mefferd yesterday that the ruling “signals the end of our Constitutional republic as we know it” and “the end of traditional America as we know it.” “We are now living in an age of a creeping, soft, socialist tyranny,” Kuhner warned, even alleging that the government can potentially mandate that people stop “using toilet paper because it’s bad for... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 07/10/2012, 2:40pm
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) appeared on WallBuilders Live today alongside hosts David Barton and Rick Green to discuss the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care reform law. The congressman maintained that the law “removes the very freedom and liberty that our founders fought for at its very core” and if it is implemented then America will no longer be “the America that you and I love” and that “our founders fought for.” Price went on to cite a sham, Tea Party study heralded throughout conservative media, to claim that “around eighty... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 07/06/2012, 10:55am
Musician and Mitt Romney backer Ted Nugent took to the Washington Times today to blast the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Roberts in particular, for upholding the “un-American, Constitution-violating” health care reform law. “Because our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government hold the 10th Amendment in contempt,” Nugent writes, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.” Nugent, who was successfully courted by Mitt Romney in April, goes on to claim that the Supreme Court’s... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 06/28/2012, 10:51am
Today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010, is constitutional.  Below we are collecting reactions from right-wing and Religious Right groups and individuals as they are released: Sarah Palin (via Twitter): Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn't a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council: "Today's Supreme Court decision will do serious harm to American families. Not only is the individual mandate a profound attack on our liberties, but it is only one section among... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 03/02/2012, 11:50am
Janet Porter on her Faith 2 Action radio bulletin today urged listeners to leave the AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, over their “advocacy for same-sex marriage” and “support for homosexual adoption.” She claimed that seniors should leave the organization not only over the group’s endorsement of “special rights for immoral behavior” but also because of their support for the health care reform law, which she says will lead to “more euthanasia and health care rationing for the elderly.” Special rights for immoral... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/19/2011, 1:30pm
Linda Harvey of Mission America has a message for parents: don’t let your child be treated by a gay or lesbian doctor or nurse. On her radio show yesterday, Harvey said that parents should prohibit gay and lesbian health care employees from attending to their children because their sexual orientation is “erroneously influential to children.” “There are a few homosexual doctors treating kids, there are far more nurses, LPNs, technicians and other health care workers in these lifestyles,” Harvey contends. “Should your child ever be hospitalized, you do not... MORE