Separation of Church and State

Allen West Blames Football Injuries On Church-State Separation

In a speech to a Gladewater, Texas, conservative group last week, former Rep. Allen West blamed high school football injuries on the end of state-sponsored prayer in schools, saying that when he was in high school, “I don’t remember anyone getting carted off that field paralyzed.”

Discussing a conflict between the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the University of Tennessee about sectarian prayers before football games, West said that in the days of state-sponsored school prayer, there was no problem with football injuries.

“Now see, I remember growing up in the inner city of Atlanta, Georgia,” he said. “I went to Grady High School and I played football and we didn’t have all this high-speed gear and everything like that, there was no such thing about ‘targeting.’ I mean, you were not a tough football player unless you did try to hit someone head-on. And even in high school, before every game at Grady Stadium, the pastor would come down and pray before every football game. I don’t remember catastrophic injuries. I don’t remember anyone getting carted off that field paralyzed.”

Needless to say, West’s selective view of the history of football injuries is not exactly accurate.

Rafael Cruz Continues To Blame Church-State Separation For Violent Crime, Teen Pregnancy

In an interview with Iowa-based conservative radio host Steve Deace on Friday, Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, repeated his frequent assertion that Supreme Court rulings limiting government-sponsored prayer in schools led to spikes in violent crime and teen pregnancy, claiming that until then, the “Bible was the principal textbook in all schools all the way to universities.”

Cruz, who spent the first half of the interview telling Deace that his son is the presidential candidate who most loves America, discussed his work travelling the country to convince conservative pastors to become more involved in politics.

“The church is actually more responsible to the place where America is today than anybody else,” he said. “Because if we go back to 1962 and 1963, two abominable decisions of the Supreme Court. 1962, prayer was taken out of schools; 1963, Bible teaching was taken out of schools. You know, for generations kids prayed in school before starting the day. The Bible was the principal textbook in all schools all the way to universities.”

The “church remained silent” in the face of those Supreme Court decisions, he said. “The consequence of that, we can see it in the statistics. Teen pregnancy skyrocketed after 1963 and so did violent crime, all as a result of taking Bible-reading and prayer out of schools.”

Cruz, as usual, did not mention that rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy have actually been plummeting in recent years, without the imposition of government-mandated religious education.

Cruz also went back to one of his favorite Bible verses, Proverbs 29:2, which he quotes as, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, people mourn.”

“Well, when the righteous, the people of principle, the people of faith, the people that have a moral compass are ruling, we see progress, we see happiness, we see moving forward,” he said. “When we have people that don’t believe any of the fundamental principles that have made America great, we see chaos. But what has happened is this, if the people of principle say ‘politics is their business, I don’t want any part of it,’ then what’s left? The wicked electing the wicked.”

Calling the idea that churches should stay out of politics a “lie,” he warned, “Politics legislates morality all the time. The problem is if we have the wicked ruling, they are going to legislate their wicked brand of morality.”

With Court-Stripping Scheme, Ted Cruz Embraces Roy Moore School Of Constitutional Law

Ted Cruz raised more than a few eyebrows last week when, barely a week into his presidential run, he proposed a radical plan to strip federal courts of the ability to decide cases involving marriage equality.

As Esquire’s Charles Pierce notes, Cruz is echoing a time-honored rallying cry of people who are losing a battle in the federal courts: “Previous attempts include trying to remove the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over cases in a number of instances, including those involving school prayer, school busing, abortion, and pornography.”

The strategy has also been used in recent memory by another prominent player in t​oday’s marriage equality debate: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Back in 2004, shortly after Moore was removed from his first stint in the court after he defied a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, he worked with attorney Herb Titus to draft a bill that would have stripped jurisdiction over all such cases from the federal courts.

The bill, which would have barred federal courts from ruling on cases challenging officials who recognized "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government," never made it out of committee, but it managed to garner 37 cosponsors in the House and five in the Senate; when it was reintroduced the next year, it was up to 50 House cosponsors and nine Senate cosponsors.

Despite the bill’s failure to make it off the ground in Congress, it was a publicity boon for Moore. One of Moore’s top financial supporters, the Christian nationalist and southern secessionist Michael Peroutka, spent $12,000 on a campaign to drum up support for the measure and accompanied Moore to at least one event touting it along with Peroutka’s 2004 campaign for president as the nominee of the Constitution Party.

As far as we know, Moore hasn’t spoken publicly about Cruz’s idea to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over marriage issues. But it seems that on this issue, they are two peas in a pod.

Rick Santorum: 'Yes We Can' Put The Bible Back In Public Schools

In a speech Saturday to the far-right Awakening conference organized by Liberty Counsel, Rick Santorum told the audience of pastors and activists that it was up to them to save America by, in part, getting Bibles back in public schools.

“We are on a crossroads in American history, a crossroads that looks like we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from,” Santorum warned, adding that the nation needs to return to God.

“The left cannot be successful in a country of God-given rights,” he said. “It can’t. Because they want to be the purveyor of rights, and if God is the purveyor of rights, then they lose. We have an obligation to educate, to form, within our churches to preach, within our families to educate, and to fight within our schools. Why are Bibles no longer in public schools? Don’t give me the Supreme Court. The reason Bibles are no longer in the public schools is because we let them take them out of the public schools.”

He added a variation on President Obama’s campaign chant: “You say, ‘Well we can’t get them back in.’ Yes we can. Yes we can!”

Star Parker: 'Evil' And 'Wicked' Liberals Are Waging War On America

Last week, Iowa-based radio host Steve Deace invited conservative activist Star Parker to discuss her new book, “Blind Conceit,” a collection of her columns in which she argues that liberals are waging “wars against our American culture” in pursuit of “revenge and redistribution, the antithesis of Dr. King’s Dream.”

Parker told Deace that when it comes to fixing America, “the first step would be to admit that there’s good and evil”… and that the evil is progressivism.

“Socialism is inconsistent with the Scripture because the 10th Commandment says don’t covet, and what we have today is covetousness,” she explained. “Somebody has something that somebody else doesn’t have, so now we’re going to hire politicians to take it from them. So now, you’ve violated a couple of commandments, because the 8th Commandment says don’t steal.”

“So, yeah, the first step is we have to recognize that there is evil, and America is at a crossroads between good and evil,” she continued. “We’ve become so secularized that we’ve got this idea of moral relativism and think that there are no natural consequences to the choices that we make.”

She outlined the “three wars on American culture” that she believes liberals are waging: a “war on religion,” a “war on marriage where they told women, you can do whatever you want to with your sexual being,” and a “war on poverty” that “began to pay people for their sin, if you will, the natural consequences of illicit sexual bad behavior.”

“In their own blind conceit, they’re so arrogant, they can’t even see how evil or wicked they are. They actually believe that progressivism and socialism in a free country is going to work,” she said.

In New Video, PFAW Calls Out RNC For Partnering With The American Family Association

People For the American Way released a new video today calling out the Republican National Committee for accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for several dozen of its members from the American Family Association, an organization with a long record of promoting bigotry against LGBT people and non-Christians.

The trip is being organized by David Lane, an influential Christian nationalist strategist.

Shortly before the RNC trip began, the AFA stripped its spokesman Bryan Fischer of his official title at the organization but retained him as a host on its radio network.

PFAW previously called on the RNC to cancel the trip, but it has moved forward.

RNC Member: End Of School Prayer Led To 'Assault, Rape, Murder'

Iowa Republican National Committee member Tamara Scott, who also runs the state chapter of Concerned Women for America and works as a lobbyist for The Family Leader, told the “View From a Pew” radio program last week that more prayer rallies like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “The Response” are needed to prevent God from destroying America .

One of the things for which the country needs to repent in order to get back on God’s good side, Scott said later in the interview, is the end of state-sponsored prayer in schools.

“When the prayer came out in the ‘70s, and that’s one of the things that I prayed for last week in Louisiana with 6,000 people, repentance, because we as a church should never have let that happen, we should never have allowed prayer to be taken out of our schools,” she said.

She cited the claims of Christian-nation activist David Barton, who links the end of state-sponsored school prayer to all manner of social ills. “Since we’ve done that, David Barton has done studies and research that in your schools, the crimes used to be gum, tardiness and talking. Now it is assault, rape, murder. We’re dealing with much more difficult issues,” she said.

(In reality, the rates of violent crime and sexual assault have plummeted in the last two decades.)

Scott suggested that instead of passing a “horrible” anti-bullying bill currently being considered in the state legislature, Iowa should just return Christian prayer to schools:

“The problem is, like prayer, we took out the golden rule in our schools — which is a scripture verse, treat others like you want to be yourself treated — we’ve taken the Bible out and the schools are groping for something to replace it, and in its place with all kinds of bad law on top of bad law that only oppress us and make us all victims to possible crime and punishment for somebody else’s cause.”

Later in the interview, Scott insisted that the separation of church and state is “nowhere” in the Constitution and that if conservative Christians “only had the courage of the pagans or those who disagree with us, if we stood on our convictions as much as they do, we wouldn’t be in this.”

Roy Moore: 'Institution Of Marriage That God Ordained' Is 'Under Sustained Attack From Federal Judges'

In an interview Friday with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore defended a letter he sent to Gov. Robert Bentley urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying that he was just like abolitionists and desegregationists standing up against the “rejection of God’s law by the federal judiciary.”

Moore told Rios that the case is similar to his famous defiance of a federal court order to remove a monument of the 10 Commandments from a court building because the 10 Commandments spat “symbolized the rejection of God’s law by the federal judiciary” and “now we see the institution of marriage that God ordained under sustained attack from federal judges":

Later in the interview, Rios asked Moore what he would say to Christians who are upset that he’s breaking the law by defying the federal courts.

“This is not against the law, this is for the law,” he said.

Moore, who in 2004 helped lead a campaign to preserve segregationist language in Alabama’s constitution, compared his stand against marriage equality to a defiance of federal courts on slavery or segregation. He added that he also puts abortion rights in that category, because “everybody recognizes Roe v. Wade is not in accordance with the Constitution”:

I think we’ve got to look back. Courts are not always perfect, Sandy. The United States Supreme Court is not always perfect. What would you have done in 1857 when they came out and said slaves were property. If you were a judge, would you have followed that opinion? Or in 1896, I think it is, in Plessy v. Ferguson, when they said that separate but equal was the policy that we had to adhere to, would you have followed it?

We’ve got to realize that courts, whether they’re federal, state, Supreme Court are not always perfect. And sometimes their rulings will contradict the Constitution, as did the United States Supreme Court opinion in Dred Scott, as it did in Plessy v. Ferguson, as it did in Roe v. Wade. Everybody recognizes Roe v. Wade is not in accordance with the Constitution, but you know, there it is as law. So I submit to you that we’ve got to look at these things very carefully.

Ken Ham Demands Taxpayers Pay For 'One Of The Greatest Evangelist Outreaches Of Our Day'

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis was a guest on American Family Radio today, where he discussed with Tim Wildmon his new project building a Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky. Ham insisted that the theme park, a complement to Ham's Creation Museum, has come under attack from “intolerant” liberals who want to deny it taxpayer funding.

Last month, Kentucky’s tourism board announced that the Noah’s Ark park wouldn’t be eligible for an $18 million tourism tax break because Answers In Genesis intends to use the site to proseletize and refuses to promise not to discriminate based on religion in its hiring. The board noted that “[s]tate tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination or otherwise be used to advance religion," but Ham cried persecution, complaining that Kentucky had violated his “fundamental rights” by witholding the tax break.

In the American Family Radio interview, Ham continued to portray himself as the victim of “intolerant” liberals (like Bill Nye) while also inadvertently bolstering the tourism board’s case by announcing that the Noah’s Ark park will be “one of the greatest evangelist outreaches of our day, of our period in history.”

Institute On The Constitution: Of Course There Should Be A Religious Test For Public Office!

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on the efforts of a group of church-state separation activists, led by Todd Stiefel, who are trying to remove long-forgotten articles in seven state constitutions that require people holding public office to believe in God.

This did not sit well with Jake McAuley, the chief operating officer of Michael Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution, who writes in BarbWire today that it is “impossible” for an elected official who doesn’t believe in God to fulfill his or her duties. “This isn’t about discrimination or bigotry,” he writes. “ It’s about ensuring that those holding office in America are committed to the true, lawful, American philosophy of government.”

Peroutka, who was recently elected to a county office in Maryland, has declared all laws passed by his state legislature null and void because the body violated "God's law" by legalizing gay marriage.

Now, let’s be clear. Mr. Steifel may not believe that there is a God. And no one is forcing him to do so.

But if he doesn’t believe that God exists, it follows that he doesn’t believe that God-given rights exist either.

And if he doesn’t believe that God-given rights exist, then how would you expect him, if elected, to defend and protect those rights?

You see, when someone is elected to office he swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the God-given rights that are secured thereby. To elect someone who does not believe that God exists, is to ask them to do that which is impossible for them to do.

The drafters of our state constitutions understood this simple logic and so they included these provisions designed to protect us from officeholders who do not share the American philosophy of law and government.

Think of it this way.

Suppose instead of not believing in God, Mr. Stiefel informs us that he does not believe that there exists a city called Cincinnati, Ohio.

By not believing in Cincinnati, Mr. Stiefel breaks no law that we can punish him for.

But now suppose that a few of us have decided to take a bus trip to visit Cincinnati. We advertise for a driver for the bus and Mr. Stiefel answers our advertisement.

Is Mr. Stiefel qualified to drive us to Cincinnati?

Do you see the problem? Once he started the bus, what would Mr. Stiefel do next? How would he get us to a place the existence of which he denies?

Of course he is not qualified. He not only doesn’t know the way. He doesn’t even believe that there is a way. He is not qualified to take us to a place that, in his own mind, does not exist.

So this constitutional requirement that an office holder must believe in God is a logical and consistent protection against those who might drive our constitutional republic in a bad direction.

This isn’t about discrimination or bigotry. It’s about ensuring that those holding office in America are committed to the true, lawful, American philosophy of government.

Will Evangelical Right Cry 'Persecution' At Mormon Public School Prayer Case?

It is an article of faith among Religious Right activists that the supposed persecution of Christians in America is rooted in a series of Supreme Court decisions banning government-sponsored prayer in schools, rulings which they blame for everything from school shootings to crime and HIV/AIDS.

But the mostly fundamentalist Protestant leadership of the Religious Right rarely talk about the possibility that if such bans were lifted, the state could require prayer not to their liking.

As Think Progress reports today, one varsity softball coach at a Mesa, Arizona, public school has been hit with a lawsuit for requiring his players to participate in Mormon-led prayers…and, unsurprisingly, we have heard no evangelical conservatives complaining that the lawsuit represents religious persecution of the coach.

Three athletes alleged in a complaint against the school district [PDF] that they “were penalized for not conducting ‘team prayer’ in accordance with the directive of Joseph Goodman,” the team’s Mormon coach.

They argued in their complaint that the coach took disciplinary actions against them for “not being members of the LDS Church” and their unwillingness to “accede to having and allowing student-led group ‘team prayer.’

Mesa was founded by Mormons and has a large Mormon community, so it is no surprise that when a team decided to have a prayer, it was skewed toward the Mormon tradition. Even generic, non-sectarian generic prayers organized by public schools can undermine the free exercise of religious and non-religious students alike.

This case provides yet another reminder that if the Religious Right gets its wish of lifting the constitutional prohibition of official public school prayers, not all schools would adopt the prayers that they themselves would choose.

25. Terry Richardson, along with another parent, Kelly Roberts (also an LDS Church member) expected that ‘team prayer’ would be part of the activities of the team prior to the games.

26. The expectation that there would be ‘team prayer’ was communicated to Joseph Goodman by LDS parents.



38. The Plaintiffs in fact were penalized for not conducting ‘team prayer’ in accordance with the directive of Joseph Goodman, acting for himself and at the behest of certain parents that were part of the LDS Church.

39. The Plaintiffs in fact were penalized because the parents of certain LDS students on the team complained to Joseph Goodman about the speech and expressive speech of the Plaintiffs, which actual and expressive speech events were perfectly acceptable and within the bounds of a secular society and that of a public school system.

40. The Establishment Clause provides a right of freedom from religion in the public school system, whether during academic sessions, or, during extra-curricular activities.

41. By Defendants treating Plaintiffs in the foregoing manner, dismissing them from the Team for not conducting ‘team prayer,’ for utilizing certain speech and expressive speech through pop music, social media, and otherwise, the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the Plaintiffs were violated.



62. The actions of the Defendant, Joseph Goodman, were based upon the Plaintiffs not being members of the LDS Church and who did not accede to having and allowing student-led group ‘team prayer.’

Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation Leader: Church-State Separation 'The Death Knell For Our Nation'

In a radio interview this week, Lea Carawan, director of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, warned that the separation of church and state is part of a liberal plan to “ruin America” and will be “the death knell for our nation.”

Carawan, whose group’s advisory board includes several members of Congress, told Arizona-based host Josh Bernstein this week that the American people and many churches have “bought into a very insidious lie, which is the misapplication, misinformation regarding that phrase, ‘the separation of church and state.’”

“That is the death knell for our nation,” she said. “If the church of God, if the Christians do not engage in the public square and do not see that as their responsibility, their right and responsibility, then those that do not believe like us will absolutely fill the void. And what people don’t understand is that every nation will reflect somebody’s values. And up until now, it’s reflected Judeo-Christian values because the Christians have held to it and they’ve protected it every single generation. But if we do not protect it in our generation, if we buy this lie and we back out of the public square like we have for a decade or several decades now, we will find that we no longer have a free Republic. The threat is very real.”

Later in the interview, Carawan alleged that church-state separation is part of a liberal plot to “take over” America.

“The folks that are funding this, that are behind this progressive movement for decades, they understand that they must remove God from the culture, from the conversation or break the connection, the nexus between God and our rights,” she said.

“That’s how you take over the country, that’s how you ruin America and take over, that’s power.”

Jody Hice: Secularism Is Turning Government Into God, Destroying America

As if we needed more proof that Rep. Paul Broun’s likely GOP replacement in the House, Georgia pastor and activist Jody Hice, will be just as enthusiastic a Christian-nation advocate as his predecessor, we stumbled across this clip from a 2011 broadcast of Hice’s radio show in which he laments that the separation of church and state is turning government into God and thereby destroying America:

“The more we remove God individually from our lives or culturally, the more secular we will become, which means that in place of God we’re going to set ourselves up or we will set up the state, the government, to fulfill the role of God,” Hice opined.

“That’s the only option is that’s what happens, and that precisely is why secularism is not, cannot, be neutral,” he continued. “Secularism, the belief system in itself, by doing away with God in turn sets itself up as God, either as an individual or as a government. That’s where we’re moving. And we are experiencing what we are experiencing in this country simply because of our continual drifting away from our Judeo-Christian principles, drifting away from our awareness and understanding and belief in God for so long that now we are reaping the consequences.”

Jody Hice: 'Who Could Possibly Be Offended' By School-Sponsored Prayer?

On his radio show earlier this week, Georgia Republican congressional candidate Jody Hice discussed the Tennessee cheerleading team that, in an effort to avoid legal action, replaced its traditional reading of a prayer over a loudspeaker with a moment of silence for individual prayer before games.

“We have a majority of people who want to have a prayer before a ballgame and yet we are rapidly becoming a society where the minority rule,” Hice lamented, adding, “If you’re in the majority in a situation like this, the minority rules. I don’t believe that is the intent of our Constitution.”

“Who could possibly be offended” by a school-sponsored sectarian prayer, Hice asked, recalling that in his school athletic years a prayer was read before every game and “I don’t recall anyone on either side of our competition every being taken off in an ambulance to the hospital.”

The GOP's Hate Summit: A Who's Who Of The 2014 Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Republican elected officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Gov. Bobby Jindal will take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders: they will seek to curry the favor of the Religious Right by speaking at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.

In doing so, they put themselves in the company of some of the most radical groups and activists working today to dehumanize LGBT people, roll back reproductive rights, tear down the wall between church and state, and deny free exercise rights to religious minorities.

The Values Voter Summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, regularly issues false and demeaning smears about LGBT people and advocates for an America ruled according to the dictates of a small sliver of right-wing Christians. Just this month, the group’s president Tony Perkins suggested that the Constitution’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims.

The other primary sponsors of the event, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Gary Bauer’s American Values have equally if not more egregious records of extremism. In addition, a number of fringe groups are contributing to the conference by sponsoring exhibition tables, including Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), which pushes discredited conversion therapy on LGBT people; the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); and the World Congress of Families, which works with activists throughout the world to push harsh anti-gay laws.

But the Values Voter Summit’s speakers do not have to visit the event’s exhibition hall to encounter extremism. They will find plenty of that in their fellow speakers. Below is an introduction to some of the speakers who will be sharing a stage with prominent GOP elected officials at this week’s summit.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:

  • Contended that the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
  • Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “radical sexualism” and “global homosexuality.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
  • Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
  • Warned that lawmakers who voted to repeal the military ban on openly gay service members would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin earned a public rebuke from President George W. Bush 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. In 2012, he was named executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

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 the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative, and once told the group that President Obama used health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him. Boykin has also:

  • Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction of our military.”
  • Described CIA head John Brennan as “very sympathetic to the jihadist cause.”
  • Denounced the repeal of laws banning women from military combat service.
  • Blamed the Sandy Hook school massacre on the presence of secularism in society.

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and the founder and chairman of its affiliate, Liberty Counsel, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and Western civilization. Through his position at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is the president of Values Voter Summit sponsor American Values, a former president of the Family Research Council, and one-time Republican presidential hopeful. While serving in the Reagan administration as a Department of Education official, Bauer was named chairman of the president’s Special Working Group on the Family. Bauer has:

  • Reacting to A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for racist and homophobic remarks, declared that progressives are waging a “jihad against America’s cultural norms,”
  • Warned that President Obama is “obsessed” with LGBT issues, and claimed that his “secular” agenda will “destroy” America.
  • Claimed that Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage were acts of “judicial terrorism” putting America on “the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis.”
  • Wondered why African Americans keep “falling through the cracks  of society despite the fact that “every major goal” of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reached.

Benham Brothers

Twin brothers Jason and David Benham were catapulted to national attention this year when an HGTV show that they were set to star in was cancelled following revelations about their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism. Since the show’s cancellation, the brothers have become a cause célèbre for the Religious Right, which has lifted them up as an example of the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America. One or both of the brothers have:

  • Asserted that the LGBT equality movement is part of a “spiritual fight" between God and the “kingdom run by Satan.”
  • Urged the city of Charlotte, NC to deny permits to an LGBT Pride event, calling it a “vile” and “destructive” activity that “should not be allowed in our city.”
  • Compared the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.
  • Called an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity” and referred to Muslims as “the enemy attacking" America.
  • Organized a prayer rally to coincide with the 2012 Democratic National Convention, declaring that America must repent for “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.”
  • Led protests outside of abortion clinics, praising anti-choice demonstrators for taking a stand at “the gates of hell” and confronting the “altars of Moloch.”

E.W. Jackson

The 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson is a longtime activist who has likened the Democratic Party to the Antichrist, said Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan, suggested that President Obama is a Muslim and demonic, and fought against efforts to desegregate public housing. Jackson’s most pernicious rhetoric has focused on LGBT people. He has:

  • Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
  • Criticized abortion and in vitro fertilization as “evils” that carry “the mark of Satan.”
  • Argued that gay marriage will release a “torrent of wickedness” that will result in man-animal marriages.
  • Said homosexuality is connected to pedophilia and that homosexuality also “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”

Star Parker

Star Parker is a longtime Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-choice advocacy. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust and blamed “sexual promiscuity” for nearly all financial and societal problems. At the 2011 Values Voter Summit, she claimed that God was getting ready to punish America for marriage equality and legal abortion. Parker has also:

  • Declared that LGBT people are forcing Christians “into the closet.”
  • Mused that family life for African Americans was “more healthy” under slavery than it is today
  • Argued that the rate of HIV infections in Washington, D.C., would spike once the city legalized marriage equality, “transforming [the city] officially into Sodom.”
  • Tied same-sex marriage to failing public schools.

Todd Starnes

Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America," specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:

  • Speculated that public school officials oppose abstinence-only programs to protect their “condom profits.”
  • Asserted that Obama refuses to take action against ISIS to “accommodate the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths.”
  • Blamed Obama for “ orchestrating” the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions.
  • Baselessly accused the University of Wisconsin of intentionally inflating grades to boost the academic performance of minority students.
  • Worried that LGBT rights advocates will inevitably demand the deportation of Christians.

Sandy Rios

Sandy Rios, a former president of Concerned Women for America, now hosts a daily radio show on American Family Radio, the network run by the American Family Association. At last year’s summit, she promoted ex-gay therapy and said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a “complete fraud.” Like other AFR hosts, she frequently promotes right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama was not born in the United States. Rios has also:

  • Insisted that one of Obama’s first priorities as president was to resettle thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S. and provide them with food stamps.
  • Advanced the myth that the health care reform law “says that Muslims will be exempt from the government mandate to purchase health insurance.”
  • Compared the relationships of same-sex couples to those of kidnapper Ariel Castro and his captives.
  • Warned that the “homosexual takeover” of the military would jeopardize the effectiveness of the armed forces.
  • Frequently links the gay community to child abuse.

Brigitte Gabriel

Brigitte Gabriel is the founder and president of ACT! for America, where she works with local activists throughout the country to promote fears that Sharia law is taking hold in the U.S. and must be banned and to challenge textbooks that she believes are insufficiently critical of Islam. She makes frequent media appearances to warn of what she calls the “ secret Islamification” of the West. Among other attacks on Mulsim-Americans, Gabriel has:

This post was updated to include Brigitte Gabriel following an FRC announcement that she would speak at the summit. A previous edition of this post listed incorrectly listed James Dobson, one of the founders of the FRC, as a speaker.

Tony Perkins: Atheists Working Through AP History Classes To Enable ISIS, Sexting, 'Hip-Hop Gang Banger Music'

On his radio program earlier this week, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins declared that the separation of church and state is to blame for the Americans who have left to fight alongside ISIS because “[r]adical secularism that has driven the defining characteristics of our Western culture, our Judeo-Christian heritage, from our schools, our entertainment and even our government has left in its place a void, a vacuum.”

In a column for the Christian Post yesterday, Perkins expanded on the claim, adding that the same “atheizers” who are responsible for Americans joining ISIS are also the cause of “hip-hop gang banger music” and the “the appalling phenomenon of teens ‘sexting.’”

He also links ISIS recruitment, hip-hop and sexting to a new AP U.S. History exam, which he says teaches “anti-Americanism” and to “a jihad in the classroom” consisting of what Religious Right groups claim is an insufficiently hostile portrayal of Islam in textbooks.

“Our young people need to know the truth about America's storied past,” he writes. “And those who deny it to them are actually feeding the flames of jihad.”

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Americans have been shocked to see the brutality and barbarism of the Islamic militants of ISIS. Americans have been stunned by the revelations that their fellow Americans have joined the ranks of ISIS are taking up the cause of the caliphate. Pundits and politicians alike have publicly pondered the question as to how young Americans can be sucked into such an evil venture. While it may be troubling, the answer is not hard. Atheizers have been driving out of our schools, our entertainment, our military, and our government the very definition of who we are: our Judeo- Christian heritage. What has been left in its place has been called a naked public square. But just as nature abhors a vacuum, something was bound to rush into this void.

We see this in the violent nihilism of the hip-hop gang banger music from which Hollywood sucks billions of dollars .Into this naked public square has rushed a morbid hatred of women, an ugly sexualized pop culture, and the appalling phenomenon of teens "sexting" lewd pictures of their classmates—in our children's schools.

We see in the Advanced Placement U.S. History standards anti-Americanism foisted on some of the brightest of our young people. In place of the heroism of Bunker Hill and that "stillness at Appomattox," of the sacrifices of the Boys of Bedford on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, we see people whose salaries we pay teaching our young people to have contempt for their country and its history.

There has been a jihad in the classroom as students are given an air-brushed history of Islam and too often taught that Christianity is the root of many repressive attitudes toward women and minorities.

George Washington, a Christian, was the first ruler in history to address the Jews as equal fellow citizens. That is just one of the amazing truths about America that make us an exceptional country.

Our young people need to know the truth about America's storied past. And those who deny it to them are actually feeding the flames of jihad.

Without a creedal vision that a society can unify around, the people of the nation will perish. Unless we are content to allow ISIS or some other radical belief to fill the void left by secularism, we must rediscover America's Founding, Christ-centered vision.

Jody Hice: Separation Of Church And State Caused Gang Violence, Teen Pregnancy

On his radio program yesterday, Georgia GOP U.S. House nominee Jody Hice blamed court decisions barring school-sponsored prayer and the display of religious texts in public buildings for a “downward slide” in America, including low test scores, gang violence, drugs, teenage pregnancy and “promiscuity.”

“[A]s we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence?” he asked. “Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less?”

“Folks, across the board we have suffered,” he concluded.

In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been falling steadily over the past two decades as has the rate of sexual activity among teens, and in 2011 violent crime in the U.S. fell to the lowest rate in 40 years, a trend that has persisted. But somehow we don’t think Hice meant to credit the separation of church and state for these positive trends.

So we had in 1952 a clear understanding of the role of religion in our public life, even in our schools. Then shortly thereafter we had the beginning of a reinterpretation of the First Amendment, a reinterpretation of separation of church and state as it applies to the public school system.

And wow, have we been on a downward slide ever since. Removing prayer, then removing the Bible, then removing religious documents such as the Ten Commandments, which of course has led to the removal of other symbols and so forth, and then removal of benedictions and invocations at any kind of school event or activity.

And I just want to ask you, what kind of behavior, as we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence? Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less? What has happened in our society as we have removed our religious heritage from being taught, from even being allowed in our public schools?

Folks, across the board we have suffered. Education scores have gone down, violence and crime has gone up and we are witnessing more and more of the consequence of those decisions.

Religious Right Film: Activist Judges Are Attacking America With Gay Rights, Taxpayer-Funded Pornography

As if their first video didn't quite hammer the point home, Religious Right advocacy group Truth in Action Ministries has returned with part two of "We the People: Under Attack," an exhausting indicment of the federal judiciary and its allegedly anti-Christian agenda. 

Watch highlights of the film here:

“We the People,” hosted by the group’s spokesmen Jerry Newcombe and John Rabe, convenes right-wing activists like Phyllis Schlafly, David Limbaugh and Herb Titus for a collective hand-wringing over the rulings of judges who have “turned the First Amendment on its head” and obstructed religious liberties in support of their own political causes.

 The group especially lambasts the federal judiciary for “casting off constitutional limitations” and “imposing its will on the other branches, and even you and me individually” with its rulings on marriage equality and abortion rights.

Rabe lashed out at the courts’ “harmful agenda” when it “attacked two thousand years of traditional marriage” by striking down voter-approved marriage bans like Proposition 8.

In the spirit of defending the rights of the “majority,” Phyllis Schlafly paints a grim scenario of judicial tyranny usurping American values: 

We have judges who have created new rights, who have knocked down laws and practices that have been part of our heritage since the beginning, and you can call the roll of what they’ve done: tried to throw up traditional marriage between a man and a woman; throwing out the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag because it has the words ‘under God’ in it; creating new rights that are not in the Constitution, like the right to abortion, the right to sodomy, the right to same-sex marriage licenses, the right to have pornography even with taxpayer’s money. You know these are not in the Constitution, and it is an offense against the American people, against We the People, and against our whole form of government. And the result is that the First Amendment has been turned on its head.

And herein lies the ultimate goals of these activist judges: to abolish expressions of patriotism and ensure taxpayer-funded pornography for all. 

Truth In Action Ministries Cites Bogus Jefferson Quote To Refute Separation Of Church And State

Truth in Action Ministries, a purveyor of incendiary “documentaries” that explore our country’s apparent slide into anti-Christian moral turpitude, is back to warn us that Christians are now an increasingly persecuted minority in America.

Watch highlights of the film here:

Hosted by conservative activists Jerry Newcombe and John Rabe, the group’s most recent film, “We the People: Under Attack,” is a field guide to how “activist judges” are restricting religious liberties and the freedom of speech, and includes appearances from right-wing figures such as Herb Titus, Phyllis Schlafly, Carrie Severino and Alan Sears.

The subject of scorn in “We the People” is the federal judiciary, seen as a rogue branch of government with a revisionist interpretation of the Constitution. Newcombe warns that “our country is under attack by activist judges, including some on our nation’s Supreme Court.”

The separation of church and state is framed as both a slap in the face to Christians and a subversion of the will of our Founding Fathers, and Titus laments that the U.S. government doesn’t strictly adhere to the Ten Commandments and the Bible in its public policy. Rabe breathlessly reports that “in recent decades, the federal judiciary has instituted abortion on demand, overturned limits on partial-birth abortion, silenced voluntary prayer in schools and discovered a so-called ‘right to sodomy’ in the constitution.”

Newcombe argues that recent decisions by the Supreme Court defy the Constitution’s purportedly religious themes, and relays this quote by Thomas Jefferson to prove that even he believed in mixing religion with government:

No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man, and I as chief magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example.

One slight caveat, however: this quote appears absolutely nowhere in any of Jefferson’s writings or records of his speeches, and first materialized in 1857, decades after Jefferson died. Looks like Newcombe will have to find more fake quotes from the nation’s founders to prove his point. 

Bryan Fischer: Reading Clarence Thomas Is Like 'Listening To Myself'

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer said on his radio program today that he loved Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway so much that after reading an excerpt to his audience, he remarked, “I’m reading this and I’m thinking, man, I’m listening to myself.”

As Peter noted, Thomas argued that “the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment does not apply to the states at all,” a view shared by Fischer.

“Clarence Thomas is sounding like me,” Fischer said. “There’s no restrictions on what states can do, according to the First Amendment.”

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Separation of Church and State Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Monday 04/20/2015, 3:30pm
In a speech to a Gladewater, Texas, conservative group last week, former Rep. Allen West blamed high school football injuries on the end of state-sponsored prayer in schools, saying that when he was in high school, “I don’t remember anyone getting carted off that field paralyzed.” Discussing a conflict between the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the University of Tennessee about sectarian prayers before football games, West said that in the days of state-sponsored school prayer, there was no problem with football injuries. “Now see, I remember growing up in the... MORE
Miranda Blue, Monday 04/13/2015, 11:24am
In an interview with Iowa-based conservative radio host Steve Deace on Friday, Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, repeated his frequent assertion that Supreme Court rulings limiting government-sponsored prayer in schools led to spikes in violent crime and teen pregnancy, claiming that until then, the “Bible was the principal textbook in all schools all the way to universities.” Cruz, who spent the first half of the interview telling Deace that his son is the presidential candidate who most loves America, discussed his work travelling the country to convince conservative... MORE
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 04/07/2015, 4:45pm
Ted Cruz raised more than a few eyebrows last week when, barely a week into his presidential run, he proposed a radical plan to strip federal courts of the ability to decide cases involving marriage equality. As Esquire’s Charles Pierce notes, Cruz is echoing a time-honored rallying cry of people who are losing a battle in the federal courts: “Previous attempts include trying to remove the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over cases in a number of instances, including those involving school prayer, school busing, abortion, and pornography.” The strategy has also been used in... MORE
Miranda Blue, Monday 03/16/2015, 11:06am
In a speech Saturday to the far-right Awakening conference organized by Liberty Counsel, Rick Santorum told the audience of pastors and activists that it was up to them to save America by, in part, getting Bibles back in public schools. “We are on a crossroads in American history, a crossroads that looks like we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from,” Santorum warned, adding that the nation needs to return to God. “The left cannot be successful in a country of God-given rights,” he said.... MORE
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 02/10/2015, 1:08pm
Last week, Iowa-based radio host Steve Deace invited conservative activist Star Parker to discuss her new book, “Blind Conceit,” a collection of her columns in which she argues that liberals are waging “wars against our American culture” in pursuit of “revenge and redistribution, the antithesis of Dr. King’s Dream.” Parker told Deace that when it comes to fixing America, “the first step would be to admit that there’s good and evil”… and that the evil is progressivism. “Socialism is inconsistent with the Scripture... MORE
Miranda Blue, Friday 02/06/2015, 2:49pm
People For the American Way released a new video today calling out the Republican National Committee for accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for several dozen of its members from the American Family Association, an organization with a long record of promoting bigotry against LGBT people and non-Christians. The trip is being organized by David Lane, an influential Christian nationalist strategist. Shortly before the RNC trip began, the AFA stripped its spokesman Bryan Fischer of his official title at the organization but retained him as a host on its radio network. PFAW previously... MORE
Miranda Blue, Monday 02/02/2015, 4:23pm
Iowa Republican National Committee member Tamara Scott, who also runs the state chapter of Concerned Women for America and works as a lobbyist for The Family Leader, told the “View From a Pew” radio program last week that more prayer rallies like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “The Response” are needed to prevent God from destroying America . One of the things for which the country needs to repent in order to get back on God’s good side, Scott said later in the interview, is the end of state-sponsored prayer in schools. “When the prayer came out in... MORE