republicans

At VVS Heritage Predicts 'Massive Upheaval' and Right-Wing Takeover of GOP

Dissatisfaction with “establishment” Republicans has been a consistent theme at this year’s Values Voter Summit, and it reached new heights at a Saturday morning breakfast session hosted by the Heritage Foundation and its more overtly political arm, Heritage Action.

Sen. John McCain has been a favored punching bag, no doubt for having had the temerity to criticize the “Teavangelical” favorite son, Ted Cruz.  An audience member asked whether Heritage was planning to do something to take out South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, referred to by the questioner as “John McCain’s lapdog.” Heritage Action Chief Operating Officer Tim Chapman said that Heritage Action has “steered clear” of primaries since its bread and butter is working on Capitol Hill, but said the group’s materials are often used in primaries, and he praised the work of groups like Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund. 

Regarding Graham, Chapman told the questioner “I am with you” and said he would like to see some “good accountability" applied to Graham. He said he hoped one of the conservative members of the South Carolina House delegation might step up to take on Graham. Chapman slammed Republicans in Congress as “close to failing," saying the average Republican score on the group's congressional scorecard is only 67 percent, something that has "rankled a few feathers on Capitol Hill."

Chapman complained that Republican leaders were preparing to cave to Obama in the current standoff: “As we speak, Republican leaders are speaking to the White House and they are cutting a deal and I promise you the deal is going to be total garbage.”

“We are at the point right now where we are seeing a complete cleavage away from the Republican Party of the conservative movement,” he said. “You are going to see massive upheaval in the next election on all fronts…We have an opportunity to take over the party and it will be in the next election cycle.”

Tony Perkins Knows What's Best for Gays – and the GOP

The latest fundraising pitch from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins blasts “the national Republicans” whom he says are “running away from the natural and biblical definition of marriage, flocking to the radical side in support of same-sex ‘marriage.’”

Perkins’ letter insists that allowing same-sex couples to get married is dangerous to religious liberties, to the next generation, and “dangerous to civilization itself.” Perhaps worst of all is that Obama’s “machine” would benefit from the GOP alienating its conservative base:

Sacrificing our values, and their distinctives as a Party, will send millions of voters packing. One terrible side effect: President Obama’s machine will be stronger than ever. Their radicalization of American public policy will intensify.

But be assured that Perkins “cares deeply” about gay people:

Please understand: this is no vendetta. We care deeply about those who engage in either heterosexual sex outside of marriage or homosexual behavior in any context. Both are immoral and unhealthy. We want what is truly best for them and for our nation.

What is truly best for them is a lifestyle of biblical morality. (emphasis in original)

Perkins calls for a “massive outpouring of outrage from principled conservatives” and urges supporters to sign a petition to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. And, of course, to send a check.

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. 

Right Wing Round-Up

In David Barton's Alternative Reality, Americans Love Don't Ask Don't Tell

Republican pseudo-historian David Barton says that he, like Jesus, has never been legitimately critiqued, and is even suing two Democratic politicians in Texas and a blogger who have criticized him. While Right Wing Watch, among others, reports on Barton’s incessant dishonesty on a regular basis, he continues to tell falsehoods even when he is directly confronted about it.

Today on his program WallBuilders Live, Barton and his co-host Rick Green discussed the 9th Circuit Court’s decision on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While they originally found the policy unconstitutional, the court recently vacated the ruling following the policy’s official repeal. Barton argued that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act are “still overwhelmingly popular” among Americans:

Barton: The president’s going to follow the 9th's decision, that’s just what happens when you get a president—

Green: You’re gonna have to choose a Commander and Chief that—

Barton: You’re gonna have to choose a president who’s going to enforce laws that the rest of us think are important. Now he’s choosing to enforce the laws and not enforce the laws he thinks are important, and it’s not where the nation is. You know overwhelmingly we still want DOMA, the ban on homosexuals in the military that’s still overwhelmingly popular, he’s just not going there.

Of course, Barton is flat out wrong.

A CBS News poll released October 4 found that “68 percent of Americans said they support gay and lesbians’ rights to serve openly,” and that 48% of Republicans favored the repeal of the ban on openly gay soldiers, more than the 41% who opposed repeal.

On marriage, polls from Gallup, CNN, ABC, AP/Roper and the Public Religion Research Institute all found that a majority of Americans support marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Moreover, a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll found that 51% of voters oppose DOMA and just 34% support the law, which is still being enforced.

But David Barton, naturally, would not let actual polling data stand in the way of his claim that Americans are still hostile to the rights of gays and lesbians.

Values Voter Summit 2011 & America in 2013

As RWW readers know, the Values Voter Summit, the year’s biggest political gathering for the Religious Right, took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.  Every Republican presidential candidate with the exception of Jon Huntsman addressed the summit, evidence of the continuing importance of Religious Right activists and political groups to the GOP. Polls suggest that the Religious Right is about twice as big as the Tea Party, with significant overlap between the two movements. Ron Paul’s campaign packed in enough voters to win the straw poll, but it would be wrong to say he was the favorite of the Values Voter crowd. It was up-and-coming candidate Herman Cain who won the loudest cheers (and took second place).

The two days of speeches from presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and Religious Right activists painted a clear picture of where they’ll try to take the country if they are successful in their 2012 electoral goals.  In their America, banks and corporations would be free from pesky consumer and worker protections; there would be no Environmental Protection Agency and no federal support for education; women would have no access to abortion; gays would be second-class citizens; and for at least some of them, religious minorities would have to know their place and be grateful that they are tolerated in this Christian nation. 
 
Here’s a recap of some major themes from the conference.
 
Religious Bigotry on Parade
 
In one of the most extreme expressions of the “Christian nation” approach to government, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has stated repeatedly that the religious liberty of non-Christians is not protected by the First Amendment.  More specifically, he says Mormons are not protected by the First Amendment.  For whatever reason, VVS organizers scheduled Romney and Fischer back-to-back on Saturday morning. 
 
Before the conference, People For the American Way called on Romney to take on Fischer’s bigotry, which he did, albeit in a vague and tepid manner, criticizing “poisonous” rhetoric without naming Fischer or explaining why his views are poison.  Getting greater media attention were comments by Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who in his introduction of Texas Gov. Rick Perry insisted on the importance of electing a “genuine” follower of Christ. Reporters who accurately saw this as a swipe at Romney’s faith asked Jeffress about it, and he labeled Mormonism a cult.  (Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many Christians, including Southern Baptists, believe Mormon theology is anything but.)  Following Romney at the microphone, Fischer doubled down, insisting that the next president has to be a Christian “in the mold of” the founding fathers.  Fischer’s inaccurate sense of history is eclipsed only by his lack of respect for church-state separation and for the Constitution itself – even though he insisted that his religious test for the presidency was really a “political test.” Romney took only four percent in the VVS straw poll, even though he has been leading in recent polls of GOP voters.
 
Beating up on Obama
 
Religious Right leaders routinely denounce President Barack Obama, so it is no surprise that a major theme of the VVS was attacking the president and his policies.  Perhaps the nicest thing anyone said about the president was Mitt Romney’s snide remark that Obama is “the conservative movement’s top recruiter.”    Among the nastiest came from virtue-monger Bill Bennett, who said, “if you voted for him last time to prove you are not a racist, you must vote against him this time to prove you are not an idiot.” Rep. Anne Buerkle, one of the Tea Party freshmen, said flat out that the president is not concerned about what is best for the country. 
 
Health care and foreign policy were top policy targets.  Many speakers denounced “Obamacare,” and most of the presidential candidates promised to make dismantling health care reform a top priority. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Religious Right favorite who is leading a legal challenge to the health care reform law, said that if the Supreme Court did not overturn it, Americans would go from being citizens to subjects.  Just about every speaker attacked President Obama for not being strong enough in support of Israel, and repeated a favorite right-wing talking point by pledging to “never apologize” for U.S. actions abroad.
 
Gays as Enemies of Liberty
 
It is clear that a Republican takeover of the Senate and White House would put advances toward equality for LGBT Americans in peril.  Speaker after speaker denounced the recent repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers in the armed forces; many also attacked marriage equality for same-sex couples.  And many portrayed liberty as a zero-sum game, insisting that advances toward equality posed a dire threat to religious liberty. Rep. Mike Pompeo said “You cannot use our military to promote social ideals that do not reflect the values of our nation,” concluding his remarks with a call for the election of more Republicans, saying “ride to the sounds of the guns and send us more troops.”
Another member of the 2010 freshman class – Rep. Vicky Hartzler – attacked the Obama administration for “trying to use the military to advance their social agenda,” saying, “It’s wrong and it must be stopped.” Predictably, the AFA’s Fischer was the most vitriolic and insisted that the country needs a president “who will treat homosexual behavior not as a political cause at all but as a threat to public health.”
 
Loving Wall Street, Hating Wall Street Protesters
 
On the same day that moving pictures of Kol Nidre services at the site of Occupy Wall Street protests made the rounds on the Internet, Values Voter Summit speakers portrayed the protests as dangerous and violent.  Others simply mocked the protesters without taking seriously the objections being raised to growing inequality and economic hardship in America.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor denounced the “growing mobs” associated with the protests and decried “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” (Too bad he didn’t stick around to hear the rest of the speakers).  Glenn Beck denounced “Jon Stewart Marxism” and warned that the protests were the sign of an approaching “storm of biblical proportions” in which “the violent left” would smash, tear down, kill, bankrupt, and destroy.  Pundit Laura Ingraham simply made fun of the protesters and held up her own “hug the rich” sign.  Rising star Herman Cain defended Wall Street, blaming the nation’s economic crisis on policymakers, not reckless and irresponsible financiers.  Nobody wanted to regulate the financiers; speakers called for a repeal of the Dodd-Frank law. 
 
A number of speakers promoted Christian Reconstructionist notions of “Biblical economics,” with Star Parker declaring that “this whole notion of redistribution of wealth is inconsistent with scripture” and calling for the selection of a candidate with commitment to the free market according to the Bible.  Ron Paul also insisted “debt is not a political principle.”  The AFA’s Bryan Fischer said that liberalism is based on violating two of the Ten Commandments, namely thou shall not steal, and thou shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.  Liberalism, he said, is “driven by angry, bitter, acquisitive greed for the wealth of productive Americans.” 
 
No Love for Libertarians
 
A major theme at last year’s Values Voter Summit, as at other recent Religious Right political events, was an effort to make social-issue libertarians unwelcome in the conservative movement by insisting that you cannot legitimately claim to be a fiscal conservative if you are not also pushing “traditional family values.”  The same theme was sounded this year by the very first speaker, Tony Perkins.  Another, Joe Carter, took a shot at gay conservatives, saying it was not possible to be conservative and for gay marriage – it simply made you a “liberal who likes tax cuts.”  Carter said “social conservative” should be redundant. Ingraham echoed the theme, calling for an end to conservative modifiers (social, fiscal, national security) and, echoing popular Christian writer C.S. Lewis, called for a commitment to “mere conservatism.”  There were far fewer mentions of the Tea Party movement itself at this year’s VVS, perhaps owing to the movement’s unpopularity – or to the fact that the GOP itself has essentially become one big Tea Party party.
 
Crying Wolf on Religious Persecution
 
Religious Right leaders routinely energize movement activists with dire warnings about threats to religious liberty and the alleged religious persecution of Christians in America.  William Bennett said liberals are bigoted against “people who publicly love their God, who publicly love their country.”  Retired Gen. William Boykin said Christians are facing the greatest persecution ever in America.   The American Center for Law & Justice’s Jay Sekulow warned that the next president will probably select two Supreme Court justices, and that if it isn’t a conservative president, our Judeo-Christian values could be “eliminated.”  Crying wolf about persecution of Christians in America is offensive given the very real suffering of people in countries that do not enjoy religious freedom.  Several speakers addressed the case of a Christian pastor facing death in Iran.  That is persecution; having your political tactics challenged or losing a court case is not.
 
America is Exceptional; Europe Sucks
 
Republican strategists decided a couple of years ago that “American exceptionalism” would be a campaign theme in 2010 and 2012, and we heard plenty of talk about it at the Values Voter Summit.  Among the many who spoke about American exceptionalism was Rep. Steve King, who said “this country was ordained and built by His hand,” that the Declaration of Independence was written with divine guidance, and that God moved the founding fathers around the globe like chess pieces .  Liberals, said the Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding, don’t share a belief in American exceptionalism or the American dream. Many speakers contrasted a freedom-loving, God-fearing America to socialist, post-Christian Europe.  Rick Perry said “those in the White House” don’t believe in American exceptionalism; they’d rather emulate the failed policies of Europe.  Gen. Boykin declared Europe “hopelessly lost.”
 
Smashing the Regulatory State
 
The anti-government, anti-regulatory fervor of billionaire right-wing funders like the Koch brothers was on vibrant display at the VVS.  Without the slightest nod to the fact that regulating the behavior of corporations’ treatment of workers, consumers, and the environment is in any way beneficial, a member of a Heritage Foundation panel said conservatives’ goal should be to “break the back” of the “regulatory state.”  Some presidential candidates vowed to halt every regulation issued during the Obama administration.  Michele Bachmann said her goal was to “dismantle” the bureaucracy.
 
Judging Judges
 
Many speakers criticized judges for upholding abortion rights, church-state separation, and gay rights. Newt Gingrich took these attacks to a whole new level, calling for right-wing politicians to provoke a  constitutional crisis in which the legislative and executive branch would ignore court rulings they didn’t like.  He called the notion of “judicial supremacy” an “affront to the American system of self-government.” Aside from Gingrich’s very dubious constitutional theory, the speech seemed out of place at a conference in which speakers had been calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the health care law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
 
Deconstructing the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’
 
VVS speakers love quoting the Declaration of Independence, but some are clearly a little troubled with the notion that the “pursuit of happiness” is an inalienable right, one that might apply, for example, to happy, loving gay couples.  Rick Santorum said that the founders’ understanding of “happiness” meant “the morally right thing” and doing what God wants.  Steve King said the  pursuit of happiness was not like a tailgate party, but the pursuit of excellence in moral and spiritual development.  Michele Bachman has equated the pursuit of happiness with private property.
 
Notably weird speeches
 
Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel gave a meandering address that moved from U.S. policy on Israel to the war on Islamic radicalism to an attack on the United Nations to denunciations of sexologist Alfred Kinsey and humanist/educator John Dewey for undermining western civilization. He warned against conservatives using rhetoric that might push the growing Latino population into the maw of the “leftist machine,” making an aside about Latinos whose names end in “z” having a special connection to Israel.
 
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who ended up taking third place in the straw poll, seemed personally hurt that conservative evangelicals weren’t rallying around him given all that he had done for them and the price he had paid for it.  He whined, “Don’t you want a president who’s comfortable in his shoes talking about these issues?”
 
Rep. Steve King of Iowa said that people who support marriage equality or legal abortion don’t do so because they have a value system supporting those things, but because they want to spite the Religious Right – “because they know it’s precious to us.”
 
Former Fox TV personality Glenn Beck gave a trademark lurching speech contrasting visceral anger with his recitation of Abraham Lincoln’s “with malice toward none.” The speech was long on mockery of Wall Street protestors and on the messianic narcissism that was on display at his Lincoln Memorial rally last year.  “We need to give America the same choice” that Moses gave Israel, he said: good or evil, light or dark, life or death, freedom or slavery.  He said America is in a religious war, a race war, a class war, and other wars.  In one breath he insisted that the nation “must return to God” and talked about the “country’s salvation” – and in the next he denounced the notion of “collective salvation,” which he has elsewhere attributed to President Obama and denounced as evil and satanic.
 

Bill Donohue Condemns Jeffress As A "Poster Boy For Hatred"

Last week we posted audio of Robert Jeffress, the prominent Rick Perry endorser who introduced the candidate at the Values Voter Summit, condemning the Roman Catholic faith as a “counterfeit religion” that represents “the genius of Satan” in a sermon last year. Jeffress linked the Catholic Church to a Satanic “Babylonian mystery religion” that worshiped a fish god and warned that Catholics will “miss eternal life” because of their religion’s supposed paganism:

Catholicism isn’t the only religion that has encountered hostility from Jeffress: he is best known for calling Mormonism a cult that is “from the pit of Hell.” He has argued that Hindus, Muslims and Jews are also destined for Hell.

Today, right-wing Catholic activist Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights released a statement slamming Jeffress for having “demonized” the Catholic faith. In 2008, Donohue called on John McCain to renounce one of his endorsers, John Hagee, who has a history of anti-Catholic rhetoric and once said that God sent Hitler to be a “hunter” of Jews. While McCain ultimately rejected Hagee’s endorsement, Perry has so far refused to disavow Jeffress:

Last Friday, Rev. Robert Jeffress, the Dallas pastor who introduced Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit, spoke derisively about the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney, making the case that “Mormonism is a cult.” Two days later, he chided Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as “false religions.”

Last year, Rev. Jeffress said the Roman Catholic Church was the outgrowth of a “corruption” called the “Babylonian mystery.” He continued, “Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn’t come from God’s word. It comes from that cult-like pagan religion. Isn’t that the genius of Satan?”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue offered these remarks today:

Where did they find this guy? When theological differences are demonized by the faithful of any religion—never mind by a clergyman—it makes a mockery of their own religion. Rev. Jeffress is a poster boy for hatred, not Christianity.

Barton, Kern Stoke Fears That Gays And Lesbians Threaten Lives Of Critics

Yesterday, David Barton and Rick Green hosted Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern on WallBuilders Live to discuss her new book, The Stoning of Sally Kern, and caution listeners about the dangers of saying “something disparaging about homosexuality.” Kern’s book details her political activism and the fallout of her claim that the “homosexual agenda is destroying this nation ... it’s the biggest threat that our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam,” a sentiment she recently repeated, telling anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera that homosexuality is “more dangerous” than terrorism.

Barton said, “If you touch homosexuality, be prepared to pay a price,” warning that it “may cost your life.” Later in the interview, Green said Kern must have experienced a “physical fear” of the “militant” gay-rights activists, and Kern told her story of how she was prepared to lose her life over the issue.

Listen:

Barton: With all of the protection we have for free speech, there’s still a number of areas where you’re not free to speak out on certain things. If you touch homosexuality, be prepared to pay a price, not just attacks, it’s gonna cost you economically, other things as well, may cost your life. This is, the way people respond to what you say about homosexuality if you criticize it and we got Sally Kern today, State Rep from Oklahoma who experienced that first time, what happens if you exercise your right of free speech and happen to say something disparaging about homosexuality.



Kern: I have to be honest with you Rick, when I was sitting there in my car that day and when she told me that those emails were coming from homosexuals, honestly, fear gripped by whole body, because I was very aware of the homosexual lobbyists and the power that they have. And people say, ‘oh you’re so brave, so heroic,’ but I’m not, I’m just a sinner saved by grace and I was gripped with fear that day. I just said, ‘Lord, what have I done?’

Green: And not just I would think not just fear, not a political fear, physical fear; there’s a militant agenda out there as well.

Kern: It entered our mind but honestly, and I mentioned this in the book, the Saturday night when my husband and I sit down and really talked about this and prayed about it, when we asked ourselves the question, are we willing to even lose our lives over this? I can’t tell you, Rick, how liberating that was, it really was.

Religious Right Hoping to Exploit Hispanic Frustration with Obama

Even before the opening bell at the Values Voter Summit, the Liberty Counsel hosted a breakfast on messaging and outreach to Hispanic Americans. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver shared the stage with Tony Calatayud, a Miami-based activist who works for the Spanish language arm of Christian radio Salem Communications.   Calatayud, who helped Marco Rubio get elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida, now travels the country helping to identify and support conservative Hispanic candidates with the group Conservadores.

Staver said that Hispanic unhappiness with Barack Obama is “a really good thing going into 2012.” Calatayud agreed. The growing Hispanic community could be a huge electoral force for conservatives, he said, if only Republicans would stop alienating Hispanic voters with “idiotic” anti-immigrant rhetoric. He said “the Hispanic evangelical movement in this country is exploding” and said repeatedly that Hispanics are “conservative in nature” and share the Religious Right’s values on social issues. Polls suggest, in fact, that Latinos are pro-LGBT equality, but also that Latino evangelicals are more politically conservative than Latino Catholics.
 
Calatayud argued that conservative leaders need to make a “covenant” with “Kingdom-minded” Latino leaders and support an approach to immigration that includes four points: border security first; family reunification; a guest worker program; and “just integration” (a term he attributed to Sam Rodriguez) of the 12-15 million undocumented people already in the country. Calatayud said he didn’t want to hear the word “amnesty” ever again; he and Staver complained about Republicans who use the word “amnesty” to describe anything short of mass deportation. Calatayud got a polite but quiet hearing from the audience for his presentation on immigration; the only applause came when, in response to a question, he affirmed his belief that everyone must learn English.
 
Calatayud also insisted that the eventual Republican candidate must build a “covenant” relationship with Latino evangelical pastors and devote real money to campaign outreach. He said he had hoped Marco Rubio would run this time around; he predicts Rubio will not accept a VP slot this year, but believes he will be the GOP nominee in 2016 or 2020.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Rick Joyner seems to be gravitating toward Herman Cain.
  • A new poll says that more Republicans support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell than oppose it.  I am sure they are all just RINOS.
  • Looks like Janet Porter's Heartbeat Bill might be running into a little bit of trouble.
  • Harry Jackson continues his shameless shilling for energy interests.
  • Finally, Scott Lively will be awarded the coveted "American Truth Teller" award from Peter LaBarbera. What an honor.

Who’s Who at the Values Voter Summit 2011

This weekend, nearly every major GOP presidential candidate, along with the top two Republicans in the House of Representatives, will speak at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of the leaders of the movement to integrate fundamentalist Christianity and American politics.

The candidates – Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – and the congressmen – House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor – will join a who’s who of the far Right at the event. The organizers of the Values Voter Summit and many of its prominent attendees are on the frontlines of removing hard-won rights for gay and lesbian Americans, restricting women’s access to reproductive healthcare, undermining the free exercise rights of non-Christian religions and breaking down the wall of separation between church and state.

In perhaps the starkest illustration of how far even mainstream Republican candidates are willing to go to appease the Religious Right, Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak immediately before the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, a man whose record of hate speech should be shocking by any standard. Along with regularly denigrating gays and lesbians, Muslims, and other minority groups, Fischer has no love for Romney’s Mormon faith. In a radio program last week, Fischer insisted that Mormons have no right to religious freedom under the First Amendment and falsely claimed that the LDS Church still sanctions polygamy.

People For the American Way has called on GOP presidential candidates appearing at the conference to denounce Fischer’s bigotry. Last year, PFAW issued a similar call to attendees, which was met with silence.

The following is a guide to some of the individuals with whom the leaders of the GOP will be rubbing shoulders at the Values Voter Summit this year.

Bryan Fischer

Bryan Fischer is the Director of Issues Analysis at the American Family Association, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Fischer acts as the chief spokesman for the group and also hosts its flagship radio program, Focal Point, on which he has interviewed a number of prominent figures including Bachmann, Gingrich, Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

On his radio program and in blog posts, Fischer frequently expresses unmitigated bigotry toward a number of minority groups, including gays and lesbians, Muslim Americans, Native Americans, low-income African Americans and Mormons.

Fischer has:

At a speech at last year’s Values Voter Summit, Fischer said that if Christians don’t get involved in politics, they “make a deliberate decision to turn over the running of the United States government to atheists and pagans.” Of the gay rights movement, he warned, “We are going to have to choose, as a nation, between the homosexual agenda and freedom, because the two cannot coexist.”

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the main organizer of this weekend’s summit. Perkins leads the group’s efforts against gay rights, abortion rights and church/state separation.

The FRC famously expressed its hostility to religious pluralism in a 2000 statement blasting a Hindu priest who was invited to give an opening prayer in Congress: "[W]hile it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage…. Our Founders … would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference."

The FRC has one of the most anti-gay platforms of any major political organization, including expressions of support for the criminalization of homosexuality. Earlier this year, the group called on members to pray for the continuation of Malawi’s law prohibiting homosexuality , under which a gay couple was sentenced to fourteen years in jail. Senior fellow Peter Sprigg said he would “much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”

Perkins himself frequently reflects the extreme views of his organization. He:

At last year’s Values Voter Summit, Perkins managed to simultaneously insult U.S. servicemembers and several important U.S. allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that armies that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly “ participate in parades, they don’t fight wars to keep the world free .”

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the head of the Liberty University School of Law and its legal affiliate, Liberty Counsel, both sponsors of the Values Voter Summit. Liberty Counsel vehemently opposes rights for gays and lesbians, and in July filed the lawsuit to overturn New York’s Marriage Equality Act . The group’s Director of Cultural Affairs Matt Barber has called marriage equality “ rebellion against God” and said LGBT youth are more likely to commit suicide because they know “ what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] is immoral .” Barber has also described liberalism as “hatred for God” and said the president and Democrats “are anti-God.” In fact, Liberty Counsel claimed that Obama is “ pushing America to move under the curse ” of God and “ jeopardizing our nation” for purportedly not supporting Israel.

Through his role at Liberty Counsel and on his radio program Faith & Freedom, Staver has:

Staver aggressively promotes “ex-gay” reparative therapy and warns that gays and lesbians are “ intent on trampling upon the fundamental freedoms ” of others. He is also closely linked to the saga of Lisa Miller, a woman represented by Liberty Counsel who kidnapped her daughter and fled to Central America after a court granted custody to her former partner, a lesbian woman. Although Liberty Counsel denies involvement in the kidnapping, earlier this year Miller was reportedly staying at the house of Staver’s administrative assistant’s father in Nicaragua . Staver has also taught the Miller case in his law classes as an example of an instance where “God’s law” preempts “man’s law.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin sparked a controversy when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the War on Terror as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative. In a speech at the group’s conference in April, he declared that George Soros and the Council on Foreign Relations conspired to collapse the U.S. economy in order to help President Obama get elected. Last year, he told the group that President Obama was using his health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him .

Star Parker

Parker is a long-time Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-abortion rights work. As Washington, DC was poised to legalize marriage equality, Parker warned that it would lead to more HIV infections in the city, which would “ transform officially into Sodom.” In a recent radio interview with Tony Perkins, Parker mused that black family life was “ more healthy” under slavery than it is today and has accused liberals of treating Justice Clarence Thomas and Gov. Sarah Palin like runaway slaves. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust.

Ed Vitagliano

As the AFA’s research director, Ed Vitagliano helped co-produce the 2000 anti-gay documentary “It’s Not Gay,” which is riddled with misleading statistics about gays and lesbians and promotes “ex-gay” reparative therapy. The “documentary” starred ex-gay leader Michael Johnston, a self-described “former homosexual,” who was later revealed to have been secretly having sex with other men. Vitagliano’s anti-gay work has continued apace — on the AFA’s radio program this year, Vitagliano argued that gay men are “ abusing the nature of the design of the human body” and said homosexuality is not a “ natural and normal and healthy activity.” Vitagliano also scolded congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis for supporting marriage equality , saying that Lewis “thumbed [his] nose” at God and “needs to go back and read his Bible.”

Bishop Harry Jackson

Jackson, who built his career as an avowed opponent of rights for gays and lesbians, is a regular speaker at Religious Right conferences. He has called for a “SWAT Team” of “Holy Ghost terrorists” to work against hate crimes legislation that protects gays and lesbians, and said that black organizations that support gay rights have “ sold out the black community” and have been “ co-opted by the radical gay movement .” Jackson claims that gay marriage is part of “ a Satanic plot to destroy our seed” and that the larger gay rights movement is “ an insidious intrusion of the Devil.”

Along with his fierce opposition to LGBT rights, Jackson has compared legal abortion to “lynching” and urged the Senate to defeat Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court because she is not a Protestant (Kagan is Jewish). Jackson has even described his political efforts in apocalyptic terms, telling a Religious Right group before the 2010 elections, “God is saying to us ‘I want to pick a fight in which I can wipe out my enemies and cause them to be silenced once and for all.’ This is where America is; if we do not recognize and repent, we are going to see our way of life destroyed as we now know it.”

Lila Rose

Rose is the anti-choice activist responsible for carrying out a deceptive hit job against Planned Parenthood this year. Members of Rose’s group, Live Action, went to Planned Parenthood clinics around the country posing as clients seeking help with a child sex trafficking ring. Planned Parenthood alerted the FBI about the activity, and the one staffer who handled the supposed traffickers inappropriately was promptly fired. Nevertheless, Rose claimed that her hoax proved “beyond a shadow of a doubt that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks state and federal laws and covers up the abuse of young girls it claims to serve.”

Rose is no newcomer to the Values Voter Summit: in a speech at 2009’s summit, she called for abortions to be performed “in the public square.”

Glenn Beck

Until Beck’s Fox News program was canceled earlier this year, he was one of the Right’s most visible fear-mongers and conspiracy theorists. When his violent rhetoric inspired some real threats against progressive leaders, he laughed off the critics who urged him to choose his words more responsibly. Beck’s elaborate conspiracy theories include the idea that socialists and Islamists were planning a global caliphate, with the help of American progressives; an obsession with the progressive funder George Soros, at whom he leveled a number of anti-Semitic smears including a personal attack that the Anti-Defamation league called “horrific”; and a distrust of President Obama, who he once said was “racist” with a “ deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture .”

On air, Beck joked about killing prominent progressives (for instance, poisoning Nancy Pelosi’s wine), but frequently insisted that it is progressives who were urging violence, even predicting his own martyrdom. In one 2010 broadcast, he warned that "anarchists, Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists" have to "eliminate 10 percent of the U.S. population" in order to "gain control."

After a terrorist in Oslo killed dozens of young members of Norway’s Labor Party at an island summer camp, Beck attacked the victims , comparing the camp to “Hitler Youth” and calling it “disturbing.”

AFA Threatens To Fire Any Host Who Partners With NAR Critic

Back when Gov. Rick Perry was organizing his massive "The Response" prayer rally, we were hard at work chronicling the ties between organizers of the event and the self-proclaimed prophets and apostles affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation.

But it was not just people like us who were taking note of the fact that Republicans and Religious Right leaders were embracing this new breed of spiritual warriors, as some conservatives leaders began to raise alarms of their own.

One of the leading conservative critics of this development has been Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend, who has been using his radio program to voice his opposition. 

And his criticism is apparently causing such massive headaches for the folks over at the American Family Association that, as Warren Throckmorton reports, hosts of programs that air on the AFA's American Family Radio network are now being told that their shows will be dropped if they in any way partner with Howse:

The American Family Association has taken aim at fellow religious conservative Brannon Howse over his criticism of the AFA’s recent sponsorship of GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry’s The Response prayer meeting. Earlier this week, Jim Stanley, program director of AFA’s radio network, American Family Radio, sent notices to two talk show hosts who are associated with Howse, informing them that continued presence on the AFA’s radio network was conditioned on severing ties with Howse.

The talk show hosts, John Loeffler and Todd Friel, have shows aired by American Family Radio and also speak at Howse sponsored events. According to Tim Wildmon, president of the AFA, “we identified two people with programs on our networks and told them, ’you have to make a choice.’” In defense of the move, Wildmon said “AFR is under no obligation to run programs of individuals who are going to help Brannon when he is attacking our friends. We make programming decisions all the time.”

Howse heads Worldview Weekend, a socially conservative ministry which espouses similar conservative views as the AFA on culture war issues as abortion and homosexuality. However, Howse charges that religious right leaders have formed improper religious alliances with leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation such as Cindy Jacobs in order to promote a conservative political agenda. About his stance, Howse said, “Christians must defend the gospel when we believe Christian leaders are giving credibility to what the Bible describes as false teaching ... In an email, Wildmon told me that Howse had tried to “sabotage The Response that we were sponsors of and has gone after our friends and associates like Jim Garlow, Tony Perkins, James and Shirley Dobson, etc., by name.” He explained that the network had received calls from listeners and that the situation had been “a headache.”

North Carolina Legislator Says State Needs To Ban Same-Sex Marriage To Keep Gay "Agenda" From "Being Normal"

North Carolina state Sen. James Forrester appeared on Concerned Women for America radio Tuesday, along with his wife -- who just happens to be the Associate State Director of CWA’s North Carolina chapter -- to discuss the proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Republicans in the state legislature succeeded in getting a referendum on the marriage amendment on the ballot for May of next year.

Earlier this month, Forrester memorably told a town hall meeting that gays “are going to die at least 20 years earlier” than straight people. While proponents of the discriminatory marriage amendment claim that they are only focused on the issue of marriage, Forrester made it clear that there was a much larger goal behind the amendment: to “make it more difficult for the homosexual group to get their agenda recognized as being normal and getting it into schools and things like that.”

Listen:

Forrester: In some states even though the states have ratified having marriage between one man and one woman in the constitution, activist judges have overruled that, overruled the will of the people, that bothers me too, but if we don’t have it in the constitution there’s a whole lot better chance for them succeeding in what they’re trying to do. So I’m very encouraged that we’re gonna have the opportunity to vote on it, hopefully put it in our constitution, and make it more difficult for the homosexual group to get their agenda recognized as being normal and getting it into schools and things like that. So I’m very, very happy this morning.

Huckabee Lauds Personhood Mississippi, Slams Avaricious "Abortion Industry"

Only a few years ago Religious Right groups and Republicans were running as far as possible away from the Personhood Colorado campaign, the effort to pass an extreme anti-choice measure that was twice handily defeated by Colorado voters. Last year, the National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, Colorado Citizens for Life all refused to back the Colorado personhood amendment, and the Colorado Eagle Forum called the personhood campaign a “disaster.”

But now, the Personhood Mississippi campaign –which is nearly identical to the Colorado effort – has received the support of prominent Republican leaders including Mike Huckabee and anti-choice groups such as the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel and the Family Research Council.

The campaign to pass the personhood amendment, called Amendment 26, is led by the head of the extreme Mississippi Constitution Party and a member of Christian Exodus, which wanted to have states secede from the U.S. in order to form a new theocratic system of government. Designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, the amendment would criminalize abortion in all cases and also ban the treatment of ectopic pregnancies, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and certain forms of birth control.

Huckabee addressed a fundraiser for the personhood campaign and urged activists to give money because pro-choice activists only want to “make people rich” by keeping abortion legal. “This isn’t about elevating women,” Huckabee said, “this is about elevating wealth on behalf of those who profit from the sale of death.”

Watch:

But here’s what I don’t assume. I do not assume that you comprehend the battle you’re gonna face over the next couple of months in this fight for Amendment 26. You have no idea how many millions of dollars are likely to be poured into your state and it’s not stimulus money and economic development and job creation, it is hardcore political money that is designed to preserve the abortion industry which is a multimillion dollar industry specifically designed in order to terminate life and make people rich. Let’s not kid ourselves; this is not about elevating women this is about elevating wealth on behalf of those who profit from the sale of death.



The reason that America is more pro-life than it ever has been is because the younger generation of Americans are more pro-life than their mothers and their grandmothers. And do you know why? Because science has affirmed what God has been trying to scream to us all along: that is a human life! Thank God for the science that’s affirmed it.

Right Wing Round-Up

Joyner: When Revival Comes, There Won't Be Time For Football

One of the things we are constantly hearing from Religious Right leaders is that we are in, or will soon be in, "the next great awakening."  What that means, nobody ever really explains but it seems to entail millions of people becoming dedicated Christians and then voting for Republicans who will outlaw abortion and gay marriage and taxes.

The question of how we will actually know that we are in the midst of "the next great awakening" also goes unexplained ... but on "Prophetic Perspective on Current Events" yesterday Rick Joyner gave us a hint: NFL games would be canceled because all the players and fans would be too busy attending revival meetings, but the stadiums would not be empty because they "were built for revival, the owners just didn't know it."

Watch:

Right Wing Leftovers

  • How long before the GOP gives Oregon Republicans the boot for removing anti-gay language for their platform?
  • Rick Perry will be speaking at Liberty University tomorrow.
  • Mat Staver has been appointed to something called The Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations.
  • Apparently the Hubble Telescope discovered proof of God.
  • Finally, quote of the day from Bryan Fischer: "This is not behavior that any rational society should condone, endorse, subsidize, reward, promote or sanction in domestic policy or in the marketplace. It’s a choice, and a bad one at that. It’s long past time for our culture to say a simple and direct 'No' to homosexuality and the homosexual agenda."

Barton: Demonic Powers Control Parts of the U.S. Government

Prior to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response prayer rally, we posted video of one of the rally’s official endorsers, John Benefiel, claiming that demonic spirits ruling Washington, D.C. were literally warping the minds of politicians and elected officials. Benefiel, who leads the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, is not alone in this view.

David Barton, the right-wing pseudo-historian who has counseled leading Republicans like Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee, similarly believes that demonic principalities are literally controlling parts of government and that Christians must engaged in spiritual warfare to combat them. Barton is an advocate of Seven Mountains Dominionism, which as Lance Wallnau explains, requires spiritual warfare against the demons that control the seven mountains of society.

In last year’s “In God We Trust” series, televangelist Kenneth Copeland asked Barton why politicians “change when they moved to Washington.” Citing Ephesians 6:12, Barton claimed that politics is a “spiritual battle” because demonic principalities literally “sit over” and control areas in the Capitol. These principalities, Barton says, prevent prayers from working because they are “fighting in the Heavenlies” and make politicians “think really goofy.”

Watch:

I’ll tell you one of the things too we’ll never get right until we understand this, it is a spiritual battle. We’re told in Ephesians, it’s not flesh in blood, we’re dealing with spirits. And I’ll tell you out of Daniel, praying, why did that answer get delayed for twenty-one days? Because the Prince of Persia fought against it. There are principalities that sit over certain areas.

And I can tell this in the U.S. Capitol. When I walk from the House side to the Senate side, I cross the middle line of the Capitol, I can feel a different principality because they have jurisdictions over different things. And there are principalities that sit over different government entities that cause them to think really goofy and you can’t get prayers through, they get delayed twenty-one days because the principalities are up there fighting in the Heavenlies.

Because we’re not fighting flesh and blood. And if you don’t understand this is a spiritual battle, and if you don’t understand there are really big principalities and powers sitting over places of power, whether it be banking, or education. There’s principalities that sit over schools to keep those kids from getting knowledge, there’s principalities that sit over financial institutions. They sit over households. That’s why you have principalities in powers, that gradation, you have the corporals, and you have the sergeants, and you have the lieutenants, the captains and the generals, and the generals have a bigger principality and those little corporals may have control over the house but it’s a spiritual battle.

It’s a spiritual battle and we’ll never win until we understand that.

Kuhner: Martin Luther King, Jr "Both Liberated and Imprisoned Black America"

After blaming daycare and public schools for ruining society, Jeffrey Kuhner of the Edmund Burke Institute now has another figure to blame for America’s ills: Martin Luther King, Jr. Reflecting on the recent dedication of the King memorial in Washington, D.C., Kuhner writes in The Washington Times that King’s support for progressive causes was responsible for keeping African Americans bound to the “shackles of affirmative action and the welfare state.” Such claims may be news to Glenn Beck, who claimed that he was going to “reclaim the civil rights movement” and tried to frame himself as the next King. Kuhner writes:

Yet, there was a dark side to King and it should not be ignored. Its effects continue to plague our society. Contrary to popular myth, the Baptist minister was a hypocrite who consistently failed to uphold his professed Christian standards. His rampant adultery and serial, life-long womanizing revolted even some of his closest associates. Large parts of his doctoral dissertation were plagiarized. He had numerous ties with communists and Soviet sympathizers. Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover knew this, which is why he considered King a “fraud.”



King’s leftism ultimately betrayed his original civil rights creed. His call for a color-blind society was contradicted by his multicultural progressivism. Affirmative action, racial quotas, government handouts to minorities - these policies directly violate the basic principle of equality under the law. Contemporary Americans are not judged as individuals, but as members of a racial group, gender or ethnicity. This is a perverse inversion of the very kind of racialism prevalent in the Old South. More than 40 years after his death, we are further away from being a genuine meritocracy. Victimology and racial set-asides dominate large swathes of American life, from university admissions and government bureaucracies to big business and construction. The country has slowly Balkanized, splintering along ethnic lines.

King’s socialism also convinced many blacks to adopt welfare liberalism. It transformed them into a permanent Democratic constituency. The results have been disastrous. The nanny state has crippled the black community, undermining self-reliance, entrepreneurship and personal responsibility. It has fostered family breakdown, soaring rates of illegitimacy and trapped millions in a cycle of poverty and urban squalor. King showed blacks the way out from segregation, but he led them to an economic plantation.

The great irony is that more Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act than Democrats. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation but to overcome the intense hostility of Southern Democrats he needed - and received - strong GOP congressional support. The party of Lincoln not only freed the slaves, it helped to dismantle Jim Crow. Instead of rewarding Republicans, blacks have largely turned their backs on them and with that, have rejected the self-empowerment and prosperity that comes from free-market capitalism.

King’s legacy has been a double-edged sword: He both liberated and imprisoned black America. As we celebrate his achievements with the new memorial in the nation’s capital, for the sake of future generations, let us remember too how King erred. In order to truly create a society where all citizens rise to the height of their potential, we must discard the shackles of affirmative action and the welfare state.

HT: Media Matters

The Religious Right's Twisted View Of Religious Freedom

For the last several weeks, the Religious Right has been hyping allegations from Kelly Shackleford and his Liberty Institute claiming that the Department of Veterans Affairs has instituted a ban on "the use of Christian words or phrases at veterans’ funerals."

Liberty Institute has even launched a website called "Don't Tear Us Down" which claims that "Jesus is not welcome at gravesides" and the campaign is receiving support from other Religious Right groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association.

Today the New York Times took a look at the controversy and discovered - shockingly - that the claims being made by the Religious Right are totally misleading.  As the NYT explains, the Bush administration instituted a policy in 2007 that "prohibits volunteer honor guards from reading recitations — including religious ones — in their funeral rituals, unless families specifically request them." 

In essence, the policy states that volunteer groups are not allowed to attend military funerals and inject their religion in to it unless their presence is requested by the family.  Conversely, if a family does want to included such prayers in the service, they have that right as well.

But 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:

The plaintiffs, aided by a conservative legal group, the Liberty Institute, contend they should be allowed to use a Veterans of Foreign Wars script dating from World War I that refers to the deceased as “a brave man” with an “abiding faith in God” and that seeks comfort from an “almighty and merciful God.” The institute has broadcast the dispute nationwide with slick videos and a Web site declaring that “Jesus is not welcome at gravesides.”

...

The lawsuit, which alleges religious discrimination by the government, and videos have generated angry letters and Internet commentary against the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as demands from members of the Texas Congressional delegation, mostly Republicans, that the Obama administration fire the Houston cemetery director, Arleen Ocasio.

Department of Veterans Affairs officials say that the original policy, enacted under President George W. Bush, resulted from complaints about religious words or icons being inserted unrequested into veterans’ funerals. They noted that active duty military honor guards, including the teams that do funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, say almost nothing during their ceremonies.

“We do what the families wish,” said Steve L. Muro, the under secretary for memorial affairs. “I always tell my employees we have just one chance to get it right.”

Though two of the largest veterans organizations, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, have criticized the Houston National Cemetery, some veterans’ advocates have risen to the department’s support. Those advocates say that families who want prayers can have them and assert that the Liberty Institute has blown the dispute out of proportion to embarrass the Obama administration.

Lawyers with the Liberty Institute deny that ... The Department of Veterans Affairs said that funeral directors, rather than the veterans themselves, should tell families the details of the V.F.W. or other rituals, to give those families room to make their own decisions on what is recited.

“If the family wants prayers, the family will get them,” said John R. Gingrich, the department’s chief of staff.

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republicans Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Saturday 10/12/2013, 9:34am
Dissatisfaction with “establishment” Republicans has been a consistent theme at this year’s Values Voter Summit, and it reached new heights at a Saturday morning breakfast session hosted by the Heritage Foundation and its more overtly political arm, Heritage Action. Sen. John McCain has been a favored punching bag, no doubt for having had the temerity to criticize the “Teavangelical” favorite son, Ted Cruz.  An audience member asked whether Heritage was planning to do something to take out South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, referred to by the questioner as... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 05/28/2013, 2:40pm
The latest fundraising pitch from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins blasts “the national Republicans” whom he says are “running away from the natural and biblical definition of marriage, flocking to the radical side in support of same-sex ‘marriage.’” Perkins’ letter insists that allowing same-sex couples to get married is dangerous to religious liberties, to the next generation, and “dangerous to civilization itself.” Perhaps worst of all is that Obama’s “machine” would benefit from the GOP alienating its... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/24/2011, 5:01pm
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... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 10/14/2011, 5:51pm
PFAW: PFAW Commends Movement on DOMA Repeal.   Michelle Goldberg @ The Daily Beast: End of the Ex-Gay Movement?   Kari Ann Rinker @ RH Reality Check: Kansas Panel Recommends DA Phil Kline's License to Practice Be Suspended Indefinitely.   Kevin Drum: Why Republicans are Flummoxed by 9-9-9.   Ashley Lopez @ The Florida Independent: Stearns explains Planned Parenthood investigation to Pat Robertson.   Jillian Rayfield @ TPM: Fox & Friends: We Should Have Clarified That Our Report On Obama Apologizing To Japan Was... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/12/2011, 4:45pm
Republican pseudo-historian David Barton says that he, like Jesus, has never been legitimately critiqued, and is even suing two Democratic politicians in Texas and a blogger who have criticized him. While Right Wing Watch, among others, reports on Barton’s incessant dishonesty on a regular basis, he continues to tell falsehoods even when he is directly confronted about it. Today on his program WallBuilders Live, Barton and his co-host Rick Green discussed the 9th Circuit Court’s decision on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. While they originally found the policy unconstitutional,... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 10/12/2011, 11:04am
As RWW readers know, the Values Voter Summit, the year’s biggest political gathering for the Religious Right, took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.  Every Republican presidential candidate with the exception of Jon Huntsman addressed the summit, evidence of the continuing importance of Religious Right activists and political groups to the GOP. Polls suggest that the Religious Right is about twice as big as the Tea Party, with significant overlap between the two movements. Ron Paul’s campaign packed in enough voters to win the straw poll, but it would be wrong... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 10/12/2011, 10:40am
Last week we posted audio of Robert Jeffress, the prominent Rick Perry endorser who introduced the candidate at the Values Voter Summit, condemning the Roman Catholic faith as a “counterfeit religion” that represents “the genius of Satan” in a sermon last year. Jeffress linked the Catholic Church to a Satanic “Babylonian mystery religion” that worshiped a fish god and warned that Catholics will “miss eternal life” because of their religion’s supposed paganism: Catholicism isn’t the only religion that has encountered hostility from... MORE