Religious Right

Religious Right Exploiting Tragedy to Blunt Criticism of Its Extremism

Religious Right groups have publicly seethed at the Southern Poverty Law Center's decision a couple of years ago to designate several of them as hate groups for consistently spreading false, inflammatory, and defamatory propaganda about LGBT people.  It is now clear that Religious Right leaders are hoping to exploit this week's shooting at the Family Research Council to try to damage the SPLC.
 
FRC's Tony Perkins said this week that the SPLC gave the shooter "license" to attack the organization by calling it a hate group.  Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber accused the SPLC of having blood on its hands.  The American Family Association and Traditional Values Coalition were among others who blamed SPLC for the attack.  Religious Right groups have long equated any criticism of their positions or tactics as attacks on their freedom of speech and religion; now they are taking it a step further to say that critics must stop calling out their hateful rhetoric and naming it as such.
 
It is important not to let Religious Right groups exploit this violence - which was quickly and unequivocally condemned by progressive movement leaders, including People For the American Way President Michael Keegan - to divert attention from the Religious Right's anti-gay extremism.  As Right Wing Watch has noted, FRC was not labeled a hate group because of a simple policy disagreement, as FRC's backers would have you believe; the SPLC cited very specific examples of FRC's wildly inflammatory anti-gay language.
                                                                                                            
You don't have to look far.  Last year Perkins called gay-rights activists vile, hateful, pawns of Satan.  In 2010, Perkins responded to President Obama's call for civility on the issue of homosexuality by slamming the president for criticizing Uganda's kill-the-gays bill. Perkins described the infamous law as "enhanced penalties for crimes related to homosexuality" and an effort to "uphold moral conduct."  FRC spokespeople have supported laws criminalizing homosexuality overseas and here in the U.S.  
 
Perkins, of course, has lots of company in the anti-gay right who are now joining in the attack on SPLC.
 
One of them is Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who went on CNN on Thursday to say it is "totally irresponsible and unacceptable" to call FRC a hate group.   But Brown was flummoxed when CNN anchor Zoraida Sambolin confronted him with an actual example of FRC rhetoric claiming that "one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets' of a new sexual order."  Brown repeatedly refused to acknowledge that such rhetoric is hateful, exposing his call for "civility" as nothing but empty political posturing. 
 
Speaking of civility, Brown has presided over at least one anti-gay rally at which a fellow speaker said gays were worthy of death.  And NOM welcomed onto its board author Orson Scott Card, who had written that the advance of marriage equality was tyranny worthy of revolution:

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn. [...] American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.

Celebrate the 4th with a Christian Nation Bible

Christian publisher Thomas Nelson Inc. is offering a July 4 special, with several books available at the patriotic price of $17.76.  Among them is the American Patriot’s Bible, edited by Atlanta-based pastor and Religious Right figure Richard Lee.  Nothing could better demonstrate the effort by Religious Right leaders to claim a divine blessing for their political views and their view of America’s founding.

The American Patriot’s Bible attracted some unflattering attention when it came out in 2009.  Ethics Daily reported that some critics charged that it “promotes idolatry and glorifies nationalistic violence.” One of those critics was theologian and pastor Greg Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Nation, who called the Patriot's Bible "one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever witnessed coming from a Christian publishing house.”  Boyd published an in-depth critique that ended this way:

In the Introduction Dr. Richard Lee promises that, "If you love America and the Scriptures, you will treasure this Bible." I truly love America and deeply love the Scriptures, but for just this reason, I was thoroughly appalled by this Bible.

But not everyone was appalled.  In 2010, Glenn Beck told viewers that he had a copy of the Patriot’s Bible at home and one at his office and said, “this should be in every person’s home.”  Lee was part of Beck’s show on the eve of his “Restoring Honor” rally, and has been active in Religious Right efforts to shape the 2012 campaign and defeat President Barack Obama. 

Spending a little time with the Patriot’s Bible makes it clear why the Gingrich campaign invited Lee to serve on its faith leaders coalition during this year’s presidential primary.   Religious Right political rhetoric appears in an introduction and in articles sprinkled throughout the Patriot’s Bible.  It complains that Supreme Court rulings against requiring prayer and Bible readings in the public schools amounted to “censoring religious activities long considered an integral part of education.” 

On abortion: “If people and nations do not grant ultimate respect and protection to both the born and the unborn, all other professed morals and values are meaningless.”

On marriage:  “The plan of God, nature, and common sense is a man and a woman producing children within the institution of marriage. What that plan is lost, “marriage” and “family” become meaningless, and a nation and its people will follow the road to ruin….”

The American Patriot’s Bible also promotes Religious Right propaganda about the supposed threat to religious liberty in America:

Our freedom to serve God and to promote the gospel in our land is disintegrating. We are engaged in a great spiritual battle that threatens our county, our families, and our lives. Only God’s intervention will return America to solid footing and restore a moral nation that righteousness will exalt.

And, for those who keep hoping that the Religious Right is going to fade away:

When fighting for the right, we must never cease until we prevail. The battle is not always won by the strongest, the smartest, or the most elite, but ultimately it comes to those who persist and persevere.

Ralph Reed’s Tea Party Luncheon

Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition kicked off its 2012 conference with a splashy show of the Reed’s political muscle in the form of three U.S. Senators.  Rob Portman of Ohio, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Marco Rubio of Florida all delivered speeches that reflect Reed’s goal for 2012 and beyond: merging the messages and organizing energies of the overlapping Tea Party and Religious Right movements to elect conservative Republicans.

“American exceptionalism” was a major theme of the day – defined generally as America being uniquely blessed by God for its commitment to limited government and free-market economics grounded in a belief that individual rights come from God.  And – no surprise -- President Obama was portrayed as an enemy of faith and freedom.

Portman declared that the Obama administration had treated freedom of religion as a “second-class right.”  He argued that life should be held sacred “from conception til death.”

 DeMint charged the President with wanting a country and economy run from the top down, and called for a stop to government “purging faith” from the American way of life. “We need to realize we’re blessed,” said DeMint. “We need to know that we’re in trouble. And we need to know that 2012 may be our last chance to turn this thing around.”

Reed introduced Rubio as one of the greatest talents and most transformational figures that any of us have ever seen.  Rubio, who is hawking a new book, argued that social and fiscal conservatism are indistinguishable, and that the notion of God as the source of freedom is essential to freedom itself.  “You cannot have your freedom without your faith, because the source of your freedom is your faith.”  He argued that calling for the wealthy to pay more taxes is “divisive” and pits Americans against each other for the purposes of winning an election, claiming, “that is never who we have been.” (Surely even Rubio does not actually believe that the Republican Party and Tea Party have never run divisive campaigns in order to win elections.)

Listening to Rubio, you can understand why GOP strategists have such high hopes for him. He calls on people to help their neighbors. He says the conservative movement is not about imposing its values on others or leaving people behind.  He says conservatives want drinking water to be clean and the air to be breathable. (In reality, of course, policies backed by today’s far-right GOP would indeed impose their values on others, leave millions of Americans behind, and eviscerate regulations that protect our families’ food, air, and water.)

Before the conference started, an FFC press release claimed that its activists will be “phoning, mailing, and knocking on the doors of 27 million conservative and pro-family voters, distributing 35 million voter guides, and making a total of 120 million voter contacts” in 2012. At today’s luncheon, Reed encouraged members of the audience to imagine what could happen with another 10 or 20 senators like Rubio.  Yes, just imagine.

Schlafly's Schtick

Phyllis Schlafly is an all-around right-wing activist who has been around forever. You could say she was Tea Party before her time, railing against liberals and taxes and the UN's threat to US sovereignty. Her 2009 "How to Take Back America" conference was an amazing gathering at which health care reform was described as fascism, President Obama was described by Rep. Trent Franks as an "enemy of humanity," and attendees were encouraged to buy guns and ammo to defend themselves against impending tyranny.

But Schlafly’s real bread and butter is the hostility to feminism that fueled her campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment – and it was her anti-feminist schtick that she brought to George Washington University in D.C. last night.  I use the word schtick because it’s hard to take seriously Schlafly’s caricature of feminists as anti-men, anti-marriage, anti-family, and anti-child-rearing, not to mention claims like these:

  • “Feminists don’t have any role models of happiness.”
  • “They don’t believe that women can be successful. You never hear the feminists  talking about really successful  women like Margaret Thatcher or Condaleeza Rice, they just don’t believe women can be successful…that’s why they hate Sarah Palin….”

What?  Feminists don’t believe women can be successful?  That didn’t ring true to the many GW students, women and men, who politely protested Schlafly’s appearance.  During the Q&A, one challenged Schlafly directly, saying her mother is a feminist, a role model of happiness, and had instilled in her children a love of family.  The student said Schlafly seemed to be having a 40-year old argument with quotes plucked from early feminist writers.

Schlafly did have her admirers.  The young woman who introduced her said Schlafly had given her an example of how to stand up against the emerging “gender-interchangeable society.”  Schlafly returned to that theme later, saying that feminists don’t want equality for women, they want “gender interchangeability.”

Schlafly reveled in the recent flap about Ann Romney never having to work outside the home, since she saw it as proof that feminists have no respect for mothers who choose to answer to a husband rather than a boss.  But Schlafly was not on message with the Romney campaign’s claims that women have accounted for almost all job losses during the Obama administration.  Schlafly, who repeatedly claimed that the Obama administration is utterly controlled by feminists, “proved” her case by saying that feminists had successfully demanded that most jobs created by federal stimulus funds went to women.

Schlafly touched on a few other issues, such as her opposition to marriage equality (though she seemed to say she didn’t think civil unions were worth fighting about).  And she pushed the same theme being pushed by Ralph Reed and other strategists trying to build a broad electoral coalition: you can’t separate fiscal and social conservatism.  She took a shot at Mitch Daniels for seeking a “truce” on social values, something she called “impossible.”

In the end, she told the young women, they should get married before having babies, and they should ignore feminists who might poison their attitude toward life by telling them that women are victims of the patriarchy. She derided the notion of a "glass ceiling" and denied that unequal pay is a problem. Men, she said, are willing to do dangerous jobs that women aren't, because "women like nice inside jobs with carpeted offices." American women, she said, are the most fortunate people who have ever lived.  Why, in Africa, she said, some women have to wash their clothing in the river.  “We have all these wonderful modern conveniences that men have invented for our pleasure.”  

 

P.S. Obama is a dictator. Love, Phyllis Schlafly

Here's an addition to our recap of right-wing direct mail, this time from Phyllis Schlafly, the long-time anti-feminist and all-around right wing activist.  Like most of the other recent mail, the letter from Schlafly is about raising money with over-the-top rhetoric about the tyranny being visited upon America by President Obama. "He's taken control of your healthcare and stolen your money. Now he wants to dictate to your church," warns the envelope. "Stop Obama's War on Faith." Inside, more of the same:

The culture of dicatorship is rearing its ugly head. The forcef of imperial government and totalitarian treatment of American citizens are growing stronger every day.

 

Under the guise of "health care" and "tolerance" and "equality," Barack Obama is using all the power he can grasp in order to control how we live and what we believe. He is exploiting eveyr legal and illegal loophole to consolidate governmenet power into his own hands.

He's trying to control our standard of living by restricting our energy use. Hey's trying to control theminds of our children by imposing a national curriculum in the schools. And now, he's using his hated ObamaCare health law to assault religious liberty....

Let there be no doubt about it. Barack Obama is at war with the vast majority of Americans who believe in God and the freedom to worship. Now it the time for you and me to stand up for religious liberty....

If Obama wins this battle and gets his way, religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, colleges, and charities all over America will be forced to pay for abortion drugs, sterilization procedures, and contraceptives.

 

If Obama gets by with thisk you can be sure that the next steps will be ordering priests, ministers and rabbis to perform same-sex marriages. God will be stripped out of the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" will be banished to the dustbin of history."

Bilge from the In-box

Here’s a Friday treat: highlights from recent right-wing direct mail. In the past week or so, in addition to an invitation to this September’s Values Voter Summit:

Jerome Corsi, a rabidly Obama-hating birther and crazy-theory-promoter extraordinaire sent a VERY CONFIDENTIAL emergency request for money for his Freedom’s Defense Fund. Although Corsi told me that it’s “imperative that the media not know what Freedom’s Defense Fund has planned,” I’m going to let you in on the secret. Corsi says he’s going to “saturate the television with attacks aimed directly at Obama.” Corsi’s letter accuses Obama of “race-baiting” and “class warfare,” which isn’t surprising given that the president is, in Corsi’s words, “nothing more than a Socialist agitator in the mold of Sol Alinsky.” According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website, Freedom’s Defense Fund raised and spent nearly $3 million in the 2010 election cycle. 

From the prolific folks at the American Family Association, a “declaration of spiritual emergency.” According to the AFA’s Tim Wildmon, the nation’s problems, including “the Obama administration’s blatant attempt to destroy religious freedom in this country” are evidence of what’s wrong with our nation: “As a people, we have divorced ourselves from God.”  Wildmon warns that “the ‘internal invader’ that threatens to destroy our nation is, in a word, secularism!” Wildmon’s letter is evidence of the increasingly close political alliance between the Religious Right and the Catholic Right in their joint effort to portray Obama as an enemy of religious liberty: it includes a quote from the pope himself complaining about new “cultural currents” in America “which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.”

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council contributes yet another screed warning that President Obama’s “war on religion” could “irreversibly transform America.” Perkins says of Obama: “His vision is to plant a dense forest of secularism (a non-Christian America) and socialism (a government-run America) that can never, ever be cut down or uprooted.”

Invisible Children and the Religious Right: What’s the Deal?

Long before Kony 2012 became an Internet sensation, the film’s director, Jason Russell, was a hit with the Religious Right and the broader evangelical community. Russell, the founder of Invisible Children, has been lavished with praise on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and on stage at Jerry Falwell’s university. Additionally, as Bruce Wilson has explored, Invisible Children has received substantial funding from extremely conservative Christian groups and foundations. Why?

The reason is not that Invisible Children is part of the Religious Right – it’s not. And while it’s true that the organization and the Religious Right share some interests and enemies in Uganda and Sudan, that’s not the reason either.
 
Instead it’s the religious basis of the organization. Russell first went to Africa as a child missionary and formed the organization as an alternative to traditional missionary organizations, whose model he found problematic. While Russell and his staff are careful to project a strictly secular brand, Russell has projected quite a different image when speaking to evangelical and Religious Right audiences.
 
In a 2010 podcast interview with Relevant magazine (listen below), Russell discussed his reason for keeping religion out of their brand and marketing:
We just always felt really, not offended, but felt it was too delicate of a choice to put the cross on our website, or to put a fish on the website because you're honestly dealing with the truth, and the creator, and so to make a brand around that and to have money flow in and out around that idea, at least in our paradigm, felt cheap or inauthentic. … That's just me candidly speaking. […]
He said that spirituality is an inescapable part of their work, but that it’s difficult to explain to a western audience that has been “raised on science, logic, and reasoning.”
Host: What conversations have you guys had about the holistic rehabilitation of some of the children you guys have worked with, and what role their spiritual development might play in some of the rehabilitation you believe should take place in their lives.
               
Russell: For us, the mentors that are rehabilitating the children who've been affected by this for, it is not a question whether spirituality plays into it or doesn't. It is not something like a line item on an annual report or anything. It's like, of course. I've never met a Ugandan who is an atheist. […]
 
Their spiritual life is so much more engaged and involved in their day to day, that having a spiritual holistic healing element to these children who have been affected by the war is a no-brainer. It's totally a part of the healing and the message. And at the same time it's difficult to communicate that or translate to the West who has been raised on science, logic, and reasoning and not so much the spiritual realm.
He also addressed criticism from other Christians that Invisible Children isn’t doing enough to evangelize:
Host: How have you guys wrestled with the issues of faith, not only in your personal lives but in the stories of your organization, as you guys have become more and more a topic of mainstream conversation?
 
Russell: For myself, I accepted Christ into my heart when I was 5, and my first experience with Africa was on a mission trip spreading the gospel through drama. There was a disillusionment, or a distaste, for that approach to the Christendom message being spread. I felt that there was a bridge that needed to be built. […]
 
We're not afraid to say "I'm a lover of Christ and what he brought to Earth and what he's doing in the world." But there's such a delicate balance to bringing that into the work arena when it comes to the culture right now.
 
I think that, there's been a lot of criticism that we've had over the years, but when it comes down to it, we are not afraid to say "I as an individual am this." But Invisible Children, it's not its mission to bring Christ's message to the invisible children. And when people say, "well why don't you bring Christ to those children in Uganda?" And my answer has always been, because they know Christ far more than I or anyone in Western world or in the Christian church knows Christ, because it's truly all that they've ever had. […]

Listen to the highlights of the podcast interview here:

Russell touched on similar topics at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University last November:

The Right's Rules for Politicizing Prayer

Remember how right-wing leaders were outraged – OUTRAGED! - when President Obama supposedly politicized the National Prayer breakfast by talking about how his Christian faith influenced his approach to issues like progressive taxation? Such complaints from the likes of Ralph Reed – whose career has been devoted to politicizing faith – were clearly pushing the hypocrisy meter to its limits. As Kyle noted yesterday, Religious Right folks have been celebrating the prayer breakfast speech by Eric Metaxas, a biographer of the Hitler-resisting pastor Dietrich Bonhoffer, because Mataxas made a comparison between the Holocaust and legal abortion, suggesting that supporters of reproductive choice were modern-day Nazis – and certainly not Christians.
 
This morning a “special bulletin” from the dominionist Oak Initiative republished a National Review column from a few weeks ago that we hadn’t noticed at the time. The column by conservative author and producer Mark Joseph is one long extended gloat about just how political – and how anti-Obama – Metaxas’s keynote was. Joseph delights in Metaxas using the prayer breakfast to send “a series of heat-seeking missiles” in the president’s direction:
If the organizers of the national prayer breakfast ever want a sitting president to attend their event again, they need to expect that any leader in his right mind is going to ask — no, demand — that he be allowed to see a copy of the keynote address that is traditionally given immediately before the president’s.
 
That’s how devastating was the speech given by a little known historical biographer named Eric Metaxas, whose clever wit and punchy humor barely disguised a series of heat-seeking missiles that were sent, intentionally or not, in the commander-in-chief’s direction….
Joseph belittles Obama’s speaking of his faith, and giddily cites Metaxas, suggesting that Obama’s references to scripture were actually demonic.
Standing no more than five feet from Obama whose binder had a speech chock full of quotes from the Good Book, Metaxas said of Jesus:
 
“When he was tempted in the desert, who was the one throwing Bible verses at him? Satan. That is a perfect picture of dead religion. Using the words of God to do the opposite of what God does. It’s grotesque when you think about it. It’s demonic.”
 
“Keep in mind that when someone says ‘I am a Christian’ it may mean absolutely nothing,” Metaxas added for good measure, in case anybody missed his point. 
Joseph also mocks Obama for discussing how other religions share with Christians the values contained in the Golden Rule: "Translation: Christianity is great and so are the other major religions, which essentially teach the same stuff."  In contrast, Joseph celebrates Metaxas for insisting on the uniqueness and centrality of Jesus and suggesting that those who support women’s access to abortion live apart from God and Jesus.
 
So, to recap the ground rules for the National Prayer Breakfast: President Obama talking about the values he as a Christian shares with those of other faiths, and how he understands Christian teaching about the responsibilities of those who have had good fortune = bad. Religious Right speaker insisting on the superiority of Christianity, and calling those who disagree with him demonic Nazis = good. 
 
Something to keep in mind next year.

 

FRC: Obama Out to 'Destroy' Religious Liberty, America Itself

Religious Right leaders have long relied on bogus claims of anti-Christian persecution to energize their supporters – and they’ve cranked up the volume on those claims since Barack Obama’s election. But even by those amped-up standards, the latest direct mail piece from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is a roid-rage rant against the godless "forces of darkness" -- that would be the Obama administration -- who "seek to destroy" the country."
This year promises to be one of challenges for Christians as the Obama administration continues to destroy religious freedom in America.
The “substance” of the letter focuses on a recent episode in which a poorly worded Navy memo – meant to protect wounded servicemembers from unwanted proselytizing while recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center – seemed to ban even friends and family members from bringing a Bible to a visiting soldier. When controversy predictably erupted, the Department of the Navy withdrew the memo for re-writing so that its language would better match its intent. 
 
FRC, of course, did not see this as a problem of lousy editing, but as evidence of a “blatant attack on religion” by part of “President Obama’s secular army.”  During the December brouhaha, Perkins said the episode “speaks to the effectiveness of the President's three-year war on Christianity. Apparently, this administration will do whatever it takes to wipe faith off the military's map.” 
 
It’s not just the military, of course. FRC's new letter says the sinister Bible-ban plan was “part of a broader agenda to push God out of American life in favor of a godless, secular worldview and global community.”
The first step in the fulfillment of this radical utopian dream is silencing Christians like you. After all, it is we Christians who are at the heart of the resistance to the Obama agenda.
Perkins is just warming up. He warns that the Obama administration is counting on the excitement of the election year to distract people from its “radical anti-Christian agenda.”  Perkins says “I am certain that the attack on religious freedom, primarily Christianity, is only going to intensify this year.” 
 
But don’t worry. “Despite the forces of darkness mounted against us, I am confident we can reclaim our country from those who seek to destroy it.” Of course, that’s only if you, dear FRC contributor, aren’t too comfortable and lazy to open your wallets: 
I know for a fact that those who want America to be a godless nation are counting on Christians to retreat to the safety of our own communities and surrender the broader culture to them.
 
They are confident that Christians won’t have the courage, or motivation, to defend their faith. They think we are too comfortable and lazy.
 
Don’t play into their hands….As you contemplate the new year that lies before us, please join with FRC to help reclaim our culture for Christ.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Maggie Gallagher explains how to explain your disapproval of marriage equality over Thanksgiving dinner.

Dear Religious Right, Nothing To Fear Over Halloween

While a few right-wing groups are using Halloween this year to put on "Hell Houses" which torture attendees with graphic portrayals of gay people dying of AIDS and women suffering from abortions, many Religious Right figures have called on people to stop celebrating Halloween altogether. Back in 2009, Jacksonville city councilwoman and past CBN commentator Kimberly Daniels warned that Halloween candy is under a demonic curse as a result of Satanic orgies, and last week Christian radio commentator Linda Harvey said that celebrating Halloween is cheating on Jesus with ‚"our spiritual enemy." Pat Robertson warned Christians earlier this month that‚ "Halloween is Satan‚Äôs night; it's the night for the devil. It's All Hallow's Eve but it's time when witches and goblins."

But according to Christian researcher Jill Martin Rische, who co-authored The Kingdom of the Occult with her father, the evangelist Walter Ralston Martin, Halloween actually has Christian roots. While Rische laments what the holiday has become in contemporary America, she told Christian broadcaster Janet Parshall earlier this month that the day is not in fact from the occult:

Rische: I started searching for what Halloween was and oh, ran across some very fascinating thing, the most fascinating of all is, recently, over the last ten to fifteen years, secular historians’ views of Halloween have changed. They used to promote the fact that this was a pagan holiday and that the Church took it over to wipe out what the pagans were doing and you’ll find this all over the place, all over the net, all over different sites, a lot of information that says this is a pagan holiday that was taken over by the Church. But in reality, you have these scholars now, some from Harvard and other places that have gained a lot of respect, big names, saying that this is not true. They’re saying that there is no historical evidence whatsoever for the witches’ holiday of Sowan. None.

It was the Church actually, there was more evidence for the Church, and this relates to All Saints Day. Now as far as being celebrated all over the world, there were different feasts that were celebrated and there is evidence that there were feasts celebrating the beginning of winter when animals were killed and there was a lot of partying, but again there is no evidence for what went on during that time. None. So it’s all kind of been lumped together under something bad but really All Hallow’s Eve, which comes before All Saints Day the First of November, was meant to be a great time of celebration, celebrating the lives of those who have really lived for Christ and often have given their life.

American History 101 With Professor Kirk Cameron

Yesterday WallBuilders' Rick Green, the poor man's David Barton, appeared as a guest on TBN's "Praise The Lord" program to promote and share the patented brand of Religious Right pseudo-history with which WallBuilders is synonymous.

And Green had some stiff competition in the regard as host Kirk Cameron - yes, that one - tried to stump the audience with a trick question by asking if they knew the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and which one contained the phrase "four score and seven years ago." 

The answer, of course, is that neither document contains that phrase, which Cameron admitted ... before mistakenly claiming that it appeared in the Emancipation Proclamation when, in actuality, it was the opening line of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Rick Santorum goes after Herman Cain on the issue of abortion and using quotes from various Religious Right leaders to drive home the point.
  •  

  • The Rick Perry campaign has hit upon a novel possible solution to addressing the candidate's poor debate performances: skipping future debates.
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  • Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones is running for president.
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  • FRC's latest prayer target: "Pray that DOMA will be preserved! May the people elect a President and Congress next November who will pass, and may the states ratify a Federal Marriage Amendment that will protect the definition of natural marriage as found in the Bible."
  •  

  • Bryan Fischer says "the left is profoundly anti-science," which is why they refuse to admit that gays can choose to become straight.
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  • Finally, Concerned Women for America has released talking points [PDF] opposing the Respect for Marriage Act.  Point one: "Despite its deliberately deceptive name, the 'Respect for Marriage Act' insidiously seeks to destroy the historical, traditional definition of marriage."

Barton Suggests Biblical Law Is Best For Women

On a Believers Voice of Victory episode that aired today, David Barton told televangelist Kenneth Copeland that women are most elevated in a society that has “conformed to the Scriptures.” Citing Religious Right activist Rabbie Daniel Lapin, Barton said that the Bible is actually the basis of women’s rights, while in “Islam” and secular societies like France and “the Norwegian countries,” women have fewer rights and less respect. Perhaps Barton should read The Handmaid’s Tale before arguing that women will prosper in a society run strictly according to biblical law:

Watch:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • FRC has released its Congressional scorecards.
  •  

  • I look forward to watching the Religious Right turn this pastor who was arrested for protesting a high school's demon mascot into their newest cause célèbre.
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  • Is Charisma Magazine, which routinely features people like Lou Engle and Cindy Jacobs, really suggesting that people should be jailed for delivering false prophecies?
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  • Gary Cass bravely launched a new "anti-bullying campaign" yesterday - by which he means "an anti-Muslim campaign."
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  • Finally, Mat Staver says "I think what we see is militant atheism trying to use the courts to literally crush Christianity, silence anyone who believes in God, and to make those who do a target of punishment."  I think Staver doesn't understand what the word "literally" means.

Barton: America Must Instruct Children In "The Fear Of The Lord"

Today on Believers Voice of Victory, David Barton told televangelist Kenneth Copeland that the only way to rejuvenate America’s education system is to instill in kids the “fear of the Lord.” Barton launched his career as a Religious Right activist with the 1989 booklet What Happened in Education?, in which he concluded that a decline in SAT scores was a result of the end of school prayer, and that only Christian teachings in schools could bring SAT scores back up. Barton explained to Copeland, a Prosperity Gospel preacher, what that instilling the “fear of the Lord” in children would require establishing the Bible as the basis of all school curricula:

Barton: This shows you what public education is supposed to look like, the educational system was supposed to come—and it did, these guys started the first public schools in 1642 and cited Bible verses on why they were doing it, they also cited Bible verses on the courses they taught and the way they taught the courses. Now most Christians today, ‘Well we got government schools that’s the way it was supposed to be.’ Really? Show me in the Bible where government’s supposed to do the education, show me how that works, show me what courses government’s supposed to be teaching. See we can’t do that anymore, we don’t use the—we’ve been conformed to the culture, we’ve had public schools for so long that we think that’s the way it is.

Copeland: So now we’ve done then, we’ve gone, into our own—

Barton: Dark ages.



Barton: This book right here, every Bible says, in Proverbs 1:7, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’ Now I don’t know why today we think, ‘oh I’m going to know more about the Lord if I fear God,’ we’ve made the fear of the Lord the beginning of spiritual knowledge. He didn’t say that, He said the fear of the Lord’s the beginning of knowledge. If you want education you better include the fear of God, if you want to be a good scientist you better include the fear of God, if you want to be a good musician—1962, ’63, the U.S. Supreme Court in three decisions said no more fear of God in education, we want education to be secular. All right, that’s a theological issue. How’s that working out? In 1962, ’63, America was number one in the world in literacy, we are now number sixty-five in the world in literacy. We don’t have the fear of the Lord, because guess what, we don’t have knowledge, it goes down.

Blackwell Ditches Bachmann For Perry

Back when Michele Bachmann was the GOP’s flavor of the month, three Religious Right leaders formed a Super PAC to bolster Bachmann’s fledgling campaign. Kenneth Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State, failed gubernatorial nominee and unsuccessful candidate to be chairman of the Republican National Committee, was to chair the pro-Bachmann Citizens for a Working America. In fact, the announcement came just days after Rick Perry entered the presidential race.

How times have changed. Today, Blackwell switched sides and is now endorsing Rick Perry:

Ken Blackwell, the former Republican Secretary of State of Ohio and one time candidate for Governor who lost against Democrat Ted Strickland in 2006, has endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for President.

“I am proud to endorse Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president,” said Blackwell in a release from the Perry campaign. “Gov. Perry’s successful record of job creation shows that he has the skill, experience and ideas necessary to get our nation working again. His proven conservative values, and his proven executive experience are exactly what this country needs to reverse the failed policies of the Obama Administration.”

Blackwell’s endorsement comes just as Perry’s campaign is having a second roll-out following a major slip in the polls as a result of dreadful debate performances and other missteps. Bachmann’s poll numbers have also dropped significantly as Herman Cain, for now, has emerged as Mitt Romney’s closest rival. But with Cain flubbing and flip-flopping even straight-forward questions on abortion rights and gay rights and Bachmann’s campaign running low on support, staffers and funding, it may be time that establishment figures in the Religious Right rally behind Perry as their choice.

Rep. Ted Poe: Obama Administration Is "Anti-Religious"

Speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Washington Watch last week, Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe accused President Obama and his administration of promoting policies that are “anti-religious.” Poe and Perkins were discussing with the manufactured controversy over a Texas veteran’s cemetery that prohibits a volunteer group from holding religious services at a funeral if the family does not request it. The New York Times points out that this rule was created in 2007 by the Bush administration, but according to Poe, the policy is actually all Obama’s fault.

As Kyle noted, “To the Religious Right, preventing outside groups from attending funerals and offering prayers at services where they are not wanted or requested is a violation of the religious freedom of the volunteers.” Last month, Poe attacked the cemetery director as “anti-Christian, anti-religion and anti-veteran” and introduced legislation that he said would end the supposed “religious censorship.”

In his conversation with Poe last week, Perkins claimed that “this is symptomatic of a much larger problem that we’re seeing in this administration where this type of hostility, I would describe it as, toward traditional, orthodox religious views is being unleashed.” Poe said that he agreed with Perkins’ assessment and went on to blame the Obama administration for having an “anti-religious” bias.

Perkins: This is symptomatic of a much larger problem that we’re seeing in this administration where this type of hostility, I would describe it as, toward traditional, orthodox religious views is being unleashed. We won this battle but the war is far from over, so you’ve got legislation that will say, ‘hey, nowhere in this country will veterans be denied their rights nor their families to the right to these religious services in federal cemeteries,’ so where does that legislation stand?

Poe: The legislation has been filed and it is before the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives. As soon as they get a hearing we’ll get it to the floor as soon as we can and get a vote on it, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t pass. What you say Tony is exactly correct. It is my opinion that the administration—this problem is systematic throughout the administration in areas that it’s just almost anti-religious, non-religious and anti-religious in areas such as this. We’re calling them out on this to stop this nonsense.

Perkins Ignores Palin To Spin The 2008 Election Loss

Several weeks ago, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins hosted a press briefing at the National Press Club to discuss just what it is that the Religious Right is seeking in a Republican presidential nominee.

During the Q&A, Perkins was asked to discuss the idea that the very positions that make a candidate appealing to the Religious Right are the same positions that make such candidates unappealing to the general voting population.

Not surprisingly, Perkins took issue with that assessment and asserted instead that without the support of the Religious Right, no Republican candidate can hope to win the general elections and pointed to John McCain as proof:

This idea that a candidate that would be supported by social conservatives that would win the Republican nomination would be unacceptable to the general populace is just not true. I think the opposite it true; we saw that in the last election cycle. There was a Republican nomination that was not acceptable to social conservatives. He did not have the enthusiastic support of social conservatives and, as a result, the Republicans lost the general election.

Now, obviously McCain and the Religious Right had a rather contentious history, but to say that the McCain campaign did not receive the "enthusiastic support of social conservatives" requires one to completely ignore the rapturous lovefest that exploded when McCain announced the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, which we chronicled at the time:

James Dobson, Focus on the Family: "A lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God's answer.”

Tony Perkins, Family Research Council: “Senator McCain made an outstanding pick.”

Connie Mackey, FRCAction: “I am elated with Senator McCain's choice.”

Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel: "Absolutely brilliant choice.”

Richard Land: “Governor Palin will delight the Republican base.”

Rick Scarborough, Vision America, “I’m elated. I think it’s a superb choice."

Ralph Reed: “They’re beyond ecstatic. This is a home run.”

Gary Bauer, American Values: "[A] grand slam home run."

Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum: “She is the best possible choice.”

Janet Folger, Faith2Action: “[T]he selection of Sarah Palin is more than ‘Brilliant!’ ‘Electrifying!’ and ‘Energizing!’ The selection of Sarah Palin will lead to words like: ‘Rejuvenating!’ ‘Victory!’ and ‘Landslide!’"

Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America: “Governor Palin will change the dynamics of the entire presidential race.”

Janice Shaw Crouse, CWA's Beverly LaHaye Institute: “She is an outstanding woman who will be an excellent role model for the nation's young people.”

David Barton, Wallbuilders: "The talk won't be about, 'look at Sarah Palin' as much as 'look at what McCain's choice of Palin says about McCain's core beliefs.”

Jonathan Falwell: “John McCain made it very clear that his administration was going to be a pro-life administration, and he proved that’s his belief and his passion today with the choice of Sarah Palin.”

Jerry Falwell, Jr.: “I think it’s a brilliant choice.”

Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life: “And then when [Palin] was announced — it was like you couldn’t breathe. [We] were grabbing each other and jumping up and down.”

Gary Marx, Judicial Confirmation Network: "I can tell you that this pick tells millions in the base of the party that they can trust McCain. More specifically that they can trust him with Supreme Court picks and other key appointments’"

David Keene, American Conservative Union: “The selection of Governor Palin is great news for conservatives, for the party and for the country. I predict any conservatives who have been lukewarm thus far in their support of the McCain candidacy will work their hearts out between now and November for the McCain-Palin ticket."

If social conservatives were unenthusiastic about the McCain ticket last time around, some apparently forgot to tell all of these social conservatives who were gushing about just how thrilled they were. 

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Religious Right Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 04/15/2009, 2:59pm
I feel like I have said this before, but one of the things that never fails to amaze me about the Religious Right is their willingness to take some seemingly unrelated issue currently in the news and tie it into their agenda, usually as it relates to reproductive choice. Case in point is yesterday’s Washington Update from the Family Research Council regarding the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates over the weekend. After grudgingly giving President Obama credit for “doing the right thing,” Tony Perkins held the episode up as evidence that America... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 04/15/2009, 1:43pm
I have to admit that after I first read the Department of Homeland Security’s report “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” [PDF] on Monday, I immediately forgot about it because it was of no use to me.   While I am always on the look-out for things demonstrating the extremism of the Religious Right, this report focused solely on violent racist and anti-government groups and since we tend not to cover such groups here, the report had little to offer.   Or so I thought.  As it... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 04/15/2009, 9:33am
James Dobson appeared on “Hannity” last night to refute the notion that he had conceded defeat in the culture war, declaring that he had done nothing of the sort and that the “war is not lost.”Dobson asserted that, while he had stepped down as Chairman of the Board at Focus on the Family, he has not retired and that he is working as hard as ever to press his agenda. He blasted the media for writing his movement off and for misrepresenting his original statement in order to marginalize them before vowing to keep up the fight:The left wing media is itching for members... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 04/14/2009, 5:08pm
Gov. Rick Perry wants Rush Limbaugh to move to Texas.Not content with getting its own ad audition footage yanked from YouTube, the National Organization for Marriage has now gotten a Rachel Maddow clip making fun of the footage yanked as well.Richard Land declares Iowa to be the "poster child" for the need for a federal marriage amendment.Of all the groups out there qualified to teach about "true tolerance," I'd say Focus on the Family ranks near the bottom.The Religious Right continues to go after Harry Knox, one of the appointees to the White House's faith-based advisory... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 04/14/2009, 11:13am
When it was announced back in February that James Dobson was giving up some of his responsibilities and control at Focus on the Family, there was lots of speculation that this signaled an end to his role as central figure in the Religious Right's political establishment and a sign that the movement itself was in decline.As we noted repeatedly, it was no such thing, but that idea was only reinforced last week when it started getting reported that, in addressing Focus on the Family staff after announcing the decision, Dobson had conceded defeat in the culture wars.  As we pointed out then... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 04/13/2009, 11:14am
As I noted last week, Rick Warren had been on something of a media rehabilitation tour over the last few days, giving interviews to a variety of outlets, that was set to culminate with an appearance on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos that never materialized: Pastor Rick Warren abruptly canceled an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” in which he would have had the opportunity to clarify his denial last week that he had ever endorsed California’s anti-gay-marriage ballot measure, when in fact he had done so on videotape. A Warren aide e-... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 04/10/2009, 3:23pm
I have already written a few posts this week trying to beat back the notion that the Religious Right is on the verge of collapse, pointing that that such declarations are made every few years and noting that right-wing leaders have repeatedly declared that they have no intention of giving up the fight.So imagine my surprise when I saw this article in The Telegraph entitled "US religious Right concedes defeat":Leading evangelicals have admitted that their association with George W. Bush has not only hurt the cause of social conservatives but contributed to the failure of... MORE