Religious Liberty

Regent-rifying the World

The ACLJ and Regent University team up to teach 50 students from around the world to "defend religious liberty and human dignity."

Scarborough: 'Different Standards' for Christians, Others

Recently we noted the blatant double standard exhibited by religious-right groups in the case of Albemarle County, Virginia schools’ “backpack mail” program: Last year, Liberty Counsel told the school that if it distributed secular materials by giving them to students to take home, it had to allow religious materials as well. The school complied. But when a summer camp for “atheists, freethinkers, [and] humanists” used the “backpack mail” program, Rick Scarborough’s Vision America pounced, directing its supporters to flood the school superintendent’s e-mail account and eventually causing the school to drop “backpack mail” altogether.

Scarborough declared a “major victory” for Vision America, but lamented that the victory was only partial: He would prefer that the school reject material from atheists while continuing to distribute material from Christian programs. Scarborough explained:

People for the American Way says we’re hypocrites who want to establish a different standard for Christians and atheists.

Hypocrites, no. Different standards? Yes. Again, the court said the district didn’t have unbridled discretion, not that it shouldn’t exercise any discretion.

Why should a fringe minority have the same status as Christians? This country was not established by secular humanists. The Declaration of Independence appeals to the "Creator" and the "Supreme Judge of the World" -- not to Buddha or Mohammad or Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

Christians constitute 90% of the American people. The people whose taxes pay for the Albemarle County School System are overwhelmingly Christian.

While we didn’t actually call Vision America hypocritical, it’s easy to jump to that conclusion. After all, religious-right groups argue for increased access to public schools for evangelism on the principle of “viewpoint neutrality,” but when it comes to a viewpoint Vision America doesn’t like, the principle disappears.

Perhaps what Scarborough means when he alleges a “War on Christians” is any policy that gives other faiths equal protection under the law.   It’s clear that Scarborough’s goal is to have the government discriminate in favor of Christianity, and against people with any other religious viewpoint.  His indignant and chilling question – “Why should a fringe minority have the same status as Christians?” – is about as clear an argument for the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections as you’ll ever hear.

(For the record, Mr. Scarborough – the quotation you attribute to this blog is actually from The Hook, a weekly newspaper in Charlottesville.)

Taking Lead from Religious Right, Justice Dept. Civil Rights Focused on Religion, Not Race

In February, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales unveiled what he called the First Freedom Project, to expand on the Justice Department’s “extensive record of achievement” in the area of “religious freedom laws.” Gonzales described the department’s work on religion as “a legacy of protection unequaled since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” Even more remarkable than that startling comparison, however, was Gonzales’s choice of venue: a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. According to the Baptist Press, Gonzales requested to speak at the meeting “because he knew he would be speaking to a receptive audience.” Indeed, the famously right-wing SBC has been a strong supporter of the Bush administration, including its judicial nominees.

The Religious Right saw the Justice Department’s new focus as a validation of its world-view of Christians being persecuted in the U.S.: “The fact that the Justice Department finds it necessary to launch such a project further confirms what we’ve been aware of for years: our nation’s First Liberty--religious freedom--is in serious danger because of decades of sustained attacks by the ACLU and its allies,” said Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund.

Now the New York Times is reporting that the department’s emphasis on religious liberty is part of its controversial reorganization under the Bush Administration that has led to a diminished role for traditional civil rights enforcement based on racial discrimination and voter suppression, and a more ideological and politicized staff, such as Monica Goodling, a graduate of Pat Robertson’s law school.

The shift at the Justice Department has significantly altered the government’s civil rights mission, said Brian K. Landsberg, a law professor at the University of the Pacific and a former Justice Department lawyer under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“Not until recently has anyone in the department considered religious discrimination such a high priority,” Professor Landsberg said. “No one had ever considered it to be of the same magnitude as race or national origin.” …

Some critics say that many of the Justice Department’s religious-oriented initiatives are outside its mandate from Congress. While statutes prohibit religious discrimination in areas like employment and housing, no laws address some of the issues in which the department has become involved. … The department has … challenged so-called Blaine amendments, which are state constitutional provisions enforcing separation of church and state more rigidly than does the United States Constitution. The federal government sued because the amendments could impede Mr. Bush’s religion-based initiative, which provides money to religious groups for social programs.

Liberty University: Home of a Future SCOTUS Nominee?

With Monica Goodling, the former Justice Department White House Liaison and graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School, preparing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this week over her role in the firing of several US Attorneys, the Chicago Tribune decided to take a look at the late Jerry Fallwell’s Liberty University, which is likewise “training a new generation of lawyers, judges, educators, policymakers and world leaders in law from the perspective of an explicitly Christian worldview": 

Bright and enthusiastic ranks of conservative Christians of all denominations are enrolling in these new law schools. Their unabashed goal: to "confront the culture," as Falwell put it, and "change the world," as Regent's motto proclaims.

Matthew Krause, among Liberty's first law graduates, is one of them.

"I think we've complained too long about the destruction of our culture without taking any affirmative steps to remedy it," said the lanky, 26-year-old Texan. "We don't want abortion, but what are we doing about it? Let's get into the courts and find a way to combat that. Same-sex marriage we don't feel is right or a good thing for the culture. How are we going to stop that? You have to do that through the legal processes. Then, at the same time, vote in politicians who share those ideas and beliefs."

In a dark brown suit, blue-striped shirt and blue and brown striped tie, Krause already dresses like an attorney. But he also has the big smile, firm handshake and outgoing personality of the kind of politician he ultimately hopes to be.

"I've got this crazy goal to be the governor by 2022," he said, with the confidence of one who doesn't consider the idea the least bit crazy.

But first, Krause will return to Texas with his wife, Jennie, and newborn son, Jeremiah, to open a Dallas office for Liberty Counsel, a plum job for a Liberty law graduate.

Partnering with Liberty University, Liberty Counsel is a non-profit organization offering free legal assistance in the areas of "religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family." The organization was founded in Florida in 1989 by Mathew Staver, who became dean of the university's law school last year. Top Liberty law students have the opportunity to work on pro bono cases, many of them dealing with constitutional issues.

The number of cases involving religious rights or the traditional family are on the rise, a trend consonant with the increased participation of Christian lawyers in the last decade, Staver said. And, he said, he discovered that "when we showed up, we could win."

While Liberty has not yet matched Regent’s record of getting some 150 of its graduates hired by the Bush administration, that is not stopping it from setting even loftier goals:

Fisher said four Liberty graduates will clerk for judges, one at the appellate level. Such jobs pave the way to a clerkship with the U.S. Supreme Court and beyond, said Staver, a fact of which Falwell was well aware.

"We'd be pleased if we trained up a John Roberts and a Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas and an Antonin Scalia," Falwell told the Tribune, with a wide smile. "We'd feel like we hit a home run."

Texas School District Official: 'Take That You Dang Heathens'

L.V. “Butch” Foreman, a member of the Ector County school board in Odessa, Texas, has three words for parents who say the district’s Bible course crosses the line from teaching about the Bible to promoting sectarian beliefs: “kiss my butt.” Said Foreman:

“If they don’t have children in the class, they can kiss my butt,” Foreman said. “They’re just looking to impose their beliefs and their views on everybody, and we don’t put up with that crap out here.”

If the plaintiffs did have children enrolled in the classes, then Foreman said he would tell the students to drop the class and take another course since it’s an elective.

On Wednesday , the parents –  represented by attorneys with People For the American Way Foundation , the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas, and the law firm of Jenner & Block  – filed a lawsuit against the school  district, charging that this particular Bible course violates their religious liberty. Odessa schools are using a controversial course based on the program promoted by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBSPS) – a private group backed by religious-right activists including Jesse Helms, Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, the Eagle Forum, and even Chuck Norris. The NCBCPS curriculum fails to present the Bible in an objective manner, a requirement for any public school course about the Bible. Instead, it presents the Bible as history, and also from a particular sectarian perspective. 

After the board  voted to adopt the NCBCPS curriculum – and create a course that the Texas ACLU’s Lisa Graybill called “basically a Sunday School class within the walls of a public school” – the district’s curriculum director exclaimed in an e-mail,

YES, WE ARE USING NCBCPS :) :) :)! HA! Take that you dang heathens!

Land Negatively Endorses Giuliani

Richard Land was a guest on last Thursday’s edition of “Hardball With Chris Matthews” where he discussed whether “Christian conservatives [are] comfortable with the leading Republican presidential candidates.”  Land has managed to position himself as some sort of seemingly neutral observer of the current GOP primary process and, as such, repeatedly stated that he does not endorse candidates during his appearance on "Hardball."

Of course, just because he won’t endorse a specific candidate doesn’t mean he won’t “negatively endorse” other candidates:

LAND:  I don‘t think I could sell him to most of them and I wouldn‘t try.  I would say vote your values and your beliefs and convictions and have to leave it to them to connect the dots.  But I have said publicly, I don‘t endorse candidates, but I‘m negatively endorsing. I could not vote for Giuliani.

Two days later, Land was in Virginia introducing possible Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson when he addressed the ultra-secretive Council for National Policy

Thompson was the keynote speaker at a dinner organized by the Council for National Policy, a group of many of the nation’s most influential conservative leaders.

Most of them have large followings in the groups they lead, and many have expressed dissatisfaction with the Republican Party’s presidential contenders.

Richard Land introduced Thompson at the event. As president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Land plays a starring role in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Land has already negatively endorsed both Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich while remaining circumspect about candidates such as John McCain and Mitt Romney, but he hasn’t even bothered to try and hide his excitement about Thompson. 

Considering that Thompson’s appearance before the Council for National Policy was widely seen as key test as he lays the groundwork for officially announcing his intention to run – something he’ll reportedly do this summer – it is beginning to look as if Land’s “I don‘t endorse candidates” claim is soon going to be put to the test.  

A Do-Over for Land and Thompson?

A few weeks ago, we wrote a post quoting a Washington Times article that reported that possible GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson had contacted Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission “to say he wanted Mr. Land present at any campaign kickoff.”

Shortly thereafter, the kind folks at the ERLC alerted us to the fact that the newspaper had corrected its article to clarify that it was Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder who received the call from Thompson, not Land, which we duly noted.  

But now The Politico is reporting that Land and Thompson are indeed teaming up as Thompson attempts to kick his campaign into gear before the Council for National Policy

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson acknowledges his coming-out speech in California last weekend didn't live up to expectations, advisers say, and he is planning a tighter and sharper message dubbed "Stump Speech 2.0" for a Saturday night event to be attended by key conservative leaders.

Saturday's event will be a crucial audition in Northern Virginia, where Thompson will be the keynote speaker at a dinner of the Council for National Policy, an organization of conservative leaders. Organizers say he will be introduced by Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who is among the most important voices of evangelical Christians.

Land is currently enjoying his position as a leading religious right prognosticator on all things having to do with the current crop of Republican candidates and his carefully cultivated positioning as a “neutral” observer will probably take a hit once people realize that he is openly backing Thompson. 

Praise for the Genocidal Regime in Sudan

Reverend Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council and Faith and Action says he just returned from Sudan and Darfur and apparently likes what he sees:

The Reverend Rob Schenck … returned over the Easter weekend from a seven-day diplomatic mission to Khartoum, Sudan and its Darfur state … The purpose of the mission was to engage Khartoum's government in dialogue on religion and human rights and to gain first-hand information on the state of religious liberty in the officially Islamic country.

"I was surprised by what we found in Sudan," said Schenck. "The new unity government and various peace plans seem to be working. There is new power sharing with Christians, but much remains to be done. It's an extremely complex situation, one we need look at afresh."

Schenck added, "Evangelical believers in Khartoum gave us a strong message against U.S. sanctions, one I intend to deliver to President Bush."

Schenck just returned from visiting with the Sudanese leadership in Khartoum, a regime which is accused of orchestrating a genocidal counter-insurgency campaign against the people of Darfur with the assistance of government-backed Janjaweed militias who routinely rape women, torture men and burn victims alive, killing nearly a half-million people and displacing millions more. 

And he returns pledging to press the Bush Administration not to implement sanctions simply because there appears to be some “power sharing with Christians” - even as the regime continues to kill African Muslims throughout the region. 

Schenck’s visit was hosted by Sudan's Foreign Ministry at the same time as Rep. James McGovern was being denied entry into Sudan because he refused to “[meet] with government officials, saying he wanted to visit the refugee sites alone.”  Presumably, Khartoum realized that McGovern and Schenck would have different messages to share with the US public once they returned, which is why one was welcomed and the other barred. 

Schenck is not alone in thinking that the regime in Khartoum ought to be rewarded simply because, while it continues to kill the mostly Muslim people of Darfur, it has stopped war against the mostly Christian south. In February, Franklin Graham also returned from a meeting in Khartoum with similar views: 

Graham said he came away thinking that Bashir, who now stands accused of presiding over the killing of at least 200,000 people in the Darfur region in the country's west, deserves credit for signing the peace agreement with rebels in the south in 2005.

Although human rights activists and some U.S. officials are counseling tougher measures against Bashir's government to end the violence in Darfur -- and to more fully implement a faltering peace agreement with the south -- Graham said that a softer approach is needed.

"I'm not a politician, but I think our government does need to recognize some steps he's taken and reward this government in some way to show them we appreciate what they have done" regarding southern Sudan, said Graham, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham and head of the international Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse. "I think we can do more when we're engaged."

Graham said Bashir pledged to allow groups to build their churches and to look into Graham's other requests, including one for $15 million to help rebuild at least 600 churches in the south destroyed during the war.

Of course, there are other faith organizations that have been vocal in their concern about the victims of Darfur, such as Evangelicals for Darfur and the dozens of organization affiliated with Save Darfur. Graham and Schenck don’t appear to be members of either.  

Is Richard Land the Right’s New Political Powerbroker?

It is widely acknowledged that, for the last several years, James Dobson has been the most powerful Religious Right figure in the nation, commanding an organization with a massive staff and an equally massive budget that can influence grassroots activists across this country.  

And while Dobson is still throwing his political weight around, there is speculation that some of his influence may be waning:

The 70-year-old Mr Dobson (who has already suffered a heart attack and a stroke) is increasingly looking like a relic of an ancien régime rather than a harbinger of a new order. The average age of people on Focus’s mailing list is 52. Mr Dobson and his acolytes are rapidly being displaced by what Mr Gilgoff calls a New New Right—people who are concerned about international justice and climate change as well as abortion and gay marriage, and people who are willing to work with liberal pressure groups over issues such as Sudan and sex slavery.

If that is indeed the case, it appears as if Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has quietly been positioning himself to challenge Dobson as the Right’s leading powerbroker. 

More Right-Wing Comments on Pace

Religious-right activists continue to voice their enthusiastic support for recent comments by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that gays should not be allowed to serve openly in the military because homosexuality is “immoral.” While some make specious arguments about the military value of a ban on gays in the armed forces, most of these activists incorporate Gen. Peter Pace’s remarks into their larger “culture war” against gays in all walks of life.

Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition asserts that being gay is “incompatible with effective military service,” writing that “Sodomy is one of those behaviors that has been considered dissolute and a danger to military cohesiveness and readiness. … we do not want a ‘Brokeback Mountain’ military.” A form letter from Vision America argues that allowing gays to serve openly would weaken the military because “Ultimately our security is in God's hands. To ensure his aid, we must remain obedient to his law.” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins warns that backers of letting gays serve want to "turn the military into a laboratory for their liberal social ideas."

ADF Sees Attorney General's Religious Liberty Program as Validation of Religious-Right Scare Theory

DOJ program, launched at SBC, “further confirms” freedom in “serious danger” from “sustained attacks by the ACLU and its allies.”

In Colorado, Big Money on Anti-Gay Initiatives Leaves New Religious-Right Group in Wake

Focus on the Family has been a key player in the passage of constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage in a number of states, but when it came to its home state of Colorado, the group (and its affiliate, Focus on the Family Action) pulled out all the stops, spending over $900,000 last year to oppose a domestic partnership initiative and pass a separate amendment banning gay marriage. Most of the money went through two groups that Focus helped to create, Coloradans for Marriage and Colorado Family Action.

Now, after the defeat of the partnerships initiative and the passage of the marriage ban, at least one of the front groups is trying to establish a permanent presence in the state as a satellite “family policy council.”

Now Colorado Family Action is getting money from other sources, said President and CEO Jim Pfaff, but he wouldn’t identify them. Organizers have formed the Colorado Family Institute, a related nonprofit that’s one of 37 state Family Policy Councils allied with Focus on the Family.

Pfaff, a former staffer at Focus, outlined an agenda that spans the familiar touchstones of the Religious Right: “protecting life from conception until natural death, protecting religious liberty, working to point out examples of judicial activism and help define the proper role of the courts, and upholding the principle that parents are the primary educators of their children.” It remains to be seen whether the group will have much of a half-life beyond the high-profile fight against domestic partnerships and the substantial financial support from Focus on the Family that went with it.

Keith Ellison and the Right's Version of Religious Liberty

On the web site of the American Center for Law and Justice, the Pat Robertson-founded legal group where Jay Sekulow serves as chief counsel, Sekulow describes himself as a “nationally recognized and respected defender of religious freedom.” On last night’s “Hannity & Colmes” on Fox News, Sekulow perhaps elaborated on what he means by “religious freedom” when he said that a freshman Muslim lawmaker “should have just abstained from” using the Koran in a ceremonial photo op following his official swearing in as a member of Congress. Sekulow, although aware of the constitutional prohibition of religious tests for office, insisted that such a use of the Koran represented a "danger" to the country and its "Judeo-Christian tradition."

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) has been a target of some on the Right since an article by radio talker Dennis Prager wrote that he “should not be allowed” to be photographed with the Koran, calling the use of the Bible “essential to the continuity of a civilization.” Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) pushed the “controversy” into the headlines when he wrote a letter to his constituents warning that, “if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.” Goode later invoked the terrorists attacks of September 11 as justification for his concerns about immigrants.

Apart from Goode’s tirade against immigrants, Sekulow is the most prominent figure to embrace this attack on religious liberty. Sekulow has made a name for himself as a right-wing superlawyer, defending violent anti-abortion activists before the Supreme Court and advising the president on judicial nominees, all while pulling down an impressive salary.

While Sekulow was clearly aware of the ban on religious tests – he told Sean Hannity that Ellison didn’t have to actually hold the Bible – he insisted that Ellison’s use of the Koran (the copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson, architect of religious liberty) represented a “danger” to the country.

Get the Flash Player to see this video clip.

Jay Sekulow on Hannity and Colmes, 1/8/07

Low Bandwidth

Santorum Joins Ethics and Public Policy Center

After losing his Senate seat, Rick Santorum has quickly rebounded and joined the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center where he will head up a program called – literally – America’s Enemies.

The EPPC press release says:

"As a United States Senator, Rick Santorum was a champion of efforts to counter the threat of radical Islamic fascism, to protect victims of religious persecution, and to promote democracy and religious liberty around the world," said EPPC President Ed Whelan.  "We are honored that he is joining EPPC to continue his important and courageous work on these matters."

"In these perilous and uncertain times, I believe it is critical that we define the threats that confront America," said Mr. Santorum.  "Without a clear definition and precise understanding of our enemies we cannot fight effectively and our own citizens become divided.  It is my hope that the America's Enemies program at EPPC will help the American people -- including our leaders -- understand and communicate with clarity, honesty, and consistency the enemies we face and the complex and enormous threat that they pose to our lives and the freedoms we all enjoy."

According to an article in The National Review, Santorum has big plans for his new program:

“It’s a stark name,” says Santorum. “But we wanted to be candid about the fact that America really does have enemies and to point out that the nature of these enemies is much more complex than what people realize. It’s not just Islamic fascism, but also Venezuela, North Korea, and, increasingly in my opinion, Russia.”

How will a former senator adjust to life at a think tank? “This is a very impressive group of folks who share my worldview more than any other group in town,” says Santorum. “We’re going to have a lot of synergy. I know that I’m not the foremost scholar in the world, but I can offer a lot of ideas and help put together a communications strategy to describe the threats we face. Communication is a big problem, as the results of the elections in November show.”

Santorum plans to organize lectures and conferences, write articles, and work on a book. (His book agent is Kathy Lubbers, who is Newt Gingrich’s daughter.) “We expect to be very, very active,” he says. One of his focal points will be religious liberty and how people of faith might confront radical Islam.

Now that he is out of the Senate, it was nice of the EPPC to give Santorum a platform from which he can continue his work defending the country against its terrorist enemies by making bizarre comparisons to “Lord of the Rings.”

On a positive note, at least Santorum’s home in Virginia has now become a convenience instead of a political liability.  

Religious Right Claims New Congress Will Attack Religious Liberty

“Our strategy is forthcoming,” writes a gloomy Center for Reclaiming America for Christ.

Religious Right's Definition of 'Values Voter' Rapidly Expanding

“Be sure and vote your values on Tuesday, November the 7th. As an American, it is your right. But as a Christian, it's your responsibility,” says Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a get-out-the-vote advertisement. With leading religious-right groups working hard to help the Republicans maintain control of Congress – despite avowing a total disillusionment with the GOP – the already-overworked catchphrase of “voting one’s values” is being taken to the farthest corners of the Republican platform.

Family Research Council: Equal Rights for Gay Couples = Religious Persecution

The Family Research Council, which recently devoted a national telecast to the proposition that the gay rights movement is out to destroy religious liberty in America, wasted no time distorting the New Jersey Supreme Court decision holding that the state could not continue to deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits available to heterosexual couples through marriage.  The Court stopped short of requiring the state to allow gays to marry under state law, giving the legislature 180 days to decide whether to amend the marriage laws or create another institution like civil unions.

In an email to its activists, FRC blatantly distorted a line in the Court's ruling (PDF) that affirmed churches' freedom to bless gay unions if they so choose: "However the Legislature may act," the majority writes, "same-sex couples will be free to call their relationships by the name they choose and sanctify their relationships in religious ceremonies in houses of worship."

But FRC portrayed this simple statement as an indication by the Court that "a confrontation with the church is near."

The court is already working to strip marriage of any meaning, and now it looks to foist its counterfeit on the church. Will we soon see this same "discrimination" as grounds to force homosexuality on our houses of worship? The church is already under attack-from those inside who want to advance an agenda of approval, and those outside, who hope to use the politics of intimidation to crush the freedom of religion. The ruling makes this much clear: the church must be prepared to defend its right of conscience and conviction.

Charging religious persecution is a time-tested political strategy for the Religious Right. But there is no truth whatsoever to FRC's suggestion that the New Jersey Supreme Court or gay rights advocates want to "force" homosexuality on churches. Thanks to the First Amendment, churches in New Jersey and anywhere in America are free to bless or refuse to bless any union.  And a recent national survey documented that when Americans understand that churches are legally free to refuse to bless same-sex couples, support for allowing those couples to legally marry goes way up.  No wonder the Religious Right is so eager to sell its big lie.

Liberty Sunday: Massachusetts Gov. Warns of Establishment of 'Religion of Secularism'

Oxymoron apparently meant to buttress FRC claim that gays threaten religious liberty. Also: FRC wonders whether “hedonistic secularist” GOP gays are “stalling pro-family agenda” in Congress.

FRC Previews 'Liberty Sunday': Parents' Religious Expression Is for Public Schools to Enforce Their Anti-Gay Regimen

In gearing up for its “Liberty Sunday” telecast this weekend, the Family Research Council suggested that the real-life examples of how the “homosexual agenda” is supposedly infringing on religious liberty would be “pro-homosexual ‘diversity’ training at work” and students being “subjected” to “pro-homosexual books or rhetoric in school.” In yesterday’s “Washington Update,” FRC President Tony Perkins named some of his guests:

You may remember us reporting last year on David Parker, the Lexington, Massachusetts father who was arrested because of insistence on being notified by school officials anytime homosexual topics were discussed in his son's classroom. He made this reasonable request after his six-year-old kindergartner came home from school with a "diversity" book bag and a book discussing homosexual relationships. A year later, the Worthlin family experienced a similar attack on their parental rights after their seven year old read "King and King" in his second grade classroom - a book promoting homosexual romance and same-sex "marriage." The Parkers and the Worthlins will be my guests at Liberty Sunday which will be held this weekend in Boston. You will hear from them and others on how the homosexual agenda is impacting religious liberties in Massachusetts and around the country.

As was widely reported, Parker was arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave the school without a signed agreement from the superintendent about gays being mentioned:

Parker said he met with school officials to gain those assurances and then refused to leave until he got them. Parker stayed at Estabrook School for more than two hours, according to Superintendent William J. Hurley, as officials and Lexington police urged him to leave. Finally, they arrested him for trespassing.

Parker, who refused to bail himself out of jail Wednesday night, said he spent the night in custody to prove a point.

Specifically, Parker’s demand was that the school guarantee that “Discussions concerning homosexuality issues will not take place in front of our son.” Apparently, notifying parents ahead of time that a book describing various family structures, including same-sex parents, would be voluntarily distributed was not enough:

Parents received notice about the book bag at the beginning of the year and the date that it was scheduled to be sent home with their child. The bag's contents also were put on display at a back-to-school night earlier in the school year, [PTA copresident Rachel F. Cortez] said, and parents are not required to have their child bring it home.

''The kids don't have to take them [the materials] home," she said. ''Parents can either opt out entirely or use whatever materials they want."

Parker’s apparently unilateral demand that the public school ensure his child was not exposed to any mention of same-sex families – in a state where same-sex marriage is legal – is exhibit #1 in FRC’s attempt to prove that what it calls the “homosexual agenda” “puts religious freedom on a course of extinction.”

FRC: Office Workshops Threaten to Destroy Religious Freedom

The Family Research Council continues to drum up sentiments for their upcoming “Liberty Sunday” television rally by drawing on the theme, heavily promoted at its recent Values Voter Summit, that the so-called “homosexual agenda” is now denying people’s religious freedom across the nation. In an action alert, FRC President Tony Perkins warns that, today, “a radical agenda seeks to extinguish” the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion.

The expansion of anti-discrimination laws, including family law, to include homosexuality inevitably constricts Americans' right to express and act on their religious beliefs.

FRC is tracking these incidents as they occur throughout the country.  Now we need your help.   We are compiling stories from across the nation on how the homosexual agenda has threatened religious liberty.  You can help us show America that government sponsorship of the homosexual agenda is a threat to the freedoms we value the most.

What does this mean? Are gays and lesbians forcing open church doors or shutting down parochial schools? Not exactly. The anecdotes Perkins is looking for to compile his crack case against the “homosexual agenda” – the ones that put the First Amendment on track toward “extinction” – are apparently woeful tales in which people merely hear about gays in public:

Have you been forced to attend pro-homosexual "diversity" training at work?  Have your children been subjected to pro-homosexual books or rhetoric in school?  If your religious liberties have been affected in these or other ways, we want to hear from you.  Send us your stories - the where, the when, and the what.  With your permission, we will publish and publicize these incidents so that all will know these are not random events, but the inevitable result of a clash of basic beliefs that puts religious freedom on a course of extinction.

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Religious Liberty Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 11/16/2010, 3:00pm
For the last several months we've been noting the gradual re-emergence of James Robison, who was an influential leader back at the founding of the Religious Right but who eventually sort of fell off the radar.  But in the last year or so, he has suddenly become more and more involved in Religious Right activism and I guess nothing better demonstrates that fact like this article, via AU, reporting that a few months back Robison convened a large gathering of leaders to plot how to defeat President Obama in 2012: Conservative Christian leaders from across the nation met two months ago near... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 11/10/2010, 6:00pm
Last week we noted that, after having endorsed Joseph Cao in 2008, the Family Research Council turned around and ran ads against him this year because he was insufficiently anti-gay. Today, Cao told Warren Throckmorton that he thought FRC's actions were "inexcusable," and FRC responded with a statement blasting Cao and warning every other Republican that they would face similar campaigns if they don't support FRC's anti-gay agenda:  First, FRC Action is not a Republican organization. We are a conservative Christian organization that advocates for the family based upon... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/01/2010, 12:12pm
In 2008, the Family Research Council endorsed Joseph Cao for Congress: Today FRC Action PAC is endorsing Joseph Cao for Congress representing the second district of Louisiana. "Joseph Cao will be a true friend of the family. We need representatives who will fight to defend the family against the radical leadership in the House of Representatives," said Tony Perkins, President of FRC Action PAC. "I feel confident in Joseph Cao's ability to do just that. "Joseph Cao's amazing life story is a testament to the high-caliber Congressman he would be. The second district of... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/01/2010, 10:34am
When we first learned of the "Pray and ACT" effort which sought to link 7 Mountains Dominionism with election-oriented prayer and fasting, we were pretty surprised by the number of high profile Religious Right leaders who had signed on to the effort, like Chuck Colson, Mike Huckabee, Harry Jackson, Richard Land, Maggie Gallagher and various others. In addition to orchestrating forty days of prayer and fasting in an effort to save this nation by electing "candidates who affirm the sanctity of life in all stages and conditions, the integrity of marriage as the union of one... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/13/2010, 10:12am
Back during the last Republican presidential primary, Richard Land could not stop talking about how Fred Thompson was a "Southern-fried Reagan" who possessed "a tantalizing combination of charisma, conviction and electability," while gushing that to "see Fred work a crowd must be what it was like to watch Rembrandt paint.” Of course, Thompson's presidential campaign ended up being monumental bust ... but that hasn't stopped Land from fancying himself a political prognosticator and offering up inane "predictions" about how Hillary Clinton is going to... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 10/08/2010, 12:24pm
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... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/23/2010, 11:26am
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,... MORE