Religious Freedom

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters points out that Bill O'Reilly doesn't know what he is talking about and has the photographic evidence to prove it.
  • Speaking of Media Matters, they want you to vote for the "the worst media moment of Obama's first 100 days" - it's going to be a difficult choice.
  • Dan Gilgoff reports that Rick Warren is eager to clarify his stance on gay marriage and Prop 8 and has this interesting quote from Wendy Wright: "'I hope he is not intimidated by the tactics of homosexual activists,' says Concerned Women for America's Wright. 'He has a unique ability to present biblical truth on marriage to a wider audience.'"
  • David Neiwert says that Chris Simcox's past will haunt his GOP primary bid against Sen. John McCain.
  • Dominic Holden tries to figure out why Gary Randall of Faith and Freedom is opposing gay rights and just what he's doing with all the money he's been raising.
  • Steve Benen notes that Michael Steele is now coming under fire from RNC members for failing to attack President Obama and Democrats as "socialists."
  • Pam urges everyone to save the date of October 10, the day that Matt Barber will be the featured speaker at Americans For Truth’s annual banquet.
  • Finally, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation are calling on the United States Chief of Naval Operations to investigate the fact that Gordon Klingenschmitt "is attempting to create the false impression that he is still an active-duty member of the U.S. armed forces."

Jackson to Fight Marriage Equality in DC

Charisma Magazine ran an article on the new National Organization for Marriage ad we mentioned yesterday in which various right-wing leaders say that the recent marriage vote in Vermont is proof that this debate was never about legal benefits but is really part of an effort to fundamentally redefine society:

Pro-family leaders say the vote in Vermont, which in 2000 became the first state to create civil union laws that gave same-sex couples the federal benefits of marriage, is proof that the debate over gay marriage was not about legal benefits.

"That was merely the wedge to demand more, to require that everyone in society accept what cannot-by nature-be, that marriage can be something other than one man and one woman," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.

Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which has argued in court on behalf of traditional marriage supporters, said civil union laws are tools to usher in gay marriage nationally.

"This move [in Vermont] also demonstrates without question that ‘civil unions' are never acceptable middle ground," Nimocks said. "Instead, they are the groundwork used to pave the way toward what you see today. Other states should not be naïve."

NOM executive director Brian Brown said his organization's new ad campaign was about protecting their religious freedom, saying that if states are allowed to pass marriage equality laws then those who "believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman [are going to be treated as] the equivalent of bigots." And it looks like NOM will be getting some help in this effort, as it is also reported that Harry Jackson is setting up his own campaign to prevent Washington, DC from following Vermont's lead:

Bishop Harry Jackson, founder of the Maryland-based High Impact Leadership Coalition, is setting up an office in the District of Columbia and launching a grass-roots campaign to oppose a gay marriage bill he said will likely be introduced in the District within the next 60 to 90 days.

Because the U.S. Congress governs the District, such a move would be a direct challenge to DOMA. Jackson, who is black, said educating African-American and Hispanic pastors in particular about gay marriage efforts will be key in preserving traditional marriage.

"In November, we had three simultaneous, major victories," Jackson said, referring to the passage of marriage amendments in Florida, Arizona and California. "We saw that the church uniting around racial boundaries is what makes the difference. ... When people who know the Lord know the issues, then we find people voting the right way."

This is the first we have head of Jackson's nascent effort, but it is something we will certainly be keeping an eye on.

And speaking of Jackson, he is also not happy with Rick Warren for claiming that fighting against marriage equality is not even on his agenda:

"This man who's been called the next Billy Graham, who I really respect with all my heart and love what he's doing in Africa, is falling into a trap that is emblematic of the problem that the entire church is facing in this generation," Jackson states. "And that is that we love the applause of men more than we love the work of God and the gospel. Jesus...told us that we are to honor God first, and that we are not to fear men but we're to fear God."

Jackson argues that Warren was "aiding and abetting a deception around what kind of stance the Bible calls Christians to take" by telling Larry King that opposing the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage was "not his agenda."

"He is the author of The Purpose Driven Life book," Jackson notes, "and therefore people are going to think, 'Well, this is not on my mission -- it's not on my purpose. I don't have to stand for truth.'

"Therefore, his defection -- in terms of his stance on this issue -- [and] his backsliding on this issue, becomes of tremendous damage to the strength of the church in this position."

Iowa Marriage Ruling: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Obviously, the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional is a pretty big deal ... a big enough deal, in fact, that it seems to have crashed the court's website as people try to access the decision.

Fortunately, Pam has grabbed and posted a PDF of the ruling and so we wanted to highlight this good section of the ruling in which the court lays out clearly and firmly the basic difference between religious and civil marriage and notes that granting equality in the latter in no way undermines or denigrates the former:

This contrast of opinions in our society largely explains the absence of any religion-based rationale to test the constitutionality of Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban. Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring government avoids them ... The statute at issue in this case does not prescribe a definition of marriage for religious institutions. Instead, the statute declares, “Marriage is a civil contract” and then regulates that civil contract. Thus, in pursuing our task in this case, we proceed as civil judges, far removed from the theological debate of religious clerics, and focus only on the concept of civil marriage and the state licensing system that identifies a limited class of persons entitled to secular rights and benefits associated with civil marriage.

We, of course, have a constitutional mandate to protect the free exercise of religion in Iowa, which includes the freedom of a religious organization to define marriages it solemnizes as unions between a man and a woman ... This mission to protect religious freedom is consistent with our task to prevent government from endorsing any religious view. State government can have no religious views, either directly or indirectly, expressed through its legislation ... This proposition is the essence of the separation of church and state.

As a result, civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals. This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all. We are not permitted to do less and would damage our constitution immeasurably by trying to do more ...

In the final analysis, we give respect to the views of all Iowans on the issue of same-sex marriage—religious or otherwise—by giving respect to our constitutional principles. These principles require that the state recognize both opposite-sex and same-sex civil marriage. Religious doctrine and views contrary to this principle of law are unaffected, and people can continue to associate with the religion that best reflects their views. A religious denomination can still define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and a marriage ceremony performed by a minister, priest, rabbi, or other person ordained or designated as a leader of the person’s religious faith does not lose its meaning as a sacrament or other religious institution.

The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past. The only difference is civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law. This result is what our constitution requires.

Now for the bad - the ruling just came down and already we are seeing conservative critics pitching a fit, calling the decision "69 pages of blather" and "gobbledygook" written by "judicial knaves who proudly regard themselves as trailblazers" and will only see more of this sort of outrage as the day progresses ... which will likely entail more ugly things like this press release from Peter LaBarbera:

Today Iowa becomes the first state not on either of the nation's two liberal coasts to impose homosexual 'marriage' or its mischievous twin, 'civil unions,' on its citizens through judicial tyranny. To call this decision bankrupt is to understate its perniciousness. The evil genius of the pro-sodomy movement is that it targets noble institutions like marriage and adoption in the name of 'rights,' and then perverts them to normalize aberrant behaviors.

Homosexual 'marriage' is wrong because homosexual behavior itself is wrong and destructive -- as proved by its role in the early deaths of countless 'gay' men ... When the courts order society to effectively pretend that changeable sexual misbehavior is a 'civil right,' the law itself becomes perverted by punishing people of faith for their proper opposition toward deviant sex ... It is high time for pastors, in Iowa and across the land, to shake off their stifling, politically correct timidity and again become the prophetic voices for Truth they were called to be: by boldly warning Americans about the perils of our growing accommodation with the sins of proud homosexuality, and sex outside marriage in general.

The Right's Scared, Last-Minute, Month-Old Protection

Just before leaving office, the Bush Administration announced a new rule designed to protect the "consciences" of health care providers who oppose abortion and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.

As the New York Times reported in mid-December of last year:

The rule prohibits recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and health care aides who refuse to take part in procedures because of their convictions, and it bars hospitals, clinics, doctors’ office and pharmacies from forcing their employees to assist in programs and activities financed by the department.

This change wasn't about protecting heath care workers who do not want to participate in abortions, as that sort of protection has existed for decades, but rather about protecting workers who consider things like birth control to be forms of abortion.

At the time this change was made, it is abundantly clear that then President-Elect Obama would review and most likely reverse this last minute rule change once he took office and it looks like that is exactly what he is doing:

The Obama administration's move to rescind broad new job protections for health workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable triggered an immediate political storm yesterday, underscoring the difficulties the president faces in his effort to find common ground on anything related to the explosive issue of abortion.

The administration's plans, revealed quietly with a terse posting on a federal Web site, unleashed a flood of heated reaction, with supporters praising the proposal as a crucial victory for women's health and reproductive rights, and opponents condemning it as a devastating setback for freedom of religion.

And, of course, the Religious Right is livid:

But the Family Research Council, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and others condemned it.

"It is open season to again discriminate against health-care professionals," said David Stevens, head of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. "Our Founding Fathers, who bled and died to guarantee our religious freedom, are turning over in their graves."

...

"I think what was in place was as good as one could find in terms of seeking and securing common ground," said the Rev. Frank Page, the immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and another member of Obama's faith council. "It's a matter of respect. I felt like what was in place was that middle ground of common respect."

As the NYT reported back in December, the measure didn't even go into effect for 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register, meaning that it has officially been in place for a little over a month. Until Bush implemented this unilateral last-minute change just before he left office, this rule had never even existed and has now been in place for all of a few weeks - yet, to here Religious Right leaders tell it, President Obama is set to undo some age-old "compromise" that will cause the Founding Fathers to turn over in their graves.

$200,000 Later, Liberty Legal Gets Back to Basics

Back in September, we wrote a couple of posts noting that the Liberty Legal Institute, a right-wing Texas law firm, was trying to shut down the "Troopergate" probe involving Sarah Palin in order to protect John McCain's presidential campaign. 

Now, the Anchorage Daily News reports that LLI spent nearly $200,000 on the effort:

New state gift disclosures show it cost Liberty Legal Institute and the two law firms working with it $185,000 to represent six Alaska legislators in an unsuccessful lawsuit to halt their colleagues' "troopergate" investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin acted improperly in firing the state's public safety director.

The legislators listed a $25,000 gift of services from the Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute. Liberty is the legal arm of the Free Market Foundation, which is associated with evangelical leader James Dobson's Focus on the Family, and lists its guiding principles as limited government and promotion of Judeo-Christian values.

The lawmakers also disclosed a $120,000 gift of services from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, a national firm that appeared at hearings on behalf of Liberty Legal.

Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson represented the six legislators in the case as well, and turned to Liberty Legal for its constitutional expertise. The lawmakers reported a $40,000 gift of services from Clarkson's firm.

That brings the total bill for their lawsuit to $185,000.

The attorneys had hoped to recoup legal fees in a victory. But the suit was dismissed last fall.

The six legislators who filed the suit are Wes Keller, Mike Kelly, Fred Dyson, Tom Wagoner, Carl Gatto and Bob Lynn. All are Republicans.

And speaking of Liberty Legal, Kelly Shackelford, who heads the organization, was just featured on Focus on the Family's CitizenLink website warning its readers that President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are going to destroy their religious freedom by passing the Freedom of Choice Act, repealing DOMA, the Fairness Doctrine, hate crimes legislation and, most ominously, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:

It essentially forces a national homosexual-rights law into businesses across the country. The original bill included "transgendered" individuals — in other words, a man who dresses like a woman, who feels like he’s a woman that day. This would affect everything. It would mean your teacher in your child’s school, if they were a male and felt like a female, they could go into the women’s bathroom.

It’s very extreme, but it is very likely to pass, and it has huge implications on religious liberty. There are a lot of Christian businesses that try to follow their beliefs and morality, and it would be the federal government forcing their view of morality on everybody and it would trump religious freedom.

It’s not just Christian businesses; it would even do it to nonprofit organizations. It would even affect, depending upon the exemption, church schools. So you can see how invidious this could be because it really is a direct attack on religious freedom.

While we understand Shackelford's fear-mongering on these issues - it is LLI's core mission, after all - we have yet to see a convincing explanation of how this mission was furthered by having this right-wing Texas organization drop a couple of hundred thousand dollars defending Republican legislators in Alaska in order to protect Sarah Palin.

Sometimes You Just Have to Scratch Your Head and Wonder

I honestly had no intention of continuing to cover the ludicrous “controversy” regarding the supposedly “anti-Christian” provision in the stimulus legislation, but it keeps popping up on right-wing websites and so I feel obligated to keep futilely trying to knock it down. 

For instance, here is Jonathan Falwell writing on WorldNetDaily, who cites this provision as proof that “public religious expression is increasingly in the crosshairs of our government”:

On Thursday, I spoke with Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law about this issue. During our conversation, he stated in part that the so-called stimulus bill may lead to the banning of religious activity from public facilities, with public schools possibly being forced to expel after-hours Bible clubs and weekend religious services in order to access these government funds. This would have a chilling effect on religious ministries and church-planting organizations of all stripes, including new church plants being sent out from Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University.

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if our lawmakers have even a basic understanding of our nation's rich history of religious freedom.

First of all, stop listening to Mat Staver because he’s wrong.  And secondly, sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if anybody on the Right has even a basic understanding of how to read legislation because, if they did, they’d know that everything they are saying is outright false.

The Family Research Council also made another mention of this provision in its most recent “Washington Update”:

Although Republicans have tried to strip some excess from the stimulus, Democrats had a small victory of their own yesterday, defeating Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) amendment to ban religious discrimination from the bill by a 43-54 vote. Only Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) deserted the GOP to side with her liberal pals in opposing the provision.

Actually, two Republicans senators voted against it: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder if anybody on the Right has even a basic understanding of how to read a roll call vote.

Then finally, there’s Jay Sekulow, who got this whole thing started in the first place, declaring that he and the ACLJ intend to file suit immediately after President Obama signs it and proclaiming that they intend to spend years fighting it, if necessary:

"Well, not only is it disappointing, it's almost a throwback to litigation that we conducted in the 1980s that we won unanimously at the Supreme Court," he says. "And I feel like this particular legislation pokes the finger in the eye of people who take religious faith seriously.
 
Jay Sekulow (Amer. Ctr. for Law & Policy)"It's discriminatory in its application, unconstitutional as it's written, [and] unfortunately it's going to take four or five years for it to be litigated all the way through," Sekulow adds.
 
With passage of the bill with the restrictions in place, how might colleges and universities be affected? "We're going to look at filing an application for a stay of this provision, trying to get it declared unconstitutional through a restraining order," he shares.
 
Sekulow plans to file suit the day after President Obama signs the bill.

Does the ACLJ really intend to file suit and spend years in court based on nothing more than its own intentional misreading of this provision? Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder if this is all a plot to drive me completely insane.

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

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

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

The Traditional Values Coalition just issued this statement:

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

...

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etc., etc., etc., etc.

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

DeMint Spreads Lies on Senate Floor, Compares Opponents to George Wallace

At this point in this ridiculous saga over the manufactured controversy regarding an "anti-Christian" provision in the stimulus bill, I don' t know whether to laugh or cry.

Check out this video of Sen. Jim DeMint flat-out lying on the Senate floor as he discusses the need to pass his amendment to strip this provision from the legislation, as he proclaims that Christians would be locked out of opportunities for higher education and proclaims that it was inserted into the bill by some nefarious cabal of people who are intent on silencing "traditional, freedom-loving Americans" and who are "so hostile to religion that they are willing to stand in the schoolhouse door, like the infamous George Wallace":

Here is a rough transcript of some of the highlights:

This is a provision "that would make sure students could never talk openly and honestly about their faith ... what this means is that students can't meet together in their dorms if that dorm has been repaired with federal money and have a prayer group or a Bible study. They can't get together in their student centers. They can't have a commencement service where a speaker talks about their personal faith." The people who wrote this provision want "to intimidate the free speech of traditional, freedom-loving Americans ... [and] put a chilling effect on religious freedom in our country." Student groups would be banned and "classes on world religions and religious history, academic studies of religious texts could be banned ... Someone around here thinks it's a good idea to discriminate against people of faith, to deny them the educational opportunities and access to public facilities. Someone is so hostile to religion that they are willing to stand in the schoolhouse door, like the infamous George Wallace, to deny people of faith from entering into any campus building renovated by this bill. This cannot stand! It is in hard times that our society most needs faith. It provides the light that no darkness can overcome. This provision is an attempt to extinguish that light from college campuses and the lives of our youth."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Gary Bauer calls on "pro-lifers [to] help Americans discern Obama’s abortion extremism, [so] they can help minimize the destruction of innocent human life that this administration is dedicated to inflicting."
  • A hearing on anti-discrimination legislation in North Dakota generated this quote from the director of the state’s chapter of Concerned Women for America: "[the bill is] a giant step toward the adoption of policies that discriminate against people with traditional views of morality. This law would not protect rights, but would rather grant special privileges based strictly on someone's sexual behavior. Further, those privileges would have a significant impact on the constitutional rights of North Dakotans who may have a moral objection to certain sexual behaviors."
  • The director of Cornerstone Policy Research in New Hampshire says his group has "partnered with several national groups — including the American Family Association and Focus on the Family — to fund anti-gay-marriage spots that could air on radio and television stations in about a month."
  • Why is German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking out about the Pope’s decision to make nice with a Holocaust-denier?  Because, according to Bill Donohue, she and all Germans are "reeking with guilt over the Holocaust."
  • Roy Moore joins the chorus of those freaking out about President Obama mentioning non-believers and other religions in his Inaugural Address, proclaiming: "To state that this is a Muslim nation, a Hindu nation, or a nation of nonbelievers is to deny that God is the grantor of religious freedom. It is also a denigration of the Christian faith to just another religion."
  • Finally, the Family Research Council's Krystle Weeks complains that crosses used in an antiabortion demonstration at George Washington University were defaced last week and that while "the media wants to fawn all over Barack Obama and his administration … they would rather ignore a story that violates the freedom of speech and religion." She then links to this Washington Post article about it … which rather undermines her claim that the media is ignoring this incident, don’t you think?

Decrying the "Coup" in Texas

For the last several days, the Texas Freedom Network had been chronicling the battle taking place in the Texas House of Representatives, as right-wing activists from around the state swung into action in order to try and save Rep. Tom Craddick's position as House Speaker - as TFN noted:

Craddick has alienated Democrats and a number of Republicans with his autocratic rule of the House and by forcing controversial votes on hot-button issues like private school vouchers. The religious right has strongly supported Craddick’s speakership, seeing him as an important tool in the far-right’s ongoing and deeply divisive culture war on mainstream values like strong public schools, religious freedom and civil liberties in Texas.

Eleven House Republicans have moved to support state Rep. Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, as speaker after the new legislative session begins on Jan. 13.

TFN explained how people like David Barton and the Cathy Adams of the Texas Eagle Forum were hard at work rallying their grassroots activists to save Craddick's position, but it looks like it was all for naught:

Straus, a moderate Republican from San Antonio, swept into the speaker's race Friday night and by Sunday had enough pledges, the great bulk from Democrats, to assure his election as the next House leader. As his list of supporters continued to grow Monday, his chief Republican rivals dropped their campaigns, leaving him all but assured of election when the 150 House members vote on a speaker when they gather Jan. 13.

Conservative activists and legislators expressed anguish over losing Craddick, a partisan warrior, as speaker. Craddick, who ended his campaign for a fourth speaker's term, saw his base crumble when virtually all Democrats and a dozen key Republicans abandoned him. He was also hurt by the November elections, which left the GOP with a thin 76-74 majority.  

Needless to say, right-wingers in the state are not happy, with Rick Scarborough decrying it as a nothing short of a "coup":

“Values voters in Texas will be outraged to hear the news that a small band of Republicans and 64 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives have conspired to name Representative Joe Straus of San Antonio, the most liberal returning Republican Representative in the House, as Speaker, replacing conservative Tom Craddick,“ said conservative activist, Dr. Rick Scarborough of Nacogdoches, Texas. “This is a deliberate and carefully calculated plan to undermine and halt progress on the issues we care about the most, ESPECIALLY the rights of the unborn child and traditional marriage” ... “This is nothing short of a coup and we will not take it laying down! We have worked hard for two decades in Texas to elect principled conservatives, but today it is clear we have far too many whose only guiding principle is power!” said Scarborough.

FRC Rejoices Over Last Minute Regulation Change

It looks like the Bush Administration has decided to use its final days in office to enforce its anti-choice agenda under the guise of protecting "conscience" of health care workers:

The Bush administration, in its final days, has issued a federal rule reinforcing protections for doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions and other procedures because of religious or moral objections.

Critics of the rule say the protections are so broad that they limit a patient's right to get care and accurate information. For example, they fear the rule could make it possible for a pharmacy clerk to refuse to sell birth control pills and face no ramifications from an employer.

Under longstanding federal law, institutions may not discriminate against individuals who refuse to perform abortions or provide a referral for one. The administration's rule, issued Thursday, is intended to ensure that federal funds don't flow to providers who violate those laws.

"Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience," said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.

The rule requires recipients of Health and Human Services funding to certify their compliance with laws protecting conscience rights.

Not surprisingly, the Family Research Council is tickled by the move:

"This is a huge victory for religious freedom and the First Amendment. No one should be forced to have an abortion, and no one should be forced to be an abortionist. These regulations will ensure that conscience protection statutes will be strongly enforced by the government in the same manner as our other civil rights laws.

"Protecting the right of all health care providers to make professional judgments based on moral convictions and ethical standards is foundational to federal law. These regulations will implement conscience protections that have been embodied in U.S. statutes for over three decades. This is also a victory for the right of patients to choose doctors who decline to engage in morally objectionable practices.

...

"Family Research Council urges President-elect Barack Obama to stand up to pro-abortion forces maneuvering to compel health professionals to participate in abortion. The scope of conscience must be defined by individuals and not the government."

Of course, this rule change will immediately be reviewed and presumably reversed as soon as Barack Obama becomes president, so FRC's rejoicing will probably be rather short-lived.

Opposing Right Wing Legislation for All the Wrong Reasons

I came across an article yesterday about a piece of legislation co-authored by Oklahoma’s favorite militantly anti-gay legislator Sally Kern called the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act but didn’t write about it because, when it passed the legislature this summer, it was vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry

The bill is a typical piece of right-wing claptrap whereby the authors pretend that they are just trying to protect religious freedom when, in reality, they are just trying to make sure that Intelligent Design proponents won’t fail their science classes when they write papers claiming that the Earth is only 6000 years old.

It seems that Kern’s bill has been re-introduced in the 2009 legislative session but doesn’t seem to have been changed in any way that would help it avoid the Governor’s veto pen, should it end up on his desk again.  

The only reason I am even posting on this is because I was caught a bit off guard by this explanation from Rep. Ed Cannaday about why he opposes the bill:

But some lawmakers, including Rep. Ed Cannaday, a former teacher and school administrator in eastern Oklahoma, described the measure as a “cotton candy bill.”

“It’s tasteful and you enjoy it, but it does nothing for you,” said Cannaday, D-Porum.

From reading that, you’d think Cannaday opposed it because it was a attempt by right-wing legislators to inject religion into the public school system in ways that are both unnecessary and harmful.  But you’d be wrong:

Cannaday said the bill also could open the door for radical religious groups to demand equal time in Oklahoma schools.

“What’s more dangerous is that this cotton candy has been laced with arsenic,” Cannaday said. “The radical, non-Christian fringe groups who want to undermine our faith will use this to disrupt and to distract from our spiritual base.”

While it is nice that Cannaday opposes the bill, it would be nicer if he was opposing it because it was unnecessary rather than because it might allow “non-Christian fringe groups" access to public schools from which they would undermine “our spiritual base.”

Viva La Resistance!

If anyone thought that right-wing anti-choice groups were going to spend any time licking the wound inflicted by the last election in which they saw several states reject their efforts to restrict the right to chose, think again:

"The election forces the pro-life movement to go back to what we do best — local grass-roots organizing," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. "We will not go silently into the night."

The overall outcome "brings about feelings of great disappointment, of anger," said the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. "But that disappointment and anger are forms of energy. ...I believe a lot of people on the sidelines for last eight years will now get engaged."

Pavone predicted that activists would stage more mass demonstrations and abortion-clinic vigils. He also said the election results shed light on the movement's weak points, and would prompt new efforts to register anti-abortion voters and mobilize clergy to be more outspoken in future campaigns … "We will do everything to be sure [the Freedom of Choice Act] fails — the damage it would do to the pro-life movement would be immeasurable," said Mahoney. "On the scale of 1 to 10, that's No. 11 of what our job is."

"Any time you have a loss like that, you have an opportunity to reassess and come back stronger," said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. "If they want to see this as a big loss that will set us back, that's OK. Our people are very energized, and ready for Round Two."

This sentiment seems to be sweeping the Religious Right, with Students for Life of America pledging to be unstintingly vigilant and Deacon Keith Fournier vowing to be a part of a “massive resistance” that will not only fight reproductive choice but will end the “culture war” through mass conversion:

We seem to be at war within when we need to join together as one strong voice for life. The real source of the hatred of life is the Devil Himself. The challenge which those whom the late Servant of God John Paul II called “the people of life” face at this crucial time in the history of the West is nothing new. We have been here before in our 2000 year history. The Christian Church goes into Cultures of death and transforms them from within. We can – and we must – do it again in the Third Millennium. Ours is not really a call to a “Culture War” but rather a call to the Conversion of Culture through the conversion of minds, hearts, and lifestyles which will then lead to a transformation of the social structures of governance and way we live our lives together.

In fact, it looks as if the Right is almost welcoming the new Obama administration, sensing it will provide an opportunity for them to mobilize and energize their base as part of new “resistance movement”:

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said, "I knew, moments after the election results came in, that I was now part of the resistance movement." As part of its "movement," CWA has launched a nationwide telemarketing advertising campaign. In the ad, Wright says, "We face a president and Congress more hostile to unborn children, to marriage, to religious freedom, to free speech, to protecting our country than has ever existed in our history." According to Wright, the ad generated an immediate response of calls from religious conservatives asking "what they could do" to help, NPR reports.

Religious conservative leaders also have been scrutinizing Obama's speeches from the campaign trail for messages they can use to rally their base, NPR reports. In particular, they have publicized a speech Obama made last year to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in which he said, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." The act -- which would need congressional approval before Obama could sign it -- would eliminate most federal and state restrictions on abortion. Gary Bauer, president of American Values, said of the speech, "I found myself thinking, 'My goodness, I can't believe he's going to make it this easy for us to rally our troops to get off the mat and get back to work.'"

And Clenard Childress, founder of BlackGenocide.Org, goes so far as to declare that the election of Barack Obama was the best thing to ever happen to the anti-choice movement:

With the election of Barack Obama, we now have a face to put on the abortion plague and a link to the leader of the abortion industry, Planned Parenthood. Despite our efforts, in reality, the time to make this connection was clouded by the notoriety of the first black president and a failing economy. The result is: people still don't know who Barack Obama is and many are now looking deeper into the president elect's life and associations. The truth is: knowing his defeat would only minimize this exposure to America, God has now set it up for a global impact of astronomical proportions.

James Dobson Explains Himself

Today, James Dobson dedicated his radio program to reading out, word for word, Focus on the Family’s October newsletter [PDF] in which he explains why he is now supporting the McCain-Palin ticket, though he continues to insist that he is not offering an endorsement:

It’s probably obvious which of the two major party candidates’ views are most palatable to those of us who embrace a pro-life, pro-family worldview. While I will not endorse either candidate this year, I can say that I am now supportive of Senator John McCain and his bid for the presidency.… In recent weeks, I have received some measure of criticism from those who feel that my “change of heart” toward John McCain is unwarranted. I understand those views and concede that the Senator continues to embrace positions that concern me. I don’t apologize, however, for reevaluating our options in this election year.

Dobson then lays out the four developments that caused him to change his mind: the Saddleback Forum; the GOP platform, Obama’s “liberal views,” and McCain’s decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate: 

Here is a woman who is a deeply committed Christian, and who is pro-life not only with regard to her policies, but in her personal life. She and her husband welcomed their latest child, Trig, into the world even though he was diagnosed with Down syndrome while still in the womb. Approximately 90 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted, but Governor Palin carried her precious child to term and now loves and cares for him despite the challenges associated with a special needs child. Similarly, her teenage daughter, Bristol, who became pregnant out of wedlock, could have bowed to cultural pressure to seek an abortion. Instead, she and the father plan to get married and raise their child together. Governor Palin has been married for 20 years, and by all accounts, she is a portrait of Christian motherhood and womanhood.

Of serious concern to Dobson is the possibility that Democrats in the next Congress will unleash a “wave of anti-family, pro-homosexual legislation,” such as ENDA, which are direct threats to Christians: 

Large portions of the agenda promoted by homosexual activists will also be enacted. The implications for a federal hate crimes law are clear. People speaking against homosexuality have already been prosecuted under hate crimes laws both in the United States and abroad. If a federal hate crimes law passes, there will be little to prevent the government from endeavoring to control and curtail religious speech, especially from the pulpit. It is entirely possible that a pastor could be charged with inducing a federal hate crime simply by preaching from one of the many biblical passages that address homosexuality.

Dobson is likewise motivated by the importance of determining the future of the Supreme Court:

The importance of [electing a pro-family, pro-life President] cannot be overstated. Between 2009 and 2012, there will likely be two or more opportunities for the President to nominate new justices to the Supreme Court. Some court watchers say there could be as many as four resignations. That alone should give us serious pause as we consider for whom to cast our votes. In the months ahead, the Supreme Court will likely hand down rulings that will impact America for generations to come. We need a President who will nominate conservative, strict-constructionist judges to the Court. If that doesn’t happen, the highest court in the land could become stacked—even more than it already is—with justices who will endeavor to legislate from the bench and impose a liberal agenda on the nation. It will likely affect the definition of marriage, religious freedom, and the protection (or lack thereof) of life in the womb.

As I noted last year when Dobson was threatening to bolt the GOP if Rudy Giuliani secured the nomination, petulant threats from him are becoming an election year tradition … and just like with every other threat he’s issued to the party, when crunch time comes, Dobson eventually falls back in line.

"We as Christians, We are Persecuted and Oppressed"

That was the entirely predictable message at yesterday's press conference, organized by Chaps Gordon Klingenschmitt in Richmond, VA to protest the "forced resignations" of six police Chaplains who refused to deliver non-denominational prayers at department-sanctioned, public events:

The ministers and the Family Foundation of Virginia held a news conference yesterday to assail [state police Superintendent W. Steven] Flaherty's directive and Kaine for backing it.

"The recent decision by Superintendent Flaherty and its subsequent endorsement by Gov. Kaine is an act of anti-Christian hysteria based on a flawed decision by a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court that has yet to be upheld and is, in fact, in conflict with other circuit court decisions from around the country," said Victoria Cobb, Family Foundation president. "The policy clearly violates the First Amendment-protected rights of free speech and religious freedom."

Cobb and the ministers said that barring the state police chaplains from using the name Jesus Christ is, in effect, a violation of those chaplains' rights because their religion calls upon them to pray to Jesus Christ.

"In our belief, it's not even a complete prayer" without appealing to Jesus Christ, said Rev. Rob Schenck, of the National Clergy Council ... ["So how do we end a prayer unless in the name of Jesus Christ? We are pleading with the governor . . . to reconsider the magnitude of this thing."]

Former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, who said he was discharged from the Navy for praying to Jesus Christ, sent Kaine a letter signed by 86 ministers, asking him to revise the policy for state police chaplains.

Klingenschmitt told Kaine that the policy amounts to religious discrimination and "anti-Christian persecution."

...

Hashmel Turner, the Fredericksburg councilman and minister whose prayers to Jesus Christ sparked the court case, attended yesterday's press conference.

He said he has given up leading prayers before council meetings because of the court's ruling.

"We as Christians, we are persecuted and oppressed," Turner said. "We have to support these chaplains that are being persecuted."

Those in attendance also announced that they intend to follow through on Klingenschmitt's threat to hold a pre-election rally that "could impact the national election" and will be doing so with a "statewide prayer rally" outside the Executive Mansion on Nov. 1.

How To Be a Right-Winger in 25 Easy Steps

All of those potential right-wing candidates out there who are searching for a ready-made agenda to run on are in luck, because today the Family Research Council unveiled a report entitled "25 Pro-Family Policy Goals for the Nation." As FRC explains, the report is designed to serve as a blueprint for candidates, though it'll work for pastors, voters, and plain-old citizens as well:
The document you hold in your hands can serve as a model for the platforms the Republican and Democratic parties will write this summer. It can also serve as a blueprint for how those we elect can promote and protect the family and its values in 2009 and in the years to come. The 25 goals we put forth here are grouped into eight main subject areas, ranging from Human Life to Marriage and Family to Religious Liberty to Culture and Media. Each page features a brief analysis of the issue, followed by one or more specific policy proposals which can help America meet that individual goal. Some involve action by Congress, some by the president, and some by state legislators or executive officials. If you are a candidate for office or an elected official, please consider adopting these proposals as your own. If you are a values voter, challenge those running for office as to their position on these issues, and weigh their response as you consider your vote. If you are a pastor or leader of an organization, consider making copies of this booklet available to your members. If you are simply a citizen who cares about the family in America, write to your elected officials and urge them to pursue these goals with vigor.
As one would expect, the FRC then proceeds to lay out its policy priorities on everything from marriage to abortion to judges. If you are looking for a concise collection of the issues that make up the Right's current political agenda, this new FRC report is one-stop shopping:

Bill Donohue: Keeping the Internets Safe Since 2007

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, when he’s not busy suggesting that it’s their own fault when young boys are molested by priests, has a full time job safeguarding “both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened. “  Apparently, part of that mission includes defending teh internets from foul-mouthed lefty bloggers.  

It started back in 2007 when he launched an ultimately successful crusade to get the John Edwards campaign to part ways with both Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister, whom he called “two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots.”  And now he has set his sites on purging the Democratic National Convention of bloggers who raise his ire:

Over 120 blogs have been credentialed as members of the media for the Democratic National Convention; those who have received credentials are allowed to cover the Convention at the Pepsi Center. While most of them offer legitimate commentary, some do not.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue is protesting two of the blogs:

“The list of credentialed blogs include radical sites like The Daily Kos. Worse are blogs that feature anti-Catholic and obscene material. The two most offensive are Bitch Ph.D. and Towleroad.

“On the home page of Bitch Ph.D. there is a picture of two children: one of them is shown flashing his middle finger. Today’s lead post, which was written August 17, is called ‘Jesus Christ.’ It begins with, ‘I’m a really crappy Catholic who hasn’t been to mass in ages because most parishes around here ‘will’ insist on being aggressively anti-abortion….’ The writer then objects to some children’s toys on the grounds that they are more offensive than desecrating the Eucharist. The toys are actually balloons that have been made to depict Jesus in various poses, including a crucified Christ; one of these images shows Jesus with a penis. Several who commented on this image made patently obscene comments.

“Towleroad describes itself as ‘A Site with Homosexual Tendencies.’ Accordingly, it shows men in jock straps and underwear. It also has a post on Pope Benedict XVI that takes him to task for wearing a cape with ermine. Some of those who commented on this described the pope in a vile and profane way.

“Both of these blogs should be cut immediately from the list of credentialed sites. Neither functions as a responsible media outlet and both offend Catholics, as well as others. To allow them access to the Democratic National Convention sends a message to Catholics they will not forget. We look for Leah Daughtry, CEO of the Convention, to nix them ASAP.”

Apparently, Donohue is so desperate for attention that he has been reduced to picking fights with bloggers over the type of cape that the Pope wears. In fact, this entire spectacle is vintage Donohue in that he scours the internet or televsion in order to find something that offends him and then declares that failure to kowtow to his personal whims, dislikes, and obsessions will “send a message to Catholics they will not forget” … based on nothing more than his say so.  So this sort of bluster is nothing new for Donohue, who has a long history of attempting to intimidate his political enemies, as well as his own history of bigotry such as declaring that “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity."

Right Gears Up to Fight “Armageddon of the Culture War”

For two hours earlier this week, pastors gathered at more than 200 sites throughout California, Arizona, and Florida to be exhorted by national Religious Right leaders like Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Maggie Gallagher, and Chuck Colson and others to hold nothing back in their efforts to fight against marriage equality.  The People For the American Way Foundation today released a memo [PDF] chronicling the call and outlining the Right’s plans for the weeks ahead:

The primary focus of the call was Proposition 8 in California, described by Colson as “the Armageddon of the culture war.” Many speakers invoked the language of warfare, raising up an army of believers, putting soldiers in the streets, being on the front lines of a battle. Lou Engle actually described a massive rally planned in Qualcomm stadium on November 1 as a “blitzkrieg moment.”

While speaker after speaker spoke of the dire threats same-sex married couples pose to “traditional” marriage, religious freedom, and civilization itself, the overall tone of the call was confidence that victory would be won with God’s help, 40 days of prayer and fasting before the election, teams of intercessors and prayer warriors around the country, and a massive highly organized deployment of volunteers in a systematic voter identification and turnout campaign.

Ron Luce from Teen Mania ministries and other organizers talked about plans to organize 300,000 youth and their families for an October 1 simulcast, and using them to reach 2.4 million. A representative of the Church Communication Network, a satellite network that has downlink equipment in 500 churches in California, 95 in Arizona, and 321 in Florida, said it would simulcast the youth event free of charge, and would make a satellite dish available “at cost” to churches who don’t yet have one. Said one speaker of the youth organizing, “if we don’t use them, Satan will.”

Another speaker, Rev. Dudley Rutherford, predicted that if Prop. 8 fails, the God-ordained institution of marriage would be destroyed; the engine of hate crimes legislation would be fueled, ultimately leading to it being illegal to read some sections of the Bible; the floodgates would be open to gay couples suing to force churches to marry them; and the polygamists would be next.

At End of Supreme Court Term, Right Wing Points to November

According to Politico, the Right is warming to John McCain’s far-right stance on judicial appointments, and with the 5-4 decisions that closed out the Supreme Court’s term, we can see the outline of McCain’s and the Right’s campaign to get the base to turn out in November on the issue of judges.

Last month’s Supreme Court decision on habeas corpus was likened by the Right a “white flag of surrender” that would cause “more Americans to be killed”; Fred Thompson, a judicial advisor to John McCain, wrote that the “remedy” was for “concerned citizens to turn out on Election Day to elect a new president.”

The more recent decision overturning D.C.’s gun ban inspired Ted Nugent to write in Human Events that “the 5-4 ruling is another painful example” of “a divisive culture war raging on, and four supreme justices frighteningly disconnected from the heart and soul of America.” Michael Reagan warned that the majority “will vanish if the liberals manage to elect Barack Obama and give his party sufficient control of Congress to guarantee that future Court vacancies will be filled with activist liberal justices who will turn the Constitution upside down.”

The Family Research Council called the Second Amendment case “a reminder for voters of just how important the elections are this fall.”

The next President is likely to name 2-3 Supreme Court justices, who will be examining the constitutionality of a variety of laws for the next few decades. Life, marriage, and religious freedom are all issues that are likely to land in front of the Supreme Court. … For fiscal, social, and national defense conservatives, judges are one issue that brings all conservatives together.

According to the Weekly Standard, a case restricting capital punishment to murderers and not rapists of children demonstrated “that the fight to turn the Court from a capricious and imperious vanguard of liberalism into an impassive umpire is far from over.” The Standard’s Matthew Continetti advised McCain to “take this opportunity to explain how his judicial philosophy differs from Obama's, and why it matters.” A National Review editorial similarly responded, “Too many of our justices are evolving away from democracy. Let’s not elect a president who will encourage them — and appoint more of them.”

Traditional Values Coalition’s Lou Sheldon wrote that the death penalty case and the habeas corpus decision “are perfect examples showing why it’s important that Americans choose the right person to assume the Presidency in January 2009.”

The person who becomes President and Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces will likely have to replace Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, and Souter – all liberals who use their power to impose their leftist ideology upon all Americans. …

If we fail to put a man into the Oval Office who understands judicial restraint and the rule of law, our legal system will be set back 30 years. This is especially true if a liberal President appoints young liberals to the Court and fills up the federal judiciary with more radical leftist judges.

Finally, there’s the 5-4 decision overturning the “Millionaire’s Amendment,” a part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that lifted contribution limits for politicians facing self-funded opponents. Despite McCain’s role in originally passing the law, McCain supporter Hans von Spakovsky wrote that the narrow ruling “graphically illustrates just how important the next president's appointments to the Supreme Court will be to preserving our First Amendment rights in the political arena.”

“[G]iven the number of Supreme Court appointments a Democratic president will be able to make, an Obama victory will move America more radically leftward than ever in its history,” Dennis Prager summarized.

All these cases will continue to be cited by the Right in pushing its unmotivated constituency to the polls, as “are reminders that elections are not just about putting candidates in office for a few years,” as Thomas Sowell put it to those “who are thinking of venting their frustrations by voting for some third-party candidate that they know has no chance of being elected. There will be a president chosen this November, and he will appoint Supreme Court justices during his term, regardless of whether you stay home or go to the polls.”

The Right Goes All In to Stop Marriage Equality in California

As we have noted over the last several weeks, the Religious Right’s response to the California marriage ruling has been noticeably over-the-top, even for them.  Throwing out everything from Nazi metaphors and warnings that the end of the world was upon us to hateful language and ridiculous scare-tactics, the Right’s response has consisted almost entirely over rhetorical over-reaction. 

But now that same-sex marriages have begun in California, the Right appears to be transitioning from over-reaction to action and begun ramping up its organizing efforts to amend the California Constitution to “provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized.” 

Just yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Focus on the Family dumped a quarter-million dollars into the effort:

The initiative campaign proposes to amend the state Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. It received $250,000 this week from an evangelical group, Focus on the Family, and declared that the debate about same-sex marriage "is not over." Focus on the Family, led by James C. Dobson, posted a statement on its website declaring that California's "judicially imposed social experiment has hastened the demise of religious freedom across the U.S."

Today, the Family Research Council sent out an email seeking to have its own quarter-million dollar investment be doubled by a matching grant for the fight in California and across the nation:

I'm writing to ask you to give a generous donation to Family Research Council's MARRIAGE CAMPAIGN.

Your donation and others will be doubled by a Matching Grant up to $250,000!

Traditional marriage is now in grave peril across the nation due to the outrageous decisions by activist judges and radical legislators in Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Oregon. With reckless disregard for logic and law, these threats open the door to:

    * Counterfeit marriage being imposed on states with marriage amendments
    * Erosion of traditional morality as homosexuality is normalized
    * Schools teaching that homosexual behavior and homosexual "marriage" are social goods
    * Restriction of religious freedom and free speech

In response to the marriage crisis, FRC has launched our Marriage Campaign.

Our initial goal: raise $2 million immediately to educate the nation on the centrality of marriage, respond to threats and lies across the country, educate leaders and pastors, and register voters.

The crisis is so great that FRC has been given a $250,000 Matching Grant to help fight this battle and others

FRC plans to use the money is raises to, among other things, “Educate the grassroots and government leaders, Launch paid advertising and press events, Alert and inform FRC's powerful network of churches and Flood TV, radio, newspapers, and the Internet with FRC experts doing eye-opening interviews.”

FRC plans to use the money is raises to, among other things, “Educate the grassroots and government leaders, Launch paid advertising and press events, Alert and inform FRC's powerful network of churches and Flood TV, radio, newspapers, and the Internet with FRC experts doing eye-opening interviews.”

The group through which FOF and FRC will presumably channel their money and efforts is ProtectMarriage.com, a who’s who of right-wing organizations and individuals.  ProtectMarriage itself appears to kicking its efforts into high-gear, beginning with what they seem to be billing as the single most important conference call ever:

Dear Pastors, Friends and Christian Leaders,
 
We have labored to make this letter as short as possible.  However, the gravity of this moment caused us to need to share several critical items.  Please read carefully – at least this first page.
 
The landscape of California will change dramatically as of Monday, June 16 at 5:01 PM.  Every Bible believing pastor and church will be affected.
 
Please join with pastors and Christian leaders all across California who are coming together at 43+ locations for a statewide Pastors Strategic Conference Call, Wednesday, June 25, at 10 AM.
 
For the location list, please see www.protectmarriagesd.com.
 
If you, as a pastor, are willing to host a gathering of pastors and Christian leaders at your church, or you know of a pastor who will host, please contact Chris Clark at pastor@eastclairemont.com  or 858-395-7136.  You need to have speaker-phone capability that can be adequately amplified, along with PowerPoint capabilities for visual purposes.
 
Additionally, please forward this email to as many pastors and Christian leaders as you can or email reply with the email addresses of pastors and Christian leaders so that we can keep them informed of future developments … Be assured that the information shared will be extremely beneficial for the future of the cause of Christ in California.  Saying it another way, it is worth canceling all other appointments in order to be present at one of these locations.

The conference call looks like it is tied to the organization’s efforts to use churches to register thousands of new voters before the November election:

The church in California is being called upon to turn out the vote for the November election, in which voters will vote on a constitutional amendment to nullify a recent court decision legalizing homosexual "marriage" in that state.

ProtectMarriage.com has already signed on a thousand churches to work to increase voter registration and turnout. As spokesman Ron Prentice notes, the church is seen as one of the keys to victory. "[In] many elections, only 50 percent of those church members register to vote," he says. "And so we know that our success hinges on getting out as many votes as possible -- and the church community is available and willing."
 
Prentice explains that as a follow-up to voter registration materials, his group will provide church leaders with specific sermon content on the subject of biblical marriage -- "and then we'll be working with them to get out more and more of their congregation to vote," he adds.

It seems as if it has finally dawned on the Right that a loss in California on the marriage issue could do serious damage to their efforts to pass a federal marriage amendment and permanently deny marriage equality to men and women throughout the nation and they look set to pull out all the stops in an effort to ensure that that does not happen.  As AFA’s OneNewsNow put it: “History has shown that what happens in California affects the rest of the country, so Prentice is calling on people to pray for victory."

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Religious Freedom Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/08/2011, 12:19pm
CPAC boycotters, angered over the upcoming event’s inclusion of the gay conservative group GOProud, have taken out a full page ad in the right-wing Washington Times to ask, “What would Ronald Reagan think of CPAC today?” Rick Scarborough’s Vision America was behind the ad which accused CPAC of “betraying conservative principles and threatening conservative unity by creating the false impression that gay activism is somehow compatible with conservativism” by allowing GOProud to be a participating organization: The self-proclaimed gay Republicans support hate... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 01/24/2011, 11:24am
Richard Land has been among the most vocal Religious Right opponents of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." Apparently concerned that his opposition was blatantly hypocritical, Land eventually signed on to the Anti-Defamation League's "Interfaith Coalition on Mosques" stating that while he opposed the location of the "Ground Zero Mosque" he believed it was important to "help preserve the First Amendment for all Americans" by ensuring that all people "have the right to the free exercise of our faith without the interference of the government.... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 01/24/2011, 11:24am
Richard Land has been among the most vocal Religious Right opponents of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." Apparently concerned that his opposition was blatantly hypocritical, Land eventually signed on to the Anti-Defamation League's "Interfaith Coalition on Mosques" stating that while he opposed the location of the "Ground Zero Mosque" he believed it was important to "help preserve the First Amendment for all Americans" by ensuring that all people "have the right to the free exercise of our faith without the interference of the government.... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 01/06/2011, 2:57pm
Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women For America, in the conservative publication The American Thinker ridicules the Obama Administration’s claims that bigotry and inequality still exist in the U.S., but goes on to claim that the Religious Right represents the actual victim of discrimination at the hands of “homosexual activists.” Such fatuous allegations are nothing new from Wright, who participated in the “Green Dragon” series that believes the environmental movement is surreptitiously trying to destroy Christianity and dismissed a study which showed... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 01/03/2011, 3:49pm
Writing for the American Spectator, Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy condemned the State Department for advancing the rights of gays and lesbians abroad. The IRD is a far-right group with a two-pronged strategy to advance its opposition to gay rights: dividing and decrying churches, particularly Mainline Protestant denominations, which favor LGBT equality, while at the same time aiding and promoting groups in Africa and the U.S. that attack gays and even support the criminalization of homosexuality. Most recently, the IRD vilified a North Carolina church group for... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Saturday 12/18/2010, 3:40pm
Today, the Senate voted 63-33 to invoke cloture and bring the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to a final vote later today.  With repeal of DADT all but a foregone conclusion, the Religious Right has begun releasing statements which we are going to chronicle here as they come it. And judging by the early statements from the likes of Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, this vote is literally going to mean the end of America: We are now stuck with sexual deviants serving openly in the U.S. military because of turncoat Republican senators ... Had the cloture vote failed,... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 12/16/2010, 6:35pm
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... MORE