health care reform

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him rightly I believe of being confused of what his branch of government is supposed to do, do you believe that Roberts superseded his branch of government?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.

Troy Newman Compares Supreme Court Decision on Health Care to 9/11, Nazi Germany

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman reiterated his pledge not to comply with the health care reform law while speaking with Janet Mefferd on Friday, telling Mefferd that like the leaders of the American Revolution who protested British taxation he will not “chip into this ungodly health care system.” While speaking about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Newman said people “experienced this day like we did 9/11” and must now think about how people might have acted under Nazi Germany, warning that “we are all moving down the road toward complete annihilation”:

As an employer, we’re going to be forced to chip into this ungodly health care system and we are not going to pay. I am going on the record; we will not send the federal government a dime. Now, if they send the IRS on us then it’s not a health care issue then it’s simply a failure to pay our tax, as John Roberts said, this is now a tax. Well, what did we have a revolution for: taxation without representation. We went to war and real Christians picked up real guns and defeated a real army. I’m not calling for an insurrection or to take up guns but I’m saying that they thought it was so serious that they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to have a land that we live in, which is three greatest experiment in human liberty based on Christian principles the world has ever known, and all of that is at stake.



You know we always get surprised at what happened in Nazi Germany and we say, ‘if I had been there I wouldn’t do that,’ or we think back and think, ‘that was sixty or seventy years ago, how could that have happened, that was all in the past, all that draconian, totalitarian, socialist actions were in the past.’ Here we have a decision, a landmark ruling which will go down in history and every single person listening to this radio program was alive and experienced this day like we did 9/11. The question is, what will our response be?



The courts are not the answer. There’s checks and balances in this country and there is no check and there is no balance. We are all moving down the road toward complete annihilation. Some people want to go at 100 MPH and some people want to go at 30 or 40 or 50 MPH, but I think this is a wakeup call. The entire Supreme Court should be impeached, the entire Congress should be impeached, we should replace the president in November.

Rick Joyner's Hellish Attack on Chief Justice John Roberts

As Kyle has been documenting, there is no shortage of rhetorical excess from right-wing leaders upset about the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act.  But the response from Rick Joyner, head of MorningStar Ministries and the dominionist Oak Initiative, has to be among the most unhinged. Joyner has a penchant for apocalyptic rhetoric, warning of demonic threats and natural disasters facing an unrepentant America.

Joyner is embraced by other right-wing leaders, appearing at the Awakening conferences organized by the Liberty Counsel and the Freedom Federation, a Religious Right super-group of which Joyner’s organization is a member.  Sen. Jim DeMint spoke earlier this month at a “Freedom Congress” organized by Joyner.

In a “special bulletin” appropriately titled “Dazed and Confused,” Joyner goes after Chief Justice John Roberts with literally hellish relish.  Roberts’ reasoning, he says, “could potentially open the biggest gate of hell into our nation and culture by the Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade” and “has potentially released the most evil hounds from hell against the American people.”

Joyner even suggests that Roberts is, quite literally, on drugs:

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,” says Joyner, “has deepened our national crisis, and jeopardized our Constitution at a most inopportune and dangerous time.”

It now seems that the American Republic is under unrelenting attack from every possible direction. Let us not faint, but keep in mind that the greatest victories only come when there are great battles. No doubt this will wake up many more Americans to the battle we are in. Great souls run to the sound of battle, not away from it. America still has many great souls who will fight regardless of the odds against them, and who will stand and never surrender for the sake of the freedom that was their birthright. This Supreme Court Decision has only increased the volume of the alarm and we can expect many more to hear it now.

Joyner had much kinder words for Mitt Romney, quoting the candidate’s response to the ruling and his “resolve” to repeal the health care reform law.

Michele Bachmann Exposes Media Plot to Swing Justice Kennedy's Vote on Health Care Reform

While most readers found the recent Time Magazine profile of Justice Anthony Kennedy to be an innocuous piece about the justice who has emerged as a deciding vote on some of the more divisive Supreme Court decisions, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) sees a surreptitious effort by the media to convince Kennedy to uphold the health care reform law.

While speaking to Sandy Rios of the American Family Association earlier this week, Bachmann warned that if Kennedy is “succumbing to flattery in the media” then “he could potentially be persuaded to go the way of the left,” as liberals “are not above doing anything that they can to influence that one swing voter.” She insisted that if the ruling is upheld, potentially due to media influence, it will mean “the end of our Constitution and the end of our Republic as we know it” in addition to “one of the final so to speak nails in the coffin to our country.”

Listen:

Rios: I’ve been out of the country Michele but when I came back one of the first things I did was spotted TIME Magazine, I don’t know if you saw this, but Anthony Kennedy’s face, they did an entire, many, many, many pages profile of Anthony Kennedy with his picture on the cover, a very flattering profile as you can imagine. I thought at the time, that was just last weekend, I thought, ‘this doesn’t seem appropriate to me.’ They are getting ready to make all these major decisions and they are talking about that he is the main vote on the court because he is the swing vote, this is what they always say, and they do this total puff piece on him, didn’t you think that was a little unseemly?

Bachmann: I think that what we need to recognize is that the left is committed to outcome-based Supreme Court decisions, they want what they want, bottom line, the end justifies the means, they want socialized medicine, they want the government to control it and so they are not above doing anything that they can to influence that one swing voter. By everyone’s estimation, Anthony Kennedy is the justice who will make the decision if we have socialized medicine, which in my opinion will be the end of our Constitution and the end of our Republic as we know it. It will bankrupt us, there is no question Obamacare will do that, and it will change our relationship to government forever. I think it will be one of the final so to speak nails in the coffin to our country. If he makes that decision and if he is succumbing to flattery in the media, and these are human beings we’re talking about, he could potentially be persuaded to go the way of the left, that could be, and I think that’s why it wouldn’t surprise me at all that we are seeing these big, flattery pieces.

Bachmann says the 'Lord had Called Me' to Run for President to criticize Obamacare

Michele Bachmann yesterday sat down with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, two days before delivering the commencement address at Regent University (formerly CBN University), where she reiterated her claim that God called her to run for president. Bachmann, who ended her campaign following a sixth place finish in the Iowa Caucus with just 5% of the vote, told Brody that her purpose in the race was to drive the push to repeal the health care reform law, and also agreed with Brody’s analysis that she ran an “impeccable” and “mistake-free campaign.” “We were extremely careful,” Bachmann said, “and we were almost mistake free, but for those two points, Elvis Presley’s birthday and John Wayne’s birthplace.” Many might beg to differ, as she misplaced the first battle of the Revolutionary War, said the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation, called John Quincy Adams a Founding Father to back up her claim that the Founders actually opposed slavery and linked the Swine Flu to Democratic presidents, among countless others.

Barber: Failure to Overturn 'Obamacare' is Judicial Activism Through Omission

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Matt Barber and Shawn Akers were positively incensed by President Obama's "shameless attack on U.S. Supreme Court Justices," by which they meant his remarks from a few weeks ago that it would be "unprecedented" for the Supreme Court to  strike down health care reform legislation.

Despite the fact that President Bush made a very similar point during his presidency, Barber was particularly outraged at the idea that Obama would dare to call it "judicial activism" because, as he explained, not striking down health care reform would be judicial activism by omission:

Any judge that is not an Originalist is acting in a counter-constitutional manner. We have four Justices currently sitting, at least, on the bench of the United States Supreme Court that buy into this living, breathing model of the Constitution, that it is whatever we say it is whenever we say it is. So clearly this was a disingenuous portrayal of what is or what is not judicial activism on the part of this president. If the United States Supreme Court fails to overturn Obamacare, that would be judicial activism through an act of omission.

Linda Harvey Decries Obama's 'Insulting Rebellion in the Face of God'

Mission America president Linda Harvey today lambasted the Obama administration’s support for gay rights and recent move to require contraceptives coverage by insurance plans, urging listeners to pray for President Obama to repent “because his insulting rebellion in the face of God is breathtaking.” She warned that while “a godless dictator and his minions do not rule this country yet,” Obama is attacking liberty and religion in order to promote “abortion and homosexuality.”

Far from apologizing or changing his mind or respecting both our faith and our First Amendment rights, no, our President has doubled down, he now says this [contraception] mandate stands and will extend even to students, so Christian college insurance plans will now be required to pay for abortion-inducing drugs without any copay for both employees and students. How does a sitting president get away this this? I don’t know and we need to pray for him because his insulting rebellion in the face of God is breathtaking. Pray for his repentance. But just as we have to call out to God for help on these issues, we Christens also need to ask—within lawful means, of course—we have the God-given freedom to make changes in America which not all oppressed people in this world do. A godless dictator and his minions do not rule this country yet, we the people do.



It is clear where this administration stands on respecting liberty, they don’t, or respecting faith, they don’t. We know they’re so committed to abortion and homosexuality that they’re willing to support late term abortion, to undermine national marriage law and to sanction open homosexual behavior in our military. Should we trust this administration? Not with our lives and our faith, and that’s really sad.

Steve King Warns that Health Care Reform will 'Nationalize our Soul'

Appearing on the Family Research Council’s webcast On Trial: Freedom vs. Government Healthcare, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) called on the Supreme Court to overturn the 2010 health care reform law, which he referred to as an attempt by the government to “nationalize our soul.” King told FRC president Tony Perkins that the government intends to “take over our skin and everything inside it.” He also knocked the tax on tanning beds in the health care overhaul.

Watch:

King: You know when I look at this and this whole picture of you seeing the expansion of the nanny state here in America and the administration reaching into every aspect of our lives, the Obamacare piece addresses about 1/6 of our economy and a great big chunk of our American freedom and liberty. I define it this way, the sovereign thing that we have is our own soul, and the federal government hasn’t yet figured out how to nationalize our soul. They did figure out how to nationalize some investment banks, some insurance companies, some car companies and our skin and everything inside it. That’s Obamacare—it’s a nationalization—it’s a government takeover of our sovereign responsibility to manage our own health. Not only do they take over our skin and everything inside it, but they put a ten percent tax on the outside if you go to a tanning salon, Tony.

Mat Staver Accuses Obama of Backing 'Forced Abortion Funding' and 'Forced Homosexuality'

Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver joined Jim Schneider on VCY America’s Crosstalk on Friday where Staver derided the Obama administration as “the most radical, ideologically-driven administration in American history” in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate. Staver accused the administration of having a “very radical agenda that is very anti-life and anti-liberty” which he said is putting reproductive and gay rights ahead of the economy and even national security. “It is in-your-face forced abortion funding, in-your-face forced homosexuality,” Staver lamented, “and in-your-face a deconstruction of moral principles.”

Schneider: Last Friday the Obama administration announced some new rules that now would require colleges and universities to provide their student health care plans covering female students in the US, that they would have to include coverage for free voluntary sterilization surgery and then also said that further women of college age who don’t attend college, don’t attend school, they also would get this free sterilization coverage whether they are insured through an employer, their parents, some form of government subsidized plan. Mat, how much further is this going to go?

Staver: What we have is a president and an administration that he has gathered that is the most radical, ideologically-driven administration in American history and the ideology is very much pro-abortion and pro-homosexual rights and that trumps everything, it seems to trump the economy, it trumps national security. Of all the myriad of things that the president and the administration could be working on to make America a better place, to bring more jobs and so forth, they are working on these kinds of micromanagement things to push a very radical agenda that is anti-life and anti-liberty. It’s to not just satisfy the radical fringe that supports this administration but it is to satisfy the ideology that comes with this administration, it is part and parcel of what they believe and who they are. In terms of where the end is, nothing should shock anybody at this stage in terms of where this will be going. It is in-your-face forced abortion funding, in-your-face forced homosexuality and in-your-face a deconstruction of moral principles.

Religious Right Prays for the Supreme Court to Overturn Health Care Reform

With the Supreme Court hearing arguments on the constitutionality of the health care reform law this week, conservative groups are reviving the apocalyptic rhetoric they developed when the law was passed.

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed the case on today’s Faith & Freedom, where Staver said that if the court did not overturn the law it would set “an incredibly bad precedent that allows huge power grabs, not just in this medical insurance issue but in every place else.”

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice emailed members that the law is an “atrocity”:

Over the next three days, the ObamaCare oral arguments will be heard before the Supreme Court.

Roe v. Wade made it a "right" to end the life of an unborn child; ObamaCare forces every taxpayer to help pay to end the life of an unborn child.

We are fighting this atrocity, and we need your voice now.



As we have said since the beginning, ObamaCare uses taxpayer dollars to dramatically grow the abortion business. Now we know that President Obama is also forcing citizens to directly pay an abortion surcharge with health insurance plans.

Forcing us to pay for abortion is not only a moral outrage, it is a violation of our constitutional rights.

The Christian Defense Coalition plans to “encircle” the Supreme Court to pray “that the President's Health Care legislation is declared unconstitutional”:

The groups will also lay 3,300 flowers around the court as a "prophetic witness" to the Justices, reminding them of the 3,300 children who die every day from abortion and the 3,300 women who are diminished through abortion.



Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition and one of the organizers of "Encircle the Court in Prayer", states;

"We are calling people from all America to come to Supreme Court and 'encircle it with prayer' from March 25 as we cry out to God for justice, human rights and religious freedom.

"Sadly, the President's Health Care legislation crushes religious freedom and liberty with unjust mandates on faith institutions and forces taxpayers to subsidize abortions.

"We will be praying that the President's Health Care legislation is declared unconstitutional so Congress can put forward health care legislation that will respect religious freedom, protect human life and honor the principles of our Constitution.

"When Roe v. Wade was decided, the Christian community was detached and uninvolved. We want to make sure that is not the case this time as we challenge people of faith to publicly pray and speak out with boldness and passion."

Religious Right Hyperbole on Contraception Coverage Mandate goes into Overdrive

The extreme and hysterical arguments emanating from the Religious Right over the contraception mandate in insurance plans would continue to amuse if not for the fact that their pathetic arguments only trivialize actual cases of religious persecution. While speaking with American Family Association president Tim Wildmon, talk show host Janet Parshall claimed that the health care reform law shows that President Obama is “blinded by a doctrine of death” and is a “person whose heart is hardened.” She warned of an “erosion of free speech” and “an erosion of our practices” under the Obama administration:

Chuck Colson even told Jim Daly on Focus on the Family Radio that the contraception mandate may even lead government to dictate to churches on the doctrine of the Trinity:

Not to be outdone, Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council compared the contraception insurance coverage mandate to Nazi Germany, saying that churches should prepare to follow the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazi government for his involvement in the resistance movement and the plot to kill Adolf Hitler:

In recent days, Jewish rabbis have joined all Catholic bishops in the United States in expressing alarm over the President's "healthcare" mandates and other violations of the Constitution. The National Clergy Council deliberated for the last week on what it would do, consulting pastors, moral theologians, organizational executives and activists from around the US. As a result, the Reverend Rob Schenck, president of the Washington, DC based group, will begin the holy season of Lent 2012 by appealing to President Obama for answers with a "State of Emergency and Time for Speaking" declaration to be hand-delivered to the White House on Ash Wednesday morning, February 22, 2012.



As Rev. Schenck explains in the document, the action he and his committee have taken is inspired by the Nazi-era hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "the German pastor and martyr, who is an exemplar of what it means to hold to and to exercise one's religious, moral, and ethical convictions, even to the surrender of every other right, including the right to one's life." Bonhoeffer wrote on the "status confessionis," a time when churches must speak out. Schenck says in his letter this is such a time, "during which we must take extraordinary action to respectfully resist your decrees, state our deeply held and felt reasons for doing so, and call our coreligionists, and all people of conscience to stand with us." President Obama was publicly given a copy of a recent biography on Bonhoeffer by the author, Eric Metaxas, when Mr. Metaxas and the President shared a podium at the February 2 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel Action even likened the situation to the American Revolution:

Barack Obama is literally forcing insurance companies and self-insured religious organizations to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to Americans who want to pay for neither.

As I told you on Friday, President Obama has once again grossly overstepped the constitutional authority of his office. Thankfully, it appears that Americans have finally had enough.

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese, a leading member of President Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet, recently said the Obama administration is “…as close to a monarchy as there’s been since the days of George III.”

In reality, our situation today may be even worse than during the founding era since King George III merely TAXED the goods that inspired the Boston Tea Party. Even so great a despot as he did not imagine he could FORCE the colonials to BUY the stuff!

Issa Stacks Hearing to Attack Contraception Compromise

Rep. Darrell Issa, who has followed through on his threat to turn his Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into an attack dog on the Obama administration, today held a one-sided hearing attacking as a threat to religious liberty the administration’s recent compromise on health care regulations requiring insurers to cover contraception.

Not present at the hearing was a representative of the Catholic Health Association, which has embraced the administration’s compromise. When asked about the CHA’s position, Bishop William Lori, head of the Catholic bishops’ new “religious liberty” task force, said archly that the CHA doesn’t speak for the church as a whole – the bishops do. But polls show that the bishops actually speak for a small minority of American Catholics on these issues.
 
Issa – who had no concerns about separation of church and state when he was pushing for federal funding for religious school vouchers in the District of Columbia – labeled his stacked hearing “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” It was striking for some of us who are accustomed to hearing conservative politicians and Religious Right figures denouncing the separation of church and state, and dismissing the letter in which Thomas Jefferson used the phrase, to hear Issa and his colleagues vigorously endorsing the concept – or at least the rhetoric – and invoking Jefferson.
 
Issa and fellow Republicans used the “religious liberty” frame as an excuse to prevent testimony from women affected by the lack of insurance coverage of contraceptives, which also serve as treatment for a variety of medical conditions.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro (one of several Catholic Democrats who attended the heargin) and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, forcefully raised the issue of women’s health, only to be told that access to health care was not the topic of the hearing. DeLauro drew a distinction between religious organizations as service providers – Catholic hospitals are not required to perform abortions, for example – and as employers. Nothing in the First Amendment, she said, says that religiously affiliated employers aren’t subject to same rules as every other employer. Republicans on the committee embraced the goalpost-moving standard staked out recently by the bishops, which is that not only should religiously affiliated organizations be exempt, but that any business owner should be able to cite religious beliefs as reason not to provide his employees with coverage.
 
The hearing made it clear that the GOP has decided to aggressively pursue their election year strategy of portraying Obama as an enemy of religious liberty.  There was no rhetorical “bridge too far” at this hearing – it was suggested that the Obama administration was a few keystrokes away from completely eliminating religious freedom, and that it was using government coercion to force churches to change their religious doctrine. Even Joseph Stalin was invoked. GOP members of Congress encouraged panelists to portray themselves as willing martyrs to religious liberty – and panelists complied, with some saying they would be willing to go to jail rather than side with government over God. 
 
It’s worth remembering with all the rhetoric about the end of freedom in America that the compromise plan would not require religious groups to provide or pay for coverage: insurance companies would contact employees directly, offer coverage to those who want it, and pick up the tab.
 
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, also Catholic, said he had had concerns with the original rules and believes the compromise addressed religious liberty concerns. He denounced Issa’s hearing as a “sham” and a “shameful exercise.”  He scoffed at the going-to-jail rhetoric and told panelists they were being used, wittingly or not, as part of an anti-Obama political agenda.  

Issa Stacks Hearing to Attack Contraception Compromise

Rep. Darrell Issa, who has followed through on his threat to turn his Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into an attack dog on the Obama administration, today held a one-sided hearing attacking as a threat to religious liberty the administration’s recent compromise on health care regulations requiring insurers to cover contraception.

Not present at the hearing was a representative of the Catholic Health Association, which has embraced the administration’s compromise. When asked about the CHA’s position, Bishop William Lori, head of the Catholic bishops’ new “religious liberty” task force, said archly that the CHA doesn’t speak for the church as a whole – the bishops do. But polls show that the bishops actually speak for a small minority of American Catholics on these issues.
 
Issa – who had no concerns about separation of church and state when he was pushing for federal funding for religious school vouchers in the District of Columbia – labeled his stacked hearing “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” It was striking for some of us who are accustomed to hearing conservative politicians and Religious Right figures denouncing the separation of church and state, and dismissing the letter in which Thomas Jefferson used the phrase, to hear Issa and his colleagues vigorously endorsing the concept – or at least the rhetoric – and invoking Jefferson.
 
Issa and fellow Republicans used the “religious liberty” frame as an excuse to prevent testimony from women affected by the lack of insurance coverage of contraceptives, which also serve as treatment for a variety of medical conditions.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro (one of several Catholic Democrats who attended the heargin) and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, forcefully raised the issue of women’s health, only to be told that access to health care was not the topic of the hearing. DeLauro drew a distinction between religious organizations as service providers – Catholic hospitals are not required to perform abortions, for example – and as employers. Nothing in the First Amendment, she said, says that religiously affiliated employers aren’t subject to same rules as every other employer. Republicans on the committee embraced the goalpost-moving standard staked out recently by the bishops, which is that not only should religiously affiliated organizations be exempt, but that any business owner should be able to cite religious beliefs as reason not to provide his employees with coverage.
 
The hearing made it clear that the GOP has decided to aggressively pursue their election year strategy of portraying Obama as an enemy of religious liberty.  There was no rhetorical “bridge too far” at this hearing – it was suggested that the Obama administration was a few keystrokes away from completely eliminating religious freedom, and that it was using government coercion to force churches to change their religious doctrine. Even Joseph Stalin was invoked. GOP members of Congress encouraged panelists to portray themselves as willing martyrs to religious liberty – and panelists complied, with some saying they would be willing to go to jail rather than side with government over God. 
 
It’s worth remembering with all the rhetoric about the end of freedom in America that the compromise plan would not require religious groups to provide or pay for coverage: insurance companies would contact employees directly, offer coverage to those who want it, and pick up the tab.
 
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, also Catholic, said he had had concerns with the original rules and believes the compromise addressed religious liberty concerns. He denounced Issa’s hearing as a “sham” and a “shameful exercise.”  He scoffed at the going-to-jail rhetoric and told panelists they were being used, wittingly or not, as part of an anti-Obama political agenda.  

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.

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…

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health care reform Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 10/01/2013, 12:00pm
Now that the House GOP leadership has listened to its far-right Tea Party wing and shut down the government in a failed attempt to block the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans in Congress are trying to present themselves as American heroes. They are patting themselves on the back for attempting to stop a law that they claim most voters oppose…despite the fact that voters re-elected President Obama just last November and overwhelmingly oppose the Tea Party shutdown. We attempted to wade into the Tea Party’s alternate universe to condense Right’s six favorite... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 09/30/2013, 12:20pm
In an interview published today on the conspiracy-theory-happy website WorldNetDaily, Rep. Michele Bachmann likens President Obama to a crack dealer, accusing him of trying to “get Americans addicted to the crack cocaine of dependency on more government health care.” The Minnesota congresswoman, who has alleged that Obamacare denies healthcare to conservatives, implements death panels and “literally kills” people, even tried to link health insurance exchanges to supposed ACORN-esque voter fraud in which non-existent people will sign up for insurance to make money.... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 09/26/2013, 12:15pm
The Heritage Foundation, like Sen. Ted Cruz, has been strongly urging senators to vote against a bill they actually support in order to shut down the government until President Obama and Senate Democrats agree to defund Obamacare. And, being Heritage, they don’t mind completely reversing a position they held until just last year to do it. Essentially, Heritage and other right-wing groups like Club for Growth want Senate Republicans to join Cruz in blocking debate (or voting against cloture) on the continuing resolution (CR) until Senate Democrats agree to establish a 60-vote threshold... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 09/25/2013, 12:55pm
Yesterday, after suggesting that the Obama administration is opening the door for domestic terrorism and aiding Al Qaeda, Rep. Louie Gohmert and talk show host Lars Larson talked about the alleged dangers of Obamacare. The Texas Republican claimed that once “Obamacare kicks in fully, you can’t get your pacemaker, you can’t have this, you can’t have that.” He then went after PolitiFact and accused them of being “Democratic operatives” for refuting one of his claims about the reform law. While PolitiFact, a non-partisan group, has rebutted plenty of... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 09/20/2013, 3:25pm
You really have to marvel at Republican members of Congress who believe that the message of the 2012 election, in which the candidate who campaigned for Obamacare soundly defeated the candidate who campaigned to repeal Obamacare, was that most Americans want to repeal Obamacare by any means possible. Following an election in which Democrats won the popular vote for the House of Representatives, a mere 36 percent of Americans favor repealing the Affordable Care Act and just 28 percent of voters say they’d be more likely to support a congressman who is willing to shut down the government... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 09/18/2013, 1:19pm
In addition to being an authority on gay exorcisms and all things demonic, it seems that "Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt is also an expert on the topic of health care and has even made two separate appearances on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" debating the issue. Following one of these appearances, "Dr. Chaps" said on his "Pray In Jesus Name" show today, he received an email from someone defending President Obama's health care reform legislation by telling the story of a friend who was unable to receive treatment for her cancer because she could not... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 09/06/2013, 3:35pm
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) appeared on Washington Watch yesterday with Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, where he spent most of his time asserting that Republicans have a mandate to defund Obamacare because they did so well in the 2010 midterms and never mind that whole election last November. After Jordan insisted that the GOP-led House should strip funding from Obamacare by using the budget and debt ceiling debates as leverage, the Religious Right leader came up with a brilliant plan to tell President Obama that Congress will only approve military action against Syria if the money... MORE