resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attorney General Chooses Southern Baptist Convention Meeting to Launch 'First Freedom' Initiative

Gonzales spoke (transcript) on new report and solicited collaboration with group that codified support for Bush’s extreme judicial nominees in official resolution. Focus on the Family sees move as counter to Democrats.
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Peter Montgomery, Monday 01/31/2011, 4:15pm
The title of today’s Wallbuilders Live radio broadcast, brought to you courtesy of Religious Right “historian” David Barton, was “Why is Obama Trying to Remove God From the United States?” Barton, whose Christian-nation version of U.S. history is promoted by right-wingers including Glenn Beck and Rep. Michele Bachmann, has attacked Obama’s Christian faith before. Today, Barton and co-host Rick Green were joined by Rep. Randy Forbes to complain about the president’s insufficient godliness.   Forbes has complained about a speech President... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 01/24/2011, 1:25pm
In 2007-2008, Wiley Drake served as Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention ... but once President Obama was elected and Drake started praying for his death and the deaths of  Democratic members of Congress, the Southern Baptist Convention was quick to distance itself from Drake: A Southern Baptist Convention spokesman said June 4 that a former official who is praying for the death of President Obama is out of the denomination's mainstream. Roger "Sing" Oldham, vice president for convention relations with the SBC Executive Committee, said he believes most... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 01/24/2011, 1:25pm
In 2007-2008, Wiley Drake served as Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention ... but once President Obama was elected and Drake started praying for his death and the deaths of  Democratic members of Congress, the Southern Baptist Convention was quick to distance itself from Drake: A Southern Baptist Convention spokesman said June 4 that a former official who is praying for the death of President Obama is out of the denomination's mainstream. Roger "Sing" Oldham, vice president for convention relations with the SBC Executive Committee, said he believes most... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 03/25/2010, 4:54pm
Both the Senate and House are expected to vote on resolutions condemning Uganda’s "kill the gays" bill. Anti-abortion extremist Neal Horsley is now running an anti-gay website. Sen. Bob Bennett's effort to stop Washington DC's marriage equality law failed. Why am I not surprise by the Peter LaBarbera would have someone on his radio program who writes things like "Have I mentioned lately how utterly *disgusting* Obama is? And, yes, it’s because he’s black. God, help us all"? Finally, "listen up, Buckwheat." MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 03/04/2010, 10:13am
In addition to voting for candidates, those who participated in the Texas Republican primary earlier this week were also asked to vote on five questions that had been approved by the State Republican Executive Committee. As the Republican Party of Texas explained it, these were "critical issues" and the resolutions, though non-binding, were "the party's way of guaging [sic] support for issues, and for informing voters and elected officials where the party's grassroots stand on the issues." In addition to questions about taxes and government growth was this one: ... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 12/15/2009, 6:00pm
PFAW Statement: DC Council Passes Marriage Equality Legislation. There is something more than a little ironic about seeing the National Organization for Marriage urging New Jersey legislators to focus on other issues, seeing as NOM is focused on exactly one issue: preventing equality. Rachel Maddow on the fight to prevent an atheist from taking office in North Carolina. Glenn Beck is not bright. I, for one, very much look forward to Rick Scarborough's appearance on The Daily Show. Finally, apparently members of the State Republican Executive... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/05/2009, 3:48pm
Over the last few days, former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention has declared both that the murder of Dr. George Tiller was an answer to prayer and that he was likewise praying for the death of President Obama.Today, the Southern Baptist Convention, not surprisingly, distanced itself from Drake's rantings:A Southern Baptist Convention spokesman said June 4 that a former official who is praying for the death of President Obama is out of the denomination's mainstream.Roger "Sing" Oldham, vice president for convention relations with the SBC Executive Committee,... MORE