Religious Freedom

Right Wing Leftovers

  • I have to say I am surprised it took WorldNetDaily this long to dust off its "North American Union" conspiracy theory and use it to go after President Obama.
  • FRC says it "plans to launch a nationwide tour getting people all around the country to sign on" to it's SPLC push-back campaign.
  • The Liberty Counsel is "dedicated to advancing religious freedom" and "does not limit its services to Christians, as the rights of Christians are also affected positively by defending the rights of others." Just not Muslims.
  • Focus on the Family continues to milk the outrage over the book "Nickel and Dimed" and its "insults" to Jesus.
  • Finally, this is a quote from James Dobson in 2006 discussing the plan by "homosexual activists and their allies ... to gain control of children": "It was a brilliant plan, hatched in Satan's own lair. Not since Adolf Hitler prepared a generation of German and Austrian youth for war has so grand a strategy been attempted."

Take a Stand With FRC and Those Who Want Homosexuality Criminalized

The Religious Right has been uniformly outraged ever since the Southern Poverty Law Center updated its list of anti-gay hate groups to include the likes of the Family Research Council and the American Family Association.

And today Jeremy Hooper discovered that they intend to do something more than just incessantly complain about it, as FRC is poised to launch a "Start Debating, Stop Hating" campaign designed to rally support for those groups who found themselves "slandered" by the SPLC: 

The surest sign one is losing a debate is to resort to character assassination. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal fundraising machine whose tactics have been condemned by observers across the political spectrum, is doing just that.

The group, which was once known for combating racial bigotry, is now attacking several groups that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman. How does the SPLC attack? By labeling its opponents “hate groups.” No discussion. No consideration of the issues. No engagement. No debate

These type of slanderous tactics have been used against voters who signed petitions and voted for marriage amendments in all thirty states that have considered them, as well as against the millions of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement. Some on the Left have even impugned the Manhattan Declaration-which upholds the sanctity of life, the value of traditional marriage and the fundamental right of religious freedom-as an anti-gay document and have forced its removal from general communications networks.

This is intolerance pure and simple. Elements of the radical Left are trying to shut down informed discussion of policy issues that are being considered by Congress, legislatures, and the courts. Tell the radical Left it is time to stop spreading hateful rhetoric attacking individuals and organizations merely for expressing ideas with which they disagree. Our debates can and must remain civil - but they must never be suppressed through personal assaults that aim only to malign an opponents character.

You can take action by adding your name to the following statement:

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Family Research Council, American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, National Organization for Marriage, Liberty Counsel and other pro-family organizations that are working to protect and promote natural marriage and family. We support the vigorous but responsible exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty that are the birthright of all Americans.

Just let me point out to those thinking of adding their names to this statement that you are declaring your solidarity with people who proclaim that:

DADT: Religious Right Wants Investigation Into Climate of Intimidation at Pentagon

Dozens of Religious Right leaders have come together to sign on to a letter [PDF] released under the Freedom Federation banner calling on the Senate to put off any vote on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell until the next session of Congress so that there can be investigations into whether the findings of the recent report showing DADT could be repealed with little to no risk was, in fact, the result of a "climate of not-so-subtle intimidation in the Pentagon" that lead to the

It is a serious risk to national security to repeal DADT without first investigating thoroughly – in public hearings – the effect of the proposed repeal. We are engaged in a war on many fronts. Our troops are in harm’s way in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. This is no time to experiment with social engineering of the military.

We are also gravely concerned about the effect that repealing DADT will have on religious freedom. One senior army general, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, said that those who oppose repeal are guilty of unacceptable attitudes that he reportedly described as “bigotry.” Additionally, expert analysts have warned that a “non-discrimination” policy for sexual minorities will have broad-reaching effects on religious freedom. It is conceivable that chaplains will be forbidden to preach or speak about their denomination’s position on homosexuality.

The Defense Department report on the likely effects of repealing DADT was not released until November 30, 2010. There is simply not enough time between then and adjournment to investigate and deliberate about this very important issue. For that reason, any consideration of repeal should be put off until next year.

Moreover, we are deeply concerned about the methodology of the DOD report and survey. In view of General Bostick’s disturbing comments and Admiral Mullen’s and Secretary of Defense Gates’ unseemly cheerleading on this issue, we believe it behooves the next Congress to investigate whether proponents of repeal tried to create a climate of not-so-subtle intimidation in the Pentagon.

The rush to repeal DADT by January of 2011 is a slap in the face of the American people who are tired of bully politics. Moreover, the consequences of repealing DADT will no doubt result in service members leaving the military or refusing to join. We cannot afford attrition or demoralization of our military in light of the wars we are facing in the Middle East, not to mention the looming threat of North Korea.

Among the names listed on this are:

Sarah Palin
Mat and Anita Staver
Ken Blackwell
Tony Perkins
Penny Nance
Lou Sheldon
Elaine Donnelly
Andrea Lafferty
Samuel Rodriguez
Robert Knight
Harry Jackson
Janet Porter
Cindy Jacobs
Tim Wildmon
Cliff Kincaid
Jim Garlow
Tom Minnery
Gary Bauer
Richard Viguerie
Gary Kreep
Linda Harvey
Joseph Farah
Gary Cass
Rick Joyner
Paul Blair
Don Feder
Kelly Shackelford
James Klingenschmitt
E.W. Jackson
Star Parker
Matt Barber
Dave Welch

UPDATE: Apparently the Sarah Palin signature on this letter was a mistake, as that signature now reads:

Rita Grace
Organizer
Constitutional TEA Party
President
Sarah Palin Republican Women

Bad News For Beck and Barton: The Founding Fathers Were Antichrists

Oh no, Glenn Beck and David Barton have unknowingly been glorifying New World Order-supporting Antichrists with their worshiping of the Founding Fathers: 

While Glenn Beck and David Barton are shouting that conservatives need to take back America, a Christian filmmaker asks the question: take it back to what? A new documentary, "The Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers" explores what the founders of the American Revolution really believed about Christianity, and the evidence is less than encouraging. If you're a Christian, that is.

The new film is the latest from independent filmmaker, Christian J. Pinto, who is known as the writer/director of the award winning series, "Secret Mysteries of America's Beginnings."

Pinto says, "This newest work really brings together so much of the research we've been unfolding. It shows further how the United States was planned from the beginning to help launch a global society, the New World Order."

When asked what role the founders played in this global agenda, Pinto said, "They set forth the doctrine of religious freedom."

"The doctrine had been designed by the Vatican and the Jesuit Order in England back in 1688," says Pinto. "Their real purpose was to empower the Church of Rome to be in a position to overthrow England. The English Protestants rejected the idea, but Rome manipulated the revolutionaries to write it into the U.S. Constitution."

And this was a bad idea? "Only if you believe the Bible," Pinto says. "Most Christians in our country don't realize that the concept of religious freedom is not biblical. It is not an inalienable right given by God. Nowhere in the Bible does God say that men have the right to worship whatever god they please."

"Religious freedom helped unite America against England, and is today being used by the Vatican to join all the world religions into a united, one world order."

Pinto says the founders not only wanted a universal belief system, but also an end of Bible based Christianity.

"The destruction of the Gospel was the desire of men like Thomas Jefferson, along with John Adams and Thomas Paine," Pinto continues. "By biblical definition, they were antichrists. 

Ironically, if this "documentary" was about people Beck hated instead of the people he idolized, it is probably safe to assume that Beck would eagerly embrace this film and set about booking Christian J. Pinto on his show.

Pray and ACT Prayer Targets: Raise Up Christians, Hold Back Satan, And Keep The Ungodly Out of Office

I have been covering the various election-oriented prayer efforts that are currently being carried out by Religious Right groups, including Pray and ACT which consists of not only 40 days of prayer, but also 40 days of fasting.

And to make this grueling process somewhat easier, Pray and ACT and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission have produced a day-by-day prayer guide [PDF] for participants.  For instance, on October 17 they are to pray for the "Sanctity of Human Life":

Ask God to...

• Convict public officials to protect and serve every member of our society including the most marginalized, voiceless, and vulnerable

• Raise up leaders to end our nation’s culture of death and recognize the equal value of all people

• Give our nation the compassion it needs to assist women struggling with problem pregnancies

• Raise up leaders to protect the weak and the vulnerable from violent attack with no favoritism, partiality, or discrimination

• Help our world leaders develop a consistent ethic of love and life for all people and all circumstances

• Convict the scientific community to end the barbaric practice of embryo destructive stem-cell research

• Help you put an end to our nation’s abortion-on-demand policies

And the next day they are to pray for "God's Design for Marriage":

Ask God to…

• Raise up leaders who will protect God’s design for marriage as the union of one man and one woman

• Convict Christians to uphold the institution of marriage and model its true meaning

• Help the church instill in young people a sound understanding of the importance of marriage

• Cause our nation to understand the destructive effects of redefining marriage

• Help the church engage in compassionate redemptive ministry to those struggling with same-sex attraction

• Help the church minister to those struggling in their marriages

• Cause our nation’s leaders to enact laws and policies that encourage and strengthen marriage

And then, as we get closer and closer to Election Day, the prayer targets become more focused on getting Christians elected to office, with prayers to "prevent Satan from blinding the judgment of our public officials," and "give Christians who run for public office favor in the eyes of the electorate," and "confound the counsel of candidates who don’t support biblical values," and "discourage ungodly people from running for public office."

And finally, just before Election Day, activists are enouraged to pray for the "wisdom to elect the
best officials" and realize that "God’s judgment or blessing on a nation is related directly to the morality of its citizens": 

Ask God to...

• Send the strong convicting presence of His Spirit throughout the nation

• Raise up leaders who will advance and support God-honoring policies, especially policies protecting life

• Help you know who He wants you to vote for in the upcoming election

• Expose to public scrutiny people who are working to undermine God-honoring laws and morality, like efforts to undermine God’s design for marriage

• Convince Christians that they need to be involved in the life of the nation both politically and socially

• Confound the plans of the enemies of the United States.

• Help the United States continue to be the world’s leader in promoting freedom for all people, especially religious freedom.

Lucky Number Seven: Liberty Counsel Launches Election Prayer Effort

I feel like I keep writing the same post, but so long as Religious Right groups are going to keep launching prayer efforts aimed at the upcoming elections, I am going to keep mentioning them.

As I noted a week ago, there are already six such efforts underway, but now Mat Staver and Liberty Counsel have announced their own effort to save America from all the socialists and communists who are out to destroy it:

Our nation's future is riding on November's midterm elections. Many are calling it the single most important election in decades. Concerned Christian and values voters MUST turn out in record numbers for this election! We simply must reverse the momentum of the radical socialists.

That's why, today, I am announcing the election countdown phase of our "Pray & Vote 2010"campaign that will help restore our nation.

Pray & Vote 2010's goal is to reach FOUR MILLION pro-faith, pro-family, and pro-liberty citizens and fully engage them in this historic election. We believe that four million committed conservative voters could change the course of the election - and our nation!

...

Make no mistake: Our national character will be greatly impacted by the 2010 midterm elections. With so much at stake, Liberty Counsel is calling on members and friends to help re-kindle the spiritual fire in our nation through this powerful Pray & Vote initiative.

In the eyes of the leftist elites who rule the media, education and much of our government, your bold declaration that you will Pray & Vote is radical and unacceptable.

But to our Founding Fathers, combining prayer with political participation was a sacred duty!

By signing up for this "Pray & Vote" campaign, activists are vowing to ... well, pray and vote:

I. PRAY for AMERICA!
I will pray for our nation's leadership.
I will pray for God's guidance in the direction of our country.
I will pray that God restores the biblical pillars that made our nation great:
(1) Leaders who turn to God in prayer; (2) The individual right to exercise religious freedom in all areas of life - free from the attacks of godless organizations and societal pressures of political correctness; and (3) The restoration of our churches and families so they can take their rightful place as pillars of our society.

II. VOTE!
I acknowledge that the right to vote is a right obtained for us by God-fearing forefathers who understood what a privilege and honor it was to bestow that freedom upon our nation's citizenry! Further, I accept voting as my duty as a citizen of the United States of America. I will vote in the November 2010 elections and attempt to assure other like-minded citizens will do the same.

ADF, Keeton Reject KKK Support

This summer, Jennifer Keeton made news when she sued Augusta State University after the school threatened to expel her from its Counselor Education Program if she could not comply with the American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics, which prohibits counselors from discriminating based on a number of factors, including gender identity and sexual orientation. Keeton claimed that this was a violation of her religious freedom to oppose gays and so, with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund, she sued the university.

Yesterday, it was reported that the Ku Klux Klan was going to hold a rally supporting Keeton and today the ADF released a statement making it clear that they do not want the KKK's support:

The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Keeton in a federal lawsuit against ASU, issued a news release today saying that both the organization and Keeton are "unequivocally condemning" the KKK's rally.

"Jennifer and ADF are disgusted by the KKK and all it stands for," said ADF senior counsel David French. "To say more than that or to discuss their activities at length risks bringing more attention to a failed organization that is seeking to exploit news stories for its own purposes. As the KKK admits in news reports, Jennifer has had no contact with them, and neither have we. Neither Jennifer nor ADF wish to give the KKK the attention it craves."

Randall Terry Launching Quran-Destroying Campaign Because That Is What Jesus Would Want

When Terry Jones backed down from his plans to burn copies of the Quran on 9/11, Randall Terry stepped up and led a protest outside of the White House where they tore pages out of copies of the Quran because "the charade that Islam is a peaceful religion must end."

Apparently, the event was such a success that Terry and crew are now going to embark upon a Quran-destroying campaign:

On October 6 and 7, Christians (both Catholic and Protestant) will gather in New York, DC, and various cities, holding large posters printed with the words of the Quran, and the words of Muhammad from the Hadith and the Sunnah. The participants will either 1) tear the passages, 2) crumple them up and throw them in a garbage bag, or 3) just laugh at them -- to ridicule the idea that a "Religion of Peace" calls for beheading, murder, crucifixion, etc.

October 7 is the anniversary of The Battle of Lepanto, 1571, in which the Holy League navy defeated the Ottoman Muslim navy. Had the Muslim forces won, Rome would likely have fallen, and St. Peters could very well be a Mosque. (That was the fate of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.)

"Hear Muhammad Speak" Statement of Goals:

I. To ignite national and world-wide debate/dialogue/education on the anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and at times violent message of the Quran.

II. To focus national and world wide attention on Muhammad -- his words and deeds that are not in the Quran (i.e., Muhammad's words that are in the Hadith and the Sunnah) -- that call for the murder, beheadings, etc. of Christians and Jews, and the suppression of religious freedom.

III. To highlight the suffering of Christians inflicted by Muslims who follow the example of the words and deeds of Muhammad.

IV. To call on Islamic political and religious leaders to "lay down Muhammad's sword;" i.e., to stop persecuting and killing Christians and Jews, as well as "apostates" who leave Islam.

V. To give historic background on the name "Cordoba," and to urge the halting of the Cordoba Initiative at Ground Zero.

VI. To encourage people to fearlessly defy and expose the Hadith, the Sunnah, and Sharia law while our freedoms still permit it.

In an email to supporters announcing the campaign, Terry explains that they are going to be destroying Qurans because it is what Jesus and Mary would want:

“What would Jesus do?” Maybe He would overturn tables, or chase or hit people with a whip; maybe he would call people names like “whitewashed tombs, or “brood of vipers” or “the sons of hell.” Maybe He would speak the truth, not back down, and even die.

“What would Mary do?” Maybe she would give prayers and urgings like she did at the battle of the gates of Vienna to destroy the Muslim army that sought to annihilate Christianity; maybe she would ask her Son for grace and strength to be given to the soldiers and sailors at the battle of Lepanto to destroy the Muslim Navy, and save Rome and all Christendom from the Muslim hordes.

I give these pictures in the fear of God; Jesus and Mary are not afraid of the truth. Jesus and Mary know that the Church militant should be just that, and that at times words and deeds that are not “politically correct” or “tolerant” must be used in the fight against evil, and the culture of death, and those who seek to destroy Truth and the Church.

Religious Right Thrilled With Its Few Scraps From The GOP

For the last several weeks, Religious Right leaders had been warning Republicans that social issues had better be included in the agenda GOP leaders were going to lay out for the party moving forward.

House leaders have finally released their "Pledge to America," so how did the social conservatives fare

[T]he “Pledge” turned out to have little of substance for the value voters movement.

“We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity. We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values,” it said in the introduction.

The only specifics that followed in the subsequent 21 pages, however, were a promise to “permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment,” and to pass conscience clauses into law for physicians and medical workers.

So you'd think that the Religious Right would be livid that the GOP so blatantly simply threw them a few superficial bones in order to keep them quite ... but you'd be wrong, because they are overjoyed with the few scraps they received:

“We are pleased that the Republican leadership saw the wisdom of honoring our demand for a clear statement of commitment to life, marriage, and the free and full participation of religious believers and faith-based institutions in our public life.

The American Principles Project, Susan B. Anthony List, American Values and Let Freedom Ring submitted more than 20,000 petitions. Supporters and signers of the Manhattan Declaration made thousands of phone calls. The GOP leadership clearly got the message.

Once again, social conservatives have proven that they are the conscience of the party. They have stood up for the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife; and religious freedom and the rights of conscience.”

And of course Ralph Reed is declaring victory as well

House Republicans rightly rejected the idea that Tea Party issues like cutting spending and delimiting government are somehow at odds with the pro-family agenda of honoring marriage and unborn life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pro-family candidates are the most likely to be fiscal conservatives, and Tea Party candidates are the most likely to be pro-life. The agenda embraces time-honored values like traditional marriage and ending taxpayer-funded abortion as well as lower taxes and reduced spending. The message was unmistakable: we will not be divided by a false choice between fiscal responsibility and strong families. We will fight for both, and indeed we must do both if we are to restore America’s promise.

This is absolutely laughable - there is one throwaway mention of marriage and one passing mention of religious liberty in 21-pages of text and yet the Religious Right is acting like it pulled off a major coup.

Fischer: "Homosexuals Are Defined By One Characteristic Only: They Want to Use the Anal Cavity for Sex"

As I said yesterday, so long as the AFA 's Bryan Fischer continues to display his bigotry on a daily basis, I am just going to keep posting it. 

Today he has turned his anti-DADT rant from yesterday's radio program into a blog post in which he praises Sen. John McCain at a "Rock of Gibraltar" for opposing this effort to grant equality to those who "want to use the anal cavity for sex":

Homosexual conduct is deviant sexual conduct. Homosexuals are defined by one characteristic and one characteristic only: they want to use the anal cavity for sex. This kind of sexual conduct is aberrant and carries enormous health risks. It’s so dangerous that the FDA will not allow a male to donate blood if he has engaged in homosexual conduct even one single time since 1977.

To normalize sexual perversion is a mistake in any segment of society, but particularly harmful when done in the military because it will drive values-driven men and women right out of the service, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Had this vote gone through, it would have meant the end of military careers for every service member, every officer and every chaplain who believes that homosexual behavior is fundamentally unnatural and should be discouraged rather than endorsed.

...

The impact on readiness, retention, and recruitment would have been utterly catastrophic. Character-driven officers, gone. Character-driven service members, gone. Character-driven chaplains, gone. Character-driven recruits, gone.

We would be left with a military comprised of nothing but sexual deviants and those who celebrate sexual deviancy. That is a guaranteed path to a permanently and irreversibly emasculated military that could not defend us if their lives - let alone ours - depended on it ... Every advance of the homosexual agenda comes at the expense of religious freedom. We as a nation must choose between the homosexual agenda and liberty, because we can’t have both. Yesterday the Senate chose well.

Repealing DADT = Denying Spiritual Comfort to Dying Soldiers

I put together this quick video featuring some of the "highlights" from the Family Research Council's anti-DADT repeal press conference, including Harry Jackson warning that "introducing sexual tension and conduct into our barracks" would create a slippery slope toward allowing adultery in the military.  Jackson also claimed that any comparison between discrimination African Americans and gays is "insulting" and a "revision of American history"; a point which was echoed by Aubrey Shines who called any such comparison "asinine." Finally, Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund warned that "the agenda of sexual liberty and anarchy does not mix with religious freedom" and asked where you would be willing to deny those serving in the military the "spiritual counsel of their chaplain and of their God as they are looking at death":

Religious Right Demands Inclusion in GOP Agenda

Earlier this year, House Republicans launched a website called "America Speaking Out," which allowed Americans to "share their priorities and ideas for a national policy agenda" that they wanted Congress to focus on.

In a few weeks, House GOP leaders are expected to roll out set of guiding principles and agenda that is based on the suggestions they have received and reportedly distributed a 22-page draft packet to members earlier this month.  And the draft focuses largely on issues related to jobs, spending, health care, and the economy while almost entirely ignoring social issues ... which, of course, is not sitting well with the Religious Right:

Today, the Susan B. Anthony List announced the launch of its “Life Speaking Out Campaign” aimed at encouraging House GOP leadership to make protecting women and the unborn a priority in its legislative blueprint expected after Labor Day. The campaign includes a website for pro-life activists to lobby House GOP leadership (www.LifeSpeakingOut.com) and an encouraging letter to leadership signed by SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

“The Republican Party must show what it is made of this time around. They can do so by acting on their convictions and those of their party, and by making a commitment to passage of common-sense, life-saving legislation,” said Dannenfelser. “Missing from the GOP’s original Contract in 1994 was any emphasis on policies protecting the unborn. Pro-life legislation was not made a priority in the following Congress. With the support of a vibrant pro-life movement that understands the urgency of addressing the tragedy of nearly 4,000 abortions per day coupled with the vast majority of Americans who support a commonsense pro-life agenda, enacting that agenda would not require a heavy lift ... It would be an electorally costly mistake for the future for the GOP to write off one leg of the three-legged stool of Ronald Reagan conservatism. Real leaders multi-task. The strongly pro-life GOP leadership should be able to respond to the economic crisis and enact pro-life legislation,” Dannenfelser said.

Expect to see more of this, as other Religious Right groups started demanding that things like support for "traditional marriage" and religious freedom also be explicitly included in any GOP governing agenda.

Colson Demands An Explanation After Obama Destroys His Favorite Conspiracy Theory

Remember how a few weeks back, the Religious Right was suddenly up in arms because President Obama had supposedly stopped using the phrase "freedom of religion" and started using "freedom of worship" instead? 

To people like Chuck Colson it was proof of some Obama-orchestrated plot to radically narrow the rights of Christians in order to ultimately destroy Christianity in America. 

Of course, it was also complete nonsense.

But today, Colson is back with a new commentary claiming that the Obama administration has suddenly backtracked and begun using the term "religious freedom": 

[It] seems the Administration was deliberately soft-peddling freedom of religion. Why? My first thought maybe was to marginalize Christianity in public life here in America? That’s not a whacky premise, given the increasing restrictions we see on religion here at home.

But more likely, I’ve realized, it’s an effort to appease Islamic countries, where the American belief in freedom of religion is not appreciated.

So I was surprised, to say the least, when the President spoke recently to a Muslim audience about the Ground Zero mosque. He said the following: “I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country.”

And later he said, “This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.”

Well, folks, I gotta confess. I’m now really confused. After speaking about nothing but “freedom of worship” for nearly a year, suddenly, before a Muslim audience, the President speaks about religious freedom. Why the change? ... Folks, I really don’t get it. I don’t want to impugn anybody’s motives. But why the deliberate confusion? Do you have any ideas? Is it perhaps freedom of religion for some, and freedom of religion for others? Why?

Let me try and clear up Colson's confusion for him: the President has been talking about religious freedom all along!

I hate to break it to you, but the Administration does not owe you an explanation about why your right-wing conspiracy theory has come completely unraveled in the face of basic facts, nor it is obligated to clear up the confusion caused by your own cluelessness.

Focus on the Family: Dedicated to Defending The Rights of "People of all Faiths," Just Not Muslims

Earlier this month, just as the right-wing anti-mosque hysteria was getting whipped up, Focus on the Family posted a video in which Stuart Shepard and Bruce Hausknecht complained about how municipalities were discriminating against churches using zoning laws:

Shepard: What does this tell us about the state of religious freedom in the United States?

Hausknecht: Well, we're seeing first a hostility toward religion. You would think in this day and age of tolerance that there would be tolerance for religious views, religious people. There is not. We're seeing it in the zoning cases, we're seeing it in the schools. That is a definite wake-up call for people of all faiths to stand up and protect their rights.

At the time, Focus was one of the few Religious Right groups that had not yet taken a position on Park 51, so I wondered if the organization would defend the right of Muslims to build the Islamic Center, especially in light of the organization's plea for "people of all faiths" to wake up and protect their religious freedoms.

So I know it will come as a shock to you all to learn that Focus' concerns for the rights of "people of all faiths" does not, in fact, apply to Muslims:

During CitizenLink's weekly webcast, Tom Minnery said, "Nobody is suggesting that the brand of Islam practiced by the owners of this mosque [is] going to lead to more terrorist attacks. But for Heaven's sake, in the name of all that is decent and in the name of common sense, build it elsewhere."

He said the group had the right to build, but he questioned the prudence of doing so. "Is it dishonoring to the 3,000 people who gave their lives to have this mosque which, in some minds, represents a similar religious belief that caused the terrorists to do what they did?" said Minnery.

Stuart Shepard, host of the webcast, noted that this position is a departure from Minnery's previous positions on religious liberty.

"You have spent a lot of time talking about religious freedom. And you work for Alliance Defense Fund quite a bit helping them fight for the rights of people, for religious freedom. It is quite a turn for you to say that this is not the right location for religious freedom to be expressed," said Shepard.

"Well, it is indeed," said Minnery.

Gary Bauer Officially Declares "Mosque Exclusion Zone" to Be 1.7 Miles

Those who have been busy pointing out the hypocrisy of those right-wing activists who hail the fundamental importance of defending the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom while simultaneously leading a crusade against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" have been fond of asking just how large the "mosque exclusion zone" is supposed to be.

Well, Gary Bauer has an answer - 3000 yards

Liberal talking heads often suggest that opposition to the mosque at Ground Zero is just thinly veiled bigotry. They contend that the opponents of the mosque would oppose the construction of a mosque anywhere, and ask rhetorically, “How large should the mosque-free buffer zone around Ground Zero be?”

I’ve thought about that question, and here’s my suggested compromise: Back up the mosque one yard for every life that was lost at Ground Zero on 9/11. Three thousand lives lost equals three thousand yards away. If the organizers of the Ground Zero mosque would accept that compromise, the controversy would be over.

Let's see, 3,000 yards is 9,000 feet, which is 1.7 miles ...  so there you go: the Mosque Exclusion Zone is officially set at at just under two miles. 

Does that mean that all the mosques that already exist within this radius now have to be shut down and moved?

Even The "Religious Freedom Coalition" Opposes Park 51?

The Religious Freedom Coalition is a right-wing group that proclaims itself "dedicated to the equality of all mankind and the freedom of religious expression. The Religious Freedom Coalition maintains that Religious Freedom is the 'first liberty' and wherever Religious Freedom is suppressed there is no true freedom of assembly, press or speech."

The Religious Freedom Coalition also runs a website called No 9-11 Mosque and issues press releases blasting President Obama for supporting the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque":

Religious Freedom Coalition chairman William J. Murray released a statement Saturday concerning the endorsement by President Obama of the mega mosque construction near Ground Zero:

"President Barack Obama's interference in support of the mega mosque near Ground Zero is perplexing. As chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition I visit the burned down and bombed churches in the Middle East. I interview the families who have had their children kidnapped and murdered in the name of Islamic supremacy.

"I am a personal witness to the double standard of forced Islamic domination in a large part of the world coupled with a demand for special rights fir Muslims that goes beyond tolerance in the United States. President Obama's statement in favor of a mosque at Ground Zero is in deep contrast to ignoring the plight of St. Nicholas, the only church destroyed on 9-11. It has still not been rebuilt because of government red tape. The President's jumping enthusiastically on the band wagon of the Ground zero mega-mosque was misplaced and equally ill-timed."

I can think of no better example of the absurd hypocrisy at the heart of the right-wing crusade against Park 51 than the fact that a group calling itself a Religious Freedom Coalition which claims to be "dedicated to the equality of all mankind and the freedom of religious expression" is engaged in a campaign to prevent deny that very freedom to Muslims:

Islam is NOT a “religion of peace,” regardless of what Muslims claim. To advance their cause of conquest, an ages-old tradition called “taqiyya” allows them to outwardly pretend loyalty and empathy to “infidel” nations to keep their plans of conquest secret. When Muslims go to a mosque in America, they are entering what Islam calls a “House of War,” where taqiyya allows whatever subterfuge and lies are needed to prevail in warfare, be that war cultural, spiritual, legal or political.

We infidels, therefore, don’t know when to take Muslims at their word, because they have permission to look us in the eye and lie. So don’t be fooled by this “Trojan horse” peace offering that cloaks Islam’s true intent behind the Cordoba mosque. Please listen to the vast majority of Americans, and the four in every five New York City voters, who oppose the mosque.

Until Islamic leaders present you with a fatwa apologizing for 9-11’s acts of terrorism against non-Muslims and guaranteeing no future attacks you must stop this construction! But, don’t hold your breath, because this Fatwa will never be issued. You must block this deceptive scheme that will give Islam an even greater triumph than its 9-11 horrific attack upon your city.

Perfectly Exposing The Utter Hypocrisy At the Heart of The Right's Anti-Mosque Crusade

You have to give Bob Allen and Associated Baptist Press credit for this tremendous article which so perfect exposes the hypocrisy that Religious Right leaders keep offering up as they seek to justify their fight against the "Ground Zero Mosque" - leaders like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: 

"I take a back seat to no one when it comes to religious freedom and religious belief and the right to express that belief, even beliefs that I find abhorrent," said Land, the denomination's top representative on moral, ethical and religious-liberty concerns. "But what I don't do is I don't say that religious freedom means that you have the right to build a place of worship anywhere that you want to build them."

Land cited a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of officials in Boerne, Texas, to refuse permission for a Catholic parish to expand its building in a district designated for historic preservation.

But Land's group actually opposed much of the Supreme Courts majority's reasoning in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision at the time as too restrictive of religious liberty -- and Land heavily criticized the decision. The ERLC -- then known as the SBC Christian Life Commission -- joined a friend-of-the-court brief filed by a broad coalition of religious and civil-liberties organizations that urged the court to decide the case very differently than it ended up doing.

In 1998, Land testified before Congress in favor of a bill -- the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act -- that restored much of what the Supreme Court gutted in the ruling. In his testimony, he said, "I believe that the Boerne decision is one of the worst decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in its long history."

He added, "You cannot treat a church or a mosque or a synagogue the same way you treat a bowling alley or a used-car dealership. This Supreme Court said, 'Yes you can.' That is outrageous and dangerous."

So, let me get this straight: Land railed against the Supreme Court's decision and strongly supported the passage of RLUIPA, which was designed to remedy that very SCOTUS decision, and even testified before Congress in support of the legislation ... yet he is now citing the original SCOTUS decision, which he called "one of the worst decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in its long history," to justify his opposition to the "Ground Zero Mosque"?  

Is that doesn't perfectly encapsulate the hypocrisy at the heart of the Religious Right's crusade against his building, I don't know what does. 

The Religious Right's Exclusive Claim to Religious Freedom

It seems as day after day the Religious Right is intent on making clear their belief that the First Amendment's freedom of religion applies only to Christians. 

Take, for instance, this piece by FRC's Tony Perkins on CNN's Belief Blog in which he lays out the ways in which President Obama is destroying freedom of religion in America though his language, laws, and appointments:

America's First Freedom–freedom of religion–is in danger of being hounded out of public life, expelled from the public square. The word to millions of believers–Evangelicals, Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox Jews–is this: Be Amish or be quiet. Keep your quaint religious practices, mumble your odd prayers, but do so in private.

...

For people of faith, these matters of faith and family go deeper. They are "bridge issues" that unite races and ethnicities, men and women, education and income groups.

The radical changes President Obama and his allies advocate threaten the America we love and the way we express our most deeply held moral and religious convictions. We will be neither silent nor inactive in the face of these challenges. With courtesy and civility but with unflinching determination, we will oppose them.

Isn't it ironic that at a time when the Right is engaged in a campaign to restrict the religious freedom of Muslims in America, Perkins lists only Christians and Jews as those who are in danger of seeing their freedom of religion "hounded out of public life." 

On a related note, the AFA's Bryan Fischer continues his crusade against all things Islam, saying that "only a willfully stupid nation" would allow Muslims to practice their religion here ... but he's willing to compromise:

But I’m an open-minded guy, and open to reasonable compromise. I will happily join with Mr. Gingrich in the one-of-ours-for-one-of-yours approach. It’s a solution that expresses classic American values such as equal opportunity, fairness, and reciprocity.

As soon as we get a church in Mecca, they get a mosque in New York.

If Saudi Arabia won’t take us up on it, fine. It’s their call. One of ours for one of theirs. Can’t get any more fair, even-handed, and American than that.

What does he mean by "ours"?  The entire point of the Frist Amendment is that there is no "ours" because "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." 

But for Fischer and the rest of the Religious Right, First Amendment free exercise rights are exclusively "ours," meaning Christians and Jews, and don't apply to Muslims at all. 

First Amendment Rights Are For Christians Only!

Earlier this week we noted that Flip Benham and members of Operation Save America had been targeting mosques for protests, screaming that "Jesus hates Muslims" and declaring "this is a war in America and we are taking it to the mosques around the country."

Even though the group is based in Texas, it has chosen to target mosques in Connecticut and Muslim leaders in the state are holding a press conference today to discuss the attacks: 

The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut and other organizations are hosting a press conference and rally at 3 p.m. today (Friday) on the north side (Bushnell Park side) of the State Capitol.

The gathered hope to address recent outbreaks of Islamophobia in Connecticut, as well as the rest of the country. During Islam's holy month of Ramadan, Muslims have asked for police protection so that they can go to their mosques to pray in this state.

And so, of course, Operation Save America is responding by accusing Muslims of violating their First Amendment rights

In an unprecedented move, Muslim leaders in Connecticut are staging a press conference in Hartford this afternoon, to plead with legislators to censor the Gospel of Christ from the public forum around mosques.

That's right! They are using their own potential for violence to silence the Gospel of Christ. Gentle Christian saints will be conducting a press conference on the public sidewalk in front of the Bridgeport Islamic Center, aka Mafjid An-Noor Mosque in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Truth is hate to those who hate the truth.

Islam is not a religion, nor a cult, but a total and complete 100 % system of life. It has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. In all of the 27 countries ruled by Islam, the church is the state! No other religion will be tolerated.

"Islam presents a monstrous worldview, birthed in the pit of hell, which brings untold misery and murder upon precious people created in the image of God. Religion is its cover (its beard) by which it gains entrance into nations where the 'freedom of religion' is sacrosanct. It then takes this freedom afforded to it, and begins its insidious takeover." Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America.

In essence, Benham is upset that Muslim leaders are exercising their First Amendment free speech rights in defense of their First Amendment religious freedoms because doing so represents a threat to his First Amendment right to scream that Jesus hates them.

LaBarbera's Conference Overrun By Spies

Back in June, when Peter LaBarber announced his three day anti-gay "Truth Academy," he made it clear that those who did not share his anti-gay views or agenda would not be welcome and that he would actively be screening applicants: 

This is a rigorous, 3-day program featuring some of the leading pro-family experts on homosexuality in the Culture War. Prospective attendees will need to be approved with references; this is not open to pro-homosexual activists but only to those who share AFTAH’s belief that homosexuality is immoral and that the GLBT movement is destructive to America and a direct threat to our religious freedom.

So how did that work out?

Well, Truth Wins Out got someone inside who provided audio recordings and Hemant Mehta (aka “The Friendly Atheist”) likewise had two sources inside who have provided an exhaustive recounting of the conference - one of Mehta's sources actually struck up a discussion with another attendee, only to find out that that person was also there as a spy. 

Now that spy, Timna Axel, has written her own long piece providing an inside view of the conference:

Reading Bible passages that describe God's strictly heterosexual design for marriage, Professor Rena Lindevaldsen of Liberty University traced a history of court cases which systematically de-linked procreation from marriage.

"I firmly believe we got to where we are today because we as a nation strayed from God's standard," she said. In her view, the last U.S. Supreme Court case which correctly described marriage was Murphy v. Ramsey, a case on polygamy decided 125 years ago. Decrying Lawrence v. Texas, which protected citizen privacy from anti-sodomy laws, Prof. Lindevaldsen admitted that she didn't want "the government peeking into my bedroom." However, privacy in this case should be sacrificed because "laws normalize conduct."

While anti-gay federal laws would merely discourage bad conduct, pro-gay federal laws would effectively criminalize Christianity, according to LaBarbera, who cited the cases of Canada and England. In his example, laws which prohibit renters from discriminating based on sexual orientation would make it illegal to fulfill the Christian ideology.

This scriptural keystone explains the absolute inability of these believers to compromise on gay marriage. "Sexual sin is sexual sin," asserted LaBarbera. "The truth is the truth." To budge one inch for domestic partnerships or civil unions is moral cowardice, and would open the floodgates for normalizing other sexual sins such as adultery and incest.

LaBarbera hailed his conference as a "tremendous success," but its becoming clear that a significant number of the 50 or so people LaBarbera claims attended were really there as undercover spies.

Interesting, LaBarbera is also offering DVDs and CDs from the conference ... but who needs to waste money on them when we are getting so much inside coverage of the event from the countless spies in attendance?

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Religious Freedom Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Monday 10/24/2011, 12:00pm
Randy Thomasson of Save California joined Janet Mefferd on Friday to discuss the Queer Studies minor at Cal State Fullerton, and the anti-gay activist called the program an “oxymoron.” According to Thomasson, a sincere academic discussion of the LGBT community would show that no one is born gay and that people can simply change their sexual orientation and become ex-gays, “but they are dishonest so they are indoctrinating college students to think that homosexuality, bisexuality and transexuality is good and natural, maybe even for them.” He went on to warn that the... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 10/13/2011, 2:55pm
Washington Times columnist Marybeth Hicks appeared on Eagle Forum Live on Tuesday to promote her new book Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left's Assault on Our Families, Faith, and Freedom, which is about how progressives are using media and schools to literally “brainwash our kids.” Speaking with host Bill Borst, Hicks criticized the media and the show “Glee” for supposedly negatively portraying Christians. But Hicks reserved her harshest attacks for “Family Guy” and its creator Seth MacFarlane. Hicks said that MacFarlane, a People... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/12/2011, 1:40pm
This morning on the Today Show Mitt Romney and Chris Christie repeated their call for Rick Perry to disassociate himself from pastor Robert Jeffress because of the pastor’s denigration of Romney’s Mormon faith. Yesterday, Christie even compared Jeffress to “those folks in New Jersey who disparaged in both parties my decision to appoint a Muslim judge” and said that any “campaign that associates itself with that type of comment is beneath the office of President of the United States, in my view.” Ironically, one of the people who slammed Christie over his... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 10/12/2011, 11:04am
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... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 10/07/2011, 11:10am
While speaking on the American Family Association's American Family Radio about his upcoming appearance at the Values Voter Summit, where he will be introducing Rick Santorum, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel said that gay rights and marriage equality is one of the gravest threats to the future of Western civilization and freedom itself. Watch: Staver: We are facing the survival of western values, western civilization. And I think those survival, whether they win or lose, what will the future of America be will be determined in our lifetime.... One of the most significant threats to... MORE
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 10/05/2011, 11:20am
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... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 09/26/2011, 11:14am
This November a coalition of anti-Muslim and Religious Right groups are hosting “The Constitution or Sharia—Preserving Freedom Conference” in Nashville, Tennessee, dubbed “the first national conference on Sharia and the Islamization of America.” The location does not seem to be coincidental: the Tennessee legislature recently weighed a bill that would make it a felony to follow Sharia law and the town of Murfreesboro, just south of Nashville, has witnessed vicious anti-Muslim attacks and arson against a planned mosque. A lawsuit against the mosque declared that... MORE